Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

La Chambre s'est ajournée le
26 octobre 2017

Hansard -- Tue., Dec. 9, 1997

Sixth Session


Agric. - Newsletter and Progress Report, Hon. E. Lorraine 957
No. 17, Wilderness Areas Protection Act, Hon. W. Adams 958
Res. 346, Nat. Res.: C.B. Coal Industry - Debate (10/12/97),
Mr. A. MacLeod 958
Res. 347, Fin. (Can.) - Social Deficit: Fight - Money Use,
Mr. R. Chisholm 961
Res. 348, Devco - C.B. Coal Industry: Future -
Efforts (Premier) Support, Mr. R. MacNeil 962
Vote - Affirmative 963
Res. 349, Fin. (Can.) - Budget Cuts: Effect Disproportionate -
Convince (Premier), Dr. J. Hamm 963
Res. 350, Gov't. (N.S.): Declarations - Inaccurate, Mr. J. Holm 964
Res. 351, Fin. - HST: Removal (Prov. Element) -
Policy Adopt (P.C. [N.S.]), Mr. B. Taylor 964
Res. 352, Fin. - Budgets Balanced: Conclusions (Min.) - Clarify,
Mr. R. Russell 965
Res. 353, Premier - Info. Update: Brother (Peter) - Use, Mr. J. Leefe 965
Res. 354, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Marine Atlantic HQ:
North Sydney - Support, Ms. Helen MacDonald 966
Vote - Affirmative 966
Res. 355, Health - Commun. Bds.: Legislation - Introduction,
Dr. J. Hamm 967
Res. 356, Health - Northern (N.S.): Cancer Care (Screening Van) -
Fund, Mr. E. Fage 967
Vote - Affirmative 968
Res. 357, Agric. - Drought: Consequences - Assistance Provide,
Mr. G. Archibald 970
Res. 358, Fin. - HST: Families - Hardship Acknowledge, Mr. R. Russell 971
Res. 359, Stephen Maltby (Amherst): Towler CA of Year Award -
Congrats., Mr. E. Fage 972
Vote - Affirmative 972
Res. 360, Devco - Donkin Mine: Dev. Plan - Urge, Ms. Helen MacDonald 972
Vote - Affirmative 973
Res. 361, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwys. (TC): Rest Areas Absence -
Consequences Recognize, Mr. B. Taylor 973
Res. 362, DND - Helicopters: Replacement - Failure (Gov't. [Can.])
Apologize (Premier), Mr. D. McInnes 974
Res. 363, Commun. Serv. - Social Assistance: Reform -
Focus Groups Stop, Mr. A. MacLeod 974
Res. 364, NSP - C.B. Coal Industry: Future - Meetings (Premier) Use,
Mr. J. Holm 975
Res. 365, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty: Premier
(First Ministers' Meeting) - Action Urge, Mr. G. Moody 976
Vote - Affirmative 976
Hanscomb Report, Benchmark Study for Nova Scotia Schools,
Hon. R. Harrison 977
No. 18, Lunenburg Common Lands Act, Mrs. L. O'Connor 977
No. 93, Nat. Res. - Coal: Imported (NSP) - Devco, Mr. A. MacLeod 978
No. 94, Econ. Dev. - Dynatek Head Office: Move - Explanation,
Mr. R. Chisholm 979
No. 95, Human Res. - QE II Health Sciences Ctr.: NSGEU Employees -
Roll-Back, Dr. J. Hamm 981
No. 96, Econ. Dev. - Sable Gas: Secunda Marine -
Base (Dart.) Funding, Dr. J. Hamm 983
No. 97, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Orenda Aerospace - Loan, Mr. J. Holm 984
No. 98, Educ. - Schools: Construction - List Release, Mr. E. Fage 986
No. 99, Educ. - Post-Secondary: Fin. Assist. - Commitment,
Mr. E. Fage 987
No. 100, Commun. Serv. - Social Assistance: Reform -
Consultations Change, Ms. Helen MacDonald 989
No. 101, Fin. - HST: Agreement - Withdraw, Mr. R. Russell 991
No. 102, Commun. Serv. - TAGS Prog.: Curtailment - Plan,
Mr. J. Leefe 992
No. 103, Educ. - Horton H.S. (Kings Co.): Cost Increase
Authorization - Documents Table, Ms. E. O'Connell 993
No. 104, Nat. Res. - NSP: Coal (U.S.) Importation - Necessity,
Mr. B. Taylor 994
No. 105, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Negotiations - NSP Participation,
Dr. J. Hamm 995
No. 106, Educ.: Horton H.S. (Kings Co.) - Air-Conditioning,
Mr. G. Archibald 997
Mr. G. Archibald 999
Mr. R. MacNeil 1013
Mr. J. MacEachern 1021
[Debate Adjourned] 1040
Committee on Law Amendments, Hon. A. Mitchell 1040
Committee on Law Amendments, Hon. A. Mitchell 1040
Mr. J. Holm 1041
Adjourned debate 1051
Housing & Mun. Affs. - Co-op Housing: Administration -
Transfer Prevent:
Dr. J. Hamm 1053
Ms. E. O'Connell 1055
Hon. G. Brown 1057
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Dec. 10th at 12:00 p.m. 1060

Sixth Session


[Page 957]


Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Sixth Session

1:00 P.M.


Hon. Gerald Fogarty


Mr. Keith Colwell

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. At this time I would like to call into session this sitting of the House of Assembly for Tuesday, December 9th, beginning with the daily routine.




MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the first edition of the Department of Agriculture and Marketing's newsletter and progress report.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.




[Page 958]


Bill No. 17 - Entitled an Act to Protect Wilderness Areas in Nova Scotia. (Hon. Wayne Adams)

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


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


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

Whereas all responsible Nova Scotians recognize that the coal industry is an important component of Nova Scotia's economy; and

Whereas yesterday the MacLellan Liberal Government refused to debate the coal industry on Cape Breton Island and the serious situation at Devco; and

Whereas Liberal Premier MacLellan admitted yesterday that (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I want to listen carefully to this notice of motion.

MR. MACLEOD: Whereas all responsible Nova Scotians recognize that the coal industry is an important component of Nova Scotia's economy; and

Whereas yesterday, the MacLellan Liberal Government refused to debate the coal industry on Cape Breton Island and the serious situation at Devco; and

Whereas Liberal Premier MacLellan admitted yesterday that, "we don't have any long-term plan for the coal industry on Cape Breton Island";

Therefore be it resolved that with the consent of this House, this House be called tomorrow at 12:00 noon and the first two hours before we get into the normal sitting of 2:00 p.m. be used for debate on the Cape Breton coal industry.

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

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

[Page 959]

I would like to say, it seems to me a little unusual that a request for an emergency debate should come in a notice of motion. That is not the usual procedure that must be followed in a request for an emergency debate. It does not come in a notice of motion. It has to be presented in a motion, an intention, a notice of intention, if you like, under Rule 43. I don't think that that notice of motion can be accepted with that request for an emergency debate presented in this fashion. It is out of order.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Yesterday, I listened to the resolution and I did not hear any reference to an emergency debate. It's a debate. I think I make reference to an offer made by the honourable Government House Leader, in this place last night, that time could be made available on Wednesday from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. to debate this very important question.

This resolution is merely a follow-up to an invitation by the Government House Leader to do exactly what this resolution refers to. All the resolution asks is the House to affirm this resolution to direct, therefore, the Government House Leader to do what he offered to do last night, and to make those two hours available for this very important debate.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Yesterday, during the debate, I did suggest that we would call the House at 12:00 noon with the agreement of the House, until 2:00 p.m. on Opposition day, not for an emergency debate because that is against the Rules of the House, but for a special debate tomorrow. As Government House Leader, I agree with that, to begin tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: With respect to the honourable Government House Leader, that proposal would it not have to be placed on the order paper again? I am just trying to adhere as best as I can to the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly. I have no difficulty with the spirit, shall we say, of this notice of motion that has been presented. I am concerned that the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House be followed as best we can, that is my concern.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Clearly, the Government House Leader has made an offer and if all Parties agree that is fine. But this notice of motion, as you said, is out of order, it should be out of order and then we have consent to meet here tomorrow, let's go ahead and do it. But on this notice of motion, you have ruled it is out of order. Whether it is or it is not, I can tell you, it is not going to get unanimous consent anyway.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I don't know if you have a copy of the resolution or read the resolution and I presume that you have. I would suggest that perhaps the feelings of the House should be ascertained and if the House is in unanimous agreement that this debate should take place tomorrow at the hour of 12:00 noon, that we can proceed.

[Page 960]

MR. SPEAKER: I have looked more carefully at the notice of motion and the word, emergency, does not appear and I will point that out to all honourable members. "Therefore be it resolved that with the consent of this House, this House be called tomorrow at 12 noon and the first two hours before . . . the normal sitting . . . be used for debate on the Cape Breton coal industry.". Under those conditions, and I have also consulted further and received more advice on this notice of motion, I feel that it is in order in its present form and the request was for waiver of notice. I feel that since the request was there we must proceed with the request for the waiver of notice which requires unanimous consent.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The notice is tabled.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I just want to make a brief point here. I just want to clarify what happened with that notice of motion because if it was tabled, that means it is not available for debate but if it was carried, in other words, the operative clause in there which said we would have a debate on that resolution tomorrow at 12:00 noon, then it will be there. Otherwise, if it has been tabled, that resolution is no longer available to be debated.

MR. SPEAKER: Perhaps there was a little misunderstanding on the request for waiver of notice and I would request again that there has been a request for waiver of notice on this notice of motion which requires unanimous consent.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. When this notice of motion was originally called for unanimous consent of this House, there were no Noes, it was passed, it was carried.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been pointed out to me and I respect the advice that I was given that there was a slight departure from the norm when a notice of motion is requesting waiver and I didn't quite follow the wording that should be there. There might have been some confusion here and I accept that, that there was a departure on my account. When the request for waiver of notice requires unanimous consent, when I put that, I did not get it now as I

[Page 961]

requested whether there was unanimous consent, I heard several Noes. So then I must state that the notice is tabled.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I want to comment, with all respect, that I honestly believe that you prejudiced the vote by commenting that you found the motion to be out of order before you called . . .

MR. SPEAKER: You are out of order. You are very close, honourable member, to showing disrespect for the Chair. I would strongly advise you to say no more on this; you are very close to being out of order and showing disrespect to the Chair.

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, with all respect, you asked for the vote after you made the comment on the resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: I am going to grant a little latitude to you, honourable member, you will take your seat, honourable member. We will continue with notices of motion.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I want to clarify this, I think that what we have is an agreement by the House to debate the issue of the coal industry tomorrow. The question is, what are we debating? The resolution is now gone, I think, so what I would suggest is that the agreement for debate tomorrow is the future of the coal industry in Nova Scotia, just that.


MR. SPEAKER: There seems to be no disagreement on that topic.

MR. CHISHOLM: I just wanted to clarify that then.

MR. JOHN HOLM: So there is a debate tomorrow at 12:00 p.m.?

MR. CHISHOLM: There is a debate tomorrow at 12:00 p.m.

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


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

[Page 962]

Whereas while the MP for Cape Breton The Sydneys, now the Premier, sat as a Liberal MP in Ottawa, the Liberal Government he supported cut $7 billion in transfers to the provinces for health, education and social programs; and

Whereas that same Liberal Government is now trying to pretend that it is re-investing in health, education and social programs by announcing for the third time in six months that it will not carry through in 1998-99 with planned cuts that would have brought the federal transfer reduction to over $8 billion; and

Whereas it is clear that real federal reinvestment, not a financial shell game, is needed to restore health care, education and the social safety net in have-not provinces like Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House calls on Finance Minister Paul Martin and the federal Liberal Government to stop trying to fool Canadians and, instead, begin to fight the social deficit by putting some real money back into health, education and social programs.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.


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

Whereas the Cape Breton Development Corporation has long been the economic lifeblood of industrial Cape Breton, providing many high-paying jobs and creating economic spin-offs that benefit the entire community; and

Whereas the future of many Cape Breton communities depends on a viable coal industry; and

[Page 963]

Whereas the difficulty of providing a stable supply of Cape Breton coal to Nova Scotia Power has once again raised concerns over Devco's future;

Therefore be it resolved that this House unanimously support the Premier's efforts to impress upon the federal government the need for a long-term plan for the Cape Breton coal industry in the upcoming First Ministers Conference in Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


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

Whereas the Premier will be heading to familiar territory on Thursday, as he heads to Ottawa with other First Ministers; and

Whereas this is a wonderful opportunity for the Premier to undo much of the havoc and damage he helped inflict on Nova Scotia while a member of the Jean Chretien Government; and

Whereas the Premier, whose last visit to the nation's capital resulted in a snowstorm and a stock market crash but not a single benefit for Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier made a concerted effort to convince his former government colleagues that their budget cuts have disproportionately hurt Nova Scotia and that he demand his former colleagues positively respond to his about-face on federal cuts impacting on Nova Scotia and, further, that he warn the residents of Ottawa to brace for yet another snowstorm.

[Page 964]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.


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

Whereas the Premier, in his rush to meet his priority of getting his picture in the press in a positive light took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Tecsult Eduplus of Dartmouth; and

Whereas reminiscent of Boris Yeltsin's gaffs in Sweden recently, the Premier's PR folks were kept busy correcting the Premier's mistakes by explaining the Premier really meant to say 2 jobs, not 50 jobs, were being created; and

Whereas the Premier thought government money was invested in the project but did not know how much, only to be later advised no government money was infused;

Therefore be it resolved that the caption in today's Mail-Star, "MacLellan's job bonanza bit of a bust", points out the Premier's latest faux pas and could apply equally to many more of this Premier's and Liberal Government's public declarations.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.


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

Whereas consumers and retailers in Prince Edward Island are benefiting from the Tory Government's responsible, compassionate and important decision to remove the 10 per cent sales tax from clothing and footwear; and

Whereas the essentials of life, home heating energy, children's clothing and footwear, electricity and school supplies are being nailed with the regressive Savage-MacLellan BS Tax; and

Whereas the Savage-MacLellan Government's 15 per cent BST in this province is really hurting Nova Scotia consumers;

[Page 965]

Therefore be it resolved that the government adopt the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative policy on the BST, namely that the provincial portion of the BST be removed from the essentials of life.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.


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

Whereas the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce has announced the Minister of Finance will address a luncheon gathering on January 8, 1998, to outline Nova Scotia's Economic and Fiscal Outlook for 1998; and

Whereas the notice reads, "Hear about some of the challenges facing him as he plans for a third balanced budget"; and

Whereas according to Nova Scotia's Auditor General the Minister of Finance and this Liberal Government have not yet achieved their first balanced budget;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance, whose unusual budget practices have raised the ire of the Auditor General, come clean with the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce in his state of the finance address by stating clearly that his conclusions with respect to previous balanced budgets have been dismissed by Nova Scotia's watchdog over public finances.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.


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

Whereas yesterday the Premier, when asked why the on-again, off-again talks with Nova Scotia Power over Sable gas were off, said, "I honestly don't know"; and

Whereas yesterday the Premier, when asked how much Nova Scotia taxpayers have invested in two jobs at a Dartmouth company, said, "I'm not really sure"; and

[Page 966]

Whereas yesterday the Premier said, of his Liberal Government's decision to write off $10 million in loans, "I'm not sure of the circumstances";

Therefore be it resolved that this "I don't know, I'm not sure, I'm not really sure" Liberal Premier get brother Peter - also known as "the Edgar Bergen of Nova Scotia politics" - to tutor him on the people's business, so he will at some future date possibly be able to say "I do know, "I am sure", and "I am really sure."

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.


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

Whereas this House has refused to give unanimous consent on various Marine Atlantic resolutions, but the Premier has indicated that he would support a resolution similar to the one recently passed in the Newfoundland House of Assembly; and

Whereas the following is a summary of the resolution passed in Newfoundland; and

Whereas the management of Marine Atlantic is considering the transfer of their headquarters to a location other than Moncton, and North Sydney would be the logical choice of such a location;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly support the request of the people of North Sydney that the headquarters of Marine Atlantic be located in North Sydney and that this House object to anything less than the headquarters.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 967]

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


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

Whereas the Savage-MacLellan Government continues to ignore the recommendations of the Blueprint Committee Report by refusing to provide Nova Scotia communities with real opportunities to participate in local health care decisions; and

Whereas despite the government's refusal to introduce legislation establishing community health boards, Nova Scotians concerned about the future of Nova Scotia's health care system continue to invest considerable time, energy and their own money towards the development of local health care plans; and

Whereas the individuals contributing their time, energy and money, along with their community health plans, continue to be ignored by this indifferent and confused Liberal Government;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government acknowledge the hard work of the hundreds of Nova Scotians who have been working to develop local community health plans and that they bring tangible meaning to their efforts by immediately establishing a time-frame for legislating community health boards.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.


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

[Page 968]

Whereas Nova Scotian has the fourth highest rate of breast cancer in all of Canada and in 1995 was the leading cause of 196 deaths of Nova Scotian women; and

Whereas the northern region of Nova Scotia is the only region in this province without a mobile breast screening van; and

Whereas the Minister of Health has been asked by the Canadian Cancer Society and 118 of their volunteers in northern Nova Scotia to immediately address this issue;

Therefore be it resolved that, since the Throne Speech indicated there would be additional funds made available for cancer care in Nova Scotia, the Minister of Health make the availability of the mobile breast screening van for the Canadian Cancer Society an immediate priority for the northern region of Nova Scotia.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

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 down in Who-ville, a small Valley town,

The people did look out the window and frown-

"Look , Horton the elephant sits on the hill.

Do you know what he's worth? He's worth 26 mill."

"Why can't all our children, the girls and the boys

Go frolic with Horton? He's got all the toys."

But the member for Who-ville said Horton would thrive

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 969]

MS. O'CONNELL: With playmates that numbered a thousand and five; and

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. O'CONNELL: Whereas the mayor of the town (that was friendly and clean)

Said he thought white elephants clearly obscene.

"Let's call a big meeting, get everyone out,

And everyone holler and everyone shout.".

"Believe me", he said, " The member hears clearly,

His ears are quite keen and he'll listen sincerely."

Alas, not for the case, for the member could see

The map lines around his constituency;

MR. SPEAKER: I wish to interrupt the honourable member. This notice of motion is out of order. It makes a mockery of every proceeding in this House of Assembly. It is out of order. You will take your seat.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. We have in this House many ways of expressing ourselves and the resolution that is being written has three whereas clauses and one operative clause. It is written in poetry but I did not know that this House was opposed to poetry. It is a way of getting the message across.

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member. . .

MR. HOLM: . . . and I do not understand why it is out of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, you know as well as I, in the form it was presented that notice of motion is unacceptable. It is out of order.

The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, actually I am sure I'll hear the benefits of the poetry later, but I would like to take this opportunity to table Benchmark Studies for School Construction.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Out of order.

MR. SPEAKER: That is out of order, of course. This is no place for the tabling of that report. The notices of motion will continue to be heard. The next member who has a notice of motion.

[Page 970]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would ask for your ruling on the reasons why that notice of motion was ruled out of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Did you have difficulty interpreting my remarks, honourable member?

MR. CHISHOLM: I am asking for a ruling as to why you ruled that resolution out of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Then please listen carefully, this time. It makes a mockery of the Rules and Forms of Procedure in this House of Assembly.

MR. CHISHOLM: I would like you to show me . . .

MR. SPEAKER: It is unacceptable.

MR. CHISHOLM: I would like you to show me where . . .

MR. SPEAKER: It is unacceptable, it is out of order.

MR. CHISHOLM: I would like you to show me where in Beauchesne it says that.

MR. SPEAKER: This matter is closed.

Is there another notice of motion to be tabled by an honourable member?

[1:30 p.m.]

The honourable member for Kings North.


MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, I enjoy your rulings. It sounds like we reverted two Speakers.

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

Whereas the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing said in this Legislature on Thursday of last week in reference to providing drought assistance to Nova Scotia farmers, "Yes, I will say that we will have some additional . . . I am prepared to do more and this government is prepared to do more."; and

[Page 971]

Whereas the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing failed miserably in refusing to provide any additional assistance to farmers who are feeling the impact of last summer's crippling drought when he spoke at the annual meeting of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture in Truro last Friday;

Whereas despite promising to do more, the minister has yet to deliver any substantive measures designed specifically to help farmers who in 1997 faced their driest growing season in 40 years and are now facing a $35 million to $50 million loss in production;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing for Nova Scotia tell farmers as to whether his government plans to sit idly by or whether it will act immediately to provide enough assistance to keep livestock and other farm commodity operations alive so that they will not be forced into bankruptcy.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.


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

Whereas a recent policy update from the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce read, Chamber members told us that the overall impact of the HST has been neutral, however, some industries have been negatively impacted while others more positively; and

Whereas it is clear from the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce's perspective that the HST is not the promised boom for business or job creation this Liberal Government claimed it would be; and

Whereas while having a neutral impact on business, it has had a harmful impact on Nova Scotia families who must now pay, among other things, a 15 per cent tax to keep warm, 15 per cent tax on clothing and a 15 per cent tax on the cost of school supplies;

Therefore be it resolved that the government acknowledge that the HST has meant significant financial hardship for Nova Scotian families and that this hardship comes with none of the rosy economic predictions this Liberal Government said would materialize as a result of the hated HST.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

[Page 972]


MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I will be asking for waiver of notice, again.

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

Whereas the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nova Scotia has named Amherst CA Stephen Maltby as the 1997 winner of the Ross Towler CA of the Year Award; and

Whereas Mr. Maltby has been recognized for his dedicated work in the community and was described by the president of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce as being an accountant, citizen, volunteer and friend; and

Whereas the award given to Mr. Maltby by the Institute of Chartered Accountants is named in honour of Ross Towler, an executive director with the institute for over 28 years;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly extend our congratulations to Stephen Maltby for not only being Nova Scotia's number one chartered accountant for 1997 but for all of his dedicated volunteer work which he has so ably carried out in the Amherst area.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.


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

Whereas the development of the Donkin Mine as part of the three mine Devco operation is crucial to the survival of the Cape Breton coal industry and the thousands of jobs dependent on that industry; and

[Page 973]

Whereas all Parties represented in this House have expressed support for the development of Donkin as part of a three mine Devco operation; and

Whereas the federal Minister of Energy recently indicated that the federal government is no longer committed to the idea of privatizing the Donkin Mine;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the federal government and the Cape Breton Development Corporation to draw up a plan for the development of Donkin Mine as part of an efficient and effective Devco operation that will secure the future of the Cape Breton coal industry and the futures of those whose livelihoods depend on that industry.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.


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

Whereas Nova Scotia has adopted and is enforcing the National Transportation Safety Code requiring commercial drivers to comply with hours of service, vehicle inspections, et cetera; and

Whereas with this fall's opening of Canada's first section of the tolled highway, the Cobequid Pass, and the proposed opening of the twinned section next summer between New Glasgow and Salt Springs, approximately 130 unauthorized rest and parking areas will be lost to the trucking industry; and

Whereas without authorized rest areas, safety is potentially being compromised not only for truckers but for all motorists alike;

[Page 974]

Therefore be it resolved that this Savage-MacLellan Government and the Department of Transportation and Public Works Minister live up to their responsibilities and recognize the consequences of having no rest areas by immediately announcing plans for their establishment.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.


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

Whereas our fleet of Sea King helicopters was grounded last week, leaving our service personnel grounded as well; and

Whereas Defence Minister Art Eggleton said last Friday, "We won't put (Sea Kings) up if they're not safe. We take every precaution."; and

Whereas it is unfortunate that this federal Liberal Government, of which this Premier was a member when the political decision was made to cancel the order for the fleet's replacement, has not had the same concern for safety when it has allowed for so many years our military men and women to fly helicopters which should have been retired from service and replaced by now;

Therefore be it resolved that this Premier apologize for being part of a government that held in higher regard politics and money over the safety of those who serve our country with honour and without complaint, regardless of the precarious position the $423 million decision of the federal Liberals to cancel the EH-101's has placed them in.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.


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

Whereas the Liberal Government has long promised an issue paper for social assistance reform; and

[Page 975]

Whereas focus groups on social assistance reform are being held even though the promised issue paper has not been released; and

Whereas the focus group process is a sham because Nova Scotians haven't had a chance to review the issue paper in advance and had the opportunity to study the government's proposals;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government stop the focus groups until the issue paper has been released for review by Nova Scotians and then commence a broad community consultation process to ensure all Nova Scotians, especially those who are affected by social assistance reform, can be heard.

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 a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.


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

Whereas this government allowed Nova Scotia Power, a private company, in on its negotiations with Mobil Oil over the future of the province's offshore gas; and

Whereas the Premier announced yesterday that Nova Scotia Power was no longer at the bargaining table, though he wasn't sure why they were no longer there; and

Whereas Nova Scotia Power's recent decision to purchase 180,000 tonnes of coal from the United States also jeopardizes Devco and its 1,700 coal mining jobs;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier be instructed by this House that the next time he has an opportunity to sit down at the table with Nova Scotia Power officials, he take a moment to question them about their intentions for the Cape Breton coal industry.

[Page 976]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.


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

Whereas the Canadian Council on Social Development's Director, David Ross, said in reports today, poverty should be going down, not up; and

Whereas the council's 1997 report examines a range of factors affecting this country's children, including health and school performance, social relations and youth unemployment; and

Whereas the council's research director indicated that while last year's report showed most children were doing relatively well, this year, with the deterioration of economic and health measures, it appears that cuts are causing serious harm to a greater number of our children;

Therefore be it resolved that this Premier, when he sits down this week at the First Ministers' meeting, urge his counterparts to focus their attention on the startling statistics which are contained within the report including the incomprehensible and still rising number of children living in poverty, with an aim to ensuring that real solutions to these disturbing trends emerge from the Ottawa meeting.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 977]

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the Hanscomb Report, Benchmark Study for Nova Scotia Schools.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

Before we move on to Orders of the Day, I wish to . . .

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, with the unanimous consent of the House, I would like to revert to the order of business, Introduction of Bills.


Bill No. 18 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 72 of the Acts of 1897. The Lunenburg Common Lands Act. (Mrs. Lila O'Connor)

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

Before we move on to Orders of the Day, I wish to inform the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate. The winner is the honourable Leader of the Opposition and member for Pictou Centre, who has submitted the following resolution:

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs immediately commit to the Cooperative Housing Federation of Nova Scotia that they will protect the interests of the movement and refuse to sign any deal which removes control of co-op housing from the federal government.

We shall hear that topic debated at the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. this afternoon.



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

[Page 978]


MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the minister responsible for mines and energy. As we know in the course of the last 24 hours to 48 hours there has been a major kerfuffle come up within the coal industry of Cape Breton Island where another shipment of coal from outside the province had to be brought in for the second time this year and the effect it will have on the economy of Cape Breton Island and, certainly, the Province of Nova Scotia. As sure as the sun rises tomorrow and will set tomorrow night, this is just the beginning of many other problems. My question to the minister, could he tell us what his plan is in relation to working with the Cape Breton Development Corporation to make sure that every avenue possible is covered so that this type of incident will not happen again?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for his question which, of course, creates much concern for many of us. The unfortunate thing about this is we need electricity. Of course, our electricity is generated by coal and we need coal. As I understand it, there is no loss of jobs within the Devco operation. They are working on the Phalen Mine. I understand that the crew is working at the rehabilitation of the Phalen Mine and, hopefully, that will be up and running in mid-December and will be producing coal at that time.

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. MACLEOD: So, Mr. Speaker, I could take it from the answer of the minister that there is no plan. That really should not be a surprise to anybody in this House or in the Province of Nova Scotia. The fact of the matter is that there are 1,722 people whose lives are on the hinge here because of the jobs created by this corporation. The fact of the matter is that two years ago we had the same type of problem and two years ago this coming January there was a major lay-off because nobody took the time to work with the corporation to make sure there wasn't a bad issue turned even worse.

MR. SPEAKER: You are delivering a speech, honourable member, let's have a supplementary question.

MR. MACLEOD: Well, the question is, who in the corporation has the minister or his department spoken to? What is the Province of Nova Scotia going to do to help some Cape Bretoners for a change?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, again I know the honourable member is using a lot of energy to get the question across but my answer would be the same: Devco is a Crown Corporation of the federal government and they inform us that the mine could be up and running again in the middle of December and they will be back producing coal and we will meet the requirements of Nova Scotia Power.

[Page 979]

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary, through you, would be to the Premier. Yes, the Cape Breton Development Corporation is a federal Crown Corporation, no question about that, but the people who work there are Nova Scotians and this House is responsible to those people.

The question I want to ask the Premier of this province is why, when he gave the State of the Province Address on November 26th, there was only one small line in there dealing with coal, dealing with this industry that is so vital to our economy. He said that 1,300 now work in mines that once employed thousands. Mr. Speaker, the Premier of this province couldn't even get the number right, the number of people who are affected by this corporation. Why is it that there is no . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Is there a question somewhere in there?

MR. MACLEOD: Yes, there is a question somewhere in here. If you will wait, you will get it.

Mr. Speaker, the question is, when is this province, when is this Premier going to open his eyes to the fact that we are dealing with the lives of 1,700 Nova Scotians who need and require the help of this House and the guidance of some leadership, instead of stick-handling around and saying it is a federal problem?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, the Cape Breton Development Corporation is a federal Crown Corporation. The honourable member can huff and puff and blow all he wants to but that is not going to change.

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


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Economic Development. Members of this House may know that the government has been dealing with a company by the name of Dynatek Automation Systems Inc. of Bedford in the last few weeks and months and recently concluded a new arrangement that, as the minister has said in a piece of correspondence to our office, will help us to protect our investment. The deal gave this company another $3 million of taxpayers' money. In the ensuing time period this company has moved its head office to Toronto.

I want to ask the minister, will he tell us how he permitted this to happen?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Leader of the Third Party for the question. Dynatek has been a difficult company to deal with over the past number of years, all the way back to the days when a major loan was given to the company

[Page 980]

by the previous government. I am not going to prejudge that particular business arrangement at the time. I think they felt, as we did, that this was a growing company, a company that was actually given awards in the Province of Nova Scotia and nationally and internationally. It ran into some difficult management problems.

We felt, with much discussion this year, that with new management that perhaps this company could turn its fortunes around and we are prepared to take a gamble that it will.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me just say that to spend $20 million for 30 jobs, as the former Conservative Administration did and now this Liberal Government for 30 jobs is absolutely breathtaking, even in an era where this government has shown us they are prepared to give a company like Michelin $27 million, I want to ask the Minister of Economic Development, before he decided to throw good money after bad, did he not get some firm commitment from this company on the fact that their head office would stay in Bedford, and on specific job targets that they had to meet?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, which question is he asking me: whether they are going to stay in Bedford; or whether they are going to Toronto; or whether the number of employees is committed? Which one? I will answer them all anyway.

This has been a very difficult company to deal with. I have said that previously. It has been a company that we have no additional investment in the company without security. We have security on this particular investment we have made this year. The Leader of the Third Party is absolutely right that the workforce has been diminished considerably over the past couple of years. We are hoping that it will ramp up again. The IT sector is a very difficult sector sometimes. This is a particular company that has run into some serious management problems and with new management we hope that this company will turn itself around.

MR. CHISHOLM: Clearly the minister is saying today, and he has said before, that if we did not pony up, if we did not throw some more money into this company, the province would lose their investment. Clearly today we have no better guarantee on that money than we had before the government decided to throw more money in. I guess one has to ask whether or not this minister and this government has talked with any other companies in the high-tech industry, companies that are based here in Nova Scotia, that are Nova Scotian companies, about what they could do with that kind of investment in terms of job creation.

I will ask of the minister, on behalf of many of those Nova Scotians, why does this government continue to ignore those Nova Scotian high-tech companies, the high-tech industry in this province, when they could have used that kind of investment to create many more jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia?

[Page 981]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: We are not ignoring anybody in this province. If anybody comes to this government with a good idea for development in this province, we will certainly sit down and listen to them. The long and short of it, Mr. Speaker, is that if we had not sat down and talked to Dynatek and the banks and the investors, the government stood to lose over $14 million here, if we had abandoned ship earlier this year. We decided to go the extra mile with this company to see if they could turn their fortunes around and the additional funding we have is secured by the property they own here in the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



DR. JOHN HAMM: I have a question for the Premier. It is very simple. Will the Premier accept the arbitration ruling with respect to returning the 3 per cent roll-back to the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre workers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. ALLISTER SURETTE: The first I heard of the decision was Friday as I stepped out of the House. I did receive the 55 page report later on in the day on Friday. I have clearly stated that it is a difficult decision for us as a government, but being a responsible government, we would like to take some time to look at it.

DR. HAMM: I will continue with the Premier. I am sure the Premier, being the Leader of his Party, will have to bear a lot of responsibility as to how this government continues to treat public sector workers.

Would the Premier advise the House, does he realize the legislation authorizing the roll-back is no longer in effect and therefore the original contracts by implication would now be in effect until new contracts are signed, and is the Premier prepared to apply the arbitration ruling to all public sector workers because, in reality, they have all been affected by the same legislation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the honourable Minister of Human Resources.

MR. SURETTE: This decision, of course, as the member has stated, is a decision based on the grievance filed by the NSGEU back in September. It applies to the QE II complex, of course, as was implied by the honourable member's question that it could have implications right across the Public Service. As I have stated, we are prepared, we are committed to

[Page 982]

looking at the decision. As I have stated, the 55 page report showed up on my desk this past Friday and we are committed to looking at the report.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, this is not a matter of looking at something, it is a matter of fairness. The legislation is over. The public sector workers have a right to revert to their old contract. How much time does it take to realize something as simple as that? How long do you have to study it?

My question to the Premier is, is the Premier prepared to sit down with his colleagues and discuss fairness, never mind discuss a 55 page report. Public sector workers in this province should now revert to their old contract and get their 3 per cent back, the legislation is over. Will the Premier commit to do what is fair and right for public sector workers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it has always been the intention of this government to do what is fair and we will continue to do what is fair. The collective bargaining process is still ongoing, that has not changed. I would like to refer this question to the honourable Minister of Human Resources.

MR. SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, we will surely do what is fair and reasonable for the Province of Nova Scotia. We have committed to, at the expiration of Bill No. 52, November 1st, that we would go to the collective bargaining table. That is where we are now, with 350 different employers from across this province.

Mr. Speaker, we can't forget how this bill was introduced in the first place. If I could just remind the members opposite, back in 1993 they had a Leader at the time by the name of Donald Cameron who told the business people of this province that the province was bankrupt. We were looking at a $6 billion debt and an operating deficit of $617 million for that year.

Yes, at that time that bill was difficult for us as a government. It is still difficult. We do recognize the sacrifices that the public sector employees have made to this province. We want to be a fair, reasonable government; we have committed to a collective bargaining process. This is one of many issues that are at the table. If you are talking to the QE II, I think most people are aware that there are a number of issues on the table, this being one of them.

Again, as I stated at the outset, it is a difficult decision for us, as a government. This is one issue and we have to put this into context with the rest of the collective bargaining that is presently taking place. (Applause)

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

[Page 983]



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the honourable Minister of Development and Tourism. I have a letter from the minister dated November 25th that reads, Neither the Department of Economic Development and Tourism nor, to my knowledge, any agency of the provincial government, has plans to commit by way of loans, loan guarantee or direct assistance, money for engineering or repairs to the government owned dock which is administered by my department through the Nova Scotia Business Development Corporation. That letter is in reference to the Mobil dock and the minister will know that.

I also have a letter from his department dated December 2nd which denies a request for this same information until a third party grants approval. My question to the minister is, why is the freedom of information request being referred to a third party if, as his letter states, no third party exists?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question and answer it this way; I think I had better stop answering the member's queries in my department because I believe in full and open disclosure on all these things. He wrote me a letter asking me the information, I sent it to him and he is wondering about it. I said in the letter that we have no money involved in that particular operation at the present time.

DR. HAMM: I will continue with the minister. The minister has indicated that no public money is going to go into repairing, engineering and other costs of the Mobil dock. I understand that that dock hasn't been used for some 10 years, plus or minus. It is my understanding that somebody is going to repair the dock.

My question to the minister is, would the minister indicate then if Mobil Oil will be paying the cost of repairing the dock, if, in fact as the minister states, the taxpayers of Nova Scotia won't be paying the cost?

[2:00 p.m.]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, Mobil leases the dock each and every year from the province. It has been doing that for the last 20 years. It pays its lease costs; even when they are not using it they pay their lease costs. We expect that that will continue into the future. Mobil may want to lease the dock for another extended period of time. Under the arrangements that we have had so far, which were very satisfactory, we might be willing to entertain that.

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

[Page 984]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Didn't he have one more?

MR. SPEAKER: My mistake. A final supplementary then for the honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. HAMM: I will have to get you an abacus. My final supplementary is to the Minister of Economic Development. Now, the minister said simply that Mobil is continuing to lease the dock but still is not prepared to make any statement as to whether or not the dock is going to be brought to up scratch so that it can be used and it hasn't been used for years. Will the minister confirm for the House whether or not he or officials of his department have had any conversations, any negotiations or have made any arrangements with Mobil that repairs and engineering work will be done on the dock and if so, who will pay for the work?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Let me get this straight, Mr. Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition wants to know if we have had any discussions, negotiations or contracts. Which one does he want?

DR. HAMM: Or conversations.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Or all of them, or conversations.

DR. HAMM: Anything.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: The people in my department, yes, they probably have had conversations with them, they are a very important player in Nova Scotia, they will probably be a very important player in the future and so will that dock. It is very strategically located, Mr. Speaker. So the answer to his question is yes, we have had conversations with them as we would with anybody else interested in the offshore business.

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


MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question to the same minister, the Minister of Economic Development, on another topic. Last week the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism trotted out Orenda of Truro, or more correctly of Debert, as one of this government's great success stories. Orenda Aerospace, according to the minister's predecessor, had received close to $19 million in government loans, $9.3 million of that was a royalty-based provincial government loan and it was to manufacture a new series of piston aircraft engines and to create 110 jobs. Right now there are four jobs there in management positions.

[Page 985]

My question to the minister is quite simply this. Did the government know when it granted that $9.3 million royalty-based loan that the company was having ongoing problems with the crankshaft which had meant that it was unable to pass Transport Canada's testing to obtain certification and if it knew that it was unable to pass that testing, why did the government make such a risky loan?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the loan to which the honourable member is referring to was a loan that was made some time ago, I am not familiar with the total details of the loan. I can tell you, he is quite right, there are only four people working there at the present time, but it is expected that in the first quarter of next year there will be 15 hired and by the end of the year there will be 50 people working in that particular business.

MR. HOLM: Well, I can provide the minister with a copy of his predecessor's announcement made in this House last April, Mr. Speaker. Certainly, the parent company of Orenda is quite happy with the money that was provided because they were able to buy Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg a short four weeks after the government made the announcement.

Mr. Speaker, the problems have indeed been long going. Not only have they been unable to obtain certification because the crankshafts are having problems, but the most recent tests of Transport Canada also failed because this time the engine block cracked.

So I want to ask the minister, what security did the government take to protect its $9.3 million loan and if you haven't got that, has that debt now been moved over or is the government going to be moving that over to a doubtful account, in that you do not expect that that will be repaid?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is expected that over the course of time we are going to double our investment here on royalty agreements on the engines that are produced there. The member is quite right. They ran into some problems getting certification but they expect to have that problem rectified within the first quarter of this year and will receive certification for the engines and then be able to go to market with them.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is starting to sound more and more like Dynatek. These problems with the engines have been well known within the industry and within industry magazines and reports for years. They were expecting to have certification approval before 1996. They expected to have it last spring. They expected to have it late this summer or early this fall. Each test they are failing. The government, when they made the announcement, said that this is good news for Nova Scotians and the minister went on to say that the government is looking aggressively for new investors like Orenda.

[Page 986]

So I would like this minister, on behalf of the government - and I appreciate this minister was not in the chair that he currently occupies at the time, but he was a member of the front benches, he was a member of Cabinet when the loan was made - so I would like this minister to explain why this government thinks that investing money, close to over $9 million of public money, in a company that was unable to obtain the certification for the product that they planned to manufacture, without obtaining any security for the monies that you are lending and without obtaining guarantees of number of people to be hired, explain why the government considers that to be the good type of company that you are aggressively going after to come here to Nova Scotia and to suck up Nova Scotia tax dollars?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this particular deal with Orenda is one that I think, over the long haul, will have great returns for the Province of Nova Scotia and create an industry that will be welcomed in this province. The problem with the NDP is that they keep whining and crying about any job creation initiative that comes to this province. They whine if we don't create jobs. They whine if we create jobs. They are completely void of any kind of initiative themselves. I haven't heard one thing from that Party about job creation initiatives or ideas except the constant harping and whining day in and day out and, quite frankly, the taxpayers of this province are getting sick of it. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.


MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education, through you. Literally thousands of Nova Scotia school children, parents and teachers are suffering from various illnesses ranging from headaches, vomiting and other physical ills. Just yesterday, Central Kings and neighbouring Cambridge Elementary were closed. Others like Digby, West Kings, Duncan MacMillan, have had problems with air quality where students and teachers are reporting physical ills. Annapolis Royal Elementary School has been declared a fire hazard. Dorothy Anne Last, a parent with two children attending Annapolis Royal Elementary School said publicly a few weeks ago, we are tired of being jerked around. The parents, the students, teachers and communities across this province . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, can you get to a question, please? I do permit a certain set-up and preamble but that is being carried to the extreme. Let's have a question, please, honourable member.

MR. FAGE: There are a lot of sick schools and I will get to the question. This province wants to know what the holdup is. Mr. Minister, where is the province's capital construction list so our students can learn in a healthy environment?

[Page 987]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member opposite for the question. There is no question in anyone's mind that we have an aging facilities problem in this province and we are trying to address that as quickly as we can. The list will be forthcoming shortly.

MR. FAGE: That is all fine and good that the list may be coming soon but, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Education, here is the last priority list that was given out and that was in 1993. The Priorities Committee for Capital Construction submitted their report on September 29th. It was sent to Priorities and Planning on October 30th and it has been in their hands for over a month and one-half. The Premier has already promised a school on his own. My question to the Minister of Education, when will all those concerns be given a list? When is that list coming out?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite well knows that we sat down with all seven boards and examined their priorities for both renovation and new capital construction. We have indicated that the amount and the global report is $0.25 billion in new schools and $90 million in renovation. As a Cabinet and as Priorities and Planning, we have considered those documents and will be providing that list shortly.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier my question is does the Premier believe that the condition of these six schools are not an emergency situation? If so, will he treat them as the health and education emergency that they are and release that list or at the very least, repair the schools on an emergency basis?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we have stated many times that we also consider air quality and environmental issues a concern of government. We are a partner with the school boards, we have at least three sources of funding that is available to boards on a day to day basis to meet emergency needs. The list that the member opposite is looking for, and he will have his list very shortly, is for $0.25 billion in new school construction and $90 million in renovation. We also have an application before the federal government for infrastructure to try to help the boards out. So we take this very seriously, boards know they have our support and are acting in concert with us daily to deal with day to day issues. Very soon we will have the next wave, the next explanation of which projects are coming next.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.


MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, my next question will be dealing with post-secondary education and tuition fees and it is to the Premier. The Premier went to Ottawa in

[Page 988]

October asking for handouts from his former federal colleagues on some very serious issues to the people of this province. We are still waiting to hear about BST rebates but another significant issue the Premier was to raise in Ottawa was the financing to assist students wishing to attend post-secondary education. What, if any, commitments has the Premier been able to secure to date?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I agree that I was in Ottawa but asking for handouts, I don't agree with that. We have asked the federal government to consider a very important question of funding of post-secondary education which we think should be more in favour of Nova Scotia and to which we feel we are justified in having. The federal government is looking into this, it is a question that is going to take some time. I would like to refer the rest of the question to the honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the issue here is student debt, as well. Nova Scotia has taken a very strong position in concert with our students and our universities and community colleges in making sure that the federal government knows that we need a solution on student debt now, not in three years. We have met with federal ministers on this and just yesterday in a conference call with federal Labour-Market Ministers addressed that issue once again. So I think Nova Scotia is taking a very strong position on assisting students at the post-secondary level, not just here at home, but in Ottawa as well.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier again. Hearing both answers that were just given, obviously, to date, there has been no commitment secured. I think it is very important to point out that without new funds and a fairer formula from the federal funding to address these inequities in the Province of Nova Scotia, students here are forced, because of the penalty situation they find themselves in with so many other students from other provinces, that they face an unfair challenge in funding their commitment to their future education. When can we expect that commitment for those students in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that through the Nova Scotia Council on Higher Education, through working with our universities and community colleges, that we are addressing all of the budget shortfalls, the underfunding which we declare in both public and post-secondary education. We are attempting, as budgets permit, to bring back debt service dollars and reinvest them in essential social programs of health and education and the member opposite, I think, should have confidence in the process that is not only presenting the concern and the need, but is addressing the solutions. (Applause)

[Page 989]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, in the Premier's first Speech From the Throne, his only commitment to this situation was accessibility to post-secondary is rising out of the reach for so many Nova Scotians and I quote, "Nova Scotia already has a program of debt forgiveness that will be reviewed for further flexibility and at the same time, we will urge the federal government to adopt a similar program.".

Does the Premier not believe that more could be done than to urge the federal government, when 40 per cent of that responsibility for those funds in this area are a provincial responsibility?

[2:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that we are very concerned about tuition fees in Nova Scotia. The Province of Nova Scotia, thanks to the work of the Minister of Education and Culture, has been working hard to get a program by the Province of Nova Scotia with respect to debt forgiveness. All we are asking is that the federal government join us, with some federal money, to do the same thing.

I would like to refer to question to the honourable Minister of Education and Culture as to an update on that matter.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, just to echo the words, I think Nova Scotia has been a very strong advocate not only for students here, but for students across this country. The perception that there may be a debt incurred that is insurmountable or the reality that debt costs are rising is a barrier to accessibility. We are committed not only here in Nova Scotia but, I think, as a nation to making sure that young people with a dream of post-secondary education should have no obstacle in their path to pursue that dream.

We work hand in hand with our federal counterparts and our interprovincial ministers, both in the education and labour market, to make sure that the federal government addresses this issue and I believe we have made tremendous progress. The federal government sees this as an important national priority and I think perhaps in the months ahead we will see very tangible results of that advocacy, Mr. Speaker.

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



MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. The Community Advocates Network has been asking this government to implement immediately a full and open consultation process on social assistance reform. What the government did was to hire an independent consultant to hold focus groups. People

[Page 990]

have said and continue to say that this is not public consultation. Now, in light of the walkout, which occurred this morning, from the government-sponsored focus group sessions on social assistance reform, will the minister reconsider her past opposition to changing the consultation process which is clearly not working?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for her question. I think the Community Advocates Network, when they met with me several weeks ago, were quite aware of the process going to be put in place for consultation, the first part of which is the focus group.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister is quite aware that the focus group process was not considered to be public consultation. The difficulty is that we can't ask people to consult on something unless they have the document to talk about. So, will the minister commit to releasing this document so that this process can get under way?

MRS. COSMAN: I thank the member opposite for her supplementary question. I want to make sure that the member opposite understands the process we are engaged in. There are focus groups being conducted as of this month. There is a discussion paper about which she has had answers already on several occasions. At some point, once we have analyzed all that data, we will be moving forward to new legislation, likely in the fall of next year. That is the process that is in place.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Well thank you, Mr. Speaker, but I don't know who it is who doesn't understand what is taking place here because I clearly understand that focus groups - and we saw that this morning - are not public consultation. People want the document, they want to take part and they want to be participants before the legislation comes into effect on April 1st. So I am not clear why we cannot, as a public, have that document and have the process go ahead?

MR. SPEAKER: Was there a question, please?

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Why can we not have the document?

MRS. COSMAN: I thank the member opposite for her final supplementary. I think that on many occasions in this House I have stood and given a very firm commitment that there will be a full process in which we engage public consultation on the discussion paper and that there will be ample time for people to deal with that and to respond.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

[Page 991]


MR. RONALD RUSSELL: I have a question for the Premier. The Policy Update from the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce dated December 5th states in part in regard to the harmonized sales tax, "Chamber members told us that the overall impact of the HST has been neutral, however, some industries have been negatively impacted while others more positively. Concerns exist that the HST is not a national program and the place of supply rules are too complex.".

In view of the fact that the Chamber of Commerce considers that the HST does nothing at all for business, and considering that consumers have had it stuck to them for the necessities of life, would the Premier be prepared to invoke the clause within the agreement to withdraw Nova Scotia from the harmonized sales tax agreement?

THE PREMIER: That is not what the Chamber of Commerce is saying at all. The Chamber of Commerce will tell you that the HST to business has been a very positive stimulus. (Applause)

The increase in investment in the past year in Nova Scotia has been 22.9 per cent. The national average has been 4.4 per cent. (Applause)

The problem the honourable member is having is he does not have a common denominator to measure the success of the HST. Unfortunately there is a common denominator to measure the problems the HST is causing to some low income and senior citizens in this province but there is no question, if you want to look at investment in Nova Scotia, the HST has been a positive factor.

MR. RUSSELL: I did not have a common denominator. The increase year by year in this province means nothing because our progress as far as Gross Domestic Product has been so low. This year we are going up, I admit that, but we are going up from practically zero. I am talking about what the Halifax Chamber of Commerce says and they are at variance with what the Premier has said.

My question to the Premier, is he going to tell me the consumers of this province are happy with the health services tax?

THE PREMIER: Woe be it to me, Mr. Speaker, to try to tell the honourable member anything. I want to say that with respect to the HST it has been a factor in growth and investment in this province. I do not think we have started from nothing. I think we have a good base but the fact of the matter is that there is a lot of interest in investment in Nova Scotia right now. The people of this province are very buoyant about the future. They have a lot of confidence in the future of this province. I do not think that anyone opposite would disagree with that. I would certainly hope not.

[Page 992]

MR. RUSSELL: At the introduction of the harmonized sales tax, we were told there would be 3,000 jobs created. We were told that the input taxes would result in a decrease in prices. None of this has come to fruition. My question to the Premier is, if indeed the harmonized sales tax is such a great thing for this province, why is it that continuously, no matter where he went when he was on the campaign trail, that people were telling him, for instance, about the high cost of heating their homes in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: I said the HST was an incentive to business, and investment in the Province of Nova Scotia. I do not think there is any dispute about that. The fact of the matter is that there is a difficulty for low income people that in paying the HST on top of the cost of electricity and heating oil and children's clothing, it does add an extra burden. We are looking into that. Where we can, we will address that concern. I am not denying that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.


MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. We now know that as a consequence of the federal government, of which the now Premier was part as the member for Cape Breton-The Sydneys, a decision to curtail the TAGS program by a full year, that in May 1998 there are going to be something in the order of 3,000-plus Nova Scotians who are going to fall off TAGS assistance. It is also now fairly clearly established that the cost that is going to accrue to provincial taxpayers as a consequence of the federal government's decision, the government of which the Premier was part, is something in the order of $20 million. My question to the minister is, what contingency plan does she have in place to deal with this pending catastrophe?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. Certainly the question around what is going to happen post-TAGS is a very serious concern to all of us. We have established an interdepartmental working group that is dealing with this question.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, we have approximately five months before the event occurs. That hardly seems like enough time. After all, it took almost that much time for the Premier to decide that yes, it was right to put Jim Campbells Barren back on the protected list. That was a relatively simple decision. This is a very complex process. My question to the minister is this, will she advise the House which areas she and her department have identified as having the most potential damage likely to accrue to them respecting this problem?

MRS. COSMAN: Thank you honourable member. Yes.

[Page 993]

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, by saying yes, I would assume that the minister will therefore provide that information to the House at her earliest convenience. I am looking forward to a nod yes that she would provide that information to the House at her earliest convenience. She nods yes.

My final question, bearing in mind that to place a burden of $20 million extra on the backs of municipal taxpayers would result in a tremendous burden to have to be carried by the men and the women who own homes throughout our communities and those who operate small businesses in particular. Since this problem has been created as a consequence of a decision being taken by the government of which the Premier was part when he was a Member of Parliament in Ottawa, now downloaded onto the province, will this minister commit to Nova Scotian taxpayers today that she will not download this problem on the municipalities but that the province will pick up the tab for meeting this problem which is facing over 3,000 Nova Scotians in May 1998?

MRS. COSMAN: Thank you honourable member for the final supplementary. I think you are really asking a hypothetical question about who is going to get to pay for this. We have established a working group that is working on finding the solutions for this problem.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education and it is in prose. On December 2nd, in the House, the Minister of Education made some commitments to the House. I just want to refresh your memory about them. He said, " Mr. Speaker, I have already indicated that we will table documents authorizing the construction of a new school at Horton. I will be happy to table that document.". He goes on to say on the same day, December 2nd, "I would be happy to provide the authorization that shows that the previous minister was authorized to use engineers from the Department of Public Works to determine the feasibility of renovating the school at the rough cost of $8 million. I will table also the reason why the authorization was extended, to look at public-private partnering, because the answer coming back was that that would be putting good money after bad and that a new school was needed in that area.". So, that is what the minister said to the House on December 2nd.

[2:30 p.m.]

The minister has had a week, a week is seven days, he has had seven days to get those documents together. So, Mr. Speaker, through you I would like to ask the Minister of Education where are the documents and will he table them today?

[Page 994]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we will table the report from the Department of Public Works, their analysis on the Horton school renovation that determined that that school should not be renovated but, in fact, a new school should be built.

MS. O'CONNELL: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think I heard him offer one out of a number of documents and he didn't say when. Of course, this whole issue just goes around and around because when we asked the minister, when the minister was asked to table the criteria used to create the school construction list, he tabled a piece of paper listing the general categories within which criteria needed to be defined. So I would like to ask the Minister of Education, when will we see the real list of criteria for the school construction list?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I thought I indicated quite clearly that I would table the Public Works document today. In there, the honourable member will see the criteria used to determine that an $8 million renovation project was unacceptable.

I have already tabled the criteria, which includes such things as overcrowding and air quality issues and so on, the general list. Just as soon as the full list of projects is presented for this House or in this province - and that should happen soon, Mr. Speaker - we would be happy to entertain questions about how a committee of Public Works engineers, Department of Finance officials, Department of Education officials and the members of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, and the boards themselves, came to the determination of which priority projects should be done where and when.

AN HON. MEMBER: You still haven't told us who authorized spending that money.

MS. O'CONNELL: That's right, we still don't know who authorized the spending of the money, Mr. Speaker, but the Hanscomb Consultants Report, which shows the very high cost of the Horton school, and which we know does not include a fair number of costs in the total, we have seen several versions of that document. But since we haven't received the documents that I have been asking the minister for, that we have been asking the minister for, I would like to ask the Premier whether or not, and when, he is going to give us the review document of the P3 school construction because it is increasingly important without those other documents. When will he release the results of his review?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question and they will be released soon. I said that it would be released before Christmas and it will be.

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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Natural Resources, being responsible for mines and energy. The

[Page 995]

minister will know that Nova Scotia Power Inc. is saying that as a consequence of Devco not being able to supply their demand for coal, they are being forced to bring coal in, import coal into this province. However, there are reports to the contrary that are, in fact, saying that there may be coal inventoried across the province in different locations.

My question to the minister is merely this. Does the minister have confirmation that, in fact, Nova Scotia Power Inc. does have to import coal?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, they are importing 180,000 tonnes of coal.

MR. TAYLOR: I thank the minister but I already was aware that they in fact were importing coal. I asked the minister, as you know, Mr. Speaker, if he had confirmation that they had to import coal.

Perhaps I should ask the minister this, the minister will know that the province has a lease relative to the lands, if you will, that Devco is mining. Are there default and termination provisions in the contract, should Devco not be able to supply coal to Nova Scotia Power? Are they built into the lease?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much and I want to thank the honourable member for the question. No, not to my knowledge. Devco has control of the leases and if Devco have no further use for the leases then they will notify the Department of Natural Resources that they no longer have use for the lease and then we will deal with them at that point in time.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, does the Minister of Natural Resources, responsible for mines and energy, not think it prudent and incumbent upon himself as minister, to give Devco notice that he will be renegotiating the list so as contingency plans can be built in to the lease that this province has with Devco?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, it is something we will probably look at and if Devco feels that they have no further use for the lease, then they will bring that to our attention. We have been dealing with Devco on these leases for a number of years and they have been meeting our guidelines set down on the leases. If we see a problem, then we will negotiate with Devco.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. The Premier has set himself up as the Minister responsible for the Sable gas negotiations. One would assume

[Page 996]

that the Premier would therefore be on top of that one issue, if no other. Yesterday, when the Premier was asked a very simple question because it was really confirming something that he had said the week before, is Nova Scotia Power still part of the negotiating process with SOEP, the Premier, to everyone's surprise - and I mean literally everyone - said, I honestly don't know. Now my question to the Premier is very simple, having had an opportunity to research that very simple question over the last 24 hours, would the Premier please inform us as to what was the significance of Nova Scotia Power being part of the negotiating process last week and not part of the negotiating process this week?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia Power has an interest in the offshore. They have concerns that they wanted to bring forward, questions that they wanted to put forward to the companies involved. I didn't see any reason why, nor did the oil companies see any reason why Nova Scotia Power couldn't be allowed in to ask those questions.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, while that was an answer, it certainly wasn't to my question. My question to the Premier is simply this, the Premier made a commitment that we would have a new royalty, that we would have cheaper gas than provided by the joint position, that Nova Scotians would have benefit and access to contracts and jobs that were not part of the original agreement and that there would be a distribution centre that gets the gas out to Nova Scotians. Is the Premier prepared to say that those negotiations are on track and that those concessions will come to Nova Scotians and that the deal has not stalled and that he will be announcing a deal in the very near future? Have negotiations stalled or is he on track and will those four concessions be forthcoming to Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I guess the negotiations have stalled today because there are no negotiations because of the fact that the appeals are being heard before the Federal Court in Ottawa.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I don't find the answer very satisfactory and I certainly don't find it cute. This is very serious. You have not allowed Nova Scotians to participate in any way, shape or form since you made very strong commitments to the people of Nova Scotia in your leadership bid. I personally am very distressed that you have chosen to ignore the right of this place to have some idea as to how you are getting along and whether or not you are doing a better job than the group who were your predecessors, that absolutely gave the gas away. My final question to the Premier is will there be a deal announced this week and if not this week, when will the deal be announced?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member asked me if the talks were stalled and I said they are not being held today because of the appeal to the Federal Court in Ottawa, so they are not meeting today. The actual negotiations are still ongoing. In my opinion, I am still very optimistic as to the way the talks are proceeding. As to whether there will be an announcement this week, I can't say for sure. I still believe there will be announcement before too long.

[Page 997]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.


MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. Many people in Kings County, and indeed some of the people in the Legislature, are a little concerned about the cost escalations of the Horton school. Horton school, apparently will have an air-conditioning system, and I think it is probably the first in Nova Scotia. Yesterday there was one school closed in the minister's riding because there was mould growing in the ventilating system; the week before there was another school closed because of poor quality air. Could the minister indicate why he is shifting to an enclosed air-conditioned system when at the present time we are finding so many problems with air-conditioned buildings in Nova Scotia, particularly in schools, and wouldn't the minister have felt it was a little better to have windows that you could open and a good heating system?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we take very seriously the problem of the infrastructure that our children, our young people, the buildings that they attend. We work daily with boards that experience problems of one form or another and in the last year alone have spent close to $2 million in support of boards doing emergency work to try to keep ahead, in a preventive maintenance sense. The member opposite will know that the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board just did a complete audit of all of their facilities in a preventive, environmental maintenance exercise and did so in full knowledge that the province would partner with them.

If the member opposite is suggesting that we slow down the rate of progress of finding new standards to make sure that the children of tomorrow will have better buildings than the buildings that the member opposite built in his era, Mr. Speaker, that doesn't make any sense to me. We are committed to building the best buildings and we will undertake to do so.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, at the rate the minister is going, we won't be able to afford to build very many of them. Could the minister furnish some sort of indication that an air-conditioned building - and I know the Minister of Health's views on air-conditioning and the problems that we have had with some of the more recent buildings - could the minister furnish any indication to us and to the parents who are concerned that their children will be in an enclosed environment, is there any study or indication, or was it just that the contractors realized they could charge more for the lease payments if they put more equipment in the school. That clearly is the only reason for air-conditioning this school. Unless the minister can show that there has been a study or there have been some tests done that this is going to be a better environment for the children, then the only conclusion that can be drawn is that clearly the contractors want to increase their lease payments.

[Page 998]

MR. HARRISON: It is amazing how the member opposite can come full circle and answer his own question to his own delight. The problem is that we just handed out benchmarking studies that indicate that the cost of Horton is $20 cheaper than the other benchmark studies, and I am not sure if the member opposite appreciates that the actual construction itself is saving the taxpayers money, but that some of those dollars are invested in new technology and in things that are needed in the schools, a balance of science and technology, the arts and athletics. The member opposite obviously didn't attend all of the meetings that took place between the Department of Education, the school board and the parents in our community where issues like this were discussed, but I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that the parents assisted in the design of this school. They are proud of their school and whether the member opposite is proud or not, Nova Scotians will have the finest schools in the country.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for the Oral Question Period has expired. We will move on to Government Business.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The minister just referred again to a report that he had that proves that building schools by his method is cheaper for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. According to the report he furnished, the Horton school is 171,000 square feet, and that is the number that was used. However, Mr. Speaker, . . .

[2:45 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: It sounds like a second supplementary.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Why don't you be quiet and listen, you little witch?

Mr. Speaker, according to the agreement with the contractors, the Minister of Education owes this Legislature an explanation because according to the agreement that was signed with the contractors the building is 160,000 square feet, not 171,000 square feet, as he is trying to tell in his justification for this $30 million school that he is constructing.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order. It is simply a disagreement here. The figures are interpreted by the minister and by the honourable member. There is no point of order.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[Page 999]


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.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for the resumption of the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, last night I spoke for about 10 minutes just before the adjournment for the evening. I would like to begin again today. Very briefly last night I did say how pleased everybody was, I am sure, to see you in the Chair and indicated that you have very large boots to fill because we have had such great Speakers over the years. In fact, one of the Speakers of our Legislature is now Secretary General to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Mr. Arthur Donahoe. That is quite an honour and it is something that I hope you will strive for as well, to be recognized by your peers at an international level.

One of the nice things about a Throne Speech is that you can talk about your constituency and you can be very proud of some of the areas of your constituency. The only danger in doing that - and it happens all the time - is that we will be mentioning one of the communities and may in fact forget another. A couple of years ago I was making a Throne Speech Reply and I was talking about how valuable the legion, the Lions Clubs and the Rotary Clubs are and one of the people who happened to see a copy of my speech said, you did not mention our service club and truly I did not. So it is very difficult not to miss a community or miss one of the very important service groups that is operating within our constituencies.

Last year was kind of an exciting year for Kings North. Last spring when the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival started the year for the tourist season with the biggest festival in Atlantic Canada, we were very fortunate that Emily Ryan was chosen as Queen Annapolisa. Emily Ryan went on from the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival to become Miss Canada International at a competition this fall. Emily is currently representing both the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival and Miss Canada International at many functions throughout Kings County, throughout Nova Scotia and indeed across Canada. We are all very proud of the contribution that Queen Annapolisa is making to the Canadian fibre.

The largest community in the riding of Kings North is, of course, Kentville. Kentville has been very distressed, Mr. Speaker, with this government because last spring under the federal-provincial joint works program Kentville was verbally told they would have about

[Page 1000]

$300,000 to work with this year. However, when the cheque arrived it was for merely $90,000 and this was after the Town of Kentville had done the plans and put out the tenders and, indeed, commenced the work.

As you can well imagine, the Town of Kentville is less than pleased with the relationship developing at the present time with the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs. However, the minister has indicated that he is going to work with the town, and I do hope that the minister was honest and sincere in his desire for a better working relationship with the Town of Kentville and will provide the money that was promised to the town by earlier conversations in the spring with department officials.

This year we have a new council and a new mayor in the Town of Kentville and I think we are all very proud of Gary Pearl and we are looking forward to the contribution that Mayor Pearl and his new council will make in the coming years.

One of the interesting things that happened last summer in the Town of Kentville, Mr. Speaker, was the great success of the Kentville Wildcats baseball team. The Kentville Wildcats won the Canadian championship for baseball and in the year they did, I think the member for Richmond was a member of that team. The Kentville Wildcats came on this year like a house on fire and they were doing very well. In fact, they placed second in Triple "A" ball in Nova Scotia. The final game was in Dartmouth and it was an exciting game. There were literally hundreds of people from the Town of Kentville; there were thousands in the Kentville ballpark towards the end of the baseball season. It is really kind of exciting to see that people in Kentville and surrounding areas are so interested in baseball, because it makes for such great entertainment and a great opportunity for families to get out and go to the ballpark and enjoy one another and meet their friends and neighbours under such a great setting.

Mr. Speaker, one of the organizations that I do have to say something about is the volunteer fire service. The volunteer fire service in Kings County is probably as good and as active as any fire service within the entire Province of Nova Scotia. Kentville, of course, has the largest fire service in Kings County and it is all volunteer - Port Williams, Canning, Halls Harbour and Scots Bay. One of the interesting things, about five or six years ago now, Halls Harbour decided they needed a fire service because they are about 30 minutes from downtown Kentville. The local folks got together and they built a fire hall and bought one old second-hand truck. Now they have, I think, five vehicles in total and they have a very active fire-fighting service.

In Halls Harbour, they showed the way for Scots Bay. Scots Bay has been interested in a fire service because they are about 35 minutes from Canning and on a snowy night it is very difficult to get up over the mountain. One of the residents of Scots Bay bought a fire truck this past summer and the community got together and they are building as we speak,

[Page 1001]

Mr. Speaker, a new fire hall for Scots Bay. That was made possible partly through the federal-provincial-municipal infrastructure program.

AN HON. MEMBER: Good program, good program.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, that's right. I just wish the program was as successful in the Town of Kentville as it was in Scots Bay. However, we are hopeful that the Town of Kentville will get the amount of money they were promised.

Mr. Speaker, the legions that we have in Kentville and Canning are so vital and important, and one of the interesting things on Remembrance Day, at the service, was the presentation by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Kentville Legion and they presented their cheque for several thousand dollars to the legion so they could help carry on their work and their programs throughout the community.

We are very lucky, too, in the Valley that we have Lions Clubs in Kentville, Port Williams and Canning. They are always very active and they are always serving their community. Our Rotary Club in Kentville is an active club and just completed their successful rotary auction where they raised about $25,000 to help handicapped children and needy individuals throughout Kings County.

Mr. Speaker, Kings County is a very vibrant and a very enjoyable place to live; in fact, there are a great many people who have retired and decided they want to spend their retirement years living in the beautiful Annapolis Valley, and they made Kentville a part of their neighbourhood.

We have a lovely hospital in Kentville, Mr. Speaker - the Valley Regional Hospital is located in Kentville - and it is probably one of the most modern and well-equipped hospitals in the province. The staff, of course, are suffering the same situation there that they are in all hospitals throughout Nova Scotia. They are probably the most competent staff anywhere; you couldn't find better staff anywhere in the world if you went looking, but they are overworked. The health care cutbacks, the reduction in staffing, the reduction in the medical staff, are having a very large toll.

The difficulties that have been arising from these very large regional health boards, that the Minister of Health forced on Nova Scotians, prior to his forced resignation from the department and his very well advised resignation from this Chamber, are having a very bad effect in our area and our region. Hopefully, before too long we will be able to overcome the difficulties that the regional board is inflicting upon health care in our area, in fact right across Nova Scotia.

The volunteers are so important at the hospital. I can tell you with all honesty and sincerity, Mr. Speaker, our Valley Regional Hospital would not be able to open its doors if

[Page 1002]

it were not for the volunteers. It is interesting to talk to some of the volunteers working in the hospital. They have hundreds and thousands of hours of volunteer work put in because they enjoy making a contribution that helps, in a very meaningful way, the health and well-being of their fellow citizens.

The hospital auxiliary in Kentville at the Valley Regional Hospital operate a canteen. The regional board has not taken that over as yet, the way the regional board sent the volunteers out of the operating of the canteens in the hospitals in Halifax and gave it to a private enterprise to run. In the Kentville Valley Regional Hospital, all of the profits from the operating of the canteen, selling the paintings and so on, are going directly into the health care of Nova Scotians because the volunteers who are running it from the auxiliary are working very hard to make sure that all the dollars go towards health care in our area. So our volunteers are making health care better in the Valley.

A great source of enjoyment for Nova Scotians, I guess, is the rural communities. One of the nicest communities is the Sheffield Mills area, not far from my home in Upper Dyke. Every year Sheffield Mills has its Fall Field Day. Last year Jim Taylor provided dinner for, I think, 150 people, with planked salmon. Mr. Speaker, the planked salmon they were serving in Sheffield Mills was probably the best planked salmon ever cooked in Nova Scotia. Jim has a secret recipe and a secret sauce. The tickets were sold before the banquet had even started. It was a great addition to the Sheffield Mills fair, along with the auction. Everybody who was there enjoyed it and can't wait to have another planked salmon dinner.

Now the other event that happens in Sheffield Mills is the eagle watch. Now all people in Nova Scotia are interested in putting shoulders on the tourism season and making things a little longer. Well, Sheffield Mills decided in February that we should have something for people to do outdoors, so they have started the eagle watch. The eagles have been coming to Kings County in Sheffield Mills and the Canning area probably for the last 10 years but now there are enough of them so that sometimes you can be driving down and you will see a big tree. There may even be 25 or 30 of these huge eagles sitting in the trees. The farmers feed them, keep them around for the winter and they spend their summers in the beautiful Bras d'Or Lakes. So we have the eagle watch and the fair in Sheffield Mills and the baseball field, so that always contributes to the community atmosphere.

Halls Harbour Days, with the rowing and the great barbeque, there is always something to look forward to in August. Scots Bay Days, now, Mr. Speaker, July 1st wouldn't be complete without a trip to Scots Bay to watch the parade. Last year it was nice because we were able to enjoy the newly renovated community centre. That is always kind of a treat because there is often a pantry sale and knitting and so on. It is a great way to spend the day. People from all over the Valley arrive at Scots Bay for the day to enjoy the activities and see old friends.

[Page 1003]

Kingsport is not to be outdone. They always have the Kingsport Gala Day with a parade, a barbeque, an auction, a huge bingo, fireworks in the evening, volleyball on the beach. A few years ago they even had bathtub races down by the water. Kingsport is very active as well early in July.

[3:00 p.m.]

The Port Williams Lions Club and firefighters get together and they sponsor the Port Williams ox pull and I think that ox pull has been going on for about 70 years now. It is very well attended and there are many teams of oxen from all over the county and all over the province, in fact, that come and spend the day. There are games of chance and a great supper in the evening. Our communities are really what make Nova Scotia strong and really what makes Nova Scotia so attractive to people to want to live and stay here.

When you go over to the western end of Kings North to Woodville, Woodville has probably the grandest organization for having community suppers that you have ever seen. They have a turkey supper in Woodville that would be the equal of any supper that even your mother perhaps made because the Woodville folk really know how to put on a great supper. It is very popular, always sold out, the waiting line sometimes takes an hour to get in. Also in Woodville, is the George Lynch Museum which is a history of agriculture in the Woodville and Kings County area over the last hundred years or so. It is really worth a look in the summer when Mr. Lynch has it open. It is the communities and the people who live in them that make Nova Scotia strong. The community of Woodville has its volunteer fire service and they are combined with the fire service that is also expanded into a larger area of our community. The Volunteer Fire Service provides such a great help in Woodville.

The three areas of concern in Nova Scotia at the present time where people are telling me they feel that this government has let them down most severely is education, health care and job creation. Sometimes they say it is job creation, health care and education but always there are three concerns that my constituents have and it is education, health care and lack of jobs.

One of the lightning rods, of course, for education is the new school that the Minister of Education and the former Minister of Education announced would be replacement for Horton. It started out as $7 million and it is now up to an announced $27 million but with the additions it will be at least $30 million. We are having a $30 million school built in one area and the other schools don't have curtains in their windows. It is difficult to justify to the parents of the students that one school will have all the bells and whistles, in fact, bells and whistles that nobody else even dreamed of, where the other schools have run out of paper. That is one of the real problems that we have in Kings County, trying to reconcile the fairness that does not seem to exist with regard to the new school and the older schools.

[Page 1004]

Parents have been very vocal and very interested throughout Kings County and throughout Kings North because some of the Kings North students will be going to the new Horton School, well certainly the boundaries are at the present time, so the children that are at Port Williams School will be going to the new Horton School. Now perhaps the boundaries will change because there are so many people moving to the Wolfville-New Minas corridors so that their children will be sure of getting into Hortons but the boundaries may change for all I know.

Health care, I mentioned very briefly that there is a great deal of concern and about the overworked medical staff at the hospitals in Kings County. Health care is important. The government is spending more money on health care now than it did in 1993 but yet the people who are in need of health care are saying, look, it is just not there. The government is saying, well, we don't need this much hospital care because we have home care. So many people call me and say, if this home care is so readily available, why can't I get it?

Job creation, what we need is a plan for creating jobs and it is just not there. We read an announcement one week that the government is giving $10 million to AT & T to create some jobs in metro. We see another announcement of a similar vein and it just is not having the spin-off effect in rural Nova Scotia at the present time.

Last summer, I have to tell you, was probably one of the most difficult summers to live in a rural area of Nova Scotia, to talk to the farmers as they watched their crops dry up and just disappear, to talk to the farmers as their hay crop did not mature, to talk to the farmers this fall when they were combining their grain corn and it looked as if it was going to be a crackerjack of a year but yet the drought even affected the yield in the grain corn. The corn did not mature properly so it is much higher in moisture content than it appeared because the germination and the cross-fertilization between stalks just did not happen the way it should have happened so they are finding they are having trouble with high moisture in their grain corn of all things in such a dry year.

I cannot think of any crops or any segment of agriculture that had a good year. I know the vegetable and potato producers have had several meetings with the Minister of Agriculture because they have suffered three very terrible disastrous years for potato production in Nova Scotia. So far, all the meetings with the minister have not resulted in any tangible benefits for them. I know the beef producers in Nova Scotia, some are telling me that beef cattle numbers have decreased by up to 50 per cent in this province this year due to the lack of feedstuffs. The dairy producers in Nova Scotia were sufficiently concerned about their future that they asked for an increase in the price of milk that would offset the high price they had to pay to bring in cattle feed from other provinces and they were turned down.

We are at a crisis in agriculture. Agriculture employs about 15,000 Nova Scotians. It is a $1 billion industry and this government has totally and completely closed its ears to the hardship that farmers are going through. I can say that with all sincerity and all honesty and

[Page 1005]

defend it, Mr. Speaker, because if you look at the record of this government since 1993, you see cutback after cutback in agriculture. There is absolutely no increase in agricultural funding. In fact, there has been a $10 million decrease. What do we see when the farmers are going to the government and asking for drought assistance? We see a fancy pamphlet with the minister's picture on it and a few little comments inside from the Minister of Agriculture.

When I look up above during Question Period in the gallery, I see five or six public relations people from the Premier's Office and from other ministers' offices. This government is starting to become the government by public relations. The Government of Nova Scotia can send out all the growing together booklets it wants but when you read the message inside, it tells you the terrible things that are going on in agriculture and the lack of hope. The minister indicated he went to Ottawa to try to get help from the federal minister and the federal minister indicated that he was sympathetic but he could not do anything.

A government that has taken $10 million from a primary industry, has reduced the staff, forced people to take early retirement, cut back on services, put a fee for service in everything else, and then when farmers are starting to hurt the government gets kind of a puzzled look. Agriculture is a primary industry in Nova Scotia and if this government is not very careful, it is going to see agriculture disappear from the face of this province. That is 14,000 jobs and unless this government can come up with 14,000 new jobs, I suggest the government start paying heed to the farmers and the Federation of Agriculture.

The price of hay, for instance, it was $1.50 to $2.00 and it is now $5.00 to $7.00. That is the change, that is what farmers are looking at. This is an immediate hardship. Making a farmer a loan and saying, you won't have to make payments for one year, that just does not cut it. Telling livestock producers they can have a tax deferral on the livestock that they sell this year, the government is telling them, get rid of your livestock, we don't want a beef industry in Nova Scotia. That is the wrong message. We want to increase agricultural production in Nova Scotia.

We aren't going to have a drought every year, but the years we do, I think it is incumbent upon the government to be there to help. I think it is incumbent upon the ministers in this government to be more responsive to the requests of the farmers. The farmers aren't people who are banging on the government's door looking for hand-outs all the time. Farmers in Nova Scotia are there creating jobs year after year, year after year.

Mr. Speaker, one of the opportunities that Nova Scotia had is this Sable offshore gas. We just had 57 days of hearings. At the end of the hearings, some of the comments that the Joint Public Review Panel report said about the Government of Nova Scotia were very unflattering. The main area of concern that stood out so quickly was the fact that the joint review panel said they have no plan. We are looking at the largest gas deposit in North America right now. We are sitting here with a government that has some responsibility to the taxpayers of this province and they went ahead without a plan of asking for minimum gas for

[Page 1006]

Nova Scotians? They didn't ask for minimum price, they didn't ask for unlimited supply, they didn't ask for a universal network service so both Cape Breton and the mainland would have it. They haven't said it has to go to Halifax, New Glasgow, Truro, Sydney; they haven't even said gas is going to go to Point Tupper.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Nova Scotia was criticized by the joint review panel because there was no planning for jobs so that Nova Scotians could take advantage of any opportunities that did develop. The offshore gas is being developed, but it is being developed by offshore companies from other parts of Canada, North America and, indeed, Europe. The joint review panel criticized the Government of Nova Scotia for not taking any steps to do some educational planning so that Nova Scotians would have the opportunity to take advantage of the jobs that could be available.

One of the areas of great concern, Mr. Speaker, is the petrochemical industry. The development of oil and gas in Alberta just drifted along and it just poked along and everybody was making money and nobody cared, but then all of a sudden there was a bit of a depression in oil prices and Alberta stopped getting much revenue. They could see right then and there, they said, we have a problem. The spin-off jobs, the added value to the oil and gas was taking place somewhere else. Premier Lougheed of Alberta said, this isn't good enough, oil companies. He said, if you want to have our gas to export and our oil to export, you are going to do the further processing in Alberta. Today, the Province of Albert has the second-largest petrochemical industry in North America, only larger is Texas. Premier Lougheed in Alberta has the largest Canadian petrochemical industry in all of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, during the joint review hearings, Mr. Hogg, the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources for Nova Scotia - at that time he was a spokesman - was asked about the subject of liquid gas, "Can you tell me if the ethane will be shipped with the gas or separated out?", and Mr. Hogg replied, ". . . all of the liquids would be shipped across the Strait to Point Tupper.". He was asked, "The ethane will be part of what is shipped to Point Tupper?". He replied, "That is my understanding.". The SOEP people say that is not the case; in fact, the Premier indicated that it shouldn't be the case. He said that our gas is more valuable, it heats better, it burns hotter with the ethane in it. That is right, and I can guarantee you one thing, there is going to be a company sitting in Boston hauling that ethane out when it hits Boston and they are going to be using it in the petrochemical industry.

[3:15 p.m.]

Now we have a choice, Mr. Speaker; either we say we are going to have a petrochemical industry in this province or you don't get the gas. If all we are going to get out of the gas is to watch it go by and get a very marginal royalty, no guarantee of price, no guarantee of supply, what is the point? Let's wait until we can get a deal that indicates that Nova Scotians are going to get the very best benefit for all Nova Scotians. That is certainly there.

[Page 1007]

When Premier Lougheed in Alberta decided they were going to have a petrochemical industry, the oil companies didn't leave. The same oil companies that were then shipping the ethane, the propane, the butane, they stopped doing that, and they are building petrochemical plants in Alberta. Even today they are still building them. There is one being built at the present time and I think it is for 20,000 barrels a day, which is the amount they are telling us we are going to have in Point Tupper, without the ethane even.

Mr. Speaker, it is critical at this time in our history that we become a have province and gas can do it for us. We have to make sure that the oil companies know we want what is best for Nova Scotians. The oil companies are not going to pull out if we develop a hard line, as long as it is fair to them, but if it is fair to the oil companies and fair to Nova Scotians, then we have a great deal, and the potential of development in unbelievable. There will not be an office empty in the City of Halifax; there will not be a supply ship not working. Up and down the coast of Nova Scotia you will see a boom, but we must make sure that we get all the benefits we are entitled to.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is very confusing for Nova Scotia, and a couple of weeks ago Harry the Hat was writing in the newspaper and he had a lot of questions. Harry Flemming is a news journalist and he keeps fairly well-informed of what is going on, and he had more questions than answers. So if he is questioning it, I am sure all Nova Scotians are wondering. It is sort of something that is out there, that they don't deal with, they don't work with and they are not that concerned with, but the Province of Nova Scotia must be concerned for them.

Just the availability, 85 per cent of the gas has to go to Boston, according to the spokesman for SOEP. Mr. Irving said 15 per cent is going to New Brunswick. Well, unless there is more than 100 per cent, we have a problem.

Yesterday we heard that the biggest oil well ever producing in one day was in the Newfoundland offshore. When they started pumping off in the offshore they said, look, a surprise, there is twice as much oil as we thought. Mr. Speaker, I venture to tell you that when they start bringing gas ashore, the day they start bringing it ashore they will say, by golly, look, there is twice as much gas as we thought. So, there is no shortage of gas, but there will be a shortage of jobs for Nova Scotians unless the Premier of Nova Scotia can do a better job than the previous ministers in charge of natural resources did with that program. We heard the Premier speak very firmly and strongly. I hope his actions will back up his words.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have opportunities in Nova Scotia, but one of the problems has been the lack of interest by this government in Nova Scotians' well-being. In New Brunswick, for instance, if you look at the pipeline routes, the New Brunswick Government said, look, we are going to have the pipeline near Fredericton; so the pipeline makes a bow so it goes up to Fredericton. The pipeline company, the first thing they said, it is going to Fredericton and

[Page 1008]

it is going to go to Saint John. The pipeline company said, well the first thing to do in Nova Scotia is get out as quick as we can. That is not good enough.

According to the joint review panel there are 1,200 direct jobs and 380 indirect jobs to be created in New Brunswick; 720 and 320 in Nova Scotia. Every time we pick up the paper on this deal we are finding out that New Brunswick got a better deal than we did. New Brunswick went to the table with nine demands, I think, of the oil producing companies. They agreed to seven and they are in business. Nova Scotia went with nothing. We had no demands and when SOEP finished with us, we had nothing. The Premier recognized that and he hopped in and said, look, I have to make this better. We have been anxiously awaiting the results of his talks and his hearings ever since.

The gas is very interesting and it is something that has occupied a lot of time of some of the members of the House for the last three or four years. The people of Nova Scotia still are wondering what all the fuss is about. The government is doing nothing to answer all the questions of the people in this province. The natural gas will come ashore but will it do for Nova Scotia what it should do for Nova Scotia and what it could do for Nova Scotia?

This government takes great pride in talking about its accomplishments in the last three and one-half years. Sometimes I wonder if they don't talk too much about their accomplishments because let's look at the record of this government since 1993. The tax increases are unbearable to Nova Scotians. The very first thing this government did when it came into power was raise taxes.

It raised it 3 per cent on electricity; 1 per cent, the sales tax. Every single fee whether it is a marriage licence, a driver's license, the registration on your car or even a fine for speeding - all of those things went up in price so that this government could have more money.

Then the HST arrived. This government told us it was going to be the greatest tax cut since the history of man. Well, I guess we found out different. Our Leader this morning was asking questions about it and what it has done and what the business community and the homeowners and the householders are telling us is that this HST tax grab is hurting sales in stores, it is hurting business.

The health reforms have caused doctors to move away and there are huge cracks in the systems. They are spending more money on health care now than they did in 1993. That is a question, how can they spend more money and provide worse service? This is a hard problem to fathom but they have been able to do it. The downloading to municipal taxpayers is not very fair. It was not fair at all. The federal government downloaded, these federal Liberals downloaded on provincial Liberals and the poor old guy, in the end, is the municipal taxpayer.

[Page 1009]

The first tolled highway in Canada. That is a great study in itself. The province finances it. The province paid for one-half of it. We still don't own it and the guys driving on it have to pay $3.00. This government (Interruption) What?

AN HON. MEMBER: They will put that in their brochures.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Yeah, they will put that in their brochures.

The government says they balanced the budget. Even though they raised every single tax imaginable in Nova Scotia, even though they increased every fee in Nova Scotia, even though they downloaded to every municipal government in Nova Scotia, and even though the federal government increased the transfer payments by how much?

AN HON. MEMBER: Almost $1billion.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Almost $1 billion in three years. Can you imagine, this government still cannot balance the budget with all the tax increases, with all the handouts from the federal government, they still cannot balance the budget. This is the most bizarre government I have ever seen in my life but yet they run around the countryside taking credit for balancing a budget which they never, ever have done yet. I do not understand how a government that entered and won an election on no new taxes and 64,000 jobs has failed so dismally but yet they can stand up and wave the flag. I guess it is the old story, if you tell a falsehood long enough and often enough, people will start believing it. You better try a little harder because you cannot fool Nova Scotians. They know that the budget is not balanced and they know that they are paying more taxes now than they ever did and they are getting less service.

The wage roll-back, unpaid leave to civil servants and now when the roll-back is no longer in effect, you would think that the civil servants would get their 3 per cent back. Not from this crowd. Millions of dollars in compensation for fired bureaucrats. Remember all the deputy ministers that this government fired? They said they were no good and they were going to get good ones. They brought in all of these people from all over the countryside and I don't know, is there one of them left now? Not even one. All of these bureaucrats that this government brought in from all across Canada, they hired them, they fired them and then they had to give them huge severance packages. This was bizarre. This is some government.

The Queen Elizabeth II monstrosity. I have been in the QE II a few times in the last year. Go on up and have a look, I urge any of you members to tell me that is health care at its best. We are very lucky that the gentleman resigned from the Legislature after he was kicked out of the minister's portfolio because the harm that Ron Stewart did to health care in Nova Scotia will live on for years and years. The QE II is not functioning very well at all. The staff are working rigorously and are probably working beyond the call of duty. The care they are giving to the patients is beyond question, the best possible care that can be given but they are working under very adverse conditions.

[Page 1010]

The Pharmacare premium that is hurting the senior citizens but it is saving the federal government millions of dollars. The program was put in without the understanding of Medicare and the first responsible person is. The senior citizens of Nova Scotia should not have to pay the $215 premium. This government did a tax grab on senior citizens. The 911 system, anybody in Nova Scotia that thinks it is working is not paying any attention.

Casino gambling, this government that was opposed to gambling and casinos sent a committee around the province headed by the Speaker who came back and said, we don't want casinos in Nova Scotia. Forty-five thousand people said, we don't want casinos in Nova Scotia but we had one minister, the Minister of Finance said, oh yes we do and now we have got one. It was pretty unfair. They said, we will take proposals for casinos and half a dozen people put in proposals and they took the best proposal. I mean, this was fancy, they had a huge restaurant, a huge casino, all the diagrams, designs and the waterfront, the moorings for boats, it was out of this world. We thought we were living in Las Vegas. They said okay, we are going to take you guys, let's go with the ITT Sheraton Casino, this is the best proposal.

As soon as they got it they said, we were only kidding on that proposal. We just put that proposal in so that you would accept our bid but that is really not what we plan to do. We are going to finish up the lobby a little bit and fire some of those one-armed bandits and a few tables in the lobby of the hotel and that will do for now. You see, the government went along with it, the government agreed with it, the government said, okay. And it wasn't at all what was supposed to be there but this government said it is fine anyway, do whatever you like. The government said there would be no free liquor in the casino. Well, how long is that going to last? They said there would be no free rooms in the casino. You know, everything the government said they would not do they have done.

[3:30 p.m.]

They said they would balance the budget and they haven't. The farmers in Nova Scotia are at about the bottom of the heap of priorities for this government. I don't think there is a member in this government who cares one iota about the future of agriculture in this province. It is so blatantly obvious that this government doesn't care about farmers that last year they brought in a special farm tax on land. I mean, it is not bad enough that they taxed everything else in the countryside, they decided that they were going to tax farmland as well, Mr. Speaker. This is unfair and it is placing Nova Scotia farmers at a distinct disadvantage over other farmers within the country.

The abandonment of rural Nova Scotia by this government is so obvious when you go to the towns and the communities and find out that this office has been shut down and everything has been centralized. It is the same with this love of public-private partnerships that this government talks about; you know, the government pays but they say oh, it is better because we are involving private enterprise. I am a great private enterpriser but let's put

[Page 1011]

private enterprise where it belongs and let's put government where it belongs. Let's make sure that the taxpayers are not the ones in the middle getting squeezed. It is not fair.

This government announces the policies and then they try to figure out how to make them work. Mr. Speaker, so far these public-private partners are not working. Just look at the Horton School; can you imagine, we are going to have a theatre in the school with raised, plush seats. We are going to have little balcony seating as well. I don't know who is going to sit there but some people can sit way up here in the balcony. It is going to be just like New York but it is going to be just beside the Old Orchard Inn, right beside Highway No. 101.

We are going to be able to sit up there and look down from our little theatre seats, and they are plush seats, seated on a rake, I think the rake means they are very steep.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who owns the property?

MR. ARCHIBALD: They paid $600,000 for the land, I don't know why; they paid $100,000 more to run water in an eight inch water line. Now you tell me, has anybody in the room ever heard of a school needing an eight inch water line? No, I didn't think so. (Interruption) Oh, somebody else might need an eight inch water line but the school doesn't.

Mr. Speaker, this public-private partnering jacked the price up as high as you can and then the lease goes up higher and they don't even know how much they are going to pay for a lease. The people who live in the area were absolutely thrilled when they knew they were going to get a school. Some of them, look, there are lot of them who are thrilled, they don't care what they do with it. They said it is going to be great, there will be people coming to look at it because they are not going to see another one like it anywhere in the world. They said look, if it is good, we will do it. They know that all the taxpayers in the province are paying for it and it is not just them who are paying for it. So they say look, stop complaining and let's get on with building it.

There are other, more sane people in the community who are saying look, this is getting out of hand. Mr. Speaker, it is an example of this government dealing with the private sector and coming out second every time. They came out second on the toll road and on the schools. They are coming out second on all of these projects because they haven't the foggiest notion of what they are doing.

Mr. Speaker, if you had been there when the former Minister of Education and the current minister were announcing this marvellous school at Horton on the night they did it, the former minister said, well, you know I was in the workshop and I thought of that school. I called the local MLA and I said look, let's do it. So they hustled her together from Saturday to Wednesday. The president of Acadia University had a call, he was there, he was going to be involved. I haven't seen him involved much lately. They had about four consultant groups there and they were all ready to go; we will build, you just tell us when we can start building

[Page 1012]

and we will build it. They had no idea of the size, the location, the need or anything else. All they knew was we need an announcement, we have to do it.

So they made the announcement, Mr. Speaker, and this is where we are. This is what happens when a government makes an announcement before they find out what the devil they are doing. They did it in the offshore, they did it in the casino and they did it in the schools. Tell me one thing, well, health care, my soul, they made an announcement they were going to reform health care. Why did they not just say we are going to cut back health care? We are going to close a few hospitals. We are going to lay off some staff. We are going to close some beds. You are going to wait a little longer when you get to the hospital.

Once you get in the hospital your service is going to be as good as any in the world, but it is going to take you longer to get there. In an emergency, when you get to emergency you are going to wait two, three, four, five, six, seven hours to get to see the physician because there are only two physicians on call. You are going to wait but, once you get there, you are going to have service second to none. They have cut back on their beds. They are keeping people from getting in, but once they get there they are getting the best service in the world.

I am disappointed in this government. This government won over 40 seats in the election. They promised a lot and they delivered absolutely the opposite. I was surprised and disappointed at the performance of this government, the Savage-MacLellan Government. I have not seen anything lately that changes my opinion of where this government is going. I have not seen anything that tells me this government has a plan. I have not seen anything that tells me this government has a goal for full employment. I have not seen anything this government stands for except charging you more taxes and giving you less service.

We are suffering in road repair, in road maintenance, in road construction. It just is not there. It is so ridiculous. The highest traffic flow in Nova Scotia is from Mount Uniacke to Windsor. Half of it is a three-lane highway today, and with simply putting a lane beside that and a divider you could have a four-lane highway over half of it. Then you would only have to twin 14 kilometres and you would be in Windsor. Do you think the government will do it? Certainly not. They have no plans to do anything with that highway. The taxpayers are paying the money through their gasoline taxes and their registration. They deserve better roads, particularly Highway No. 101 through the Annapolis Valley, the busiest road at 13,300 cars a day, twice the traffic that there is on the road from Amherst to Truro, yet we still do not have a plan from this government to do a single bit of four-laning in that area.

Mr. Speaker, I will not support this Throne Speech; I am disappointed in it. I am disappointed in the government because there is no plan for jobs. There is no plan for economic recovery. This government is much in need of finding another thing to do because this government has disappointed me and most Nova Scotians. Thank you.

[Page 1013]

MR. SPEAKER: With the approval or the good graces, let's say, of the next speaker on the Throne Speech debate, a request has been made for an introduction.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce to you and to all members of the House, in the east gallery, a former MLA for Inverness South, Danny Graham, who will be recognized. It is like the baseball that you are so familiar with, when you retire they actually retire your sweater or your number. So Inverness South in due course was served with such distinction by that member that it too is retired.

Today our friend Dan is accompanied by John and Donny MacIsaac from the area of Judique, where they all reside. I would like to ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

MR. RUSSELL MACNEIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was thrilled by the last speaker's comments and I was thrilled for three reasons. One, at his hello to the Assembly; two, at all the nice things he said about his community; and the third part was when he said goodbye. Everything in between there I totally disagree with. He spoke well and he spoke long.

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, he spoke long.

MR. MACNEIL: Well, I was going to give him a couple of adjectives, but long is good. (Interruptions)

I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to spend a few moments with you and through you to the Assembly in this historic place. I would like to welcome you and the Deputy Speaker to your new positions. I know that you are going to act accordingly. In the last couple of days the road has not been very smooth and that is the joy of this place. I would also like to say to you and your families, that you deserve the positions that you now occupy. I hope that you will enjoy yourself extensively.

I would also like to take an opportunity to thank the Lieutenant Governor as he read the Speech from the Throne which outlined the way this government is going to proceed in the future. It was done with a great deal of formality, it was done regally and again, my only disappointment was that the Third Party had to disagree with the choice of Speaker and Deputy Speaker. It sort of set the tone that they are going to be negative at the beginning and probably for the rest of their lives.

[Page 1014]

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the new members because they are starting a new profession. I think, as some of our members believe, we hope that those on the Opposition, will have a pleasant stay but a very short stay. I would like to take the opportunity to extend a special welcome to the member for Cape Breton The Lakes because she is originally from the constituency of Cape Breton Centre and River Ryan in the area of Carpenter's Hill that she and her family were brought up. I don't know where they went wrong with their politics but anyway, a special greeting to her.

I would also like to take the opportunity to spend a couple of moments for some of our retiring members. The member that comes to mind very quickly, to me anyway, is my seatmate for many years, Earle Rayfuse. He was a great member and I was trying for some exciting words to describe our friendship and his contributions to the House. I would like to read from where they had a gathering for him in Annapolis. Several speakers stood at the podium reminiscing about Earle Rayfuse and his wife, Babe. The continuous theme was their friendliness and generosity as people who have been involved in many community projects over the years. Earle Rayfuse was touted among his political colleagues for his advocacy of the rural way of life. He was described as a persistent and patient man, who always presented the interests of his constituents to the government very passionately. What did Earle say? Why did he do it? Earle said, I wanted to do something to give back to the country what it gave to me and to the county. I know I can never repay what they have given to me in friendship alone and he said, you have been truly great friends.

As Earle is not reoffering, I wanted to personally say a word about it because he has been excellent as a seatmate. He has introduced many resolutions in this House about the use of provincial products. If anybody looked through Hansard they would see a great deal of resolutions by Earle to represent this province and products to be sold and used in this province. (Applause)

I would like to take a moment too, to thank the member for Pictou West. I learned a great deal from him when I was in Opposition. I like his style, Mr. Speaker. He does not take a long time to explain things, he is very direct in his questions, he is not a babbler that goes on for an hour and says nothing. So I have learned a great deal from him. I only hope that when he is in his retirement years and that he has an opportunity to learn more about golf, that I will be able to get a couple of free lessons from him. He has always been a very good member, and I respect him. (Applause)

[3:45 p.m.]

One of our own, the man for Hants East, a very good member. I mean, you never know where he is going to be, he is on the go constantly, a great speaker, a great worker for his constituents, but I know that the law practice, his profession, has drawn him away from the area of politics. I know that he will do a fantastic job as he continues in his professional duties

[Page 1015]

of law. So again, Mr. Speaker, it has been a privilege to work with the man for Hants East. (Applause)

Of course, Mr. Speaker, all members deserve great credit for representing their constituents. It is sometimes a thankless job because of the hours and the time away from home and that sort of thing. So I would think that we are all very appreciative of our spouses for giving us the opportunity of serving here. Because, Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to be here, this historic building where a lot of things are said and, because of the circumstances surrounding this House, that people can say almost anything. Most times they do, whether they are all in the truthful nature, we never know, because they are the opinions of the person who was speaking at that time. Some people have long questions, short questions, long debates, short debates, but that is their opportunity and that is something that we have to respect. We may not always agree, but we have to respect it.

I had an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to listen to a radio broadcast, I think it was on CBC, and they were talking about the people who were up in space. The conversation went something to the effect that Earth seems so small from way up there. I kept thinking to myself, they are probably right, but then when we get down to reality whereby we have all the concerns of our constituents, those are very real and they are big and they are not very far away. They are with us all the time. All members strive to do the best for their constituents, and they do it as warmly and as efficiently as possible. I do not know about the rest, but my joy is helping the constituents that I serve.

Mr. Speaker, I have to start off by saying that everything is not perfect. There is always room for some type of improvement. But what I have to say is that Premier MacLellan will seek improvements in many areas and make Nova Scotia a great place to live and work. (Applause)

I have to try now to put a contrast in from the Leader of the Opposition. I was fascinated actually, Mr. Speaker, as he was giving his reply to the Speech from the Throne because when he got up, he started sounding like Nova Scotia was the Third World. He was tearing this province down to the lowest possible ebb, but what he had also going with him, he was talking about lambs, lions, sheep, et cetera. Then I thought they hired a Disney writer so they could go on that theme. I said to myself, would anyone want a leader of the province to represent us in this doom and gloom? I would think that if we took a vote today the majority of the people would say I think not - very bad for business.

As we heard today, our Premier is forward looking in his thinking and has a positive attitude. That is what Nova Scotia needs and wants and I am here to tell you that that is what Nova Scotia will get.

[Page 1016]

I was intrigued by a whereas clause from the NDP in one of their resolutions. I think it was something to the effect, Whereas we will sell our children on the open market and make bucks off their backs. Now can you imagine that, Mr. Speaker, that anyone would bring that forth, sell our children, an NDP resolution, a whereas of a resolution. I cannot believe they would do it, sell children and make bucks on them. That is probably one of the worst things I have heard in a long time.

What also bothers me a little bit is that when they talk about a school being built in the province they call it the Taj Mahal, they call it the palace. I am saying to myself, Mr. Speaker, that children deserve the best we can give them. Is anyone against children receiving the best possible facilities and studies that they deserve? We are now in a new century with new things coming about. I am sure the Minister of Education and the people in all these school boards want the best for the children and modern, up-to-date equipment, so we are not thinking of them as schools any more.

I know my colleague from Yarmouth would agree that they are centres for the municipalities, a whole variety of things, that the schools do not close at 3:30 p.m. or 4:00 p.m. They start opening again so they don't start cleaning until 12:00 a.m. or 1:00 a.m., so they can have the full advantage of the facilities there.

When I listen to that I am saying, from the PCs and the NDP, I thought the world of Nova Scotia was gone and we are devastated. Well, I went out and checked. When I checked outside this room I found that the ocean is still here, the roads and their improvements are still here, the sky is still there and night and day still happens. So I said to myself, self, something is wrong that all things are not as bad as I heard from honourable members. I kept looking and said, in Cape Breton Centre, the area I represent, I know we have a system of roads and I would like to spend just a moment with that, Mr. Speaker.

When I was first elected I went to the then Minister of Transportation and the present one and said I have a four year plan that I would suggest we may be able to do. I suggested that all the roads that were not paved, that we look at it over a four year span. Lo and behold, it happened, systematic, where they were needed, done properly and over a period of time. The only thing that bothered me - I was very pleased that we received the road - was that those roads were there long before I came here, they were not paved then. It was 15 years that those roads were on the list.

Now I heard some honourable colleague saying that they had certain files in the previous government. I have to tell you that the files for the roads in my constituency never made it. As they were being paved and the people were very pleased at what was going on, they said why did it not happen before. I said, I cannot tell you that. All I can tell you is that the present ministers when they are approached and given a plan that seems sensible, then it can happen. So that is what I am talking about. We have some roads now that were never been paved before.

[Page 1017]

I would also like to spend a moment with an exciting group in Dominion. It is a small town that used to be a mining area. They have the Dominion Italian Club. It is a great community where they formed an Italian Choir and anybody who comes into the area in the summertime, they have a chicken feast that you would not believe, sold out completely. They have the singing, the dancing and they just make a wonderful contribution to the Town of Dominion.

As you know, on the next area to it is the Dominion Beach. Down home we call it the sandbar; excellent facility, miles and miles of sandy beach. The Department of Natural Resources have for the past number of years kept having improvements. I would think it is one of the most beautiful places to visit.

We have also helped areas in the River Ryan area on sewage assistance. There were some difficulties there and I am pleased to say that we were able to help. The whole River Ryan area where the member for Cape Breton The Lakes is from is probably one of the more expansive growing areas in the County of Cape Breton. There are 60 to 70 new homes in that area. It is just a wonderful place and they are experiencing a growth that sometimes people do not know about.

I want to spend a couple of moments with a program I find very unique and very challenging. I would think it is called the Joy Program in the town schools of New Waterford. What it is, they have a group of seniors who come into the school for those who are mentally challenged and assist them in the areas of carpentry and printing and woodwork. This has reached great success and a lot of people across this province and across this country have written and asked about the program. It is just a joy to see the seniors working with the students.

The culmination of it is when they have the annual end of the year ceremony. Do you know what the beauty of it is, Mr. Speaker? There are no guest speakers. The children themselves run the program. Attached to the school where they run this program - it is in the Mount Carmel Elementary School - through the assistance of the different departments there is a computer access for people who are in school and out of school. There is also one at the big school we have in the town at Breton Education Centre for computer access to the community and for those who are experiencing some difficulty and would like to get some help.

Another one that some people are familiar with but I would like to emphasize is the Coal Bowl Invitational Basketball Tournament, nationally known. It is an exciting place to be. Teams from all over come to visit the Town of New Waterford and area. They are usually three years ahead that people want to come. They all pay their own way to get there but they have a unique living situation where they live in the school. So there are 10 teams and in the Breton Education Centre complex the Grade 7 wing has 10 classrooms.

[Page 1018]

Each team is booked into one of these classrooms on bunk beds. The classrooms and the teachers for that class dedicate and dress up the room for the visiting team. The other exciting aspect of it is that each player that comes has a buddy from a pupil and you may not understand the word buddy but we understand it down home. And they stay with them for the full week. The coaches also have a buddy on the teaching staff. The whole town becomes highly excited and involved. Usually it is sold out right away, nice crowds. We have had all kinds of congratulatory messages from a lot of places across this country. So I am very proud of that and the people who run it, all volunteers.

[4:00 p.m.]

I would like to congratulate the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for completing the highway from Reserve to Glace Bay. Again, in a pattern that has been maintained, they did half last year and half this year. As these are finished I always wonder where the governments before couldn't see where that road needed to be done. It has been there a long time. I don't know why they didn't do it. I guess we weren't on that blue file so we couldn't get it done but managed, talked to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, gave a reasonable approach and it can be done. Within budget too, by the way, because as I understand it there were all kinds of road done and they couldn't stay within budget.

I was also very pleased that MacLellan Drive in Lingan, 16 years they have been looking for it and all of a sudden an approach is made where it is a growing community, that it could be done. Again, they were probably on the wrong coloured file.

Gardiner Mines, trying to fix up the areas and put in some sidewalks and those sort of things. So I am very proud that I have been able to assist some of the constituents and I said assist because the community themselves make the request and formalize it and my job is to present it to the ministers to see if I can sort of twist their arm to try to get a thing here and there.

Can more be done? Absolutely. What am I trying to work on? I am trying to work on Highway No. 28 which goes from the bottom of Lingan Road, up Carpenter's Hill to Emerald Street. It has been needed for a long time and I say that because it is an approach that I have used to try to get all of the streets that were not paved first and then try to get them to the highway. I would think that when the approach is made to the minister, I am hoping that he will have a very positive response because the people there wish it.

Also in that area there is a school that needs, I think, demolishing. I think we need a new school there. With my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova who has a school that needs to be changed, then we can ask the Minister of Education to give us one school to replace the two. That is not unreasonable and I am hoping when the minister makes his announcement that this school will be part of the package.

[Page 1019]

AN HON. MEMBER: In the fullness of time.

MR. MACNEIL: In the fullness of time, it will probably happen.

I was also very pleased when I heard the member talk about Fishermans Cove. I was impressed with that and I said, we have an area in our place, in my constituency, called Lingan Harbour. I said, all of the things that he said could fit into that project. Right away I made an approach to the Minister of Fisheries who has been very cooperative, so we have some things to work on to see whether we can make things happen.

I would also like to report from the last time that I talked about Cape Breton Centre, I think the only one I had was a new Tim Hortons, which is a big thing, by the way, for the community. I would like to say that we have a couple of new businesses, one called, Creative Design, a new denturist office, a small publishing company. Things are looking up, there is a steady pattern of growth.

I would like to spend just a moment or two on the New Waterford Hospital. Sometimes I get disturbed by what I hear from certain politicians. When I got elected I told the people there that the hospital will not close. In fact, it is into capacity now that when some of these patients are removed to go to the new facility in Glace Bay, then we are going to introduce a new program, so the hospital will be in continuous operation and it will be good for the people of the area.

It is disturbing when politics starts getting in. In fact, Mr. Speaker, do you know what I think? I think some of them would like to see it closed, so they would have something to raise and say, you are no good. I can stand here and say that it is not going to close, it is going to be good, it is going to be acute care and will have some chronic care, so it is going to be still in operation. I wish the gloom and doomers would go to some other hospital. Maybe it is a mental hospital, I am not sure.

I think I have to spend a moment or two on the coal industry, Mr. Speaker - difficult times. It has been before. I may get an opportunity tomorrow to spend a little more time on it. You know what? The TFAs coming out again - those from away, they are coming out again. That disturbs me but they come out all the time, they all know the answers.

I just want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that those who are in the UMW know the situation, know the way to correct it and will do a good job doing it. They have done it before and I am sure they will do it again. So they can and they will do the job that is required of them to maintain the coal industry. I would like to tell you that Premier MacLellan is very interested in the coal industry of this province because some of his constituents, like mine, work in the coal industry. So the coal industry will be needed for many years to come.

[Page 1020]

Slightly away from the constituency but involved with it is the University College of Cape Breton. I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, what a place on the Island in this university. I have to tell you that it is a handsome new structure. My colleague from Cape Breton West would agree, beautiful, handsome structures, great staff who are very modern in their teaching. I credit that to the people who run the university but also to the federal and provincial governments for providing the funding for it.

Everybody says everything is gloom and doom, I say come and visit there. They have an excellent information technology program, they have a graduate program now, a Masters Degree, and they have a business technology building that is coming onstream.

Cape Breton is undergoing a quiet revolution in information technology. What I would like to do is for the people who are here who would like to read about it, everybody has a copy of this, it is Cape Breton's Quiet Revolution, by Hal Dornadic I would request that everybody who would like to know about it to read it because they have more than 130 information technology firms on Cape Breton Island, many of the small, one or two people, but that is steady.

University College of Cape Breton is playing a big role in this, Mr. Speaker. They are establishing a Centre for Community and Enterprising Network, it unifies information technology and community economic development. It sponsors a TAG Program, not the one that we are used to in the fisheries, it is a Technology Advisory Group who are meeting to look after the business opportunities and technology advances that happen.

What I would like to recommend to you, Mr. Speaker, and through you, is that I would like to see everybody stop and visit the campus at the University College of Cape Breton, because you will be amazed and you will be amazed at the Beaton Institute which is chronicling all the activities that have happened on the Island. The member for Preston was talking about one that is going in the Black Cultural Centre in your area, Mr. Speaker. So we have the past from the Beaton Institute and the new information technologies that are looking after the future. What more can you ask? Beautiful staff, things that can happen and we know where history has taken us.

I would like to spend just a moment because most people in this Chamber have talked about them, the volunteers. I remember the member for Queens was very elaborate in his praise of volunteers. We all know that we could never exist without them. I know you, Mr. Speaker, have talked about it a great deal and they are very useful. What always amazes me is that they work so well for the community, never ask for any pay, do not worry about the time that they have to put in, do not worry about the problems that come up, they say, we will do it and they do it so nicely. So we all have to salute the volunteers who operate in all our communities and I know in some of the programs that I mentioned, all done by volunteers. So, I think we should all say a complete thank you to all the people who helped us.

[Page 1021]

The Cape Breton Economic Development Authority in the Cape Breton area is a wonderful group of people who are trying to promote the Island and the industrial area. They have one called Retirement Cape Breton. It seems to be working out well, hoping people will come back to retire, because it is a nice place to live, because we have everything that anybody would want in the cultural mosaic. While I am on that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell you that on the weekend, I had an opportunity to see two great groups. One is the Men of the Deeps, the miners' singing group who performed at the dinner for the Honourable David C. Dingwall, very well received, big crowd, 500 or 600. The following day, I had an opportunity to listen to the concert by the Cape Breton Chorale who have just returned from a tour of Scotland and were very successful. If I could put a plug in, Mr. Speaker, they have a new tape out that they would love to sell to everybody, it is very good.

I do not want to take up too much more time because there are other speakers who want to get their say in. I remember my colleague for Pictou West who never took a long time to say what he wanted to say, that is why I liked his style, that is why I praised him earlier in the day, because he knew what he wanted to say and he said it quickly and sat down. I am hoping to follow him, and if I could just conclude that I like Nova Scotia, I like Cape Breton and I like what our government is trying to do to make this a better place to live. I hate the idea of all the doom and gloom that keeps emanating from everybody. You would swear nothing was happening in the province, that is not true. There are a lot of things, and I heard member after member talk about the things that can happen in a community. Some difficulties but I am sure we can overcome them. With that I will be voting in the affirmative, and I recommend that everybody enjoy Nova Scotia and for those of us in Cape Breton, please enjoy it more than anybody else. Thank you very much.

[4:15 p.m.]

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

MR. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to offer my congratulations to the honourable member for Bedford Basin on his appointment as Speaker and to you Mr. Deputy Speaker, your more than adequate assistance to the honourable member is much appreciated. To His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor and his wife, continued good health and good service. The joy they bring to the job is refreshing and every time we see them, in the House or everywhere else, they bring a delight to the opportunity they have to meet with the public because His Honour, as he travels the province, and I have had the opportunity to be with him often as he travelled the province, has always been to engage with the people and make them recognize how important that office is. To him I offer my thanks.

To the new members of the House, and we have four of them, I extend my personal congratulations on their victory and welcome them to the House. It is an honour to serve this House. Sometimes democracy puzzles me, especially when I watch how this House

[Page 1022]

sometimes functions. It is not always pretty but it seems to work. I wish you well and recommend this place as a place of honour because that is what I believe it to be. To Premier MacLellan, I offer congratulations to him on his win of the Leadership, of his win of the Cape Breton North seat and the success he is experiencing as indicated in the recent public opinion polls. I will refer to those in just a few moments.

There was some optimism in the camps of both the Tories and the NDP for a very short time during the Liberal leadership this summer. They misread the will of the Liberal Party. They thought that the aggressive campaign would lead to a divided Liberal Party. The truth is that the Liberals have rallied behind Premier MacLellan as never before. Now the people have joined with the Liberals with hope for the future of Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: Some hope.

MR. MACEACHERN: I am glad the honourable member for Cape Breton West wants to engage this because I am sure he and I can be very helpful to each other as I move through this. (Interruption)

Oh, it was the honourable member for Hants West, I'm sorry. We can engage as well. We may even have some discussions on the community college in Hants West because I am sure the honourable member will speak to that. In a very short time the people of Nova Scotia have recognized in Premier MacLellan and the Liberal Party the only option. They have no wishes to join back with the Conservative Party in the devastation they brought to Nova Scotia. They have absolutely no wish to join with the NDP. The polls indicate that. In fact, they say, it appears that the satisfaction of Russell MacLellan as Leader of the provincial Liberals is boosting public confidence in the government, boosting. More than one-half of Nova Scotians, that's like better than good. If we had an election today more than one-half would assure us of (Interruption) We are going to do better than this because there are plans here. Now it talks about the leadership, and it speaks positively at every level, of how Mr. MacLellan is doing as perceived by the public. More significant for what I have to say as I support the Speech from the Throne is the bottom paragraph where it talks about issues.

The province continues to receive its highest marks in protecting the environment so it speaks well of that. More important, supporting business and investment is up 10 per cent. That is 10 per cent on 40 per cent. So that is a 25 per cent growth over a very short period of time. More than 4 in 10 Nova Scotians are very and somewhat satisfied with the government's performance. (Interruption)

You wait for a few moments if you think they are irritated now. We will irritate them really well in just a few minutes. Performance in providing quality public education, I have a certain interest in that. That is up to 43 per cent. That is satisfaction through a very difficult time. And it goes on. In government spending again the approval, 42 per cent, up 12 per cent. So if you look at that, that is about a 33 per cent growth in a very short period of time.

[Page 1023]

Slightly more than one quarter; by the way if you want to reverse the report card, this is a positive report card for us. We will talk for a few moments about the regard that the Conservative Party is held in at the present time. Because as we improve on this side of the House, the Liberal side, in fact the Conservatives are crashing through the bottom. In fact, my real worry, the next time around we won't even have any of the honourable members to communicate with. That will be very sad because, in fact, it makes the House much more enjoyable. Oh, the Third Party has joined in as well. I think this is going to be a very engaging one-half hour. I am kind of delighted that, in fact, I have the attention of the members opposite.

The polls speak to what is happening because the efforts over the last four and one-half years are finally catching root. The employment figures are very positive. The other indicators are very positive. We have some difficulties which I will speak to, but the turn is there and people are starting to recognize it.

During the period of the last four and one-half years, we had to do some very difficult things. It is well known that when you have to slay the sacred cows of some people they get a little sore at you. In fact, even if they should be put out of their misery, those sacred cows, in fact, the people that believed in them get angry personally, and that anger was directed at some of us and I include myself in that. Given that we have stepped aside and we have a new Cabinet dealing with the issues, people are recognizing that the issues were dealt with fairly, they were dealt with reasonably and the direction is right. (Applause)

We watched the Tories for a month or so and they had this sense that the people were going to forget what they did for 15 years of mismanagement; they believed that and they were deluded in a very serious sort of way. This poll is indicating that they are now awake and it is very important they recognize that. The Tories are no longer optimistic about winning and I would suggest their great fear is that they are going to head the way of the Mulroney Tories. In fact, remember the time in which the Tory caucus could be defined as a date in which we had Charest on the one hand and then we had the fine person from New Brunswick? They used to have their meetings as they drove to the office every day, so caucus could be arranged very quickly. I want to suggest that the honourable members are headed in that direction.

I know down in industrial Cape Breton, the Tories are having a very difficult time bringing people together because the Tories are remembered. They are remembered for what they did to us, but there was a short time where they had the sense that people were going to forget because they were angry at some of us. Now that has been set aside and they see clearly what has been done and they haven't been punished half enough.

The Leader of the Official Opposition is a fine gentleman and I acknowledge that here and I have much personal respect for him, but even his qualities cannot stop the people of Nova Scotia from remembering the disaster that was the Buchanan-Cameron era of politics

[Page 1024]

in Nova Scotia. A devastation of that Party would be a fair return for the service provided by the Tories to the people of Nova Scotia.

I am just going to share a short litany of their heritage and we will start with Westray, not only because of its tragic loss of life, which we just had the report of Judge Richard, but also because of the colossal stupidity it represented. Remember the take or pay agreement? Let me just remind you of this.

That crowd over there agreed to give Clifford Frame the following arrangement. They would buy 150,000 tons of coal if it stayed in the ground. Now let's work our way through that now at $51 a ton. We were assured in the House over and over again (Interruptions) The member for Hants West is awake and I am thankful for that. Let's consider 150,000 tons at $51 a ton every year. Now the interesting part, let's consider Mr. Frame, a shrewd operator it turns out. If he didn't dig the coal he would get $51 a ton. If he dug the coal, now take the labour costs, the risks and all of the other things, and he would get less than $51 a ton. Now Clifford Frame could figure this out, he would say, let's see, if I leave it in the ground I get $51 a ton, if I mine it, I get less than that and it costs me money to do it.

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . the day off, how would he know?

MR. MACEACHERN: That is right. In fact, if they stopped not digging it, how would they know they were taking the day off?

We had a discussion in this House one day in which the government was charged with, maybe next year they wouldn't dig the same ton of coal and get paid twice for not digging it. They told us no, that there is a map and they are able to indicate that as they move from a block of coal they don't dig this year and a block of coal they don't dig this year, then they know which block of coal they didn't dig. Now it gets better than that. When you ask them what happens at the end of 15 years, and if you do a little bit of arithmetic, $51 by 150,000 tons of coal (Interruption) Oh, we'll get to it, you just stay with me here. I am just getting going here, we'll get to that.

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . don't forget the trust fund . . .

MR. MACEACHERN: We are working our way through this. (Interruptions) The honourable member is very clearly awake and we have got them engaged.

Continuing here, if you work it and then we ask the question, what happens at the end of the 15 years after we gave all the money to this mining operator? They said, we will own the coal then. Mr. Speaker, we owned the coal then before we started. So we gave them all this money not to dig the coal and then we got the coal at the end of it even though it was still in the ground. Let me repeat, Westray was a tragedy of many levels but the problem with the crowd opposite was the sheer colossal stupidity of what they had done. In fact, it cost some

[Page 1025]

lives with a tragedy like we have never seen. The problem was they were not paying attention. That is very important. It was said at the time, when we were in Opposition, that that government was such poor managers they could not make money on a Cape Breton bingo game. That is exactly right. They did not know how to manage anything. (Interruptions)

Let me continue with the litany, Mr. Speaker. That is the level of stupidity. There were the police investigations, the Cabinet ministers forced to resign for various reasons, their handling of the Marshall case, the facts from the lawyerish Cabinet Minister - we all remember that - CanStone - I remember that - the road to nowhere, the liquor warehouse - remember that - the sweetheart deals for rental space, the Joe Howe Building, the Museum of Industry, the botched NSRL, the Louis loophole to avoid conflict of interest in the privatization of Power Corporation.

Those of you who are new to the House, here is how it works. We were debating the privatization of the Power Corporation in this House and the member for Cape Breton The Lakes got up and said, well, Louis Comeau is in fact negotiating this deal. Isn't he in conflict of interest because he is negotiating what, in fact, he is going to get after they privatize it? He was negotiating his new contract with himself basically. By the way, that makes for easy negotiations but in fact what happened is that they recognized that was so, so here is what they did. They passed at the bottom of the bill the following statement, that if he is in conflict of interest, he is not. It was the most curious thing. The whole crowd of them passed from one to the other. Let's think about the reasonableness of that.

At the particular time it was actually coined the Louis loophole because the whole crowd of them crawled through it to get to the other side. It caused us some certain difficulty in the coal industry. In fact, I was listening out in the legislative lobby yesterday as they were protesting the difficulties in the coal industry. We said in this House for a period of 100 hours that the privatization of the power corporation would cause huge difficulties to the coal industry. They said, no, it is not so. There are guarantees. There are assurances and all of that. It was not true then and it is not true now and they laid the foundation of what is happening right now, to the difficulties we are having because once it became privatized, the Power Corporation no longer can be a divisive public interest. They did that.

More than that, Mr. Speaker, they stood up in this House day after day and they assured people in Nova Scotia by the statements of the president of the corporation, statements of the minister of the day and of the Premier that, in fact, there were assurances and guarantees, but there were not. It was not a question of them moving forward on their wishes to privatize, that was their right. It was the blatant denial of something that was absolutely obvious to anyone who is paying attention that has caused us difficulties.

I am not finished. The litany can continue here: deputy ministers negotiating their own retirement enhancement plans which was a most curious thing. I remember that well. Remember the workers' comp lawyer who really did not have three jobs and the Premier of

[Page 1026]

the day got up and said, no, she does not have three jobs. She only has this one and this one and this one. I remember that well. One of the reporters said, isn't that three? And the Premier goes, yeah. I mean this is a curious world that we inherited here.

Then there was the Iona Bridge, whether it was concrete or not concrete. Then of course there is the removal of the tolls at the Causeway. We all remember that. We Cape Bretoners were pretty proud of that and 14 people worked there. One day a guy is on the way to work - I think it was a week or two before Christmas and he is on the way to work and when he gets there the bulldozers are taking the toll booth down. Okay?

AN HON. MEMBER: What for?

MR. MACEACHERN: Nobody could figure out because the money being made was paying for the maintenance of the bridge. (Interruptions) You found out? (Interruptions) Pardon? Oh, I see. They sent him back. He did not have a token so he had to take the toll booth down. I understand the story. Anyway, just before Christmas.

[4:30 p.m.]

Remember the gravel delivered on the doorstep in Guysborough County? We all remember that one. Remember no pavement in Antigonish? We all remember that, we used to close our eyes at that moment where you go from Pictou County to Antigonish County and you would hear clump, because there were more potholes in Antigonish. At the Pictou-Antigonish line there was a post and the pavement stopped at the post. They should have been generous enough to go maybe a metre or two further but they stopped at the post. Amazing. We would have this game, we would have the people in the back seat tell me when, in fact, you got to Pictou County and you could tell with the pavement. (Interruption) Hants East is the same, okay, that is pavement of politics, a crowd of them anyway.

Remember the Westray minister who didn't know the roof was falling? He forgot that the roof was falling in the mine so we had that episode that went on and on where the minister responsible had no idea what was going on.

By the way, we can finish with this because then there were the toilet seats. In fact, for those of you who have any doubt about the foolishness of it, not only did they pay $50,000 for electronic toilet seats, but they then gave them away in an auction. Someone bought them and took them back and sold them in Nova Scotia at a profit. I mean I can't figure that out, it was a curious kind of thing. (Interruptions)

[Page 1027]

Mr. Speaker, the curious thing, you see the honourable members right now recognize that the change that has taken place in the Liberal Party is assuring those honourable members that they are headed for a very short history. Let me repeat, they should call Charest and ask where they held their Cabinet meetings when there were two of them because they are probably going to need that.

Now let me share, Mr. Speaker, the honourable members are talking about longevity. Let's talk about longevity for a moment. The honourable members were here for 15 years and have 15 years of shame. I will trade the four years we had and what we accomplished at any time because we are going to get to some of the things we have done.

Now, I want to talk about the New Democrats for just a moment. Now the New Democratic Party has had unprecedented support in public polls. It is still there, Mr. Speaker. In fact, imagine in Nova Scotia the NDP almost double the Tories. You talk about an embarrassment, I mean that would scare me. They have peaked and people are asking what would happen if Robert Chisholm and his fantasy crew, get their hands on the public purse. Bob Rae did to Ontario what Robert Chisholm hopes to do to Nova Scotia. At a time when our economy is just starting to take off, it frightens me, the idea of those people who believe that the public purse can provide everything for everybody because that is not possible.

Glen Clark, for example, in British Columbia is starting to learn the problems in making promises. Once you start keeping them you get yourself in big trouble because they are not realistic. In fact, I want you to consider for just a moment, Mr. Speaker, that in British Columbia the electorate was in the process of suing the Premier because he said they had a surplus and, in fact, they had a huge deficit in the order of $1 billion when, in fact, they would have known that.

Only the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party have shown life but the government of Roy Romanow is a middle-of-the-road government. In fact, in Saskatchewan a curious thing is happening, there is a group of NDP'ers who are forming a new Party because they are saying that Roy Romanow is too far to the middle, that they have left the dogma of the New Democratic Party, which is a very curious idea and I think that is probably correct.

You see, Mr. Speaker, if a solution sounds simple it is probably wrong. So it is with the New Democratic analysis of the national economy and the fair tax system they speak of so often. They say that if only the government would tax the big corporations then the tax burden would be better distributed and not rest on the backs of the poor and the middle class.

Let's give an example; Maple Leaf Packers are now having this problem with their packing plants in Ontario and out West. In fact, Maple Leaf Packers have shut down their Alberta operation because of the strike, have moved into Tory Manitoba with grants; (Interruption) They received grants from the government, that is exactly right. Now here is the curious thing; when you check and find out that this corporate monster that is devouring

[Page 1028]

their unionized workers, who are the biggest shareholders? The union trust funds. The union pension funds own that corporation. So we have a real problem. In fact, most of that corporation, Maple Leaf Packers, is either union pension funds or in fact people who own mutual funds, own that corporation.

Now when you start talking about this ordinary understanding of Daddy Warbucks victimizing people, that whole scenario now does not exist because the ownership of corporations has changed significantly over the last 20 years. In fact, we have to get a new understanding and this fair tax system that they are promoting, and you can all remember by the way, when the federal Leader was in a debate in Halifax and somebody asked, where does the rich start. Does it start at $30,000, $40,000, $50,000? That is when their fair, simplistic system falls into trouble.

AN HON. MEMBER: What did Alexa say?

MR. MACEACHERN: She kind of, yeah, that is exactly how she expressed it.

Despite their fantastic claims that the public purse can do everything for everybody, I could accept their misdirected claims, but I cannot stand their self-righteousness. They are the good and the caring and anyone else is self-serving and corrupt - that is us - nobody cares but the NDP. The constant insipid whine that they, and only they, know what is right is as irritating as fingernails scratching on a blackboard. Only they speak for the poor and the ordinary Nova Scotians. As one of those ordinary Nova Scotians, I cannot accept that because it is both presumptuous and false. (Interruption)

Oh yeah, I remember by the way, and I think some of the members can remember where I was lectured in this House that I should go spend an hour with poor people so I could understand poverty. I want to suggest to you that I had a lifetime. My first 22 years were like that, so I understand exactly what it was. In fact, I thought at the time - I did not say it but I can now - I have been there and I have done that, but I could not afford the T-shirt, okay, because we had no money when I was a kid. I understand poverty. But to be lectured by somebody who does not understand it that they know and I do not know, I find just insulting.

Any opportunity to speak in this House, Mr. Speaker, can never be taken lightly. As I am working my way through this, and as I said, I seem to have the attention of some of the members. I want to talk, first of all, it goes on record and I think that is important for us, but secondly it tries the patience of the members of the House. I will attempt not to try your patience and try to keep it interesting enough so nobody will go to sleep.

In 1988, when I first came to this House, I was a school teacher, a basketball coach and a bookstore owner and I arrived here. I can remember at the time, and the reason that I ran was very specific. Nova Scotia was becoming dependent on the other provinces, that is what it was. The part that bothered me the most is we were getting comfortable at it. The John

[Page 1029]

Buchanan Government had the following theory: the worse we did, the more the transfer payments and therefore the good thing to do was do worse. I am very uncomfortable with that. If success comes from failure, I do not believe that is so, because it gets debilitating for the soul of people.

Vince MacLean ably led us at that time, and somebody on the opposite side asked who was our Leader, Vince MacLean ably led us . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Another Leader you threw away. That was the first Leader you dumped before you dumped Savage.

MR. MACEACHERN: . . . that is right. I think I have their attention, Mr. Speaker. You see, the important thing is when you say something that in fact is true, when you know something that is true then, in fact, people wake up very quickly here.

The new guys, and I still see the new guys, by the way, most of us are still around. We arrived in 1988 and we arrived here for a very particular purpose. Then in fact we learned two things, Mr. Speaker, that the honourable members should learn. (Interruption) First of all, we learned how to manage issues, number one. Okay, that is number one. We learned to manage issues, but the second thing that the honourable members do not seem to understand is that in this House the advantage is with the Opposition. Every day that this House is in session, they should be scoring points, but it is very sad, as unsuccessful as they were as government, they are more unsuccessful as Opposition, Mr. Speaker, because they score seldom and when they do it is only a small score and because they did not understand it.

We started winning, Mr. Speaker, in this House, that is where the group of us started winning, again, led by Vince MacLean because, in this House, he was a master. We started winning in this House and people started to see the Buchanan Government for what it was. Mr. Speaker, just like with the emperor's new clothes, the moment it was seen, in fact, it was gone. (Interruption) We will talk about Premier Savage, you stay with us now. So what happened is John Buchanan left - you remember that, headed off to Ottawa as a Senator - and Donald Cameron became Premier. That is the crowd; that is the one.

One of the things about Donald Cameron is that he mocked this place. He scorned the Speech From the Throne that we are debating now and some of his members are debating although they kind of voted not to have one, and they even interfered with at least one of our committees. In fact, we tried to travel the province and we had to do it out of our own pockets because he cancelled the ability for a committee to decide they could do that. The member for Hants West would remember that very well, because I think he was part of that.

Donald Cameron had a republican view of government. He believed that this House was a nuisance and, in fact, it distracted him from the real form of government which he thought took place in the Premier's office. His view was even more dangerous than Buchanan's. He

[Page 1030]

saved money on plastic plants - we all remember that - drinking water and coffee, but pushed Westray with a lack of caution that ignored costs to the point of endorsing the famous take or pay that we spoke of, and Judge Richard's report speaks about the tragedy.

Our task did not change, but our target and our ammunition that we used did change. The Opposition was ready when the election came and we finally chased the Tories out completely and Cameron heads off to Boston with his rewards.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's where Mary is now, isn't it?

MR. MACEACHERN: The road to government was not an easy one. I enjoy this House very much, this is just a wonderful place, really wonderful. The road to . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Want to tell us about the URBs?

MR. MACEACHERN: We could do the URB one, we could do that, we can get to that one, but that is the self-righteousness again, that is the difficulty for me here. We are bad, they are good, I know the story, okay.

Vince MacLean was replaced as Leader, and they asked me to speak to this, and I will do that. In an episode that I will never forget and one that taught me the reality of partisan politics, a merciless business is this politics and I state that as a matter of fact that it is. As I said, I could never forget that day where Vince MacLean had to face up to that review, it is one of my saddest days in politics.

John Savage replaced Vince as Leader and this left-leaning former Mayor of Dartmouth became Premier under the warnings - and I remember them; in fact, the Conservative Party were very much issuing those warnings - that the free-spending Savage would complete the job of bankrupting the province. That was said over and over again. I personally knew little of the character of the new Premier, but somewhere there are pundits who thought they knew the man. They misread him horribly and I think they owe somebody an apology.

I have searched for an appropriate analogy to talk about the last four years and the best I could come up with (Interruption) The honourable member for Queens does this all the time, it is a very curious thing. We have seen the honourable member for Queens often express himself in this House. I remember the water treatment that the honourable Minister of Natural Resources received at the hands of the honourable member as he got incensed in this House because people were coming too close to the quick. It is a real problem for them. What I came up with is something which is very topical in Canada today. It has to do with landmines.

[Page 1031]

We all know that those people who step into fields in which there are landmines have to be very careful, cautious and it is dangerous. In fact, they interviewed a fellow the other day who is a professional landmine remover and the man has lost his arm and part of one of his legs because of a landmine and he was describing the dangers of doing this business. One of the tragedies of this world are these $3.00 landmines spread indiscriminately all over countries that terrorize people, but they must be cleaned out. It is very difficult because the mines are never mapped, no one knows where they are but somebody has got to do it. Those people who choose to do this, in fact, are stepping into areas that are going to be very risky for them. When they step there, they should be very comfortable with the fact that sometimes they become, if you want to call it, the landmine road kill and that is what we all faced at the time.

If we consider that as an analogy as we work our way through it because we entered a very dangerous business in 1993. We had optimism in May and June, after we were elected because we saw all of the possibilities. In July and August of that year, 1993, when we finally saw the realities of the books in which it wasn't $4 billion we owed, it was somewhere between $7 billion and $8 billion - people can argue about the number but it was in that order - instead of a $200 million deficit for that year, and remember, I have to keep reminding everybody that there was no budget brought down that year by Premier Donald Cameron. In fact we started to build the budget in June and July and August of that year and we were well into the year and commitments had been made and promises had been made and no money was provided for them, so we had a very difficult time. (Interruption) We will get to that, too. So July and August brought us to reality.

[4:45 p.m.]

By the way, that deficit and debt did not include the Sysco debt, it did not include the Pharmacare debt, the unfunded liability, workers' compensation, NSRL, the Teachers' Pension Fund. All of these were facing serious crunches that had to be dealt with.

There was additional money promised for school boards, there were promised schools - and we will get to schools in just a minute - to the order of $60 million, Mr. Speaker, and not a cent set aside to pay for them. We had promises for new regional hospitals in Halifax and Cape Breton, no money to pay for them; tens of millions of dollars promised for road work and not the money to pay for them; no money set aside for contracted salaries for teachers. Just when we thought we had them all figured out, another one would re-emerge. So they were coming from all directions.

In fact, one of my memories of that time, we had an agency, a government-funded agency arrive at my office in the Department of Education and Culture to ask if they could have an advance on their grant. We didn't see a problem, it was May, we figured we had delayed their payment, but it turned out that they had already used up that year's budget, they wanted an advance on next year's budget. This crowd advanced them the whole budget,

[Page 1032]

despite the fact there was no budget put into this House, the whole budget given to them. (Interruption) No, they didn't bring it here, they just gave it to them. Then they came to me, asking for the budget for next year. It is just amazing. All over the place they kept coming at us.

Mr. Speaker, we had two choices as a government, we could have done two things. We could continue the illusion and, like lemmings, like the crowd opposite, continue to head towards the cliff of bankruptcy. Like the crowd opposite, we could have blamed it on the federal government, on the value of the dollar, on the interest rates, on the lenders in New York - we have heard all these - hoping that the federal government would bail us out, go cap in hand to them. Or, we could catch hold of the problem. We could balance the books and put Nova Scotia back on its feet.

Well, Mr. Speaker, we decided - and I remember the day that we did decide that - to catch hold of this problem and put a plan in place to balance the books and give the mortgaged province back to our children. We decided that. The discussion was prolonged and the consequences of moving in that direction were discussed. By the way, they were well understood and, as it turns out, over the last summer our predictions at that particular time proved to be very true.

However, we believed that to succeed we needed three things: first of all, we had to reduce expenditures, that is obvious; secondly, we had to increase revenues, that was obvious as well; and the third thing, after we did that, we had to hope for a miracle, Mr. Speaker. If those three things occurred all at the same time, we would be okay.

Now we had little to say about the miracle, by the way, that is not the venue of this House, we don't deal with miracles here, we deal with practicalities. We could do the other two things; we could start looking at expenditures and we could look at how we could increase revenues. So with Bernie Boudreau, the member for Cape Breton The Lakes, the Minister of Finance leading us with the detail, and Premier Savage leading us with the common will, we put together a four year expenditure plan and we all bought into it.

Now I say that we all bought into it and I will say it clearly; the Cabinet did, in fact, the solidarity in Cabinet was remarkable then and, as I look back on it, Mr. Speaker, it is remarkable now. Likewise, caucus stood always and defended that, they were part of that, they saw what was happening and they recognized that the pain was involved and they were part of it.

Now, Mr. Speaker (Interruptions) Well, I just predicted that. (Interruptions) I could do that. In fact, I wish I had brought Premier MacLellan's comments to the Chamber of Commerce. He talked about how well it was done. I think I hear an echo of somebody approaching the grave here, that is what I hear, an echo. They hear footsteps, whistling in the graveyard, they hear the sound of it, they do.

[Page 1033]

Mr. Speaker, the difficulty with expenditure control. There are only three departments that significantly contribute to the cost of governments, the Departments of Health, Education and Community Services. The three most sensitive areas of public policy. (Interruption) Well, in fact, they were managing it, but the cuts had to take place with the front-line departments. It is important to know that not only did we have less money, because what we were anticipating when we did the numbers, even without the nonsensical promises of the Tories of the day, we were anticipating a $660 million deficit instead of the $240 million that we were told about. If you want to consider that for a moment and that is without the crazy promises.

By the time we had to set the budget in September, we had to do two things, Mr. Speaker. We had to not only balance the books for the year, but we had to make up for the months because that crowd did not have the courage to bring forward a budget before the election. They figured they could fool the people, yes, and see if they could sneak through. It did not work then. (Interruption) I do not think so.

We set our path, we did very carefully led by a left-leaning Premier, let's talk about that for a second. We determined that no matter what the personal political cost, we would leave the province in better shape than we found it. Mr. Bernie Boudreau quoted this often at the time, the province would get off its knees that they put us on, put its begging bowl on the shelf, Mr. Speaker, and get on its own feet. That is in fact what we have done. No longer do we go to the federal government begging because we are trapped in poor mistakes. We go to them with a plan showing what we are doing and we are moving forward. That is exactly right.

To increase revenues, and this shows you the dedication of the Premier of the day, we raised some taxes, we did that, Mr. Speaker. That was very difficult for the Premier, because on a televised commitment, which we all remember, of the no more taxes, the Premier left himself way out in front. Without the increased taxes there would have been much greater cuts to services and some of them might have collapsed. This brought much criticism of the Premier, but he placed the province's needs ahead of his own.

So we started to reduce expenditures, Mr. Speaker, we did it, and we started to increase revenues, we started to do that. Then the miracle began to happen and we were in a position to take advantage of it. The dollar strengthened and that was very important to us. We used to watch the dollar every morning, if it ever dropped below 70 cents we were in big trouble, if it got above 72 cents we were in good shape.

Likewise, interest rates went down and they stayed down, Mr. Speaker and that was very useful to us and necessary. As a result, the Minister of Finance had people in place making sure that every opportunity of taking our high interest borrowing that crowd left us, could be replaced by low interest borrowing and that saved us significant dollars. I remember

[Page 1034]

one day, one transaction saved us of the order of $8 million as we were there at the right time, we sold some of the things we had and we were able to save $8 million.

The Minister of Finance took advantage of that opportunity. During those early days when we came to the House, Mr. Speaker, and this is very important to our growth as a government. I have to confess that I kind of hated the Tories, not only in an abstract way for the mess that they put the province, but personally for the pain that we were enduring. Every time that they would ask one of those questions about why we had to do this, I wanted to get up, Mr. Speaker, and in good Glace Bay language kind of let them know what the problem was. I did not, we tried to be gracious, but I learned after awhile, after one session here, that government got in place because we allowed them to be elected. The Liberal Party was not strong enough. We allowed it, it was very sad. We allowed them despite their incompetence, despite the fact that they were throwing away the public purse, despite the scandals, we allowed them, so it is a shared blame. After that, Mr. Speaker, I put it aside because when you are wasting your time on that, it distracts you from the real job at hand. So we all set that aside.

Mr. Speaker, even though we had no money, we did not stop doing things, we did a lot of things. I want to spend a significant part of the time speaking to some of those, please. (Interruption) We will get to that too. Two things, I want to speak about the Department of Education and the Department of Community Services because that is where I spent my time and I know them best, but it transfers over to the other departments because we had to take the same approach everywhere.

First of all, I cannot say enough about the Civil Service. We cut their salaries, we froze their pay, we reduced the number of people they had to work with, we asked them to work longer hours and we asked them to work harder. How did they respond to that? They responded to that by working with us, Mr. Speaker, and helping us to do what needed to be done. They did yeoman service with the ideas and the implementation of those ideas in the service of our province. I grew to admire the civil servants for their dedication to the province, for their hard work, and for their creativity and if I might add, for their good humour because as we worked our way through that there was never a time where you would have meetings that were depressing and burdensome. In fact, the good humour that they brought to (Interruption) The member from Hants West woke up again. I think this is good. I think it is the graveyard, it is the death knell of the Tory Party in Nova Scotia that we hear.

I was asked by one of the members opposite to speak about John Savage and what happened. Working with John Savage was indeed an honour for me and I will be always thankful for it. We took on the task and to a very large degree, we cleared the field led by Premier Savage. We cleared the fields for the MacLellan Government that is in place now.

[Page 1035]

The government now no longer has to do that, the things have been put in place. Some people talk about the Premier as running an arrogant, top-down directed government. In fact, I can tell you, that was absolutely not true. I want to tell you at no time in Cabinet did something leave the table except when consensus was reached. I remember, and I have certain scars on my back on some of this, I remember one issue I had to take back to Cabinet for six months until all of the Cabinet was satisfied that it could move ahead.

The Premier at no time came to Cabinet with packages for us to approve; everything was put on the table and everything was there. Those people who claim to be in the know, to suggest the opposite, are just not telling the truth. That is not true. Now those people, for example the Leader of the Official Opposition, would like to think that because it makes it easier to dismiss what in fact was done. But if he were honest and honourable, and I trust he is, and he checks into it with some of those who are around the table with no real investment in what comes next, we can tell him the truth of that.

I forgot about Debi Forsyth-Smith. I am very sad about that but that is the case. But that is okay, I can say that and it has been an honour for me. If I ever have to go into a difficult situation again and that probably will occur another day, I hope that the kind of people around me are the kind of people we had over the last four years because it makes the job easy. Let me tell you when you trust the people at your back then in fact you can move forward. When there are people who duck on you all the time and do not take on the difficult things, I would suggest that you find some other line of business. With John Savage and the Cabinet that we had, many of them whom are still in Cabinet, I have the greatest respect and the greatest trust for them and I thank them for the company and their work.

Briefly I want to talk about some of the things that were accomplished with the Civil Service, Cabinet and caucus, in the Department of Education first and then with Community Services. I will address the school situation if that would be helpful to the honourable members of the Official Opposition and Third Party.

First of all, the Teachers' Pension Fund was saved. Let me share that, I have a certain investment in that in many ways. Don Cameron signed an agreement that I think we could have improved on. But he signed an agreement. Well that was the easy part. Now it had to be paid for. How much money was left in the coffers to pay for it? Not a penny. After four and one-half years we have doubled the funded liability. We are up towards 90 per cent. The thing is free-standing and the teachers of this province can be trusted. It is looked after.

I have to clear up a myth. I think I can do that as I stand on this side. There has been a lot of claim that in fact the reason the Teachers' Pension Fund was in trouble, and I thought that when I came to government, was that it was poorly managed. That is not true. It was managed exactly the same as the Superannuation Fund and it should have been self-sustaining based on the investment. In fact, what happened is that the government negotiated benefits that it didn't fund. What happened is it got deeper and deeper into trouble because of that,

[Page 1036]

as more was coming out than actuarially could be put in. As a matter of record that is, in fact, what happened.

[5:00 p.m.]

The second thing that we are very pleased about is the Early Retirement Package. I want you to consider if I were to come to this province and commit to 2,000 jobs, paying between $30,000 and $50,000, you would say that that was a great industry. In fact, over the last four years in the Province of Nova Scotia at least 2,000 teachers have been hired, young teachers who have revitalized the school system and are making a difference. I can tell you from my last three months the difference is meaningful and is impacting on our kids in the classroom.

We have rewritten the Education Act and updated it to ensure that the schools in the Province of Nova Scotia will be safe learning places. There have been two cases, one before the courts and one before an arbitrator, that have ruled that it does provide for safe learning schools and that is very important for us.

The school boards were amalgamated and we have fewer senior managers. I understand that some of the senior managers are even able to get into politics now and that is something that happens. We have fewer managers, we have more decision-making at the school level because of school councils and, besides that, we have the Acadian Francophone School Board, which is having some difficulties as it works its way to regaining the voice they lost in the expulsion of the Acadians, but it will work its way through because it is the Acadians who are speaking to their needs and that is very important for us. (Interruption) Oh we did, in fact, I personally went down and I met with almost all of them.

If I could, I want to talk about schools because they are very important here. The Government of Nova Scotia accepted, first of all, the promises made by the previous Tory Government. They promised $60 million for the schools, those schools have been built or they are being built. The schools in Cole Harbour, Glace Bay, Antigonish and Queens were built using standard practises. However, we focussed on the environmental concerns as we travelled the province and we discovered something very interesting. In some of the schools that were built in the last six or eight years, before 1993, they were having environmental difficulties.

The older schools were having serious difficulties, most of them because of deferred maintenance and that is understandable because you consider if you were a school board or a senior manager in a school board and you have to choose between hiring a teacher and fixing the roof of a school, you say, well the roof can last one more year and you hire the teacher. That is understandable. So we had to find a way to protect the schools and make sure that the schools were always kept, maintained. By the way, I invite the honourable members to visit some of the new schools built in the standard sort of way. I visited the ones in Queens,

[Page 1037]

I didn't get to the one in Antigonish yet, but I have been to the one in Glace Bay, as you imagine, often to see the school. They are high-tech and they are no less high-tech than the ones built by the private-public partnering and we will speak to that in just a few moments.

As my staff and I started to look at this deferred maintenance problem, we tried to figure out how we could always maintain the schools because if that decision is left, then you are stuck. So we tried to figure out how what you call front-end load the maintenance of the school. If we built a school and the lifetime expectancy of the school is 25 years, we tried to figure out how we could include in the capital construction, the maintenance of the school for its lifetime, and that is how we started thinking about this thing. Then, when we started to look at the high-tech schools that we had built at that particular time, we realized that within 5 to 10 years, all of the modern equipment we had in the school would become antiquated, so we have a deferred maintenance problem in the hardware/software training of the schools as well, which was significant.

What we started to do - and this wasn't done in isolation of the department - we talked to many administrators and to contractors and all kinds of people about how we could do that. What we came upon is a partnership by which the educators do the education, the building people do the buildings and the computer people do the computers. That may sound simple but it made perfectly good sense to us. We tried to find out how we could do that, so we started exploring not only in Nova Scotia but we travelled across the country looking at different initiatives that were taken in terms of school construction. I even went to a conference in New York and I met with the crowd that the Secretary of State for Education in the United States had working on the same problem and we talked about the issues there, too. We struck upon this idea and the first project we took upon was the next school from the list, the Sydney Junior High School, so we started to look at how that partnership could be formed.

By the way, Mr. Speaker, I sat off at a distance and listened to the debate on this public-private partnering. One of the curious things that keep getting back to is the costs. I was asked this question by the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid about two years ago and I tabled in this House a comparison we made between the Antigonish Junior High, built traditional ways, and the Sydney Junior High, approximately the same size and approximately the same square footage and we tabled it. In fact, it is a matter of record in this House that anybody who wants to look at it can see that it is there and you can see that the costs are exactly comparable, despite the fact that the Sydney school has the maintenance included in it. The Antigonish school, when new things have to be done to the school, they have to be done at additional cost to the school board. So, when you look at them side by side they are comparable, that is one of the goals we had, and in fact very clearly then, and it is tabled in the House but some members are making comments as if, in fact, that wasn't done. It is in existence, it is in the record of this House and any reporter who would like to have it can pick it up by this House because it is a matter of record, itemized, audited, signed-off, all the rest of it, a matter of public record. That is the first thing.

[Page 1038]

The second item, and I am going to address very clearly the difference between this school and the other schools. The NDP are against any private involvement in the schools, despite the fact that private companies always built them anyway, so I am not going to address their concerns. I am going to address the Leader of the Opposition who talks about us providing Cadillac schools when, in fact, what we need is Chevrolet schools. I want to suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that this is a complete misunderstanding about what schools are about. It was said here in the House a few years ago that we should be building old schools. Somebody made a joke at the time, should we be using old lumber? If we are going to build schools we have to find the best schools we can build and we must build them, first of all to show that they are possible and, secondly, our children, if we are going to compete in the world, must have the best. We cannot afford less than that.

If the honourable Leader of the Opposition would ever, God forbid, become Premier of this province and would assign, say, the member for Kings North to be the Minister of Education and he would start building schools like the ones that he is proposing, I would be very frightened about that. The one thing he would contribute to is the growth of private schools because we have to get charge of this, our children are coming from a high-tech world at home, are stepping into a low-tech world and we have to provide at least the quality in the schools.

I want to suggest to him, Mr. Speaker, that we can only continue building the best we can do and anything less is not acceptable.

Continuing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk for a few moments about the community college. One of the first things we did in the Department of Education after I became minister was travel through the province and visited all the community colleges because at that particular time there were a whole lot of campuses all over the province doing all kinds of different things, some of it good, some of it not so good and some of it dreadful.

What we did, and it was a problem, Mr. Speaker, because we didn't have much money, we set about to build a community college which was parallel to the universities. When I say parallel, the universities are meant for one thing, the community colleges are training institutions. That is what they are for and I don't apologize for that.

What we did is we focused on labour market needs, how, in fact, do you take your community college to respond to labour market needs. I remember visiting one businessman during that tour, Mr. Speaker, and he had a complaint. He had called the community college in his area and said to them that he had just bought a $75,000 computer system, would you train my staff to use it? The principal said to him, we don't do that and hung up.

Mr. Speaker, that would not happen today. In fact, the community college today prides itself in being able to provide the training people need; the training has to lead to work, that is very important for us. One of the burdens we had - we have lots to say here but we will

[Page 1039]

move along here - is the federal reductions in transfers to us and the community college is the best example of that. If you want to consider, right in the middle of our plan, the federal government announced to us that all of the transfers that went to the community college were going to be removed. What we did, first of all we appealed and asked them to give us a delay. They would not do that. So we closed five campuses.

There was talk in this House and some of the members I see in this House spoke negatively of that. They talked about how there would be fewer seats and fewer opportunities. I can report, and I checked last week, this year with five fewer campuses there are many more students in the community colleges. Not only that, in the community college, they are moving on to work in unprecedented numbers with appropriate training and many people who have graduated from universities are likewise moving on to the community college.

Likewise, as with our community colleges, I will have to do a quick litany in a couple of minutes: Saint Mary's has a new business building, a new business department; Dalhousie-TUNS has amalgamated; Dal is building a new arts building; University College of Cape Breton has a new building; Acadia has its Acadia Advantage; NASCAD has new life. Our one problem on that side we have to look at very carefully is student debt. I know the honourable Minister of Education and Culture with his federal counterpart, Mr. Pettigrew, is looking at that. That is the big problem. I ask all members to recognize, by the way, this is not just a tuition problem. It is tied to tuition, scholarships, bursaries, university funding and student aid. That should be considered very carefully.

Tomorrow, I understand, Mr. Speaker, I am going to have the opportunity to speak on coal so I will let that go until tomorrow because that is very important to us at home.

I would like to just talk for a moment about the two Nova Scotias because there are two Nova Scotias. There is a Canadian planner by the name of Jane Jacobs who has written a book called Cities and the Wealth of Nations. She describes what is happening in the information age to cities like metro that are growing very well and the rural areas where everything is draining to the city. In fact, she is saying and she is saying very aggressively that we have to understand that phenomenon if we are going to have any development outside of cities. I ask all members to consider very carefully that idea because at the present time Nova Scotia is growing, the indicators are up, unemployment is down and it is very positive but it is not reaching certain parts of the province and most particularly industrial Cape Breton. That is the challenge for the MacLellan Government in the next period of time.

I would also like to express my thanks to the people, first of all in the House, who have always been helpful. Secondly, to the people from Glace Bay who have elected me twice and at the same time to the people who have supported me in terms of working for me in Glace Bay because I think they have been very important for me.

[Page 1040]

Two things, Mr. Speaker, to finish. It will not take two minutes. It will just take a moment. I have learned much from this House. I only hope we have contributed something to it. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 2 - Income Tax Act.

Bill No. 5 - Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act.

Bill No. 7 - Licences, Permits, Registrations and Certifications Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 8 - Family Maintenance Act.

Bill No. 9 - Judicature Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

[Page 1041]

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


MR. SPEAKER: Now to continue with the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

[5:15 p.m.]

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid. (Applause)

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I certainly welcome the uncharacteristic applause from all sides of the House, and I therefore promise that I will be making a couple of complimentary comments about a few things about government, not many, unfortunately, but a few and certainly about some of the members.

I must say, Mr. Speaker, as I begin my remarks, it is indeed an honour and pleasure to have the opportunity, and if the deep recesses of my memory serve me correctly, the 14th opportunity that I have had to address the Throne Speech. I have to say as I begin that having listened to the previous speaker, most of his comments, I am pleased to see that there are at least one or two members of the government benches who are prepared to stand up to defend this Liberal Government's records. What we have been seeing in this Speech from the Throne and also from the actions of this Premier and the reborn frontbenchers of the Liberal benches is that the government is trying to run away from the decisions that the government was making up to just a few very brief months ago. I am pleased to see, even if it was creative history that we were listening to, that there is somebody who is still prepared to defend the record of the Mac-Savage Government or one could say the Buch-Lellan Government, that might also be applicable.

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to say though on another note, a few words about members of this House. Those who have served in this Chamber and who are no longer with us. Also, I would like to speak briefly about those who serve us in this Chamber and, of course, I would like to speak about my constituency, that being Sackville-Cobequid, before I get into addressing a number of the other broader remarks on the Throne Speech.

First, Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate you and the Deputy Speaker on being elected to your important positions and I might add for gaining the trust of the government. I, like my colleagues, found myself in the unfortunate position of not being able, on either occasion, to vote in the affirmative as a matter of principle. My votes in opposition to your appointment and in opposition to the appointment of the Deputy Speaker, were as I said, not a personal matter and nor should they be construed as a vote of non-confidence in either of you. It was my view and it is the view of the New Democratic Party, and I might add it was

[Page 1042]

the view of the Liberals when they were in Opposition and it supposedly still is the stated view of the Liberals now in government, that Speakers of this Chamber should be elected.

The former Conservative Government, themselves, had said, that they supported, when they were still in power, elected Speakers, but that we had to adjust the Rules of this Chamber in order to allow that to happen. Mr. Speaker, since government started to say that they were in support of electing our Speakers, as is done in most other jurisdictions across this country and in the House of Commons, we have had, I believe it is, three Speakers. We have had rule changes made unilaterally by this government, imposed upon this House, but we have not addressed the issue of how we will select a Speaker. I have no reason to say why or say that I would not have voted in support of yourself had you had the opportunity to stand for election for the position. I believe very strongly that the Speaker, who is a servant of all members of this House, should be elected by the members of this House and that the rule changes should reflect that, to allow for a full and proper election, as is done in the House of Commons and in other Legislatures across the country. I think it is unfortunate that the government was unprepared to allow that rule change and, therefore, denied you the opportunity to have been elected through a free and open vote in this Chamber, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption)

I see that the former Speaker, the almost but not quite Government House Leader, is with us today. Some day maybe we will have an opportunity with that learned and very experienced parliamentarian to have a debate about what a proper and open election is and what democracy means, but having a name put forward by the government or by the Premier, as the Premier's choice, is not what I call a free and open vote. It doesn't give anybody who wants the opportunity to stand for the important position, then it doesn't provide that opportunity. (Interruption)

Now, Mr. Speaker, I would certainly also like, and I say this sincerely despite the comic remarks from the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova, to extend my very sincere congratulations to the new members elected to this Chamber. While I would be less than honest if I did not say that I had hoped there would have been a different outcome, for example, in Cape Breton North, I certainly understand why the community, a community that is in desperate need of jobs and economic stimulation, would have decided to vote to have a Premier.

I believe that the NDP candidate, Archie MacKinnon, did an excellent job ensuring that the issues so important to that constituency did, in fact, get raised and addressed during that by-election campaign. The area has been and has continued to be neglected for far too long. They need to know and they certainly are hoping that the concerns will not only be acknowledged during by-election campaigns but they will be addressed in a meaningful way.

[Page 1043]

Also, Mr. Speaker, it is great in another way to have the Premier in this House because it provides him with an opportunity to be held accountable and to answer the questions that are so important to Nova Scotia. I know we on this side of the House, or certainly in our caucus, are looking forward and anxiously awaiting the time when the Premier recognizes that that is his responsibility and does, in fact, start to give direct, forthright answers to the important questions facing this province and provide the information that people have a right to know.

I would also certainly extend my congratulations to Dr. Kinley who won in a very hard fought battle and Ernie Fage whose victory showed clearly that the people of Cumberland County rejected the treatment they had been receiving at the hands of this Liberal Government. One of those issues, of course, was the Highway No. 104 Cobequid Pass and it is a matter that I will turn to at a later date in my remarks but, for the moment, I will pass over.

Mr. Speaker, you will, of course, excuse me if I reserve my greatest pleasure for the victory of Helen MacDonald in Cape Breton The Lakes. Helen has, I believe, already proven herself in this House, as she has done in her previous career and in her numerous community activism roles. I have had the pleasure of knowing Helen for approximately 15 years, at least I am told. She may not want to admit to knowing me that long but I am proud to say that I have known her that long and many pleasant memories of different events and so on that we were at. I won't discuss those now but certainly Cape Breton music comes to mind when I think of a lot of the occasions where we have had the pleasure of sharing company at different events.

I know she will be, and I am sure that her constituents will prove what I am saying to be correct, an excellent representative for the people of Cape Breton The Lakes as she is an extremely thoughtful and a very caring individual both of which I know are extremely important characteristics for members to have. She will provide a welcome voice for Cape Breton in this House.

I would also like to thank those who are no longer in this House, or have announced their intentions not to reoffer. While I am at it, I would also like to speak to those who will not be present after the next election. I do this not in a partisan manner, we are all here at the pleasure of our constituents whom we were elected to serve. I have been around here, as many members have, long enough to know that membership in this Chamber does change, whether by choice of the member or not, after each and every general election.

I and my caucus colleagues have had many, some might say heated discussions and disagreements, with members of both the Liberal caucus and the Conservative caucus. Those disagreements were heated at times and some of the discussions that we will have between now and the date of the next election may also be as heated, but they are not personal. I think that that is an important thing to say; they are issue-based. Those who have already left or will

[Page 1044]

soon leave, stood for public office because they wanted to make a positive difference for the province and their communities. I say that for those who have stood for office of all political persuasions.

People are often cynical about politics and politicians of all stripes. Some of that cynicism may well be deserved but much of it, I believe, is not. Members of this House, regardless of where they sit, work very hard and I believe try to do their best. We may have heated differences on policy directions but that doesn't prevent us from developing personal friendships or having the respect for each other as individuals. I believe all members, whether they will be re-elected or not, deserve the thanks of all Nova Scotians for being willing to put themselves on the line in the service of their province and community.

I want to wish all members, regardless of their political stripe, those who will, of their own accord, leave, those who have already chosen to leave and those who may be unsuccessful in the next election, I sincerely want to wish them the very best in whatever the future may hold for them, outside of this Chamber. I am sure that all will look back with fond memories and with a lot of pride for the things in which they have been involved. I say that in all sincerity and I truly do believe that, as I say, despite our heated disagreements, most members, if not all members, have the respect for what others are trying to accomplish. We may differ on how we want to achieve that goal but we all do believe that our goal is to serve the people of our communities and our province.

In this Chamber, I know throughout my years in this House, we have been extremely well served by the staff that work for the House and work here in Province House. To all, from the Pages, the librarians, those in the Clerk's Office, in your office, Mr. Speaker and everybody who works in this building, I want to extend out appreciation to them and to extend to all of them the very best wishes of the season and for the New Year, 1998.

With the next part of my address I would like to talk briefly about a number of the issues and so on in my constituency of Sackville-Cobequid. I have to say that I have never found anything that I have enjoyed as much as being a representative of the people in my community. It is truly, if you can call it a labour, it is one of love. It is not a job, it is something that far surpasses being considered a job, it is something that is very much an enjoyment.

The Sackville community has certainly been extremely good to me and to my family. It is comprised of real people who understand and face real issues in their daily lives. Residents come from all income and educational backgrounds. The community contains professionals, skilled and unskilled workers and many who are desperately seeking to upgrade their educational qualifications and to gain meaningful, well-paying jobs.

[Page 1045]

[5:30 p.m.]

It also has within it, as do most other communities across this province, families that are struggling, trying to survive on fixed and low incomes. It is a community where residents have hopes and aspirations for their children. It is a vibrant and mixed community in terms of its social and economic needs and aspirations.

Certainly the community I have been privileged to serve over the last 14 years has matured greatly. The rapid growth, especially in new housing, that characterized the community throughout much of that area has begun to slow. That growth is now being felt in its growing pains in neighbouring communities like in the constituency of Sackville-Beaverbank, in Bedford-Fall River and in others. The slowing of the new residential growth has resulted mostly from the fact that most serviceable land within the Lower Sackville constituency has now been built upon. There is still activity, but at a reduced rate.

I am certainly pleased to see that within the community there is a renewed interest in expanding and developing in the commercial sector. The Downsview Mall is undergoing renovations after some recent expansions that will result in the location of new anchor stores. The Sackville Town Centre, long a ghost town, is also being remodelled. Both will enhance the retail shopping opportunities within the community for residents, as well as creating many needed employment opportunities.

I was also delighted, and I appreciate the fact that the government has finally opened the new highway connecting the Sackville Industrial Park to the Bedford Industrial Park and Highway No. 102 in between. This is extremely important for the community for several reasons. It provides a much-needed new entry and exit to the community, which is relieving traffic congestion. Had proper planning been in place, that road would have been constructed as the community was being developed. As that didn't happen, hindsight recognition of the problem is welcome. I, like all residents, am pleased that that road and that new entrance to and from Highway No. 102 has become a reality.

Had that road been in existence, for example, a year ago, the major traffic congestion when a vehicle overturns, the major traffic congestions that block the arteries for many hours would not have occurred. In fact, that road got called into service even before it was opened and it did relieve the traffic congestion very significantly when another truck overturned at one of the ramps at the intersection of Highway No. 101 and Highway No. 102, which meant that the kind of difficulties that had occurred only a few months previously did not happen again.

The opening will also be a tremendous boost to the development of the industrial park because it provides an essential link to the highway network. This will grow employment opportunities and, I might add, tax revenues within the community to support other much-needed services and needs.

[Page 1046]

Now, before I leave the Sackville Industrial Park, let me say that I am thankful to the municipality for agreeing to construct the sidewalk that the Department of Transportation and Public Works had refused to build when it was building the road. Given the heavy traffic currently using that road and the heavy pedestrian traffic as well, that sidewalk has proven to be very important for the obvious safety reasons.

Still in the park, I want to say that I welcome a new tenant to that park, the Good Earth Company. Good Earth is a private composting facility where compostable materials are being collected from restaurants and grocery stores and is being turned into a valuable commodity. I have visited this facility on two occasions and on both occasions found it to be very well operated. There was no odour, there were no rodents, nor were there any seagulls. (Interruption) I am distracted by the good humour of the member for Richmond but I won't address his question at the moment or be side-tracked by his rabbit tracks.

I want to indicate that certainly I do intend to try to keep a close watch on the facility but I am very pleased to say that the initial concerns that had been raised by the gentleman who was, I am not sure if he still is, the past president of the Liberal Association, have been proven to be unfounded. I know that the Minister of the Environment who opened the facility, cut the ribbon and who spoke so glowingly about it, would share my views on how that facility is being operated.

I also share the relief of most Sackville residents, and I am sure the member for Sackville-Beaverbank would agree on this one, that we are very delighted that the Sackville Landfill has closed down. There has been some noticeable improvements such as the disappearance of what used to be called the Sackville air force. Those were the seagulls that used to make their pilgrimage to and from the landfill daily to gorge themselves while that landfill was in active use. I did find the gulls, however, when I was up in Cumberland County. When I went up to look at Cumberland County and the landfill where the trash from metro is being trucked, I discovered what appeared to be the Sackville air force. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see them close up.

I had hoped to be able to tour the facility, but apparently BFI which operates that decided that either their technology is so secretive or they don't have confidence in those who are running it, including the manager, I guess, that they refused to allow me to tour the facility unless a senior official was going to come from Dartmouth to take me through that facility. However, although I couldn't seem them close up, I was certainly able to verify and to see that there are large numbers of seagulls present. It will be nice, and I say this to the Minister of the Environment and to members of the government benches, it will be nice when all of the organics have been removed from landfill operations and are treated in an environmentally friendly way, turning that resource into compost rather than into food to attract the rodents, gulls and odours.

[Page 1047]

I also have to say that we have to be vigilant and cannot let down our guard just simply because the Sackville Landfill has closed. We have to continue to monitor that in a thorough manner to ensure that difficulties that could arise are not going to be forgotten or overlooked simply because the trash has been buried. There certainly is a need for strict monitoring for at least 20 years and we must ensure that contaminants from that landfill do not leach into the river or that we do not allow that to leach into the groundwater.

That brings me to my next topic and that has to do with the Riverlands application to develop a quarry next to the Sackville Landfill site. I, like many residents, have concerns about the impact that blasting would have on the clay liner and on the substructure. Fractures could result and leachate could enter either the groundwater or the Sackville River. Sackville residents, especially those in Middle and Upper Sackville have other concerns also that relate to the possible noise and dust pollution that could result from the development of a quarry at that site.

Mr. Speaker, I remember the promises, you may as well, made by the former Liberal Regime, and I am not talking about the Savage Regime. I am talking about the Regan Regime back in the 1970's when the landfill was imposed upon the people of Sackville without there even being an environmental assessment. We were given promises that this was going to be a well-run facility and that the kinds of problems that have plagued us would not develop. Well, we saw where those promises got us. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that we can just stand on blind faith and say that we are not going to ensure that a full environmental assessment is not required if a quarry is to be built next to that landfill.

Mr. Speaker, municipal approvals and municipal zoning for that site have not even been obtained. Yet, there is an application being considered by this government and by the Department of the Environment. I contend, and I am of the view that no application should be considered until or unless all municipal zoning approvals have been granted and that would require public hearings. I also say, that no license should be granted for that site until or unless a full environmental assessment with public hearings is conducted. I believe that the residents, who have endured so much, deserve no less. I sincerely hope that the government will heed those concerns.

As I said earlier, Sackville is a great community. The major reason is its people. The community is full of dedicated individuals who volunteer so much of their time, energies and resources for the betterment of their fellow citizens. Each year, Lake District Recreation Association, itself a volunteer organization, hosts a dinner where organizations can honour one of their members for service to their community. That is an important tradition and it is one that, I am sure, will continue. It is dangerous, certainly in a public place, to stand and single out a few to pay special attention to and give them a special tribute. I am going to run that risk.

[Page 1048]

Meals on Wheels, for example, Mr. Speaker, has been serving the community because they saw a need. A number of individuals saw that need and they decided that they were going to make sure that the services were going to be developed so that need could be met. Meals on Wheels just celebrated their 10th Anniversary providing their badly needed services to members of the community, those who are shut-in. The number of those who are in need of their services continue to grow and Meals on Wheels has grown to match that, and we owe them a vote of thanks. I think that it should be recognized on their 10th Anniversary.

I would also like to thank Northwood Foundation and the Sackville volunteers who also identified another need and are setting about meeting it. Mr. Speaker, there is soon to be opened within the community, as a result of their efforts and the Peace Lutheran Church, an adult day-program in the community. The church is donating its space, volunteers have worked on fund-raising and there has been some government money as well, plus the assistance of Northwood. This adult day-program will be extremely important as it will provide badly needed respite care for those who are looking after their loved ones at home, as well as helping their clients maintain their daily living skills.

Sackville's Legion, Calais Branch 162, held another very successful Remembrance Day ceremony. I am one who believes that it is extremely important to remember the sacrifices made by our citizens both in time of war and in their peacekeeping operations. The ceremony this year, at Sackville, was attended by approximately 2,500 people and that included on November 11th approximately 1,200 children. I can assure you that the legionnaires were kept very busy as they were providing hot dogs to those children. They served well over 1,000 that time. (Interruption) Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will agree to do that.

[5:45 p.m.]

A new tradition also was launched in Sackville this year in conjunction with Canada Day on July 1st. I am referring here to the Sackville Days aimed at celebrating our community and increasing pride and involvement in the life of the community. Sackville Days were again organized by a group of volunteers. They had a very ambitious agenda that included in part, and this is only a few of the things, a Citizenship Court, a seniors' dinner, daily sports activities and daily entertainment features. The entertainment, of course, again included local entertainers.

The organizers deserve to be congratulated for the very hard work and for the success that they had in beginning this very ambitious event. It is a tradition that I know will continue to grow and involve an increased number of Sackville residents in the years to come.

I would also be remiss if I didn't thank and congratulate members of the Cobequid Community Health Board. Health-related issues are extremely important to the residents of the Sackville area. The board did an excellent job and made many sound recommendations. Many of their recommendations, based upon what they heard, are certainly not new. Many

[Page 1049]

have been made time and time again but simply not acted upon by governments. A restatement of those priorities, along with some new ones, is always very welcome.

Residents certainly want the services delivered by the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre maintained and expanded. I, like most people, continue to believe it is an excellent model to be emulated not weakened. There is a plan that has been submitted, quite some time ago, by the foundation that has been sitting on the shelf awaiting action for some considerable period of time. An in the fullness of time response is not adequate but that is what the approximately 72,000 people who have been living in the catchment area and who depend upon the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre have been receiving so far from the government. Certainly there continues to be a need to expand the services and to expand the hours that the emergency centre is open for service to 24 hours a day.

I have yet, I might add, and I say across the floor to the Minister of Health through you, Mr. Speaker, that I have not yet heard whether or not the emergency back-up power supply has been installed. The absence of a power back-up was brought to my attention and I did raise it with the minister who promised that he would look into that. I know that he has been doing that. That could be, and I say to the minister again, that could be a potentially life-threatening situation. We have had serious incidents where, not too far from the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre, vehicles have overturned, trucks that I referred to earlier, that have shut down road transport. If the power was interrupted on one of those occasions, you would not even be able to transport quickly the residents to another hospital facility. I believe that that back-up issue needs to be addressed immediately. Hopefully by now it has been done but as of the last few days I have not been able to find out that it has been.

Before I leave my community, I must reiterate that Sackville was and in many ways continues to be a rapidly growing community. It is a community that grew because of the actions and policies of governments, both Liberal and Conservative. Needs were not properly planned when the community was first being developed. Community groups like Lake District have been attempting to play catch up. There is a proposal on the government's desk from Lake District for additional lands next to the Sackville Sports Stadium. This request if granted will help Lake District meet its identified community recreational needs. I hope that the government will look favourably upon that request.

I cannot leave Sackville without mentioning an issue that I have brought to the floor on many occasions in the past. That is Second Lake. This is a pristine jewel in the heart of a growing municipality. The water is still pristine because it has not yet, to date, been spoiled or polluted from developments surrounding it. It is now largely outside of the serviceable boundary. The Sackville community has spoken clearly. It wants this area preserved for a future park development. We are talking about passive recreation that will protect the biodiversity of the area's hinterland and the water quality in the lake for future generations. I, here today, Mr. Speaker, am pleased to say thank you to the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs for agreeing to meet as he did with myself and the chair of the Second Lake

[Page 1050]

committee last week. I have considerable respect, personal respect, for the minister and I look forward to hearing the outcome of the undertakings that he promised he would look into. I am sure that the minister will. He says he will and he will. I do not know exactly what the outcome will be. I am optimistic but I am sure that the minister will look at it and follow through on the commitments that he did make. I thank him in advance for that.

AN HON. MEMBER: We all thank him.

MR. HOLM: I now want to turn my attention to the nondescript Throne Speech, and where possible, put it in a constituency context. Let me say this first. Sackville residents are real people like most Nova Scotians. They live in the real world and their concerns are real. They want real leadership and respect, not window-dressing platitudes like they got in the Throne Speech. The Throne Speech was long on nothingness. It contained approximately 100 vague promises and without commitment or plans of action. It was an election diatribe, nothing more. Its sole purpose was to gloss over failed Liberal policies in an attempt to paint a feel-good view of the future based upon some yet undefined and unarticulated vision. What was contained in the Throne Speech plus a loonie or a toonie might get you a small cup of coffee at Tim Hortons.

The Premier designate made substantial promises when he was seeking the top job for the red team. He made others while he was seeking to win his seat in the recent by-election. The Throne Speech was notably silent when it came to most of the Premier's commitments, especially in terms of how he intends to meet them.

This sitting has also been a major disappointment to date. Yes, I do acknowledge that we have given second reading to a few very important pieces of legislation, but most noticeable among those will be the changes to the Family Court system and to the family maintenance. We all know that the real reason and the only real reason this House was called now was to meet the legal requirement that there be two sittings a year. The government has refused to take part in or to allow meaningful debate or to provide answers that Nova Scotians have a right to. They prefer to have their information filtered out through the expanded battery of public relations officers that seem to surround this Premier and his members selected for the front benches, most of whom are members who were also on the old red team under the former Premier. The reality is that the members on the front benches in this government are basically the same as that of Dr. Savage.

Now, reasonable people, they might have expected that this would be a working session. A working session where the Premier is going to show his stuff to show that he is open, to show that he is accountable and, yes, the government members agree that is what reasonable people would expect. Instead, what we have seen is keep your head down, hide, duck, be vague, say as little as you humanly possibly can. They wanted leadership and this would have been an opportunity for the Premier to show his stuff and to set the record and

[Page 1051]

to get a record upon which to go to the polls. Instead, what we have witnessed so far is a public relations exercise.

We know, Mr. Speaker, that the government would be a little bit reticent to act upon the commitments that were made, so we tried to help them in a couple of areas. We introduced a piece of legislation to protect the candidate sites. We all remember the fiasco of the Jim Campbells Barren; it is in, it is out. It was in through public consultations, an open process; it was out because of a decision made down in the bunker behind the red curtain of secrecy that surrounds the Liberal Cabinet. They decided to take it out without any public consultation, without any public process. Then, all of a sudden, the lights came on, people were upset and, lo and behold, the government said, oops, there is an election coming and people don't like what we did; we had better reconsider. Maybe they had a poll conducted, a poll paid for by their trust funds. Who knows? But they discovered that it was not a good decision, so they decided to bring it back.

They were so busy trying to spend their time crafting a say-nothing Throne Speech that apparently they didn't have time to draft, in the early stages, legislation that would help them meet the commitments that they made. They are too busy. So, my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, with the staff at our caucus office, prepared legislation which we did call for debate, but which, of course, the government was not willing to move forward. But I am grateful, Mr. Speaker, that at least the government saw that, oops, we had better act if the New Democratic caucus and their staff of six are able to do what the government of - however many there are now - 39, or whatever, members on the government benches and their multitude of staff cannot do, we had better prepare a piece of legislation ourselves. So, I was pleased that the government finally did introduce a bill today and I congratulate my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, for having embarrassed the government into finally taking some action.

We also tried to be helpful (Interruptions) Yes, Mr. Speaker, you are trying to be helpful to me and you want me to wrap up right now, to adjourn the debate in accordance with the note you gave me earlier. So, I will now adjourn the debate and I look forward, on Thursday, to returning to say a few more kind words about this government. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member for adjourning the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I do feel it is important to take a minute or two here to brief all members on what I will refer to as the ground rules for tomorrow's special debate. It is a departure from the norm, the normal sitting day. The House will convene at 12:00 noon and there has been unanimous agreement that it will be categorized as a special debate. We will not refer to the order paper until 2:00 p.m. Shortly after the opening prayers, we will move right into the special debate; it will be two hours.

[Page 1052]

The resolution was submitted and it was adopted earlier in the day that the first two hours, before we go to the normal sitting day, will be used for debate on the Cape Breton coal industry. I feel that wide latitude can and should be granted; this is a topic of urgency and concern to all Nova Scotians - a debate on the Cape Breton coal industry. It was agreed by the House Leaders that there will be 40 minutes for each Party caucus and there will be a rotation. Since it was submitted by the PC caucus, the first speaker will be from the PC caucus; followed by the New Democratic Party representative; and then the government caucus members. We will go with that rotation. A member may speak only once. Because there is no question before the House, no question will be put.

I hope that those ground rules meet with the approval of all government members and we look forward to the special debate tomorrow.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow in Opposition time, after Question Period, we will be debating Resolution No. 77 and at the conclusion, we hope there will be a few moments to call the three House Orders that are on the order paper. So, that will be the Opposition business for tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I would hope the ministers who have House Orders on the order paper will look at them before tomorrow, so that we can give them to those members who requested them. So I would ask that you do that tonight. Tomorrow there are three, so when we come here you are ready to move those House Orders.

I would also like to thank the Opposition Parties and all members of the House with regard to the special debate tomorrow. It is Opposition Day and I appreciate the cooperation of everybody involved. The House will set a special debate from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. The House will sit from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. I would now ask that the House rise and return tomorrow for the special debate and then the House to sit at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House now do rise and sit again beginning at 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[6:00 p.m.]

We will now move to the Adjournment debate for the next half hour, the late show. The resolution was submitted. The draw was conducted by the Chief Clerk and the winner was the honourable Leader of the Opposition and member for Pictou Centre. The resolution states:

[Page 1053]

"Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and Minister for Housing and Municipal Affairs immediately commit to the Co-operative Housing Federation of Nova Scotia that they will protect the interests of the movement and refuse to sign any deal which removes control of co-op housing from the federal government.".



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to speak to the resolution on behalf of those Nova Scotians who are part of the cooperative housing movement in this province. The cooperative housing movement is a unique Canadian success story. The current proposal by the federal government, which I believe began in March 1996, really threatens that very healthy movement.

I am very fortunate, Mr. Speaker, that in my constituency I have two housing cooperatives, one on the east side of New Glasgow and the other on the west side. So I do have some first-hand knowledge of the success of that particular movement. I think it is something that we have to preserve. One of the things we concentrate on in this place, often the combative style of the House is knocking down whatever the other side is doing, but I think the cooperative housing movement, in fact the whole cooperative movement here in Nova Scotia is a very healthy one and certainly the housing movement is one.

What have we got? We have a very healthy program that, in my mind, enhances socially. I think that is very important because I think it is the most healthy part of public housing in this country and we must do everything in our power to try and preserve the healthy aspects of the movement.

Now my understanding is that approximately 9 per cent of the social housing in Nova Scotia is under the cooperative umbrella. There are some 2,300 households participating in 101 cooperatives and, as I said, two of those are in my constituency.

So what is happening? The federal government wants to transfer, I believe it is $2.4 million to provincial coffers and get out from under, but they want to freeze it at the 1995-96 level. Of course there is a great danger that the funding, once it gets into provincial hands, may, in fact, be directed elsewhere due to the pressures on every provincial dollar. So I believe that the fears that those who are involved in the cooperative movement bring to

[Page 1054]

government are legitimate fears. They feel that their movement, their style of public housing is being threatened, and threatened it is.

What is going to happen after 10 or 20 or 30 years, when the current contracts expire? Will they be renewed? Will there be an enhancement and a growth of the cooperative movement? I think that is something we should look at. I think all of us have some reservations as to what is happening to the cooperative movement. Other provinces are actually doing what we should entertain doing here in this province and rejecting it. My understanding is Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba have refused to sign off on this agreement with the federal government. I understand that Saskatchewan opted out of a part that applies to Native Canadians, housing.

If there were no alternative then we would have to look at the whole issue and decide as to whether or not we have any alternative. Well, the first alternative is the provincial government can listen to the Cooperative Housing Federation of Nova Scotia and say, look, we are just not happy with what you are doing. We want the federal government to continue to administer and fund the subsidies that are available to those who participate in the cooperatives and an opportunity to meet with some representatives. My understanding is some 40 per cent of those who occupy cooperative housing in this province receive some kind of subsidy, allowing them to continue to be active members of the cooperative. So, if there is an erosion of the subsidy, that would affect at least the ability of many of the residents to continue to participate in the program. If that is not an alternative for the government, then what is another one?

The cooperative movement have come up with a self-management proposal, a non-governmental agency at arm's length that would take over the role of what CMHC does for the program and would handle the funding and administer it on behalf of the cooperative movement and on behalf of a government agency. It would have its own mandate, its own board of directors and it would be an independent corporation and I think it is a very healthy approach.

The last thing we want to happen is to lump in the cooperative housing movement with other social housing programs. This is a strong movement and as I said, it is socially enhancing. You only have to visit one of these cooperatives to understand what it is that they are able to achieve and what a growing process it is for many families.

The self-management proposal of the cooperatives will not cost government money. It will maintain the strengths of the movement and it is an alternative that is, in my mind, a very healthy one. So we have to go back and re-look at this.

I believe that the fears brought to government by those involved in the cooperative movement are real fears. The Cooperative Housing Federation of Nova Scotia has existed since 1981. They have developed a lot of experience and this is a program that has, until this

[Page 1055]

time, received very little recognition and I think very little publicity. That would tell me that it must be working very well. It has been kind of a silent partner in the public housing programs of Nova Scotia. I think there is a real role here to be played by government, a leadership role in listening and trying to preserve all that is good in this program.

You only have to talk to those who participate in the program to realize how committed they are to being able to provide for themselves at what could only be described as modest cost, a very enviable standard of living in participating in the cooperative movement. Most of these people are of very limited incomes and yet they have, by their own effort and their own initiative, been able to improve their status in life through their own efforts. I for one am a great believer that those who are prepared through their own effort to improve their own lot in life should be supported strongly by government.

So, there is a real role here for the Nova Scotia Government to resist what it is that the federal government is wanting to do and to listen to those in the cooperative movement and support very strongly and very firmly, the self-management proposal that has been put forward by the Cooperative Housing Federation here in Nova Scotia. This is one that will pay dividends and rather than looking at eroding the cooperative housing movement, we should be looking perhaps at ways that we can grow this kind of experience and perhaps make this not a 9 per cent participant in social housing in this province, but let us grow the concept and let us take the strength out of this movement and apply it to a higher and higher percentage of social housing in this province. I thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate being able to speak on behalf of this group, and I will wait with interest to hear what other speakers have to say.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased also to have the opportunity to speak to a resolution on the subject of co-op housing. I come from northeastern Nova Scotia and that, in many ways, might be viewed and is viewed by some as the heart of the cooperative movement. The cooperative movement in and around Antigonish and in other areas is almost bred in the bone. I grew up with many of my friends living on beautiful streets in lovely homes which I learned as I grew older had been built by the sweat equity building co-ops that were very active at that time and was very impressed, even as a child, by the power of many hands working together.

Other members of my family are members of the co-op, as well. My mother shops at the co-op, my sister is the treasurer of the housing co-op in Antigonish. She moved there when she was still a student and is reluctant to leave, Mr. Speaker, not just because it is a reasonable cost to her, but because she is so involved in the co-op way of life and is part of that community that works together and enhances their own lives and the lives of their neighbours. She is pleased and proud to be part of that. I have a number of friends here in

[Page 1056]

Halifax who live in co-op housing, so I think that it is the kind of a program that someone like me would be very hard-pressed to find fault with.

Mr. Speaker, the resolution presents a little bit of a problem to the New Democratic Party. It is not that we do not support the preservation of co-op housing, but the latter part of the resolution says, "Be it resolved that the Premier and Minister for Housing and Municipal Affairs . . . refuse to sign any deal which removes control of co-op housing from the federal government.". Now, we understand that the proposal put forward by the Cooperative Housing Federation is a little bit different. Perhaps, it is an adjustment and a modification to current circumstances, but in any case, we support their present position which is slightly different.

We felt that this issue was significant enough, Mr. Speaker, that at our recent convention in Sydney, we reaffirmed our commitment to co-ops and outlined our support in a resolution which was passed, and I believe it was passed unanimously on the convention floor, less than one month ago. So, we have this commitment, we support it, we support it not just in housing and we support the position that has been put forward.

I would just like to say a word or two, if I may, about some of the characteristics of co-op housing and the consequences and the values that ensue and the enrichment to the community of co-op housing. Now, Mr. Speaker, we know that it is under threat, and we know that at the present time, there is a 50/50 cost-sharing arrangement. The federal government is threatening to freeze its allocation. (Interruption) It has frozen, thank you very much. The Minister of Housing has (Interruption) that is right, 1995-96 levels. Now the consequences of that can be easily seen, because if the levels are frozen and if the real costs escalate, then there is a deterioration in the housing and there is a spiral there that will cause those who live and work together to keep these communities alive and well to find a deterioration in their circumstances.

Mr. Speaker, we know that - and the previous speaker pointed it out - there are about 100 independent housing co-ops in Nova Scotia and thousands of Nova Scotians live in those co-ops.

[6:15 p.m.]

What they need is a secure administrative structure that allows for the preservation and improvement of their housing. They need to guarantee that the money that is allocated for co-op housing will not be diverted into other programs. My understanding is that it would be possible under this federal proposal to do that and to have the co-op housing program lose the money that would have been specifically allocated to it. So that downward spiral, you can see it happening. The money is frozen. The money that is allocated does not even have to be used for it. It goes somewhere else at the hands of the government, the housing deteriorates and the ultimate result may be that we will see the end of co-op housing as it expires and the

[Page 1057]

sale of the houses and the homes. We do not like to see that coming down the pipe. We do not support it. We support instead the very clear recommendation made by the Co-operative Housing Federation of Nova Scotia.

That federation has supported the co-op federation of Canada's proposal that Nova Scotia not sign the agreement with the federal government unless responsibility for the administration and management of co-ops is turned over to the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada. The previous speaker pointed out quite correctly, I think, that this is not government. It is, in fact, an arm's length body. This is an arm's length body which has a great deal of experience in the co-operative housing movement and whose decisions and whose oversight of the management of the co-op housing federation would be more than adequate and would be full of wisdom and experience.

If the co-op housing programs are transferred to a new non-governmental agency, this agency would have a link with the co-op housing sector and would draw on decades of experience in managing the co-op's own housing. The co-op federation of Nova Scotia says that to ensure public accountability the new agency would operate at arm's length from existing co-op organizations and administer the programs under a contract with the government. There are obviously ways that have to be worked out in order to preserve and continue the survival of co-op housing so this new agency would have the ability to be very active in identifying and supporting co-ops that are in difficulty. It would have the advantage of many years of experience in troubleshooting problems in co-ops, and under the co-op proposal - and this is significant - any losses associated with co-ops would continue to be covered by the national mortgage insurance fund. That is a fair proposition according to them since co-ops naturally have contributed more than $48 million in premiums to this fund operated by CMHC.

The wisdom of co-op housing, I do not think is in dispute anywhere in this House. The value of it is not in dispute. The recognition that it is a distinct community separate from other social housing programs, that it provides a special opportunity for people who choose to live in this kind of a community or who can live well because they are subsidized by other members, can live a life with a particular richness and with particular benefit to all concerned. I would have to say that it would be a shame for us to lose this kind of housing, to have it frittered away and lost in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the members for the opportunity to debate one of the best programs in the history of this province, the Co-op Housing Program. Through you, Mr. Speaker, to all members of the House of Assembly, there has never been a province that is more committed to this program than the Province of Nova Scotia. In Nova Scotia we have what we call, and there are different groups of cooperatives which we should understand. Some of them are asking us to take it over, some are not. It is

[Page 1058]

like anything else, there are different groups. We have the co-op housing low charge program they call it, where we have 145 units; we have the co-op 2 per cent write-down program, where there are 1,231 units; and we have the co-op LMILM housing program where we have 570 units in this province. Those are the programs.

I want to tell you and I want to make it very clear, Mr. Speaker, through you to all members that I will never ever sign a housing program unless I have a guarantee that none of these programs will be changed. I don't worry about myself, I worry about 5 or 10 years from now and who may follow me so I want a strong agreement that protects these people. In fact, I have requested also that if any other province - there are four provinces on side; New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories and Newfoundland. I happen to think there are some more coming alongside in the immediate future. There will be a section in any agreement that I sign that if there is a better deal negotiated by the bigger provinces, like Quebec, Ontario, Alberta or B.C. that Nova Scotia gets exactly the same benefits for this small province here.

Another thing is the operating agreements cannot be changed. I will not sign an agreement, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the honourable members, unless that agreement ties down solidly that no changes can be made unless you have the agreement of three parties, not because of me but because of some of the ministers who may follow me 10 or 15 years from now. So the agreements are going to have to be an agreement to change that is supported by the province, the federal government and the non-profit group or the co-op housing group, and we have several of them throughout the province. There will be no change as far as their management is concerned.

Some of the co-op housing units are saying to us, we need technical help; we need help with engineers to help us, we need help with financial planning and we need help with those things. The way we are going now we are ignoring those people and not giving them the help they should have.

The other thing I want to mention is that in Nova Scotia we have about 800 subsidized units, I will call them, in the province; some senior citizens, out in the constituency of the honourable member, out in Hammonds Plains I think they are, and some all over Nova Scotia. Do you want me to tell you something, 450 of those are co-op units. We have only about 350 to 400 subsidized units that are not tied to a co-op. There is no way that we will take part in any agreement which they are fully aware of unless those subsidies are protected for the term of the agreement that they have. That we will demand.

Anyway, just a very quick history lesson. Who knows when the first co-op housing units were built in Nova Scotia? Well it was 1938 and I do not want to be political, but it was under Angus L. Macdonald's Government at the time. That is when the first co-op was built in this province and it was built at Reserve Mines in Cape Breton; the very first one.

[Page 1059]

In fact, I was talking to the honourable member from there today and they are looking at putting up a little plaque or something in that community recognizing Tompkins, St. Francis Xavier, and the leadership, with regard to the co-op movement in that area. But as I followed the history - and I have not taken this lightly - I have followed the history of the co-op movement, and in 1938 we had the first ones built, all provincial control, no feds involved until 1953-54, and then the feds got onside. Then we had other co-ops that were formed, another change. Let me tell you, the policies have changed three times to this point. In 1970-71 it was changed again, the co-op policies, with regard to housing.

I want to thank the honourable member for Halifax Fairview because she said something that was very important. Sweat equity. We have not built co-ops in this province for years under a sweat equity program. I have had my staff working since I was minister and, I'll tell you, it is not all new because when I was there before I was working on it. I want a program introduced in this province - and the Premier supports me, I have talked to him - I want a new cooperative program developed in this province where we can consider sweat equity like it used to be in the 1970's in this province.

We moved away from that all through the 1980's and early 1990's. We just let things go because we were not responsible; there was no responsibility put on the shoulders of the province. That, in my opinion, is not good enough. We have to have the responsibility in this province and we all should stand up and pound our chests and tell people how proud we are of the history of the co-op movement in this province since 1938. Let us all be honest. Who can stand up and tell me anything that has happened exciting for new families under the co-op movement in the last five or ten years?

Tell me about new projects, be it in Springhill, be it in Pictou County, be it out in your area; I do not care where it is. In my opinion, we have let the people down. That is why I am committed to bringing back sweat equity somehow and getting these co-ops going ahead like they were in the 1970's.

I will not sign any agreement unless those things that I have mentioned are protected. The co-ops must continue to manage their program. They must continue to manage it financially. They must continue to manage it with tenants and with the selection of people to go into it. We will have no part of any agreement doing away with that sort of authority that the co-ops have now.

I understand my time is up. I appreciate you, honourable members, with regard to the debate and I just think we have a long way to go, and as long as I am here we are going to start moving.

[Page 1060]

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

The motion is carried.

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