Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Wed., Dec. 3, 1997

Sixth Session

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health - Children's Dental Program: Cuts - Revoke, Mr. R. Chisholm 643
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
WCB - Workers' Advisers Program: Files - Replace, Hon. G. O'Malley 644
Labour - Westray Mine: Severance Pay ($1m.) - Non-Existent,
Hon. G. O'Malley 645
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 233, Housing & Mun. Affs.- Municipalities:
New Members Conference - Organizers Congrats., Hon. G. Brown 647
Vote - Affirmative 648
Res. 234, Commun. Serv. - N.S. Disabled Persons Comm'n.:
Disabled Persons - Needs Ensure, Hon. F. Cosman 648
Vote - Affirmative 648
Res. 235, Health - Lung Association of N.S.: Respiratory Disease -
Commitment Recognize, Hon. J. Smith 649
Vote - Affirmative 649
Res. 236, Little Dutch Church (Hfx.) - Restoration: Congregations/Gov'ts. -
Commitment Congrats., Hon. G. O'Malley 650
Vote - Affirmative 650
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Health - An Analysis of the Response to the Smoke-Free Places
Discussion Paper, Hon. J. Smith 651
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 15, St. Peter's and Area Lions Club Lands Act, Mr. R. Mann 652
No. 16, La Picasse Tax Exemption Act, Mr. R. Mann 652
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 237, Sports - Curling: Olympic Trials -
Hfx. Mayflower C.C. Congrats., Hon. D. Downe 652
Vote - Affirmative 653
Res. 238, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Mobil - Gift Explain, Dr. J. Hamm 653
Res. 239, Commun. Serv. - Women in Need: Funding Equal - Commit,
Ms. E. O'Connell 654
Res. 240, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Winter Employment Prog.:
Initiative - Congrats., Mr. J. Casey 654
Res. 241, RCMP - Const. Frank Carriere (Cole Hbr.): Death -
Sympathy Extend, Mr. D. Richards 655
Vote - Affirmative 656
Res. 242, Culture - NSDL: Music Man - Congrats., Mrs. L. O'Connor 656
Vote - Affirmative ^Res. 243, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Oland Breweries: 656
Workers Productivity - Recognize, Hon. G. O'Malley 657
Vote - Affirmative 657
Res. 244, Educ. - St. F.X. Day: Senior Students/Alumni - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacNeil 657
Vote - Affirmative 658
Res. 245, Gov't. (N.S.) - Setting-Stop/Fighting-Start, Mr. R. Russell 658
Res. 246, NSP - Fin. Res.: Positive Manner - Use Urge, Mr. J. Holm 659
Res. 247, Educ. - Co-op Progs. (Philippines): Accomplishments -
Min. Commend, Mr. P. MacEwan 659
Res. 248, Tony B. Fitzgerald (Ingonish Beach): Natl. Bravery Medal -
Congrats., Hon. K. MacAskill 660
Vote - Affirmative 661
Res. 249, Abundant Life Victory Church (Truro): Anniv. (10th) -
Congrats., Mrs. E. Norrie 661
Vote - Affirmative 662
Res. 250, Health - Pubnicos & Argyle Ambulance Serv.:
Public Contributions - Applaud, Hon. A. Surette 662
Vote - Affirmative 662
Res. 251, Culture - Unicorn Theatre (Hubbards): Organizers -
Congrats., Hon. J. Barkhouse 662
Vote - Affirmative 663
Res. 252, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - TIANS Award: Yarmouth WDC -
Congrats., Mr. R. Hubbard 663
Vote - Affirmative 664
Res. 253, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - C.B.: Tourism Industry -
Initiatives Acknowledge, Mr. R. MacNeil 664
Res. 254, Fish. - Fish. Act (Can.): Full Partners - Inclusion Support,
Mr. C. Huskilson 665
Vote - Affirmative 665
Res. 255, Justice - Crime Stoppers: Volunteers - Congrats.,
Mr. William MacDonald 665
Vote - Affirmative 666
Res. 256, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Winter Employment Prog.:
Materialization - Ensure, Ms. Helen MacDonald 666
Res. 257, Culture - Policy: Release - Congrats., Dr. E. Kinley 667
Res. 258, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Snowclearing:
Work Crews Seasonal - Call Out, Mr. E. Fage 668
Res. 259, Sports - Pat Connolly: Service Tribute (04/12/97) - Congrats.,
Ms. S. Jolly 668
Vote - Affirmative 669
Res. 260, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - C.B. Co.: Snow Clearance -
Workers Congrats., Mr. A. MacLeod 669
Vote - Affirmative 670
Res. 261, Howard Epstein (NDP Candidate Hfx.-Chebucto):
Nomination Papers - Decision, Mr. P. MacEwan 670
Res. 262, Metro Transit - Bus Drivers: Food Bank - Collection Congrats.,
Mr. William MacDonald 671
Vote - Affirmative 671
Res. 263, U.J. Robichaud and Son Limited (Meteghan Centre) -
Anniv. (130th): Owners - Congrats., Hon. W. Gaudet 672
Vote - Affirmative 672
Res. 264, Justice - Family Violence Advocacy Projects: Review - Release,
Ms. E. O'Connell 672
Res. 265, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Snow Clearance:
Crews Winter Needed - Exco Review, Mr. E. Fage 673
Res. 266, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Mobil - Gift Review, Mr. G. Archibald 674
Res. 267, Exco - Westray Comm.: Coal Mining (Underground)
Inspection - Lbr. (Can.) Regulate, Mr. R. Chisholm 674
Res. 268, Eco. Dev. & Tourism - Sable Gas: Subsidies -
Negotiations Halt, Mr. B. Taylor 675
Res. 269, Lunenburg - Traditional Christmas: Organizers - Congrats.,
Mrs. L. O'Connor 677
Vote - Affirmative 677
Res. 270, Premier - North Sydney (Marine Atlantic HQ): File - Share,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 678
Res. 271, Gov't. (N.S.) - Deals Secret: Premiers (Lib.-Present/Former) -
Actions Bad, Mr. J. Leefe 678
Res. 272, Sports - Equestrian: Samantha Covert (Dart. East) -
Natl. Success Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 679
Vote - Affirmative 680
Res. 273, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Mobil - Assistance Explain,
Mr. G. Archibald 680
Res. 274, Fin. - HST: Families - High Cost Acknowledge, Mr. R. Russell 680
Res. 275, Health - Doctors: Shelburne Co. (W) Shortage -
Concerns Listen, Mr. D. McInnes 681
Res. 276, Commun. Serv. - Phoenix House: Funding (1990 Comment) -
Meaning Demonstrate, Dr. J. Hamm 682
Res. 277, House of Assembly - By-Elections (04/11/97):
P.C. Deposits (2) Lost - Electorate Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 683
Res. 278, Premier - Dal. Law School: Year 1 - Take, Mr. J. Leefe 683
Res. 279, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - TIANS Award: Silver Dart Lodge
(Baddeck) - Congrats., Mr. D. McInnes 684
Vote - Affirmative 684
Res. 280, Housing & Mun. Affs. - HRM: Rural Taxpayers -
Provisions Uphold, Mr. B. Taylor 685
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 60, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Mobil - Longshore Contracts, Dr. J. Hamm 685
No. 61, Fin. - ITT Sheraton: Casinos Changes - Public Debate,
Mr. R. Chisholm 686
No. 62, Sysco - Sale: Negotiations - Status, Dr. J. Hamm 688
No. 63, Sysco: Pension Plan Liability - Funding, Dr. J. Hamm 690
No. 64, Educ. - Horton H.S. (Kings Co.): Cost Increase -
Authorization, Mr. R. Chisholm 691
No. 65, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: TCP - Gift Explain, Dr. J. Hamm 693
No. 66, National Unity - Select Comm.: Acadian Members - Absence,
Dr. J. Hamm 693
No. 67, Educ. - School Capital Construction: List - Release,
Ms. E. O'Connell 696
No. 68, Commun. Serv.: Shelter Allowance - Retroactivity,
Mr. A. MacLeod 698
No. 69, Housing & Mun. Affs.: B&B Assessments - Status,
Mr. D. McInnes 699
No. 70, Commun. Serv. - Social Assist. Reform: Issue Paper - Release,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 700
No. 71, Educ.: Horton H. S. (Kings Co.) - Lease/Purchase Agreement,
Mr. G. Archibald 701
No. 72, Educ. - Schools: Construction (Public-Private) Review -
Status, Mr. E. Fage 704
No. 73, Fin. - HST: Hardship - Lessen, Mr. B. Taylor 706
No. 74, Educ. - Schools: Construction (Public-Private) - Loans,
Mr. J. Holm 707
No. 75, Fin.: Contingency Funds (Victims of Abuse) - Status,
Mr. R. Russell 709
No. 76, Bus. & Cons. Serv.: Gasoline Prices - Fluctuation,
Mr. D. McInnes 711
No. 77, Educ. - Schools: Construction - List Release, Ms. E. O'Connell 712
No. 78, Environ.: CCME Meeting (Regina) - Rep., Mr. J. Leefe 714
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 11, Workers' Compensation Act 716
Mr. R. Chisholm 716
Hon. G. O'Malley 718
Mr. R. Russell 719
Mr. J. Holm 721
No. 1, Wildlands Protection Act 722
Ms. E. O'Connell 722
Hon. K. MacAskill 723
Mr. J. Leefe 724
Mr. J. Holm 726
No. 12, Gasoline and Diesel Oil Fair-marketing Practices Act 727
Mr. J. Holm 727
Hon. W. Gaudet 728
Mr. R. Russell 730
Ms. E. O'Connell 731
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Environ. - Sable Projects: Joint Public Review Panel Recommendations -
Response, Hon. W. Adams 732
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Fin. - Economy (N.S.): Role (Atlantic Canada) - Recaptured:
Mr. R. Hubbard 733
Mr. R. Russell 736
Mr. J. Holm 738
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Dec. 4th at 1:00 p.m. 741

[Page 643]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Sixth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Gerald Fogarty

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Keith Colwell

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. At this time I would like to call the House into session and we will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, 47 pages, 1,081 signatures. The petition reads, "We the undersigned oppose the recent cuts to the Nova Scotia Children's Dental Program. Some of these cuts made to the children's dental benefits are: . . .". It lists them and then says, "This is wrong! We the voters and taxpayers of this province must be heard. We insist that the government revoke these cuts and reinstate the old program that was in effect prior to Nov 1st 1996.". I have affixed my signature to it and I therefore table it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

643

[Page 644]

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I would just wait a moment. I have just sent over copies of the statements.

Mr. Speaker, very recently, the building housing the law office of Elman Kuna located in Sydney, Nova Scotia, was destroyed by fire and files of injured workers were lost. I want to announce to the House today and to all members of the public and particularly those who owned those files, the files can be replaced and the Workers' Advisers Program has made arrangements to assist workers in replacing the files. Workers who did lose their files and have ongoing appeals will receive assistance to make sure the appeals proceed as quickly as possible.

An ad will run in the Cape Breton newspapers to inform workers of the fire and advise them to contact the Workers' Advisers Program for assistance in Sydney. Mr. Kuna has run his ad and will refer injured workers to the program. The Workers' Compensation Board and the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal will refer former clients of Elman Kuna to the program for assistance. The Workers' Compensation Board has agreed to replace the files at no cost to the program or to the workers. The Workers' Compensation Board and the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal have agreed to waive all deadlines while the client list is compiled and files are reconstructed. As the program is contacted by clients of Elman Kuna, a list will be compiled and will be cross-referenced to the appeal list and the Workers' Compensation Board and the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal to ensure that no files are missed. Workers are referred to the Workers' Advisers Program at their 1-800 line for assistance and future representation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the minister, at a late date anyway, provided a copy of his ministerial statement but, however, the statement itself is very straightforward. So, one would not need a great deal of notice.

Mr. Speaker, I would applaud the Workers' Advisers Program and the Workers' Compensation Board for replacing the files which were lost when Mr. Kuna's office was destroyed, and the fact that they are going to replace those files at no cost. However, I would say that in common decency I would have thought that would have happened anyway so that injured workers would not have to face the problem of trying to reconstruct their own files for the benefit of Mr. Kuna and to proceed with their claims against workers' compensation. The fact that they are going to be given additional time also is to be commended. Thank you.

[Page 645]

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's statement and the obvious cooperation that has been extended by the board and the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal and the Workers' Advisers Program to try to piece this information together and ensure that any information that was destroyed is replaced. I hope that in the process any material that has not been confirmed, or cannot be confirmed or whatever, that the benefit of the doubt in those cases will go to the worker, because of the fact that this occurred in no way as a result of anything done by the injured worker.

I would also hope that there is no delay whatsoever, not only in terms of deadline but in terms of processing the claims of these injured workers. I would hope that no delay whatsoever will result as a consequence of this move but, again, I thank the minister, the Workers' Compensation Board, the Appeal Tribunal and the Workers' Advisers Program for their willingness to cooperate in order to put this information back together for the benefit of these injured workers.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, by way of clarification only, yesterday, I was requested by the media to indicate where the $1 million in severance pay for the former Westray workers was residing. Further, in today's Daily News, the Leader of the New Democratic Party stated that the $1 million, being held by the Labour Relations Board, should be released to the surviving workers of that horrible disaster.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond. In June and July, 1992, over 100 unionized employees were laid off by Curragh Incorporated. That gave rise to a claim under the group notice provision of the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code, which involved 12 weeks of pay in lieu of notice. Those claims were tabulated by the Labour Standards Division to be in the vicinity of $1 million. Lawyers on behalf of the United Steelworkers of America opted to appeal directly to the Labour Standards Tribunal, rather than await a formal determination by the Director of Labour Standards, because of a number of legal issues that existed at that time.

The Labour Standards complaint was subsequently decided on September 26, 1995, with the Labour Standards Tribunal ruling, at that time, "that this complaint will be held in abeyance until such time as the public inquiry has dealt with these issues.". Now that the public inquiry has reported, it is expected that the Labour Standards Tribunal will schedule this matter for final disposition and act on it as soon as possible.

Mr. Speaker, there is no $1 million and I thank you.

[Page 646]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Well, Mr. Speaker, I am a little foggy on this matter I am afraid, because I don't quite understand it. From the point of view of the minister's statement, in that I believe in this House there was a statement made back at the time of the Westray disaster that there was money being held by someone in the amount of approximately $1 million to settle claims for those 100 miners that were laid off. (Interruption) I know.

[2:15 p.m.]

As I see the situation at the present time, the Labour Standards Tribunal will be hearing this particular case and I presume that if there is money somewhere within Curragh Resources to meet the claims of the workers it will be paid. Is the minister suggesting in this statement that he has just come forward with that the province will be picking up the tab for that amount that is being claimed by the workers or is there, somewhere in the courts, some of the assets of Curragh Incorporated held in escrow until such time as this particular case was settled? I simply don't understand this and I would like further elaboration from the minister at some time.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am not exactly sure what it is that the minister is trying to explain. Clearly, the issue about the million dollars of a claim that was put by those workers to the Labour Standards Tribunal, still exists. The fact is that they are entitled to severance as a result of the explosion, as a result of and I forget the exact wording of the code but it deals with the destruction of the plant by anything other than an act of God or natural means. Clearly, the decision of the commissioner was that responsibility rests with the government and the company.

My position has been and I am glad it was clarified, I was a bit concerned with the reference to the Labour Relations Board because clearly, I understand and I think communicated this yesterday that it is the Labour Standards Tribunal who has been hearing this issue. Now that the commissioner's report has come down unequivocally about the cause of this incident and who is responsible, that claim will, in fact, now go through and those monies will be made available to those workers.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, by way of any needed clarification, I opened my remarks, if they had been listened to, that this document was by way of clarification only, clarification of the existence of $1 million. It has nothing to do with compensation that may or may not result from the investigation being carried out by the

[Page 647]

Review Committee appointed by the Premier, which will report back here on all matters related to the whole Westray report.

This has to do with the report that there was $1 million existing in the Labour Relations Tribunal in my department. There is no $1 million residing in the Labour Relations Tribunal of my department. This is just clarification, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I did permit the Minister of Labour an addendum so I will permit a response.

The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond very briefly to that. That was not really my question, my question is if there is $1 million somewhere held in a trust fund or some other device from the resources of Curragh Incorporated, where is that money, if there is such money? Is it the minister's intention that the committee that has been set up to handle the Westray report, will they be looking at that particular matter?

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 233

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

Whereas municipal government is the level of the government that is closest to the people and municipal elections took place across the Province of Nova Scotia on October 18th; and

Whereas it is important to start newly elected officials off on the right foot, a committee made up of representatives of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, the Association of Municipal Administrators, the Maritime Municipal Training and Development Board, Henson College and the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs organized the conference introducing the basics of municipal government; and

Whereas some 200 municipal councillors, wardens and mayors took part in the orientation for the newly elected officials on November 28th and 29th here in Halifax and enthusiastically endorsed the professionalism and high calibre of the total session;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the organizing committee for a job well done.

[Page 648]

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 234

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

Whereas the United Nations General Assembly has designated December 3rd as International Day for Disabled Persons; and

Whereas the United Nations has adopted standards to promote equal opportunities for persons with disabilities in political, social, economic and cultural life; and

Whereas it is of critical importance for Nova Scotia to facilitate equal participation of persons with disabilities in all facets of life;

Therefore be it resolved that this House work closely with the Nova Scotia Disabled Persons Commission to ensure that government policies meet the needs of all persons with disabilities in Nova Scotia.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 649]

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 235

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall

move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas December is designated as Lung Disease month and one in four Nova Scotians has some form of respiratory disease; and

Whereas the Lung Association of Nova Scotia was instrumental in coordinating a recent conference held here in Halifax to develop a provincial asthma strategy and is committed to providing programs and support for Nova Scotians suffering from respiratory diseases; and

Whereas the Response to the Smoke-Free Places Discussion Paper tabled today, identifying the ill effects of second-hand smoke, particularly for those with respiratory problems and demonstrating Nova Scotian's interest in the issue of second-hand smoke;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take this opportunity to recognize and congratulate the Lung Association of Nova Scotia for their ongoing commitment to Nova Scotians with respiratory disease and to acknowledge the many positive responses to the Smoke-Free Places Discussion Paper.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an introduction with your permission. In the east gallery, I would like to introduce to you, and through you to all members of the House of Assembly: Mr. Bill Van Gorder, President and CEO, Lung Association of Nova Scotia; Nancy Roberts, Director of Government Relations, Lung Association of Nova Scotia; Corrinne Corning, Director of Health Promotion, Heart & Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia; Elaine Shelton, Education and Lifestyles Co-ordinator, Heart &

[Page 650]

Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia; and they are accompanied by a member of our department, Merv Ungerain, Director of the Tobacco Control Unit. I would ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 236

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

Whereas on April 16, 1996, the fund-raising campaign was launched for needed repairs, restoration and archaeological dig to the Little Dutch Church located in Northend Halifax; and

Whereas although small and unassuming this church ranks as one of the most historically significant buildings in Halifax and, indeed, Canada; and

Whereas on October 30, 1997, under the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Agreement $75,000 in project funding was announced that will result in eight new short-term jobs and create tourism sector spin-offs;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the German-Canadian Association of Nova Scotia, the Lutheran, Anglican congregations and our government's commitment to economic development through the Infrastructure Works Program.

I would ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: A request for waiver of notice requires 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.

The honourable Minister of Community Services on an introduction.

[Page 651]

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce in the east gallery members of the Community Advocates Network. The network is an alliance of people directly affected by social assistance policy. It is represented by many organizations. I think at last count I had over 30 organizations and I could stand to be corrected on that number. It is also an alliance of advocates and allies of organizations that work and are affected by social assistance policy. I would ask the members of the House to provide their usual warm welcome and I would ask the members of the alliance if they would please stand. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, before we get into resolutions, I wonder if we can revert to Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a report today. It is a release of An Analysis of the Response to the Smoke-Free Places Discussion Paper called Smoke-Free Places - Towards Healthier Communities in Nova Scotia.

I am very pleased today to introduce to you and my colleagues in the House and I believe you are receiving copies as I speak, the response to smoke-free places discussion paper tabled in the Legislature in April. This report presents the results of public input to the discussion paper. This consultative process helped open the lines of communication around the issues of second-hand smoke in our province. It has also looked at how our province can provide smoke-free environments for Nova Scotians to protect them and their children from the serious health hazards of second-hand smoke.

This report showed that the issue of second-hand smoke is very important to the majority of respondents. It has also shown strong support for smoke-free public places in Nova Scotia. The public clearly favours smoking restrictions. We must now work with the hospitality industry and the business community to determine a reasonable course of action. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

Before we go to Notices of Motion, we have Introduction of Bills we have not yet covered in the daily routine.

[Page 652]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 15 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Sale of Certain Land by the Municipality of the County of Richmond and to Exempt the St. Peters and Area Lions Club from Municipal Taxes with respect to Such Lands. (Mr. Richard Mann)

Bill No. 16 - Entitled an Act to Exempt the Centre Culturel Communataire de L'Isle Madame "La Picasse" from Municipal Taxes Levied by the Municipality of the County of Richmond with Respect to Certain Property at Petit de Grat. (Mr. Richard Mann)

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 237

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

Whereas Mary Mattatall, an employee of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, participated at the Olympic Curling Trials in Brandon, Manitoba, last week; and

Whereas Mary and her Halifax Mayflower Curling Team were competing in a bid to go to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan; and

Whereas her team, although not winner, but were winners in Nova Scotia's perspective, represented Nova Scotia in a professional and gracious manner;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Assembly extend congratulations to Mary Mattatall and her teammates: Angie Byrant, Lisa MacLeod, Heather Hopkins, Hallie Clark, Coach Reid Romkey for their athletic talents, their ambition and their accomplishments in Brandon, Manitoba.

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

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 653]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to introduce to members of the House, the team members that are here. First I would like to introduce Mary Mattatall, who is the skip of the team and I would ask her to stand. Mary's second on the team is Lisa MacLeod and she has with her an addition to the team members, the baby, Abby; so if Lisa would please stand up I think it would be very appreciated. Spare on the team is Hallie Clark, fifth; the one that keeps the team together and that is, of course, the coach, Reid Romkey. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to inform the members of the House that we are all very proud of the accomplishments they have made, they not only represented Nova Scotia but is the only team in Atlantic Canada to be there on behalf of Atlantic Canada. We are very proud and in our view they are winners by being there and representing us in such a professional and proud way. Let us all in the House give them a very warm welcome and let them know how proud we really are. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 238

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

Whereas Mobil refuses to give back Nova Scotia's right to own or sell its 50 per cent commercial interest in the onshore and the offshore pipelines; and

Whereas this is clear, undeniable proof that the back-in provision had value with or without a direct investment in the pipeline by Nova Scotia taxpayers; and

Whereas the Premier and his former Minister of Natural Resources who gave away Nova Scotia's hard won and valuable asset to Mobil for absolutely nothing, are leading Nova Scotians astray by saying it was worthless as a saleable asset or negotiating tool;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his former Minister of Natural Resources explain to Nova Scotians why this giveaway is so valuable to Mobil that it refuses to part with it.

[Page 654]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 239

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

Whereas at this time of year Nova Scotians remember and mourn the loss of women who have died violently; and

Whereas as someone has said, our community needs our Women's Centre, it provides programming and workshops that are invaluable to women who are trying to heal, strengthen and educate themselves in order to have happier, healthy homes and to contribute more fully to the community in which we live and work; and

Whereas inadequate and unequal funding for women's centres and transition houses makes this task extremely difficult and its goals less attainable;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services immediately commit support to women in need by providing equal funding to all women's centres, and stable core funding to transition houses.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 240

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

Whereas on Monday, December 1st, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism announced funding of $3.9 million for a winter employment program which will help put more than 1,600 unemployed Nova Scotians back to work this winter; and

Whereas this employment program will create jobs in the seven counties with the highest unemployment rates; and

Whereas the provincial government will partner with business, non-profit organizations and other levels of government to create jobs for Nova Scotians in need of employment;

[Page 655]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Government of Nova Scotia and the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism for launching this initiative that will provide valuable work experience to allow the unemployed to increase their independence.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 241

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

Whereas RCMP officers play a vital role in law enforcement in rural communities throughout Canada, often experiencing significant risk in carrying out their duties; and

Whereas the 60 members of the Cole Harbour RCMP detachment recently lost one of their most valuable team players in an accident in the Bras d'Or Lakes; and

Whereas Constable Frank Carriere will be sadly missed as a loving family member, an active participant in the community of Cole Harbour, and as a dedicated officer with the RCMP;

Therefore be it resolved that members join me in extending sincere sympathy to the family and friends of Constable Frank Carriere.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and a moment of silence in his memory.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 656]

The motion is carried.

Would all members please stand for a moment of silence.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 242

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Drama League is a local theatre group which provides amateur actors and production people with the opportunity to work with theatre experts in a professional production; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Drama League put on their 9th Annual All-Star Fantasy Frolic, The Music Man, this past weekend in Halifax; and

Whereas one of the all-stars included our very own honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works, Donald Downe;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Nova Scotia Drama League, their cast and production crew and celebrity guests on a job well done in the delightful play, The Music Man.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

[Page 657]

RESOLUTION NO. 243

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

Whereas Olands Breweries Ltd., located in my riding of Halifax Needham, won the Export Achievement Award in 1993 for a 740 per cent increase in exports for 1993 over 1992; and

Whereas in 1997 as a new specialty brewery facility, Olands will spend $9 million alone to improve operations, marketing initiatives and employee programs; and

Whereas Olands, with this new venture added, will spend $50 million annually on supplies and services that contribute to the economy of this province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Olands Breweries and the hard-working men and women that produce their union-made products.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 244

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

Whereas today, December 3rd, is the Feast of Saint Francis Xavier; and

Whereas today is celebrated as St. F.X. Day with alumni events throughout the world, including one in Halifax; and

[Page 658]

Whereas today at St. F.X. University in Antigonish over 700 students will receive their X rings in a ceremony held on campus;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the senior students and send best wishes to the St. F.X. Alumni chapters throughout the world; celebrating today the motto of St. F.X.: Quaecumque Sunt Vera - Whatsoever things are true.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 245

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

Whereas in reaction to questions as to why the province settled with three former tourism employees just as their case for wrongful dismissal due to political affiliation was to be aired through the Human Rights Commission, the Premier stated, " You can never be sure you're going to win . . . and sometimes it's safer to settle"; and

Whereas this is about one area where this one-term government with the direction of not just one but two Premiers over four and one-half years feels that settling is the best course of actions for Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this government has in four and one-half years settled for deep cuts to our health care system, education, social services and our military, thanks to the Premier's former colleagues, the HST, long gun registration, casinos, a 30 per cent reduction in hospital beds, the Pharmacare tax, unquestioned private control of school and highway construction, bad deals on our natural gas and on and on;

Therefore be it resolved that this Premier and his government stop settling "because you can never be sure you're going to win" and start fighting for what is best for Nova Scotians.

[Page 659]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 246

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

Whereas the Tory privatization of Nova Scotia Power has proven very profitable to its new for-profit owners while at the same time it has resulted in poorer service for the corporation's former owners, Nova Scotians; and

Whereas Nova Scotia Power has spared little expense in promoting its propaganda that the lengthy delays and hardships caused Nova Scotians from power outages happened because last weekend's storm was the worst in 15 years; and

Whereas a reality check will show that the number of leading linespersons and linespersons employed by Nova Scotia Power has decreased by over 30 per cent since the Tory privatization;

Therefore be it resolved that the House urge Nova Scotia Power to use its considerable financial resources in a more positive manner, that is, providing a more acceptable level of service to Nova Scotians instead of wasting it on short-term media propaganda.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 247

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

Whereas three out of seven agreements signed on Saturday, November 29th, by Prime Minister Jean Chretien, President Fidel Ramos of the Philippines and Education and Culture Minister Robbie Harrison are with Nova Scotia; and

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas each of the three agreements involve the development of cooperative programs at the diploma, undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels, as well as the export and sharing of research expertise; and

[Page 660]

Whereas Premier Russell MacLellan credited the success in signing these agreements to the quality of Nova Scotia's post-secondary education system;

Therefore be it resolved that this House unanimously commend the Minister of Education for his outstanding accomplishments in negotiating these agreements.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if before I do my resolution I could make an introduction? We have two community leaders from northern Cape Breton, Mr. Winston Briand and Elmourne MacKinnon. We welcome them to the House today and we extend to them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 248

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

Whereas on September 15, 1996, during Hurricane Hortense, at Ingonish Beach, Victoria County, a passerby had her car swept off the Cabot Trail by strong floodwaters and as a result had her clinging to a tree for her life; and

Whereas Tony Benjamin Fitzgerald, a local volunteer firefighter risked his life in treacherous weather conditions by guiding a small boat out to rescue this woman; and

Whereas Mr. Fitzgerald was later nominated for a national award in light of his act of bravery;

[Page 661]

Therefore be it resolved that all honourable members of this House extend congratulations to Tony Benjamin Fitzgerald for being selected to receive a National Medal of Bravery from Governor General Romeo LeBlanc, in recognition of his courage and presence of mind in successfully rescuing a woman from drowning last year.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 249

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

Whereas in 1986 a group of people in Truro desired to establish a church in the community; and

Whereas the group of people came together to build a congregation and called upon Dave Meyers about the possibility of pastoring a pioneer work in Truro; and

Whereas the group bought land in Bible Hill and on August 29, 1990 met for a ground-breaking ceremony and on October 26, 1990, entered the completed structure;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Abundant Life Victory Church and Pastor Abe Brown on celebrating its 10th Anniversary to the Glory of God.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 662]

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 250

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

Whereas this past Sunday the 11th Annual Christmas Telethon was held in support of the local ambulance service for the Pubnicos and Argyle area; and

Whereas the West Pubnico Ambulance and Funeral Services Association's solid record of quality care has resulted in excellent support from the community; and

Whereas these communities pledged more than $14,000 in just four hours;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognizes and applauds the generous contributions of the people of the Pubnicos and Argyle and their continued support for this vital community-based health care service.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 251

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

[Page 663]

Whereas the Unicorn Theatre in Hubbards is a unique and exceptional community endeavour; and

Whereas the theatre gives young people the opportunity to perform on stage and in the process gain self-confidence through achievement and creativity; and

Whereas the Unicorn Theatre also provides a focus for youth and parents, friends and supporters to work together to produce high quality local entertainment;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate the volunteer board of directors, the director and production crew, Mr. Jim Pineo and Hubbards Square, private corporate sponsors and, most of all, the players themselves who have worked so hard to make the Unicorn Theatre a great community success.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 252

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

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia Awards were presented at a gala dinner on Tuesday, November 26th; and

Whereas the Yarmouth Waterfront Development Corporation Limited was honoured with the Adventure Tourism and Recreation Award; and

Whereas this award was in recognition for their remarkable work improving the Yarmouth waterfront;

[Page 664]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly congratulate the Yarmouth Waterfront Development Corporation Limited for both their efforts in improving the waterfront and for their recent award.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 253

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

Whereas numbers from Enterprise Cape Breton Corporations show that occupancy rates for Cape Breton Island's accommodations during January through to September were, on average, up; and

Whereas increased numbers of visitors also took in such Cape Breton attractions as the Cape Breton Highlands Park and the Bell Museum; and

Whereas the John Cabot celebrations and the Celtic Colour Festival also drew significant numbers of participants;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the hard work and initiatives of this provincial government and the Cape Breton Tourism Industry.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

[Page 665]

RESOLUTION NO. 254

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture in a press release issued Friday, November 28th, said that the proposed changes to the federal Fisheries Act were unacceptable; and

Whereas these changes fail to acknowledge the province's role in managing an important resource; and

Whereas Nova Scotia will settle for nothing less than the province being recognized as a full partner in the new federal Fisheries Act;

Therefore be it resolved that this House unanimously support the request of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture that the province be included as a full partner in the new federal Fisheries Act.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

RESOLUTION NO. 255

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

Whereas this year marks the 10th Anniversary of the Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers Association and Crime Stoppers Cape Breton; and

[Page 666]

Whereas in the last 10 years, Crime Stoppers' tipsters have been responsible for solving more than 2,300 unsolved cases, identifying and charging more than 1,800 criminals, recovering more than $2 million in stolen property and seizing more than $2 million in illegal drugs; and

Whereas Crime Stoppers is administered and overseen by citizen volunteers from all over Nova Scotia and has averaged a return of $18.53 for every $1.00 paid out as a cash award;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend to the dedicated volunteers, whose responsibilities include everything from implementing sound policies and procedures, fundraising and promoting this unique crime fighting tool, their deep appreciation and congratulations on a job well done and wish them continued success as they carry out their Crime Stoppers' tasks in the years to come.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 256

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

Whereas Cape Bretoners and people in other high unemployment regions of Nova Scotia welcomed this week's announcement of 1,600 short-term winter works jobs by the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism; and

Whereas in September residents of Cape Breton County also welcomed the announcement by the Premier, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism and other Liberals, of 214 short-term, infrastructure jobs; and

[Page 667]

Whereas despite the September announcement, the people of Cape Breton County and their hard-working MP Michelle Dockrill, are still looking for evidence of those 214 short-term jobs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Minister of Economic Development to improve on his September performance by ensuring that the 1,600 jobs announced this week really do materialize in job-hungry communities across this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 257

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

Whereas yesterday the provincial government released a comprehensive cultural policy to guide government support and development of arts and culture in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas over the past four and a half years this government has been an active supporter of the arts and culture sector, by such methods as establishing tax credits for film production, supporting the building of the Neptune Theatre and creating the Nova Scotia Council of Arts; and

Whereas this support has helped create a booming arts and cultural industry in the province, generating millions of dollars in economic activity and making it possible for most of our talented artists to carve out a career here at home, including many in the riding of Halifax Citadel;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Minister of Education and Culture on the release of this provincial cultural policy and commend the government for having the vision to recognize the value of the arts and culture in its own right and as a tool for economic development.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 668]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 258

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

Whereas the Premier was quick to try and score political points by pointing the finger at Nova Scotia Power, saying he would ask the URB to investigate inordinate delays in restoring power to hundreds of Nova Scotia families; and

Whereas despite three winter storms, numerous collisions, fender benders and accidents, widespread school cancellations and road closures, the Minister of Transportation still denies that winter is here and refuses to call out winter work crews; and

Whereas the Liberal Government is displaying hypocrisy in the extreme in saying Nova Scotia Power is slow in responding to storm related problems when it refuses to ensure the safe travel of all Nova Scotia motorists;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government take stock of its inconsistent, hypocritical and potentially deadly actions and immediately call out seasonal work crews to clear Nova Scotia's impassable, snow covered roads.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 259

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

Whereas Pat Connolly is highly regarded throughout Canada and the United States with outstanding careers in broadcasting, sports directing and, most recently, as a sports and news columnist; and

Whereas over the years Mr. Connolly has received numerous awards, including the 1989 American Hockey League Broadcaster of the Year and the selected Atlantic Area Volunteer of the Year by the Canadian Inter-Collegiate Athletic Union in 1985; and

[Page 669]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame will pay tribute to Pat Connolly on Thursday, December 4th, by recognizing his decades of service to promoting Nova Scotia sports and athletics;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Mr. Pat Connolly, Nova Scotia's Man-of-All-Seasons in sports.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 260

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

Whereas Cape Breton County traffic was brought to an almost complete standstill by a winter storm last Friday; and

Whereas the Department of Transportation and Public Works was unable or unprepared to deal with this storm; and

Whereas the Department of Transportation and Public Works at one point during the storm could not contact their plows or pump fuel, because of no back-up generator in a power outage;

[3:00 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Cape Breton County plow operators, dispatchers and mechanics who did such a good job considering the factors that they faced.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

[Page 670]

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

The honourable member for Shelburne, on an introduction.

MR. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to you and through you to all members of the Legislature, I would like to introduce in the west gallery the Mayor of Lockeport, Mayor Sarah Huskilson, and Deputy Mayor Bill Maloy. Also, in the east gallery, the Warden of the Municipality of Barrington, Stephen Stoddard. I would ask the House to give them the usual welcome. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 261

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

Whereas Howard Epstein, Councillor for Connaught-Quinpool in Halifax Regional Municipality and a nominated NDP candidate for Halifax Chebucto, made certain allegations with respect to the operations of the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas Mr. Epstein requested the RCMP to investigate eight of his fellow councillors with respect to his allegations; and

Whereas the RCMP has rejected this request and determined that this is not a subject for the police to investigate, causing some colleagues to request an apology while others have called for Mr. Epstein's resignation from council;

Therefore be it resolved that this House request the Leader of the NDP to inform us whether or not, in light of these latest developments, he will still be signing Mr. Epstein's nomination papers when the writ is issued in the spring.

[Page 671]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

DR. JOHN HAMM: I wish to draw the attention of members of the House to two visitors in the west gallery. We have Mr. John Abbass, a resident of Sydney who is a past-president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia. To his immediate left is his brother, Mr. Ferris Abbass, the father of the member for Halifax-Chebucto, Mr. Jay Abbass. I think it is a tribute to the Messrs. Abbass that they are sitting together and it goes to show that blood is thicker than politics. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 262

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

Whereas for the seventh year Metro Transit will be collecting bus loads of food donations on Friday for the Metro Food Bank; and

Whereas off duty transit drivers and maintenance workers will drive around metro in out-of-service buses; and

Whereas citizens can take non-perishable food items to donation boxes at metro grocery stores and McDonald's Restaurants for pickup by the buses;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend their congratulations to Metro Transit and its bus drivers for their generosity in volunteering their time to help those who are in need.

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

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

[Page 672]

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 263

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

Whereas U. J. Robichaud and Son Limited of Meteghan Centre is celebrating its 130th Anniversary of operation as a lumber and hardware supply business; and

Whereas the family-owned firm was founded in 1867, the same year as Canadian Confederation, and like our country has grown and prospered ever since; and

Whereas U. J. Robichaud and Son has for five generations overcome fires, economic depression and recessions to remain an important employer and vibrant part of the Clare business community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the present owner/operators, Camille and Marie Robichaud, for continuing the proud legacy established by Jean-Pierre Robichaud in 1867 and wish them even greater success in the years ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 264

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

Whereas funding expires on December 31, 1997 for the Justice Department's seven advocacy projects under the Framework for Action Against Family Violence; and

[Page 673]

Whereas the minister told the Transition House Association that the program review would be completed by November 30, 1997; and

Whereas there is almost no time for transition houses to come up with contingency plans for women being served and waiting to be served by advocacy programs;

Therefore be it resolved that the Justice Department immediately release the results of its review and announce its plans for the future of these vitally important advocacy programs.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 265

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

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, while still unaware that winter conditions are indeed here, has tried to do a real snow job on Nova Scotians by trying to say Opposition criticism of conditions lie with the work of the road crews on hand; and

Whereas the minister's snow job does little to show his support for the road operators, who have been left in a precarious position in treacherous conditions by not providing sufficient numbers of workers and snow removal equipment to carry out the work in the three major snowstorms which have hit our province hard in the last couple of weeks; and

Whereas if the minister wanted to show true leadership he would stop snowing the public and turn to the issue at hand: his refusal to immediately call back work crews with sufficient snow removal equipment;

Therefore be it resolved that the government as a whole review the decision of this minister in the interests of public safety and in anticipation of future snowfall before December 6th and back Opposition and public calls for needed winter road crews with sufficient equipment, before endangering the lives of overworked, exhausted operators who have done the best job possible with resources offered to them by their department over the course of the last three major storms.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

[Page 674]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 266

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

Whereas the Liberal Government gave away, for absolutely nothing, Nova Scotia's valuable right to own or sell its 50 per cent commercial interest in the onshore and offshore pipeline; and

Whereas the Premier has lamented his government's giveaway saying, "that which has already been done, we cannot change, but we will do what we can in areas where we can have some kind of reasonable chance of success"; and

Whereas the Premier will not produce any paper documentation of his government's demand for this asset that Mobil obviously is not prepared to surrender;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier explain why the back-in provision giveaway is a done deal when there is apparently no legal documentation on record verifying the transfer of the back-in provision from the Province of Nova Scotia to Mobil Oil.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 267

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

Whereas the would-be proprietor of would-be privatized Donkin Mine has admitted that he would prefer to be "out from under federal regulations" if he operates the Donkin Mine; and

Whereas this freedom from federal regulation would leave miners working for the would-be operator of the would-be privatized Donkin Mine dependent for their safety on the provincial regulatory regime which the Westray Inquiry has described as incompetent, apathetic and cynically indifferent; and

[Page 675]

Whereas the Westray Inquiry has recommended that all coal mine inspections in this province should be a federal responsibility;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Cabinet Committee on Westray to proceed without delay to negotiate an agreement enabling the federal Labour Department to take over regulation and inspection of underground coal mining in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 268

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

Whereas despite the Premier's feeble assurance that taxpayers are not and will not subsidize offshore-related work, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism confirmed that his department is using taxpayers' money to buy contracts for companies hoping to get a piece of the offshore pie; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism is using taxpayers' money to skewer the bid process for the offshore supply base in favour of Secunda Marine and is arranging similar deals with other preferred companies; and

Whereas it is inconceivable that Nova Scotia with so many real, unmet needs in the area of health, education and social services is subsidizing Mobil Oil's costs when Mobil and its partners stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars in profit from Nova Scotia's offshore natural gas;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism immediately halt any negotiations leading to a direct or indirect subsidy for the SOEP partners, and further, that he immediately table in this House the total commitment of tax dollars, to date, for all offshore-related work and the full list of companies his government has been, or is presently negotiating with.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

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

[Page 676]

Whereas while campaigning for the Liberal Leadership, Premier MacLellan talked about a more open and consultative government; and

Whereas since becoming Premier his government refused to release the McGhie Report, details of the public-private partnering, its secret deal with Maritime Medical Care Limited, details concerning Ranka's proposal to the government, the cost of hush money paid for politically motivated wrongful dismissals and the cost of its flip flop over the "make you want to hurl" NSRL; and

Whereas the Premier and his government talk of secret deals, refused to consult Nova Scotians on the Sable gas project, denied requests for emergency debates on deplorable and dangerous road conditions and the future of liquid by-products, refuses to provide an opportunity for Nova Scotians to comment on his proposed changes to the HST, refused to allow social service agencies an opportunity to comment on proposed changes to the social service system, dodges debates on important issues in his own constituency and refuses to provide a single straightforward answer to any question put to him on the floor of this Legislature; (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: This goes on forever, honourable member.

MR. MACLEOD: Therefore be it resolved that the Premier admit that despite his earlier promises he operates a secretive, do-as-we please, none-of-your-business, we'll-tell-you-later, we-won't-tell-you-at-all, we-must-protect-our-private-partners, go-pound-sand government that is quickly surpassing the excessive . . .

MR. SPEAKER: This is not resembling a notice of motion.

MR. MACLEOD: . . . secrecy, do-as-we-please, none-of-your-business, we'll-tell-you-later, we-won't tell-you-at-all, we-must-protect-our-private-partners, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is out of order.

MR. MACLEOD: . . . go-pound-sand style of the turfed-out-on-his-butt, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The member will be seated. The notice is out of order. It is out of order. Bring it to me, please. It is out of order.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, with due respect, I do submit to your honour that resolution is just a tad perhaps overweight.

MR. SPEAKER: That was stated by the Chair. Are there further notices of motion? If there is any confusion over that last so-called notice of motion. It is not being accepted. It is out of order.

[Page 677]

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of clarification. Is that notice of motion being ruled out of order because it is too long, or because you do not agree with the language?

MR. SPEAKER: A number of reasons, simply too long, it was not in the form of a resolution, it was a speech. Notices of motion are not speeches here in this House of Assembly, and I try to be flexible and it certainly goes beyond all bounds that that would be acceptable. That notice is out of order.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 269

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

Whereas the world heritage site's "A Traditional Lunenburg Christmas" will take place December 5th to 7th; and

Whereas the sixth annual holiday festival will include such Christmas festivities as the pilgrimage of the first Christmas, unique shopping experiences and Christmas music; and

Whereas the festival will conclude on Sunday with a Victorian Christmas Brunch at the Boscawen Inn with proceeds to help buy shoes for underprivileged children;

[3:15 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to the organizing committee as we extend a warm welcome to our Traditional Lunenburg Christmas.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 678]

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 270

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

Whereas a coalition of business, union and municipal leaders was formed this week to fight for the relocation of Marine Atlantic's headquarters to North Sydney, a move which could bring as many as 40 high-paying and much-needed jobs to the community; and

Whereas most politicians from the area, including MP Peter Mancini, have put their political differences aside to compete with Port aux Basques for the Marine Atlantic headquarters; and

Whereas the Premier, who is the MLA for Cape Breton North, did not attend this week's founding meeting of the coalition but assured the media that he is working on the file personally to come up with a solution;

Therefore be it resolved that in furtherance of the common effort to bring much-needed jobs to North Sydney and in recognition that we can achieve more by working together, the Premier share his file and his contacts with members of the coalition.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 271

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

Whereas time and time again this MacLellan-Savage Government has tried to hide its secret deals from the public, hiding behind the Freedom of Information Act, including its deals with ITT Sheraton, the Atlantic Highways Corporation and Maritime Medical Care Limited; and

Whereas despite a number of clear and precise rulings by the Freedom of Information Review Officer who said taxpayers have a right to know key details of financial arrangements between the MacLellan-Savage Government and third party interests, this Liberal Government led by Premier MacLellan continues to cook up secret deals and deny the public access to information it has a right to know; and

[Page 679]

Whereas the most recent example of the government's refusal to come clean on a secret deal involving taxpayers' money is its refusal to provide details on its agreement with Secunda Marine for engineering and repair costs to the Mobil dock for work that will be exclusively related to the offshore;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage-MacLellan Government acknowledge that Premier number two is as bad as Premier number one when it comes to secret, back-room deals and that it has responsibility to save the taxpayer the time and indeed the expense of an appeal process by immediately releasing the details of its sweetheart deal with Secunda Marine.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 272

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

Whereas Samantha Covert of Dartmouth East recently placed second in a national talent squad final at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto; and

Whereas this second place finish, along with her performances this past summer in the Ontario and Quebec circuits, has earned her a berth on the equestrian 1997-98 talent squad short list; and

Whereas this talent squad recognizes riders who are not only preparing to enter the Grand Prix level competition but also those who have the ability to become future members of the Canadian Equestrian Team;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Samantha Covert for this recent honour and wish her well in future endeavours.

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

[Page 680]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 273

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

Whereas this Liberal Government gave Mobil, for absolutely nothing, Nova Scotia's valuable and hard fought right to either buy into or sell its back-in provision on the offshore and the offshore pipeline; and

Whereas as stated in the joint review panel's report, the majority of jobs and economic spinoffs from the construction phase of Nova Scotia's offshore project are going to New Brunswickers and not Nova Scotians; and

Whereas despite the fact that Nova Scotia has no guarantees of gas, laterals, price advantage, liquid by-products or anything else, this government is clearly not maximizing potential growth that should result from Canada's largest undeveloped natural gas deposit;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government explain to the unemployed construction and trades workers, and to cash-strapped taxpayers, why it is throwing million of dollars of taxpayers' money at SOEP when Mobil and its partners are not prepared to provide Nova Scotians with the rightful advantages that we should receive from the development of Nova Scotia's natural gas.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 274

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

[Page 681]

Whereas the Consumer Price Index shows that Nova Scotia consumers were hit with a 7 per cent increase in the cost of clothing and footwear; and

Whereas the Canadian average was less than 2 per cent; and

Whereas Nova Scotia experienced the slowest rate of growth in departmental sales of any province in the country;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government, which imposed the BST, acknowledge the high cost of the new tax on Nova Scotia families and, further, that the Premier demonstrate he is a man of his word and immediately remove this regressive and hated tax on Nova Scotian families.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 275

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

Whereas this Savage-MacLellan Government's mark for driving doctors out of Nova Scotia would be an A+, while their mark and total failure in attracting doctors to Nova Scotia could only be given a failing grade; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Department of Health is on record as saying there should be one family doctor for every 1,100 to 1,400 people; and

Whereas this is far from the case in western Shelburne County where only four, and soon to be three again, full-time doctors are available to serve 9,000 residents, meaning that local emergency service is only available until 9:00 p.m., forcing residents to travel up to an hour to get to a hospital in the event of a medical emergency crisis;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health not treat such statistics as a low-profile item and begin listening to the concerns of the people of western Shelburne County and to local municipal officials who have described the concerns raised by residents of Barrington as "scary", and who agree that the small number of doctors in western Shelburne County constitutes a critical situation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 682]

RESOLUTION NO. 276

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

MR. SPEAKER: I must interrupt the honourable Leader of the Opposition. This is the third time on your feet here in Notices of Motion. It is two for every member of the House.

DR. HAMM: The second one was an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Just the second. Is it just the second? I am sorry, my apologies then.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. HAMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: I think you need a hat, Mr. Speaker, you would be able to count better. I guess we know whose team you are playing for, too.

DR. HAMM: You owe me one.

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

Whereas the Long Term Services for Youth Association provides a ten bed residence, a supervised apartment program, a walk-in centre and a follow-up program for youth; and

Whereas there are approximately 750 youths who seek their services, because youths between the ages of 16 and 19 do not qualify for social service assistance and there is no other place to go; and

Whereas the new Minister of Community Services said publicly in 1990 that "it takes core funding from government, without strings attached, to ensure the survival of the support system offered by Phoenix House";

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services demonstrate that her words of 1990 had meaning and make the appropriate commitment to Phoenix House.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

[Page 683]

RESOLUTION NO. 277

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

Whereas during the four by-elections held on November 4, 1997, the Tory candidates in two of the ridings lost their deposits; and

Whereas the loss of the Tories' deposits, as well as the reimbursement portion of their expenses, allows $25,000 to remain in the public coffers, while reflecting a lack of confidence of the electorate in the Tory Party; and

Whereas the lack of confidence is due to the electorate's recognition of the Tories leading this province to the brink of disaster with a $9 billion debt;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the electorate of Nova Scotia for the wisdom and request the Leader of the Tory Party to advise the House as to when his Party will replace the remaining billions of dollars to the public coffers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 278

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

Whereas yesterday the Premier continued to obfuscate respecting just what agreements Nova Scotia is obligated to respecting Sable gas; and

Whereas some days the Premier says we have agreements and some days he says we have no agreements and some days he says we have some agreements but not others, but he is not sure which we have and which we don't have; and

[Page 684]

Whereas you don't have to be a lawyer to know that when you have signed a contract, you are obligated to meet its demands;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately call Dalhousie Law School and apply to take the first year course on contract law.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 279

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

Whereas tourism is an extremely important industry in Nova Scotia and will bring $1 billion in receipts this year; and

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia honoured its best and brightest at a recent dinner; and

Whereas the Silver Dart Lodge of Baddeck, managed by Greg Ross, won the accommodation award;

Therefore be it resolved that congratulations be extended to the Silver Dart Lodge of Baddeck together with all of the recipients in the other categories for being the best in the business together with every wish for an even better 1998.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 685]

RESOLUTION NO. 280

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

Whereas rural taxpayers in the Halifax Regional Municipality were forced screaming and dragging into municipal amalgamation by way of the Savage-MacLellan Government's shot-gun marriage approach; and

Whereas rural taxpayers are very concerned that they are paying for services they are not getting; and

Whereas rural Halifax County taxpayers in concert with their former rural Halifax County councillors fought long and hard to ensure the Halifax Regional Municipality Act protects the rural taxpayer by way of language contained in the HRM legislation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs and all members of this House of Assembly continue to support the rural property taxpayers in the Halifax Regional Municipality by upholding existing provisions in the current legislation that protects the rural taxpayer.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

If there are no further resolutions we will move on to the Orders of the Day, Oral Questions Put by Members. The time is 3:28 p.m. and we will go to 4:58 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: MOBIL - LONGSHORE CONTRACTS

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Would the Premier tell the House if he has had any discussions or signed any agreements with Mobil and its partners that would prevent certified Nova Scotia longshoremen from working on the offshore?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): No, I haven't, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 686]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will continue with the Premier. I have been contacted by a number of people who have advised me that Mobil will not be employing representatives of the International Longshoremen's Association. Could the Premier tell me if he supports such a move and if not is he prepared to convey his feelings on this matter, in writing, to Mobil?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is the first I heard of this. It was never brought up to me by Mobil or anybody else.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier. It is my understanding that Local 269 of the International Longshoremen's Association is certified to provide longshore services in and around the Port of Halifax. I wonder if the Premier would tell the House whether or not there is any move afoot to exclude Local 269 from providing work at the Mobil dock across the harbour?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I certainly know of no move to exclude that local. My position and the position of this government has always been to have as many Nova Scotians as possible working on the offshore project.

[3:30 p.m.]

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

FIN. - ITT SHERATON: CASINOS CHANGES - PUBLIC DEBATE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. Mr. Speaker, you and all Nova Scotians know that currently there is renewed negotiations going on between the Province of Nova Scotia and ITT Sheraton with respect to the whole idea of developing a new casino or the possibility of building a new casino and maybe changing the regulations. We have seen minutes of settlements that have been signed and we also understand that there are regulations changes and those two items are before Cabinet for a decision.

I would like to say, Mr. Speaker, that those changes will have a significant impact not only on those people going to the casinos but also to the businesses, bars and restaurants in downtown Halifax and Sydney, who feel that that will be giving ITT Sheraton an unfair advantage.

I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, because of the seriousness of this issue, will the Premier agree to bring forward to the House a resolution containing any regulatory changes for a full and open public debate before any such changes are approved by Cabinet?

[Page 687]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer this question to the honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, with regard to the changes in regulations, ITT Sheraton have requested through the Gaming Corporation to make representations to the Minister responsible for Part I of the Gaming Corporation and through me to the Cabinet to see that certain changes be made. The procedure that has been followed is that the Minister responsible for Part II, who is the minister responsible for changes in regulations, for example, in relation to liquor, we are meeting on that matter. That matter has not gone to Cabinet. That minister and I have met with groups such as the Restaurant Association to hear their views. We haven't finalized any way, shape or form our deliberations in order to make representations to Cabinet of whether we suggest any changes or recommend no changes. So it certainly is not before Cabinet right now and it will not go there until we are ready to make a joint presentation.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I was directing my question to the Premier and to the government, as the representative of the government, because we want to make sure that we have an open public debate on this issue before decisions are made.

I want to go with my supplementary and if the Premier doesn't want to answer the question I will go to the Minister of Finance and save him the trouble of lobbing it off. That has to do with the McGhie Report, that is the independent analysis of the ITT Sheraton proposal. The Premier said on November 19th during an interview with Global News that he in fact thought that Nova Scotians deserved to know what the independent report says. The Minister of Finance, himself, has said that he is against the excessive secrecy that we are seeing because the government refuses to release that report.

Today, we had the Liberal majority in Public Accounts . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Let's have the question, honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . turn down a motion to have that report released. Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Minister of Finance, the minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation, will the minister see that this report is provided immediately to this House so that Nova Scotians will find out exactly what is going on and who it is that we are dealing with with respect to the condition and the situation with ITT Sheraton?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, it is the position of the government to provide as much information as possible and I expressed that in writing to the acting chair of the Gaming Corporation. That is our position. Also, the honourable member should know, because he was in this House when the Freedom of Information and the Protection of Privacy Act was passed, there are provisions under that Act to protect privacy including contractual negotiations, in

[Page 688]

business things that could be called secrets, information on single parents who may have a dispute with the Residential Tenancies Board, single mothers who have applied for social assistance. There is a protection of privacy. In the opinion and judgment of the chair, and I agree with that, what is requested here violates the rights of the Sheraton, in this case, just as we must protect the rights of a small computer company that has put a proposal before government to protect privacy, that privacy must protect it. There is a procedure. The honourable member's Party and the Official Opposition have requested that report. There's a freedom of information process including a review and that's the way it should be handled.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, back to the Minister of Finance. Let me say that Nova Scotians are beginning to finally refer to the Freedom of Information Act as the 'keep information from Nova Scotians' act. They're getting sick and tired of the secrecy and the way that this government is keeping information away from them.

MR. SPEAKER: This is a final supplementary. Let us have that final supplementary, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask this minister, when is this government going to put the interests of Nova Scotians ahead of the interests of corporations like ITT Sheraton? Will this minister and his government commit to full and open debate, either in this House, or on the campaign trail before they make any more concessions to ITT Sheraton?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I told them in terms of the concessions he talks about, there is nothing that's gone forward. It has not been done and no changes will be considered until the two ministers responsible consider it carefully and recommend matters to Cabinet.

I would think Nova Scotians would be sick and tired, too, if people's rights were violated, their privacy was taken away. That member would be the first one to get up if an individual's right, be it a single parent or some tenant or someone whose rights and privacy was violated by giving away (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, he likes to go with this approach but, we happen to have respect for the law. I'm afraid he doesn't.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

SYSCO - SALE: NEGOTIATIONS - STATUS

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development. Would the minister inform the House of the current state of negotiations to sell

[Page 689]

Sysco to Grupo del Norte, the Mexican group who have expressed interest in purchasing Sysco?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, negotiations are continuing with the GAN group from Mexico. We're at a very sensitive stage in those negotiations. Hopefully I'll be able to take something to Cabinet as soon as possible and then inform the members of the Legislature just under what time-frame we'll be acting here. Negotiations are ongoing and they're at a very sensitive stage and hopefully we're moving to a resolution very soon.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, and again to continue with the minister. Has the minister established a new deadline because it's my understanding that at one point he had said that this had to be wrapped up by the end of November? Has the minister established a new deadline in which he has determined that negotiations must be completed? Is there a new deadline?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of conditions here, assumptions here, I guess. The one assumption is correct, that the government is committed to be out of the steel business in terms of operating Sydney Steel by December 31st this year. That policy has not changed. That was in the agreement that was drawn up two years ago.

The deadline that he talks about, November 30th was an arbitrary deadline that we had hoped to wrap up the negotiations with the GAN group by that date. That has not happened. We are still working on the agreement and as I stated, it is at a very sensitive stage. We hope to have it wrapped up by the end of the year.

The government is not committed beyond December 31st, 1997 of committing any more operational funds to Sydney Steel. That policy has not changed. We're working towards getting the deal done prior to that date.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I believe what the minister said is that the end of the year, that this business deal will come to fruition or not, in his mind. My question to follow up with the minister is, in the spring the government provided a $30 million operating fund to Sysco. It committed that money to Sysco for operating costs to keep the plant operational while negotiations for a sale were progressing. My question to the minister is how much of the $30 million that was committed at that time remains and how much longer can the plant remain running at the current rate of expenditure?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is absolutely correct. We did provide some operational guarantees back around mid-year to Sysco to continue its operations. That operational fund is still there. It has not been depleted. Sysco has been fortunate enough to receive some orders in the past few months which has meant that it has not had to draw on those operational guarantees as fast as we anticipated. We are okay until the end of the year and then we will have to assess it at that point. I say

[Page 690]

again, that the government is not committed to providing any more operational funds, public funds, to the operations of Sydney Steel after December 31, 1997.

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition on a new question.

SYSCO: PENSION PLAN LIABILITY - FUNDING

DR. JOHN HAMM: I will again continue with the minister. The minister is aware of Order in Council No. 97-742 dated November 28th. Under this Order in Council the province has committed to fund the unfunded liability of the Sysco pension plan. My question to the minister is quite simple, how much will the province be required to commit to fund the liability of the pension plan? What is the number?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: The government has committed itself by contract to improvements to the Sysco pension plan over the past few years. We are now moving toward booking those unfunded liabilities with the Sysco pension plan. I do not have the number at my fingertips here today but I will get the information for the honourable member.

DR. HAMM: I wonder if the minister would confirm that the number is relatively in the order of $30 million?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, if I had known the amount I would have given it instead of telling him that I will get the amount. I do not know the amount. He seems to know the amount; I do not. There is a substantial amount of funds in the Sysco pension plan. The plan is very healthy but the government has made contractual obligations to the Sysco workers to improve the pension plan that was in very poor shape up until the last couple of years. The previous government paid little or no attention to the workers' plight at Sydney Steel over the years by not paying any attention at all to the benefits of workers at Sydney Steel over the years. It is only this government that has realized the plight of the Sydney steelworker and has put the pension plan in a shape that will pay a half-decent pension to steelworkers when they retire.

DR. HAMM: Well, I was trying to be nice to the minister and asked him a simple question. If he wants to get aggressive, I am quite prepared to get aggressive. I asked those questions with sensitivity and I expect to be responded to with sensitivity. This is a sensitive issue and 700 jobs are at stake here. If the minister wants to politicize it, I will politicize it. (Interruptions)

The minister has indicated that there will be an expenditure to the pension fund of Sysco to top up the pension fund. This is a requirement that we all understand to negotiate a sale. The minister admitted that he did not know the number but I suggested the number might be something in the order of $30 million.

[Page 691]

I would like to ask a question or continue with the Minister of Finance. Is the Minister of Finance aware of the amount of money that is being committed by the province by Order in Council No. 97-742 November 28th where the province commits to fund the unfunded liability of the Sysco pension fund? What is the value of that commitment and will that commitment show on the accounts of the Province of Nova Scotia for this current fiscal year?

MR. SPEAKER: There are two questions.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: I do not have that information at hand but we are in favour of doing what is right by long serving steelworkers at the plant to see that they get (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, we are prepared to protect the rights of the Sydney steelworkers which have seen a great deal of adversity over the years. We are going to do what is right by them and whatever commitment being made will be recorded in the accounts of the province, of course. (Applause)

[3:45 p.m.]

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

EDUC. - HORTON H.S. (KINGS CO.):

COST INCREASE - AUTHORIZATION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Finance. The minister no doubt has heard the discussion in the House over the last few days about the Horton School, where the construction price has ballooned from $8 million to over $25 million in a little over a year. You may have also heard that there is considerable reluctance among his colleagues to take responsibility for this issue.

I would like to ask the Minister of Finance, did he authorize the Minister of Education to go on a spending spree in the building of the Horton High School?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know what kind of a government this person might run. He was going to have the Minister of Finance of the day tell the Minister of Education of the day how to run the department. I know that this minister, who is an experienced minister, will live within his budget and that is the way he has always operated.

[Page 692]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would also like to go to the Minister of Finance in my first supplementary. The Minister of Finance will also be aware that in addition to that $25 million that we just referred to, for the construction of the Harrison Horton high school, an additional $20 million for two other schools, for a total of $47 million, has been advanced to a private consortia, interest-free.

I would like to ask the Minister of Finance, did he authorize the handing out of these interest-free loans?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I didn't specifically authorize the use of funds to provide for these schools. I know the honourable member would not contest that across the province there are many schools that need repair, upgrading and replacement, from Yarmouth to Cape Breton, including the Strait area which I represent. I know that in Antigonish East, for example, the people want their schools replaced.

I know that the minister respects his responsibilities and will live within his budget. I am sure that the accounting will be made and, unlike the past, every three months we have an accounting of what is happening to our accounts as we go through the year.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, what we are trying to get a handle on here is who is handing out the credit cards? Who is accountable for what appears to be a minister who is completely out of control, in terms of spending money. We want to get a handle on that because these three schools are the tip of the iceberg. With what the Premier and the Minister of Education are talking about, we are looking at 40 more schools in the Province of Nova Scotia that are going to be financed the same way.

MR. SPEAKER: Your final supplementary, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: We have to get a handle on this. We expect and Nova Scotians expect this Minister of Finance to get a handle on it.

I want to ask the Minister of Finance, will he do something to bring some measure of accountability to this process, before the Minister of Education and the Premier spend us into the poorhouse? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I want to hear the answer from the minister. The question has been presented.

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, speaking of credit cards, I think the honourable member should look at members of his own Party, in terms of responsible spending. (Interruptions) I would wager that the two Ministers of Finance since 1993 are as good as the ones that Bob Rae had in the last 10 years. (Applause) I trust that the Government of Russell MacLellan will

[Page 693]

not operate like Glen Clark did as he came up to an election and said that everything is fine, we have a surplus and it turned out that they had a $1 billion deficit. (Interruptions)

We are responsible, we have had a balanced budget. We are on another one and we will deliver for the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: TCP - GIFT EXPLAIN

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. Did the provincial government consult with Trans Canada Pipeline before giving away Nova Scotia's interest in the pipeline? In other words, its 50 per cent interest. Was there consultation with Trans Canada Pipeline before that provision was discussed and given away?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to be able to help the honourable Leader of the Opposition, but I was not here then, and I do not know.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you even discussing it?

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to inform the Premier that in 1983, Trans Canada Pipeline was in partnership with Nova Scotia Resources Limited and partnering on exercising that provision. Trans Canada Pipeline spent, perhaps, in excess of $20 million in doing engineering studies. They, by legal agreement, had a vested interest with NSRL in that back-in provision, the right to participate in the pipe. I do not think I have lost the Premier yet.

My question is, if you, as minister responsible, are not aware that Trans Canada Pipeline has what they would say is a legal right to that back-in provision, are you prepared to become familiar with that particular agreement and are you prepared for a legal challenge which may well follow because you have given away something that Trans Canada Pipeline believes is theirs?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if there is going to be a legal challenge by Trans Canada Pipeline we will certainly deal with it, if and when it occurs.

[Leader of the Opposition]

NATIONAL UNITY - SELECT COMM.: ACADIAN MEMBERS - ABSENCE

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, this is a new question.

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, don't tell him that. (Laughter)

[Page 694]

DR. HAMM: Well, maybe I should not have said that.

AN HON. MEMBER: No. Just slide it right in.

DR. HAMM: It is to the Premier. In the interest of following the Rules of the House, Mr. Speaker, it is on a new topic.

AN HON. MEMBER: No. It is a final supplementary.

MR. SPEAKER: It is a final supplementary.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is just a new topic.

DR. HAMM: The Premier has, very graciously, involved myself, as Leader of the Opposition, and the Leader of the New Democratic Party in devising a committee to investigate the unity question here in Nova Scotia. All three of us made a serious omission when we failed to put forward the idea that, since it is available to us, an Acadian member be named to the Unity Committee. That was an oversight that a number of people have contacted me about. My question to the Premier is simply this, is the Premier prepared to re-look at the question and is he prepared to name an Acadian member to the Unity Committee?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think the members who represent this Party are very good members. They were selected because they were good members and could do a good job. We have two members of the Acadian Community in our caucus, both of whom are serving in Cabinet. I thought that we have very good members who are not serving in Cabinet who have more time to devote to the committee, who can do an outstanding job. I thought that was the way we should select our members, and I have no reason to change that.

If we had someone who was French-speaking that would be fine. Certainly, I think, that would be advantageous. Mind you, there is going to be translation services available when required. Also, too, if someone is French-speaking they have to be able to have a good comprehension of the French language so they can understand all that is being said, not just parts. It would take somebody who is very fluent in the French language to meet the condition that the honourable Leader of the Opposition is setting, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the next speaker, I just want to comment briefly on what we just witnessed here. I will permit a certain amount of preamble and set-up to the first original question. All honourable members know the two supplementary questions should follow and remain on the subject that was presented in the initial question. The two supplementaries should follow from that original question. The subjects were changed here in midstream a moment ago, and I will not permit it indefinitely. I want a question and the supplementaries on that same topic.

[Page 695]

DR. HAMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I believe that if the Speaker would think back, I did announce I was asking a new question.

MR. SPEAKER: But it was your final supplementary, honourable member.

DR. HAMM: No. I said new question.

MR. SPEAKER: You were giving up the final supplementary?

DR. HAMM: I was.

MR. SPEAKER: All right, proceed.

DR. HAMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I only pointed that out because I understand the wisdom of your ruling on that.

I wish to continue with the Premier. The Premier gave a long answer to my question, but he really didn't come within a country mile of addressing my concern. My concern is simply that by the very nature of this committee it would be strengthened by having one of the members of this House, who is an Acadian, to serve on that, to do exactly what the Premier said, to provide the capability of the committee of providing an excellent translation service. We have two excellent members on the government side who could fulfil that function. I again ask the Premier - to strengthen the Unity Committee - is he prepared to answer the criticism that there is no Acadian member on the committee by naming one of his government members, who is of Acadian background, to the committee to make this a more workable committee?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, members of this caucus are serving the Acadian community; we have two members of the Acadian community and both of them are in Cabinet. The fact that we are going to be having hearings on national unity requires us to have a good committee, no question. We have good members; I think all Parties have nominated good members for this committee. There is not going to be any hindrance whatsoever for members of the Acadian community or other Francophones from being able to testify before this committee. There is not going to be any hindrance whatsoever, translation services are going to be available. A member of the Acadian community serving the committee would be fine, but the fact remains that other members of the committee do not speak French. The fact is that all members of the committee have to understand what is being said by the witnesses and that is going to take place, with or without an Acadian member of the committee.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is showing a great reluctance to name an Acadian to the committee. I have already conceded it was an oversight by all three Leaders. I had written to the Premier earlier and had suggested the committee would be strengthened by his naming an appropriate member from his caucus which would satisfy the question that

[Page 696]

I bring to the floor today. Would the Premier be prepared, if he is not willing to sacrifice one of his positions on the Unity Committee, if I were to make one of the positions that we have negotiated as being a representative of our caucus, I would make one of those positions available, would he make available one of his Acadian members to sit on that committee?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is the intention to use all of the talent that we have in the Liberal Caucus as expeditiously and as thoroughly as possible. Our two Acadian members are fully occupied; they are serving in Cabinet. We have a lot of talent in this caucus who are not serving in Cabinet and we want to utilize them and they will be utilized.

No one in this House has more respect for the Acadian community than I have. I have the deepest respect and I know they have to be included in every possible way in these hearings, and they will be. The fact that we don't have an Acadian on the committee is not going to hinder the participation of any member of the Acadian community in testifying before this committee. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - SCHOOL CAPITAL CONSTRUCTION: LIST - RELEASE

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The minister has stated publicly that he would release the school capital construction list by the end of October; that is the past October. We have yet to see it and the public has yet to see it.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Education, through you, will the minister table the school capital construction list here today?

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it is confusing some days in this House to figure out exactly what the New Democratic Party wants from us. On one day they are criticizing the fact that we are going too quickly, on the next day they are criticizing us that we are going too slowly. We have 460 buildings in this province. They are badly in need of repair, in some cases, and replacement in others.

We are talking about a report that contains recommendations for $0.25 billion of new construction and close to $100 million in renovation. It is being considered by Priorities and Planning because it is an extremely important corporate decision of government. That report will be tabled just as soon as Priorities and Planning and Cabinet have a chance to take a look at it in its entirety, to ensure that each community in this province gets the answer to their question, when will our new school arrive and, more importantly, when will the renovations

[Page 697]

arrive and how can we play catch-up with the years of neglect that were put upon by the members of the Opposition for 20 years?

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I asked that question because of the very confusion that the government is creating. The government pointed out rightly, in the past, that school construction under the previous Tory Government was used for political reasons and we agree with that. Now the Premier is promising schools out there, here, there and everywhere, without us ever seeing the list.

So the question is, Mr. Speaker, and I direct it to the Minister of Education, is the list being held up to make it fit with the Premier's announcements?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely incredulous that the member opposite would use her Throne Speech to call the people of Kings County, children in a candy store, when they are involved in the design of their school, to suggest that two soccer fields is an extravagance for 1,000 high school students.

What we have is a political response to needed school construction. On one day we are going too fast and we have irresponsible practices with the private sector; on the next day the demand is, when will the province announce how it is building new schools and make sure that it is equitably distributed?

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has my commitment to ensure that every community in need receives new schools and renovated schools as affordably and as quickly as we can possibly deliver, without compromising quality and without compromising benefit to the taxpayers.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I think I heard in all that, yes, it is being held up for political reasons and no, he is not going to table it in the House today. So if he is not going to do that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask him to do something else; will the minister table in the House today the criteria and the waiting system used in the government's school construction, so that at the very least the public can figure out the basis for the Premier's announcements?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, while we are on the subject of politics, the member opposite again refers to the people of Kings County as children in a candy store when they are involved in meaningful dialogue with people building a school for their children.

I would challenge the member opposite to come to Kings County, to meet with the parents at the Horton School. Let's talk about the design process. Come to a meeting in Kings County. We will organize it for her and then she can talk to the children in the candy store. What she will learn is that there are citizens with real needs for their children. They

[Page 698]

want those needs met in their new schools and we intend to deliver in every community in this province. (Applause)

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

COMMUN. SERV.: SHELTER ALLOWANCE - RETROACTIVITY

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, goes to the Minister of Community Services. I wonder if the minister could tell us if the government has made a decision regarding the retroactivity of the shelter allowance for disabled Nova Scotians and single mothers?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Thank you for the question. I wonder if you would just flesh it out a little bit for me, please.

MR. MACLEOD: Well, I was a little scared to say too much, Mr. Speaker, before you would sit me down again, but okay.

MR. SPEAKER: You will know when I sit you down, honourable member. There will be no doubt in your mind. (Applause)

MR. MACLEOD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for that very useful piece of knowledge. The question is in regard to the shelter allowance that was taken away from Nova Scotians because of an Act passed by your government in 1994, a shelter allowance that was challenged in the court, a shelter allowance that was won by one of the clients who appealed it and now the other people who are involved in that have not been able to get their money retroactive. Has this government made a decision regarding that funding?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Thank you very much for that question, honourable member. The individual involved in the court proceeding was provided a retroactive amount according to and following the rules of the court. That was the answer.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I do not understand and I guess that is part of being me.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's normal.

MR. MACLEOD: That is part of being normal and I do not have any problem with being normal.

The problem is we had a law that was passed by this government, your government, that affected a number of people. Now, the government went and had that case appealed, and the effect of the appeal was that that person won. Why would that not cover all the people?

[Page 699]

This decision was made on May 13th of this year. People have written to the minister time and time again asking just to be treated fairly like the other person because the Act that was put in place by this government was not fair. Why is it that this minister is not responding to the needs of the people of Nova Scotia and more importantly, disabled people in the Province of Nova Scotia?

MRS. COSMAN: I thank the member for the supplementary question. The original regulation was made in good faith after consultation with many groups and the Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court upheld that regulation. It was the challenge beyond that that resulted in a different legal opinion. The person involved in that case had a successful outcome and was paid retroactively back to the date of that first happenstance. In terms of the rest of the clients on social assistance, their shelter allowance has been reinstated back to the date of the court decision.

MR. MACLEOD: It is apparent that this government has two sets of rules: a set for the people who have the ability and are able to go forward with a court challenge; and another set of rules for people who cannot defend themselves. This government should be ashamed of the actions they are taking. These people look to us for help. They look to us for guidance and this government had an opportunity to put the right foot forward and did not do it.

My question to the minister. Will she please revisit this and come back to this House with a positive answer for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia who have been affected by this bad law?

MRS. COSMAN: I thank the honourable member for the final supplementary question. I would like to let the honourable member realize that in the process of moving to a single-tier social assistance system we will be looking at equity of rights across Nova Scotia. That is a process that is in place now. I think that he should try to bring himself up to speed on that process.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS.: B & B ASSESSMENTS - STATUS

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

Last spring I brought to the attention of the minister of the day the fact regarding the assessments of bed and breakfasts in this province. The minister at that time said they were working on it. Bed and breakfasts are a very important part of the tourism industry of this province. I also wrote to the minister on July 30th and again on October 21st to find out what was being done about the assessments on the bed and breakfasts. Would the minister please confirm that this policy is going to be dropped?

[Page 700]

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm any such thing. The Department of Economic Development and Tourism this year worked with those people. There are ongoing talks under the Municipal Act, which we did not put in. They are to be assessed, and we are working on that. What is going to happen, I really cannot confirm at this time. If I could confirm it as of this date, I would, but I really do not know.

MR. MCINNES: This question has been going on since the spring. Some of the bed and breakfasts in this province were assessed over a quite extensive bit from what they were before, okay. In some counties they were not assessed. In Pictou County they were not assessed at all. In Cape Breton County one lady - I do not want to name names in the House - told me that her assessment is up $400.

My question to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism is, do I understand that you people are paying a rebate now because this fellow over-assessed the bed and breakfast people?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. In the past summer tourist season, we looked at trying to alleviate a problem that the bed and breakfast operators in this province were not prepared to absorb, simply because most of them had not budgeted in 1997 for the additional increase. So our department, the Department of Tourism, gave a rebate in 1997 to those operators to compensate them for the unexpected increase in their operational costs for 1997. So, yes, we did.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, here we are assessing the bed and breakfast people in this province an extra assessment. Here we have the Department of Economic Development and Tourism turning around and going to rebate them, but they have to have the form filled out and they have to pay the tax, and that is fair. I have no problem with that; they have to pay the tax before they can get it back. But some of those bed and breakfast people can't afford to pay it so, therefore, they can't get it back. I hope this minister and that minister will get together and get a committee and get this business resolved.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - SOCIAL ASSIST. REFORM:

ISSUE PAPER - RELEASE

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. In response to a question on November 26th, the honourable minister indicated that the consultation paper is coming. With only a few months left to begin the implementation of social assistance reform and since this document has been promised since January 1997, my question is, what date will the social assistance reform issue paper actually be released?

[Page 701]

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think my answer is no different today than it was on last Wednesday, November 26th, when the question was asked.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I guess that response is fine for the minister, but the fact is that there are only a few months left for people to look at and to respond to this document. I am wondering, how are we going to ensure these stakeholders involved that they should have faith that their input will be recognized and will have some impact on the reform document that goes into place on April 1st?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for her supplementary question, but I think it does indicate that she does not understand the process. I have given a commitment here that there will be a meaningful consultation, there will be adequate time to do that consultation.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I do understand the process and I also understand that focus groups composed of people who are selected by the minister is not consultation. I guess the commitment I would like to hear from the minister is, will the minister and her department be adopting a consultation process that truly gives Nova Scotians an opportunity for input and that this input be incorporated?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for her question. Again, it shows that she is not fully up to speed on the process. I, as minister, am not choosing anybody to do the focus groups with. I want to make that very clear. That is an independent process and it is working well. I have given a commitment and I will make it again. There is going to be a meaningful public consultation process.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

EDUC.: HORTON HIGH SCHOOL (KINGS CO.) -

LEASE/PURCHASE AGREEMENT

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Education. I would like to ask the Minister of Education a question regarding the Horton school that is under construction at the present time. The price of the Horton school is just over $25.7 million and in addition to that, there is $600,000 for land, $100,000 for a new eight-inch water line, a new sewer line was put in, a new road was put in and on top of that is the equipment inside and the HST. So we are getting awfully close to $30 million and perhaps in excess of $30 million. I am wondering if the Minister of Education could indicate whether his government and his department have signed a contract of agreement of construction and lease purchase with the construction company that is engaged in building it, Access Technology or Hardman, Lindsay School Ventures Incorporated? Have they signed their agreements?

[Page 702]

[4:15 p.m.]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, yes, the Minister of Education has signed a construction agreement with the company to build Horton, to build Porters Lake and to build Sherwood.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, by rough calculations on a $30 million school, paying it off over 20 years, that is $1.5 million, $30 million at a 10 per cent interest rate, there is another $3 million there. We are talking about $4.5 million a year just for the rental on the property. I am wondering if the minister could indicate where this $4.5 million is coming from and how many teachers in Nova Scotia will be laid off so that they can service this debt?

MR. HARRISON: It is quite understandable how the former Chairman of the Management Board got this province in such a mess. An incredible question from someone who managed the affairs of a $4 billion company, virtually taking it to rack and ruin. The question, I think is, how will the taxpayers benefit from lease arrangements with the private sector? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Before the minister responds I am hearing some unparliamentary language and it will not be tolerated, any kind of unparliamentary language.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, part of the raw nerve that we touch when we remind the Opposition that we are paying more in debt service than we are to educate all of our children, I understand why unparliamentary language comes from the member for Kings North who was in charge of the Management Board of this province, virtually driving us to rack and ruin. However, not only was the debt an incredible burden and millstone for this province, but there is a hidden debt; when you have 460 school buildings with an average age of 40 years, you try to replace at least 12 a year, as an example. I should be cutting a ribbon, as Minister of Education, to open a new facility or a renovated facility every month. Do you know what happened? Not only was the cupboard bare, you could hardly find where it had been on the wall. There was so much mismanagement on the other side and what we found is a way of producing the finest quality schools, cheaper construction and we will finance those schools one project at a time and we will pay our way. (Applause)

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I guess he told you, didn't he.

MR. SPEAKER: Order please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister of Education should be congratulating himself for what he did in three short years. A little point of clarification for the rambling minister. When the government changed in 1993, the provincial debt was $6 billion, it is now $9 billion. In less than three years this minister was able to add $3 billion to the cost of the taxpayers as a burden to Nova Scotia. The Minister of Education gave a very

[Page 703]

long and convoluted and very lovely answer but it was not to any question that he was asked in this Chamber.

MR. SPEAKER: Which is his prerogative. I want a supplementary from you, honourable member, please. A final supplementary.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I don't blame you and we shouldn't put up with these rabbit tracks. I trust you will be as direct with the minister. I simply asked the minister where the additional $4.5 million is going to come from? Now the minister refused to answer that question. Would the minister then perhaps like to answer my final supplementary, since he won't tell us how many teachers will be laid off to pay the $4.5 million, will the minister indicate to me and to the parents of other students and children in Kings County, if he feels that it is totally fair that one school is going to have so much in the way of creature comforts? In fact, the building will even be air-conditioned and a 300 space parking lot - it boggles the mind - rose covered landscaping.

MR. SPEAKER: I am losing you, honourable member. Let us have a supplementary.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Is it fair that one school has such total luxury, Mr. Speaker, while a school just a stones throw away, the air quality is such the school has been closed three times this year. Is it fair that the students in another school have run out of chalk?

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, if you do not heed what is directed to you from this Chair, I will sit you down. I want a supplementary question, and I want it now. If you do not have it, than you will sit down. Please have a supplementary question.

MR. ARCHIBALD: I have it, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Let's hear it.

MR. ARCHIBALD: You will. Does the minister think it is fair that in one school the students are going in total luxury and in the other school the air is not fit to breathe?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the heart of this question, if I understand the member for Kings North correctly is, is it fair? Is it fair that we build new buildings as affordable as we can at a pace that keeps place with balancing the budget? When you do that, of course, is it fair to the other schools that are waiting in line? Would he have us go back to 1970, to 1975 to his era and build a sub-standard school, so that we make sure that every school is treated equally, or would he have us progress, in an affordable fashion, to build the finest schools in the country?

[Page 704]

As the member opposite asks for tabling the School Capital Construction Report, the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, Mr. Speaker, sits down to determine the priorities for schools in this province with the department. I would be happy to table the criteria, because the member opposite assumes there must be some political agenda here. The member opposite said, when we took over it was only $6 billion. The member for Hants West suggested the other day in his revisionist history, there was $1 billion of debt in 1978. In fact, when the Liberal Government left power in 1978, the debt was $0.5 billion. By the time these people had finished, (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HARRISON: . . . it was close to $8 billion, because they do not count things like Workers' Compensation or NSRL.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HARRISON: The millstone around the neck of the province is the legacy of the Tory Government. We intend, Mr. Speaker, in an affordable manner, to build the highest quality of schools throughout this province, community by community. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I want to make the point, I have called for supplementary questions and it is spelled out very clearly in Beauchesne and in our own book of rules. Supplementary questions are to be direct; however, the response from the minister may be brief, it may be lengthy; that is the prerogative of the minister who responds. Now all of you, experienced members in this House of Assembly, know that. Let's move on to the next question.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

EDUC. - SCHOOLS:

CONSTRUCTION (PUBLIC-PRIVATE) REVIEW - STATUS

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, my question today will pertain to public-private partnership. I would like to address my question to the Premier. The Premier in a news release of October 24th, the Premier re Amherst Regional High School, stated there will be no turning back. The Premier said he had asked for a review of the school construction process, because he wanted more information on how we pay for them so that everyone can be confident that we fund the schools in the best interest of taxpayers. My question to the Premier, is the review process complete, has there been a determination and are we ready to proceed with construction of schools?

[Page 705]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the review process is almost complete, very close to being complete, and we will release the information to the House. We will then be in a position to say how we are going to proceed with new schools.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary will be directed to the Minister of Education. Mr. Minister, we had been promised in October, by the Department of Education officials, by you, yourself and by the Premier, that the deal concerning leasing arrangements would be inked in a couple of weeks. My question is, are the leasing agreements inked? How long before we can expect to see the leasing agreements tabled in this House?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Well, I appreciate the fact that the member opposite is from Amherst, where we have committed to build a new high school, using the private sector as a support, as a partner in a sense, for allowing us to do that in an affordable way, Mr. Speaker, and obviously in high quality.

The question is, when will we be able to table the leases and the deals? The Premier has already indicated that the review will be completed shortly, then we will be able to sit down and help the members opposite understand how you could actually finance, through leasing, with a private sector partner, much to the objection of the NDP, Mr. Speaker, because they don't trust the private sector to do anything in this province. In fact, in my area the NDP calls the most important private sector partner in the province, second highest exports, a blackmailer. Can you imagine calling Michelin Tire a blackmailer? Thirty-five hundred employees and they dare to call the private sector company that? That kind of attitude would cause you to believe that the NDP have absolutely no right to govern in this province.

Back to the question at hand. We will be announcing just as soon as possible, deal by deal, how the private sector can work with this government to provide needed infrastructure in an affordable manner in this province - good for the taxpayers and wonderful for the students.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, my last supplementary, through you to the Minister of Education then, will again concern public-private partnering. I think it is extremely important to point out that for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, and I believe for this House as well, to make a determination on whether we should be financing schools, projects, through public-private, we need to know the lease agreement before the school is built, the value of the dollar, to compare it to the actual capital cost, plus interest, so the proper determination can be made. It is extremely important, under those circumstances, that the lease agreement is negotiated upfront, not afterwards. In my asking about lease agreements are schools that are already built.

[Page 706]

My question then, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Education is, in the case of the Amherst school, when can we expect, under those terms, the announcement of the selection of the private partner?

MR. HARRISON: We are proceeding with all speed. We received the recommendations just 10 days ago in my office and obviously with the review underway and an imminent decision on that review, and as the member opposite indicated, the taxpayers clearly need to see how this benefits them, as taxpayers, how the private partners interests are looked after, how the public sector interests are looked after.

The fact that we could sit down with our private sector companies in this province and do deals that are good for children, primarily, and also good for taxpayers, we will be (Interruption) The Leader of the NDP says, give me a break. How could we possibly have a private sector that could be trusted to do that, Mr. Speaker, can you imagine? This is a Party that purports to govern this province and they make such statements about the private sector, stereotyping them as bandits, I think they called them at times, and maybe that is what I am hearing now.

The fact is, Mr. Speaker, I am duty-bound, as the person in authority to spend money on school construction, to bring to this House the final deal so that everyone in the province can see that we can build schools of high quality, we can make sure that children are properly educated in those schools and that the taxpayers' interests are protected and we will do that. (Applause)

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

FIN. - HST: HARDSHIP - LESSEN

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Premier. The Tory Government in Prince Edward Island recently eliminated the provincial sales tax on clothing and footwear and the P.E.I. consumer, especially those with low and fixed incomes, will benefit greatly by the government's decision in Prince Edward Island.

Precisely what, if anything, is your government doing to lessen the financial hardship that the blended sales tax has thrust onto the consumer in this province, relative to clothing and footwear?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his question because it is a concern to a lot of people and that is why we are looking at it as carefully as we are. We also know that not so much children's clothing but, with respect to heating oil and electricity, that colder months are coming and in fact are here now, we want to be able to respond as quickly as possible, yet we think we are on the right course and we will have a statement to give our position very shortly.

[Page 707]

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. TAYLOR: Well, I am quite certain that I do not have to remind the Premier that while in Ottawa he voted in favour of the blended sales tax. As a consequence of the Tory Government's decision in Prince Edward Island, the Island business community is launching an aggressive marketing campaign to attract shoppers from out of the province. Recently released figures explicitly point out that Nova Scotia posted the smallest gain in department store sales and stock in all of Canada; the last figures certainly indicate that, and my question to the Premier is, what is your government doing to match the positive efforts the Prince Edward Island Tory Government is making on behalf of the consumers and retailers in that province? Something specific, something tangible, Mr. Premier.

THE PREMIER: I would like to refer that question to the honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to respond. We have the Prince Edward Island Government lowering their provincial, taking away their provincial tax on certain items. I think that people should keep in mind that in order for Nova Scotians to take advantage of that, they would have to pay a toll of $35 to get there and then spend some money on transportation such as gas, so they would have to buy considerable goods; in fact, you would have to buy about $600 worth of goods to even break even. I do not think they would be getting ahead too much on that, so I do not think it is something that we want to follow.

MR. TAYLOR: That is an absolutely unacceptable response from the Minister of Finance in this province. The statistics clearly indicate that Nova Scotia posted the smallest gain in department store sales in all of Canada and the Premier and the Minister of Finance in this province are going to sit back on their duff; that is unacceptable.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a question there?

MR. GILLIS: I think the honourable member is being fairly selective; maybe he should give some of the other statistics. Sales go up and down. He should maybe be reminded, in terms of investment growth by the private sector, in the Province of Nova Scotia we lead all of Canada per capita including Ontario and Alberta. That is performance. Resign.

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

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: CONSTRUCTION (PUBLIC-PRIVATE) - LOANS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you, sir, to the fiscally responsible Minister of Education. I would like to just ask the minister a very simple question. Can the minister confirm that his government lent $47 million interest-free

[Page 708]

to the companies that are building or have built those private-for-profit schools. Is it true that they lent them the $47 million interest-free?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Once again, we have an example of a Party that is devoid of any finance expertise. How could we lend money to the private sector when we have no agreement? We own the schools in question. What sort of loan might he be talking about, Mr. Speaker?

MR. HOLM: I may not have any financial expertise or so on, but certainly everybody knows that those schools that are being built by the would-be private partners, of course they could not get any financing from the banks because, in fact, they did not have any lease agreements with this government, and what this government is now doing is negotiating with their so-called for-profit partners to buy back what we have already paid to build so that they can then lease them back to us and make a profit.

My question to the minister. If you get the picture, here it is, Nova Scotia. We are putting up the money to build the schools, so that those who are building them can hire consultants to tell them how to build the schools, so they can turn around and rent them back to us and make a profit from what we have paid for in the first place. Not a bad deal. My question to the minister is, can all Nova Scotians have part of this action? Can any Nova Scotian who wants to come to the Minister of Education, come to the Premier and say, look, we want to build a school, you lend us the money interest-free, no risk on our part, we make the profit building it and then we will hire the consultants? Is the same sweetheart deal out there for everybody or only the friends of the government?

MR. SPEAKER: This is a speech, honourable member.

MR. HARRISON: Once again, the voters of this province will have to judge the NDP's claim to be able to govern on the basis of how much financial expertise they have within their caucus. Who would the Finance Minister be of this caucus, Mr. Speaker? How many have ever met a payroll? Who in their caucus would actually serve as the Finance Minister for this province? The question here is, will we be able to show the taxpayers of this province that financing arrangements with the private sector benefit the taxpayers of this province, produce schools that are of less cost in terms of construction square footage than ever before and are the finest schools for the children of this province?

The Leader of the New Democratic Party says, it must be magic. Sort of Bob Rae magic is what he is referring to here because, in fact, when you have few resources as a result of the mismanagement of this crowd and you need schools in the $0.25 billion range, then you have to sit down and work out arrangements that meet the taxpayers' needs and the children's needs and that is precisely what we will do, one deal, one school at a time.

[Page 709]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is sort of comical, the minister stands up and suggests that the people of Nova Scotia are going to be judging the New Democrats on how much financial expertise we have in our Party. In fact, one of the things that they are going to be able to judge is how much financial expertise exists on the government benches because they have seen the mismanagement, they have seen these crazy deals whereby we are lending money, we are giving it to their friends, credit cards which are going to be committing us in the future for huge debts. You can call it operating or you can call it capital but it is still a huge debt. My question to the minister is quite simply - you have already demonstrated that you are prepared to give sweetheart deals, you are prepared to bankroll all the risks for your friends on the last number of schools - are the future schools that the Premier and you are going to be promising as you roll up to the election, are they all going to be bankrolled as well by the province or are you going to finally require that if it is supposedly a partnership, that those who are your partners take some risk, put their money upfront? If they don't have anything at stake all we are doing is that the taxpayers are bankrolling their profits and bankrupting Nova Scotians.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it is easy to tell when the volume rises that we have touched yet another raw nerve over here, when we mentioned the total absence of any financial understanding in the NDP caucus, total absence. And who among their candidates would be Finance Minister? That is a question that the people of Nova Scotia should ask.

The answer to the question, what interest-free loans, what lending, no interest-free loans, no lending, open tendering and a deal that will be proven to be effective, not only for the taxpayers but wonderful for the children. Not a single person over there has met a payroll and yet they continue to describe the corporate sector in this province as enemies of the state, public enemy number one is the private sector in Nova Scotia, can you imagine. And they purport to be able to govern.

We will and I, as a minister, will be pleased to table, deal by deal, the way we will finance the construction of the schools that are desperately needed in this province and I will be proud to do so. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

FIN.: CONTINGENCY FUND (VICTIMS OF ABUSE) - STATUS

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. At the conclusion of fiscal 1995-96, the then Minister of Finance, in violation of the Finance Act moved $32 million from fiscal 1995-96 into fiscal 1996-97. This money was put into a contingency fund for victims of abuse. That money has been added to and is somewhere in the vicinity of $43 million at the present time.

[Page 710]

Would the minister confirm that that contingency fund at the present time is still in existence and is held by the Department of Finance?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I wish that the Minister of Justice was here because I could refer the question to him. To the best of my knowledge, the money that has been put aside, provided for the victims of abuse, is still there and will be there until such time as it is all used in payment in compensation and counselling for the victims of abuse or, if it is not needed, then presumably it would be in general revenues.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting that the minister is using the words that the money will be provided. The money is supposed to be in a fund. I would like to know from the minister if that fund now has been absorbed into the consolidated revenues of this province.

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I am not a chartered accountant, I don't know the technicalities. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, the $48 million, or whatever it was, provided over the last several years is available in whatever form it is but it is available for counselling and payments to victims of abuse.

MR. RUSSELL: The minister should know where funds held in contingency funds are situated and how much is in those funds. If he doesn't know exactly, I would pardon that, but he must have some idea if it is in the vicinity of $43 million.

He, Mr. Speaker, this government is operating on a razor thin surplus this year, so they are saying, of $1 million. The Premier of this province has spread the goodies around this province, probably to the tune of $100 million, aided and abetted by the Minister of Education. Will the minister still stick to his original projection of a $1 million surplus this year, based on the revenues shown in the Estimates Book for this year?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, we tabled our budget in the spring. I have a copy of the very learned Budget Address. Unlike the 10 years that I served as the Finance Critic . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, we don't want history.

MR. GILLIS: The history hurts, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions) Instead of getting a fiscal report on what is happening in each budget year, every three months within 90 days of the end of each fiscal period, sometimes we had to wait until a year or a year and a half later. We are not acting like that, we will provide the information.

[Page 711]

Mr. Speaker, I have already provided the first quarter report to June 30th and by December 31st will be in conjunction with the law, we will conform with the law and we will table the second quarter report. We will still work hard to manage our finances properly and we hope to have a surplus as of the end of the second quarter. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

BUS. & CONS. SERV.: GASOLINE PRICES - FLUCTUATION

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, two questions today, a miracle. My question is for the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. On September 20th, this past fall, the minister was quoted as saying that gasoline prices in Nova Scotia are on a roller coaster. He went on to say that it is too soon to say that his department was looking at it but it was too soon to say what could be done.

I ask the minister - it is approximately four months later - what has he done about the roller coaster price of gas in Nova Scotia? (Interruptions) Did the minister get my question?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. As the honourable member has pointed out, the gas prices in Nova Scotia have been fluctuating, especially in July and August and September. One of the issues that was raised at the Ministers' Conference in Regina back in late August or early September was basically shared around the table. Prices were fluctuating in all provinces across Canada and in the Territories as well, and that consumers - especially here in Nova Scotia - our department has received numerous calls in terms of why were prices different in various parts of the province.

[4:45 p.m.]

What we decided to do at the meeting with the Consumers Measures Committee is to provide consumers across the nation with some answers to their questions. We are in the process, actually - and I suspect we will probably have a chance to debate that issue later on this afternoon. With this committee, the CMC, we are hopeful that with the help of the industry, with representations from government, along with representations from consumers, we will be able to provide answers to consumers right across this country.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, the price of gas varies - and I want to be reasonable about these quotes - but it is as low as 59 cents in Yarmouth; it is 58 cents in Cape Breton; in Halifax it is about 69 cents; in Pictou County it is 65.9 cents; in Truro it is about 60 cents; and in Amherst, I think it is about 65 cents. I have been asked lots of questions about why if you go to Truro - we are only 40 miles from Truro - it is $3.00 or $4.00 per tankful of gas. I say to the minister that it is an important issue and I hope that he will get on with it and see why the fluctuations in the price of gas in Nova Scotia.

[Page 712]

MR. GAUDET: Again, Mr. Speaker, the questions that the honourable member raises are very important for Nova Scotians. We need to provide a format where consumers in Nova Scotia can be provided with answers to these real questions. Again, as I pointed out, with the CMC that will be coming on-line very shortly to provide consumers with the specifics, in terms of how consumers can relate their questions and, especially, look for some of these answers. I would welcome at any time, if the member has specifics, to relay that over to my office. We will certainly relay those specific questions on to the committee where we have department staff sitting.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that answer and I hope that he does get on with it because, you know, we have an additional 4.5 cents and BST on top of our gas which makes it pretty expensive for the low-income earner. Most people have cars in this province and it does cost a lot of money to operate them.

I say to the minister again, please get on with it and try to get this mess straightened out. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: CONSTRUCTION - LIST RELEASE

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education and I would like to ask the minister, through you, to confirm what I think I heard said in the exchange earlier. I thought I heard him say that he would release the school construction list to the House. I would like to ask the Minister of Education, will he be introducing it before the House rises during this sitting?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, she is asking for some clarification, which is a nice change, actually, rather than saying things like we are selling our children to the corporate sector, rather than those kinds of statements; rising to a higher ethical standard, we are asking for clarification. What will be presented before this House is the School Capital Construction Report and when I indicated to the minister opposite, when she asked in an earlier question if I would release the criteria, I would be most happy to release the criteria used by school boards and this province together, to develop the needed priority list for Nova Scotia, because that is exactly how it is done. It is a team effort of determining what schools are needed where, not the political exercise that she claims it is, but in fact a partnership between the school board and the Government of Nova Scotia.

MS. O'CONNELL: I heard the minister say that he would be releasing the report to the House but I did not hear him say when. I would like to ask the minister when and I throw it in for free with my first supplementary which is the following. Mr. Speaker, I would like to know, through you, whether the new proposed Hammonds Plains schools and École du

[Page 713]

Carrefour are numbers one and two on this capital school construction list that we have not seen.

MR. HARRISON: Again, rather than statements like a horrendously illegitimate process, we are now getting questions about just how do we establish priorities in this province. It is a legitimate question for someone who purports to be an educator, who purports to be an Education Critic. I will be happy to tell her. Boards are asked to declare their priorities for renovation and new capital construction. They list their priorities. It may interest the member opposite to know that the CSAP list the École du Carrefour as their number one priority. It might interest her to know that the Halifax Regional Board lists Hammonds Plains as their number one priority.

By definition the minister responsible with authority to build schools would by definition consider those his priorities as well. So, yes, the report will be tabled; and yes, it will be revealed how this partnership has developed priorities; and yes, we will even reveal to the members opposite without an ounce of financial understanding how you might actually work with the private sector to benefit the children of this province.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary. I would like to ask the Minister of Education through you whether the government criterion for school construction, for getting on the list, is the squeaky wheel gets the grease? (Interruptions)

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

MR. HARRISON: I think most of us are shaking our heads, Mr. Speaker, at the absence of an understanding of just what this process is about. It used to be a highly political process. It used to be something that was decided by political action. Now it is based on engineers going and sitting down with communities to work out and determine where the priorities are. I challenge the members opposite once again. This member called the people of Kings County children in a candy store while they were designing their new high school. I ask that member to come to Kings County, to come to a town hall meeting that we will organize with those parents whom she calls children in a candy store. We will teach her how we designed a high school and we will go to East Hants and we will get her to meet the same parents there. And in Amherst and in Yarmouth when it is announced. We will take her to the Sydney area and we will take her to the places where people are designing schools for a change. Rather than being told what is in them they are actually suggesting what is in them. After we take her to those people and show her how they have helped to design the schools for their children, then we will teach her how we are going to pay for them.

Believe me, Mr. Speaker, this is an objective process, devoid of political interference, one that is based on objective analysis by engineers and school boards and one that we are proud to put forward. We will, unlike that Party, Mr. Speaker, meet the needs of the children of this province and protect the taxpayers interest with the private sector, school by school.

[Page 714]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

ENVIRON.: CCME MEETING (REGINA) - REP.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of the Environment. Some two weeks ago the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment met in what certainly must have been their most important single meeting since that council met in the work up to the Rio conference in 1992, respecting combatting the greenhouse effect and controlling greenhouse gases.

Going into Rio and indeed coming out of Rio, Canada's position was that greenhouse gases would be reduced by the year 2000 to the levels that were present in 1990. Curiously coming out of that conference two weeks ago in Regina the decision was that we would go to 2010 and at that point that greenhouse gases will be reduced 3 per cent less than they were in 1990. Now that cannot be done without very significant planning. My question to the Minister of the Environment who represented Nova Scotia at that CCME Meeting in Regina is what is his plan with respect to reducing greenhouse gases in Nova Scotia by 2010 to 3 per cent less than 1990 levels?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will confess, at the outset, that we did not attend the Regina meeting on this topic, but we have had other meetings throughout this past year on the topic. I can tell you that it has been a topic of lively debate, certainly one that, I think and I believe, all Canadian provinces are participating in to help Canada reach its goal of 3 per cent reductions from the 1990 levels by the year 2010.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe that this government and this minister deemed this conference of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment to be so insignificant that he did not attend the meeting. I then ask you, Mr. Speaker, to which minister should I address my supplementary question on the assumption that another minister did attend the meeting to represent Nova Scotia's interests? If you can advise me of that then I will place my second supplementary.

MR. SPEAKER: Questions are not directed at the Speaker, honourable member.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ask the Minister of the Environment.

MR. LEEFE: Well, I will ask the Minister of the Environment. Who then did represent Nova Scotia's environmental interests at that meeting?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I do trust my officials very much and my deputy minister was there with the Deputy Minister and Minister of Natural Resources, so I can say, clearly today, that the interests of Nova Scotia were well represented at the meeting in Regina.

[Page 715]

MR. LEEFE: Well, Mr. Speaker, that is even more distressing, because here we have the minister who is responsible for the promotion of energy products and energy usage, representing Nova Scotia's environmental interests in the conference which is supposed to be the workup for the Kyoto conference which is now underway. Well, my question then to the Minister of Natural Resources who is now the great defender of the environment in Nova Scotia, is what plan was approved at that Regina meeting which will cause Nova Scotia to be able to be in line with the promise of the Prime Minister, less than 3 per cent levels by 2010, respecting 1990. What is this minister's plan since he is speaking for Nova Scotia?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. My first time to get on my feet tonight (Interruption) To respond to the question, I want to tell the honourable minister that we had what we felt was, a very constructive day in Regina. There was a consensus reached from all ministers there that we would reach our 1990 levels by the year 2010. My understanding is that the federal government said we wanted an extra 3 per cent, and we believe that we can reach that goal.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for the Oral Question Period has expired.

Before we move on to Opposition Members' Business, I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. The winner is the honourable member for Yarmouth who has submitted the resolution:

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that Nova Scotia has recaptured its traditional role as the most dynamic economy in Atlantic Canada which had been lost to New Brunswick under the previous Tory Government.

We will hear debate on that subject in the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, will you please call Opposition Members' Business.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the New Democratic Party.

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

[Page 716]

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the New Democratic Party.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, maybe we can just add a minute to each of the times that have been distributed at the end, and we will use up the last two minutes.

HON. GUY BROWN: I wonder if the honourable Government House Leader would like me to request just for 30 seconds to table a report.

MR. HOLM: Can we do that at the end? We would certainly agree to give the time at the end.

MR. BROWN: Yes.

MR. HOLM: Or add the time on at the end.

MR. BROWN: Okay.

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, we are pretty tight here, Guy.

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable Government House Leader. Yes, the time has been allotted very tight to the line.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 11.

Bill No. 11 - Workers' Compensation Act.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand before you today and talk about Bill No. 11, a bill that we have introduced in an attempt to try to address some very serious problems with the current Workers' Compensation Act.

[5:00 p.m.]

This bill, an Act to Amend Chapter 10 of the Acts of 1994-95, the Workers' Compensation Act, is an attempt by this caucus to try to address some of the worst aspects of the bill that this government brought in that completely gutted the former Workers' Compensation Act that existed in the Province of Nova Scotia. Back in 1994, this government brought in the most regressive piece of workers' compensation legislation that exists in this country, bar none. All members opposite voted for it, let me say. It is an Act that penalizes workers as a result of the mismanagement of the workers' compensation system for years in

[Page 717]

the past, as a result of failure to investment problems with the fund, as a result of the failure to increase premiums.

You used to look at charts and you could see that the employer's premiums, what they would pay, as we came up to an election, every year the premium would go down. As a result of the combination of those two things, by 1993 we had an unfunded liability of the Workers' Compensation Fund in the area of $500 million. The reality is that that was a problem that needed to be addressed but what did this government do? This government decided to try and correct that problem on the backs of injured workers in this province.

As far as I am concerned to this day, it is absolutely unconscionable what this government did to the injured workers in this province. Not only did they slash the benefits that people received but they made it so difficult for many injured workers to be able to receive compensation, that it dropped many people off the rolls entirely. Now, as a result of people being injured on the job or made sick on the job through no fault of their own, they are facing poverty, destitution, losing their homes, losing anything that they may have built up and they are facing, in many cases, a future of poverty and unemployment and that is absolutely unacceptable.

We included a number of provisions in this bill. We are not suggesting to you or to all members of this House that this is the answer to all of the problems. But the problems are so significant that we could not wait any longer in order to try to address them. So we have introduced this bill and we ask all members to consider the provisions here and to support the Premier of this province, who said during the by-election in Cape Breton North, who promised injured workers that he would amend the Workers' Compensation Act. I repeat, the Premier of this province promised that he would amend the Workers' Compensation Act. It is in writing through correspondence from the executive director of the Workers' Compensation Board, that there are problems and we need to bring in amendments. Whether that has to be with the permanent impairment calculation or whether it be to deal with the outrageous backlog in the Appeals Tribunal, there are a number of issues in there that need to be addressed. The executive of the Workers' Compensation Board recognized that, the Premier of the province recognized it and made a commitment to workers in this province that he would bring about those changes.

Some of the issues in here, recognition of work-related stress as a compensable condition, restoration of the benefit of the doubt for injured workers, improved provisions for the appeal of decisions of the Workers' Compensation Board and restoration of an independent appeal tribunal. The two most important issues, as far as I am concerned, in there, the two things that this government did in their Act in 1994 that tore the guts out of Workers' Compensation in this province, was the benefit of the doubt for injured workers and the independent appeal tribunal which was outlawed.

[Page 718]

I ask members of this House to consider the commitment that the Premier has made to injured workers in this province to deal with this Act and to deal with the problems and consider the idea of voting for this Private Member's Bill, sending it to the Law Amendments Committee and let us deal with some of the real problems with respect to the Workers' Compensation Act in the Province of Nova Scotia and not allow those injured workers to continue to be penalized because of those flaws. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour to join in this debate, but I have to begin by saying that I am shocked and appalled by the fact that the Leader of the NDP, who just stated how seriously he considers this bill to be, has allowed me just five minutes to respond to a bill which is so complex. If he does not consider this a more important document - and the workers of this province more important, and the injured workers - than to allow me five minutes to outline the benefits of this bill and the good work that this bill has done over its implementation period, then I would suggest that his heart may be in the right place, but his head is screwed on improperly.

AN HON. MEMBER: He just walked out.

MR. O'MALLEY: Well, that is how important he considers this matter, I guess, Mr. Speaker.

Now, since I have just a few moments to address this bill, I believe it is important to make a few general points to the public who may be out there listening. When this government came to power in 1993, it inherited a workers' compensation system that was on the brink of collapse. On the one hand, the method of calculating benefits for permanently disabled workers did not replace lost wages; it provided too little to many workers whose earnings had been permanently reduced by their workplace injuries. On the other hand, the system was nearly bankrupt; Nova Scotia had the largest per capita unfunded liability of any workers' compensation system in Canada.

Do you know what that means? If the honourable member does not know what that means, it simply means that we did not have the dollars, the money left over from the previous crowd of the Tory Government. We did not have the money to pay, that they had committed, that they had increased, in terms of promised benefits, by 300 per cent, while not increasing the revenue stream into the system. There is where the fault lies; there is where the bankruptcy begins.

With the introduction of the new bill, Mr. Speaker, there were many benefits indeed that took place. It is very unfortunate that I don't have the time to go into the kinds of detail that I would like to, but I want to say that in 1996 thousands of permanently disabled workers,

[Page 719]

many of whom had been waiting for years for their permanent awards, received those awards which often included retroactive benefits.

I would like to cite just one example to show how the new system is fairer than the older one. On average, workers with a permanent medical impairment of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent, which is the largest category of permanently disabled workers, are receiving benefits that are more than double what they would have received under the old Act, Mr. Speaker.

I also want to very quickly indicate that in that same period of time we have a 31 per cent reduction in the average claim duration, the time that a claim needs to be settled, a 31 per cent reduction in that time, since 1992. We have a 22 per cent improvement in claims processing since 1992. We have introduced a time-limited, chronic-pain program that is post-February 1, 1996. We are doing it under the new bill. Mr. Speaker, what we are doing in the new bill is implementing a system that has balance and that is being operated jointly by labour and management in equal representation on a board. So the injured workers are making their own destiny, not as it was under this former government and not as it is purported to be under the NDP Leader who just gave us five minutes to talk about a bill that is $188 million in budgetary form. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is, indeed, a pleasure to get up and talk on the Workers' Compensation Act again and to speak about it, particularly in light of the comments made by the current custodian of the Workers' Compensation Act, the Minister of Labour.

First of all, talking about the unfunded liability, this government loves to talk about the debts that they inherited when they came into government and talk about the gross debt of the province. Now this minister is starting to talk about the unfunded liability which he says was $500 million, actually, he is $100 million out but that is all right, it was $400 million (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, if this minister knew what he was talking about with regard to the unfunded liability, I would listen a little more closely perhaps. In point of fact, that unfunded liability, if this government was on their toes, they would be out there suing William M. Mercer Limited. Trying to get that money back from William M. Mercer Limited, who made a tremendous error when they were assessing the unfunded liability of the Workers' Compensation Act every three years from 1982 on.

In 1991 or 1992, we did not get William M. Mercer Limited to do the actuarial study, we got another firm in and all of a sudden we found that rather than the $30 million or $40 million the unfunded liability was in fact $400 million in. That was a gross error on the part of that company and when we left we were underway to sue William M. Mercer Limited for that sum. The minister is chuckling and of course to this government actually that kind of

[Page 720]

money doesn't mean anything, nothing whatsoever. I am going to leave the unfunded liability because what the unfunded liability is at the present time is their problem and they can deal with it in the way they want. Unfortunately, what they are choosing to do is to solve the unfunded liability at the expense of the injured workers in this province and at the expense of the employers who are getting horrendous bills for premiums under the Workers' Compensation Act.

There are a lot of things wrong with the present Workers' Compensation Act and I was delighted to see the present Premier, when he was out going around the countryside, trying to get the Liberal support so he could become Leader of the Party, going around to solve every problem on earth. One of the ones that he was going to solve, certainly, was the Workers' Compensation Act. One of the things that Mr. MacLellan said was, Mr. MacLellan gave his word Thursday that amendments to the Workers' Compensation Act will be ready for presentation to the spring session of the Legislature. Mr. MacLellan said, he will review the Act and try to see where the changes are needed. There are injured workers with problems that aren't being dealt with, he said, we have to give them more resources. That is great rhetoric but it doesn't help one injured worker sitting out there trying to get money from the Workers' Compensation Act.

I wonder if this minister realizes that when this government came into office that there were approximately 1,600 people on the waiting list in the appeal process. If you go back to their Red Book and check under the Workers' Compensation Act you will find that one of the things they said they were going to do, another broken promise, that they were going to go out there and solve those problems.

AN HON. MEMBER: And we are.

MR. RUSSELL: They are. At the present time there are over 2,000 people on their waiting list, that is some improvement. It is like their improvement in the employed in this province. When they came in there were something like about 56,000 or 58,000 unemployed and they were going to solve that problem. Now it is around about 60,000 to 62,000. What kind of a record is this for this government? What kind of a record are they going to run on in the next election? I do not know, but it is going to be based on promises and you can bet your boots that none of the promises they make are going to be fulfilled.

[5:15 p.m.]

The answer for the injured workers in this province, for the employers who have to pay workers' compensation premiums, is to get rid of this bunch, get rid of them. Replace them and we will get a real Workers' Compensation Act and we will get justice for the workers and for the employers. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 721]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: By the time restraints, obviously, and by the fact of the Government House Leader's brief interruption, I will try to be briefer than even the time allotted to bring us back on schedule.

I have to say, however, that when I had heard the Premier's comments, when I had heard the Premier saying that he acknowledged and he recognized that there were difficulties with the workers' compensation program and that they were going to be addressed, I had, I have to admit, a sense of encouragement. I was encouraged because I believed, or at least I wanted to believe, just of course as I had wanted to believe a lot of the rhetoric coming out of the Liberals before the 1993 election that actually they were going to do something and were going to be moving forward to make some improvements. When the minister got up this afternoon, the minister did not even want to look at or address or even consider any of the issues in the bill. All the minister wants to talk about is financial debt, the underfunded liability, and totally ignore the tremendous new human debts that are being imposed upon the workers because of this government's concentration . . .

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

MR. HOLM: No. With a minute left, no.

The minister did not even have the decency, did not even have the respect for the injured workers to have read the bill; did not have the decency to address any of the issues that were on the legislation that were (Interruptions) tabled and that were debated tonight. Did not have even the decency.

Mr. Speaker, all that has happened, all this government is concentrating on doing is eliminating the deficit that in large part was built up by incompetence of the former government and mismanagement. However, they are trying to do that on the backs of injured workers across this province and they are trying to make those workers, whether they live in Cape Breton or down in the farthest southern coast of this province, they are making them bear the price for the Tory mismanagement that is being compounded by this Liberal Government which has even destroyed, taken away the right to an independent tribunal for those. The reason they took it away is quite simply this. When people appealed to an independent tribunal they normally won. This government did not want that because they wanted to deny the injured workers the benefits to which they were entitled.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allocated for the debate of Bill No. 11 has expired.

The honourable House Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 722]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 1.

Bill No. 1 - Wildlands Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill No. 1 - An Act to Preserve the Integrity and Diversity of Wildlands. I am tempted to say, as I was saying on April 23rd of this year, because this bill is the second bill that our Party has brought before the House on this issue, I want to very briefly point out the main features of the bill, although the history is probably more significant to the House than the specifics themselves.

The purpose of the bill is to legislate the protection of the 31 candidate protected sites as wilderness to be preserved for present and future generations. The purpose is to protect the inherent biodiversity and ecological integrity of all of the 31 sites that are listed in Appendix A and Appendix B of the bill.

Provision is made under this bill to do the following four things at least: the first one is to have these sites administered under the Provincial Parks Act; the second one is to protect them from reduction or removal except through public consultation and an Act of the Legislature; the third provision, Mr. Speaker, is to provide for a management plan for each one of those protected sites; and finally, to protect against the granting of any new mineral rights in these legislated protected spaces. There are other provisions that are there and that are necessary to go with those, but I think that is the general gist of the matter.

Mr. Speaker, I do not believe there is anybody in this House who does not know the sorry history of all this. We all know, and I am not even going to try to go through it in my few minutes, what happened in the winter of 1996 when the Jim Campbells Barren was removed from the list.

On February 28th, the then Minister of Natural Resources announced the strategy for the remaining 30 protected spaces, Mr. Speaker. She said, at that press conference and I was there and I noted it particularly, that this government would bring in legislation in the fall sitting of the House if she were still the minister, Mr. Speaker. Now, she is not the minister anymore, and we have not seen any sign of the bill.

On April 23rd, because we felt that even this fall was too late given the history and the endangerment, if you like, of any of the protected spaces given that history. We saved the government the trouble, and I have to say, Mr. Speaker, we were attempting to be constructive. We took the protected places' strategy, and we used the guidelines and the premises and the goals of the government's initiative and we brought in a private members' bill.

[Page 723]

Mr. Speaker, after that time, the pressure mounted on the government to relist the Barrens. I do not fear giving it too much credit when I say this, they did relist it as a candidate protected place, but Mr. Speaker, the same problem occurs now as occurred last winter and spring. Unless these sites are legislated, every one of those sites is in the same danger that the Jim Campbells Barren was in which is any one of them could be removed because they are only candidates, Mr. Speaker, they are not protected places.

Mr. Speaker, we have introduced, yet again, because our other bill died on the order paper when the House was prorogued. We have introduced another bill and that bill, an Act to Preserve the Integrity and Diversity of Wildlands is just about the same bill. The only difference is that it includes the Jim Campbells Barren. So, we offer this bill for the House. We would urge members to support it. It is of the government's own making in a sense, and there are probably thousands of people in this province who want to see this matter ended. They want to see it ended happily and constructively and they want these 31 places enshrined, their protection solidified by legislation so that we can get on to so many other pressing matters in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable the Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to take part in this debate on Bill No. 1, Wildlands Protection Act. I want to begin by saying, to give a bit of history and to put things in perspective, the proposed system's plan for parks and protected areas was presented to the public in early 1994. The proposed plan was the result of a comprehensive review and assessment of a wide range of natural areas that were in some way unique and special, as well as representatives of the Nova Scotia landscape types.

The review and the assessment was conducted by staff of the Parks and Recreation Division of the Department of Natural Resources. It began in the spring of 1990 as a three year resource inventory and planning study. After that study was completed and several candidate protected areas were identified, a moratorium that prevents development on those areas was put in force. That moratorium has been in place since late January 1993 and it remains in force today. In effect, the moratorium provides protection of these candidate sites, a very important point that seems to have been ignored in much of the public debate on protected areas.

The proposal to establish a comprehensive, protected areas system in Nova Scotia reflected a widespread realization. That realization was simply this, that unless examples of biographically diverse natural areas are protected from development, they can be lost forever. After the protected areas plan was proposed and released, a public review committee was appointed to consult with the public on the plan.

[Page 724]

In January and February 1995, the committee conducted a series of public meetings from one end of this province to the other. Nearly 600 submissions were received from private citizens and groups, with an interest in preserving unique areas in their natural states.

After considering all of the public submissions, the review committee presented its report to the Minister of Natural Resources in December, 1995. Based on what it had heard from the public, the committee endorsed the concept of a protected areas plan. Among other things, it recommended that the province proceed with a protected areas strategy. Our government agreed with that and took appropriate action. The protected areas strategy was developed and was introduced last February by the former Minister of Natural Resources.

The strategy is very important. It commits our government to the establishment of a comprehensive, protected areas system. Along with the strategy itself, there is an action plan for implementation of the strategy; there are also inter-management guidelines to ensure ongoing protection of candidate sites until formal legislation and individual management plans are in place.

Originally there were 31 candidate sites earmarked for protection in that plan. One site, the Jim Campbells Barren, was removed from the list about a year ago, but has since been reinstated. I am pleased that our government has made that commitment to protect the Jim Campbells Barren, and I am happy that I was part of the Cabinet committee set up to review the Jim Campbells Barren decision and have it reinstated as a protected area.

In addition to the reinstatement of that site, a large tract of wilderness known as the Finger was added to the Tobeatic candidate sites in western Nova Scotia. This substantial addition to the Tobeatic site has resulted in a net gain of about 10,000 acres, or 4,000 hectares to the total sites of the 31 protected sites.

I am pleased to have had the opportunity to be on my feet for five minutes because I consider this a very important issue and a very important concern to our department. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, this is a good piece of legislation; it does something that the government should have done of its own volition some time ago.

I was reading the Premier's remarks respecting the decision to reinstate Jim Campbells Barren as one of the protected areas. I quote the Premier, "Once a decision is made to protect lands and spaces from development, that such decisions be irrevocable.". Well the question that arises in my mind is that this was announced by the Premier on October 29th and by that time he had been the Premier since July, August, September, October, almost four months - it doesn't strike me that it took a great amount of scientific evidence to cause one to realize

[Page 725]

that once a decision is made to protect lands and spaces from development, that such decisions should be irrevocable; that is not wizardry, that is not highly complex science - there is no reason why that decision could not have been taken at least in August.

[5:30 p.m.]

Instead, what the Premier did was to prevaricate. The Premier delayed making that decision until he could do sufficient polling, of one form or another, to find out which way the political wind was blowing. Then when he found out that the political wind was blowing strong against the government for the stupid decision this government had taken to de-list Jim Campbells Barren, then all of a sudden he found religion and he decided that, my goodness, it was a wrong decision. Yet, it took him almost four months to come to that conclusion.

Mr. Speaker, this is an excellent bill and I move that the question now be put.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, there is a motion on the floor. The motion has to be . . .

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: No, it does not. That isn't the way our rules work.

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. In this Assembly, an honourable member standing in his place and moving that a question be now put, that does not call for an immediate vote at all. It simply prohibits the tabling of certain amendments to a bill, such as the motion to refer to a committee or to establish a reasoned amendment or the hoist for six months or for three months. Debate can continue and if honourable members in the Chamber wish to avail themselves of the opportunity to speak to the bill now before the House, they have the right to continue to debate. I understand that a number of members right now are preparing remarks and wish to place them on record on this particular bill.

So, sir, as a point of order, I would submit that the question does not have to be placed at this time at all, unless there are no members prepared to speak to the bill. Those are the rules as I understand them, sir.

MR. SPEAKER: There was a certain amount of time allocated by each speaker for the debate of these bills in the Opposition Members' Business. I feel it is incumbent upon the Chair to try to follow these time allotments that have been stated. That was the arrangement that was arrived at with the Opposition Members' Business for the day. We have another speaker.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 726]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would have preferred to have remained seated, of course, and had a vote taken. I must admit that I am more than a little perplexed, to put it mildly, that the government was wanting to get people up to try to prevent a vote from taking place.

Mr. Speaker, the bill that we have before us is doing exactly what the government said they wanted done. It said it wanted to have legislation to protect those 31 sites. You know, that was a commitment that was made by the former Minister of Natural Resources. It was a commitment that was made by the new Premier for Nova Scotia after he, and I suggest he probably did do, as the member for Queens suggested, took a poll, used part of that Liberal trust fund to conduct a public opinion poll and found out that, in fact, the people of this province wanted Jim Campbells Barren put back. You know, they used their toll money, probably, for that, their trust fund. But they are not prepared to earn the trust of Nova Scotians by approving in the legislation, to pass it on down the hall, down to the Red Room, so that Nova Scotians can come in and comment on legislation that was doing exactly what the government committed itself to do.

The government's feet have been put to the fire and, Mr. Speaker, it has shown that they will jump - it is one more example or where this government is not prepared to walk the walk. None of those sites, not a one, is protected. They are candidates. The minister got up and he spoke and he gave a wonderful little flowery history. What he did not go into in his history was how the Jim Campbells Barren, once and now back being returned, was a candidate site for protection. He did not go into fact that the whole process of public debate and public hearings that had been initially used to put those sites on the list was subverted by the government unilaterally down in the bunker, down in the Red Room, behind the red curtain, taking it off.

Mr. Speaker, you know, any one of those 31 sites can be removed in exactly the same way. The government has said, trust us. Well, Nova Scotians did trust them. This government received a lot of accolades for declaring initially that it was going to be protecting these sites. They received awards, tremendous accolades, including from our caucus, but at the first opportunity, at the first time there was pressure, they broke and on their own unilaterally in defiance of that consultation process and of the strategy and the system's plan, they unilaterally changed it.

Mr. Speaker, the only way that this government can ever possibly be trusted on that is to bring forward the legislation and pass it. It is on the table. It is here right now. It does exactly what your Premier has said he wants done, exactly what the Premier has said he wants done. You have a choice, we can vote on this or we can go on. If the government does not want this to be passed on to the Law Amendments Committee today, I also to say to the Government House Leader, because he is indicating he wants to speak on it.

[Page 727]

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for the debate of this bill has expired.

MR. HOLM: I will return with the next bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for the debate of Bill No. 1, Wildlands Protection Act has expired.

The honourable House Leader for the New Democratic Party.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 12.

Bill No. 12 - Gasoline and Diesel Oil Fair-marketing Practices Act.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am sure on this bill, as on the previous bill that we just talked about, a number of government members would like to speak, like I know the Government House Leader would like to speak on them. There will be nothing to preclude the Government House Leader from calling Bill No. 1 that just got adjourned or this bill at a later date on a government day. I want to assure the Government House Leader and all members of the Liberal Party that if you call these bills on your business days, we will support you totally, as will Nova Scotians be grateful to you for bringing forward and supporting legislation that is going to be progressing.

Mr. Speaker, the bill that is before us is not a very complicated bill. We heard discussions and questions in here today being asked about the price of gasoline and home heating fuels across the province. When the former government deregulated the gasoline industry, they argued that competitive pricing, the competition, would in fact result in reduced prices. In fact, if you do have genuine competition then you do, in fact, see prices drop. What this bill is intended to do, is to ensure that in Nova Scotia we do, in fact, have competition. It is intended to put in place the kind of measures that exist. We talk about the United States very often but in the United States they have in approximately half of the United States legislation like this.

What this simply does, is this, it requires that a refinery sell their product - the gasoline or home heating fuel - to independents at a price that is no higher than that at which they sell it to their own flag stations. If we want true competition, we have to guarantee that the independents have an opportunity. The minister will be familiar with this legislation because quite honestly - and I will give credit - this legislation, if my information is correct and I believe it is, was originally drafted in the Department of Business and Consumer Services, with a slight addition that has been made in terms of increasing the amount of the penalty at the end. They are aware of it in the department.

[Page 728]

What this means and what happened when we have had price wars in the past is that the major stations, whether they be the Ultramars of this world, they turn around and they sell their gasoline product to the independents for a price higher than they sell it to their own flag stations. What that means is that if the independents try to improve service to consumers by cutting their profit margin at their own stations, the big companies turn around and say, okay, we are going to sell our product to you at a price higher than we sell it to our own stations and therefore we can force you into being price compliant. You will either go bankrupt because you cannot possibly sell your product unless you are taking the loss of two or three cents per litre on what you are selling, or you will agree that you will not drop your price below what we, the major players in the market, are saying.

In the U.S. in the majority of the states or about half the states, if the oil executives did that, they would be in jail. Mr. Speaker, and I say this through you to the minister, we know that the federal legislation is useless and the feds say that it is a provincial matter. I am asking the minister to give serious consideration to what is being proposed here. His department staff, as I say, know about it. They know what is being proposed here. What it will do is ensure that the independents in this province will be able to get their product at a fair price; that they will be able to provide that competition that we all want so that Nova Scotian consumers, whether they are buying a home heating fuel, a diesel fuel or a gasoline product will be able to get it at a best possible price. If we do not have competition, we know we will not have the best prices, Mr. Speaker.

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

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and speak on the Private Member's Public Bill No. 12 - Gasoline and Diesel Oil Fair-marketing Practices Act.

For some time now, staff from our department have been consulting with the industry and consumer representatives over the thorny issue of gasoline prices. Consumers, and I count myself among them, have some very pertinent questions about gasoline prices in Nova Scotia.

Why are prices so different from one part of the province to another? Why do prices rise and fall, seemingly simultaneously, by the exact same margin at all stations in a given market?

The petroleum companies have offered their answers to these questions and they can speak for themselves, but I would say most Nova Scotians, including myself, remain unconvinced.

[Page 729]

Almost everyone has their own opinion as to what would bring stability to retail gas prices and what would strengthen the position of the independent retailers. Some people say we should go back to Utilities Review Board regulation of prices. On the other hand, some say we should leave the market alone and allow the market to determine the price.

I am not sure that a completely uncontrolled market is desirable, just as I know that regulation did not insulate Nova Scotians from high prices prior to 1992.

[5:45 p.m.]

The fact is, that governments across North America are grappling with the very questions we are facing here in Nova Scotia. In Toronto, Canada's most competitive retail gas market, consumers this summer were paying the highest price they had seen in five years. In New York City, prices jumped 20 per cent over the course of two weeks this summer.

Clearly, this is not an issue peculiar to Nova Scotia. For this reason, when I met with my provincial and federal counterparts in Regina in September, the issue of gas prices was high on our agenda. All governments decided at that time to work through the Consumer Measures Committee, with representatives from all provincial governments, as well as the federal government. In fact, a staff member from my department has been in Toronto since Monday meeting with other CMC representatives. It was also decided that the industry and consumers will be represented on that committee. How the consumers will be represented on this committee and how consumers will bring their concerns and questions forward will be decided. Once the process has been decided upon, all Nova Scotians will be informed of the details.

We are involved in a national process, a process that involves gathering information, examining the experiences of other jurisdictions and consulting closely with industry and consumer organizations. The issue of gas prices is very complex and in attempting to deal with something so complex, we need all the information we can get. While Nova Scotia is involved in this national process, it would be premature to enact legislation such as this, however well-intentioned it is.

This is why we did not introduce this type of legislation, We are committed to working with Canadians in all parts of our country who are facing the very same issues. There is strength in numbers and it is simply too early at this point to go it alone. We must give the national process a chance, a chance to learn from other provinces, a chance to identify what will help the independents and what will benefit consumers.

In the end, that what we are striving for, a strong and vibrant independent gas retail industry and fair, stable gas prices for consumers. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 730]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable minister who has just spoken on Bill No. 12, has given all kinds of reasons why they cannot do something. I don't think this government ever thinks about what can we do to solve a problem. I hear about consultations, not with the people but consultations with the industry, with other governments, with their officials, with their bureaucracy. I don't hear anything about - we have consulted with the people and we are going to do whatever we can to solve their problem. The minister says, this is so complicated. It is not complicated at all.

This Opposition that I represent here this evening, are not suggesting for one minute that we go back to the Public Utilities Board and place gas prices under a board such as that because that is the worst possible thing we could do. In fact, the best thing that the preceding government did with regard to this was to free the thing up and to permit private enterprise to get out there and do what they do best. In the gasoline industry that is retailing gasoline and as a consequence the price has dropped. We had a number of self-service stations start, we had gas bars start, all those things are good things.

However, unfortunately, in this province we only have one refinery over there working away, the Esso Refinery and they supply gas to whatever dealership you go to. If you go to Shell and say, fill up my tank with Shell gasoline, they will say, sure and they will pour some gasoline in there. Then you go down to the Texaco station and ask for some Texaco gas and they will pour some in and Esso and they are all coming from the same tank. They are all coming from the same rack, there is no difference, they are all the same. However, because the refinery is owned by Esso, then indeed they have a power that no other gasoline dealer, particularly a private dealer, has and that is to set the rack prices for various retailers. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, I believe that this right has been abused by the refiners and, in fact, they are in contravention of the combined investigation enactment. We have done nothing about it. I think it is time we did something.

I have not read this bill, I must confess, all that well, so I am not going to say carte blanche, I would support this piece of legislation. I would support a piece of legislation very similar to it and certainly one that contained (Interruption) That is right, that is what we need is guaranteed free competition. (Interruption) Fine and dandy. That is what we have got to have and that is what this minister should be doing.

When the previous minister, the member for Dartmouth North was handling this, she received representation from industry, that is the private retailers of gasoline. She received a lot from motorists who phoned her about the high cost of gasoline, and she said she was going to do something about it. She was all gung ho for a minute or two.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is what she was going to do.

[Page 731]

MR. RUSSELL: That is right. She was all gung ho. She was going to produce a piece of legislation and what happened? All of sudden she chickened out or else - no that was not the time they shuffled her to the back benches, no. Anyway, something happened and this bill never came forth. Now, I cannot say as my friend here to the left has said that this is the same bill, because I do not know whether it is or not. I am telling the minister, if he wants to do something to earn the respect and the adoration, if you want, of the people of Nova Scotia and certainly the motoring public of Nova Scotia, he should get out and bring forward a piece of legislation such as this and do it. It is very simple, you just say to the gasoline dealers, and they have done this, Mr. Speaker, this is not new. They have done it in many states in the U.S. because they had the identical, vertical integration that we have in this province. I am out of time? Oh goodness gracious, okay. Well, look, do something.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax-Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my goodness, what a day it has been. This afternoon for one and one-half hours the government did not answer very many questions or answer very clearly when it did answer, all kinds of questions that the Opposition put to it, on behalf of Nova Scotians.

Then the government held its tongue on needed changes to the Workers' Compensation Act and then, Mr. Speaker, the government members declined the opportunity to pass a bill that we thought they supported based on their research. Now, we have another bill before the House, it is a very simple bill, it is not a complicated bill no matter what the Minister of Business and Consumer Services said. It is a really simple bill, it is about fairness.

Mr. Speaker, when this bill, as the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid pointed out, that with the deregulation of oil prices a competition should have ensued and the genuine competition would ensue if this bill were to pass. The simple requirement of this bill, Mr. Speaker, is that refineries, as he said, sell their products to independents at the same prices to their own flag stations. Well, the Minister of Business and Consumer Services is over there, talking about meetings and committees and joint federal-provincial initiatives and on and on.

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the House of the definition of a camel. A camel is a horse that has been designed by a committee and it seems to me that the one way to keep things straight in our minds is to just get on with it. We have a simple job, why complicate it? Why not just do it, as we should do here.

Mr. Speaker, the minister had the grace, I admit, to say that the petroleum companies can speak for themselves on this issue . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You bet they can.

[Page 732]

MS. O'CONNELL: You bet they can, as the honourable member says. The problem is, Mr. Speaker, that the longer the government goes on with its inter-provincial this and that and its committee meetings and its soirees and ensembles, the government is, for as long as that goes on, in effect by not doing the simple thing, is speaking for the petroleum companies. When they do this and nothing changes, the petroleum companies continue to rack up their profits at the expense of locally-owned and small businesses, businesses that we want to hold in our communities.

Mr. Speaker, it is a real shame. This is a bill about fairness, that is what it is about. Fairness is the key, it is probably the only really important word in this bill. It is about fairness and I would strongly urge the government to get on with the concept of being fair, creating genuine competition, so that the people they live beside and near, who own businesses, can survive, live, raise their families in this economy and in this market of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allocated for the debate of Bill No. 12, the Gasoline and Diesel Oil Fair-marketing Practices Act has expired.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you could return to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Environment.

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell members of the House that it is my honour today to table, in cooperation with our federal counterparts, our response to the recommendations of the Joint Public Review Panel on the Sable offshore projects. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise and convene tomorrow from the hours of 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. We will be doing the regular order paper, plus we will be calling the two Private Members' Bills that were introduced by the honourable member for Richmond today, and then we will go into the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to sit again tomorrow at 1:00 p.m.

[Page 733]

We have arrived at the moment of adjournment and we will move on to the late show, the Adjournment debate. The resolution had been submitted, the draw was conducted earlier in the day and the winner is the honourable member for Yarmouth, who has submitted the following resolution:

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that Nova Scotia has recaptured its traditional role as the most dynamic economy in Atlantic Canada, which had been lost to New Brunswick under the previous Tory Government.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

FIN. - ECONOMY (N.S.): ROLE (ATLANTIC CANADA) - RECAPTURED

MR. RICHARD HUBBARD: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening to address the resolution on the Nova Scotia economy, in particular its performance in relation to the Province of New Brunswick. As you know, Nova Scotia has always held a unique place in Atlantic Canada; it has often been the leader in terms of economic, cultural and social activity. But during the last years of Tory rule, our leadership role in the economic arena began to slip away. In May 1993, Nova Scotia's unemployment rate had risen to 14.8 per cent. At the same time, New Brunswick's unemployment rate was only 12.3 per cent. Commentators across the country were talking about the McKenna miracle. Frank McKenna was getting the headlines and the jobs, while all that Nova Scotians were getting was laid off.

[6:00 p.m.]

When this government was elected in 1993, Mr. Speaker, it made Nova Scotia's economic recovery a top priority. We did not adopt the flashy style of New Brunswick. We did not get the three-inch headlines. We just quietly and resolutely went about the task of making Nova Scotia strong again. We knew that the ultimate judgment would not be how many headlines we got, it would be the unemployment figures. What would count was the steak, not the sizzle.

Four and one-half years later the verdict is in. Since this government came to power, Nova Scotia has whipped New Brunswick in the job creation sweepstakes. Since May 1993 Nova Scotia has created 28,800 net new jobs. And New Brunswick? Only 4,500. (Interruption) The numbers? Since May 1993 we have created 28,800 net new jobs. Our counterparts in New Brunswick 4,500.

[Page 734]

Since May 1993 Nova Scotia's unemployment rate has fallen from 14.8 per cent to 11.6 per cent. And New Brunswick? Their unemployment rate has barely changed. It is now 12.1 per cent compared to 12.3 per cent four and one-half years ago. Nova Scotia has moved from having an unemployment rate 2.5 percentage points higher than New Brunswick's to having a rate that is one-half point lower.

So Nova Scotia has moved forward while New Brunswick - the same New Brunswick that the Opposition praises every day - the same New Brunswick that the Opposition wants this government to emulate - is eating our dust. I should also point out, Mr. Speaker, that last year, you may recall, Mr. Bernard Valcourt, the Leader of the Tory Opposition in New Brunswick chastised the New Brunswick government for falling behind Nova Scotia in job creation.

How did we do this? How did we take an economy in crisis and turn it into a booming economy with unlimited prospects in only four and one-half years? We did it by focusing on the basics. Again, this does not grab the headlines. This does not usually make the evening news, but it works.

AN HON. MEMBER: What are the basics?

MR. HUBBARD: We started by cleaning up the fiscal mess. That was a good start. This was the most important step in restoring business and investor confidence in Nova Scotia. We took a $617 million deficit and wiped it out. That is the one that the Tories left us, $617 million. Along the way we had to make some very difficult decisions. They were decisions that Nova Scotians did not always find easy to swallow.

Often, we were taking something tangible away from them with the promise of intangible benefits down the road. All we could promise was that someday in the near future all of this pain would result in a lot of gain. Nova Scotia would be stronger, more competitive and more vibrant as a result.

Then we began to redesign government. We made it more accessible, more accountable - something you are not familiar with over there - and more responsive to the needs of Nova Scotians.

Then, in each of our budgets we offered strategic tax breaks to business and incentives to attract new investment. Then we introduced the biggest tax cut in provincial history by implementing the harmonized sales tax. This provided our business sector with the competitive advantage it needs to compete around the country and around the world.

Then we stepped aside and let the private sector do its work. We had established the right climate for new investment, with the expectation that once all of the pieces were in place, new investment would flow in, and that is exactly what happened.

[Page 735]

The private sector investment that once shied away from our province is now pouring in. Statistics Canada predicts that in 1997, Nova Scotia will lead the country in new investment by a long shot with a growth rate of almost four times the national average. That is what Statistics Canada predicts will happen in 1997. What is more, the economic recovery is broad based. New sectors like information technology are making a big impact and internationally renowned companies like Cisco Systems and Mentor Networks are now calling Nova Scotia home.

The latest statistics show that more than 7,000 Nova Scotians are now employed in information technology software and computer firms that generate about $3 billion in revenues. This is an industry that few people had even heard of five or six years ago.

Environmental industry firms are sprouting up everywhere. More than 400 of these firms, employing 2,500 people and generating $300 million a year, now operate in this province. With the worldwide market for this type of technology and expertise growing by leaps and bounds, Nova Scotia is well-positioned to reap even bigger rewards in the years to come.

In arts and culture, this government seized an opportunity that the previous one ignored. We realized that not only does the arts and culture sector have intrinsic value, it is also a useful tool for economic development. We established a Nova Scotia Arts Council. We set up a film investment tax credit program and built three sound stages to make Nova Scotia an attractive location for home-grown and international film-makers alike. We helped finance the construction of the new Neptune Theatre and, yesterday, we released a comprehensive cultural policy to guide government support and development of arts and culture in Nova Scotia.

In return for this investment, we now have a thriving arts and culture industry that employs thousands of Nova Scotians and generates millions of dollars in economic value. To give you just one example, film and video productions spent $47.6 million in the province in 1996, more than four times the amount spent just two years earlier. At the same time that these new sectors are evolving, our traditional industries are making a comeback. The forestry sector, for example, is prospering. Stora Forest Industries is completing a $650 million expansion at their plant in Port Hawkesbury, one of the largest capital expansions ever to take place in Nova Scotia.

I want to talk for just a few moments about the call centre that was established in my own area. Telesis is an auto insurance call centre which will employ 23 people in Yarmouth and adds a new and exciting dimension to the local economy. The renovation of the former Dominion Textile Plant continues to create jobs in Yarmouth. Most recently, we were able to announce assistance to help the plant to accommodate Tech Pak Canada Incorporated, a company manufacturing styrofoam containers, and there are other companies as well.

[Page 736]

I will finish off by saying this government has done well in the four and one-half years that we have been elected. We have done well provincially, and I am pleased to say what great support I have had locally, in Yarmouth, from the Economic Development Minister, for job creation in Yarmouth as well. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, when I first saw the resolution for the Adjournment debate from the honourable member for Yarmouth, I thought it was a joke; I really did. I thought somebody put it on my desk to have some fun at my expense. Then I realized it was for real and, honest to goodness, I have never debated a joke in my life but, however, I guess I am going to have the opportunity to do so tonight.

The hypothesis that this member for Yarmouth is bringing forward is that in some miraculous way, Nova Scotia fell way behind New Brunswick during the years prior to 1993 . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: It was the Tories, just say it . . .

MR. RUSSELL: Well, the Tories weren't always the government. Once upon a time we had a Liberal Government in this province too. Mr. Speaker, do not let us forget that they had their own little industry going, that government did. You could not sell a bottle of beer or sell a case a whisky in this province unless you tollgated it out to the Liberal Party. Even today this government is still living on the avails of that money that was ripped out illegally from those who are involved in the liquor business in this province. If people want to talk about previous governments, well, let's keep going back, I do not care.

What I am talking about, Mr. Speaker, is from 1993 to 1997 and the record of this government, their record of bringing industry into this province, their record of creating employment and their record of the welfare of the people of this province and they have done a lousy job. They have not, in any way, outshone our neighbours to the west, unfortunately.

Mr. Speaker, the member would have us believe that this province has prospered over the past four years. Well, you know, I have said over and over again in this House that we have become the welfare basket case of Canada. That is where this government has brought us. They have brought us to a stage where we are beholden to the federal government to obtain money to keep the province going, and we are doing it through the dividends of the federal government.

Mr. Speaker, there have been some things happen in this province, but do not let us forget that there were an awful lot of things happening when this government came to power. Now, you know, when we talk about our competition with New Brunswick for industries, the most obvious place to look is up in Cumberland County at Amherst which is right on the

[Page 737]

border so a company has got a choice of going to Amherst or going to Moncton. They have a very good choice between those two locations. If New Brunswick was such a great place to invest, up until 1993, as this member is suggesting, well, then you would think that there would be no investment in the Amherst area, it would all be going to New Brunswick. Well, in point of fact, I just happen to have a couple of notes here.

In Amherst, and this is between 1991, I think and 1993, there was a company there by the name of Waldale that expanded and took on 120 people. There was a company called IMP which is well-known. It moved into the Amherst area and employed 250 people. There is Ballastronix (Interruption) I am not talking about North Sydney, I am talking about Amherst. Ballastronix moved in and created 280 jobs. Pure Energy created 70 and in Pugwash just down the road a little bit, Seagull, of course, moved in there and created 400 jobs. So, actually between about 1990 and 1993 there were 1120 jobs established just in that area, Mr. Speaker, in an area that is in direct competition with New Brunswick.

Now, we can go year by year through the deplorable, despicable history of this government and look at each year, but let's go right to now. Right to now, we know of a company that was flat out to put 2,000 jobs into Cape Breton. They were told, well we do not want any of your ratty jobs in the sewing and garments industry in Nova Scotia, leave. That was from the Department of Development in this province that is supposedly bringing in and encouraging firms to come into this province. So they have gone to New Brunswick and they are going to establish a plant there. I am told that initially they are going to start with 900 jobs and year two, I think it is 1,500 and year three is 2,000 jobs.

I heard some minister, and I think it was the Minister of Development say, what on earth would you do with 2,000 jobs in the needle trade in New Brunswick? He is from Cape Breton. Mr. Speaker, just think about it, 2,000 jobs and you are questioning what the jobs are. A job is a job is a job, and you ask the unemployed in this province if they want a job in the needle trade and they will tell you they do. Those 2,000 jobs would probably have had a spin-off, I think, at the present time we are using 2.5 jobs to 1. That would have been approximately another - good heavens - 5,000 jobs. I mean it just boggles my mind that the Minister of Economic Development and his staff can do those kinds of things.

[6:15 p.m.]

The trouble with these late debates is that you do not get all that much time to talk about anything. He mentioned the HST as being a creator of new industry in this province. We got that guff from the former Minister of Finance who was fired by the government. He tried to run for the leadership and he did not make that. He was a failed Minister of Health and a failed Minister of Finance, no wonder you did not put him in as Leader. He was the one who came in here promising all these jobs that would materialize when the HST came into being. What has happened with the HST, Mr. Speaker, in point of fact is that you are driving business out of this province. We have at the present time a system of taxation that gives us

[Page 738]

no flexibility whatsoever. At least in the Province of Prince Edward Island they have the ability to decrease the tax if they want. They can take it off if they want. They can increase it, as well, if they want.

In this province we cannot do anything. The Premier of this province is bleating away about the tax on heating fuels, electricity and coal and oil and firewood, et cetera. He says I cannot do anything about it. I went to Ottawa and I spoke to my buddy Paul Martin and Paul Martin would not help me out. So the only way I can give the Province of Nova Scotia a rebate on the heating fuels is by doing it unilaterally and accepting the entire cost in this province. That is just not on. Just by the way, that is another broken promise that the Premier made. Now he is down to, we may get at some time in the foreseeable future a rebate on some of the tax that you pay on electricity for heat. However, the rest, I think, have gone by the boards.

I mean, the Premier was going to decrease the sales tax on children's clothing and school supplies and this, that and the other thing. He has sort of cut that horizon down a little bit. Now we are talking about a few bucks here and a few bucks there to people who heat their houses with electricity. That is not what the people expected from that Premier. They expected that Premier to carry out his promise and do something about the health services tax that is going to help the people of Nova Scotia. For this member to say that the HST is giving a competitive advantage to Nova Scotia is baloney. It is just not true. (Interruptions)

It is not true. It is not true. When the Minister of Finance brought that bill in he was telling us about the input tax credits and things were going to go down in price. I do not care about the companies. I do not care about the companies that are telling you those things. I am telling you what the average Nova Scotian is telling me, the guy out there, the gal out there, who is buying from the stores. I can tell you that there is nothing in any store that I have seen that has been decreased because of the input tax credits. In fact, the items which that minister told us were going to go down because of the input tax credits have actually increased in price. To say that this province is now galloping along ahead of New Brunswick is a fallacy and, as I say, it is a joke.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I did not really intend to speak tonight and my comments will probably be even briefer than the allowable time. The reason is I listened to the speech that was given by the member for Yarmouth. I want to say that it is going to look very nice in printed form and if it is going to be distributed to the people back at home, it is a nice little presentation, a nice little propaganda piece.

The reality is that it is so filled with fantasies and fairy tales that I do not really know who the government expects is going to believe it. There are touches of reality in the remarks that were made by this member, as there often are by government members when they speak

[Page 739]

generally. Those touches of reality are so clouded and fogged over by so many statements and assertions, that Nova Scotians know have no foundation in truth, that whatever little bit of credibility they had is lost.

It is not just a matter of how we are comparing with New Brunswick. It is not a matter of Nova Scotia trying to compete with our sister province, New Brunswick. What we have to look at is how we are competing in the world. How we are positioning ourselves in the world so that our economy can grow and our young people living here have a promising future. The reality is that government seems to be too concerned, especially now as we are heading to the polls and they somehow put a glossy shine on the apple, about political games and smoke and mirror exercises that they are selling out. They are compromising our future.

I am one who believes very strongly that Nova Scotia has tremendous opportunities. We do have indeed an excellent opportunity, an excellent bright future, if we exercise good judgment now. There has been a lot of debate and discussion about Sable gas and the benefits that will or won't accrue from that. Nova Scotia does stand to benefit tremendously in terms of not only the small revenues that we will get in the way of royalties but we do stand the benefit of creating new industry and jobs in this province that will be long-term, that will be secure jobs, that will be good paying jobs.

In order to do that we have to have some backbone, we have to stand up to demand, to insist, that Nova Scotia get the preferential treatment from that gas. We have to insist that we have a competitive advantage for the businesses that would locate here by ensuring that we had a substantially reduced price for that product for Nova Scotia businesses and Nova Scotia consumers. Mark my word, when Nova Scotia consumers have money taken out of their pocket, whether it be for higher gas prices or home heating fuel or electricity, that is less money that they have to spend in the businesses that are in your community, the member for Yarmouth's community, my community. In fact, all of our communities across the province.

If we are taking money out of the pockets of the consumers as we are doing with the BST, that means that those local businesses who were employing people in their communities and having that money recirculated in those communities, that means that they suffer. The jobs that could be maintained or could have been expanded don't happen. We could have been insisting and we could have told those oil companies, that product will stay in the ground unless Nova Scotia is going to get the benefits. Yes, short-term jobs are very important. The construction jobs to lay the pipe are going to be important. Let's not be fooled and let's stop playing games with this so-called $3 billion figure.

We all know that the vast majority of that $3 billion isn't being spent in Nova Scotia. That is being spent to purchase products offshore, whether that be to rent the equipment that is being brought in, to pay the wages of specialist people who are being brought in to work on those rigs initially as they are being set up, to lay the underwater pipe, to construct the pipe that is going to be used to lay across the province to transport our gas.

[Page 740]

If you talk to people who are involved in economic development, one of the things that they will often tell you is that there are certain key infrastructures that are essential to attract industry and businesses and to maintain them. It is not what people often think of like water, sewer and roads, as important as they are. Two of the most fundamental infrastructures are a good education system and a good health care system, both which this government through its lack of planning and forethought with efforts to rush ahead to save money, have been compromising.

I heard the member talking about how they brought the fiscal House in the province to order. Well, we certainly have a much lower deficit now on an annual basis than we had before, no question.

Mr. Speaker, although that has occurred, primary reasons are, that the interest rates have dropped dramatically and we, like all other borrowers, have benefited tremendously from that and we are able to roll over debts at a much reduced rate. There is another thing that they are doing and the government likes to pretend whether it be with Highway No. 104, construction of the schools, the P3 projects - I call public-to-private-for-profit, because they are not real partnerships in the definition of what a partnership is - they talk about how that is improving our financial situation.

Mr. Speaker, if you purchase something, you have an asset. Yes, you have to pay a mortgage and you have to show your debt, but if you charge something it may not be a capital debt, but it is an operating debt. It is a commitment. If the government is entering into commitments with these partners as they call them, to be buying a service at a grossly inflated rate because we are paying a higher interest rate than if the government did it themselves, we are going to have to add a profit onto those costs for that private partner so-called as well, that is driving up commitments, contracts for operating costs. Those operating costs are going to be higher than if we were proceeding with that project ourselves; every bit as serious as what the Tories did to our deficit, the Liberals are doing as well, but in another way.

In one sense, the Liberals are being craftier, they are trying to hide it so that it will not show up every time the books are out. Mr. Speaker, mark my words, it is going to have every bit as much impact upon the ability of this province to be delivering programs and services in the future as if they had borrowed the money themselves, in fact, more. It is still going to be a commitment, it is a contractual arrangement. They are committed whether it is going to be made in terms of interest payments or, in this case, in terms of commitments on lease payments for these projects that they are proceeding with.

Mr. Speaker, I fail to understand, I really do, where the government is coming from. I think that Nova Scotians fail to understand that as well. What they want is not rhetoric from me or from anybody else. They do not want to have to have announcements being made of so many winter or so many summer jobs being created on a short-term basis to address a current unemployment situation. Those jobs are welcome right now because they are

[Page 741]

desperately needed. What they want is a government with a vision, a government that will work with them. Governments set targets to reduce debt and deficit, what they want is a government that will work with them and to set targets to create employment, full-time, good paying jobs so that families will be able to support themselves, and to be feeling good about themselves that they are contributing to the economy and to the community.

Mr. Speaker, it does not matter how many fairy tale stories we want to stand up and self-congratulatory messages we want to give and tire ourselves out patting ourselves on the back, people want real direction, real leadership and they are not going to be fooled by any more smoke and mirrors. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for the Adjournment debate has expired.

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 6:29 p.m.]