The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House will resume on
April 25, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., Nov. 22, 2000

First Session

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - Eastern Passage: High School - Need, Mr. K. Deveaux 9058
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3459, Econ. Dev. - Dist. 18 Bus. Assoc.: Work - Congrats.,
The Premier 9058
Vote - Affirmative 9059
Res. 3460, Women: Violence Against - End, Hon. J. Purves 9059
Vote - Affirmative 9060
Res. 3461, N.S. Youth Secretariat - A Splendid Torch: Event -
Organizers Thank, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 9060
Vote - Affirmative 9060
Res. 3462, Aboriginal Affs. - Aboriginal People's TV Network:
Local Programming - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 9061
Vote - Affirmative 9061
Res. 3463, Breton Educ. Ctr. - Human Rights Violations: Awareness -
Recognize, Hon. J. Purves 9061
Vote - Affirmative 9062
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3464, Gov't. (N.S.) - Responsible Gov't.: Traditions - Respect,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 9062
Res. 3465, Tory MLAs - Experience: Ineptness - Increased,
Mr. John MacDonell 9063
Res. 3466, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Uniacke Mines Rd.: Repairs -
Min. Action, Mr. P. MacEwan 9063
Res. 3467, Light Up Bedford Parade - Participants: Efforts - Recognize,
Hon. P. Christie 9064
Vote - Affirmative 9065
Res. 3468, Gov't. (N.S.): Policies - Condemn, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9065
Res. 3469, Health - Issue: NDP - Participation Congrats., Dr. J. Smith 9065
Res. 3470, PC MLAs - Premier: Statements - Apologize, Mr. F. Corbett 9066
Res. 3471, Col.-Musq. Valley MLA: Resignation - Request,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 9067
Res. 3472, Aspotogan Rec. Assoc. - Heritage Park: Establishment -
Support, (by Mr. M. Baker) Hon. J. Chataway 9068
Vote - Affirmative 9068
Res. 3473, Gov't. (N.S.) - Governing: Incapability - Recognize,
Mr. D. Dexter 9068
Res. 3474, Gov't. (N.S.) - Voting: Scoreboard - Acquire,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 9069
Res. 3475, Eldridge Shawn - Recovery: Best Wishes - Extend,
Hon. R. Russell 9070
Vote - Affirmative 9070
Res. 3476, Election (Cdn.) - Double Standard: Liberal - Usage,
Mr. H. Epstein 9070
Res. 3477, Margaree - Medical Clinic: Expansion - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 9071
Vote - Affirmative 9072
Res. 3478, Liberal MLAs - News Conference: NDP Initiatives -
Praise Thank, Mr. J. Pye 9072
Res. 3479, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. System (N.S.):
Gov't. (Cdn.) - Neglect Cease, Mr. B. Taylor 9073
Res. 3480, Urchin Holdings - Dartmouth: Downtown Revitalization -
Congrats., Mr. T. Olive 9074
Vote - Affirmative 9075
Res. 3481, Econ. Dev. - Britech Info. Systems: Mgmt./Staff - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 9075
Vote - Affirmative 9076
Res. 3482, Davis, Carol (Yarmouth) - World Fisheries Day: Tribute -
Congrats., Mr. R. Hurlburt 9076
Vote - Affirmative 9076
Res. 3483, Chezzetcook Volunteer Fire Dept.: Anniv. (40th) - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Dooks 9076
Vote - Affirmative 9077
Res. 3484, Int'l. Emergency Mgmt. Assist. Compact: Signing - Applaud,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 9077
Vote - Affirmative 9078
Res. 3485, Tourism - Sherbrooke Village: Staff - Congrats.,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 9078
Vote - Affirmative 9079
Res. 3486, CCL - Keith's Beer: Promotion - Award Congrats.,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 9079
Vote - Affirmative 9079
Res. 3487, Ramsey, Tom: 2000 DALBAR Seal - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 9080
Vote - Affirmative 9080
Res. 3488, Westville HS Drama Club - We'll Meet Again:
Performance - Commend, Mr. J. DeWolfe 9080
Vote - Affirmative 9081
Res. 3489, Pictou Advocate: Business Attitude - Congrats.,
Mrs. M. Baillie 9081
Vote - Affirmative 9082
Res. 3490, Eaves, Charles - Dalhousie Univ.: Honorary Doctorate -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 9082
Vote - Affirmative 9082
Res. 3491, Sports - Soccer: Central Kings - Participants Congrats.,
Mr. D. Morse 9083
Vote - Affirmative 9083
Res. 3492, Somerset Christmas Craft Fair - Participants: Efforts -
Congrats., Mr. J. Carey 9083
Vote - Affirmative 9084
Res. 3493, Greyhound Pets: Prog. - Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 9084
Vote - Affirmative 9085
Res. 3494, Yarmouth Light, Friends of - Cape Forchu Lighthouse:
Preservation - Efforts Congrats., Mr. R. Hurlburt 9085
Vote - Affirmative 9086
Res. 3495, Fitzgerald, Gerald - Remembrance Day: Tribute - Recognize,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 9086
Vote - Affirmative 9086
Res. 3496, Yantzi, Sarah - Sea Cadet Corps: Ambassador -
Selection Congrats., Mrs. M. Baillie 9087
Vote - Affirmative 9087
Res. 3497, Gov't. (Cdn.) - N.S. Tax: Hwy. Infrastructure - Reinvest,
Mr. B. Taylor 9087
Res. 3498, New England Governors/Eastern Cdn. Premiers -
Bikeways Comm.: Proj. - Applaud, Mr. D. Hendsbee 9088
Res. 3499, Pictou Co. Christmas Fund (26th Anl.) - Volunteers/Sponsors:
Assistance - Thank, Mr. J. DeWolfe 9089
Vote - Affirmative 9089
Res. 3500, Smith, Jason/Theriault, Cas/Jacklyn, Trevor/Hallett, Matthew/
Sutherland, Mike & Sarah - Atl. Film Festival: Film Showing -
Congrats., Mr. C. O'Donnell 9090
Vote - Affirmative 9090
Res. 3501, Lunenburg West MLA - Election (Cdn.): Downe-filled
Pillows - Provide, Mr. F. Chipman 9090
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1100, NSRL - Debt: Write-Off - Details Publicize,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 9091
No. 1101, NSRL - Debt: Write-Off - Details, Mr. F. Corbett 9093
No. 1102, Environ. - Avon Causeway Area (Hants Co.): Permits -
Premier Review, Mr. W. Gaudet 9094
No. 1103, Health - Care: Beds - Promise Explain, Mr. John MacDonell 9095
No. 1104, Nat. Res. - Martock Marsh: Protection - Ensure,
Mr. W. Gaudet 9096
No. 1105, Health - Acute Care Beds: Elimination - Explain,
Mr. D. Dexter 9097
No. 1106, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwys.: Priority List - Stability,
Mr. P. MacEwan 9099
No. 1107, Health: System (Two-Tiered) - Time-Frame, Mr. D. Dexter 9100
No. 1108, Health - Western Reg. Bd.: Business Plan - Cuts, Dr. J. Smith 9101
No. 1109, Educ. - Hfx. West HS: NDP - Min. Apologize,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9102
No. 1110, Educ. - NSCC (Strait Area Campus): IT Program - Removal,
Mr. M. Samson 9104
No. 1111, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101: Twinning -
Promise Keep, Mr. H. Epstein 9105
No. 1112, Culture - Gaelic Culture: Study - Implement,
Mr. K. MacAskill 9106
No. 1113, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Sable Gas: Sempra -
Concerns Explain, Mr. H. Epstein 9107
No. 1114, Econ. Dev. - Enterprise Zones: Creation - Premier Fulfil,
Mr. D. Wilson 9108
No. 1115, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Cape Breton - Accessibility Ensure,
Mr. F. Corbett 9110
No. 1116, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Road Conditions: 1-800 Line -
Info., Mr. P. MacEwan 9111
No. 1117, Human Res. - Prem. Chief of Staff: Contract - Explain,
Mr. John MacDonell 9112
No. 1118, Sports - Atlantic Bowl: Loss - Min. Awareness,
Mr. B. Boudreau 9113
No. 1119, Environ. - Min.: Priority - Explain, Mr. John MacDonell 9114
No. 1120, Tourism - Inverness Co.: Golf Course - Project Support,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 9115
No. 1121, Health - Sutherland-Harris Mem. Hosp.: Outpatient Dept. -
Reduction Review, Mr. D. Dexter 9116
No. 1122, Sysco - Sale: N.S. Power - Deal Info.,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 9117
No. 1123, Justice - DPP: Appt. - Announce, Mr. H. Epstein 9118
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 3410, Gov't. (N.S.) - Premier: Leadership - Lack,
Mr. D. Downe 9120
Mr. Manning MacDonald 9120
Mr. W. Dooks 9123
Mr. J. Carey 9125
Mr. John MacDonell 9126
Mr. M. Samson 9128
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 81, Occupational Health and Safety Act 9132
Mr. R. MacKinnon 9132
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 9135
Mr. F. Corbett 9138
Mr. P. MacEwan 9141
Mr. B. Barnet 9145
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Lbr. - Occup. Health and Safety: Regs. - Support:
Mr. K. Morash 9148
Mr. R. MacKinnon 9151
Mr. F. Corbett 9153
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Nov. 23rd at 12:00 p.m. 9155
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3502, Briggs, Relda - Oxford Fire Dept. Ladies' Aux.: Efforts -
Congrats., The Speaker 9156

[Page 9057]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Kevin Deveaux, Mr. David Wilson

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, last evening the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reported back to the House. He reported that Bill No. 70 had been referred back when actually it should have been Bill No. 71. That is just for clarification.

The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Queens:

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House support the new occupational health and safety regulations as enacted November 1, 2000.

That will be debated this evening at 6:00 p.m.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

9057

[Page 9058]

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the residents of Eastern Passage, I beg leave to table a petition. The operative clause reads, "According to the 'Evaluation of High Schools' report produced by the Department of Education in May, 2000, Cole Harbour District (High School) is the only school whose projected enrollment exceeds the 'theoretical building maximum'. Given the fact that over 50% of that school's population comes from Eastern Passage and the inability, for logistical reasons, to transfer these students to another school with less capacity pressures, it is our opinion that the only alternative is to build a high school in our community." I table that.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 3459

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

Whereas on Friday, November 17th, I had the privilege of meeting with close to 20 members of the District 18 Business Association; and

Whereas part of the association's mandate is to promote economic development in communities such as Spryfield, Herring Cove, Sambro and Portuguese Cove; and

Whereas association members are also committed to conveying a positive image for these strong communities in part through such activities as this week's upcoming Santa Claus parade;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the District 18 Business Association for their hard work to date and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 9059]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister responsible for the administration of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women Act.

RESOLUTION NO. 3460

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

Whereas November 25th is the International Day to End Violence Against Women and marks the beginning of a period known as 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence; and

Whereas the day was first declared by women in Latin America and the Caribbean in 1981 to commemorate the death of the Mirabel sisters who were brutally murdered in the Dominican Republic in 1960; and

Whereas all women deserve to live their lives without fear for their personal safety and the safety of their children;

Therefore be it resolved that all members support the movement to end violence against women through personal commitment, organizational support and community action, and that we make our commitment known by wearing a purple ribbon during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 9060]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3461

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

Whereas more than 200 young Nova Scotian artists will take the spotlight in A Splendid Torch, A Nova Scotia Youth Arts Showcase at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on November 29 to November 30, 2000; and

Whereas this show, organized by the Nova Scotia Youth Secretariat and supported by government, community-based organizations and the private sector, is the gala event for the 14th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers to be held in Halifax this month; and

Whereas the show will feature music, dance, theatre, visual arts and literary arts, and sends a compelling message about the important role played by youth in building vibrant communities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House thank the Youth Secretariat for organizing this event and recognize the many organizers and performers who are participating in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

[Page 9061]

RESOLUTION NO. 3462

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I rise with respect to my responsibilities as Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs.

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

Whereas the Aboriginal Peoples' Television Network recently opened a new Halifax bureau; and

Whereas correspondent Maureen Googoo will be sharing news and information about Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq communities with the rest of Canada; and

Whereas the national network recently celebrated its 1st Anniversary;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the local and national staff for including Nova Scotia in its programming.

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 Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3463

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

Whereas students at Breton Education Centre in New Waterford have formed an Amnesty International volunteer group, with the help of their teacher, Toby Morris; and

Whereas Amnesty International is a highly respected, worldwide organization that works to prevent violations of peoples' fundamental human and political rights; and

[Page 9062]

Whereas the Breton Education Centre students are actively raising funds for the cause and circulating petitions to stop torture in Sudan and Sierra Leone;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature recognize the efforts of the group of Breton Education Centre students who are committed to making a difference in the world by raising awareness of human rights violations.

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. 3464

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

Whereas this government has shown continued and unabated contempt for the democratic process this session; and

Whereas although examples of this behaviour are too plentiful to give full credit to here, certain instances, such as the acceptance of unread amendments in the Law Amendments Committee, the complete lack of regulations attached to the Social Assistance Reform bill and the more than 15 unsigned tables attached to the Sysco sale bill are too important to be left out; and

Whereas the Hamm Government is hoping that Nova Scotians will be too distracted with the federal election to notice these affronts to democracy;

[Page 9063]

Therefore be it resolved that either this government realize they cannot march roughshod over the great traditions of responsible government this House was founded upon, or else they should make themselves ready to face the wrath of an outraged electorate.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader in the House of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3465

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 confused Tory MLAs voted in favour of giving welfare recipients telephones; and

Whereas because of Tory bungling and mismanagement, a second vote needed to be taken on this matter; and

Whereas perhaps if Tory members are paying attention and understood their own legislation, this might not have happened;

Therefore be it resolved that as the session continues on and the Tories become more experienced, it appears they are becoming more inept and befuddled than when they started.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3466

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

Whereas the Uniacke Mines Road in Mount Uniacke has not had any extensive work done on it in the past 18 years; and

Whereas as a result of this lack of work, there is brush growing on the roads' shoulders and the culverts are overgrown preventing the proper flow of water, creating a serious driving hazard; and

Whereas there are over 100 families who use this road to access their homes on Cockscomb Lake;

[Page 9064]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works take immediate action to have this road graded, gravelled and ditched so that the families can drive without the fear of having their cars extensively damaged due to the terrible road conditions.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 3467

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

Whereas the community of Bedford enjoyed the third annual Light Up Bedford Parade on Sunday with lighted floats from 30 groups and organizations; and

[2:15 p.m.]

Whereas the parade had the sponsorship of Bedford Atlantic Superstore and support from such groups as the Lions, who provided the community tree, the Royal Bank, Provident Developments, Downeast Mobility, Sunnyside Mall, HRM and Dominion Insurance; and

Whereas the school children and the community contributed 1,470 kilograms of food and raised over $1,200 to help the Metro Food Bank;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the efforts of the committee, the volunteers, the sponsors, the entrants and the contributors for a superior effort and a wonderful parade.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 9065]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3468

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

Whereas the health care system under this government has been described as "in chaos"; and

Whereas the education system under this government has now been described as "in chaos"; and

Whereas the rudderless environmental policy under this government is beyond chaos;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn this government's confused, directionless, befuddled and bumbling approach to governing that has left this province in a clear state of chaos.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3469

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

[Page 9066]

Whereas the Liberals revealed the extend of budget cuts to Health as far back as last June; and

Whereas because of the Liberals, the Tories were forced to reverse, backtrack and flip-flop on many of their cuts; and

Whereas the NDP have been playing catch-up on this major issue for nearly six months;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP be congratulated for finally jumping on board today on a health issue brought forward by the Liberals half a year ago.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 3470

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

Whereas fair is defined as unbiased, impartial, objective and aboveboard; and

Whereas this government feels it is only fair for a government to demand that people on social assistance find jobs, and then one would assume it would then only be fair for those people to have a phone to contact employers and receive calls back; and

Whereas Conservative MLAs clearly saw the logic of this when they voted in favour of an amendment to provide phones to those on social assistance;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier apologize to his own caucus for calling them confused when it was obvious that they clearly understood what they were voting on.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 9067]

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 West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3471

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

Whereas last night's transgression by the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, while he was chairing the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, was completely unacceptable; and

Whereas never before has a member of this House seen such a blatant disregard for the rules of debate and the traditions of parliamentary democracy; and

Whereas this member purposely, with complete disregard for the House, ignored and then overturned a vote of this House;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley do the right thing, resign his seat, or at least resign as Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

[Page 9068]

RESOLUTION NO. 3472

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's, the Honourable John Chataway, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Aspotogan Recreation Association has a vision to develop a new park and outdoor recreational facility in Blandford; and

Whereas The Aspotogan Heritage Park will include an adventure park for area youth reflecting the culture of the Aspotogan community, sports fields and recreational facilities, a community garden and picnic area, an interpretative centre and a series of walking trails; and

Whereas the Aspotogan Recreation Association has already started fund-raising for the project which will cost in excess of $200,000;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House offer our support and encouragement to the Aspotogan Recreation Association and members of the local community as they endeavour to make this dream a reality.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3473

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 the Tories were asleep at their desks; and

[Page 9069]

Whereas Tory members were unable to follow proceedings in this House and mass confusion reigned on their benches; and

Whereas perhaps Tory backbenchers were sending the Premier and Cabinet a message on government legislation;

Therefore be it resolved that it is becoming more and more obvious to Nova Scotians that this bunch in government are incapable of governing the Province of Nova Scotia.

I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3474

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, under the pretence of an attempt at fairness - something somewhat novel for this government - the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, while acting as Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House, flew in the face of 150 years of responsible government; and

Whereas that same member insisted that he was only trying to be fair to the government members who did not know what they had just voted on; and

Whereas the government side obviously needs some time in determining what they should be doing at any given time;

Therefore be it resolved that the government consider investing in an arena-style scoreboard so that government backbenchers can be apprised of what particular affront to democracy they are supposed to be voting on at any given time.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 9070]

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 3475

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 people of Hants County area are renowned for their generosity and compassion for the less fortunate; and

Whereas their selfless nature was evident this past summer when community residents raised more than $12,000 in support for Shawn Eldridge, of Falmouth, who in a period of a few months was involved in two serious and debilitating accidents; and

Whereas this fund-raising effort, under the chairmanship of Harlen Schofield, raised money through a charity breakfast and auction, a talent show and a dance;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature wish Shawn Eldridge well as he recovers from his injuries and applaud the fund-raising efforts of Harlen Schofield and the people of Hants County for this tremendous work of charity.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 3476

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

Whereas Senator Bernie Boudreau says the Prime Minister has ordered that no government funding be announced during the election campaign; and

[Page 9071]

Whereas Senator Boudreau and his savage Liberal team are even threatening the withdrawal of planned federal funding if voters don't hold their noses and vote for Mr. Chretien; and

Whereas the Prime Minister went to Montreal during this election campaign to announce $350 million for improvements to Highway No. 30;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals' blatant use of double standards during the federal campaign gives fair warning that any Liberal elected on November 27th will be yet another lap dog for a Prime Minister who has always betrayed this region between elections.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3477

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

Whereas the official opening of the new Margaree Medical Clinic was recently held to mark the expansion of the facility; and

Whereas the clinic is now home to a doctor's office and two consulting rooms, with a doctor present three days a week in Margaree; and

Whereas community assistance was provided by the Margaree Kinsmen through a $500 donation toward the project, and by the Highlands Credit Union which funded the kiddie corner in the reception area of the new clinic;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs extend their congratulations to the community of Margaree for its hard work and the community spirit and generosity which helped to realize the expansion of the medical clinic.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 9072]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I would be permitted to do an introduction before I put the resolution forward.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to the Legislature, in the west gallery, a Mr. Brennan Dodd, a Grade 12 student at Dartmouth High School, who is doing a job shadow with me today. I would like the House to know that the individual is very much aware of the hard work that a MLA must do. At 9:00 o'clock this morning in my office he recognized that there were 11 phone calls, 4 appointments, 3 visitations and he is over here in the Legislature now. So I would hope the House would give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3478

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

Whereas Liberal MLAs were hard-pressed this morning to show their evidence that they have been fighting the unprecedented, unfair, dictatorial legislative package of this government; and

Whereas the Liberal House Leader had a ready reply when he proudly declared that seven amendments had been introduced; and

Whereas the Liberal team forgot to mention that all seven amendments were introduced by the NDP;

[Page 9073]

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the Liberal MLA who rose above the partisan sniping to hold a news conference praising the NDP initiatives as the best example of effective work in this House.

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 Cape Breton West on an introduction.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to introduce a young gentleman from Cornwallis Junior High who is here to learn about our political process. His name is Jeffry Beck and he is here to observe the proceedings of the House. He is in our west gallery and is keenly interested in knowing about how all members conduct themselves on a wide variety of issues, particularly as it pertains to today's proceedings. I would ask if all members of the House would be kind enough to issue warm greetings to Mr. Jeffry Beck. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3479

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am particularly requesting the cooperation and support of the Liberal caucus on this resolution.

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

Whereas the federal government announced in June the establishment of an Atlantic innovation fund aimed at skills training, entrepreneurship, and research and development; and

Whereas our provincial government welcomed this initiative by Ottawa and expressed hope the program would meet its objectives; and

Whereas our provincial government would also welcome increased investment in Nova Scotia's national highway system;

[Page 9074]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House remind the federal Liberals that if they were truly concerned about Nova Scotia's economic well-being, they would end their neglect of our highway system - a system that is key to continued economic prosperity.

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. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: A recorded vote.

MR. SPEAKER: Afraid not; not today.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3480

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

Whereas Urchin Holdings Limited, managed by Roger Echold, is a downtown Dartmouth property holding company that has operated in the metro region for over two decades; and

Whereas its affiliate, Kans Holdings, is constructing a luxury residential and commercial property on the Dartmouth waterfront called Harbour Place, expected to be completed by April 2001; and

Whereas Harbour Place is another positive sign of the continued growth of the commercial and residential environment of downtown Dartmouth;

[2:30 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the staff of Urchin Holdings for their part in the revitalization of downtown Dartmouth and wish them continued success and encouragement in the ongoing development of their properties in downtown Dartmouth.

[Page 9075]

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3481

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

Whereas Britech Information Systems Limited is a 100 per cent Canadian-owned company that was incorporated in 1993 and will soon be operating in a 12,000 square foot facility on Elliot Road just off Highway No. 101 at Lawrencetown in the Annapolis Valley; and

Whereas Britech presently has markets for their products in South and Latin America, Scotland, southwest England, Northern Ireland, the State of Kansas, the New England States, along with markets here at home in Nova Scotia and central and western Canada; and

Whereas Britech Information Systems Limited provides a comprehensive selection of clinical software solutions to meet all facility and office needs;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate the management and staff of Britech Information Systems Limited and wish them every future success as their network continues to expand across the globe.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 9076]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 3482

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

Whereas yesterday was recognized as World Fisheries Day; and

Whereas in Yarmouth, Carol Davis led a march through town in honour of those men and women who earned their livelihoods from the resources of the oceans but sadly lost their lives while participating in this traditional way of life; and

Whereas the procession ended up at Killam's Wharf with the lowering of a wreath into the water;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Carol Davis and the community for establishing such a touching and appropriate tribute to those who lost their lives at sea.

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 3483

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

[Page 9077]

Whereas volunteer fire departments play an active and vital role in the communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in addition to protecting our lives and our property, volunteer fire departments contribute in many ways to community life; and

Whereas the Chezzetcook Volunteer Fire Department, Station 23, recently celebrated their 40th Anniversary;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Fire Chief Leonard Sullivan and the members of the Chezzetcook Volunteer Fire Department on their 40th Anniversary and thank them for their many years of dedicated service.

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 Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 3484

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 the Eastern Canadian Provinces and the New England States have a long history of supporting each other during times of disaster, of course the greatest example being the relief received following the Halifax Explosion; and

Whereas the cooperative history between the two regions was formalized with the signing of the International Emergency Management Assistance Compact during the 25th annual New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers Conference;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature applaud the signing of the cross-border agreement and the warm relationships that exist between New England and Eastern Canada.

[Page 9078]

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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 3485

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

Whereas for the first time since 1993, the number of summer visitors to historic Sherbrooke Village counted as more than 50,000; and

Whereas this tremendous growth is a result of a strong marketing program, increased partnerships with local communities, the media, and tourism associations, as well as an impressive schedule of special events; and

Whereas the village is busy preparing for its annual Old-Fashioned Christmas, a popular week-long event celebrating this festive season;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the management and the employees of the Sherbrooke Village as well as those who contributed to making this another strong season, especially the St. Mary's Tourism Association and the Antigonish-Eastern Shore Tourist Association.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 9079]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 3486

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

Whereas Corporate Communications Limited, one of the regions largest communications firms, was recognized nationally for one of its latest productions; and

Whereas Marketing Magazine's inaugural Media Innovation Award for television was recently presented to CCL; and

Whereas this Nova Scotia company won for its work promoting a Nova Scotia institution, Alexander Keith's beer;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House applaud CCL for having Keith's beer honoured nationally for its excellence in work promoting a local product.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Premier on an introduction.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw the attention of the House to visitors in the gallery opposite, Mr. Chris Connor, he is a Dartmouth High School student who is job shadowing, with Mr. Jamie Baillie. I would ask our visitors to rise and receive the applause of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 9080]

RESOLUTION NO. 3487

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

Whereas Tom Ramsey is a financial advisor whose office is in Truro; and

Whereas Tom Ramsey is one of the 23 financial advisors from across Canada who have earned the 2000 DALBAR Seal; and

Whereas DALBAR was founded in 1976 and measures service, quality, customer satisfaction and investor communications across Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Tom Ramsey for earning the 2000 DALBAR Seal and wish him continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3488

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 Westville High School Drama Club, on November 10th and November 11th, played to sell-out crowds in their performance of, We'll Meet Again; and

Whereas the latest production was the fifth one undertaken by the Westville High School Drama Club under the direction of Music and Drama teacher Darrell Roddick and Director Rob White; and

[Page 9081]

Whereas a production of this magnitude requires the commitment of so many students, teachers and volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly, through this resolution, commend Director Rob White and Darrell Roddick and all students for putting on one great performance.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3489

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

Whereas the Pictou Advocate Publishing Company is one of the most progressive publishing enterprises in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas this locally-owned business, which ships to markets around the world, recognizes the importance of quickly responding to the ever-changing demands of a rapidly evolving and highly competitive global market; and

Whereas the Advocate recently broke ground on a new 12,000 square foot expansion of its existing Brown's Point facility to accommodate their growing production, storage and administrative needs;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Pictou Advocate for their forward-thinking business attitude and approach, and wish them continued growth and success.

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

[Page 9082]

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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3490

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

Whereas Charles Eaves from Upper Cunard has played a leading role in pioneering research and techniques in regard to preserving fresh produce at the Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research Centre in Kentville; and

Whereas his efforts have significantly contributed to the development of the fruit and vegetable industry in North America for which he is internationally recognized; and

Whereas Mr. Eaves has continued to financially support research and scholarly activities after his retirement from Agriculture Canada in 1972;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature congratulate Mr. Charles Eaves for having been awarded an honourary doctorate degree from Dalhousie University in recognition of his work and his accomplishments.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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.

[Page 9083]

The honourable member for Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3491

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 Central Kings girls soccer team recently captured its first-ever provincial title, and the first championship in the 11-year coaching career of Vicki Fraser; and

Whereas a strong team effort helped Central Kings advance to the final where they shut out Forest Heights 2 to 0; and

Whereas Central Kings boys soccer team finished second in their provincial tournament, battling West Kings in an all-Valley final;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate the players and coaches of the Central Kings boys and girls soccer teams on the completion of a terrific season.

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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3492

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

Whereas the Somerset, Kings County, Christmas Craft Fair was another huge success this year as it celebrated its 20th Anniversary; and

[Page 9084]

Whereas over 200 crafters from across Nova Scotia participated in this year's fair, an event so popular there were over two dozen crafters waiting for space to be part of the craft fair; and

Whereas approximately 3,000 people attended the two-day affair, which raises about $10,000 for the Somerset Elementary School;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to those individuals who worked so hard to make this craft fair an ongoing annual success for the benefit of the school.

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 3493

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

Whereas in the past many greyhounds have been put down after their racing careers have ended; and

Whereas the greyhound is a breed of dog renowned for its racing ability but can also be great household pets as was discovered by local Caledonia resident, Rev. Natalie Buchanan; and

Whereas in the past few years more than 420 greyhounds have escaped death, and have been transported to Nova Scotia for a life of leisure as domestic pets because of a program run by Greyhound Pets and its President, Jeanette Reynolds;

[Page 9085]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Greyhound Pets for their effort to save the lives of these great dogs by bringing them to Nova Scotian families.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 3494

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

Whereas the Friends of the Yarmouth Light have committed considerable time and energy in preserving the Cape Forchu Lighthouse as a tribute to the region's seafaring heritage; and

Whereas recently the Friends of the Light were honoured with a 2000 Bluenose Achievement Award, recognizing volunteer achievement at the local level; and

Whereas the Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society have brought new life to the Yarmouth Light as a beautiful park area and a popular tourist attraction being visited by 45,000 people each year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank and congratulate the Friends of the Yarmouth Light for their commitment and hard work in preserving the Cape Forchu Lighthouse, so that it will continue to stand guard over the mouth of Yarmouth Harbour for many years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 9086]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 3495

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

Whereas Gerald Fitzgerald, a veteran of the Second World War, marked the observance of Remembrance Day with a special tribute this year; and

Whereas Mr. Fitzgerald, a resident of Boylston, Guysborough County, composed a fiddle tune, Veteran's Hornpipe, honouring those who fought along with him in the war; and

Whereas Veteran's Hornpipe was one of a number of selections Mr. Fitzgerald recorded for play on CJFX radio to mark the armistice;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Gerald Fitzgerald and his very special and unique tribute of remembrance to the brave men and women who have fought for our country.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully 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 Pictou West.

[Page 9087]

RESOLUTION NO. 3496

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

Whereas Sarah Yantzi has been chosen to be one of four youth ambassadors selected from the Royal William Sea Cadet Corps in Pictou; and

Whereas since joining the sea cadets three years ago, Sarah has taken part in numerous activities and special events, including sailing a naval ship from Cheticamp to Pictou, the launching of the Ship Hector, and a competition against other Maritime cadets in which the Royal William cadets were judged best overall for their drill and leadership; and

Whereas Sarah also recently participated in four Remembrance Day services in River John and Pictou;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize and congratulate Sarah Yantzi for being chosen a youth ambassador, and encourage her to continue to work hard and learn from the many opportunities the Sea Cadets Program has to offer.

[2:45 p.m.]

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. 3497

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 Chretien Liberals unfairly tax Nova Scotians; and

[Page 9088]

Whereas a classic example of an unfair tax is the federal fuel excise tax; and

Whereas in the last fiscal year alone, the Ottawa Liberals taxed and taxed and taxed Nova Scotians to the tune of $130 million, without putting a cent back in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage the federal Liberals to do the right thing, and reinvest some of our money, some of our constituents' money back into Nova Scotia highways.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 3498

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

Whereas the Bikeways Committee of the Conference of New England Governors and the Eastern Canadian Premiers is undertaking a major East Coast bikeways initiative in which the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission is involved; and

Whereas the purpose of this initiative is to provide an interconnected matrix of bicycle lanes and trails throughout New England and Eastern Canada; and

Whereas this project will provide the infrastructure necessary to encourage tourism, active transportation, recreation and personal well-being;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the Bikeways Committee of the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers for undertaking a project that will build closer ties between our two nations, while boosting tourism, and the health and well-being of all citizens.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 9089]

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. 3499

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 Pictou County Christmas Fund will be holding their 26th annual telethon this Sunday at the DeCoste Entertainment Centre in Pictou; and

Whereas the Chairman, Jack MacIsaac, a friend and former member of this House, anticipates another great turnout of volunteers as they target a fund-raising goal of $45,000; and

Whereas the Christmas Fund plays a special role in the lives of many Pictou County families at Christmas time to ensure those less fortunate are still able to have Christmas dinner and some gifts for both adults and children;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs thank the many volunteers, as well as Eastlink Communications and CKEC Radio for their assistance in making the 26th Annual Pictou County Christmas Fund a reality again this year.

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 Shelburne.

[Page 9090]

RESOLUTION NO. 3500

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 Director Jason Smith and seven of his fellow students had their film entitled "shadows" shown at this year's Atlantic Film Festival; and

Whereas the students had just eight weeks to learn about the industry, including script writing and production; and

Whereas the students were taking part in the Nova Scotia Works First Program, sponsored by the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to Jason, Assistant Director Cas Theriault, Trevor Jacklyn, Matthew Hallett, Jason Marsh, Mike Sutherland and Sarah Sutherland for their efforts as they build towards future careers in film development.

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3501

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

Whereas based on the Corporate Poll Research Numbers for rural Nova Scotia that were in yesterday's Chronicle-Herald, Monday, November 27th, will be a day of reckoning for the federal Liberal Party in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the member for Lunenburg West will be left in a state of dismay; and

[Page 9091]

Whereas Downe-filled pillows should provide solace and comfort for the teary-eyed Liberals, once they see the results Monday evening;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Lunenburg West ensure that his Liberal counterparts are all provided with Downe-filled pillows for what will surely be a day of crying, come next Tuesday morning.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:50 p.m. and will end at 4:20 p.m.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

NSRL - DEBT: WRITE-OFF - DETAILS PUBLICIZE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for Nova Scotia Resources Limited. I notice that the Finance Minister, who I believe is responsible for Nova Scotia Resources Limited is not in the House today. I might remind you that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I would like to know . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member has certainly been in this House long enough to realize he is not to indicate the absence of a member. (Interruptions)

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I haven't been informed yet that that member is not in the House. Who is the acting minister? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please.

[Page 9092]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: We were not notified. We still aren't notified.

Mr. Speaker, my question is to the acting minister . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Acting Minister responsible for NSRL. Last night we discovered an Order in Council that will, in effect, write off approximately U.S. $714 million in NSRL debt, perhaps more. It amazes me that a government that is supposed to be open and accountable did not issue a press release or make a statement to this effect. Could the acting minister inform Nova Scotians as to why the NSRL debt has been written off in such a covert manner?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to that. The honourable member will be aware that, in fact, the debt of Nova Scotia Resources Limited had been shown in the fiscal statements for the Province of Nova Scotia in the previous fiscal year. All this was doing was reflecting the fact that in point of fact the Province of Nova Scotia is responsible for that money.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: That didn't come within lightyears of answering what I asked. I asked why it was done in such a covert fashion. Why couldn't the Minister of Finance, who is responsible, have a press conference to that effect, Mr. Speaker, and tell the people of Nova Scotia what he was doing instead of trying to sneak it through an OIC?

My first supplementary is, the bulk of the NSRL debt was a result of investments up until 1993 and the interest on that debt. To make matters worse, the debt accumulated up until 1993 was based on investments in U.S. funds. There were no assets accumulated because everything was leased.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: If Nova Scotia Resources Limited is worth anything at all, it is because the previous government had the intestinal fortitude to purchase 8.4 per cent in Sable at $178 million. Mr. Speaker, if you want to bring up history, the Tories lose every time . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South on a question, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: My question to the acting minister is this, will the minister stop this covert sale of NSRL and bring some openness and accountability to the system?

[Page 9093]

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, in short, I think the honourable member is addressing the issue of the sale of NSRL. As the honourable member will be aware, the principles of business are to sell high and buy low. We are in the business of selling NSRL because the prices are high.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: That is like the good deal they got for Sydney Steel. It cost the government $21 million. Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary to the acting minister of NSRL, natural gas is at its highest price in years. NSRL owns 8.4 per cent of Sable, 11 licences in other fields and 2 per cent of the royalties in the massive PanCanadian discovery. Nova Scotians have a right to know how much NSRL is worth and who they are selling it to. My question to the acting minister is, will the minister ensure that Nova Scotians know the true value of NSRL and who the proposed buyer is prior to any sale?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat amazed at the honourable member who, after being Minister of Economic Development, would be so naive as to suggest that we - to use his phrase - would negotiate a sale on the floor of the Legislature. That honourable member knows that you don't negotiate the best sale for Nova Scotians on the floor of the House.

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

NSRL - DEBT: WRITE-OFF - DETAILS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Acting Minister responsible for Nova Scotia Resources Limited. You know it is a debt we found here about Cdn. $750 million which is obviously more in U.S. dollars. This minister has hidden this. They have hidden it. My question to the acting minister is, will he now tell this House why he or his Party did not have the courage to tell us what he was doing until they got caught? How much is the write-off and who benefits from this deal?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There are several questions there, would the honourable Minister of Justice like to answer one.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, first of all, the write-off of this debt is a technical matter as it was already shown in the books of the province. I will answer the member's question about who benefits from this: the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. CORBETT: Well, if Nova Scotians are going to benefit, why aren't you up front with them? I find it a little amusing that my friends on this side here have problems with this sale. Remember, it was the Liberals who sold out their rights a few days before the major gas discovery. It was the Liberal Party that had their hands all over NSRL - ask the member for Lunenburg West. It was the Liberals who gave Exxon Mobil the unprecedented right of first refusal on NSRL.

[Page 9094]

My question to the minister is, Exxon Mobil has the right of first refusal for NSRL. When will this government come clean and tell Nova Scotians what is really happening and who is going to get it?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, provided that we can get the very best possible price for Nova Scotians, the person who pays the very best price to Nova Scotians will get it.

MR. CORBETT: Well, Mr. Speaker, they blew the Sysco deal and now they are going to blow this one. In their defence, they were backed into a corner by a bad deal that the Liberals had done. Why won't you just admit it, Mr. Minister? You already have a deal and you are just waiting for the House to adjourn before announcing it.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, well, the honourable member is, in fact, incorrect in that. There is no deal. There will be no deal unless we determine that the sale price is in the interest of Nova Scotians and that the price is fair.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

ENVIRON. - AVON CAUSEWAY AREA (HANTS CO.):

PERMITS - PREMIER REVIEW

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Martock Marsh Body Group has contacted our caucus with some very disturbing information. The group met with the current Priorities and Planning Minister, in his capacity as a part-time Minister of the Environment back in 1999. They were assured by the minister at that time that no development permits for on-site sewage disposal would be issued on the 3,000 acres above the Avon Causeway, at a meeting held October 21, 1999.

In the minister's last week as Environment Minister, two permits were issued. My question to the Premier is, will the Premier commit to investigating this situation so that we can be assured that the minister did not overstep his ministerial bounds or provide favouritism to the developers in this area?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, when the member opposite prefaced his question, I didn't catch the name of the company but if he will provide me with that information, I will be pleased to look into the matter. I have no direct information to relate to the member opposite.

MR. GAUDET: I will certainly provide that information to the Premier.

[Page 9095]

A lot of promises have been made to the Martock Marsh Body Group. Our sources indicate that earlier this week senior Tories, described as MP Scott Brison's campaign people, have met with a representative of the Martock Marsh Body Group asking that the group not make too much noise about the current development. Assurances were given that the new bill currently before the House would protect against future development, as long as their was no interference with a proposed housing development. In fact, Mr. Speaker, 13 more applications for on-site sewage disposal are currently before the Department of the Environment.

My question, once again, will the Premier undertake an investigation to ensure that there is no political interference being brought to bear to approve the 13 outstanding applications?

[3:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again I say to the member opposite, I have no personal information on this file and I would be prepared, on the review of Hansard, to look into the member's question and will make the appropriate move.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, our sources indicate one of the developers here is Mitch Brison, a brother to prominent Tory Scott Brison and a Tory in his own right. Will the Premier put a stop to this political game, playing around this very important environmental protection issue?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to make a response on a file on which I have no personal information. I will take the matter under advisement and I will take the member's question seriously.

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

HEALTH - CARE: BEDS - PROMISE EXPLAIN

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Premier. In July 1999, the now Premier of this province was campaigning on his number one promise to fix health care. His ad said that a PC Government will bring you more doctors, more nurses and more hospital beds in the community. We see, in fact, 16 months later, that this government has closed 152 acute care beds. My question for the Premier is, why did you promise more hospital beds and then turn around and take 152 acute care beds out of the system?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is mistaken. This government did not indicate there would be more hospital beds, but what we clearly did indicate was there would be better use of the beds that we have. The member opposite is aware that at this particular time, and on any particular day in Nova Scotia, over 20 per cent of the hospital

[Page 9096]

beds in Nova Scotia, the acute care beds, are occupied by people who require treatment in another kind of facility. That is the commitment we have made and that is the commitment we will keep.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, we have the Premier on record, on tape, but he must be considering it was red tape. The Premier says this government is making decisions based on evidence. The evidence from the public is that they have to wait in ER because there are not enough beds. The evidence from doctors is that they regularly have to cancel surgery because there are not enough beds. My question to the Premier is, 18 months ago you said Nova Scotia needed more beds, can you show any evidence that the demand for acute care beds is suddenly so much lower that 152 beds could now be closed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite does introduce a serious issue by way of his question, but clearly the problem in Nova Scotia is not the number of acute care beds, it is the way in which we use the acute care beds. As long as over 20 per cent of the acute care beds in this province are being utilized by Nova Scotians who should be in another facility or receiving another type of care, then, in fact, we are not appropriately using the acute care beds that we have. That is the way in which we will solve the problem. We will create effectively more new beds by correctly utilizing the beds that we have.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the Premier seems to be saying that if we had no acute care beds, then we would not have any sick people to need them. That is what he is trying to say. Mr. Premier, will you admit that your clinical footprint is a misprint, and tell Nova Scotians when you will deliver on your very specific campaign promise of more hospital beds?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what we have clearly committed to is a health care delivery system that appropriately reflects the needs of the people of Nova Scotia, and that includes the acute health care sector. Currently that is not the case. That is the approach we are going to take and it will be a more effective use of acute hospital care beds and a provision for those who now occupy those beds inappropriately, a provision for those people to receive adequate care in another venue.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

NAT. RES. - MARTOCK MARSH: PROTECTION - ENSURE

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table several letters containing minutes of the Martock Marsh Body, a letter to the member for Lunenburg West, and I am also including a letter from the South Shore Tory MP, Gerald Keddy, calling for a ban on housing development in Martock Marsh Body. My question to the Premier is, will the Premier talk to the current part-time Minister of Environment, the Minister of Agriculture

[Page 9097]

and Fisheries, and the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations to ensure the sensitive Martock Marsh is not permanently harmed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again I say to the member opposite, I have agreed that I would look into the file. I have no personal knowledge, but I do believe that the Minister of Natural Resources might be able to partially address your concern.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, there is a bill currently before the House called the Agricultural Marshlands Conservation Act. The member makes several allegations that concern me deeply, because as minister responsible for sponsoring this bill, I have not talked to one of these individuals the member opposite is naming.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, maybe the Minister of Natural Resources or part-time Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries could check the letters that were tabled. He will find out the information is there, on the table. My first supplementary to the Premier, there are currently 13 applications to the Department of Environment for on-site sewage disposal permits. We understand that a Department of Environment official is recommending against approval of those 13 applications. We have been informed that prominent Tories are alleged to be making promises on behalf of a government they do not and should not represent. My question to the Premier is, what is the Premier going to do to correct this situation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, despite repeated assurances to the member opposite that I will look into the issue, he continues to wade on, presumably he has no other questions.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is to the Premier. The fact remains that a former Environment Minister allowed for the permit of two on-site sewage disposal systems in a sensitive area, to developers with Tory connections. My question to the Premier is, what is the Premier going to do to assure the people of Nova Scotia that these permits were not issued as a result of political expediency rather than sound public policy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the minister has indicated that he has tabled the bill to protect marshlands. If the member opposite will share all of the information that he has with the government benches, we will respond by keeping the commitment that we have said, we will look into the matter. I have no personal information that allows me to directly respond to the questions that the member is putting to the House.

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

HEALTH - ACUTE CARE BEDS: ELIMINATION - EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this morning in the Uniacke Room, we played for the press Premier Hamm's 1999 election ad. The ad said, "The John Hamm plan will make health care the first priority by providing more nurses, more doctors and more

[Page 9098]

hospital beds in the community." The Premier seems to have forgotten that. The Minister of Health has now approved the elimination of 152 acute care beds in this province. My question for the Minister of Health is, why did you break the promise of your Premier and take 152 acute care beds out of the system?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think the fact is that the numbers, as I understand, that the honourable member has given are incorrect. I do want to say that this government has made health its number one priority. We have more physicians and more nurses working than there were when we came to power. I can tell you as well, hospital beds are being better used.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the numbers that we released today were contained in the business plans that were approved by the Minister of Health. It is absolutely unbelievable that the minister can say that they are inaccurate. The argument being made by the Capital District Health Authority is that these beds are being taken out of the system and it is not a problem because what they say is that in a pinch, if they need an extra bed, they can simply throw the sheets back on and voila, you have acute care beds again. My question to the minister is, he is only too aware of the nursing shortage in Nova Scotia, where is he going to find the extra nurses?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. We have a very active nurse recruiting program ongoing. As the honourable member may know, there were representatives from this province at the fair in Toronto last week. There are also fairs coming up in other parts where officials from the Department of Health as well as the individual health authorities will attend. I can tell the honourable member that one of the things that did happen last week is, although we didn't do as well as would like, we have added four nurses at the Highland View Hospital in Amherst.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the evidence is that we are hearing on almost a daily basis about the long wait periods, about cancelled surgeries and about hospitals that are short staffed. In spite of this, the Health Minister continues to hack away at the health system. When will the minister table the evidence that he has to support the elimination of 152 acute care beds so that we and the public can understand why you have made that cut?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the changes to bed configuration in the acute care system has been based on evidence. He is using the figure of 152 (Interruptions) I will give you an example, in the Colchester Regional Hospital, where they had a combination 30 beds in obstetrics and in paediatrics and the combination use was about 35 per cent, at the suggestion of the medical staff, which was implemented this year, the paediatric and obstetrical units were combined which resulted effectively in the elimination of 10 beds or 15 beds but in fact there were 4 medical beds added. (Interruptions)

[Page 9099]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWYS.: PRIORITY LIST - STABILITY

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Premier with reference to the priorities of the Department of Transportation and Public Works. I address this to the Premier because on Monday of this week, the Premier addressed the Canadian Transportation Act Review Panel stating that as a province we have long since identified our priorities with Highway No. 101 at the top of the list. However, we know that last year the members for Eastern Shore and Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury went to Ottawa armed with an epistle from the Department of Transportation identifying Highway No. 107 as the top priority. Yesterday, the Tory candidate for Cumberland-Colchester who, until that time, said the Cobequid Pass was the top priority, changed and now states that the top priority is Highway No. 101.

I would like to ask the Premier, sir, if this government's repeated flip-flopping as to the identification of highway priorities does not, in fact, undermine the establishment of any priority list?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased the member opposite asked the question because it allows me to say that yesterday, a member of the Party of the member that just asked the question indicated there was some confusion in their mind as to the priority of the government and I was able to provide him with a copy of a letter that I wrote in October 1999 to the Prime Minister of Canada indicating clearly that the number one priority for this government was Highway No. 101 and I will be very pleased to provide the member opposite with a copy of that letter.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, in view of the answer that we have just heard, I would like to ask this as a supplementary to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, who, I believe, on Monday of this week in a re-announcement of a re-announcement of a re-announcement announced that brush clearing work would begin this winter to prepare for the twinning of Highway No. 101. My question to the minister would be if Highway No. 101 is actually this government's number one priority, when will the actual construction begin to improve that particular highway?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, obviously, the member for Cape Breton Nova has not built too many highways in his time, but being a member of the Liberal Government I can readily understand that. (Laughter)

[Page 9100]

[3:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, you don't (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works has the floor.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, one of the rules of building a road is you cut the trees before you put the asphalt down. (Laughter)

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, a final supplementary. I have to go to the Premier with this one, because the Premier certainly is well aware of the "Ron Russell on Roads" manifesto that was issued in the Hants Journal on July 14, 1999 - which I have tabled before but I will table again - stating that a Progressive Conservative Government led by John Hamm will move immediately to twin Highway No. 101 between Mount Uniacke and Windsor - that being July 1999.

My final supplementary to the Premier would be, when the Premier appointed the Minister of Transportation and Public Works as minister of that department, was he aware of that minister's commitment that a John Hamm-led Progressive Conservative Government would move immediately to twin Highway No. 101 all the way to Windsor?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can respond to the member opposite by saying if he will check back he will see that the government, in fact, last year did begin the early preparatory work to Highway No. 101, but I would hope that the member opposite, as well as questioning this government, has taken the time out to influence the federal government whose responsibility it is to share with us the twinning of Highway No. 101. I hope you have used your influence in Ottawa as well as trying to influence this government. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

HEALTH: SYSTEM (TWO-TIERED) - TIME-FRAME

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am deeply concerned about the response that I have received from the Premier over the past few days when I asked about privatized health care in this province; he has repeatedly avoided the question in a very calculated way. He has said that his government supports the Canada Health Act but he knows the Canada Health Act can be circumvented by legislation, as Alberta is now doing. So I want to be very clear, I am not asking whether the Premier supports the Canada Health Act, I am asking, will this government allow private-for-profit health clinics in this province?

[Page 9101]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I was very clear in my response to the member opposite the other day. I indicated that this government shares a view that I believe is shared by the Government of Canada, that we support the Canada Health Act and we continue to support that. We have no legislation prepared - if that was your question - indicating that we are going to do otherwise but support the Canada Health Act. Nova Scotians will have, regardless of income, equal access to health care services in this province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the fact that the Premier is doing contortions to avoid answering this simple and important question causes great concern. He is purposely leaving the door open for him to introduce private-for-profit hospitals and clinics and he knows it. My question is, when is the Premier planning to introduce Alberta-style, private-for-profit hospitals and clinics, and queue-jumping, for those who can afford it in this province? When are you going to do that?

THE PREMIER: When the member opposite fails to change the premise of his supplementary after he has heard the answer to his first question, it is always very repetitive to have to say the same thing. There will be no queue-jumping in Nova Scotia.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am reaching new levels of exasperation with this Premier. Once and for all, answer the questions. Are you going to introduce private health clinics for those who can afford it in this province? Is that what you are going to do? (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is very difficult to hear the questions and answers because there is so much noise in the Chamber. The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: The member opposite, and it is getting hard to hear him, I believe asked, were we going to introduce clinics that people with income could access that others could not. It is not the intention nor will it be the intention of the government to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - WESTERN REG. BD.: BUSINESS PLAN - CUTS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, after months of secrecy, the Minister of Health finally let the former regional health boards release their business plans, in July after the budget from April 11th. In many cases, those business plans were not complete. On October 11th in the Bridgewater Bulletin, Brenda Montgomery, acting CEO, indicated that the minister approved another $2 million in cuts for that western region. My question to the minister, if the business plan for the former western region had been approved, where is the extra $2 million in cuts going to be made in that western region?

[Page 9102]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member I believe knows that some of the business planning process in the former western region was incomplete. What the department did was go back to the facilities and the areas which were affected and asked them to make substitutions for some of the plans they had made already. That is where that additional came from.

DR. SMITH: We have $2 million sent back to the table to find where the cuts were. The acting CEO said that further cuts would be made public in that article, and I would like to table that article. It was made public October 18th, that they would be made public on October 18th. It is now November 22nd. My question to the minister is simply why is the minister not allowing the former western region's approved business plan to be made public? Why the gag order, yet?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there was some delay in those, and of course, the approved plans had to be shared with those who were affected. That has been done now, and I expect there is probably no good reason why they can't be made public.

DR. SMITH: I think that would be very appreciated because last spring we had to go ferreting out all the changes, and we know what has resulted in transition and bed cuts.

Every former health region, Mr. Speaker, has been struggling with budget shortfalls while trying to come up with new cuts to replace the cuts that did not get the minister's approval. Since the budget process for the next year is now under way, how is the minister helping the former health boards plan for future cuts when they do not know the current state of affairs? That is my question.

MR. MUIR: I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that when the district health authorities take over, they will certainly know the state of affairs in their individual jurisdictions.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - HFX. WEST HS: NDP - MIN. APOLOGIZE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Yesterday in this House, the Minister of Education suggested that the NDP had raised issues dealing with Halifax West High School only recently. I pointed out to the minister that there was a member of this caucus, a former teacher at Halifax West High School who loved the school, who had consistently brought this issue up in the House. I have ascertained that the member for Halifax Fairview went on record about Halifax West High School 10 times during her four years in the House, and that is not to mention the times that it was raised in Committee of the Whole or in budget estimates. That compares to zero times by Conservative members and zero times by Liberal members, so I guess we know who is coming to this issue late. My question to the minister is, will you apologize for (Interruption)

[Page 9103]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member for Halifax Needham has the floor.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is, will you now apologize for and withdraw the remarks you made yesterday?

HON. JANE PURVES: I am well aware of the interest of the former member for Halifax Fairview and I apologize if any remarks of mine were seen to be directed at that member. However, for the Party as a whole, I believe that their press release recently was the first time the Party as a whole had expressed any interest in Halifax West High School.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I thank the minister for putting the record straight with respect to the representation from this caucus.

The parents' group are to be congratulated for their vigorous, united and non-partisan advocacy on behalf of their children, and they have calculated that $8 million is the point at which renovations become uneconomical. Their figure is based on the accounting concept of present value, which is the only legitimate way to compare the costs of a new school to the cost of renovations. Since yesterday she said that the $10.5 million is going close to the point at which renovations are uneconomical. My question to the minister is, your department officials must have told you what the trigger point is, would you tell us what that figure is now?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to clarify one point before I answer that question. While I do congratulate the parents' group on the work they have done, it is not possible for the Minister of Education to take building construction and financial advice from parents' groups. It is my responsibility to take that advice from Transportation and Public Works, my own department and members of the Department of Finance. My department and I have not discussed the trigger point because that so-called trigger point is dependent upon a number of factors, all of which are being looked at right now.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My experience with the parents' groups are that they are very sophisticated, they have a lot of expertise and they know what they are talking about and the interests of their children is number one and that is what is driving this. My final question to the minister is, when will the minister convene a meeting with parents, students and teachers to explain to them the contempt she seems to have for the information that they are working on?

MISS PURVES: I have said on at least two occasions that I respect the work of that parents' group and other parents' groups. I would like to throw the question back to the member for Halifax Needham, because if one worked from her assumptions that parents and community groups could do all the work of government, then perhaps we could abolish the whole government and so on and so forth.

[Page 9104]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC. - NSCC (STRAIT AREA CAMPUS):

IT PROGRAM - REMOVAL

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, last week more than 70 students at the Strait Area Campus in Port Hawkesbury, located in the riding of the Tory backbencher for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, were told that the Information Technology Program at the school would no longer be offered due to budget cuts. Instead, the program would be consolidated at IT classes, and that IT classes would be offered in both Truro and Sydney. My question to the Minister of Education is, were you aware of the Nova Scotia Community College's decision to move the Information Technology Program out of the Strait area?

HON. JANE PURVES: The community college is something I believe we are all proud of and one of its attributes is that it can turn on a dime in terms of the skills that it is able to teach. It does move programs around to various parts of the province. It cannot offer every program in every area of the province. In this particular case there weren't enough students in that program to make offering it viable there at this time.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is clear that this decision was based on funding cuts, and it was funding cuts from that minister herself and her own department. There are currently 70 students right now. The Nova Scotia Community College graduates gained the technical skills, theoretical knowledge and workplace attitudes required to be successful in the labour market. The campus takes an interactive role with its employers, responding to their needs and facilitating a network relationship for the students. With groups like SENCEN and companies like NovaKnowledge, along with the booming industrial base in the Strait area, the IT Program is essential to the entire community.

My question to the minister is, will the Minister of Education commit today to finding more funding to ensure that specialized programs, like the IT Program, remain in the Strait area?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, first I would like to say that we did not cut funds, we increased funds to the community college last year. Every member of this House is aware of that, including the member opposite. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, that particular course needs 30 students to be viable. Only 12 students wanted the program. If the program was so essential, perhaps we could get 30 students to sign up and maybe it will be re-offered.

MR. SAMSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, if that minister thinks anyone in this House is going to take her numbers as credible, based on her performance as minister to date, I will stick to the numbers I have.

[Page 9105]

Mr. Speaker, it is expected that 900 to 1,500 new jobs will be created in the Strait area in the next few years. New companies relocating to the area are looking for skilled workers. Nova Scotians know that the Strait area is the one area in Nova Scotia with the greatest potential for economic growth. My question to the minister is, will the minister tell the members of this House why she is allowing the booming Strait area to lose this valuable program and why these students will have to look elsewhere for these specialized programs?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the community college offers many valuable programs in the Strait area and it will continue to do so. When there are enough students for that course I am sure it will be reintroduced.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWY. NO. 101:

TWINNING - PROMISE KEEP

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. On behalf of his Party and Leader, the minister promised that upon election the Conservative Government would begin twinning Highway No. 101 without delay and without the Liberal excuse that federal funding is not yet available. Now, after more tragic deaths - five deaths during this session - Sonja Wood has now taken action by suing the minister over his failure to keep that promise.

I would like to know, is this extreme step by Sonja Wood enough to get you and your government to keep the Conservative promise to twin the dangerous stretches of Highway No. 101, without delays or excuses?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am sure as the member for Halifax Chebucto realizes, I can't speak on a matter that is coming before the courts. However, if the question is, what have we done with regard to the twinning of Highway No. 101, we have moved forward as rapidly as we possibly could. We started work in, I think it was November 1999, which is about one and one-half months after we were elected to government.

However, Mr. Speaker, what the honourable member obviously doesn't understand is the fact that this government had allowed our permit from the federal Department of the Environment to lapse, so we had to go through the environmental process again, before we could start to do any work on the highway.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I will also tell the minister something I do understand. This government has issued three news releases on Highway No. 101 just this week. They issued a news release just as the federal election was about to be called. They issued a news release about Highway No. 101 just before voting day in the Kings-Hants by-election. Lots of news releases, no action.

[Page 9106]

My question is, when will this minister and his government stop stalling and move beyond the baby steps he has reluctantly taken to twin those deadly stretches of Highway No. 101? When?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I know that that member over there and that particular segment of the political scene has never had the opportunity to issue a governmental press release. Part of the government business is to keep the population, the constituents, advised of what the government is doing on their behalf. In the Department of Transportation it is our duty to inform the people what we are doing with regard to Highway No. 101 because, indeed, that highway does require twinning and it will be twinned by this government.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, we are now into year two of John Hamm's plan. This is the year when he promised a mountain of new money for roads and highways. I would like to know, is there nothing that can shame the minister into saving lives by honouring one of your most important election promises?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the honourable member that from 1993 until 1999 the budget of the Department of Transportation showed a steady decline. The first year that it showed an increase was this year. If that member for Halifax Chebucto would take a drive down Highway No. 101 and take a look at what is going on at the overpass at the present time, and say that nothing is going on, then he must be driving with his eyes shut.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

CULTURE - GAELIC CULTURE: STUDY - IMPLEMENT

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Tourism and Culture. I want to begin by congratulating the minister for last week's announcement on the new study to look at the Gaelic language and culture. I know the minister is well aware that I have a keen interest in this particular culture, however, I am concerned because when the minister made a similar good announcement for cultural strategy last year, the Finance Minister quickly said there was no money to implement it. My question to the minister today is, can the minister guarantee that the results of this study will be acted upon?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell the honourable member, again - and I thank him for congratulating the government on what is a very good announcement for the Gaelic culture, it is one that has been needed for a number of years, and we are pleased that we are able to do so - without knowing what the results are, I can tell you that we will be taking a very close look at the recommendations. Already, we are acting on such things as the Gaelic College in Victoria County or Iona Highland Village, a number

[Page 9107]

of areas of the Gaelic culture. I am sure we will be acting on some of the recommendations coming forth.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I understand that this study will be the basis for a Nova Scotia Gaelic strategy, which as I said earlier on is an excellent idea, and we all agree with that. Many in Cape Breton will agree that that is an excellent idea and an excellent study. But what amount of money will be made available for the funding to implement the recommendations of the report when it comes, is the money available?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the first thing you do is the study, and from there we will have a better idea of where we are going.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister, it may be hard to study the Gaelic culture when this minister has already cut funding from the Gaelic College. If we are going to continue the culture, to study it and to implement it, then he knows we need money. Will the minister commit today to return the $50,000 that he cut from the Gaelic College last year so that this study will be made more accurately across the Gaelic culture?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the honourable member that in fact when his government was in power they spent in the riding of Victoria, between the Gaelic College and Iona Highland Village, $350,000; this government in the first year we are here spent about $500,000.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - SABLE GAS:

SEMPRA - CONCERNS EXPLAIN

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Access to natural gas is a potentially very important economic development tool in all parts of the province. We all know that many businesses would like to have access to natural gas. The previous Liberal Government dropped the ball by allowing the SOEP M & NE project to go ahead fundamentally as a gas export scheme rather than with a Maritimes First development, and this government dropped the ball by approving a gas distribution plan from Sempra that contemplates a seven year roll-out inside the province. Now it looks as though the government is going to drop the ball again by holding up Sempra's plan due to worries about the placement of lines beside secondary highways. Can the minister explain the nature of his department's concerns?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, our concern is the safety of the public of the Province of Nova Scotia. What the honourable member probably does not understand is that there is a big difference between high-pressure gas lines and low-pressure gas lines.

[Page 9108]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his informative instruction, but you know Sempra was very clear in all its documents filed with the Utility and Review Board. It always intended to place the lines along the side of the road, it says so time and time again, and we have to wonder whether anyone was paying attention. When the URB made a recommendation, it had to get the approval of the Cabinet, so I would like to know why this seems to have come as a surprise to the Minister of Transportation since the URB recommendation had to go through the Cabinet?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it may come as a surprise to the member for Halifax Chebucto to know that the Department of Transportation has no difficulty with Sempra laying their line in the right-of-way of the Department of Transportation.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister might think of calling up Sempra and telling them that because they are under the impression that the department has hired a consultant who has to file a report, not until next February, and only then will the department make a decision. So I wonder, is the minister now telling us that he has made a decision or will it not be until sometime after next February?

[3:45 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: Who knows what is going on over there, Ron?

MR. RUSSELL: Well, I do, but he obviously doesn't. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works has the floor.

MR. RUSSELL: The difficulty that exists between Sempra and the Department of Transportation is that we are prepared to permit Sempra, and always have been willing to do so, to allow them to put their gas lines, their high-pressure lines in the right of way of the Department of Transportation, as is done all across Canada. But what Sempra wants is to place their pipeline in the shoulder of the road, which is not done anywhere else in Canada for safety reasons. If that honourable member wants to put the public of Nova Scotia at risk, good luck to him. We want to have competent advice before we will permit that to happen.

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

ECON. DEV. - ENTERPRISE ZONES:

CREATION - PREMIER FULFIL

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. On November 23, 1999, the Leader of the Liberal Party asked the Premier to fulfil his election promise to create enterprise zones in areas of high unemployment, areas such as Glace Bay. That was the exact

[Page 9109]

promise made by the Premier on July 5, 1999. In reply, the Premier said, ". . . it would appear that the members opposite are running out of material when they are starting to ask questions about things that haven't happened in the first 100 days of what will be a 1,827-day mandate." Well, it is now day 444 of the Premier's mandate and still that promise has not been kept. When does the Premier plan on keeping that promise?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite needs to be reminded that among other things, the government has provided a preferential film tax rebate that is more advantageous in the rural parts of Nova Scotia, which is a part of the commitment we made in that particular regard. The member also would be aware that this government has made a commitment to the growth fund in Cape Breton of $12 million, dovetailing with money that is being provided by the federal government. The other interesting thing is we have created, through our participation in EDS, the greatest job creation activity of any government in recent times in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the Premier knows very well this has nothing to do with EDS. It has nothing to do with that announcement. The member opposite is quite aware of the promises that have not been kept by you and your government, Mr. Premier. In a speech before the Cape Breton Board of Trade, the Premier also stated, "My government would provide tax incentives for specific economic zones where regional disparities must be addressed in the short term, areas where opportunities are needed now, areas that can't wait for the big picture to come into focus, areas like Cape Breton." I couldn't agree more. Cape Breton cannot wait. My first supplementary is to the Minister of Economic Development. Will the minister please tell us when he is going to fulfil this very clear election promise?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. I would remind the member opposite that we brought forward a comprehensive economic development strategy for the province, the first one in over a decade. It addresses concerns all over the province. As we move forward, we are working constantly with companies who are interested in locating in the province, so we are moving forward.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I will go back to the Premier again, but remind the minister that this has nothing to do with the latest economic strategy. It was the Premier who made a promise to implement enterprise zones immediately where regional disparities must be addressed in the short term. I can tell you and tell this House that nothing has been done in my riding of Cape Breton East. The Premier promised specific economic zones. My question to the Premier is, where are they, Mr. Premier?

[Page 9110]

THE PREMIER: The member opposite, it would appear that he wishes to minimize the efforts of this government to create jobs in the industrial area of Cape Breton. We have been more effective in job creation in a short period of time than the government that he represented was able to do over several years.

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

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: CAPE BRETON - ACCESSIBILITY ENSURE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. Our caucus has raised concerns over accessibility to natural gas to both this government and the previous one. We now have learned that due to safety concerns, not enough gas will be able to get through the pipelines to meet the needs of Cape Bretoners. Now that the concerns that we have raised time and time again have come to pass, I want to ask the minister, what will you do to ensure Cape Breton gets timely access to natural gas?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I reassure the member opposite that even with reduced capacity, the expectation is that that pipeline can handle and meet the needs that we see for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, the companies are working as diligently as they can to address the problems so that they can satisfy concerns about the integrity of the pipeline.

MR. CORBETT: Well, Mr. Speaker, this is another case of this minister being totally out of touch with his directorate. He should ask the people from Sempra what they are saying about the availability. You know, this resource is supposed to be available to all Nova Scotians, yet the rest of Nova Scotia will get access to this natural gas before the people of Cape Breton. As a result of this inequality of distribution of gas, communities in Cape Breton will suffer yet another economic blow. My question to the minister is, do you care about this inequality and what are you going to do to correct it?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite is aware, Sempra has put forward a strategy to gasify the province and we intend to hold them to that.

MR. CORBETT: This minister should know that you cannot distribute what you do not have and that line does not have the integrity to carry that pressure and he knows that. We are witnessing yet again today this government's abdication of its role to get involved in the economy of Cape Breton.

I want to ask this minister since most of Nova Scotia will have access to this important natural resource while Cape Breton will be left out figuratively and literally in the cold and with the Prime Minister in Cape Breton today in this very province, will you seek federal

[Page 9111]

funding for lateral gas lines in Nova Scotia just as they did in western Canada? Will you do that?

MR. BALSER: Again I remind the member opposite that there is a seven year strategy for Sempra to meet its requirements. In terms of our ability to work with our federal partners, that is evident on a number of fronts. Something the previous government failed to do was engage the federal government at any level to bring forward funding that would support initiatives in this province.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. -

ROAD CONDITIONS: 1-800 LINE - INFO.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: A further question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, he is having a busy day today. Yesterday on Highway No. 103, two people were killed as a result of icy roads. While the minister's department has a 1-800 line to advise of road conditions, I am told it will not be operational until December 1st. I believe it is incumbent on the minister to inform all residents of deteriorating and dangerous road conditions at all times, but that unfortunately was not done in this case.

My question to the minister is, why were residents along that highway not informed about the icy road conditions through the 1-800 line?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that was a most unfortunate accident and I am certainly not minimizing that, but I would suggest that it would be impossible for the Department of Transportation to go along every highway and inform everybody that the roads are icy.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I believe this minister is responsible for highway safety on all highways. Be that as it may, yesterday he re-announced another re-announcement of brush clearing along Highway No. 101 in preparation for twinning. Perhaps if he were as diligent in terms of announcing dangerous road conditions as he is in terms of announcing brush clearing, we might be making some progress. There have been so many re-announcements of that brush clearing, I think that area is in danger of clear-cutting. My question to the minister would be, given that we are now at the end of November, why was Highway No. 103 not salted, given the icy road conditions that existed there yesterday morning?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will take that matter under advisement and inquire as to the circumstances. I will get that response to the honourable member, hopefully, maybe not today, tomorrow.

[Page 9112]

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, a final question. With winter coming, would the minister confirm whether the snow and ice control services in all regions will be maintained at previous levels this coming winter, or have the allocations for snow and ice control actually been reduced?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, no, they have not been reduced. In fact, the Department of Transportation and Public Works adheres to a policy of constant enhancement of treatment of highways during winter periods.

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

HUMAN RES. - PREM. CHIEF OF STAFF: CONTRACT - EXPLAIN

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will again be for the Premier. The Order in Council appointing Karen Oldfield to the Premier's Chief of Staff was only approved last week, although she began working as soon as the government was sworn in, August 16, 1999. That is a delay of 458 days in finalizing this contract. It sounds like there was a lot of negotiation. Will the Premier explain why the appointment of his Chief of Staff was done retroactively, 458 days after she went on to the public payroll?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the person to whom the member makes reference has been working with the government almost immediately beginning after the election. The remuneration level is certainly a matter of public interest, but also it is available to the public. What we were simply doing is legalizing the situation that has been public information and public knowledge for many months.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how it could be public knowledge if it took pretty near 500 days to get the deal finalized. Karen Oldfield was hired at what was then the very top of the pay scale, an annual salary of $104,000, a nice reward for co-chairing the Tory campaigns of 1998 and 1999. Since he came into office, the Premier has taken the lid off senior salaries. What pay benefits and other arrangements for Karen Oldfield are so out of line with the usual standard that it took this long to make her appointment official?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite is concerned about that contract, he merely needs ask and he can have a copy.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I think Nova Scotians have every right to know, so I will ask. Will the Premier table that contract in the House today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I can do it today, there is not a lot of time left. But yes, I will table it for the member's information.

[Page 9113]

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

SPORTS - ATLANTIC BOWL: LOSS - MIN. AWARENESS

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission. Reports today indicate that as of 2002, Nova Scotia may no longer host the Atlantic Bowl. The bowl has a 32 year history in this province, and has a lot of fans in this community as well as this province. My question is simple. Was the minister aware of the potential loss of a grand Nova Scotia sport prior to today's announcement?

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. We are not going to lose the sport, but it certainly does seem that we may be in danger of losing the Atlantic Bowl. The CIAU has attempted this before, and they did not succeed. It looks like they may this time, but yes, I regret also, but the CIAU has jurisdiction over the Atlantic Bowl, not the Minister of Sport and Recreation. I will certainly do everything I can within my power to see that the Atlantic Bowl stays, but the member opposite well knows that it is strictly up to the university, the CIAU.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the Atlantic Bowl of course has long been enjoyed by people throughout Atlantic Canada, similar to the CIAU final A Basketball. The Atlantic Bowl brings a vital injection of revenue into the local economy, estimated at more than $0.5 million. Will the minister show her support and willingness to meet with or write to the necessary officials to ensure this event stays in Nova Scotia?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, such a move would be several years or at least two years down the road if it were to occur. So certainly we can contact, we can meet, but we cannot order the Canadian Athletic Federation what to do. Certainly it would be nice, since they are also starting to move the Vanier Cup around, perhaps we could attract the Vanier Cup to Nova Scotia.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the last time this attempt was made to remove this classic sport was in the previous government of course. The Liberal caucus took an active role in helping maintain this Atlantic Bowl to ensure that it stayed in Nova Scotia at that time. While in government, this caucus played a vital role, so my question is, time is key to this support as the deadline for bids to replace the Atlantic Bowl is December 8th. Will the minister report back to this House on any progress she has made in her efforts to maintaining the Atlantic Bowl in Nova Scotia? (Interruptions)

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I will monitor the (Interruptions)

[Page 9114]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister responsible for Sport and Recreation has the floor. (Interruptions) Order, please. Order, please.

The honourable Leader in the House of the New Democratic Party.

ENVIRON. - MIN.: PRIORITY - EXPLAIN

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. I want to ask the Premier, do you consider the environment of Nova Scotia to be a high priority?

THE PREMIER: Yes.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, if the Premier takes the environment seriously, he should admit that we need a full-time minister. The Department of Environment has been passed around like a hot potato. On any given day, we have no idea who the latest acting minister might be. Will the Premier admit that the revolving door of ministers is hurting our ability to deal with environmental issues, and will he pledge to name a full-time minister immediately?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that the situation that arose to which he refers has been difficult. It is one that will not continue for a long time to come. It will be resolved in short order, but I do compliment the ministers that have been doing yeomen duty to provide that kind of service until such time the former incumbent returns.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I wish we could have the same compliments for those who have been acting and reacting. Whether it has been an issue of faecal coliform in Herring Cove or industrial Cape Breton, the mile-wide hole in the Sysco agreement that puts responsibility for environmental clean-up up in the air or the lack of action on the South Bishop Bog in Kings County, this government has been without a rudder on the Department of Environment. This issue requires leadership and I want to ask the Premier, will he give us a date as to when a new minister will be appointed for the Department of Environment? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will go back to my previous answer. I had reassured the member opposite that that situation will be rectified in short order. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

[Page 9115]

TOURISM - INVERNESS CO.: GOLF COURSE - PROJECT SUPPORT

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Tourism and Culture. On November 18th this year, Bill Dunphy wrote in the Inverness Oran, "Sadly, Rodney is not the man. He is a paper-tiger minister, a lightweight MLA without any political clout and who lacks the intestinal fortitude to buck the party in the name of the people he represents." Those are pretty damning words but they are not my words, they are Bill Dunphy's words and he is a local journalist. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South has the floor.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: . . . member for Inverness could have provided a start to that development. My question to the minister is, why has the minister abandoned the people of Inverness by cancelling the Inverness golf course project and the resulting remediation work that would have occurred with that project?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you one thing, that this member for Inverness and this minister will not go down to Inverness and - I am not allowed to say bribe because I know that is unparliamentary - I guess accomplish the goal of attaining votes before an election by making a false announcement. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South on his first supplementary.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I will try it again. Mr. Speaker, it is pretty galling when the member who represents Inverness would stand in this House and say that this project is not necessary for his home area. That, to me, tells me that that member is not representing his constituency and he should resign because that project was brought to the people of that area because it is an important project that deserves the attention of the government of the day.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary is, Mr. Dunphy went on to say, "The reclamation of the barren wasteland lying between Inverness town and the Gulf of St. Lawrence is owed to us by the government . . . plain and simple." I couldn't agree more.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: The minister promised support for this golf course during the last election. He promised the support and he has an obligation . . .

[Page 9116]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member for Cape Breton South put the question, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Will the minister act like a representative of the people and support the Inverness project?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I guess if the honourable member had the intestinal fortitude last year to come forth with the money he promised and didn't come forth with, he wouldn't have to ask the question today. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South on your final supplementary.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is not this member that the Inverness Oran and its writers are condemning, it is that member for Inverness that they are condemning and with good reason. It is a sad day in this House when an MLA, a Minister of the Crown, abandons his own constituency. Why will that minister not do the right thing and approve that project that he so willingly accepted prior to the last election? Do it on behalf of your people there, just do it.

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I did not hear a question in that, but it does not surprise me. He usually does not come forth with anything.

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

HEALTH - SUTHERLAND-HARRIS MEM. HOSP.:

OUTPATIENT DEPT. - REDUCTION REVIEW

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The minister has approved a reduction in the funding to the Sutherland-Harris Memorial Hospital in Pictou. Nurses working in the outpatient department will be reduced from working a 12 hour, 7 day a week operation, to eight hours, five days a week. The minister claims that he has addressed the community's outrage by changing a scheduled review of the reduction from three months to two months. I would ask the minister, the people want their nurses back, how does changing a review date do that?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, one of the difficulties of the members on the opposite side of the House is that they refuse to believe that you can take the politics out of health care decisions and work on the basis of evidence.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, maybe the minister just does not know. People are lining up outside the outpatient door half an hour before the doctor is scheduled to arrive at 6:00 o'clock. Once they are inside, they wait even longer because there are no more nurses on

[Page 9117]

staff to triage the patients and perform basic nursing care. Doctors do not perform the work that the nurses used to do, such as dressing changes. Patients must come back the next day or go elsewhere to have the work done. Is this the kind of health care service that people in rural communities should expect?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member again for the question. The situation with the outpatient department at Pictou is that there indeed was a reduction in nurse staffing hours and if it turns out that the service (Interruptions) I am trying to get a word, I cannot quite get it out, I am sorry, but if the service that is being provided with that staffing change is not appropriate, the staffing change will be made . . .

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Pictou has had a hospital for 125 years. In the last 25 years they have lost their surgical care, their obstetric unit, their paediatric ward, the acute care beds, and in 1994 they lost their emergency department. This community has had their health care shredded and this minister is continuing the attack. When will the minister stop the gutting of rural health care and restore to Pictou a fully staffed outpatient department?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this minister and this government is doing everything they can to protect and enhance rural health services in Nova Scotia. We have to be concerned about sustainability and I think the honourable member is confusing perhaps the delivery of an emergency service which is not there with an outpatient service which is an entirely different thing.

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

SYSCO - SALE: N.S. POWER - DEAL INFO.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Sydney Steel Corporation Act. Continuing with the sad sale saga of that institution, I would ask through you, Mr. Speaker, to the minister, in the unsigned schedules attached to the Sydney Steel agreement it indicates that Nova Scotia Power will be supplying Duferco Sydney with $3.5 million in raw materials and another $2.5 million for a transformer. Could the minister inform this House whether the provincial government has signed a side deal with Nova Scotia Power to help provide these raw materials and the transformer?

[4:15 p.m.]

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of any side deal; this government does things in a different manner than the previous government.

[Page 9118]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that minister just confirmed what most Nova Scotians know, that he doesn't know a thing about the deal regarding Duferco and Sydney Steel, when he can stand in this House and say he is not aware of any deal that it has made with Nova Scotia Power, a key player in this transaction, and the minister was not aware of it. It seems a bit odd that Nova Scotia Power would give away $6 million out of the goodness of their hearts. That just goes to show how little Nova Scotians know about this deal.

Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, Duferco Sydney was created. We know very little about the Nova Scotia company. We were dealing with Duferco, then Duferco Nova Scotia, and now, as of yesterday, it is Duferco Sydney. That is the newest version of the company. Can the minister explain to the House here today whether there are any other investors in Duferco Sydney besides the parent Duferco Steel executives?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, there are no other investors except Duferco.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Well, I think that perhaps we may have something to say about that in the near future, but I will save that for another day.

Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary, is that there is something wrong with this deal and this Party won't stop until we get to the bottom of what is going on here. Could the minister table in this House - this is a sham and the minister over there knows it and when he doesn't want to answer a question he says he doesn't know anything about the deal - all those involved with the Duferco bid, including technical consultants, legal teams and any third-party ownership; will you table that information here today?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, this is a good deal for the Province of Nova Scotia. It is a good deal for the taxpayers. We are ending a 30 year history of subsidizing any industry that couldn't make a profit. It is a fair deal and we tabled the agreement, as well as the schedules.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

JUSTICE - DPP: APPT. - ANNOUNCE

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable Minister of Justice. (Interruptions) Well, perhaps to the Premier.

Mr. Premier, this is appropriate for you, sir. It is 4:18 p.m. on November 22nd, it is almost time for the Minister of Justice to make his ritual annual statement that he is about to hire a Director for the Public Prosecution Service. Perhaps you can save the minister and his staff the effort of digging out the usual press release and make the statement just here, extempore.

[Page 9119]

Now I am pleased to give you the opportunity, so, Mr. Premier, what is the current status of the search for a new Director of Public Prosecutions?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is too bad the Minister of Justice is not with us this particular minute to respond to that question. It is my understanding that that announcement will be made relatively soon.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Premier could help us out and let us know, is there really a shortlist of serious candidates for the job, and how many names are on that list?

THE PREMIER: The search process has been orchestrated by Human Resources and I would ask the minister responsible for Human Resources to respond to your question.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as the Premier has already stated, the process is very close to the end and there is a shortlist. We expect that the appointment will be made very shortly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto, you have about five seconds.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the two and one-half year delay means important internal decisions are not . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired.

The honourable member for Kings North on a quick introduction.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce to you Mr. Rick Ramsay, who is presently serving as Financial Advisor for UNSM, a former CAO of Kings County and a long-time friend who hired me as a student minister at Kentville Baptist Church when he was chair of the deacon's board. So I will ask Rick to rise and I hope you will give him a very warm welcome. (Applause)

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 3410.

[Page 9120]

Res. No. 3410 - Gov't. (N.S.) - Premier: Leadership - Lack - notice given Nov. 20/00 - Mr. D. Downe)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would just remind member of the House what that resolution states:

"Whereas to date the record of this Tory Government is one of broken promises, failed commitments, blunders, scandals and mismanagement; and

Whereas the red tape task force is just the latest in a long line of reports, studies and commissions that cost plenty but say nothing; and

Whereas this Premier has tried to blame everyone else for his failures including school boards, health boards, the Civil Service, the federal government and the media;", and anybody else who happens to be around.

"Therefore be it resolved that this Premier and his Progressive Conservative Government have shown no leadership in this province and have driven Nova Scotia off course."

Now, Mr. Speaker, that resolution is very general, but I think it is also very telling. I believe that a few comments regarding that record are certainly in order here because the record is very broad in its implications. Over the past year we have seen this Tory Government go from blunder to scandal to flip-flop back to blunder, et cetera. The Tory Government began breaking its 342 promises practically from day one.

One year ago, the Liberals stood in this House and began to hammer away at this government, and we have not stopped since. It is impossible to list all the mishaps and mis-steps of the government, but I am going to try to outline a few of them in the few moments that I have at my disposal here.

Mr. Speaker, the Tories began their infamous reign with a program review. With every government program, a department came to a standstill, causing tremendous hardship while the Premier took out his magnifying glass. At the end of the day the Tories cut Winter Works, Family Violence Prevention Initiative, grabbed $2.2 million destined for charity and chopped a program to make rural buildings accessible for the disabled. I am talking about October now. By the end of the day in that month, the Tories cut Winter Works, the Family Violence Prevention Initiative and others. They grabbed money, as I stated earlier, then they spent over $1.2 million of taxpayers' money to keep their MLA for Bedford-Fall River happy. This money was spent moving the correction facility in Bedford to Dartmouth without

[Page 9121]

any consultation. The MLA for Bedford-Fall River became the most expensive MLA in history.

Who can forget the defining moment of the last fall session, the paramedics' strike. This government promised to treat health care providers fairly. The Tories broke that promise, Mr. Speaker, by breaking the collective bargaining process and forcing paramedics back to work and turning them into criminals if they did not comply. That was a sad day for a new government to start its first House session.

Last October, the Minister of Health also secretly scrapped the regional health boards. Mr. Speaker, in another secret move, the minister grabbed all the power over health care decisions from local communities and centralized all power in the Department of Health. Reminds you of the good old days, the backroom boys.

We believe this move is a violation of the Canada Health Act. To this day, Nova Scotian communities have had no input and no consultation on their health care services. The Premier then went all the way to British Columbia to hire the most expensive deputy minister in history. Tom Ward is now making nearly $200,000 a year, despite the Tory promise to cut administration in the Department of Health. The deputy minister then went ahead and built his own empire by hiring an associate deputy minister and an assistant deputy minister, two positions that, before then, were unheard of in Nova Scotia.

The same government that brought you Westray cancelled the implementation of occupational health and safety regulations on October 1st. We are still in October. The Labour Minister said he needed more time to consult. Instead of consulting, the Tories farmed those regulations out to the Red Tape Reduction Task Force. The Tories broke their own hiring freeze in the Civil Service by offering a job to Mary Lloyd. You remember that, Mr. Speaker. She was offered a job on the condition that she cease any involvement with the Pictou County Injured Workers Association. The Premier was embarrassed into changing the Freedom of Information Act after his MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's confronted a journalist after leaking information from a confidential freedom of information from the Premier's office. We are still in October.

The Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs who was the MLA for Antigonish ducked a meeting of 400 constituents called to discuss the red route-blue route by-pass, and we are certainly going to hear more about that in the future. Mr. Speaker, a 1999 study conducted by Beasy Nicoll Engineering Limited picked the blue route as the cheapest and safest way to go. The Tories ignored this report and did another because the MLA for Antigonish was over a barrel as a result of promises he made during the election. Premier Hamm personally flubbed the deal with Ottawa to acquire parts of the Shearwater property, the last undeveloped site on Halifax Harbour.

[Page 9122]

Mr. Speaker, now we will go into November. One of the 243 blue book commitments was a promise not to download on municipalities. In November, the MLA for Preston threatened to vote against his own government if they scrapped the HST rebate to municipalities. The Tories finally did break their promise in the spring budget by downloading the $12 million fee for assessment services on municipal units. Another blue book promise was to not spend taxpayers' money on politically-motivated propaganda. However, we revealed that the Tories forced Civil Service communication staff to perform political duties. They also violated the official policy of Communications Nova Scotia on press releases. Despite a promise to vigorously fight for Nova Scotia, the Premier kept quiet while Newfoundland lobbied to get all the new jobs created by the new Marine Atlantic Ferry in North Sydney.

Mr. Speaker, in November, the Tories also announced they were ready for winter on Nova Scotia's highways. Yet, when the first major winter storm hit a few weeks later, a dozen snowplows remained in the shed, because of a new Tory policy that all repairs over $1,000 must be signed off and approved by the minister. On November 9th, the Tories tried to slip through a bill which would see a user fee for 911. They did this secretly and without any type of bill briefing. This was despite a Tory blue book promise of no new taxes. The Health Minister went on record saying that he does not plan to implement user fees for 911 service. Another broken promise. Less than a year later, the Tories abandoned the idea of passing this legislation, and instead implemented the 911 tax by OIC, Order in Council, right in the bunker, never mind coming to the Legislature, just do it downstairs.

Former Leader Russell MacLellan shamed the Tory Government when he revealed that the Tories revoked a nursing home licence for the Sisters of Charity at Mount Saint Vincent University. Only after tremendous outcry from the Liberals did the Tories reconsider this wrong-headed move. On November 16th, the Premier told the Halifax Metro Chamber of Commerce that the government will not listen to special interest groups, however, the Premier said he would listen to business because they were a big interest.

After several months of scandal, the Premier finally introduces a code of conduct, and what a joke that has turned out to be. For Cabinet Ministers, a code of conduct for Cabinet Ministers, over a year later it has still not passed into law. Also the MLA for Eastern Shore used his property as an illegal garbage dump. This is from the same government that promised a comprehensive green program for the environment. What a laugh that was. A few months later, we had one other MLA taken under task for failing to clean up industrial garbage on a property - another property. That was another (Interruption)

Yes, I know that, Mr. Speaker. I just want to move into December. I could go on here all day, listing these things. There are hundreds and hundreds of them here, broken promises, flip-flops, scandals and everything else. I know that my time is limited. It is limited, so I am going to just say that at another time I will be talking about what happened in December, February, and the spring sitting and the legislation that is currently before the House. At this

[Page 9123]

time, I will certainly take my place and listen with great anticipation to the answers that the government has to the record that I have just outlined.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise before the House today and to address Resolution No. 3410, presented by the member for Lunenburg West. Before I continue, I would like to talk a little bit about structure. It is well known in the history of this House, through tradition, that many of the members will get up from both sides of the House and have an opportunity to put forth resolutions. It is their right, and it must happen. Quite often, many members use that time to talk about passionate things, issues that are taking place in their constituency and quite often talk about issues that they take light-heartedly, or, sometimes, throw humorous comments back and forth.

[4:30 p.m.]

I find it hard today to think that the member for Lunenburg West, who has presented this resolution, would not clearly understand the initiatives of this government, this proactive government over the past number of months has been moving ahead.

I know a lot about that member and I would say, clearly, that he is a fine member. I remember a number of years ago when I first entered politics he addressed a group in the community of Sheet Harbour, the Board of Trade. At that time he talked about highways on the Eastern Shore and in Nova Scotia. He talked about the economy and how the highways could certainly improve the economy of not only our riding, but throughout Nova Scotia as well.

I want to go back once again to talk about structure a little further because the member has put the resolution through and there is one part that I would like to speak on:

"Therefore be it resolved that this Premier and his Progressive Conservative Government have shown no leadership . . .", no leadership, Mr. Speaker, ". . . in this province and have driven Nova Scotia off course."

There is nothing that could be further from the truth. When we talk about leadership, we must talk about the Leader. We have a fine Leader in the Province of Nova Scotia right now, probably one of the first Leaders in recent history who has allowed not only the front bench, but my colleagues in the backbenches and also in the caucus to have an opportunity to speak on the issues of government.

I want to say there are exciting things happening in the Progressive Conservative caucus just down the street. I want to tell you that each member is bringing their issues from their constituency to this government, and together the Premier, the ministers and also the

[Page 9124]

members of caucus are putting together new policy which will lead to prosperity in this province.

The news about our Progressive Conservative caucus is getting out, not only across Nova Scotia, but also across the room. I do not have the names, but I know there would be some members from that side of the House who would like to be sitting on the government side, but if you look around, the only reason we cannot entertain that is because there is not room on this side of the House.

Unfortunately, just minutes ago I was asked to speak on this, so I quickly grabbed pen and pencil and wrote down approximately 50 incentives, 50 new policies, 50 things in which this proactive government has taken to task and has made improvements in Nova Scotia. I know I am going to share my time with the member for Kings West, and I would like to just touch on a few things, a few things.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the honourable member want the Speaker to advise him when there is about half time left?

MR. DOOKS: Well, I think any member from the government side could speak clearly for hours on the initiatives taken by this Progressive Conservative Government. Through kindness, I will certainly have to give time to my colleague in the rear.

We talk about the economy, the economy of Nova Scotia. Every member in the House understands that the first thing we have to do to build the economy is to improve our highway system. I do not think anyone could deny that very comment I have just made. With the blessing and the good work of the Department of Transportation, we know that the government has put in place the rim program, which many improvements have been made to our highways throughout Nova Scotia from Cape Breton to Lunenburg, improvements have been made. New signs, new ditches, asphalt paving and so on and so forth. This government clearly understands the importance of highways.

I could talk on the subject of highways for hours. I know the importance of them to Nova Scotia, I know how important it is to our economy, but I must talk about the involvement of the Minister of Economic Development and the sale of Sysco. Mr. Speaker, I will not talk about that because all Nova Scotians know about the benefit of the sale of Sysco to this government.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you, for something as small as the incentive to help small business across Nova Scotia, when we put in place the ability for small business people to pay workers' compensation monthly rather than yearly, it saved small business many hundreds of dollars. This government is on the railroad to prosperity. Each and every member of this caucus is proud to be a part of this Progressive Conservative Government, and I say, thank God for the Progressive Conservative Government of Nova Scotia.

[Page 9125]

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

The honourable member for Annapolis on an introduction, a very important introduction, I might add.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise in the House today to introduce two of the main ladies in my life, my mother Jean and my wife Doreen in the east gallery. I told my mother, today was the first time she has observed the proceedings in the House, and I told her that all members would be on their best behaviour, so carry on as usual. Would they please rise and accept the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, indeed. Welcome to our visitors and welcome to all our guests in the gallery.

The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. JON CAREY: Mr. Speaker, I think one of the things that needs clarification is the Red Tape Reduction Task Force. Certainly much of the information has been sort of twisted, I believe, or not presented totally correctly. We believe that most Nova Scotians are aware that this province needs to have a user-friendly business approach and, therefore, we need to listen and remove any obstacles we can that will improve the relationship between government and the business community where it is practical.

Many negative comments have been made by the Opposition, such as the make-up of this committee. Mr. David Grace, the Chairperson, a very successful business person, has worked very hard and has done many interviews and gathered much information. The five members that are on it are all members, admittedly, of the Tory Party. However, they all have business experience and are aware of the aggravations that red tape can cause people when they are dealing with government.

It was interesting when they talked about the expenses, when the expenses came up, it showed that we spent less than $50,000 to present this report, this first one. I was very impressed with the Liberal Government when they were talking about it, but then we find out there was research done. They did one that cost $75,000 for 10 meetings.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame, shame.

MR. CAREY: They brought in a report that was shelved, and it was a report that had in it that Nova Scotians did not want a casino in Nova Scotia. Now, I found it kind of interesting.

[Page 9126]

When we went out to the public, we found, although there were not a great number of people participating, we had a common message that was consistent throughout the province. It was that Access Nova Scotia could be used possibly or some method that we could navigate them through the difficulties of working with government in getting their permits and getting things done to make things easier for them. This was a consistent thing. They wanted one-stop shopping. They wanted the municipalities and the federal and provincial governments to try and accommodate this for them. We need cooperation between these people.

Mr. Speaker, there was nothing political about it. We were out there to listen. We listened. We reported back, and we feel confident that many of these items will be acted upon. Therefore, it was my pleasure to serve, and I am looking forward to the government implementing these as I know they will. That will improve business assessability in Nova Scotia. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I as well welcome the guests in the gallery. I certainly hope that the discussion this evening will be somewhat enlightening for them. Mr. Speaker, I have to say that - and the members opposite will say well, what would we expect - I certainly agree with the statement in the, "Therefore be it resolved . . ." in this resolution. I think I have to compliment the honourable member for Eastern Shore because I thought he got up and spoke well. I didn't agree with anything he said but I thought he delivered it well, particularly when you consider the few opportunities that members of the government take to get up to speak. (Interruptions) No, I won't demean him any more.

I do want to say that the interpretation of this resolution, when it says that this Premier and his Progressive Conservative Government have shown no leadership in this province and have driven Nova Scotia off course. Well, Mr. Speaker, this may come down to a general perception, a gut feeling when you go and talk to Nova Scotians. I guess if anybody would know, you know a fair bit about my constituency, I have to admit, that on occasion I bump into you at events in my constituency, I more often bump into the honourable member for Hants West but I kind of feel that you two members of the government caucus probably have some intimate knowledge of my constituency and what the people are like. So maybe members would be surprised when Hants East elected a New Democratic in 1998. I think that part of that reason was somewhat a disillusionment with the existing Liberal Government at the time. Nova Scotians have chosen a Tory Government in 1999 and I think that what they were expecting when then chose that government is certainly not what has been delivered to Nova Scotians.

Now I would say that there are a number of things. Actually the member for Cape Breton South had quite a long list, in chronological order, of the events that have occurred. He didn't get through it all but I will try to generalize a little more, rather than be so specific.

[Page 9127]

What I want to say to the members opposite, the members of the government caucus, is that there is no escaping what you are. No matter what you tell Nova Scotians on the doorstep during campaigns, that somehow has to be articulated from the legislation that you bring to this House. I would say that recently there have been two pieces of legislation that really have marked this Tory Government in a way that would tend to make Nova Scotians wonder just what kind of course they are on. If they think they are staying on course, then what is the course? The first one would have to be the bill from Community Services. If you remember, Mr. Speaker, the performance we went through, with you in the Chair, over accessibility to allow the funding for telephones for people on social assistance, basic telephone service for people who we are telling go out and get a job but we are not going to give you a phone to do that, then I think that here is a loud statement.

The other one would be the amendment that came to the House yesterday that the minister may, at some point, put into regulation our concern about not taking people's homes, or considering those homes as income and therefore making sure that they have to get rid of those homes before they can get social assistance.

Now it is said that governments are marked or identified by how they take care of the most vulnerable in their society. This bill, that has gone through the Committee of the Whole House, is one that I would say identifies this Tory Government as being extremely heartless.

[4:45 p.m.]

The other one is the Sysco bill and I would say its disregard for environmental concerns in a part of this province that has been identified to have health concerns that are above and beyond the usual percentage of the population that would have any of those concerns, cancer rates in particular. This is something that the government really should be proactive in trying to address, but what they have done is they have exited themselves from any legal responsibility in this regard. Now the members will say well, we are responsible. The fact that we are a government means that we are responsible for what happens in Cape Breton, but they have taken away the legal hammer that would force them to do anything for those people.

We have seen this brand of contempt, if you want to call it that, it had already started during the election campaign when this Party had pitted the mainland against Cape Breton. Unfortunately it still goes on. (Interruption) Good question , where are the hospital beds? The advertisement during the campaign was Sysco open, beds closed and what do we hear today, even in Question Period - about 152 acute care beds that have been closed. There has been no change.

Something I want to acknowledge to the members of the government caucus is, we are not isolated from grass-roots Tories in this province, in other words there are Tories who talk to us. I know certainly of one, a gentleman in his 80's, who cut up his membership because

[Page 9128]

he was so disgusted with the direction this government was taking. I think that if the member for Eastern Shore can defend this resolution or defend his government against this resolution, that this government is not off course, then why is it that grass-roots Tories are speaking out? Because they are very disappointed. That comes back to the perception of what Nova Scotians feel about where this province is going. If they don't have a feeling of confidence in the direction or the agenda of this government, then that would tell me that this government is putting this province off course.

Mr. Speaker, I want to raise some concerns that I know you would be aware of, and that I think all Nova Scotians would regard the Tory Party to be the Party that has the power base in rural Nova Scotia. I know that during those budget cuts there were various organizations in rural Nova Scotia - the farming sector, I know that they have met with you, Mr. Speaker - and they are concerned. This government has attacked just about anybody that they can attack in rural Nova Scotia, and they started with agriculture. If you are going to attack the very people who should be your power base, then how can the rest of Nova Scotia have any confidence in the direction you are going?

I think that the members opposite don't seem to recognize that all of this has a cost and where you try for the sake of the almighty dollar to sell this to Nova Scotians, they don't seem to realize that down the road that dollar cost is going to come back to haunt you - it has in other jurisdictions. They have done this exact thing in Ontario and they are redoing it. In other words, they realized the folly of their ways and they are rehiring in the Department of Agriculture - probably hiring our people to replace the people that they lost. It has not advanced the department any, there are people doing jobs and are not qualified because they have been shuffled around. That is not going to help the industry at all. Mr. Speaker, I do want to say that the feeling that Nova Scotians have is certainly that this province is off course, they worry about their families

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member's time has expired.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: I thank the members for the opportunity to speak.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak on this most important resolution, Resolution No. 3410, introduced by my good colleague, the member for Cape Breton South, who spoke quite eloquently today, letting Nova Scotians know the litany of broken promises and the litany of failures of this government in the short time that they have been in power. I listened to the comments of the honourable Leader in the House of the New Democratic Party. I thought he made some very good comments and I compliment him.

[Page 9129]

First, I want to address some of the comments we heard from our good friends on the government side. I want to say I was pleased to see that finally the shackles have been removed from the member for Eastern Shore and he has finally been permitted to stand in his place and speak for the good constituents of Eastern Shore.

AN HON. MEMBER: Let me free.

MR. SAMSON: He did a pretty good job, I have to say that. Now, whether anyone in his riding would agree with anything he said is something different and that is open to debate, but he gave a very good delivery and, with the looming Cabinet shuffle coming, there may be an opportunity there for him and for the people of the Eastern Shore.

AN HON. MEMBER: Put him in Environment, there is an opening there.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: He will be the next Environment Minister.

MR. SAMSON: He did make a comment though, Mr. Speaker, that I take exception to, he made the comment that this government under Premier John Hamm has allowed the backbenchers to have this great voice and be able to speak on matters of their constituents. Not wanting to give too much of a history lesson, I remember the paramedics' debate - remember that one? I think I actually recall in the couple of times I spoke, I think I got to talk to about probably 80 per cent of that caucus over there and the fact that not one of them had actually rose to speak and represent their constituents.

MR. BARRY BARNET: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honourable member, obviously, is confused or forgets, because quite frankly there were a number of members on this side of the House who spoke. I did, and I know the member for Kings South did, and a number of others. Dartmouth South did, Kings North, and there were a number of members who spoke, so he is confused, and I am just trying to correct the history.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order.

MR. SAMSON: Ironically, Mr. Speaker, it was only after these backbenchers were ridiculed by members of the Opposition for the fact that they had said nothing and the fact they had not represented their people that we got the odd little peep out of them, and each one of them was competing to be the chief apologist for the government, hoping there may be a little opening in Cabinet for them. Of course, the door was quickly shut in their face, but anyway they did do their best.

I know that the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank has had a long history in here, in a short time, of being a chief apologist for the government. So I would not want to have the record show that he has not done his best to explain government policy and read the notes

[Page 9130]

provided to him by the Priorities & Planning Committee and apologize on behalf of the government, and the great service he has done to his constituents in doing so.

It was interesting to listen to the member for Eastern Shore talk about highways, and we all recall how he and my colleague in the Strait, the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, jumped in their truck and off they went to Ottawa, knocked on a few doors, and you know someone asked, do you actually know where you are at? They told us they met with the Minister of Transportation, and then it ended up being the chief of staff, then it was the deputy, then it was one of his assistants, and then we ended up finding out it was the janitor who they met with and they had mistakenly thought they were meeting with the Minister of Transportation. They went with the blessing of the Minister of Transportation here and said that Highway No. 7 is a top priority in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is the most heavily used highway, the greatest potential, we have to . . .

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if it is a point of order or a point of privilege, but it is going to be a good point. I can tell the honourable member for Richmond, I can assure him that this government takes highways and rural highways, they are particularly important to us, and I can stand here today and tell the member that even in his constituency, under the rim program this summer, his constituency got just about $500,000 in extra money for road and highway upgrades. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. My goodness, honourable members, I should caution all honourable members that actually the only time you can intervene when an honourable member has the floor is on a point of order. You can't stand in your place and be recognized on a point of privilege unless you advise the Speaker previously. We will take that as a point of order, but in fact, it was not a point of order.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I actually was going to leave him alone, but being he has entered the debate here, I have to say, the great representation that the people of the Strait have gotten after election day, they say, look, the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and the big question was, is he going to represent Billy Joe or is he going to represent Guysborough. That is still out in debate.

Then we had the Minister of Tourism, the young Minister of Tourism. I was pleased to see him appointed. Today in debate my colleague from Cape Breton South questioned him on the resignation of the chair of the Inverness Development Association. He was so frustrated with the fact that this new government and this new minister, the area MLA, were not moving forward on the commitment to build a golf course. Now rather than stand here and point out what he was going to do and how he was going to build on that commitment, he instead again accused the member for Cape Breton South and refused to answer that. I know that my colleague, the member for Cape Breton South, read a bit of that article. One of the quotes he didn't say is that losing that one chairman, the man who resigned, the

[Page 9131]

chairman of the IDA, one of him is more than 10 Rodneys put together, Butch MacIsaac. One Butch MacIsaac is better than 10 Rodneys.

Now the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, where was he when they cut IT from the Nova Scotia Community College. He was telling the minister today during question period what he should answer. Again, being chief apologist for them, what has he done for the people of Guysborough County on the issue of taxation of the pipeline? He has been quieter than a mouse. He fears Billy Joe MacLean is going to come back haunting him. Instead the people of Guysborough sit there with a potential yearly investment of $7.5 million, and that member doesn't say a word.

Now on to the member for Kings West standing up and talking here in this House. The media dubbed him the most invisible MLA, and the time he does stand up and takes a stance is on Bill No. 75. A bill brought by this government to respect a Supreme Court of Canada decision. When each member of this House took the oath office, we took the oath to uphold the law and uphold the traditions of this province. And that member stands up and says I am going represent my constituents.

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member you are straying quite a way from the resolution that is before you.

MR. SAMSON: With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, it says, "Therefore be it resolved that this Premier and his Progressive Conservative Government have shown no leadership . . .". I am not wanting to challenge you, but clearly the actions of each of these members and their representations certainly is talked about in the resolution here.

Trying to justify the Red Tape Reduction Task Force for its abysmal failure. I remember when we were in government, the Russell MacLellan Government, we had a Worker's Compensation Committee. You are aware of that, Mr. Speaker. We had a Community Services Committee, an all-Party committee, the Premier when he was the Third Party Leader, said that is the way to go. He said under my government, I will have these all-Party committees, yet when they have the chance, they go out and have this Tory committee.

Today we heard again in Question Period the disgraceful answers from the Minister of Transportation under pathetic efforts at Highway No. 101. I just wish - and it is not often you will hear me wish that a Tory be in the House - but I wish George Archibald was back here, that George Archibald was sitting here to listen to those answers. George Archibald would stand here in this House (Interruption) Well, he stood for his constituents unlike the current member. He stood each day and he said, one more person has died on Highway No. 101. Next day when something happened, one more person. It is too bad he is not here today to remind that minister of how many people have died. Now he laughs about brush cutting as the first way, and he laughs. I hope the parents of those victims were watching when that minister made those pathetic excuses today here on the floor of this House.

[Page 9132]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. We have another honourable member on his feet, on a point of order, the honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

MR. BARRY BARNET: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I find it offensive that the member opposite would talk about Highway No. 101 when his government was the one that scrapped that twinning, never did a darn thing, and never moved that budget forward in all the years they were in government, they didn't do a blessed thing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Richmond (Interruptions) I am sorry the honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, after that spirited debate, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 81.

Bill No. 81 - Occupational Health and Safety Act.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak on Bill No. 81, An Act to Amend Chapter 7 of the Acts of 1996, the Occupational Health and Safety Act. In short, what we would like to achieve is to ensure that all the stakeholders that are affected under this section of the Act will in fact have the opportunity to participate on the issues of occupational health and safety.

[5:00 p.m]

As we know, in the school system there is provision for Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committees, or as we refer to them as, JOSH Committees, both with employers and employees. One of the biggest vacuums in this particular initiative is that the present Act only makes it optional, or it is a permissive clause that enables the various schools within the school system of Nova Scotia to enable either a parent representative or a student to participate on these Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committees.

[Page 9133]

What we would like to do by the endorsement of this particular piece of legislation is to make that mandatory for a number of reasons. First and foremost because it is the students who are most affected, and from the time the students arrive in the morning until the time they leave at the end of the day, the school is their workplace and in many respects they can be termed as an employee of that system. Much the same as with the teachers who are employees in that school district. Much the same for those students who are below the Grade 10 level from Elementary to Grade 9 inclusive, then that would include a representative from the parent organization if one should exist. If there is none in existence, then that is fine, that would be generally acknowledged.

However at the high school level we have, in many of these large high schools, a lot of major problems. For example, Halifax West High School. I have toured that particular facility and found there are a large number of problems that do not seem to be discussed to the extent that they should be. As we toured that particular facility one day with the principal, with the parent representative, as well as some other staff from that particular facility and one thing I noticed as we went from one area of the complex to the next is that the air quality changed quite dramatically. In fact, on the second floor it was quite gaseous and you could smell the fumes, and I do not know all the technical terminology, but you could tell it was either from the mould or something to do with the lack of proper construction, the ventilation, it was almost like solid dead air. You would have that in the corridors, if you go into the music room or one of the classrooms, totally different air quality. If you go down to the first floor you could go to three different sections of that facility and the air quality was substantially different and it was very noticeable by the odour and the thickness of the air, if you could use that, for lack of a better term.

Also, what was very noticeable in that particular facility is the amount of subsidence in Halifax West High School. In doing a little research of my own I found that, close to 40 years since that facility was built, it was built on a wetland and it was drained and all the proper drainage systems and engineering and I am sure seepage tiles and so on were all put into effect, but a lot of activity has taken place around. Housing development on one side, commercial development on the other side. In fact, the service station right next to the school has a northwest wind, prevailing wind, and it carries fumes from that service station on a regular basis. That contributes to the poor air quality in that school. So no matter how much we can try and renovate that facility, as soon as you open the door, as soon as you open a window, you are going to have fumes from the service station. That is a major problem, no matter what they do there.

As well, if you look in some of the classrooms, at one end of the room you will find that floor has subsided at least two inches below the base work. What they have done is they dropped the baseboard down to meet the subsidence level. You can see, Mr. Speaker, the floor has more waves in it than the Atlantic Ocean. I am sure of it.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are exaggerating.

[Page 9134]

MR. MACKINNON: Well, it is a bit of an exaggeration but it is extremely noticeable. You can notice as well, Mr. Speaker, where they drilled holes in the wall, through the concrete block and found out that there is an air quality problem there because of the lack of proper vapour barrier and insulation and so on. No matter what they do to that facility, it is sitting on this marshland with this amount of subsidence. Because there is a large drainage system going under the centre of the school, from the back marshland uphill some, where there is some kind of a green area there that they use either for football or soccer or whatever, down to the lower section, down towards the service station, it is generally considered to be crushed or somewhat damaged underneath. That is contributing to the seepage down through the entire sedimentation.

Now, referring to this particular bill, I believe it would allow the powers that be to be sensitized to the concerns of the parents and students, in particular, who are there in this environment, day in and day out. I have spoken with the President of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, Joan Jessome. She and all the representatives who are employed in the school system by the province fully endorse this legislation because they see it is a very positive initiative.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there are a number of examples where students and parent representatives are, in fact, members of these JOSH committees and they are working quite well. I believe Creighton is one, the other name escapes me right now but I understand it is working quite well. I have spoken with the President of the Students' Council at Riverview Rural High School in Coxheath, one of the largest high schools in the province. The President there, speaking on behalf of some 1,300 students, fully endorses this initiative. It is a very positive initiative. It is also a way for the government to also live up to one of its blueprint commitments, the blue book commitments, whereby the government is consulting with and listening to the stakeholders who are directly affected on matters of public policy and, in this particular case, with occupational health and safety.

Now I understand, Mr. Speaker, that the government does have Bill No. 68 before the House and, by all accounts, there hasn't been one representative come before the Law Amendments Committee who endorsed repealing the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations or all the different components of the Act, whether it be the temporary workplace traffic control regulations, first aid regulations, disclosure of information regulation, and I could go on and on. Not one stakeholder was consulted before the government introduced this particular piece of legislation repealing safety laws in the province. So I implore, I beg of the minister of the day to give serious consideration. Being a school teacher he would understand the need to listen to the concerns of the children, not just air quality and some other issues. What about drugs in the school system? Who better to talk to about these issues than those who are on the front lines and are being affected? What about all the violence issues that have confronted us over the last number of years, and in recent weeks, and days in fact?

[Page 9135]

If you wanted to understand the psychology and the need to ensure that our children are in the best possible environment so that they can perform at maximum capacity - if you want to look at it in a generic terminology, not that we are machinery - how can we expect them to do their level best if we don't provide them with the best possible learning environment? I believe it is very, very important that we include students, particularly at the high school level, because for the most part the students who are participating, they are the leaders within that system. They are generally student council representatives or those who are active in the yearbook, or music programs, or sports programs. They really have their finger on the pulse. Certainly that is the same at the junior high and the elementary level, because those who are very interested in providing the extra amenities in the school system, to support their children at these school levels, are the leaders in the community. They are on the front lines, and they are sensitized.

I know the Minister of Education would certainly look favourably on a very positive initiative such as this. I know the Minister of Labour - I am not sure who the acting minister is today, I believe it is the Minister of Tourism and Culture - this is a win-win situation. It doesn't cost the government 5 cents to listen to all these volunteers who will contribute so much. I believe this is an initiative that has certainly been supported by CASLE, Citizens for a Safe Learning Environment. The representative from CASLE came before, when we had our press conference the other day, and I believe the member for Halifax Bedford Basin certainly knows who she is; that is her constituency representative. She fully endorses this, because she understands, as a parent and as a parent group representative, the need to have this. We had student council representatives from Halifax West High School.

Mr. Speaker, all across this province, the stakeholders, the number one stakeholders in this system are asking for this, without exception. In fairness to other stakeholders, such as the Teachers Union, they raise concerns about issues of confidentiality, but you could get that with any organization, and there are terms of reference that can be applied to ensure the issues of confidentiality. I hope the government will look favourably on this initiative.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture, acting Minister of Labour, and MLA for Inverness (Interruptions)

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Yes, Environment, Labour, many things. Mr. Speaker, I would like to now discuss the bill of the honourable member for Cape Breton West, Bill No. 81, An Act to Amend Chapter 7 of the Acts of 1996, the Occupational Health and Safety Act. First I would like to congratulate the Opposition for bringing up the topic of occupational health and safety here in the province. As we all know, the health and safety of the people of the province is a fundamental concern, and it is a fundamental concern for this government, whether it is in the workplace or, as mentioned by the member for Cape Breton West, in the classroom, or in the home, or outdoors.

[Page 9136]

As the former Minister of Labour knows, the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act takes many important steps to improve the workplace health and safety of Nova Scotia. It provides for the promotion, the coordination, the administration and the enforcement of occupational health and safety in the province. Under the Act, employees do have a voice. It provides all workplace parties with three basic rights - which I know the member for Cape Breton West is well aware of - the right to know, and that is employees have the right to information on issues, Mr. Speaker, that affect their health and safety; the right to refuse, that is the right to refuse an unsafe or unhealthy work environment; and the right to participate. Employees have the right to participate on health and safety committees or be a health and safety representative. You also have the right to report unsafe conditions and voice your concerns or opinions on any issues that affect your health and safety or the health and safety of anyone else in that workplace.

[5:15 p.m.]

By workplace parties, Mr. Speaker, I mean anyone employed in a particular workplace. This includes employers, contractors, constructors, employees and the self-employed as well as owners, suppliers, architects, engineers and occupational health and safety consultants. We must all share responsibility for making the workplace safer and healthier.

The Act, Mr. Speaker, is meant as a vehicle where employers and employees can discuss and review workplace issues in an equal way. As a government, we believe that safety goes even beyond the Act. It is reflected in the daily action or the inaction of workers and employees and it needs to be considered when a new building is going up or when a farmer is working out in his field, or if a student is on the job for the very first time.

As I understand it, Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 81 would see an addition to the Act that would require a joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee at a public school to include at least one parent of a child attending the school, elected by the parents if the grade was below, I believe, the Grade 8 or Grade 9 level. As well, if it was above that, to include one of the students. It is suggested that be done by amending Section 30 of Chapter 7 of the Acts of 1996, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, by adding immediately after subsection (2) the following subsection. The government does support the idea, as I have already mentioned, of more participation in occupational health and safety.

However, Mr. Speaker, we do not believe that this is the appropriate vehicle to achieve that goal. The Occupational Health and Safety Act imposes proactive duties on specific workplace parties. The Act has not set health or safety standards that meet the needs of children. Its focus is adult employees and technical regulations that are not geared for young children. Students, as we all know, can be exposed to hazards and may even create hazards as I have seen as a teacher. However, because they are not an employer or an employee, they are not covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. For students and parents there are other legal regimes where vehicles for their protection can be tailored to their needs.

[Page 9137]

Conversely, Mr. Speaker, for most employees the OH&S Act . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I hate to take issue with the acting minister, but I believe he is not correct when he says that the students are not covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the school.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: They certainly are.

MR. SPEAKER: It is not a point of order, disagreement over facts between two members. The honourable Minister of Tourism has the floor.

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again, conversely for most employees the OH&S Act is the only law protecting them from workplace injury. Where 20 or more employees are regularly employed at a location, there must be a joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee and its mandate is to advise. The joint occupational health and safety mandate is set in the Act and while it is broad, it must always focus on the occupational issues. Student safety per se is not within its scope and Bill No. 81 does not amend the mandate sections.

The Act, Mr. Speaker, also requires an employee health and safety representative in workplaces with five or more staff. If they are too small for a joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee, Bill No. 81 does not address those schools. To include this amendment would require parents and students to focus on staff safety without giving any group a mandate to advise on student health and safety. If a committee was distracted from its statutory mandate and began to look at third party needs, the Occupational Health and Safety Act would and could not support this. Extension of the OH&S Act to involve users of workplace, other than those who are paid, moves the law in a new direction. Users of may other sites apart from schools could advance similar claims.

If the presumed intent of Bill No. 81 is to give parents and older students a representative voice in a forum that addresses health and safety matters of concern to them - for example, a student injured on playground equipment - perhaps the Education Act would be a better vehicle. The Education Act includes a mandate to address student safety. In some provisions educational officials are expressly responsible for a safe learning environment. An advisory body for a school with a mandate fitted to the specific needs of parents and students could be an initiative of the education sector in which labour and other informed contributors could definitely be involved. Where a Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee does exist in a school, the education initiative could stipulate requirements for cooperation and information sharing, potentially including some joint membership or observer participation by the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee and the new body as necessary to fully address student needs. When done outside of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the initiative would not be forced to exclude hazards exclusive to children since the focus could extend well beyond the staff needs. The Occupational Health

[Page 9138]

and Safety Act recognizes the value of participation and is based on the principle of internal responsibility.

I thank the honourable member for his suggestions and I look forward to hearing comments from the other members. Thank you.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few words about Bill No. 81 and, in essence, support Bill No. 81.

There are many problems within this province when it comes to occupational health and safety. I am going to try to highlight some. I was keen in hearing the sponsor of the bill, the member for Cape Breton West, speak about the situation at Halifax West and how this bill would apply there. One of the things that I disagree with is the minister's position on whose role, or who should be involved, in OH&S. I was struck by one of the statements by the minister about a playground incident. This is not the scope of this bill and I think the member for Cape Breton West - if he wants to get back up later on an talk about it, certainly could do that.

The idea of promoting a safe learning environment is a concept that we all basically agree with. When we talk about allowing students and parents to be involved in that safe learning environment, it is a necessary one. I may disagree with some of the areas of the bill, but in essence the bill strikes a chord and it should be moved forward because we have seen, at this particular school, air quality problems, probably the integrity of the structure itself has been questioned. So should the people who are there every day as students - seniors, if you want to call them that - from Grade 10 to Grade 12, should they have representatives on a board or a council? On the other side of that, should the parents who entrust their children's care into these buildings in a manner of speaking, should they have a role?

I say yes they should, because from a parent's perspective what we do is go out and assume that our children are in an environment that is safe from violence, that they will be able to have a learning experience safe and away from violence. So shouldn't we also have the expectation that when we send our children to these buildings they will not be impeded by a sick building. Should the children, especially the ones in the senior high area we talked about, who are young adults, have the ability to stand up and be on a committee and be counted and say, so and so from such and such a class told me about this and x amount of people, it is not flu season, have been out and there is an inordinate amount of people out with what we would say may be upper respiratory problems.

[Page 9139]

Mr. Speaker, you having children around that age and so on, who are those children more apt to confide in? We like to think, as parents, we are the first stop, but sometimes we are the stop a long way down the list, but the first stop to many of those are their peers. They are the ones who these people will talk to, confide in. It is not unheard of, over lunch, they will sit down and say, do you notice that Mary, Susie, Johnny, Jimmy, have been out of school for a long time this year and isn't it funny they all have had the same kind of cold and flu symptoms. Then all of a sudden they say, well, let's go see our student representative on this and maybe this anecdotal information can be extrapolated into finding out. That would be the first line. That is where that is at. So I see that as a positive step, that that is the first line. That is primarily when we talk about the children who would be involved in this as senior students.

I see the role as the parent in both levels of education, whether it is the elementary, we will call it P-9, Mr. Speaker, in that area where parents, for whatever reason, obviously, have a more integral part to play in their children's education and in their ability to make decisions. Should parents now be allowed to be on a Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee? Well, yes they should because, as the minister kind of said, it is beyond the scope. It is not the first time we have seen governments move beyond their scope. This could be daring for these places because it is important these people have a say.

I will say that in this way because I believe when they contemplated putting in Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committees, and it has been through much consultation I might add, that most people think in line of the workplace, whether it is a construction site or coal mine or whatever, sometimes we don't really think of the impact of the people who are using public access buildings who have to be there. Someone could make an argument and say, well, why don't we do it with the Civic Centre in Sydney? Well, it is a little bit different, it is a public building and you have customers coming and going. You are not mandated to be there for a prescribed period of time, which students are. Students are in a building and are to be there, in rough terms, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., a lot of times, and some, if they are being bused, do not really get out of the physical confines of that building for that length of time, that six hours. So should the focus be changed? I think it should. So to merely say that the Occupational Health and Safety Act doesn't contemplate that is not the way to look at it.

I think what you do is you go in and identify that problem within that legislation and name it and move forward with it rather than using it as an excuse not to be inclusive. We don't know where this problem with an unhealthy school is going to manifest itself. Anything that revolves around our health and safety is not as easy as being maybe exposed to something as immediate as a lab experiment gone wrong.

[Page 9140]

[5:30 p.m.]

We know it, this just happened recently. I am sure the member for Cape Breton West is aware. This happened very recently in the member for Cape Breton Nova's riding at the Marconi Campus. That has been investigated and it is ongoing although I believe that students came back to class this past week. What was interesting there was the student council, I believe as they identify themselves there, were invited as a courtesy but were not considered part of the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee. They did not fit under the scope, they were not employed there, they were not teachers, they were not custodians and so on. These people, only because the administration there thought it was worth their while to bring them in, that was why they were there.

I do not want to address this beyond what the scope of what the mover says about Bill No. 81. If he or one of his colleagues gets up again maybe, is this contemplated going beyond the high school realm? I think that is very important (Interruptions) I see that the member is saying no, he doesn't foresee that. I think this may be one of the things that could be looked at because again, we had a case of a group of people not being able to put their ideas forward except that the people who were in charge of the building, the administration if you will, decided that it was fair and adequate to do that.

What has to be done here - and I got off here on a bit of a tangent talking about problems that are immediate. There are other problems that happen in the workplace because it is not as simple as a condition that has a straight pathological result, like a broken leg or something like that. What we are talking about is something that has been over a long term, a long-term exposure along the lines of chronic pain where this thing just does not manifest itself or is not seen closely on an x-ray, but yet if you have people involved every day that can allow you to see that. I go back to the high school incident of saying that if peers are there day in and day out and they notice that fellow classmates are missing an inordinate amount of time to upper respiratory problems then you know that could be quantified.

That is one very straightforward example of why this group should be allowed at the table and if it takes another amendment to the Act, well, then I think the province can handle that. It is interesting because we have just had a growth spurt in many new schools through the P3 process in this province. The fact is that these new buildings could cause a whole different set of incidents and so we have to be on top of that.

So, why should we exclude these groups that are involved in a very intricate way whether you are students from 16 to 18 years old and you have a student representative and a parent, or what we will do is we will say that they are from 5 to 15 years old or 5 to 16 years old, the P-9 schools, why would it be so obnoxious, if you will, that you wouldn't want them included in this very worthwhile committee?

[Page 9141]

Mr. Speaker, I will be supportive of this bill. I think there should be some changes, but I think the intent is moving in the right direction. Myself and my Party would support Bill No. 81.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to begin my remarks on Bill No. 81 by commending the sponsor of the bill, the honourable member for Cape Breton West, for having taken the time and trouble to have the bill drafted and introduced into this House. There are not a great many Private Members' Public Bills that come into the House during a session of the Legislature. We know the great plethora of resolutions that come in here every day, frequently one or two per member times up to 52 members, 50 members, not counting those who might be in the Chair, and they flood into this House every day expressing various propositions and points of view.

But the number that actually introduce an amendment to the law in the form of a Private Member's Public Bill are relatively few. There are 12 on the order paper right now. I notice that a number of them come from the Liberal Party, a number from the NDP and a few are from private members of the government. I do want to commend the honourable member for Cape Breton West for having had the interest and to care enough to go the distance of introducing this particular attempt to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act by focusing on this problem of unsafe conditions and problems that plague ageing schools and not-so-ageing schools in the province.

Mr. Speaker, I want to contrast the concern and the high level of sincerity, I believe, that characterize the member introducing the bill with the response of the government. I think that the response of the government was indicated earlier this afternoon in Question Period by the Minister of Education, when in response to some questions about the safety of a school in this city, she responded first with an apology, but secondly with cynicism, and finally by stating that she did not have to listen to parents, she was not mandated to listen to students, she took her orders from the Department of Transportation and Public Works, and that was that.

Mr. Speaker, to that I would say this, I have great respect for the Department of Transportation and Public Works. I didn't lightly accept the position of being critic for that department in this caucus. I have great respect for the Department of Transportation and Public Works, and I know many of its engineers, staff people, environment experts and others who I believe are eminently qualified, yes, to comment on the physical condition of schools. I don't know that they are prepared, necessarily, professionally to comment on other problems that might relate to, say, interpersonal dynamics within a school, but they are certainly qualified, yes, to pronounce judgement on the structural viability of the actual buildings. That is true.

[Page 9142]

I don't believe for one moment that the Minister of Education's sole input on what her view should be of the conditions that exist in our school system should be from the Department of Transportation and Public Works, with all due deference, with all due respect to that department and its staff. I believe the Minister of Education should accept input from every source available, including parents, including students, including teachers, including those who are connected with the school system in any way and even including members of this House. All those should be taken into account by the Minister of Education and not just the viewpoint of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, as she indicated here today was her policy; a very rigid and unbending policy from which she was not prepared to deviate one iota.

That, Mr. Speaker, I suggest, indicates narrow-mindedness and the lack of the flexibility and maturity of response that we would come to expect from a Minister of Education in Nova Scotia. Shame on me for being so uncharitable, says the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. He wants that exclusive right to control the Minister of Education like a puppet on a string. Mr. Speaker, I shall deny him that unchallenged right. I shall deny it to him. (Laughter)

In view of that inclination by the Minister of Education, small wonder then that the acting Minister of Labour said what he had to say on this debate because he indicated a number of things. He indicated first of all a great lack of knowledge as to the content of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. There was a difference of opinion, of course, between the former Minister of Labour and the current acting minister, and on that I would have to indicate that I think the former Minister of Labour to my right here knows far, far more about the various Statutes the Department of Labour administers than does the current acting minister. In any event, it was not accepted as a point of order that the minister was distorting the content of the Act. So I won't get into that, I will just simply state that he was distorting the content of the Act.

Now, he also distorted the content of the bill, because the bill doesn't refer to anything except, "Where the workplace is a public school within the meaning of the Education Act . . ." That is what the bill begins by stating that the section, ". . . is amended by adding immediately after . . .", Section 30.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I was wondering if the honourable, venerable member for Cape Breton Nova would consider entertaining a question.

MR. MACEWAN: Do I support the Canadian Alliance? No. Next Question.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I wasn't going to ask him whether or not he supported that particular federal Party. It is obvious that he is going to waste his vote again this time, but that is not the question.

[Page 9143]

MR. SPEAKER: Could we have the question, please.

MR. TAYLOR: The question is, I believe it was about a year and a half ago that honourable member told residents down in Cape Breton, and I am not quite sure of the community, but it was along Frederick Street . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: This is serious.

MR. TAYLOR: We are talking about Occupational Health and Safety, and this is a serious question, too, that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. Would the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley please put the question to the member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for bringing that rowdy crowd to order. The question is simply this, does the honourable member still feel today that arsenic in water is not poisonous?

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I never expressed that point of view at any time. That was the mischief of the NDP that he swallowed hook, line and sinker. I am not going to get into the distortions of the NDP here today, I am dealing with the distortions of this government as to the content of this bill and as to the content of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. So if my good friend and honourable member opposite could just restrain himself, perhaps we could proceed to a discussion of this bill.

Mr. Speaker, the bill applies clearly only to a public school within the meaning of the Education Act, and provides for the input of parents and of students at the senior high school level. What would be wrong with that? Well the Minister of Education would say they are not with the Department of Transportation and Public Works and so their input cannot be admitted. Possibly if that is what the government needs, maybe we could have the Minister of Transportation and Public Works over there deputize students and parents so they could become honorary members of his department, and then they might gain the right to have some input into the decisions of the Minister of Education.

What this bill proposes to do doesn't quite fit within those confines. This bill proposes to allow these people direct input into the Occupational Health and Safety Committees at the public schools. It adds to the Act the requirement, as the explanatory notes very clearly state that, "a joint occupational health and safety committee at a public school shall include at least one parent of a child attending the school, elected by the parents and that, where the school is a school with students in . . .", Grade 10, Grade 11 and Grade 12, ". . . the committee also include at least one student . . ." So at the high school level you would get a parent and a student and at the elementary and junior high level you get one parent. Now,

[Page 9144]

what is so terribly wrong with that? I cannot help it if they are not from the Department of Transportation and Public Works, but they might be, who knows. Maybe the parents might happen to elect as their representative somebody who works for Transportation and Public Works. I do not know about the students, but possibly they might elect somebody who might be the son or daughter of an employee of the Department of Transportation and Public Works.

[5:45 p.m.]

I do not know what is so special about the Department of Transportation and Public Works, Mr. Speaker. It strikes me that it is not much different from any other government department or any other organization. It probably has good people on its staff and maybe some who are not quite so good, but they certainly are not people who have any particular insight into the meaning of absolute truth or any particular monopoly on the ability to discern where problems exist in the workplace.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I think it would be right for the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova to apologize to people in the Department of Transportation for calling them untruthful.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order that has been raised.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, it seems the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is not plugged into the Minister of Education because she clearly indicated today in Question Period that being a member of the Department of Transportation and Public Works was the requirement to be able to give her any input of the physical condition of the schools that exists. That was the answer that she gave in Question Period. I take it that her answer was correct. I do not believe that she misled the House. Forgive me, but I would never suggest such a thing at all. I believe that the answer she gave the House reflected absolutely and unequivocally her point of view. (Interruptions)

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, what I said earlier was not about input from parents, it was about final engineering decisions should be made by the Department of Education and the Department of Transportation and Public Works, not by parent and community groups.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I have not heard a point of order since I got up here.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that we have stirred something up here and I do not want to unduly excite the honourable members opposite. Hansard will recall what was actually stated in Question Period this afternoon. I believe that the interpretation that I have given the House is not an unreasonable one based on the actual words that were stated at that time.

[Page 9145]

In any event, Mr. Speaker, I do not want to be distracted by rabbit tracks. What we would like to do is see this bill carried by the House and in order to do that, I cannot be here talking it out past the time limit that has been imposed. So in order to enable this matter to come to a vote, I would move that this bill be now read a second time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I would like to also participate in this debate. How much time is actually left in the debate? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: You have approximately seven minutes.

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few minutes to talk about Bill No. 81. First of all, I would like to also begin by congratulating the member for Cape Breton West. It shows he has the interest and initiative to concern himself with the students of the schools, particularly the high schools, as well as the elementary schools and junior high schools throughout the Province of Nova Scotia.

Bill No. 81, An Act to Amend Chapter 7 of the Acts of 1996, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, is clearly one amendment that, as the member for Cape Breton West pointed out, would allow or would require that a student representative and/or a parent representative, depending on whether they are in Primary, Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6, Grade 7 or Grade 8 and then subsequent to that, Grade 9, Grade 10 or Grade 11, they would have an opportunity to participate in the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee.

I will say, Mr. Speaker, it is a noble idea. However, it is my belief that there are plenty of opportunities for students and parents to participate in the health and safety of students in schools. I know from my experience as a parent that I have had an opportunity to participate in my son's school on several occasions with respect to occupational health and safety issues.

Mr. Speaker, it is a serious issue for those parents who have had students who, through no fault of their own, have been injured. I can bring to the attention of this House a particular injury of one student in the school that my son goes to, Harry R. Hamilton. The student was playing in the playground and there was a piece of chain mesh fencing, the chain mesh had come unravelled from the fencing. A piece of the fence actually came out probably about 6 or 8 inches of wire. That student had the unfortunate accident of losing her eye as a result of an injury, falling against that wire. A six year old girl who now has to go through life with one eye and one glass eye. It is unfortunate, she suffered a tragic incident.

The fortunate thing is that the school had in place a mechanism to deal with that after the fact. They were able to fix that fence immediately. In fact, many of the fences throughout the Halifax Regional School Board have since been repaired and the type of injury that can

[Page 9146]

or was occurring in the past, with facial injuries and hand injuries as a result of jagged edges along chain link fences, have been resolved by placing drain tile over the top of the fence and by proper maintenance. Those things have been resolved and worked out and it is fortunate that other students won't have to face that same kind of injury.

The point I make, Mr. Speaker, is that the school I speak about, Harry R. Hamilton Elementary School, is a school that has a site-based management team, that is a team that comprises not just parents, this is an elementary school. It doesn't include just parents and just teachers and staff, it also includes students. That particular committee is able to deal with issues like that.

The changes and the amendments to the Education Act that the previous government made allowed for these types of committees to exist. Mr. Speaker, I have been privileged to attend not just site-based management committees from elementary schools, but as well from junior high schools and high schools. In fact, I had the opportunity to meet with the site-based management committee of Millwood High, as a municipal councillor. They invited me to come and talk about issues. I was interested to hear that on the agenda of issues there were issues like occupational health and safety issues where the students participated as equal partners of those committees and brought up issues like health and safety issues. Together the committees were able to resolve these things. So there are mechanisms in place right now.

I say to the member opposite, I understand where he is coming from but the Education Act has allowed for these committees to exist. Many schools have taken the initiative to move forward these site-based management plans and processes and select their committee people. Often what they do is elect these people. They are, in many cases, elected from the community. Those people get an opportunity to serve their community in a different way than we, as politicians, do, to have hands-on, face to face contact with the administration and the staff. They have support of the school boards and the Department of Education and they are able to resolve these types of problems.

I think it is a good change that the previous government put in place and I commend them for doing that. I know myself, as a parent, I have participated, other parents have participated. As a municipal leader I had the opportunity to witness this first-hand and I think it is a process that the previous government put in place that works quite well.

Often in this House we criticize the Opposition and they criticize us but I would like to take the time to congratulate them for those particular changes that allowed for parental and student involvement in issues like occupational health and safety.

So, Mr. Speaker, the problem is that what we are talking about is redundancy. We are adding another layer of bureaucracy over and above the layer that already exists. Those parents and those teachers and those students have opportunities now within the current

[Page 9147]

structure of the law. So, to me, I don't understand why we would want to throw another level over and above that.

Now I have had the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Clearly the honourable member didn't even listen to what his own minister has stated because if he had, he would have clearly understood. It doesn't create; the whole intent of the legislation is to allow the chief stakeholders to be inclusive, to be part of the process. It does not, in any way, shape or form, create another level of bureaucracy or committees or anything. It is to include the stakeholders. That is the point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order but a disagreement between two members.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank has the floor.

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I understand what the member opposite was saying I wasn't saying that it is a duplication of existing rules, what I am saying is that we are adding an additional opportunity or additional levels of commitment by students and by parents that already exists so why would we ever want to ask them to participate again and again? At some point in time those parents and students are going to get worn out, they are going to get tired. They participate in PTO's, they participate in site-based management plans, they participate in a whole host of ways. One of which gives them an opportunity to deal with these types of things that school advisory councils deal with - occupational health and safety concerns.

Mr. Speaker, I see you are looking at the clock, how much time do I have left?

MR. SPEAKER: Time has expired for the debate on this Bill, No. 81. Thank you, all the members for the discussion on this bill.

The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that finishes the Opposition business for today, I will now defer to my good friend the Government House Leader to tell us about tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow being Thursday the House will convene at 12:00 noon and sit until 8:00 p.m. The order of business will commence with Public Bills for Third Reading and we will commence with Bill No. 62. On the completion

[Page 9148]

of that bill through third reading we will return to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills and we will commence with Bill No. 70, the Sydney Steel Corporation Sale Act.

Mr. Speaker, I move that we do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is the House do now rise until noon tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject of this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Queens:

"Therefore be it resolved that members of this House support the new Occupational Health and Safety Regulations as enacted November 1, 2000."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

LBR. - OCCUP. HEALTH AND SAFETY: REGS. - SUPPORT

MR. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand tonight to speak on the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations. I do apologize for not being here during the previous discussions as I was at Law Amendments Committee. I am sure I would have found all the discussions very interesting.

The one issue that I would like to make tonight is the main issue that we all have a role in ensuring that Nova Scotia's workplaces are safe and that the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the regulations help to make sure that things are in place so that we are safe. The issue or the point that I have noticed while being in the House is that we certainly do dwell on the legislative regime of regulations and Acts, which is the purpose of this House. Unfortunately, we don't seem to discuss enough the points that are in the regulations and the Act, which actually stop Nova Scotians from getting hurt. They are very important. The Act is a good Act, it has a good framework, there was a lot of time put into it and the regulations which have come into force were good regulations. They are certainly more descriptive than the last regulations were. I can say from being on the other end before these regulations were put in place that we were working with antiquated information - which is something that is normally quoted - there was discussion about acetylene generation stations and how you should safely deal with those and work with those. To my knowledge the last time there were

[Page 9149]

acetylene generation stations in action in this province was during World War II when we were doing considerable boat refitting here in Halifax.

Those were the regulations that were in place, that industry and small businesses were working with, trying to meet and comply with throughout the Province of Nova Scotia. I can say from my experience it was very difficult because you were trying to interpret a regulation that was brought in during the 1940's and the 1950's and use that in the 1990's to ensure a safe workforce and also to ensure a safe workforce with a new Occupational Health and Safety Act that was up to date, that cited regulations that were yet to come.

It seems very important that we do have the regulations in place. The latest regulations are descriptive, the one issue that seems like we could improve on is that we could probably include more information in the regulations. Currently the regulations cite a lot of CSA standards and American-type standards, so you are given a short bit of information to refer to. An example would be fall-arrest protection must be certified as per whatever standard, when to be more user-friendly it would be beneficial, I believe, if we cited exactly what portions of that CSA standard or whatever that standard is that we need to use. Currently we have set something up where people have to refer back and forth through a lot of paperwork and as we all know in here, if you can work with one it is certainly easier than referring back and forth from four or five or six or seven others.

[6:00 p.m.]

One issue I would like to talk a bit about is the rollover protection. We have had a lot of discussion on rollover protection, particularly for farm tractors, since I have come into this House. It seems appropriate that perhaps we run through a little bit of what the regulation means and who the regulation applies to.

We have a rollover protection standard in place and it is out for Nova Scotia to abide by and is considered law under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. We have had discussions in this House with regard to unfortunate accidents that have taken place since we have discussed these regulations. It seems an appropriate time to talk about what a workplace is and how these regulations only apply if we are talking about a workplace. An example would be, if I have a farm tractor at home and I am using it around my yard or in my woodlot, and I am not selling a product, then these regulations do not apply to me, because I do not have a workplace, and I am not being paid. However, if I go to cut a load of wood with the tractor without a rollbar on it, and it is firewood for myself and I bring the firewood out of the woods to me, they still don't apply to me because there is not a workplace.

These regulations apply if I am employing someone or if I am employed myself to operate the piece of equipment and to bring wood out to sell for a profit. These cover workplaces in the province. We have confused them in the past to think they should cover

[Page 9150]

everybody who owns a tractor in the Province of Nova Scotia. Personally, that wouldn't be a bad thing; rollover protection saves lives.

The other issue with rollover protection is that it must be used in conjunction with seatbelts because the fear is that when people are on a vehicle of any kind, and it will roll or tip over, they have a tendency sometimes to try to jump clear, thinking they will be safer than if they stay with the machine. The seatbelt ensures they stay on the seat with the machine, which has proven to be safer in all circumstances. That is something we need a lot of education on throughout the province.

One other issue with regard to regulations in total in the province - we have a lot of regulations, we have good regulations, and we have a good Act. The communications issue, I believe, is something this House and departments can look at improving in the future because I have been involved with the regulations since, I think the first date on the front cover is 1996. So the company I worked for along with the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee made submissions on these regulations since 1996.

The joint committee was extremely active and reviewed all information that came out from the Department of Labour, made submissions, made presentations, reviewed everything very thoroughly, and made sure that if the committee was not capable to review this information, that we brought in somebody who could. In this case, I believe we have a fair knowledge and a fair working understanding of the Occupational Health and Safety General Regulations. I do not believe that a lot of other people have the benefit of that in the province. There are some people in the Province who aren't aware of the full extent of the regulations, nor exactly what the interpretation is and how they can meet that interpretation.

Now, with these regulations, fortunately there is a set of guidelines that comes out which is very descriptive, very thick and a great deal of information is in there and it gives some guideline as to why these things came out, how they came out and what some of the inspector's interpretations are and what you can expect. The disadvantage employers and employees have, currently, is that it is very difficult to be 100 per cent sure you are in compliance. You can have a joint committee that works very well together with management representatives and hourly representatives who are all working for the same thing. We really do not want people to be hurt in the Province of Nova Scotia.

A point to be made regardless of what we are doing in the province, nothing is so important that we cannot do it safely, take the time to do it safely and ensure that people are not injured. This is an issue of communication or education that can always be improved upon with regard to any piece of legislation we have. However, when a group of people review these for what was years, and I guess reviewed with supervisors and employees alike in different parts of the plant that I have worked in and people would still come and say what do you mean by this? I am very willing to be compliant, I will do whatever the regulation

[Page 9151]

wants me to do, what should I do? Because of the system we have now, and certainly after the Westray disaster, people are very compliant.

How much time do I have left, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Your time just expired.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: I thank the honourable member for Queens for bringing this resolution before the House because it is a very important resolution. It really demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt the contradictions that exist within the government benches. What I have heard here this evening just absolutely defies all the laws of gravity.

We have an honourable member standing here asking that we obey and respect the occupational health and safety laws, the regulations in the Province of Nova Scotia, and his very government introduces a piece of legislation to get rid of them. Bill No. 68, we go through just about every section in here, which is only one page and one line and a half on Page 2 ,and just about in every line of every clause says, repeal, repeal, date of repeal, repeal after four years, repeal after five years. What this government is doing is getting rid of the occupational health and safety laws in the Province of Nova Scotia and using the backbenchers as a bunch of flunkies on the floor of the Legislature to try and make it look that they are all in favour of occupational health and safety when they are enacting laws in this province to compromise all the efforts that were put forth by employers, employees, all the stakeholders, including I am sure the honourable member for Queens, over the last five to six years.

I know this honourable member, he is a genuine member, he is an honourable member and he means well but, unfortunately, what he has said and what he has demonstrated here before the Legislature is that he has no control over what the government is doing. He has no input into what the agenda of certain members of the Executive Council are in terms of imposing their will, their agenda on the entire Tory caucus and, indeed, all the stakeholders, all the employers and employees in the Province of Nova Scotia.

What Bill No. 68 basically says in no uncertain terms is this is an endorsement of the Minister of Economic Development and what he stands for. Go back and look on the books and we will find that this is almost a carbon copy of what the member for Digby, before he was in government, introduced before the House. He did not want occupational health and safety, he did not want it because he was catering to business demands. He as much as said so through his speeches and his actions. I haven't seen one stakeholder, anywhere in the Province of Nova Scotia, come before this House, come before the Law Amendments Committee and say that they supported doing away with the safety laws in this province, that took years and years, from an all-inclusive body of stakeholders, to put together.

[Page 9152]

Mr. Speaker, yes, the honourable member for Queens has a good resolution, because it quite clearly demonstrates that members on the government caucus, members of the governing body are against what the government is doing with Bill No. 68, because if they are not, the honourable member for Queens wouldn't have stood in his place asking for us to support the safety laws. In fact, let's go back, a little bit down memory lane since this government took office. When the occupational health and safety laws, the general safety regulations were supposed to be approved - we approved them in Cabinet back in, I believe, April or May 1999 to become effective October 1st of that year - what happened the day before, the Minister of Labour, who is now the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, put a stop order. He didn't want them, let's review them. Let's review them for another few months. Delay, delay. Now the bill is saying repeal.

What did he do, about another six months after that? He approved some of them, then we will look at the rest of them later on, November 1, 2000. Do you know what, Mr. Speaker? If you put them all together, it is almost identical to what all the stakeholders, through the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee, had recommended and had been thrashed out, back and forth between the department, industry, labour, right across this province at all levels, the Workers Compensation Board, and yes, indeed, members of the Conservative caucus had ample opportunity to participate. They couldn't find any more ways to delay it.

Do you know what was even more striking and more disturbing about Bill No. 68? The most disturbing factor is that the director of Occupational Health and Safety in the Department of Labour, who is given the chief responsibility, has a heavy burden on his shoulders; at no point in time did we ever hear one word of support from the director on Bill No. 68. Why would he? Not another stakeholder in the province came forth. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, the Nova Scotia Construction Safety Association, and we can go on and on. Industry and labour both opposed Bill No. 68.

The honourable member is right, by virtue of what he has said here today, he has the right to oppose it too. I would ask him to ensure that the Minister of Labour, when he comes back to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills has heard the words of the honourable member today, because it clearly demonstrates that not all members support the neo-Conservative, right-wing, big business agenda that is being driven by certain members of the Cabinet and imposed on the rest of the members of the Conservative caucus and, indeed, all members of the Legislature and, indeed, industry and labour in this province, to satisfy certain interests.

That is what happened. That is what happened with the John Buchanan Government. That is what happened that caused Westray. That is what happened for lives to be lost, careers destroyed, and so on. We are now in midstream of understanding how important that culture is. It is a change of attitude. We can make all the rules and regulations we want, it

[Page 9153]

doesn't mean anything. One of the good things about this process and the recommendations that came out of the Westray inquiry was that we did have to develop a new IRS way of thinking. Internal responsibilities.

[6:15 p.m.]

Unfortunately, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank did not even understand the mechanics of it. He said the Private Member's Bill that I had, amending to provide additional protection for students in the schools, he did not even come close to the Richter scale. He did not even understand the mechanics of the Act. That is how unfortunate it is. It is very complex and that is why we need the professional direction and assistance of people like the Director of Occupational Health and Safety of this province to endorse that, but he will not because he knows it is not good.

I would be very surprised, Mr. Speaker, if that bill, Bill No. 68, came back before this House without amendments because this bill - and I will stake my career on it - is a licence to kill. That is exactly what it is. It is turning back the hands of time like I have never seen before. It will take at least 5 to 10 years for people to develop a new way of thinking in terms of occupational health and safety in the market place. That is why we have such things as the Nova Scotia Construction Safety Association, Safety First and so on, to train employers and employees how to think differently, to think smart and think safety first.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for bringing this resolution, because it clearly demonstrates that the conscience of the Progressive Conservative caucus outside of Cabinet is offside with the Minister of Labour, and offside with what the government is doing. I support the general intent of this resolution and I think it is an opportunity to ask that honourable member to go to his minister and convince him to backtrack and get back on track.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it does give me privilege tonight to rise and debate this resolution, in particular because I know the member for Queens, I know some of his background and he, unlike many people in this House, can say that he had to actually work in the real world with or without regulations. The member and I have talked on different occasions about people we have known from his former workplace and the union that I am a member of, the Communication, Energy and Paper Workers Union. It represents the rank and file workers at his former workplace. I can say that the CEP, as we are known, is one of the leaders in workplace safety in this province, or in this country, so I was happy to hear some of his remarks.

[Page 9154]

Some of his remarks, Mr. Speaker, I was buoyed by them, but I am more worried about, not so much his remarks, but probably the deaf ears within his own government they fall on. I am going to go back over some already plowed ground, but I think it is important to do so because I think we have to look back at the former Minister of Labour, now Minister of Transportation and Public Works, when he delayed enacting the regulations.

Mr. Speaker, what was annoying there, because there was no hue and cry about why they should be delayed. It would seem to be a bad way for government to act. It seemed to be the reaction that was another administration's set of regulations, therefore we have to look at them. But that was not the fact because these were not, by and large, the regulations or proposals of strictly another government. These were regulations that had been vetted by industry, that were put together by the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council in this province, and so it was not a matter of a group of Cabinet Ministers getting together in the proverbial bunker and rubber-stamping these. These were well thought out and it bears out the fact that they didn't at that point make any amendments to those proposals.

What probably highlights this government's lack of commitment to workplace safety are some of the things they have not brought forward. A major one is violence in the workplace. We have to wonder why this government would not have brought that forward. They have sat on their hands.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have made quite a few speeches in this House, particularly around violence, but not so much in the workplace. You know we have had violent acts happen between spouses and some of them have resulted in the deaths of spouses. Well, some of this kind of violence we see in the home is spilling into the workplace. There is often a glib comment made about people when they get violent and it is not a very pretty one but such is the way of public lore is when people say oh, he went or she went postal. We have all heard that saying and maybe some of us have even repeated it, without really understanding the whole aspect of what that means. It is a derogatory term, in my estimation. A lot of time, especially in the United States, you see where an employee of the postal service in the United States, on a few occasions, has committed murder in the workplace and they have held people as hostages. This has infiltrated up to Canada, if we can just remember the bus terminal in Ottawa in just the last year or so. Again, workplace. So it is a major concern, yet the government didn't seem to care about that.

The roll-over protection is an interesting one, and I agree with the member for Queens when he talked about it because there is a fair amount of ambiguity in there from time to time. What was interesting, I remember asking the minister a question on that very subject. He alluded to it being something of a mindset, that we will get over it. Well, you know, we could make an argument that from time to time in this province it was a mindset for people to drink and drive. Now that is unacceptable. We know that that is unacceptable. We know, Mr. Speaker, from your past career you have probably dealt with that in a very horrendous

[Page 9155]

way, quite possibly. So we know that we cannot merely say that that is a way of life and people will get by it. We have to be proactive.

I am not going to take time out of this resolution and grandstand and talk about what should or shouldn't be done. I am disappointed, I am really disappointed with Bill No. 68 but, conversely, I will take a more Pollyanna aspect of Bill No. 68 and say we are not done with it yet. Maybe there is time that we can get some good amendments in there that would get rid of repeal and I hope the member will use his good office, within the bounds of reason, if he agrees with us, to help see the problem with that. We don't want to have these types of OH&S regulations that have been bought into by both sides of the coin, the workers and the employers, they realize that a safe, productive job is a cheaper job. People will tell you, you give me trained, safety-conscious employees and I will do you a job quicker and safer than this proliferation we have with Alberta with this massive influx of workers doing jobs that predominantly should be skilled labour but they are putting kids in there with sneakers on, no metal-toed boots, nothing like that and that is what we have to stop.

If for instance, the minister was allowed to repeal what is there, we are moving forward, and I am afraid that the minister may be pressured by less than forthright business people who say look, we have to get rid of these regulations because they are harming us. We need 50 people on this work site, and we don't have these skilled people, and we don't have these things so let's ease back on it so we get these people working. So we get them in the workforce - now they are guys who are trying to employ people - but really what we are doing is putting them in danger. I think it is important to understand we can't do that.

In one of the very first courses I had ever taken in Occupational Health and Safety, the instructor started the course with these words, there is no such thing as an unsafe worker, just an unsafe workplace. That has been my credo in my working life and certainly as I represented workers from coast to coast to coast, Mr. Speaker, because I have had occasion to negotiate collective agreements in the Northwest Territories, in British Columbia and indeed in Newfoundland. So I was fortunate. I primarily have negotiated collective agreements using the federal code. When you work primarily on the federal code, you really realize what a poor cousin the provincial code is.

My time is coming fast to a close, Mr. Speaker. While I enjoy the forward movement of this bill and this resolution, I think there are more things coming here, and I would ask the members to be supportive when we put amendments forward on Bill No. 68.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank all members for taking part in this discussion this evening in bringing such an important matter to the floor of the House. We are now recessed until tomorrow at 12:00 noon.

[The House rose at 6:27 p.m.]

[Page 9156]

NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3502

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas on Saturday, November 18, 2000, the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department hosted its annual meeting and banquet; and

Whereas at this time several people were recognized for their gallant efforts, both members of the Oxford Fire Department as well as the Ladies' Auxiliary; and

Whereas Relda Briggs of the ladies' auxiliary performs the functions of Secretary of Oxford Firefighters Ladies' Auxiliary, Chairman of the Dance Committee, Chairman of the Bingo Committee, Committee for New Jackets, Children's Christmas Party Committee, By-law Committee, Harvest Supper Committee, Ladies Fun Night Committee, as well as several other committees that she serves on and works diligently for;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Relda Briggs for her untiring efforts on behalf of the Oxford Fire Department Ladies' Auxiliary, which serves the residents of Oxford and area so well, and wish her all the very best in the future.