The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., Mar. 31, 2000

First Session

FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cobequid Shore: Route 215 - Repave,
Mr. John MacDonell 2991
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Fin. - Gaming Corp.: Casino Operators Case - Unsuccessful,
Hon. N. LeBlanc 2992
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 933, Fish. - Sport Fishery: Opening Day (01/04/00) - Recognize,
Hon. E. Fage 2994
Vote - Affirmative 2994
Res. 934, Environ. - Envirothon (School Comp. [NA]): Wolfville Hosts
(31/07/00-06/08/00) - Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 2994
Vote - Affirmative 2995
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 935, NDP (N.S.) Leadership: Contenders-Good Luck/
Dr. Hinrich Bitter-Suermann - Window-Room Hope,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2995
Res. 936, Gov't. (N.S.) - Election Commitment: Openness - Fulfil
(Premier), Mr. Robert Chisholm 2996
Res. 937, Econ. Dev. - Boatbuilding: Loan Fund - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Dooks 2996
Res. 938, Health - Nurses: Shortage - Address, Dr. J. Smith 2997
Res. 939, Health - Yar.: Nurses Shortage - Address,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 2998
Res. 940, Culture - Starr Manufacturing (Dart.): HRM - Action Urge,
Mr. T. Olive 2998
Vote - Affirmative 2999
Res. 941, Nat. Res.: Graves Is. Park - Protect, Mr. K. MacAskill 2999
Res. 942, Fin. - Taxation: Budget (2000-01) - Taxation Addt'l. Avoid,
Mr. J. Holm 3000
Res. 943, Middleton Fire Dept. - Ken Foot & Francis Hatt: Efforts -
Recognize, Mr. F. Chipman 3001
Vote - Affirmative 3001
Res. 944, Human Res. - Gov't. Bus. Plan: Solution (Ont.) - Unsuitable,
Mr. B. Boudreau 3001
Res. 945, Econ. Dev. - Trade (External) Promotion: C.B. - Include,
Mr. F. Corbett 3002
Res. 946, Sports - Skating: Karen Norman Memorial Skate -
Participants (Berwick) - Congrats., Mr. J. Carey 3003
Vote - Affirmative 3003
Res. 947, Fin. (Can.): Tax Relief (Gasoline) - Accept (Premier),
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3003
Res. 948, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Elevator Request
(20 Circassian Dr.): Min. Visit - Commend, Mr. D. Dexter 3004
Res. 949, Hugh Murray Campbell (Westville, Pictou Co.):
Birthday 100th - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 3005
Vote - Affirmative 3005
Res. 950, Gov't. (N.S.) - Rowing: Lesson - Take, Mr. W. Gaudet 3006
Res. 951, Commun. Serv. - Family Law: Abuse - ADR Avoid,
Ms. E. O'Connell 3006
Res. 952, Temple Utd. Baptist Ch. (Barrington Passage) -
Shel. Proclamation 2000: Organizers - Commend,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 3007
Vote - Affirmative 3008
Res. 953, Econ. Dev. - Sydney Call Ctr.: Creation - Applaud,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3008
Vote - Affirmative 3008
Res. 954, Sports - Hockey (Jack Lamontagne Tournament 2000):
Success - Volunteers Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 3009
Vote - Affirmative 3009
Res. 955, Vol. Firefighters (Inc. Age 60+) - Support, Mr. B. Taylor 3009
Vote - Affirmative 3010
Res. 956, Commun. Serv.: Heating Oil Rebate Prog. - Extend,
Dr. J. Smith 3010
Res. 957, Lbr.: Occup. Health & Safety Regs. - Implement,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3011
Res. 958, Econ. Dev. - Boat Building Contract: Randy Levy &
Susan Myers-Levy - Recognize, Mr. W. Dooks 3011
Vote - Affirmative 3012
Res. 959, Commun. Serv. - Commun. Outreach Prog. (Vic. Co.):
Removal - Reconsider, Mr. K. MacAskill 3012
Res. 960, Justice - Dir. Of Pub. Prosecutions: Hiring - Update,
Mr. H. Epstein 3013
Res. 961, Educ. - Chignecto E. Reg. Sc. Fair: Success - Congrats.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 3014
Vote - Affirmative 3014
Res. 962, Environ.: Dept. - Retain, Mr. M. Samson
(by Mr. R. MacKinnon) 3014
Res. 963, Human. Res. - Gov't. Bus. Plan: Script (Ex-Premiers) -
Exactitude (Premier) Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 3015
Res.964, Sports - Hockey (N.S. "AA" Midget Champs. 1999-2000
[Hosts Brookfield]): Organizers - Commend, Mr. B. Taylor 3016
Vote - Affirmative 3016
Res. 965, Exco - Sports Min.: Remove - Sackville-Beaver Bank MLA
Appoint, Mr. B. Boudreau 3016
Res. 966, Fish. - Seniors Licence Fees: Free - Definition, Mr. J. Pye 3017
Res. 967, Educ. - Horton HS: Musical "Crazy For You" -
Success Congrats., Mr. D. Morse 3018
Vote - Affirmative 3018
Res. 968, Bus. & Cons. Serv.: Structure - Improve, Mr. W. Gaudet 3019
Res. 969, Fin. (Can.) - Tax Relief (Fuel): Refusal (N.S.) -
Explain (Premier), Mr. J. Holm 3019
Res. 970, Health - Care: System - Dependable Support, Mr. K. Morash 3020
Res. 971, Human Res. - Gov't. Bus. Plan (The Course Ahead [2000-01]):
Document - Withdraw, Mr. R. MacKinnon 3021
Res. 972, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - Unacceptable,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald (by Ms. E. O'Connell) 3021
Res. 973, Econ. Dev. - West Hants C of C: Achievement Awards Dinner -
Congrats., Hon. R. Russell 3022
Vote - Affirmative 3023
Res. 974, Health - Care: Privatization (Alberta) - Condemn,
Mr. D. Dexter 3023
Res. 975, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/99 on): Deficit -
Address, Mr. John MacDonell 3023
Res. 976, Environ. - Friends of McNabs Is. Soc.: Anniv. 10th -
Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 3024
Vote - Affirmative 3025
Res. 977, Lbr. - Mothers New: Benefits (Gov't. [Can.]) Improved -
Support, Mr. F. Corbett 3025
Res. 978, Culture - SS Atlantic Sinking (01/04/1873):
Remembrance Efforts - Support, Mr. W. Estabrooks 3026
Vote - Affirmative 3026
Res. 979, Exco: Code of Conduct - Legislate, Mr. H. Epstein 3026
Res. 980, Alcohol & Gaming Auth. - VLTs: Moratorium - Introduce,
Mr. J. Pye 3027
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 28, Motor Vehicle Act 3028
Mr. B. Boudreau 3028
Amendment moved 3032
Mr. B. Boudreau 3032
HOUSE RECESSED AT 11:38 A.M. 3036
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 11:41 A.M. 3036
Hon. R. Russell 3037
Adjourned debate 3037
No. 30, Flea Markets Regulation Act 3037
Hon. M. Baker 3037
Dr. J. Smith 3039
Mr. H. Epstein 3043
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3049
Adjourned debate 3054
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Apr. 3rd at 4:00 p.m. 3054

[Page 2991]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

10:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of the Cobequid Shore who live along Route 215. The operative clause is, "We the residents living on and near Route 215, and regular users of this disgraceful, dangerous, pothole-filled highway, do hereby petition the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to immediately place Route 215, which is not only a vital roadway for the residents of the Cobequid Shore, but through its designation as the Glooscap Trail is also an internationally promoted scenic tour for tourists, on the priority list for repaving. The Government must be aware that Maitland is a registered Heritage town (village) and Burntcoat Head Park is the site of the world's highest tides." There are 33 signatures on this petition and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

2991

[Page 2992]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in my capacity as Minister responsible for the administration of Part I of the Gaming Control Act, I rise today to inform members of the House that the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation has been advised that it was not successful in its legal case against the operator of the casinos in Nova Scotia pertaining to the $10,000 a day contract clause.

The basis of the arbitrator's decision was that the $10,000 a day was deemed a penalty, and not a pre-estimate of damages as argued by the Gaming Corporation and as worded in the contract, and in the business world, penalties are generally not enforceable.

Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed by this decision. I understand that the Gaming Corporation considered its case to be strong, and after such a successful decision in the $21 million HST dispute earlier this year, hopes were high that the corporation would be twice successful.

Mr. Speaker, this contract was finalized by the previous administration, before we came into government, and the people in the Province of Nova Scotia are bound by it. This government and the Gaming Corporation will abide by the contract and we will respect the dispute resolution process. I want the people of Nova Scotia to know that the Gaming Corporation will indeed be reviewing the arbitrator's decision to determine whether any further legal action is warranted. If there is a reasonable opportunity to recoup that money, it will be acted upon.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable minister for providing us with a copy of his statement just before the House opened. I would strongly urge the government follow up on this particular decision and enforce the penalties against the casino operator. The minister's statement, in Paragraph 2, says, "The basis of the arbitrator's decision was that the $10,000 a day was deemed a penalty, and not a pre-estimate of damages as argued by the Gaming Corporation and as worded in the contract." Clearly, what the minister is saying in his statement is that the Gaming Corporation presented the wrong argument before the arbitrator. That is clearly what is being stated here. Even more so, it is clear that the government, consistent with some of the pronouncements that have been made on previous dates, this is typical of a government that fails to look after the interest of Nova

[Page 2993]

Scotians. Sometimes I wonder if the timing of this particular issue was not consistent with the fact that they clawed back more than $2 million from the poor people of Nova Scotia. What a great diversion tactic.

As well, another diversion tactic from the fact that this government went back on bended knee after we took a strong position with Atlantic Loto, the fact that we were losing some $25 million over a number of years and what did this government do? They needed more diversion tactics so they went back on bended knee. They knew, Mr. Speaker, that this was a rushed attempt to try to make it look like they were standing on behalf of Nova Scotians, when it was a very weak-kneed approach to a rather complex and serious decision, a decision that I would urge the government to have legal representation go and make the right argument on behalf of all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I guess sometimes the decision of this Legislature, and when a government is in power, comes back to haunt us. Time and time again, in Opposition, this New Democratic Party asked to revisit those contracts and those contractual agreements made by the corporation, as well as the Tory Party who is now the government in power. Time and time again, the Liberal Party said they were doing the right thing for Nova Scotians. Well, allow me to tell you that Ralph Fiske was right, the consequences of that Liberal Government caring for the private sector operators time and time again, rather than standing up for Nova Scotians, brought upon this kind of an agreement, an agreement in which Nova Scotians cannot benefit and will stand to lose approximately $12 million. Also, the casino operators have, within that contractual agreement, the right to continue to delay the opening of that casino. Those are the kinds of contractual agreements that have been made by that Liberal Party while in power. They are the only Party that is answerable to Nova Scotians as a result of this decision.

I want to tell you that it is not good news that the Minister of Finance brings us with respect to this decision and the dispute resolution committee. I do acknowledge what the minister has said, that he is not going to totally ignore this decision and that, in fact, his government and administration will review the decision brought forward and they are going to review that decision to see if , in fact, there isn't a legal avenue in which they can recoup what the Liberal Government has so shamefully done to Nova Scotians, as a result of this agreement and I commend the government for doing so. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

[Page 2994]

RESOLUTION NO. 933

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

Whereas more than 100,000 Nova Scotians are sportfishing enthusiasts; and

Whereas many Nova Scotians look forward each spring to the start of the angling season, whether it be for sports recreation, or therapeutic retreats; and

Whereas in the pursuit of this popular sport, anglers should be mindful of the safety issues associated with being on or around the waters of the province;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize tomorrow, April 1, 2000, as the official opening day of the sports fishery.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 934

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

Whereas Envirothon, North America's largest high school environmental competition will be held this coming summer, from July 31st to August 6th, in Wolfville; and

Whereas this problem-solving competition tests the students knowledge of natural resources and this year's environmental issue of wetlands management; and

Whereas this is the first time this competition has been held outside of the United States and includes approximately 50 teams from across Canada and the United States;

[Page 2995]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature offer congratulations and best wishes to the organizers and competitors, when they gather in Wolfville at the Acadia University grounds this summer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 935

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 NDP Leadership race got a contender out of right field; and

Whereas the former member for Chester-St. Margaret's quit the Tory caucus in a huff because he could not get an office with a window; and

Whereas while an Independent, the MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's had to share a window seat with the former NDP MLA for Cape Breton East;

Therefore be it resolved that this House wish good luck to all NDP Leadership contenders and hope that the good doctor from Chester will finally get his room with a view.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2996]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[10:15 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 936

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

Whereas when the largest single reorganization of the Nova Scotia Government was announced by Don Cameron on February 26, 1991, he outlined on that day the number of jobs that his plan would wipe out, 500; and

Whereas job cuts and service changes were also detailed and many additional reorganizations were announced by John Savage, including the Liberal centrepiece of a new form of service delivery throughout rural areas: Access Nova Scotia; and

Whereas yesterday this Premier took a major step backwards by not giving any job or service details when he announced yet another reorganization of the departments that had survived the preceding nine years of cuts and mergers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Premier to reread his election commitment to be open with Nova Scotians and to stop the slide into vagueness and secrecy that can only demoralize Nova Scotians and those who serve them.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 937

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

Whereas a revolving loan fund for Nova Scotia boatbuilders show the Hamm Government is committed to developing economic strength in rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the loan fund is a smart investment in an industry that represents the best of our history and the bright promise of our future; and

[Page 2997]

Whereas the loan fund will allow the almost 500 Nova Scotians employed in the boat building industry to enter lucrative power and sailboat markets in the United States and around the world;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this house congratulate the Economic Development Minister, Gordon Balser, for backing an emerging growth industry in Nova Scotia.

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.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 938

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

Whereas the Yarmouth Hospital is closing 29 beds to allow overworked nurses to take a much needed vacation; and

Whereas earlier this week we learned that a temporary closure of beds at the Abbie J. Lane may become permanent; and

Whereas the bed closures come some eight months after the Tories promised Nova Scotians they had a plan to hire new nurses immediately;

Therefore be it resolved that the great Tory plan to address the nursing problem has been a disappointing failure at best and at worst has been a terrible blow which has set the Nova Scotia health care system back by many years;

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2998]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 939

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

Whereas on June 3, 1999, the Finance Minister said, "There is an urgent need for new nurses and my area of Yarmouth County is no different from any other area across this province"; and

Whereas the minister's area of Yarmouth has been hit again by the nursing shortage with the closure of 29 hospital beds only now he has had eight months to do something about it; and

Whereas the Conservatives have broken most of the half-hearted promises to address the nursing shortage that were made in their platform;

Therefore be it resolved that the Finance Minister and Premier should explain to the people of Yarmouth and all Nova Scotians what ever happened to those easy summer promises to fix health care and add new services to hospitals that can barely meet their existing mandate.

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 940

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

[Page 2999]

Whereas Starr Manufacturing in Dartmouth manufactured the first modern ice skates and the gates of Point Pleasant Park; and

Whereas the Starr Manufacturing site has become a graffiti covered eyesore thanks to a fire, vandalism and the effects of age; and

Whereas recommendations about the future of the Starr Manufacturing site from a recent community meeting will soon be presented to the Halifax Regional Municipality;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature urge the municipality to weigh the historical, recreational and environmental significance of this site and take quick action to allow development that will aid the revitalization of downtown Dartmouth.

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 Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 941

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

Whereas on Page 24 of the new version of the Tory blue bible introduced yesterday it says the Tourism Department's new role will be to promote provincial parks and beaches; and

Whereas this is in conflict with the Natural Resources Minister who plans to sell a piece of Graves Island Provincial Park to a private landowner; and

Whereas the sale of this public parkland goes against the strong recommendation of Natural Resources' staff;

[Page 3000]

Therefore be it resolved that the Natural Resources Minister move to protect all of Graves Island Park for full use by the public, and reverse any decision to sell off provincial parkland.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, that vote surprised me.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 942

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

Whereas this Tory Government promised in its blue book to, " . . .reduce the excessive tax burden on Nova Scotians", and

Whereas by suggesting user fees and co-pay schemes, this Tory Government is in fact adding another tax to tax-burdened Nova Scotians; and

Whereas user fees, co-pay schemes and whatever else you want to call them, they are a tax;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and Finance Minister drop all plans in their upcoming budget for adding taxes to already overburdened Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

[Page 3001]

RESOLUTION NO. 943

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

Whereas the Middleton Fire Department recently held their annual banquet and recognized the significant accomplishments of two of their volunteers for service second to none; and

Whereas firefighter Ken Foot was recognized for his 50 years of continuous, uninterrupted services; and

Whereas Francis Hatt was presented with the Dean Brown Award, given annually in memory of the individual who has shown outstanding commitment to the Middleton Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature recognize the efforts of Middleton firefighters Ken Foot and Francis Hatt and wish them our thanks for their tremendous service.

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 of Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 944

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I hereby given notice that on a future day I shall move he adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas yesterday Premier Hamm introduced a "New Look" for government; and

Whereas this "New Look" is really a cross between the old looks of Mike Harris in Ontario and Bernard Lord in New Brunswick; and

[Page 3002]

Whereas Premier Hamm's "New Look" will also have thousands of civil servants looking at the unemployment line;

Therefore be it resolved that made-in-Ontario solutions won't work here, and this Tory Government's "New Look" will be no good for Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request wavier of notice and passage without debate.

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. 945

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 has chosen to favour one region of this province over the others by promoting Halifax while in Washington in March; and

Whereas it is easy to promote a region of the province that has it all while other areas of the province, like Cape Breton, appear not to be worthy of the Premier's attention; and

Whereas, like the Liberal Government before him, this Tory Premier has chosen to ignore the poorest and most needy part of the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately act to include Cape Breton promotional agencies when he travels abroad to sell the Province of Nova Scotia as a good place to invest.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 3003]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable members for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 946

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

Whereas 11 Berwick figure skaters took part this past winter in the Karen Norman Memorial Skate held in Kingston; and

Whereas the 11 Berwick skaters were part of the 70 skaters overall that participated;

and

Whereas Amber Tracey, Rachael Strickland, and Ashley Veinotte were three skaters who finished first in their respective competitions;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislative Assembly recognize the contributions and hard work put forth by all 11 of these local figure skaters as they participate actively in a sport watched by millions across the world.

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. 947

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

Whereas on August 7, 1999, in The Chronicle-Herald, then Premier designate John Hamm claimed he wanted fair gasoline pricing; and

[Page 3004]

Whereas despite the Premier's words, his government has taken absolutely no action on gas pricing since coming into office seven months ago despite the worsening gas price crisis; and

Whereas federal Finance Minister Paul Martin has offered to lower fuel taxes if Nova Scotia was willing to do the same;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier put his money where his mouth is and reduce gasoline taxes provincially and take advantage of the federal offer rather than continuing to gouge Nova Scotians at the pump.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 948

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 residents of 20 Circassian Drive are seniors who have petitioned the Minister of Housing for an elevator or lift in their building; and

Whereas on March 21st the Minister and his staff visited with the residents and toured the building to familiarize themselves with the seniors' concern; and

Whereas the needs of the residents, including 88 year old Mrs. Lowe, who find it increasingly difficult to get up and down stairs, especially carrying groceries;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the Minister of Housing for taking the time to visit with these seniors who look forward to his favourable reply to their request.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

[Page 3005]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 949

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

Whereas Hugh Murray Campbell from Westville, Pictou County, celebrated a special evening last night as he hosted family and friends in celebration of his 100th Birthday; and

Whereas the North Main Street, Westville, resident still lives in his own home and even mows his lawn with a ride-on mower while acknowledging that you are only as old as you feel;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in the Legislature today extend our warmest greeting to Hugh Murray Campbell on the celebration of his 100th Birthday and wish him many more years of happiness and good health.

Mr. Speaker, I 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 Clare.

[Page 3006]

RESOLUTION NO. 950

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

Whereas on Page 11 of the new Tory bible released yesterday, it says that you cannot grow and steer at the same time; and

Whereas obviously no member of this government has ever been in a rowboat; and

Whereas every Nova Scotian knows that in a rowboat you simply have to row on your left to steer right;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government take lessons from the hardworking fishermen of this province and learn how to row a boat properly and stop going around in circles.

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 Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 951

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 recently in Nova Scotia, alternative dispute resolution in family law matters became institutionalized through the Nova Scotia Supreme Court Family Division's Conciliation and Mediation Program; and

Whereas mediation requires equal bargaining power and an ability to recognize needs other than one's own, women and men in abusive relationships do not fit the mediation model of two equal parties seeking a win-win situation; and

[Page 3007]

Whereas abused women have often spent years compromising, bargaining for their lives and safety and mediation of legal rights with an abuser is more of the same;

Therefore be it resolved that this government take the advice of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia, " 'where abuse is an issue, parties get their day in court without going through mediation'."

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 952

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

Whereas Proclamation 2000 will take place in Shelburne County at the Temple United Baptist Church in Barrington Passage between April 5th and April 14th; and

Whereas Proclamation 2000 involves the reading of the Bible over a 10 day period, 14 hours per day; and

Whereas Proclamation 2000 is being co-sponsored by the Canadian Bible Society and the Shelburne County Ministerial Association;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly commend Jerry Locke and the local organizing committee of Shelburne Proclamation 2000 for the tremendous work involved in organizing their county's contribution to what is an important event in the religious community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3008]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[10:30 a.m.]

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 953

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

Whereas Prime Minister Jean Chretien will be in Sydney today to announce a 900-job call centre for Sydney; and

Whereas internationally respected Electronic Data Systems of Texas will be moving their North Carolina operations to Sydney because of the quality Cape Breton workforce and the hard work of the federal government, the Cape Breton County Economic Development Authority, and Economic Development staff;

Whereas this majority federal initiative, with help from the province, is most welcome, but it should only be seen as a piece of a larger economic development puzzle;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud all those who worked so hard to make this 900-job call centre possible and urge all those involved to continue their fight for Cape Breton economic equality.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 3009]

RESOLUTION NO. 954

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

Whereas the Cole Harbour-Bel Ayr Minor Hockey Association hosts the largest March Break hockey tournament in Nova Scotia, with 174 teams participating; and

Whereas the Jack Lamontagne Hockey Tournament attracts teams from far and near, including teams from across Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas the organizers of the tournament, Dave Law and Dave Pyke, have worked hard with many other volunteers to ensure the tournament was a success;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Dave Law, Dave Pyke and the other volunteers who made the Jack Lamontagne Hockey Tournament a success in 2000.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 955

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

Whereas Nova Scotia volunteer firefighters number approximately 8,000 in total and are represented by men and women of all ages; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's rural way of life is impacted positively by the hard and dedicated work put forth by these firefighters, who are ready to answer an alarm at any time of the day or night; and

[Page 3010]

Whereas a policy is presently being developed by the Halifax Regional Fire Service Administration that would see all volunteer firefighters, upon reaching the age 60, having their roles greatly diminished or possibly even face disqualification;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Nova Scotia Legislature support all volunteer firefighters, including men and women over the age of 60.

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 Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 956

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

Whereas from day one, the Liberal caucus tried to tell this Tory Government that their oil rebate program was flawed; and

Whereas to date only about 16 per cent of those eligible for the program have applied; and

Whereas because the Tory Government would not listen, thousands of low income Nova Scotians will not benefit from the oil rebate, as little as it was;

Therefore be it resolved that the former Community Services Minister re-evaluate, revamp and extend the oil rebate program, just like the Liberals told them to do months ago.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3011]

I heard a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 957

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

Whereas in his statement yesterday the Premier said, "This government is determined to get out of the way of legitimate business and let them do business"; and

Whereas these legitimate businesses will be doing business without long overdue Occupational Health and Safety Regulations; and

Whereas by not having these regulations in place, legitimate businesses can place its workers in dangerous situations without regard for their health and well-being;

Therefore be it resolved that this Premier and this Tory Government act immediately to implement these long overdue Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 958

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

Whereas Randy Levy and Susan Myers-Levy recently returned from a trade mission with an order for a nine-metre pleasure boat; and

[Page 3012]

Whereas this was especially rewarding for these owners of Levy Boats and Marine on Sober Island, because it was the first that they participated in a trade mission; and

Whereas this second-generation family business sets an example for other small Nova Scotia businesses to follow;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the accomplishments of Randy Levy and Susan Myers-Levy and wish them success with their future endeavours.

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 please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 959

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

Whereas the Community Outreach Program has served Victoria County residents for 11 years; and

Whereas this program has provided counselling and support for such programs as abuse, housing, poverty and family issues; and

Whereas as of April 1st, the Community Outreach Program will be transferred from Victoria County to be administered by the Eastern Regional Health Board;

Therefore be it resolved that since Community Outreach is the only service of its kind in the area, the Minister of Human Resources immediately reconsidering transferring this vital program out of Victoria County.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 3013]

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

Is it agreed.

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 960

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

Whereas of today, March 31, 2000, we still do not have a Director of Public Prosecutions in place; and

Whereas there has been no explanation from the Minister of Justice on why the position has not been filled; and

Whereas everyone knows prospective candidates keep turning it down because of the sheer enormity of the task;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice immediately update this House on the hiring of a permanent Director of Public Prosecutions and explain to us why his department is having such a problem with filling this position.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed.

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 3014]

RESOLUTION NO. 961

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

Whereas the 11th Annual Chignecto East Regional Science Fair took place last evening at the Nova Scotia Museum of Industry in Stellarton; and

Whereas students from New Glasgow Middle, North Colchester Regional High, Pictou Academy, Pugwash District High, Stellarton Middle High, Stellarton High, Trenton High and West Pictou Middle Schools all participated in this event; and

Whereas four projects, along with six students, were selected to advance to the Canada-wide Science Fair taking place in London, Ontario, May 13th to May 20th;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature acknowledge the tremendous efforts put forth by the sponsors, judges and students who collectively worked together to ensure that the science fair was another great success.

Mr. Speaker, I 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 Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 962

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

Whereas the state of the environment is crucial for the future quality of life for all Nova Scotians; and

[Page 3015]

Whereas the profile of environmental issues has been greatly reduced by the government's plan to eliminate the Department of the Environment as a stand-alone entity; and

Whereas this move is a typical initiative of a government who has not announced one significant original environmental initiative, instead relying on the successes of the previous Liberal Administration;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House urge the Environment Minister to stand up for a safe, healthy environment and fight to retain the Department of the Environment instead of ignoring a vital part of our province's future prosperity.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 963

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

Whereas yesterday's announcement by the Premier showed him to be a worthy successor in his high office; and

Whereas the Premier's reorganization statement had the modest claims of Donald Cameron, the forthrightness of John Buchanan, the human touch of John Savage, and the clear, specific planning of the member for Cape Breton North; and

Whereas the Premier's plan echoed the university merger mania of John MacEachern, the far-reaching health goals of Ron Stewart and the obsession with privatization of Bernie Boudreau;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Premier for sticking so faithfully to the script that was written for his predecessors but respectfully suggest that he get some new material.

[Page 3016]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 964

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Provincial AA Midget Hockey Championships concluded last weekend in Brookfield at the Don Henderson Sportsplex; and

Whereas six teams - Cumberland, Halifax, Pictou, East Hants and the Eastern Shore - participated in a round-robin tournament, including the host Brookfield Elks, with the top two teams advancing to Sunday's provincial championship game; and

Whereas the East Hants Penguins defeated Pictou 4 to 2 and are the 1999-2000 Midget AA Hockey champions;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature commend Vicki Sutherland and Debbie Nolan for doing such an excellent job in organizing last weekend's championship hockey tournament while wishing them every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 965

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

[Page 3017]

Whereas backbench MLAs are not officially part of government, and therefore cannot speak on behalf of government; and

Whereas the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission has named the MLA for Sackville-Beaver Bank as her official representative; and

Whereas obviously this is the minister's way of saying she cannot handle the workload and needs time to chill out;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately remove the minister from her duties and appoint the MLA for Sackville-Beaver Bank to the Executive Council.

Mr. Speaker, I request wavier of notice and passage without debate.

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. 966

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

Whereas free is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as, "available without charge; costing nothing not subject to tax, duty, trade-restraint, or fees."; and

Whereas the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, when a member of the Third Party, lobbied for free fishing licences for seniors; and

Whereas the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley now does not understand the meaning or the concept of free;

Therefore be it resolved that free means free and not a $5.00 conservation fee.

Mr. Speaker I request waiver.

[Page 3018]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 967

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

Whereas the Horton High School drama and music students recently, in concert with their teachers and the greater community, put on a major musical entitled, Crazy for You; and

Whereas this adaptation of the book by Ken Ludwig, combined with the music of George Gershwin, made for a marvellous story set in the American West in the 1930's; and

Whereas the material allowed this talented group of young performers to showcase their excellent music, singing and choreography talents and abilities;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature congratulate all the participants and greater community for four major performances before sold-out audiences and wish them every success in their future artistic endeavours.

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 Clare.

[Page 3019]

RESOLUTION NO. 968

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

Whereas Access Nova Scotia was set up to provide one-stop shopping for government programs and services throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas each and every year Access has improved its services, consolidating more services and offering extended office hours; and

Whereas the Hamm Government is going to replace Business and Consumer Services and their flagship, Access Nova Scotia, with Service Nova Scotia, meaning unnecessary restructuring expenses like changing signage and stationery;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House urge the government to improve upon the existing structure of Business and Consumer Services, rather than wasting money trying to reinvent the wheel.

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. 969

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

Whereas the federal Minister of Finance offered tax relief to cash-strapped Nova Scotians with the offer of lower taxes on gas; and

[10:45 a.m.]

Whereas the Premier coldly, and without thought to suffering seniors and low income families, turned the offer down; and

[Page 3020]

Whereas this government has already spent at least $5 million on Scotiabank, consultants, high-priced bureaucrats and a part-time deputy minister;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier rise on Monday in this House and explain why he has chosen to allow them to continue to suffer with exorbitant prices at the pumps when relief was offered by the federal government.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 970

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

Whereas a dependable health care system is a top priority of Nova Scotians and all Canadians; and

Whereas in recent years the commitment from the federal government to pay for the increasing cost of health care has drastically decreased, leaving provincial governments to shoulder more and more of the financial burden; and

Whereas as we speak, Nova Scotia's Minister of Health is meeting with the federal Health Minister in Ottawa seeking a commitment from the federal government to once again become a full partner with the provinces and to stabilize the health care system in this country;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support the efforts of our Minister of Health as he and provincial colleagues fight to ensure that Nova Scotians have a dependable and sustainable health care system.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3021]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 971

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 old saying that Tory times are hard times does not really apply to the Hamm Government because it implies that the government actually knows what it is doing; and

Whereas the document The Course Ahead should be entitled, No Course, No Compass, My Lord, We're Lost; and

Whereas the complete lack of detail including no fiscal information, no multi-year plan and no common sense means that this government is nothing more than a rudderless ship;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately withdraw his document from further circulation before it brings further embarrassment to the Premier, the Tory Party and the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 972

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

Whereas the Minister of Education has decided to become the handmaiden of the Minister of Finance rather than the protector of education for children; and

[Page 3022]

Whereas instead of advocating for children, the Minister of Education has chosen to ignore education underfunding problems; and

Whereas parents in the Halifax Regional Municipality want answers from this Tory Government on educational funding and fairness in the system;

Therefore be it resolved that the handmaiden of the Minister of Finance address the growing concerns of parents and teachers, stand up for children in the education system and tell the Minister of Finance no cuts in education are acceptable.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 973

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

Whereas the West Hants Chamber of Commerce recently held their annual dinner in Windsor and combined the evening with the presentation of the West Hants Community Achievement Awards; and

Whereas individual awards were presented to the young and youth entrepreneurs of the year as well as the employer of the year, best community economic development project and entrepreneurial employee of the year; and

Whereas the respective individual winners were high school student Matthew Bullock for his E-commerce business, Sunroot Farm, Penny Taylor from the Apple Blossom Shop, the 1st Windsor Pumpkin Regatta and Wendy Burton of the Windsor Visitor Information Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this Legislature applaud the significant achievements of these award winners and commend the West Hants Chamber of Commerce for organizing such a spectacular dinner and awards evening.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3023]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 974

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

Whereas yesterday in this House this Tory Government made it clear that it is for privatized health care; and

Whereas this Tory Government, by its tacit support of Ralph Klein's Bill No. 11, is assisting Klein with his quest for American-style health care in Canada; and

Whereas once the NAFTA floodgates are open involving health care, they cannot, by law, be closed;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government rise today and condemn Ralph Klein's attempt at privatizing health care here in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 975

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

Whereas every day in this Province of Nova Scotia six more children are born into poverty; and

[Page 3024]

Whereas since August 17th, this Tory Government's first full day in office, 1,362 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 1,362 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 a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 976

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

Whereas the Friends of McNabs Island Society has been working for the preservation of McNabs Island and ensuring it remains a natural jewel in the middle of Halifax Harbour; and

Whereas the Friends of McNabs Island was established in 1990 to lobby the government to preserve the island as a park and to conduct trail reconstruction and beach clean-ups; and

Whereas the society has recently celebrated its 10th Anniversary and has been able to ensure McNabs Island will be forever protected as a provincial park;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Friends of McNabs Island Society on its 10th Anniversary and for its hard work on behalf of all residents of Nova Scotia to preserve an urban wilderness in Halifax Harbour.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 3025]

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 Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 977

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 Canadian Labour Congress has stated that the employment insurance system is callous and discriminatory and should be overhauled to better accommodate working mothers; and

Whereas the CLC found that while 80 per cent of women between the ages of 25 and 44 work, 49 per cent of those who gave birth in 1998 received maternity benefits; and

Whereas the congress is asking that in order to improve the lives of new mothers the federal government should adopt the measure of making every new mother eligible for maternity benefits regardless of the number of working hours accumulated;

Therefore be it resolved that this government add its voice to the call for improved benefits for new mothers by having the number of hours for working mothers changed.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 3026]

RESOLUTION NO. 978

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

Whereas on April 1, 1873, 277 souls perished during the sinking of the SS Atlantic in the waters off Lower Prospect; and

Whereas this tragedy and the valiant rescue efforts of local residents are remembered each year by the students of Atlantic Memorial School in Shad Bay; and

Whereas area residents have shown great initiative in the creation of the SS Atlantic Memorial Park in Terence Bay;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of these citizens and students in their continuing efforts to remember the sinking of the SS Atlantic on April 1, 1873.

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 Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 979

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 supposed Tory code of conduct for Cabinet Ministers is in fact just a moral code; and

Whereas this Tory Government has chosen to weaken the code by refusing to put it into law in the form of a bill; and

[Page 3027]

Whereas without this code being put into formal legislation, it is left up to the Premier to decide how, and if, he will discipline a Cabinet Minister;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government act today and show Nova Scotians that it is not afraid to have Cabinet Ministers face the law instead of the Premier.

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 Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 980

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 Alcohol and Gaming Authority released a report on March 17th which shows a growth pattern in all parts of the gambling industry; and

Whereas overall Nova Scotians wagered a total of nearly $1 billion on all forms of gambling, from scratch tickets to VLTs; and

Whereas 43 per cent of all wagers came from VLTs;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government immediately introduce a real moratorium on VLTs until the effects of video gambling can be studied, and we also ask the minister responsible to advise the House today that this is not the government's idea of economic development.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 3028]

The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

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. 28.

Bill No. 28 - Motor Vehicle Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The debate was adjourned by the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I have to admit this is a pretty interesting topic, particularly when I sat here last night and late yesterday afternoon and heard the combatants from Dartmouth debate this. My opinion at least is that this bill is merely an attempt by the Tory Government to put another checkmark in the big blue book of 243 promises. I really don't believe that this bill was very well thought out. When you review it, it is not a very striking piece of legislation. This is another example of how the Tories are flying by the seat of their pants, in my opinion at least. We should look a little closer at this bill, what it really does, what it will do, and what it is supposed to do. I am not sure if the question is, is it supposed to stop prostitution. Where is the proof that this would work? Some of our colleagues in the NDP, backbenchers of course, seem to think that prostitution should not be stopped, that it should be encouraged and taxed. I really don't think that is the answer either.

This bill, as it is written, downloads the responsibilities and the costs onto the municipalities, and that is where I am concerned. That concerns me a great deal. It takes the responsibilities of the Department of Justice and transfers them to each and every municipal unit across the province. In particular, a great many of the municipal councillors that I know of throughout the province are concerned. This comes from the government who promised the UNSM just last fall that no downloading on municipalities would occur. I stood in the

[Page 3029]

room and I heard the minister and I heard the Premier, both, very clearly make that commitment to a roomful of municipal representatives, councillors and administrators, at the UNSM Conference last fall here in Halifax. I watched Mayor Fitzgerald, from Halifax, this week on television, just the other evening, he didn't seem to think that this was the right direction for the province to go.

Mr. Speaker, it is no secret that Premier Hamm himself signed a letter to the President of the UNSM which promised that a Tory Government would never download. That is what the letter indicates very clearly. It is a strongly-worded commitment that this government would not download any costs whatsoever to the municipalities, particularly prior to any consultation between the UNSM, the individual units and this government.

[11:00 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me at least, that the Premier's word is not as good as the paper it is written on. Of course, I don't believe the Tory Government could ever be original enough to come up with this legislation on its own. The bill, like many other initiatives that we have seen from this government today, has been begged, borrowed or stolen from other Tory Governments across Canada.

Premier Hamm likes to pretend that he is just like his big cousin up in Ontario, Mike Harris. He also tries to be like his buddy, Bernie Lord, in New Brunswick. This john bill is an attempt to copy the former Tory Government in Manitoba. Maybe Premier Hamm should have looked a little closer at Manitoba, because in Manitoba this certainly is not working. It has failed and has failed very clearly. It has a failed report card and it is obvious that it is just a total failure.

This government has not done its homework again. Not that that surprises me. From day to day in this House, it seems the trend continues. Maybe they should take a look at the work of the Federal-Provincial Task Force on Prostitution, and what it says. This bill is seriously flawed. There is no evidence that it will do what it is supposed to do, absolutely no evidence. It would only create legal problems, nightmares and headaches for both municipalities and local police forces.

I doubt, very much myself, if this bill is even constitutional. The bill says that a police officer may detain a car if he thinks that it is being used to hire a prostitute. It says, Mr. Speaker, a police officer may, if he/she is satisfied that a motor vehicle is being used in the course of committing a prostitution-related offence, that officer may detain that vehicle. Well, what does that mean? That a suspect is not entitled to due process? It is a process in this country.

[Page 3030]

There is a good chance that this bill also violates Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Well, Section 8 states very clearly that everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure. The interpretation of Section 8 goes even further to say that it guarantees a broad and general right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure beyond mere protection of property. I happen to believe, Mr. Speaker, that police forces across the province would find this Act a nightmare, a total nightmare, to try to enforce. It can be interpreted in so many ways that it would be legally challenged at every turn.

This Act, I believe, makes it impossible to get a conviction. Instead of making a real effort to solve the problem, the bill could cause police officers to look the other way, and I am concerned about that. If we are going to get the impact that we require in this province to deal with prostitution, then is that what we want? Do we want a bill the police will be afraid to enforce? Will they be forced to look the other way when they run across this issue? People standing on street corners, leaning in windows talking. Instead of making a real effort to solve the problem, it would cause, as I indicated, the police a nightmare, a total nightmare to enforce. I guess that makes me wonder what consultation went on between the government and the various police forces throughout the province, how they feel about this bill.

Was there any communication with these associations, or members of municipal or federal police forces that exist in the province? There is just no indication whatsoever that anybody had an opportunity to provide advice or have input into the creation of the wording of this bill. I haven't read one word where it said anybody was consulted.

The real problem with prostitution must be dealt with at the source and it is obvious where the source is; it is obvious. The problem is real and it is there; it is obvious. It can be seen and we have to deal with it where it is going to have an impact, and that is at the source itself. This is an issue that includes poverty, violence against women, drug abuse, and a host of other problems that go with it.

It is not fair to just say that it is going to have an effect on prostitution, because we are all very much aware that neighbourhoods where this sort of thing carries on, poverty is not far behind, violence against women, drug abuse and a host of other problems. They exist and we all know that. This bill does absolutely nothing to deal with those issues, not a thing. It just totally ignores the situation that really exists in the province.

I also don't believe the Province of Nova Scotia, this government, has the authority to enforce this legislation. The Act deals with matters that are not provincial jurisdiction; this is to be dealt with at the federal level and that is clear to those who know the law much better than I do, of course. Therefore the bill, I believe, would be unconstitutional: one, downloading on municipalities; two, it is absolutely unconstitutional; and three, it is against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

[Page 3031]

The bill has obviously three strikes against it. Three strikes and I guess everybody knows - I hear Yogi Berra's name being brought up quite often over there, so it is obvious they are baseball fans - what three strikes mean. Three strikes mean you're out.

Another thing the Act does, I believe, is declare people guilty before they are given an opportunity to prove their innocence. The police officer can just walk up to somebody in their car, alongside the sidewalk, and seize the vehicle just for having a conversation. If somebody leans in the window and asks you for a light for a cigarette: Would you have a match? Even many people I deal with, when they walk up to me on the street they need money for food because, as I indicated before, the issues with poverty exist in this province and this bill does not deal with the issue.

If I am leaving a department store and I sit in my car and I have a gentleman come to me who needs $5.00 for a meal - and it occurs all the time in metro areas, not only in Halifax, it happens in Toronto, it happens right across this province, across North America - the police officer sees the conversation and doesn't have any knowledge, not being able to hear the context of the conversation, and that police officer actually can arrest you, impound your car and create a great deal of stress not only for you, but your family.

I guess I wonder who is legally responsible if an innocent person has had their car taken away. Who is responsible for this? Is this a legal issue again? Will the municipality have to foot the bill? Will they have to pay the cost on this? The bill is unclear. It is not there, Mr. Speaker. The provincial damages and the court costs alone could be a very large cost to a town or a village, particularly a rural area. These costs today, we are all very much aware, can be very high and create a great deal of problems for the municipal taxpayer in this province.

This issue alone, Mr. Speaker, this fear, may be enough to prevent, in certain areas, the actual enforcing of this bill. That is why this bill will not work to deal with this issue. It creates fear within the municipal units. It creates fear within the police forces and it creates fear within the community lifestyles of individual residents.

On the flip side, if a municipal government is strapped for cash, perhaps they could send their police out in full force and impound some vehicles and they have found a new way to create new revenue for the difficult times that they are in, but I don't really believe that is the intent of this Act, is it, Mr. Speaker?

We should also ask the government who is really being punished by this bill. Who really is being punished by this bill? Has the government even considered the family of the john? Is there any consideration or thought put into the family situation of the john? What if the john has been found innocent? Imagine the embarrassment and stress created among family members.

[Page 3032]

What, Mr. Speaker, if there was an abusive relationship and the wife needed to make a quick escape? Now she has no car. She could be stuck in an abusive home with children. What does she do? If you look at crisis intervention and talk to counsellors, people really, when they are affected by issues like this, they simply do not know what to do, they don't know where to go and they don't know who to call. They don't know how to deal with the situation and this bill would have a very negative impact on families, in particular with a spouse and with their children. Their fate would probably be on the heads of this government if this bill goes forward and goes through. I don't really believe, in conversations that I have had with some of the MLAs over there, that that really is their intent, particularly the backbenchers. They don't want to have the heads of ordinary citizens in the Province of Nova Scotia on the chopping block because of this bill. I don't believe that is what they really intend.

Hopefully, Mr. Speaker, another commitment during the campaign last summer and in the blue book is that the Premier is going to allow his backbenchers to vote freely and openly. So hopefully that will be the direction this government will take in this bill, that there will be an open and free vote and that each vote will be recorded and that these Tory backbenchers will send this government a message not to come into this House with the likes of this. It is a disgrace. They know it and they can feel it, and it is wrong.

[11:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I move the following amendment:

"Following the word 'that' in the motion for second reading, the following words be inserted:

The House opposes any downloading of its responsibilities onto the municipalities."

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes has moved a reasoned amendment which appears to be in order at this time. We will allow the amendment, and he will now speak to the amendment.

The honourable member of Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, accepting this amendment, in my opinion and I believe the opinion of my caucus colleagues, would remove the fear that the municipalities will have. At least this would deal with the issues that the municipalities have. Now when the Tory backbenchers support their government, they will not cause harm to each individual unit that is within their own constituencies.

[Page 3033]

Let's be fair. What impact will this have on the municipalities? It will remove the responsibility the municipalities have to enforce this Act, which should never have occurred in the first place. It is not the responsibility of municipalities in this province or in this country to enforce any regulations for the Province of Nova Scotia. The laws are clear, the direction is clear, and it is wrong.

This new look that you are promising everyone is going to be quite a new look. Someone should tell someone that the sun should be shining. The sun should shine, there shouldn't be clouds. We are looking for a bright future. Isn't that what this is all about? This is what the commitments were last fall during the session. We are going to have a bright future for Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, commitments were made by ministers, I have heard them, by the Premier himself, in writing and verbally, that downloading to individual municipal units will not occur in this province. Mr. Speaker, I have been in that room, and I heard those commitments, and I have seen the letter that the Premier has written to the President of the UNSM. I know in conversation outside this House, that there are many former municipal politicians on that side of the House. They have been there on the front lines of these municipal units as I have. The struggles from day to day are real there, they are real, and they are very painful.

Although the Province of Nova Scotia is the first to stand up and say, we have no money, we have to eliminate this program for the needy, and we have to take this from the poor and take this from the food banks of this province, and to heck with the unemployed . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member that we are speaking to the amendment of this bill. (Interruption) Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes will bring himself back to the amendment of this bill.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, in the description I just gave, the same problem the Province of Nova Scotia has the municipal units have. There are real struggles out there. We are aware of them. We were there. We were on the lines with these individuals. They are fighting huge deficits, increasing costs. They have the same difficulties, similar to the province. That is why I welcomed, as well as every municipal representative across this province welcomed, the opportunity that this government committed to do when they committed beyond a doubt that they would consult with individual units, with the UNSM, they would seek advice and direction and allow these units to have an input. What happens? Bang, first piece of legislation that comes in here, whammo, right over the head.

Mr. Speaker, I don't like to be here because I see some of my former municipal colleagues over there smirking and stuff like that. I am not trying to embarrass anyone. I want to try to bring you back to reality. That is where you were. You were on those lines the same as I was down in Cape Breton. We all know the units are having tougher times than the province. Their resources are limited. There are having a very difficult time. This government

[Page 3034]

owes a responsibility to those units to ensure that they have an ample opportunity to have input and direction.

I give this advice hopefully on ears that will hear it. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that if that process was in place, taken very seriously by this government, and allowed to work, then the municipalities could prove to be a very valuable asset to this government. I indicated before, they are the ones that are on the front lines. They are the ones in your community today when you are unable to be there. We have been there, we took the heat, we know what it is like to be municipal representatives. I think we have a responsibility to ensure that the commitment of this government is fulfilled, that the UNSM will be contacted on these issues. They will be brought in and allowed an opportunity to provide input, a reasonable process is all they ask for, Mr. Speaker. They are not demanding, they are asking and to my knowledge this government offered, freely and voluntarily, to create this relationship, this big, healthy relationship with the municipal units, so that this garbage would not occur in the future. Here it is just a few short months later, and the same thing that happened prior to 1993 is going to occur again, when there was no consultation, there was no communication, and municipal units were just trampled on.

I am confident that there are enough former municipal representatives in this room to ensure this will not happen. I see the David Hendsbees, I have followed the careers of some of these members, I don't want to get into names, and I apologize . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member knows full well he is not allowed to name a member of the House. I will ask him to withdraw that, please.

MR. BOUDREAU: I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker, and I apologize to that honourable member.

There are enough members in here who I know are fighters and will not forget where they came from. These ministers are going to start discussing these issues with these backbenchers prior to coming into this room. I know that will happen in the future and I, along with my colleagues, intend to remind them on a daily basis what their real world is all about. In conversation with these individuals I am confident that they will ensure that this government will not manhandle the units in this province. It is unacceptable, intolerable, and I would suggest that is not the type of relationship that this government wants to create within the units in the province. Let's use our assets.

These municipal units, these individuals are very knowledgeable people. They can be a very valuable tool for the Province of Nova Scotia and this government, on many issues not just this issue, many issues. All it would require is one simple phone call down there at the UNSM and the process can be put in gear within an hour. I am very confident of that. That process has been used by the previous governments, it is not a new one. It is not a new process. It is a process that has been historically very rewarding for residents of this province.

[Page 3035]

The rewards go to the individual residents within the communities right across the Province of Nova Scotia, from one end to the other.

We as elected provincial representatives must carry the respect that we have for our individual council members and our former colleagues, we must carry that respect forward. We don't just discard this and throw it away and leave them on the front lines in their daily routines, in tough times and difficult times of stress. We all know what it is like to be an elected individual in a community. We all know that. I see many former municipal representatives here. These people I know and I am confident in saying that you people on that side of the room care about people and you care about the units that you came from regardless if it was in Halifax, if it was down in the Valley or if it was Port Hawkesbury or if it was in Cape Breton in the CBRM. We, and I, have grown to learn that these individuals, these administrators within these units are very capable individuals and they can put a real positive input into this sort of garbage.

[11:30 a.m.]

I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that if this process was put in place, the successes of this government may enlarge a great deal because this bill and the process that was followed in presenting this bill is wrong. The minister knows it is wrong, his colleagues in Cabinet know it is wrong, his backbench knows it is wrong and we, on this side of the House, have to deal with that. We have to draw out the issue. I can't, for the life of me, understand why an individual, respected, given the responsibilities to run a government department by his Premier, would stand in a room with hundreds of delegates and the Premier, himself, stand up and say, we will open the communication lines. We will allow UNSM input. We welcome your input and your advice. It is needed, it is accepted and we are going to work together. That is what I heard.

Then I come in and I see this stuff and there is an old saying back down in Cape Breton where I come from, talk is cheap. Anybody can say anything, it is when you have to stand up and support it and really be the type of man that you really are, that is when it counts. Anybody can say it but really living up to the meaning of it is another thing. The units in this province can be a very valuable asset to this government if the government is willing to accept the process, the communication link, the opportunity.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, when an amendment is moved, it is moved, as I understand it, at the conclusion of the remarks of a member and the member moves the amendment and then sits down and then another member, I understand, will speak on the amendment but not the member who actually moves the amendment. In other words, he speaks on the bill and then moves the amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: The legal advice I received at that time was that the honourable member could finish his hour, either speaking (Interruptions)

[Page 3036]

Order, please. The honourable Government House Leader has the floor.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know that that may well be, and I say that advisedly, but I know that the procedure that we have had over the years in this House is that the amendment is moved and the member sits down. The Speaker rules as to whether or not the motion is proper and if it is then the debate continues, another member stands.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I stand to concur with the Government House Leader. It has always been the practice, in the nine years that I have been in this House, that when an amendment is moved, it is done so at the end of a member's intervention. You take your seat and then someone stands and speaks in support of that amendment for it to be carried. You don't introduce your amendment and then stand and talk on it, the same person. That is contrary to the rules as they have been practised in this House.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Could the House recess for five minutes or so?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There will be a five minute recess.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[11:38 a.m. The House recessed.]

[11:41 a.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, are you prepared to make a ruling at this time?

MR. SPEAKER: I have been reminded by more learned minds in this room, with more experience than myself, that the past usage in this House had been that when someone does rise and make an amendment to a motion, they would then take their place and we would go on to the next speaker. I will abide by that advice given to me and I will ask for the next speaker on the amendment.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 3037]

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: I am sorry, was there a procedural point?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I was going to speak on the amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader has the floor.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the debate on Bill No. 28 be now adjourned.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 30.

Bill No. 30 - Flea Markets Regulation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to second reading of the Flea Markets Regulation Act. In simple terms, this bill is designated to shrink the market for stolen goods. The bill will prohibit the sale of certain goods at commercial flea markets. We are not talking about used goods here, nor are we going to affect the ability of legitimate vendors to sell legitimate goods. We are going after those who use these markets to sell stolen goods.

Retailers first brought their concern to government in 1997. They were losing merchandise at an alarming rate and it became apparent, Mr. Speaker, that highly sophisticated and organized shoplifting rings were operating within the province. Retailers were watching stock disappear from their shelves, in many cases stock that had been specially marked, only to see it wind up at commercial flea markets the very next day.

The specific items that seem to be targetted, Mr. Speaker, included batteries, razor blades, and cosmetics. New, brand-name items, still in their original packages, are being sold far below their cost and we are all paying the price. According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Nova Scotia retailers lost $35 million from shoplifting, costing the province about $10 million in direct and indirect taxes. The Retail Council of Canada estimates that 2 per cent is added to the retail price of goods to offset the cost of theft and to pay for the increased security costs.

[Page 3038]

[11:45 p.m.]

As many retailers pointed out, they have been forced to put many items under lock and key, making it less convenient for legitimate consumers to shop. The specific goods we intend to prohibit will be outlined in the regulations and we will be seeking input regarding those items. Now, the Opposition may think that the legislation, or some people may have suggested that it is trivial; however, the retailers who are losing millions of dollars a year don't think it is trivial.

In fact, Mr. Bruce Stone, a retailer here in metro, suggested that this legislation could possibly cut his losses in half. Since his store lost $190,000 in one year and $70,000 in the next, I don't think that anyone could describe it as trivial. The police forces that must investigate these shoplifting rings don't think the legislation is trivial either. In fact, Inspector Atkins of the RCMP said that this bill would reduce crime and cut down on the amount of time police devoted to chasing shoplifters. I can't help but digress by suggesting that these are municipal police forces paid for by municipal taxpayers and in light of the comments of the honourable member earlier, this is, in fact, an effort to reduce the cost to municipalities of policing services.

Mr. Speaker, while I don't think that the rules permit me to debate the earlier bill, I thought that it was apropos to point out to my colleagues opposite that this bill clearly, and I would suggest, like the other one, is beneficial to municipalities. To be very serious, the policing cost involved in the complaints that come from business owners who are literally wiped out of certain items of product does take a significant amount of police time and there is no effective way to stop many forms of crime other than to stop the demand for the product.

If there is an easy way for people to fence that material, it will be fenced and this is an economic crime and you have to get at the root causes of an economic crime which are economics. These crimes hurt every consumer in Nova Scotia. Again, those selling legitimate goods have nothing to worry about. The onus will be placed on the operator of the market to ensure that those items are not being sold unless they have been obtained directly from the manufacturer or wholesaler and proof of acquisition is available.

For the big ticket items, vendors will be required to provide flea market operators with the brand name, make, model and serial number. Operators would then be required to keep the forms and produce them to law enforcement officers on request. Nova Scotia is the first province to introduce this kind of legislation and I am proud that we are leading the way. We intend to shrink the market for stolen goods, Mr. Speaker, and this bill will help us to tackle what has been an expensive problem, not only for retailers but for all Nova Scotians.

[Page 3039]

I know that some members find it hard to appreciate as I did until I heard the police agencies and the retailers, the fact that there are rings. We are not talking about the less substantial, in social terms, of some kid lifting a candy bar - although that is a significant problem for retailers and this is obviously not going to address that problem - we are talking about people who make it their business to go around from store to store and clean the shelves. I only started noticing recently, particularly in metro, that razor blades are under lock and key. The reason that razor blades are under lock and key is not because there is a huge group of pent-up demand from people wanting to shave, but it is because these items can be stolen and resold, and very easily.

This bill places the responsibility on those people who receive larger items. One of the illustrations of that, of course, is the Canadian Tire store owners who have made it quite clear that the Mastercraft tools, for example - which are sold by Canadian Tire, it is a brand name to that store - when a Canadian Tire store changes hands, they never permit any of those products to be sold, other than at retail to a customer. They will see boxes of Mastercraft wrenches on sale at flea markets for half of what they pay for them at wholesale. The only way that is happening is because those have been stolen out of a store (Interruptions) That is right, maybe we have a lot of relatives who have changed from ties to wrenches. (Laughter) However, I can assure you this bill is not going to prevent people from getting ties or Mastercraft tools for Christmas.

It is a light subject in some ways, but it is not a light subject in other ways because it is a problem. This is an attempt by government, and I hope with the support of all members, to try to address what is a problem. I would ask for the support of members to deal with this issue. Again, there are certain areas of the province, frankly, where these flea markets are prevalent. In my area of the province we have lots of flea markets, but it is very rare that you see any significant amount of new goods.

MR. JOHN HOLM: You should come to Sackville.

MR. BAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid says I should come to Sackville; I guess he feels I may need a shave or something. The reality is there are areas of the province where there are flea markets that are clearly being used by some individuals as an opportunity to fence stolen goods.

Mr. Speaker, with that I would move second reading of Bill No. 30.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: I have met with business people and others in my riding, and in this community, and was advised that they were working toward what is now Bill No. 30, An Act Respecting the Sale of Certain Items at a Commercial Flea Market. They asked for my support when this bill did arrive at the House. I assured them I would look at that bill very

[Page 3040]

carefully and offer support in the areas that I could. Generally, I, personally, and I think I can speak for our caucus in this matter, do support the thrust of the bill. We have some concerns and we will bring them before the House.

The minister himself has outlined the amount of taxes, an estimate that would be lost to the government alone, and the hardships that are caused within the retail industry, trying to secure products within those retail outlets, security within the store, and the initiatives. As the minister has mentioned, I am all of a sudden wondering why certain products are kept locked up and behind the counter. Obviously on questioning that, the severity of this problem was pointed out. We have the issue of regulations that we will be determining. Basically, we are speaking about prohibited goods and also the prescribed goods. That will be defined in regulations to protect the large retailers from shoplifters by limiting their ability to resell stolen goods. The minister has mentioned this is new goods only.

One of the concerns we have about the bill is the commitment of this government to do something about home invasions. We believe that some of the flea markets, not the non-commercial ones necessarily, but others, are the outlet for products, goods taken from homes, particularly of seniors, and a result of home invasions that is a very severe issue before this government and before the people of Nova Scotia. We have some concerns in that. We know it is going to be cumbersome, and this is why we feel, that the fact that the regulations on Bill No. 30, not more comprehensive, and give some indication as to what the definitions will be of prohibited and prescribed goods that will be impacted by the regulations under this particular bill.

Mr. Speaker, the bill does place restrictions on those who want to sell new merchandise at a flea market. It requires vendors to supply receipts to the operators. The bill is clear on the definition of who is who. The operators of the commercial flea market are then liable for their operators. This does place a large task on that operator. Speaking personally, I was quite surprised and even amazed, if the assessment is accurate, of how many goods have been flowing through the commercial flea markets, the new goods, particularly. I will address my comments to the new goods, because that is all that is covered by this act.

We have concerns about products of home invasion not being addressed in this particular issue, in this bill. I am quite amazed the laws that are out there cannot be enforced more strictly and more adequately towards the new products that are being laundered through the flea markets. One of our concerns is that this bill moves away from the criminal act, which I believe the theft from a retail store would be, and the selling of the product either knowingly or unknowingly. Note under Clause 7, that this will be under the Summary Proceedings Act, which to me is a lesser restriction and something that would deter in a lesser manner. So we are moving away from the criminal side, of course, which is a federal responsibility, I understand that. I think we have to look at this bill and make sure there is not duplication that we are trying to move in, or inadvertently moving into areas that are best dealt with under the Criminal Code. I think these are major transgressions that have to be addressed. The fact that

[Page 3041]

it has continued this long, I must say, is a concern and it is why for the general thrust of the bill that I think you will see support in this House for this particular legislation.

We will be able to address it clause by clause as we go along, and I will try to stick to the principle of the bill here today. Mr. Speaker, the inadequacy of this bill, there is no deterrent for individuals who sell other stolen goods, such as televisions, which have been stolen during home invasions and it could be, I am sure, that people and members of this Legislature have suffered under those situations. The government had an opportunity to keep one of its promises and to begin legislative solutions to the issue of home invasions.

[12:00 p.m.]

We would ask that they look at this legislation, that they could expand that legislation to make it more difficult for people to profit from stolen property acquired during home invasions. As well, the government has said that after consultation over the next few months, they will introduce regulations for this bill and, for instance, what goods will fall under this Act. In other words, the government will bring in the regulations after the bill. That is not unusual, but I think here it leaves a real question mark as to what the definition of these products will be when they are not defined under regulation as the bill states.

We would like to see these regulations before this bill passes the Legislature, but that may not be adhered to and we are dealing with a majority government, we may not see those regulations until after.

There are, as I mentioned earlier, already proceeds of crime legislation and this bill in fact duplicates some of that and there is very clear federal responsibility here. I think, under the area of the Summary Proceedings Act, not having regulations flaws the bill.

It is pretty clear, and I am sure other members will mention, that the intent is to address commercial operation flea markets and not roadside flea markets or backyards and I hope that is true. Until we see some of the definition, that will not be clear and that is my point about bringing the regulations in at this time. This is an area that I think would offer some comfort to people that they will not be unnecessarily harassed. We know there are parts of this province, particularly the South Shore, the Eastern Shore, Annapolis Valley, that have a long tradition of roadside flea markets as you, Mr. Speaker, would well know coming from probably the longest main street in North America that is sometimes used for those. (Interruption)

No, Port Mouton is more sophisticated. I will not pay attention to the rabbit tracks here today, Mr. Speaker. We feel that the thrust of the legislation is essentially good, there are some loose ends that we hope are not the result of a rush job, there is some thought that needs go in that, but it gives me the opportunity when addressing the principle of the bill to

[Page 3042]

remind this government that they have made promises to the seniors particularly and all Nova Scotians that they will be bringing in stiffer laws addressing the issue of home invasions.

Again, they might say that is a federal matter, a criminal matter, but they are doing it here, they need to go another step or two further here to address some of these issues. It does provide a chance for the province to do something concrete to stem the tide of home invasions, but it has dropped the ball here and I want to keep his issue before the House during the debate on Bill No. 30.

There is nothing in this bill to make sure that the proceeds of the crimes will have a more difficult time being fenced and that is particularly the home invasion crimes. The government has also pledged to cut the red tape for businesses. One cannot be too critical of this, but it is pretty obvious that a system that has probably been fairly open and free-wheeling will now have to be having some major changes in the administration. That is something that has to be. It is unfortunate that the situation has come about, that there is the laundering of so much of this material out there, so I think the people will have to be patient and adjust in some manner. I don't know if this would lend itself to computerization and how that might be introduced, because many of the vendors of course, those who sell the goods at the tables, it is very informal; it is a family initiative often. I was watching the other morning, taking my daughter snowboarding, she was getting in another vehicle out in the Sackville area and the amount of families coming in there to the flea market was quite remarkable.

So these are big ventures; there is a lot of money involved and I think it is time that there is some accountability in the system. The legislation will impact on the prescribed manner in which the vendors, certain goods that will be defined in regulations will have to be accounted for. Receipts will have to be maintained for up to two years, I understand the legislation will be, if it goes through as written. So at that turn the vendor will have to be, or could, or must be accountable to the operator who of course is then liable. It is going to place, in the early stages of this Act, considerable change and certainly a great liability on that operator, so there will have to be time for the system to be in place for that.

I think we can ask nothing less of this legislation that ensures that there is a system in place, that the vendors are accountable, and the operators in turn are accountable. It will be interesting to see, and I think we will all be watching this, Mr. Speaker, the impact of this legislation. There will be a fair warning. The media have been addressing this particular issue, and there is a lot of interest in flea markets and people will be watching this, and for that I commend the government for bringing this forward. It is time. Like I say, I am surprised that existing legislation does not allow a better monitoring of this and perhaps the seizure of some of these goods, but I suppose there are technicalities involved. There has probably been some test cases that I am not sure of that have not succeeded and for reasons the police and the Prosecution Service have not gone forward on this particular matter.

[Page 3043]

I am hoping that this legislation does not interfere, that it does not duplicate too much legislation that is already in effect, but it will add under the Summary Proceedings Act, some strength that will bring some formality and accountability into both the activities of the vendors and the operators and then we will be able to go there in clear conscience ourselves. If the honourable minister needs a shave - he is fairly well-groomed this morning, but there are days that he may want to go - he can go and if he buys razor blades, as he mentioned earlier, he, too, can be seen there as a Minister of the Crown in clear conscience buying materials that he knows are not the proceeds of crime.

To the minister, I would also, if he happens to be, on his meagre salary, buying second-hand hockey skates or whatever, he can know that that is not the product of a home invasion as well, and that is our only concern here. So there is no guarantee right now on that particular issue.

I just wanted to maybe set the tone a bit for where we are coming from as a caucus on this particular bill. We will be supporting a large part of the bill, but there are some areas of concern. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to address Bill No. 30.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the other day I had occasion to attend the bill briefing that was organized and presented by the honourable Minister of Justice, in company with a senior RCMP officer and the President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. I was intrigued at the way this bill was presented. When I was interviewed afterwards, I made it clear to the reporters that our caucus would certainly be supporting this bill through to second reading at least because, although we perceived some difficulties with it and we wanted to have the opportunity to discuss them, we certainly understood the nature of the problem but we felt that there were quite a number of other aspects of this bill that needed to have a good close look.

I would like to start by pointing out what I think are some of the difficulties and some of the points that I hope the honourable minister will consider and perhaps we might get into a more detailed discussion of during the Law Amendments Committee process. Let's start with the question, which I suppose might be under the general heading of detail or perhaps proportionality. This has to do with exactly what part of the problem of theft from legitimate businesses we are focusing on.

We have heard figures put out with respect to total amounts of thefts from businesses on the order of about $35 million in our province. This is significant. What we don't seem to know or what we haven't been offered is, I think, any information as to what portion of that comes from shoplifting by individuals, what portion comes from shoplifting that is being carried out through any kind of organized efforts and, finally, what portion is carried out through organized theft inside the operations of those businesses. We just haven't been

[Page 3044]

offered any breakdown of that. To casually use the word shoplifting to describe all of these activities seems to me not exactly accurate, they are quite different activities.

Shoplifting is often the word used to describe what it is that individuals do. It is certainly reasonably accurate to describe it I guess if it is an organized activity taking place from the shelves of stores when goods are on display and yet there is a different dimension involved in that. There is certainly a different dimension involved when the theft is inside the operation itself. I don't think that can really be described as shoplifting.

What I really wonder is whether the minister or his advisors, be they his business advisors or the police, have any more detail that they can offer us as to the different kinds of theft that the retail commercial vendors experience. It may be that they just don't know, it may be that they don't have breakdowns but I think it might help us understand whether we are doing something of any significance and effectiveness if they do know that. It would be especially useful to know, if they do know, what proportion of the goods ends up being fenced through flea markets. I don't think I really heard any of that at the bill briefing or today. I might have missed it but I didn't hear it. I am not saying that they don't end up there, let's be clear, I think the minister and his advisors are quite correct that certainly some proportion of stolen goods from retail commercial businesses do end up in flea markets. I don't think anyone doubts that. The real question is, does the minister have any hard data or even relatively soft data that might help us understand what we are dealing with.

The reason I raise this, of course, is the minister has chosen, through this bill, to try to address the problem through an instrument of documentation. It may be that that makes sense. It may be that this is really the only effective tool to put in place. Yet, if the tool of record keeping that in its ambit is directed both to the vendors and the operators, and in the case of the operators requires them to keep records for more than two years and, indeed, in the case of the operators, if there are defects in the record keeping, expose them to the penalty of having their operation shut down, then I think we have to consider how efficacious this is and whether there is proportionality involved.

I particularly direct this enquiry to the minister as a member of a government that has been very clear that one of the new functions they are going to create in the government they are rapidly remaking is a red tape commissioner. What I wonder is what the red tape commissioner will make of this particular piece of documentation. I hope that the minister will be prepared to submit the whole scheme and operation of this bill, assuming that it does go through and goes into place and is acted on for a period of time, I hope that the minister will agree to submit this bill's thrust to the scrutiny of a red tape commissioner so that in due course the red tape commissioner can say to us, it is working, it is not working, it needs modification, it needs improvement, it needs some change, whatever.

[Page 3045]

[12:15 p.m.]

I hope this is an example of what it is that the minister and his government have in mind when they think about red tape. I hope that if they think it is significant enough to introduce what is clearly another example of documentation and record keeping, which I think is what people mean when they talk about red tape, that if he thinks it is appropriate to introduce this kind of measure, that it actually works in a sensible way and fits within a good policy scheme and isn't too onerous compared with the nature of the problem.

It is my central and starting wish that the minister turns his mind to this, it may even be that it is appropriate to introduce an amendment in due course to this bill to require commentary from the red tape commissioner. I am not certain if that is the right way to go, since I haven't seen any legislation to actually create a red tape commissioner yet, so we might be referring the bill for commentary to a functionary who doesn't exist. It may be that an amendment would be premature. I will take the minister's advice and guidance with respect to that. Presumably he knows when or if we will actually see legislation with respect to a red tape commissioner. That is my starting point, I ask the minister to think about that part of it. I am sure that when we get to the Law Amendments Committee we will hear some comments from operators about this aspect of it.

Let me then move on to a second aspect of this bill that is certainly one that causes us concern. This has to do with the role of the operators, as contemplated under this bill. It is far from obvious that to the extent that there is criminal activity going on, it is either something that is the fault of operators of flea markets or something they can effectively control. It seems clear that where you have a flea market that is operated by an individual or a company that what they are doing is providing a service, they are providing a location, they are providing advertising, they are providing tables, they are providing, perhaps, a place to get a bite to eat or a cold drink, a cup of coffee, that is what they are providing. They are not typically the ones who are the vendors of goods, they don't supply the goods. That is not the business they are in. If they are doing that, then they are vendors. It is not in their capacity as operators that they are engaging in that.

If it turns out that there are either outright stolen goods being fenced through a flea market or goods with respect to which police officers decide they are going to be suspicious or for which, under this bill, the documentation is lacking, it is far from clear why the operators should have anything to do with that. What the operators have to do is make sure they have, perhaps, some contact names and addresses for the people who are their vendors. But what this bill does is it invites the operators to perform a police function and require the individual vendors to show them their documentation. Surely that is the police's function. That is what we expect.

[Page 3046]

If this bill goes into effect, the police officers will be able to demand to be shown the documentation. I don't see how it is that the operators should be called upon to do that. And I certainly don't see why it is that the operators should be exposed in the case of defects of documentation to having their businesses shut down. We know that flea markets have grown in metro in recent times, and some of them are very large. We know that there are very legitimate vendors who show up to rent tables and sell their goods. Statistics tell us that Canadians move very frequently. We have a lot of students in the area and at the end of their time, they will often go to flea markets and sell their goods. When Canadians are moving from place to place, they will often go to flea markets and sell their goods.

If it turns out that what is clearly a public service in that sense, includes within it vendors who are selling goods that violate this Act, then one of the penalties is that the whole operation will be shut down. Quite clearly, in addition to imposing a financial penalty on the operators, it imposes a big inconvenience and, therefore, something of a financial penalty, on perfectly legitimate, ordinary citizens who wish to have available to them the chance to sell their goods at a flea market on a weekend when they need to.

I would like to hear the comments of the honourable minister with respect to this. I did not hear this point addressed in the bill briefing, and I don't think I heard it addressed today. So again, I am looking forward to the stage of consideration of this bill at the Law Amendments Committee, and what it is that the operators will have to say. The operators, or some of them, have already been in the press setting out their objections. On the face of it, they seem like quite legitimate objections. I am prepared to have a good hard look at it, and I think that when we move to the law amendment stage, undoubtedly, will do that.

The next point I would like to draw to the minister's attention is one of problems associated with vaguenesses inside the bill. I have to say that this is quite a serious problem in this bill. We heard from the minister a number of times that all he is concerned about here is new goods. That is a fair point. It is obviously a shorthand term meaning new goods which we think might be stolen. But you know what, the bill doesn't say that. The bill doesn't say this bill only deals with new goods. What the bill says is when we write the regulations, we will tell you then what the goods are that are going to be covered by it. We will tell you then what are the prohibited and prescribed goods for the purposes of this Act.

Well, I know that governments have to have regulation-making power. No one doubts that. What I am concerned about here is the ambit of this regulation power as set out in this particular bill. It is simply too broad and it is too vague. If the minister means that this bill will be confined to new goods, then let him say that in the legislation. It should say it in the bill explicitly, that it is only new goods that will be prohibited and prescribed by regulation. If the minister can go farther than that and say, well, it is particular kinds of new goods that we are concerned about, then he could put that in the legislation; but that has not happened here.

[Page 3047]

What we see here is a wide open ambit which could certainly extend to used goods, because there is nothing in this bill that says that it couldn't be made to apply to used goods. There is no definition that would suggest to us what they are going to mean by new or used, how new, how used. This is a problem that should be addressed at the time the bill is drafted. (Interruption) My learned colleagues are suggesting to me that is an additional problem, of course, of someone who might be selling, quite legitimately, a new item that was a gift to them. Now, I guess this is where the minister says that they had better have some paper that they can show. I hope they do have some paper that they can show. It is even possible that something a person has owned for a year or two for which they don't have the paper could look very new. It would especially look new if they haven't used it. They might not even have taken it out of the package.

What I am saying is that there is a practical dimension to this legislation that has to be thought through. What we want to see is that this not be left entirely to the regulations. Surely it is an abuse if the minister can tell us already that he knows that this bill is intended only to deal with new goods and new goods that look suspicious. Surely, he should be able to tell us something in detail in the legislation itself.

There are other aspects of this problem of vagueness and definition in the bill. Here is another one. In the regulation-making power that the government wants to give itself is the power of, "re-defining or further defining any word or expression defined in this Act." Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you that it is not unusual to find a regulation-making power that says that the government can define words that are not already defined in the Act. It is not desirable to have that kind of provision if you can define them in the Act, but I look at the words that say that the minister can, through the regulation-making power re-define a word in the Act. I know there are precedents for that in some of the bills that have gone through this House. But I didn't like them then, and I don't like them now. It is just not proper to give a regulation-making power to the Governor in Council that allows them to re-define a word that is already defined in the Act. How on earth can such a thing escape scrutiny before a bill is presented to this House, and once it is presented to us, how can we, in good conscience, endorse something like that. I can't, and I look forward to the Law Amendments Committee process when we will have the opportunity to come to grips with what exactly the minister might have intended.

I raise some other problems of vagueness or difficulty with understanding the practicalities of this bill. Here they are. The way the documentation idea seems to work is that a peace officer can demand to see the documentation, demand a copy apparently. Whose responsibility is it to make the copy? Does the vendor have to have multiple copies? Suppose they have the documentation. Suppose they are a perfectly legitimate vendor of new goods, but they are selling at a flea market and they have their documentation. Let's assume that a person can bring themselves within the requirements of this Act because they have acquired new goods somewhere at whatever price, legitimately, and have their papers.

[Page 3048]

On a Saturday or Sunday afternoon the police officer comes along, asks to see the papers, and are shown the papers. Let's leave aside the question as to who makes the copy for the police officer. At the end of the day, the vendor may well not have sold all their goods. They are going to be back there next Saturday and next Sunday, and they will probably have the same goods, the leftovers, they have the papers. A police officer comes along again or another officer, and says, can I see your papers, can I have another copy? New officer, new copy. Every couple of hours, another copy. Do they maybe get a signed-off copy by the officer, is that the way they are going to do it, so they don't have to kind of keep going through this all the time? Maybe this is an aspect of it that should go back to the red tape commissioner. (Interruption)

[12:30 p.m.]

Well, my learned friend says and observes correctly that it is going to get a little complicated. I think that is right. I don't mean the core idea of the bill is wrong, what I mean is I would like some details and some explanation from the minister. I would like something to show that the details have been thought through before.

Finally, I would like to turn to the whole question of whether, at its core, this bill is really criminal law or whether it is legitimate provincial law. We know that there are already in the Criminal Code, sections that make it illegal to possess stolen goods. I think it is Section 534, it makes it quite clear that possession of stolen goods is already a crime. The subject matter is already dealt with by the federal government under its undoubted power to deal with the criminal law. Furthermore, the courts have had opportunity to elaborate on Section 534, and they have developed what is known as the Doctrine of Recent Possession. What it says is, if you are in possession of stolen goods, you better have a darn good explanation for it. The burden of proof shifts to you to show that you acquired the goods in some legitimate way.

It sounds a lot like Bill No. 28 to me. The only difference between Bill No. 28 and Section 534 of the Criminal Code is Bill No. 28 focuses on some particular members of society in flea markets, whereas Section 534 applies to every citizen in Canada in circumstances in which the police officer decides they want to ask them questions. On the face of it, I have to say there is a serious question here. I did offer an agreement to the Minister of Justice, I think just yesterday, that I would stop giving lectures in the Legislature on constitutional law just as soon as he stopped introducing unconstitutional bills, but he hasn't taken the opportunity to take me up on it. I am looking forward to the discussion we will no doubt have, he and I, at the Law Amendments Committee with respect to this particular part of the bill.

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to the main point that I started with. Our Party is prepared to support this bill at second reading so we can get on with the detailed discussion of it in the Law Amendments Committee and through the Committee of the Whole House.

[Page 3049]

There are, as we have identified, I think, and as others have, a huge number of questions about this bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: About 25 minutes to go.

MR. EPSTEIN: Only 25 minutes to go? We are looking forward to engaging with the minister in a detailed examination of this bill. We know that there is going to be a lot of people who will come forward wanting to speak about it. I am sure that those who are the operators of flea markets will have more to say; they have already gone on record in the press, and I am sure they will go on record in front of us at the Law Amendments Committee.

I won't attempt to block passage of this bill at this stage because, as the minister correctly said, there is a legitimate problem out there to dealt with; there is a legitimate problem of theft and it is not just in the sector that the minister has chosen to focus on here. I hope that when this government turns its mind to questions of theft that it doesn't omit to consider the conditions that lead to it, and I think when the budget comes down we will have a lot more opportunity to address that part of it.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity and I look forward to listening to other speakers here today.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make a number of interventions on this particular piece of legislation, An Act Respecting the Sale of Certain Items at a Commercial Flea Market, better known as Bill No. 30. This is a very important piece of legislation because it does attempt to address a number of critical issues, first and foremost that being the illegal sale of stolen goods at commercial flea markets.

Upon first perusal of this particular piece of legislation, I notice that the essence of this particular piece of legislation is contingent upon the designation and the implementation of the regulations to which, as we all know, the regulations are the working component of this bill. The bill stating out the principle and the terms of reference and the regulations being the working component so, if you go through Clauses 2 and 3 - and I know we are going to speak on the principle of the bill and not go through it clause by clause - from an overview perspective, both these sections will for all intents and purposes be null and void without the regulations.

Under the regulations section of the bill, Clause 8, it is a permissive section. It is not a requirement that the Governor in Council will provide regulations, it says "may". I would hope that perhaps the minister, in a spirit of cooperation and making an opportunity for all members of the House, in particular the Opposition, to review what regulations that we are dealing with because unless we know what regulations we are dealing with, it is very difficult

[Page 3050]

to give a full, unqualified endorsement of Clauses 2 and 3 which are the heart and soul of this particular piece of legislation.

Even more so, under Clause 8(1)(d), the regulation section of the bill it states, "The Governor in Council may make regulations re-defining or further defining any word or expression defined in this Act." So, in other words, the definition of a commercial flea market, the definition of an operator, the definition of a vendor or whatever that we may have in the legislation now may change with the stroke of a pen by Cabinet without the full approbation of the legislation.

So in other words, by adopting this particular piece of legislation in its present form, we are in fact giving a certificate of validation for the Cabinet to go and adopt the legislation by regulatory process because - well, the honourable Leader of the Opposition will have lots of opportunity (Interruption) Well, when he was in the Official Opposition position. We have to be very gracious, we know that his days are numbered so we have to be gracious. I mean the next flea market we go to, perhaps he will be for sale, you never know, and that is what they call perhaps some of these used goods that the government is referring to. It could be damaged goods, I do not know.

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to get sidetracked with rabbit tracks from the Leader of the socialist Party, but the fact of the matter is the government could very easily redefine the very intent of this particular piece of legislation by this empowerment under Clause 8(1)(d) of the regulation section in the Act. I am hoping the minister will have an opportunity to perhaps either eliminate this particular section, give some clarification as to what potential expand of powers he is asking for the Cabinet to have, or, in fact, perhaps provide us with a copy of the regulations so that we would be able to give the type of support that the minister is asking. It has been noted by a number of speakers the fact that we are dealing with commercial flea markets and we are dealing with an operator; meaning a person who leases or rents or otherwise provides a table, selling space or facility to a person for the purpose of conducting sales on tangible personal property.

I think the issue has been raised as to what is a legal product, essentially. Somebody may have plenty of used goods and items around his or her property and say, well, I am going to take them to the flea market and I am going to sell them. You get there and, as has been noted, perhaps the police will come along and say that looks rather suspicious because they may be looking for something that may closely resemble something that they are identifying through another investigation. Then all of a sudden some rather honest, innocent and well-intended citizens are already caught up in a process that is in many cases beyond their control because it may be a used item of clothing or personal property, or furniture, or whatever, that perhaps they have had around their home for the last 20, 25 years, or even for 10 years.

[Page 3051]

We all know that the requirements for maintaining receipts is not indefinite, although there is a provision here that somebody has to provide their paperwork, at least the operator would have to provide the information pursuant to this bill for a minimum of two years, but that certainly would not address the issue of innocent individuals who are caught into this process.

As well, Mr. Speaker, very easily the government by its own Clause 8(1)(d) could start going from commercial flea markets to non-commercial flea markets. They could start dealing with non-profit organizations, churches, fire departments, any type of community organization. By the very section that they have in this particular piece of legislation, they could transform the intent of this legislation to have wide-wielding and sweeping powers. So if that is the intent of the government, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member yield the floor for an introduction?

MR. MACKINNON: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today in the House and ask the House to bring a warm welcome to four of my friends from Cape Breton The Lakes. Lloyd Lewis is a resident of Westmount, Harold and Mary McKinnon are residents of Frenchvale and, of course, my best friend, my wife, Robin. (Applause)

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, the ability of this particular piece of legislation to expand the definition of what particular flea markets we are dealing with, is unlimited. Although the definition under Clause 2 of the bill makes provision for a commercial flea market, as I have stated earlier, that could be redefined by an Order in Council, not by an Act of the Legislature (Interruption) Down in the bunker behind closed curtains. In fact, there are more curtains and blinds up there than even when I was down there. I think they must be getting a little nervous down there, I do not know. I think they will be painting the windows black pretty soon, at the rate they are going.

Mr. Speaker, where is the limit going to be? The minister, in his introductory remarks, indicated that he had the support of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and he made reference to a senior RCMP official that this would be a good piece of legislation. I am not sure if they have seen the actual wording of the legislation, but certainly the principle and the intent I would suspect they would support it. I would hope that these individuals will come before the Law Amendments Committee and make some presentation on the actual intent and the wording of the legislation.

[Page 3052]

Although, I must say, and it is no secret, I have always been a little bit suspect of presentations that have been made by the executive director or the vice-president of the Federation of Independent Business, Mr. O'Brien, on various issues, particularly on some of the Department of Labour issues. (Interruption) Well, other members can have confidence in his judgement. I don't necessarily share that, and that is my opinion, and I will stick with it. If other people have a different opinion, Mr. Speaker, good for them. I just deal with it as I find people to deal with. (Interruption) Well, I didn't get a Christmas card this Christmas or last year. I did get one the year before, but that was before I was Minister of Labour.

Mr. Speaker, I just hope that the government is not capitulating to the interest of big business only. If the minister and the government are genuine in the concerns that they have raised by introducing this particular piece of legislation, I would certainly entertain and welcome further evidence to support the arguments that have been made. I would suspect that at the Law Amendments Committee that opportunity would be afforded. But Canadian Tire, like any other corporate citizen, has rights. They are taxpaying citizens in the corporate entity sense of the word. Let's be mindful. They played hard ball with the employees at Canadian Tire in Sydney several years ago, and the government, when they were Third Party then, did not really rush to the support of the little folk, if we could use that term. (Interruption) They certainly did, and I think if you speak to the employees of Canadian Tire, they will certainly concur with that, despite the protestations of the socialists who would have rather made it into a political issue, but they didn't score any political points. (Interruption) The evidence was forthcoming in the last provincial election.

There are wannabes and there are hopefuls. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, on the issue, with regard to the government representing this particular piece of legislation, I would hope it is simply not to respond to the demands of big business, which obviously it has been noted for doing that. They have certainly cuddled up pretty nicely with the chamber of commerce here in metro. Every time the government wants to put forth its right-wing agenda, the first thing they do is make sure they get a good crowd from the chamber of commerce to come down and say, this is what has to be done, the government should not be in the business of doing business. In other words, the code word is make sure that anything that will derive a profit, we want it and let the government have the crumbs. (Interruption)

Absolutely, and we did a good job on the Workers' Compensation Act. We put some $45 million more in the hands of injured workers than was there before, and we are very proud of that, Mr. Speaker. We are not ashamed to take a stand. We don't have to worry about hanging around picket fences like the socialists, we don't have to worry about that. We made decisions and we are proud of it. If we made mistakes, we will answer for them. (Interruptions) I guess maybe we did. But we will be back. We will be back. (Interruptions)

[Page 3053]

The Minister of Finance is just so anxious to enter into this particular debate. It is too bad he didn't enter into a little bit of this legislative debate when he was a minister under the John Buchanan Regime; perhaps if his great talents were used on Finance back then, we wouldn't be bankrupt or nearly bankrupt today.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if the honourable member who has the floor would mind getting back to Bill No. 30, the bill before us today. (Interruptions)

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it is very relevant, and I will tell you why it is relevant. It is relevant because every piece of legislation has a cost to it. There is a cost to it. The Minister of Finance is saying that they don't have the money to do this, they don't have money to help the Minister of Community Services, they don't have the money to fix roads, they don't have money for Economic Development, and now we are introducing another piece of legislation which will have a cost to it. There has to be a cost, otherwise (Interruption) That is right. We would like to at least quantify where they are going with this. Maybe it is a revenue-generator for the government. If it is a revenue-generator for the government, perhaps they could provide the analysis as to how the people of Nova Scotia will benefit. If crime will go down, then perhaps there will be less money spent on the court system, on the police, policing, investigations.

Mr. Speaker [Hon. Murray Scott], welcome to the Chair. The fact of the matter is there is clear evidence that the government is not even dealing with the source of the problem. They are not dealing with the source of the problem. All you have to do is listen to the radio in the morning or pick up the newspaper, every day there is a break and enter, there is a theft, there is a violation of somebody's personal rights and property. What is the government doing?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West, as you indicated I just came into the House. Could you indicate, is it Bill No. 30 we are talking about? (Laughter)

MR. MACKINNON: That is what it says here in my bill book.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, thank you.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor. (Interruptions)

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, perhaps since you have just joined us and your very able deputy is taking his chair, he will have opportunity to rush over to Hansard and getting a copy of my rather stimulating presentation on this, and you could review it and ensure that I am in the confines of the principle of this particular piece of legislation, because that is essentially what we are dealing with. If we are dealing with stolen properties before a flea market and the argument is made, as the Minister of Justice has stated, coming from people's commercial operations and personal property, if individuals are breaking into homes or

[Page 3054]

whatever, we have to deal with that. I think he even made the reference about locking up razor blades. I don't want to make any cutting remarks, let's put it that way. As you have indicated, let's stick to the principle of the bill.

The fact of the matter is that I am referring to these particular issues, that would certainly suggest that I am not sticking to the principle of the bill. If you relate to Clause 8(1)(d), the provision is there for the government, the Governor in Council, to re-define . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Your microphone is off. The honourable member would realize you are not supposed to refer to special clauses of the bill.

Would the honourable member care to adjourn debate at this time?

MR. MACKINNON: Yes, Mr. Speaker, and I will be looking very anxiously to address your comments on Monday, because I believe they are good. I would certainly ask for the will of the House to adjourn debate at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 30.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on Monday, the hours will be from 4:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m., and the order of business following the daily routine will be Public Bills for Second Reading and we will be calling Bill Nos. 30, 34, 31 and 32; in other words the bills that are on the order paper for second reading.

Mr. Speaker, I move that we do now rise to meet again on Monday at 4:00 p.m.

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

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 12:57 p.m.]