The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 03/04-53

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

Published by Order of the Legislature by Hansard Reporting Services and printed by the Queen's Printer.

Available on INTERNET at http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Environ. & Lbr. - Chemicals: Regulations - Change, Mr. D. Dexter 4477
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Plateau: Roads - Upgrade, Mr. R. MacKinnon 4478
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2320, Gotell, Chelsey - Paralympic Games: Medals - Congrats.,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 4478
Vote - Affirmative 4479
Res. 2321, Health Prom. - Sport N.S./Doctors N.S.: Efforts - Recognize,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 4479
Vote - Affirmative 4480
Res. 2322, Justice - Police/Peace Officers: Appreciation - Express,
Hon. M. Baker 4480
Vote - Affirmative 4481
Res. 2323, Communications N.S.: Staff - Thank, Hon. E. Fage 4481
Vote - Affirmative 4482
Res. 2324, Fader, Archie: Death of - Tribute, Hon. R. Russell 4482
Vote - Affirmative 4483
Res. 2325, North Preston Commun. Ctr.: Residents - Congrats.,
Hon. B. Barnet 4483
Vote - Affirmative 4484
Res. 2326, Justice: Amber Alert Prog. - Importance, Hon. M. Baker 4484
Vote - Affirmative 4485
Res. 2327, TCH - Festivals/Events: Vols. - Commend,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 4485
Vote - Affirmative 4486
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 101, Public Service Act, Hon. B. Barnet 4486
No. 102, Maintenance Enforcement Act, Hon. M. Baker 4486
No. 103, Regulations Act, Hon. M. Baker 4486
No. 104, Emergency Measures Act, Mr. D. Dexter 4486
No. 105, Public Utilities Act, Mr. F. Corbett 4486
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2328, Festival of the Bays: Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 4486
Vote - Affirmative 4487
Res. 2329, Word on the Street: Anniv. (10th) - Congrats., Mr. D. Graham 4487
Vote - Affirmative 4488
Res. 2330, Harding, Edna: Gov.-Gen.'s Award - Congrats.,
Mr. R. Chisholm 4488
Vote - Affirmative 4489
Res. 2331, Commun. Serv. - Commun. Care: Staff/Vols. - Thank,
Mr. H. Epstein 4490
Vote - Affirmative 4491
Res. 2332, Film Tax Credit - Enhancement: Legislation - Introduce,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 4491
Res. 2333, Unicorn Theatre - Season: Success - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Chataway 4491
Vote - Affirmative 4492
Res. 2334, Yakimchuk, Dan: Birthday (75th) - Congrats., Mr. G. Gosse 4492
Vote - Affirmative 4493
Res. 2335, Main-à-Dieu Coastal Discovery Ctr.: Opening - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 4493
Vote - Affirmative 4494
Res. 2336, Creamery Sq. Assoc.: Historic Preservation - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Langille 4494
Vote - Affirmative 4494
Res. 2337, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Property Tax Assessments -
Review, Ms. M. Raymond 4494
Res. 2338, Fin. - Gaming: Families - Consider, Ms. D. Whalen 4495
Res. 2339, Crowell, Debra: Commun. IT Award - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 4496
Vote - Affirmative 4496
Res. 2340, Grant, Amy - Disability Awareness: Initiatives - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Parker 4497
Vote - Affirmative 4497
Res. 2341, Min. Code of Conduct - Conflict of Interest Commissioner:
Issue - Review, Mr. Gerald Sampson 4497
Res. 2342, Bonnell, Eric: Bravery Awards - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 4498
Vote - Affirmative 4499
Res. 2343, Webber, Dave: Golf Championship - Congrats.,
Ms. M. More 4499
Vote - Affirmative 4499
Res. 2344, Health-Care System: Min. - Awareness,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 4500
Res. 2345, Arthritis Soc. - Queens Co.: Vols. - Applaud,
Hon. K. Morash 4500
Vote - Affirmative 4501
Res. 2346, Baillie, Jamie - Pub. Service: Appreciation - Express,
Mr. D. Dexter 4501
Vote - Affirmative 4502
Res. 2347, Heritage Property - NDP: Stance - Explain,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 4502
Res. 2348, Carvery, Earl Joey/Little Buddy/Dale Joudrey:
Musical Skills - Thank, Mr. J. Chataway 4503
Vote - Affirmative 4503
Res. 2349, Hfx. North Mem. Library Women's Group: Anniv. (25th) -
Congrats., Ms. Maureen MacDonald 4503
Vote - Affirmative 4504
Res. 2350, TPW: Catalone/Main-à-Dieu Rd. - Action,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 4504
Res. 2351, Elmsdale Lumber Co.: Conf. Bd. of Can. Award -
Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 4505
Vote - Affirmative 4505
Res. 2352, MacDonald, David: NHL Dreams - Congrats.,
Ms. D. Whalen 4505
Vote - Affirmative 4506
Res. 2353, North Dartmouth Echo - Publication: Staff/Vols. - Thank,
Mr. J. Pye 4506
Vote - Affirmative 4507
Res. 2354, N.S. Home for Coloured Children Telethon: Vols. - Thank,
Mr. K. Colwell 4507
Vote - Affirmative 4508
Res. 2355, Can. Millennium Awards: Recipients - Congrats.,
Ms. J. Massey 4508
Vote - Affirmative 4508
Res. 2356, Gass, Doris & Jerry - Brookside Bike Park: Opening -
Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 4509
Vote - Affirmative 4509
Res. 2357, Liverpool Waterfront Market - Season: Success - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 4509
Vote - Affirmative 4510
Res. 2358, Hfx. Int'l. Airport Authority: Expansion - Congrats.,
Mr. J. MacDonell 4510
Vote - Affirmative 4511
Res. 2359, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Vehicle Idling - Cease,
Ms. J. Massey 4511
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 87, Electricity Act 4512
Hon. C. Clarke 4512
Mr. F. Corbett 4514
Mr. R. MacKinnon 4519
Mr. H. Epstein 4526
Mr. Michel Samson 4533
Mr. Gerald Sampson 4539
Hon. R. Russell 4540
Vote - Affirmative 4540
No. 99, Vital Statistics Act 4541
Hon. R. Russell 4541
Ms. M. Raymond 4542
Mr. Gerald Sampson 4543
Hon. R. Russell 4543
Vote - Affirmative 4544
No. 98, Municipal Government Act 4544
Hon. R. Russell 4544
Ms. M. Raymond 4544
Mr. Gerald Sampson 4545
Mr. K. Colwell 4546
Hon. R. Russell 4547
Vote - Affirmative 4547
No. 95, Land Registration Act 4547
Hon. R. Russell 4548
Ms. M. Raymond 4550
Mr. Gerald Sampson 4551
Mr. C. Parker 4551
Hon. R. Russell 4553
Vote - Affirmative 4553
No. 93, Gas Distribution System Municipal Taxation Act 4554
Hon. B. Barnet 4554
Ms. M. Raymond 4555
Mr. Gerald Sampson 4555
Hon. B. Barnet 4557
Vote - Affirmative 4557
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Sept. 28th at 12:00 noon 4557
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 2360, All Saints Hosp. Fdn. - Murray Commun. Ctr.:
Contribution - Congrats., The Speaker 4558
Res. 2361, Anderson, Bud & Kathy - Springhill Commun.:
Donation - Congrats./Thank, The Speaker 4558
Res. 2362, ATV Rally & Music Fest.: Organizers/Participants -
Congrats., The Speaker 4559
Res. 2363, Black, Robert: Lt.-Gov.'s Award - Congrats.,
The Speaker 4559
Res. 2364, Boland, Allen Roderick: Lt.-Gov.'s Award - Congrats.,
The Speaker 4560
Res. 2365, Baltjes-Chataway, Gayle/Chataway, Chuck -
Accomplishments, Mr. J. Chataway 4560

[Page 4477]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2004

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

4:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. James DeWolfe, Ms. Joan Massey, Mr. Russell MacKinnon

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of people who live in various parts of Nova Scotia, the operative clause which reads, "In order to ensure the health and well being of our children, family and pets. We the undersigned hereby acknowledge the need for change to the regulations pertaining to the cosmetic application of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides and/or products that consist of a combination of one or more of these chemicals." There are 138 signatures and I will affix my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

4477

[Page 4478]

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 110 residents from the Plateau region of Inverness County. The operative clause reads as follows: "The residents of Plateau, Cheticamp, Inverness County are not satisfied with the desperate condition of their roads. . . . The roads in Plateau should be a source of embarrassment for your Department . . .", referring to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, that is, ". . . and we demand corrective action." I have affixed my signature to this document.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2320

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

Whereas Antigonish native Chelsey Gotell, who is a strong advocate of healthy living, put in a gold medal performance at the women's 100 metre backstroke for the visually impaired at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens; and

Whereas Ms. Gotell also won bronze medals in both the 2000 individual medley and the 100 freestyle; and

Whereas this is the first paralympic gold medal for Ms. Gotell, who also competed at the 2000 Games held in Sydney and was successful at winning three other medals;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the pride felt by all in Antigonish and Nova Scotia, and congratulate Ms. Gotell on her gold medal and her two bronze medal performances at the Paralympic Games.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4479]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East on an introduction.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of all members of the House to your gallery, two gentlemen from the Indian Brook First Nations community in Shubenacadie: Chief Elect Alexander MacDonald, and it will be a couple of weeks before he takes office; and Councillor Earl Sack. I would like the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery today and hope they enjoy the proceedings.

The honourable Minister of Health Promotion on an introduction.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to draw to the members' attention, in your gallery - just before I read my resolution, if I might - that we have a guest having to do with my resolution. This week is Active Awareness Week here in Nova Scotia. One of our stakeholders that we deal with is Sport Nova Scotia, as well as Doctors Nova Scotia. With us in your gallery is Mr. Jamie Ferguson, CEO of Sport Nova Scotia. I would ask members to give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health Promotion.

RESOLUTION NO. 2321

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

Whereas the Office of Health Promotion is partnered with Sport Nova Scotia and Doctors Nova Scotia on a number of initiatives to increase physical activity and encourage Nova Scotians to live healthy, active lifestyles; and

[Page 4480]

Whereas September 26th to October 2nd is Active Awareness Week, when Olympic and national team athletes work with Nova Scotia physicians to inspire elementary and junior high students to get active in sport; and

Whereas a goal of the Office of Health Promotion is to see children, youth and families more active by continuing to implement and build upon our Active Kids, Healthy Kids physical activity strategy;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the efforts of Sport Nova Scotia and Doctors Nova Scotia in the fight against inactivity, and that members themselves make an effort to be more active with their families.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We welcome our special guests to the gallery today.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

[4:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2322

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

Whereas the Government of Canada officially proclaims the last Sunday in September of each year as Police and Peace Officers' National Memorial Day; and

Whereas this day honours the sacrifices made by men and women in the performance of their duties as police or peace officers; and

Whereas events marking this occasion were held across Canada yesterday;

[Page 4481]

Therefore be it resolved that this House formally express our appreciation for the dedicated men and women who serve here in Nova Scotia as police and peace officers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 2323

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

Whereas Communications Nova Scotia is government's full-service communications agency for all departments and agencies; and

Whereas these creative professionals bring special knowledge and skills as they communicate to clients inside and outside of government; and

Whereas the honourable members use some of their services on a regular basis and many more of their services on a daily basis during the sitting of the House;

Therefore be it resolved that in appreciation of the dedicated service of the Communications Nova Scotia staff, both those who work in the Provincial Building and those assigned to specific departments and agencies across government that this House thank them for their fine work and dedication.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

If I may at this time, I invite all members of the House to attend an open house tomorrow at Communications Nova Scotia, on the 3rd floor of the Provincial Building, to view first-hand the numerous creative and production services available through this fine agency.

[Page 4482]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham on an introduction.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the members to some guests who are with us today in the west gallery. We are joined by Mr. Ken Fells, who is an educator and the Principal of St. Pat's-Alexandra School in my constituency, in Halifax Needham; Mr. Rushtum Southwell, who the CEO of the Black Business Initiative; and Dwayne Provo, who is the CEO of the Black Educators Association. I would ask these gentlemen to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our guests to the gallery today.

The honourable Deputy Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 2324

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

Whereas friends and family members recalled the late Archie Fader as Mr. Sackville because of his tremendous contributions to his beloved community and he was recognized in 2002 with his award of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal; and

Whereas while Archie's life ended suddenly, his many contributions to his loving family, friends and to his community will live on for a long time to come; and

Whereas notable in his life were his connections to the Sackville and District Volunteer Fire Department - a charter member since 1955 - his term as president of the Sackville Heritage Society, his public service on the Halifax County Council, his loyal volunteer efforts and candidacy in the provincial Progressive Conservative Association, his life membership with the Royal Canadian Legion Calais Branch No. 162 and his successful business operations;

[Page 4483]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature commend the life of this tremendous Nova Scotian who will be remembered for his incredible commitment to family and the betterment of his community and his fellow Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, it's not very often, since Glace Bay is so far away, that residents of Glace Bay get to make a trip to Halifax to come here and see the operations and how we . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: See you in action.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Not yet, but they will. I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce in the west gallery today a well-known - I was going to say former athlete, but he's still in really good shape - very well-known for his athleticism in hockey and fastball in Glace Bay and here to see the procedures of the House today, Mr. Edison Boutilier from Glace Bay. I would ask Edison to rise up please and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome Mr. Boutilier to the gallery today and hope he enjoys the proceedings.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 2325

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

[Page 4484]

Whereas the North Preston Community Centre held its grand opening ceremony on Wednesday, September 22, 2004, which was attended by several hundred of the local residents; and

Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia contributed close to $1 million to this state-of-the-art community centre which houses several offices essential to community development and will have a significant impact on the communities; and

Whereas this initiative was inspired and driven by the residents of North Preston themselves, the centre is certainly something that the community can rally around and be proud of;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating the people of North Preston for their persistence in getting a new community centre constructed and commend them on a centre that reflects the dignity and pride of that community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 2326

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

Whereas the Amber Alert program, launched in Nova Scotia this year, works through the volunteer efforts of local radio and television broadcasters who work quickly with law enforcement agencies to broadcast details of missing children and potential suspects; and

Whereas Tom Bennett of the RCMP said "Our concern is the safe return of the victim and this integrated approach is the best model available to assist investigators."; and

[Page 4485]

Whereas thanks to the unique partnership that supports the Amber Alert program, we can make our streets and communities even safer. As America's Most Wanted host, John Walsh said, "Working together, we can save children and we can catch criminals.";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize the importance of the Amber Alert program, thank all those dedicated agencies and organizations who have agreed to be there when needed and hope that the call for an Amber Alert never comes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

Order, please. There's too much noise in the Chamber and I would ask the members to take their conversations outside, please.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2327

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

Whereas festivals and events are a vital part of Nova Scotia's rich culture and heritage; and

Whereas they are significant contributors to our economy, which attract many visitors to our province; and

Whereas the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage is pleased to have supported more than 90 festivals and events across the province this year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the many volunteers and community groups, including the regional tourism industry associations, for the important role they play in supporting these events.

[Page 4486]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 101 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 376 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Public Service Act, to Establish the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs. (Hon. Barry Barnet)

Bill No. 102 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 6 of the Acts of 1994-95. The Maintenance Enforcement Act. (Hon. Michael Baker)

Bill No. 103 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 393 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Regulations Act. (Hon. Michael Baker)

Bill No. 104 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 8 of the Acts of 1990. The Emergency Measures Act. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

Bill No. 105 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 380 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Public Utilities Act. (Mr. Frank Corbett)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2328

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

Whereas the Festival of the Bays brought together the communities along the Prospect Road in the celebration of music, games and fun activities for residents of all ages; and

[Page 4487]

Whereas the Festival of the Bays reflects the communities' spirit of this area; and

Whereas an energetic and active committee coordinated by Kim Slaunwhite of Terence Bay, devoted many hours of hard work to make the Festival of the Bays a tremendous success;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate and thank Kim Slaunwhite, the organizing committee and all area residents for their involvement in the Festival of the Bays.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 2329

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

Whereas on Sunday, September 19, 2004, Halifax joined Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Kitchener in a national celebration of literacy and the printed word when Pier 20 played host to the 10th Annual Word on the Street Book and Magazine Fair; and

Whereas the Word on the Street Book and Magazine Fair showcases many talented Nova Scotia authors and entertainers in a fun-filled day for the entire family; and

Whereas the Word on the Street highlights the pleasure of great reading through the excitement of great writing;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend our best wishes to the organizers, volunteers and all participants who have worked so tirelessly to make the 10th Annual Word on the Street Book and Magazine Fair in Halifax a success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4488]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2330

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

Whereas Edna Harding of Mulgrave was presented with the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award by Nova Scotia's Lieutenant Governor, Myra Freeman this past August; and

Whereas Edna Harding has been recognized for her devotion to the community through her church work, Meals on Wheels, The Royal Canadian Legion, the fire department's ladies auxiliary, home and school, Scouts, Brownies and the Eastern Star; and

Whereas Edna Harding has also worked to help establish the medical centre, the diabetes and the foot clinics, and she also worked on the older adult games; presently she is the Treasurer of the Nova Scotia seniors council, collects annually for the Cancer Society and sells tickets for the diabetes association;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Edna Harding on receiving the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award and wish her continued success in her future volunteer commitments.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 4489]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope that all the members on the government side is attentive to this resolution because it will be the third reading of this resolution. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Government House Leader, this is the third time for this resolution. Is there agreement from the government side on this resolution, because if it's not . . .

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if the resolution is already on the order paper, just give us the number.

MR. SPEAKER: No. I'm assuming the honourable member for Dartmouth North is going to read it for the third time in this House, a resolution that's been twice turned down. If there's an agreement on the government side, if not, I'm not going to allow it to happen because the House has already made a decision on this resolution. So, if there is not an agreement, that it's going to go through, we're not going to read it again. (Interruption)

[4:30 p.m.]

No, it can't be read unless there is agreement that it will be passed and there is indication that it will not.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Before we agree to pass anything we would like to know what we're passing.

MR. SPEAKER: Just for the members' sake, there is a resolution that has been read twice in the House, a resolution by the member for Dartmouth North, and twice on the government side there was a No. So a lot of times there is an agreement afterwards to have it reread and accepted. Well, it was read a second time and there was still not an agreement. So the honourable member wants to attempt it a third time, but the only way I'm going to allow it is if there is agreement from all sides of the House. So do you have an agreement from the other Parties?

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of information, I have, in fact, agreement from both the honourable ministers and they had indicated to me . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It's not up to the ministers, it's up to all members of this House. So, the ministers didn't object Friday, other members did. So all I'm asking the Government House Leader, if you're aware of this resolution and if there's agreement from

[Page 4490]

this side that it will pass, then it can be read again. (Interruption) This side agreed to it, this side didn't.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I really don't give a darn if he wants to bring that resolution forward again, the answer will be the same. I think he's just simply wasting the time of the House. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: I'm wondering if maybe we can just put this one aside and take a look at it and decide whether we can bring it back.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 2331

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

Whereas September has been designated Continuing Care Month in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas continuing care facilities include nursing homes such as St. Vincent's Guest Home, which is located in the constituency of Halifax Chebucto, veterans' care facilities, group homes and small options homes; and

Whereas the staff and volunteers of these facilities provide continuing care to Nova Scotians who have mental or physical challenges in their lives;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take the opportunity to recognize the staff and volunteers involved in continuing care and to thank them for their tireless work in assisting Nova Scotians who constantly rely upon their efforts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 4491]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2332

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

Whereas the Tory Government has failed to enhance the film tax credit to protect the film industry and keep the province competitive in attracting new productions; and

Whereas the Tory Government has fallen behind other provinces in providing a competitive film tax credit in both urban and rural areas of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's film industry needs stable, predictable and adequate funding from government to ensure its future success in the province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House call upon the Tory Government to introduce legislation this session that would enhance the film tax credit in urban and rural areas to give the industry the stable, predictable and adequate funding it needs to thrive in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 2333

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

Whereas the Unicorn Theatre of Boutiliers Point in Chester-St. Margaret's, encourages and concentrates on making young people remarkable actors and actresses; and

[Page 4492]

Whereas they are currently preparing to stage A Christmas Carol and Jungle Book; and

Whereas the performances of these classics will become lifelong memories of all those who perform or participate as part of the audience;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all those who contributed their skills and efforts to making this season of the Unicorn Theatre so successful and helping so many young people achieve their goals.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2334

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

Whereas Dan Yakimchuk of Whitney Pier joined the Party as a young CCF'er and through the years has continued his commitment to the New Democratic Party; and

Whereas Dan was elected as an alderman in 1972 and in 1978 in the former City of Sydney, served as a member of the Sydney Board of Health, where he was the first elected representative to speak out on the issue of the environment and the health of people, in particular his fellow steelworkers, and as I speak, he continues to serve as a board member of the Cape Breton District Health Authority's Board of Directors; and Whereas September 29, 2004, Dan will be celebrating his 75th birthday;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislative Assembly wish Dan Yakimchuk a very happy birthday, and congratulate him on his dedication and loyalty to the New Democratic Party and his community.

[Page 4493]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2335

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

Whereas history, culture, resilience, community pride, and voluntarism with a strong collective will by many stakeholders has made the multi-purpose Coastal Discovery Centre of Main-à-Dieu a reality, with its official opening on Sunday, September 26, 2004; and

Whereas presently the new Coastal Discovery Centre houses a restaurant, credit union, Internet CAP site, a satellite police office, the Main-à-Dieu Fisheries Museum, and a government office; and

Whereas the leadership of Sean Howard, Mary Price, Leanne Broadhurst, Doug Locke, Elizabeth McDougall, Rodger Cuzner, MP, and Ross MacKeigan, CBRM Councillor, note special recognition;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all those who have made the Coastal Discovery Centre a reality and providing a beacon for a revitalized rural community in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 4494]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester North

RESOLUTION NO. 2236

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

Whereas The Village of Tatamagouche is a jewel located on the North Shore along the Sunrise Trail in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the historic Creamery Building in the heart of the seaside village is the focus of a community initiate to create a star tourist attraction on the North Shore; and

Whereas the Creamery Square Association is hosting numerous events to raise money for the building and other project plans in hopes of boosting the tourist appeal to the area;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Creamery Square Association on their efforts in preserving and promoting local history and tourist attractions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 2337

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

Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia has been settled for more than 400 years and many of the families who have arrived here in subsequent centuries are still tending for and living on the lands of their forefathers; and

[Page 4495]

Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia, its land, lakes, coastline, and historic buildings are increasing objects of desire so that people from around the world are willing to pay large amounts of money to own land of Nova Scotia, driving up the market value of Nova Scotia property; and

Whereas property taxation on the basis of these skyrocketing market values are driving Nova Scotians from their family homes;

Therefore be it resolved that this House require a full review of the basis of property tax assessments in the Province of Nova Scotia, to be completed in the next three years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 2338

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

Whereas while declaring the week of October 10th to 16th Responsible Gaming Awareness Week 2004, the minister responsible noted very clearly the province's commitment to the gaming industry; and

Whereas there are far too many families in this province who are suffering the negative effects of gaming addictions, effects that the Minister responsible for Part 1of the Gaming Control Act has done little to address; and

Whereas the government enjoys the large sums of money that gaming addicts contribute to the public purse;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier call upon his Minister of Finance, who is also the Minister responsible for Part I of the Gaming Control Act, to place the well-being of Nova Scotia families over and above efforts to fatten the coffers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4496]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2339

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

Whereas Director of Finance for the Town of Kentville, Debra Crowell, received the Community IT Hero Award; and

Whereas Ms. Crowell has been recognized for her contribution to her community by updating the town's finance system and installing a software program that makes Kentville a leader amongst small towns in Nova Scotia for its information technology advancements; and

Whereas through a virtual town hall, residents of Kentville can now take care of business online, including conducting property searches, examining tax and utility bills and histories;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Debra Crowell on her Community IT Hero Award and wish her continued success on her information technology advancements to the Kentville community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

[Page 4497]

RESOLUTION NO. 2340

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

Whereas the Maritime Provinces have the highest percentage of people in Canada with disabilities; and

Whereas Amy Grant of Abercrombie, Pictou County, a fourth-year psychology student at Mount Allison University, is helping to raise awareness about people with disabilities while at university; and

Whereas Amy has been working on a project with Labatt - People in Action - that allowed her to create a Web site and organize a Disability Awareness Week at the university to be held later this fall;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Amy Grant for her important initiatives in bringing more awareness to students with disabilities while at university and working toward accessible solutions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 2341

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

Whereas the members on the other side of the House have rejected our request to have the Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigate a complaint under the Code of Conduct through resolution as required by the code; and

[Page 4498]

Whereas the Ministerial Code of Conduct, Section 8, indicates that only a resolution of the House of Assembly or a request of Executive Council may call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to investigate a complaint under the code; and

Whereas this will clear the air for all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House call upon the Premier, on behalf of the Executive Council, to call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to investigate this issue.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 2342

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

Whereas on May 6, 2003, Eric Bonnell of Italy Cross rescued his elderly neighbour, Marguerite Naugler, from her burning home - getting her out of the house just before part of the ceiling collapsed; and

Whereas Mr. Bonnell has been awarded the Canadian Medal of Bravery by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson; and

Whereas on September 23, 2004, Mr. Bonnell was one of only three Canadians to receive a Carnegie Medal for Heroism for his selfless act of bravery;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House applaud Mr. Eric Bonnell for his courage and determination in saving the life of his neighbour and congratulate him on the recognition he has received for his courageous actions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4499]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2343

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

Whereas the Royal Canadian Golf Association's senior men's championship was held at the Bradford Golf and Country Club in Ontario on Thursday, September 23rd; and

Whereas Dave (Duckie) Webber of the Brightwood Golf and County Club in Dartmouth sank a 30-foot putt for a birdie on the final hole to win the championship by two strokes over his nearest competitor; and

Whereas this win by Dave Webber is the first time the John Rankin Memorial Trophy has been captured by a Nova Scotian;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature congratulate Dave Webber for his stalwart performance in winning the senior men's individual national golf championship.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

[Page 4500]

RESOLUTION NO. 2344

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas last week the Minister of Health expressed his frustration that a $10 million infusion of cash has not reduced the 7,000-person wait list for orthopaedic surgeries in the Capital District; and

Whereas last week the Capital District announced that the plan to improve orthopaedic wait times will not begin until November 1, 2004, with a full expansion in place by next Spring; and

Whereas on February 5th of this year, when the $10 million infusion was announced, health officials indicated the money would only prevent wait times from getting any longer and would not reduce the wait lists themselves;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health get a better grasp of what's happening in the health care system for which he is responsible and quickly warm up to the fact that we need a long-term vision along with goals and programs in order to improve the system for all Nova Scotians.

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2345

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

Whereas September is Arthritis Awareness Month in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas nearly one in four Nova Scotians are living with arthritis; and

Whereas Arthritis Society volunteers in Queens County are once again raising money to assist with the treatment of arthritis to help fund research aimed at finding a cure as well as education and support programs for those living with the disease;

[Page 4501]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the Arthritis Society volunteers in Queens County who are working to improve the lives of over 170,000 Nova Scotians who are living with arthritis.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2346

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

Whereas Jamie Baillie today announced that he is leaving the Public Service to take up new responsibilities with Credit Union Atlantic; and

Whereas Mr. Baillie has won the respect from all sides of the House with his open, straightforward and dedicated approach to making minority government work; and

Whereas while only some members know Jamie Baillie as a fellow traveller of one kind or another, all members appreciate his friendly manner and ability to get things done without undue partisanship;

Therefore be it resolved that this House express its appreciation for the contribution that Jamie Baillie has made during his three years of public service as Chief of Staff for the Premier, our particular recognition of the work he has done for the Premier during the minority government period and our very best wishes to him and his family as he takes on his new job at Credit Union Atlantic.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 4502]

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 Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 2347

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

Whereas many Nova Scotians, including supporters of the NDP, are to be commended for their efforts to protect provincial heritage property; and

Whereas the destruction of a heritage house to make way for a condominium complex known as Garden Crest on Summer Street in Halifax was the focus of several protests by heritage supporters; and

Whereas to the surprise and dismay of their heritage colleagues, several prominent supporters of the NDP, including the former Leader of both the provincial and federal Parties, have purchased condominiums at Garden Crest, thereby supporting the developer they had previously opposed;

Therefore be it resolved that in the light of this obvious flip-flop on the Garden Crest development that the New Democratic Party fully explain where they stand on the protection of heritage property.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

[Page 4503]

RESOLUTION NO. 2348

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

Whereas Earl Joey Carver, Little Buddy and Dale Joudrey have been wonderful entertainers for a long time; and

Whereas they are unusually good musicians, singers and fiddlers; and

Whereas their performances always remind audiences that they are always well aware of old-time songs, hits and tunes;

Therefore be it resolved members of this House thank Earl Joey Carver, Little Buddy and Dale Joudrey for perpetuating their musical skills and wonderful talent in the future by performing the music from the past.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2349

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

Whereas this year, 2004, marks the 25th Anniversary of the Halifax North Memorial Library Women's Group, and October is Women's History Month in Canada; and

Whereas the women's group have demonstrated leadership in the North End community over the past quarter century and have helped to bring about many positive changes in the North End neighbourhoods; and

[Page 4504]

Whereas the 25th Anniversary will be marked by a celebratory reception at the North Branch Memorial Library this Wednesday morning, September 29th;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature extend its congratulations to the Halifax North Memorial Library Women's Group on this happy occasion, and wish them many years of continued activity in the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2350

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

Whereas good, quality infrastructure is vital to the economic success of communities in rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Catalone-Main-à-Dieu Road is in a deplorable state, causing considerable hardship to residents and motorists of Catalone, Bateston, Main-à-Dieu, Baleine and Lorraine; and

Whereas the success of the Coastal Discovery Centre in attracting business and tourists to Main-à-Dieu is contingent on having the Catalone-Main-à-Dieu Road as a safe travelling roadway;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works take immediate corrective action on the Catalone-Main-à-Dieu Road.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

[Page 4505]

RESOLUTION NO. 2351

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

Whereas reading and writing are skills that too many older workers have not yet mastered; and

Whereas the workplace education initiative creates partners out of businesses, labour groups and the Department of Education to teach older workers the literacy skills that they need; and

Whereas Elmsdale Lumber Company has gained national recognition, having been awarded the Conference Board of Canada Award of Excellence for Workplace Literacy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Elmsdale Lumber Company on their Award of Excellence from the Conference Board of Canada for participating in the workplace education initiative, a very worthwhile and business-savvy program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 2352

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

Whereas hockey is an integral part of Canadian culture, and many people grow up dreaming of going to the NHL; and

Whereas after years of hard work and dedication, David MacDonald of Halifax was chosen by the San Jose Sharks in the 2004 NHL Draft; and

[Page 4506]

Whereas this incredible opportunity has been put on hold while David attends Harvard University, where he will not only receive his post-secondary education but will continue his hockey career;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate David MacDonald for achieving his NHL dreams, and wish him every success in his academic endeavour.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is that the honourable member's third one? You're only allowed two.

MR. CHATAWAY: . . . I'll do it another day.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2353

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

Whereas the first edition of the North Dartmouth Echo was in the hands of community readers in June of this year; and

Whereas this newspaper is distributed by volunteers to over 50 locations and reaches more than 12,000 residents; and

[Page 4507]

Whereas the intention of this newspaper is to publish light, upbeat stories about positive actions that take place in the community and to celebrate community events;

Therefore be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly congratulate the editorial staff and volunteers of the North Dartmouth Echo for their efforts in the publication of this community newspaper.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 2354

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children opened its doors 83 years ago to orphaned children in need of a home, making the residence the oldest co-ed residential facility in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in 1931, the annual fundraising broadcast began to raise much-needed funds for this remarkable organization, making it the longest-running fundraising campaign in Canada; and

Whereas this year's telethon is scheduled for December 12th, on Eastlink Television making this the 73rd Anniversary of this fundraising event;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the volunteers and the board members of the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children who make this event possible, and wish them every success with this year's telethon.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4508]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2355

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

Whereas the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation Excellence Awards were recently awarded to eight metro students, including Joseph Romkey, who attended Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth East; and

Whereas these students have been recognized for their community involvement, demonstrated leadership abilities, innovative thinking and academic achievement; and

Whereas although they all come from a variety of backgrounds and diverse interests, they all share a common ability to inspire those around them;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all of the recipients of the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation Excellence Awards and wish them all the best in their future studies and endeavors.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 4509]

RESOLUTION NO. 2356

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

Whereas the Brookside bike park is now open in Hatchet Lake for community use; and

Whereas this park from the outset has been extremely popular with young people in our community; and

Whereas the Brookside bike park is the result of the hard work and dedication of the very youth under the direction of Doris and Jerry Gass;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly thank and congratulate Doris and Jerry Gass and all volunteers of all ages, who made the Brookside bike park a reality.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2357

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

Whereas artist and entrepreneur, Elizabeth Brown was approached as the Chairman of the South Shore Arts Council to create an art and craft market for the brand new waterfront park in Liverpool; and

Whereas through her hard work and that of her family and volunteers and generous donations by area businesses, the waterfront market opened this past Summer; and

[Page 4510]

Whereas by the end of its first season the market boasted artists and crafters selling pottery, paintings, sewn goods and carvings, and as well as, fine bakers and musicians who donated their time to liven things up;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Elizabeth Brown, Chairman of the South Shore Arts Council, her family, volunteers and area businesses on the extremely successful first season of the waterfront market in Liverpool and wish her continued success and expansion in the years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2358

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

Whereas the Halifax International Airport is a vital economic and transportation hub of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Airport Authority has been undergoing an expansion totalling $220 million under their airport improvement program; and

Whereas the Halifax International Airport Authority recently announced a $70 million air terminal expansion project as part of their ongoing improvements;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Board of Directors and staff of the Halifax International Airport Authority for their commitment to complete their planned improvements to a very important part of our province's economy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4511]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2359

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

Whereas idling a vehicle for ten minutes a day uses up more than 100 litres of gas in one year; and

Whereas depending on the price of gas you can save over $70 per year just by turning off your engine; and

Whereas ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting your engine and by turning your engine off, you and others don't have to breathe in exhaust fumes from a vehicle that is going nowhere;

Therefore be it resolved that this government idle no longer and encourage everyone to do their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by simply turning idling car engines off.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 4512]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 87.

Bill No. 87 - Electricity Act

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, it's indeed my pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill No. 87, the Electricity 2004 Act.

Mr. Speaker, it is especially pleasing to bring this bill to the House as it demonstrates the results that may be obtained by developing a clear strategic direction and by implementing that direction across government. The Electricity (2004) Act responds to the recommendations made by the Electricity Marketplace Governance Committee. We formed that committee to provide government with recommendations on how to implement the electricity-related components of our Energy Strategy.

[5:00 p.m.]

The Energy Strategy, in turn, is connected to several initiatives articulated by this government's planned approach to sustainable environmental management that we spelled out when we released Towards a Sustainable Environment in June of last year. Combined with the work undertaken by my colleague, the Minister of Environment and Labour, the Energy Strategy and the Green Plan will mean a better future for Nova Scotians. It's a future where more and more of our energy demands will be met with solutions that are sustainable economically and sustainable environmentally. It's a future that will have fewer pollutants entering our air. It's a future where security of supply and protection of the environment are addressed by the same solutions.

Mr. Speaker, that is while I say that while this bill is not the most complex this House will consider, it is one that will have far-reaching effects for Nova Scotia's electricity consumers and producers. A moment ago I mentioned that this bill springs from the work completed last year by the Electricity Marketplace Governance Committee after 14 months

[Page 4513]

of deliberations. What I would like to do is highlight to the House the participants on that committee and the breadth of involvement (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Energy has the floor.

MR. CLARKE: . . . and to review with the House the complement of individuals that were part of the committee and it findings and its 89 recommendations that government did accept. On that committee, representatives were: the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Consumers' Association of Canada, the Electricity Consumers Alliance of Nova Scotia, Municipal Electric Utilities of Nova Scotia Co-operative, Nova Scotia Power Incorporated, the Renewable Energy Industries Association of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Chamber of Commerce as an observer, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board as an observer, the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Navigant Consulting Company and as well as its chairman, Robert Fournier.

Dr. Fournier and his colleagues on the committee served the province well in bringing together diverse stakeholder interests to develop a clear vision and practical, achievable policy objectives for our electricity market. That's why government had no difficulty agreeing to all 89 of the committees recommendations. When they are implemented, they will ensure a stable, predictably-priced and competitive marketplace for electricity in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the bill advances this work by introducing three major changes to Nova Scotia's electricity marketplace. There are six municipally-owned power utilities in Nova Scotia. They are located in Antigonish, Berwick, Canso, Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and Riverport. The first change this bill proposes is to allow them to purchase wholesale electricity from suppliers other than Nova Scotia Power. This will give the utilities choice in where they purchase power for resale to their customers.

The second change requires Nova Scotia Power to develop what is known as an Open Access Transmission Tariff. This is a set of rules that specifies how a generator can move electricity to a buyer over the NSPI transmission system and how much NSPI can charge for that service. Mr. Speaker, the importance of the committee's work and advance planning is shown clearly by the fact that Nova Scotia Power has already filed an application for Open Access Transmission Tariff with the Utility and Review Board. The board will be taking up the matter as its schedule allows.

Third, the proposed bill requires any seller or supplier of electricity in Nova Scotia to adhere to a renewable portfolio standard. This is where this bill will benefit Nova Scotians for generations to come. We will bring forward regulations that will mean that by 2010, 5 per cent of Nova Scotia's electrical supply must come from renewable resource generating capacity that was built after 2001. Renewable resources can include small-scale hydroelectricity plants, wind farms or generators using biomass fuel.

[Page 4514]

Currently, a bit more than 8 per cent of our electricity comes from generators that use renewable resources. That means that if these older facilities remain in service, we will have increased the amount of renewable-resource-based electricity available in Nova Scotia by more than a half.

Mr. Speaker, that is substantial and sustainable progress. It also allows government, with the intention to bring forward a full Act in the Spring session of the House, to be able to take and have lessons learned and look at how we may be able to improve upon that as we implement the other 85 recommendations to come forward.

Wind farms and related renewable sources are proven technologies. They can provide clean, sustainable electrical supplies for generations to come. They can also carry substantial costs and financial risks to developers. The renewable portfolio standard and the introduction of competition for wholesale electricity will help reduce these risks. They will help provide certainty that there will be defined markets for independent power producers who want to develop new, renewable generation projects.

I would also draw the attention of the House to the fact that Nova Scotia Power has recently called for proposals for the supply of renewable-resource electricity. As we speak, Nova Scotian entrepreneurs are responding to this challenge and are preparing their responses and I'm confident their solutions will be innovative, workable and in service in the near future.

Mr. Speaker, let me say that this is important legislation that will accelerate our efforts for a cleaner, greener, electricity market in Nova Scotia. It introduces competition and choice. It encourages innovation and development. It will help assure access to markets and access to new electrical supplies into the future. It advances the commitment we made in our Energy Strategy to develop an electrical energy supply that's secure, reliable, affordable and produced in an environmentally responsible manner.

Mr. Speaker, as debate ensues on Bill No. 87, I'm sure we'll see a divergence of opinion, however, what we will be able to build on is the work of the EMGC and its efforts to provide 89 working recommendations, the fact that government is working through and drafting up the legislation to encompass that in a manner that's never been there before. So we will have much to debate but what we have to do, and strive to achieve, is balance. What we have done in our reports and build forward with this legislation is to try and find balance that is doable and workable and these four recommendations that form part of the bill are doable and can be achieved in this session of the House. I look forward to the ensuing debate.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister bringing forward Bill No. 87. It is always nice when we make recognition of the fact that we are becoming a greener province and the idea should not shock anybody, it should be the natural way to go. So, as I get into my discussion on the title of the bill, I will be getting back to the green side

[Page 4515]

and not only how it relates to what the legislation says but, indeed, there is an arm outside the legislation that needs to be looked at to make sure that these independent producers are treated fairly by what would still amount to a monopoly.

I want to, first of all, as I said, thank the minister but also it is important that as someone who lives really in the shadow of the Lingan generating station, I have to preface some of my comments about that bill in that. The fact of the matter is that plant would never, ever have been built in these times. It was built around the guise of its next to the coal- producing mines of the Lingan Mine and then later Lingan-Phalen Mine. So those two mines pretty well were the capacity or were the prime producer of material for the largest generating station in this province.

The larger blight about that, and that's a big statement, because there's the blight that those jobs don't exist anymore and we still have the plant, but the blight is that it took away one of the prime recreational swimming areas in this province, Mr. Speaker, an area that was and still is referred to as Laffin's Cove. Some of you may know a Mike Laffin in this building, and it's probably somehow his people, but in real terms it's about the families of a member who formerly represented my riding, Dr. Mike Laffin. It comes through his family, that's where the name comes from.

What we have is this pristine area that has been torn apart for the purpose of electrical generation. We're not here to debate that, because that is the past. We are here to talk about the substance of this bill and what it means. What it's purported to mean is around greener energy in this province. Well, the initiative for greener energy has to be looked at somewhat through the rearview mirror, and it has to look at cases where just recently Nova Scotia Power is just about in the throes of its final clean-up of the generating station in Glace Bay. That was really, again, something in this day and age - would that be tolerated in the middle of a residential area? Probably not. We look at Trenton, and again, would that be allowed where it's at?

I think you look at the generating station in the Strait, it's in a more industrial setting, but still, you're taking away a primary piece of physical infrastructure there and you're putting it in amongst many residents. These are just some of them, but they're all coal-generating - coal-fired I should say, not coal-generating - coal-fired generators. I think if we just step back a bit and remember the construction of the Point Aconi power plant, that was - I think, in the lifetime of most members of this House - one that we can more readily relate to. We know that there was a fair amount, I would say a large amount, of public input into that project.

I guess the debate still rages of who won it. Obviously the folks who didn't want it there will tell you that they lost it. The other idea is that some of the things that they did say at the time didn't come to fruition as of this date. We haven't seen a real problem with the lobster stock because of the water they were using to cool down the out-takes on the turbines, so we don't know about that yet, what effect that has had. I think it's fair to say, at this point, it's negligible.

[Page 4516]

Nonetheless, that was probably the first power plant where we saw there was any large piece of scrutiny, and it did have the fluidized bed combustion technology, which made it different. Again, typical to Cape Breton, it had the component of jobs and the jobs in construction factories, so these were items that had to be held up to see whether this was worth it. These were all, again, coal-burning situations. Now, as we know, because of where we get our coal or where Nova Scotia Power gets its coal, they're also, at Point Aconi, using pet coke or petroleum coke products at that site because of its fluidized bed.

When we talk in essence of the bill and how NSPI will be as a customer to these wind-powered generators, I have to wonder, back a bit, before we get too far into the numbers, and say this corporation has preferred a tax structure when it comes to dealing with municipalities.

[5:15 p.m.]

One could argue very well on either side, does this corporation pay its fair share of municipal taxes? I'm sure NSPI, or Emera, would say here's our books, we pay the equivalent value of taxes throughout the province for real property that we have. With that said, the real problem isn't do they pay their fair share, it's is the allotment allotted out fairly? I guess I'll use the one I can use best and that's what's right next to me - I see the problems on Lingan Road going to the Lingan generating station - I live on Lingan Road - and seeing this road being beaten every day by these huge trucks.

It's pretty much a residential area but we have these trucks coming down and the faults that are happening with this road are directly related to the amount of heavy traffic generated by NSPI. Yet, when we, as taxpayers in that area who use that street, try to get access to it, we're put somewhere on the list. If government said, we're getting this pot of money from you and we realize that we use roads in around Point Tupper more because of Nova Scotia Power or Lingan Road or to the Trenton Works, then we have to allot more money to you to work those roads. That's something I would like to see.

Moving on and talking a bit more about Nova Scotia Power, we're looking at a laudable effect of going from 8.5 to 13.5 by 2010, what portion will actually be green. That's good. Could be better, but it's good. I also realize this isn't the package, this is to kind of whet your appetite a bit to see where everybody is on it. But the reality is, for those producers to be stable they need a fair rate of return from Nova Scotia Power. We can call them the largest buyer or whatever, but Nova Scotia Power is.

What we need is an open view of what Nova Scotia Power is doing with some of these folks. They have a base rate of $68, minus 2.73 per cent - this is for the eastern area - which gives you an energy rate of $65.27. I'm amazed when we see when they're buying wind power at that rate that they get to use location adjustment. I live, as the people in most of my community live, with bad roads, soot, dust and everything from the Lingan generating station, but do we get cheaper power or rate adjustments because of where we live? No, basically the people in Clare would get the same prices I do, but yet when they're buying it,

[Page 4517]

they're allowed to use the reverse which I think should be straight across the board, that there's one price paid for all.

Another program - the federal government put in over $1 billion - is the Wind Power Production Incentive. That would work at a rate of about 10 per cent of a project. Again using the eastern rate of $65.27, a WPPI of $10, NSPI wants half of that. I asked the minister, why should they have access to any of that? It's to help the venture capitalist out there to try to put these projects together.

These are projects put together that they have to put in their own rights-of-way, they have to put in their own poles and so on with absolutely nothing you could say in a tangible way from Nova Scotia Power. So why are they allowed to reach in there? I would ask the minister to look at the fact that I don't think that NSPI has the right to any of the WPPI money. I think that is meant for producers to get on line and to help with these projects because, you know, it is a clear fact - I mean, if that being the case, then I certainly would have thought that the minister's effort would have spent much more time with people like the big producers, trying to attract them to this. What you see here, what they're really aiming at are the small producers who happen to be in alternative energy sources - renewable energy sources.

Whether it's bio-energy or earth energy or hydroelectricity energy, it's all those things and therefore, I think we have to look at what NSPI has in there. It makes it more attractive for these producers to get in and to make a profit. I mean, that's the reality. I don't see why people, because they want a greener energy source, should have to be just working with smaller margins. We don't put this onus so much on AMCI in the United States when they produce coal - or Peabody, we certainly wouldn't, and they wouldn't allow anybody to hive off the top.

So I guess that's one of my real questions. If you look in the Province of Quebec where there's a much better return from your rate when you sell it to Hydro Quebec, why can't we do it here? There's a real difference between being a tough negotiator and being a mean negotiator. I think both are free enterprises and they're both trying to make a profit, but I also think that you can't basically be a monopoly and use your position with too great a hammer - I think that's the ebb and flow of it. The reality is, these people need certain concessions to get into the marketplace.

I think if you even look at something as extremely right-wing as the Ronald Reagan Government in the United States, when they broke up the Bell monopoly, they made it so that Bell couldn't keep people out. Well, from time to time, if you're dealing with a large company like NSPI and you're a wind farmer, it may be extremely difficult to get in there and have the leverage and we're not talking about someone taking a couple of two by tens and hammering them together and putting a couple of blades on the end and hope you could do it. These are pretty sophisticated items and most of them aren't even manufactured here in this province, I doubt very much if they're manufactured in North America. I would suspect that parts of

[Page 4518]

northern Europe, like Denmark and all that, would probably be the leaders. Again, I think as we go through this, Mr. Minister, one of the great things may very well be that we could build an industry around this, that we could be the producers of these windmills and help with wind generation.

So, Mr. Speaker, these are things, that while I think we are absolutely excited about anytime we can get greenhouse gas emissions down, that other fossil fuel type considerations, whether it's reclamation, strip mining, a methane bed extraction, all those things have to be looked at in the guise of what it really does for the long term because we have a resource here that everyone is happy to use. I think we've hit a couple of wrinkles with our thoughts around wind energy; I think more on that one is on Cheticamp Island. I would think as people become comfortable with wind farms, they won't be as frightful of them. Again, it's like the day the farm ends, it's not like, as we said, the money that Nova Scotia Power would have spent in decommissioning something like the seaboard energy plant, clearly that would be a difference.

So, Mr. Speaker, these are some of the things, I guess it's typical opposition-type rhetoric or comments that we support it, but the idea is - I mean I hope that's not the impression we're leaving here, the impression that we want to leave here is that this is a small bill, if you look at the 80-some to come forward, hopefully next Spring, but the idea is that it's Nova Scotians who are not passé to how their energy is produced and brought to them anymore. They are the ones who are saying, look, it matters that it's clean, the future matters, that we don't take our gems like Laffins Cove and throw a generating station up and tell people it's for jobs.

The jobs are gone now, the blight is still there, we still have some problems, we have infrastructure problems. These are things that when we're moving forward and we're honestly looking at an energy strategy for this province, that it has to incorporate all these things. What we have to do is for all of these people, there has to be an even playing field. We can't have the largest power producer in the province dictating price to our producers. It has to be a mechanism that's open and fair, that these people can get in and get an honest return, and everybody can co-exist. Clearly, we've bought into the wheeling provision and that's great, and I think the idea of allowing some of the six existing municipalities to look for other sources now, these are all very important aspects of this bill. But until we see that this type of negotiation with Nova Scotia Power is a transparent set of negotiations, that these people engaged in these types of operations get a fair return for their investment, then it's kind of hard to support, in whole, this bill.

Mr. Speaker, I'm looking forward to the minister's closing remarks on this bill. I know that there will be other speakers behind me. It's important that we treat all of these people with the openness and fairness that they deserve.

[Page 4519]

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and speak on Bill No. 87 - An Act Respecting Electricity. I certainly want to acknowledge and compliment the minister for this particular piece of legislation in its general form, because any opportunity to reduce greenhouse gases and to become more energy efficient in Nova Scotia with renewable resources, I'll certainly support.

With that having been said, there are a number of local issues that I think we should consider as we peruse through this particular piece of legislation. As the minister has indicated, there are essentially three major components to this particular piece of legislation, one whereby the province is enabling certain electrical utilities other than Nova Scotia Power to purchase power from any competitive supplier, and also the open access to transmission tariff, which essentially is a revenue opportunity for Nova Scotia Power but more importantly an opportunity similar to what's being exercised with the telecommunications industry, particularly Aliant and so forth, here in the Province of Nova Scotia, competing interests to be able to use a joint energy streamline. Of course, thirdly, is the requirement by Nova Scotia Power to comply with certain energy standards which will be set out in the regulations, as the minister has indicated, to ensure certain efficiencies by a particular date.

Mr. Speaker, one of the issues that the minister made reference to was the use of biomass, in his opening remarks. Right away that caught my interest, because this was an issue that had been brought before the floor of the Legislature on a previous date by a previous minister in a previous government, the honourable Ken Streatch, when he was Minister of Lands and Forests, when it had a different name. There was a rather comprehensive report prepared for all Nova Scotians at the request of the government by a select committee of the Legislature to explore all the possible uses of biomass in the province. Of course, one of them was the use of biomass for the generation of electricity.

[5:30 p.m.]

I believe, if my memory serves me correctly, there was effectively only one project in the entire province that became a realization and that was the Strait area campus - that would be somewhere around 1987, I believe, Mr. Speaker. That was short lived for a number of reasons. One, because the government argued that it was not economically feasible, it was too cumbersome and it really didn't really achieve the efficiency levels, whether environmentally or on the economy of scales. It really didn't seem to pan out very well.

There was considerable effort into promoting the use of biomass, not just domestically, but commercially, similar to what is being done over in Prince Edward Island. We know in the Charlottetown area, the capital city, the use of biomass for some of the government-run institutions for both electricity and for heating is a very effective means of using a renewable resource and a very environmentally friendly methodology as well, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 4520]

I'm hoping that the minister will dust off some of the documentation that is already before the Legislature and before the people of Nova Scotia in rather significant detail, some of the case studies that were done. They went to great pains, they even travelled to Sweden at that particular point in time, a select committee of the Legislature. The select committee of Legislature on the price of fuel in Nova Scotia - we didn't travel quite that far because we only had about 30 days and we were on a rather restrictive time frame, but we did get a chance to travel from one end of Nova Scotia to the other. Our degrees of comparables were somewhat limited in that regard, and, of course, the editorials in the local papers weren't exactly what you would call a ringing endorsement of the recommendations that came from that particular committee.

Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, I signed my name to that particular document and I certainly stand by those recommendations because that's what they are - recommendations based on limited information and resources that were made available to us. Ministers talking about this move towards greater energy efficiency. I have to bring this point up, it would have been very useful for all members of the select committee at that time if we had the list of recommendations that were made by the Energy Department and from Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations and other government departments to Cabinet on this issue of gasoline prices in Nova Scotia because it's not just for automotive or industrial use but it was also, I think, in reference to home heating oil, which obviously is another source of energy supply to the Province of Nova Scotia. I think after some prodding, we did receive an outline of what the various government departments were recommending to Cabinet, but we really don't have a sense of what was being recommended to government.

What I'm saying, Mr. Speaker, is we had two different elements of government working almost in silos, separate from each other. We had the select committee of the Legislature trying to make some rather substantive and detailed recommendations, but on the other hand we had Cabinet having the full benefit of all the resources of the various government departments and the experts and those lists of recommendations, but we, to the best of my knowledge, don't have the full details of what was being recommended to Cabinet. So I find that was a little unfair and a little disappointing, and how that impacts on this particular piece of legislation - quite obviously. We're talking about energy efficiency. We're talking about reducing greenhouse gases. We're talking about renewable resources. In other words, ways that we cannot only encourage Nova Scotians to become more energy efficient but ways that we can help Nova Scotians reduce the cost to their individual pocket books because at the end of the day, all this here has to be paid for by somebody.

Mr. Speaker, we have to put that out there because the issue of renewable resources and this particular piece of legislation, point specific, has not to be separated from the very important issue that's now before the Public Utility and Review Board, and that is Nova Scotia Power's application for a rather substantial rate increase of electrical rates for the consumers and the businesses of Nova Scotia.

[Page 4521]

I'm not sure if the minister is using this as an opportunity to kind of raise the flag in saying that he is doing wonderful things. He and his government are doing wonderful things to create a cleaner environment and provide more cost-efficient energy for the people of Nova Scotia. That may be fine in the long-term, and I will give out some specific examples of that in a moment. But, immediately, the issue of the power rates that are now before the Public Utility and Review Board are of great consternation, considerable concern, to all Nova Scotians, particularly for those on low and fixed income. The government has indicated that it will monitor the situation with regard to this nonrenewable resource of home heating oil and other forms of petroleum.

Mr. Speaker, what does this bill do? How does this bill speak to the immediate concerns of the people of Nova Scotia? I would respectfully submit, at this point, it does very little. The point specific that I referred to, if we go back to the particular piece of legislation in the early 1990s, when Nova Scotia Power was privatized from a Crown Corporation to a private corporate entity here in the Province of Nova Scotia. There was some considerable concern and considerable debate on a whole range of issues that the Premier of the day, who introduced this particular piece of legislation as one of his hallmarks of signature document on shifting philosophical principles, stated that the reason for privatizing Nova Scotia Power was, "based on a feeling," and I believe my reference there, that's almost verbatim what the individual Premier stated in the House at that particular point in time. If that's the right feeling, well let's examine that.

There were considerable restrictions that made it very difficult for competing interests to Nova Scotia Power to have access to the marketplace. That was an issue that was raised because Nova Scotia Power was enjoying considerable unfettered access and control in the marketplace here in Nova Scotia. As we've seen since privatization has taken place, and we'll examine the corporate profile of Nova Scotia Power, I don't say this in a negative vein because any opportunity for a Nova Scotia company to expand and the very vibrant competitive corporate entity, not just provincially here, but nationally and internationally, I support.

Mr. Speaker, fair is fair. The corporate interests that Nova Scotia Power has, and this was an issue that we addressed at one of the, I believe it was the Economic Development Committee meetings several months ago. They have interest in at least six different corporate interests, five I believe of which I can recall, with regard to American companies down through the United States. So the question I have to ask, and I think a fair question is, are the consumers of Nova Scotia paying unfairly to help subsidize the corporate expansion?

Now, with that you have to also consider, Mr. Speaker, with this proposed legislation, what the government is doing with regard to this tax issue that Nova Scotia Power is reported to have lost the case with regard to the tax deductions with Revenue Canada and purported to lose in the tens of millions of dollars of revenue and they have to pay this to Revenue Canada because they can't use it as a tax write-off. They're using that as an argument that this is part of the reason for the rate increase, but let's not be naive to the fact that Nova Scotia

[Page 4522]

Power set that money aside in a separate account for this particular issue in the event that they would lose the court case. So the consumers of Nova Scotia, commercially, industrially and domestically, have already paid the rates for that tax issue and now they're going to be penalized again.

The question I have to the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, on that - rhetorically of course - is, what is the government doing to protect the consumers of Nova Scotia? There's little in this particular piece of legislation to speak to this particular issue. So the minister talks about going up to renewable resources, 5 per cent for all new expansionary operations after the year 2001, and that's fine. He has made reference to the biomass, but he hasn't given any detail. The issue of biomass was addressed quite substantially over a two- year period - and I believe the chairman of the select committee at that time was the member for Colchester North - and brought back, well, a rather lengthy series of recommendations. Where are they? I would respectfully submit the vast majority, I would say perhaps 90 per cent, of those recommendations just went nowhere and the minister has made reference to it again here.

So let's not be fooled about this issue. Let's not lead the people of Nova Scotia to believe that there's a new opportunity just off in the horizon because it is not so on this particular issue unless there's some new technology, unless there are some new opportunities, technologically or what have you, that the minister and his government is aware of, then it simply will not come to fruition through this particular piece of legislation. That I will submit.

The minister has made reference to wind farms and there has been some movement in that regard, Mr. Speaker, in the southwestern part of the province as well as down in the Inverness area. The issue of wind farms, I think it's important to note that there are a number of important aspects to this, it's not just simply putting up a wind turbine, with a generator and some motors and then all of a sudden you're generating electricity because it's just going to go around and around. There are a lot of considerations to that - how prevalent are the winds, you know, are they intermittent?

There are only certain parts of the province and I do commend the representatives from Nova Scotia Power for enlightening all members of the committee and the Legislature on this particular issue and, yes, Mr. Speaker, one could certainly make an argument that we could probably put a wind turbine above Province House here because of a lot of the wind that's moving around, but I'll leave that to some other more eloquent speakers.

[5:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we just can't put wind turbines anywhere in the province. I know in my constituency, in the community of Eskasoni, that proposal seems to be moving along quite nicely. That's a considerably significant project that will generate enough electricity for the entire community of Eskasoni, with the positive advantage of having surplus energy that will be sold back to Nova Scotia Power.

[Page 4523]

I'm pleased as well, the issue in this particular piece of legislation with regard to multi-access to the transmission line because this was a major problem that the First Nations community of Eskasoni had with Nova Scotia Power. Nova Scotia Power effectively would have preferred Eskasoni not enter into this particular process at all. They wanted control but, unfortunately for Nova Scotia Power, those transmission lines for other communities went through Eskasoni. So who do you think had the final say at the end of the day? It was the First Nations community of Eskasoni - if you want to transmit power from one community to another community through our community, then we have to have a say too.

So after awhile Nova Scotia Power came to the realization that they just can't control everything all the time. So I'm quite pleased to see that the minister, in a very subtle way, is recognizing that philosophy that has obviously been pushing the government for a considerable period of time. With that, Mr. Speaker, I'd certainly like to commend the chief of Eskasoni and his council and the entire community for their persistence and their tenacity in advancing this particular issue - more power to them. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, no rabbit tracks here today.

Also, the issue of renewable resource is obviously a major issue here, but we also have to have some recognition as to where your traditional forms of power generation are fitting into the government's long-term strategy. Just in recent weeks, I've witnessed some very unpleasant reactions from the communities of Port Morien and Birch Grove with regard to the provincial government's strategy regarding strip mining.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Reclamation mining.

MR. MACKINNON: The minister says reclamation mining - well, I would have to respectfully submit he is dead wrong. He is dead wrong.

If he was talking about Broughton, I would agree you're talking reclamation mining, but in Birch Grove, he is not correct. He is absolutely, totally, off base on this particular issue. In fact, this particular issue wasn't in the government's strategy document when it was initially released to the people of Nova Scotia - Birch Grove wasn't even included. How did it get on at the eleventh hour without any public consultation, without any public review, any notice to the community or anyone that you can possibly imagine? How did Birch Grove all of a sudden get on the radar screen? It wasn't in the original document. Only Broughton in that particular area was on the original document.

So the minister says reclamation - no, it's not reclamation, Mr. Speaker, it's far from it. It's an opportunity for the government to patronize a large corporate entity - in my view - because they can get high-grade, low-sulphur coal, a high-energy coal, at a very little cost to the total disregard of how people feel. This issue was dealt with almost 20 years to the day. We had public meetings. My predecessor, the honourable member for Cape Breton West, the honourable Donald MacLeod, he was there, he was the MLA. He said if the community

[Page 4524]

doesn't want it, the community will not get it. So there was no strip mining in Birch Grove. Twenty years later, all of a sudden this famous piece of paper seemed to crawl out of the woodwork with no consultation to any of the elected officials, that we know of. I know there was some general participatory action involving some local officials to fly over and look at the general area, but at no point in time was this particular community included in the plan by the Department of Natural Resources as identifiable sites for strip mining in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The question I ask is how did it get on there, who put it in there and why, at whose urging, and for whose benefit? It's quite evident, and the minister himself knows, he attended the public meeting, the Minister of Energy that is, he knows full well the feeling of the community. It's almost unanimously in opposition to this particular issue for a number of environmental reasons. Number one, because they don't have deep wells. They don't have dug wells. They're all surface wells, because of the strata and the fact that because of the composition of the soil and the rock formation, when you go down below the rock, you're into salt water.

Who wants to go down there? If you start tampering with that rather fragile rock structure, Mr. Speaker, what are you going to get? You're going to get hundreds of homes that will be adversely affected. Why? Because somebody wants to get high-grade, low-sulphur, cost-efficient fuel for Nova Scotia Power. It doesn't make sense.

I point that out as an example of where the government seems to be coming across with this energy strategy, which is here. The final report looks quite detailed and elaborate. There are a total of 89 recommendations in this document, Mr. Speaker, and the minister is only speaking to three in his legislation. What happened to the other 86? At this rate, it will be another 20 years' time before we see the recommendations of this report realized. By then, the terms of reference will have changed quite significantly, and they'll probably be looking to bring up some more recommendations.

I want to go back to the issue of how this will affect the most important stakeholders in the Province of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker: the good people from Cumberland County - who you represent - from Kings County, Colchester County, Guysborough, Halifax County, you name it. The bottom line is, will the consumers be paying more or will they be paying less as a result of this legislation? How will this increased competition reduce power rates for the consumers? Will broadening the competitive base reduce power rates in Nova Scotia? It would be interesting to see the government give some clarity on that particular issue.

I'm very pleased - generally speaking, the most promising part of this particular piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that the government has set a particular target of using renewable resources. If you look, for example, down in Victoria County, we have the Wreck Cove power generating station. As I understand, that produces a rather significant amount of Nova Scotia's total power generation. I believe, and I may be off on the figures on this, it's either 75 per cent of all the power generation coming off Cape Breton Island or 75 per cent,

[Page 4525]

or a large percentage anyway, for the total power generation for the corporation. It costs so very little because hydrogeneration is very low maintenance, it's environmentally friendly, it costs very little in terms of manpower for Nova Scotia Power. So, effectively, the consumers are really enjoying the benefits. Now, there are some smaller power generating plants down in the Valley, for example, and other smaller locations, but it would be very easy for the government to move towards more hydroelectrical generation, I believe.

It was suggested in an earlier moment about the high environmental cost because of some of these coal generating stations, and one in particular, in Cape Breton. But I also recall as well, Mr. Speaker, when the Point Aconi power generating station was being built and that particular piece of legislation was here before the House as well and it was because it was going to provide a new technology, a new fluidized bed on how to reduce greenhouse gases. Well, it would be interesting to see if the government could provide rather substantive detail as to how that had a major impact on Nova Scotia's coal industry in a positive way.

It's so strange that now, and I'm not going to get into the Reader's Digest of history at all here with regard to the coal industry in Nova Scotia, particularly in Cape Breton, but really it's a sad commentary when we have coal coming from West Virginia and being delivered right to the power generating stations cheaper than you can produce it less than two miles away from a power generating station. Now, there's something fundamentally wrong. There are, perhaps, lots of reasons for that but, Mr. Speaker, I think that's worth noting as well.

So, in concluding my remarks, I would like to . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Sit?

MR. MACKINNON: Well, I could certainly go on. I mean the member for Timberlea-Prospect would love for me to continue my dissertation but I know he's just kind of chomping at the bit, he'd love to get up and speak himself. But some of the key points, Mr. Speaker, are: the issue with regard to biomass and other renewable resources; the issue of the competitive acquisitions to the transmission lines, I think that's very important; the rates that the government has put out there - and that may come up in another piece of legislation - with regard to the Municipal Taxation Act, but in a different form; and it's also an issue that speaks to the Utility and Review Board and the effectiveness of that particular board. That's something that, perhaps, the minister can speak to when he's closing debate on second reading.

Mr. Speaker, as well, before I conclude my remarks, it's important to note that I hope the minister doesn't use this as a diversion tactic for the failure, his failure and his government's failure with Nova Scotia's offshore petroleum industry. Every major newspaper across this country has stated, time and time again, that Nova Scotia's offshore petroleum industry is in major difficulty and I think, perhaps the minister should take an opportunity to

[Page 4526]

address that, to give some confidence level to all those who have to depend on that industry to make a living. Thousands of jobs are at stake.

[6:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I'm very disappointed to date that the minister has not addressed this. I recall when we were in Opposition, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, at that time, would stand up time and time again, every Question Period he would get up and question as to why there weren't more Nova Scotians working in the offshore, that we weren't getting our fair share. At this rate, there's going to be nobody working there, not just Nova Scotians, but non-Nova Scotians, whether they're from Scotland, whether they're from the United States, Texas, Alberta, you name it.

This is not a very pleasant site, and the minister seems to gloss over it by using the typical Progressive Conservative approach to a major issue, diversion tactics. Let's throw up some rabbit tracks. Let's come up with some kind of a good-news flag that people will gravitate to and then take their attention off some of the major issues: the thousands of jobs that are being lost in Nova Scotia, the downturn of this major industry which the government has flagged as being a cornerstone for economic development and the future prosperity of this province. So we have to be very cognizant of that.

I would hope that the minister will not use this as an attempt to shirk his responsibility, major responsibility in that department, which is all but just there in name, while the minister flutters around the countryside talking about new strategies and promotional videos, which do very little. It's almost like the Minister of Justice with regard to seniors in this province, who are being attacked and being robbed in their own homes, so what does the minister do? He gives a video on home invasions, how to lock your door and stay in. Well, I hope this isn't what the Minister of Energy is going to do for Nova Scotia, how to take a willow rod and go dig for oil instead of water.

Mr. Speaker, there are some good points in this legislation and I commend the minister for that, but there are many other major issues that this legislation does not speak to and I know our Energy Critic will be speaking very eloquently on those points. I will conclude my remarks. I know you would much prefer if I continued with the focus on the offshore energy, but I'll leave that to my colleague who is our Energy Critic. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, one of my favourite movies, which isn't usually on television this time of year, is called It's a Wonderful Life. They show it at Christmastime because, of course, it's a Christmas movie. It's a great movie, it's Jimmy Stewart and probably everyone here has seen it. Let me remind you of some of what occurs in this film and I'll explain why it is that it's on my mind today.

[Page 4527]

You may recall that Jimmy Stewart plays a small-town manager of a savings and loan in some state in the United States, and he's gotten into some financial difficulties in the administration of his savings and loan. I guess we'd call them trust companies here, the equivalent would be a trust company here. Through an accident, some money has been lost and he's in despair. He's, in fact, in so much despair that he's thinking of killing himself. It's Christmas Eve and he's being watched over by his guardian angel whose name is Clarence. You remember Clarence has yet to earn his wings and he has to come down to Earth and perform good deeds in order to earn his wings.

Clarence comes down and, in fact, through an ingenious method, saves the Jimmy Stewart character, whose name I think is George Bailey. He saves him when George Bailey is about to kill himself by drowning himself, and after they get talking they move along through the rest of their evening and it becomes apparent that Clarence has no money. Now Clarence has explained that he's George's guardian angel, but of course as he says, we don't

have money in Heaven, we don't need it. George Bailey looks at him and he says, yes, that's right, you don't need money in Heaven. It comes in mighty handy down here though, he says. One of my favourite lines - it comes in mighty handy down here.

Now, do you know what would have come in mighty handy down here over the last decade - about $1 billion that the privatization of Nova Scotia Power cost us, $1 billion would have come in mighty handy down here if we had had it and I'm put in mind of this because the last time we saw a bill from that Party of any significance with respect to electricity was the 1992 privatization of Nova Scotia Power and that was the price tag to Nova Scotians of that privatization.

Now, why do I call it $1 billion? Here's why. Every year since the privatization of Nova Scotia Power, Nova Scotia Power has run a profit of about $100 million that it has paid out in dividends to its shareholders. Prior to 1992 there was only one shareholder and that was the Province of Nova Scotia, but through the privatization that $1 billion paid for through the billings of customers, ordinary Nova Scotians, has flown out to those shareholders in dividends. That $1 billion would have come in mighty handy down here, but now we've got a different bill that's come forward from this government.

Now, I have to say many of us have been a long time waiting for some kind of legislation with respect to electricity that even begins to make sense. I have to say that this bill does begin to move, although very slowly, in the direction of making some policy sense with respect to electrical energy in this province but, do you know what, it does the absolute minimum. It doesn't move us very aggressively. It hardly does anything at all except the absolute minimum.

We have to think about the context in which this legislation comes to us. We have to remind ourselves of what it is that the government says it's trying to accomplish and compare it with what it is that we should be trying to accomplish. It has been suggested to us, the minister in introducing it suggested that what he was going to do was accelerate the

[Page 4528]

province's efforts for cleaner, greener electricity and a cleaner, greener electricity marketplace. Now that's quite the word - accelerate. It sounds as if we're going fast. It sounds as if he has put the peddle to the metal but, do you know what, that word "accelerate" is hardly the right word to describe Bill No. 87 because when you look at it, all it does is it has to do with what's called the wheeling of electricity, but only for wholesale customers. Wheeling is a great thing. Wheeling has to do with open access to the physical infrastructure of the natural monopoly that is the electrical system. I heard one of the other speakers compare it to access to telephone lines. That's exactly correct. That's the parallel.

We know this is what economists call natural monopolies because it doesn't make sense for electricity company A to run its power lines across the province and down the street and at the same time to have electricity company B do the same thing immediately beside them or somewhere else. It only makes sense to have one set of the physical infrastructure. We only need one set of the lines if that's what we're going to have and economists call those natural monopolies. What do you do with natural monopolies? Well, for my money, we should have kept them in public ownership, but if they're in private ownership, then what's required, what makes sense, is if there's going to be some kind of opening up of competition in that marketplace then there has to be open access to that physical infrastructure.

What that means is, that people who generate electricity have to be able to get their electricity from where they generate it to where the customers are. But will this bill, Bill No. 87 mean that you, sitting in your home, will be able to make contact with a wind farm, with a generator of electricity through some form of green energy somewhere in the province and say to them I want to buy your electricity?

Bill No. 87 talks about an open access transmission tariff. In other words, those generators, those IPPs, those independent power producers are going to be able to have access to the physical infrastructure that's now owned by Nova Scotia Power Inc. That's fine, but do you know what - you and I won't be able to buy that. We won't be able to enter into a contract with any of those IPPs, any of those independent power producers. Another term that is sometimes used for them, NUG's, non-utility generators. Can we do business with them? We can't, not under Bill No. 87. Bill No. 87 says that the only entities that are going to be able to buy electrical power that is wheeled, that is the term they use, wheeled across the system that NSPI owns, will be those wholesale customers.

They are listed. They are Nova Scotia Power Inc. themselves, in other words Nova Scotia Power Inc. can buy from the green generators, and the six small municipal utilities that we have around the province. That's great. It's great that those six small municipal utilities are going to be able to buy that power. What about the big users of power? What about the pulp and paper companies? They are big purchasers of power. Are they going to be able to purchase power from the green generators right now under this Bill? Nope, just as we are not at home, just as we are not in HRM - it's just not going to be available.

[Page 4529]

Now, maybe it will come in the future. But let's be clear that this is probably only going to affect a few per cent of the customers and of the total capacity of the system in the province. It is suggested by the minister that they're going to move more aggressively in the future. That would be nice. That would be good, like to see it. I'd like to see the details of how we are going to move over time in order to make sure that wheeling really does provide some competition for our main, essentially a monopoly, generator of electricity here. It is clear that we are moving in a very tepid way here. It is clear that we are moving extremely slowly. It's clear that for whatever reason the government is deciding that it is going to take the minimum possible steps.

The context for all of this, of course, is made up of a variety of factors. One is that there is growing public awareness of the atmospheric effects and of the human health effects of emissions from the power plants that we have here. That's a potent factor. Another factor is the international agreement that Canada has signed, the Kyoto Protocol, in which the country has obliged itself at the federal level to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is clear that change is coming. It's clear and it has been clear for a long time that it is inevitable that the electricity sector of Nova Scotia will have to be transformed over the coming decades.

[6:15 p.m.]

It's probably clear that if you look forward 50 or 75 years, we will probably not be generating our electricity through having four or five big, central coal-fired generating plants giving us our electricity. Of course, we have Tufts Cove that burns essentially bunker C and has some capacity to burn natural gas. But, we're essentially reliant here, in terms right now of our generation, on burning coal, pet coke, bunker C. In other words, we're burning fossil fuels.

We know that there are serious harmful effects. The policy question is, how can we move away from this? We know we're going to have to move away from it - we know it's coming. The issue is, timetable. The issue is, who bears the cost? The issue is, what route do we take in order to get ourselves into the future that we know is coming.

It won't be central plants, it'll be a series of much smaller entities, it may even be decentralized to neighbourhoods, to small communities. It'll be wind, it'll be solar, maybe it'll be hydrogen, maybe it will be things we don't know about yet, but it's not going to be what we have now. This is the classic problem that we always face in politics - can we agree on where we want to get to and then can we agree on the route we want to follow to get there?

Here we know where it is that we have to get to. Never mind whether we want to get there. We know we're going to have to move into a different energy future. Unfortunately, there has been huge resistance towards acceptance of that for a very long time. No one is more resistant to accepting the new energy future than NSPI. This was true when it was a Crown Corporation and it has been just as true since the privatization.

[Page 4530]

Our job as regulator is to look at the situation and to say, what is the right timetable? How quickly should NSPI - which is acting here on behalf of all of us as a society - have to transform itself? And, by what means? This bill says to us there are two means that are going to be introduced - one is that NSPI is going to have to get ready to understand there's going to be wheeling across their system. Although it's wholesale wheeling of a very limited sort right now, NSPI should understand that it's going to be other kinds of wheeling in the future.

That's a good message. The other thing that this bill does is it begins to say to those power producers who are interested in coming up with renewable energy generation that they should get into the game.

None of this happens without a history. NSPI in fact does purchase small amounts of renewable energy right now. For example, they buy it from a generating station in Guysborough County that's an old hydro plant that's in private hands and it has been refurbished. Nova Scotia Power, to its credit, has a tidal power system at the mouth of the Annapolis River. Also to its credit, NSPI has started to look at having its own windmills, although I think they're only at two. They're looking now at doing business with various independent power producers who are interested in coming up with a lot of renewables.

Unfortunately, the amount of energy that NSPI is prepared, at this point, to commit itself to, in terms of renewables, is only 50 megawatts. Now, while I think about that number, I realize that we have a long way to go. And when I think about that number, I don't think that it's fair comment to consider this acceleration of our efforts for cleaner, greener electricity. I think that all we can say is that this bill is beginning to move us very slowly towards a target that is itself not so high a target.

If NSPI, a decade ago, had been prepared to commit itself, and I'll use that word to accelerate, then, its interest in energy efficiency and energy reduction and sourcing energy from renewables, we would be a lot farther along the time continuum at his point. We wouldn't be scrambling, we wouldn't be starting from such a low point. But I know that when, not long after the privatization, NSPI was in front of the Utility and Review Board to discuss ways in which they might promote energy efficiency, they were highly resistant. It was clear that they were prepared to do the minimum amount necessary in order to pay lip service to the idea of renewables and energy efficiency. That's where they began to talk about time-of-use rates.

Time-of-use rates is a device where you use your electricity late at night, overnight, rather than during the peak hours, because it distributes the load, and in the long run perhaps might reduce the need for overall capacity in the system. Well, it's a useful little device, but it's really at the margins, and it's not one of those things that's aggressive. The reason that NSPI wasn't really seriously interested in any of the energy efficiency or energy reduction programs, it's pretty obvious, it's obvious because they're in the business of selling electricity, that's how they make money as a privatized company, that's the business they're in. The more electricity they sell, the better off they are.

[Page 4531]

But the public is in quite a different position. The better off we are, the less energy we use. Now, that's the problem, and that's why we can't rely upon NSPI as a privatized entity to come up with all of the devices that are appropriate in order to reduce electrical energy use. We have to set the guidelines and the rules and the regulations for them, because they're not going to do it themselves. We will have to drag them into the future.

In part, that's what this bill is about. But I want to, in fact, Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a document that's just been issued by Nova Scotia Power, since it's highly relevant to what it is that we're talking about and what it is that the minister spoke about. Because one of the things this bill does is it sets the government up with certain powers to regulate the renewable portfolio standard into the future. So what's NSPI doing? On September 16th, NSPI issued what's called a solicitation for renewable energy from 100 kilowatts to two megawatts on distribution. That's the document I've tabled. In other words, they're saying to small, independent power producers, small in this case being two megawatts or less, if you're interested in selling electricity, if you're interested in building a facility and generating electricity and you want to sell it to us, if you want to do business with us, here are our terms. Here's what we're interested in, here's how much we're prepared to pay you, here it is, here's how we're going to do business over this.

Now, I think that we have to look seriously at amending Bill No. 87 because of the way NSPI is proposing to approach this question of buying from small IPPs. The essence of the problem is that NSPI is proposing to do this as a business deal themselves, that is to say not subject to the scrutiny of the URB, and they're simply proposing to offer too little. Furthermore, they're proposing to offer to IPPs located in different parts of the province different rates. Now, this is really problematic. Essentially they're saying to the small IPPs, if you want to build a wind facility in central Nova Scotia, then we'll pay you more. We'll pay you more than if you build it in western Nova Scotia and we'll pay you much more than if you build it in eastern Nova Scotia and what's the rationale for this?

The stated rationale is that central Nova Scotia is where the customers are. Now, you know, there's a surface possibility to that. It's certainly the case that most of the residential customers are here in metro and some of the business customers, not the industrial ones, and it would be nice if the renewable sources could be located close to the market. You know that makes a certain amount of sense. On the other hand, the wind is where the wind is, the sites are where the sites are. The issue isn't where the customers are, the issue is where you can locate the windmills. The issue is where the wind is and the wind is going to be wherever it is. If sites are in northern Cape Breton, or in Inverness County, or in Guysborough County, or they're in Yarmouth County, in Pubnico, that's where they're going to be. If that's where they're going to be, there should be no difference across this province in the price paid to those independent power producers who are looking to set up their windmills and generate electricity so we don't have to be so reliant on a fuel source that is problematic. So there is a serious problem with what it is that NSPI is proposing to do here.

[Page 4532]

Now, I don't think it's our job to try to set the cents per kilowatt hour that NSPI is to pay to those IPPs right here on the floor of the Legislature. I don't think we have to pick the number. I don't think we should be enshrining the number in the legislation. I don't think it really should be in the regulations. What I do think though is that when we're being told that it's not enough, that we've got to inquire into that, and I think that when we see that there's a tariff that's being proposed that across the province has variations for no good reason, then we've got to ask ourselves, should we be doing something about this? When we read in the document that pricing methodology is subject to review with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, we've got to say to ourselves, what exactly does that mean, and I don't think it means that the whole thing is going to go in advance to the URB to be looked at. But we could do that, and I'm suggesting we probably should do that because this is the area of the URB's expertise. Figuring out what should be the appropriate price of electricity at all stages through the process is indeed one of the things that the URB exists for.

[6:30 p.m.]

What I am suggesting is that it would make sense that if we are going to be serious about the part of Bill No. 87 that talks about setting up renewables as a desirable way for NSPI and for our society to go forward, then we should see that this matter of the pricing goes in front of the URB. A pretty simple point but it is important. There are other difficulties with what it is that NSPI is proposing in its September 16th solicitation. I don't think it's necessary to go into this in a huge amount of detail.

I want you to understand that although it's necessary for NSPI to pay attention to the price it pays for its electricity if it's going to be in the business of buying from independent power producers, at the same time we don't want to discourage those independent power producers. We need them. We need them because they are essential to making that transformation into that energy future which is going to be so different from the energy life that we have at the moment.

Let me sum up. I think this bill is a small step forward. I don't think this bill can fairly be characterized as accelerating our efforts towards a green future. I think we have to be frank in our recognition that this is only about wholesale wheeling which will affect relatively few customers and I think, as well, we have to recognize that there's a big gap in this bill when it comes to how the independent power producers are being treated. That said, we are happy to find coming forward from the government a bill that does not compound the errors in public policy that we had from their predecessors in 1992 when they moved to privatize NSPI, or Nova Scotia Power as it was then.

I'm glad that we have in front of us a bill that does at least begin to move, however hesitantly in the right direction. We are prepared to support this bill in principle, move it on to the Law Amendments Committee, but I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that we have in mind some quite specific amendments that ought to come forward tied to ways to promote the existence of IPPs in our province. Thank you very much.

[Page 4533]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as the Energy Critic for the Liberal caucus, I am pleased to rise today to make a few remarks on Bill No. 87, the Electricity Act. Now right from the start a pattern is clearly developing from this government in regard to this session. The idea behind every bill is to give the appearance that something significant is being done, whereas, at the end of the day, very little is taking place but with the good spin doctoring and good PR people, all of a sudden you can maybe convince the public that you have a government that's doing a lot when, at the end of the day, it's doing little or nothing. Which is why we have the Premier of the province telling us that there will be no contentious legislation and this session will not last for an extended period of time.

You just look at some of the legislation that is coming forward. The Maintenance Enforcement Act, for example, certainly has a wonderful goal in addressing loopholes, but one of the major problems with the Maintenance Enforcement Act is the lack of staff to administer it. Yet, when the minister asked if he's prepared to put more staff in the department to go along with the changes, he's not interested in discussing that. Again, as I say, Bill No. 87 is a reflection of the pieces of legislation we will continue to see in this session from the government where it sounds good, sounds like a lot is being accomplished, but, at the end of the day, very little is being done.

Where is Bill No. 87 coming from? We know that the government had solicited an actual public consultation, asked some very reputable people throughout the province to sit on a panel and go around the province to meet with stakeholders and come forward with recommendations on how to address energy issues in this province. If I'm not mistaken, the report has quite a significant amount of recommendations. I'm sure the minister knows the exact figure, but, if I'm not mistaken, three of their recommendations are being addressed in this bill. (Interruption) Four, the minister tells me. If I'm not mistaken, there were 80 recommendations? (Interruption) Eighty-nine? Eighty-nine recommendations - this bill has four of those recommendations.

What is the impact on Nova Scotians today, next week, next month? Very little. What's it going to do to address the upcoming rate increase that Nova Scotia Power has asked for which is going to take money out of the pockets of hard-working Nova Scotians? Absolutely nothing. Yet, again, this is a means of trying to convince Nova Scotians this government is trying to do something with regard to energy in this province.

This, Mr. Speaker, the same government that actually sends out its Finance Minister to give the financial update and say that we are still in the black because all of the energy companies have gone home and they've abandoned their leases and that's kept us in the black, what a great day for the Province of Nova Scotia, the books are still balanced. Shame on the Minister of Finance and shame on his government for having to go and tell Nova Scotians that their mismanagement, their lack of proper financing was saved at the end of the day because

[Page 4534]

offshore companies gave up on this government and gave up on this province. That is the legacy that this government is leaving with Nova Scotians.

I could go on and on, but certainly this is a government that inherited a booming off-shore industry that was considered to be the darling of the offshore industry throughout the world. Six years later, offices being closed, leases being abandoned, companies paying - was it $20 million to the Minister of Finance just to be able to leave this province? Yet, he says our books are still balanced because we got $20 million and we're $1 million in the black. If they hadn't left the province, and they hadn't given that money, where would our books be? Does that mean we would have been $19 million in a deficit by the second quarter?

Mr. Speaker, again, we see some of the wonderful accounting measures that have taken place under this Minister of Finance and, unfortunately, rather than standing here and saying how wonderful our energy industry is doing, the Minister of Finance is saying thank God they all left the province and paid us out, we managed to balance the books as a result of it.

Here we get the Electricity Act. Again, what's on the minds of all Nova Scotians? The power bills are going to go up. We know Nova Scotia Power is going to get a rate increase. The question is, how much is it going to be? We can't predict what the price of oil is, we can take a guess based on market trends, and that's certainly a concern, but we do know there's going to be an increase in electricity. Mr. Speaker, you would be hard pressed to find Nova Scotians who don't use electricity; there are some who don't use oil, but it's hard to find Nova Scotians that don't use electricity, and they're going to pay more. It could be up to $10 a month extra, that's $120 a year. If you're on a fixed income, if you're a senior, if you're on disability, a single parent, where are you going to get that extra $120 to send to Nova Scotia Power?

Yet, what does Nova Scotia Power tell us is the reason they need to have a rate increase? Because of the extra amount of taxes they've had to pay this government. So what are we getting in return? They're getting extra tax money, more revenue from Nova Scotia Power. What are Nova Scotians getting as the benefit? Offshore energy companies are leaving, that's not much of a benefit. They paid us $20 million just to have the right to go home and not have any sort of legal liabilities to us. So how does the average Nova Scotian benefit from that?

The government tells us they're going to oppose the rate increase. I'm sure the Minister of Energy will be there and will pound his fist and say how terrible this is, that his government will fight Nova Scotia Power right to the end. At the same time, they're collecting extra taxes from Nova Scotia Power and telling Nova Scotians we haven't increased your taxes. Nova Scotians aren't being fooled by this, Mr. Speaker, they know what's going on and they're seeing it. Yet, here, they bring a bill - knowing the rate increase is coming up - to say, look, we're going to be dealing with electricity in this province, trust us, we know what's going on.

[Page 4535]

Mr. Speaker, this bill is not going to make a change in the lives of Nova Scotians today, tomorrow or next week. Maybe it will in years to come, but certainly no immediate change to help Nova Scotians deal with the high cost they are paying for energy here in this province. We have a bill here that addresses four of the recommendations. It's going to allow municipal utilities to buy and sell energy outside of Nova Scotia Power. They can buy energy from somewhere else and they can sell it to someone else. What does that do for the residents in my county? Can't really think of anything offhand. It's certainly not going to address their concerns when they get their monthly power bill in the mail, or when they buy home heating fuel, or when they look at the fact that there's very little offshore activity going on.

Mr. Speaker, this bill also goes on further to put a requirement on Nova Scotia Power, that they're going to have to have a certain percentage of their total energy output come from renewable energy, and they set targets and everything else. This government has received a windfall of taxes from Nova Scotia Power last year and in the last few years, they want Nova Scotia Power to have a certain amount of renewable energy out of its total output - 5 per cent is the figure being used - so what is this government doing to make sure that happens? What investments are they making? What strategies have they put in place? How are they using that extra tax money to encourage Nova Scotians, entrepreneurs, businesses, outside companies to come to our province and to establish renewable energy? Absolutely nothing.

They're willing to take the extra tax money. They'll go to Nova Scotia Power and they'll say, look, we're going to put an emissions tax on Nova Scotia Power. So who's going to pay for that? Well, Nova Scotians are going to pay for that. What investments will be made from that extra revenue coming to the government to encourage renewable energy and to lower emissions? Probably none - because the Minister of Finance needs it because the third quarter is coming and he needs another miracle to keep him in the black. I'm not sure what it will be the next time, maybe sell off some schools or sell off a few roads or bridges. I wouldn't be surprised at the end of day that they say they were just surplus anyway, just had to move a few kids out of the way and managed to save money to put ourselves back in the black - again, good financial accounting by this Progressive Conservative Government.

Mr. Speaker, it is clear in the commentary that has been made on this bill that it is something called baby steps. It has been called a very slow, painful progression to deal with the issues that relate to energy here in this province. It's not only Nova Scotians themselves who are being impacted by this, and the concerns that relate with them, I can tell you coming from a riding that has a large industrial park with industries that rely heavily on electricity, that it is a very serious issue. Stora Forest Industries - StoraEnso I should say, that is the new name now - which is in Point Tupper, is looking at an $18 million increase in their electricity bill next year. Now that's Stora, and Bowater Mersey, I'm sure, is very similar and along the same lines, yet we have seen Stora go from a workforce of near 1,000 to, now, a workforce that is under 600 - then the news comes that their electricity bill will go up by $18 million, so what does that mean, Mr. Speaker? Does that mean a further reduction?

[Page 4536]

While Stora has been investing and putting in new lines and new technology at their mill, their reward at the end of the day is an $18 million addition to their electricity bill. The company is asking why should we be making further investments in a province where it's costing us a fortune to do business, because when they look at what the mills are paying in Quebec, what they are paying in Western Canada, and what they are paying in the United States, or over in Europe, the biggest difference amongst them is the cost of electricity. That is the biggest difference, the cost of electricity - I don't have the numbers in front of me, but it is staggering when you see what our industries are paying here in Nova Scotia compared to what they're paying in other provinces and other jurisdictions.

[6:45 p.m.]

We just simply will not be able to continue to compete if we do not get a grip on the electricity and energy issues here in this province. We're not only talking about the impact on average Nova Scotians, we are talking about the impact on large industry which, at the end of the day, we know that a facility such as Stora Enso not only has direct employees of around 600, direct spinoff in their woodworking and trucking of another 400 or 500 jobs, but we know that there are still hundreds of jobs that can be directly linked to such a facility. That's one example, Mr. Speaker.

What does Bill No. 87 do to address that? Nothing. It doesn't address it at all. One of the issues that Stora has brought forward to this government is to ask if this government would change the rules to allow industries such as Stora, Bowater Mersey and other large industries to enter into long-term contracts for their power supply with Nova Scotia Power, so that those companies can say, look, as we are doing our financial planning for the upcoming years, we know we will have a stable rate for our electricity. Our current rules do not allow such an agreement to take place. So we have a company like Stora that has undergone significant renovations and additions in the last six years, that is going year after year not knowing what they're going to pay for electricity.

How can we ask our industries to make investments and to continue to make changes in our province and put in more infrastructure when they don't know - when someone asks them, what are you going to pay for electricity in three years, they say we don't know, we don't have an agreement in place, because under the current rules, we're not permitted to do so. Did the government say, well, let's sit down and let's see if we can't talk to the Official Opposition, talk to the Liberal caucus and see if we can't reach an agreement to try to address these concerns? Not at all. I think we would have been open for discussion, our caucus would, and I'm assuming the Official Opposition would have been interested in having those discussions, also, but those discussions aren't taking place.

How much longer can we wait? How much longer before we have Bowater Mersey, Stora or Michelin, or some of the other large industries say that we have cancelled our expansion because it's too expensive to do business here in this province or, on the other hand, how much more money is the Minister of Economic Development mysteriously going

[Page 4537]

to find in some unknown fund to give to large corporations to stay in this province? Rather than deal with the underlying issues, such as the high cost of electricity, let's continue to send them millions of dollars so that they'll stay in this province, without ever dealing with the root of the problem. That, in essence, is one of the things that is taking place, Mr. Speaker.

Now, let us go to the issue of renewable energy. As I said before, this government has had additional money from Nova Scotia Power through taxation, which, at the end of the day, we all know, Mr. Speaker, is additional money out of the pockets of Nova Scotians. What investments have been made, or what incentives have been put in place, or what are the strategies to encourage renewable energy in this province? Well, there are none, and the government doesn't appear interested in undertaking any either.

What we are hearing from those who have been in the business of developing renewable energy and who have been exploring the possibility of wind turbines in this province is that there are significant problems with the system that is currently established in this province. We are being told that, for example, Nova Scotia Power is offering an unfair price to these small producers of renewable energy. Currently, Nova Scotia Power, itself, has the right to set the price. Whatever price they say is the price that stands. We are being told that compared to places such as Quebec, the price being offered by Nova Scotia Power is 4 cents to 5 cents or more less than what's being offered in those provinces.

Mr. Speaker, we all know that anyone who invests in a wind turbine is investing a significant amount of money that would take years to pay itself off. So it is not something that people are going to jump into without having in place sustained contracts and a sustained price that is going to allow them to pay off that investment. The question is, we have a problem, is there a solution? Well, apparently there is a solution. This government could set in place the legislation required to direct the URB to set a price that Nova Scotia Power would be compelled to pay for this renewable energy. So this is not a case where the Opposition just says there are problems, there are problems, there are problems, fix it, fix it. They were offering a solution. We're now telling the government it appears there is a solution. There is a role that the government can play to force this issue to allow this industry to expand and to allow Nova Scotians to be able to achieve that 5 per cent of renewable energy and why have it at 5 per cent? Why don't we strive to make it 10 per cent? Why is the government always content to say let's take the lowest amount possible and strive for that and maybe we'll achieve it and maybe we won't.

So we do have a possible solution to this problem here. The Minister of Energy is aware of it, he has referred to it, he knows that there is the ability here to ask the URB to set a price. Yet they have chosen not to do so. Now, I could stand here and make assumptions as to why they would choose not to act on this. But at the end of the day it's certainly not my ability to get into the mind of the Minister of Energy or the government's, as to why they've chosen not to act on this and to be able to set in motion a process that would allow for renewable energy to grow at a much faster rate in this province.

[Page 4538]

One of the other issues that has been raised with us from these independent producers is that there is a federal incentive that has been put in place from the federal government to encourage people to set up renewable energy sources. Unfortunately, under the offer that was sent out from Nova Scotia Power, it appears that this federal incentive would be clawed back by Nova Scotia Power from these small producers. Which, again, raises the question of why have a federal incentive if Nova Scotia Power, which has the monopoly here in this province, is going to claw it back? So certainly that needs to be further clarified.

The last thing, Mr. Speaker, which I must say I found quite interesting from the independent producers is that Nova Scotia Power offers you a different price depending on where you are at in the province. So if you have a wind turbine in Cape Breton, or a wind turbine in New Glasgow, or a wind turbine in the Valley, or Yarmouth, each area will get a different offer as to what Nova Scotia Power is willing to pay. Ironically, in my case, or from where I represent, the one area of the province that Nova Scotia Power is offering the least for renewable energy is Cape Breton which also is the area of the province that has the most coal-fired power plants by Nova Scotia Power which cause a great deal of pollution. So while we're the area of the province that has the greatest amount of pollution taking place by Nova Scotia Power, it's the one area of the province where Nova Scotia Power is offering the least amount to establish renewable energy. Now, how ironic is that?

Mr. Speaker, on top of it, studies have shown that, in fact, it is eastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton that have been identified as the areas that have the greatest potential for wind turbines and that's because of our weather which, some people would say, is probably not anything to brag about, but a lot of wind in Cape Breton and eastern Nova Scotia is good for wind turbines. Yet when we look at the prices being offered, it's not an incentive because you would get offered a better price to go to Yarmouth or the Valley than you would get offered if you set it up in Cape Breton.

Now, is there not a role for the government to play in saying, listen, that's unacceptable? The one area that could have turbines achieve their greatest potential is being offered at the lowest price to buy that energy and yet what does Bill No. 87 do to address that? It doesn't even make mention of it because there are only four recommendations from that report that are even being touched upon. So clearly something needs to be done about that.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 87, as I said, is reflective of the other legislation that the government has brought in, that they will be bringing in. It's to give the appearance that this government is acting on an important issue. It's being done at this time because of the fact that Nova Scotia Power is bringing forward its rate hearings where I expect the government will go to great lengths and great fanfare to say that they're out to protect Nova Scotia consumers, whereas at the end of the day they could have taken concrete steps through this bill or other legislation to deal with the energy issues facing Nova Scotians.

[Page 4539]

Will Bill No. 87 lower energy costs for Nova Scotians tomorrow? No. Will it lower them next week? No. Will it lower them and prepare Nova Scotians so that they will not face a rate increase in November when Nova Scotia Power puts forward their submission at that rate hearing? It will not. This is, again, a lost opportunity by this government to put the interests of Nova Scotians first, to put the interests of Nova Scotian families first, to put the interests of Nova Scotia's hardworking taxpayers first.

We will wait. We will vote for this bill to go to the Law Amendments Committee, to see what submissions we receive from the public and from industries at that point. Our caucus will certainly be interested in any amendments that might be coming forward from either side of the House on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, just a few brief notes and a few comments, not to cover or repeat what has already been said. In looking at the bill, I notice that it sets out a few baby steps. The fact that Nova Scotia Power is required to file an open access to a transmission tariff, which will allow other companies to use their power grid and power lines and poles, is a step in the right direction. At the same time, there is a total disincentive for people to get into the energy generation market.

I go back to my previous experience in the municipal world, and at that time, when we were involved in trying to promote renewable energy, of which I must make a highlight of the fact that the Wreck Cove power generating station is a very large renewable generating station and has been since it was constructed in the 1970s, because Mother Nature refills all the lakes, rivers and dams that are used to generate the power at Wreck Cove, and yet nothing has been done since in renewable energy.

You heard my learned colleague say 5 per cent of an increase in renewable energy generation is a very small and not a very significant amount, and why such a low emphasis is to be placed on this, I'm at a loss. The renewable energy sector, from what I understand, Nova Scotia Power has set two prices, a high price when power is being generated or sold at what they call high-demand or peak-performance times, and there's another price for power when power is utilized after-hours, when the demand is very low.

I understand that anybody who has interest in getting into the power-generating business is offered the price that is very low on the demand time. Therefore, there is basically no incentive for anybody to get into wind generation or co-generation, simply because the generation of power, like anything else, is a business, there to make money. But the problem is the money that they'll make will just about basically cover the cost of the generation of the power. So if you have money going out and money coming in and they equal, there's no profit, and business can't remain like that, you just can't exist. All you're doing is exchanging money, and the only winner there is Nova Scotia Power, because that's the only buyer.

[Page 4540]

You heard my learned colleague state that there was $18 million cost to Stora, a large employer that's critical to the existence of all those jobs in the Strait Area of the Province of Nova Scotia. What I would like to see is the URB strike a price that Nova Scotia Power would have to stay with. Take the high-generation cost of electricity, that price, take the price that they sell it for at the low-demand time, and split it in half, equate the two together, and say this is the price that we're going to offer for green power and offer it from Yarmouth to Cape Breton, not have sections of this province where you get a higher price if you live in one area or a lower price when you live in another. It's kind of divide and conquer and if we're all Nova Scotians, we all deserve to be treated fairly, treated equally. We know there's a lot of wind in Cape Breton, but there's a lot of hot air in other areas of the province. It's okay to make light of the matter, but the thing is, we need as much wind generation as we can, but is it only the generation of wind power that we're looking for?

[7:00 p.m.]

How about looking at how successful Wreck Cove was? We have numerous lakes, rivers, brooks and the technology would far exceed what was existing in the 1970s. I'm sure other sources of generation from our natural resource of water - which is also renewable by Mother Nature, the same way it is for Wreck Cove.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to stand and just make a few points rather than reiterate what the honourable members preceding me had spoken of. With that, I'll conclude my remarks and look forward to the bill moving into the Law Amendments Committee and that way we can bring forth any recommendations that we would have at that time. Thank you.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister had to leave the House for a short period of time. On his behalf I'm pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 87.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 87. 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 Government House Leader.

[Page 4541]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 99.

Bill No. 99 - Vital Statistics Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, again, unfortunately the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations had to leave the House for a short period of time and it just happens to be this period of time. On his behalf, I'd like to move second reading of Bill No. 99. He did leave me some briefing notes which I will read now.

This bill is intended to make the Vital Statistics Act comply with the 2003 Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the rights of biological fathers with respect to birth records. Currently in Nova Scotia the Vital Statistics Act requires that the mother and father jointly request that the father's information be placed on the child's birth record when the parents are not married to each other and the father is to be named on the birth record.

The mother may choose not to acknowledge the father and the father may choose not to be acknowledged. If the father is not acknowledged, the child is registered with the mother's surname. If the father is named, the parents jointly select the child's surname and if they cannot agree on a surname, the child is registered with a hyphenated, combined surname.

Amendments will provide a mechanism for the court to order the father's particulars to be included on the child's birth registration in the absence of the mother's or father's consent. This will also allow the father to participate in the selection of the surname for the child. The court may use evidence such as genetic testing to establish paternity. In the absence of a court order of paternity, the proposed amendment will continue to require that father and mother jointly acknowledge the father through the joint request procedure when the parents are not married to each other.

AN HON. MEMBER: Good minister.

MR. RUSSELL: Good lawyer.

This legislation will provide a mechanism to address situations where a child's parents are not married and if a mother dies and the father's name was not on the birth certificate. This remedy will ensure that the most appropriate response for these types of situations is in the best interests of the parties concerned, including the child.

In the past year we've had about half a dozen incidents where these changes could have made a difference for the people of Nova Scotia. Incidentally, currently the provinces of British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, and the Northwest Territories have similar forms of legislation. As I say,

[Page 4542]

Mr. Speaker, all legalities aside, this is indeed an important piece of legislation in that it does, as I said originally, comply with a Supreme Court of Canada ruling and I think it is important that this bill proceed. I would now move second reading of Bill No. 99.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, certainly this is a very important piece of legislation, and even though I am told that in fact it will affect only about six people in Nova Scotia every year, I'm not completely sure that's the full scope. That's why I'd like to suggest that we move this onward, and I would like to make a few more remarks about it.

Paternity, as I'm sure many of the people in this room would acknowledge, is an important issue, and it has many ramifications - legal, social, economic - not only for the child, the mother and the father, but for the community at large, thus I think it probably affects more than six people in Nova Scotia each year. They say it's a wise child that knows its own father and obviously this is what this bill is intended to address.

Up to this point, it's been necessary for both a mother and a father, in the case of unmarried parents, to agree to have both names placed on the child's birth certificate. What concerns me is that this bill refers to giving the ability to anyone having an interest in the paternity of a child, to have the court make a declaration of paternity or, in fact, to order the DNA testing which might lead to that declaration of paternity.

An interest in the paternity of a child in this day and age may be much broader than only the interest of the mother and the father of the child. It could include the interests of the grandparents of the child. It could include the interests of an insurance company, not interested in paying a settlement towards a child who may turn out not to be the offspring of the declared father. It could, in fact, be an agency of government which might otherwise be liable for the support of a child in the absence of the declaration of the father. That's why I think this bill may in fact raise a few more questions than just that of putting a name on a birth certificate. All sorts of rights and obligations arise with maternity and paternity. Maternity is difficult to deny, paternity is something that has sometimes been denied, although sometimes it's something which is much desired as well.

Because of the possible breadth of interests in the paternity of a child, I would hope that we will discuss this further and that there will, in fact, be room for us to realize that although there are those tragic situations in which a father is not and never will be available to sign the birth certificate, there are also, perhaps equally tragic but in a different way, situations in which acknowledging or denying the paternity of a child has huge consequences for the child and those around it. In order to ensure that those consequences are properly measured, I would hope that we will establish who it is, who has the interest in the paternity of a child. It's certainly more than the child itself. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 4543]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I wish to stand and speak on Bill No. 99, the Vital Statistics Act, and I'd like to begin by complimenting the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations for having a bill briefing over in his boardroom just recently.

Some of the problems which were pointed out, the reason the bill has come forward, there are some real heart-rending situations that have happened where a child was born, one instance the father was killed or was deceased before the child was born and never got to see the child and apparently the father must be alive and recognize the birth in order to have his name placed on the birth certificate. Secondly, even after the child was born, but before the child was registered, one of the parents would become deceased. So there were a lot of loopholes in the law that needed to be closed. Ms. Elizabeth Crowley Meagher, the Deputy Registrar General was there and, not using any names but maintaining confidentiality, let us know that they do deal with a lot of situations that cause a lot of sometimes gut-wrenching decisions.

Sometimes you will get a young father who, at the time, probably has no interest in having his name put on the birth registration. Later on, over a period of years, he could change his mind and want to stand up to his responsibility and have his name placed on the birth registry. This would allow that father to come forward and, with the permission of the courts, he could seek a judge's decision to have his name placed on the registry of the child's birth and allowing the child to use his name.

So there are a lot of things that need to be tidied up in the present legislation, and this is one way of having it done. Also, like you said, to remove the words "legitimate" and "illegitimate" from the legislation. After the briefing that we had there was a general agreement that this was a good bill, it was a good thing, and I am looking forward to it going to the Law Amendments Committee and, by that time we will peruse it better than we are doing here this evening, and if there are any changes required at that time we will bring them forth. With that, Mr. Speaker, I will conclude my remarks.

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

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the members of the Opposition for their remarks and I look forward to the bill going to the Law Amendments Committee for further observation and critique. Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 99 be read for a second time.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 99. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 4544]

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 98.

Bill No. 98 - Municipal Government Act.

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, again on behalf of the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, I am pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 98. The Municipal Government Act is a framework by which municipalities have the authority to operate and provide services for their residents. This is an annual occurrence that the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations introduces amendments to this Act at the request of the municipalities and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. Such is the case with Bill No. 98. It brings forward some changes that have been proposed by UNSM.

The changes proposed by Bill No. 98 are essentially technical in nature and are being brought forward at the request of various municipalities. The most significant of the changes will enable a municipality to deal with subdivisions when establishing an interim planning area. There is also an amendment pertaining to public hearings and street closures.

Mr. Speaker, with those few remarks I move second reading of Bill No. 98.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I am sure it is an annual occurrence that amendments are brought into the Municipal Government Act, because I believe it's one of the most important Acts we actually have at the moment in the Province of Nova Scotia. Every square inch of this province is, in fact, included in a municipality and the rules and powers that are given in those Acts are a very important part of the way that we all live. This particular bill I am glad to say tidies up what must have been things with a great deal of nuisance value.

Firstly, it will allow for the replacement of burnt-out or damaged mobile homes, rather than the actual rebuilding from what must not be cinders but twisted metal if a mobile home, which is a non-conforming use, happens to burn. There have been instances of this in my constituency, particularly in the aftermath of Hurricane Juan. One can see that it would be very, very difficult indeed to rebuild a mobile home. It's a lot easier to get rid of it and start all over again. So this is a good housekeeping amendment, I would have to say.

[Page 4545]

As far as establishing an interim planning district - subdivision, once again, subdivisions are a very important part of the way we structure our development at this point and it is important that municipalities enable forethought to go into them before they are complete.

[7:15 p.m.]

Thirdly, allowing the closure of portions of a street without a public hearing if that piece of land is valued at less than $50,000 seems, to me, to imply that this land would, in fact, go for sale as well, but as it stands at the moment, simply as long as the engineer says that this will not impair traffic flow, it's fine to reconstitute the street without this piece of land. Again, to avoid going through this disturbance, it would seem that these will be fairly minor amendments and I look forward to seeing this bill at the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, again I must begin my remarks by thanking the honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations for again providing a bill briefing from his office just recently. Bill No. 98, with its four clauses that are to be changed, there could be some questions around some of these. In the initial bill briefing everything seemed A-OK. I heard today from a couple of people that there could be possibly - like Clause 1 dealing with subdivisions - some contractors or somebody who may have some problems with that, and I'm sure that that will come up during the Law Amendments Committee.

Clause 2, clarifying on a burnt-out mobile home, what was raised with that was the fact that what if this is an older mobile home which did not or does not qualify for the new building code rules? Number two, it could have been on a piece of property that did not have the proper permits back in the 1970s or 1980s and if it goes afire, or it's burnt down, or it's destroyed for some reason or other, now, does that allow somebody to go purchase a new mobile home and put it on that lot that really did not have the proper permits to begin with? So there's a question mark there and I'm sure, like I say, that will come up during the Law Amendments Committee also. The other, Clause 3, the minimum lot size, there will be those who will question that.

Just on Clause 4, I would just like to bring forward the fact that what was explained about the road closure, under the old portion of the Act, in order for a municipality to close a road, by the time they went through all the steps and stages, it took several months, public hearings and very cumbersome just to do something. Now, like I said, the engineer can close the road so long as the cost of what they're going to do doesn't exceed $50,000. So it would speed things along. It's housekeeping in one respect, but some of them could have implications before contractors and whatnot, but Clause 4 is shortening the time frame to get the job done that's required in the closing of the road.

[Page 4546]

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I will conclude my remarks and look forward to the changes coming forward and being debated at the Law Amendments Committee. I must close by thanking the minister for the bill briefing and it was a pleasure to speak on Bill No. 98.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I've got some concerns about this bill. I'm looking at the first section, Clause 1, where they're talking about planning and planned subdivisions, and one thing and another. The question I have for that is that the activities that the municipality, under their restriction on buildings and subdivision plans and everything, is that illegal at the present time? Would the minister be kind enough to answer that?

MR. SPEAKER: Well, we're not in Question Period, but with the complete indulgence of the House we'll dispense with the order.

MR. COLWELL: The question is, the regional municipality now has a moratorium on building, under the present Act, is that legal?

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: I believe so, Mr. Speaker, but I'm not a lawyer, I will have to refer the question to the Attorney General.

MR. SPEAKER: Perhaps what we'll do, the honourable member for Preston could raise these questions during his dissertation, and I'm sure the ministers will take notice and refer back to the honourable member either during closing remarks or during the Committee of the Whole House, if that's acceptable?

MR. COLWELL: That is totally satisfactory, and I do appreciate the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works' attempt to answer my question, and I do truly appreciate that. I have some concerns about this, and maybe when the Minister of Transportation and Public Works wraps up his comments, he can maybe make some comments on that. I just wanted to know if what the regional municipality has done with the building moratorium is legal under the present Act or if this is a change in the Act to try to make what they have done legal? There was a lot of discussion in the rural areas about the moratorium being put on the rural areas, and there was a lot of discussion within the municipality, from the contractors and property owners alike, about that whole process. Really, I have a concern about that, if this is making something that the municipality is already doing legal, if it's just a cleaning up of the Act to make things work better, that's a different thing. But if, in the final analysis, you can address that issue, I would like to have the answer, if you could.

[Page 4547]

There's also, under the second clause on the mobile homes, we definitely want to see somebody be able to put their home back in place, but there's a lot of illegal activities or zoning changes. Places and communities change over time, and over time if a building isn't appropriate for the particular community, and all of a sudden a mobile home is burnt down and then replaced with another one, that may not set in what the municipalities had originally planned or the community had planned for that particular area. So there are some concerns there. At the same time, I don't want to see anyone - nor does anybody in this House, I'm sure - not have the opportunity to have a good home to live in, whether that be a mobile or whatever type of home it is.

So there is some concern about that, and I would just - not at the present time, but down the road - like to see the minister address that issue and make sure that that is taken into consideration, if one is replaced, or indeed if someone has the unfortunate fact that their mobile home may burn down. There's a lot of factors that are controlled here, and I've gone through as a regional councillor before, a lot of those factors, in the past. It seems so simple to change something like this, but it's also very difficult for some neighbourhoods and communities, as they change and evolve, to see some of these things change. Really, those are the comments I have on this. I will look forward to it going to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Government House Leader it will be to close debate.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the interventions from the members opposite. (Interruptions) I regret that I don't have the answers at my fingertips. I've made notes that I'll pass those on to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, and he will respond to the honourable members. I now move second reading of Bill No. 98.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 98. 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 Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 95.

Bill No. 95 - Land Registration Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 4548]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, I am pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 95, amendments to the Land Registration Act. As members are aware, this bill was passed last year, and it implemented a new land registration system that modernizes our old system which has been in existence for something like 250 years in the Province of Nova Scotia.

This is of particular interest to those who have already fallen under the framework of this Act - I just sold a house about two weeks ago and I learned very rapidly all about the land registration system and the costs that you incur and what have you, and in truth, Mr. Speaker, I must tell you that . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: It's you who controls that, Ron.

MR. RUSSELL: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: You control the costs.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, not really. It's the legal profession who controls the costs. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. RUSSELL: Across the province at the present time, as to the costs involved in land registration - fortunately I live in an area that has quite a fair number of lawyers and there's fairly stiff competition and the price has come down considerably from the original price, which as I understand it was $1,100 or something, and it has gradually decreased now, I believe, down to something like $400 or $500, even $300 in some places across the province. So the costs have come down considerably. Mr. Speaker, and as I think all members are aware, this original implementation of land registration applied to eight land registration counties in the northern and western regions of the province.

Over that period, more than 14,000 parcels of land have been registered in the new land registration system. We have started scanning documents in all land registration offices and the software that runs the system has undergone improvements for our external users and for the staff of Service Nova Scotia. We are putting in links with partners such as municipalities and the Department of Natural Resources, so both provincial and municipal data needed to conclude a property transaction can be easily accessed.

Mr. Speaker, this initiative is receiving national recognition. One year ago the Registry 2000 Project was awarded a gold medal, at Canada's Government Technology Awards for Excellence, in communication and managing the human dimensions of technical change. This commitment to communication is reflected in the approach taken for the development and improvement of the Land Registration Act. This bill is a product of widespread consultation and intense - and I can understand that - stakeholder scrutiny. The last 18 months has

[Page 4549]

provided valuable lessons for improvement of this new system. Issues have arisen that highlight the need for further streamlining and flexibility in the legislation, and we want to ensure that these improvements are in place before the new system is implemented in the rest of the province over the next several months.

This bill will make a number of technical and some substantive changes to the new land registration system. The technical improvements will assist consumers by streamlining the process for conversion and document registration. This bill also includes two substantial changes to streamline the process for one-time conversion of properties to the new system.

On the substantive side the bill includes a provision that will allow the minister, on the advice of the Registrar General of Land Registration, to enter into written agreements with large landholders to allow them to convert a large number of land parcels over a period of time, instead of immediately on a sale, mortgage or subdivision. The flexibility that this will provide is vitally important to securing a responsive system for the people of Nova Scotia.

The government recognizes that large landowners may be engaged in transactions that will require the conversion of literally thousands of parcels representing many acres of land. If submitted as a large mass for conversion, there is no way that the province could convert such a large number of parcels without seriously affecting other individual landowners who are waiting to convert their land.

Since applications to convert parcels to the new system are processed in the order received, ordinary Nova Scotians would be left waiting for the large conversions to take place before they could transfer or mortgage their property. This, Mr. Speaker, is unacceptable.

[7:30 p.m.]

The amendments will ensure that the conversions comply with all the standard conversion requirements while also providing a process to ensure that applications are received in an orderly fashion over a period of time so as not to impede the transactions of ordinary landowners or the department's ability to process them.

The other substantive amendment in the bill would permit borrowers to register their parcels within a reasonable time after mortgaging their land. The Land Registration Act currently requires parcels to be converted to the new system before an owner is permitted to mortgage the parcel.

Since the new system has been in operation there have been several cases where some flexibility in the timing of parcel conversion to the new system would have been beneficial and appropriate for citizens. The amendments will ensure that conversion takes place in a reasonable time frame, but will allow if need be the technicalities of conversion can be completed shortly after the borrowers receive their mortgage money.

[Page 4550]

In summary, the Land Registration Act is a highly technical Statute which is the product of ongoing consultations with the user community. The Act is one of the most complex and heavily scrutinized Statutes in the province. The appropriate response, when faced with a need for change or improvement is to react by improving the Land Registration Act and the land registration system it establishes in the public interest.

That is the purpose of Bill No. 95 and I am, indeed, delighted to move the bill. The bill is a framework that is growing in its authority all the time and there will be further amendments, I'm sure, next year and probably the year after that as we continue to grow into the system. I don't think there's anybody - even those who have had to go through the process and pay the necessary charge - who does not recognize the value of the land registration system. So I am delighted to move second reading of Bill No. 95.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. On a single note, I was pleased to hear the honourable Government House Leader acknowledge that it was not surveying costs, but rather legal costs was the driving factor on your issue.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: May I make an intervention? Actually, surveying costs do enter into this to some extent. However, it is the legal profession which is the greatest beneficiary, I would suggest.

MR. SPEAKER: As I suspected. I recognize the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, it sounds as though people around here are very familiar with the land descriptions that involve going up the road looking for the stream and the pole with the red flag tied to it that was put there on Monday and walking 300 steps up the hill and into the woods and then turning right 300, et cetera. We've been going on with that for a long time and I'm very glad that the land registration system is underway. I've been looking forward to it for a long time.

These are, indeed, transitional amendments and yes, they are very important. Things have changed since the days when you could hand over a lump of dirt to somebody and have that certify ownership and I think we're all very pleased to know that it's possible to tell who owns what and even where it is.

As you say, it's a very complex system. It's taken a long time to get it rolled out across the province and there are sticking points here and there. Conversion from the ancient system - in some ways it's older than 250 years - but conversion certainly from the 250 years worth of land descriptions, can certainly take time and people do get hung up while waiting for an interest- it's important to describe the interest - before it can be mortgaged, et cetera. I know people who have, not as a result of this, sold one house and found that it takes a little while to buy another one. Anything that we can do to streamline the process is of value.

[Page 4551]

The only thing that I do see in this bill that I would like to know is if we are going to be making dispensations for large land holders or owners of multiple packages of land - I understand there are one or two specific cases at issue here - that it would be good to know that those packages are entered into the system within a prescribed length of time. Just so we have it on the record - these things can drift on.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to say that I certainly welcome anything which will smooth the transition from the old rock base system to the new wireless system. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, to stand to speak on this bill, this one again will facilitate consumers by making the process a little more clearer, a little quicker, and it may be costly up front where everybody will eventually have to have a guarantee of title, but once that's over and done with, it will streamline property transactions. Right now these good, learned friends, lawyers we have who surround us, if I begin to sell a property today and I change lawyers and we get a new one tomorrow, they begin from square one again and what you paid for up to that date, you don't get reimbursed. You just get charged again by the second person.

So this way here, when it's done once up front, it will be done and it will be complete. It may be slightly painful for some of us starting off, but when it's done, it's done, Mr. Speaker, and with a province-wide application for certain provisions, I like to see fairness all across the province, and that's what this bill is going to do. With that, Mr. Speaker, anything that arises between now and it coming to the Law Amendments Committee, we will scrutinize more closely, but there again, when we had the bill briefing at the honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations' office on September 23rd, it looked like a good bill, something that will help Nova Scotians and benefit the province as a whole. With that I conclude my remarks and look forward to the bill coming forward at the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to rise for a couple of minutes on Bill No. 95, the Land Registration Act, and this new system of land registration, I think it first started last year in Colchester County, I think in March of last year, and I'm somewhat familiar with it now having come to Pictou County last December, but certainly many people out there are not yet familiar with it. We've had a few calls at our constituency office from people wondering what is this thing called the Land Registration Act, or how does it work, or perhaps even more importantly, what's it going to cost me, how much extra is it going to be?

[Page 4552]

I guess, Mr. Speaker, having been a realtor before being elected to the House last year, I have a little bit of familiarity with this Act and was really just starting to learn about it for our county, which I said came into effect in December 2003, and circumstances intervened and here I am. So I'm no longer selling real estate, however, I know it's a system that has modernized the land registry system in our province and it has brought us into the 21st Century really because I know there have been problems with the old system of land registry dating back to the 1700s and even right up until modern times. You occasionally hear about somebody who bought a piece of property and had it registered, or thought they had it registered, and they find out later that somehow the system didn't quite work for them and the property was not properly registered and then someone else could step in and perhaps buy the property from under them without their knowledge.

This new system is a guarantee of title. I believe it's the legal profession that guarantees it for the first 10 years and then after that it's guaranteed by government. So on the second or third transaction it's much easier to do and should be certainly less costly. Simply, it's already done once, it's done right, and it's guaranteed forever really, I guess it's in perpetuity. The cost though has been a concern and I know in my county it's ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 extra for an individual to have their property registered under this system. So who pays for that? Well, it's usually the seller when, all of a sudden their lawyer says you have to have it registered under the Land Registration Act and you're going to have to pay, although maybe if the seller is aware that it's going to cost extra, perhaps they can negotiate in the price that it's going to cost more and then perhaps the buyer ends up paying for it, but either way somebody is paying for that extra cost, whether it's $1,000 or $2,000, it may be open for negotiation between the buyer and the seller. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West has the floor.

MR. PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just a couple of items in the bill that I would like to point out, that I think perhaps it's good to see that these amendments are being made. I guess with any legislation, when it comes forward, it's never perfect, there are some problems with it and some amendments that need to be made. In many ways this is a housekeeping bill that is improving upon what is there. Usually from suggestions or recommendations from the general public or from lawyers or from realtors, there's good information coming forward on why it should be changed.

One of them that's mentioned there is around mortgages. As you know, Mr. Speaker, it takes time to arrange a mortgage. If you go to your bank or credit union, it's a process, an application time, and with this new land registry system, you had to get your mortgage in place and then get registered. Under this amendment that is suggested, the mortgage can be arranged and then if it takes a day or two or a week, then the registration can occur after the date your mortgage is arranged. I think it will be smoother to allow more people to get the process done more quickly, and then when the lawyer has time he can officially register it under the Land Registration Act.

[Page 4553]

Another amendment that is in the bill is concerning very large landholders that have a lot of property they want to transfer at one time. I guess I'm speaking in particular, under this case, about a company located in my riding of Pictou West, and that's the Kimberley-Clark pulp and paper mill at Abercrombie Point. This is a very large employer in our county. They are in the process right now of not selling their interest, but they're more or less transferring them within a spinoff company. They're having some difficulty with the thousands and thousands of parcels of land that they own in the central part of province, in Pictou, Colchester, Cumberland, Hants, Kings, Antigonish, Guysborough, Halifax Counties, just literally thousands of woodland properties that they own. It would be physically impossible to transfer all those on one day, as the bill stipulates. So I think the amendment that is put here would allow for actual transfer of the property and in time get the land registration looked after. So this amendment is good.

Mr. Speaker, I think there's a number of good amendments in there that basically allow for extra time for the registering process to occur. I support that. I'm looking forward to hearing from the public on the Law Amendments Committee process. At this moment, I would support the bill moving forward.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Government House Leader it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the persons who spoke on this bill and, again, it is, in many respects, a housekeeping bill, but then again a very important bill, one I would suggest that future occupants of this House in years to come will applaud as being a most important piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 95. I've made a couple of notes on questions for the minister, and I'm sure he'll answer those questions. (Interruptions) The minister has returned, perhaps he would like to wrap up the debate on Bill No. 95. (Interruptions) Then I will wrap up the debate on Bill No. 95 and advise the honourable members that did have questions regarding this bill that we will have answers for them prior to the bill going to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 95. 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 Government House Leader.

[Page 4554]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 93.

Bill No. 93 - Gas Distribution System Municipal Taxation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable Government House Leader for pinch-hitting for me for the last half an hour. I'm pleased to move Bill No. 93. The Gas Distribution System Municipal Taxation Act. In doing so, I want to take a few moments to provide some comment to the House.

[7:45 p.m.]

Bill No. 93 is relatively a technical bill, but I won't be in my remarks. The Gas Distribution System Municipal Taxation Act, was introduced at the request of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and Halifax Regional Municipality. Under this legislation, municipal taxation of natural gas distribution system in Nova Scotia will be based on a combination of assessment and revenues rather than the simple assessment of property value.

The UNSM negotiated a 20-year tax agreement with Heritage Gas, on behalf of all municipalities containing the company's pipeline. Normally, municipal taxes are determined by the simple equation of rate times assessment, but municipalities in this case wanted to try something different with this new industry. Since it's their revenues at stake, we agreed they should negotiate directly with Heritage Gas.

The revenue-based arrangement covers low-pressure lines, which will serve mostly residential and commercial customers and a single high-pressure line that serves one industrial customer. For the first 10 years taxes on the low-pressure lines will be 2 per cent of gross revenues, 4 per cent for the next five, and 5 per cent for the remaining five years of the term. Taxes however, on the high-pressure line for the single customer will be 8 per cent of gross revenue over the term of the agreement.

The municipalities realize they may receive slightly smaller revenues in the earlier years of the arrangement in anticipation of greater revenues later on. Natural gas development and all that comes with it is new territory for us here in Nova Scotia. It requires us to think differently and be willing to try new things. Last week, the Municipality of Richmond completed its own arrangement with the developer of a liquified natural gas plant. I want to at this time, commend municipalities for their innovative approach on taxation.

Tax certainty will help develop the industry and sends a positive message about Nova Scotia as a place to do business. Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 93.

[Page 4555]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to speak to this bill. It is in fact a very interesting bill and as the minister has said, it is the result of the municipalities from Nova Scotia wanting to, "try something different." This is what makes it such an interesting bill, partly because it recognizes the fact that property tax assessments, commercial, industrial and residential are all in need of something perhaps a little bit different. I would commend the imagination which has gone to work in this bill. It recognizes the fact that market value assessments are not the only appropriate means of determining the value of property tax, since property does, for different purposes, have different values to different owners. It can be difficult to determine, but I am very glad to see, that in this case, at least, we are beginning to look at the fact that use of property has an impact on value of property and on the municipal tax revenue which should be expected from it.

Perhaps, someday, we may see an approach to the fact that the burden placed on a given municipality by the existence of a given type of use is, in fact, reflective and should in fact be reflected.

This is, as I say, a problem in residential and commercial assessments both, but I'm pleased to see that we have been able, in this case, or the municipalities and government have been able to agree to assess different parts of this in varying ways. It is, as the minister says, an extremely technical bill, but I hope that in the examination of it, and as there is no question that we are looking for certainty for businesses choosing to operate on Nova Scotia property, that perhaps someday we may also look for certainty for residents choosing to live on Nova Scotia property. Certainty can indeed be mostly tied to the function and the use of the property. So I'm very glad to see that we are beginning to open up the discussion. There's a lot of discussion left to be had, but I'm very glad to see this and I'd be pleased to see this bill moving on. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I again am proud to rise and speak on the bill for the natural distribution of gas. Again, it's another one of the ones that I must commend the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations for giving us a bill briefing which was very informative.

One thing in the bill that I would like to mention is the fact that municipalities have come to an agreement and basically are willing to wait 20 years to get their maximum amount of tax which shows - on behalf of municipalities and the UNSM - putting the right foot forward and willing to co-operate. If they were to demand the total amount of taxation that was due to them, it would inhibit the process of expansion of the gas industry simply because a lot of the pipes that will be laid to distribute the gas will not be completely filled until quite a number of years. Therefore, with a low volume in the pipe, the municipalities know that with a low volume they're willing to accept a low rate of tax.

[Page 4556]

It's a 20-year process, giving the gas company ample time to expand and to increase production. That way it will benefit the municipalities in the long run, the gas industry in the long run and show stability. Pipe size is something that ordinarily would not come into assessment - it would just be whatever the size of the pipe, where the land is located, the buildings and whatnot. It would go under the assessment. This way, as I say, it's going to be the volume of gas that's in the pipe and the size of the pipe that's going to count.

Another thing is that when you have gas lines highly pressurized for distribution, there has to be pressure reduction stations. These will be assessed - I suppose what you could call in the old way - under the Assessment Act itself. The exception is going to be Nova Scotia Power, Inc. for example, very large pipes and very large end-users. They are willing to give them a basic rate, or a special rate, I would say, I suppose, because of the large volume that these large-end users would consume.

The only thing I'd like to comment on, possibly in a negative way, is that I remember a long time ago as a young fellow, 50 years ago, the best fish from Cape Breton and Nova Scotia was first to be bought in Boston. Fifty years later, our natural gas was first to be purchased in Boston. Nothing has changed and let's hope this is just not another measure designed to make the government look like it's doing something. We only have 50 homes that are burning natural gas and it's been four years since natural gas came ashore and four years since they've been heating the homes in the United States.

Having only 50 homes accessing the natural gas is an indication that somewhere along the line the government is failing or Nova Scotians are doing without.

Despite the changes in regulation, a rebate program, and now this bill, a majority of Nova Scotians still don't have access to natural gas. When I was involved on the municipal level with the natural gas, from the very inception, it was automatically understood - rightly or wrongly, but nobody ever questioned it - when they were talking about the gas distribution system in Nova Scotia, everybody was on the same page thinking the gas lines would be laid within the shoulders of the road. That's when the process was saying all the municipalities would get gas over a period of about 10 years, but that was changed and that, I would think, would be a large detriment to the distribution system whereas the shoulders of the road will make it really accessible for these gas companies to expand their pipelines.

Mr. Speaker, before the 1999 election the Premier and his supporters in the NDP demanded that gas be distributed throughout Nova Scotia and while this was noble, it was simply not happening under this government. Between 1998 and 1999, Opposition Parties were unreasonable and unco-operative, but Nova Scotians will remember that the Premier and his Party expected more from the government in Opposition than they expected from themselves in government. Under this government I hope to see more co-operation. I hope this is something that all Parties will come onside with and support and I'm looking forward to the bill moving to the Law Amendments Committee for further discussion.

[Page 4557]

With that, Mr. Speaker, I would say that this bill deserves further consideration of the House and I will be supporting this bill, but scrutinizing it in case there are any flaws when we go to the Law Amendments Committee. With that I will conclude my remarks and I, again, will thank the minister for having the briefing session which was most informative.

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

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable members opposite for their comments. In closing I want to say that this bill is a result of a lot of hard work and co-operation between the Halifax Regional Municipality, the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and the Province of Nova Scotia. I particularly want to pay respect to those hard-working staff people who spent a great deal of time and effort bringing this bill together because it really did take a lot of outside-the-box thinking. So having said that, I move second reading of Bill No. 93.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 93. 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 Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the business of the House for today. The House will meet again on the morrow at the hour of 12:00 noon and we'll sit from 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading. We will deal with Bill No. 101, the Public Service Act; Bill No. 102, the Maintenance Enforcement Act; Bill No. 103, the Regulations Act; and Bill No. 64, the Capital Region Transportation Authority Act.

I move that the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

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 House rose at 7:58 p.m.]

[Page 4558]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 2360

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the All Saints Hospital Foundation in Springhill works hard to ensure local residents have access to good health care; and

Whereas Bob Spence, chairman of the foundation, presented a cheque for $5,000 to the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre fundraising to help support health-related fitness activities; and

Whereas the foundation, as a group, decided to donate to the inside track because it fits in with their mandate and, when it was suggested, the organization was quick to agree to the donation.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the All Saints Hospital Foundation for its generous contribution to the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre, and for recognizing the importance of exercise being available to the residents of Springhill and surrounding area.

RESOLUTION NO. 2361

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Bud and Kathy Anderson, owners of Tim Horton's outlets in Springhill, Oxford and the newly-constructed Parrsboro store, donated the game jerseys for all of the Springhill children who are suiting up to play soccer this Summer in the newly-formed Tim Horton's Youth Soccer program; and

Whereas nearly 100 children ranging in age from four to 12 years old will have a chance to play soccer this Summer due to the generosity of local businesses; and

Whereas Bud and Kathy also donated soccer balls, first aid kits, and whistles for the coaches and officials;

[Page 4559]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate and thank Bud and Kathy Anderson on their dedication to the children of the Springhill community, and for making such a generous donation to such an important and worthwhile cause.

RESOLUTION NO. 2362

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Cumberland County Riders ATV Club, and the Children's Wish Foundation sponsored and organized September's ATV Rally and Music Festival in support of the Children's Wish Foundation; and

Whereas 2004 was the eighth year for the event held in Collingwood, where a total of 517 ATVers registered for this year's event from all over Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; and

Whereas club members and event coordinators estimated that about $7,500 had been raised for the foundation that grants wishes to children suffering from high-risk and life-threatening illnesses.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the organizers and participants of the ATV Rally and Music Festival on raising monies for such an important cause, and we wish them continued success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 2363

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Thomas Robert Black of Oxford was the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor Award for the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this award is given to students who show hard work, effort and dedication to their studies, community and family, where very few can claim being a recipient of this very prestigious award; and

Whereas Robert received this honour at the Lieutenant Governor's Awards ceremony on May 20, 2004, in Sydney, Nova Scotia;

[Page 4560]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Robert Black on receiving this outstanding award, and we wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 2364

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Allen Roderick Boland of Parrsboro was the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor Award for the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this award is given to students who show hard work, effort and dedication to their studies, community and family, where very few can claim being a recipient of this very prestigious award; and

Whereas Allen received this honour at the Lieutenant Governor's Awards ceremony on May 20, 2004, in Sydney, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Allen Boland on receiving this outstanding award, and we wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 2365

By: Mr. John Chataway (Chester-St. Margaret's)

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

Whereas Chuck and Gayle Baltjes-Chataway are very hospitable; and

Whereas they are very knowledgeable, cognizant and proud of the area of Canada you inhabit; and

Whereas they have trained and provided provisions to two characters who are very much content with their masters;

Therefore be it resolved they do whatever they must do to maintain, enhance and accomplish the future, as they have done in the past.