Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Fri., Nov. 28, 1997

Sixth Session

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Commun. Serv. - Parent Finders Nova Scotia: Adoption Laws - Change,
Mr. R. Chisholm 415
Fish.: Fisheries Act - Change, Mr. R. Russell 416
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Brooklyn (Hants Co.): War Monument - Preserve,
Hon. D. Downe 416
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 164, National Unity - Select Comm., The Premier 419
Vote - Affirmative 423
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 165, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Mobil Deals - Status Explain,
Dr. J. Hamm 424
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Road Tendering: Process - Commence,
Hon. D. Downe 424
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 166, Health - Care: Americanization - Stop, Mr. R. Chisholm 428
Res. 167, Health - QE II Health Sc. Centre: Nursing Care -
Superb Recognize, Dr. E. Kinley 429
Vote - Affirmative 429
Res. 168, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Ranka Enterprises: Corres. - Table,
Dr. J. Hamm 430
Res. 169, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty: Select Comm. - Establish,
Mr. J. Leefe 430
Res. 170, Gov't. House Leader: Duke St. Office - Authorization,
Mr. J. Holm 431
Res. 171, Educ. - School Breakfast Progs.: Salvation Army -
Efforts Commend, Mr. A. MacLeod 432
Vote - Affirmative 432
Res. 172, Justice - Family Violence: Actions - Views (Min.) Reconsider,
Ms. E. O'Connell 432
Res. 173, Internet - Think Quest Competition (Washington):
Krista Johanson & Brett Tabor - Scholarships Congrats.,
Mr. D. Richards 433
Vote - Affirmative 434
Res. 174, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: NSRL - Rothchild Costs,
Mr. G. Archibald 434
Res. 175, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Louisbourg: Dev. Strategy -
Involve [Gov't. (Can.)], Mr. A. MacLeod 435
Res. 176, Lbr. - NSTU: Negotiations - Intervene, Mr. R. Russell 435
Res. 177, Gov't. (N.S.) - Rural Communities: Abandonment - Condemn,
Mr. J. Leefe 436
Res. 178, Premier - C.B.: Promises (Sable Benefits) - Incredible,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 436
Res. 179, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Amherst Snowfall (27/11/97) -
Inspect (Min.), Mr. E. Fage 437
Res. 180, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 104 Western Alignment:
Toll Removal - Inaction Apologize, Mr. B. Taylor 438
Res. 181, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Municipalities: Downloading Impact -
UNSM-Min. Meet, Mr. R. Russell 438
Res. 182, Educ. - Horton H.S. (Kings Co.): Construction -
Cost Escalation Examine, Ms. E. O'Connell 439
Res. 183, NSP (Tufts Cove-Employees)/Access Cable (Dart.) -
Student Projects: Fundraising - Commend, Mr. E. Fage 440
Vote - Affirmative 440
Res. 184, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Nova Scotia Crystal & Seagull Pewter -
Success Extend, Mr. G. Archibald 440
Vote - Affirmative 441
Res. 185, Health - Colchester Reg. Hosp.: Emergency Unit -
Concerns Alleviate, Mr. B. Taylor 441
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 5, Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act 444
Hon. D. Downe 445
Mr. B. Taylor 446
Mr. J. Holm 447
Mr. R. Russell 451
Mr. William MacDonald 452
Mr. R. Chisholm 453
Hon. A. Surette 454
Hon. D. Downe 456
Vote - Affirmative 456
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Hon. K. MacAskill 457
Hon. B. Holland 463
[Debate adjourned] 469
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 10, Rainbow Haven Act, Mr. J. Abbass 469
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. R. Russell 470
Adjourned debate 475
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Dec. 1st at 7:00 p.m. 475

[Page 415]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Sixth Session

10:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Gerald Fogarty

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Keith Colwell

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We are ready to begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition here, 18 pages of signatures, 233 signatures, that was completed by Parent Finders Nova Scotia. It is relating to the fact that people, concerned citizens and future adult adoptees, are concerned with respect to access to that kind of information. There are fees being charged and other ways that are preventing these people from getting access to information they feel that they are definitely entitled to. They are asking for changes to the laws. November is National Adoption Awareness Month.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have these petitions here and I just wanted to show you that this is how the petitions were collected in malls, using a poster which outlined the situation like this. Now I don't know whether it is in order but I am going to put it all together I am going to leave it to you for your decision and the Clerk's.

415

[Page 416]

MR. SPEAKER: It seems a little irregular. However, it will be accepted.

The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from local fishermen on the Hants County shore from Noel to Brooklyn. They humbly petition the Department of Fisheries to make the following changes in the Fisheries Act: a ban on digging clam worms for export to the U.S.A.; lifting the 26 inch restrictions on bass for local fishermen; and place a ban on clam digging by commercial interests for at least three years so stocks can recover.

Mr. Speaker, I should also mention that this petition is endorsed by the Hants West Municipal Council and by some fishermen who actually reside in Hants East as well, a little bit further along the shore.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, honourable members of the House, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen. I rise today to reassure the House and the residents of Brooklyn, Hants County, that their historic war monument will be preserved. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, staff of the Department of Transportation and Public Works have been actively involved in this issue for many months. They have continued to provide support and services to civic leaders, members of the Brooklyn and area veterans' committee, and citizens of Brooklyn.

Mr. Speaker, my department helped members of the local veterans' committee erect the new monument this year on the Brooklyn fire hall property so Remembrance Day celebrations could be held in a safer location, away from nearby highways.

However, Mr. Speaker, there has been a debate in the community over what should be done with the old monument. It stands on a highway right-of-way at the three-way intersection of Route 215 and Trunk 14.

[Page 417]

I acknowledge the petition tabled by the honourable member for Hants West, in this House, brought significant support from the people of Brooklyn and surrounding communities to ensure the old monument remains intact. I believe that is what the community wants.

In that light, Mr. Speaker, I again reaffirm my department's position to listen to the wishes of the community and assure the House the war memorial at Brooklyn will not be removed unless the community asks the department to so do.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the announcement brought forward by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I want to acknowledge, as the minister has, that the honourable member for Hants West did bring a petition into the House. I understand he also spoke privately with the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

I would like to recognize the work of the Department of Transportation and Public Works. The employees of that department, I understand, worked with the legion. We want to commend the Royal Canadian Legion, because the legion and the honourable member for Hants West worked extremely hard in ensuring that the monument does remain in the community.

I think most members in the House would have had an opportunity to view that historic landmark because really, that is a landmark and it is a symbol of strength and provides the community of Brooklyn with a masterpiece, as far as I am concerned, that recognizes history, culture and things of that nature. I know the honourable member who represents that area would probably like to make some comments a little later on.

By way of concluding I do want to say that we support the Department of Transportation and Public Works and the minister's involvement in this. We again want to recognize the hard work of the sitting member for the Brooklyn area. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, very briefly I am just very pleased with the announcement that the minister has made. It shows that in cooperation when people do work together and listen to each other that issues of importance to communities can be resolved.

I congratulate the members in the minister's department who were working on this with representatives of the community and certainly with the legion in the area. I just say that it is good news. In the overall scheme of things it may not be the most important issue facing the province but it is a very important issue in that community. We are a community of communities and I am glad that this has been able to be resolved satisfactorily to all

[Page 418]

concerned. I congratulate the minister for bringing forward the announcement and again, all those who worked to make sure that there was a satisfactory resolve to this particular issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder as the member for the area if I might say a few words on the announcement by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

I am delighted that the minister responded to the petition from the residents of Brooklyn. As I said when I introduced the petition there were about 1,000 people who signed that petition. Among the proponents of the petition, the people who got out and got the signatures were the school children within the local area who recognized the importance of that memorial.

The difficulty with the location of the monument was primarily the fact, as the minister put so well, is right at the confluence of three roads. On November 11th when they have the memorial service there for Remembrance Day, it does indeed create a traffic hazard. The removal of the service and the actual memorial, which they will be using for November 11th in the future away from that area, is a step in the right direction. Certainly, the retention of that memorial in its present location is one that is very important to the community and I would like to thank the minister for his prompt attention to that matter. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: We will interrupt the daily routine very briefly for an introduction.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I want to introduce two people who are very important to the agricultural industry in the Province of Nova Scotia. One of them is Brian Smith, who is our Executive Director and retired employee, Stuart Allaby, who was Director of Livestock and now is with the Turkey Council. I would ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: On another introduction.

The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. CHARLES MACARTHUR: Mr. Speaker, to you and through you to all members of the House I want to introduce to you a member of the Council of Inverness, Mr. Duart MacAulay, who represents the area of Whycocomagh. I would ask him to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 419]

[10:15 a.m.]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 164

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Be it resolved that:

(a) the House declare pursuant to the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly that a Select Committee on National Unity be established to seek the views of Nova Scotians on the Framework for Discussion which was endorsed by nine Premiers and the two Territorial Government Leaders in Calgary, Alberta, on 14 September 1997, and which is attached to this Resolution as Schedule A;

(b) specifically, the Select Committee shall seek to determine:

i) the views of Nova Scotians on the seven statements describing Canada in the Framework for Discussion;

ii) whether Nova Scotians believe any further statements should be added; and

iii) whether, overall, Nova Scotians can support the Framework for Discussion as a vision of Canada with which they can feel at home;

(c) in seeking the views of Nova Scotians on the Framework for Discussion, the Select Committee shall ask Nova Scotians to take into consideration the points of the Framework of Principles for a Discussion of Relationships between Federal, Provincial and Territorial governments and Aboriginal governments and peoples which was presented to the Premiers and Territorial Leaders by the Leaders of five national Aboriginal organizations in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 18 November 1997, and which is attached to this Resolution as Schedule B;

(d) the consultation of Nova Scotians shall be undertaken by means of:

i) public hearings;

ii) receipt of written submissions;

[Page 420]

iii) provision of a 1-800 telephone number located in the Committees Office so that Nova Scotians may express their views orally, such views to be summarized in writing and provided to the Select Committee; and

iv) provision of an Internet site, monitored by the Committees Office, so that Nova Scotians may express their views in writing by this manner;

(e) without limiting the right of any person to make a presentation to the Select Committee, the Select Committee may specifically request the views of Aboriginal, cultural and other representative organizations whose views may be of particular relevance to this consultation and may invite these organizations to make a presentation to the Select Committee at the public hearing most convenient for them;

(f) upon conclusion of the hearings, and taking into account the oral and written submissions received, the Select Committee shall, no later than 16 February 1998, report to the House of Assembly with a draft resolution for consideration by the House of Assembly on the subject of the Framework for Discussion;

(g) if the House is not sitting when the report is completed, the Select Committee shall deposit the report with a draft resolution with the Clerk of the House of Assembly and it shall thereupon be deemed to have been laid upon the Table;

(h) pursuant to the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly the Select Committee shall be composed of six persons selected by the Striking Committee, three of whom shall be members of the Government Party, two of whom shall be members of the Official Opposition, and one of whom shall be a member of the third recognized Party in the House, the Chair of the Select Committee to be the person named as such by the Striking Committee;

(i) this House declares pursuant to Section 36 of the House Assembly Act that the Select Committee not be dissolved by prorogation of the House and that the Select Committee is authorized to continue its inquiry after the House is prorogued;

(j) notwithstanding the said Rules or any Rules of the House, the Select Committee of the House is empowered to examine and inquire into all such matters and things that may be referred to the Committee by this House and from time to time report to this House the observations and opinions of the Committee respecting matters and things referred to the Committee and the Committee is further empowered to send for and examine witnesses, papers and records, and to extend to any witness the protection of this House;

(k) the Select Committee shall meet only in the Province and on matters pertaining to its study, review and recommendations;

[Page 421]

(l) all the powers and privileges under the House of Assembly Act and amendments thereto and the Rules of the House applicable to standing and select committees while the House is in session shall apply and be of full force and effect during the sittings of the Select Committee;

(m) this House authorizes the Legislature Internal Economy Board on behalf of the Select Committee to employ such members and staff as may be necessary to enable the Select Committee to carry out its duties; and

(n) this House declares that the Legislature Internal Economy Board is authorized to provide the Select Committee, its members and staff with such facilities and funds as are required to carry out their duties and as are provided for by and pursuant to Section 80 of the Public Service Act.

[SCHEDULE A

FRAMEWORK FOR DISCUSSION

Endorsed by nine Premiers and two Territorial Government Leaders,

Calgary, Alberta, 14 September 1997

1. All Canadians are equal and have equal rights protected by law.

2. All provinces, while diverse in their characteristics, have equality of status.

3. Canada is graced by diversity, tolerance, compassion and an equality of opportunity that is without rival in the world.

4. Canada's gift of diversity includes Aboriginal peoples and cultures, the vitality of the English and French languages and a multicultural citizenry drawn from all parts of the world.

5. In Canada's federal system, where respect for diversity and equality underlies unity, the unique character of Quebec society, including its French-speaking majority, its culture and its tradition of civil law, is fundamental to the well being of Canada. Consequently, the legislature and Government of Quebec have a role to protect and develop the unique character of Quebec society within Canada.

6. If any future constitutional amendment confers powers on one province, these powers must be available to all provinces.

[Page 422]

7. Canada is a federal system where federal, provincial and territorial governments work in partnership while respecting each other's jurisdictions. Canadians want their governments to work cooperatively and with flexibility to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the federation. Canadians want their governments to work together particularly in the delivery of their social programs. Provinces and territories renew their commitment to work in partnership with the Government of Canada to best serve the needs of Canadians.

SCHEDULE B

FRAMEWORK OF PRINCIPLES FOR A

DISCUSSION OF RELATIONSHIPS

Presented by the Leaders of five national Aboriginal organizations,

Winnipeg, Manitoba, 18 November 1997

The five participating National Aboriginal Organizations, the Assembly of First Nations, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Métis National Council, the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, and the Native Women's Association of Canada, affirm the historic and primary fiduciary obligation of the Government of Canada to all Aboriginal Peoples, evidenced by Constitutional, Treaty and Aboriginal rights and invite the Premiers and Territorial Leaders to join with them.

The Aboriginal peoples of Canada have, and enjoy, the inherent right of self-government, a right recognized in S. 35 of the Canadian Constitution and in agreements between the federal government and institutions and governments of the Aboriginal Peoples and in tripartite and other agreements amongst federal, provincial and territorial and Aboriginal governments and peoples.

Provincial, territorial, federal governments and Aboriginal governments and peoples should seek to work together to resolve issues of resource sharing and management in a manner which will promote economic and social development with certainty and public acceptance without extinguishing or diminishing Aboriginal Rights, Treaty Rights and Aboriginal Title.

The re-balancing of Canadian federalism must always be undertaken and accomplished, in a manner which does not derogate from the Aboriginal and Treaty rights and jurisdictions of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. It also must not diminish, in any way, the fiduciary and Constitutional responsibilities of Canada and its capacity to honour its commitments and obligations to all Canadians, including the Aboriginal peoples. There must be a willingness to enter into partnerships rejecting federal off-loading to the provinces and to Aboriginal governments and peoples in favour, rather, of joint efforts to maximize best possible uses of available resources.

[Page 423]

Canada is a federal system in which federal, provincial, territorial governments and Aboriginal governments and peoples work in partnership while respecting each other's jurisdictions, rights and responsibilities. Nothing in the Calgary communiqué can minimize or derogate from that principle or from existing Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

References in the Calgary communiqué to Aboriginal peoples and cultures as one part of Canada's "gift of diversity" must not negate the uniqueness of the place of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, a relationship which finds affirmation in the Treaties and in Part II of the Canadian Constitution.

The Aboriginal peoples of Canada, the first peoples to govern this land, enjoy their own status and rights, including the equality of Aboriginal men and women, and have the right to ensure the integrity of their societies and to strengthen their relationships with their lands. The role of Aboriginal peoples in the protection and development of their languages, cultures and identities is recognized and supported by Canadians.

All governments must be committed to promoting and strengthening identifiable social, political and economic developments which will lead to improved education, housing and infrastructure and to stronger and healthier Aboriginal communities and people, particularly the young and those with special needs.]

Mr. Speaker, I would so move, and 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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 424]

RESOLUTION NO. 165

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

Whereas Premier MacLellan yesterday admitted that his government gave Mobil, Nova Scotia's valuable assignable rights to own 50 per cent of the onshore and offshore pipeline for absolutely nothing; and

Whereas the Premier further acknowledged that this give-away was a mistake that could have strengthened Nova Scotia's bargaining position with Mobil and its partners with respect to the Sable gas development; and

Whereas despite not even so much as discussing the back-in provision with Mobil, the Premier who maintains he is undoing every other bad deal signed by this government, said he could not undo the back-in provision give-away to Mobil;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier explain why it is that some deals are done and some not so done and further that he immediately contact Mobil and advise that his former Minister of Natural Resources had no idea of the value of the back-in provision when he gave it away and urge Mobil to return it to the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

I have had a request to revert to the daily routine momentarily.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I should state beforehand, I consulted with the critics of the Progressive Conservative Party and that of the New Democratic Party requesting that I be able to read this statement. I apologize to the members that staff had not sent these earlier over to you. They are on their way now, and I apologize to them and they agree that we could go ahead with the statement.

Mr. Speaker, members of the House, colleagues and ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to inform the House that the road tendering process for 1998-99 gets underway tomorrow. My department is honouring a commitment we made to the road building industry this year by tendering contracts as early as possible. This process allows roadbuilders, truckers and other contractors more time to plan for their traditional construction season. We believe that better planning by our department and the contractors will ultimately lead to more informed bids and the most efficient projects possible.

[Page 425]

Tomorrow's newspapers will contain advertising for pulverizing and repaving in two sections of Kings County. The first section is 5.3 kilometres of English Mountain Road from Trunk No. 12 to Canaan Mountain Road. The second section is 0.9 of a kilometre of Greenwich Road and Highway No. 101 to Ridge Road. Mr. Speaker, these are only the first projects that will be on our early tendering program. Legislation allows my department to tender up to 50 per cent of the previous year's capital allocation and allotment. My department hopes to issue tenders with a total value of approximately $30 million by the end of the winter. This early tendering program, again, illustrates our commitment to the road building industry and to better roads for Nova Scotians. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: There is, of course, the usual response.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

Order please. A response to the ministerial statement.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation did certainly, to his credit, advise us that he could not furnish us with copies of the announcement, but these kissy, huggy, squeezy types of announcements in Kings South are more by design than coincidence. I grant the Minister of Transportation and say that he is right, that the Nova Scotia Roadbuilders Association and also the Truckers' Association of Nova Scotia have been asking for these tenders to be called earlier. But the Truckers' Association of Nova Scotia is not allowed to speak to the media or the minister will act like a child and walk out and fold his arms, he refuses to sit at the table. So, Mr. Speaker, paving politics is alive and well in Nova Scotia, there is no question about it.

In the government's Throne Speech it says, "Roads are important when you move raw materials to the manufacturing plant and finished products to the market.". It is important to the travelling public, too.

Now I know that the member for Hants East had his road paved last summer. It was a gravel road. The Minister of Transportation, his district directors, his area manager, his operational supervisors, tell us the emphasis and the policy is to pave existing paved roads that need repaving but the member for Hants East was fortunate enough to have his gravel road paved.

Also in the Throne Speech it says, "We will commit new funds for secondary roads in this fiscal year . . ." Mr. Speaker, we were wondering if they were going to fill in the potholes with snow or ice or whatever because it is pretty hard to do paving at this time of the year. You can do it but it won't be . . .

[Page 426]

MR. SPEAKER: I don't like to pull the watch on the honourable member but the statement was about a minute and one-half and you have gone better than that. I think you have had more than your time.

MR. TAYLOR: I didn't have a copy of the statement so I thought you would grant me some latitude and leeway and I appreciate your indulgence, Mr. Speaker. Thank you very much.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the minister's announcement and I certainly say that it is appropriate. I am pleased to see that tenders are going out early because then, indeed, those who are going to be bidding on the contracts will have the best opportunity to prepare their bids and we will get the most cost-effective bids coming forward. It is interesting that this process starts only now, this year, as we approach closer to the election; you won't be able to have the equipment out, maybe in March, paving everything that doesn't move, so they have to have a new way to get the election paving politics underway.

The minister talks about the fact that early tendering does, in fact, bring more efficient projects onstream. It is something that I wish other members of the government would recognize because if we had proper, effective tendering processes in place and those who were bidding on construction of schools, those who would be bidding on construction of privatized prisons, if tenders had been called - open, public tenders - we wouldn't be seeing this situation where the school, for example, in Cape Breton came in and cost Nova Scotians over three times that which was originally announced. We would not have situations like in the Minister of Education's own riding, where the cost of the school is going to be approximately $26 million instead of the $7.1 million, or later revised to $8 million, that was promised.

I invite the minister to talk to his colleagues, talk to the Premier and say, live up to your commitments, honour the principle of open, public tendering, so that all Nova Scotians can benefit from having good, effective projects being developed in a cost-effective manner and ones that Nova Scotians can be proud of and that there won't be this cynicism that this government is dumping on and forcing people to, that everything they are doing is politically motivated. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Both Opposition Parties have had an opportunity to respond to the ministerial statement, which is the usual practice. I will recognize the honourable member, then, for Kings West.

[Page 427]

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I am rising a point of order. I have been watching and again you have set a precedent today that is new in this House for me for 20 years, that is, when we have been in daily routine we never revert when we are part way through a daily routine. We always finish that routine and then go back to a daily routine, refer back to one that we may have missed or a request has been made to the Speaker. Never in 20 years have we had, say, we started with notices of motion and you referred back to a daily routine in the middle of notices of motion, which is a new precedent.

I am concerned, Mr. Speaker, that if you are going to set new precedents, as Opposition House Leader I am concerned about the rules and precedents of this House being changed by you periodically, without any consideration to the members. If you are going to change the rules, there are proper ways to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: I appreciate the honourable member bringing this matter to the attention of all members of the House. I would agree that I am fairly new to this position. However, I have some familiarity with the Rules and Forms of Procedure of our own Rule Book, as we refer to it here in this Chamber. I also have, again, some familiarity with Beauchesne, which is the text used in the House of Commons in Ottawa. Off the top of my head, honourable member, I really can't come up with a reason why what was done here today cannot and should not be done. I respect the precedents that have been set in this House of Assembly, I do. If it was a bit unusual, I would have to say that I cannot detect any great harm that was done.

[10:30 a.m.]

We are going to return now to the order of business, Notices of Motion.

MR. JOHN HOLM: I wish to speak to the same point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am not concerned about what happened today so long as it does not become a precedent, but my point is, I guess, twofold: one, that the normal practice when we are going to be reverting to another order of business is that it is moved by the Government House Leader, not by the Speaker on the request from an individual member, but that it is moved by the Government House Leader; and secondly, that when we are reverting to another order - and we traditionally, although it is not required, do give approval - it is unanimous consent that is required and had, according to our rules, a member of the Opposition, or any member of this Chamber, objected to the changing of the Orders of the Day, then in fact our rules would stipulate that that cannot happen.

Mr. Speaker, I just raise that; as I say, I am not concerned about what happened today so long as it does not become accepted as precedent. I appreciate the fact you are new in the position of the Chair and I am not saying this as a criticism, but rather just for clarification for future occasions when it may be more significant in the order of things.

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MR. SPEAKER: I will take the remarks of both honourable members under advisement. I would like to point out - and there may be a difference in the interruption of the daily routine when I did permit two honourable members to introduce guests in the gallery. That is accepted, of course, in this House. The point has been made that to interrupt the daily routine and revert to Statements by Ministers, there has been some objection expressed to that kind of thing. I will take that under advisement and I thank both honourable members for bringing that to the attention of the Chair.

Can we now return, then, to the order of business, Notices of Motion?

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, since I am on my feet, I would like to take the opportunity to make an introduction, if I may, which, as we have agreed, is regular . . .

MR. SPEAKER: With the approbation of the House. May we interrupt, then, for an introduction?

It is agreed.

On an introduction, the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I introduced a petition earlier from representatives of Parent Finders Nova Scotia. I would like to introduce representatives of Parent Finders Nova Scotia and a gentleman who is the spokesperson for the Survivors and Friends of the Ideal Maternity Home. First of all, from Parent Finders Nova Scotia, in the west gallery: spokesperson Mike Slayter, Karen and Larry Myers, Faith Hendrickson and Glenda Gouchie; and representing Survivors and Friends of the Ideal Maternity Home: Mr. Bob Hartlen. I would ask these people to stand and receive the warm welcome of members in this House. (Applause)

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 166

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

Whereas the Premier strives constantly to be the new face of the Liberal Government, even to the point of writing his predecessor and the former Finance Minister out of his version of history; and

[Page 429]

Whereas the new-face Premier has refused to veto health care privatization initiatives begun by his predecessor; and

Whereas these privatization policies are not only threatening the Nova Scotia health care system and the security of health care workers, but also proving to be a major obstacle to a contract agreement between the QE II Health Sciences Centre and its employees;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Premier to demonstrate that he is truly different from his predecessors and put a stop to this Liberal fixation with the Americanization of our health care system.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 167

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

Whereas the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre opened this year; and

Whereas the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre is an amalgamation of the Victoria General Hospital, the Halifax Infirmary, the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre and the Nova Scotia Cancer Treatment and Research Centre; and

Whereas the amalgamation resulted in the merging of different organizational cultures and work routines, together with downsizing;

Therefore be it resolved that this Assembly recognize the superb level of nursing care provided by the Queen Elizabeth II hospital.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: A request has been made 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 430]

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 168

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

Whereas representatives from Ranka Enterprise were called on the morning of August 27, 1997, by a senior official of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism and told to cancel their plane tickets and hotel reservations and not to come to Cape Breton at their own expense to check out the proposed site of a multimillion dollar textile manufacturing facility; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development, who on at least three separate occasions admitted that Ranka Enterprise was proposing as many as 2,000 jobs, was so poorly informed that he didn't know the value of the company's annual payroll and wrongly referred to Ranka Enterprise as a sweatshop that paid piecework, effectively killing any interest Ranka had in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development has been wrongly suggesting that Ranka Enterprise, which has plants all over the world and accompanied Jean Chretien on one of his most recent Team Canada trade missions, is a fly by night company that was making excessive demands of Nova Scotia taxpayers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development table in this House today all correspondence between his department and Ranka Enterprise outlining what the Ranka proposal included and the specific concessions it requested from government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 169

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

Whereas the number of children living in poverty across Canada continues to grow to a million and one-half; and

Whereas this phenomenon is present in Nova Scotia with 47,000 children living in poverty; and

[Page 431]

Whereas our children are our future and we have responsibility to define this ugly fact of child poverty and then work to create solutions to combat it;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly establish a Select Committee on Child Poverty, instruct it to hold meetings throughout the province and report back to the House with recommendations on how to resolve this societal evil.

Mr. Speaker, I move that this resolution be now put to the House.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 170

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

Whereas a casual perusal of the office directory for the Duke Street Tower shows that the tenant in Room 1203 is the House of Assembly, Government House Leader; and

Whereas since the current House Leader, the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, already has an office elsewhere, this office must be a perk for the dethroned Government House Leader, the member for Cape Breton Nova, who never did get to lead the House for so much as one minute; and

Whereas in the recent history of this House there has never been an office set aside for the Government House Leader, let alone a Government House Leader who never led the House;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier, who appointed the Government House Leader who wasn't, explain to this House who authorized the Duke Street office, how much the public purse is committed to pay for it and how such payment can possibly be justified.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

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RESOLUTION NO. 171

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

Whereas breakfast programs within our elementary schools is an initiative which seems to be spreading rapidly throughout our province; and

Whereas the Salvation Army's Lieutenant John Murray, coordinator of a program in Sydney aimed at dealing with child hunger, said this week, "Children shouldn't have to be hungry . . . Especially in a society where we have so much"; and

Whereas one local teacher described the Salvation Army's initiative to provide food to three elementary schools in the Cape Breton-Victoria regional school district as a godsend because teachers, ". . . see kids every day who can't concentrate on their work because they're simply hungry.";

Therefore be it resolved that the House commend the efforts of the Salvation Army on behalf of those children who go to school hungry, but also take notice that the growing need for breakfast programs and food banks spells a much larger economic and social need across our province, which needs immediate and serious attention.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 172

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

[Page 433]

Whereas the Minister of Justice rose in this House yesterday and stated that, ". . . this government instituted a program, the framework for action against family violence initiative a number of years ago, in 1994 I believe. I think this is something our government can be very proud of."; and

Whereas the minister's statement was made the very same day our office received a plea from Women's Centre Connect, the collective voice of women's centres in Nova Scotia, and the minister's statement was made in the face of the fact transition houses have begged for core stable funding for several years, and many of these house have been closed or been threatened with closure; and

Whereas 26 women have been murdered in Nova Scotia since 1990 by a husband, boyfriend, ex-husband or ex-boyfriend, an average of 3 to 4 per year, and already this year 4 women have died at the hands of their partners or ex-partners;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice take it upon himself to reconsider whether he is proud of his government's actions against family violence.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice it tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 173

MR. DENNIS RICHARDS: Mr. Speaker, I had an opportunity earlier this week to introduce a resolution that I was very proud of, and I want to update it with some additional information.

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

Whereas Krista Johanson and her partner, Brett Tabor, recently became finalists at the 1997 Think Quest Internet Competition; and

Whereas these two talented, young students created a unique web page that caught the attention of the judges; and

Whereas I am proud to update this Assembly that Krista and Brett each received a $1,000 scholarship for their outstanding efforts, while enjoying a wonderful educational experience in Washington;

[Page 434]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in extending congratulations to Krista and Brett for receiving their scholarship awards and extend to them the very best in next year's competition.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 174

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

Whereas on Wednesday, the Premier said the total amount of tax dollars paid to Rothschild Canada for not selling NSRL was not a secret and would be made public; and

Whereas on Thursday, the Premier had a sudden change of heart, saying if you want the information, appeal the Department of Natural Resource's refusal to grant the information; and

Whereas the Premier continues the old Liberal practice of telling Nova Scotians that it is none of their business how and for what purposes this government spends their tax dollars;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately live up to his so-called commitment to a more open government and that he immediately provide this House with the total amount of tax dollars it paid Rothschild not to sell NSRL.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 435]

RESOLUTION NO. 175

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 community of Louisbourg is made up of a strong, proud, hard-working people with a long history in the fishing industry; and

Whereas that industry is in a destructive downsizing process; and

Whereas while the community of Louisbourg is an important national historic site with a strong, seasonal tourism industry, the tourism industry itself cannot sustain the town;

Therefore be it resolved that this Savage-MacLellan Government forcefully bring the concerns of residents of Louisbourg, who are under attack, to Ottawa's attention and, further, that it bring forward an economic development strategy that will ensure the economic growth of Nova Scotia communities such as Louisbourg.

[10:45 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 176

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 Nova Scotia Teachers Union now says that after 25 meetings with government on teachers' contracts since June 23rd, we have not seen significant progress; and

Whereas although there is a blackout in place on negotiations, the NSTU has become so frustrated that they have gone public with a request to the Minister of Labour to seek the intervention of a conciliation officer to assist in negotiations; and

Whereas just last month both the Minister of Education and Premier said on World Teachers Day that we should recognize the vital work and the caring and commitment of the province's more than 10,000 teachers;

[Page 436]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Minister of Labour immediately direct their attention to the request before the government and seek to head off any potential conflict that could arise if the obvious, and now public, dissatisfaction with the negotiating process for our teachers is allowed to escalate.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 177

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

Whereas Queens has been adversely impacted by this government's spastic and thoughtless centralization of government services; and

Whereas the mayor of the region of Queens has cited as examples of lost opportunity: the closure of fisheries and Canada Manpower offices, loss of the Sheriff's Office, assessment office, school board office, certain court functions and many hospital administrative functions, among others; and

Whereas Queens is not unique, for many other rural communities and small towns across Nova Scotia have been similarly adversely impacted by the poor public policies of the Savage-MacLellan Government;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage-MacLellan Liberal Government be condemned for abandoning rural and small town Nova Scotia which has weakened the socio-economic fabric of the entire province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 178

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 Premier during his leadership campaign assured Cape Breton it would benefit under his Sable gas deal and has failed to fulfill that promise; and

[Page 437]

Whereas the Premier continues to stick to his condescending style of government learned at the knee of Jean Chretien, the Liberal Prime Minister who inflicted misery on Cape Breton with his cuts to unemployment insurance; and

Whereas the Premier now offers Cape Breton only the promise that, as he said yesterday in the House, when an agreement on Sable is reached the people of Cape Breton will be pleased;

Therefore be it resolved that this House inform the Premier that given his history of broken promises and participation in the Liberal infliction of misery on the people of Cape Breton, they no longer believe his vague promises that he will take care of them.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 179

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

Whereas the stretch of highway linking Nova Scotia with New Brunswick, as well as other local secondary roads in the Amherst area, was blasted with another avalanche of snow yesterday, forcing closures on stretches of highway for a number of hours and some secondary roads are not plowed yet today; local residents have phoned me this morning, their power is out, they are cold, their roads are not plowed as yet. Local Department of Transportation officials are saying possibly late this morning, maybe this afternoon; and

Whereas despite these stretches of highway being forced to close different times each winter, the Department of Transportation and Public Works is not convinced there is enough snow to warrant a four-wheel drive plow being left in the Amherst area; and

Whereas the four-wheel drive plow is designed to plow snow in this heavy snow belt; and

Whereas the safety of all Nova Scotians is paramount in these conditions;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works take a drive with me today to the snow belt of Nova Scotia to get a first-hand look at the snowfall in the Amherst area, so that weak excuses such as limited amounts of snow can't be used in removing the only four-wheel drive snowplow remaining at the Amherst Depot.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 180

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I can't understand why the Minister of Transportation and Public Works wouldn't agree to waive notice on that resolution. It was a very good resolution by the honourable member.

MR. SPEAKER: Continue with your resolution, honourable member.

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

Whereas the Premier of Nova Scotia blew a lot of hot air out of his lungs about the toll highway during his campaign for the Liberal leadership last spring and summer; and

Whereas the hot air included a statement in the Daily News on July 9th of this year about getting rid of the toll, having the province take over the toll highway and having to get the money from somewhere to eliminate the toll; and

Whereas Nova Scotians begin paying tolls of up to $3.00 to use this tolled highway, as of December 1st;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier publicly apologize to Nova Scotians today for misleading them about his intentions to remove the toll and for doing nothing to save the 80 or so jobs eliminated in northern Nova Scotia with the opening of the tolled highway.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 181

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

[Page 439]

Whereas this Liberal Government has imposed a heavy burden of downloading upon Nova Scotia's municipal governments over the past 4.5 years; and

Whereas the downloading has already adversely affected a number of small towns across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas equalization grant funding presently stands at only 63 per cent of what the funding level should be, creating huge funding problems for many communities across Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs immediately sit down with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities to develop a plan to assist communities such as Mulgrave, Bridgetown and Windsor, in working through the difficulties being experienced as a result of this financial crunch.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 182

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

Whereas the Minister of Education has seen fit to build a Taj Mahal school, complete with air conditioning, an amphitheatre and a spacious second floor room complete with a deck overlooking the Minas Basin, for a private software business; and

Whereas the cost of this school tripled from $8 million to $25.7 million in one year and the private consortium building the school has stated publicly that it expects the price to rise further before this white elephant is finally complete; and

Whereas the deputy Minister of Education stated on November 19th in the Public Accounts Committee that he did not know who authorized the tripling of costs of Horton District High School and the Minister of Education avoided answering the same question when asked during Question Period on November 27th;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier, while fulfilling his promise to look into P3 school construction, examine especially closely the skyrocketing costs of the high school being built in the Minister of Education's own riding.

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MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 183

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

Whereas employees of Nova Scotia Power's Tufts Cove generating station in Dartmouth are helping to find sponsors for four community schools requiring funding for technology, transportation, school supplies and school breakfast programs; and

Whereas with the help of Dartmouth Access Cable, they raised $5,000 in one year; and

Whereas elementary and junior high level students at the four schools involved - Harbourview School, Notting Park School, John Martin Junior High School and John MacNeil School - will benefit from the community spirit of this worthwhile partnership;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the Tufts Cove employees and Access Cable on this very worthwhile and valuable project which will provide students with tangible and lasting educational benefits.

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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 184

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

[Page 441]

Whereas Nova Scotia Crystal has only been in business for a little over a year but already it has wares in the homes of people like Princess Caroline of Monaco and the Prime Minister of Canada, making it an ambassador for Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the company sprang to life when its owners realized that no one in Canada made crystal, ignoring a $100 million a year business; and

Whereas Nova Scotia Crystal has just signed a distribution deal with Royal Doulton stores in this country to showcase the work of its craftspeople who, combined, have over 100 years of experience;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the rising star status of Nova Scotia Crystal and wish them and Seagull Pewter even more success after it gets together to produce a trophy to be showcased at the PGA in Orlando, Florida, this January.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 185

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

Whereas a recent meeting of some members of staff at the Colchester Regional Hospital resulted in additional concerns being expressed over the conditions being faced by nurses working in the hospital's emergency unit; and

Whereas nurses in the Colchester Regional Hospital Emergency Unit feel they are constantly overworked and understaffed; and

[Page 442]

Whereas nurses have expressed their concerns on a number of occasions and have even developed work situation incident reports, including one incident that resulted in 13 extra stretchers being used in the emergency unit because of a lack of acute care hospital beds;

Therefore be it resolved that this Savage-MacLellan Government admit what an immense failure their health care reform agenda has been and immediately begin addressing this very serious situation at the Colchester Regional Hospital in Truro and at other health care facilities across Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I just wanted to have a clarification in regard to, I believe, a motion that was made earlier by the member for Cumberland North.

The member for Cumberland North had in his resolution indicated that there was no four-wheel drive truck in the northern region. I want to clarify to the members of the House, to set the record straight, that it is my knowledge that the four-wheel drive is still in Cumberland North or is still in the northern region. In fact, it is not only the four-wheel drive that it was, but it has been upgraded to an 08, an 08 truck that has capability of salt and sand delivery and also plowing. It is available and it is there. It is there as needed. I wanted to straighten that misinformation from the member for Cumberland North to the House today.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker. In fact the member for Cumberland North made specific reference to the Amherst area not having a four-wheel drive plow available to it. The minister speaks of the northern region. The northern region is extremely large and includes communities far removed from Amherst. I wanted to make sure that the Minister of Transportation was kept straight on precisely what the member for Cumberland North had said in his resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: I appreciate the clarification that has been offered. It would appear there are different sources of information here. It is not a point of order. I have heard two representations on this point of order.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

The final comment on this point of order.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: On the point of order and just for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works' information and perhaps the previous minister could get his ear and tell him, Mr. Speaker, that an 08 is not a four-wheel drive vehicle. It is only a tandem and the four-wheel drive vehicles have the ability to go through much more snow than the tandems do. They are called FWDs.

[Page 443]

MR. SPEAKER: Again, there is no point of order. I appreciate the information that has been brought to all members of the House.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: I want to speak because the Minister of Transportation stood and he was trying to indicate to the members of the House that the member for Cumberland North did not know what he was talking about, that in fact there was a four-wheel drive truck available. If the minister just said there is an 08 truck, he is trying to mislead the House because when the minister stands and tells us (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: It is not a point of order.

MR. ARCHIBALD: It certainly is. When the minister stands to mislead the House in a point of clarification, that certainly requires a point of order.

[11:00 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: There has been no effort here on the part of any honourable member to mislead the House. That is a rather serious accusation. There is no point of order, there is simply a disagreement here over the information that has been provided. That is not unusual in this Chamber. Different members, ministers, have different information to bring to the House. There is no point of order.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I don't know where the confusion lies. Is it possibly from the members opposite who are trying to take away from the credibility of the workers and the staff of the Department of Transportation, the professionals who work in our department? I understand there are, in fact, two four-wheel drives in the northern region and I would simply say to the members of the House that I will be getting a briefing sent over today with the specifics of all that information so that the members opposite can be assured of what is going on within our department and we will clarify that once and for all for members of the House. In the event that somebody on the opposite side of the House realizes that they were wrong, that they would appropriately stand up and apologize at the time when the information is laid out. Fair enough?

MR. SPEAKER: I think we have heard plenty on this subject then.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.

AN HON. MEMBER: He has been up twice.

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MR. SPEAKER: You are trying the patience of the Chair. We are having information repeated, statements, I am hearing the same thing. This could go on all day. We don't want to waste the time of the House.

MR. TAYLOR: New information, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Final word, then, in response to the minister's latest information.

MR. TAYLOR: I appreciate the opportunity, Mr. Speaker. I am not suggesting that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works deliberately stood up and attempted to mislead the House. He may have inadvertently misled the House but nonetheless, the House was misled. He tried to point out and have members in the House - and perhaps even including you, Mr. Speaker - believe that an FWD, a four-wheel drive vehicle is an O8 vehicle. The member for Cumberland North very clearly stated that he would like the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to, ". . . take a drive with me today to the snow belt of Nova Scotia to get a first-hand look at the snowfall in the Amherst area . . .", and he says, whereas the four-wheel drive plow is designed to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member, please take your seat. I want to make this very clear. There is no point of order in this debate. There are different opinions coming from both sides of the House of Assembly but there is nothing here that would warrant a point of order. We have a disagreement. There is no point of order.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 5.

Bill No. 5 - Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act.

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

[Page 445]

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, honourable members of the House, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me special recognition, first, before we start the second reading of this bill, to give special recognition to the honourable Minister of Human Resources, the Honourable Allister Surette, who has played a very vital role, a very key role in bringing forward this legislation here today and I believe he deserves a round of applause. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to give a very special acknowledgement for Gareth Drinnan. Gareth is President of the Nova Scotia Highway Workers Union, CUPE 1867, for providing tremendous leadership to that union and to the representatives of the men and women who work in our department.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be the minister with the privilege of asking the House to give its approval to an Act Respecting Collective Bargaining by Highway Workers. This legislation has been long sought after by the employees of the Department of Transportation and Public Works who work on provincial highways and ferries. After more than 25 years, these professionals, dedicated women and men, have a law that formalizes their collective bargaining rights. These workers have indeed worked under the framework of a collective agreement negotiated by my department for many years. However, their union has had no legislative standing except a decree by an Order in Council. This situation is unique among governments in Canada, and it basically means the union has operated at the pleasure of government.

Mr. Speaker, an Act Respecting Collective Bargaining by Highway Workers embodies their union rights in legislation to ensure employees and employer work in an atmosphere of fairness and an atmosphere of equity. This legislation is important because it gives CUPE Local 1867 workers the protection of law in negotiating the term under which its members will work. It is similar in scope to the provincial Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to outline to the members of the House some of the provisions of the legislation that is before us today. This bill recognizes the Nova Scotia Highway Workers CUPE Local 1867 as the exclusive bargaining agent for highway workers. It establishes a process for the employees to change their union. This does not exist in the Civil Service, but it does exist in the case of correctional workers. It creates mutual satisfactory duties to negotiate and to comply with a collective agreement.

The Act establishes the Highway Workers Employee Relations Board. Its role is similar to that of the Labour Relations Board under the Trade Union Act, Mr. Speaker. For example, the board has jurisdiction to hear unfair labour practice cases or to rule on whether a person is an employee under the Act. This legislation prohibits unfair labour practices by the employer and the union. It makes binding arbitration mandatory when the parties cannot agree through negotiations. The bill prohibits employer lockouts and as is the case with all employees of the Nova Scotia Government, there is no provision for employees to strike.

[Page 446]

Instead, Mr. Speaker, the bill defines matters that can be referred to in arbitration. They are the same as those enlisted in the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act.

A grievance process must be part of each collective agreement negotiated under this legislation. The bill establishes a process for adjudication that applies when a grievance is not resolved to the satisfaction of one of the parties. The bill provides for the transition by protecting proceedings such as negotiations or arbitration that are in a process when this particular Act comes into force. Mr. Speaker, the 1,000 women and men covered under this bill have vitally important roles to play in providing Nova Scotians with a safe motoring environment. I believe this legislation provides those workers with a better environment to make sure their rights are properly guarded. A positive relationship has existed between highway workers and my department for many years. I am confident that with this legislation we can continue to work together for the good of Nova Scotians.

At this time, Mr. Speaker, I must extend thanks to Gareth Drinnan, member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1867, the staff of the Department of Human Resources and the staff of the Department of Transportation and Public Works. They have all worked many months to help write this very significant chapter in Nova Scotia's labour relation history. I believe I can speak for my colleague, the Honourable Minister of Human Resources, in saying we are extremely proud to be able to make this legislation a reality in 1997.

Mr. Speaker, if I may echo the comments of Mr. Drinnan, I ask all members of this House to join with me in unanimous support of this legislation. It is quite simply the right thing to do. Thank you.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak in support of this legislation. This bill is essentially the formalization of the collective bargaining rights that the highway worker has, which is really in the form of an Order in Council now. I understand from my discussions with the highway workers that they have been pushing for this legislation for 25 years. The Nova Scotia Highway Workers Union has been fighting for better protection for its members and, I guess as Gareth has said, finally the day has arrived. So I would like to commend the staff in the Department of Human Resources and in the Department of Transportation and Public Works. I believe they are very good people, professionals who worked extremely hard drafting this legislation.

The minister did articulate what the bill does. It certainly does recognize the highway workers, CUPE Local 1867 as the bargaining agent for the highway workers. I am not going to go through the whole litany of things that the bill does, the minister did mention that, but I think it is important to highlight a couple of points relative to what the bill does. One thing the bill does is prohibit unfair labour practices by employer and union. It defines the matters

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that can be referred to arbitration, which are the same as those listed in the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act. Again, Mr. Speaker, I think all members in the House recognize that that is very important. It establishes a process for adjudication that applies when a grievance is not resolved to the satisfaction of one of the parties; another important element that is contained in the legislation.

I had an opportunity to attend the bill briefing, which was held, I believe, on Wednesday of this week. The ministers, of course, representing their respective departments were in attendance and spoke in support of the bill; the president spoke in support of the bill. Now that the niceties are kind of out of the way, I do find it a little bit ironic that this same minister who is bringing this legislation forward has threatened publicly to take away the hiring rights that the Truckers' Association of Nova Scotia has. The Truckers' Association of Nova Scotia worked very closely with the highway workers.

Mr. Speaker, you might be aware that the Nova Scotia truckers haul the road salt to the different highway depots across the province and it is the highway workers who shake the salt shaker. It is important that all workers in Nova Scotia have some rights and have those rights enshrined and protected. So I am a little bit perplexed that the minister would, on one hand, threaten to take the hiring rights away and threaten publicly to take the hiring rights away from the Truckers' Association of Nova Scotia, put it back in the hands of the Department of Transportation and politicize that and then, on the other hand - well, Mr. Speaker gets lots of advice from everybody - then on the other hand we bring in legislation that is very supportable. So it is a little bit ironic and I did want to point that out.

What the bill does I guess is very important. The bill does recognize the Nova Scotia highway workers, CUPE Local 1867 as the bargaining agent for the highway workers. For 25 years the highway workers have lobbied and actually fought for legislation like that. That takes in just a few governments, Mr. Speaker, the last 25 years. So finally we are seeing the workers' fight, the workers' lobbying come to fruition. I, for one, will be supporting this legislation. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, am pleased to stand to speak on the bill that is before us today. As I begin my remarks, one of the things that I can't help but comment on is the fact that often people say why it is that government members or why are people who are elected always disagreeing; why is it that members of political Parties can't ever agree on anything? I always remind people that in reality, if you check the record, the majority of pieces of legislation that come before this House are, in fact, approved by all sides of this House but it just doesn't make the media. I want to say that this is probably another one of those pieces of legislation that is not going to be bringing about a great deal of disagreement between members because personally, in looking at this piece of legislation and as I understand it, I think that it is, indeed, very supportable.

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Highway workers are extremely important to the Province of Nova Scotia. Highway workers perform a very important function. They not only maintain our highways during the summertime and do a lot of essential repairs to keep those roads in good or passable condition but they are also crucial, especially during this time of the year, in making sure that those roads are as safe as possible. They do that under very difficult situations. When we are out there driving around and we are upset or concerned about the conditions of the roads because of the snow and the ice, you have to remember that those who are responsible for getting those roads cleared, to get that snow and to get that ice off those roads, they have to be travelling on them in the first place with their very heavy equipment in very severe weather conditions in order to, in fact, make those roads safe for us. So they are working very often under very adverse situations.

[11:15 a.m.]

We have been for far too long in this province, living in the dark ages when it comes to how we have been dealing with and how we have been treating those who work for us and do so much good work for us in the Public Service, and I say especially those highway workers.

Mr. Speaker, I remember when I was first elected to this place in 1984 - it seems like a whole other life ago - one of the things that disturbed me so much at that time, just one of the items, was the fact that there used to be hiring committees. There used to be hiring committees and these weren't only restricted to the former Conservative Government. The Liberals had them before and whenever governments would change, very often the employees who worked in the Department of Highways were the very first ones to change, because they held their positions, they held their jobs at the discretion or, you might say, at the mercy of the government of the day.

That has been changed. In fact, one of the things that I went after in my particular riding in the very beginning, and I was pleased to say that in my area anyway I know it was done away with in the mid-1980's, because I promised to expose the names of those who had served on that former hiring committee within my community and it was disbanded. It was a very positive move because the reports that I received back from those who were supervising pointed out, that the people who were working there were working because they were capable and they were qualified, not because of their political connections.

Mr. Speaker, I think that it is extremely important that those who are working for us have a legitimate framework, a legal framework, within which they can have some security and sense of security about their job. So if they feel that there are unfair labour practices taking place against them, they will know that they have the security of a collective agreement and a collective agreement that has the effect and force of law and not just at the discretion of Cabinet, that could be changed by an Order in Council any day the Cabinet decides to meet

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downstairs, in the bunker behind closed doors, without any consultation. That is the way, of course, that things had been in operation before.

So I want to say - and I say this, Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and to members of the government benches - that, yes, indeed, I have every intention of voting in support of this bill and I think that this is a very positive step in the right direction, a very positive step forward. I really want to congratulate all of those who work in the Public Service as highway workers who for 25 years didn't give up but they kept coming and they kept coming and they kept coming. They kept insisting until finally this kind of legislation that they wanted and, more importantly than what they wanted, what they deserved and what they needed, was brought forward. I think that they deserve a tremendous round of applause for their persistence to ensure that.

Here we are going to have a Highway Workers Employee Relations Board which is similar to the Trade Union Act so that if an employee feels that they have been unfairly treated, that they have a grievance, that they are working, or being told to work, or forced to work in an unsafe work condition, that they are going to have some kind of a recourse, that they will have a body to whom they can turn.

My hope, of course, Mr. Speaker, because I know that with the Labour Relations Board, often that is so backed up that it seems to take forever for individual people to have their cases heard at that Labour Relations Board. First of all my hope would be that there won't be a need to have a lot of grievances or a lot of complaints brought before the Highway Workers Employee Relations Board to be resolved. That would be my preference, but if there does need to be, and I am sure there will be a requirement at least at some time in the future to have the process used. If that does in fact happen, then I hope that it will be able to be moved forward in a speedy manner.

There are a number of things and certainly the highway workers are giving up the right to strike, counterbalance that, of course, by the fact that the government will not have the ability to lock them out. However, Mr Speaker, it is certainly a major concession on behalf of the highway workers, a very major concession on their behalf. They are giving up the right to withdraw their services in order to fight for improved working conditions, improved wages and so on. I want to underscore that because I think that the highway workers have made a very significant sacrifice by that and I don't think that that should be underplayed at all.

I guess in closing . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You said that a few minutes ago.

MR. HOLM: In closing for the next time, anyway, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the bill has been brought forward. I look forward to presentations that may be made at the Law Amendments Committee. I know that I have spoken with, I took the opportunity to speak

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with representatives from the highways workers with the representatives from CUPE, Local 1867, and I am very much aware of their involvements, their efforts and their support for this legislation. They have every reason to be feel proud of their efforts, fighting on behalf of their workers. One can only hope, and hope sincerely, that the government will (Interruption)

The minister wants me to thank him so, I like to be, as you know from my decorum within this House, I always try to be friendly and cooperative with government benches and so, Mr. Speaker, through you, to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, I want to express to him my thanks for bringing forward this piece of legislation that ideally should have been here 20 to 25 years ago but I can't blame that on this minister because he hasn't occupied that seat for that long.

However, I am pleased that it has been brought forward and I hope that the government will treat the employees in a fair and equitable manner. It is something that this government has not had a record for doing because highway workers, like all other workers in this province, were unilaterally rolled back in their wages by this government. Those who work for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Highways, whether they are members of the Civil Service, whether they work for a municipality, even if they worked for a nursing home or home for special care that was not a government facility but only received some or partial funding from this government, all had their wages ripped back. They had collective bargaining rights frozen so that not only the monetary issues but those other issues that are fundamentally important, crucial to having a safe and efficient workplace, this government cancelled all of those. What they did of course is that they looked at the Don Cameron Tory Government and saw what they did and said, this is what the Tories did so if the Tories can do it we can do it too and the Tories won't be able to criticize us because we are only acting like Tories, so they decided to do that likewise.

I hope that this isn't just a political ploy here. I hope that what this does mean is that the government is truly born again, that the government is going to truly respect and value its public servants, something it hasn't done for the four and one-half years that it has been in office. Those public servants including highway workers have had those cuts. Those highway workers have seen their numbers dramatically reduced. They, like all others, are being told, not asked, but told to do more with less. They are to be commended for the way in which they have carried out their responsibilities. Hopefully, this legislation will restore a little bit of confidence that they may have in government and will provide them at least some of the kinds of protections that they have so long deserved and have been so long denied by successive Liberal, Tory and back to Liberal Governments.

I see this as a positive step forward and I look forward to hearing the presentations that will be made sometime at the Law Amendments Committee. I hope that this is a piece of legislation that will actually receive third reading and the approval of the Governor in Council and the Lieutenant Governor before the Premier decides to do the inevitable which must come about and have the writ issued. I would not want to see this piece of legislation die on the

[Page 451]

order paper so I certainly look forward to a commitment that this legislation will go through all stages, receive all approvals, prior to the writ being issued. Sometimes we have seen this and maybe it is my imagination but you know, sometimes commitments are made prior to elections and then afterwards they sort of drift away . . .

MR. SPEAKER: And we are drifting off the general principle of the bill, honourable member.

MR. HOLM: No, the principle of the bill . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Let's get back to the general principle of the bill.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I thought I was on the principle of the bill. If I strayed a bit, I apologize profusely to you and to all members of the House. All I am saying on the principle of the bill because this is a principled bill and so I am speaking in the bigger principled manner. I am saying to the government that I certainly hope that there will be a commitment that this will go through all stages and be proclaimed, prior to the writ having been issued so that it can't turn out to be one more false broken promise, like so many that we have seen, unfortunately, from the red team that has been occupying the government benches over the last four and one-half years. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I never thought I would get the floor actually. However, speaking on Bill No. 5 I would just like to first of all assure the House that I am going to support this bill and secondly, that my remarks are rather brief in that I am not just too sure whether or not we need to establish a Highway Workers Employees Relations Board. I notice that the minister didn't expand on that at all because in fact, we do have a Labour Relations Board which essentially performs the same function as the Highway Workers Employee Relations Board, and that is rather a long term, but anyway essentially that board is just duplicating a board that is already in place. Mr. Speaker, this board, I noticed, is one that is set up by Order in Council, so we should have some friends of the government, I am sure, on that particular board. They receive a stipend, they receive a travel allowance, et cetera. I think it is totally unnecessary. It might be perhaps better if the Minister of Human Resources came to the Labour Relations Board and said, what do you need to adequately perform your function in a time-frame that is acceptable to all Parties, because I see no other reason for having this particular board put in place.

[11:30 a.m.]

The other comment that I would like to make with relation to this bill, Mr. Speaker, is the business of arbitration. I noticed that it is compulsory arbitration, and I was wondering if the minister and CUPE had given any thought to something perhaps a little bit beyond

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compulsory arbitration, and that is perhaps last final offer arbitration whereby each side puts in their final offer and the arbitrator is stuck with accepting either the one from the employer or the one from the employee. It seems to me that is a more acceptable way than going into straight compulsory arbitration where too often we just simply end up with the arbitrator chopping the offer by the employer and the final demand by the employee in half and divvying up in that direction.

Apart from that, Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the highway workers now have a piece of legislation that provides them with adequate protection. I am delighted that this legislation has come forward early enough in this particular short session that we may be able to possibly put this legislation through before the House rises for a Christmas break. With those few remarks, and perhaps the minister when he closes the debate might just simply enlighten me as to why we require another board very similar to the Labour Relations Board. Thank you.

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

MR. WILLIAM MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on Bill No. 5 - Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act. I think it is a very important bill, and I would like to congratulate the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for finally putting the highway workers on a level playing field. I have been involved with them over the years, as a former county councillor and as MLA for the area, so they always had little inequities. They really had hard times trying to get their point across and trying to get proper representation and many things over the years.

I find that the ones I have talked to since this bill has been introduced are very happy about it, and they are looking forward to, I would say, having equal rights with other unions. With this collective agreement, they can negotiate and better themselves and know in their hearts now they can negotiate on a level playing field. So, there are a lot of them out there that have been quite concerned over the years that they really have not been represented properly. I think this bill is going to do that and hopefully they will feel more comfortable and when they have a beef, problem or something that is bothering them they can, through their collective agreement, go to their union people and get it resolved.

The union people, in the past, had real problems trying to support the workers. Now, I know we will pass this bill as quickly as possible. There is nobody in this House, I do not think, that does not support it. I would ask all the members of the House to read it carefully, debate it and pass it so the highway workers will have a chance to work on a level playing field.

As you know, there are some changes in the new Halifax Regional Municipality Act. The highway workers have been transferred from the highway to the regional municipality. They had a few problems there that they are trying to resolve, maybe they will not be able to do it, but maybe in the past, if it happens again, the highway workers who are transferred to

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the regional municipalities or other municipalities will have a better chance to get what they need, especially in pensions and few other things like that, and long-term disability and other things that they are really having a problem with. So I would ask you all to support this and get this passed through the House so the highway workers can work on a level playing field.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to rise and speak for a few moments on Bill No. 5. I certainly will be speaking in support of the bill. My former sisters and brothers at CUPE Local 1867 have been working long and hard trying to change the situation where they existed as the result of an Act of Cabinet, as an OIC, and it created a lot of problems for them in terms of whether they were able to push for particular changes in their working conditions, and in their conditions of work, through their collective agreement and other things and creates a fair bit of instability and insecurity for them, so I am very happy.

I know that they have been talking with this government and the previous government about trying to rectify that situation. I know that they are very pleased to have now reached a point where they have a piece of legislation before the Legislature that will set them up. They are still somewhat separate from the Trade Union Act and from the Civil Service, but they no longer exist simply under an Order in Council, in other words, at the whim of Cabinet, so that is good.

There certainly are issues in here which I am looking forward to having an opportunity to speak to some folks about, questions with respect to the establishment of a Highway Workers Employee Relations Board, why that is being done and not either having it established under the Labour Relations Board or under the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act. I just don't understand that. That is all. I am not saying it is a bad thing, I think it is something that I will want to get some clarification on.

There are some other issues in here relative to the binding arbitration: how that will be established, what the rules will be there; other things relative to the whole question of strikes and lockouts, the grievance process, and these kinds of things. I think it is important that we clarify some of those issues and ensure that everybody knows exactly what it is that is going into this Act. This has been a long and arduous process by those workers to try to get this new legislation. I would certainly feel that I am not holding up my responsibility if I don't ensure that a number of the questions that I have are not examined and that we don't ensure that when this bill gets through that it is the best piece of legislation it can be.

So I am sure that can be done through the regular processes. I certainly won't hold it up. I will encourage all members of the House to not only support it, but to support speedy passage once we have had the opportunity to discuss details at the Law Amendments Committee. So I look forward to the opportunity to have representations from CUPE, and

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from others, on the implications of this change and whether or not the Act, as it is written, meets all those needs.

Again, Mr. Speaker, let me say that I offer my congratulations to the minister responsible for having moved to this degree. I believe that the executive of Local 1867 have also thanked Manning MacDonald, the Minister of Labour at the time, and, as well, the Minister of Human Resources, Allister Surette, for the efforts they have made in seeing this issue go forward. I, too, lend my support and congratulations to those ministers. I hope we will see the same level of cooperation and constructive relations when we deal with other civil servants in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to say a few words regarding Bill No. 5, the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act, that was introduced by my colleague, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

Again, I am pleased to have the opportunity to have worked with the president of CUPE Local 1867, his staff, the staff of the Department of Transportation and Public Works and my staff to make this a reality and to have the opportunity to support my colleague for the introduction of this bill in the House of Assembly.

Highway workers, like all government employees, are an important resource, they are people on the frontline delivering a public service. As Minister of Human Resources, responsible for the Civil Service, responsible for government employees, I am pleased that this legislation will confer on these workers the same formal recognition of the right to collective bargaining as other government employees enjoy.

There are a few key messages here that I think have to be raised and I think they have been raised to a certain extent at this point by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works as well as the previous speakers. This is an issue of fairness, as I see it, comparing CUPE 1867, which are public servants, highway workers and ferry workers, with our other government employees as well as consistency across the Public Service. It has been mentioned that CUPE 1867 fully supports the bill, they have been consulted extensively on the drafting of the bill.

At this point, I would also like to say that I have enjoyed a close relationship with this group of employees on a number of different initiatives such as the Employee Assistance Program, which we worked in partnership on as well as the Occupational Health and Safety corporate policy for government. So, again, my hat is off to this group and to the staff of CUPE 1867 for the good working relationship that does exist not only with the Department of Transportation and Public Works but also with the Department of Human Resources.

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The bill, I think, it has to be quite clear, does not establish a new collective bargaining relationship but simply gives it full statutory support. So what we are doing here is that we will now be able to go to our own provincial Statutes and find if this bill goes through, Bill No. 5, an Act which would be very much similar to the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act. So, in other words, it gives them full protection as other government employees enjoy. I should mention another Act, not only the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act but the Corrections Act is another piece of legislation which is very much similar to the bill that we are talking about today.

The bill does not change, add to or subtract from existing terms and conditions of employment. Again what the bill does do is the same thing as other labour relations legislation, as I have just mentioned.

There was a question raised by the member for Hants West regarding the Labour Relations Board. I would just like to clarify that point that this bill does not fall under the Trade Union Act, which is consistent again, with other government employees, with the two other pieces of legislation I have mentioned, the Corrections Act and the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act, whereby they have their own Labour Relations Board, in this case here, the same thing is consistent with the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act in which we have the Civil Service Employee Relations Board. So, again, because this bill does not fall under the Trade Union Act, again consistent with all Crown employees, that is the reason for their own, what we refer to as the Labour Relations Board.

The other issue that was raised by the member for Hants West was the issue of interest arbitration and whether we could introduce something that would be more binding. I think that was the content of his issue or the question. In this case, interest arbitration is what we refer to most of the time as binding arbitration, which, as the word suggests, is binding on government. So if there is a difference of opinion between the unions representing the employees and the employer then the issue goes to the interest arbitration and at that time the arbitrator rules and it is binding on the employer. Again, very consistent with the other Acts that are now in place.

[11:45 a.m.]

So, in conclusion, the legislation which we have introduced today provides for good labour relations practices. It prohibits unfair labour practices and provides for interest arbitration, as I have mentioned, as well as a grievance process. In short, it sets up a working environment that strives for fairness and provides ways to deal with differences. By protecting these practices in law for highway workers, the legislation provides for fairer treatment of all government employees.

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Again, I would like to thank my staff who have worked for a number of months and years on this legislation, the Minister of Transportation and his staff for working in partnership with us and, as well, the President of CUPE 1867, Mr. Gareth Drinnan and his staff, for his involvement and support on this bill. When that is said, Mr. Speaker, I support all members who have spoken on the bill to this point. I hope this bill will see its way through this Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I first want to compliment all the members who have spoken on this very important bill here today for their comments of support. Referring to a couple of questions, I believe the Minister of Human Resources has actually answered the question in regard to the Labour Relations Board that has been established, because of a different Act, and regarding arbitration, compulsory, whether it is the least offer or not, I am not familiar with that part, but we would be willing to look into it.

I just want to close off by first acknowledging, as a member opposite did earlier, the meeting we had with Manning MacDonald, the then Minister of Labour, now Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, and Mr. O'Malley, the current Minister of Labour, for their support as well. This has been a cooperative approach of departments working together, Labour, Human Resources, Transportation and Public Works, with the union, to bring forward closure and compliance, going forward with legislation that has been so badly needed.

With that, Mr. Speaker, enough has been said. I am very honoured to move second reading of Bill No. 5, An Act Respecting Collective Bargaining by Highway Workers.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 5. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

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

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GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: 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 honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, let me begin by saying that I first want to thank you for the opportunity to reply in support of this session's Speech from the Throne.

I stand here today as the provincial representative for the constituency of Victoria, a riding which I have been honoured and fortunate enough to represent for the last nine years and hope to continue serving for a number of years to come. I want to acknowledge and sincerely thank the people of Victoria for their continuing support of me as their representative. They have my assurance that I will continue to work hard in bringing their concerns to the appropriate people.

In the past years I have been given the opportunity on a number of occasions to reply to the Speech from the Throne, but today it has an even more special meaning to me as it is my first time doing so as a Minister of the Crown, since being appointed to the position of Minister of Natural Resources in July of this year. I want to thank our Premier for instilling his confidence in me to carry out these duties.

Mr. Speaker, in the Premier's days of federal politics, I am proud to acknowledge that he served as my riding's Member of Parliament. I can say without a doubt that during this period the Premier has made my role as MLA much easier with his significant contributions and support towards my area's issues.

We had and still do have with him and his staff a very friendly, open and productive relationship. I have always appreciated the Premier's efforts on my behalf and I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank him for his time and consideration for my constituents' concerns.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to personally congratulate you on your elevation to that most important position. Your knowledge of the House rules and procedures and the ability to handle difficult situations will serve all the honourable members in this House well over the course of this session. I wish you well, as I do the member for Eastern Shore, Mr. Colwell, on being appointed Deputy Speaker. I am confident that Mr. Colwell will certainly provide you with a strong back-up and assist you greatly in keeping this Assembly in good order.

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I want to also acknowledge and congratulate Mr. Brown, the honourable member for Cumberland South, for his appointment as Government House Leader, and Mr. MacDonald from Sackville-Beaverbank on being selected as Party Whip. I have full confidence that both of my colleagues will do a great job in performing their duties to the best of their abilities.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our four recently elected members of the Legislative Assembly: first to our Premier, Mr. MacLellan, on such a decisive victory in Cape Breton North - his constituents have sent a clear message that our government is on the right track to ensure our province's economic growth and stability; to Ed Kinley on winning Halifax Citadel in fine fashion with such relentless dedication; also congratulations to Helen MacDonald, from Cape Breton The Lakes and to Ernest Fage, from Cumberland North. I am confident that each new MLA will do their very best to represent their respective constituents.

I would also like to extend a special personal thank you to the former Premier, John Savage. My wife, Lillian, and I will dearly miss this friendship which has grown over the years with both Margaret and him. I hope they will continue their yearly trips to Baddeck in the summertime. I wish them well in their future endeavours.

My riding of Victoria is one which I am very proud to represent. I am very pleased with the direction which my government has taken in recent years. Yes, there have been some hard times for many, but persistence has paid off. Because our Liberal Government has not chosen to take the easy way out, we have been able to turn the corner to fiscal responsibility.

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if I might interrupt the honourable minister for an introduction.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in the gallery today I would like to introduce an old and valued friend of mine for many years and a Councillor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Dan Hanson. I would ask Dan to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, overall, I believe the people of Victoria and the people of Nova Scotia are pleased with our government's performance under the capable leadership of Premier MacLellan. My constituents' priorities are my priorities and I will always be there to listen to their concerns and to provide effective representation. I promise to continue doing so in the years ahead.

When I look across my riding of Victoria, I see many positive things happening but also recognize that much more can be done, especially in the area of new long-term jobs. Meeting this challenge of creating and sustaining jobs in our community, it is refreshing to see many

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non-profit groups in my riding spending numerous volunteer hours dedicated to the development of ideas to increase benefits to their area.

People are now realizing that communities must play a part in developing their future. Governments can be there to help but partnerships are required for projects to be successful.

Less than two weeks ago I had the pleasure of announcing funding assistance on behalf of our province for upgrading the MacIntosh Brook Day Use Area near Pleasant Bay in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. I believe this project is a perfect example of communities controlling their own destiny. In this case it was the members of the Pleasant Bay Community Development Association who worked with various provincial and federal departments to solidify support to improve facilities at this tourist stop along the Cape Breton world famous Cabot Trail.

Projects like this will have to give tourists reasons to remain in our beautiful province longer and to have a more memorable stay. This initiative could not have been possible without the partnership of government and the community. We must continue to promote our province's natural beauty as a world-class tourism destination.

The Cape Breton Trails Tourism Enhancement Project announced by our Premier and Senator Graham last month is just another example of the type of support that is needed to reach this goal. I appreciate this assistance and applaud our government's direction.

More and more tourists are coming each year to our province in search of quality golf and adventures. In my riding we are blessed with two world-class 18 hole championship golf courses, the Highland Links in Ingonish and the newly opened Bell Bay Golf Course in Baddeck. The Highland Links, I must add, is currently ranked as one of the top golf courses in Canada. It, along with the recently renovated Cape Smokey ski facility, have had a terrific positive impact on tourism for the north of Smokey area.

The Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Program has been very successful in permitting valued projects in the many communities across my riding the opportunity to go ahead. Under the 1997-98 top-up to this program, nine projects across Victoria totalling $800,000 will be completed creating work for almost 70 local residents.

Two of the largest of these projects are the construction of a treated water reservoir for Baddeck and a sidewalk construction project to enhance the Ingonish area. In addition my riding has received assistance to undertake fire department expansions in Cape North, Ingonish Beach, Englishtown and Little Narrows. Also included in the approvals are water service extensions for the Baddeck Bay and Little Narrows area. Finally, the Middle River Community Centre will receive much needed improvements.

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Each one of these infrastructure projects are having a direct impact on reducing local unemployment levels. Although these jobs may be short-term, the end result of these projects will be long-term economic benefits experienced by these communities.

I am pleased to see a Winter Works Program mentioned in the Speech from the Throne as it is a great step toward helping the unemployed obtain meaningful work experience. Each year that this program has been in existence, it has helped many of my constituents.

I must say I am very pleased that the Speech from the Throne also indicated a made-in-Nova Scotia youth employment strategy which will be developed with a focus on education, work experience and information. Our youth are our future and priority must be given to them.

On that note, I look forward to doing my part in pushing for improved changes to the Student Loan Program for our youth. For many of my constituents, without this government program, proper education would not be a reality.

As mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, I am glad to see that our government will be allocating new funds for secondary roads across Nova Scotia. We realize that the need exists and that it should be addressed as soon as possible.

[12:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I now would like to say a few words in addressing our level of health care in our province. The Throne Speech reaffirms our government's commitment to provide every Nova Scotian with an adequate level of health care, regardless of their situation. In my riding, St Ann's Medical Centre recently received assistance to help with the transition between the end of federal funding under the New Horizons Program and the time when the centre will become self-sufficient. This provincial government support will ensure an adequate level of health care is provided to Victoria County residents.

I would also like to highlight that a new hospital in Neils Harbour to replace an existing aging structure will be constructed starting sometime in the spring of 1998. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the present government for support of this need.

Mr. Speaker, as MLA for Victoria, I am an avid supporter of one of my region's great natural strengths, that is, its strong cultural heritage. The Gaelic College in St. Ann's is celebrating its 60th Anniversary in operation. It was founded to preserve and foster the customs, traditions, culture and language of Scottish immigrants. The college provides many classes and courses for hundreds of students each year and is a strong source of pride for all Cape Bretoners. The Nova Scotia Highland Village in Iona provides a significant contribution and is of great importance to tourism across central Cape Breton. For a third of a century, it has interpreted the life of Scottish settlers in Nova Scotia for residents and visitors alike.

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Mr. Speaker, this year we celebrated Reflections '97, the 500th Anniversary of John Cabot's voyage to the New World and the coming together of European culture and Canada's aboriginal people. Although the economic spin-offs from this event for my area were not as good as we hoped, the visit of the Matthew and many tall ships has given many small communities in my riding the opportunity to see a piece of history they might have never experienced, so in that regard it was a huge success.

Mr. Speaker, on the same topic, I want to acknowledge the role of our provincial government in supporting the restoration of the old Baddeck Post Office, known as Grosvenor Hall. It was the Baddeck Library Society that was instrumental in ensuring that this important piece of history remain in our midst. Also in Baddeck, in September I took part in a Firefighters Memorial Service which was held to pay tribute to volunteer firefighters in our area. As my honourable colleagues know, these brave individuals, numbering 7,000 across Nova Scotia, play a key role in the safety and protection of our communities.

Mr. Speaker, in July, I was appointed Minister of Natural Resources. It is truly an honour to serve the people of Nova Scotia in this manner. As minister responsible for forestry in Nova Scotia, I want to thank those dedicated firefighters for their support and assistance each year during the forest fire season. This year, with such a dry summer, the forest fire hazard was extremely high, but fortunately, forest fire losses were kept to a minimum. Mr. Speaker, this would not have been possible without the complete support and efforts of our volunteer fire departments.

Mr. Speaker, since my appointment as Minister of Natural Resources, I have had the pleasure to meet and greet a number of people who work in our resource industries from one end of Nova Scotia to the other. Our natural resource industries are pillars of the Nova Scotia economy. They contribute more than $1.5 billion to the economy each year and provide jobs for about 33,000 people. Forestry provides direct and indirect employment for some 20,000 people. It is our largest resource-based industry, now worth approximately $1 billion each year.

As noted in the Throne Speech, our government is providing the leadership for a new direction in forestry in Nova Scotia. That direction is toward sustainable forestry. If this billion dollar industry is to continue to sustain jobs - community sawmills, lumber yards and the pulp and paper industry - we simply must do a better job of managing our woodlands. We simply cannot cut more timber than we can grow, that is what sustainable forestry is all about.

To help achieve sustainable forestry we are taking some progressive steps. For example, the buyer registry is being established so that we will know exactly how much wood is being harvested. Regulations are being developed that will require sustainable forest management practices on all woodlands, Crown and private. They will help protect the forest environment, including wildlife habitats, watercourses and wetlands, and place reasonable limits on the size of clearcuts.

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More responsibility will be placed on industry to help replenish the forest resources through silviculture. Industrial timber harvesting will be monitored. The province, through the Department of Natural Resources, will do a better job of collecting and reporting forestry data.

This shift in direction to sustainable forestry is vitally important. It will help to maintain thousands of forestry related jobs. It will protect the forest environment, including wildlife habitat. It will ensure that we do not cut more timber than we can grow.

Our mining and mineral industry is another major contributor to the Nova Scotia economy. Including petroleum production, it is worth approximately $600 million each year. It provides jobs and incomes for more that 4,000 people.

Mineral exploration activities are on the upswing in Nova Scotia. For example, approximately 1 million acres of land is currently under exploration licence in the province. That is the largest acreage under licence since 1988. Exploration expenditures are also on the rise. Last year an estimated $5.7 million was spent on exploration. That is the largest expenditure since 1990 and more than twice the amount spent in 1995.

As most people know, there can be no mineral development without exploration. The first step in exploration is prospecting. It is the very root of the mining and mineral industry. At the end of October I was pleased to announce a Prospectors Development Program on behalf of our government. This four-year $600,000 federal-provincial program is designed to encourage mineral exploration and to train Nova Scotian prospectors. It is funded under the Cooperation Agreement on Economic Diversification. The province's contribution to this program is $240,000 and that is substantial.

There are currently 640 registered prospectors in the province. This program will add another 200 or more over the next four years. The program has three components. First, training courses. Second, direct funding assistance to help prospectors get established, and three, assistance to attend trade shows and exhibitions.

The $600,000 Prospectors Development Program encourages and promotes continued growth of prospecting in Nova Scotia. It demonstrates the commitment and support of both federal and provincial governments to the Nova Scotia mineral industry. It is a good investment in prospectors and a good investment in our future.

As this brief summary shows, our government is clearly committed to and supports both forestry and mining - these two pillars of the Nova Scotia economy.

As members of the House know, we are in the midst of another deer hunting season in the province. Again this year the buck law remains in effect. It was introduced in 1993 as a conservation measure to help replenish what was then a dwindling deer herd.

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I am pleased to advise members that the deer herd is on the rebound. Depending on what our wildlife biologists recommend next spring, we may be able to end the buck law and, as a conservation measure, go to a system of deer management zones.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend Nova Scotia hunters for their excellent safety record. Last year, with zero accidental shootings and no hunting fatalities, was the safest hunting season ever recorded in Nova Scotia. For that I give credit where credit is due, to the hunters themselves, volunteer hunter education instructors across the province and the DNR enforcement staff who train the instructors.

Last year's record of no accidental shootings or fatalities is commendable and I encourage hunters to aim for the same high standard this year. Since hunter education became mandatory in Nova Scotia in 1980, the number of accidental shootings and fatalities has been cut in half. This is positive proof that the hunter education works and is worthwhile.

Mr. Speaker, in closing I want to commend the staff in all divisions of Natural Resources for their dedication and commitment to the work of the department and to the public they serve. I especially appreciate the support and assistance they provide to me, personally, in exercising my responsibilities as a minister and I want to thank them for that.

On that note, Mr. Speaker, I conclude my remarks in my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I want to thank you for the opportunity to reply to the Speech from the Throne. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I will be supporting the Throne Speech. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage on an introduction.

MR. DENNIS RICHARDS: Mr. Speaker, today located in our east gallery is a group of young people from Grades 10, 11 and 12 from the École du Carrefour located in Dartmouth. On behalf of the Minister of Health, Honourable James Smith, and all Dartmouth area MLAs, I would like to extend a very special welcome to their students. Their leaders today are Gerard Cormier and Jacqueline LeVert. I would ask them to now stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat.

HON. BRUCE HOLLAND: Mr. Speaker, I would like to add my warm welcome to the students as well. I hope you enjoy your time here in the Legislature and that you learned something today. As well, I see there are some other guests in the gallery and I welcome them as well.

[Page 464]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by thanking the Honourable James Kinley, the Lieutenant Governor, for delivering the Speech from the Throne and thank Mrs. Kinley for her attendance on the day that was done and all of the guests who were here that day. It was certainly a great speech and an honour to have been in attendance to have heard it delivered by His Honour.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome you to the Chair. You have been doing a great job, as we all knew you would (Applause) and I look forward to seeing our new Deputy Speaker in the Chair in the near future as well.

I would like to add my welcomes to the new members of the Legislature; Mr. Ernie Fage, Helen MacDonald and, of course, our own Ed Kinley, who had a substantial win in Halifax Citadel and, of course, welcome the Premier and add my full support to his endeavours in the future.

Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne mentioned some of the people who have passed from our midst over the last while. I would like to add my condolences to the families of those people. As well, I would like to add my condolences to the families of people in my riding of Timberlea-Prospect who have lost people since we last met in this Legislature. We have had several tragic deaths. Of course any death is a tragedy but there were a couple of specific instances where it was quite tragic. I would like to offer my condolences to those families and loved ones who dearly miss their loved ones.

[12:15 p.m.]

Of course, no one would give a speech in this House without thanking the people of their riding for electing them to this Legislature, this hallowed place. It certainly is an honour and privilege to be here to serve the people of Timberlea-Prospect and I know that everyone else feels the same way about serving the people in their ridings. I would like to thank the members of my constituency association for the support they have shown me over the years. I would like to thank my wife, Vicky and my children, Nicole, Lindsay and Jeremy who have shown me undaunted support over the years. I would like to thank my mother and father, Pauline and Bernie and in particular my brother, Tony, who have all been tremendous supporters of mine over the years.

It is not my intention to speak long today but there are some highlights in the Speech from the Throne that I would like to key on. We have seen some tremendous accomplishments over the last little while and one of particular note was Canoe '97 in Dartmouth this summer. It brought 700 people from 46 countries around the world and it highlighted Dartmouth and its lakes and the opportunities that are there. I know that I have had many comments, letters and notes from people who attended that function. It brought in a tremendous amount of money to the economy in the area and I would like to congratulate

[Page 465]

the MLAs from Dartmouth who I know worked so hard to make that work and happen. I would also like to congratulate the organizers of that event.

Any event of that magnitude adds tremendously, not only to our culture but also to our economy in this province. It was a tremendous event, spectacular in nature, it had world-wide coverage and I congratulate the organizers and again, all the MLAs from Dartmouth.

We have taken a new direction in this province over the last four or five years. It is my pleasure (Interruption) Now we have the rabbit tracks from the Opposition, the doom and gloom, the whining and the whingeing. We know that the direction of this government has not been in that direction. It has been in a positive direction, a new direction that will lead us to bigger and better things in Nova Scotia. It already has led us to bigger and better things in Nova Scotia. We see the economy in Nova Scotia improving. We have created thousands of jobs in this province. We see our young people getting good educations. We see our health care system improving every day and Nova Scotia is certainly well on the way to the new millennium.

In education, the computers in schools, the junior high labs have certainly added to the ability of our students to learn more and to become better prepared for the future. I anticipate, as do all members and I know the Minister of Education is looking forward in the near future to making further announcements on computers in schools and we are all anxiously awaiting that.

Today's economy, because of the technology that is becoming more pronounced in our society, it is necessary for us to give our students the skills that they are going to need to enter the workforce. That is exactly what this government is doing and exactly what it will continue to do. We have also created some programs that are delivering those types of services into our communities, out in the rural areas of Nova Scotia.

Isle Madame is certainly a good example of that where we see the community access sites in that area have generated jobs in that area for people who have been displaced from the fishery or other types of work that are not there anymore and through these community access sites, they have been able to create their own employment, new jobs for their areas.

This is particularly important in rural areas. As a result of the technology, I know our own government, through the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, is placing a job in a rural area and that is going to happen more and more around the province. The school board in the Strait region has placed another job in that rural area. Those people are doing their work through computers, to the main offices, but they are able to remain in their community and we are able to give jobs to rural areas. That is most important today, Mr. Speaker, and I look forward to many more of those types of jobs becoming available in rural Nova Scotia.

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As Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission, it is also important that we strengthen our communities through active living in the workplace, in our communities, in our schools. I know we have done a tremendous amount of work to provide programs, to provide facilities for people in rural communities and in our inner cities right across this province. I look forward to continually supporting the sport and recreation community across Nova Scotia, to ensure that we do have the kinds of activities necessary to support healthy living and vibrant communities.

The government in its role is instilling a pride and building a sense of optimism among Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker, which I think we are all excited about because we have come through some trying times, there is no question about that. It was necessary because of the mess that we were left with by the Tory Government back in 1993, to do some difficult things. We appreciate the support that Nova Scotians have given us over the years and now we are seeing that that is starting to pay off. We see a strengthening economy, we see a lower unemployment rate, we are able to turn back the tax dollars, instead of interest payments on the debt, into hospitals, into schools and those types of things which are good for the people of Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: The debt is still there, at $8.5 billion.

MR. HOLLAND: There certainly still is a debt, there is no question about that, but it is coming down and, thankfully, through the work of this government (Interruptions)

AN. HON. MEMBER: What was the deficit in 1993? (Interruptions)

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

MR. HOLLAND: Mr. Speaker, we have had a tremendous amount of support, this government, in accomplishing those things. We have had support from civil servants, we have had support from health care workers, we have had support from teachers, we have had support from all public sector workers. On behalf of our Premier Russell MacLellan and all members of the government, I would like to thank those people for their patience and understanding in helping us deal with the mess we were left with back in 1993.

Our volunteer fire departments across this province have delivered a service second to none in the world. I would like to thank them for their work in our rural communities over the years.

We see a tremendous economic performance in our industries that reaches outside the urban centres into our rural communities, an innovative, dynamic, hard-working industry sector that is certainly making tremendous accomplishments in Nova Scotia, and I would like to thank them as well.

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Our film industry, Mr. Speaker, has ballooned 600 per cent since 1993 and 50 per cent in this year alone. It is adding jobs to our economy, tax dollars to our economy. All of these things together are certainly making Nova Scotia a better place to live.

Unlike what we hear about Newfoundland and the fishery there, Nova Scotia's fishery is much different, Mr. Speaker. We have a diverse fishery, and our fishermen in Nova Scotia have capitalized on that diversity. I would like to tell members of the House that leaders in my community, many of them are fishermen from Terence Bay, Shad Bay, East Dover, and West Dover all make up an organization known as the Prospect Area Full-time Fishermen's Association.

That group, Mr. Speaker, when the crisis hit back in the early 1990's, they did not fall down; that is when they formed their association. They have been working and developing a community management plan and have been managing a community quota, and it has actually worked better since they have taken on that community plan and developed that community plan than it did before when it was just DFO setting the quotas. Now they work hand in hand with DFO to set quotas and license parameters. It has been extremely successful. There was a time back in 1992-93 when handliners did not even get to go out, because the quota was all caught up by the larger boats before they had an opportunity, as the smaller boats have to wait until the seas settle a bit. It's about June before they can go out. They now have their own quota in that sector, and they are able to fish year-round and make a living. They are quite pleased with this community management process system. They are looking forward to it continuing, and I would encourage the federal Department of Fisheries to look at doing that in more areas in Nova Scotia.

Sable offshore, Mr. Speaker, is about to bring tremendous benefits to this province, as well. There is $3 billion in private sector money that will be spent in Nova Scotia that will certainly do tremendous things for our economy.

We look forward, Mr. Speaker, to that development occurring. I am proud and pleased that our Premier is working on this initiative himself, personally, and I have every confidence that it will be the most beneficial project to Nova Scotia that we have seen in years, unlike what the Tories did with oil and gas in their time, when hundreds of thousands of dollars poured down the toilet, wasted, and what did we get out of it? Nothing. We have not taken that approach, and we will not take that approach. We will take an approach that makes sure that the taxpayers of Nova Scotia benefit from this project. I know that it will happen in the very near future, and I look forward to that occurring.

More particular to my riding, I would like to thank a number of ministers regarding some of the projects that we were able to accomplish in Nova Scotia, in Timberlea-Prospect. In particular, the announcement of the twinning of Highway No. 103. We know that the traffic volumes on that highway have ballooned in recent years because of development in the area, because of development down the line in Chester-St. Margaret's and down in the

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Lunenburg area. That was desperately needed, and I would like to thank the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, and the entire government, for agreeing to do that project. I look forward to its completion in the very near future.

The Hammonds Plains school, tremendous announcement to have that school in place. The Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea school is extremely overcrowded, again, Mr. Speaker, because of development in the Timberlea-Prospect area. Development has ballooned over the last five or seven years and, as a result, we're pressured for infrastructure such as the roads, schools and the water system. I am happy and pleased and thank the Minister of Education for his recognition of the problems in this area. I thank the Premier for his efforts in this area and look forward to new schools in the Timberlea-Prospect riding.

The Beechville-Lakeside Teen Health Centre is another initiative that was taken on by the community, by some parents of the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea School, teachers, the principal and as a result, now they have a centre in the school that is delivering a service to teenagers and making them more aware or helping them to help themselves because they are directly involved in running that teen health centre. As a result, it is delivering a number of services to them that they wouldn't otherwise have access to and helping them become more aware in dealing with the problems that they find in today's society.

[12:30 p.m.]

The Minister of Health, the Honourable James Smith has been cooperative in helping us to have that centre in operation. On behalf of the teens, the parents and the teachers of Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea, I would like to thank the minister.

I think that covers a vast variety of the issues in Timberlea-Prospect. One other one that I would like to make particular mention of is the Five Island Lake contamination clean-up. My thanks to the Minister of the Environment, the Honourable Wayne Adams, for his efforts in this area. I don't believe that there is a government in Canada that has shown such a commitment to the environment. This particular project is one that came about under unfortunate circumstances. The government recognized it, the Honourable Wayne Adams and the Honourable Donald Downe, the Transportation and Public Works Minister and former Premier John Savage took a particular interest in this project and I would like to thank the three of those gentlemen for the work that they did to make sure that this site was cleaned up. There is one stage left to go and once that is done the clean-up at the North Bay will be complete. It was an environmental nightmare and I am pleased that today I can stand in this House and say that we are probably within a year of having what was a nightmare become a vibrant, active area in the community again.

I would not give any speech in this House without of course thanking all the community volunteers in my riding, the parents and volunteers in the schools, in the sporting communities, all of those volunteers who agreed to coach baseball, soccer, hockey and all

[Page 469]

of those sports that go on throughout the year. I want to thank the members of the Lions Club and the list goes on and on. We wouldn't have the structures that we have in place in this province if we didn't have volunteers. On behalf of myself, I would like to thank all volunteers in Timberlea-Prospect, I would like to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to speak today. I would like to say that I am most certainly going to vote in favour of the Speech from the Throne. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Introduction of Bills.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 10 - Entitled an Act Respecting Rainbow Haven. (Mr. Jay Abbass)

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, we will now resume the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

[Page 470]

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I have been instructed to liven things up a bit and it is a great pleasure to do so. First of all, I would get the niceties out of the road and then I guess we can lash into the government with regard to this Speech from the Throne which we have before us and which we are supposedly debating.

May I first of all sincerely congratulate you on your appointment as Speaker? I know you will enjoy the task because I have had that task and I certainly enjoyed it. You are the third Speaker, I think, that we have had in the past three years or four years or so and that must surely be a record for this House, I think, to have that rotation of Speakers. It is grand training and I am sure that it will stand you in good stead in your future employment.

I would like to welcome to the House the honourable member for Halifax Citadel and congratulate him on his victory in Halifax Citadel and to congratulate the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes on her victory and the member for Cape Breton North. We will be speaking about that gentleman later but I would like to congratulate him on his election as Leader of the Liberal Party and his appointment as Premier. Last, but not least, I would like to congratulate, of course, Ernest Fage, the member for Cumberland North, who is joining the PC caucus in the House of Assembly and the government-in-waiting.

Now we get onto the Throne Speech. (Interruptions) I sat in my place and I listened intently to the Lieutenant Governor reading the Throne Speech. I had read it before, but it seemed to be a little bit different to what I had read in the Throne Speech that was circulated to me. I reached in my desk and brought it out and I looked up and I tried to find out where the Lieutenant Governor was in his Throne Speech. I could not locate it. Then I found that I was looking at the wrong Throne Speech. We have two Throne Speeches for this year. I am sure that you must recognize that this is unique. Where else in the world would you have two Throne Speeches in one calendar year without a change of government? I had never heard of it before. I wonder why the government chose to have a second Throne Speech this year. You always think the worst of this government because the worst always happens. (Interruptions) I cogitated on this for quite a long time, Mr. Speaker, and I came to the conclusion that they did indeed have a strategic reason why we are having two Throne Speeches. Certainly, there is nothing in this Throne Speech that is different from this Throne Speech except for one thing, which I will talk about later and that is, this one mentions the BST and this one does not.

So why are we having a second Throne Speech? I can tell you. The government is required by their own legislation now to have two sittings in every year. This is the fall sitting which they are mandated and legislated to have. If they had not had a Throne Speech, what would we be sitting here doing? There is absolutely nothing that this government is going to bring forward that is contentious because they have an election coming next May. They do have to have a sitting so what they do is, why not have a Throne Speech. Why not have a Sixth Session to this Assembly of the House and have a brand new Throne Speech?

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(Interruptions) That is the only reason we are having a debate today on the Speech from the Throne. I am glad that we do have the opportunity today to have a debate on general matters.

As I said, there was a difference between the Throne Speech that we got in March or April and the Throne Speech that we have before us today. The big issue is that there is nothing in this new one about the BST. The member who was just speaking was one of the members in this House last year when we were debating the BST. In fact, every member in this House, with the exception of the member for Halifax Citadel on the government side and the Premier, was in this House when we were discussing the blended sales tax or harmonized sales tax, whatever you want to call it. Everyone in this House was in favour of that tax. In fact, they were enthusiastic about it. In fact, the Minister of Finance - he just slipped out for a minute, I guess - stood up and gave a great speech here about how great the blended sales tax was and that we were talking a bunch of nonsense in the Opposition when we were opposing the BST.

They were telling us about the wonderful things that were going to happen with employment; there were going to be 3,000 jobs created. Well, Mr. Speaker, as we just found out today, we have lost 1,500 in the last week or 10 days or so, they have gone to New Brunswick. We have found out now what the people really think about the health services tax and we have a Premier who is going to roll the clock back, he is going to take the health services tax off certain items. (Interruptions) Well, why didn't you listen before? We were telling you the same thing a year ago. One year ago we were telling you about what the effects would be of the HST on the middle class and low income earners in this province. It is devastation, it has created devastation.

My Leader was in favour of merging the taxes. My Leader said we are going to scrap the tax, we are going to exercise - I think it is Clause 70 of the agreement - and withdraw from this tax. (Interruptions) You have it on the record. Mr. Speaker, I will give you a signed copy of that anytime.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that the government came forward with with the blended sales tax was that because the mercantile class in our population would be enabled to get input tax credits that the prices would actually come down. That is, on those things where the prices have gone up, it didn't matter, don't worry folks, the prices will come down.

Well, Mr. Speaker, it is surprising because back in the statement made by the Minister of Finance, he was talking about all the things where we were going to have prices come down. He is talking about such things as appliances, kitchen supplies, telephone bills, shampoo, toothpaste and light bulbs. Well, I can tell you, I went through this list just last week when I was thinking about the Throne Speech. I was trying to find something here where the price had come down. I checked light bulbs. I went to Canadian Tire last night, as a matter of fact, to check light bulbs and light bulbs have gone up in price, as has every other commodity that this government said was going to go down in price.

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In particular, Mr. Speaker, one of the things this government has done since the succession of the present Premier from the previous Premier, has been that they are going to alleviate the tax impact on heating fuels. It is a great idea, I heard the Premier say so myself. I heard him say it about 20 times. This Premier is the most promising Premier we have ever had. Unfortunately, all the promises he makes he never keeps. (Interruptions) I will tell you, maybe, just maybe he is second best because the best promiser of all, of course, was you people and Premier Savage when you went to the polls in 1993. Do you remember that? Elect us, no new taxes. What happens? Within 90 days we get the largest tax grab in the history of this province. They rip off $75 million out of the taxpayers' pockets. This is a government that promised no new taxes. This government and this great promiser that we used to have, with the other fellow promisers, they came to power promising jobs. They were horrified that there were 58,000 people in Nova Scotia looking for work. Guess how many jobs they have created? There are now 62,000 unemployed, that is some record and some promise.

[12:45 p.m.]

Today my voice is not in very good shape, unfortunately but however, getting back to the blended sales tax, the Premier has said publicly time and time again that he is going to find some way to eliminate the blended sales tax from heating fuels and he said that often. The first thing he said that he would do to correct that problem would be to go to Ottawa. Well, he went to Ottawa and I don't know what he did there but obviously he didn't succeed because he came back and had nothing substantive at all with regard to the tax on heating fuels. I have asked him in the House, in fact, on two occasions, what he is going to do about this promise on heating fuels. Now he says, maybe we can look at electricity. Well, electricity heats some houses but how many people in this House have electric heating? The majority of people either heat their houses with oil in the Province of Nova Scotia or with wood. A few people heat their homes with propane and quite a large number use electricity.

The promise wasn't made that I am going to selectively take out one item and reduce the taxes on it, it was to reduce the taxes on heating fuels. The Premier says that yes, he will consider this and he has to think about it and he has got to go to the Minister of Finance, et cetera and possibly, in the immediate future it will happen. Probably the immediate future for Premier MacLellan is after he has issued the writ for the next election and that is too late for the people of Nova Scotia who last month started paying heating bills, who last month started paying that additional 8 per cent on the cost of heating fuels.

Don't make a promise you cannot keep. One of the things that the Leader of the Party that I am a member of has said is that I will only make promises that I can keep. Your Party could learn a lot from that. John Buchanan didn't make promises he didn't keep. I didn't make promises I didn't keep. But this government has consistently made promises to the electorate in this province and not kept them. They have absolutely betrayed Nova Scotians. You are the kinds of people that give politicians a bad name. (Laughter) The two members opposite who are laughing loudest are lawyers. You know it is surprising when you take the

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list of professions and public confidence, I think lawyers are last and politicians are a few steps above, not very far above but certainly above lawyers. It is because of actions like the ones from the Liberal Government where they make these rash promises, they don't think them through and then they don't do them.

The Premier is new to Nova Scotia, he is a retread that has come into provincial politics. He was up there, way up in the back, miles from the Speaker and from the front benches in Ottawa for 18 years. He finally got tired of not being recognized in Ottawa so he decided to come down here and try his luck. He got himself elected and got himself appointed and now he is going to be Premier until next March or something when the government will change and that is the end of that. In the interim, it is not fair that he goes around promising the people of Nova Scotia that he is going to do things that he is not going to do.

The impact of the BST has been very pronounced. Mr. Speaker, I have a document here which I will be pleased to table and it is called the Consumer Price Index, October 1997 Release. Mr. Speaker, we were told that the impact of the Blended Sales Tax, the Harmonized Sales Tax would be to reduce the cost of living. Somebody just sent me a note.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have got to move your car, Ron. (Laughter)

MR. RUSSELL: I left the lights on. Okay.

However, Mr. Speaker, that was the statement, that was the forecast made by this government, and what are the actualities? What actually has happened? Well, when you look at this list of price comparisons between 1996 and 1997, what do you think you find when you look at the Province of Nova Scotia? You find that everything has gone up in price, with one exception. The one exception is food, and why is food cheaper? It hasn't got the blended sales tax on it. Everything else has gone up; in fact, clothing and footwear have gone up by 7 per cent. Can you imagine? It's 7 per cent. Without the BST, it would have gone down.

AN HON. MEMBER: It would have gone down . . .

MR. RUSSELL: Exactly. Mr. Speaker, the average person in Nova Scotia making $30,000 a year, perhaps a little bit less or a little bit more, is so hammered by the BST that right now - whereas before they were getting by - they are having a hard time just getting by. It is not right. It is a bad tax. It should be removed from everything because the people of Nova Scotia did not vote for the tax, they did not want the tax, but they had it given to them anyway.

You know, Mr. Speaker, we asked in this House, of the Minister of Finance of the day - it was, I forget which minister it was, I think it was probably Minister Gillis or maybe it was Minister Boudreau, I forget which one - we asked him what kind of (Interruption) somebody

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wants to make a, indeed, the honourable member for Halifax Citadel wishes to make an introduction. I will yield the floor.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member or Halifax Citadel.

DR. EDWIN KINLEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the Assembly to some guests in the gallery. Mr. Peter Kidd, who is in your gallery, he is a history instructor at the Halifax campus of the Nova Scotia Community College and with him are four students of Library Technology: Zoe Bernard, Anna Kowalski, Elizabeth Uloth and Catherine Campbell. (Applause)

MR. RUSSELL: Now, I was in full flight, and I have forgotten where I was . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You were talking about the BST.

MR. RUSSELL: I was talking about the BST. I was talking about the fact that the minister had said to the people in this House, Mr. Speaker, and the people in the immediate environs of this House, that he had consulted extensively with Nova Scotians. The proof of the pudding is they did not consult with Nova Scotians, they consulted with selected groups of Nova Scotians whom they knew would be in favour of the HST.

Now you know the same thing, Mr. Speaker, is happening right now with regard to the pipeline and the gas field off Sable Island. We have implored the minister - the Premier who has taken on the ministerial role for gas and oil development - to go out and ask the people how they want this gas deal handled; find out what opinions they have. You know, in truth, the people know more than any of us in here do. Collectively, they know a heck of a lot more than we know in here, but you do not know until you go out and talk to them. You do not talk to them by sitting in your office or sitting in here, you get out on the road and do so.

What we were suggesting, Mr. Speaker, was a select committee of this House be formed or take a standing committee - it does not matter which - and send them out to 5 or 10 centres around this province, to have public meetings and say to the people that we have gas sitting out there that belongs to you; it belongs to the population of Nova Scotia.

Mobil Oil have a development plan in for that gas field; Mobil Oil have a plan to bring that gas ashore. A couple or three pipeline companies have plans to take that gas and ship it out across this province, into New Brunswick and down into the United States. What do the people of Nova Scotia, what do they expect from the gas? Obviously, Mr. Speaker, they do not expect the kind of deal that we presently have where the gas is shipped out of here and we get nothing out of it. We get fewer jobs than New Brunswick. We get less gas than New Brunswick, and we pay almost as much for the gas as they do in New Brunswick.

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I presume that you are giving me the eye, so, Mr. Speaker, I would like to adjourn the debate and I will come back to this very enlightening debate on Monday evening.

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

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Following the daily routine on Monday, we will continue with the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne and Public Bills for Second Reading as listed on the order paper.

I move the House do now rise and sit between 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Monday.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise and sit again at 7:00 p.m. on Monday.

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 12:56 p.m.]