The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., Apr. 28, 2000

First Session

FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. D. Wilson 4615
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. D. Downe 4616
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. D. Downe 4616
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. D. Downe 4616
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1574, Culture - Internat. Dance Day: Participation - Encourage,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 4617
Vote - Affirmative 4617
Res. 1575, Lbr.: Natl. Day of Mourning for Cdn. Workers (Apr. 28th) -
Remember, Hon. Angus MacIsaac 4617
Vote - Affirmative 4618
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 48, An Act to Incorporate the Maritime Oddfellows' Home,
Mrs. M. Baillie 4618
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1576, Sysco - Workers: Jobs Protect - Promise Fulfil,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 4619
Res. 1577, Lbr. - Natl. Day of Mourning: Killed Workers (1999) -
Remember, Mr. Robert Chisholm 4619
Vote - Affirmative 4620
Res. 1578, Health - QE II: Transplant Surgeons (Dr. Allan MacDonald &
Dr. Vivian McAlister) - Praise, Mr. T. Olive 4620
Vote - Affirmative 4621
Res. 1579, Health - QE II: Transplant Surgeons (Dr. Allan MacDonald &
Dr. Vivian McAlister) - Congrats., Dr. J. Smith 4621
Vote - Affirmative 4622
Res. 1580, Lbr. - Occup. Health & Safety Regs.: Delay - Condemn,
Mr. K. Deveaux 4622
Res. 1581, Educ. - Bill No. 47: Sch. Bds. Africa N.S. Reps. -
Support, Mr. D. Hendsbee 4623
Res. 1582, NSLC - Privatization: Patronage - Condemn,
Mr. K. MacAskill 4623
Res. 1583, PC MLAs - Budget (N.S. 2000-01): Support - Question,
Mr. J. Holm 4624
Res. 1584, Gov't. (N.S.) - Power (Educ. & Health): Attack - Stop,
Mr. D. Downe 4625
Res. 1585, House of Assembly - Pages: Jennifer Tatlock (C.B.) &
Cheyenne d'Entremont (Pubnico) - Best Wishes Extend,
Hon. N. LeBlanc 4626
Vote - Affirmative 4626
Res. 1586, Abor. Affs. - Black Cultural Soc. (N.S.): W.P. Oliver
Wall of Fame Inductees - Congrats, Ms. E. O'Connell 4626
Vote - Affirmative 4627
Res. 1587, Hfx. Bedford Basin MLA - Budget (2000-01): Info. -
Supply (Min.), Mr. R. MacKinnon 4627
Res. 1588, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Consultation Prior - Grief Avoid,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 4628
Res. 1589, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Advice (Premier [Ont.]) -
Reject, Mr. W. Gaudet 4628
Res. 1590, Exco - Sysco: One Bid - Vote (P&P) Rescind, Mr. F. Corbett 4629
Res. 1591, C.B. Ctr. MLA - Sysco Workers: Support Failure -
Condemn, Mr. Manning MacDonald 4630
Res. 1592, Health - System: Funding Adequate - Ensure, Mr. D. Dexter 4631
Res. 1593, Educ.: Plan - Devise, Mr. D. Wilson 4631
Res. 1594, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Helpful Suggestions -
Commencement, Mr. H. Epstein 4632
Res. 1595, Dart. S. MLA - Educ. (Min.): Personas Various - Thank,
Mr. D. Downe 4632
Res. 1596, Justice (Can.) - Mark Crossley: Cannibis Legal Use -
Success Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 4633
Vote - Affirmative 4634
Res. 1597, Health - Valley Reg. Hosp.: Emergency Room -
Funding Increase, Dr. J. Smith 4634
Res. 1598, Col.-Musquodoboit Valley MLA: Real McCoy - Reveal,
Mr. J. Pye 4635
Res. 1599, Gov't. (N.S.) - Blue Book: Commitment - Fulfil,
Mr. K. MacAskill 4635
Res. 1600, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/99 on): Deficit -
Recognize, Mr. J. Holm 4636
Res. 1601, Justice - Prisoners: Escapes - Safety Focus, Mr. M. Samson 4636
Res. 1602, Abor. Affs. - Black Cultural Soc. (N.S.) W.P. Oliver
Wall of Fame: Inductee (Maurice Henry Earle dec'd.) -
Recognize, Ms. E. O'Connell 4637
Vote - Affirmative 4638
Res. 1603, Anna. MLA & Health Min. - Budget (N.S. 2000-01):
Effects - Study, Mr. R. MacKinnon 4638
Res. 1604, Educ. - Leg. Action: Min. - Judge, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 4638
Res. 1605, Educ. - Teachers: Lay-off Rescind - Future Confirm,
Mr. W. Gaudet 4639
Res. 1606, NSLC - Privatization: Min. (Tourism) - Tune, Mr. D. Dexter 4640
Res. 1607, Exco - Educ.: System - Focus, Mr. D. Wilson 4640
Res. 1608, PC MPs - By-Election (H of C [N.S.]): Facilitate - Urge,
Mr. J. Pye 4641
Res. 1609, Environ. - Point Tupper: Office Relocation - Halt,
Mr. M. Samson 4642
Res. 1610, Educ. - Ridgecliff Middle Sch. (BLT): Opening - Congrats.,
(by Mr. John MacDonell) Mr. W. Estabrooks 4642
Vote - Affirmative 4643
Res. 1611, Econ. Dev. - Terence Bay CAP Site (Co-Ordinator
Barb Allen): HRDA Award - Congrats., (By Mr. J. Pye)
Mr. W. Estabrooks 4643
Vote - Affirmative 4644
Res. 1612, Dart. N. MLA: Grandfather - Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 4645
Vote - Affirmative 4645
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. R. MacKinnon 4646
Mr. D. Dexter 4650
Mr. K. Morash 4654
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 10:37 A.M. 4657
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 2:29 P.M. 4658
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 46, Financial Measures (2000) Act 4658
Mr. H. Epstein 4658
Amendment moved "bill be read six months hence"
Mr. D. Downe 4663
Mr. J. Holm 4673
Adjournment of debate moved 4687
Vote - Affirmative 4688
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5C:
Hon. R. Russell 4689
Vote - Affirmative 4691
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., May 1st at 12:00 p.m. 4691
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1613, Eileen Cameron Henry (Antigonish), Death of:
Commun. Contributions - Acknowledge, Mr. R. MacLellan 4692

[Page 4615]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Wayne Gaudet, Mr. Kevin Deveaux

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition entitled, A Petition Against Education Cuts. It reads, "We, the following students of Glace Bay High School, have signed this petition in protest of the Nova Scotia government's education budget. We don't want to lose valuable teachers and we do not want 50 students in our classrooms. We want a higher education standard." The petition bears the signatures of 900 students and teachers from Glace Bay High School and I have affixed my name to the document as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

4615

[Page 4616]

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, have a petition signed by students and people from the Riverport area. The petition calls on Minister Purves and the government, Premier John Hamm, to immediately reverse drastic funding cuts to the education system as outlined in the provincial budget Tuesday April 11th. By affixing our names to the petition, we are voicing our strong protest over these extreme and ill-conceived cuts that will lead to the demise of the class sizes, teacher lay-offs, school closures and irreversible erosion of the educational system. I signed my name to this petition and I would like to table it here today.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition, letters signed to the Minister of Education which basically points out from representatives, parents and family members and students from the Riverport area which acknowledges our concern with regard to the budget. They are writing to point out that number one, they will not support the closing of the Riverport School and they will not support the busing of their children out of their community to attend schools in other communities and they will not support the cuts of teacher positions in Riverport and they do not support the present budget cuts to education directed to them as of April 18th in the provincial budget. It is signed by the students and the parents to be tabled here today.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I have another petition signed, as well, and it is letters to the Minister of Justice, Honourable Michael Baker, MLA for Lunenburg. Again this petition is with regard to the cutbacks in the educational program and the potential closures of the Riverport School and a reduction of teacher positions and how the community has signed a petition saying they will not support the provincial budget and want the minister not to support it. I have affixed my name to it as well and I would like to table it to the Legislature.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

[Page 4617]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1574

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

Whereas on April 29th, people from across the country and around the world will be celebrating International Dance Day with performances, parties, social dances and special events; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is no exception with Dance Nova Scotia helping to coordinate many activities planned across the province throughout the weekend; and

Whereas the aim of this day is to celebrate dance as an art form and to bring people together in peace and friendship through the shared language of dance;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join me in recognizing this day and encouraging participation in the many events taking place.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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 Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1575

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

Whereas the flags of Province House have been lowered to recognize the National Day of Mourning for People Killed or Injured in the Workplace; and

[Page 4618]

Whereas workplace health and safety is the business of every Nova Scotian, employees and their families, employers, industry, unions and government; and

Whereas every year in Canada one million workers are injured, equalling two workers every minute and that is two too many;

Therefore be it resolved that we remember those workers who have been killed or injured in our workplaces and we never waver from our commitment to create a safer, healthier Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver and request that you ask the House to rise for a moment of silence.

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 will now rise for a moment of silence.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 48 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 134 of the Acts of 1923. An Act to Incorporate the Maritime Oddfellows' Home. (Mrs. Muriel Baillie)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

[Page 4619]

RESOLUTION NO. 1576

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

Whereas yesterday the Premier refused to confirm if his government would sell or close Sydney Steel; and

Whereas during negotiations with steelworkers the Tory Government offered nothing new; and

Whereas another deadline has come and gone and the future of the Cape Breton steelworkers remains up in the air;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government live up to its promise to protect Sydney steelworkers and tell them whether or not they will sell the plant or close it.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1577

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

Whereas today, April 28th, is the National Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace; and

Whereas WCB reports that in the past year in this province 11 people died on the job;

Therefore be it resolved that today on this Day of Mourning all members of this House remember Craig Everett MacDonald, age 26; Brian Charles Higgs, age 45; Shelia Gamble, age 35; Shawn Hatcher, age 30; Cecil Francis Prime, age 67; Colin Hearn, age 44; Natasha

[Page 4620]

C. Henry, age 26; Wilson MacKinnon, age 52; Stacey R. Hudson, age 31; Ashley Kevin Brookes, age 23; and Leslie Lucas, age 56.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 1578

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

Whereas today's headlines extol the findings of two local surgeons in the field of transplant surgery by successfully using a combination of two anti-rejection drugs to almost eliminate rejection episodes in kidney, liver, heart and pancreas transplants; and

Whereas their findings are not only opening eyes of researchers worldwide, but have already helped some 63 individuals, observed for the last two years, with only one experiencing a treatable rejection episode, giving those patients a second chance at life; and

Whereas Dr. Allan MacDonald believes that the findings of both he and Dr. Vivian McAlister, published in the top British medical journal will probably revolutionize transplantation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its praise to these two Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre transplant surgeons for some remarkable strides in this province's organ transplant treatment, which will hopefully open doors for so many other patients worldwide.

[Page 4621]

[9:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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. 1579

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I, too, have a similar resolution. I would like to broaden it beyond the two surgeons, to include the team that is so important and the research that supports that.

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

Whereas the medical world is watching two Halifax transplant surgeons who have developed a drug treatment that may solve the problem of organ rejection, while minimizing harmful side effects; and

Whereas Dr. Allan MacDonald and Dr. Vivian McAlister have pioneered this remarkable advancement in organ-transplant treatment with the support of their organ-transplant team of nurses, technologists and research assistants; and

Whereas their work in this exciting field puts the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in the spotlight for innovative medical research;

Therefore be it resolved the members of this House congratulate Dr. Allan MacDonald, Dr. Vivian McAlister and their organ-and-tissue-transplant team for their progress in this field.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 4622]

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1580

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

Whereas today marks the National Day of Mourning for workers killed and injured on the job; and

Whereas workers have struggled for years to put in place adequate occupational health and safety legislation to stop the dreadful loss of life in the workplace; and

Whereas since this government refused to implement the long delayed roll-over protective regulations three deaths have occurred due to roll-overs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Minister of Labour for further delaying regulations that may have prevented the deaths of Wayne Arthur Hall, 44, of Baywater; Emmerson Meisner, 63, of Newcombville; and Gordon Sheridan, 83, of Bridgetown.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

[Page 4623]

RESOLUTION NO. 1581

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

Whereas legislation introduced yesterday will ensure that there is African-Nova Scotian representation on each regional district school board; and

Whereas by adopting this amendment to the Education Act, our province would become the first in Canada to provide for the election of African-Nova Scotian school board representatives, a recommendation of the 1994 Black Learners Advisory Commission report; and

Whereas this move will bring African-Nova Scotians into the decision-making and planning processes and make sure the voices and views of the community are heard on education issues;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer support for an initiative which should help to see that all Nova Scotian students are better served with the addition of increased cultural diversity and an African-Nova Scotian perspective around the school board tables.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame. Shame.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1582

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

[Page 4624]

Whereas in its Budget Address the Tory Government identified the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission as a candidate for privatization; and

Whereas on Wednesday the Minister responsible for the administration of the Liquor Control Act issued a call for proposals for assistance in the evaluation of various options open to the government; and

Whereas this call for proposals was further evidence of this Tory Government handing high-priced goodies to their friends in the consulting business, at the expense of public education in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the high-handed patronage being carried out by this government, and urge the government to heed the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1583

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, this is a helpful resolution so I will be asking for waiver on it as well.

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

Whereas yesterday the Tory backbenchers had the opportunity to show the Premier and his Cabinet that they did not back this disastrous budget; and

Whereas with weak knees and trembling voices Tory backbenchers were browbeaten into voting with the Premier and Cabinet; and

[Page 4625]

Whereas those very Tory backbenchers who have been speaking out in the press recently about this terrible budget will now be forced to explain to their constituents why they back a budget that isn't even correct and may probably have more additional errors;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians will now have to ask their Tory MLAs why they back a peekaboo savage Tory budget that is already in the repair shop because it doesn't add up.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1584

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

Whereas the Minister of Education has blamed her inaccuracy on school boards, Opposition Parties and members of the media; and

Whereas the school boards across this province have simply demonstrated that they are standing up for the rights of students across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas there is no one standing up for the rights of health care because health boards don't exist;

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory Government put a stop to their power freak attack and realize that we live in a democratic society where power does not solely lie in the hands of the government.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 4626]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 1585

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

Whereas today is the last day for Jennifer Tatlock of Cape Breton, one of our many fine Pages here at Province House; and

Whereas yesterday was also the final day for Cheyenne d'Entremont of Pubnico; and

Whereas both individuals did an exemplary job while here at Province House and were appreciated by all who had the opportunity to deal with them;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House wish Jennifer and Cheyenne best wishes in their future endeavours and thank them for a job well done while here at Province House. (Applause)

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 Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1586

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

[Page 4627]

Whereas the Black Cultural Society of Nova Scotia recently inducted 10 people into the W.P. Oliver Wall of Fame at the Black Cultural Centre; and

Whereas the society honoured Alma Johnston, Dr. Clifford Skinner, Pearl Sparks, Rev. Wallace Smith, Madeline Sampson and Marjorie Turner-Bailey; and

Whereas the society also inducted John Alexander Daye, Leon Downey Sr., and Maurice Henry Earle, all posthumously;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate these honoured members of the Black communities throughout Nova Scotia and, in the case of posthumous inductees, their families.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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. 1587

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

Whereas the Minister of Education has indicated that all Tory backbenchers were apprised of her education initiatives before the budget was tabled; and

Whereas yesterday the member for Halifax Bedford Basin apprised members of this House that she didn't have sufficient analysis of the minister's budget to make an expert opinion for public consumption; and

Whereas the member should understand that consultation prior to the budget would have made more sense than trying to negotiate after the fact;

[Page 4628]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education or someone from her department brief the member so that she at least will be able to know what she is voting for.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1588

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

Whereas the Premier yesterday stated in this House that negotiations over the Education budget were where they should be and that was with the deputy minister and school board officials; and

Whereas these negotiations should have occurred before the budget was ever created; and

Whereas the Premier has now found himself in the position of being reactive rather than proactive;

Therefore be it resolved that the grief experienced by teachers, students and parents could have been avoided if this Tory Government had gotten its act together in the first place and consulted school boards prior to forming this disastrous budget.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 1589

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

[Page 4629]

Whereas it is well known that the present Nova Scotia Tory Government is receiving its marching orders from the Mike Harris blue machine in Ontario; and

Whereas the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation noted in a recent news release, "Unfortunately, the Ontario government now wants to restrict the remedial time that has been negotiated, once again short changing students who most need the help"; and

Whereas the recent cutbacks to education in Nova Scotia are a sign that we are headed down the same slippery slope that education is going down in Ontario;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education reject the advice of the Harris hacks and restore the $53.3 million that she has taken out of the Education budget.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver, please.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1590

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

Whereas the Premier admitted in the House yesterday that his government has chosen to consider only one bid for Sydney Steel and ignored other potentially more beneficial bids; and

Whereas the person who told this government they had a sale in December is the same person now telling them to consider only one bid; and

Whereas surely this marks a new low for this government in hypocrisy and double dealing;

Therefore be it resolved that Cabinet should rescind its unanimous Priorities & Planning vote to pursue only one Sysco bid, and in cooperation with the steelworkers, seek thorough, professional and objective advice before it again considers the merits of the Sysco bids.

[Page 4630]

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1591

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

Whereas yesterday the Leader of the Liberal Party revealed that the government is spurning a Sysco potential buyer that would try to run the Sydney Steel plant as a going concern with maximum employment, unfortunately the government is considering a sub-standard proposal; and

Whereas the member for Cape Breton Centre says he had this information for weeks but he would not reveal the info as he believes it should not have been released; and

Whereas one must ask what the member was waiting for, considering once the decision is finally made there will be no chance to reverse the government's ill-advised position;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn the member for Cape Breton Centre for his failure to stand up for the interest of Sysco workers at a time when they need his support, instead he chooses to play his own political game at the expense of his credibility.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 4631]

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1592

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

Whereas in the Budget Address by the Minister of Finance, he stated that Nova Scotia has the highest spending on health care in Canada; and

Whereas we have ferreted out the truth which is, in fact, we are fourth in health care spending in Canada, according to the latest report released this week; and

Whereas the cuts in health care announced in the budget put us on the path to being the province that spends the least amount of money on health care, despite having the highest rates of cancer in Canada and one of the largest populations of seniors;

Therefore be it resolved that instead of following in the footsteps of the Minister of Education, who has made us the province with the lowest funding in education in Canada, that the Minister of Health stand up for health care and the health and well-being of Nova Scotians and do it with an adequately funded system.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1593

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

Whereas the Minister of Education and her government are responsible for this disastrous budget; and

Whereas they continue to show each and every day that they have no plan, but instead are flying by the seat of their pants; and

Whereas the Premier has shown that he has no plan by stating that there will be no lay-offs and no additional money;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his government please come out of their time capsule, come up with a plan before our education system crumbles.

[Page 4632]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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 Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1594

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

Whereas the member for Shelburne suggested that MLAs give back raises to expenses in order to help out the education system; and

Whereas the Premier has often criticized the Opposition for not giving cost saving advice, but rather just criticism; and

Whereas yesterday in a helpful moment it was suggested that the Minister of Education's salary be cut to $1.00 which would allow at least one more teacher to keep their job;

Therefore be it resolved that this is just the start of helpful suggestions for this Tory Government to save the province from the irreparable harm these Tories are inflicting upon it.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1595

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

Whereas yesterday in the House the member for Dartmouth South referred to the Minister of Education's various personas; and

[Page 4633]

Whereas the Queen of Hearts, Calamity Jane, Jane Antoinette, and Lucrezia Borgia are all names that have been used in this House to refer to the Minister of Education; and

Whereas regardless under which name she choses to use, the Minister of Education has misled the people of Nova Scotia and they will remember that;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House thank the honourable member for Dartmouth South for his list of names, some of which we had not heard.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1596

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

Whereas people afflicted with cancers and tumors often suffer from great pain; and

Whereas people suffering from the aforementioned ought to be allowed whatever relief that works; and

Whereas Noel resident, Mark Crossley, who suffers great pain from an inoperable brain tumor, persevered amidst his pain and suffering to be allowed to legally use cannabis to relieve his suffering;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Crossley in his successful attempts to have the federal Department of Justice recognize that a medical need should, in most cases, prevail over other considerations.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 4634]

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. 1597

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

Whereas in January, eight emergency room doctors threatened to leave the Valley Regional Hospital because of the huge workload; and

Whereas the doctors agreed to stay only after the Minister of Health promised to address their concerns; and

Whereas it is now three months later and this Tory Government has not done anything to solve the problem;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately act on two reports that call for increased funding to adequately staff the emergency room at the Valley Regional Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

[Page 4635]

RESOLUTION NO. 1598

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 Canadian Alliance intends to wrap right-wing conservatism in a new bow come the next federal election; and

Whereas the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, by sheer coincidence, sported a new look bow tie yesterday in this House; and

Whereas the change may indicate that that member may be having a mid-life political crisis and intends to trade in the tired old country doctor for a sportier version;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley to tell us who is the real McCoy, bow tie Brooke or babbling Brooke.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1599

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

Whereas teachers claim that learning resources such as textbooks and computers are seriously lacking in our schools; and

Whereas because of the Tory budget cuts, students across this province will be forced to do without the much-needed textbooks; and

Whereas in the Tory blue book the Hamm Government states, too many people are learning from outdated textbooks;

[Page 4636]

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory Government live up to its blue book commitment and realize that the blue book is not a suitable replacement for school textbooks.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1600

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

Whereas each day in the Province of Nova Scotia, six more children are born into poverty; and

Whereas since August 17th, this Tory Government's first full day in office, 1,530 children have been born into poverty; and

Whereas this heartless Tory Government would prefer to talk about only one kind of deficit, a budget deficit;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government start waking up to the health, education and social deficits faced by the 1,530 children born into poverty under this Tory Regime.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1601

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

[Page 4637]

Whereas the Minister of Justice is laying off 100 correctional officers, shutting down five jails and closing down 12 courthouses; and

Whereas last week's escape by a prisoner in Yarmouth shows that cuts to the Department of Justice will increase security risks in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas while the minister has announced severe cuts, he has increased his administration budget;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice focus more on the safety of Nova Scotians than on feathering his own nests.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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 Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1602

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

Whereas Maurice Henry Earle the Singing Porter was recently honoured by the Black Cultural Society of Nova Scotia with posthumous admission to the Dr. W. P. Oliver Wall of Fame; and

Whereas the late Mr. Earle used his rich bass-baritone voice to serve his community by performing for the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children; and

Whereas he served his community in many other capacities, including helping to end segregation at the Yarmouth Theatre;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the achievements of the late Maurice Henry Earle and convey our recognition of his legacy to his three sons, Ronald, Gordon and Douglas.

[Page 4638]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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. 1603

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

Whereas the member for Annapolis and the Minister of Health find it hard to believe that the Nova Scotia economy has suffered since the Tories came to office; and

Whereas last Monday, The Globe and Mail placed Nova Scotia in ninth place down from third in terms of economic prospects this year; and

Whereas The Globe and Mail's Report on Business said that Nova Scotia Public Service lay-offs also threatened to destroy consumer confidence;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House urge the Minister of Health and the member for Annapolis to do some reading and find out how their government's budget threatens the economic well-being of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1604

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 Minister of Education continues to maintain there will be no teacher lay-offs; and

[Page 4639]

Whereas in her own legislation she has extended the date for teacher lay-off notices, signifying more uncertainty on her part as to whether or not this may or may not happen; and

Whereas if the Minister of Education is so certain there will be no teacher lay-offs in the year 2000-01, then she should introduce legislation in the House banning teacher lay-offs;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians and Tory backbenchers can judge the minister by her legislative action and see that she intends to lay-off many teachers but hopes to be well hidden behind her departmental walls before the pink slips are confirmed.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 1605

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

Whereas the Minister of Education wants to rescind all teacher lay-off notices until June 16th; and

Whereas this delay until June 16th will cause severe stress for those teachers who have already received notices since they still do not know whether or not they will still have jobs next year; and

Whereas the Minister of Education refuses to ease the stress by guaranteeing that these teachers will have their teaching jobs back next year;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education confirm to those teachers whose lay-off notices will be rescinded that they will have their teaching jobs back next year.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 4640]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1606

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

Whereas the Minister of Tourism's fiddle seems to be out of tune with reality and to the wide open opportunity for conflict of interest at public expense that he has created; and

Whereas if his fiddle was in tune, he would close the loophole in the tender and prohibit any tender winner from later purchasing any part of the Liquor Commission; and

Whereas this would prevent a company tendering in the hopes of gaining inside information that could be of value to them in a bid for the Liquor Commission;

Therefore be it resolved that it is time for the Minister of Tourism to get tuned up and tuned in.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1607

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

Whereas Wednesday it was discovered that the Department of Education spent $5,000 on a banquet and $6,500 on a laptop for the minister's EA; and

Whereas yesterday we also found out that the government spent $40,000 on a study to confirm what everyone already knew; and

[Page 4641]

Whereas the money spent by the government to feather their own nest could have been used towards the salary of classroom teachers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Cabinet stop feathering their own nest and instead focus on the destructive path they are putting our education system on.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1608

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

Whereas intense interest has been aroused by the public pressure for Conservative Leader Joe Clark to seek an immediate by-election and return to the Commons; and

Whereas the national media has turned towards the five Conservative seats in Nova Scotia as naturals for Mr. Clark, based on last summer's big rural victories when this government was elected; and

Whereas such a by-election would be a welcome opportunity for rural Nova Scotian voters to express their opinion on Tory management of their schools, hospitals, farm programs and highways;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the federal Conservative MPs and the Right Honourable Joe Clark to facilitate the earliest possible federal by-election in this province as a test to the Tories' future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 4642]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1609

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

Whereas the Tory budget cuts will mean the closure of a local Environment office in Point Tupper; and

Whereas this office serves the needs of the Counties of Richmond and Inverness and is slated to relocate to Antigonish; and

Whereas the Strait area has been termed the industrial heartland of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment immediately halt the relocation of the Environment office in Point Tupper and guarantee the six positions that will be lost as a result of this move out of the Strait area.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1610

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on Friday, March 3rd, Ridgecliff Middle School students Ronnie Lee and Dee Anne Howe provided a special dialogue during the official opening of their school; and

[Page 4643]

Whereas Dee Anne and Ronnie's commentary reflects the energy and enthusiasm of Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea students; and

Whereas with Ronnie and Dee Anne's comments as a foundation, Ridgecliff Middle School has a bright future;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly offer its congratulations to Dee Anne and Ronnie, all students and staff, and Principal Terry Wadden on the official opening of the Ridgecliff Middle School.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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 North.

[9:45 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1611

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

Whereas the Terence Bay and area CAP site has become a focal point in the community of Terence Bay; and

Whereas the CAP site has partnered with the local Community Economic Development Co-op; and

Whereas the Terence Bay and area CAP site was recognized recently by the Halifax Regional Development Agency for its initiative;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to the Terence Bay CAP site and its coordinator, Barb Allen, on its selection of this important award.

[Page 4644]

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Yesterday at the moment of adjournment, the Government House Leader announced that on Monday the hours of the House would be from 12:00 noon until 10:00 p.m. First of all, I would like to thank the Government House Leader for giving consideration to the Cape Breton members who have to travel four and one-half hours to get here on Monday. Notwithstanding that, I want to refer to the Rules and Forms of Procedure, Rule 5C(1) where during the day the Government House Leader can determine the hours if it is determined by a majority vote of the House. I would ask the Speaker, was a vote taken on that motion?

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I didn't have my Rule Book open at the page last evening, but I had asked the Government House Leader, when he was wrapping up last night, what time he anticipated the hours would be next week. The Government House Leader gave the indication that he was planning to have the House sit from 12:00 noon until 10:00 p.m. Subsequent to that, I certainly have also reviewed the rules. It is very clear that Rule 5A(3) does set out the maximum number of hours on a sitting day to eight; Rule 5C(1) on Page 11 states that those hours certainly can be adjusted, but only on a motion that is brought forward by the Government House Leader or his substitute. No motion was put last evening, no vote was held last evening and I would suggest that before the hours can be extended beyond the eight hours, a motion must be put and a vote must be held by members of this House. If that vote carries, only then can the hours be extended beyond the eight hours as set out in the rules.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, they are voting on the House rules every day, there is no problem with that whatsoever.

MR. SPEAKER: The ruling of the Chair will be that obviously that notification yesterday had nothing to do with the business of the House today. However, we have until the end of today to determine the hours for next week, which I suppose the honourable Government House Leader can put to the House today.

[Page 4645]

The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I assume that would be done at the hour of adjournment today. Is that correct? Again, I would just like to thank the Government House Leader for his consideration toward us, and I can assure you it will be repaid over the next few weeks.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1612

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 member for Dartmouth North became a grandfather for the first time yesterday; and

Whereas his son and daughter-in-law had a bouncing baby boy who they named Andrew; and

Whereas the member for Dartmouth North looks forward to imparting his wisdom and long life experiences as a social advocate to the latest addition of his family;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the member's son and daughter-in-law on the birth of their child, Andrew, and also congratulate the member for Dartmouth North on his new role as a grandfather.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 4646]

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and offer a few comments on a number of important issues as we go into Supply. My focus will be predominantly with the costs, or better put, the increasing costs of administration within government departments at the senior level, when rather extensive cutbacks to various programs and initiatives are being imposed upon the people of Nova Scotia. Over the last several months, and in particular, coming close to the day that the budget was tabled in the House, all members from the government benches were stating that this is a budget of restraint and one where all Nova Scotians will have to share the pain fairly evenly. That was a very honourable intent by the government to convince Nova Scotians that we do have a fiscal reality to deal with, with a rather large debt that was accumulated over the last 20 to 25 years.

Mr. Speaker, we are not naive to the reality that this translated into various government administrations but the biggest, single burden of this whole process, obviously, was brought in during the time when John Buchanan was Premier from 1978 to 1992. The single largest operating deficit in the Province of Nova Scotia, through that entire accounting process was under the administration of Premier Donald Cameron, where he had an operating deficit, excluding this TCA process that the Minister of Finance has now introduced into the calculation, but it was pushing close to $600 million for one fiscal year. That was the year that Premier Cameron was defeated, and I believe people realized how far off the rails that Conservative Government was.

The contempt that was shown by Premier Cameron for the people of Nova Scotia became apparent, almost by the day, as he even appointed non-elected members to his Executive Council, because he lacked the faith from within the rank and file of this province. (Interruption) Yes, one of those two individuals was just appointed to a board here in the province, the College of Physicians and Surgeons. I am given to understand that the stipend for that position is upwards of $500 a day plus expenses; by any measure that is absolutely excessive.

[Page 4647]

That is absolutely excessive when the government, at the same time, is saying that the people of Nova Scotia should tighten their belts, be prepared to accept job losses, higher taxes, more user fees, higher user fees, but, at the same time, the government is increasing the cost of administration in a number of government departments. I will outline what some of these are. In the Department of Community Services - I am pleased that the Community Services budget will be coming up fairly shortly, so we will be dealing with that - the cost of senior management in that one department is going from $780,000 to $955,000. Why would, in the minister's office, the deputy minister and senior staff require such a substantial increase, to the extent of close to $200,000? I think this is something that the minister will have to defend in his estimates.

Let's look at the senior management within the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs. The cost of senior management there is going from $2.315 million to $2.386 million, again inflating the size of the political element and the senior management within government at a time when the government is telling everybody else that they have to do with less. We have cut $1.5 million from the budget at the Agricultural College, which has been clearly demonstrated will have a negative adverse effect on close to 140 different programs, initiatives, and cooperative interactions between the Federation of Agriculture in Nova Scotia and the provincial government. I think it is absolutely regressive that the government has mixed its priorities.

Mr. Speaker, we only have to look at the Department of Justice. In the Department of Justice the cost of senior management is going from $3.1707 million to $3.8084 million, absolutely and totally unnecessary when you consider what the Minister of Finance is asking the people of Nova Scotia to accept. We look in the Department of Education. It is the first time in the history of the Province of Nova Scotia where we have four communications officers for one department. In one department we have four communications officers, unprecedented. Despite that the Minister of Education has failed to convince Nova Scotians, has failed to convince all the stakeholders, that her budget was a sound budget that was acceptable and credible to the school boards, to the teachers, to the students and, of course, to the taxpayers.

Mr. Speaker, it is very unfortunate that we are wasting a considerable amount of money for three more communications officers than is required. It has always been the norm that at least one government department would have a communications officer for departmental issues, but four? I think that is obscene; it really is a waste of taxpayers' money.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many did you have?

MR. MACKINNON: We had one in the Department of Education.

[Page 4648]

Let's go to Communications Nova Scotia. The budget for senior management there has increased from $203,700 to $268,500. Mr. Speaker, this at a time when the government is telling everybody in Nova Scotia to take a cutback. The contradictions are absolutely mind-boggling. Let's look at the senior management for Intergovernmental Affairs.

This one, I have to agree with the government. I think this is a wise investment, I really do, because of the need to extend and to better coordinate in some cases the lines of communication with the various levels of government - federal, provincial and indeed provincial to provincial, and so on. So I think there are a lot of good things in this. We are increasing our budget by more than 100 per cent here, but it is a good investment and I indicated to the Minister of Finance I think that is a good investment because any of us who had the good fortune of sitting in the Executive Council would certainly understand some of the complexities and the frustrations that you encounter, particularly being one of the smaller provinces, going to the capital city to try to get the attention of some of our federal cousins. It is a large and complex bureaucracy, no two ways about it; I found that out the hard way.

Mr. Speaker, let's look at the senior management for Priorities and Planning. That budget is going from $1.481 million to $1.8 million. I don't think that is a wise investment for the people of Nova Scotia, and I don't think the government has clearly explained why it has to inflate the size of management when everything else is being looked at in terms of trying to reduce the cost of the Department of Transportation and Public Works by 30 per cent. We are looking at reducing the Civil Service, estimates anywhere from 1,200 to 1,600. We can go one by one, or we can do them collectively, but I think that is wrong.

[10:00 a.m.]

All this seems to point to is what we are doing is a fortification around the government's agenda so that no one will be able to access the information in a timely, effective manner to be able to question the government on the validity of its figures. Let's look at the cost of senior management for the Executive Council. The cost of senior management for Cabinet is increasing from $6.011 million to $7.701 million dollars. Now, if anything, Mr. Speaker, I would think the Premier would want to stand up and defend those types of figures. We are increasing the staff from 51 to 55 in that one small division. For heaven's sake, if we are looking at ways to become more efficient and more effective, I really don't think that is a wise investment of taxpayers dollars. Certainly, if we are increasing with Intergovernmental Affairs, I agree with that. But just to increase the size of the senior management at the Cabinet office, I think that is wrong. That is not a wise investment.

I think, Mr. Speaker, no, I believe, we need better accountability for what is happening at these high levels. Also, what about the senior management within the Department of Tourism and Culture? The budget for senior management is increasing from $650,000 to $1.207 million. I could probably make the argument because of the focus on Tourism and Culture that in some regard it is a good investment, but we don't know. We do know one

[Page 4649]

thing, that tourism is a very productive component of our economy. It has yielded over $1 billion in economic activity with tens of thousands of jobs across Nova Scotia. Perhaps that will enhance that.

I just look in my own riding, my own constituency of Cape Breton West where we have the Fortress of Louisbourg. That fortress generates a phenomenal amount of activity in the run of a year. It receives somewhere in the vicinity of 135,000 to 140,000 tourists a year. But that fortress is only 15 per cent complete. If the government wanted to do something productive, it would certainly support some of the cooperative initiatives, federally and provincially, to realize that even if that reconstruction was enhanced up to 30 per cent, the potential for tourism in Cape Breton would be absolutely mind-boggling.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the Minister of Tourism and Culture has an excellent opportunity to do some good things for the people of Nova Scotia. But we have to do more than just be recognized as a member of Cabinet and being the fiddler from Cape Breton. We saw the government table its economic plan for Nova Scotia, and in particular for Cape Breton, earlier in the week.

Mr. Speaker, the government has been saying, since it came to power, that they were going to do some things. Quite frankly, they seem to be very slow off the mark. I think one of the main items of concern the Opposition has about the government and its budget and its dogged approach to economic and social development is the fact that many of the members on the government caucus, Cabinet and non-Cabinet alike, fail to understand the complexity of the bottom line, the pure economics of running a business versus the economics of running a province that has major social demands, such as education, health, community services and many other issues. They have taken an extreme right-wing approach, and they don't understand that sometimes by spending more money in education, that is an investment. They have not seen through the side effects of the slash-and-burn approach.

Mr. Speaker, that is the frustration that has been expressed, not just by the people in Opposition here in the House, or not just by the students and the teachers who come before the Legislature, or the parents, but it is a very subtle but growing concern that is becoming entrenched in the minds of all Nova Scotians. It is. I watched on CBC Newsworld, last evening, where the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley was entertaining a round-table discussion debate with Mr. Peter O'Brien, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and Michelle Dockrill, the member for Bras d'Or-Cape Breton, often known as an enemy to Richmond County by certain individuals.

Mr. Speaker, I thought the star, the one who really shone the most in that entire debate, was Ms. Heather Pottle. She is from the Sydney Academy, a high school student. I had the good fortune of being one of the judges when she won the Nova Scotia Provincial Debating Championship, and I understand that they went on to win the nationals and eventually went over to Great Britain for the international competition. She put it very succinctly and in very

[Page 4650]

crystal-clear terms that any student, anyone in Nova Scotia would understand. What she said is that the government should stop patting itself on the back and understand that by slashing and cutting and burning at the Education budget, the way they have been doing it, is not the right way.

I can only assume that she was speaking with considerable history and knowledge to this issue for the students across Nova Scotia, but she was of the opinion that many students get lost and fall through the cracks, because they may be just an average student, and for a variety of reasons they don't go to school and get the quality time that the teacher would like to provide, because of the limited resources, and because of the pressures that are put on the stakeholders in the education system.

These are real people with real issues that have to be addressed. I believe it is very unfortunate that the Minister of Education had somebody in the department take $20 million, divide it by $50,000, on average, and come up with a figure of 400, and then the spin doctors went with that. Despite the fact of having four communications officers in the Department of Education, it has been an absolute unmitigated disaster, by any account. Everybody was very forgiving of the minister last year, but they are not forgiving this year.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak on this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak today on the motion to go into Supply. There are a number of things I wanted to talk about, but the first thing I would like to address - and I have been doing this since the budget came down and since the announcements were made with respect to the increases in the co-pays for Pharmacare fees for seniors, because I certainly have a number of senior citizens who are going to be affected who live in residence in my constituency. But also I have been hearing from people right across the province who are offended by the government's about-face on their commitment to seniors who feel that there was an inordinate number of senior citizens - probably much higher than other age groups - who voted for the Progressive Conservatives in the last election and they feel that they have been done wrong, they have been betrayed by the government, not just by the Party but by the actual members that they elected.

In some cases, they have come to me and said, look, I worked for a Progressive Conservative candidate and I really don't understand how it is that they could turn their backs on us so quickly in matters like this which they know is going to affect us so personally because it puts at risk our ability to buy and retain the medication that we require which enriches and sustains our lives.

[Page 4651]

I was able, Mr. Speaker, as you will recall, to table in this House a copy of a study that came out of the Province of Quebec about the very serious ramifications to seniors in this province when the cost of the drug program increases. It is clear from that study that what happens is because seniors cannot afford the medication they require, they simply stop taking it. It is a trade-off between that particular part of their budget and other parts of their budget. The normal kinds of life items they need, whether it is rent or food or the maintenance of their homes, they just do not have the financial wherewithal to make all of these things fit in their budget. So they make choices and sometimes they are forced to make choices which mean their health is going to suffer as a result thereof.

It was clear from the study in Quebec that what happened was the number of emergency room visits for senior citizens increased almost commensurate with the increase in the drug program. What happened was the admissions into acute care facilities and the long-term care facilities increased as a result of the seniors not being able to afford their medication. This had a profound effect, which I would think the government would be concerned about, because what it did is it drove up the costs of the health care system to the provincial government.

I have heard this said over and over again. The Minister of Health keeps telling us that what they want to do is evidence-based decision making. They want to look at a system that is sustainable, that will provide in the future for the health care and for the health of seniors across the province. Well, if you are truly interested in doing that, then you have to look at the available literature, you have to look at the available medical studies, and you have to be able to assess the program or the initiative you are undertaking on some foundation. That is what I have been asking the government to do, and the members of the government caucus to do; specifically, the members of the government caucus, the backbenchers who were elected by these people.

It looks like the member for Queens is getting ready to speak going into Supply, and I would invite him to spend some time talking about his experience with the seniors in his riding and what they are telling him the effect of the cost of increase in the co-pay in Pharmacare is. Queens County is a typical example of the kind of a county that is going to be hit very hard by the increase in the co-pay. They have an older population as a result of out-migration of young people from the county. The population has actually declined, but those who are there fall into an older age group, and I take the opportunity regularly to visit Queens and to stay over the weekends. I know that population and the people there very well. So I know they would be interested to hear from their member on just exactly what effect they believe that they had communicated to him, are going to have as a result of the increase in co-pay.

[Page 4652]

[10:15 a.m.]

I received a letter, Mr. Speaker, which I intend to table and which I thought was very interesting because it is from a senior in Dartmouth. Mr. David Ferguson tells me that he has raised this issue with the Minister of Health and I think he makes an interesting point because he has done a small survey of pharmacists' fees in his area. He went around and he asked how much it was going to cost to fill a prescription. He found that there was quite a variance among the major outlets.

Interestingly, Mr. Speaker, I have also received the same complaint from other constituents in my riding who have found that the dispensing fees from the pharmacists in various places can vary quite a bit. In this case he went to the Superstore where they charged $4.99 to fill a prescription. He then went to Shoppers Drug Mart where they charge $8.65, or at least that particular Shoppers that he went to. Then he went to Pharmasave and the fee was $8.99. What he says to the minister is, "As I view these fees it seems to me that the government could set some limit on what they will pay to fill a prescription for seniors under the plan. It will save the senior some money but could also save the government a vast amount of money when you consider the thousands of prescriptions filled each year."

This seems quite reasonable to me. He says, "The government decides on the choices of drugs it will pay for, it could equally decide on the amount it will pay a pharmacist to fill a prescription." I see no reason why this isn't a suggestion that the government could incorporate in their plans, certainly even if they were to share, if they were to set a particular dispensing fee and to share the savings between themselves and the seniors, I am sure that both the government and the seniors would benefit and neither would suffer any harm as a result of it.

It says, "The government decides in consultation with the Medical Society what fees should be paid so I think it reasonable to suggest that some mutual fee could be set for the Senior Drug Plan. I have brought this item to Minister Muir's attention and would ask that you follow up on this suggestion." That is what I am doing today, Mr. Speaker, and I would ask the minister to engage Mr. Ferguson further and to look carefully at the suggestion that he has made. I think it could be of some benefit, not only to seniors in the province, but also to the government as well.

Mr. Speaker, while I have the attention of the House, there are a few other things that I wanted to mention. One of them has to do with the review that is going to take place of the Nova Scotia Environmental Health Clinic. As you may know, the whole question of multiple chemical sensitivities and environmental sensitivities has taken on quite a life in this province as a result of a number of initiatives that have come forward, both at the Halifax Regional Municipal Council, but also because of this province's position as a leader in this country and indeed a leader in the world in addressing environmental sensitivities and multiple chemical sensitivities.

[Page 4653]

There was a resolution passed in this House, Resolution No. 115, which called upon the government to undertake a review of the centre and, given that the centre had been open for a couple of years, it was suggested that such a review would be helpful, not only to the environmental clinic itself, but to the government in assessing the success of the program, to the patients who had expressed some concerns, to the public at large, that they could have some confidence that the money that they were investing was being spent wisely. The problem is that some people do not understand multiple-chemical sensitivity, they don't suffer from it themselves, and they find it hard to understand when others do. I noticed that in today's Daily News, there is a commentary by Dr. Roy Fox, who is the Director of the Nova Scotia Environmental Health Centre in Fall River. He talks primarily about another column that had been written Nancy Radcliffe earlier, he calls it a nonsense column and says that it is very unkind. He makes a number of very good points. I should say that I also know Nancy Radcliffe very well, she lives not very far from where I do and I have known her for a number of years. I know that Nancy's job is to provoke controversy and to provide an alternative perspective, and to try to set out another side of an argument.

I think in this case that the reality is that to try to belittle or to try and suggest that multiple chemical sensitivity or environmental illness does not exist is a grave disservice. Mr. Speaker, I don't know if you have had the opportunity yet, but when my son was going through day care, I used to go down to the day care centre, and what used to amaze me was the number of ventilators and asthma masks that would be stacked up along the wall for the children who went to the day care centre. I had never seen anything like that before. I was told by the staff of day care centre that they saw an increasing number of children who came to day care with asthma-related breathing problems, with difficulties that were related to things in the atmosphere that their parents had no control over.

It is not as simple as second-hand smoke, which we all know is bad for children, bad for anyone for that matter. We know, and I think the scientific literature is very convincing, that we have created, in our cities particularly, a kind of chemical soup, where we put things into the atmosphere and we somehow believe that because we can't see it that it won't do us any harm. That is just not the case.

This is Poetry Month and I wanted to share something that was shared with me from the Environmental Health Association. It was The Parable of the Elephant and the Environmental Health Centre, is what they say. I am going to read this, because I think it is an interesting perspective. It goes like this:

"It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined,

Who went to see the Elephant (though all of them were blind)

That each by observation might satisfy their mind.

The First approached the Elephant, and happening to fall

Against his broad sturdy side, at once began to brawl,

'God bless me but the Elephant is very like a wall.'

[Page 4654]

The Second, feeling the tusk, cried 'Ho! What have we here,

So very round and smooth and sharp? To me 'tis mighty clear,

This wonder of an Elephant is very like a spear.'

The Third approached the animal, and happening to take

The squirming trunk within his hands, thus boldly up and spake,

'I see', quoth he, 'The Elephant is very like a snake.'"

It goes on for another three verses, and then it says:

"(And on and on ...) And so, these men of Indostan

Disputed loud and long, each of his own opinion,

Exceeding stiff and strong. Though each was partly in the right,

And all of them were wrong."

Mr. Speaker, when we only see little pieces of a puzzle, when we only see little pieces, like with environmental illness, it is very difficult to know what the broad picture is like. It is very hard to say to people that the impact of one kind of pollutant, one kind of fragrance will have no effect, when in fact what is happening is they are being mixed with many other things, many, many other things that are being thrown into our atmosphere, are being ingested by our children, by our parents. We have heard for years the whole question of how smog has related to the increase in asthma.

Anyway, I guess my time is expiring, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank you and I want to thank the House for their attention on what I think are some important matters. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Before I recognize the member for Queens, I assume the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour will be tabling a copy of that poem.

The honourable member for Queens.

MR. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand here today and make a few comments. I would like to comment on forestry in Nova Scotia, particularly in Queens County and some of the areas that I am familiar with, as well as some occupational health and safety-related issues with regard to the forest industry.

Forestry is a very important contributor to the Nova Scotia economy, and I am sure everybody here realizes that, you see it every day when you see pulpwood trucks, log trucks and loads of lumber travelling along our highways. It accounts for 2.4 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product in Nova Scotia, which is significant by any standards. It generated an estimated $1.4 billions in 1999. So, it is a substantial part of our economy in this province.

[Page 4655]

It directly employs 13,000 people and another 9,000 indirectly, so there is a considerable workforce there. It is something that we definitely need to nurture to ensure that it continues and try to make sure those jobs are sustainable and increase those jobs in the forest industry. Forestry is, I guess, reasonably a rural-based employer, three-quarters of those employed in forestry in Nova Scotia live in rural areas.

We have three large mills in the province that consume a considerable amount of forest product and fibre: one is Bowater Mersey in Liverpool; there is another, Kimberly-Clark in Pictou; and Stora Enso in Port Hawkesbury. These are the largest employers and I think the smallest would have 500 employees and would probably go up to close to 1,000 or well over 1,000.

Forest-related products account for nearly one-quarter of all of our provincial exports, and we export a number of things. In the past we have exported hardwood to Italy. I know from this province we export chips, wood fibre, pulp, and paper. We certainly export lumber into the New England market and down through the U.S. as well as overseas. In my experience there have been I guess shipments that have gone pretty well all over the world with regard to construction lumber and certainly newsprint is taken to all corners of the world at the current time and Nova Scotia's name is represented throughout the world with regard to these exports.

Three-quarters of the land base in Nova Scotia is forested, which makes it reasonable to understand why it is such a big part of our economy. The majority of Nova Scotia forests are privately owned. The largest number of woodlot owners is estimated at 30,000. I believe that is a very important part from a government point of view. There isn't government control over the majority of forest land in Nova Scotia. Certainly, there are some large landholders who maintain and take care of their land but the majority of the forests in Nova Scotia are owned by small, private woodlot owners, so it is up to them to take care of and manage their forest and make sure that the fibre supply is there for their sons and grandsons and move through.

Recent wood supply analysis shows that softwood harvests on small, private lands are not sustainable. This, I guess, was a surprise to me and it is very concerning to me because I was under the impression, because I wasn't well informed, that we were sustainable within the province and what we were cutting was actually growing back on an annual basis to ensure that we could continue with the level that we have now and also sustain some additional growth. So when I found that not to be true, it concerned me.

I had some discussions with, I guess, the people involved. It means right now we need to increase the level of silviculture that we do in the province. Silviculture is, I guess if you compare it in the simplest form to something like a garden - it is like weeding your carrot patch - to make sure that things are a little thinner and you can grow a larger diameter tree, which makes it a little easier to handle and gives you a product that is more manageable in the

[Page 4656]

forest. It also includes planting in areas where trees wouldn't naturally regenerate and merchantable thinning or taking out some wood and leaving some others to mature and weeding or thinning out these areas.

So the amount of silviculture activity on private land currently needs to be increased so we will have sustainability which certainly is the goal of everybody here and everyone in the province. An analysis shows that Crown and industrial harvests are sustainable, and that is probably where most of my information was coming from. The Crown certainly is managing their forests now. They have computer models generated that ensure the amount of wood they are removing is growing back on an annual basis, and they will be able to continue this - I think their models go up to 80 years - on into the future. (Applause) I didn't expect to have a cheering section. Thank you.

[10:30 a.m.]

Also with the large industries, they have been harvesting considerable amounts of fibre for many years, and it is in their best interest to ensure that they can do that long into the future. Again, they have worked with the Crown and have ensured their own properties have been maintained properly and that they have ensured sustainability. They depend an awful lot or a great deal on the wood from these 30,000 private woodlot owners, so it is imperative that we get our private woodlots up to a sustainable level, otherwise we will have problems in the future for our children and grandchildren.

The one thing most of us would notice if you are driving on some of the highways is that wood harvesting is now more evident. It used to be, even 20 years ago, the majority of fibre came from a woods road that was off the beaten trail where people really didn't notice, and that probably was unfortunate as well and was not very good promotion for the forest industry. They did a lot of good work, they did some silviculture work. They did planting, but they kept it 20 miles back in the woods where no one really noticed. As soon as these forest operations moved out along the sides of the highways, we heard a tremendous outcry from people who really felt we were decimating the forests. In fact, a lot of the work that is taking place is a natural harvest where we would take out mature trees, we would ensure we had new growth coming, and we would ensure that the trees will be there for generations to come.

One thing I noticed coming in on Highway No. 103 which I was very impressed with, there was an area that had been harvested probably 10 years ago, and they left a buffer along the side of the road which was normal at that point in time. It was considered at that time appropriate to make sure you left this buffer of wood stand and, therefore, anybody driving by wouldn't realize there was actually harvesting taking place in behind. I have noticed 10 years later, they are removing the buffer. It is very pleasing to see 8 and 10 foot trees in there coming up very thickly and looking like a good forest that is being generated to grow and come back again. By removing this barricade or this line of sight and being allowed to look

[Page 4657]

back in over the acres and see that things are regenerating well, it is very reassuring to know these forest practices are working and are working very well. We do need to ensure that that happens on as much land as possible, and right now that is difficult.

Government is moving in a new direction for forestry in Nova Scotia, and a need for change has been clearly identified to ensure forest management practices are sustainable. We have had amendments to the Forests Act which were proclaimed on April 12th this year, along with approval of new forest sustainability regulations. These are very important because they give some structure as to what we are going to do, and they gave me a level of comfort, knowing that we were actively pursuing a solution to a problem, and the problem is that private woodlots are being harvested quite extensively. This has a lot to do with economics.

Currently, there is a market for construction lumber, therefore, there is a market for stumpage or trees on the stump that people will go in and buy, and they will pay a considerable amount of money now because they can make a profit. So, if wood on the stump is not worth a lot of money, people will just let it stand because there are an awful lot of people who really don't like to see the trees cut on their land. They like to go in and walk through. But economically, when it makes good sense to have a harvest, it also means that people will be in and removing that fibre. The province is working to ensure the current levels of harvest are sustainable and they are doing so by directly tying the level of harvest to the mode of silviculture carried out on the ground, and that seems to be a very positive move. What we will be doing is making sure that we document the amount of harvest that takes place, and if you harvest a certain level, then you must ensure that you do something to provide for future generations and ensure that we will have forests for those to come.

Part of the new forest sustainability regulations are wood acquisition plans for all buyers who acquire more than 5,000 cubic metres. Now 5,000 cubic metres really does''t mean much to me, but I am sure that is quite a bit of wood. It is 2,300 cords and a cord of wood is 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet stacked, that makes a little more sense, but when you look at 2,300 cords that is kind of a harder number to put a handle on. It is still a considerable number and it is a considerable amount of wood that must be harvested prior to putting this in place, but it means that we have a start and we are moving in the right direction, so that people who harvest the wood or buy the wood and use the wood will pay into a fund to ensure that some work is done to make sure that our forests are there in the future.

The fund has been set up, and with full compliance the current $3 million in funding for silviculture on small private lands will increase to $9 million. So, $9 million will do a . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Time has expired. The motion is carried.

[10:37 a.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[Page 4658]

[2:29 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Supply reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress in considering Supply and asks leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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. 46.

Bill No. 46 - Financial Measures (2000) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: Before the honourable member begins, would the honourable member allow for an introduction?

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Thank you, honourable member. Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen, in the west gallery, we are pleased to have Ms. Sandra Himmelman who is President of the Provincial Home and School Association, and with her is her daughter Megan and her friend Courtney MacLeod. I would ask members of the House if they would please give a warm welcome to them as they are here looking and watching the activities of the Legislative Assembly and what is happening in the Government of Nova Scotia. Would they please rise. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, when I left off discussion of Bill No. 46 the other day, I had embarked upon a review of what it is that Bill No. 46, the Financial Measures

[Page 4659]

(2000) Act is intended to do. It clearly embodies the whole of the economic agenda of the government, and the agenda is fairly easy to figure out. Unfortunately, it is the wrong agenda. It is the wrong agenda in all respects. It is made up of two parts. It is made up of a determination to reduce all government expenditures plus sell off assets. I had already embarked upon a review of the selling off of assets. I don't propose to engage in a detailed review of the plan to reduce all expenditures.

It has been obvious as we have been going through the estimates department by department that there is a serious problem with the kinds of budget reductions that the government proposes. It has been obvious to us in this House. It has been obvious to the public. That is why the public has been turning out in such large numbers in order to demonstrate outside this building their extreme dissatisfaction with what it is that is being proposed.

It should be clear to the government, I hope, that they have embarked upon the wrong course. I fear that they may not yet be ready to learn that lesson. What I want to lay out for the government is the alternative to what they have done. There is an alternative. It is a clear alternative, a sensible alternative. It will work. The alternative is one that can easily be made up of several different initiatives. The alternative will accomplish exactly what it is that the government says it wishes to accomplish. The government says it wishes to bring the books of the province into balance, and to do it over a few years. I have to say that, although there is a strong argument that can be made that it is not necessary to accomplish this over a three year period given that it took 25 years to put the province so deeply into debt and in such a serious state with respect to our annual overexpenditures, that is to say our deficits, we might want to take a little longer than two or three years in order to bring the books back into balance. I am very sympathetic to that view. My view is that, indeed, we might seriously consider doing it in four or five or six years, step by step.

The reason I am prepared to consider that as a controlling context is that it seems important to me and to many Nova Scotians that we not wreck the public services we have taken so long to build up in this province, while we are engaged in the process of putting the books into balance. I want to be absolutely clear that I and all of my caucus members agree that putting the books into a state of balance is a desirable public policy objective. At the same time, it is not the only public policy objective. There are other public policy objectives that have to be achieved and can be achieved at the same time as we bring the books back into balance.

The striking fact that I think we have been trying to bring home to the government every day since this session opened is that, since they took office, more than 1,530 Nova Scotian children have been born into poverty. This is a serious problem, and that is a problem that can be addressed and that should be addressed at the same time as we put our financial house in order.

[Page 4660]

[2:45 p.m.]

I would have thought that a government headed up by a physician would be able to recall the basic lesson taught to all medical students since the days the Greeks first invented medicine as an organized discipline. The first lesson that is taught to physicians is do no harm. Don't make the situation worse than it already is. That is the lesson they teach to doctors first. I would have thought that a government headed up by a physician would have remembered that, but that is not what we are seeing. We are seeing a government that through this bill and through the budget that is associated with this bill, seems determined to do harm to the social fabric of our province. I don't find that acceptable, most Nova Scotians don't find that acceptable. I think that when the time comes, this government is going to discover that Nova Scotians are not going to be any happier with their performance than they were with the performance of the last government in Nova Scotia that tried this, starting in 1993, the Liberal Government headed up by John Savage.

The path upon which they have embarked is exactly the same path. What does the alternative consist of? The first step would be to take more time to accomplish the objective. The second step would be to choose a different set of budget reductions inside the government totality of expenditures. To reduce education, health, those steps are wrong-headed. Those steps are the steps that will cause harm. There are other candidates for reduction.

I also don't want to be understood as trying to say that there are no branches of the government in which there might be some efficiencies and therefore some savings to be accomplished. Undoubtedly there are and undoubtedly a thorough government would find them, but that is quite a different thing than embarking upon a wholesale reduction of vital public services in education, in health, in community services. This is just plain wrong.

That isn't the full extent of the list. The list of reductions go on through the Department of Justice, the Department of the Environment and the Department of Labour. All of those departments are department where people work in order to enforce the laws and regulations that protect all of us and create community. That is wrong.

It requires more than selected cuts. What it requires are increased revenues. I have to say that as an alternative to wholesale cuts and as an alternative to the proposed sell-offs of public assets, that seeking to increase revenues is absolutely the best way to go. There is virtually nothing of a useful or imaginative sort that is in this bill or the budget that it supports that increases revenues in a positive way. We certainly see a lot more user fees. What this bill does is it makes it hugely more expensive to be a Nova Scotian. The government probably doesn't want to talk about this in terms of a tax increase, but when you increase user fees right, left and centre, that is what it is about. When we see the cost to ambulance users going up, when we see the Pharmacare co-pay going up, when we see the cost of home support services going up, when we see the cost of social assistance prescription drugs to the users

[Page 4661]

going up, then we know that the government has headed off in the wrong direction. This is not what I am talking about when I talk about ways to increase government revenues.

There are other ways. We know the government has striven mightily to show the deficit as being much greater than it actually is. The problem we have in Nova Scotia, now, and we have had consistently for about 20 years, is an annual deficit of the order of about $250 million. That figure hasn't really varied a huge amount over a period of 20 years. What that means, of course, is that both Tory and Liberal Administrations have been responsible for running deficits, and therefore saddling us with a huge debt. Although, if between those two Parties, anyone is interested in knowing who is the winner, it is actually, of course, the Tory Party in their long administration between 1978-93. It was under that government that the total debt of the Province of Nova Scotia increased from $500 million, when they took office, to more than $6 billion when they left.

There are arguments, I hear from one of the former Finance Ministers, that the numbers might be read differently, but I have to say, it is to the credit of neither the Liberals nor the Tories, what they have done in terms of running up the debt over the years. Let's look at what it is that is happening now. After years of waiting, the economy in Nova Scotia is finally beginning to pick up. We are finally starting to see that there is some reasonable level of economic activity. A lot of it is associated with SOEP and the spin-offs, but that is not the only thing, we have a variety of other thriving sectors. We know there are going to be natural increases in revenues over the next half-dozen years. We know this. It is about to happen.

It is not necessary to take apart the social services that Nova Scotians value in order to bring the books into balance. We can wait. We can wait for the natural increases in economic activity to kick in and increase. That is about to happen. That will continue to happen over the next half-dozen years. Why rush in the first year of this mandate to say that they have to do it within three years? It is not necessary.

Beyond that, though, we should look at other kinds of revenue opportunities beyond the natural growth that is taking place in our economy. The main focus for that ought to be resource rents. Resource rents is a term that refers to the money that flows to the government as royalties for stumpage, for cutting on Crown land; it is the money that flows to the government as royalties on mineral extraction, and it is the money that flows to the government from the extraction and sale of our natural gas. I would have thought that a government that was so intent on bringing the budget into balance in a three year period would have done something about resource rents. We know that our resource rents in Nova Scotia are very low.

There is nothing in this bill that does that. There is nothing that does it, and that is a scandal. I can give you an indication of how low our resource rents are here. The Standing Committee on Resources met only a few months ago and had a look at Nova Scotia's mineral industry. We heard from both the Department of Natural Resources and from representatives

[Page 4662]

of the mineral industry. We have a policy in Nova Scotia, a 1996 policy on minerals. Do you know how much the Province of Nova Scotia received last year and will receive this year in terms of total royalties on all the mineral extraction going on in Nova Scotia? This is coal, this is gypsum, this is gold, this is barite, this is aggregates, this is salt.

Add them all up, and the Province of Nova Scotia receives $2 million as the total amount of money that comes as resource rents in minerals in Nova Scotia. I say phooey. I say any government that was seriously interested in bringing the budget into balance would have looked at that and said, this is too low, we can do something about this, we can do better. They would have said, how do we compare with other provinces to which we ought to compare ourselves? How do we compare with New Brunswick? How do we compare with Manitoba and Saskatchewan? I choose those other three provinces, because they are the provinces that have economies and populations that are very similar to ours. The other four, we can't compare ourselves to B.C. or Ontario or Quebec, and there is no point in comparing ourselves to P.E.I. There are four provinces - Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan - that all have about one million people who all have resource-based economies, rural-based, a lot of people who live in rural areas. They are very similar.

Let me tell you that there is a wild divergence between what it is that we get in Nova Scotia for all our resource rents and what they get, for example, in New Brunswick. I just said it was $2 million here for minerals, but when you add in the amount that is paid for Crown stumpage, it actually goes up to $7.7 million last year, total, in Nova Scotia. That is all of our resource rents leaving aside natural gas, but for timber and for minerals that is it, $7.7 million. Do you know what it was in New Brunswick? It was $10 million from mining and $46.3 million from forest royalties.

Is that a big difference or what? This is stunning. How can that possibly be? How can it possibly be that in the province next door to us they can get $56.3 million from forest activities and mineral activities and we can only get $7.7 million? I would have thought that this is the kind of thing that a government that was intent on doing something about increasing its revenues would have thought of well before it thought of increasing costs to those who use ambulances, and to those who have to pay for Pharmacare; that is to say our senior citizens. They don't seem to have, it is missing from this bill.

There is another thing they could have done. There is a big divergence between the percentage of our own source revenues that we get from corporations and corporate taxes compared with those other provinces that I talked about. We get 6.9 per cent of our revenues from corporate tax. These other provinces, in New Brunswick it is 7.5 per cent; Manitoba, it is 8.5 per cent; in Saskatchewan it is 9.4 per cent. Suppose we were to move to the average level of those four provinces, that would mean moving from 6.9 per cent, or about 7 per cent, to about 8 per cent, which is the four province average. If we did that there would be another $32 million in provincial revenues. But is that included in Bill No. 46? No, it is not.

[Page 4663]

Do you know the best bet? The best bet would be to get a lot more money from our Sable gas royalties, and I have talked about this on any number of other occasions. Now do we see something in Bill No. 46? We do not; no change. This government which, when it was in Opposition, unceasingly criticized the Liberals for what they did about Sable. Haven't changed it one bit. If there is going to be any change in the revenue that flows to the Province of Nova Scotia, it looks like we can give thanks to Brian Tobin, not to this government. If the equalization formula ever changes, it will be thanks to Brian Tobin and the deal that he seems to have perhaps worked out with Paul Martin. This will be a new form of Tobin tax.

Mr. Speaker, what this leads me to - and I would have liked to have gone on in more detail to explain what I find unacceptable in this bill - is I have to say that I want to make a motion now, based on how thoroughly unsatisfying this bill is. Here is my motion. My motion recognizes that, because of what is happening here: "That the motion be amended by deleting all of the words following the word 'that' and substituting therefor the following words:

That Bill No. 46, the Financial Measures (2000) Act, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence."

Just to be clear, Mr. Speaker, this is your classic hoist motion, and I so move.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto has moved that Bill No. 46, the Financial Measures (2000) Act be read a second time this day six months hence.

The motion is in order.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to talk about the motion that was put on the floor just a moment ago on Bill No. 46, Financial Measures (2000) Act that this bill be read six months hence.

AN HON. MEMBER: We have a lot of time to study it.

MR. DOWNE: Yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: Impact analysis time for you?

MR. DOWNE: The member for Preston obviously wants to get up and speak about this bill. I think the reason he wants to get up and speak about this bill is because he doesn't understand what this budget means to him and his constituents, as per the whole backbench. The whole backbench doesn't know what is in this budget and how it impacts on the people in their constituency. In fact, as the Premier said, the Opposition members will have to ferret

[Page 4664]

out the information, Mr. Speaker. I think the Premier should have said, I want our backbenchers to ferret out this information over this next period of time because they clearly do not know what this is all about. I have had people come up to me from the opposite side, would you mind keep asking those tough questions because we did not realize what impact this budget really has. We did not realize the implication of the cuts in agriculture as a case in point; a 20 per cent cut in the Department of Agriculture and Marketing that the minister of the day, and I note, the good member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley who understands agriculture very well and whose mother, I understand, grew up on a farm and respects the farm community and what agriculture is all about. I bet even she understands (Interruption) especially her, the importance of the agricultural community to the economic and social well-being of this province. Especially the fine member's mother would understand that one of the most important aspects of this budget, when it comes to agriculture - and I am going alphabetically here - is that . . .

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I appreciate the honourable member raising my mother's name here in the Legislature and he is quite correct that Mom was raised on a farm as was I in the country, and again I want to advise the honourable member for Lunenburg West that it was his government that closed our agriculture office in the beautiful Middle Musquodoboit.

MR. DOWNE: I closed almost every agriculture office across all of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I remind the honourable member that he is to be speaking to the amendment which is why this bill should be heard six months from now, not about another member's family or anything else about the bill, but why this bill should be heard six months from now. Thank you.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, six months hence, it will be October, right around the time we are harvesting. September and October we are harvesting; harvesting a crop that the production and technology specialists would have helped the farmers plant and the technology they would have used and what to use on the land. Specialists that would be used for determining what is required for the land and the Minister of Agriculture is laughing at the production technology people that are fired by him. The front-line people . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: He was maybe laughing.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, clarification and personal privilege. The member opposite knows full well I was not laughing in any way at the members of the Department of Agriculture or anybody in the agricultural community. If anybody deserves ridicule and a little bit of jocularity, it may be the member's performance itself, but

[Page 4665]

certainly I in no way am insulting anyone in the Department of Agriculture or the agricultural community or any Nova Scotian and the member opposite well knows that.

MR. SPEAKER: The rule is it is not a prima facie case of privilege.

MR. DOWNE: Over the next six months, Mr. Speaker, over the next six months as this bill is being debated and farmers across this province understand what this Minister of Agriculture has done, then I think people will realize all too well that this is not a joking matter. They will realize 100 jobs - 99 I believe - that have been gutted from the Department of Agriculture and Marketing, is a tremendous blow to the farm community. In the production and technology branch alone, individuals that help specialists with poultry and beef and dairy - by the way dairy, the Minister of Agriculture understands the dairy industry very well, in fact he is one of the dairy experts in the Province of Nova Scotia. All those specialists are gone. In a Farm Focus, just recently, they had, in loving memory of, and they listed all the staff that had been fired by this government. Farm Focus is a pretty neutral paper when it comes to the farm community, one that really speaks on behalf of agriculture. They are not political, they are just real about what is going on. They talk about, in loving memory, of the loss of the people and the production technology branch and what it is going to mean to agriculture.

The other night, we talked about the Apple Blossom Festival. In that Apple Blossom Festival discussion . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. For the second time, I would remind the member that he is speaking to the amendment, which is a six months' hoist. I would ask the honourable member (Interruptions)

MR. DOWNE: . . . this bill will then be debated (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member to stick to relevancy in regard to the amendment.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, six months. The need for us to hoist this for six months is clear. Clearly the people in different departments, whether it is Agriculture, whether it is Health, whether it is Community Services, whether it is Justice, or whatever department you want, those staff are wondering what this budget is all about. The staff, the civil servants, the great civil servants in this province who have a face, have a family, have a heart, they care about what goes on in this province, and they are hardworking, dedicated people in the system. They are now wondering what is going to happen to them with this budget.

[Page 4666]

They in turn are hoping that we, I am sure, would hoist this bill for six months to clarify what the implication of this budget will really be in regard to their lives and their futures. In fact, I talked to one today, an individual that I had the pleasure to talk to, who has spent all of his life in this beautiful province, educated here, worked here, cared about this province, and now wonders where he and his one daughter and his wife will move to, to find employment, because of this bill, and because of this budget.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley was talking about the Department of Transportation and Public Works people. I would like to bring to the member's attention that 30 per cent of the Department of Transportation and Public Works will be privatized as we speak. Six months from now, Mr. Speaker, am I doing better?

Six months from now, the highway workers, Local 1867, CUPE, will be wondering what happened to their employment over the summer. CUPE Local 1867 will be asking six months from now, what is it going to mean to their employment this winter. In fact, I talked to the president of CUPE Local 1867 today. He is coming here, as well as others, on Monday. I am sure that the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley should be there, to hear the concerns of the truckers and others who are members of that CUPE union, to hear how frustrated they are at not being able to work. I would like to see the honourable member come to that meeting and explain to those people what this really means, as we speak to hoist this bill six months hence.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is important.

MR. DOWNE: It is important. It is important to the president of the CUPE Local 1867, as it is important to us all. Mr. Speaker, the reason we are here in this Legislature is to really discuss the budget and this particular bill, the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, Bill No. 46, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures, presented by the Hon. Neil J. LeBlanc, Minister of Finance. In that bill . . .

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: What does that J. stand for?

MR. DOWNE: J.? I don't know. I didn't ask the minister what J. stands for, honourable member. The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley asked what does the Hon. Neil J. LeBlanc, Minister of Finance, stands for. He should ask the minister.

This bill that we are talking about, to hoist for six months so we can have six months to understand what is going on. Mr. Speaker, do you know what I did yesterday?

AN HON. MEMBER: What did you do? Tell us.

[Page 4667]

MR. DOWNE: Yesterday what I did is I wrote to the Auditor General of Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is that?

MR. DOWNE: I wrote to Mr. Salmon and I said to him, the concern we have is that Nova Scotians truly do not understand the implications and the ramifications of this budget.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do they have the details?

MR. DOWNE: The public of Nova Scotia deserves to know the details and the impacts of this budget.

AN HON. MEMBER: Would you table that letter?

MR. DOWNE: Yes, I would be happy to table that letter, if I have it right here.

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe read it to us, it is relevant.

MR. DOWNE: All right, maybe I should read it. It is relevant to the six months' hoist, I guess, Mr. Speaker. Our caucus requests that you conduct an investigation into the 2000-01 provincial budget process with respect to the presentation of the budget or budget-related documents.

AN HON. MEMBER: Like New Brunswick.

MR. DOWNE: Well, actually, they have done that in New Brunswick. That is another Progressive Conservative Government that basically tried to hide the facts of what their budget was all about to their public and what I am doing here . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: What did they do in B.C.?

MR. DOWNE: Well, what did they do in B.C.? I am talking about Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, would you ask . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. For the third and final time, I will remind the honourable member of relevancy and I would ask him to speak specifically to the six months' hoist. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: So this letter, Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to table it, says that in six months hence we would have been able to allow not only the Auditor General of this province, the man all of us respect, but all Nova Scotians to understand the implication of this budget.

[Page 4668]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table for the House, a copy of the letter and I would ask if they would be so kind as to read it and understand what we are trying to do here and that is ferret out - as the Premier says - what this budget is all about. If we don't do what we are doing right now, in six months from now people will know all too well what this budget is all about and they will go and say, why has this Progressive Conservative Government forsaken us, taken us out and hurt us so badly? They would go, six months from now, to the good member for Shelburne and say, my member for Shelburne, why have you accepted a budget that is so painful to the good people of Shelburne? Then the people of the two members from Kings County, they would go to them and say, members, why have you done this?

Six months from now they will know the implications of what an impact Agriculture cuts will have on the farming community in the Valley. In fact, they are understanding them right now. In fact, the phone calls I am getting from farmers right now are saying, Don, we are very concerned and we are upset and we are frustrated. Six months from now, those farmers are going to be so mad that they have not had the opportunity to have the expertise they are so accustomed to under previous Progressive Conservative and Liberal Governments for many years. I wonder, former Premier on a short-term basis and Minister of Agriculture - I guess it was about six months ago, maybe it was longer than that, but maybe it was four months ago, but that member was always a strong advocate and you know him by the way, Mr. Speaker, you know him very well, a good advocate for agriculture. I am sure in six months from now he and his family, because they are farmers, will really understand what this minister and what this government has truly done.

The impact of six months to allow members of this House to understand what this bill is all about and this budget is all about, would be helpful. It would be helpful for us to have a study to determine many aspects of this bill and its costs and implications and benefits. It would be great to have six months to determine what these estimates really mean, department by department.

Six months from now, Mr. Speaker, we would understand the implication of resolving the Alcohol and Gaming Authority. Six months from now we would understand what the implication will be in regard to the Chairman of the Alcohol and Gaming Authority being let go. I am sure the government has consulted with lawyers on how they are going to deal with that and maybe they have not, but if they have not, I am sure they will be, in regard to breaking those contracts with that individual, and I wonder what it will cost the government of the day.

Six months from now we would understand the impact it will have on the overall budget, Mr. Speaker. Six months from now we will understand whether or not the URB, in fact, would be able to take over the regulatory responsibilities and administer the full intent of the Alcohol and Gaming Authority in its quasi-judicial process and authority. I do trust the URB, I do. I think they are a tremendous body of very competent people but, obviously, that transition will take a little time and the people there will make it as smooth as possible, but

[Page 4669]

clearly six months from now, to study that transition, it would make it even smoother and better. I am sure the good minister and member for Hants West would agree.

We would have a better understanding of the changes of Part III of the Corrections Act and maybe that has been said before, it is just basically housekeeping activities. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't, but six months from now we would have a better understanding of what that implication will be.

In Part IV, when they talk about the Emergency "911" Act, was it six months ago, how many months ago was it that the Minister of Health had a bill before us and in that bill it had something to do with the possibility and the ability to charge a fee on the phone for 911? It appears to me that it was the Minister of Health who said maybe six months ago, if we had the study six months from now, we would be able to study this process and we would understand it even better, but, Mr. Speaker, it appears to me that the good minister said, well gosh, I didn't even know that was there. It is not a big deal. I probably would never use it. It is just meant to be put in there in the event that if ever any government in the future would consider charging a fee for 911, or maybe 25 or 30 years from now somebody might want to do that, he wanted to put that in this bill.

Do you remember that, and if we hadn't been able to study that for six months, we would have realized that today, it is in the Financial Measures (2000) Act because all the time they knew what was in there and what the intention was behind having a fee built into being able to legally charge (Interruption)

I think so. I have been told that I have the ability to speak for a long period of time, not as good as the member who just was referring to me as being long-winded, but I'm not. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: I will move down an octave.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am quite aware the honourable member has the ability to speak, but if he wants to have the opportunity to speak, I would ask him to stick to the amendment which is the six months' hoist, please.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: So, the 911 bill, in fact, when the Minister of Health did bring it in six months ago, if we had a chance to study it like we should do now, and six months hence study Bill No. 46, we would understand they, in fact, had this idea all the time.

[Page 4670]

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Financial Measures (2000) Act and I think we should be studying it for some six months before we actually deal with it so we know what it is all about. I think, on first blush, there are some good aspects. I know some people don't want the Opposition to say that, but there are some good initiatives in there. I will give the government that due. But there are also more areas of concern that I feel should be addressed, that I don't understand, and they worry me, by the way they are put together.

We have heard this government speak quite a bit about financial accountability, openness, honesty, integrity, a government that will consult. Well my hope is that they change from what they have been saying, I mean, talk is cheap, but when I hear the Minister of Agriculture stand in this House and say he has consulted with the Federation of Agriculture, and when I talked to the Federation of Agriculture, they say, well just a minute, maybe some members of the Federation of Agriculture. When I talked to members of the Federation of Agriculture, the commodities, they say, we have not been consulted on this issue. We have not given our blessing on this issue, and we have not said yes, shut down the production technology branch and fire the 55 people that provide over 130 services to the farm community in Nova Scotia.

Financial accountability, openness, honesty, integrity. We have heard it. It is time to see it. We heard the stories that have been said about financial ruin. This province is an economic basket case, it is a disaster, according to the government. This government has told Nova Scotians about the massive uphill struggle that this province has to undertake, what they are facing in regard to the future of this province, and how these cuts are so absolutely necessary. My good colleague, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour spoke earlier about the sense he feels that Nova Scotians are losing hope already about the future of this province.

[3:30 p.m.]

I remember all too well in 1993, when we took over government, inheriting a fairly substantial debt and part of this bill, and I will talk about it later, but I think if you use the consolidation of debt application back in 1993, the debt would be substantially higher than what a previous speaker was referring to. We are talking literally billions of dollars but it is not a matter of saying us and they. The reality is, this province, over many years, has gotten itself in a challenge. So what the minister of the day has done is said we have to deal with that.

AN HON. MEMBER: We should look at the Income Tax Act and increase it.

MR. DOWNE: Well, we agree that we have to deal with it because we have been part of the government that has moved that way. But when we get into the details of this bill and what this budget is about, we realize all too well that maybe this government has made a fundamental flaw in the fact that they have tried to trump those numbers so high and live by the other side of the goal post. The blue book, where they talk about giving a tax reduction

[Page 4671]

at some time later, three years or four years - we keep getting confusion on it; the Premier says three and everybody else says four and so on and so forth - they have themselves in a situation where they have trumped it up to force the elimination . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think I have been more than fair with the honourable member in regard to speaking to the amendment. Several times I have tried to bring him back to relevancy and I don't feel he has, so I will ask the next speaker from the next Party, please. (Interruptions) Order, please.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. It is not my ability to challenge you, but I quite clearly heard the previous speaker indicating a lot of concerns and he was expressing the view - and he did a number of times - that over a six month period there would be an opportunity to evaluate those concerns and therefore be able to come back and make this bill a bit better. That is a traditional debate in this House when dealing with a six months' hoist, over the 15 years.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I have made a ruling that I think Hansard will reveal itself, if you read it. You can only say the same thing so many times. Several times I have asked the member to come back, talking about previous governments. I have made a decision. I am asking for the next speaker.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Never before in this House has a Speaker shut down somebody in debate on an amendment the way you have just tried to shut down the member for Lunenburg West.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruption)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: It is right!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: It is right. You have not given that member the opportunity to argue, to debate. The idea that you have just decided that he was being too repetitious, Mr. Speaker, is absolutely erroneous. This has never happened before in my 10 years in this House . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: . . . now I understand that the government has a timetable but that is not your job.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I have asked for the next speaker.

[Page 4672]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: That is not good enough.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I move that you adjourn this House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I call for a recorded vote right now. (Applause)

MR. JOHN HOLM: I second the call for the recorded vote.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member was on his feet on a point of order.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I will get up again, and I call a motion that we adjourn this House right now. It is wrong what you are doing, Mr. Speaker, and I want the business of this House to adjourn.

AN HON. MEMBER: A recorded vote.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: And I call for a recorded vote as well . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: I second it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shameful.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Shameful behaviour.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member come to order. The honourable member will come to order!

AN HON. MEMBER: Turf them out.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There has been (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable member was on his feet on a point of order, was he not? The honourable member was on his feet on a point of order and then he called for . . .

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I just got up again. I am up again.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I would ask you to take your seat, please. You rose . . .

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: . . . didn't work.

[Page 4673]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member will take his seat. He rose on a point of order. He didn't even give the Speaker a chance to rule on it so I would ask you to take your seat, please. Now, as I said earlier, I made a decision after listening to about 35 minutes of the honourable member's debate that there was a lot of repetition. Several times I called him to order, I asked him to refer to why (Interruptions) Order, please. As to why (Interruptions) Order, please. I would ask the honourable member to return to speaking about why there should be a six months' hoist, not what we would hear in second reading. I would ask the honourable member to take his seat, and I would ask him to remain in his seat until I am finished. Once more and I will ask the honourable member to leave this room. If he continues, I am going to ask him to leave this room. Therefore, I will call for the next speaker, because of the reason I have given. I made a decision, and my decision is not to be questioned. (Interruptions) Order, please.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as I begin my remarks, I want to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is the honourable rising on a point of order?

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, no, I am not. Didn't you call for the next speaker?

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. I certainly respect your opinion, but I would ask to assist members in the House because although I am not questioning your ruling, I do have concerns about what I understood. I would ask if the Speaker would be kind enough, for the benefit of all members in the Opposition, to provide, in written form, the analysis of the repetition that you refer to. I clearly listened to the speech, and I didn't hear the repetition. (Interruptions) I didn't hear it, and I am just asking . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. As I said earlier, I think if the honourable member would review Hansard, he would see that several times the Speaker brought the honourable member to order to speak to the hoist. (Interruptions) Order, please.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I thought I knew what the parameters in debate were in this House, and maybe over the next little while we will find out that there are some new parameters. I guess we will have to get familiar with those new parameters. As I am beginning my remarks, I want to make it perfectly clear to you, Mr. Speaker, and to every other member on the Tory bench, and that is that each and every one of my comments is prefaced with the understanding that the words six months are attached before it, and that we are suggesting over a six month period.

[Page 4674]

Now I can, if you wish, Mr. Speaker, as I begin each new and individual little topic and each individual phrase, I can hold up and wag a flag that says six months or I can repeat the phrase over six months, if you wish, but that might be a little repetitious. I wouldn't want to be repetitious because then I might get in trouble with this House. I do want you to know that I am standing in support of this very responsible amendment and resolution that has been brought in by my colleague. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, what we have before us is a motion, and if I may be excused from being repetitious, I would like to read the motion that is under consideration. The motion reads, "That Bill No. 46, the Financial Measures (2000) Act, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months' hence." That expression, six months' hence, refers to a hoist. But we on this side of the House, unlike the members on the government benches, we wish to be cooperative and to be helpful, which is why we have brought forward this amendment.

I look across the floor, Mr. Speaker, and I don't know if I am allowed to be sidetracked by the rabbit tracks from government members over there who are laughing at the hardship they are causing the people of this province, but over a six month period there are many things that can be done. For example, in six months the MLAs who represent the constituencies in Cumberland County, those MLAs who represent Colchester County, over six months, over that period of time - today is what? I don't have a calendar - it is April 28th, that is May, June, July, August, September, October, October 28th is when this bill should come back and between now and then the members for Colchester County, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, the member for Yarmouth, they can bond. Even the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, if he can draw himself away from going to certain - what are those meetings that are being held? Over six months he can turn his attention to bonding with his constituents and find out about the impact of this bill.

Let's look at this bill because that is what this is all about. I have not actually weighed the two items, but my guess is, this bill probably weighs about as much as a Prince Edward Island telephone book, maybe more. It is a pretty hefty document in terms of weight and maybe the members across will actually within six months have time to read it. I don't know if they will or not, but this legislation is a companion piece of legislation to the budget. That is what it is. It has been quite obvious that over the last six months that this government has been preparing the budget that the government members were not involved in the preparation of the budget. I don't even know if all Cabinet Ministers were or if they were just given the information by the handpicked few that the Premier has chosen to tell the other front bench people what to do.

I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, but it is quite obvious over the last six months the backbench members for sure have not had any involvement in the preparation of the budget. I think that is very unfair to them. I really think that it is unfair that those who are charged with the primary responsibility of sitting in this House to keep the numbers up so that the

[Page 4675]

government maintains its quorum, I think that it is extremely unfair that over the last six months that they have not been involved in the process.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. For the first time, I will remind the honourable member he is to speak to the six months' hoist amendment that is before this House.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your listening carefully to what I have been saying because before your last warning, I mentioned over the last six months that they have not and over the next six months there will be an opportunity. If you listen carefully to what I am saying, not to what others are saying, you will have very clearly heard that I had said that just prior to your warning. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you withdraw that warning because I do not feel I deserve that warning because I had made that reference immediately before that comment.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The hoist is about six months in the future, not six months in the past.

MR. HOLM: When you are talking about into the future, you have to build from the past and do you know over the past six months - and I will say that phrase again - they have not been involved. They have not heard their constituents. They have not listened to their constituents and this bill in six months, if it is implemented, will have major implications for the women and the children and the businesses in their communities and, darn it all, Mr. Speaker - and I am choosing my words very carefully and not letting my inner heat get to me because I might be inclined to say something this afternoon that is slightly unparliamentary, given what I have been seeing going on - but over the next six months there would be an opportunity for them to hear from their constituents and then go back to speak to the Minister of Finance, to speak to the Premier, the real power brokers in this province, and effect some change that would bring something positive into the lives of the residents who live in their constituencies instead of the devastation that they are bringing about.

[3:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, if one takes a look over the next six months, over this period before the bill is read again, maybe members on the government benches can assist those in the Opposition, because we have been told by the Premier to be little ferrets, we are to be good little ferrets over here, we are supposed to be going out and digging and rooting through the budget to find out what those items are that are being axed by this government. We are told to be good little ferrets and over six months we will do our ferreting away and we will post the information for Nova Scotians, because we are told that we are supposed to ferret out the 300 programs that are being altered by this government.

[Page 4676]

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you know, this is a companion piece of legislation to the budget. This is putting the budget policies into effect. It contains amendments to the Income Tax Act; it contains powers to privatize; in this legislation we are talking about having studied for six months, it contains information on power grabs by this government. Over the next six months when this bill has been hoisted - we like to be cooperative over on this side, we are even willing, with some cooperation from the government on this motion that is before us, that we would even amend it. We would even amend it to say three months if our ferreting is very successful, and our ferreting could be very successful if the government members who took and gave their word to Nova Scotians, not too many months ago, to be open, to be honest, to be transparent, we could even agree to reduce that six months down to three, if the government would come forward.

Now let's look at a couple of other realities. One of the things in this bill, of course, deals with the Income Tax Act. Do you know, Mr. Speaker, that is something that the budget depends upon extensively. Over six months, we can examine the proposed Income Tax Act that is in that legislation. We can examine that to see if it is, in fact, fair to Nova Scotians. We can have an examination to find out what kind of an impact the refusal of the Tories to eliminate the income tax creep-clause provisions in that Act will have on the lower and middle income families particularly. It is a major tax grab that is contained in that legislation.

Nova Scotians have a right to have that information provided to them. We aren't getting it and over six months, as the members across the way, whether that be the member for Kings South or Kings North or Dartmouth South, they can go out and bond with their constituents. Knock on the doors and say over the next six months: Hi! Remember me, I was here a year ago. Well, I'm back now, over the next proceeding six months, to ask your opinion, saying: Hello! Remember what we promised? What do you think about us taking back our handshake?

Six months, Mr. Speaker, is an important amount of time. Within six months, we might have a clue what the Education budget in this province is. We might know what it is. We have a budget here that is being rewritten as we speak. In six months' time, we might have an idea of how much money is in the Education budget. School boards might know. Hello! How much money have we got? How many teachers are going to be laid off? How many of the resource teachers are going to be gone? How many teacher's aides who provide essential assistance to those children with special needs? We will know that hopefully within six months.

We will know within six months how many maintenance people and caretakers are going to be let go? Or within six months we will have learned whether or not the Tory members - whether they be the minister from Antigonish, the member for Pictou West, or Pictou East - have heard what their constituents are telling them. We will know if they pay any attention to what their constituents have told them and we will know if they have had the courage to stand in their place in this House and to report on what their constituents have

[Page 4677]

said. Six months. Short time, but very important and valuable time. Six months, six months hence. We will have a better understanding of how many children are going to be disadvantaged even further because of the Minister of Community Services' budget. We will know. We already know that right now six more children in Nova Scotia, to our discredit, to our shame, are being born into poverty.

We will know in six months and have a better handle of how those numbers have increased as a result of the cold, heartless policies being implemented by this government and the minister. Hopefully, within that six month period of time, the minister and his colleagues, who find all of this debate very amusing and uninteresting, sitting on the backbenches, will find out more over the next six months when they go home and talk to their constituents. Maybe then they will have heard and maybe within six months they will learn to have cared about the impacts that those families, those individuals, those on disability, are going to be inflicted with because of your Tory budget.

Mr. Speaker, do you want to counter that? Over the next six months we can look at other ways to address things other than following the Donald Cameron-John Savage cut/slash approach. We know that we do have financial problems in this province, nobody has their head buried in the sand. The only ones with their heads in the sand are the Tories who stick their heads in the sand so that they don't see all of the problems that exist around them, and who refuse to see any solutions, other than to cut and to slash.

In six months, we can do a proper evaluation of the corporate tax structure in this province, the corporate tax structure which is the most generous in this country. I remember without wanting to trespass, but it is important for moving forward in the six month frame. I remember governments arguing that we had to have the lowest workers' compensation rates in this province because that will attract business and create jobs. All it did was create a huge debt at the Workers' Compensation Board, it didn't create jobs. This government, over the last period of time, has been listening very intently to the views of a few, a small select group with personal interests and something to gain.

Over the next six months, hopefully, you will listen to more than Murray Coolican and your big backroom friends, the movers and shakers of the metro Chamber of Commerce. Maybe you will listen to the employees of those movers and shakers who themselves have concerns about what is going to happen to the quality of education for their children or for their grandchildren, for their nephews and nieces, who are concerned about the education for themselves and the health care for the whole group.

Let's take a look at corporate taxes. In Nova Scotia and maybe over six months, this proposition can be examined. Right now we know that small businesses in this province pay at a rate of 5 per cent on their taxable profits. Large corporations - and this has six months ahead of it, in case you didn't hear what we are going to be examining over six months - pay at the rate of 16 per cent. But those large corporations still get that tax break on that first

[Page 4678]

$200,000 of profits. On the first $200,000 of profits, they only pay at the small business tax rate of 5 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, over six months, maybe we could take a look at certain things, maybe we could take a look at how many businesses owned by the Sobeys interests are there in Nova Scotia, and how many, over the next six months, we could ask (Interruptions) I shouldn't just pick on this one family and I won't, so I will throw some others in in a few moments, but how many of those businesses each have, individually, profits of over $200,000?

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member allow an introduction?

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I just want to note, in the west gallery is Paul Black, the former President of Acadia University Student Union, and a good friend of some of us in the House. Please rise and accept the acknowledgement of the House. (Applause)

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome that opportunity, and welcome our guests, and welcome the opportunity to rest my voice for just a moment. Now I will resume my train of thought as to what we can do over the next six months, as we are examining the tax structures in this province.

Mr. Speaker, let's just take - and I was dealing with Sobeys - I don't claim to have all the details of all the corporations, but they do own Empire Group, right? They do own Sobeys Shopping Centres, the Real Atlantic Shopping Centre, and they own a number of different shopping centres. They have a real estate division, they have the grocery store division, they have the Needs Convenience stores division, that is five right there. Halifax Developments and more, but let's just stop on those five. We will know that. Over six months we could do a total search. The Department of Finance, they have some pretty capable people and officials in the Department of Finance, I am not going to carry that so far as to say the minister, but the staff in Nova Scotia is very capable. We are very fortunate in Nova Scotia to have a very dedicated, hard-working Public Service. It is just too bad we didn't treat them with the respect that they deserve and give them the credit that they deserve. The staff . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if the honourable member could enlighten the Chair as to what the staff of the province has to do with the hoist amendment before the House today.

MR. HOLM: Certainly, I would be happy to. I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, I hope you are up for the discussion. I really wish you could add some time to what I have left, because I don't think I could answer that question fully in the amount of time that I have remaining.

[Page 4679]

Mr. Speaker, what does having a capable, qualified Public Service have to do with this? Surely, if we are going to be doing examinations, if we are going to be doing this detailed calculation over the next six months, we want to know that we have a very highly principled, extremely capable Public Service that is helping us to do that evaluation. Surely you don't expect that the ministers themselves do the work. They give the directions, and they expect the Public Service to provide them with the information, based on the directives that they give. The Minister of Finance, I am sure, knows how to turn on a computer and to go through the pages. Maybe over six months he could learn how to do all of that. How am I doing? Are you starting to understand where I am coming from? I think he is, because it is extremely important, and we should be grateful that we have that staff. I am sure you would agree, Mr. Speaker, that you are very grateful and proud of our hard-working men and women who work for us in this province.

[4:00 p.m.]

Let's get back to the point, over that six months, capable staff I am sure can complete within six months, maybe even four or five months, a thorough search and find out how many businesses, whether they be owned by Sobeys or MTT, Nova Scotia Power - which has done very well, thank you very much, from governments in the past, especially Tory ones - how much in the way of tax breaks those big players are getting.

Let's say, Mr. Speaker, over that six months, we discover - and I do not think this figure will be off very far, if at all - at least $10 million to $15 million in tax breaks. Then over the six months we could say, now we have a lot of priorities in Nova Scotia. We have children. In six months from now those children will be in school again, many of them in their second month of school for the school year 2000-01. In that six months we could detect and find out how much money we are giving away easily.

We could even conduct a poll and say to Nova Scotia Power, will you pull up and leave Nova Scotia if we put our tax rate up to the fair rate? I could just see them going out and yanking up all their posts, and pulling up their office towers and running away to set up business somewhere else. Maybe. (Interruptions) Oh, in six months they might. Got my doubts, but they could.

We could look at how we could actually generate a fair revenue, a return from those corporations and then, Mr. Speaker, in six months' time when we are going to be dealing with this legislation again, the government, maybe the Minister of Education would like to sponsor some amendments to this bill so that the big corporate friends who say cut and slash so we can get more profits, cut our taxes (Interruptions) The Murray Coolicans (Interruptions) Yes, the Shaws, too, if they are in that bracket, every one of them. I say, then the minister in six months would like to move amendments to insert some more money into the Education budget so that the children would not suffer. In six months, we can do an awful lot of things.

[Page 4680]

Mr. Speaker, corporations in Nova Scotia contribute 6.9 per cent. The national average for all other provinces is 10 per cent. Maybe over the six month period we could have some studies done. I am sure there are all kinds of people who would do this, even for free. You don't need to go out and hire consultants so that the friends of government are being hired again. We could get groups like the Policy Alternative, but there are all kinds of groups very capable.

The former Minister of Labour is suggesting that the Federation of Labour should be involved in that as well over the next six months. You can bring people together with very divergent views who are often seen as being in conflict. We have seen that done with health and safety legislation for example. In six months a lot can be accomplished.

We could have a detailed evaluation of our tax system, and we could examine how it is that the large corporations are paying such a small percentage here compared to other places and why it is that individuals are paying a large amount. We could look at it over six months. For example, the Tory tax grab is not going to eliminate the income tax creep. So that means that as a person's income tax goes up slightly - I am explaining what it is so I can carry forward with the six months, because you have to explain what it is so you can understand, Mr. Speaker, what the six months will enable us to do - people have to understand that as your income goes up, if you move into another tax bracket, the taxpayer, who is everybody in our constituencies, yours, Mr. Speaker, in the member for Shelburne's, and Yarmouth, Digby, and all members, as your income goes up, your taxes are then going up because in Nova Scotia we have not adjusted the rate of deductions to inflation, like the federal government has. Tax creep is here. Nova Scotians are going to be paying more and more without taking a look at inflation.

Maybe in six months, Mr. Speaker, we could say over the next year, what are the projected income bracket increases and we could take a look at what are the projected inflation drivers going to be and what would be the amount of money that a person would have to have in their pockets at the end of the year compared to what they had at the start of the year so that they have maintained their equal buying power and adjust the personal income tax accordingly. Then we could take a look at it and we could say, okay, we know we need to generate x numbers of dollars so you don't have to continue to gouge the middle and low income earners.

They are the vast majority of people in this province, Mr. Speaker. They are the ones being gouged who are paying the most and then we could look and say, well, we need this amount of money to maintain or develop the program. So in order to get that much extra money, how much more do we have to take from those companies that are doing extremely well at our largesse by paying the lowest tax rates in the country? We could say, you know, if we increased the tax on Nova Scotia Power by 0.2 per cent, peanuts to them, maybe we could look at how we can start to get some revenue, a fair rate of return, and maybe the minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Resources Limited, who happens to be the Minister

[Page 4681]

of Finance, could come back within six months and tell us how he is going to correct the injustice in terms of what we are receiving from our oil resources. We could get those kind of things. I am sure that the department staff has the ability, with the proper guidance from this House, they can come up with that information.

Then, Mr. Speaker, over that six month period of time they can do the calculations and they can then say, all right, we can amend this Act to stop gouging the middle and low income families in this province and give them a bit of a tax break which I know would please to no end the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley because I heard him talking outside to the media about taxes. So I am sure he would support this. So within six months we could have developed a proper tax system.

AN HON. MEMBER: John Holm might be Prime Minister.

MR. HOLM: You never know. Mr. Speaker, within six months maybe the Minister of Health will be able to tell the hospitals what their budgets are going to be because they don't know yet. They don't know yet. Hospitals - and this is extremely important and it is something that has to be done and this will give us time - have submitted budgets, original plans that were rejected and they were told to come back with new plans, but they have not been told what their new plans are to be. They are to submit them to the Minister of Health within about one month's time and sometime within the next number of months the Minister of Health will tell them if those plans are approved. Those hospitals are not even allowed to start to cut, to start to live within the budget amounts that they have been told that they must live within by this government. They are being forced to over-expend.

Now, in six months, within six months the government may finally say, okay, we have looked at plans, we realize that what we are telling you to do is going to be devastating, even more devastating on the health care in this province, and they can have worked with our institutions, our health care facilities, to have devised health care plans that are sustainable and provide your family, provide my family and, more importantly, provide the families of all Nova Scotians who we are entrusted to look after their health care and to ensure that they have a system that meets their needs. Within six months. Right now the budgets haven't even been prepared, the plans aren't there. They are being ordered to overspend, because you can't cut. But they are told you have to balance. You can't cut, you must overspend, but somehow you are supposed to balance.

Mr. Speaker, the way it is going right now, it could be that those hospitals, in five months' time, have their plans approved, and then they have to make the cuts, not over a 12 month period but over a seven month period; it is almost double the depth and the sharpness of the blade.

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I am sure that the honourable member for Kings South is very concerned about health care; I know it has been a raging issue in Wolfville and in the Valley. In the next six months, I am sure that member will have a chance to bond with the people in Kings South. They will bond with him, and they will tell him exactly what they think about what he is doing and what the Tory Government is doing. Hopefully within six months, they will be patting him on the back and complimenting him.

Mr. Speaker, wouldn't it be nice if, in six months' time, that you and all of the colleagues on the government benches were able to go out and be patted on the back, and for us in here and for your constituents, for Nova Scotians generally to say, job well done, thank you. Nothing would please me more than to know - whether we are on opposite sides or not, the reality is we are all elected to serve, we are all charged with the responsibility to ensure that we are meeting people's needs - that we are taking a balanced approach; not the lopsided one that we see by this government right now but, in six months, with proper consultation, with proper listening, they may actually get it right, and I hope that they do. They may get it right.

Mr. Speaker, I am told government members are laughing. Well, I hope within six months, those laughs will be gone. I hope that the laughs that are coming from government members will be gone in six months and that their faces will be covered, from ear to ear, with happy smiles, happy smiles put there because they know they have done the right thing. In six months, this will come about as a result of consultations on this bill.

Let's look at some other things that we can do on this bill in six months. This bill, of course, is filled with a lot of principles. Many of these principles, they aren't little things that have no significance upon the life of this province, they are things that are extremely important for the future well-being. Six months, right now.

Let's just take a look at one thing. We have a partner in government, the one that we all talk about as being the government closest to the people, and that is the municipal level of government. In six months' time municipalities will have had an opportunity to look at and examine this legislation which has - how many pages in it? - 98, and if you include the covers, we are at 100 pages, like the size of the phone book. Anyway, I won't repeat myself on that.

They will have had an opportunity to have their legal advisers examine this. Now one of the things in here has to do with giving municipalities a power to do something, and that is a power to determine whether or not they are going to want to levy a tax upon machinery and equipment.

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[4:15 p.m.]

There are several important principles here that I think we have to examine very carefully. I do say this in all sincerity, in fact, it was a Conservative Government that tried to correct problems that had existed before. Honestly, I have fears that this will return to a problem that existed before. You may remember, Mr. Speaker, that the Conservative Government - and I was supportive of this - moved to consolidate a lot of the industrial commissions that existed in particular areas.

Once upon a time we had municipalities competing with each other, trying to give tax breaks to industrial parks and so on.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I remind the honourable member again about relevance, the hoist amendment.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, with the absolute greatest respect I can muster, I assure you, this has every bit of relevance and cannot be any clearer, and I invite you to read Hansard in terms of what I have been saying to ensure yourself I will even agree to a suspension or an adjournment of the House if you would like to get the draft copies of Hansard to see if what I am saying and what I have been saying is relevant, because I contend very strongly that it has been. I am trying to paint the picture for you and for your ever-intent colleagues on the government benches. (Interruptions) I am trying to explain what needs to be looked at here and why because, Mr. Speaker, I know you are a forward-looking person, and as a forward-looking person, you would not want us to create problems and return to situations that were not as healthy for your community and others as in the past.

Here is my point for the six months. The touch of history that is necessary is short but to move forward. Municipalities used to compete by giving different tax breaks to businesses to locate in their communities. One might have a business in another municipality that would give a bigger tax break and companies move from place to place. My concern, Mr. Speaker, as we are moving into the next six months, is that what this is doing is setting up a situation where we could find ourselves going back to the future. My concern, and this is what we could talk to the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities about over the next six months and to the other municipal leaders who are important people in the government in the life of this province. We could ask, one, do you want this power? Do you want this responsibility? Secondly, let's take a look at it.

Could this then also lead to a situation where one municipality is competing with another municipality, one might say, well we want to raise this tax and we desperately need the money. So we are going to raise a levy. We are going to raise a tax on machinery and equipment. The neighbouring municipality might say, well, we need jobs, so we are going to cut the levy on machinery and equipment. Competition is good business sense. Well, it may be good for those businesses, but it might mean the business from one area then relocates to

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another area because they get better tax breaks. Some people say, that is competition and that is fair. The ones it is fair to are those who are getting the tax breaks, and it is harmful to those communities who depend on those programs and services that is returning to the past, something that the Party to which you belong had moved to correct or attempt to correct. I don't know, Mr. Speaker, if that is such a good idea. But, in six months, we might have a pretty good idea because we can examine that over that six month period of time.

There are a bunch of other things we can take a look at. Maybe over the next six months, we can do an examination of the 911 charges being imposed here. That was a tax measure that was imposed and then dropped last fall; government backed off. Now in this telephone-book-sized bill they slipped it back in. (Interruption) That brings up the whole issue of fees and taxes.

I am glad you made me think of that, Mr. Speaker, by encouraging me. You know, we have a lot of fees being charged and the budget is before us. No matter how hard we are digging and scratching and ferreting out, we haven't had the full cooperation of members on the government benches. Has anybody else more luck that I have? When you have been asking the government members (Interruption) over the next six months maybe, but so far as we have been asking, when you want to know, well what fees are going up, what new charges, what new taxes? Then, how much are each one of those little items going to add? We have been given those blank stares. Probably because, quite truthfully, the government honestly - and I am being as fair to them as I can - hasn't got a clue. They don't know yet how much money those are going to raise and quite honestly, they probably haven't yet determined which fees are going up because this is a budget that is in process. It is being constructed as we speak. But in the magic six months, Mr. Speaker, I hope you are not getting tired of having me being repetitive by mentioning six months over and over again.

But, Mr. Speaker, it is important. In six months' time, government officials and the government members should have had an opportunity to know how much more money is expected to be generated from each individual item. In six months, they should be able to tell us and to live up to their commitment to be open, to be candid, to be trustworthy. They should be able, in six months, to be able to stand here in the House when they are calling this bill for debate again for the second reading, they should be able to stand up and each one of the ministers like good little do-bees stand in their place. The Minister of Economic Development said, this is my list of programs that are going to be altered and changed, this is my list of fees that are going to be increased. Then we could go maybe to the Minister of Education and the Minister of Education could say this is what programs are going to be changed in my Department of Education, this is the list of fees that are going to be charged. I am sure in six months, the Minister of Education can stand in her place and say, here they are. Can't do it now.

[Page 4685]

I know in six months' time they won't be expecting us to be little ferrets anymore, digging our way through the budget estimates, sniffing and trying to weave our way through - they will be reformed.

AN HON. MEMBER: Reformers.

MR. HOLM: Some of them might be reformers, but I am not going to be sidetracked. They will know because as they have been bonding with their constituents over the six months, they will have been told that their behaviour, their practices are unacceptable and in six months' time, they will become forward. I know probably the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, if he is still here, will also welcome that information being made public. I am sure in six months' time, wherever he may be, he will be welcoming, knowing that his constituents, who he works for and who he stands in this House on behalf of, that he will be very pleased to know that they will have that information.

Mr. Speaker, the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission is being modified. It is being amended here and then it is going to be wound up. It is going to be wound up. That is going to become the responsibility of the Department of Economic Development. Does anybody here think the members on the government benches, most of them, know what that body does?

Maybe some of them, to show their depth of understanding, might even want to get up and explain later on what their vision, or what they see that body doing. If I can sum it up into a nutshell very briefly (Interruption) I want to thank the member for his confidence, but that body, the six months here is very important because it is not much time to do it, so we have to be very efficient on this one because it is extremely important.

The Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission, that body is responsible for managing, in effect, the port. That body promotes this port in our capital region. Now, over six months something so important, don't you think and I appreciate, Mr. Speaker, you cannot respond on that so I am just generally speaking here because in order to be following the rules, I am supposed to speak through the Speaker, so I am trying to follow that rule. The point that I am throwing out is a question to be reflected upon by members. Don't you think that it is extremely important that we would spend some time meeting with and talking with those who are involved at the present time in the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission and to talk with those with whom they are dealing, and try to find out what kind of implications winding up that Port Commission will have on the future of our harbour, the future of our port upon which thousands of jobs depend?

Do you know, Mr. Speaker, maybe in that six months period of time - I am not going to be so presumptuous to say that I know what the outcome is because I need time to study that matter, that is a very weighty difficult issue to look at, but do you know the port generates a lot of wealth for this province and if we act in haste and wind up that commission,

[Page 4686]

that could mean that the province as well as, Heavens forbid, driving away or losing businesses or losing opportunities, a loss of tax revenues.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know if six months is enough time. I hope it is and I am sure that those who, like myself and others, are concerned about the economic and social well-being of our province. I am sure if we cannot complete an exhaustive study in that six months period of time, we can do a darn good job of coming up with almost a complete report, and then in six months' time we can look at this legislation and we can look at the section that deals with that - it is Clause 9 of the bill - and we can say, now, all right, we now have a better understanding about what the commission does, of not only what it does but what we want it to do and what our vision is for its development and enhancement.

[4:30 p.m.]

We would also have, in six months time, Mr. Speaker, a better understanding but really, does the Department of Economic Development really have the ability to be the ones to be running that Port Commission and to be doing the job properly? The Minister of Economic Development, fine chap that he is, but is he the best one to have them reporting to? I don't know if others think six months is enough time or not. If people don't think that it is, I would be happy to support an amendment that would say, if people wanted, on the government benches, to move an amendment that would give more time to examine that one particular feature saying that the bill not be read six months hence except for clause such-and-such and that that be dealt with a year from now. Well, if we want to do that, we, on this side, to make sure that there is sufficient time to address the issues properly, we, of course, in the spirit of cooperation that we try to provide to this government - I am sure I can persuade my colleagues, who are all very agreeable and amicable - could get some kind of an agreement that we could even extend that period of time, if need be, if the government wants.

Mr. Speaker, legislation, we have to take a look at some things because it is doing some pretty serious things here, too. In six months' time, that is between now and October 28th. We would even agree, I am sure, because we are cooperative, to rapidly passing this amendment if government members are so agreeable, would agree to pass this if they request us to pass it right away when they say that we are going to support this amendment and we want to pass it. We, I am sure, to speed the process of this six months' evaluation would give speedy passage to the amendment that was introduced by my colleague because one of the things that this legislation does, is it gives massive new powers to Cabinet. Some might say in six months we would determine if this is true or not (Interruption)

But that it is a massive power grab. Do you know, not only does legislation give them this power grab but do you know the government, they have been busy little beavers over there. They have been so busy that they haven't had time to do their job. They haven't, in six months . . .

[Page 4687]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: Yes?

MR. SPEAKER: I needn't remind the member of relevance and why the amendment and the six months' hoist. I would ask the honourable member to keep his remarks to the reason why this amendment should take place. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid has the floor.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, look I want to thank you for that, too, because you are so helpful to me because your comments are leading me right into my next phrase. Some people would think that we are tag team here because you are providing me so much help.

Mr. Speaker, here is my point, what we can do over those six months. I talked about the power grab but they didn't have time to develop the regulations that this legislation gives them this massive power to. Well in six months, within six months I am sure that the regulations that they intend to go along with this power grab can be drafted and they can be presented along with this bill in six months' time so that when we look at this, we will be able to have the full meal deal. We will be able to give the combination platter. We will get the legislation which gives the government power but then we will also have the framework, the meat on the bones. I think that would be extremely responsible. I know the Tories want to be as responsible - as much as they try to hide that - they want to be as responsible as possible.

Mr. Speaker, in six months' time we could maybe have studies done to determine what kind costs. Maybe in six months we will know what kind of costs are going to be imposed upon school boards and upon hospital boards and others, because of the government deciding to put the arbitration costs to the boards rather than having them split three ways. That has costs, and in six months that will have some implications. In six months' time we therefore, hopefully when this bill comes back in six months for debate - and I look forward to speaking in six months' time on it, maybe I will still be speaking about it uninterrupted in six months' time. Mr. Speaker, I look forward to coming back at a future time and I now move the debate on this bill be adjourned. I move adjournment of debate on Bill No. 46.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion has been made to adjourn debate.

A recorded vote is being called for.

Ring the bells at the pleasure of the Whips.

[4:38 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

[Page 4688]

[5:37 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: On the motion to adjourn debate, there was a request for a recorded vote. We will now have the recorded vote.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Christie

Mr. Baker

Mr. Russell

Mr. LeBlanc

Mr. Muir

Mr. Fage

Mr. Parent

Ms. McGrath

Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Taylor

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Langille

Mr. Morse

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Dr. Smith

Ms. Maureen MacDonald

Mr. Estabrooks

Mr. MacKinnon

Mr. Pye

THE CLERK: For, 26. Opposed, none.

MR. SPEAKER: The vote is carried in the affirmative.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 4689]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet on Monday at the hour of 12:00 noon and sit until 10:00 p.m. The order of business will be Supply and if there is sufficient time, there will be Public Bills for Second Reading.

I move that the House do now adjourn.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: If the honourable Government House Leader would be kind enough to indicate, what was the time that he announced?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: The time is from 12:00 noon until 10:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I believe the Government House Leader has indicated that the regular hours will be changed, and that is a vote that must be put before the House. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: That is fine, but the thing is that this is a motion to adjourn, and advising the House of the hours. If the honourable member wishes to have a recorded vote, he is entitled to do so.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a . . .

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, if I may, what I want to do is make sure that we follow the rules, which say that in order for the honourable Government House Leader to change the hours, that must be put to a vote. I don't necessarily care that it be a recorded vote, but I want to ensure that I have the opportunity to say that I disagree with the hours that the honourable Government House Leader has put forward. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 4690]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't want to prolong this, but the procedure in this House is that the House Leader must announce the hours of sitting on the next day that the House will sit and detail the order of business on that next day. I have done so, and asked for adjournment. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member to wait until I recognize him, please, otherwise your microphone won't be on, and I don't believe it was on during your last conversation.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the honourable Government House Leader has put forward a motion to change the hours of the next sitting of the House. I am asking that in accordance with the rules under Section 5 that that vote be put to the House as required.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader has indicated the hours for Monday, and obviously, according to the rules, it requires a majority vote of the House. A recorded vote has been called for. (Interruptions) Standing vote?

AN HON. MEMBER: Recorded vote.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: Recorded vote.

MR. SPEAKER: A recorded vote is being called for.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: I would ask you to ring the bells.

MR. SPEAKER: The bells are ringing.

[5:42 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

[6:42 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion was for the adjournment of the House and for the hours of the House on Monday to be from 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m.

[Page 4691]

A recorded vote was called for.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Christie Mr. Robert Chisholm

Mr. Baker Ms. Maureen MacDonald

Mr. Russell Mr. Estabrooks

Mr. LeBlanc Mr. Pye

Mr. Muir

Mr. Fage

Mr. Parent

Ms. McGrath

Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Taylor

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Langille

Mr. Morse

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Dr. Smith

Mr. MacKinnon

THE CLERK: For, 22. Against 4.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried in the affirmative. We will now rise until Monday, 12:00 noon.

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 6:46 p.m.]

[Page 4692]

NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1613

By: Mr. Russell MacLellan (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas on April 24th Eileen Cameron Henry passed away at the age of 92 in St. Martha's Regional Hospital; and

Whereas Eileen was the first woman elected to Antigonish Town Council, wrote a regular column for the Antigonish Casket, and served as a volunteer in countless ways for many causes, including the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Eileen, who devoted much of her life to helping the poor and disadvantaged, was the recipient of the Order of Canada, the Queen Elizabeth Medal, and the Woman of the Year Award for Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the House acknowledge the great contribution Eileen made to her community, her province, and her country, and express its condolences to her family and friends.