Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Thur., Dec. 4, 1997

Sixth Session

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Fin. - Taxation: Child Care - Burden Reduce, Mr. W. Fraser 743
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Educ.: Universities - Foundation Reports, Hon. R. Harrison 744
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 281, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Decision-Maker - Name, Dr. J. Hamm 744
Res. 282, Fin. - Real World: Min. Departure - Regret, Mr. J. Holm 745
Res. 283, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Min.: Salary - Reduce, Mr. R. Russell 746
Res. 284, Health - Beacon Prog. (Kings Reg. Rehab. Centre):
Reps. - Meet, Mr. G. Moody 746
Res. 285, Health - QE II Health Sc. Centre: Nurses Shortage -
Examine, Mr. B. Taylor 747
Res. 286, Educ. - Horton H.S. (Kings Co.): Construction Largest -
Recognize, Ms. E. O'Connell 748
Res. 287, National Unity - Select Comm.: Acadian Members -
Offer (P.C.) Reconsider, Dr. J. Hamm 748
Res. 288, Cape Breton The Lakes MLA - Premier: Courtesy - Extend,
Mr. P. MacEwan 749
Res. 289, Comm. Serv. - Social Serv.: Reform Discussion Paper Release -
Premier Direct, Mr. A. MacLeod 750
Res. 290, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Infrastructure Wks. Prog.: Benefit -
Recognize, Hon. G. Brown 751
Res. 291, Commun. Serv. - Social Assistance Reform: Report - Release,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 751
Res. 292, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Co-op Atlantic (Keltic Dr. Depot-C.B.):
Closure Postponed - Min. Support, Mr. P. MacEwan 752
Res. 293, Educ. - Schools: Construction Fiscal Confusion -
Premier Resolve, Mr. E. Fage 753
Res. 294, Health - Home Care: Waiting Lists - Min. Brief Proper,
Mr. G. Moody 753
Res. 295, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Policy Erratic - Rectify, Mr. J. Leefe 754
Res. 296, Educ. - Schools: Construction (Public-Private) -
Details Release, Mr. J. Holm 755
Res. 297, Housing & Mun. Affs. - HRM: Legislation Amdts. -
Disapprove, Mr. B. Taylor 755
Res. 298, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Co-op Housing Federation:
Commitment - Provide, Mr. A. MacLeod 756
Res. 299, Commun. Serv. - Soc. Serv.: Public Policy - Research Heed,
Ms. E. O'Connell 757
Res. 300, Nat. Res. - Forestry: Christmas Tree Industry -
Importance Acknowledge, Mr. D. McInnes 757
Vote - Affirmative 758
Res. 301, Sports - Baseball: Brad Hurley/Amherst White Sox -
Success Congrats., Mr. E. Fage 758
Vote - Affirmative 759
Res. 302, Agric. - Federation (N.S.) AGM (102nd): Success - Wish,
Mr. G. Archibald 759
Vote - Affirmative 759
Res. 303, NSP - Power Losses: Consequences -
Low-Income Families Compensate, Ms. Helen MacDonald 760
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Educ. - School Boards: School Capital Priorities - Criteria,
Hon. R. Harrison 760
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 79, Commun. Serv. - Youth: Protection - Legislation,
Mr. A. MacLeod 761
No. 80, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Environment Act - Benefits, Mr. J. Holm 762
No. 81, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Petrochemical Indust. - Retain, Mr. J. Leefe 763
No. 82, Environ. - Sable Gas: Permits - Cancellation, Dr. J. Hamm 765
No. 83, Environ. - Sable Gas: Permits - Benefits, Mr. J. Holm 766
No. 84, Human Res. - Nurses: Pay Change - Legislation Possibility,
Mr. G. Moody 768
No. 85, Sysco: Pension Plan Liability - Funding, Dr. J. Hamm 770
No. 86, Commun. Serv.: Phoenix House - Funding,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 771
No. 87, Sysco: Pension Plan Liability - Funding, Mr. R. Russell 772
No. 88, Environ. - Tire Recycling: TRACC - Contract Violations,
Mr. B. Taylor 774
No. 89, Commun. Serv. - Women's Centres: Funding Discrepancy -
Rectify, Ms. E. O'Connell 775
No. 90, Educ. - Schools: Construction (Public-Private) - Future,
Mr. E. Fage 776
No. 91, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Agreement Final - Availability,
Dr. J. Hamm 778
No. 92, Agric.: Industry Assistance - Policy, Mr. G. Archibald 779
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 15, St. Peter's and Area Lions Club Lands Act 781
No. 16, La Picasse Tax Exemption Act 781
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. B. Taylor 782
Mr. R. Mann 791
Ms. Helen MacDonald 808
Mr. K. Colwell 816
Mr. A. MacLeod 831
Adjourned debate 834
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Select Comm. - Establish:
Mr. J. Holm 835
Mr. R. White 838
Mr. G. Archibald 840
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Dec. 5th at 10:00 a.m. 843
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 304, Educ. - SAERC: Car Construction Project -
Students Congrats., Mr. R. White 844

[Page 743]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Sixth Session

1:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Gerald Fogarty

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Keith Colwell

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We can now begin today's sitting of the House of Assembly with the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. WAYNE FRASER: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Taxing Child Care Committee, I would like to present this petition. It is signed by 20 people and I beg leave to present this for tabling purposes. I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

743

[Page 744]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the following reports which are the Foundation Reports of Acadia University, Dalhousie University, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, St. Francis Xavier University, Saint Mary's University, the University College of Cape Breton, and the University of Kings College.

MR. SPEAKER: The reports are tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 281

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

Whereas hours before the joint review panel handed down its decision with respect to the Sable gas project, the Premier took off to Ottawa saying he had no knowledge of the panel's decision; and

Whereas the Premier's brother and Communications Director later had to admit that the Premier did in fact attend a briefing on the panel's ruling several days prior to the panel's decision being publicly released; and

Whereas once again the Premier appears to have had a serious memory lapse saying he was unaware of the economic conditions attached to the environmental approvals when his Minister of the Environment stated the Premier participated in the consultations on the environmental approvals;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the minister responsible for Sable gas come clean on what he knows, when he knew it, and why he is publicly denying knowledge of vital information and, further, that he set the record straight with respect to who in his government is making key decisions with respect to the Sable gas project.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 745]

RESOLUTION NO. 282

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 Savage-MacLellan Government has been demonstrating for nearly five long years now that it lives in a strange fantasy land where $25 million schools represent good value to the taxpayers and private borrowing at 12 per cent is cheaper than public borrowing at 6 per cent; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance, who had been keeping some small grip on reality, slipped into fantasy land yesterday when he told this House that releasing an independent study of the ITT Sheraton Casino would endanger the privacy rights of single mothers on welfare, among others; and

Whereas it is the height of fabrication to hide the ITT Sheraton's dealings with government behind concerns about the privacy rights of tenants in dispute with their landlords, single mothers who have applied for social assistance and small computer companies seeking assistance from government;

Therefore be it resolved that this House regrets the final departure of the Minister of Finance from the real world into the Liberal's feel-good fantasy land, inhabited by the rest of his colleagues.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I realize that we have a lot of looseness and freedom when it comes to resolutions, but when that honourable member stated that the Minister of Finance talked about low-income single parents, that is not true. The Minister of Finance never mentioned that at one time. I think those remarks should be struck from the record.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Do you want to speak to the same point of order, honourable member?

MR. HOLM: Yes, indeed. I would suggest that the honourable member should review Hansard.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to have a look at the resolution. I will examine it a little more closely and make a ruling later. Could I see that notice of motion? (Interruption) I will have a closer look at it.

[Page 746]

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 283

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

Whereas over the past few days, MLAs have been inundated with calls from constituents making legitimate criticisms of the Department of Transportation and Public Works for failing to recognize winter is here; and

Whereas one caller expressed frustration that his road was not plowed and that it was obvious to him that the Department of Transportation and Public Works has insufficient operators and equipment to do the job; and

Whereas it is not the equipment operators who are at fault but rather the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, who is failing to provide leadership in recognizing winter is here;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works have his salary reduced to $1.00, an amount commensurate with the level of service he is providing to the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Before we go on, I have had an opportunity to look at the second whereas, I think that was the reference made by the honourable Government House leader, "Whereas the Minister of Finance who had been keeping some small grip on reality slipped into fantasy land yesterday when he told this House that releasing an independent study of the ITT Sheraton Casino would endanger the privacy rights of single mothers on welfare, among others; . . .".

Well, I think it is a matter of interpretation. The Government House Leader has his interpretation and the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid has his. The notice can be tabled.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: It's the freedom of speech. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 284

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

[Page 747]

Whereas the Beacon Program at Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre has been providing excellent standards of service and support to people in the northern and western regions, who require ongoing psychiatric assistance in leading more meaningful lives; and

Whereas the Western Regional Health Board has advised the Board of Management of the Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre that the Beacon Program will no longer serve clients from the northern region; and

Whereas the Western Regional Health Board is actively considering dissolving the Beacon Program, a decision that will have far-reaching and harmful implications for the Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre, Beacon Program clients and their families;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately sit down with representatives from the Beacon Program, its clients and representatives of the Northern and Western Regional Health Boards with a view to maintaining this important and vital service to Nova Scotians, in both the western and northern regions of the province who require psychosocial rehabilitation.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 285

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

Whereas the working conditions being faced by nurses in Unit 8.3 at the new Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre are deplorable; and

Whereas as one nurse recently said, nurses in this unit are over-worked and are mentally and physically drained; and

Whereas over-worked nurse are being called on more and more to leave their patients to shuffle more and more paper;

[Page 748]

Therefore be it resolved that instead of giving inaccurate information on the level of health care being provided in Nova Scotia, the Minister of Health immediately examine the serious shortage of nursing staff at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre and immediately review how their increasing administrative responsibilities are impacting on the ability for nurses to care for their patients.

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 286

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

Whereas the Minister of Education has assured this House he would meet the needs of the children of this province by having his Liberal friends in the private sector build them new schools wherever needed; and

Whereas the Minister of Education has also assured this House that all Nova Scotia communities will have access to the world-class standard of education he will provide for his constituents in Kings South; and

Whereas the Minister of Education is spending almost $30,000 per student on Harrison High, meaning the total cost of providing a world-class education for all the 163,000 students around the province will be more than $4 billion;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the Minister of Education for creating the largest capital construction project in the history of this province, a project the equivalent of four fixed links, but ask him where the money will come from.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 287

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

[Page 749]

Whereas the Premier's Unity Committee, set to travel across the province in the new year, was designed to draw out the concerns and solutions of Nova Scotians to ensuring our nation remains as one; and

Whereas it is imperative that a bilingual member be added so that the concerns of our large Acadian population be given the true hearing and understanding that they deserve; and

Whereas the Progressive Conservative caucus yesterday, to allow for this oversight, offered the Premier one of its positions on the all-Party committee to open the door to one of two Acadian representatives in the Legislature to fill that vital role, only to be refused;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Premier to reconsider and accept the offer of the Progressive Conservative caucus to ensure that the concerns of French-speaking Nova Scotians are represented on the Unity Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 288

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

Whereas the member for Cape Breton The Lakes, yesterday in this House commended Peter Mancini, MP for Sydney-Victoria, for calling a meeting to form a coalition to press for location of Marine Atlantic's headquarters to North Sydney; and

Whereas the honourable member chastised the Premier, who is MLA for Cape Breton North, including North Sydney, for not having attended this meeting; and

Whereas the Premier, who has been working on the relocation of Marine Atlantic's headquarters to North Sydney long before the present MP for Sydney-Victoria ever discovered this issue, sent his regrets, stating he was unable to attend the meeting because of his responsibilities as Premier;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recommend that the member for Cape Breton The Lakes ought to extend reasonable courtesy to the Premier, rather than seeking to politicize these concerns.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 750]

RESOLUTION NO. 289

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

Whereas six months ago the Department of Community Services promised to release a discussion paper on social service reform that would be broadly circulated for public input; and

Whereas six months later and six months prior to the target date for overhauling the social service system, the government has shut off all opportunities for Nova Scotians to advise it on social service issues, including shutting down the Nova Scotia Social Service Council; and

Whereas the government has failed to produce its long-promised discussion paper on social service reform and is now backtracking on its earlier commitment to involve Nova Scotians in discussions regarding this important issue which has far-reaching implications for thousands of Nova Scotians and their families;

Therefore be it resolved that Premier MacLellan, who promised to lead a more open government but who has so far done the complete opposite, take this opportunity to prove he is a man of his word by directing his excuse-prone Minister of Community Services to immediately prepare and broadly release its long-overdue discussion paper on social service reform.

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

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice and passage without debate.

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes has requested a moment for an introduction.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery I would like to introduce to the House members from the Long Term Services for Youth Association. With us today we have Stephen Townsend who is chairman of the board and Linda Wilson who is the

[Page 751]

executive director, as well as other board members and members of the staff. I would like the House to extend them a warm welcome.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 290

HON. GUY BROWN: I will be asking for waiver of notice and if it is approved, I would ask the Speaker to direct it to the Prime Minister and to the appropriate ministers and their names can be secured through my office.

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

Whereas the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Program has made a tremendous impact on health and the quality of life in communities throughout the province; and

Whereas since 1994 a total of $225 million has been committed by the federal, provincial and municipal governments for roads, sewers, water, et cetera; and

Whereas the province invested $70 million in the original program, then committed a further $14.2 million this past February;

Therefore be it resolved that the House recognize the benefits of the infrastructure works program and encourage the federal government to continue this important partnership.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It appears we do not have unanimous agreement.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 291

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

[Page 752]

Whereas the Minister of Community Services insists against all of the evidence that her department is involved in meaningful consultation on social assistance reform; and

Whereas the minister's claim has been resoundingly refuted by the president of the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers and the Community Advocates Network; and

Whereas the minister's claim that meaningful consultation can take place by having focus groups discuss a secret report on welfare reform is a total sham;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand that the Minister of Community Services stop the secrecy, release the secret report, and engage in a consultation process that allows concerned Nova Scotians to speak out and to be heard on the issue of social assistance reform.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 292

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

Whereas the NDP on November 24th introduced Resolution No. 57 concerning the plan of Co-op Atlantic to close its Keltic Drive distribution centre outside Sydney, which the NDP resolution incorrectly identified as being in Sydney River; and

Whereas Co-op Atlantic had planned to close the Keltic Drive distribution centre on January 16, 1998, and consolidate all grocery operations and inventory at Moncton, New Brunswick, thereby putting 15 employees permanently out of work; and

Whereas this scheduled shutdown has now been postponed for six months and hopefully longer, thanks to the decisive leadership of the Nova Scotia Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the Honourable W. Manning MacDonald, CD, Minister;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP should stand up and applaud the good work of this department and its minister, which has addressed this matter with some degree of success, which we hope may yet translate into the permanent retention of this facility, and that these results were achieved thanks to the leadership and determination of this government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 753]

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 293

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

Whereas in Kentville yesterday the Premier said it is time to make education nothing less than a provincial obsession, to make this government the education government; and

Whereas at the same time, the Premier refused to commit to more funds to school boards to support his government's obsession; and

Whereas this same Premier, so obsessed with education, he is sitting on schools built through so-called private consortia, which are still without financing and thus, without financial backing;

Therefore be it resolved that this Premier truly become obsessed with education of our children, as he has professed he would like to be, and see that the financial confusion this government has left school construction in now to be resolved immediately and that the parents, students and teachers waiting for answers on the future of their sick and aging schools be given answers today.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 294

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

Whereas when answering questions yesterday on home care, the Minister of Health said there is a very small waiting list now, maybe two or three or four within an area; and

[Page 754]

Whereas the minister's acting provincial director has stated to the Public Accounts Committee that there is no waiting list for services, with the minister's communications director agreeing, saying that the minister was not properly briefed; and

Whereas while the right hand doesn't appear to know what the left hand is doing or, in this case saying, Nova Scotians in need of home care services could tell this government, waiting lists or not, the level of service offered by the province is not good enough;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister be given a proper briefing, one that includes the concerns of the people having used and/or asking for home care and concentrate not just on whether there are waiting lists or not but also to issues such as workers not suitable for their placements and bureaucratic nightmares in requests for home care and so on.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 295

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

Whereas last week in this House the Premier said, "the environmental question is important. There is no doubt about that, but there are also other important questions that have to be settled; the Leader of the Opposition has mentioned a few of them. They have to be resolved and they have to be resolved on their own merits."; and

Whereas in less than a week the Premier is backtracking on his statement that the important questions raised by the Leader of the Opposition must stand on their own merits and be negotiated separately from the environmental approval process; and

Whereas caveats attached to giving the Sable Offshore Energy Project the environmental green light are yet another example of the Premier saying one thing and his government doing quite another;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier do something about his government's erratic policy-making approach which time and time again flies in the face of the Premier's stated positions on matters of important and, indeed, vital public policy.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 755]

RESOLUTION NO. 296

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 Minister of Education's only response when questioned in this House yesterday about the financing of his public-to-private for-profit schools was to ask who the NDP's Finance Minister would be after the next election; and

Whereas in the fullness of time the minister may get his answer; and

Whereas in the meantime, Nova Scotians have a right to know the details of the Liberals' P3 schemes, including an explanation as to why the costs have spiralled out of control; and

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education take a break from his huffing and puffing long enough to provide Nova Scotians with the detailed information to which they are entitled.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 297

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 former Municipality of Halifax were forced to pay some $4 million as they were commandeered into metro amalgamation by this Savage-MacLellan Government; and

Whereas despite this cost to rural taxpayers, concern now exists that they are actually paying for services they are not receiving; and

Whereas prior to metro amalgamation legislation coming into force, rural Halifax County taxpayers worked diligently with their former rural Halifax County Councillors, some of whom sit here in the Legislature, to ensure that rural taxpayers in the HRM were properly protected, by way of the language contained in the HRM legislation;

Therefore be it resolved that this Savage-MacLellan Government not approve any amendments to the HRM legislation that will negatively impact rural taxpayers.

[Page 756]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[1:30 p.m.]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 298

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

Whereas this Savage-MacLellan Liberal Government is refusing to address a serious issue facing the co-op housing movement in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs said in this Legislature on Tuesday in reference to a question on co-op housing, ". . . two years ago the federal government announced the phase-down of their operations as they have them now."; and

Whereas the now Premier and then member of the federal governing Liberals supported this phase-down of operations;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs stop their shadow dancing and immediately provide a commitment to the Cooperative Housing Federation of Nova Scotia that this Savage-MacLellan Liberal Government will protect the interests of the movement and not sign any deal with the federal government allowing the Nova Scotia Government to take control and, no doubt, ruin co-op housing in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West on an introduction.

[Page 757]

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and through you to the other members in the House, in the west gallery, the Warden for the Municipality of the County of Pictou, Hank Dunnewold, and also my councillor. Welcome Hank. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 299

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 Katherine Side of Toronto is the first person in Canada to be awarded a Ph.D. in Women's Studies; and

Whereas her research clearly indicates that cuts to social welfare agencies show bias against women; and

Whereas the actions of this government indicate just how useful such research could be to them;

Therefore be it resolved that before making public policy decisions affecting social services this government heed current research and recognize these cuts have a negative impact on women.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 300

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

Whereas Nova Scotia Christmas trees are famous around the world; and

Whereas the Christmas tree industry is a multimillion dollar economic generator for Nova Scotia; and

Whereas one Nova Scotia Christmas tree was recently sold, via the Internet, to a lady in California who was so intent on getting a Nova Scotia tree that she would not take no for an answer despite the added cost of shipping just one tree across the continent;

[Page 758]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly acknowledge the value and importance of Nova Scotia's Christmas tree industry and wish them every success with their 1997 harvesting and marketing operations.

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

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 Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 301

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

Whereas 15 year old Amherst resident Brad Hurley, son of Vern and Mary Lynn Hurley, has been selected Baseball Nova Scotia's Bantam Player of the Year; and

Whereas Brad is a pitcher and a member of the Amherst Bantam White Sox; and

Whereas Brad led the Amherst Bantam White Sox this past summer to the Nova Scotia Bantam B Baseball Championship, before then pitching with the Sox as they represented Nova Scotia at the Atlantic Bantam Baseball Championships held in Kentville;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly acknowledge the outstanding year put forward by Brad Hurley and his Amherst White Sox baseball team and wish them all the very best in 1998.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice on this resolution.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 759]

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. 302

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 102nd Annual General Meeting of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture gets under way in Truro tomorrow morning; and

Whereas the earliest recorded attempt at organizing agriculture in the Province of Nova Scotia took place in 1789 in Horton district, Kings County; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's agriculture industry is a major contributor to both employment and the economy, producing $317 million in products at the farm level and more than $1 billion a year at the retail level;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature acknowledge today the tremendous efforts put forth by the Nova Scotia farmers and wish them a very successful 102nd annual meeting in Truro this weekend and a bright future for 1998.

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 The Lakes.

[Page 760]

RESOLUTION NO. 303

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

Whereas some Nova Scotians suffered not only inconvenience but real financial loss as a result of the lengthy power outages that occurred in the wake of last week's storms; and

Whereas some low income Nova Scotians had to throw out the contents of their fridges and freezers as a result of the power outages; and

Whereas a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Power said yesterday the utility accepts no responsibility for compensating such people;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the PR-conscious folks at Nova Scotia Power to see the wisdom of addressing the concerns of low income Nova Scotians who are having trouble feeding their families as a result of the lengthy loss of power.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

If there are no further notices of motion, before we move on to Orders of the Day, I would like to inform all members of the Assembly that on the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. the Clerk has conducted a draw. The winner is the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes who has submitted the following resolution:

Therefore be it resolved that this House establish an all-Party select committee to study the Sable gas deal, particularly the issue of natural gas liquids and make recommendations on how best to maximize economic benefits for Nova Scotians from the offshore.

That is the resolution submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes and will be debated at 6:00 p.m.

[TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, as we indicated yesterday in the House, I am pleased to table the criteria used by the school boards of this province and the Province of Nova Scotia to establish school capital priorities.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

[Page 761]

Moving on to Orders of the Day. Oral Question Period will begin at 1:37 p.m. to 2:38 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

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

COMMUN. SERV. - YOUTH: PROTECTION - LEGISLATION

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. My question for the Minister of Community Services is, what specific legislation or program is in place to protect youth between the ages of 16 to 18?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. As he is aware, the Act does have a section in it that spells out that the minister may do certain things by legislation for that age group.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, again back to the Minister of Community Services. I wonder if the Minister of Community Services would agree that indeed Phoenix House provides vital services to the youth between the ages of 16 to 18 in this province?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think the question is very timely since the Board of Directors of Phoenix House are sitting in the gallery. Yes, I certainly do agree that their valuable service is very much needed in this province. I have said that before and I have said it to the board and I have said it in public. I think I have said it in writing in 1990.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact, the minister did say it say it in writing in 1990. I would like to quote what the minister had to say and I will be tabling this piece of paper. "It takes the public will to bring about change for the victimized and it takes core funding from government, without strings attached, to ensure the survival of the support system offered by Phoenix House."

My final supplementary to the minister is, does the minister agree with the support that Phoenix House presently provides? If she agrees, would she commit today to provide the core funding so that Phoenix House can continue its good work?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his supplementary question. You are obviously asking me to commit to a budget process that I cannot do in advance of the budget. All the groans that I am hearing from the opposite side of the House do not help this matter at all. It adds to the theatrics though.

[Page 762]

Mr. Speaker, I think it is very important to know that Phoenix House, along with a number of other organizations across Nova Scotia, does a tremendous job with the resources they have to work with on behalf of the groups they serve. Phoenix House is one of those organizations. We have met with Phoenix House, I have met very early on as a new minister, my senior staff continue to try to resolve their funding difficulties and we have given a commitment to try to find some solutions for them in the next budget process.

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

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: ENVIRONMENT ACT - BENEFITS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, relative to the Sable offshore gas development, my question is through you to the Premier. The Premier had a chance and he blew it. The government had an opportunity under the Environment Act to set social and economic benefits that were to accrue to Nova Scotia, those benefits that the Premier himself promised that he would negotiate, that he would obtain. In fact, what we have seen is that the sell-out that was begun by the former Premier, Premier Savage, has now been complete with this new Premier. My question to the Premier is quite simply this, why did the Premier fail to ensure that Nova Scotians received those benefits that he promised that he would receive for Nova Scotians before the environmental approvals were given and had those included in those approvals?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, the negotiations are still going on with the oil companies. The things to which the honourable member refers, among others, are on the table and I hope to be able to have something to report to the House before too long.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, warm fuzzies and a loonie or a toonie might get you a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons. The Premier knows that he promised that he would get a better preferential toll rate for Nova Scotians or he said that gas may as well stay in the ground. Under the Environmental Act, that power was there for the Premier and his government to insist that that be a condition before any approvals were given. My question to the Premier is quite simply this, why did you throw away that opportunity? Why didn't you insist that that was a condition before the environmental approvals were granted by your government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to get the environmental approvals both of Nova Scotia and the federal government They are very important for the process in which we are involved with respect to the issues the honourable member mentions. Negotiations are still on with the oil companies and I hope to have something further to report before too long.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the Premier is glad but Nova Scotians would be even happier if the commitments that the Premier had made on behalf of himself and his Liberal team had actually come to fruition. The Premier again promised that his government

[Page 763]

would ensure that the liquid gases would stay in Nova Scotia or again that if that in fact wasn't going to happen, that those gases may as well stay in the ground.

So my question to the Premier is quite simply this - he hasn't answered either of the other two, maybe he will have an opportunity to be consistent and not answer a third question - the third question is, why is it that he did not require that as a condition of approval that the natural gas liquids would have to stay in Nova Scotia for the development of a petro-chemical industry here before your government, Mr. Premier, granted the environmental approvals for that project.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I don't want to be accused of being inconsistent but I do want to tell the honourable member that the negotiations, once again, are still ongoing. I am very optimistic and I hope to be able to have something to say before too long.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: PETROCHEMICAL INDUST. - RETAIN

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of the Environment. Yesterday the minister released the Terms and Conditions of Environmental Assessment Approval for the Sable Offshore Energy Project. In fact, a few of us were witness to a rather unedifying spectacle last night around 5:30 p.m. of the minister's communications officer rummaging through a cardboard carton at the foot of the staircase here in the Legislature to dig out these approvals and hurriedly circulate them to the media after their news deadlines of most of them, instead of having a full media briefing as, in fact, should have been the case.

[1:45 p.m.]

That aside, Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to go through these and I notice that in recommendation number 27 or approval condition number 27, Industrial Strategy and Hydrocarbon Development, there is very soft language here. It states that there are to be examination of options for an industrial strategy that would include hydrocarbon-based development and that the proponent shall design methodology and strategies to maximize economic and environmental benefits of the Sable Offshore Energy Project in Nova Scotia.

It has been made abundantly clear by Mobil that they do not intend to leave the liquids in Nova Scotia, that they are not going to be stripped and, most particularly with respect to ethane, the gas upon which any PetroCanada petrochemical industry is based.

MR. SPEAKER: You are going on at great length, honourable member.

[Page 764]

MR. LEEFE: My question, Mr. Speaker, to the minister is this. In spite of Mobil's decision not to allow those gases to be stripped and stay here, is the minister prepared to commit to Nova Scotians that at the very least, he will lay out as a condition of permit, that those liquid gases will be required to remain in Nova Scotia, in order that maximum economic benefit be able to accrue to the people of this province? Will he commit to Nova Scotians that today?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I can't make the commitment without having the specific application but I would refer the question to the Premier who is the Minister responsible for the offshore energy project.

THE PREMIER: With due respect to the honourable member, where he started his preamble as an environment, he zeroed right around into the offshore itself. I want to tell him, as I have told the other honourable member, that negotiations are still going on on a lot of important questions regarding the offshore and I hope to have something to report back to the House before too long.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the Premier has now usurped the authority of the Minister of the Environment because very clearly that was an environment question, a question for which the Minister of the Environment is responsible for answering with respect to conditions and for permits for environmental permitting.

Mr. Speaker, I know that all Nova Scotians will feel a growing sense of confidence when they learn that under the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore accord the project requires the approval of a development plan and a benefits plan and, further, that regulatory decisions by CNSOPB are subject to final approval by the federal Minister of Natural Resources and the Nova Scotia Minister of Natural Resources.

So my second question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. What system does he have in place to ensure that he meets the mandated authority that resides with him with respect to the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore regulatory regime?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the honourable member for his question. It is a question with relation to the offshore, which I will pass over to the Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we will certainly be honouring all of the requirements with respect to the offshore.

MR. LEEFE: Again, we now find that the Minister of Natural Resources does not speak for his department, the Premier is now speaking for his department.

[Page 765]

Yesterday the minister stated, that is the Minister of the Environment and this question is to the Minister of the Environment, "If the proponents do not comply with the terms and conditions with respect to economic and social development, then they don't work. They have their permits pulled,". That was the Minister of the Environment, sir.

In contrast, the Premier stated unequivocally with respect to having permits killed, and I quote the Premier, "It's not being used by me as a lever, . . . If it's being used by someone as a lever, I don't know who it is.". Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment and the Premier cannot both be right. If one of them is right, the other is wrong.

My question is to the Minister of the Environment. Is he right or is his Premier right?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, in my humble opinion I believe that we are both right.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ENVIRON. - SABLE GAS: PERMITS - CANCELLATION

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. I have been listening to the dialogue going on between the three ministers, including the First Minister, the Premier. I am certainly reminded of the old skit, "Who's on First". Who, in fact, is deciding what is going to happen? We just had two conflicting statements presented to the member for Queens. (Interruption) One says that we are going to be aggressive in respect to economic and social development and, when they don't work, they will have their permits killed.

My question to the Minister of the Environment, he made that statement yesterday, is he today prepared to stand behind that statement?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, my answer is yes.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, we just had the Minister of the Environment stand up and declare unequivocally that if the proponents do not comply with the terms and conditions with respect to economic and social development, they will have their permits pulled or killed. That is a definitive statement.

I now go to the Premier.Yesterday the Premier said, it is not being used by me as a lever and he is referring to the terms and regulations to which the Minister of the Environment just made reference. "It's not being used by me as a lever, . . .", he said. If it is being used by somebody as a lever, I don't know who it is. My question to the Premier today is having listened to his Minister of the Environment, today does he know who it is?

[Page 766]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can't believe the gullible nature of the honourable Leader of the Opposition. He is talking two answers without any questions. We do not know what the questions were. The honourable Minister of the Environment says he would do certain things if the criteria are met, that is perfectly correct. I am saying that I am not using any of these regulations as a lever against anyone, which is totally defensible. We are not in this to try to get people caught in a Catch-22 situation. We are in this offshore arrangement and we hope to be in it completely if everything goes well in the negotiations, we are in it to benefit Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians.(Applause)

There is no hesitation in my mind that all of the companies will abide by the regulations, they will do everything they possibly can to make sure that the environment is preserved and all of the regulations are followed. We are not trying to assume otherwise, nor do we expect otherwise.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will continue with the Premier. The Premier just said I was gullible because I believed what the Minister of the Environment said, that he would do exactly what he said he would do yesterday. If that is the Premier's definition of being gullible, then I guess I am gullible. The Premier made a definitive statement and said that all of the proponents would follow what it is they are required to do. Mr. Graham Connell, speaking on behalf of SOEP yesterday in looking at what the two regulators, said that they have embraced all of the requirements that were presented by the joint review panel and that includes the joint position. Is this Premier today going to stand up in this House and tell us that he is prepared to support the joint position, a situation on which he had a very clear position in July and a position which he was prepared to defend on behalf of the province, perhaps, even in court? Is this Premier saying to us that today he is now prepared, despite everything that he said previously, to support the joint position on tolling?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am quite prepared to support what is best for Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians. That has been my position in the past and continues to be my position. I am hopeful that we will have something to report to the House which will substantiate that. (Applause)

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

ENVIRON. - SABLE GAS: PERMITS - BENEFITS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am going to direct my question through you to the Minister of the Environment who seems to be, at least from what you hear outside the House, the only one who is prepared to talk a little bit tough and the only one, based on what we are hearing again outside, who is speaking on behalf of the government in terms of social and economic benefits, because the Minister of the Environment has said that he will pull the permits if they do not produce the social and economic benefit that the province wants. My question is to the Minister of the Environment - who is speaking, obviously, on this matter

[Page 767]

on behalf of the government - what are those benefits that the government is demanding before you yank those permits? What are the conditions? What are the benefits you are demanding that they meet?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: If the honourable member would take a look through the entire terms of reference, he would see that those terms and benefits would be negotiated by all parties involved, including us and the proponent. When we reached that agreement, Mr. Speaker (Interruption) I hear the rabbit tracks and there is still mass confusion on the other side about what we are doing for environmental protection versus what we are doing for our gas deal. I am not talking about the deal. I am talking about environmental protection, which was what we announced and tabled yesterday.

The answer to the question is, Mr. Speaker, the terms are determined as we move along the process of giving environmental approvals. We do not do that until we get the application.

MR. HOLM: We have a much diluted answer today inside the House from what we heard and read about in the press this morning. That strong spine, that backbone, seems to have disappeared and the minister is now quoting as the Premier, that it is going to depend on what we negotiate. Warm fuzzies with these companies that are just falling over themselves to rush forward to give us benefits.

My question is to the Premier, to allow him to be consistent, as he is all along, in not answering questions. My question is simply this - you have given up your authority under the Environment Act, you have given up your authority now, the opportunity to go to court, it is all warm, fuzzy negotiations; the Premier has said that if you do not get what you want, you will leave it in the ground - what legislative authority does this government have to state, to back it up, when it says that if it does not get what it wants, it will be left in the ground?

THE PREMIER: We have not given up anything.

MR. HOLM: They haven't got a thing. The ones who have been given up on are Nova Scotians, the ones who are being betrayed are the ones who are depending on this spineless government to stand up for the people of this province. My question to the Premier is simply this. Is it not the fact now that the only thing you have left, what you are counting on, what you are depending upon, is the federal Cabinet to bail you out yet again, as you are hoping they will do on the BST, because you have given up your tools and you are now really at the mercy of the federal Cabinet and your so-called offshore friends?

THE PREMIER: What we have is the belief that we are doing the right thing for Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians and that by believing that and acting upon that belief, the result will be what Nova Scotians want to hear.

[Page 768]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HUMAN RES. - NURSES: PAY CHANGE - LEGISLATION POSSIBILITY

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Premier. We have 55,000 public workers waiting for contracts, some of them are friends, some of them are neighbours, many families we know across this great province, and the Premier is aware that the federal government have legislated the postal workers back to work. Something that is new in that legislation is the 2 per cent being legislated with the legislation of back to work. The Premier is also aware that we have a large number of nurses in this province, many of them overworked and underpaid. I would ask the Premier, could he give assurances to the nurses of this province that, no matter what happens in negotiations, under his leadership there will be no legislation that will ever legislate nurses back to work with a terms-of-percentage increase in that legislation?

THE PREMIER: The honourable member is right that all members of this House have friends and neighbours who are involved in these contract negotiations and I share with him the contribution that the nurses are making to this province, but I think it would be fair if I referred this question to the honourable Minister of Human Resources for his reply.

[2:00 p.m.]

HON. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, yes, I want to reiterate what the Premier has just said. I do agree, of course. We are committed, as a government, to follow through on the collective bargaining process, that is where we are at this point and we plan on following it through.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, everybody has the intention of following through, and I understand that. I am not asking anything about the collective bargaining process which is underway. What I would like this minister to guarantee the nurses of this province, either yes or no, regardless of what happens in the process, whether it continues and there is an agreement, if there is not an agreement, and it is not hypothetical because it will be one way or the other, if there is not an agreement, that no legislation will be introduced by this government that will legislate them back to work without a defined percentage increase included in that legislation. That is all I am asking, and I would ask the minister or the Premier to give some assurance?

MR. SPEAKER: Would you designate one member then, honourable member. The question is directed to?

MR. MOODY: Well, to the Premier, but if he refers it to the minister, I accept that.

[Page 769]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is a very important area, and I respect the honourable member's questions on this. I will refer it to the Minister of Human Resources, but before I do, I just want to say that this is not only a question of negotiations and a new contract, it is also a question of the goodwill and the ability of the government in Nova Scotia and their civil servants being able to work together, so we hope to be able to conclude this with as little animosity as is humanly possible. I would like to refer the question to the honourable Minister of Human Resources.

MR. SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, and again, we are committed to the process as the Premier has just mentioned. We are at the table now, although they are waiting in the case of the QE II to go to conciliation; however, it is part of the process. There are certain issues that we cannot agree on at this point, but we have asked a conciliator to step in to try to resolve some of those issues. We are committed to a process of collective bargaining. I think it would be irresponsible of us, as a government, to try negotiating at this level here.

The other point I would like to make, he is taking the example of Canada Post. Of course, Canada Post is a federally-run Crown Corporation and that was their decision, so we have approximately 350 different employers in this province representing 50,000 or 55,000 public servants, all of which, in our opinion, they have to go to their own table, the employer along with the respective unions to work out the collective agreements.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is to the minister. I do not know if the nurses feel any comfort or feel any better, because this government fails to answer my question, whether or not, if you legislate nurses back to work you would include a percentage, which is precedent setting by the federal government, which is precedent setting across this country when previous people were legislated back to work, it still was on binding arbitration. Here we have a precedent being set on how much of an increase would be given on legislation being introduced. I would ask the minister, I understand negotiations, I understand that we respect their rights in the process, and I understand all of that. I am not asking the minister to change anything except give the nurses assurance in this province, given that he is going to allow free and full collective bargaining to take place, that if legislation is ever introduced, this government will never attach such as a 2 per cent per year to that legislation? That is what I am asking.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a certain hypothetical element there. All right, then.

MR. SURETTE: I am comfortable in answering the question. I guess, again, I would like to state to the honourable member and to the nurses, in this case, which is the group of public servants he is making reference to, that we are committed to a fair process. In this case, we are at the table, we are talking, trying to work out our differences and I think it would be irresponsible of me, representing the government at this time, to comment on any of the issues, be it how much of an increase will they receive or many of the other issues that are on the table. I think, in fairness to the process, we would like to have the employer, in this case

[Page 770]

the biggest employer is the QE II, to sit down with the respective unions to talk about something that we could reach that would be fair and reasonable for everyone involved.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

SYSCO: PENSION PLAN LIABILITY - FUNDING

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Premier is aware that yesterday I asked a question of the Minister of Economic Development and the Minister of Finance relative to an Order in Council, No. 97-742, November 28th, which talks about a commitment of the province to fund the unfunded liability of the Steel Employers Pension Fund. I asked those ministers, having been party to that decision to do that funding, as to the amount of money that the province would be committing to fund the pension liability. Would the Premier commit today to tell the House what the dollar value of that commitment is?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will refer that question to the honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I do recall that the honourable Leader of the Opposition raised that matter yesterday with me and I promised I would provide the information to him in writing. So the information I am going to provide in writing I will read from first, table it and then he can have it. The privatization of Sysco as a going concern will be more successful, we feel, with employee cooperation. Back in July 10, 1995, the then Minister responsible for Sydney Steel, concluded an agreement with the Steel Workers Union to fund the unfunded liability portion of the Sysco pension plan, as per prior agreements from government.

The amount of that unfunded liability was $47,380,000. The province has guaranteed full payment of pension benefits earned to December 31, 1994 but at that date had not funded the unfunded liability. Since then, a letter went to the Steel Workers Union agreeing to do that. It was recorded on the provincial balance sheet in March, 1995 and it has no significant budgetary impact at this point. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for doing that research and providing me with the information. The number he provided was $47,380,000. Would the minister indicate to members of the House that now that the employees' pension fund is fully funded, what will be done with that fund to do what the minister says it will do, to make the Sysco operation more saleable? What use will be made of this additional funding to make the plant more saleable?

[Page 771]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Sysco Pension Plan now has $103 million in the plan. It is a protected plan operated by the employees of Sysco, the Government of Nova Scotia, the United Steel Workers of America and other stakeholders at Sydney Steel, plus the government. As the honourable Leader of the Opposition would know, there is a committee in place that meets regularly and decides the benefit package that will accrue from that pension plan. It is a pension plan that is protected, regardless of the sale of the Sydney Steel operation. Following the sale of the Sydney Steel operation, I would expect that a new pension plan will then come into place but the protections are guaranteed for the existing plan. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary to the minister, he indicated that in 1995 a commitment was made to fully fund the employees' pension fund. Will the minister tell the House at what point was the actual cash transfer made? Was a cash transfer made from the province to that fund in 1995 or was a cash transfer made as a result of the OIC of November 28th? My question specifically, he refers to a commitment in 1995, we have an OIC in 1997, when was the cash actually transferred to the pension fund? If it has not been transferred, when will it be transferred?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: The funds were provided for in the letter of commitment in 1995. It was funded in 1995 and provided for in the budget for that year.

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

COMMUN. SERV.: PHOENIX HOUSE - FUNDING

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Community Services. Phoenix House, as we already heard, are providing assistance to homeless youth who have fallen through the gaping cracks that are left in our welfare system, simply because the Community Services Department is not meeting its responsibility to fund youth between the ages of 16 and 19. This association has been underfunded for a number of years and are again predicting a budgetary shortfall.

My question, Mr. Speaker, and I think it is a good opportunity for the minister to explain, since the group is here, exactly the time line and how this budget process will work in relationship to this particular group so that they will have an understanding of what will be taking place?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. You are really asking how does the budget process work. Of course, it comes through senior staff and discussion and input from stakeholders and it is a lengthy process that leads up to the tabling of the budget in the spring.

[Page 772]

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that answer didn't exactly give me any more information and I am sure it didn't give the group any more information than what they had. But we are led to believe that the minister is working vigorously on this and I thought we would get the opportunity to hear more about exactly what it is that is taking place.

As the minister knows, 90 per cent of the young people who are being serviced by that association, by Phoenix House, are not wards of the court, so to speak, so their funding is different than the funding of the other youth. My question is, will the minister commit to directing her department to pay the $135 per diem to all the youth who are presently being serviced by Phoenix House?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the supplementary question. Obviously, I am not going to commit a budget process on the floor of this House in advance of next year's budget. I just cannot do that.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I guess it leaves me with a big question now, and that is, I really don't understand why some youth are eligible for $135 a day, other youth are eligible for only $67.50 but if these young people were in group homes, this department would be paying $135 to $200 a day for them. So I guess I want to know why there is such a discrepancy in how we treat young people?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for her final supplementary. I think the honourable member should realize that there are a variety of per diems paid across Nova Scotia for a variety of services.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

SYSCO: PENSION PLAN LIABILITY - FUNDING

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Yesterday, in response to a question from the Leader of the Opposition to the Minister responsible for Sydney Steel, the question was asked as to what were the ramifications financially with regard to paying off the unfunded liability of the Sysco pension plan. You must remember that this Order in Council was passed a week ago, a week ago today actually. It seems to be very strange that neither the Premier nor the minister could recall the amount. Now, we are not talking about $5.00 here and $5.00 there; we are talking an amount, we learned today, of $47 million. They were unable to answer that question yesterday.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would like to know, now that the minister has told us that yes, indeed, it is $40-odd million, whether or not that debt has been amortized over several years or is it being paid out of the consolidated fund of this province this fiscal year?

[Page 773]

[2:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will refer the question to the honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: I want to thank the honourable member for his question. In running the risk of totally confusing him, which is not hard to do, I will provide the answer to that in writing and submit it to the member so he will understand it. I will even put it in double lines so he will be sure to understand it.

MR. RUSSELL: It is very easy for this government to be casual about $45 million. What is $45 million? We have built a school for the Minister of Education worth almost that now.

The taxpayers of this province are interested in $45 million. I am interested in the $45 million. The Order in Council was passed last Thursday. My question to the minister, is that $45 million going to be included in the expenditures for this fiscal year? Simple question - yes or no.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is becoming more obvious to me that once again this crowd over here who used to, heaven forbid, govern this province at one time, paid little or no respect for the plight of Sydney steelworkers over the years to the point where the Sysco pension plan was so poorly funded that a steelworker with 30 plus years was going out of that plant with $600 a month. That is the situation. That is the situation that that crowd left the Sysco pension plan in. This government moved to secure that pension plan and funded 100 per cent of its liability. We set that up in 1995 and we have honoured that commitment on behalf of the Sydney steelworkers.

MR. RUSSELL: There is no question that the stability of the Sysco pension fund must be done. My question is not about the stability of the fund. I want the minister to advise me if that $45 million to pay off the unfunded liability is coming from this year's budget. If it is, then indeed the Minister of Finance who is giving him some directions right now (Interruptions) I have not asked the question yet.

AN HON. MEMBER: We are ahead of you.

MR. RUSSELL: All right, Mr. Speaker, if he has an answer, my question is, will that $45 million come out as an expenditure in fiscal 1997-1998.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: No.

[Page 774]

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

ENVIRON. - TIRE RECYCLING: TRACC - CONTRACT VIOLATIONS

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister responsible for the Resource Recovery Fund Board, the Minister of the Environment.

Last week during debate on Opposition Day, I brought to this House and to the minister's attention that many terms and conditions in the signed contract between Tire Recycling Atlantic Corporation Canada and the Resource Recovery Fund Board are being violated. In fact, I pointed out that the processing plant which was supposed to have been built by June 30th of this year, 1997, has not been built nor is it likely under construction. The question is merely this, can the minister tell this House and all the consumers who are paying this Savage-MacLellan tire tax why the tire recycling facility plant has not been built as per the terms and conditions of this contract?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: I heard the honourable member raise those points last week and I thought I was diligent by asking the Resource Recovery Fund Board to give him a report. I can say with confidence today that they have given me a report and all the allegations as they apply to TRACC Nova Scotia are not true.

MR. TAYLOR: I have very real concerns that the consumers in this province are not being well served by that tire tax. The minister will know, from his having attended Resource Recovery Fund Board meetings, that the contract clearly states that if TRACC fails to comply with the processing plant clause, that the Resource Recovery Fund Board shall be entitled to demand and receive under the performance security - and Mr. Speaker, the performance security was supposed to have been $200,000 - but the Resource Recovery Fund shall be entitled to demand and receive $10,000 for each and every week that TRACC is not in compliance with the terms and conditions of the contract. I ask the minister, why is that $10,000 penalty being waived?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, he obviously did not hear my first answer. I did clearly say that the report given to me by the Resource Recovery Fund Board stated that the allegations as made by the honourable member were not true and unfounded. It is very clear that the manager of the Resource Recovery Fund Board says that the tire plant is in compliance with their contract as of November 27, 1997. I don't think I could be more clear.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister can be a lot more clear because he knows full well that this contract, which was signed last October, called upon Doug Vicars, the minister's buddy to have that plant up and running by June 30th of this year. There hasn't been any public notification, no consultation to state otherwise. So, Mr. Premier, I believe that there are a number of terms and conditions in the contract that are being violated and by

[Page 775]

way of final supplementary, I would like to go to the Premier. I want this government and, more especially, the Premier of this province, to investigate the terms and conditions relative to the contract between the Resource Recovery Fund Board and TRACC that are being so seriously violated. I want the Premier to tell all Nova Scotians who are paying that tire tax why that processing plant is not up and running and it isn't up and running.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to refer the question to the honourable Minister of the Environment.

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, to reiterate one more time (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Let's hear the answer.

MR. ADAMS: It has always been a proven philosophy that the truth hurts and causes certain people to squeal. Mr. Speaker, the fact is that we have done our homework in that regard, found out that there was an extension given to the contract by the RRFB . . .

MR. TAYLOR: Then table it.

MR. ADAMS: . . . for a starting date from June to September and there are no other violations of the contract as of November 27th.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

COMMUN. SERV. - WOMEN'S CENTRES:

FUNDING DISCREPANCY - RECTIFY

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is today for the Minister of Community Services. Every day of the year is a good day to ask questions about services that we attempt to provide for women who have been victimized by violence and services that help them to defend against the violence in their lives. I would like to ask the Minister of Community Services, through you, about the funding for women's centres. We know, and I know that the minister knows, that Sydney, Sheet Harbour and Lawrencetown receive only $30,800 a year while Bridgewater, New Glasgow and Antigonish receive $22,900 more. My first question to the minister then is, what will the minister do to rectify this wide gap in funding for women's centres?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. That entire question around the funding for women's centres is under review. We recognize there is a discrepancy in the levels of funding provided and that is under review.

[Page 776]

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't mean to be cynical or disrespectful but I do sometimes think that everything is under review. So that brings us to something else that might indeed be under review and that is the other key component which is the Transition House Program. I did ask the Premier last week about the government's commitment to stable core funding for transition houses. There was no response from the Premier last week to that very specific question so I want to ask the Minister of Community Services, will she make that promise today for stable, core funding for transition houses?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. As you know, as we move to a single-tiered assistance program, the funding that has been traditionally provided through the municipal units will no longer be in existence. We are looking at a whole new funding mechanism for the transition houses.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I guess with the lack of answers around this very serious issue, we have to be concerned about it. We all wear purple ribbons and we mean it, symbols are important. We all value and respect the work that is done in this area, and I don't doubt the sincerity of a single person on this matter, but you can guarantee that in the coming year six more women will die in Nova Scotia from domestic violence.

Mr. Speaker, what I am confused about and what distresses me, and what I would like to ask the minister is if we can guarantee that six more women will die in Nova Scotia in the coming year from domestic violence, why can't we, at the very least, guarantee a reliable level of support and service that will be there for those whose lives have been spared?

MRS. COSMAN: I thank the honourable member for her final supplementary. I think that kind of speculation is really quite unwarranted. It is this year's past statistics and they are awful. Any time any woman dies anywhere, through violence, it is a despicable act, but to say that next year we will have six more, I don't think you should say that, honourable member.

The real question here is around core funding. I am not sure how the member opposite defines what she would put in core funding. I have asked to review this with my senior staff and I am doing that. I take this issue very seriously; I take the support that we provide to transition houses very seriously. I don't want to gloss around this with hypothetical statistics. Goodness, we are investing in an initiative around family violence. We hope we are succeeding and making progress. I believe we are.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

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

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, this afternoon I would like to pose a question concerning the quality of education to the Minister of Education. Over the last year or two we have seen attempts made, through public-private partnering, the announcement of high-

[Page 777]

tech schools and facilities and, even yesterday, from the Premier in Kentville, we have seen announcements made on the high priority of quality education, from class size to classes offered, all those initiatives, or attempts at initiatives.

I guess my question - with that being the background - to the minister is, is this how this government will achieve improved education for Nova Scotians, our children and our young people? Are these the techniques, Mr. Minister, public-private partnering for new school construction, high-tech schools, reduction of class size and other initiatives relating to the classroom, is that the thrust that will create improved education for our young people and children?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite asks whether those are elements of a comprehensive plan to make sure we have the finest quality of public education for the young people of Nova Scotia, and the answer is yes, those are some of the elements that will make sure we do a better job each and every year.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Minister, I am glad to hear you make the statement that that is part of the overall thrust. I think there are other concerns that have to come to the fore, especially after yesterday's article concerning the Premier, where there is still no commitment in the Education budget to fund more for school boards.

I would like to table this release, it is the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the author of this article is Mr. Wells. In this article he states that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Problems like mould, mildew, asbestos, leaky roofs, rusty pipes, sewer gas, unsafe walls, crumbling ceilings, broken-down heating and ventilation systems, these are things that are inevitable after years of provincial budget cuts, said Mr. Wells, it is just the tip of the iceberg.

With that in mind, if this is quality education in this province, how can students get to those schools and attend those schools if they are closed because the schools are sick?

MR. HARRISON: Well, in a roundabout way, the member opposite is answering his own question. With 480 schools and an average lifespan of 40 years, I should be opening a new school or a renovated school each month, just to keep pace with the need for new facilities and infrastructure. So part of the answer to the question is as we have said over and over again, public education is underfunded in the province. We put $14 million in last year's budget, Mr. Speaker. We intend to put additional dollars in this year's budget as the debt service of this province, the wonderful legacy of the member's Party, is reduced those dollars will be invested in essential services like health care and education. We made that commitment to the people of Nova Scotia and we will honour that commitment.

[Page 778]

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Education, those are fine platitudes but, Mr. Minister, when schools have been sick, and they have been sick all across the province, it takes maintenance money and maintenance people, and those are janitors and custodial people who prevent those things from happening. They wash the walls, they make sure the mould does not form on the walls, they repair and fix those leaky roofs and that paint. If the minister and this government is so committed to preventing this in schools and allowing quality education to occur - students cannot get through the doors - why are we seeing the hours of janitors' shifts in schools being cut back in this current year, if that commitment is there to hire quality education?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I hardly think $14 million, at a time of difficult economic circumstance and another $2 million that has been added for the maintenance of schools in partnership with our boards, are platitudes. I think those are real dollars that have been taken from effective debt service management, that have been taken in a sense from the pool of capital that is available to this province, in a balanced budget, to ensure that the young people do have the resources. I would ask the member opposite to answer Mr. Wells' question. He says that there were decades of neglect when funds were pulled from public education. Let's ask Mr. Wells who actually put $14 million and then another $2 million back in the system. Was it the government that he represents, the Party that he represented that neglected schools for two decades, or was it the Liberal Government that put $14 million back in the budget for the children of Nova Scotia?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: AGREEMENT FINAL - AVAILABILITY

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. It is my understanding that, earlier today coming out of Cabinet, on a direct question from the media the Premier indicated that the final agreement between the Sable gas proponents and the province would be available as early as the end of next week. Would the Premier confirm that he made that statement?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I said was that I had hoped that we will be able to have an agreement for next week. I would like to get one in place before the House rises, if it is going to rise next week, and if we can do it next week, I would like to see it done next week, but I certainly gave no undertaking that it would be next week.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I share the Premier's thought that the agreement should come out while the House sits. I have great reservations when this Premier said that he has not given up anything. I have great reservations that this Premier has given up the joint position on tolling and we are now going to live with that for the next 25 years. I believe that

[Page 779]

he has given up our 50 per cent back-in provision on the gas pipeline with no advantage. I believe he will not guarantee gas to Nova Scotians or any opportunity to sell or trade our benefit on the back-in provision.

My question to the Premier is simple. Since we share the common belief that the agreement should come out while the House sits, is this Premier prepared to guarantee that after that agreement is made public, whether it be a week from tomorrow or some day following, that there will be immediate opportunity for this House, either by continuing the business of the House or recalling the House, to debate the merits of the final agreement in this House within days of that agreement being made public? Will the Premier commit to that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what the honourable Leader of the Opposition requests is hypothetical, but I will say that I understand his position. I understand the requirement and I understand the wish that he makes; I am not insensitive to that and I can appreciate his point of view. When we know something further, I will be in a position to give further undertakings to the honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to continue with the Premier. I thank the Premier for the answer, but the Premier has been steadfastly refusing to debate the issue in the House - he nods in agreement - on the basis that it would jeopardize the negotiations, and he nods in agreement.

I would ask the Premier, will he give the very serious consideration and will he admit that he has a responsibility to the people of Nova Scotia and the members of this House, since he will not debate the issues today or until that agreement is made, will he make sure that members of this House have full opportunity, within days of that agreement being made public, to debate that issue in this House?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I cannot even give the assurance that there is going to be an agreement; I am hoping there is going to be an agreement. Believe me, I understand the request of the honourable Leader of the Opposition. I have not explained to the extent that perhaps he and others would like because of the sensitivity of the negotiations - he is absolutely correct in that - and that is why I understand and can appreciate his request. I will do what I possibly can to cooperate.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

AGRIC.: INDUSTRY ASSISTANCE - POLICY

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is through you to the Minister of Agriculture. To the Minister of Agriculture, in his travels throughout Nova Scotia this year, he has met with many farmers - from the dairy, beef and vegetable, the fruit growers - he has met with all various groups of farmers within Nova Scotia and they have all indicated

[Page 780]

to him that agriculture is suffering greatly due to the extraordinarily dry summer that just passed. There has been millions of dollars worth of feed purchased by cattle producers in the province; there have been thousands of head of cattle sold; there have been farmers who have stopped being in the business. I am wondering if the Minister of Agriculture could indicate whether he has a new policy that he has not yet announced that will help aid and assist the agriculture industry in this province get over the terrible summer drought conditions that we have just completed?

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Kings North for that question because nobody knows more than this government how important that is to the agriculture industry. You know, I find it awfully interesting that those people across there have said continuously, outside of the House, how important the agriculture industry, how serious this drought was, and the last minute in the second week of this House sitting the first question came up on agriculture and the drought.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame, shame! (Interruptions)

MR. LORRAINE: I am sure that the honourable member realizes - the annual meeting is tomorrow - I am speaking at the annual meeting (Interruptions) Yes, please, Minister of Transportation, I can answer the question. (Laughter)

I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that the member knows the federation's annual meeting is tomorrow and he knows I am going to be speaking there. Yes, I will say that we will have some additional - we have done so much to assist this industry and I have a whole litany of these things that we have done. I am prepared to do more and this government is prepared to do more. Thank you.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 15.

Bill No. 15 - St. Peter's and Area Lions Club Lands Act.

[Page 781]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I so move.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 15. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 16.

Bill No. 16 - La Picasse Tax Exemption Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 16.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 16. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

[Page 782]

MR. SPEAKER: At the moment of interruption, the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley had the floor.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to resume my response to the Throne Speech. I might say while we are setting up here that the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing was a little inaccurate in his comments relative to the Official Opposition speaking on behalf of the agriculture community and how that community is hurting.

In fact, as an individual that grew up, was born and raised on a farm, I am a little bit dismayed and upset that the Jean Chretien Government found fit to send $8.5 million - this was done recently, Mr. Speaker - to Brandon, Manitoba, to establish a pork processing plant but yet that same federal government in Ottawa, the Jean Chretien Liberal Government, can't find some money for the farmers that have been drought-stricken here in Nova Scotia. So the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing as far as I am concerned speaks a little bit with forked tongue when he states that the Official Opposition has been neglecting the agricultural industry when, in fact, we certainly have not.

Now, Mr. Speaker, to get back to this handwritten text that I have here and get back on topic. I was stating that the Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley in central Nova Scotia does hold a wealth of hidden minerals. The development, as I pointed out, does pass through several stages. There is exploration, development, feasibility, environmental assessment, mining, decommissioning and reclamation of site; all important elements of the development of a mine or a mine site.

At present Kaoclay Resources Incorporated are exploring for kaolin clay using geological mapping, trenching and drilling. The Musquodoboit Valley kaolin clay and gypsum projects are fascinating success stories. (Interruption) Yes, I understand that some of that is flowing over and spilling into the neighbouring constituency of Hants East.

As well, such long-time mining developments like National Gypsum's quarry in Dutch Settlement/Carrolls Corner/Milford, Hants County, LaFarge Cement in Brookfield, Moshers Limestone in Upper Musquodoboit have been quietly providing hundreds of job opportunities and economic benefits to Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and all of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker. So they do help the local and provincial economies.

The large and valuable contributions made by Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley industries, Mr. Speaker, must be given fair and equal consideration by this Savage-MacLellan Government. Many of our major employers have shown great confidence and trust in this province. Many of our major employers, the people's constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the businesses, the industries in that riding have shown a lot of confidence and trust in this province. I want to point out that they are spending literally

[Page 783]

millions and millions of dollars on an annual basis. So I feel that their confidence and trust must be reciprocated by the province.

[2:45 p.m.]

I simply request that the Savage-MacLellan Government become more aware of the great benefits and potential benefits that our heavy industries provide this province. Further be reminded that by providing assistance and investing and upgrading the infrastructure in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, you are helping to foster what already is a heavy industrial base.

Now it has become very clear to our Leader, John Hamm, and to all of us in the PC Party that by strengthening our communities we will secure a future for today and we will secure a future for the next generation, Mr. Speaker. I do believe that all honourable colleagues in the House would support that contention. You don't have to be a rocket scientist or a political scientist to figure out that people and communities in rural Nova Scotia are the lifeblood of our culture and our society.

By way of interest, Mr. Speaker, did you know that if Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline Limited's application for a gas lateral to urban Halifax is approved, it will essentially run through the heart - north to south, so to speak - of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. It will pass through communities such as Burnside, Upper Stewiacke, Middle Stewiacke, Coldstream, Alton, on through in back of Gays River, yes, let's not forget Gays River, Antrim, Goffs, Devon, Elderbank - I don't think it touches Elderbank but it is a good community nonetheless, as is Meaghers Grant, Gibraltar, a lot of communities, 63 communities in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the largest number of communities in any one constituency in the province. That is a boast I make and I have never been taken to task on that. Not even by the honourable member for Hants East, who is not re-offering and has provided good representation, by the way, to the citizens of Hants East, I have never stated otherwise, but I think he recognizes that the Savage-MacLellan Government doesn't really hold much future for him so he is deciding that he will pursue other interests. We are going to miss that honourable member but, nonetheless, he has provided good representation.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the honourable member for Hants East.

MR. TAYLOR: Oh, this has never been done during the response to the Throne Speech.

MR. SPEAKER: A point of order is certainly in order.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Of course, Mr. Speaker, actually it has been done, if I remember correctly, I believe that that member did it to me in one of my replies to the Throne Speeches.

[Page 784]

AN HON. MEMBER: Short memory.

MR. CARRUTHERS: That is what happens when you get older.

The member referenced myself. I just want to make it clear to you, Mr. Speaker, and to all members of the House, one of the influential factors in my considering not re-offering is to know exactly how safe the seat of Hants East is going to be for this Liberal Government. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The point has been made. No point of order.

MR. TAYLOR: Well, Mr. Speaker, speaking of rocket scientists and political scientists, I am sure those were very well thought out words by the honourable member for Hants East. I am not sure how accurate his claim is but I guess as a consequence of the next election, we will find out whether he is a good prophet or not.

MR. SPEAKER: A superior deduction on your part, honourable member.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you. Now, Mr. Speaker, back to the topic. I did point out that Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline Limited's application for a gas lateral will essentially go through the heart of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. As a consequence of attending four different information sessions regarding the exciting project, I can say that we are more than just interested by standards in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and it has been my pledge and priority to ensure that landowners, property owners, are treated fairly by Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline Limited and, thus far, I believe they have been. I don't have any reason to believe otherwise. I hope that I can keep that attitude, so to speak, intact.

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I didn't thank my caucus, caucus staff, my constituency office, my local Progressive Conservative Association and Leader, John Hamm, and all my caucus colleagues for their continued strong support over the past four years. Being a product of a by-election (Interruption)

Well, Mr. Speaker, I am not so sure if he knows of what he speaks now. Being a product of a by-election myself, I was elected on November 2, 1993, I am especially delighted to welcome the Premier, Russell MacLellan. I also am delighted to welcome Ernie Fage from Cumberland North, and Ed Kinley, of course. I know Ed has been welcomed by everybody. I had an opportunity before to welcome Mr. Kinley and of course, Helen MacDonald. As a product of the by-election, I have, I suppose, a small affinity relative to by-elections and I certainly wish all those honourable colleagues the best in the future.

[Page 785]

By-election campaigns are quite distinct and different from provincial campaigns, general elections in that the voters know which Party is in government, there is no question about that. The by-election electorate has an opportunity to choose between sending a candidate to government or sending a candidate to one of the Opposition Parties here in Nova Scotia.

I understand there was also an Independent running. I am not sure where that individual would have been sent or sitting. Nonetheless we want to commend him too for putting up what I understand was a reasonably good campaign also. For example, three members of my caucus, or one-third of the Progressive Conservative caucus, are products of by-elections so we certainly appreciate and support the hard work that all members of the recent by-elections put into their campaigns. We wish them well here in the House. I suppose unfortunately or fortunately, whichever way they choose to look at it, they will be in the very near future, in just a few months, fighting another election.

I know my friend and colleague, the member for Pictou East, I believe it is, was also the product of a by-election as was the honourable member for Cape Breton West and, I believe, Halifax Fairview are also products of a by-election. I did mention that I did actually congratulate the Premier and wish him all the best in the future. I recognize the Premier worked extremely hard and put up a good campaign. I had an opportunity to attend what was supposed to have been a debate down in North Sydney regarding a number of issues that are facing Nova Scotians. Unfortunately the Premier, due to a previous commitment - there is something in B.C. today, in the comic section and B.C. is the only comic that I read, the only cartoon that I read. It speaks to previous commitments. We like to say and we sometimes do have previous commitments. It describes what a previous commitment is today in the cartoon, B.C. It talks about wild horses couldn't drag you to the event that you are trying to get out of going to. That is what a previous commitment is.

But nonetheless, the Premier didn't show up. You know the Third Party. I will be accused of becoming a little bit rhetorical here, but the candidate for the Third Party down at that debate in North Sydney stood up and said, we are opposed unequivocally to Bill C-68. My Leader and the NDP are opposed to long arm registration. They wanted to jump on the bandwagon.

They wanted to jump on the bandwagon because the audience that night was also opposed. That candidate was asked if he could produce a press release on behalf of the Leader of the Third Party indicating where the Third Party stood on the federal legislation, C-68 and they didn't have a thing. I challenged them and my honourable colleague, the member for Queens challenged that candidate to go look at Hansard. If they are opposed to C-68, at least the Liberals have been consistent in their silence. They have been consistent. We don't agree with the gag order but they have been silent. It has been consistent silence.

[Page 786]

The Third Party, in an attempt to maybe sway a vote, said we're opposed to C-68 and the long arm component of that legislation. Nowhere in Hansard can that contention be supported, nowhere. Yes, there's not only not a sentence, there's not a word against it.

AN HON. MEMBER: The page is missing.

MR. TAYLOR: I got a little bit off track there, but when we talk about by-elections, I was extremely disappointed because I believe that candidate did put up a very good campaign. I had a little difficulty with the NDP trying to take claim from the only Party in Nova Scotia that has been consistent in their opposition to C-68 and especially the long arm provision that is in the legislation. I hope this time that the honourable member - the honourable member for Richmond is back there shaking his finger, he is way back there - but I hope the honourable member for Richmond, during the election campaign, if he is reoffering, I hope that he will tell the good citizens in Richmond where he and where his Party stands on C-68. We don't want to dwell on how unfair that is, we all support crime control, but even then Justice Alan Rock, when he was the Justice Minister, couldn't even put on paper, nor could he articulate verbally, how the long arm registration component of the legislation would, in fact, reduce crime.

I think we are all logical people in here and if I sit down at a table and you and I are on completely opposite sides of a subject, if you make more sense than I do, I will slap you on the back and say, Mr. Speaker, you are right and I am wrong, and I hope this government is prepared to do the same thing.

Let me say how pleased I am to have Ernest Fage join the ranks of the Official Opposition. Ernie Fage is the new member for Cumberland North and his landslide win on November 4th was a huge vote of confidence in Ernie's ability to bring a strong and reasoned voice to the floor of the Nova Scotia Legislature. It was a tribute to Ernie Fage and obviously, the toll road did have an impact on his election, but the main reason Ernie Fage won was because of Ernie Fage and his family and friends who put up such a good campaign. So let's give credit where credit is due.

I did have the pleasure of campaigning with Ernie on the day before the election and you could easily discern by campaigning with Ernie that the people were behind that candidate. I know sometimes it is difficult because in a lot of constituency campaigns and a lot of ridings, you are not just sure who is going to win because some of the races are a little bit tight. I would expect there will be some races like that during the upcoming provincial election. We are all going to have to pull our socks up and work hard if we want to come back into the Legislature, at least those of us who are reoffering.

On that note, I would like to say how I am going to miss my colleague, the honourable member for Pictou West, who has been kind enough over the past four years to provide counsel and advice. Obviously, I don't always pay attention to all of his advice and counsel

[Page 787]

but, nonetheless, he has been very helpful, as have all members in the PC caucus, because we do have a certain advantage over some of the other Parties in the Legislature in that we do have some well-seasoned veterans, so to speak. (Interruption) Yes, there is a bad track record in this province.

Again, I would be absolutely remiss if I didn't congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on being named Speaker to the Chamber. As I have said, you have reached the top and we are all very pleased. The Official Opposition, unlike the Third Party, voted in favour of you being Speaker in the provincial Legislature and, in fact, the Leader of the Official Opposition, as per protocol, seconded your nomination.

AN HON. MEMBER: He was voted in.

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, absolutely, he was voted in. I did have a couple of notes for Mr. Speaker but he is a little bit busy there right now, so I will try to come back to that. Meanwhile, I would like to take this opportunity to commend and congratulate the Cobequid Educational Centre Cougars on winning the provincial high school football title in this province. The CEC Cougars have always been very formidable. They have won a number of titles and this year the Cobequid Cougars were up against what people may think were some pretty insurmountable odds, and the Cougars put up a good fight, won the title and again brought it back to Colchester County. We do have to commend the CEC Cougars.

[3:00 p.m.]

For the last couple of days - I know how much you like this day in history, Mr. Speaker - I, not knowing, of course, when I would be speaking, was prepared to give you on Tuesday this day in history, so I did make a couple of notes and just for your benefit, perhaps, and with other members' indulgence, I perhaps should read what Tuesday's this day in history was or one of many things that were in fact this day in history. This day in history, in 1955 Rosa Parks is arrested after she refuses to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. That was on Tuesday of this week, back in 1955. (Interruptions)

Yes, I was born then. Yes, I was. (Interruptions) I appreciate that question. Yes, Mr. Speaker.

There also was in Thursday's paper on this day in history, in South Africa surgeon Dr. Christian Barnard performed the world's first successful heart transplant. Of course, in 1804 on that very same day, Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor of France. Those are just a couple of little tidbits, Mr. Speaker. One saying that is kind of topical this time of year is, whoever thinks talk is cheap should listen to their children's Christmas list. Those are just a few tidbits as I ease my way through this response to the Throne Speech.

[Page 788]

I have tried to mention some of the communities, some of the people, some of the organizations, some of the volunteer groups and some of the service clubs in my constituency. I know there are a number of members in the Chamber that are not reoffering, and to answer the Minister of the Environment, yes, I am a nominated candidate for the provincial election and hope to be re-elected. But I am certainly not taking anything for granted. I know that I will have to work hard if I want to return to the Chamber, but I intend to do that. (Interruptions)

The member for Hants East is telling me I should advertise. We followed all the requirements of the Progressive Conservative constitution. We posted our notices. We went into the small community of Alton. It is very reminiscent of any of our 63 communities. It is small. It is made up of hard-working, committed people, a very dedicated community. I was very pleased to go into that small community. We did have what really was a jam-packed audience, although the hall is small. Nonetheless, it was a very good meeting. I know now that I am going to have to live up to the commitments I made to the people back on September 19th when I was acclaimed.

Let's talk a little bit, I am not sure how the time is going and I have not been too hard on this government during my response to the Throne Speech. I know that the clock is kind of ticking away. We talked a little bit, or at least I did, about my involvement in politics over the last four years. Let's talk about the Liberal Party during (Interruptions) Well, I can understand the Liberal Government not wanting me to talk about the four years that they have been in government. I can certainly understand that.

This Liberal Government, during its first four years in office, told us all was well and good in the forests. In the fifth year of this government's mandate, we are in a crisis. The Minister of Natural Resources and his department (Interruption) Well, you see that is the problem with this government. They do not recognize that the forests in this province are in crisis. In fact, if there is no crisis like that, I would challenge any member in the House that would stand up and say that we do not have to bring in the regulations, we do not have to roll in the forestry and wildlife guidelines into regulations.

If anybody is saying this, then they had better go over and talk to the Minister of Natural Resources because that is what the Minister of Natural Resources is prepared to do. The Official Opposition support that. We have a number of concerns about the position paper on a sustainable forestry that the honourable minister has introduced in Nova Scotia.

The Liberal Party is involved, the Savage-MacLellan Government, in the Sable gas. Many Nova Scotians believe that Sable gas is our future and we feel that the government is having quite a bit of difficulty with their role relative to the Sable gas project. We are disappointed that, in fact, the royalty arrangement may or may not be signed. You can't get a straight answer, it is extremely difficult to get an answer on the royalty arrangement, relative to our natural gas.

[Page 789]

I know that during the Liberal leadership campaign - and I will try not to be too nasty - that it absolutely depended on which candidate you were talking to as to whether or not they supported the sale of Nova Scotia Resources Limited. It depended on which candidate you talked to whether or not they supported the previous Minister of Natural Resources giving away our 50 per cent entitlement to the pipeline. I know one honourable candidate admonished the previous Minister of Natural Resources publicly for her role. Nonetheless, that was then and this is now and I guess Nova Scotians are just not sure where this government is with Sable gas.

The Liberal Government, which promised an arm's-length, hands-off commission to control gambling and with respect to casinos, has proven to be a little bit all too close to the Cabinet Room, and that concerns Nova Scotians as well.

I had an opportunity a couple of weeks ago to talk to a cab driver. You know, coffee shops, cab drivers and supermarkets are where you can sometimes conduct your own very unscientific polls, by talking to the people who drive cabs, people who work in supermarkets, truck drivers, pipe fitters. Those people have opinions that are sometimes, probably most times, bang on with reality. Anyway, I was talking to this cab driver on a very short trip . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Where were you going?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I don't want to get into where I was going and I have to stay on topic here and not follow the flow of those rabbit tracks, but I asked the cab driver if he could tell me what people are saying when they get in his cab; I know people talk about all kinds of topics, but what are they talking about the most? He said, people get in my car and they sit there and I look at the watch, 25 seconds go by, I look at the watch, 45 seconds go by and we are still sitting there. People are really stressed and are concerned about job opportunities. Even the people who are working and have jobs are very concerned about the security of that job. He said, it is not just people who are illiterate but it is educated people as well; people who have university degrees are very concerned about their future. He wasn't criticizing this government any more than any government in Canada.

The fact is, the real people out there are very concerned about jobs, job security and they are concerned for their families, they are concerned as to how they are going to put groceries on the table, they are concerned about how they are going to make the mortgage payment. People are really concerned about making ends meet.

The small Tory Province of Prince Edward Island recently eliminated the provincial sales tax, the 10 per cent tax that was on clothing and footwear. Because this province has the lowest department store sales in all of Canada - recent statistics clearly point that out, factual evidence - this government is going to have to do something. They are going to have to do more than just get up and give us some rhetorical answer that it is in the Minister of Finance's hands. The Minister of Finance tells us it is in the Premier's hands. This province

[Page 790]

is going to have to do something to help the people out there that are being so negatively impacted by the HST.

Mr. Speaker, this government, to its credit, came in with the Direct Assistance Program, but the Direct Assistance Program, the eligibility criteria in the Direct Assistance Program prohibit and exclude people who are on welfare, quite frankly. The people on welfare are having a lot of difficulty meeting their mortgage payments. They are having problems putting clothes on their children's backs, quite frankly. If you talk to the Minister of Community Services, I am sure she will tell you that because of the considerations contained in her budget, there is no extra money to increase the budget for the individuals who are on welfare. I am just wondering, if the Department of Community Services has no money to enlarge the budget for the people on welfare to lessen the consequences of the HST and the Direct Assistance Program excludes them, then what is the government doing to help the people that are very hard-pressed by the consequences of the blended sales tax? It is a very real problem.

Mr. Speaker, about one month ago, I got a call from a couple in the Community of Coldstream. I think Coldstream is a community, I did mention there are 63 that might be the 63rd one. So, I went into the house and there was this poor man and poor woman who could not afford to put oil in their barrel. They had to meet their mortgage payment, but she had to take the money for the oil to pay the phone bill. Community Services does not build any protection into their budget for a telephone, but this person had diabetes. He had a very severe case, a severe medical condition and he needs a phone should he have to call 911. Here is this poor beleaguered family, no money to fill their oil barrel because they had to take money out of their budget to pay for their phone which they need. You talk to the Department of Community Services and the social workers are working hard, they have large caseloads. I would never, and have never, suggested otherwise, but what I am saying is that these people are hard-pressed. This government is going to have to do something to help those poor people.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that there is merit in public-private partnerships. I think if we subscribe to a well-defined principle, we all probably could appreciate the principle and perhaps the precept of the public-private partnership, but quite frankly, this government's involvement in privatizing our highways has been really disastrous. It was bungled right from the start and any time you privatize a public infrastructure you have to be very careful that you put in terms and conditions, checks and balances that provide for transparency. It has to be a clear process and it has to be described. This government cannot float a trial balloon and privatize our jails and our hospitals. This government must have learned a lesson from the Cobequid Pass.

I see that I have one minute left. Mr. Speaker, I really do appreciate the opportunity that you have given me. I appreciate the opportunity that the people of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley have given me.

[Page 791]

Mr. Speaker, I know you have been very patient with me and have given me a certain amount of leeway and latitude. Again, I want to reiterate that the Official Opposition was pleased to second your nomination. We honestly believe thus far - you just have to put that small proviso in, just thus far - that you have done an excellent job. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, as always it is a pleasure to have any opportunity to rise and speak in this historic Chamber. I would like to start my remarks by doing what other members have done in thanking my family, Donna, Bobby and Terri, who, without their support, obviously I would not be here, as other members have said, without the support of their families and extended families and friends, they would not be here either. I extend my appreciation to them for putting up with what at times is one heck of a life. Their love and support is certainly appreciated.

[3:15 p.m.]

I also want to thank other members of my family and my friends, my staff over the years, executives of my political association and all others who have assisted in enabling a member to stay elected and to provide service in the House. I don't think it matters how long one serves, Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure and it always fills one with pride to be able to stand and be recognized in this Chamber and to represent the people we represent.

Mr. Speaker, in the long-held traditions of our time and of this institution, allow me to welcome you to your Chair. May you be blessed with a tranquil and non-eventful stay during your time as Speaker and may your stay be a long one.

A heartfelt welcome to the new members of this Chamber, first and foremost to our Leader, the Premier, Russell MacLellan. Although a rookie in this House, he is certainly no stranger to the parliamentary process and the rigours of the political system. May his experience and wisdom be utilized in this House so that Nova Scotians all may benefit. He has been a member of Liberal Governments in Ottawa that have demonstrated a social conscience coupled with sound management practice. That is what Nova Scotia needs now. Nova Scotia is counting on Russell MacLellan to provide the leadership to deliver that type of government. I know that he will do just that. (Applause)

Already he has put his mark on many important decisions. While there will never be unanimous support for any government decision, Russell MacLellan is demonstrating that he cares, that he is listening and that he is working hard to find solutions to complex issues before his government. Mr. Speaker, I pledge my support to both his cause and his efforts.

[Page 792]

To the new members of the House, the member for Halifax Citadel, my friend Dr. Edwin Kinley, to Cumberland North MLA, Ernie Fage, and Cape Breton The Lakes, MLA, Helen MacDonald, well, you people have sort of been elected on probation. Your constituents will have an opportunity to make a quick judgment of your performance over the next few months and then they will be asked to bring in a verdict once again. I wish you all well, although my wishes for one of you is a little stronger.

Most members of this Assembly will tell you what a great privilege it is to sit in this Chamber, to represent the grievances and concerns of constituents and to deliberate and be involved in debate on matters of importance to all Nova Scotians. While there are times when all members may lose sight of the real reason for being here, at the end of the day everyone recognizes the privilege and the responsibility that all members carry. I believe that beneath the politics, beneath the cut and thrust of the political side of this business and the sometimes brutal blood sport politics can be, that we all share a respect for one another as a result of our common achievement, having all been elected to the positions we hold. In that we are equal.

The right to take our place in this Chamber has been bestowed on us by the people of Nova Scotia. While the political battles will continue, there will also exist a collegiality, a bond between members who serve at the same time. We all know that many people hold politicians in very low regard, all politicians. That brings us together to attempt to raise the credibility, to combat the perception people have of those who hold political office. We must accept that everyone in this Chamber has something going for them, even though we sometimes act differently. Otherwise, why would so many people who know us vote for us? For that, we must show respect to one another and, by extension, to one another's constituents.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to spend a few minutes talking about my constituency and the good people of Richmond County. The effort to make Richmond a prosperous area has not been without many an uphill battle and that battle continues. Yet, while we have struggled to cope, like others, with first a downturn and then an absolute collapse of the groundfish industry, we have watched and we continue to watch the creativity and determination of many as they have survived and continue to survive through the implementation of diverse and unique measures.

Isle Madame was particularly hard hit by the fishing industry woes. However, Development Isle Madame, a community development organization, was formed and has worked with local people, all levels of government and other agencies in an effort to identify and support the creation of projects and businesses which are sustainable. While not able to solve everyone's problems, the officers of this organization are to be commended for their new ideas, their leadership, perseverance, and for picking their heads up when not everything works out as it was hoped for. They have made a difference. They are making a difference and they will continue to make a difference in Richmond County. (Applause)

[Page 793]

During the past few years we have been witness to the construction of La Picasse in Petit-de-Grat. This cultural, educational and community development centre is home to the regional library of the Department of Education, Collège de l'Acadie, La FANE, La Pre-maternelle, some offices and a few commercial ventures. La Picasse was a dream come true for many people. It combined the cooperation of the Secretary of State, Human Resources Development Canada, the Department of Education, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the Sport and Recreation Commission, the municipal government, the Governments of France and Quebec, and most importantly, a cash-strapped community. La Picasse is French for the anchor. In this case the anchor holding the community in place. At a time when the community of Petit-de-Grat which forever has been a fishing and fishplant community, at a time when that community was reeling with the devastation of the fishery and collapse, and a fish plant that had been bulldozed under, this project provided some motivation and stimulation to the residents of Petit-de-Grat to work together for a common goal, a common goal which they responded to, which they faced and overcame, a challenge, a goal that became the glue holding a community together. This centre will provide many opportunities to the young and old of the area in education, in culture and with employment and development opportunities.

I will always be proud and grateful that I was able to work with the local people to bring this dream to reality. It would be remiss to stand here and not to mention the tremendous support also offered by John MacEachern and Robert Harrison at a time when their support was necessary.

While we have struggled with certain developments and some unfortunate circumstances in Richmond County, we have been very fortunate in other ways. Stora, located at Point Tupper, Richmond County, is nearing completion of a $750 million expansion. We have known for years that the sulphite pulp operation at Stora was threatened. Low prices, high production costs, over capacity in the sulphite market and an aged mill all combined to create an environment which would eventually shut that operation down. However, what the expansion has done is to allow many eligible Stora employees to retire with dignity or to find employment in the new plant. In addition to the tremendous construction boom in the Strait area and in all Cape Breton, this massive investment speaks volumes about the confidence in the Nova Scotia economy and the willingness of corporations to invest here, a province on the move. Hats off to Stora, Mr. Speaker.

As a sign of our times we have recognized and acknowledged the creation of jobs through community development by small or medium sized business entrepreneurs. Richmond is no exception. We too have many new businesses which have or are starting up throughout our county. Of particular note and worthy of mention is a small company called Multi-mesh which produces Bug-Me-Not wearing apparel. They make jackets, hoods and other paraphernalia from very fine mesh, protecting the wearer from mosquitos and gnats. We could use some in the House at times. They have found excellent markets in areas which are mosquito infested and as a result, this operation which began just two years ago in a small

[Page 794]

shed with two employees has expanded several times. They now employ approximately 25 people and they are poised for a major expansion which could see the workforce double - a tremendous success story. (Applause)

While not everything is peaches and cream in Richmond County, if you choose to look on the bright side there are many reasons why one could be optimistic. The proud people of Richmond will continue to work together and with diligence to ensure that opportunities are identified and taken advantage of, even as we struggle to overcome some adversities.

As a member of the Executive Council for the past four years, there had been many opportunities to share one's thoughts and views on matters of concern and importance and to represent constituents. As a result, I have not used the Throne Speech Debate for that purpose the last couple of years. However, things change. This year I welcome the opportunity to use this avenue at my disposal.

Some honourable members might wish to leave the Chamber at this time as I'm going to revisit my nine-plus years as a member in this Chamber and look at some of the changes that have taken place; some changes which, in my opinion, are still necessary; and to put on the public record my opinions about some of the people and some of the issues current today.

I am part of the Class of 1988. Elected in September 1988, we did not get to sit in this House of Assembly until the end of February 1989. Those were the days when the House sat only once a year causing many trivial matters, such as being sworn in, to be deferred for months.

Last week I rummaged through some old files and came up with a copy of my 1989 Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. In that, my first address in this Chamber, I brought to the attention of this House the concerns and problems that the good people of Richmond were sharing with me. I spoke of the need to get control of the runaway spending in health care, of the need to put in place a comprehensive Home Care Program to provide for the needs of an aging rural population at a price Nova Scotians could afford.

I am proud standing here today, years later, that I can say I was a part of the Liberal Government that addressed that issue, a government that recognized the importance of home care as a part of the health care delivery system, a government that provided the necessary funding to stand behind the commitment we made regarding the importance which we had placed on the service.

Similarly, just a few short years ago we were faced with runaway drug costs. Year after year the cost of providing drugs to seniors was escalating at an alarming rate. With a commitment to meet the needs of seniors and the need to control costs, the government I was a part of established a Pharmacare Program which was affordable to seniors, provided long- term solutions to escalating costs and, perhaps most importantly, it will be sustainable. Even

[Page 795]

though there may be a few bugs to work out, the commitment to an affordable Pharmacare Program remains. The program will survive and the seniors of Nova Scotia will be well served.

I would not expect any more than a few members of this House to remember my initial address in this Chamber. However, a few may recall my story about an elderly gentleman, a World War I veteran who had been served notice of a lawsuit as a result of this province's policies on overstays at nursing homes. Because of the public fuss which we raised, the government backed off and the practice changed. Why would I raise an issue which had been dealt with years ago? A couple of recent occurrences that I am aware of in the health care system reminded me of that earlier occasion when I had cause to stand here. I would like to use this opportunity to share the recent story with you.

There was a friend of my family, a young lady who became very ill and who ended up in a Halifax hospital for several months, in a coma. With an illness that mystified her physicians, she was eventually flown to the University of London Neurology Centre in London, Ontario. Our young friend spent 66 days in that particular institution. Remarkably her fortunes improved and she was able to return to Nova Scotia.

On the day she was leaving London, Ontario the doctor attending to her care gave her father a bill for the services she received. The bill to cover services for 66 days was for the amount of $126,000. This amount did not cover the four or five months that our young friend would spend in Halifax hospitals before and after her visit to London, Ontario. The doctor in Ontario told the young girl's father, you don't have to pay this, we just want you to know the cost of the treatment your daughter received. When he spoke with me, the girl's father indicated that he now understood the need for health care reform. It was so that no Nova Scotian would ever have to pay such a bill. In fact, Mr. Speaker, if we had to pay such bills, it makes all of us realize that an illness, an accident of any proportion would and could ruin a family financially for life.

[3:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, as this story makes us realize, if it takes reforms to protect against that happening to any Nova Scotia family, if it takes reforms to protect the essential services our people need, then it must be done. I know at least one Nova Scotian who understands that clearly.

Similarly, Mr. Speaker, a good friend of mine was in a very serious car accident several months ago. This individual had an accident in Cumberland County shortly after noon one day. At the scene of the accident, she was removed from a severely damaged automobile and treated on-site by trained emergency ambulance personnel. She was taken to the Amherst Hospital where she received additional treatment. She was met there by a Shock Trauma Air

[Page 796]

Rescue Society Team, a STARS Team, who moved her by air ambulance from the Amherst Hospital to the Halifax Infirmary, providing treatment all the way.

I went to the Halifax Infirmary and was there when my friend arrived. She was met at the hospital by a nine-specialist trauma team who worked to stabilize her before sending her to an intensive care unit specific to her most serious injuries. It was well after midnight before the ICU team left her bedside, 12 or more hours following the accident. Mr. Speaker, I spent most of the next four or five days at the intensive care unit which provided me an opportunity to speak with family members and friends of others who were being treated for serious accidents or serious illness. One thing became clear, the system that so many are quick to condemn, to trash and bury, is actually first-rate.

Someone in the lounge outside the ICU was heard to remark one day: Thank God for Ron Stewart. This is the emergency medical system he brought to our province. Without his persistence and leadership (Applause) we may have very well lost a loved one.

Mr. Speaker, the point of this story should not be lost. Escalating and runaway health care costs were threatening to rob us of many of the services that we would like to take for granted. Like the father of the young lady who went to Ontario for treatment, it is important to reflect on what services we have, what they cost and what terrible problems would exist without them.

Mr. Speaker, we all know there will continue to be a need for changes in our health care delivery system. We know that some or many of those changes will meet with the resistance of a public which may not understand that difficult choices have to be made. This is made especially critical at this time because of the era we are entering. As pointed out so clearly in the publications, Boom, Bust and Echo, or the Pig and the Python, we see the effects that an inordinately high number of users will have on a health care system, the resulting stress on that system and the lasting repercussions.

We are now entering a period in our society when the baby boomers will begin to utilize the health care system in a big way. To approach this period without a comprehensive plan, a serious plan, will certainly bring havoc to our province and it will threaten our financial ability to cope. The number of people categorized as baby boomers will number 10 million across Canada; over one-third of the population of Canada in one age category. Never before have there been that many people in any single generation of frequent health care users.

Mr. Speaker, what will be the impact on our valuable services? If this generation, the boomers, require health care at the same rate and pace as others who have gone before them in that age category, then it is estimated that we have used only 4 per cent of the service that we and they will require. What is absolutely frightening is that we have a system that is already struggling to provide services and which has been designed to accommodate normal, historic populations. Given that across the country 10 million people will fall into this

[Page 797]

category and will go through the system over the next number of years, it will create tremendous pressure on our ability to meet the growing demands of an aging society.

Following that, consideration must be given to the fact that following the baby boom generation, there will be considerably fewer people in the next wave requiring the type of service that they, the boomers, required as they passed through the system. However, having passed through that system, they now become the senior population which will require services for seniors at a magnitude never before realized. How will we afford that? There will be fewer to pay for more services, more care will be required. There is only one way, through reform.

Let me say clearly, in my opinion, those who believe that health care reform is not necessary are caught up in one of two things, the big lie or complete stupidity. For example, we built schools in this province to accommodate a population that could not be sustained. Changing demographics, fewer post-baby boom numbers of people could not support the infrastructure which had been put in place. So for the past decade or thereabouts, schools have been closing and when schools close, communities get upset. Even in Halifax, which has grown considerably through inward migration from other parts of Nova Scotia, we see boards calling for city schools to be closed. In other areas, construction is barely able to keep up with the changing needs of society.

Mr. Speaker, we have paid dearly for overspending, for constructing buildings in the wrong place and, yes, even for poorly constructed buildings. Today in some areas we see recommendations to close schools that were only built in the 1980's or refurbished in the 1990's. Certainly, some long-range planning may have prevented some of that dilemma. While some was unpredictable, at least some could have been addressed. Let's hope that the lessons we have learned from our past we will apply as we plan for our future health care needs. After all, this is our generation which will require the care we speak of.

I want to repeat, to date we have used only 4 per cent of the services our generation will need. Without impeccable scrutiny, without an innovative plan and without the courage to adhere to that plan, we would become the first generation to lose the most valuable service that a Nova Scotian has ever known, universal health care. I pray and my children pray that we will continue to be served by a government with the wisdom, the vision and the courage to provide the leadership necessary to cope with these significant challenges.

As demonstrated in recent speeches he has made such as the Speech from the Throne, the Chamber of Commerce Address and speeches at constituency meetings around the province, I believe Russell MacLellan has demonstrated that he will provide that leadership. (Applause)

[Page 798]

For years as an Opposition member of this House, one of my most commonly-used battering rams against government was the education system in general and, in particular, the Walker Funding Formula. Since George Walker has become one of my golf partners at the annual Bonny Lea Farm Golf Tournament the past few years and a friend, I feel compelled to say any criticism of the formula does not reflect my feelings for the architect.

In areas such as the one I represent, we could not maintain the high quality education delivery system we deserve without special consideration of factors such as busing, declining enrolments and other factors common to small, rural boards. Again, change was necessary if we were to provide quality service and change will still be necessary as we adjust to the changing needs and trends in our society. We had a system which was, quite frankly, non-sustainable. As budgets were squeezed to address the fiscal insanity which had become the norm under Tory Governments in this province, the challenge for the government was to address that fiscal threat, secure a future, while allowing minimum disruption in the classroom. I believe the honourable John MacEachern did just that.

While the Opposition, the media and others watched the dispute with teachers, the education system underwent reform almost without them noticing. Yes, it landed Mr. MacEachern and our government in hot water with the teachers, but has anyone ever suggested how severe the impact might have been had he not done it that way? Not to do it was simply not an option. This was another area where the cost of providing service kept increasing every year while the revenues necessary to provide this service kept decreasing. So, in the list of possible solutions to the problem the status quo was not among them. As was the case with a number of issues that have been dealt with in the past few years, a great deal of what did take place was often lost amid political rhetoric, controversy and yes, at the time, a damn poor sales job.

Among the reforms and changes though, came something very good. Many teachers, men and women, who gave exemplary service for many years to the youngsters in our province were finally provided an opportunity to access an early retirement program which recognized their years of service and their commitment. Why? Why were they now able to finally realize this bonus? The answer is quite simple, Mr. Speaker, because the John Savage Government worked with the teachers and put in place a plan to fix the broken Teachers' Pension Fund. After years of criticism and complaining by Bill Gillis, the problem was finally addressed and it worked.

Again, Mr. Speaker, an example of the benefits which can be realized when you work from a healthy base, a foundation of fiscal stability rather than fiscal insanity. There would not be any early retirements, no incentives if we had to work from the Teachers' Pension Fund in the condition it was in when we found it. So, as many of our senior teachers chose well-deserved early retirement, young Nova Scotia teachers were able to get jobs in the classroom, jobs in Nova Scotia, ending that long established practice where many of our young teachers had to leave the province to find work, often in teaching areas not even remotely related to

[Page 799]

their field of study. They now found work in Nova Scotia, bringing new energy and new ideas to our classrooms and our children as a result of this effort.

Mr. Speaker, while not perfect, our education system is improved because we no longer are forced to consider massive cuts, but rather, as suggested in the Throne Speech, we are now at a point where we can begin to consider the utilization of resources which will become available as a result of the growth in our economy. A growth due, in large part, to the measures taken over the past four years to get our House in order.

Education, like health, can look forward to sustainable growth. A growth designed with the needs of the users in mind, but a growth which will not bankrupt Nova Scotia. Look at the Throne Speech, Mr. Speaker, look to the ideas and plans laid out for our province in the area of education, designed to help build and strengthen this valuable service, to better prepare the young for tomorrow and allow everyone to seize opportunities which exist today by taking advantage of specialized training and re-training.

Mr. Speaker, for years we harped, yes harped, about the runaway debt in our province, about our excessive borrowing and our ever-increasing operating deficits. However, even we did not realize that we were rapidly nearing the wall. It was only after we got our hands on the books that we realized that the situation was worse than even we had imagined. Of course, in our province we had been conveniently neglecting to count our unfunded liabilities in the Teachers' Pension Fund, the unfunded liability in the Workers' Compensation Fund and in other areas as well. Of course, our lenders were not as forgiving, and they were not prepared to simply turn the other cheek. No, they were going to count it all, and so, that is what we did. We counted everything we owed, that was just the start, just the beginning.

What became abundantly clear, and clear very quickly, Mr. Speaker, was that we needed a plan. A plan which was realistic, a plan which was meaningful. Realizing, unlike our Tory predecessor that revenues cannot always be controlled, a focus on expenditure control was adopted and lo and behold it worked. In fact, time and time again, the results were better than those which had been projected. Realizing the plan to balance the books was ahead of schedule, the strategy was changed to reflect that situation as well. Repatriation of more and more of our debt, aggressive debt management and other measures proved more and more beneficial to our province.

We put in place a process which required us to be more accountable, to go to the Legislature if we needed to spend more than we had budgeted to spend, and to the Legislature we went, twice. We exceeded the budget line on spending so we went to the House, told the world, passed the necessary resolutions and went on with business, Mr. Speaker. No hiding anything.

[Page 800]

[3:45 p.m.]

Did these measures result in upgrade and improvement in the financial standing determined by lenders and bond rating agencies? No, they did not. Proof of conviction was necessary; talk was cheap. The lenders wanted more than just talk, they wanted results and proof of the government conviction. They got it. When this government succeeded in balancing the budget, it then moved forward and introduced legislation to protect that practice of balanced budgets. That is when the agencies and banks rewarded the province with the first credit rating upgrade in 30 years, and that gives more favourable rates to government, to the benefit of every Nova Scotian.

Mr. Speaker, it was proved again that the proof of any pudding is in the eating. I would like to say that my good friend, Bernie Boudreau, may be gone from this Chamber but I assure you that he is not forgotten. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Bernie was the architect of a plan to stabilize the finances in Nova Scotia, to bring fiscal sanity back to the spending habits of government. It is no surprise to me that almost every Liberal who takes to their feet in this Chamber this session mentions the balanced budget and the benefits they see accompanying that effort. Believe me, I intend to slight no one when I say that every Nova Scotian should tip their hat to the accomplishments of Mr. Boudreau and the credibility he brought to us. I am proud to be his friend, I am proud to have served with him and I am proud to have learned from him. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, when I read in our Throne Speech that we are poised for continued growth, when I hear Premier MacLellan say that the financial position of the province is the foundation we will build on, then I know that despite the sacrifice of many, the plan worked and it will all be worth it.

Mr. Speaker, I was saddened last week to hear that Sandy Jolly will not be offering in the next provincial general election. For over nine years I have watched the honourable member for Dartmouth North give everything she had to her province. Her job was her life. She worked hard at understanding her responsibilities and she used class and professionalism to execute her duties. (Applause) She, too, had the courage to stand behind her decisions, even when those decisions caused her to become the target of some self-serving opponents more concerned with their own little nest than with the overall good of society. As with the case of Ron Stewart, John MacEachern and Bernie Boudreau, Sandra Jolly was a great colleague. She is a good friend and I wish her good luck and prosperity in her future endeavours.

I want to say a few words about another of my colleagues, our colleague from Antigonish, Bill Gillis. While quiet and, at times, unassuming, Bill has brought great credit to himself, his family and his riding with the type of service he has given to this House, to the Liberal Party and to his constituents for 27 years. In a business where opportunities to be embarrassed were plentiful, where you could find many ways to bring discredit to yourself,

[Page 801]

Bill Gillis never did. He preached frugality, but he practised frugality. He has always acted from a position of propriety. He has taken this House, the rules and precedents, and he has shown great respect for this House, the rules and the traditions.

When I first arrived here in 1988 and to the House in 1989, Bill became a friend and a mentor. Chats about how to get constituency work done would take place late at night in the caucus office - an explanation of the Rules and Forms of Procedure every chance I had to ask.

Well, I may have bent a few House Rules a little more than Bill would have, at least he taught me to stay within the rules to do that. Steady as she goes might best explain Bill Gillis, consistent, precise, decent, a gentleman. (Applause) Bill Gillis and his family - Joan, John and Amy - have sacrificed a great deal in order to serve for 27 years. They as a family have given a great deal to this province and have demonstrated appreciation for what this province has given them. Bill Gillis has announced he will not re-offer in the next general election. This old House will miss Bill Gillis. This Party will miss Bill Gillis. His old friends will miss Bill Gillis.

One of the most important things I noticed quickly during my four years as a member of the Executive Council is the outstanding quality of people we have who work for government. While I can speak directly to my experiences in two departments, I suspect similar situations exist in most, if not all, departments. In Transportation and in Economic Development and Tourism I had the opportunity to work with some of the finest and most conscientious people I have ever met. At a time when they were working under the cloud of roll-backs, freezes and forced leaves, they still demonstrated their expertise and their commitment by contributing to the processes that were necessary to achieve goals set by government. I have personally witnessed employees who have voluntarily worked around the clock in order to meet targets and deadlines; employees who have shown up at the office each and every day of a scheduled vacation period.

I do not suggest that all civil servants should behave this way, but I have found that our civil servants do care about their jobs, they care about their departments and they care about their province. They take pleasure in the successes we have, celebrating our victories and sharing pain as a result of any losses we suffer. I tip my hat to Nova Scotia's civil servants. At times they get a bad rap. Like politicians, they are an easy target for people when things do not go exactly as desired. Some of the people I worked with in Transportation and in Economic Development, I would want them with me, I would want them at my back when the chips were down. I would trust them with my future and I know that they would deliver.

I also want to take this opportunity to publicly thank John Savage for the confidence and trust he placed in me when he allowed me to serve in two key ministries of his government. Like others who served in his Cabinet, I found myself in a department which required change, leadership and an innovative approach to provide modern-day programs to reflect reality. It had been 35 or 40 years since the Department of Transportation had

[Page 802]

undergone any serious restructuring. Not since G. I. Smith was minister had the system changed in any significant way. Yes, the most modern technologies and processes were always employed when it came to road building, engineering and materials application, but when it came to management structures and practices, there really had been no change. It is a very simple thing for people to attack, to sit back and criticize those who are bold enough to move forward. To criticize without offering any solutions to the challenges before us, to criticize without any plan of your own, is weak. It is lame criticism. It is cowardly.

We have seen plenty of that type of criticism in recent years. Really, at the end of the day it gets you nowhere. The Department of Transportation, as a result of having a large capital budget and a large operating budget, was always an easy target when cost-cutting was in order. However, through restructuring, early retirement, and refocusing resources on necessities we were able to do our share, maybe a little more than our share, towards balancing the books. As that happened, we improved the efficiency and the productivity of the department.

Remember when a common source of annoyance to the general public was seeing six workers sitting in a truck waiting for orders, or a crew leaning on the shovels or sitting on the banks of the roadside waiting for orders? Remember when to get a culvert replaced or repaired it was necessary to work through five or six layers of management and then probably be required to show your Party membership card? Remember the red, the blue and the green files? Remember the slush fund? Remember the days of creating jobs because your buddy was out of work? We had to change the old ways of doing business, we simply couldn't afford it and, in addition, it was bloody inefficient. Today you don't see large crews leaning on shovels, sitting six to a truck, or parked at the end of a road simply waiting for the work day to end. No, those days are gone and are replaced by practices which are part of an efficient, productive system.

The other evening in this Chamber, the member for Colchester North talked about the possible closure of a shed or the possible removal of a piece of equipment. Those are concerns that every member of this House will share, concern for their constituency. By all means, we should all strive for quality service and do what we can to deliver it. I have to tell you I was surprised to hear that member reference this in the context of economic development.

It would be real nice to put a highway shed on every single road, in every single community, but who would pay for it? We must strive for quality services but one sure way to get quality service is not to go backwards and create jobs for the sake of creating jobs. It has been determined a long time ago that government cannot generate sustainable, economic activity by doling out government jobs. We can support industry and we can create the environment to support jobs but we cannot dole out government jobs at every turn. We have tried the other way and we have paid a heck of a price for trying that way.

[Page 803]

As a member in Opposition, I was one of the most vocal against some of the practices of the previous administration in the Transportation Department. I recall the day I found the highway employment applications in the local corner store. Those days are gone, those things have changed and changed for the better.

I could go on at great length about my stay in Transportation, a stay which was extremely enjoyable. But I want to close this part of my remarks by mentioning but a few of the highlights which took place during my stay there and events that still make me very proud.

We took the front-line supervision in the Department of Transportation and we made it professional. It resulted in more accountability, more local decision making and better service to the public. Yes, we eliminated 160 positions and replaced them with 80 professionals. I spent two years in the department after that change and I can tell you that complaints decreased by 940 per cent. The attitudes changed, the work practices changed and the public was better served.

We reduced management layers between the minister and the public from 9 to 5. We introduced modern fleet management systems which resulted in savings of $4 million to $5 million a year. The year I arrived in the department, we had one machine that was appraised at a value of $6,000 and that particular year, $26,000 had been spent in repairs. Newer and faster equipment with warranties has resulted in millions of dollars in savings.

The introduction of a Graduated Drivers License Program, a true life-saver. I have a 16 year old daughter who has been driving since last January and I truly appreciate the Graduated Drivers License Program. Studies and statistics will show, as they have in other jurisdictions, that this system will work. This system has resulted in social change in our society. Dances for teenagers that traditionally had ended at 1:00 a.m. now often end at 11:45 p.m., so the young drivers can go home. I can't begin to tell you how many mothers and fathers have commented positively about that change.

We banned radar detectors, devices created for the sole purpose of breaking the law. Again, one could argue it has had to result in the saving of lives and a reduction of accidents. We implemented the Immediate Roadside Suspension Program, another life-saver and that program has withstood the challenges of the courts as a bona fide program. We introduced a one plate system on automobiles, two year registration and photo drivers licenses, all convenient to the public with cost-savings passed on to the consumer.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I even lived through the beginning of the Department of Transportation and the Department of Supply and Services merger. I was only there a few months, but it did provide an opportunity to meet a lot of the people who have also proven to be tremendous civil servants. It may come as a surprise to many that I would list the Highway No. 104

[Page 804]

project as one of my highlights. In fact, someone recently referred to me as the father of Highway No. 104. Who knows, that may be the way I am remembered, my legacy. But that is okay with me, because I will always be able to say I did it to save lives, I did it for the right reason and I was not willing to procrastinate the way others had done before.

Government is about choices, Mr. Speaker, and I was prepared and I did make a recommendation and the government made a decision. My choices were the toll road or no road, and I would do it again tomorrow because it was for the right reasons. (Applause) One saved life will forever be testimony to the fact that the decision was a correct one.

Mr. Speaker, in April 1993, the Tories too had choices. They signed the SHIP agreement, a federal-provincial agreement worth $200 million. It was signed by the honourable George Archibald on behalf of the Donald Cameron Government and the honourable Jean Corbeil on behalf of the Kim Campbell Government and, for good measure, Bill Casey was asleep at the switch. That famous crusader from the north, the great defender of everything good and holy was asleep at the switch.

It was their choice, the Tory choice, to decide what projects they wanted to include in the SHIP agreement. They decided, as had become their habit, to play some politics with the agreement and put a little here and a little there. Eighteen days after they signed the agreement, they called a provincial general election. What projects were included on the eve of the provincial election in that SHIP agreement? Well, let us check, Mr. Speaker.

The deal called for some work on Highway No. 104 between Amherst and Truro. It called for some work on Highway No. 101. It called for some work on Highway No. 104 between New Glasgow and Truro and it called for a little bit of work on Highway No. 105 in Cape Breton North. Mr. Speaker, why would anyone include four or five projects, but not enough work to finish any one of them? Well, you know the answer to that, as well as I do: politics. The only answer that could possibly be there.

The galling part of it, Mr. Speaker, has been that they are the first ones to complain about the projects not being completed. If you listened to the Tories the past few years, they would have you believe that they would do even more roadwork than has been done. In addition, they would have found an additional $66 million to do Highway No. 104, and they would have found still more money to do Highway No. 101 and still more to do Highway No. 103. It actually gets laughable. Now, the truth of the matter is they chose to leave the western alignment out of the mix. Using conventional practice and conventional funding, the Highway No. 104 project would take a minimum of 10 years to complete and then at the expense of all the other roadwork in the province.

[Page 805]

Mr. Speaker, I will be the first one to admit that at times the Highway No. 104 project was a field day for the media and for the Opposition. That happened mainly because of the decision to fund construction of the Fleur-de-lis Trail from the SHIP agreement, a mistake. A mistake which was recognized and a mistake that was rectified. I do want to say that the Fleur-de-lis Trail is a good project. There has been a call for its construction for over 36 years; it should be completed. Today, I call on the minister to get on with the job of completing it, and I will be reminding him of this in the weeks ahead. The completion of this trail will provide the south side of Cape Breton with the realization of the great tourism potential they have which will benefit all Nova Scotia.

However, Mr. Speaker, the furore, rhetoric and misinformation about the Fleur-de-lis Trail allowed the Highway No. 104 project to become so controversial and sensational that it was rarely looked upon the way it should have been. However, with the return of the funding to the SHIP agreement, that Highway No. 104 now stands on its own as a road built at record speed for safety reasons, using a very unique partnership to get it done and avoiding yet another huge burden on the public debt. Time will be the judge. One saved life makes it all worthwhile and today I stand firmly behind the project and the decision that was made.

During my short stay at Economic Development and Tourism, I was proud to be part of a team that worked hard and produced excellent results for this province. I was fortunate. My year in the department, probably more by coincidence that anything else, was a year which saw record job growth in our province, record investment forecasts, record trade levels reached, an increased number of successful trade missions and other very encouraging events.

We established new industry-government partnerships in tourism and focused more on niche tourism markets. This has contributed in part to the record tourism season recently announced. Taking advantage of good weather, marketing to take advantage of the fixed link, the Cabot 500 celebration, Keltic Colours and other events, strategic air accords and adjusting to meet the needs and leading to provide for the changing tourist trends all contributed to the record year and the $1 billion industry being realized. I commend the current minister for his continued focus and leadership in a very important area.

The government's continued focus on community economic development has been, for the most part, very successful in the area of local job creation primarily with the help of the regional development authorities. The results are encouraging and I recommend continued support for these bodies.

One often hears about the good old days. Well, to each one of us they meant something different. I can't help but think of an area which underwent great change under the Liberal Government. One of the hottest issues in the years before and during my term in this House was ethics and scandals which did nothing to enhance our image in this province.

[Page 806]

I have no intention of dragging up all the old scandals which resulted in criminal charges, jail sentences, resignations, investigations, allegations of impropriety, et cetera. Many stories have been written about those days. More stories will be written and many of those stories are not so nice. On the other hand, the Honourable John Savage will be remembered as a man, a Leader, a Premier who led a government that was scandal-free. He led by example. Throughout his public and private life, it has never been suggested that he was self-serving nor that he acted with any impropriety or was anything short of honest. Dr. Savage never lost a member to scandal and the harshest examples the Opposition threw at him was the so-called Dobbin matter and the accusation that someone sat in on a Resources Recovery meeting. Some scandals.

I believe I would speak for all who served with him when I say that he made decisions for what he believed were the right reasons. You might disagree with him but you did not question his motive. You knew it was honourable. He was a Leader who, upon hearing your opinion or decision, would question it, critique it and generally give you a hard time. But if you convinced him, then he backed you all the way. His propriety, his decency, his honesty won him respect outside our province and resulted in Nova Scotia getting back a great deal of the respect which had been lost.

I am pleased that we now have another Leader who brings with him an abundance of experience, a career steeped in propriety, who will exercise good judgment and also lead by example, a Leader who will accept only what is good for the people of Nova Scotia. The Honourable Russell MacLellan will maintain that hard won respect that we now have and will prove to be a dignified ambassador for our province.

Much has been said and written about the John Savage Government and much more will be said and written. I think it is too early to determine how it will measure up with the passage of time or the assessments of those who will write the history of this particular time. But notwithstanding anything else, one thing is certain. It was a government which stood and was counted.

Governing is about choices, not always about choices we like, not always about choices we even wish to deal with. Yes, there are always reasons not to make decisions, not to act if you choose to look for those reasons. There were directions we could have taken which might have exacted much less of a personal toll but we would only have been fooling ourselves. Everyone in this Chamber remembers the bashing we took at the hands of our own federal counterparts when we introduced that first budget of ours. Yet, to have done less would have deferred the inevitable, the need to get on with the task of addressing the runaway debt train. It was that type of procrastination by the Tories for years which led to the size of the problem in the first place.

[Page 807]

As we have heard, Mr. Speaker, at one point during the past few years, the Province of Nova Scotia with 3.5 per cent of the population of Canada, suffered 16 per cent of the federal job cuts, a tremendously disproportionate situation. We could have used that as our battering ram, we could have used that as an excuse but we did not. We went on with the task at hand, dealing with the cuts we were facing, federal and provincial, and tried to cope. We could not replace overnight the lost resources caused by the base closures, by the decimated fishing industries or the results of actions of the Government of Canada but we didn't use them as a crutch. Today we see that our efforts have worked and they continue to work.

Mr. Speaker, in 1993 and 1994, as I looked at the problems we were facing, the massive challenges to get our house in order, I will admit to being a doubting Tom. I was not convinced there was enough political will, enough motivation, enough courage to stay the course. It wasn't difficult to realize what the reaction would be to certain of the decisions we would make. It would have been much easier on all of us to say yes rather than no. It would have been easier to beat up on the federal government, to say we couldn't fix the problems or to simply not do it and pretend we could fix them next year, a strategy the problem had become accustomed to hearing.

However, Mr. Speaker, if we had chosen the easy route, if we had chosen to continue with operating deficits in excess of $500 million and $600 million per year, if we had continued to borrow excessively for capital projects, can you imagine where we might be today? What a mess we would have had on our hands. I suspect we would have lost control of the decision-making process a long time ago. Our debt load is still staggering; imagine where it would be if it had gone unchecked.

Mr. Speaker, the measures introduced by the Savage Government and the courage to follow through on those measures have meant that you and I do not have to go to our children and grandchildren and tell them there is no universal health care, that there is no access to education because we have used it all and there is none left. No, we have avoided that unpleasant and unthinkable scenario.

Yes, I was a doubting Tom but again I stand here proudly as a member of and a contributor to a government that made a difference. I believe history will be the judge of the Savage Government but, from this member's perspective, I believe the government will be recognized one day for having made the greatest contribution of any government to its people in a single term.

As we stand here in a province that has control over its finances, in a province which has record investment occurring, in a province which has more and more wealth being generated by trade, in a province which has more people working every month and projections that that trend will continue, as we stand here we realize that the pain will, in fact, result in a gain. Increased wealth, increased job opportunities and sustainable economic development are the tools which will enable us to protect and grow our social, educational

[Page 808]

and health services, provide better roads and ensure a prosperous future for generations to come.

Mr. Speaker, I have about a minute left but I had some comments to make about the other Parties but I am going to let those go. One day we will all be called upon to justify our actions, to justify the decisions we will make. I will be proud to justify the decisions made by the Savage Government as the people in the Opposition are justifying the purchase of toilet seats or the New Democrats justifying the throwing out of work of 1,000 Sheraton workers or the attacks on the Michelins and the Storas.

Mr. Speaker, you will clearly understand and see why I will not run from, why I will not hide from the record of the Savage Government. It is that record which provides us a foundation on which to build; it is that record that has provided the catalyst for growth that gives us a fighting chance to survive.

Mr. Speaker, the good people of Richmond County sent a naive, shy young man to the House of Assembly in 1988. I have always tried to respect my responsibility and to do my best for those who sent me here. Today, perhaps not so naive, not so shy, and certainly not so young, I continue to feel honoured to sit in this Chamber and I will continue, as long as I am here, to represent Richmond County to the best of my ability. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

[4:15 p.m.]

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

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: It is my distinct pleasure to have the opportunity to reply to the Speech from the Throne. Let me begin by expressing my congratulations to you on your appointment as Speaker of this Assembly and to indicate to you that my vote on the first day was a vote to say that I support an elected Speaker and had nothing to do with you as an individual.

I would also like to congratulate the newly elected members of this Assembly - Premier Russell MacLellan; the honourable member for Cumberland North, Ernest Fage; and the honourable member for Halifax Citadel, Dr. Edwin Kinley.

If I may, Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity as well to thank my family, especially my husband John, my son, Anthony and my daughters, Denise, Bonnie, Alison, Colleen and Elise, my mother- and father-in-law Tony and Cecilia MacDonald - all people who have offered their continuous support to me over the years. I would like to also thank my extended family - the New Democrats of Cape Breton The Lakes - who have worked so hard on my behalf. The Day family of Bras d'Or, in particular Les Day, a person who

[Page 809]

relentlessly works on behalf of the people of his community and who for many years has demonstrated the determination and commitment to his beliefs.

To be present in this Assembly and to be granted the opportunity to speak on behalf of the people of Cape Breton The Lakes is indeed an honour and a privilege. The people of Cape Breton The Lakes have entrusted to me the responsibility to be an honest, open representative, a trust I take very seriously.

Cape Breton The Lakes is an integral part of that fair isle, Cape Breton. Cape Breton, as you well know, is a place of breathtaking beauty, a place of dramatic vistas and charming tranquillity, a place of 100,000 welcomes and a place of majesty best described by the words of Alexander Graham Bell, "I have travelled around the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps and the Highlands of Scotland but for the simple beauty Cape Breton outrivals them all.".

The people, as described by many of our talented musicians and entertainers, are warm, hard-working, proud individuals who are deeply concerned for their communities and their province, people who respect and value life, people with resilient character, people of varied ethnic backgrounds, all rooted in a strong identity. Cape Breton has a proud tradition of people helping people, of wishing for others what we desire for ourselves - traditions very much a part of our strong, cooperative labour struggles and very much a part of our rich history.

Cape Breton The Lakes is a wonderful, winding constituency, stretching its land around the beautiful Bras d'Or Lakes, the Island's inland sea. From the northside of East Bay to the tip of Boularderie Island, a picturesque setting with rural and urban communities spotted along coastlines and hilly terrain, an ever-changing panorama of woodlands, farms and villages.

It includes Nova Scotia's largest Mi'kmaq Community. Eskasoni is nestled between Castle Bay and Islandview, a community of some 2,500 people. People who pride themselves in being a strong family-oriented community, respecting their land, respecting their language and respecting their traditions.

Recently, we heard the story of the young boy, the 13 year old, Robin who became separated from his father in the woods while they were out hunting. Robin remembered what he had been taught about the land from his dad and what he had been taught about nature. Things that, in the end, saved his life.

Cape Breton The Lakes also includes wonderful communities like Westmount that overlooks Sydney Harbour and Coxheath that winds its way out to Blacketts Lake, skirting and jutting into the mountain that protects it. Mr. Speaker, the constituency covers many

[Page 810]

other interesting places with interesting names like Boularderie, Barrachois and Boisdale to name a few.

Cape Breton The Lakes was formed as an electoral district on the recommendation of a 1978 report of the Provincial Electoral Commission. The first member to represent Cape Breton The Lakes in this Legislature was the late Ossie Fraser, a Liberal member who held the seat and the respect of the people in Cape Breton The Lakes from 1978 until his death in 1982. Cape Breton The Lakes, as much of Cape Breton, has a rich tradition of music makers, storytellers and gifted dancers. We boast as being the home of such favourite fiddlers as Jennifer Roland of Alder Point, Westmount's Howie MacDonald, the talented fiddler who travels with the Rankins, who has been a part of the Summertime Revue and who has released many CDS. Brenda Stubbert of Little Bras d'Or, Eskasoni's Lee Cremo and Natasha Roland.

We boast of dancers and songwriters of singers and entertainers. The Laverys of Point Aconi, in particular, Fred Lavery is the owner of a wonderful productions studio called Lakewind Sound. Lakewind Sound is a 24 track digital recording facility located in the quiet rural setting of Cape Breton. It is a studio that was designed by Stephen Durr, an international studio designer and some famous people have recorded some of their work there. Natalie McMaster, in fact, will be recording in that very studio next week. The Barra McNeils, J. P. Cormier and Jennifer Roland have all used this wonderful facility.

Charlie McKinnon is of Cape Breton The Lakes and Charlie is known especially for his work, Let's Save Our Industry written for and performed at the Parade of Concern in 1967. A parade of more than 20,000 people who came out to protest the closure of the Sydney Steel Plant. Mary MacNeil of Christmas Island, Mary is the author of Little Buck the wonderful Christmas story and song set in Christmas Island. And of course, the world-renowned Rita MacNeil, formerly of Big Pond but now of Coxheath, whose songs and stories tell many of the things we cherish. Her songs, Working Man, She's Called Nova Scotia and Home I'll Be.

We are the home of the poet, Rita Joe. Michael MacKenzie, the author from Christmas Island and Jill Hickey, from Northside East Bay, who wrote the wonderful story, Freckles Please Be Good. Jill's son, Zachary, did the illustrations for his mother's book and the book was published by Chiboo Publications with Carl O'Neill as the publisher and it was printed by City Printers, truly a community effort.

Morning Star is a Mi'kmaq Band from Cape Breton The Lakes, comprised of talented individuals, Alex and Richard Poulette, from the First Nations community, who entertain and share their traditions across the country. They sing in both English and their own native language. They have released compact discs as well. Their first was called, People of the Earth.

[Page 811]

We are the home of talented crafters, who craft everything from lobster traps to designer quilts. They craft proudly with their hands and tools to produce some of Cape Breton's finest crafts. Their shops are usually their homes and we see the result of their talents at many of the fairs throughout our area.

Recently, the community of Millville hosted their first ever Christmas craft fair. They spent a long time preparing and planning for this event and the first Saturday in November was a wonderful day for them. The opening went well, the buyers were plentiful. When they arrived on Sunday morning, full of excitement and enthusiasm for another day at the fair, shock struck them as they opened the doors of the old Millville School, now the community centre, where their fair was being held. Some person or persons had forced entry into the hall and had destroyed anything that could be destroyed. After their tears and consoling of one another, the crafters literally picked up the pieces and planned for another day, for another opportunity to make up for what was lost, to earn that much-needed Christmas money.

The Munroe Crafters are also a group of people interested in the development and preservation of the traditional crafts of rural Cape Breton. They share their skills and inspire others from their homes in Boularderie Island. One of the originators and leaders of the Munroe Crafters, is a wonderful, talented person, Mrs. Gavinna MacKenzie. Mrs. MacKenzie is the proud grandmother of Susan Trenholm and Kim Jardine, who work in the Premier's Office, where I am sure they are using their talents now, crafting in a whole new way.

These are but a few of the talented, warm individuals, who live in Cape Breton The Lakes. We are blessed with many people gifted in many ways. We have much to boast about but as you meet and talk to the people in this constituency, you sadly recognize that much of their spirit is being crushed, much of their hope is fading and their zest for the future is slowly becoming dismal. Many in our present government have only one response to the uncomfortable stories that can be told from our communities, and that response is to accuse anyone who brings forth the issues as being naysayers or doomsayers. The government's answer.

[4:30 p.m.]

Well, Mr. Speaker, the reality, whether government is willing to recognize it or not, is that the people in Cape Breton The Lakes are truly concerned and, in fact, becoming disheartened as they examine the realities of life in their communities. Our Premier, in his State of the Province Address, left one clearly with the impression that Nova Scotians should be proud of where we are; our made in Nova Scotia economy is thriving. The Speech from the Throne glibly glossed over the issues that are meaningful to the lives of our people, the people in Cape Breton; very little recognition. The speech lists local jobs and a strong local economy at the top of the priority list, then goes on to flaunt the government's deals with

[Page 812]

Michelin, the Bank of Nova Scotia call centres and ITT. How do these ventures help the economy of Cape Breton? How many jobs did these create for Cape Breton?

What this tells us is that this government's priorities are clearly ignoring Cape Breton. Where is the commitment to jobs? Our government recently did announce a job creation project in Cape Breton and we are grateful for that, Mr. Speaker, but when it comes to the economy of Cape Breton, people want some security in that economy; they want jobs and a future that will meet their needs.

As I talk to people from Blacketts Lake to Point Aconi and, indeed, all over the constituency, you hear the same sad realities of life without a job, you hear their pleas for help. Let me give you an example of a letter I received recently from one such individual - and I won't read the whole letter - "I am out of work and my E.I. benefits ran out over a year ago, and I still have no job. I am receiving $349.50 per month from Municipal social assistance, out of which I have to pay a mortgage payment of $262 per month, which is in arrears and I have received a notice of tax sale for my property . . . help me to find some work, even if it is only on a grant, so I can make my payments and save my home. I need a job . . . I have hung on until now by juggling bills, and making partial payments . . . my bills are piling up and I can no longer do this as mortgage and tax payments alone are $13.50 more per month than I receive.". This is what it is like for some people. He goes on; he talks about losing his phone and what else he has lost, ". . . if I don't get help, I will be spending Christmas on the street.".

How do we answer these people? What kind of hope can we offer? What do we say to people in Cape Breton? What do we say to the miners and the would-be miners who want to know why coal is not being mined to its full potential, why this government is not insisting that the federal government move forward with the development of Donkin as part of a three- mine Devco operation? What do we say to the Boularderie livestock producer who seems as if his only route is to sell all or part of his herd because of this year's drought? Drought conditions last summer, as we know, reduced the yield on forage fields, in turn tripling the cost to livestock producers. Indeed, what do we say to the produce farmers whose yield in some cases is substantially reduced? Offering them the opportunity to borrow money from the Farm Loan Board is not the answer for many of these debt-burdened farmers. They need real assistance.

What do we say to the small mill operators in Derby Point trying to survive while large pulp companies harvest beyond our capacity to grow? When will we have some real forest management in this province? When will we have a forest inventory, an inventory that encompasses everything from counting the trees to examining exactly what leaves this province? We need jobs. This looks like it could be a real job creation project.

[Page 813]

What do we say to the small inshore fishers and their communities like Point Aconi and Alder Point where the changes in the fisheries management policy have devastated their opportunity to earn a living, these people who spent their whole lives with the water and fishing. What hope are we offering them?

Some of these issues you say are federal issues, but when will our provincial government begin to stand up to the federal government on behalf of Nova Scotians? People in Cape Breton want their province working for them. What do we say to the real unemployed, the 25 per cent to 27 per cent who are devastated by the economic disaster of Cape Breton Island? Somehow this Speech from the Throne has forgotten these people, these people who suffer not only because of lack of or loss of jobs, but are also suffering greatly because of the increased costs for home heating fuels, increased costs for clothing, increased costs for electricity - all due to the unfair, regressive BST. People in Cape Breton The Lakes are waiting and they tell me they are waiting to hear how our Premier will fulfil his promise and remove this tax from home heating fuels.

The Speech from the Throne talks about a well-funded, first-class system of health care as being the cornerstone of personal well-being - a truly gripping statement, but what does it mean? What does that mean for health care in Cape Breton where we still hear stories of doctors continuing to leave, where health care reform has become health deform, where cuts are made without the supports that are necessary to secure our health care system, where consistently we see the move to a two-tiered health care system, where health care is no longer the dependable system we once knew.

What do we say to the daughter of an 87 year old who is pleading for help for her mother who requires continuous 24 hour care - care she cannot provide? What do we say to the mother who must wait days to secure a doctor's appointment for her sick children and she no longer has the option of outpatient services? What do we say to the sick person who is sent home from hospital long before he is healthy enough or able to care for himself?

What do we say to Shelly? Shelly is an 18 year old challenged high school student who lives in Leitches Creek. Shelly has some medical problems and one of them required her to receive treatment every six hours recently in our new hospital in Sydney. What were Shelly's directions? Well, she went to the hospital and received her first treatment; it was not a treatment that could be administered at home. After the treatment she was sent back home for her mother to drive her back in, six hours later, for her next treatment. That is how Shelly received her treatment for two days.

The Speech from the Throne did not consider these people or their concerns but, Mr. Speaker, these are real people with real health care problems.

[Page 814]

Education has been described by many as the key, the foundation, the most important activity in which we engage. Well, Mr. Speaker, this certainly is one area where the government should stand back and examine what we believe about education and what, in actuality, we promote. We have revisited, or the government has revisited, many areas of its curriculum and are to be complimented on the direction of their curriculum initiatives and the essential graduation learnings. The reference in the Speech from the Throne to the Grade 7 Mi'kmaq language course and the Grade 10 Mi'kmaq social studies course are excellent examples of these initiatives and I compliment the government on them.

Unfortunately, there is a downside. New programs, new directions, exciting initiatives are being promoted by this government but district boards, at least the district board in Cape Breton, is not able to carry out its mandate to implement these initiatives. They can't do the implementation properly or completely because the funding to support the changes is not forthcoming. With new directions and new programs, professional development, materials and resources are needed. The district in Cape Breton, a district of some 24,000 students, is in the 16th year of pupil decline, decline that relates directly to a decline in funding. Combine that with the $50 million cut from provincial grants to school boards and it becomes impossible to provide the kind of education our children deserve and require.

While there is not enough money for textbooks, for the implementation of new programs, this government found $45 million, interest-free, to indulge in public-private partnering and another $27 million to Michelin, and the list goes on.

In Cape Breton The Lakes we have a range of school populations, from small, rural schools like Alder Point and Mill Creek and Christmas Island, to larger schools like Coxheath, Dr. T.L. Sullivan and Riverview, all servicing our children with professional, dedicated teachers who meet the challenges of today's classroom with enthusiasm, hard work and, most importantly, caring.

Karen Finney of Mill Creek and Joan Clarke of Alder Point, Donna Rankin Neville of Robin Foote, Roger Gallant of Riverview and Larry Keil and Georgina MacNeil of Iona are all example of excellent teachers working on behalf of our students. In each of the 11 school communities that are a part of Cape Breton The Lakes, the parents want and demand an education that will challenge all students to develop their full potential to become confident, versatile, lifelong learners and thinkers.

[4:45 p.m.]

The parents of children from Christmas Island, to Westmount, to Balls Creek and beyond, want their children educated in their own communities. They want a system that provides every educational opportunity. These small communities have struggled and fought for years, to maintain their rural schools. As the funding decreases, the likelihood of that happening decreases as well.

[Page 815]

This government must address the funding formula if schools in Cape Breton are to survive. We in Cape Breton need other factors built into our formula. There is and to quote one of the senior administrators in Cape Breton, "a fatal flaw in per pupil funding which is widely known but consistently ignored. Per pupil funding assumes that costs of services are increased or decreased in direct proportion to gain or loss of each student.". We are hopeful that the formula will be addressed this year because as the three political Parties met with parents in Christmas Island and Boisdale during the by-election, the representative of the Liberal Party clearly stated that the would-be Premier at that time was totally committed to changing the funding formula, so we look forward to that.

This government to date has fallen short of its duty to equitably fund school boards. Equity will only be achieved when all students in Nova Scotia are entitled to equivalent programs and equivalent resources to provide these programs. Schools continue to try to be fund-raisers for things as simple as the bare essentials. On Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the Christmas Fair at Bras d'Or Elementary School, where John Astephen, Principal, the teachers and the community came together to promote and to have an excellent Christmas Fair, as many schools do. I had the opportunity to read to the children while the adults did the shopping, so that we could encourage lots of sales. Everyone enjoyed the day but I guess when you think it is a sad reflection of what we have to do in order to provide children with what we want them to have.

Recently this government released its policy on special education and it, too, is an excellent document. It is a document that addresses the issues and concerns surrounding special education in our province. Again, districts are not able to fund the programs and services necessary. Inclusion, a philosophy that should have been accepted a decade ago in this province is still unfunded. Mention was made of class sizes, team teaching, peer mediation, all issues my capable colleague and member for Halifax Fairview addressed, in light of them being old news in the education arena, zero tolerance for violence and conflict resolution are, to quote, topics "schools will have access and input into.".

This government may remember that the Nova Scotia Teachers Union organized and funded a conference for teachers and parents and students during March Break '97, where violence in our schools was the topic and recommendations were forthcoming. Does this government ever ask educators or ever ask the NSTU and teachers for their input into critical areas?

There are so many important issues in education in Nova Scotia today, yet this Throne Speech all but ignored the very thing that we so depend upon to create a society that is motivated and empowered. From pre-school to post-secondary, we must not only have a vision but a plan that will enable the government to meet the challenges of what lies ahead; a plan that is funded. Sadly, we did not see any evidence or any vision of that plan.

[Page 816]

Cape Breton wants leadership. They want their concerns listened to and responded to. They do not want the same old stories. This is not any fairy tale we are living; this is real life. Cape Bretoners want jobs. They want health care and education repaired. They want to stop the "Going Down the Road". A recent story in one of our local newspapers describes how the decline in the resource-based industries triggered an exodus that still continues in Cape Breton today. This is not acceptable.

In Cape Breton The Lakes we are blessed with many volunteers who work countless hours on behalf of people, young and old, in their communities. Volunteers who run breakfast programs with our schools, who lead Guides and Scouts and many youth organizations, volunteers who direct choral groups and bands, who lead and teach our young people in the many varied sports activities that flourish in Cape Breton. We have volunteers in our fire departments, Legion members who give freely of their time to our community and who always direct the Remembrance Day services with pride. I attended the Westmount service and the church service at Saint Adian's Church, a time to witness true commitment. Volunteers who visit the sick and care for the young, volunteers who run food banks and clothes depots, all contributing in a valued way to our community. Let me express my appreciation and thanks to them all.

As I draw my comments to a close - although there are many other issues to be addressed and I will attempt to do that in other ways in this House - my first opportunity to respond to a Speech from the Throne, as exciting as November 20th was, I must say I was disappointed. I looked forward to hearing how this government would revitalize our economy, relieve some of our tax burdens and commit to support and strengthening education and health care, how they would address the needs of Cape Breton, but I did not find that. The commitment we need from this government is not there. As a result, I will not be voting in favour of this Speech from the Throne. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to rise in the House of Assembly today to speak on behalf of my constituency and some of the items that have happened in the last four and one-half years and some of the items that happened prior to the last four and one-half years.

First of all, I would like to congratulate the new Speaker, Mr. Gerry Fogarty. I feel he will do an excellent job in the House of Assembly. I am pleased to see that he was appointed to that position. It is a special privilege for me to congratulate Mr. Russell MacLellan the new Premier of the Province of Nova Scotia. He is a man whom I greatly admire and trust will do an excellent job for the people of Nova Scotia and ensure that Nova Scotia's integrity is improved, as well as the economy in the next coming few years. I would like to also congratulate Dr. Ed Kinley who has been elected to the House of Assembly and sitting with the government caucus. I think he is a very valued asset to our caucus and I look forward to

[Page 817]

working with him very closely. I would also like to welcome Ernie Fage and Helen MacDonald to their respective caucuses and look forward to hearing some very spirited debates from both of them. Most of all, it has been an honour for me and a privilege to be nominated by Premier Russell MacLellan for the Deputy Speaker's position in this honoured Assembly. I can assure you I will carry out my duties to the best of my ability.

The thing that pleases me the most, actually, is to represent the people of the Eastern Shore, and I feel above all that is the reason I was elected here and to work for the people of the Eastern Shore to help improve the economy and to help improve their way of life. I have had many opportunities over the last four and one-half years to meet with my constituents and deal with them and discuss with them the concerns that they have had, and there have been many. I handle approximately 20,000 phone calls a year and write over 4,000 letters. So, I have touched base with most of my constituents and hope to touch base with them all before the next election.

I have also visited many church socials and suppers, volunteer fire department banquets and fund-raisers, community meetings, Legions and the list goes on and on. It is just really a pleasure to get out and see the fine people of the Eastern Shore and speak with them and hear their concerns and their suggestions on how we can improve our beautiful area. I would like to thank them for their continued support and the trust they have shown in me and the things they have supported me with over the last four and one-half years.

Eastern Shore is a very difficult riding to represent, mainly because of its geography. We have a long coastline ranging over 100 miles and it takes over two and one-half hours to drive from one end to another alone. It stretches all the way from Lawrencetown, including Lawrencetown to Ecum Secum, along the Marine Drive. Anyone who has not had the opportunity to visit the Marine Drive and see the beautiful scenery and the nice people in the area, I advise them to do so in the coming year. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Now, I have to get on to something that is a little bit less encouraging or was encouraging prior to 1993. In 1993 when we were elected, the province was on the edge of bankruptcy. We had high unemployment, the highest the province has ever seen. Story after story of mis-managed economic development opportunities. There are a couple that I am going to mention in my riding that really stand out in my mind and there are a lot more than this in just in my riding. The Canflock fiasco in Chezzetcook in the Chezzetcook Industrial Park where there are millions of dollars thrown away and guess what? The guy moved back to the United States with some of the money in his pocket, I am sure. Everybody knows that the Nova Scotia Diesel project in Sheet Harbour and that I do not believe has still been resolved and millions of dollars wasted again. The thing that was the most annoying of all, to the people in the Eastern Shore, was the past members getting up and commenting about the fantastic 300 jobs that were coming and the 200 jobs that were coming and the 100 jobs that were coming. Guess what? They never came.

[Page 818]

In 1993, when I was elected, I inherited a heck of a mess and one that needed a lot of attention and some special direction from myself and from the people of the Eastern Shore to change it. We have seen the Highway No. 374 which was touted as a new 100-Series Highway to connect Sheet Harbour to New Glasgow. Well, after millions and millions of dollars being wasted, there is no 100-Series Highway, the last section of the highway in Pictou County was never even built. The highway to nowhere, they called it. Actually, it is a very good highway. Even now the road is breaking up. This road was built just a few years ago. It is very unfortunate because it could have been an excellent opportunity to have another gateway to Sheet Harbour, a very beautiful community.

[5:00 p.m.]

When I was elected in 1993, Highway No. 7 or the main artery into Eastern Shore was a terrible mess. The biggest complaint I had during the election campaign was badly needed repairs although the past government had spent millions in the riding on roads. I do not know where they spent them. They sure were not on the roads of my riding but the money must have gone somewhere.

In the late 1980's they opened the Highway No. 107 extension. After every election they would come along, take the barricade down, work on it for a month; the day after the election they would close it down again. In 1988 they finally finished it and they got it up and going. The thing looked really good. After the first summer, guess what? Major repairs needed. The old section was opened in 1978 - 10 years earlier - to this day it does not need repairs. We are continually repairing the part from Porters Lake Exit 20 to the end of the road in Musquodoboit Harbour. It makes you wonder where the money went for the millions invested in the road.

Tourism in 1993 had the worst record in the Province of Nova Scotia. We had less than 1 per cent of the total tourism although repeatedly elected members would get up and say we are going to support tourism, we are going to make things happen. I guess they made things happen. Their speeches happened. Nothing else happened. The people were totally and completely discouraged.

Look at the Sheet Harbour Wharf which has been brought up here lately by the Opposition members and the Opposition members do not realize the infighting that is in that wharf. Finally we are getting it straightened out. It was so bad that people such as Scott Paper refused to come back to Sheet Harbour to work. Large shipping firm captains said, I will never come back here in this kind of irresponsible management. This was totally disgraceful. No wonder there were no ships coming in there. No wonder the facility and the millions of dollars were down the tubes. (Interruptions)

[Page 819]

Let's look at what has happened in the last four and one-half years since we have been elected. We have now some solid economic development happening on the Eastern Shore and it is coming from the private sector with private money. It is coming from innovation and it is coming from people who now have hope. They are seeing real results. A year and one-half ago I said in the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne that the only way the Eastern Shore is to grow and prosper is that the people have to contribute to their own future. I can tell you, they are doing that. They are doing exactly that and results are happening. They are happening because people on the Eastern Shore are making them happen.

I will just give you a few examples of things that have happened. In the Sheet Harbour Wharf there is a large wood chip terminal being placed there now and that was 100 per cent privately funded by Northern Fibre Terminal Incorporated and the Mitsubishi Corporation. They have invested almost $10 million in that facility. Again, it is entirely financed with private money - no guarantees from government, no big concessions, nothing. Guess what? They are employing 22 people directly on a project that will last at least 10 years and up to 120 other people who are supplying the product and doing the subcontracting work in the area. This is real job creation. Those jobs will be there for many years to come and it is real money being invested.

I talked earlier about tourism. The Eastern Shore has a tremendous success in tourism since 1993. I will just give you an example. In 1993, just after being elected, I sat down with the Seaside Tourism Committee which is a group that I value and trust their judgment very much. They were just starting to develop their program. We sat down at a table in one of the restaurants and were discussing whether or not they should invest in a brochure. The brochure was a small little brochure about the size of the piece of paper I have in my hand folded in three. Each of the members there - there were about 10 members - they were concerned about the $35 apiece they were going to have to pay for their advertising brochure for the whole year. That was in 1993. You have to remember you are dealing with a group of people who have no hope and have been led astray so many times that they are very cautious in the way they approach things. So guess what? In 1995, the gentlemen who was looking after one of the events that the Seaside Tourism Committee was putting on came to me with a whole stack of brochures on the Great Lobster Weigh-In, and there were two of them this time, not one. I asked him, you have lots of copies? He said yes, we have printed 2,000 copies and we will print 2,000 more if we need them and if we run out of those, we will print some more.

To get back to the first story, when they were talking the $35 apiece, they were only talking about printing 250 copies of the brochure for everything for the shore. Now that Great Lobster Weigh-In brochure that they printed several thousand copies of was only one of about five they did that year. That is only two years later.

Well, the Eastern Shore in 1994 led the province in tourism growth. It led the province in tourism growth again in 1995. In 1996 it led the province again. In 1997, in the early part of the year when it is normally dead, in January, our room sales were up by 45 per cent, in

[Page 820]

February up by 18 per cent, in March up by 20 per cent and April up by 56 per cent. As you can see, we have a success story going here that isn't propped up by phoney government promises or funds from the government. It is the people in the community who are really making the thing happen.

We have had a large number of new bed and breakfasts open, of all different sizes, but I can guarantee you they are all top quality. There are a lot of new tearooms that have opened, again, top quality facilities. We have had craft shops open, we have had new art galleries open and, at last, some of the artists on the Eastern Shore who have been doing such excellent work for years are finally starting to be recognized.

The beautiful thing about tourism is it adds to your environment, especially when you are dealing with tearooms and bed and breakfasts and craft shops and artists' galleries. They add to your environment, they improve your property value, they improve the things that you do and the quality of life in your community - that is so important - while, at the same time, creating employment. It is a win-win situation.

As all part of getting the tourism going, in 1994 I initiated the first annual Tourism Day, at which time I got everybody together to talk about tourism on the Eastern Shore. A lot of people had talked about it but really nothing had been done. We had quite an interesting meeting. A lot of people were very concerned and disillusioned and really not focused on the real problem, how do we make our businesses grow and tourism grow on the Eastern Shore.

That meeting lasted all day and there were a few heated discussions between some people in Tourism and some people in the local tourism industry. Both made some very valid points. In 1995 we again had Tourism Day and I thought I had moved out of the area. Everybody was working together, everything was very positive. As a result of our first Tourism Day, there was a 1-800 line initiated in the Province of Nova Scotia in the Department of Tourism for tourism operators to call the Department of Tourism at no cost. Now that makes a big difference to an operator who is outside, in a rural area, as compared to competing with one who is in the community, near Halifax or Dartmouth who can easily pick up the phone and talk to someone in Tourism. Those are the sorts of things that came out of our Tourism Day.

This year we had our fourth annual Tourism Day and they literally had to kick the people out of the hall to get them to go home, which is a really good sign. People are finally working together and tourism is really working. In a 1995 estimate, there was about $5 million growth in tourism on the Eastern Shore and over 50 new jobs created. I know that today, in 1997, that number has grown even more, both in dollars and in people employed. The best part of it is we have had only growth. We have had no business failures, every business is prospering and growing. Sometimes they are struggling but they are growing and they are growing with their own money, their own plans and their own ideas.

[Page 821]

Also, because of the Tourism Days and the work we have done with the Seaside Tourism Committee and the other tourism groups and the Board of Trade in Sheet Harbour have been very cooperative as well, we have really put together a better tourism package. We have a long way to go but we have come a long way, so we have to really build on that success and make it a lot more successful. We can still double or triple our tourism and not affect anyone else in the province except help them. I believe the province has really benefited and helped to get to the billion dollar mark in tourism because the Eastern Shore has helped it grow and has been a small part of that and I am pleased to say that has happened.

Some of the initiatives that have happened on the Eastern Shore, one of the oldest ones on the Eastern Shore is the Clam Harbour Sand Castle Festival. That attracts up to 20,000 people a year and is run on a budget of $1,500 and volunteers. Now that is value for the money and that is the kind of value we need to get. I want to congratulate the people that worked on that every year and wish them continued success for the future as this reaches its climax on into the future to help tourism grow. Another one that has been around for quite a while is the Old Fashioned Christmas that happens on the Eastern Shore where businesses open their doors and have people come in to see some of the wares and hospitality and that has been very successful.

The First Eastern Shore Lobster Weigh-in was actually kicked off here in Province House and was a great success. I am still trying to convince the Minister of Fisheries we didn't rig it when he lost the great lobster weigh-in to myself but I think that the organizers might have had a little hand in that anyway but we won't tell the minister about it.

We also have the 3-D Archery Tournaments that have been made possible through infrastructure money that was made available through the federal and provincial government. This has led to a world-class archery range that is fully wheelchair accessible, it is the only one like it in North America. It has attracted people from all over North America, as well as Europe. These are the kinds of things that we need to help, develop and proceed with. I can guarantee you for the $50,000 that went into this in infrastructure money, we probably got about $200,000 worth of value.

This year was the Second Annual Marine Drive Yard Sale in September. The first one was only on Highway No. 207 and only covered part of the Marine Drive. This time, we covered Highway No. 207 all the way to the end, the Head of Chezzetcook and from then on to Ecum Secum. We had over 600 sales points and over 200 kilometres of yard sale. The idea of the yard sale wasn't so much to have a yard sale but to get people to come to the Eastern Shore and see how beautiful it was and hopefully, they will come back and visit us again. Unfortunately, at that time I was away but the people tell me that the roads were totally blocked and that is a good indication that is was very successful.

[Page 822]

The Eastern Shore is also very well positioned for eco-tourism. The best part of the Eastern Shore is its unspoiled, natural setting. It makes it a prime location for kayaking tours, which have been very successful, we have the most successful kayak operator in North America on the Eastern Shore quietly working away. We have a lot of trails, a lot of fishing areas and a lot of people have gone there and it has been a well-kept secret. We are trying to open it up still and ensure that people can utilize it but maintain our beautiful pristine area. There is great bird-watching, recreational fishing, both fresh and salt water, hiking, kayaking, sailing, archery and so many other things.

The other thing we have, getting back to the private development, we have again had the Tangier Gold Mine open and this time guess what? It was 100 per cent financed by private investment. That means that the business will be there as long as it is economically possible. The previous company that operated there disappeared the day the government subsidies disappeared, it was strange about that. The Tangier Gold Mine has investors from different parts of the world and at the present day employs over 40 people in high paying positions. This has been a real, economic boom to the area.

Also, another boom that is going to indirectly affect the Sheet Harbour area is the Murchyville Mine in Tusket, operated by Tusket Mining. Hopefully, this will go ahead in the next year or so. It received the go-ahead by the Department of the Environment in October, 1996. With this operation, the gypsum will be trucked to Sheet Harbour and shipped from Sheet Harbour year round from the ice-free port, which will create a lot of jobs. Again, this has been funded 100 per cent by private money.

[5:15 p.m.]

I am going to put a little bit different twist on my presentation now. I am going to go back to the problems we had in 1993. In the Ship Harbour area there was an aquaculture demonstration site built, and at the time it was probably a good idea. However, at the time it was built the industry told the government, well, we are going to do this anyway and we have to do it to be profitable, but the government proceeded anyway and spent several hundred thousand dollars or more. I do not even want to guess how much money they spent, and realized as soon as they got it opened, they only opened, I think, for one year and realized that the industry was actually doing the work. They were in direct competition with industry, so they had to shut it down. This was before we came to power. So, we came to power, what are we going to do with this building? Beautiful facility, nice location, in a beautiful setting on the ocean, so what did we do? We decided, well we have to get some economic development out of this, so we put it for sale. We advertised it twice in the paper, actually twice and asked for proposals.

The original proposals came in; three or four proposals came in and none of them met the criteria of job creation and the value for the equipment and building that were there, so it went to tender again. The second time the tender came in, a local company, Aqua Prime

[Page 823]

Limited, who actually owns a mussel farm in the harbour there, put a good proposal in, guaranteed so much employment and offered a reasonably good price for the building. I might add too, that was costing the taxpayers, just to keep the building open and maintain it, approximately $150,000 a year with nothing coming out of it. We sold the building that was costing us money, received money for it and now we have as many as five full-time employees working in this facility. Not only that, but the company that bought the facility has added a two-floor addition that was larger than the original building. We got some more private investment in the area and a facility that is going to be there and a facility that will service the aquacultural industry right in that harbour. It is a win-win situation. (Applause)

The bottom line is that that aquaculture site is no longer costing the taxpayers money. It is making money in tax revenue. It is a nice change. It just goes in line though with what is happening in the province. The aquaculture industry in 1997 doubled production to $13 million with a target in the year 2000 of $50 million a year. It is right on line with what is happening on the Eastern Shore. Eastern Shore is helping this happen in a very planned and organized way. Again, there are a lot of really good people that have come and invested their own money and time to make this happen.

Again, I want to talk about the East Chezzetcook Industrial Park. I talked initially about this, the Canflock building. It is one of the biggest buildings on the Eastern Shore. Well, I think it is the biggest building on the Eastern Shore. I think it was $8.5 million invested in it by the last government to a company that vanished when the money dried up. So, I was faced in 1993 with a huge building, an industrial park with nobody in it, no hope to really having anything in it. There were three small businesses operating there.

I was approached one day by some local companies and they said, we need some space. I said, why don't you look at the space here. So, they did look at the building, they said, it is not really want we want, but we can live in the building. They said, well can we buy it? I thought well, let's see what we can do. I worked with the then Minister of the Economic Renewal Agency, Ross Bragg. We worked on the arrangement where the building could be lease purchased to the three companies and they would not own the building until they paid the last dollar to the taxpayer. No government grants, no government initiatives. On top of that, they would have to do all the leasehold improvements at their own expense, and if they did not pay the last dollar at the end of the term, all those leasehold improvements would belong to the province, no argument about it. Well, those three small companies that were originally there have now grown to 12 businesses with over 100 new jobs in that park with no government money. We also have three new buildings and, again, with no government money. This is real economic growth, and we are faced now with this park, we are running out of serviced lots and that is a good indication.

I want to talk about another success story in the area. We have a small - or it used to be a small - company, in Grants Cove in Sheet Harbour, called Dew Drop Gardens. It is a small operation, growing cucumbers and tomatoes. That is all they do. They are growing

[Page 824]

them through hydroponics. They have actually developed the technology right in Nova Scotia. If you ask anyone in the federal Department of Agriculture, they say it is not possible, but they are doing it and they have been doing it for 12 years. Today that company provides one-third of the tomatoes and cucumbers in all of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Last year it came to my attention that in Middle Musquodoboit the tree nursery that was supposed to be there, the tree-growing facility in Middle Musquodoboit, was going to be sold because it was costing the province thousands of dollars a year to maintain, never mind the millions of dollars they wasted building it. Well, it went out to tender and Dew Drop Gardens put in a tender to actually buy the facility, clean up the site and restore it to the original condition. They were the only bidder who offered to buy it. Everyone else in the past, with the past government, didn't want to buy anything, they wanted to get paid for getting rid of it and then get paid for the stuff they could sell off.

Anyway, they bought it at their own expense. It cost them a total of over $0.25 million of their own money - again, no government money - they cleared up the site to the satisfaction of the Department of Natural Resources. They erected the greenhouses, made major improvements on them and, in the midst of doing all this, created 12 new, permanent, full-time jobs. Now that is real job creation; that is job creation that is not aided by government grants and assistance. Those people will be there for second and third generations of the family. I would like to commend them for the fantastic job they have done.

While we are laying the foundation for future growth on the Eastern Shore, there has been some discussion about the Port of Sheet Harbour. Let me give you the facts on Sheet Harbour. I work with the people who were there, in existence, who were put there by the last government under a very mysterious, weird contract that they had, who were fighting with each other on a non-stop basis every day. A ship would come in and the inspectors would show up. If one company didn't get it, they would call the inspectors in the other company. It got to the point that it was so bad that the ships would not come any more.

We tried to get them together to work. They had two unions. They had the two unions so the unions could fight with each other, so they would always be going with each other. So we had a meeting. I sat down with the people, had a meeting, got the two unions amalgamated into one union, after one meeting. I can tell you, through all the adversities that have been with that wharf the whole time, that union has been the one shining light at that wharf, the only shining light, the people who want to get trained, the people who want to work and the people who will do whatever it takes to work.

However, the managers of the port at that time did a very poor job only because they fought with each other so bad, it was just non-stop. We tried everything; we got them together. There was some marketing money available, they paid into a fund and they couldn't even agree how to spend that. So, after going through this aggravation for two years, it was recommended that the management of the port be put out to a professional company. I would

[Page 825]

like to thank the former Minister of the Economic Renewal Agency, Mr. Richie Mann, for having the foresight to go ahead with this thing.

After the tenders went out twice, the only successful, the only person who really bid on the company, the only bid on the management of the wharf was Cerescorp, the only company. After the proposal came in, negotiations were put in place to get the port going. Finally, the wharf has an opportunity to reach its full potential, has a company in place that won't listen to the petty politics in the local community and will allow the port to go. It has the financial resources to put the equipment in place that is needed and also to attract the shipping firms that have been so discouraged in the past in working at the port.

The Bluewater Stevedore Union is ecstatic about Cerescorp taking it over and, right in the contract with the Province of Nova Scotia, they are the exclusive stevedoring union and the only people who will work on the wharf. I think this is a tremendous thing for the facility. It allows local labour to work and prosper at the wharf as the wharf grows and prospers.

In conjunction with that, Cerescorp has to spend $0.5 million minimum on infrastructure. Also, they have hired a professional marketing manager to market the wharf. They are doing a terrific job, but it is going to take a long time to overcome the adversities that were already there, with the arguments and the fighting that went on in the past. I am glad to see that that is gone.

In another area, this is something that in 1996 I talked about here in the House of Assembly before and I continue to talk to MT&T about. It is cellular service along the Eastern Shore. We managed to get a cellular tower put up in Musquodoboit about two years ago, a couple of years ahead of schedule, which was excellent. That allowed more cellular service and allowed for fishermen and tourists and business people and businesses alike, and general economic development to be serviced better. This work will continue. I have been continually trying to get the system upgraded all along the Eastern Shore, especially with the upcoming oil activities we are anticipating in that area. I continue to lobby MT&T in this regard.

One thing I've received a lot of criticism over in the last year and I guess you get criticism from people who do not live in rural areas and do not understand how important a banking machine is to a community that does not have one. I convinced the Bank of Nova Scotia in Sheet Harbour to finally put a banking machine in. There's a banking machine now in Musquodoboit Harbour, and there's one in Porters Lake. Guess what? They were not there in 1993.

If anyone realizes how tourism works and how it has to blend together, a banking machine, before the introduction of the INTERAC card, was critical. If it is a Saturday afternoon and you see some photograph that you would like to buy that was done by a local artist or a painting or a sculpture that was done and you find out that the local company

[Page 826]

doesn't have Visa or whatever and they have no banking machines, that's a sale that's lost in your community. If you can go to the banking machine, get the money out and go buy the product, that's money that stays in our community. So banking machines are very necessary. Anyone that thinks that that is not necessary in a community, I'll tell you take your banking machines out and see what happens.

That's the thing. The Eastern Shore was so far behind. In 1993 we had so far to go, that it was unbelievable. But we have made major strides. We'll look at one of the other things that through the infrastructure funding that we managed to get were the dry fire hydrants. Now anyone who lives in the city, it doesn't mean anything, a dry fire hydrant. But you ask a fireman - when it's 25 below zero and the ice is a foot thick and someone's house is burning down and they are desperately trying to get a hole cut through the ice to get a suction line in to pump water to fill a tanker to truck to a fire - how difficult and how important it is to have a dry hydrant.

A dry hydrant, so people will know what it is, is a hydrant that is set up and tied into a water supply, a lake, a stream or some other water supply that you can simply come with a pumper, hook up to the hydrant and pump water into a pumper or a tanker and transport it to a fire. If you are real lucky, you might be close enough to run hoses to the fire. That hasn't happened down in our area yet but I anticipate that it will. I believe we have got something like 15 new dry hydrants. This not only helps the firefighters, ultimately it will save some lives, it will prevent some property loss and it will help keep insurance costs down in our rural areas. It will also raise property values - that is important to our area - and help economic development and industry to come.

Another thing that has happened on the Eastern Shore is the sewage treatment plant in Musquodoboit Harbour that was put in place at the Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital that serves the hospital, the Birches nursing home and the high school. This is a $915,000 waste water treatment plant. In the past the water had been treated in a septic system and basically run into the harbour. This system was badly needed. Over a three year period there were many discussions held but after we finally got down with the design engineers and the people involved, in about a three month period we had the problem resolved in early 1994 and had this thing on track. I'm really pleased to see the province provided a substantial amount of money for this and the rest of the money was provided by the hospital and fund raisers that they did and out of their general budget.

I talked earlier about the highways, Route 7 improvements. In 1996 we had 10 kilometres of Route 7 paved from Route 357 in Musquodoboit Harbour to the Salmon River bridge. Well, I can tell you, if you drove over that road before it was repaired in 1993, it was a disaster. People were breaking springs in their cars, trucks had to go really slow. It was a real mess. Even though the previous government spent millions the year before, I don't know where they spent it, but it sure wasn't on Route 7. There was a $1.43 million project with asphalt resurfacing, new shoulders, gravelling, reditching, and the job was done properly. The

[Page 827]

roadbed was completely replaced in places and now the road, after two years, is still in excellent condition.

[5:30 p.m.]

In 1996 we had another 13.2 kilometres of road along Route 7 completed, another beautiful job done. We had work done this year on the Oyster Pond Bridge. The engineers told me they were afraid for years that they would get up some morning and there would be a big trailer truck down through the bridge. Fortunately that did not happen. We got the bridge replaced in time. That was almost a $350,000 project.

This year also we are working on the Musquodoboit Harbour Bridge doing some badly needed repairs and upgrading and resurfacing and painting on the steel structure. In 1997 we had a tender put out for grading and gravelling of a section of the Leslie Road in Lawrencetown, one that needed to be done for many years, another $100,000 project. Early in 1993-94 we had repaving done on the West Porters Lake Road, the Bellefontaine Road and a miscellaneous group of other roads through Lawrencetown; again, work that was badly needed.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of Route 7 to the people of the Eastern Shore. Route 7 is the only link we have with the outside world aside from the wharf in Sheet Harbour. The maintenance and improvement of this road is absolutely critical. There has been some discussion about the continuation of Highway No. 107. I can tell you, I think it would be a wasted effort at this point until Route 7 is brought up to standard. Until Route 7 is up to standard, and all our other roads are fixed such as the West Petpeswick Road, the East Chezzetcook Road and the many other roads that we need so badly repaired, it would be foolhardy to proceed with another major project that we cannot afford and cannot afford to maintain. So I think it is vital that Route 7 and the associated feeder roads be repaired and repaired properly as quickly as possible. I am working with our government to ensure that that happens.

The economic backbone of the Eastern Shore for many years has been tourism, fishery, forestry and the small business people that operate on the Eastern Shore and the families that operate there. I guarantee you I will continue to work to make more improvements along the Eastern Shore to ensure there is employment and well-being in our community.

The Sable Island gas project, it is hoped that a lot of work will come to the Eastern Shore and help the people of the Eastern Shore overcome the chronic unemployment problem they have had for many years. The whole community is very excited about this and looking forward to the 3,900 jobs that will be created and the direct investment in employment that will be created as well as the royalties the province will get and the economic spin-offs that will come from that operation.

[Page 828]

The potential of a liquid gas industry is unbelievable and I think the Eastern Shore is well positioned to take advantage of some of this opportunity. We have already had many companies interested in locating in the Sheet Harbour area to service the offshore with its natural port and ice-free facility. Thanks to Northern Fibre, the harbour has been recently dredged at their expense and will allow a lot larger ships to come in. There are many people who are well positioned on the Eastern Shore to take advantage of this. I would like to thank the Premier personally for taking an interest in the offshore gas project to ensure that Nova Scotians get the best bang for the buck. I know our Premier will provide that.

Another thing that I am really pleased to see that our government has done is the personal income tax cuts. The 3.4 per cent that hit in July 1997 was the first across the board income tax cut in the province's history. This puts a lot of money back in people's pockets and especially in my area where a lot of people are on low incomes. That means the money will be spent directly back in the economy rather than going to Ottawa or someplace else to prop up government programs.

The Direct Assistance Program has put money back in the pockets of many seniors in my area and helped them get through difficult times. The $12 million top-up to the Low Income Tax Reduction Program has been another bonus. Income tax and tax cuts in general mean more disposable income. More disposable income means more spending. More spending means a healthier economy. I can guarantee you a family with low income spends every cent they get so any money put back in their pockets is well spent. This is an indication of the good financial planning that this government has done and I am sure under the leadership of the Honourable Russell MacLellan it will be even improved beyond that.

I will talk about health care now, there has been a lot of discussion about health care. One thing that has always been said is that there are no doctors in a rural community. I can guarantee you in my riding I haven't had any trouble attracting doctors. I remember when the whole controversy started about doctors, there was one doctor leaving our community to go to another community in Nova Scotia. He put a little advertisement in the paper and wished all of his patients well, telling them he was leaving and that he looked forward to coming back some day. Right under his advertisement was another from the new doctor who was coming, stating that she was going to open her new practice. That has been a continuous thing, we have not had a shortage of doctors on the Eastern Shore and we have some of the finest doctors in the province for which I am pleased to see. I think the reason we can attract doctors so easily is our proximity to Halifax-Dartmouth and the high quality of life we enjoy on the Eastern Shore.

Sheet Harbour's hospital, Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital, was the site of one of the first tele-medicine pilot projects in the province which was very successful. Sheet Harbour is almost two hours from Halifax, so it was important that a project like this was put in place. Now not only did it help the local hospital, the doctors and the people in the community on a medical basis, but it also allowed a high-tech fibre optic line to go to Sheet Harbour,

[Page 829]

allowing access to other computer services that weren't available before. I can tell you in 1993 there were no computers in the hospital and schools on the Eastern Shore and what few were there in the areas of the western part of the riding, were ones that were donated by citizens in the area. Since then, we have put a lot more computers in the schools and improved the technology. We are still nowhere near where we should be but I am really pleased to hear the announcement the Premier made recently, that we are going to have a lot more computers in all our schools in the near future. Again, this was all possible from the tele-medicine project that went into Sheet Harbour.

The Eastern Shore participated in this and the hospital and doctors tell me it is a tremendous success. I look forward to this being rolled out province-wide and allowing the doctors better access to specialists, especially in remote areas. I know of a couple of incidents in emergencies where this really helped resolve some problems.

Another thing that is important in my area and I want to congratulate my government for having the foresight to do it is the air ambulance. An ambulance ride to the QE II Hospital from the Sheet Harbour area is about two hours in ideal driving conditions. Now, with the air ambulance in Shearwater, the trip is only 19 minutes and in a fully-equipped air ambulance with properly trained people. This has really saved lives already of the people on the Eastern Shore and I am sure it will save many more. I am very pleased to see the addition of the fixed wing aircraft which can't be used in my area directly but will free up the helicopter for use in areas such as mine on a more frequent basis, although we have never had a problem acquiring the helicopter while it has been in service.

It is nice to know that a doctor can pick the phone up and say, I need the air ambulance and I need it now and know it is coming. It must be really reassuring to the doctors, to the hospital and indeed, to the crew of the ambulance that would have to drive the long distance to Halifax. It is important that these initiatives go forward.

Another first in the Eastern Shore, which I was very pleased to be a part of, was the First Responder Program. I have talked about the First Responder Program in this House before and I can't stop talking about it, it is so important. The people in the community and the way it evolved was incredible. I basically had three fire departments out of six in my area that were involved in some emergency medical calls, but they did it on a volunteer basis. The other three hadn't been but when they all got together to discuss the problem with the Department of Health, which was an unbelievable, cooperative effort through the Department of Health, the actual comments from some of the fire chiefs were, are they really going to do that? Did they really do that? They just couldn't believe it because they never got that kind of cooperation before, ever, from anyone in government.

As a result of our First Responder Program, it is being rolled out province-wide. Many people have been saved, many people have been helped by the First Responder Program. The ambulance operators tell me it is one of the best things they have ever seen. It is nice to have

[Page 830]

someone come that they can rely on and who knows the local people and they can calm people down before they get there, can actually start some pretty advanced first-aid and assess the problem so they know what they have got when they get there. Response times have gone down, from as long as 20 minutes to an hour to minutes in some instances. This is something we really have to push and foster in the province. I would really like to thank the people from the Lake Echo Fire Department, the Lawrencetown Fire Department, the Chezzetcook Fire Department, the Musquodoboit Harbour Fire Department, Ostrea Lake and Oyster Pond Fire Department for their initiative and hard work they put into making this pilot project a tremendous success; also the Department of Health in their innovative approach in this regard.

I would also like to thank Metro and District Ambulance and Crowell's Ambulance who were an integral part of this whole process. Their foresight and hard work also made a tremendous difference. I would also like to thank the health care professionals in the Twin Oaks and Birches, and the doctors in our community. They were also an integral part of this whole process. As you can see, this was an integrated effort that never happened before, everybody helped everybody else and everybody won.

I am just pleased that I had an opportunity, as an MLA, to spearhead this and push it forward on behalf of my constituents and the people in my riding. This has put the Eastern Shore on the cutting edge of emergency response. The innovative things that these people have come up with have made a difference in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I also want to say a few words about the hospitals I have in my riding. The Twin Oaks/Birches Continuing Care Complex they call it now, is a place they call a place of caring and sharing. That is the motto they have in their nursing home, the Birches. I think that goes right across the board into their hospital. I want to give the administrator of that hospital, the board and the staff a tremendous vote of confidence. They have done an excellent job through health reforms and have actually been, again, on the leading edge of health reform in the province and helped set some of the standards for the province and the things that have been done in the province. I guarantee you, it is working, it is really working. We have an excellent staff, excellent people, community input, community fund-raisers who help us and it has just been a total success story.

This success story is now spreading to the Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital and Duncan MacMillan Nursing Home in Sheet Harbour. It is unfortunate that the Sheet Harbour operation did not have a chance to participate in the First Responder Program but I understand some of the fire departments now are actively pursuing that program and will be working with the hospital. I know the staff and the doctors at the hospital are very anxious to have that in place; it is a tremendous help for them.

[Page 831]

In conclusion, I would like to just close with a few remarks. Since 1993, we have been going through some really tough decisions in the Province of Nova Scotia. We have come from the edge of bankruptcy to a really healthy economy, one that has to grow a lot more, but one that has really come, 19,000 new jobs, really new jobs in Nova Scotia, a net increase. We are looking at a Statistics Canada Report this year that indicates that Nova Scotia will lead the country in new investment, 18 per cent this year. If anyone does not have any idea of what that means, that means new jobs, that means new investment, new building, new construction and a total new input in the economy and that is anticipated to come from the private sector. That means that people have faith in Nova Scotia and will come here to do business and that is what we need.

Nova Scotia is the undisputed leader in job creation in Atlantic Canada. That is a very impressive fact and that is one thing that people, I do not think, really realize. The unemployment rate fell to 11.6 per cent compared to 15 per cent in 1993, as you can see by the numbers in the investment. How has that been done? That has been done by no false promises, no more of this going into a community and saying we are going to put 100 jobs in here, and here is $1 million and when the $1 million is gone, the jobs are gone. You know, these things have to go. They have to go forward in a positive way.

Just in conclusion, it has been an honour to speak on behalf of my constituency here this evening, an honour to represent my constituents. I thank them for their support and look forward to their continued support as we make the Eastern Shore grow and develop. We have come a long way in four and one-half years, we have a long way to go. The future is optimistic and it is bright. We have the people working together on the Eastern Shore to turn the corner and the corner has been turned. We will have to work just as hard in the future to make these things grow and make a future for our families. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on behalf of my constituency.

[5:45 p.m.]

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand before this House today to deliver my response to the Speech from the Throne. It marks my third response and each time I can't help but be overcome by the faith and trust the people of Cape Breton West have placed in me. I want to give my heartfelt thanks to all the residents of Cape Breton West for giving me the honour and the privilege of serving as their MLA. I can't help but be humbled each time I think about it. I think what an honour it is to serve in this House with the members of my caucus and with all the members of this House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to do a very special thank you to my wife, Shirley, not just for her support but because she is as much the member for Cape Breton West as I am. We are a team and I could not achieve my goals if it were not for her. Along with

[Page 832]

Shirley, I want to thank the other members of my team, my children, Sandra, Jessica and Daniel, all who give up something in order that I may serve as the member for Cape Breton West. All those who serve in this House know the sacrifices that each of their families make in order for them to do their job here. I would like to extend congratulations to all the families of all the members of this House.

I also want to add my congratulations to the newest members of this House: to the Premier who now represents Cape Breton North; to Helen MacDonald, a fellow Cape Bretoner, from Cape Breton The Lakes; to Dr. Ed Kinley from Halifax Citadel; and last, but not least, I want to extend a personal welcome to my seatmate, Ernest Fage from Cumberland North, an excellent member, an important addition to our caucus and someone whom I believe will be bringing forward the needs and concerns of the people of his constituency for many years to come.

Mr. Speaker, over the last year there have been many very important individuals who have passed away in Cape Breton West, people who were important to their community and people who were important to their families. One such individual who comes to mind is a gentleman by the name of Tom Yetman who lived in the small village of Port Morien. Tom was a man who worked in the pit, he worked underground for nearly 50 years, a person who was active in his community, active in sports with the youth from the community. He served for many years on a hospital board, for health care for the people of his community. Tom Yetman was a hard worker, he was a lover of sports, a man who respected the youth of his community, a family man; in short, Tom Yetman was a typical Cape Bretoner. Tom will be missed by his daughters, his grandchildren, his friends and his community. I would like to honour him tonight and say how much I personally miss Tom's guidance and help.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to take this opportunity to extend to all the volunteers in our constituency the heartfelt thanks, not just from me but from all the residents, from the parents and from the many groups that these people are involved in. You know, when you live in a small community, volunteers are what makes it tick. In Cape Breton West and, indeed, in all parts of Cape Breton, we are very fortunate because we have a lot of people who spend a lot of time giving back to their community, group leaders in organizations such as Cubs and Scouts, Beavers, Brownies, Sparks, Guides, CGIT, Sea Cadets and, of course, the 4-H Movement.

There is another group of volunteers who can't go unrecognized. Those are the men and women who are involved in the volunteer fire departments throughout the constituency, people who are willing to put their lives on the line to save other people's property. Mr. Speaker, in my constituency we are fortunate because we have many volunteer firemen and firewomen and we have a number of departments. We have people from Donkin, Port Morien, Bateston, Louisbourg, Mira Road, Albert Bridge, Marion Bridge, East Bay, Big Pond, Howie Centre and Sydney River. Each and every one of those people do a service to their community every day.

[Page 833]

There are many others, too numerous to mention, who volunteer for their churches, for different organizations such as AA, Meals on Wheels, for seniors, and the list goes on. Although we can't name each and every one of them here, and I know that this list is not peculiar to Cape Breton West but, indeed, covers all parts of our province. I think we have to realize that without their efforts and without their deeds, our communities would be just a little less.

Mr. Speaker, what is Cape Breton West all about? Well, it is about people, it is about communities, it is about pride, it is about wants and needs in a community. It is about doing the best we can with what we have, and it is about realizing what the needs of the communities are and realizing that the needs are as diversified as the members of this House.

It has been said many times that it takes more courage to stay in Cape Breton than it does to leave. I don't necessarily believe that, Mr. Speaker. What I do believe is that Cape Bretoners are a special breed, they are a people who face the highest unemployment rate in our province, a people who share what they have with others, whether it be with Christmas Daddies or a family down the lane.

Cape Breton West is made up of miners and steelworkers and fishermen and lumbermen and teachers and office workers. You name the occupation, Mr. Speaker, and we have them living in Cape Breton West. Not only do you have all the normal and traditional occupations but we have a number of very talented people who reside in Cape Breton West, such as Tracey Dares, a great piano player who lives at Big Ridge or Allister MacGillivary who made the Mira a household word, not only in Nova Scotia but in North America. He lives on the Mira.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: He made John Buchanan famous.

MR. MACLEOD: Several members say that he made John Buchanan famous. Well, one thing for sure, Mr. Speaker, we made the Mira River famous because it is the longest river system in the Province of Nova Scotia, with a very proud heritage. We, the people who live around the Mira, are proud of it.

We have people like John Curtis Sampson from Donkin, a noted songster, or Scott Phillips, a country music singer who comes to us from Main-a-Dieu. That is just to name a few, Mr. Speaker.

Beyond talent, Cape Breton West can boast some of the finest tourist attractions in Nova Scotia, not in North America. Places like Louisbourg, Mr. Speaker, the home of the largest re-creation of a National Historic Site in Canada, one-fifth the size of what it was in its heyday, back in 1744. It is a place where people from all over North America and parts of the European continent come to visit, a place that is indeed a part of the crown of the masterpiece of Cape Breton Island.

[Page 834]

Louisbourg has much potential for tourism. Louisbourg has a harbour which is underutilized and forgotten about by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, a place where we could bring in more cruise ships so that they could come and visit the historical site, visit and leave very important tourist dollars behind. We have the ability in Louisbourg to bolster a community that has been hard hit by the downswing in the fishing industry, that saw its major employer close. We could do more to help develop Louisbourg and it would provide much needed and wanted work by the people in the community.

Then we can move on to Big Pond, another area that has gained some notoriety, mostly because of the singer, Rita MacNeil, her home where she was brought up and also her Tea Room, a place where people come from far and wide to sample the tea and the scones that are made in the kitchen there and the odd time you will actually find Rita serving the biscuits herself. There are the times, indeed, of the Big Pond Concert, a famous concert on Cape Breton Island going into its 26th year, where people come from far and wide for a day's entertainment and enjoyment.

There are other pieces of the jewel because Big Pond is located along the famous Bras d'Or Lakes and we have places like the Ben Eoin Beach, where people can come to swim and enjoy themselves. These are the things that help attract tourists to Cape Breton.

I mentioned earlier about the Mira River and we hear about it in the song, of course, but it is also the site of the Two Rivers Wildlife Park. That is a beautiful park that has survived, not with any thanks to the government of the day but because of the community spirit and the volunteers there. This government, if it had its way, would not have let that park go on and be successful but the people of the community took the rally cry and made it work despite the way this government treated them.

Mr. Speaker, I see that we are getting close to the moment of interruption. I would like to adjourn my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne and continue at a later day. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be adjourned at this time.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the hours will be from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. We will do the order paper and then go into Public Bills for Second Reading for Bill No. 7. After that is completed, we will go back to the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I would like to outline what the tentative plans are for next week. Monday we will sit from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Tuesday, possibly 1:00 p.m. or 2:00 p.m., to 6:00

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p.m. Wednesday, Opposition Day 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Thursday we hope to wrap up the Speech From the Throne. What happens after that we will have to let you know next week.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House now do adjourn to sit again tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m.

The motion is carried.

We have reached the moment of interruption, and as I indicated earlier there was a draw for a debate on the Adjournment motion. The draw was won by the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes who wishes to debate the matter:

Therefore be it resolved that this House establish an all-Party select committee to study the Sable gas deal, particularly the issue of natural gas liquids and make recommendations on how best to maximize economic benefits for Nova Scotians from the offshore.

Substituting for the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes is the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: SELECT COMM. - ESTABLISH

MR. JOHN HOLM: I am pleased to rise this evening to speak, albeit for but a few minutes, on the debate that is before us this evening. I hope during the course of the conversation or our discussion this evening that there will be an opportunity for the government as well to provide some very important relevant information that unfortunately to date has not been forthcoming.

As I begin, I think that it is extremely important that we remember that our offshore - and I say our offshore - is a matter that we have been talking about in this House and outside this House for many a year. I cannot remember when we first started to have the dreams about the wealth that was going to be accruing to Nova Scotians from our offshore, but it would be back in the 1970's.

From that period forward to the present, there have been great expectations as to the tremendous economic opportunities that are going to flow to Nova Scotia and to Nova Scotians as a consequence of our resources offshore. I say our resources and I keep saying

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our resources because they do not belong to any one political Party. They do not belong to the elected members of this House. It is not a partisan issue. It is not something that is a Liberal issue or a Tory issue or a New Democrat issue. It is an issue. It is something that belongs to all of the people of the Province of Nova Scotia and it is something that belongs to those future generations that are going to come here after us.

What we now in this House, we now who are privileged to be sitting in this Chamber, what we are entrusted with is an extremely important decision. That is, how can we best maximize for the benefit of the current, but also for future generations of Nova Scotians, that resource? When I am talking about maximizing I am not just talking about how quickly we can get it out of the ground. I am not just talking about how fast we can get something approved and get a pipeline built across this province so that the resource can be shipped out of this province.

I am talking about a way in which we can develop it in a sustainable manner that will enable not just the short-term jobs, as welcome as those would be, but to develop it in such a way that it will give a competitive advantage to Nova Scotian businesses and to attract other businesses to locate in this province, in such a way that we can have industries develop like the petrochemical industry that will create long-term good paying, secure jobs for your children, Mr. Speaker, if you have children who would like to work in that field, for my children and those of all other Nova Scotians.

That is what we wish. I think it is extremely important, since it does not belong to us as individuals, for us to have an opportunity to give Nova Scotians a chance to have a say in what they believe we should be able to achieve from our resource in the way of maximum benefits for the people of this province.

There has been a lot of discussion and we have had even some heated exchanges in this Chamber during Question Period. I am one who, I admit, have occasionally lost my cool a little bit and maybe some might suggest am a little bit too vocal or aggressive in the way that I have asked questions. When some of us do that, it is because we are extremely concerned about the future and frustrated with our inability to get information, to get answers, and finding ways to be able to involve Nova Scotians.

What we are suggesting here in this resolution is that it is not a Liberal, Conservative or New Democratic committee. We are talking about an all-Party committee to give Nova Scotians an opportunity to express their aspirations to tell us what they would like to see come from their resource. We are making, or the government is making decisions on their behalf without giving the Nova Scotian people an opportunity to express their opinions and without giving Nova Scotians the facts, without laying out for Nova Scotians what the options are and therefore without, I say - and I do not say this lightly - treating Nova Scotians with the respect that they deserve.

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Nova Scotians are not foolhardy, Nova Scotians are not interested in seeing us for a quick fix or for political gamesmanship, developing a Churchill Falls scenario here in Nova Scotia. That is not their aspiration. Their aspiration, as I said earlier, is long-term secure jobs. When you look at what is being done, when we see that the government is giving up its opportunity to challenge the panel decision in the courts, to channel the decision that even that panel when they pointed out that Nova Scotia failed, it did not have a vision, it did not have a plan to maximize economic benefits for the people of this province.

It does not set out anything in the way of a framework that is going to give Nova Scotians anything in the way of any kind of long-term meaningful toll preferential treatment. Guaranteeing us access to our own gas provides no protection for the coal industry, does not provide for or require that laterals be built to Cape Breton, for example, so that the gas could be useful and used to assist, for example, Sydney Steel. Those things were not laid out. Mr. Speaker, another area where they have, I believe, blown it, was, with the greatest respect to the Minister of the Environment who is a personable individual and a person in this House who I have a lot of friendship towards and I quite like on a personal basis and I call him a friend, but I still say he blew it. Because, quite honestly, the environmental regulations that are released by the government in terms of the approvals that were given do not contain within them the requirements that any set standards be met. Now, I hope I am wrong. I hope that the minister who is here, maybe he is going to speak tonight on behalf of the government, I hope so, but I sincerely hope that somebody will lay on the table what it is that the government is demanding that will be provided in the way of benefits for the people of this province.

You can be darn sure that companies like Mobil are not beating down the doors trying to give Nova Scotia greater advantages. They are not going to be giving up anything more than they have to, and if we weaken our negotiating position by giving everything away by granting all approvals before we get the benefits that Nova Scotia wants and that Nova Scotians deserve, Mr. Speaker, anybody who is involved in negotiations knows that you do not give away the farm before you go after what you are trying to negotiate. You do not try to set yourself up intentionally in a position of weakness.

Maybe the Premier has gotten commitments from his former friends from whom he has been cut adrift or he cut himself adrift in Ottawa. Maybe he has a commitment from the federal Cabinet that they have said that unless Nova Scotia is given the benefits that Nova Scotia wants and deserves, we will not approve the deal. Well, if the Premier has a commitment of the Prime Minister that they will not approve any deal that is not going to provide the benefits that Nova Scotia needs, if the federal government is going to bail them out, fine; tell us, and tell us what the bottom line is. How many jobs? How are you going to guarantee that there is a petrochemical industry? How are you going to be guaranteeing that Nova Scotia firms and businesses have the opportunity to bid on those contracts to provide for the offshore?

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Mr. Speaker, we hear an awful lot about the $3 billion project, but we all know that the vast majority of that $3 billion is not money that is going to be spent in this province.

We haven't even begun yet and you are telling me that my time is up. So this is certainly a matter that I will at some future occasion be returning to talk about. I sincerely hope, and I know that the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury will be speaking on the government's behalf, has because of his community, and rightfully so, a special interest in this project as well because in his area there is tremendous potential. What we need to have are the guarantees that those benefits will in fact accrue in areas like Guysborough where the unemployment is very high and where the jobs are very necessary and where there is a committed work force ready and willing to go to work.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, I don't think there is a Nova Scotian who is not interested in the economic benefits from this project. I don't think there is a Nova Scotian that does not understand that when you are into negotiations you do not play all your cards on the table and present publicly what the bottom line is until you have achieved that bottom line. I think Nova Scotians have demonstrated already that they indeed are benefiting from the Sable gas project, that they are able to compete with anyone else to secure the maximum benefits.

I want to highlight some of the accomplishments that have been done to date, leading up to the announcement and also the future development of this project. Starting in the constituency that I represent, several law firms have already been engaged to do some of the legal work for this project. Several of the smaller surveying companies have worked on the route for the pipeline. Several fishermen, who have retrained, have been involved in the environmental assessment work along the streams along the pipeline route. TGIS Computer of Canso has also secured contracts to do work for the Sable gas project. I have also been informed that several engineering firms, offshore service firms, surveying firms and supply firms from Port Hawkesbury have been and are engaged by the Sable project. So already economic benefits are accruing to parts of my constituency.

It is not only limited to Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and I want to give you a few examples where already Nova Scotia firms are benefiting from this project. I'll name a number. For Atlantic Canada, SNC-Lavalin is involved in the engineering work, Davis Archaeological Consultants are being hired. Land and Sea Environmental Consultants Ltd., again another Nova Scotia firm involved in this project. Dr. Paul Brodie of Halifax has been hired as a consultant. Canadian Seabed Research of Porter's Lake, another Nova Scotia firm, is benefiting from this project. Envirosphere Consultants of Windsor, again another Nova Scotia firm. Norval Collins of CEF Consultants of Halifax, again another Nova Scotia firm.

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There are many others and I'll give another example. Elsag Bailey (Canada) Inc., which now employs between 18 and 20 people, will be involved in some of the work for this project and many others. The construction of some of the bases for the offshore project are happening just across the shore in Dartmouth. These are to name a few examples of some of the projects that are now underway.

In my reply to the Throne Speech, I indicated that our area has had a proactive approach to the Sable gas project. It is right that this is important for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury because of the unemployment situation in our constituency. I think the people of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury also realize that, although the Sable gas project will have a major impact, it's also been recognized by people throughout the constituency that the Sable gas project itself is not the panacea to solve all of our problems. They see it as a seed, the seed to future industrial growth.

How is the area trying to maximize to prevent potential industrial and also economic spin-offs? Both RDAs mentioned earlier, the Strait-Highlands RDA and the Guysborough RDA have held, throughout the area, numerous workshops which have brought in engineers, consultants, construction firms, business people to understand the bid process for the Sable project. Many of them will have already registered their intention to bid on this project.

They have held information sessions for the citizens of the area so they would know what some of the job opportunities are. One of the RDAs has completed a skills inventory of all of Guysborough County, identifying the skills, cataloguing what are the potential jobs and linking those up with the proponents. The Sable Advisory Committee has met over the last year and a half to meet with the proponents, meet with the communities, again with the intention of identifying the potential spin-offs of this project.

[6:15 p.m.]

There have also been 91 meetings by the review panel, involving over 1,537 persons; 39 community meetings involving 2,243 people; mailing lists have involved over 10,000 people; the development of a 1-800 line to which 422 people responded and a telephone survey which involved 2,500 people. So during the joint panel review, the 20 information sessions, the 1,270 exhibits of over 12,000 pages of transcripts and 56 days of hearings, Nova Scotians have, indeed, had an opportunity to comment on this project, what their expectations will be and where they hope the project will go. This project will have a significant impact on Nova Scotia. The project overall, during its development phase for materials, will provide over $341 million of benefits during the production phase which is expected to cost $700 million.

I can go on to break down the other costs associated with this project but I think it is important to stress, as the Premier has said time and time again in the House, that negotiations are underway, that it is his intention to get the best deal possible for Nova Scotia. I certainly

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do support the development of a petrochemical industry and, hopefully, that will be somewhere within Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

There are many opportunities that present themselves in my constituency because of its geographical assets. I could spend a great deal of time talking about the Strait of Canso, which is world renowned as one of the deepest ice-free ports in North America. We have excellent port facilities on both sides of the Strait, with one of the deepest wharves in the area at Mulgrave. In that community they have not waited for the government or others to do something for them. The business community has got together, has met with some of the proponents - and I have discussed this project with them - and they are promoting their area. Again, it is the entrepreneurial spirit which is looking at the Sable project, looking at the economic benefits and then going out and competing against the world.

As I mentioned earlier, we have companies in the Strait area that competed against the world in building the fixed link. They have proven that we can compete and we can produce a quality product, whether you are talking about the Strait area, ports throughout Guysborough County, the deep harbour in New Harbour or any of those throughout the constituency, we do have the ability to offer the physical setting. I mentioned the other day the large reserve at Port Melford, which has drawn a great deal of interest. It is important for Nova Scotians to understand the project and to look at the potentials and then identify those within their area that can take advantage of those potentials.

I believe the proactive role of the people in my constituency, the involvement of the municipal leaders, the RDAs and the work they have done over the last year and a half will stand them well. I am also confident that the Premier, in his negotiations, will get the best deal for Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, tonight we are debating this resolution from the New Democratic Party and it is very similar to the resolution that the Leader of the Opposition introduced some days prior to the NDP introducing theirs. Anyway, the operative section is:

Therefore be it resolved that this House establish an all-Party Select Committee to study the Sable gas deal, particularly the issue of natural gas liquids, and make recommendations on how best to maximize economic benefits for Nova Scotians from the offshore.

Mr. Speaker, I can't help but tell you how important this resolution is. Truly, Nova Scotians have a great lack of knowledge about natural gas. Members of this very Legislature have a great lack of knowledge of what is involved in the gas industry and what the potential could be for developing jobs in Nova Scotia. The job creation potential from natural gas is limitless. But we do not have to reinvent the wheel in Nova Scotia, we can look to the

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Province of Alberta and see what befell them in their development of the oil and gas industry over the years.

When the oil and gas industry began in Alberta, the liquids were all exported mostly to other already established facilities, some of them in Ontario. Peter Lougheed arrived as Premier and said look, I am tired of Albertans exporting jobs in the natural gas pipeline, we are not doing that anymore. If you want to drill, to explore and you want our gas, you are going to do your refining of the liquids in the Province of Alberta. You are not allowed to send the liquids out of this province.

There is confusion and misunderstanding about the natural gas liquids. I am not an expert, I don't know anything about it at all. But I have tried to learn and understand the potential and some of the mistakes and errors that we have been making in Nova Scotia.

If I can refer you to the hearings that were held at the hotel by the Joint Public Review Panel, this document that I am holding here. I was at the hearings on many occasions but on one occasion, if I can quote from one of the sections, the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources for Nova Scotia, Mr. Hogg, was questioned and the question was, "Mr. Hogg, I would like to move to the subject of gas liquids. Can you tell me if the ethane will be shipped with the gas or separated out?". Mr. Hogg's reply, "In a general answer to your question, all of the liquids would be shipped across the Strait to Point Tupper. . . . The ethane will be part of what is shipped to Point Tupper? MR. HOGG: That is my understanding.".

Gas underground isn't just gas, there is gas mixed with water and all kinds of methane, ethane. The ethane is the most valuable part of the gas liquids because that is where the plastics that makes things like your telephone, the bumpers for your car, the whipping cream that you sometimes see on desserts, it makes lipstick, perfume, you name it. It is coming from the natural gas liquids. We in Nova Scotia deserve to have those jobs from the natural gas liquids right in our province. However, the spokesman for the gas company, Mr. Connell, indicated that ethane is going to be shipped out of the province, it is not going to be here.

Mr. Connell said, the partners in the $2 billion Sable Offshore Energy Project are convinced there is just not enough natural gas and accompanying liquids to justify a spin-off industry. We will be marketing quality gas as well as quantity. The quality will come from the higher heat values of the Sable gas which will be mostly methane with virtually all of its valuable ethane left in the stream, as well as some propane. Mr. Speaker, everybody knows you have to take out the liquids. In Alberta they found out after they were in the industry for a few years because that is where the jobs are.

We heard the member for Guysborough-Port Hweksbury and he listed off all of the contractors, the law firms, the engineering firms and even the restauranteurs who are making money from the project already, and it has not even begun. So you can see what will happen if we really have a gas industry in Nova Scotia. Untold jobs will be created, but we must set

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the ground rules or it is no deal. I am very much afraid because the Premier, right in this very Chamber a week ago, said the ethane is going with the gas to Boston because it burns higher. It makes the gas a whole lot more valuable and you can also take the ethane out of it when it hits Boston. That is exactly what could probably be done; I am very concerned.

When the gas comes ashore they have a bunch of towers and pipes and all those things that separate the natural gas from the liquids. When you are constructing the stripper at Goldboro, if, on the initial day of construction you do not install the ethane stripping portion of that facility, it is going to be very difficult and very expensive to do it at a later date. That would be a tragedy. If when the industry is in its infancy some of the propane and the ethane is shipped off with the gas to Boston, that is one thing, but if we have no potential, as is presently forecast, to remove at a later date the ethane and the propane, then we are truly missing the boat when it comes to the natural gas spin-off industries.

The Minister of Natural Resources announced some many months ago that there was going to be a special committee set up to look into the methane and the urea fertilizer factory and so on. That is fine; look into those things. I can tell you now that the fertilizer end of it is fine and dandy. We do not have the demand in Nova Scotia for fertilizer that would be produced; it would all have to be exported. It is big, it is heavy, it is bulky and it is really not a high value. The study is probably going to come back and say this is not really the best place to be making chemical fertilizer from our natural gas, so they will say it is not worth doing. That is true, but the ethane is a different gas altogether. That is the basic building block of the petrochemical industry and you cannot allow the Government of Nova Scotia to agree to or sign any deal that forever and a day permits the ethane to be taken from our province.

If you think that our province really does not have any clout or influence when dealing with the large multinational companies, just remember a couple of years ago when the petroleum producers in Newfoundland decided that Point Tupper in Nova Scotia was the ideal location for the transshipment and assembly point for their gas and oil that they are hauling out from Newfoundland. Bring it to Nova Scotia, make it in a bigger tank and then the huge ships can take it and go anywhere around the world. Well that makes perfect economic sense because the wharf is there, the facilities are there, and it is just a great idea, but the Premier of Newfoundland said, gentlemen, there is no way the transshipment point is going to be anywhere but in Newfoundland.

So, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, the transshipment point is going to be in Newfoundland rather than in Nova Scotia, because the Premier said they were not losing the jobs. So you can tell, from that little example of that small Province of Newfoundland, the clout, the influence and the power that the Premier of the province has, to really generate the best possible deal for the taxpayers. I know our Premier also wants the best deal for the taxpayers. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]

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NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 304

By: Mr. Raymond White (Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury)

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

Whereas eight students: Cheryl Kawaja, Elisa Conner, Nicole MacDonald, Natalie MacKeigan, Amie MacDonald, Cara Dawson, Erin MacIntyre, and Janine Goyetche are attending SAERC; and

Whereas after three years of hard work these Grade 11 and Grade 12 honours French immersion students have completed construction of an environmentally friendly electric race car; and

Whereas they are seeking corporate sponsorship to finance a trip to the Arizona Public Service Electric 500 in Phoenix;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to these young women for completing this incredible project and wish them every success in their future endeavours.