The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Thur., Nov. 30, 2000

First Session

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 9541
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - Sunday Shopping: Sears Employees - Oppose, Dr. J. Smith 9542
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 9542
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3666, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Winter Safety Day (05/12/00) -
Recognize, Hon. R. Russell 9543
Vote - Affirmative 9543
Res. 3667, N.S. Youth Secretariat - Website: Development -
Initiative Recognize, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 9543
Vote - Affirmative 9544
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3668, Campbell, John "Jake" - United Mineworkers of America:
Membership (50 yrs.) - Honour, Mr. Manning MacDonald 9544
Vote - Affirmative 9545
Res. 3669, Election (N.S.) 1999 - Premier: Promises - Remember,
Mr. J. Holm 9545
Res. 3670, Lake Echo - Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony:
Participants - Recognize, Mr. D. Hendsbee 9546
Vote - Affirmative 9546
Res. 3671, Gov't. (N.S.) - House Leader: Cabinet Ministers -
Attendance Ensure, Mr. W. Gaudet 9547
Res. 3672, Ecole Polytechnique: Victims - Remember,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9547
Vote - Affirmative 9548
Res. 3673, Gotell, Chelsea - Paralympics: Achievements - Congrats.,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 9548
Vote - Affirmative 9549
Res. 3674, Wentzell, Bernard - St. John Ambulance: President's Award -
Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 9549
Vote - Affirmative 9549
Res. 3675, Salter St. Films - Broadcast Facility: Endeavour -
Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 9550
Vote - Affirmative 9550
Res. 3676, St. Andrew's Day: Significance - Recognize, Mr. T. Olive 9550
Vote - Affirmative 9551
Res. 3677, Health - Humalog Insulin: Formulary - Include, Dr. J. Smith 9551
Res. 3678, Peace In Our Communities - Initiative: Organizations/
Volunteers - Acknowledge, Hon. M. Baker 9552
Vote - Affirmative 9552
Res. 3679, N.S. Power - Baddeck: Service - Review, Mr. K. MacAskill 9553
Res. 3680, Penny Ave./Layton Rd. (Spryfield) - Neighbourhood Watch:
Formation - Congrats., Mr. Robert Chisholm 9553
Vote - Affirmative 9554
Res. 3681, Campbell, Leo: Investors Group Sport Award - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Morash 9554
Vote - Affirmative 9555
Res. 3682, By-Elections (N.S.) - Gov't. (N.S.): Actions - Voters Remind,
Mr. P. MacEwan 9555
Res. 3683, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Subdivisions: Paving/Rd. Work -
Prioritize, Mr. W. Estabrooks 9555
Res. 3684, Hirtle's Beach (Lun. Co.) - Boardwalk: Expansion -
Volunteers Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 9556
Vote - Affirmative 9556
Res. 3685, Halifax Bedford Basin MLA - Halifax West HS:
Parents/Students - Apologize, Mr. R. MacKinnon 9557
Res. 3686, Timberlea - Trinity United Church: Christmas Spirit -
Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 9557
Vote - Affirmative 9558
Res. 3687, Guysborough Mem. Hosp. - Christmas Bazaar: Participants -
Congrats., Mr. Ronald Chisholm 9558
Vote - Affirmative 9559
Res. 3688, Cuzner, Rodger - Bras d'Or-Cape Breton: MP -
Election Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 9559
Vote - Affirmative 9559
Res. 3689, Speaker's Dinner - Mr. Speaker: Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Taylor 9559
Vote - Affirmative 9560
Res. 3690, Hutchinson, Heather: Workplace Education Ambassador
Award - Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 9560
Vote - Affirmative 9561
Res. 3691, Christmas Daddies - Support/Zack Bicknell: Fund-Raising -
Congrats., Mr. B. Boudreau 9561
Vote - Affirmative 9562
Res. 3692, N.S. Home for Coloured Children: Broadcast for Funds -
Support, Mr. D. Hendsbee 9562
Vote - Affirmative 9562
Res. 3693, Educ. - Question Period: Min. - Absence Reprimand,
Mr. D. Wilson 9563
Res. 3694, DeCoste, John - Baseball N.S.: Sports Writer of the Year -
Award Congrats., Mr. J. Carey 9563
Vote - Affirmative 9564
Res. 3695, Kings North MLA: Talk - Cease, Mr. Manning MacDonald 9564
Res. 3696, Kings Transit - Expansion (Anna. Co.): Staff - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 9565
Vote - Affirmative 9565
Res. 3697, Dockrill, Michelle - Family: Support - Thank, Mr. M. Samson 9566
Vote - Affirmative 9566
Res. 3698, Langille, Kimberley Anne - Chartered Accountant Exam. (Can.):
Standing - Congrats., (by Mr. B. Taylor) The Speaker 9567
Vote - Affirmative 9567
Res. 3699, Kings North MLA - PC Party: Arrogance - Recognition,
Mr. D Wilson 9567
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1179, Commun. Serv. - Family Violence Prevention Initiative:
Elimination - Mistake Admit, Mr. W. Gaudet 9568
No. 1180, Justice: Family Violence Prevention Initiative - Reinstate,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9569
No. 1181, Health - Flu Vaccine: Supply - Update, Dr. J. Smith 9570
No. 1182, Fin.: Prog. Review - Confidentiality, Mr. J. Holm 9572
No. 1183, Fin. - Deficit (1993): Details - Table, Mr. D. Downe 9574
No. 1184, Health - Col. Reg. Hosp.: Recommendations -
Implementation Ensure, Mr. D. Dexter 9575
No. 1185, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Five Island Lake: Clean-Up -
Status, Mr. P. MacEwan 9576
No. 1186, Health: Flu Vaccine - Shortage, Mr. D. Dexter 9578
No. 1187, Sysco - Sale: Steelworkers - Protect, Mr. Manning MacDonald 9579
No. 1188, Commun. Serv.: In-Home Support Prog. (Dianne Mansfield) -
Options, Mr. K. Deveaux 9580
No. 1189, Nat. Res. - Two Rivers Wildlife Park (Mira): Closure -
Prevent, Mr. R. MacKinnon 9582
No. 1190, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Better Business Bureau: Funding -
Alternative, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9583
No. 1191, Exco: Members - Attendance, Mr. W. Gaudet 9584
No. 1192, Health - Sinclair Report (Winnipeg): Gov't. (N.S.) -
Review, Mr. D. Dexter 9585
No. 1193, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Housing: Waiting Lists - Action,
Mr. B. Boudreau 9587
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 1:43 P.M. 9587
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 2:30 P.M. 9587
CWH REPORTS 9587
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 67, Crane Operators and Power Engineers Act 9588
No. 74, Probate Act 9589
No. 78, Nova Scotia Business Incorporated Act 9589
No. 75, Law Reform (2000) Act 9589
Hon. M. Baker 9589
Mr. M. Samson 9590
Mr. H. Epstein 9591
Vote - Affirmative 9599
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Gov. Gen.: Bill No. 74 - Recommendation, Hon. M. Baker 9599
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 59, Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Act 9600
No. 65, Lunenburg War Memorial Community Centre Dissolution Act 9601
No. 79, University College of Cape Breton Student Union Act 9601
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 80, Justice and Administration Reform (2000) Act 9601
Hon. M. Baker 9601
Mr. M. Samson 9601
Vote - Affirmative 9601
No. 60, Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act 9602
Hon. R. Russell 9602
Mr. R. MacKinnon 9602
Point of Privilege:
Res. 3665 by Mr. M. Parent [p.9539], Mr. J. Holm 9603
Ruling: Withdrawn 9606
Mr. John MacDonell 9607
Mr. J. Holm 9608
Vote - Affirmative 9611
No. 77, Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act 9611
Hon. E. Fage 9611
Mr. John MacDonell 9611
Mr. H. Epstein 9613
Vote - Affirmative 9614
No. 68, Occupational Health and Safety Act 9615
Hon. R. Russell 9615
Mr. F. Corbett 9615
Mr. R. MacKinnon 9619
Hon. A. MacIsaac 9624
Vote - Affirmative 9624
No. 70, Sydney Steel Corporation Sale Act 9624
Hon. G. Balser 9625
Mr. Manning MacDonald 9625
Mr. F. Corbett 9641
Mr. P. MacEwan 9650
Mr. John MacDonell 9658
Mr. B. Boudreau 9660
Mr. H. Epstein 9664
Hon. G. Balser 9667
Vote - Affirmative 9668
ARRIVAL OF THE ADMINISTRATOR 9669
BILLS GIVEN ROYAL ASSENT:
Nos. 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67 and 68 9669
Nos. 69, 70, 71, 72, 74, 75, 77, 78, 79 and 80 9670
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again at the call of the Speaker 9671
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3700, Fundy Geological Museum: Visitor (150,000th/Ed &
Heather Hewin) - Congrats., The Speaker 9672
Res. 3701, Ross, Neil - Baseball N.S.: Hall of Fame -
Induction Congrats., The Speaker 9672
Res. 3702, Gray, Adam (Deceased) - Baseball N.S.: Hall of Fame -
Induction, Recognize, The Speaker 9673
Res. 3703, Skidmore, David - Chignecto-Central Reg. Sch. Bd./NSTU:
Award - Congrats., The Speaker 9673
Res. 3704, Yorke, Don (Deceased) - Baseball N.S.: Hall of Fame -
Induction Congrats., The Speaker 9674
Res. 3705, Tourism: American Classic Voyages - Welcome,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 9674
Res. 3706, Sherbrooke Village - Show and Shine: Participants -
Congrats., Mr. Ronald Chisholm 9675
Res. 3707, O'Brien, Josh - Myo's Woodworking: Opening - Congrats.,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 9675
Res. 3708, Guysborough Trails Assoc. - Sable Offshore: Project -
Congrats./Thank, Mr. Ronald Chisholm 9676
Res. 3709, Jarvis, Laura: Individual Literacy Achievement Award -
Congrats., Mr. T. Olive 9676
Res. 3710, Gov. Gen. - Bravery Awards: Recipients - Congrats.,
Mr T. Olive 9677
Res. 3711, Environ. - Gulf of Maine Instit. Without Walls: Organizers/
Participants - Congrats., Mr. R. Hurlburt 9677
Res. 3712, Digby Area Learning Assoc.: Literacy Leadership Award -
Congrats., Hon. G. Balser 9678
Res. 3713, Rockingham Heritage Soc. - Hemlock Ravine Park:
Millennium Proj. - Thanks Extend, Ms. M. McGrath 9679
Res. 3714, Tim Hortons - Holiday Wish List: Falconer Family/
Volunteers - Thank, Mr. D. Morse 9679

[Page 9541]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 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, the honourable member for Kings North on an introduction.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to introduce to the House 30 students from Kings County Academy who are here with their teacher, Mr. Ryan Hainstock and his wife Corinne Hainstock. We are delighted that they are here. I had a chance to talk to them and they had a tour. I told them that Question Period was the most interesting part of the meeting and I hope you will show them a rather raucous time so that I don't disappoint them. Anyway, I will ask them to stand and receive the greeting of the House. If you could stand, we would love to welcome you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery we have a young man from my constituency who took it upon himself today to see how democracy operates. He is job shadowing me. I know the sweat is coming off him. (Interruption) Oh, I am telling you.

9541

[Page 9542]

Mr. Speaker, and to members present, I would like to introduce you to Ben Stockermans. Ben, could you stand and receive the greeting from the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour:

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education commit to tour Sir John A. Macdonald High School, view the damage and take immediate action to bring this high school up to the standard expected by students, parents, teachers and the growing community.

This 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 Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition with 111 signatures of Sears Canada employees at the Penhorn Mall in Dartmouth who are strongly against Sunday shopping. It reads: We, the undersigned, are employees of Sears Canada, Penhorn Mall. We are strongly against Sunday shopping at any time of the year and we hope that you consider our view very seriously as we feel Sunday shopping will steal valuable time from our family life as well as personal time. I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for the administration of the Liquor Control Act.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission Annual Report 1999-2000.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

[Page 9543]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3666

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

Whereas winter weather has arrived in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the weather can create varied driving conditions for motorists and can create safety issues for plow operators; and

Whereas it is important that children and motorists recognize the importance of winter safety;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Tuesday, December 5th, as Winter Safety Day and join with the Department of Transportation and Public Works in encouraging their communities to be prepared for all eventualities associated with the unpredictable Nova Scotia weather.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Minister responsible for the administration of the Youth Secretariat Act.

RESOLUTION NO. 3667

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 Nova Scotia Youth Secretariat is developing a website aimed at young Nova Scotians that will focus on issues such as employment, education, career development and youth participation; and

[Page 9544]

Whereas this site will allow youth to access information that will assist them in making career, life, and economic decisions by gathering many resources that has often been challenging for young people to locate; and

Whereas this new website will help to fulfil government's commitment to help young Nova Scotians keep apprised of the latest training employment opportunities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House join me in recognizing this worthwhile initiative by the Youth Secretariat, which will help youth prepare for successful careers in Nova Scotia and, in turn, strengthen our workforce and our future prosperity for this province.

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. 3668

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

Whereas on December 5, 2000, John "Jake" Campbell will celebrate 50 years of distinguished service for the United Mine Workers of America; and

Whereas during his 50 years as a member of the union, he held several posts culminating in his election as president of District 26; and

Whereas John "Jake" Campbell is renowned for his dedicated union activism in support of the rights of those who worked in the mines;

[Page 9545]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House honour John "Jake" Campbell for his 50 years as a member of the United Mine Workers of America and for dedication to the working people of Cape Breton, making him one of the great union activists of the 20th Century.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 3669

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

Whereas the Premier campaigned on a platform of open, honest government; and

Whereas the Premier has now decided that a closed, secretive government better suits his needs; and

[12:15 p.m.]

Whereas despite direction from the FOI officer to release documents the Premier still refuses to do so;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier think back to the summer of 1999 and remember that one of his 261 promises was an open and honest government.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 9546]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 3670

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

Whereas on Friday evening, December 1st, the community of Lake Echo will be conducting a public Christmas tree lighting ceremony in conjunction with the "14 Days in December - Gentle Ways are Best" peace in the community initiatives; and

Whereas various dedicated individuals and community service organizations such as the Lake Echo Lions Club and the Lake Echo Community Advisory Board are instrumental in organizing this event; and

Whereas Randy and Bev Ramey of 17 O'Dell Drive, Sunset Acres, Westphal, have generously donated a tall tree from their backyard to the community of Lake Echo;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud the efforts of all involved in the Lake Echo Christmas tree lighting ceremony and wish them all the best of luck in their endeavours of promoting peace on earth and goodwill to all.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

[Page 9547]

RESOLUTION NO. 3671

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

Whereas the contempt this government has shown the House and the people of Nova Scotia over the past sitting is clearly evidenced by the number of ministers missing from Question Period on any given day; and

Whereas even today several ministers are missing in action; and

Whereas none of these important portfolios are being actively covered by the government in the absence of the proper ministers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Government House Leader take appropriate steps to guarantee Nova Scotians are not treated with such contempt, arrogance and disrespect in the next session by ensuring that Cabinet Ministers care enough to attend Question Period.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3672

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

Whereas on December 6, 1989, 14 women were murdered in Montreal at the École Polytechnique; and

Whereas the women were killed for no reason other than they were bright young women pursuing a dream to be engineers; and

Whereas each year since this tragic massacre, in Nova Scotia a purple ribbon is worn in their memory;

[Page 9548]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House remember those women who were victims of a senseless act and agree to work together to end violence against women.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 3673

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

Whereas 14 year old Antigonish County resident Chelsey Gotell proudly represented Canada in the Paralympics held in Sydney, Australia, from October 20th to October 28th; and

Whereas the Grade 9 student at Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School surprised the pundits and won three medals for Canada at the Paralympics; and

Whereas Chelsey's achievements included a bronze medal in the 200 metre individual medley, a silver medal in the 100 metre breast stroke and a bronze medal in the 50 metre freestyle;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Chelsey on her impressive showing at the Paralympics, and wish her every success in what is sure to be a long and distinguished sporting career.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 9549]

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3674

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

Whereas earlier this month, Bernard Wentzell received the President's Award for Merit from St. John Ambulance; and

Whereas the Bridgewater man is credited with skilfully navigating Secunda Marine's Cable Ship (CS) Agile through Hurricane Floyd while ensuring the safety of the crew; and

Whereas Mr. Wentzell was only 15 days into his role as the ship's first officer when Hurricane Floyd hit the coast of Florida in September 1999;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mr. Wentzell as the newest recipient of the President's Award for Merit from St. John Ambulance and recognize his outstanding display of seamanship.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 9550]

RESOLUTION NO. 3675

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

Whereas Salter Street Films Ltd. plans to launch its new digital channel, the Independent Film Channel Canada, by next September after being awarded a CRTC licence; and

Whereas Salter Street intends to build their facility here in Halifax; and

Whereas with this licence Salter Street is taking its first steps into the world of broadcasting;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Salter Street Films Ltd. and wish them success with their endeavour.

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 Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3676

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

Whereas today the Patron Saint of Scotland is honoured along with the rich and lengthy heritage of the Scottish people; and

Whereas John Sutherland, Executive Secretary of The Scots: The North British Society of Halifax, added, "It's a day for Scots wherever they might be to think of their homeland and think of things Scottish . . ."; and

[Page 9551]

Whereas in honour of St. Andrew's Day the Society will install its new officers at noon today on the north magazine of Citadel Hill;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of New Scotland recognize the significance of St. Andrew's Day to those of Scottish descent, an influence which is steeped in communities across our multicultural province.

Mr. Speaker I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3677

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

Whereas yesterday during Question Period I asked the Minister of Health why the drug humalog insulin was not part of the Nova Scotia drug formulary; and

Whereas the minister hummed and hawed while giving his answer but still failed to answer the question; and

Whereas humalog insulin has proved to be more effective in controlling diabetes than conventional forms of insulin that are presently within the provincial drug formulary;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately take the necessary steps to have the drug humalog insulin listed as part of the provincial drug formulary.

Mr. Speaker I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 9552]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3678

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

Whereas the yuletide season can be a difficult time for many families and individuals; and

Whereas various local groups and organizations are trying to encourage peace in our communities by promoting "Gentle Ways are Best" in order to reduce domestic violence and abuse, especially during this special time of year; and

Whereas throughout Nova Scotia many communities will be conducting Christmas tree lighting ceremonies to mark "14 Days in December" as a peace-in-our-communities initiative;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly acknowledge and commend all those local organizations and volunteers for their efforts in making our homes and communities peaceful places.

Mr. Speaker I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

[Page 9553]

RESOLUTION NO. 3679

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

Whereas Nova Scotia Power Inc. continues to downsize its operations in Baddeck and surrounding area; and

Whereas Central Cape Breton Community Ventures Inc. is a community-based development company working diligently to create new community businesses; and

Whereas the expansion of home-based businesses as well as the increased emphasis on home care health services reinforces the need for quick response to power interruptions;

Therefore be it resolved that this government review the status of the service provided by Nova Scotia Power Inc., which is a public utility, to the citizens of Baddeck and area to ensure that it is supplying timely service when power interruptions occur.

Mr. Speaker I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 3680

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

Whereas residents of Penny Avenue-Layton Road of Spryfield have banded together to form a Neighbourhood Watch group; and

Whereas after several incidents, residents felt it was necessary to look out for their neighbours and property; and

Whereas this is a positive example of a group standing up to reclaim their community;

[Page 9554]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the residents of Penny Avenue-Layton Road in Spryfield for taking steps to make their community a safer place to live.

Mr. Speaker I would 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. 3681

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

Whereas on November 25th, Leo Campbell of Liverpool was recognized as one of the Investors Group Community Sport Heroes; and

Whereas the award was presented to Mr. Campbell at the Investors Group Sport Awards; and

Whereas Mr. Campbell is well deserving of this award, as a high school educator he has coached high school soccer, badminton, volleyball and track and field, as well as youth baseball and soccer programs, and he helped to organize a community fitness centre at South Queens Junior High School;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Leo Campbell for this recognition which highlights his invaluable contribution to the youth of the Queens area, an investment that will pay dividends to those young people for years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 9555]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3682

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

Whereas this government chose to hold the fall session of the Legislature concurrent with the federal election, so that what happened here would be eclipsed and obscured by other events; and

Whereas this government thus used the federal election as a smokescreen behind which to hide while it shovelled through much bad legislation and shoddy procedure without the scrutiny which normally accompanies a session of this Legislature; and

Whereas this government's cowardly, sneak fall 2000 session of the Legislature will constitute an important feature of the legacy of the one-term Hamm Government;

Therefore be it resolved that the voters be frequently reminded of these shameful acts at the upcoming by-elections in Cape Breton North, Halifax Fairview, and Halifax Atlantic.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3683

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

Whereas subdivision roadwork is based on cost-shared agreements between the province and the municipalities; and

Whereas the Department of Transportation has failed miserably to assist municipalities for future roadwork across this province; and

[Page 9556]

Whereas residents of many growing subdivisions throughout Timberlea-Prospect have dutifully filed appropriate petitions indicating their willingness to contribute their share;

Therefore be it resolved that this government determine subdivision paving and roadwork as a priority in their forthcoming decisions.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3684

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

Whereas the coastline of Lunenburg County is easily one of the most beautiful in all the province; and

Whereas for part of the year a dedicated group of volunteers has ensured the county's inspiring scenery is easier to access, by donating their time and efforts to enlarging the boardwalk on Hirtle's Beach; and

Whereas as of June more than 550 people had agreed to pay the $25 required to purchase and install the planks needed to extend the boardwalk's size, and there are also plans to establish an access ramp;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature applaud the volunteer efforts of all those behind the expansion of the Hirtle's Beach boardwalk.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East on an introduction.

[Page 9557]

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct your attention and those of my colleagues to the east gallery where we have a friend, a constituent, the President of the LPN Association of Nova Scotia and a dedicated nurse at the Aberdeen Hospital. I would ask Agnes MacDonald to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3685

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

Whereas yesterday, during Opposition debate, the MLA for Halifax Bedford Basin used all her time to make excuses why she should toe the Party line rather than represent her constituents; and

Whereas this is certainly indicative of any MLA who claims to be an ordinary Nova Scotian who by nature would put the constituents' needs ahead of partisan politics;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLA for Halifax Bedford Basin apologize to the parents and students of Halifax West for being an apologist for an uncaring and arrogant government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[12:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 3686

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

Whereas the festive season will soon be upon us; and

Whereas the residents of the communities along the St. Margarets Bay Road will participate in the lighting of a community Christmas tree at the Trinity United Church in Timberlea on Saturday, December 16th; and

Whereas the congregation of Trinity United Church will host the community on that evening;

[Page 9558]

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate the congregation of Trinity United Church in Timberlea, for bringing the Christmas spirit to our community.

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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 3687

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

Whereas the Guysborough Memorial Hospital Christmas Bazaar was recently held at the Lions Centre in Guysborough; and

Whereas more than 350 people braved inclement weather to attend this special event, including Santa Claus himself, helping to raise more than $12,000 for the hospital; and

Whereas the Christmas Bazaar featured tables with beautiful knitting, woodworking and other crafts, and the always popular bake tables filled with delicious homemade baking, provided by the generous people from around the county;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the organizers, volunteers and all involved with the Christmas Bazaar whose time, effort and energy contributed to such a successful event.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 9559]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 3688

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

Whereas on Monday, November 27, 2000, Liberal candidate Rodger Cuzner was elected as the new Member of Parliament for Bras d'Or-Cape Breton; and

Whereas Rodger won a stunning victory by capturing 55 per cent of the total vote and winning 174 out of 183 polls throughout the riding; and

Whereas Rodger and his campaign team ran a positive campaign, focusing on the bright future which lies ahead for the people of Bras d'Or-Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Rodger Cuzner, his family and his campaign team for their success, and wish Rodger well as the new Member of Parliament for Bras d'Or-Cape Breton.

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. 3689

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

[Page 9560]

Whereas Mr. Speaker, his staff, caterers and entertainers worked very hard to facilitate last evening's Speaker's Dinner; and

Whereas once again this year, the Speaker's Dinner was a resounding success; and

Whereas the non-partisan event was enjoyed by all and a most welcome diversion from the daily rigours of this place;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Mr. Speaker for his efforts, and wish him a very merry Christmas, and a happy and blessed New Year.

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 most certainly carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3690

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

Whereas the International Literacy Day awards and recognition ceremony was held in Dartmouth on September 8, 2000, honouring the achievements of adult learners and educators across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Heather Hutchinson of Bridgetown, Annapolis County, received the Workplace Education Ambassador Award for her commitment to lifelong learning through participation and workplace education programs; and

Whereas the workplace education initiative is an integral part of literacy promotion in this province;

[Page 9561]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Heather Hutchinson on her award, and thank her for her selfless contribution to the cause of literacy and education in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 3691

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

Whereas people all across the province are raising money to support local charities; and

Whereas Zack Bicknell of Sydney Mines is attempting to set a world record rocking time in a rock-a-thon, with all donations going to Christmas Daddies; and

Whereas Christmas Daddies, which airs Sunday, December 3rd on ATV, raises money for families in need;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House be encouraged to support Christmas Daddies, and congratulate Mr. Bicknell for his contributions and wish him much success at achieving a new world rocking record.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 9562]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 3692

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 Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children, the oldest co-ed residential facility in Nova Scotia, has been an important part of the local community since opening in 1921; and

Whereas while the home's original mandate was to provide for needy children in the Black community, its doors are open to help all at-risk children regardless of their racial origin, religious affiliation or ethnic background; and

Whereas for the past 69 years, the Nova Scotia Home has relied on the generosity of the public through donations to its Annual Appeal for Funds;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House pledge their support to the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children and be urged to make a generous donation to the 69th Annual Broadcast for Funds airing on Sunday, December 10th from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Shaw Cable Channel 10, so that The Home may continue to provide help and assistance to children in need.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

[Page 9563]

RESOLUTION NO. 3693

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

Whereas Question Period is intended to provide the members of the Opposition with a tool for ensuring that the government is held accountable; and

Whereas the Minister of Education has been absent from Question Period all week, even though she is attending a conference a five minute walk away; and

Whereas in previous governments, even minority governments, every effort possible has been made to ensure that ministers are present for Question Period;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier strongly reprimand the Minister of Education for her inexcusable absence from Question Period this week and demand that she treat this House with more respect in the future.

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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3694

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 media plays an integral role in the coverage of sports across our great province; and

Whereas local community newspaper sports coverage plays a significant role in keeping local sports fans abreast of what their team or teams have been doing on a regular basis; and

[Page 9564]

Whereas at Baseball Nova Scotia's annual meeting in Amherst this past weekend, Kentville Advertiser Reporter John DeCoste was named Baseball Nova Scotia's Sports Writer of the Year for his coverage of the Kentville Senior Baseball Wildcats and other baseball news from both Kings County and elsewhere across the province;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature congratulate John DeCoste on being Baseball Nova Scotia's Sports Writer of the Year and wish him continued success in the field of journalism.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3695

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

Whereas the member for Kings North seems to feel he is above the discussions of this House; and

Whereas the view from the backbenches of the government side must obscure the point of sitting in the House to begin with, which is to debate the issues important to members; and

Whereas the member obviously has better things to do with his time, such as public relations with his constituents;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Kings North be quiet and go back to his not-so-private letter-writing campaign with the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 9565]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3696

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

Whereas the recent expansion of Kings Transit into Annapolis County is proving to be an overwhelming success; and

Whereas the ridership numbers have increased to such a point in Annapolis County that Kings Transit is now talking about extending its route further west, perhaps as far as Digby; and

Whereas within a month of the service extension into Annapolis County, ridership had increased by 58 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs take this opportunity to extend our congratulations to the Chairman and Board of Directors of Kings Transit for having the foresight to see the need for additional public transportation in Annapolis County.

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 Richmond.

[Page 9566]

RESOLUTION NO. 3697

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

Whereas on June 2, 1997, Michelle Dockrill was elected as the Member of Parliament for Bras d'Or-Cape Breton; and

Whereas members of this House know well the challenges faced by those in elected office, including the strain placed on our families; and

Whereas this was no different for Michelle Dockrill, who also gave birth to one of her children while in office;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House thank Michelle Dockrill's family for their sacrifices and wish her and her family good health and happiness in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I am very concerned; I think we have an imposter here today, the member for Richmond. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order, but I will certainly investigate and report back to the House. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 9567]

RESOLUTION NO. 3698

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

Whereas accounting students across Canada have recently written their final examinations towards earning Chartered Accountant designation; and

Whereas Kimberley Anne Langille of Grant Thornton, Truro, earned the highest mark in Canada on her final exam; and

Whereas Kim was one of more than 2,500 candidates across Canada who took this examination;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Kimberley Anne Langille of Truro - formerly of Rodney, just outside of Springhill, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia - on earning her top mark, designating her as the best in Canada, and wish her all the best and success in her future as a chartered accountant.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3699

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

Whereas the member for Kings North is lucky to be with the government he finds himself in now; and

[Page 9568]

Whereas in any other government he would be considered arrogant and out of touch with the will of the people and the House; and

Whereas fortunately for the member for Kings North, this government is even more arrogant and out of touch than he is;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Kings North be congratulated on his foresight in knowing his Party well enough to know that his own arrogance would be easily overshadowed by that of his Party.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will be begin at 12:43 p.m. and will end at 1:43 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

COMMUN. SERV. - FAMILY VIOLENCE PREVENTION INITIATIVE: ELIMINATION - MISTAKE ADMIT

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: My question is for the Minister of Community Services. This week marked the beginning of the purple ribbon campaign which symbolizes the commitment to the elimination of violence against women. On November 8th the Minister of Community Services made a pledge to implement a cooperative approach among various agencies and his department. Mr. Speaker, the Family Violence Prevention Initiative that this minister eliminated from his department's budget did just that. My question to the minister is, will the minister admit that he did make a mistake by eliminating the Family Violence Prevention Initiative?

[Page 9569]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I will say to the honourable member that this government is still very committed to the prevention of family violence, and our government departments are still working cooperatively to develop the programs and to promote that program. Our library of material still remains available and we still remain committed to that.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, we will probably see in the spring budget what type of commitment this minister is ready to make to Nova Scotians.

The pledge the minister made just 22 short days ago seems to suggest that the minister did make a mistake. The minister's words are cold comfort to the transition houses and intervention programs that were making a real difference in the lives of women and children fleeing from abusive situations. My question is, will the minister honour his pledge of November 8th by doing the right thing, reinstating the Family Violence Prevention Initiative?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I can indicate to the honourable member, as I indicated earlier, we are committed to it, we are committed to having our departments work together to come up with programs and to come up with initiatives, and we will continue to expand our resource library material and make that available to everybody.

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this government is receiving unprecedented revenues from many sources. My final question to the minister is, will this minister commit to providing additional resources, next budget year, for transitional houses and intervention programs to ensure families in crisis will get the help they need?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is aware of the discussions of the last few days that we have had with other members regarding the implementation of the early childhood program and the initiatives with the federal government. Our commitment is to work with all the sectors in helping people, helping to prevent family violence, and to help early childhood development in all areas.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

JUSTICE: FAMILY VIOLENCE

PREVENTION INITIATIVE - REINSTATE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Justice. December 6th is a tragic day for all Canadians. It is the day when 14 women were brutally murdered in Montreal. Sadly, violence against women has not decreased. Statistics Canada recently reported that stalking of women is increasing. We saw this year, in the Lori Maxwell case, that women still fall through cracks in the system. In

[Page 9570]

light of these reports, I want to ask the minister, has he had any second thoughts about the wisdom of getting rid of the Family Violence Prevention Initiative?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure all members of the House that all members of the House and the government deplore violence against anyone, particularly the violence that has been all too prevalent against women. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker - and I know we spoke about the matter yesterday, for example, with respect to victims of sexual assault violence - the government remains committed to doing all that it can to prevent violence against women.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, deploring is not enough, we must act. In the Maxwell case the framework for action adopted by the minister's department in 1995 was not followed. That framework for action was developed by the Family Violence Prevention Initiative, along with many other players like the transition houses, the Status of Women, the RCMP, the Public Prosecution Service. I want to ask the minister, what is he doing to ensure that there is a body to coordinate an effective response to violence against women in this province?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that, in fact, we are doing something in the Maxwell case. We appointed Dean Dawn Russell, who is obviously well qualified, to ensure that the government's and the Department of Justice's rules with respect to family violence prevention are complied with and that they are known to everyone.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, violence against women doesn't stop just because this province has a deficit. Women and children need protection and they need this government to provide services that fully and effectively protect them. I want to know, is the Minister of Justice prepared to commit, in recognition of the National Day of Remembrance, to reinstate the Family Violence Prevention Initiative?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I can assure her that this government is committed to preventing family violence. We are working on a lot of fronts to do this. The Family Violence Prevention Initiative was an initiative that outlived its usefulness; we have now moved on and we are continuing to deal with family violence.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - FLU VACCINE: SUPPLY - UPDATE

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Last month we learned that because of poor planning by this minister, doctors were told not to give flu shots to everyone who needed one. The minister said there was more vaccine on the way. Then he promised to go searching for vaccine from other provinces. The time for giving

[Page 9571]

flu shots, to be effective, is closing. My question to the minister is, can the minister report on what success he had in getting more vaccine for this province?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the honourable member raised this question, because yesterday in this House we were talking about preventative health measures and what this government is doing in terms of preventative health measures. Some of the questions I had received yesterday asked about this government's commitment to preventative health.

One of the measures that this province has entered into, is a very good immunization program. The immunization program this year for the flu vaccine; we have vaccinated roughly 20,000 more people this year than we did last year. This is a substantial increase which indicates the commitment of this government to ongoing preventative medicine to try and - as the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour said yesterday about reducing costs down the road and of course, this is what this immunization program is all about, is the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: He was just in full flight, Mr. Speaker. This influenza vaccine program was given a real boost by the previous Liberal Government. It did result in increasing numbers of persons receiving the vaccine, but it stalled badly this year and left people in need without the vaccine. My question to the minister is, does the minister know the number of people at risk, especially seniors, who did not get a flu shot this year because of the shortage scare created by his bad planning?

MR. MUIR: The flu immunization campaign, I guess is sort of a bitter-sweet story in Nova Scotia this fall. The success of the program did mean there was a bit of a shortage of vaccine. However, as the honourable member knows, it also illustrates that the take-up was so much greater this year than it had been in the past year, therefore, it proves that our preventative health initiatives are working.

In the case of the flu vaccine - and I did answer this question for the honourable member I think about two weeks ago, perhaps three weeks ago and I believe there were a couple of other honourable members who had actually raised the question - is that we did have sufficient vaccine for all members of the at-risk groups to receive it. What we had asked was, when we realized we might not be able to fully meet the demand, was that the at-risk groups be given priority and, therefore, members of the at-risk groups have certainly had access to the vaccine.

DR. SMITH: Well I am not going to use another question to ask again (Interruption) It sounds like something you would see advertised from Community Services perhaps.

[Page 9572]

The results of the minister's mismanagement will not be felt until early next year when the flu season is in full swing. Will the minister simply commit to reversing budget cuts and staff lay-offs so that emergency departments and outpatient departments will be able to handle the influx of flu cases created by the mismanagement of this problem?

MR. MUIR: This government has not mismanaged that. As a matter of fact, this program has received better management this year than it ever has in the past. Certainly, it is a great improvement over the management that the other government had. I am optimistic the success of this program this year will lessen the demand on family practitioners and on emergency rooms and, as we know, that with the operation of these facilities and the demands, every effort is made by the facilities as evidence based, as the demand increases then appropriate resources are brought in.

In the case of the flu, as I say, I am . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We are going to need a separate Question Period just for Health, I think.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

FIN.: PROG. REVIEW - CONFIDENTIALITY

MR. JOHN HOLM: I thought the minister was debating a bill or something. Mr. Speaker, my question is through you to the Minister of Finance and it has to do with those very favoured, special three Tory backbench MLAs who were allowed to participate in the Cabinet deliberations.

Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, the Premier said, "That process was only entered into after we received the assurance that the caucus members would not share that information outside of the committee." Now, it is not clear what assurance that was, it is not clear whether anyone else from outside government has advanced access to those budget decisions. So my question to the Minister of Finance, will the minister tell the House what assurances of confidentiality the government received from those three favoured Tory backbench MLAs, did they sign an oath of confidentiality and if yes, will you table those signed papers in the House today?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, last year three members of our caucus participated in the process of the budget process. I do agree with the member there. However, when the final decisions of the budgets were made, they were made by Cabinet.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister is either saying that they didn't sign an oath of confidentiality or if they did, he doesn't know.

[Page 9573]

On my first supplementary, Mr. Speaker, I will go to the Chairman of Priorities and Planning. The government's position is that the analysis of public programs must be kept secret because the release of that information would cause uninformed criticism while Cabinet is slashing services. By its own actions and its statements, the government has lumped most of its own backbench MLAs into the group of uninformed critics. So I want to ask the minister, why does the government have such a low opinion of most Tory MLAs and other Nova Scotians that it calls them uninformed critics and won't trust them with something as basic as the analysis of public programs done by Priorities and Planning?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the only uninformed critics in this House occupy the benches over there. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: It is a serious question.

MR. RUSSELL: I know it is a serious question and I intend to treat it that way. Mr. Speaker, the program analysis that was done was a review of existing programs, programs that were already in existence that had not been examined ever since they came into conception back whenever that was. It was simply a matter of taking those programs and determining whether or not they were meeting the needs of today. That's what program analysis was all about. We did not discuss in those particular meetings matters of the budget. As the Minister of Finance just said, those matters were done within the confines of the Cabinet Room.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister that yes, we are uninformed because you won't share the analysis with us, you will only share that with a very few select Tory backbench MLAs, the favoured three; the rest, obviously don't even have that information.

My final supplementary will now be to the Acting Premier. The government is not proceeding with the lobbyists' registration; it is withholding its quarterly financial report; and the Cabinet shuffle won't happen until the House rises. It keeps Nova Scotians in the dark while it shares the Tory secrets with a small, select circle of friends. My question, Mr. Speaker, through you, to the Acting Premier is, why would Nova Scotians have any confidence that this government is not just picking and choosing which favoured backbenchers, which Tory friends and which lobbyists are given access to the analysis in the government's database of public programs and other government information? Why should we have any confidence?

MR. RUSSELL: I am not the Acting Premier today, as a matter of fact. The Premier will be in the House, well actually he won't be in the House before the end of Question Period, he won't be back until 2:00 p.m. There is no Acting Premier when the Premier is still in the province. I will respond as Chairman of P & P to the honourable member's question. (Interruptions)

[Page 9574]

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, in taking the liberty of repeating myself, I thought that I had already told the member what it was all about. The only difference between what I told him in the last question and this question will simply be that, indeed, the changes that have been made are public, the PAO process is an ongoing process that will continue for many years to come. There is no finality.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - DEFICIT (1993): DETAILS - TABLE

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Two weeks ago I had asked the Minister of Finance, once again, to table financial numbers for the year 1993, to prove that the Liberals, in fact, inherited under the Buchanan-Cameron- LeBlanc Government about a $1.8 billion deficit. The minister, at the time, indicated to this House that his deputy minister and assistant deputy minister, the numbers were almost done, there is just a final review of those numbers and they will be coming to us very shortly. My question to the Minister of Finance is, where are the numbers that I have been asking for and waiting for for over one year?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, first of all, the honourable member is quoting an unbelievable number of $1.8 billion. If that is the number he is waiting for, he is not going to get it.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, here we go again with this government that seems to see themselves as higher and bigger than they really are. The reality is that I have been asking this minister since October 1999, I asked him in April 2000, I asked him a couple of weeks ago about these numbers, and each time he promises me he will deliver the numbers to me immediately, quickly, soon, within a week, within two weeks, within a month. The minister is afraid to bring forth the numbers that show that they have a deficit, at the time, approximately $1.8 million. If it isn't $1.8 million, then what is the number? Table them in the House today. The question to you is, when are we going to have those numbers?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the reason for my first answer was when the member stands up here and makes ridiculous claims of $1.8 billion, it shows me that he is not being serious with the question that he is putting forward. I told that member in the past that we would table it. We have made the most changes to the financial accounting of this province, in its history, in the last year as we move forward to GAAP. The member knows - I assume that he should know as a previous Minister of Finance - that the changes being made in the accounting take a lot of time. We have prepared two budgets in that time because, of course,

[Page 9575]

this previous administration was defeated on a budget motion, and as such we had to prepare two. I indicated a few weeks ago that those numbers will be coming forward shortly, and I still say the same answer today.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, this minister took only a couple of months to go back to 1996 with the numbers under the new accounting procedure. Only a couple of months. It has been over a year, and I have asked for that information from 1996, back to 1993, just three years. It has been a year, and he has yet to give us the information. I ask the minister for a firm date, to the members of this House, on when he is going to table those numbers? I ask him sincerely when is he going to give a firm date, and will he give a firm date to me, to the members of this House and to all Nova Scotians on how bad you Tories mismanaged the affairs of Nova Scotia?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, as soon as I have a date for the member, I will inform him.

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

HEALTH - COL. REG. HOSP.: RECOMMENDATIONS -

IMPLEMENTATION ENSURE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The reproductive care program review has been completed at the Colchester Regional Hospital. It found that the proposed paternal child unit was too large and required changes so that safe and effective care can be provided adequately by four nursing staff. It found that training periods for new nurses were too short. It found, in short, that the reduction in nursing staff that had been proposed was too hasty, and that patient safety had, in fact, been placed at risk. My question is, given the clear results of this review, will the minister commit to ensuring that all of the recommendations from the review will be implemented?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, indeed as I had told members of the House some time ago, this review had been agreed to under the auspices of the Medical Management Committee at the Colchester Regional Hospital. A couple things the honourable member has said in his preamble, which the report certainly does not bear out as I understand it; he said it was not safe. The proposed staffing levels, certainly as I read the results from a news release which I assume perhaps the honourable member had seen as well, it does not say that. What it does is, it is a report that was designed with the concern of patient health. This is what it is. It does make some changes, suggest some changes in implementation (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It must be the season.

[Page 9576]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this review completely repudiates the decision of the minister. The results are very clear. The report raises questions about the minister's assertions that patient care is not being compromised in other areas of the province, like Tatamagouche, Springhill, Digby and Yarmouth. It raises doubts about the minister's confidence in saying that deep cuts he made to health care won't hurt. I want to ask this question, given the conclusive evidence that the NRHB's budget cut to Colchester Regional Hospital was unsafe, will the minister move now to ensure all cuts made to health care under the last budget will receive the same kind of scrutiny?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I do object to the statement of the honourable member that the change that was made was unsafe. There is no question in the review, the reproductive care program did make some suggestions. What we are interested in is patient care, not in a physician in that hospital saying well, I am vindicated now, I feel good, I was right, as opposed to - this is the type of thing this member is talking . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what we are seeing here is the same kind of denial and whitewashing that went on in Colchester when the Health Minister had to be forced by members of the medical community to consider patient safety. My question for the minister is, when will the minister ensure that when doctors say the cuts he has made are harmful to patient safety, that the Department of Health will respond with an external review of the situation?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the changes that were made in delivery to health care, as the honourable member knows, obviously the thing that was foremost in mind in the reductions, where there were reductions, or changes where there were changes, and in a case, too - though the honourable member doesn't do this because it is not politically expedient to talk about the addition of four medical beds at the Colchester Regional Hospital, it is unfortunate, and what I am trying to do is to separate politics and health care . . .

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - FIVE ISLAND LAKE:

CLEAN-UP - STATUS

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Acting Acting Premier, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. A project that was very dear to the heart of the former Russell MacLellan Liberal Government was the clean-up of PCBs from Five Island Lake, and we announced $2 million. We allocated $2 million for the clean-up of PCBs from Five Island Lake for the dredging of North Bay, starting with the most highly contaminated areas in June of last year. I wonder if the minister could inform the House as to the current status of the clean-up of Five Island Lake?

[Page 9577]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question. Actually, I am pleased that I was the Minister of Environment at the time when that project was in the Department of Environment. I am pleased to advise the honourable member that the project has continued on a steady basis with about the same amount of funding per annum as the previous government committed to that project. The material is being trucked away, primarily during the winter months, to Quebec for destruction in a facility there.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I was quite interested in this project too and yesterday I looked it up on the minister's website and I found under the Nova Scotia Transportation and Public Works, a department website, an item headed, Five Island Lake Community Liaison Committee. It states, "Good News! Lake Clean-up To Start . . . On June 1 the Honourable Clifford Huskilson, then-Minister of Transportation and Public Works announced the inclusion of $2 million . . .", now this was yesterday on the website, "The dredging will be completed during the second phase of the lake clean-up by the fall of 2000." That is dated yesterday, November 29, 2000.

I wonder if the minister could inform the House as to why he has not updated his department's website to make note that he is now the minister and it is no longer the honourable Clifford Huskilson. Is that an example of how up to date they are on their projects?

MR. RUSSELL: Oops. Actually, what I will do as soon as the House rises today, I will go across and check my washroom because perhaps Mr. Huskilson is hiding in there.

On a serious note, I thank the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova for bringing that to my attention and I am not going to say that heads will roll, but maybe butts will be kicked.

MR. MACEWAN: I hope that the butts won't be kicked too hard because the minister is ultimately responsible for everything done by his department and they should know that the honourable Clifford Huskilson regrettably is no longer the minister, but he might be perhaps still the driving force behind the department.

Since this matter obviously is not attended to in an up-to-date basis on the website, I wonder, is the minister prepared to assure the House that the necessary funding to complete that project will be kept in place and that it will be seen through to a successful conclusion and that the various documentation related to the project will be brought up to date so that all will proceed in an orderly way?

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, I can assure the honourable member that that project will continue. I think it was called Junky Jakes or Jim's, wasn't it? That project is, as I said before, proceeding. (Interruption) I know he does. Actually, I do not want to waste the time of the House, but let me just say that in that member's community, the reason why this

[Page 9578]

project was successful was because of the committee down there - I forget, was it the Five Island Lake association? Yes. That community spirit that they have down there was instrumental in getting the funding. (Interruptions) I'll get his sign down too.

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

HEALTH: FLU VACCINE - SHORTAGE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: I would like to turn your attention to the flu immunization program and some specifics. Mr. Doyle is 93 years old and lives with his son and daughter-in-law, Susan. Last Friday, Susan telephoned her family doctor and asked if she could bring Mr. Doyle in for his annual flu shot. The doctor said they did not have any vaccine left and told her to telephone around to other GPs. Susan called 12 doctors. Eight said they had a little left, but would not treat her father-in-law because he was not a patient and the other four said they were completely out and told her, by the way, if you find any, call us. The Minister of Health said that there was going to be additional flu vaccine received and my question to him is simply this, where is it?

[1:15 p.m.]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. If he would like to provide that information, we would be pleased to see if we might be able to help that particular individual, but there is additional flu vaccine which is due in within the next two weeks.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Susan learned that a private health care company has lots of the vaccine. In fact, Comcare told Susan that they had plenty and that she could bring her father-in-law in and get a shot for $12. So my question is this, how is it that a private company has lots of this vaccine and is charging seniors when the public health supply is in desperate need of it?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I cannot right now speak for Comcare and it is not an agency with which I am familiar. I can tell you though that we have given out about 20,000 more this year than last year. The program has been successful and it does represent a positive story and I really do not know the answer to that.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what is happening here, I will inform the minister what is happening here, is two-tier health care. That is what is happening. Seniors who are poor have to pay the price for their poverty by having an increased chance of catching the flu. That is what is happening here. What is the minister going to do to ensure that the private supply of flu vaccine is made available to all seniors regardless of their ability to pay?

[Page 9579]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I know that the honourable member, the individual who he tells me is 94 years old, he certainly would be entitled to public funding for flu shots and, as I indicated, if he could provide me with some details, I would be pleased to have our staff see if we could assist him in this regard.

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

SYSCO - SALE: STEELWORKERS - PROTECT

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the minister responsible for Sydney Steel. Yesterday during Question Period the Premier failed to commit to ensuring existing steelworkers would be hired by Durferco (Sydney). The Premier made a commitment to protect Sysco workers and he went so far as to say even if the steel plant was closed, he perhaps could not protect Sydney Steel, but he could protect the steelworkers. His quote was, "I promise to protect the steelworkers."

Mr. Speaker, I believe the minister has an obligation to live up to that commitment. Presently there are 100 steelworkers hung out to dry, left swinging in the wind with this deal. There are another 200 who are unsure whether or not they are going to be hired by Durferco when and if the hirings take place and we understand that will not be until sometime next year. My question to the minister, will the minister ensure that workers hired by Durferco will be existing members of the United Steel Workers of America who formerly worked at Sysco when it was a Crown Corporation?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. As we have said throughout this piece, there will be an opportunity for 215 people to find employment in the steel plant and, in addition to that, if Durferco moves forward through their phase of expansion and development, that number could increase to 500 over the next five years.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what I wanted him to tell this House and steelworkers is that steelworkers are going to be hired and he still has not said that. He keeps telling this House and Nova Scotians that 215 people may be hired. I want him to say steelworkers are going to be hired at this particular plant. Instead of that we get a cavalier attitude from this minister, a couldn't care less situation here, that he just wants to get that Sydney Steel thing behind him and he does not care who gets hired there.

My first supplementary, Mr. Speaker, what is the minister going to do to ensure that not one Sydney steelworker will be left out in the cold? Will he ensure the steelworkers will be given employment with the new owner by putting a clause in the still-unsigned agreement with Duferco to protect the steelworkers?

[Page 9580]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, throughout this piece the province has honoured the commitments they made. We honoured the commitment to get the Province of Nova Scotia out of the steel business; we honoured the commitment to find a private sector buyer; and we honoured the commitment around pension agreements with the steelworkers. So in terms of our honouring commitments, we have done that throughout this. When one looks at the kind of people Duferco will need, they will obviously need people who have some level of expertise, but they ought to get people who make the company work effectively.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Still the minister, Mr. Speaker, will not commit to protecting the jobs of steelworkers who were employed with Sydney Steel. My final supplementary. The people of Sydney and the steelworkers will not allow the Premier to be a Pontius Pilate in this regard; everybody knows what the Premier promised and no one will forgive him if the promise is broken. Lying to the steelworkers will not be tolerated by the people of Sydney. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South realizes that using that word in this House is unparliamentary and I would ask him to retract it please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will retract it and maybe replace it with the words "verbal inexactitude." How is that? My question again to the minister is, will the minister do the decent and honourable thing by enshrining in the Duferco agreement that steelworkers will get the jobs when the jobs come up in Sydney at the steel plant?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, we have created an opportunity for Sysco to be operated in private hands and make a profit, something that hasn't happened in its 30 year history. So one has to look forward to a more diversified economy in Cape Breton of which steel will be part.

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

COMMUN. SERV.: IN-HOME SUPPORT PROG.

(DIANNE MANSFIELD) - OPTIONS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Debra Mansfield, a resident of Halifax, is the sole caregiver to her sister Dianne, who is 31 years old and suffering from Down's syndrome. Last February Debra was assessed as a suitable candidate for the department's in-home support program and was put on a waiting list. After months of hearing nothing, she was finally told that the program was closed and the waiting list collapsed. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, what is Debra supposed to do and what is Dianne supposed to do now?

[Page 9581]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the particular case that the honourable member is referring to I don't have any details on, but I can tell him that the programs that those people have been looking for, we, in conjunction with Health, have been looking at some of those programs and how those are going to come together, and we will continue so that we can take care of those people that need that assistance.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, well this is the problem - my question again is to the Minister of Community Services - the Department of Health told her that her sister wasn't eligible under the new program. This province used to have services that were being provided and recognized the importance of providing assistance to families who cared for their mentally or physically challenged relative, whether they be children or siblings. That population is now falling through the cracks. My question to the minister is, will he ensure that non-medical care and needs of that population are going to be a priority for his government and there will be services provided under home care for those people?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is aware that Dr. Kendrick has been doing some work in that area, that his recommendations are coming, that we are very concerned how we are going to do that. We are awaiting his report. We are having discussions with him. We will be releasing that report very soon and that will indicate to people the direction we are going.

MR. DEVEAUX: Well, Mr. Speaker, I am sure we will quickly see that report as soon as the House closes, if I know this government's pattern at all.

Without this kind of program, people like Dianne are going to go back into institutions and they are going to be institutionalized. The stress of providing care is great, both for the caregivers and for the people who are receiving care. They need outside assistance. When will this minister make a commitment to this population that they will be able to remain in their homes and they won't have to be reinstitutionalized?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I will say to the honourable member that he is aware, I am sure, that Dr. Kendrick's draft report is on the website, so it is available in draft form for people to look at. I will indicate again to the honourable member that, after we have looked at his report, we will work out with Health how we are going to accommodate all of those people. We are greatly concerned about those people. We know we have to go in a direction that satisfies their needs.

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

[Page 9582]

NAT. RES. - TWO RIVERS WILDLIFE PARK (MIRA):

CLOSURE - PREVENT

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Tomorrow there will be a press conference to announce the closure of the Two Rivers Wildlife Park in Mira. This will mean the loss of four full-time and 30 part-time jobs. The closure, undoubtedly, will have a major negative impact on Cape Breton's local economy. What action is the minister prepared to undertaken to prevent the closure of the Two Rivers Wildlife Park?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I believe it was the former Liberal Administration that closed Two Rivers Wildlife Park in 1996 and took it off the Natural Resources books, as well as the wildlife park in Goshen in 1996. It is currently run by a community organization.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, since the privatization of the Two Rivers Wildlife Park in 1995, successive provincial governments have made regular financial contributions to help maintain the operation of that particular park, this year being the exception. Will the minister commit to providing funding to help keep this park open?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Natural Resources, over the last three or four years starting in 1996, made a contribution to the Two Rivers Development Authority, which actually is the community group that runs the park. That was a decreasing donation of contributions over the last three years to bring them to a state where they would be able to operate the park themselves. We have budgeted no funds as per the agreement of the previous government for that park in this year's budget. We simply don't have the funds to meet our targets.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the minister is misleading the House. The last year when this government was in power, more than $61,000 to $62,000 was committed in various forms to the operation of the Mira Two Rivers Wildlife Park. Some 60,000 persons visit the park annually and, in particular, 4,000 students take educational tours. Will the minister assure the board of directors and, indeed, the people of industrial Cape Breton, that the Two Rivers Wildlife Park will not close?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to the honourable member that the agreement through Natural Resources that the previous government had gestated with contributions, was $15,000 in 1996, $10,000 the following year and $5,000 the next year as per the agreement that the Department of Natural Resources had put forward. This is a community-run park, and certainly run for the benefit of the community, but the Department of Natural Resources does not have the funding to . . .

[Page 9583]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU:

FUNDING - ALTERNATIVE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. We have a Better Business Bureau in this province that is facing new challenges thanks to this government. This important non-profit organization protects the public interest, and it acts as a bridge between consumers and the business community. However, the government's program review informs us that the Better Business Bureau will no longer receive government support once the current three-year commitment ends this year. This cut could threaten the very existence of the Better Business Bureau. My question is, what does the minister recommend the bureau do once funding from his department is gone? Why is this organization such a low priority for this government?

[1:30 p.m.]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member and members of the House that we will work very closely with the bureau to ensure that it does continue and survive. It will, obviously, need to seek new sources of revenue in order to carry on.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Better Business Bureau states as its mandate, "The Better Business Bureau exists to promote mutually beneficial relationships between buyer and seller based on responsible business practices in Nova Scotia." I would like to ask the minister, what part of that mandate does he disagree with that he would allow the ending of funding, and what alternative does he recommend consumers would have for protection if the Better Business Bureau is no longer able to operate?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, in enunciating the bureau's objectives, clearly indicates the function of that bureau. As I indicated in my first answer, we would work very closely with them to ensure they are able to find the funding that they require in order to carry on.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Better Business Bureau has been protecting consumer interests for 51 years. They continue to address many consumer complaints, they do consumer education, and they are the only organization in Nova Scotia that monitors the credibility of charities. I want to ask the minister whether he considers these services important ones and if so would he not reverse his decision and reinstate funding to the bureau?

[Page 9584]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, we will work with the bureau and we will endeavour to ensure that they are able to continue. I think it is also appropriate to point out to the House, to the bureau, to the business community and to the people who use that that there is a responsibility, if it is a service that needs to continue, for people to ensure that funding is found for it to be able to continue.

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

EXCO: MEMBERS - ATTENDANCE

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier a question, but since he can't be bothered attending Question Period I guess my question will have to go to the acting, acting . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party knows that it is incorrect to identify the absence or presence of a person in the House.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, when I was sitting on the Government benches I took my job very seriously, and I made sure I was here during Question Periods. The frequency with which Cabinet Ministers have been absent this session is very alarming. There have been very few days with a full complement of Cabinet Ministers. This trend seems to be continuing today with both - I won't name the ministers, but we have at least three of them not here, again, today. Will the Acting Deputy Premier explain to the House and to the people of Nova Scotia why the Cabinet is so uninterested in being accountable?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: Then you are the Acting Premier, right?

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, I guess I am. (Interruptions) That doesn't give you the right to act up, though. Cabinet Ministers have a duty to be in the House during Question Period, however, government does not stop just because the House is sitting and on occasion, the Premier and other ministers have to attend to government business. As a matter of fact, the Premier is not shopping out in Bayers Lake at the present time, he is addressing a Chamber of Commerce . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. RUSSELL: I was going to say, he is addressing a conference. He will be here very shortly, so in the interim, if the honourable member has any . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 9585]

MR. GAUDET: Of the many complaints there are to be made about this government, none are so offensive as the complete disregard and disdain for the Legislature that the Tories have shown in recent weeks. Just check the record. My question to the Acting Premier is, can the Acting Deputy Premier explain why a member of Cabinet could not spare three and one-half hours for Question Period from a week-long conference in which she was not even a principal participant?

MR. RUSSELL: The honourable member is displaying his ignorance because she is the co-host.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Government House Leader would know that to use a word like that would be unparliamentary and I ask him to retract it please.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will withdraw that remark. I would like to point out to the honourable temporary Leader of the Liberal Party that it is very easy when you have 20 members in your Cabinet to get your front bench loaded. We just have enough to actually fill the front bench and one behind, so, I think we are doing very well.

MR. GAUDET: The honourable minister is right. This government boasts of a small Cabinet, but it seems much smaller during Question Period. My question to the minister or to the Acting Premier is, how does the Acting Deputy Premier reconcile the promises of accountable government made on Page 99 of their famous blue book with these inexcusable absences?

MR. RUSSELL: Again, the honourable member is misinformed. I am not the Acting Deputy Premier, I am the Deputy Premier at the moment.

As I said before, I think that with the present small Cabinet that we have, we are doing a very effective job in government and we are also doing an effective job in having members at their desks during Question Period.

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

HEALTH - SINCLAIR REPORT (WINNIPEG):

GOV'T. (N.S.) - REVIEW

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: On Monday, in Manitoba, Judge Murray Sinclair released his final report on twelve infant deaths in the paediatric cardiac unit of the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. He found that only one of the deaths was unavoidable. My question to the minister is this, what steps has this government taken to review Judge Sinclair's report to ensure that such a terrible tragedy could never happen in this province?

[Page 9586]

HON. JAMES MUIR: The honourable member does mention something that is dreadfully distressing to most Canadians, but I would like to inform him and all members of the House and all the people in Nova Scotia that the steps that this government and the health providers in Nova Scotia have taken to ensure that people who are performing procedures are properly credentialed and are capable of doing it has nothing to do with that report that came down from Manitoba. It does serve to remind, and I expect individual institutions will be reviewing the thing but fortunately that has not happened in Nova Scotia. I tend to think one of the reasons is that people have taken those responsibilities very seriously.

MR. DEXTER: I sincerely hope that the minister is not being too complacent. One of the many tragedies of this case is that the nurses who complained about the cardiac surgeon's abilities were ignored and harassed. One of Judge Sinclair's recommendations is that the government adopt whistle-blower legislation to protect professionals who want to come forward with this kind of information. My question is this to the minister, will this government move to adopt whistle-blower legislation and, if not, why not?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the issue of patients' safety in the health care system of Nova Scotia, of course, is paramount as is seeing that adequate service is provided in a timely way. I have not seen the report. I have read the newspaper summary which I assume that is where the honourable member got his information or he may have gone to the web and read it, I do not know which it may have been.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, like all of these reports . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question was specific about whistle-blower legislation. Yesterday the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons announced that they supported Judge Sinclair's recommendation on whistle-blower legislation. So my question to the minister is this, what assurance can the minister give so the doctors, nurses and other professionals who want to step forward with information about the deficiencies in the health care system can do so without fearing for their jobs?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is dealing with some speculation. He did mention that in Manitoba it was the College of Physicians and Surgeons or their regulating body that did make that recommendation and I am sure, like the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Manitoba, that the bodies in Nova Scotia that are responsible for those types of things will be examining the report and making appropriate recommendations.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes, you have about 30 seconds.

[Page 9587]

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - HOUSING: WAITING LISTS - ACTION

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for housing services. Managers from the housing authorities across the province are meeting today in Halifax to discuss various issues facing their areas. In the last budget funding was cut for housing authorities across the province as indicated in the budget estimates.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. BOUDREAU: I wish to table those. From one end of the province to the other there are long waiting lists. What is the minister prepared to do to control the situation?

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

The motion is carried.

[1:43 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Kevin Deveaux in the Chair.]

[2:30 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. David Wilson in the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 68 - Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Bill No. 77 - Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act.

Bill No. 80 - Justice and Administration Reform (2000) Act.

[Page 9588]

Bill No. 59 - Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Act.

Bill No. 65 - Lunenburg War Memorial Community Centre Dissolution Act.

Bill No. 79 - University College of Cape Breton Student Union Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: When shall these bills be read for a third time?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Today, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have on third reading, just for the edification of all members, Bill Nos. 67, 70, 74, 75 and 78, which all went through Committee of the Whole House on a date prior today. I was wondering if we could move those bills en bloc through third reading.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Except for Bill No. 75, I have to speak to Bill No. 75.

MR. RUSSELL: I am sorry, with the exception of Bill No. 75, because there is a special message. (Interruption) So we will keep Bill No. 70 and Bill No. 75.

Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bill Nos. 67, 74 and 78.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Bill No. 67 - Crane Operators and Power Engineers Act.

[Page 9589]

Bill No. 74 - Probate Act.

Bill No. 78 - Nova Scotia Business Incorporated Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motions are carried.

Ordered that these bills do pass. Ordered that the titles be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bills be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, Bill Nos. 68, 77 and 80, public bills, passed through Committee of Whole House today, is the House in agreement that we can pass those three bills en bloc? Is it agreed?

No. All right.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Is the Government House Leader asking to move from Committee of the Whole to third reading on these bills today? (Interruptions) Yes, okay.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: We have done that.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: It has already been moved. I am sorry, I was out of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Government House Leader, could we have a list of the bills again, please?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: No, we haven't got the consensus of the House to move those bills en bloc, so we will go through them one at a time.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 75 for third reading.

Bill No. 75 - Law Reform (2000) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I rise to move third reading of Bill No. 75. Also for the benefit of honourable members I indicated in Committee of the Whole House on Bills that the issue had been raised about the question of the meaning of "individual". For the benefit of honourable members, and for the record, I wanted to indicate that it is the intention of the government in bringing forward that bill, with respect to the

[Page 9590]

word "individual", that individuals would include, obviously, both men and women and was designed to include situations where in their relationships there were couples of two men, two women, or a man and a woman. I think that covers all of the conceivable options.

I wanted to indicate that because some honourable members had expressed some concern about whether or not there might be any question about what the intention of the government was in the meaning of that provision. I want to remove any question of ambiguity or uncertainty that may be before the House, so that if anyone is ever looking at these proceedings at another time that it would be clear what the intention of the House is in passing Bill No. 75 and with respect to the word "individual" in particular.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the bill I would simply thank the honourable members as I did in Committee of the Whole House, for their cooperation with respect to the bill. While we may not have always agreed on the details, I think it is fair to say that all members - both the member for Halifax Chebucto and the member for Richmond did agree on many things - we agreed that there should be an extension by mutual agreement of the legislation to certain other Acts, which had been omitted in the original bill, not because of any intention to omit but simply because they had been omitted as an oversight. That has been concluded. I think the bill is now a much better bill than the one that was originally provided to the House, and I would like to thank the honourable members for their assistance.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise on third reading to make a few comments on Bill No. 75. As has been pointed out numerous times here in this House, this was basically as a result of a Supreme Court of Canada decision. It was also a Nova Scotia Supreme Court decision involved here, and it was a matter of amending our laws here in this province to respect the Supreme Court of Canada decision. I certainly want to commend the minister for bringing this bill forward to where it is today. As has been pointed out before, the bill first appeared previously, earlier this year, as Bill No. 33, and died on the order paper when the government didn't go forward with it. Clearly, as a result of the vote that was held earlier, we now know why the government did not move ahead with Bill No. 33 at that particular time. Even with Bill No. 75, they still haven't been able to sell all of their own members on this particular bill.

Mr. Speaker, this bill, it is extremely important to point out, is about changing our laws to reflect evolving laws in this country. It is not about values; it is not about passing judgements; it is not about what you think is right or what you think is wrong. It is about the law, it is about amending the law as we are required to by the Supreme Court of Canada. When we were all sworn in as members of this House, we were sworn to uphold the laws of this land, and to respect the laws. I am pleased that the government has brought Bill No. 75 forward, as was required.

[Page 9591]

I want to take this opportunity personally on behalf of our caucus to thank Mr. Bob Fougere of the Scotia Rainbow Action Group, with whom I met after the introduction of this bill. He did suggest some very useful amendments which I am pleased to say were brought in by the government to address some areas of concern which had been inadvertently left out in this bill. Certainly I want to commend him for the presentation he made and for the information he provided us with. Obviously, the government accepted their recommendations with the amendments that were brought forward at that time.

One of the major concerns we had with this bill, Mr. Speaker, was to jump from the one year provision for common-law relationships up to three years by the government, and we felt that was too extreme a change and would leave a lot of Nova Scotians out in the cold if they were in dependent relationships that ended prior to this three-year period. I am pleased the Minister of Justice, based on the representations from the Liberal caucus, did bring forward an amendment to move that time period back to two years, which was a good compromise considering it had been one year before. We feel the two year period is much more reflective of what Nova Scotians would want to see in this.

Mr. Speaker, as pointed out before, this bill clearly was brought forward because of the Supreme Court of Canada decision. When it was first read after second reading, it received the unanimous support of both the Liberal caucus and the NDP caucus, but did not receive the unanimous support of the government caucus, which is of great concern to members of this House and to Nova Scotians throughout this province. That is the reason why I will advise the House now that at the end of comments here, we will be asking for a recorded vote on this bill, which is not meant to delay this bill in any way but simply to give the opportunity for each member of this House, all 52 members, the opportunity to stand in their place and to clearly indicate whether they support this legislation or not. I can say that our caucus will, as we did on second reading, be supporting this legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of different initiatives that are bound up together in Bill No. 75. Taken together, our caucus certainly supports Bill No. 75. We supported it at second reading, we made some suggestions for what we thought of as positive changes during the Law Amendments Committee hearing stage, and we will continue to support the bill. I do think it is necessary, however, to review in a little detail what it is that the bill actually does, to set out, therefore, why it is we support the bill, and where we might have liked to have seen some improvements made to the bill, and where we still see some problem areas that ought to be thought about.

I want to start first with the aspect of Bill No. 75 that deals with bringing same sex couples into the same position before the law as heterosexual couples now enjoy. That is really the main thrust of Bill No. 75. It is a bill which derives, in its origin, from litigation in Nova Scotia and in other parts of the country as a result of which the courts have told us

[Page 9592]

that pieces of legislation that discriminate against different kinds of couples on the basis of sexual orientation essentially are to be seen as violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Indeed in Nova Scotia, as a result of some specific litigation here, the courts gave us about a 12 month period to amend our laws to bring them into conformity with the requirements of the Charter. This is a usual step in this kind of constitutionally-based litigation if Statutes are found to be in violation of the Charter.

So the government has done the right thing in taking the initiative in moving forward to try to amend some of the laws in Nova Scotia that affect same sex and different sex couples in a different fashion. It is important to note, however, that in our laws, there are 90 perhaps 100 different Statutes that refer to couples, the usual language is to refer to spouse. Bill No. 75, however, does not deal with every one of those Statutes. I understand that different considerations may apply in different circumstances. Yet, at the same time, this is the first point that it is important for us to note as over against our assessment of the value of this bill and as over against what it is that we might expect in the future. This is the first point. We can fully expect there will be litigation about the other bills, the other Statutes that exist in the province if we don't - as we have not in this bill - undertaken to amend them now. So it is to be expected there will be litigation that will follow at some point in the future, and it is probably not all that hard to predict the result of litigation. So it is a matter of some regret that the full range of Statutes in Nova Scotia that deal with the notion of couplehood was not brought forward for amendment.

Next, I would like to acknowledge that what the Minister of Justice did, indeed, do during the Law Amendments Committee process was to add two Statutes to Bill No. 75. He added the Insurance Act and the Fatal Injuries Act. This is quite correct. Indeed, one of the ways to interpret the selection of Statutes that the minister chose to deal with in Bill No. 75 originally was to see them as groupings that had to do with the financial implications of people living together as a couple. The Insurance Act and Fatal Injuries Act are examples of Statutes that had not originally been included and yet involved financial implications. There was a standard provision, for example, without going into complete detail, that requires all insurance policies to provide certain benefits for spouses in the case of death. Well, this obviously is part of the range of important financial aspects of couplehood and the minister saw fit when this omission was drawn to his attention to add these Statutes to the list.

[2:45 p.m.]

On the other hand, there is another obvious range of very important financial situations associated with couplehood that the minister did not see fit to add even though we, in our caucus, attempted by way of proposed amendment to add them. I have in mind a situation in which one partner in a couple dies without a will. The laws of Nova Scotia now provide for what is called intestate succession. Intestate succession deals with the circumstances in which a person dies without a will. The legal framework says what happens to the estate of that person in those circumstances.

[Page 9593]

It seemed appropriate that if we are recognizing same-sex couples for a number of purposes, including that they have financial linkages and obligations one to the other, that we should recognize the situation in which one member of the couple dies without a will. Equally, we should have added the Testators' Family Maintenance Act. This is a Statute that governs situations in which one of the partners to a marriage, or other family members, wish to contest the provisions that have been made in a will.

I want it to be on the record: I made amendments to try to include these Statutes, but they did not meet with the approval of the government and they remain outside the full ambit of Bill No. 75 and, therefore, outside the full ambit of statutory recognition of couplehood for same sex partners. I think this is a mistake. I think it is easily predictable that there will be litigation about this, virtually, any time.

I would also like to note that the minister, although he declined to include in his bill what I regarded as clarification to make sure that when Bill No. 75 talks about a common-law couple, the bill is talking about a same-sex couple. Although the minister declined to put language in the bill, he did explicitly state in the House today that that is the intention of the government and that is the interpretation he would encourage and expect from the courts should it ever come up. I want to thank the minister for that. I think it was quite right of him to take the opportunity today to say that and I think that will help enormously. The words that we had proposed adding to the various clauses in the bill where common-law couple is referred to would have merely been for clarification. I did not seriously think that there was a profound ambiguity. I only made the amendment for purposes of abundant caution and, again, I thank the minister.

Finally, in this portion of dealing with this main thrust of the bill, I want to note that the issue of adoption was not addressed. Quite clearly, the government chose not to address adoption, and that was their policy choice but again, I say to the minister, it is probably predictable that there will be litigation over this at some point in the not too distant future. Indeed, given that many same-sex couples who are in partnerships and live together will have children who are the biological children of one of the partners, the question of adoption is very likely to be in front of the courts very soon. The reason that same sex couples may well have children who are the biological children of one of the partners is that in the whole history of their lives the individuals in the same-sex couples will very likely have previously been in heterosexual relationships. This situation is common and it is predictable that this difficult issue, which was avoided in Bill No. 75, may come before the courts and then subsequently before us.

Finally I want to note equally that the question of same-sex marriage was not dealt with in Bill No. 75. Although the minister I don't think has commented on it, there is a very real constitutional law question as to whether the province does have jurisdiction over same-sex marriage. It is not clear whether the province does have jurisdiction or whether the federal government has jurisdiction. The wording of the Constitution Act has a suggestion

[Page 9594]

that marriage and divorce is a federal topic, therefore it may be that same-sex marriage is a federal topic.

On the other hand, solemnization of marriage is a provincial topic, it is not clear what that means. It is not surprising that the question of marriage was not dealt with in this bill. There may well be perfectly good constitutional reasons why it was not dealt with in the bill, I make no criticism of it, but it is important to note that it is not in the bill and was not dealt with and it may well come forward at some future time.

I said that Bill No. 75 has a number of different policy initiatives all bundled up together. I want now to deal with the second one, it is not as if it is completely separated from the underlying attempt to deal with same-sex couplehood - it is not. It is important to note that Bill No. 75 has invented in the Province of Nova Scotia a new form to be recognized by the law according to which couples can come together.

The previous legal regime in Nova Scotia recognized two forms of couplehood. The first was that of a legally married couple. The second was that of a couple living together in a common-law relationship that had evolved and was recognized through the passage of time.

Bill No. 75 has invented a third form of couplehood. This is the registered domestic partnership. This is not something that has previously been known to the law of Nova Scotia. Essentially, it will be a contractual relationship entered into between two persons, be they of the same sex or be they of different sexes. This is a new invention, this is something that the practitioners of family law will have to get used to. This is something perhaps there may be difficulties with, it may be something that we will have to address by way of amendments at some point in the future. At the moment, it is important to note that it applies not just to same-sex couples, but to heterosexual couples as well. The device is one we will all have to get used to.

Because the entering into of a contractual relationship of this sort is intended to have, if not absolute permanency then some serious degree of permanency, it is a matter that ought not to be undertaken lightly. We proposed an amendment that for some reason the government did not find acceptable. What we suggested was that before couples enter into this kind of a relationship, a contractual relationship of no little importance, they ought each to obtain independent legal advice. We suggested further that the absence of independent legal advice should be a bar to registration of the domestic partnership agreement.

The government chose not to accept that particular amendment. I regret that is the case. I hope, however, that couples thinking of taking this serious step will in fact be prudent enough to seek legal advice and to seek independent legal advice.

[Page 9595]

I think I mentioned to members of the House the other day the opinion, which I have come to respect, of my father who suggests that no one ought to be allowed to get married unless they get independent legal advice, a training course and a licence. Now, I do not know that the Minister of Justice, if he ever grapples again with the question of solemnization of marriage, will be moved to take my father's advice on this particular point. It proceeds, however, from a recognition that marriage and indeed, such new devices as domestic partnerships, are serious steps and ought not to be entered into so easily and perhaps so casually as we now sometimes find. Well, this was the second part of what it is that Bill No. 75 does.

There is a third part, and again, there has been an interesting and quite an important change to the law of Nova Scotia included in Bill No. 75. Again, it applies to both same-sex and heterosexual couples. I have in mind the provision that introduces a new time for the establishment of common law couples. Now, for many years, it has been the case in Nova Scotia that if two persons live together in a common law conjugal relationship, legal obligations arise after a period of one year. The original proposal made by the minister was to increase that period of time to three years. Our position is that it should stay at one year. A compromise has, however, been reached in which a proposal to state that the period should be two years was accepted by the government.

Now, this is a fundamental change in the nature of coming together as a common law couple. We know that the original proposal to move the period to three years is one that occasioned a fair bit of publicity in the province. I am glad that publicity was focused on this provision of Bill No. 75. It serves to alert members of the public that a change had been proposed. I hope there will be wide publicity for the change to two years. I hope that couples will recognize that there has now been this change.

Our caucus, in taking the position that it ought to stay at one year, was worried about the economically dependent member of a common law couple. We were worried about the investment of so much time before legal relations recognized by the law would be established. Two years is quite a considerable amount of time. We do worry about this, and it may be that experience will actually show whether the move from one year to two years is problematic or will, in fact, be beneficial. It is hard to tell what kind of monitoring is appropriate for this.

The proposal to move to three years was certainly one that did not come to us with any evidence. It was not one that was based on any kind of research. It was not one where the Minister of Justice could say to us that he was acting upon the recommendation of a law reform commission. here or anywhere else. Indeed, we know the problems with the Nova Scotia Law Reform Commission at the hands of the current government of the province. They have announced they are not going to continue funding it. There was no sociological evidence. There were no witnesses from the Family Law Bar coming to say that the period ought to be extended. It was a question apparently of gut feeling.

[Page 9596]

It is obvious that the period is now about to be extended to two years. I think all members of the public should pay some serious attention to that, and I hope this provision gets a fair bit of publicity. If it does not get publicity I through the media naturally, then I hope the minister's department or some other department takes it upon themselves to make sure that this change in the prevailing laws about common law couples comes to the attention of as many members of the public as possible.

[3:00 p.m.]

Well, I said originally, Mr. Speaker, that there were different aspects bundled up together in Bill No. 75. Our caucus certainly supports the bill. Although we see some problems with it, we see the bill as an advance over the state of affairs right now in Nova Scotia. We see this responding to the rulings of the court as appropriate and, although limited in Bill No. 75, we do approve of it.

This brings me really to the last point I think we have to turn our minds to here. The previous speaker gave notice that he was going to call for a recorded vote. Indeed, I am likewise going to call for a recorded vote and did so at second reading. Here is what I think we have to consider. We found at second reading, upon a recorded vote, that at least two members of the government caucus were not prepared to vote for Bill No. 75. Neither of those members had spoken to Bill No. 75 at second reading. Indeed, so far, neither of those two members have spoken in this debate at third reading. They did, however, outside this Chamber in response to questions from the press, say that they found Bill No. 75 to be contrary to their sense of morals, and they did say, and I heard them both, I was standing immediately nearby when they spoke in answer to the press, they both said that as Christians, they couldn't support this bill.

Now, I think we have to take a moment and ask ourselves what that could possibly mean. I did notice that in the recorded vote held on November 2nd for second reading that a member of the government caucus, who is an ordained Christian minister, voted in favour of the bill. So what can it mean if two members say that as Christians they can't support this particular bill? I have to say I find that very puzzling. All members of the House will know that Christianity is not my personal religious or cultural tradition. I don't know that I am in any particular position to speak with any authority about what it is that might exist in any Christian sect that might lead members to that conclusion. On the other hand, I have read the New Testament. I have read it all through with great attention, and I would say with some admiration and enjoyment. But I don't recollect anything in the New Testament that would lead anyone who is a Christian to vote against Bill No. 75. On the other hand, again I am quite familiar with the Old Testament. If it is the Old Testament that either of those members might be relying on, then indeed, at that point, we are dealing with portions of the Bible with which I am very familiar.

[Page 9597]

It is certainly the case that there are passages in the Old Testament that do not speak favourably about same-sex relationships. There is a passage in Leviticus: Chapter 18, Verse 22: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination." Now if, and I can only speculate, if it is a passage like that that the members seem to think gives some kind of force to their position, then I have to ask some questions. Now I have to say, because the members have not spoken, we are left to speculate. But you know, in that same Book of the Old Testament, Leviticus, just a couple of chapters in advance of the passage I read, there are other observations about appropriate behaviour that I don't imagine those members follow. I have in mind Chapter 11, Verses 5 and 6, which say that the eating of rabbits is unclean; Chapter 11, Verse 7, the swine is unclean; Chapter 11, Verses 9 and 10, the only fish of the sea that you can eat are those with fins and scales, what that means is no shellfish. I wonder if the member for Shelburne is going to explain why it is that he is suggesting that maybe lobster ought not to be eaten, and other shellfish. Is it a question of being selective about which passages in the Old Testament you follow and which you don't? I don't know. Perhaps the members opposite don't each shellfish, perhaps they don't eat any pork or anything that comes from pigs. I think I would be a little surprised if that were the case.

Again, we are left to speculate because they haven't spoken. I think that the reality is that there are passages in Leviticus that many of us choose to regard as being uninformed and perhaps out of date. I think it is appropriate to take a modern, informed approach . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow for an introduction?

MR. EPSTEIN: I will finish.

MR. SPEAKER: So the answer is no?

MR. EPSTEIN: No. It is appropriate to take a modern and informed approach to how it is that we choose, in light of the full range of scientific and up-to-date information, that we ought to live our lives. I also want to add that although I find what seems to be implied by the two members voting against this bill to be regrettable and not in accord with what I think is an appropriate, modern standard. I don't condemn them for it. I think it is regrettable, I put it no higher than that. I hope that those members might want to explain their views in a little more detail, or having had the opportunity to reflect more deeply upon it, I hope they might change their minds. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes on an introduction.

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour for me to rise today to introduce to the House a friend of mine, a mentor. When I first went on council in 1991, this individual taught me a lot of what I know today. (Interruptions) I would like to introduce

[Page 9598]

to the House Mr. Wes Stubbert. Just for the record, Mr. Stubbert is a former councillor with the County of Cape Breton, a former deputy warden with the County of Cape Breton, a former councillor in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, and currently, a school board member for the Northside-Victoria District School Board. I would thank all members of the House for welcoming Mr. Stubbert here today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome Mr. Stubbard to the House today.

Order, please. The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 75. A recorded vote has been called for.

Are the whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[3:10 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Christie Mr. Carey

Mr. Baker Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Russell

Mr. LeBlanc

Mr. Muir

Mr. Fage

Mr. Balser

Mr. Parent

Ms. McGrath

Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Olive

Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Langille

Mr. Morse

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. Hurlburt

Mr. MacAskill

[Page 9599]

Dr. Smith

Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Downe

Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. Holm

Mr. John MacDonell

Ms. Maureen MacDonald

Mr. Deveaux

Mr. Corbett

Mr. Pye

Mr. Epstein

Mr. Estabrooks

Mr. Robert Chisholm

Mr. Dexter

Mr. MacEwan

Mr. MacKinnon

Mr. Samson

Mr. Boudreau

Mr. Wilson

THE CLERK: For, 43. Against, 2.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, with the consent of the House, I would like to revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a letter from Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor and I will read it for the record.

[Page 9600]

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: All rise, please.

MR. BAKER: "In accordance with the Constitution Act, 1867, I hereby recommend to the House of Assembly Bill 74 of the First Session of the Fifty-eighth General Assembly, An Act Respecting the Probate and Administration of the Estates of Deceased Persons." This letter is dated November 22, 2000, and it has Government House, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, is it the wish of the House for a very short explanation by the Minister of Justice or does everybody understand now?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of members, there is a question about whether or not that bill may be an appropriation and it is questionable and to remove all ambiguity, as we have had some discussion about here today, there was a decision made that the Lieutenant Governor, who had previously recommended that bill to the favourable consideration of the House, that that recommendation should be tabled in the House before it was given Royal Assent.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Third Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am going to be calling Bill No. 59, Bill No. 65 and Bill No. 79 for third reading. Is the House prepared to pass them en bloc?

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Bill No. 59 - Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Act.

[Page 9601]

Bill No. 65 - Lunenburg War Memorial Community Centre Dissolution Act.

Bill No. 79 - University College of Cape Breton Student Union Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motions are carried.

Ordered that these bills do pass. Ordered that the titles be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that these bills be engrossed.

[GOVERNMENT MOTIONS]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 80.

Bill No. 80 - Justice and Administration Reform (2000) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to rise and move third reading of the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, very brief comments, I just want to put on the record that following my comments where I raised some concerns about the changes to the Assessment Act, I just wanted to put on record that I did speak to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations who indicated to me yesterday at a meeting with the affected municipal units that they were in agreement with the changes being proposed in this bill and as a result of that, I and our caucus will be supporting this bill on third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 80. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 9602]

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 60.

Bill No. 60 - Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act.

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Premier I move third reading of Bill No. 60.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, as all members know, we will be supporting this particular piece of legislation, as remiss as it is in certain aspects. It is certainly dragging the government very slowly by a large hook to the altar of justice.

I was somewhat perplexed, Mr. Speaker, as to the formulation of this particular piece of legislation and how it ended up in the fashion that it did. I guess that became crystallized somewhat when I read Resolution No. 3665 which was tabled by the honourable member for Kings North. The whereas clauses, the supportive clauses, that allude to his participation in the drafting of this particular piece of legislation is really, I believe, quite concerning to say the least. It says:

"Whereas religious groups have known for centuries that confession is good for the soul, providing relief from the burden of guilt; and

Whereas I committed a heinous sin by being part of the group which worked on drafting a code of conduct for ministers of the government;"

Now how, in the name of heavens could it be a heinous sin by working to draft legislation such as this particular piece of legislation, Bill No. 60, that would actually ensure that the conduct of members of the Executive Council, and for that matter, all members of the Legislature are better than they were the day before. The next supportive clause goes on to say:

"Whereas to further exacerbate my guilt I had the temerity to suggest to the Premier that perhaps a code for all MLAs should be developed;"

[Page 9603]

Well, Mr. Speaker, that is what we suggested through the debate at second reading. This is something we suggested during second reading. We have by his own admission, his own free will, a member of the government caucus, suggesting something amiss with the process and the intent of what the government is trying to achieve with Bill No. 60.

The resolve puts the icing on the cake, Mr. Speaker:

"Therefore be it resolved that an appropriate penitence be imposed upon me by forcing me to sit in the House of Assembly and listen for hours on end to the vacuous and sometimes cutting comments which pass for informed and intellectual debate."

Well if that is the contempt that that honourable member has for his colleagues that he sits in caucus with and for the Cabinet . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. Order, please. The honourable member would realize that we are discussing Bill No. 60, Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act. (Interruption) Order, please. I would question the relevance of what the member is alluding to, and I would ask him to bring himself back to Bill No. 60. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the relevance, I guess, is quite obvious. It is a complete affront to all members of the House of Assembly for any honourable member to introduce a resolution when we have such pertinent pieces of legislation on the books such as Bill No. 60, Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act. I would even go so far as to ask that you rule (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. What I am going to rule is that I have asked the honourable member to bring himself to back to Bill No. 60. I am asking him to bring himself back to Bill No. 60, not the resolution he is talking about, that is before the House.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid on a point of order?

MR. JOHN HOLM: No, on a point of privilege actually. The debate that has gone on recently has drawn to my attention the resolution that was introduced or tabled in this House yesterday, Mr. Speaker. Before the debate I had not realized that this resolution was tabled. Looking at it, and I want to read the "Therefore be it resolved" as part of my point of privilege, it says, "Therefore be it resolved that an appropriate penitence be imposed upon me . . .", that means the member for Kings North, ". . . by forcing me to sit in the House of Assembly and listen for hours on end to the vacuous and sometimes cutting comments which pass for informed and intellectual debate."

[Page 9604]

I would suggest to you that that is slanderous to all members of this House, it is slanderous and disrespectful of this institution, and I would suggest that it is very much destructive rather than constructive. I believe that that resolution is an affront to the privileges of all members of this House on all sides of this House. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to rule on that, and to instruct the member for Kings North to apologize . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, over the past three or four weeks of the election campaign, we have had tabled in this House I suppose about 50 resolutions, which should not have been tabled, dealing with all kinds of matters (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. RUSSELL: I am just giving you my opinion. Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the horse is out of the barn as far as resolutions are concerned, and that perhaps we should, in future sessions, more closely monitor the contents of resolutions.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: On that point, Mr. Speaker, the Government House Leader had the opportunity, to which he is referring, to make comments and to ask for rulings when those resolutions were read on the floor of the House. This particular resolution, no members of the House had an opportunity to hear it or to review it until it actually appeared in Hansard today. We therefore are raising, as a caucus, our objections to what we consider to be the slanderous comments made by the member for Kings North in that resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, on the point of privilege. I would submit that it is indeed a serious point of privilege to this extent, that the text of the resolution appears to me - and I would submit to you, sir - that it is a clear contempt on this House.

There is a safeguard that members ordinarily have with notices of motion that are read out in the House under the heading of Notices of Motion. If a notice appears to be clearly out of order you, Mr. Speaker, can rule it out of order, but with notices of motion that are tabled and simply filed with the Clerk, and never presented to the House for the Speaker's approbation, there is, I suggest, a risk that inappropriate material might get into the record of Hansard and be considered as a resolution that is tabled before this House, and could indeed be called for debate . . .

[Page 9605]

AN HON. MEMBER: On a point of privilege.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova has the floor. There has already been a point of privilege brought to the floor. (Interruptions)

MR. MACEWAN: I am supporting the point of privilege of the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid. I would suggest, in conclusion, that there must be a safeguard for the House in notices of motion that are simply filed with the Clerk, and that they too have to be subject to the approval of the Speaker before they are tabled, and they ought not to be automatically published in Hansard regardless of their content and how scurrilous it might happen to be. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I would humbly apologize to all members in the Opposition and the government if I was untoward to my colleagues in the resolution, and I would like to, if possible, withdraw the resolution. I apologize to the House, and I would like to put that on record. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has offered an apology to the House. Is the House agreed that the matter has been dealt with?

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Thank you.

AN HON. MEMBER: Was it out of order?

MR. SPEAKER: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: Was it ruled out of order?

MR. SPEAKER: The resolution?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The resolution was never put to the floor of this House for me to rule on. (Interruptions) I realize that, but it was never put to me to rule on, whether it was admitted to the House or not at the time. It has just been brought to my attention today. Obviously, if it had been brought to the House, it would have been ruled out of order. It would have been ruled out of order if it had been read in this House.

[Page 9606]

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: On a point of order. When the honourable member rose and apologized to the House and asked to have the particular resolution withdrawn, I would suggest to you that probably the appropriate thing to do is just to withdraw the resolution. If that is possible.

MR. SPEAKER: I understood the honourable member asked to have it withdrawn. If it had been read in the House, it would have been ruled out of order, so we will have it withdrawn from the Hansard record.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West on Bill No. 60, Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: It is certainly not my intention to be controversial. This is a very important piece of legislation, but on the other matter, there is a process for filing resolutions with the Clerk prior to the House opening so that the Speaker and the Clerk have an opportunity to review it, so maybe that is something we will all learn for a future day.

We are very pleased to support this particular legislation because I think the honourable member for Kings North did make a good point. There should be code of conduct legislation for backbenchers and for Opposition members, for all members of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Including himself.

MR. MACKINNON: Including himself.

AN HON. MEMBER: Especially himself. He should be named in the bill; there should be a clause just for him.

MR. MACKINNON: We will call it the Kings North special because he seems to be very concerned about his own conduct.

With that having been said, I am quite pleased to indicate that we will be supporting this particular piece of legislation; as weak as it is, with some loopholes that are there, it is an improvement over what we had on the books. Every effort to improve this issue legislatively, we will certainly support. Thank you.

[Page 9607]

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

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: I will speak briefly to Bill No. 60. Certainly our caucus was interested in making amendments as we tried in the Committee of the Whole House unsuccessfully.

The member who just spoke raised the point that a code of ethics should apply to all members of the House. I certainly am of a mixed view on that - I think he is thinking more with his gut than his head. There is maybe some positive aspect to the notion that there would be a code that controls the actions of all MLAs, but in this code, amendments to the code can only be made by the Governor in Council. I do not think Opposition members should be left that their conduct would be decreed by the Governor in Council. If the government is willing to amend their own bill so that a resolution could come before the House and that all members of the House will have some influence on the code, then I think we would be more open to that notion. We are certainly not open to the idea of having the Governor in Council write a code that applies to Opposition members as well and the Opposition could have no input into that code.

The idea of a code of conduct I would say is a good one. I think the government missed an opportunity here by making this code of conduct a Ministerial Code of Conduct and not applying it to all government members. We would recognize, even if the government does not seem to make it public, that certainly backbenchers would have some influence with Cabinet Ministers, and their role on the red tape committee shows us that. I would say that those of us in Opposition would assume that members of the government caucus would have more influence with the government ministers than we do.

We think that the code certainly should not be a ministerial code, but should be a code for all the government caucus. Another reason for that, Mr. Speaker, is in recent decisions made by the Conflict of Interest Commissioner regarding the member for Eastern Shore, allegations made against him, was that the conflict of interest Act, nor the Ministerial Code of Conduct applied. If the Ministerial Code of Conduct didn't apply and there is an allegation of a wrongdoing, then we certainly should have an Act or a code of conduct that does apply which, I think, is the most obvious example of why we should be doing this.

The code really should have been placed in the legislation, therefore, changes to the code would have to come to the House. Presently, that is not the case. It is not even in the regulations. The fact that a complaint under this code can only come from the House of Assembly or the Executive Council, and it is not even clear which one of those, or both. Certainly for clarity, it would have been the best thing for the government to do, to actually allow complaints to come before the House in the form of resolution and, therefore, the Opposition or other Parties could have an avenue for complaint. Presently, if the complaint can only come from the Executive Council, then really it is the government complaining about itself, and I think that would tend to take any substance out of the code.

[Page 9608]

Mr. Speaker, I would say that a vague code is no code. If the government is really interested in letting Nova Scotians think there actually is a code, they would make the appropriate changes to the bill so that would be clear. I would say this piece of legislation is like so many others that have come before the House. It was based on a commitment by the government that they would bring forth a code. The fact that the legislation really doesn't address the need for which it really is designed is only to let Nova Scotians think that something positive is being done here, but actually there is no substance to the bill or to the code. I think it will probably be to the Opposition, not necessarily to ferret this one out, but to try to get the message out to Nova Scotians so they don't have to ferret this out.

Our caucus does support this bill because, if we could say, a poor code is better than no code, but we do have reservations that the government certainly could have improved this. They could have given it some teeth and some substance so Nova Scotians would realize it actually has an impact on the behaviour of the government caucus, but I guess to that point, Mr. Speaker, we live to fight another day, and we would hope that in the future we can bring about the changes that would be necessary to this bill that would actually make it a credible piece of legislation so Nova Scotians could recognize they have some say in the behaviour of the government caucus. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I just want to make a few brief comments on this bill and to point out a couple of what I consider to be pretty major flaws and inconsistencies. Having said that, I will say up front, I will be voting for it because something is better than nothing, and that is exactly what we are getting. We are getting something, but we are not getting what we deserve and what the government would have Nova Scotians believe that they are actually receiving.

What we are getting is a piece of legislation which embodies a code of conduct, or says that the code of conduct applies, but the code of conduct isn't actually part of that legislation. What the legislation says is that the persons to be judged by the code of conduct are the same persons who will design the code of conduct. In other words, Mr. Speaker, the Cabinet, who this code of conduct applies to, are the ones who write the code of conduct; they are the ones who approve the code of conduct, and they are the ones who can change the code of conduct, and they do that all in secrecy. It does not come before this House. It is not sent out to the general public for consultation and input, but instead, down in the humble Cabinet Room on the next floor down, which I refer to as a bunker, in they go, they close the door, sometimes they will let a few select members of the backbenches enter.

AN HON. MEMBER: Three of them.

MR. HOLM: Three of them we know of so far.

[Page 9609]

AN HON. MEMBER: Only three at a time.

MR. HOLM: Only three at a time. They go in, and in absolute total secrecy they have the ability to change the code of conduct. So let's be clear what we are doing. We are voting for a piece of legislation that says that Cabinet Ministers have a code of conduct, that code of conduct is one that is written by them; it is edited and changed by them, the ones who could be judged by it; and they are one of the key ones who would be asking for an investigation of the code of conduct. Unless this House, or the Executive Council itself asks for an investigation, it does not happen. John Q Citizen out there could believe, they might even know that a conflict of interest exists, but they cannot make a complaint and have that investigated according to this legislation, and that is wrong. If you are genuinely to have a code of conduct that is going to have credibility, then those who are judged by it should not have the powers to change it; at least, Mr. Speaker, they should not have that power to do it in their isolated bunker out of any public scrutiny or public view.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, we have a perfect example of another thing. I raised questions in this House about the program analysis that was done. The Premier, outside the House yesterday, admitted that three of the favoured Tory backbenchers - the others of you, I am sorry but you are not in the inner circle, I guess we know where the Cabinet picks are coming from - three chosen Tories from the backbenches were ushered into the inner chambers and given the opportunity to review the database for the program review and decide which of the programs they were going to help the big people on the front benches decide which programs and services will be cut and slashed. The members for Annapolis, Kings County, Cumberland County, and Queens County, you folks did not make the cut. You were not in the inner three, nor was the member for Preston, because I am sure the Premier would not have misled anybody and he said there were only three, but I would invite members opposite, if you were involved, get up and tell us. Tell me I am wrong.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: You are always wrong.

MR. HOLM: I am told I am wrong. The member for Preston said I am wrong. He is saying that the Premier misled. (Interruptions) Were you involved? Were you number four? That was a serious suggestion across the floor; but do you know what? This code of conduct does not apply to those inner three, those chosen three backbenchers who have the confidence of the Premier, they are the only ones obviously he trusts because those three were given this confidential information that was so important they supposedly had to sign or take an oath of confidence. Of course, the Minister of Finance didn't know anything about that today, and he certainly wouldn't agree to table any oath of confidence that they would have supposedly signed. But those three as well as the Cabinet Ministers were involved in determining which of the programs and services in Nova Scotia were to get the axe.

[Page 9610]

[3:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, they aren't covered by this code of conduct. What do we know about what conflicts they may or may not have? What do we know about personal axes to grind they might have? I am not suggesting, actually and quite truthfully - I will be up front when I say this - I am not suggesting that any of those three do, but you know, I don't know about the next three, and I don't know who the next three might be. My guess is it won't be the member for Kings North right now.

However, if those individuals are to be involved in viewing the kind of database the Premier is not prepared to share with the rest of Nova Scotians, they should be covered. The Premier also said quite clearly yesterday that he takes advice from his Tory caucus members, a proper thing. Too bad he wouldn't take advice because he might get some good advice if he took it from the other side of the House. He actually does sometimes, Mr. Speaker, he does actually take some advice from this side of the House, and I am sure whenever he does he is very thankful after the fact that he did.

The Premier might have been just saying that to try to appease all the other Tory backbenchers who didn't have his confidence to be brought in as part of the magical three, the favourite three.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who are those three?

MR. HOLM: I won't mention them. They have had enough notoriety, a little bit lately, and that is one way to get their names in the paper. We don't necessarily want to hide it to try to give them publicity. There is one of a few ways they had a chance to get it. (Interruption) We don't know what is going on there.

The point is, Mr. Speaker, we gave the Premier yesterday, we gave the Tory caucus yesterday, we gave them the opportunity to amend this legislation so it actually had some teeth. What was so wrong with saying that if the government wants to amend the code of conduct, it has to come before the House of Assembly. Gosh! What a radical idea. Bring something like that to the House of Assembly, supposedly the seat of democracy in this province with representatives of the people who were elected from one end to the other of the province? What a radical idea. Shame on us for being so extreme as to suggest that should happen. We made other radical suggestions. My colleague, the Leader in the House of our Party, suggested that the commissioner should be - now this is extreme, you might say almost going over the top with this one - he brought forward an amendment that would have said that the commissioner should have adequate resources to carry out investigations. Boy, that was extreme. But I am sure the government was right, oh they must be because they are Tories so they could never be wrong, right? I don't have any sarcasm in my voice.

[Page 9611]

Mr. Speaker, the Tories decided that rather than that, they insisted that the commissioner must have inadequate resources to carry out his business and investigations, because that is what you voted for. You voted to make sure, to say, that the commissioner would not have adequate resources, and you voted to make sure, by voting down amendments, that the general public would not have an opportunity to bring forward complaints and have them investigated.

Mr. Speaker, all I can say, when I look at what the government members have done, when I listen to what you have said, is you really have to warm the hearts of Nova Scotia, the cockles of their hearts have been warmed by knowing that, good heavens, they are in good hands. They are in the hands of a government that is certainly very intent on ensuring that everything possible can be done to make sure that we have a reasonable code of conduct, and that that reasonable code of conduct can be investigated, and that Nova Scotians, who have a reasonable concern about a potential conflict of interest, can bring that forward, and have that concern investigated. I am sure you have really warmed the hearts of Nova Scotians. To all of those comments I just made before that, my closing comment is - not.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 60. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 77.

Bill No. 77 - Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bill No. 77.

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

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, our caucus will be voting in support of Bill No. 77. There were some concerns, actually, and I do have to admit to the minister that the opportunity to sit in on the Law Amendments Committee to hear the presentations from the presenters to the committee on this piece of legislation was one of the most helpful things that I have done in regard to this. I think one of the major concerns that was brought forward was around the taxing ability or the ability to collect fees by the Marshbody, and there

[Page 9612]

seemed to be some contradiction in the powers of the Marshbody compared to those of the municipalities. In cases where it would appear that, if you had property on the marshland, you were actually going to be taxed twice. If you were in arrears for your taxes to the Marshbody, it actually seemed a concern that they had the power to put the property up for taxes, even though you may have paid your municipal taxes.

I think the minister has addressed that concern, around the rates and the powers of the Marshbody. I think a step to conserve marshland for agricultural purposes is a good move on the part of the government. I think that to say, in the least, that the times they are a changing is an important thing. When the first settlers came to this province and to what was then part of New France, the marshlands were lands that were, number one, extremely fertile, and number two, relatively easy to claim from the wild, compared to uplands where it took far more work to clear the land, cut the trees. Marshlands generally weren't treed, and a process of dykes and drainage actually was the most important thing. They could actually make use of significant acres of land in a relatively short period of time. I think that the minister and other members would know the use of marshland as farmland is a significant feature in Nova Scotia. Certainly in my constituency along the Shubenacadie River, the dykes are still present. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley would also be aware of the dykes on the Stewiacke River and I would assume on the Musquodoboit River Valley as well.

Any attempt to try to preserve that land, and actually avoid development on the marshlands because we certainly have seen problems. In some parts of the province, they seem to be more severe, or more common, than others, but certainly the history in Truro is one that Nova Scotians would well be aware of, flooding problems either in the spring or the fall and seem to happen with greater frequency in Truro than perhaps other jurisdictions, Mr. Speaker. Any attempt, first of all, to prevent development in areas where flooding is going to occur, would be step number one.

The government is being wise, actually in prevention of development or trying to minimize development to the best degree that it can. I think this is in the interest of all taxpayers. The municipalities certainly will be interested in this, to know there is some restriction, actually a restriction that they seem to have bought into, that they are in agreement with this piece of legislation.

I was glad to see that the minister had recognized one of the presentations in regard to the development of windmills as power generators, and the complementary nature that the use of those windmills seems to have with agriculture. The fact that this marshland that we are hoping to preserve is along river courses and actually sometimes acts as a wind tunnel so the quality of airflow on marshlands is significant enough to make companies interested in established windmills. I think for the minister to recognize that in his legislation was a good move.

[Page 9613]

We can't predict the future, obviously. We try to do as good a job with whatever parameters we have to work with, Mr. Speaker, and I think the conservation of marshland in a climate of increasing development, in a climate of trying to establish food security and if that is necessary, and all the conflicting interests that seem to be occurring in regard to agriculture. We have certainly seen this with right-to-farm legislation. We have certainly seen this with the intent in the Municipal Government Act where it is required by municipalities to identify agricultural zones. This can only work to the benefit of the industry, the benefit of communities in general and the benefit of the taxpayer.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I will say that we will be supportive of this bill, and I will relinquish the floor to any other members who may wish to comment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I just want to add a couple of points to the comments made by my honourable colleague. Indeed, we are supportive of this bill, and it is a very useful one. The existence of the regime that marshbodies represents in areas that are, at the same time, within the boundaries of municipalities means that in effect there is a double tier of regulation that applies to any owner of land that is so situated. This is an interesting choice of regimes.

Of course, the government might have decided to relinquish control by one or the other in order to relieve the owner of such land of having to comply with two sets of regulations, but it is not impossible to conceive of having two regulatory bodies where the rules have to be met. Indeed, for the development of land it is not unusual for municipal zoning, which would be the normal first tier of regulation, to have to be supplemented by other government regulatory bodies at the provincial or federal level. So all we have here really are two subordinate levels of government having some regulatory authority.

[4:00 p.m.]

It remains to be seen, however, how well they will continue to interact with each other. We have seen in the past some bitter litigation between the Bishop Beckwith Marshbody and the Town of Wolfville. It reached the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal and was resolved some years ago in favour of the supervening authority of the town. I suppose at some point we will see whether this bill occasions any clarification of the situation or some confusion. We did hear at the Law Amendments Committee some concerns by some municipalities, again Wolfville, and the Town of Truro. It will be interesting to see whether any of their concerns are serious problems in practice, but that said, it is certainly a useful bill so far as I can see because of the basic thrust to attempt to preserve the integrity of marshland for ecological purposes.

[Page 9614]

That leads me to the second aspect of this bill that I want to comment on which is the government's amendments to Clause 41, in order to recognize the possibility that there might be development of wind farms on marshland in the future. All members of the Law Amendments Committee are aware that representatives of a particular company, Turbowinds, came and addressed the Law Amendments Committee and pointed out that they had hopes of establishing wind farms in Nova Scotia. The area that they had in mind, in particular, was the area of marshlands between the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick border.

I think it was quite correct for the government to bring forward amendments to this bill to recognize the possibility of the development of wind farms located on marshbodies. This is not to say that the question has been finally determined. All the legislation does is set the framework for a decision-making process and I would hope that since we have not yet had the opportunity to look in detail at what it is that might be proposed that, of course, an environmental assessment process, and the process conceived of under Clause 41 of this bill, will come into play and occasion a detailed scrutiny of any particular proposal that might come forward. We all know that issues around energy are important public policy issues.

We know that moving to a system that might allow us to generate electricity by harnessing the power of the wind would be a great step forward, but we have to select the sites very carefully. We cannot assume that any site is automatically going to be easily accommodated to this particular form of activity. So I urge caution. I know that this bill does not supersede or eliminate the requirements for an environmental assessment. I know that it supplements it. So I am looking forward to further detailed scrutiny of any particular proposal that may come forward. It may come from Turbowinds, it may come from some other company, but it is certainly appropriate that in our province we move towards a different system of electricity generation and I am glad that the minister and the Law Amendments Committee saw fit to at least leave open that possibility by their changes to Clause 41.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 77. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that this bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 9615]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 68.

Bill No. 68 - Occupational Health and Safety Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bill No. 68.

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

Order, please. Before the member for Cape Breton West begins, would you allow for an introduction?

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member. I would like to introduce a friend of ours in the east gallery, especially known to quite a few members on this side of the House, Mr. Paul Pettipas from the Waverley-Fall River area. Mr. Pettipas is also the executive director of the Nova Scotia Home Builders Association. I would like to welcome you here today. (Applause)

MR. MACKINNON: With the consent of the House, if the member for Cape Breton Centre could go first, I have an important call waiting.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: I do not mind standing at this short notice, and I am sure the member for Cape Breton West will be taking copious notes.

I am going to basically reiterate a few words that I said earlier in Committee of the Whole House just to get them on the record. The idea of this bill is really perplexing, because one could say that this government had two options: the option to be progressive, or regressive. I think this government picked the latter. They picked the idea that we will take occupational health and safety and put a fence around it and use it for our own purposes.

I think when I say their own purposes, I talk about the fact that this is not a bill I believe that came directly from the minister himself, or the department. I think it is a bill that is reflective of one group in this province, and I am clearly going to state that it is my opinion that it was the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, through their lobbyist, Dick Smyth. I say that because during the Law Amendments Committee, person after person who came before that group were opposed to this bill, and the only group of record that favoured this

[Page 9616]

sunset clause was the CMA and its lobbyist, Mr. Smyth. So it would lead one to wonder why that would be.

One other peculiar aspect of that is that this lobbyist, while they gave a written presentation to the Law Amendments Committee, he chose not to give an oral one where there would be an exchange of questions and answers. He did not want to go on the record that way, so one would ask what is that group's agenda.

Also, in earlier debates we heard the member for Cape Breton West talk about groups like Michelin and so on. He said that this group was one of the groups that benefits from OH&S, which I agree, he kind of packaged it in the fact that they would not be against this. Well, I question that motive also, or that rationale if you will, because Michelin is a member of the CMA and by virtue of being a member one would assume that they sanction the letter from Mr. Smyth.

So, therein lies the problem. There have been arguments made that a safe workforce, a well paid workforce is a productive workforce and that leads to a better economy for this province. Now, what we are doing here is probably weakening the laws as they relate to Occupational Health and Safety. I think if the government was really intent on being progressive and moving forward with OH&S, it would have brought in its regulations on violence in the workplace, air quality in the workplace, but yet it decided not to do that. What it decided to do was bring in a sunset clause on these regulations. As I stated earlier in another committee, we on this side agree that regulations and laws shouldn't be on the books forever and a day. One of my examples was the coal mining Act and some of the problems that revolved around that, in particular around the safety aspect, the canary in the mine and so on. They have to be moved forward from time to time.

We are not against that. What we are looking at here is a bill that really kind of tries to cut the legs off an independent group, the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council. That is clearly where these should lie. It is not a matter of whether this government is trying to put sunset clauses, they have this council in place and that is where that is vetted. Without the interference of the previous government, that was working very well, thank you. I want to read into the record, because Section 24(2) of the OH&S Act is clear, and I quote, these are people that should be on that council ". . . persons who have a particular knowledge and experience relating to the protection and promotion of occupational health and safety generally."

It is important that that advisory group be made up of those people, for this very reason, that if you listen to people in that realm, whether it be on the management or labour side, they will tell you that some of these regulations were delayed for as much as six months, because of the previous government's appointments to that council, it took the time to get those people up to speed, because they did not really have the necessary background

[Page 9617]

to understand occupational health and safety. Therefore, they had to be, from time to time, brought up to speed. That caused a problem.

Mr. Speaker, it is important to put on the record here that if any political Party in this province should have a real kind of personal effect of what bad OH&S regulations mean, it is the Tory Party, because while they sat down and lobbied hard, in a not-so-secretive way, to get the Westray Mine built - and I would suspect that their own involvement in that and the crisis that ensued there - it was a catastrophe. I also want to put on the record, it was the former Leader and Premier, Mr. Donald Cameron, who said it was the workers' fault while on the stand during Judge Richard's inquiry. Out of that, out of Mr. Justice Richard's inquiry, came Dr. Ian Plummer's report.

The province seemed to be moving in the right direction, in a positive direction towards occupational health and safety but what this bill does is kind of bring it back a bit. I say a bit because there have been amendments, and it kind of makes the bill less hard to swallow, if you will. Yet, it begs the question of why it was even introduced. What is the necessity of it? We have a province, one could generally say, with an immense amount of problems, yet, what we have here is a government moving pell-mell into an area which really doesn't need any clarification from most stakeholders.

I want to get back to the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council because they have said that. They have said that there is no problem with this, that they work from the employers' aspect and they have worked from the employees' aspect, and they are happy with it. One has to wonder where this is coming from.

[4:15 p.m.]

Is it coming from anybody in the trade union movement? No, because they were all at the Law Amendments Committee, saying status quo would be fine for all of us. Is it coming from the vast majority of employers out there? No, because they were in agreement that this legislation is unnecessary. The only group in this province that wanted these sunset clauses in OH&S was the Canadian Manufacturers Association through their lobbyists who, I have to reiterate, did not have the intestinal fortitude to make an oral public presentation so that their side can be debated in a question and answer forum and, if you will, have the light of day shone upon it.

So, it leaves one to wonder why they want this. The minister has been quiet on it. We don't know. There is nobody within the department. Certainly one could say that his own Occupational Health and Safety advisors aren't in there. Mr. LeBlanc would not be in favour of this by and large. One could make an argument, Mr. Speaker, is this bill still in order? When an amendment is put towards a bill, it shouldn't fundamentally change the direction of the bill. Well, my contention is that the amendments introduced on this bill do

[Page 9618]

fundamentally change the bill. Therefore, is the bill in order? That is another question that is not answered.

So what are we left with here? We are left with the ability of the Minister of Labour to come in and give us a year's notice now with the Act as amended. We would rather have seen the word repeal done away with altogether, but for whatever reason - whether it is to appease the Canadian Manufacturers Association or whatever lobby group had the minister's ear - they will not get rid of the word repeal.

Mr. Speaker, we are certainly putting ourselves on a slippery slope. All the hard work done by the individuals who are on the OH&S Safety Council can go for naught because the minister has decided that he is just going to repeal when these sunset clauses come into effect. Who is he going to take his lead from? That is the problem. We have seen this bill come before this House with really no support for many of the stakeholders. So will he then, when the sunset clauses take effect, will he introduce more legislation or more amendments to these regulations that again the stakeholders fundamentally disagree with? Will it be driven by one organization? And what is the purpose?

One would rather, I believe, that this bill not even be in front of the House, Mr. Speaker, because it is going over old ground that doesn't need to be replowed. If that is the fact, then why are we here with this bill. If the minister could get up and tell us today in a more succinct way than I am doing it, why this bill is necessary. That is the problem. That is the reason we are debating here today. The necessity of this bill is that we agree the people who are in place by and large on the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council agree that it is working. It is not perfect, but they are working towards that goal. I would contend there is no such thing as a perfect piece of legislation for everybody, but this group, I think, is genuinely looking forward and moving this forward.

So why does the minister have to put the heavy hand of government on this bill, on these regs? Why is the sunset clause necessary? Hopefully, when he wraps up debate on this maybe he will inform us of why this is necessary. I want to know by his ability to repeal these regulations, how is that going to make any workplace safer? Is it going to save lives in any way? Is it going to substantially reduce workplace accidents? Is it going to substantially reduce workplace accidents that cause lost time?

There is nothing in here that says that. It is a regressive piece of legislation. The amendments, I do say go forward to answering some of the questions, but it is a matter of why are we here even debating this bill? Why was this bill even introduced when most stakeholders clearly, in a very loud way said in the Law Amendments Committee that we do not agree with this bill. It is not foreign to this government to lose bills in the paper shuffle. Look at today's order paper, we can see bills that are close to a year old on this order paper. Why was it necessary that this government feels that it has to push this bill forward? Who is it serving? I contend that it is not serving the vast majority of Nova Scotians because the

[Page 9619]

vast majority of Nova Scotians supported the safety advisory council's position on these, so why is this here?

The minister has some very knowledgeable people around him. There is no reason that he could not glean information from them from time to time as needed and, certainly, his own lawyers in his department could go through various regs to see if they have a real impact, and they certainly have the ability to be enforced in today's workplace. I come back to the integral part, what was the necessity of having this bill before us?

We have a province that has had a blight on its occupational health and safety record with the disaster at Westray. Yet, this government seems to want to shuffle that aside and say, oh, no, it is more important that we have the ability to study or repeal these regs on our own. I want the minister to be clear on this because I have talked about the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council, that is one group. Then if you look at how this fell out, the major impetus for us to look at occupational health and safety in this province was Westray. So, from Westray came the Justice Richard's inquiry, from that came Dr. Plummer's report, and from both of those and so on, came the safety regs.

I really do not understand why the minister and his department felt that this was a problem so onerous that they had to tackle and tackle right away. We had to go after a group right now. I would have thought it would have been much more prudent had the minister let these regulations take effect, see how they are working and then introduce some sort of legislation if they were not working, but I believe he is being regressive. I think the amendments go some way to even kind of buoy our idea of what is wrong with this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I will be taking my place and saying that I don't think this piece of legislation was necessary, but yet the government seemed to be taking its hand from an outside force.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, for allowing me the opportunity to speak at this juncture, rather than at an earlier time. I concur with my colleague who takes issue with this particular piece of legislation, it is totally unnecessary. It is a bill designed to create a number of issues in the eyes of the general public. Number one, the government is seen to be cutting red tape in government, and making it easier for people to operate their businesses, and also, at the same time, taking this right-wing view of saying, okay, fine, what we are doing, as well, is we are going to streamline the process for the employees that will in fact be working on a day-to-day basis and they, themselves, are somewhat encumbered by all this red tape, because the government's view is we have too much red tape.

[Page 9620]

Now, that may be true in some cases, but in this particular case, I would have to argue, the government is dead wrong. It is dead wrong in what it is doing. I think that became crystal clear by the fact that all the experts failed to show at the Law Amendments Committee to argue in favour of this particular piece of legislation; industry failed to show to argue in favour of this legislation; the labour organizations, both organized and independent, failed to show at the Law Amendments Committee in support of this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, in fact, all those who did show showed up in opposition to the legislation. This is why the people of Nova Scotia are coming to mistrust this government. They are coming to mistrust this government for what it is doing through Bill No. 68 and a number of other initiatives, and that is very concerning. If you lose confidence, it doesn't matter how good the rules and the regulations are, it doesn't matter how good they are, things are going to get worse, because the people have to accept the fact that this is the new culture, this is the new environment, and it has taken seven, almost eight years for this entire process to evolve to what we have today.

Industry is saving money, that is documented. Industry is saving millions of dollars. They will tell you that, the Department of Labour will tell you that, the Workers Compensation Board will tell you that. Why introduce it? Is it a safety issue? No. They want to open up the door, the thin edge of the wedge, to start doing away with safety laws, making it mandatory for a review every five years or bringing in a sunset clause. You can do that without the legislation. We can do it without the legislation, so why is it here, why is it on the books? Why is the minister so determined to introduce legislation that is counterproductive to the economy, to the growth of business and to the safety of the people of Nova Scotia?

Documented, as I have stated before, is the fact that the number of preventable deaths is going down because of the legislation that was introduced and enacted back in 1995-96. The number of injuries, the number of claims before the Workers' Compensation Board has gone down. This minister and this government want to tamper with success. Why?

[4:30 p.m.]

That is the question that has not been answered, Mr. Speaker, it has not been answered. What is the government hiding, and whose agenda is at play here? Whose agenda is being fulfilled? Because industry is going to lose, labour is going to lose, the integrity of the system is at risk, and I can see what is going to happen. We are going to tax the Workers' Compensation Board back to what it was before to the point of bankruptcy.

When the former Minister of Labour, the honourable Jay Abbass introduced legislation, and some of it was tough, it wasn't perfect. There were problems with the Steen bill as it was referred to. There were problems with the fact that certain limitations were put

[Page 9621]

on to deal with the unfunded liability, which was $476 million if my memory serves me correctly, when he took over as minister, after the John Buchanan group went out the door.

It was estimated, I believe it was a 45-year plan to pay down that in a reasonable fashion so that small private business people such as the member for the Eastern Shore would not be taxed to the point of being incapable of doing business. Because it would be just too costly between Workers' Compensation, unemployment insurance, Canada Pension, all the administrative fees, accounting and so on, to the point where all you were doing was just shuffling paper. That is why it was done in that fashion, but we did it so well, Mr. Speaker, that even by the admission of the CEO at the Workers' Compensation Board, that unfunded liability will be wiped out in another ten years. In other words, in approximately 15-maybe 16 years, a $476 million dollar bill was paid that was estimated to take 45 years. That is how well we are doing.

The number of injuries have gone down because of the safety, the training programs by all these organizations which the government monitors. The government monitors safety first and the Nova Scotia Construction Safety Association and any other entities that are within the system. They are audited, they are reviewed, and they will all agree that what we have here is second to none in this country, not just the province, but in the country. So if the government wants to review something in five years, they can do it. They don't need legislation. What is the purpose? Why legislate against success? What is the political agenda?

If we start tampering with one aspect of it, it will have the domino effect. It will start when more injuries occur in the marketplace. Then the employers are filling out forms for their employees because they are going to the Workers' Compensation Board and dada-dada, and as they would say in contemporary terms yada-yada-yada. What will happen, Mr. Speaker, the domino theory will kick in, and we will be back to where we started, pre-Westray.

It is so sad because Westray could have been a great success story. How many lives were lost? How many families were seriously scarred, emotionally, psychologically in so many other ways. Not only that, but the professional careers of public servants that were involved in the system at that time, claimed both publicly and privately, the claims were made of political pressure because the Premier of the day, the politicians of the day wanted that project. They had a single-minded view: let's do it, don't listen to all these people in the system, never mind all that red tape, that is just a liability to success. Well, some liability it turned out to be. So we could proceed with another Westray tomorrow and still do it successfully.

[Page 9622]

That is the good news about what we have today. We could actually do it because the IRS system that is built into the Occupational Health and Safety Act, not this document, not Bill No. 68, but what is on the books now, is designed to prevent political interference, Mr. Speaker, because the inspection process, the investigative process, all this here is done.

For example - for those who aren't aware - let's say you had one of the Michelin plants. They have more than 25 employees, so they have a safety committee, employer and employee representatives. They meet at least once a month, and they keep a record of the issues. So if there is a safety issue that is of concern, that is documented. Both groups, employers and employees sign off and if there is still disagreement in there - let's say for example, if that is not corrected, then there is still disagreement as to whether it should or it shouldn't be - there is an appeal process where an employee can go to the Department of Labour. It is like checks and balances all the way through.

Eliminating these rules and regulations is opening up the back door for a complete meltdown of everything that has been put together. It is a complete meltdown process, and that is what I find so disturbing. I often wonder how many of the ministers over on that side of the House, or how many of the backbenchers, even know what we are talking about when we are talking about the mechanics of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. I will bet you, Mr. Speaker, if we were to ask right now, each and every member over there, what the IRS system is all about, I seriously doubt if more than 50 per cent even knew what we were talking about. They would say, you are talking about the Internal Revenue Service from the United States, or the Irish Republic Service or something like that. They have no clue about what is being tampered with here. No clue whatsoever; that is the scary part.

Mr. Speaker, I have said it again, and I will say it one final time because I know the government has the majority and they are going to pass it; they have said they are going to pass it. This bill is a licence to kill, and that is as simple as you can make it. The day will come to pass when they will have to wear it again, like a previous Tory Government did, and they will all have to hang their heads in shame and try to pick up the pieces and make things better. Political opportunism is a bad, bad component for public policy, and that is what we see here.

The Community Services legislation, whether we agree with all the facets of that or not, it is very complex. It is the end result of a reform process that was initiated by a previous administration to a certain extent; some things are a little different, some things are the same. But it is a lot easier, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that we find the resources to make sure that people have the basic nutrients such as food and shelter and telephone if that ever comes to pass, things like that. That is a lot easier than going out to a job site and finding somebody who was killed needlessly. That is a lot easier to deal with because it is a social issue that we have some control over. When we do away with the safety laws of the Province of Nova Scotia, then we are opening it up for a sad state.

[Page 9623]

I am very committed to this particular issue, Mr. Speaker, because I was a Minister of Labour at one time. I would venture to say it took me close to six months to really understand the process because it is that complex. It is complex, but it is easy to defend, it is easy to apply and it is easy to understand why it took so long to put it together so that all stakeholders would be afforded equal opportunity to be the stakeholders in ensuring the best legislation going. We saw the results of the report that was done with all the recommendations and I see a very dark day ahead.

It is very unfortunate because it all seemed to have started the day that the member for Digby, when he was on this side of the House, no more than three feet from where I am standing now, stood in his place and introduced a private member's bill to do away with occupational health and safety and now he is a senior member in that government. That is scary when you see that type of logic imposed on the people of Nova Scotia. It is scary.

Even the piece of legislation with regard to Sydney Steel, or Duferco, or whatever name you want to apply, it is something, you know, making exemption with the environment components. I tabled a document the other day that was signed by a Dr. Cohen, the company doctor for the Cape Breton Development Corporation, which clearly states, after 20 years in environments such as Sydney Steel, the effects of all the pollutants and so on from the acetylene torches and all the gases and so on, it is clear evidence that there is irreparable harm to the health of those individuals. This minister who introduced the bill to do away with occupational health and safety now has his own piece of legislation to put another cap to prevent people from being properly compensated because of damages to their health through no fault of their own.

What is the impact going to be on the workers' compensation system? That is the scary part because I can close my eyes and I can see it now, call after call after call, oh, you know, John Joe down the street, that is kind of a questionable thing, really. Let's kind of get things together and make sure this guy gets his claim processed because he has always been a good supporter of ours. I mean the evidence was so overwhelming there. That is why 95 per cent of all appeals were overturned because people were not being treated fairly. They were being treated politically. Some people got too much and others who really deserved it had to go through the meat grinder to get any justice.

We do not want partisan justice. We do not want partisan politics in this process. We want to keep the politicians away from it. That is why Bill No. 68 is a bad piece of legislation and it will come back to haunt you. It will come back to haunt everyone of us. The sad fact is the figures are staring them clearly in the face, Mr. Speaker. After this legislation came in, the number of preventable deaths, if you were to plot a graph, you would see it going down, 20 per cent, 25 per cent. Every year the number of deaths were less and less because people adopted a new way of doing business in the market place, both employers and employees.

[Page 9624]

[4:45 p.m.]

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, as presented here, will actually leave people such as those, the parents and the students at Halifax West High School out in the cold; hazardous materials, Bill No. 68. Bill No. 68 opens up the door to say, tough luck. Tough luck for the parents and the students at Halifax West High School. A school with a service station, prevailing winds going to the school every day carrying gas and fumes. No matter what they do with that school that is going to be a problem for them, and this piece of legislation makes it tougher for them to achieve any type of a redress.

Mr. Speaker, I will not be supporting this particular piece of legislation and I seriously doubt if any of my caucus colleagues will, because it is bad and the government should be ashamed of themselves. Just because they had a political agenda and tried to - it is all about optics. Let's sell the message that we really did cut down on red tape, get rid of all that bureaucratic baloney that we seem to be encumbered by. But they picked on the wrong one, let me tell you, you picked on the wrong one when you picked on this Act, because this is a licence to kill. I will leave it at that. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour it will be to close debate.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank members of the House for their participation in the debate and I conclude that debate at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 68. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 70.

Bill No. 70 - Sydney Steel Corporation Sale Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for the Sydney Steel Corporation Act.

[Page 9625]

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of this bill.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: It is hard to defend the indefensible.

Mr. Speaker, I guess the curtain is slowly but surely falling on Sydney Steel and I just hope that it is not curtains for the plant as well, because this deal that was put through here, this bill we are discussing - I will get into the bill in a few moments - Bill No. 70, An Act Respecting the Sale of the Assets of Sydney Steel Corporation, should be reworked and it should read, An Act Respecting the Give-Away of the Assets of Sydney Steel, that is what should be the title of the bill.

It is a political bill, it has been from day one. In keeping with the government's commitment to get out of the steel business at any cost, and they are doing just that to keep an election promise that probably gained them a number of seats. We all recall the infamous post card the Minister of Education sent around during her election campaign pitting one end of the province against the other.

Also, it is a sad situation to deal with an industry the way this government has dealt with this, an industry that at one time employed over 5,000 people in this province and contributed greatly to the economy of the province over the years, since the turn of the century. It is now reduced to an operation that, probably as we speak here today has less than 50 employees and might go to 200 next spring. If everything goes according to what we hear from the government.

I will touch on the sale itself, but before I do that, I want to just remind members and remind the people, who are still interested in this debate and what has been happening with Sydney Steel, throughout this entire process we have forgotten about the contributions, all we have heard is what Sysco cost the taxpayers since the government took it over. As I said earlier, there are only two aspects of this agreement that I agree with, one, that the steel plant has to be privatized because of the mess government did in handling the role of owner of Sydney Steel for the past 30-plus years. The other part I agree with in the agreement is that the steelworkers who are eligible for pensions will probably be able to access those pensions earlier than they anticipated if this bill goes through.

Mr. Speaker, not only did the government put the gun to the steelworkers' heads and cock the trigger, they said, if you don't heel and sign that agreement with Duferco, then you are not going to get any pensions and you are not going to get the few jobs that Duferco are going to put in Sydney. Steelworkers had no choice but to accept what most of them would consider to be a bad deal, but nevertheless a deal where clearly they had no other option.

[Page 9626]

Mr. Speaker, I will say again, we don't hear about the contributions of Sydney Steel to the economy of Nova Scotia, to the businesses in the Burnside Industrial Park over the years, to the businesses in and around Sydney. To the businesses such as the railway, to all of the other goods and services that were provided to Sysco over the years and, of course, the payroll that was generated by Sydney Steel over the years. Much of it found its way up here to Halifax, some of it found its way to other parts of the province.

Mr. Speaker, a lot of the people who I grew up with worked in the Sydney steel plant. My father worked there, he worked there for 42 years. I am going to tell you that steelworkers are proud people. Steelworkers never wanted the situation to end the way it did in Sydney, they didn't want that. They wanted to be left alone to produce rails, which is what they were doing very well for a number of years and it was starting to look like it was going to be profitable, when along came somebody who decided that - Sysco has a chance of breaking even now so we are going to have to do something else to keep it down. That is when you heard the term radial streaking introduced and that Sysco rails were no good. You remember that, when we were doing a major China order at the time? We were on the verge of putting that order together for China, when we ended up in court. Immediately Canadian National left us and everybody else, all our customers went somewhere else.

What did we have to do? It took us about two and one-half to three years to convince CN and CP and other rail customers that there was nothing wrong with those rails in the first place. Sysco workers were vindicated in that by the courts. Vindicated by the courts, but it was too late. We had lost the business, hence those years realized a bottom line that simply was too much for the taxpayers to bear any more.

Mr. Speaker, it was not the fault of the Sydney steelworkers. There was a planned attempt to keep Sydney Steel down for a number of reasons, which I won't bore this House with today, because it is history. What isn't history is the dedication, because that will last for a long time, of Sydney Steel workers over the years. Much has been said about the Sydney Steel plant, and the steelworkers have been maligned over the years, unjustly maligned over the years.

Of all the people I have dealt with in my years as Mayor in Sydney and my years in this Legislature and when I was living in Sydney, prior to entering public life, never once did I have any difficulty with steelworkers in Sydney. Never once was there any kind of a suggestion in our community that the steelworkers were less than honest, hardworking people. That is exactly what they were. They worked eight hours a day, and they produced steel. They produced for the war effort back in the Second World War. They produced for the economy of Cape Breton, for the economy of Nova Scotia and for the economy of Canada.

[Page 9627]

Mr. Speaker, again, much has been said unjustly about the labour record. Well you can count on one hand in 100 years the labour disruptions at Sydney Steel by steelworkers. Militant was not a word employed by the Sydney steelworkers. Militancy was not there. What was there was a dedication to make steel and to make good steel. It was only when government started to become involved in the early days that government felt there should be more people working at the Sydney steel plant for political purposes. Those extra numbers there probably contributed to the red ink that came out of that plant. Simply put, there wasn't enough tonnage being put out of the Sydney steel plant to support the number of people that were working there. That should have been addressed years ago. It was being addressed in the past couple of years because we realized that, to operate Sydney Steel with a profit or at least a break-even position, you would need to take approximately 400 people out of the plant and then operate a rail mill with 400 people working. That would have taken the red ink out of the bottom line. That is what should have been done. This is what should not have been done with Duferco.

Mr. Speaker, again, I have a great deal of sympathy for the position of the steelworkers of late. All they want now is to be given a half-decent standard of living, to be able to put this behind them, this nightmare that they have lived through, to be able to put it behind them. But the nightmare is not over because the government made sure of that. The nightmare is not over because we have an agreement here with Duferco and the Government of Nova Scotia. Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation, Duferco Participations Holding Limited and now in the bill, we have another name of the company, and then in the agreement that was signed with the steelworkers, we have Duferco (Sydney). Is it any wonder people are upset about this bill, about the future of the plant when we don't even know who is buying it. We have no idea who is buying the plant. We don't know who the principals are. I have only heard one name. We have asked repeatedly in this House and outside this House, who are the major players of Duferco? All we get is Duferco USA, go find out who the directors are. We are not going to tell you. Ferret that information out.

This is nothing more than a political bill, Mr. Speaker. It is a bill that contains 11 clauses. Now you imagine, an industry that has been in Nova Scotia, in Sydney, Cape Breton Island for a hundred years, and there is the end result, an 11 clause bill that says nothing about the sale, a giant give-away of taxpayers' money to get rid of the steel plant. Anybody can negotiate a deal like that when you are giving a company $21 million to take it off your hands. Then they are going to end up with hundreds of millions of dollars in assets. Anybody can do a deal like that. We didn't want to do a deal like that. We were not prepared to do any deal until it was the right one for the community. This is not the right deal.

To go a step further, Mr. Speaker, we couldn't even get assurances from the government that Duferco is going to hire any steelworkers. As of this moment, Duferco is not committed to hiring one steelworker. What they are saying they are going to do, is they are going to hire 215 people by next summer. In the meantime, these people are going to run out of EI this winter sometime. Some of them are running out now as we speak, and will

[Page 9628]

have nothing. What is Duferco's commitment? Nothing to the steelworker except we are perhaps going to hire 215 people.

Mr. Speaker, to listen to the minister earlier today in Question Period talking about, they are going to go to 500 people. He is not going to stop at 215, we are going to go to 500. He is talking for Duferco now. Who is going to pay for the modernization that is needed to go to 500 that they are talking about. Is there a hidden deal there? Is the government out of the steel plant? Or, not only are they going to give Duferco $21 million, they are also going to provide them with some money in the future to fix the place up so they can increase the production? Is that what is going to happen here? Is there a deal cut?

[5:00 p.m.]

We do not know if there is a deal cut, Mr. Speaker, because this deal, which is much more substantive, at least in the number of pages than the bill, is not signed. As we speak today, these deals are not signed. The schedules are not even signed. So once this deed is done, once this final curtain has come down today on Sydney Steel, once that happens they can do whatever they want with this deal. They could throw those pages away and put some new pages in there for Duferco because they have cleared the House. The privatization legislation is out of here. It is another indication of the government's attempt to get these bills through the House with as little information as possible and it is also a contempt for the democratic process where these unsigned documents were not signed and not made available to members of this House prior to second reading of this bill.

Do you know what the minister said about that? The minister said there was no need for anybody to know that because if they did know the details, they would want to discuss it in the House. Now, isn't that terrible? We are selling a steel plant, Mr. Speaker, that has been around for 100 years and employs Cape Bretoners and the minister feels there is no need to know what is in the agreement because we would only ask questions on it if we were given it. That is some democratic process now in this House, that we did not need to know what was in the bill.

What is Duferco saying, Mr. Speaker? They are not saying anything. We cannot even find them. You would think they would be out in the hall waiting to shake all the hands of these people here for giving them something and then giving them a Christmas present of $21 million to boot. You would think they would be out there. You would think they would be taking them all to supper tonight. Maybe they are, but they are not making themselves available to the press out there, I will tell you that, to answer questions. They have not done that. Finding Duferco officials is trying to grab smoke because there are a lot of smoke and mirrors going on with this deal, I will tell you that. We have consistently asked who the directors are from this company and we cannot find out.

[Page 9629]

At the Law Amendments Committee, another joke in this process, you had a prominent Tory from Cape Breton, Jay Abbass, go to the committee and he quoted a great international figure in saying for the Tory Party, shame on you, this day will live in infamy. That is what Jay Abbass said at the Law Amendments Committee and he is one of the chief bagmen for the Tory Party over the years. So they cannot even get their friends to agree with this deal. He knows what is coming in this deal. He knows where the plant is heading.

Mr. Speaker, what about the environmental considerations of this bill that we have talked about here? Government does not care about that. They slipped that in there because they want to make sure that they have as limited liability in the future as they possibly can. I would have thought that the government, the Premier, or the minister, who does not seem to know anything about the agreement in the first place, but I would have thought that one of those people would have got on their feet here and said, yes, we are getting rid of the steel plant, but we are not going to forget the steelworkers who are left swinging in the wind which is the case with over 100 of them, another 200 uncertain whether they are going to get jobs.

Well, you know, there is a way to do two things here, to allow Duferco to go and get some new faces on the plant and take the existing workforce, all of them, including the 100 who are dangling there with nothing and will have nothing when this deal goes through, nothing, zero. Put them on the remediation project immediately, to keep going with the projects that we started to clean up Sydney Steel, because there are a number of structures on that property that are in the way. There are a number of structures that have to be taken down and there is a great deal of that property that has to be cleaned up environmentally and what has the government answered to that? Nothing, no commitment to clean up anything on that property.

The Premier made a promise that he would employ steelworkers in remediation work at Sydney Steel and we have heard nothing to that effect. What we have heard is that Duferco is going to employ some people. The Premier said they were going to employ steelworkers; I will not forget Sydney steelworkers, he said that in Sydney. There will be jobs for the ones who aren't on pension or aren't eligible for a pension. As soon as he got two miles outside of Sydney, he forgot the promise. Steelworkers had faith in the Premier. I think they treated the Premier very fairly in Sydney.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: They thought he was a fair man.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I believe that to be the case, I think they thought he was a fair man. Boy, are they being fooled today, because on the very hour that this dastardly deed is going to be done here in this House, on the very hour, steelworkers are still not sure whether or not they are going to have jobs. They are still not sure whether they are going to be working on any environmental remediation project.

[Page 9630]

They are still not sure when they are going to get their pensions, although the government has conveniently started calling them, senior civil servants of the government have been calling them up and telling them to call the members for Cape Breton: the member for Cape Breton Centre, the member for Cape Breton Nova, myself and other members, and say, don't hold that bill up because we are going to get our pension cheques immediately when this bill clears the House. Well, that will remain to be seen.

I hope the information that they have been given is correct. I hope that when they call the president of Sydney Steel and he tells them, well, if the bill doesn't get through the House, we won't have time to process the cheques in December, you will probably have to wait until January. Some of them are running out of EI today, tomorrow, next week.

As we speak and the curtain is coming down, the steelworkers still aren't sure where they are heading, they still don't know whether they are going to be working. They still don't know whether Duferco is going to import some people, call them supervisors or whatever, there have been no guarantees. The only guarantee is that if Duferco leaves within five years, Mr. Speaker, then they will have to pay a penalty. Well, the penalties pale in comparison to what they are getting here. By the way, the penalty sections of this aren't even signed. So we don't even know if those are the real penalties, because that could be suddenly changed tomorrow or the next day, once this bill clears the House. Talk about smoke and mirrors. Talk about pulling a fast one on the people of this province.

I am going to tell you, Mr. Speaker - and I said it earlier in Question Period today - the people of Cape Breton took the Premier at his word on two issues: that the steelworkers would not be forgotten, and also that remediation work would employ steelworkers at Sydney Steel. We have heard nothing on either one of those issues. As a matter of fact, we had no commitments from this government that any steelworkers are going to be hired by Duferco. What the government is saying is that Duferco is committed to hiring up to 215 people by next summer when they start up. The key word here is people, not steelworkers, not present day steelworkers who are on the books at Sysco but people. Anyone. They can compete I suppose, they will get an application form like everybody else and then they will go to the hall or some firm from God knows where will be in charge of doing the hiring who won't know the capabilities of these good, honest steelworkers who have been working there. They won't know their capabilities. They will rule them out for other reasons, either they are too old or, in their opinion, they are not fit enough or they are burned out or they are not exactly the type of person they are looking for. They will use all kinds of excuses. I can see where there are going to be steelworkers left swinging in the wind here. Hung out to dry. I can see that happening.

When you look at it now, there were 700 people working there a year ago or a year and one-half ago; there are 30, approximately, working there right now, doing maintenance work. That's not expected to increase until next summer.

[Page 9631]

But the government can sit back now and say, well, you know, we said we were going to get rid of Sydney Steel, well they are actually getting rid of it, and I will say it again for the benefit of those who have just entered the House, who were not here a little while ago. It is not hard to get rid of an industry when you give it away. It is not hard to get rid of it when you pay somebody to take it, which is what happened here, and it is not hard to realize what is going to happen when you know that this company did not go anywhere near the marketplace to try to hang on to some of the customers Sysco fought to get back, and were successful in getting back, like Canadian National and Canada Pacific and some offshore business. They didn't even bother doing that, because Duferco said, well, we don't want to produce rails here. All we want is some semi-finished stock for our own plants.

How long is that going to last? When two things happen - either they determine that they don't need any more feedstock from Sysco, out of their plant, or that it is deemed to be too costly to produce it in Sydney, as some steel analysts have already suggested. Why would Duferco come all the way into Sydney to do that? There has to be another reason why they are there.

Mr. Speaker, I will guarantee you that in two to three years that railmaking equipment will be used all right, but it will be somewhere else. The last tricks the Tories played on the steelworkers were to get rid of the wire net and nail mill, and some of the other mills that were down there. Where did they end up? Right across the harbour here, in private hands, thanks to R. B. Cameron and some other Pictou County entrepreneurs, who decided that it wouldn't work in Sydney but it would sure work there, and Mr. Cameron was the president of the company. He did a great favour. Do you know what they did for that? They made him citizen of the year in Sydney, before the deed happened, mind you, not after. That was how he repaid them for making him citizen of the year, he took portions of the plant and dragged them up here, and his company ended up owning them.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to tell you, what is going to happen here is that that railmaking equipment, at some point in the near future, will be operating, but it won't be operating in Sydney. It will be interesting to see who ends up owning that railmaking equipment, and who ends up making rails, domestically, in Canada. I am going to tell you another fact that is generally lost on the people of this province. Sydney Steel was the only railmaker left in Canada. Now Canadian National is buying rails offshore, our own company in Canada is buying rails offshore.

Mr. Speaker, there is a deal being cooked here and I hope I am not standing here in a couple of years saying I told you so. Part of that plant will be somewhere else, operated by a private company for profit somewhere else. What about the railway? Has the government given any consideration to what is going to happen to the last rail link between Cape Breton and the mainland? It seems to me that there are certain people opposite who would like us to go back to the stagecoach days - it takes us longer to get off the Island, and we won't be

[Page 9632]

bothering people if it takes us longer. Maybe we will give up trying to come off the Island, and we will stay down in Sydney. That is the way it is going.

Has anybody given any consideration to what is going to happen to that railway, with the loss of the business at Sydney Steel? Another benefit. How many people in the railway are going to be laid off in the near future? Is Duferco going to be shipping their semi-finished products by boat? If they are, how is the railway going to sustain itself, with the lack of coal being shipped and now no rails being shipped? What is going to happen to the railway? No discussion of that by the government.

What is going to happen to the municipality? You look at the government opposite and they couldn't care less about the fact the municipality is going to lose $1 million in taxes that they were getting in lieu. Then the minister says, oh, I don't think the taxes are going to be anywhere near that. Has a deal been cut with Duferco, that they are not going to pay the full taxation on that plant? Because if it hasn't, then I expect the assessed value of that plant for tax purposes should be well above $1 million in actual payment. So is Duferco going to get off the hook here? Has that deal been cut? We don't know because these are all unsigned. We only got them on a need-to-know basis in second reading. They are not signed, the schedules. They can be changed tomorrow morning, probably will be changed tomorrow morning. So that big piece of paper there doesn't mean anything, and this little one with the 11 clauses is the dastardly deed that is being done here today to the people of industrial Cape Breton. Imagine saying they are doing a good thing for the people of Sydney when there are only 30 people left at Sydney Steel Corporation and maybe there might be 215 next year. We are not even sure who they are going to be, and we are not even sure whether they are going to be steelworkers at all.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I have been on my feet here a number of times regarding Sydney Steel both on that side of the House and on this side of the House. I can tell you that I was prepared to go as far as I had to to get the right deal while at the same time trying to ensure that we recaptured the rail business that was out there, and we did. We qualified with CN. We made a good demonstration order for them that was satisfactory. They were in the process of coming to us with their tender last year which was absent the previous two years because of the problems I talked about earlier with the so-called radial streaking which had no basis in fact. We were prepared to stick with it until that happened. We were also prepared to take the number of people out of the workforce that was draining the cash flow of the plant. In other words, we knew we had too many people there.

But what we didn't want to happen is what is happening here today. We wanted to keep a rail mill in Sydney with approximately 400 people working which would have meant no red ink; not with 800, that was why we were losing money. We had too many people there. We had to take 400 people out, were in the process of trying to do that with an

[Page 9633]

approved pension package, which we started - and I will get to that in a moment. We were trying to come to an agreement with the union, and they were receptive to this, that 400 of their brothers that were working in Local 1064 would retire with a decent pension. The other 400 would produce rails for a profit on the plant. What was wrong with that? Nothing, except we didn't win the election, that is what was wrong with it, and this is the result of what is happening here.

This is the result of that I-don't-care attitude toward industrial Cape Breton in particular and Cape Breton in general (Interruption) and rural Nova Scotia. I am going to tell you that what I am saying here today is on the record forever I guess in this province, as long as there are records going to be kept. I hope that these words I am saying here today are not a sign of something to come. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that this works. I hope that 500 people are working at Sydney Steel in the coming year. But am I optimistic? No, I am not. How can anybody be optimistic when we haven't seen anything on the deal? We haven't seen anything. We don't even know what the deal is. We don't even know who the owners are. They are ghosts. We haven't seen them. They are not coming here. Why aren't they holding a press conference outside and telling the press of this province what they are going to do with Sydney Steel? Why aren't they doing that? Why are they hiding until after this deal goes through the House? Then they will have their way with the plant. That is what will happen. They will have their way.

I am going to tell you, Mr. Speaker, the people I represent and the people these members on this side of the House represent in Cape Breton are not going to be fooled by this. They are not going to be fooled, they know what is happening here. They know it is a political promise that was kept up here to try to get a couple of people elected in the south end of Halifax and other seats in this area. They still had very slim majorities even after that. I don't even think that is enough to save them for a second term because people in Nova Scotia are basically fair people, and they know what is happening here. They know what is going on. They know that this curtain coming down on Sydney Steel is not the end of the problem, but only the beginning. They know that.

The government talks a lot about what they are going to do there. Well, we have not seen very much of that. The Premier likes to talk about what he has done with EDS. We could debate that, but I am going to tell you EDS is in Sydney because of the federal government and the incentive programs that the MacLellan Government put in place to get them down there. It was only this group that happened to be in office when the deed was finalized, but we put the payroll tax rebate system in place, not that government and that is why they are down there. The other three call centres are there because we were in office and we put them there. Don't talk about what this government has done in industrial Cape Breton because they have not done anything, you are right, they have not done anything.

[Page 9634]

When you look at Duferco, I am amazed that the government can get away with this. The government, well, let's call them a majority government and an affront to democracy they could not care less whether it is right, but it is expedient. That is all they want, they want to get out of here, sell the steel plant, give it away, pay somebody to take it without even a by-your-leave.

Where are the Duferco people? Why aren't they telling Nova Scotians what they are going to do? Why aren't they holding a press conference outside here to tell the media of this province who they are, never mind what they are going to do, but who they are. There is nothing in the agreement here, we do not even know which company is buying this steel plant. You had Duferco Holdings, Duferco U.S.A., Duferco (Nova Scotia) and now you have Duferco (Sydney). What assets does Duferco (Sydney) have? We don't know that. We have no idea. I hope it is better than the asset base of Minmetals that we ended up dealing with before, which had nothing.

Who is responsible for this company? Is there anybody responsible at the end of the day? Who are the people who are going to own the assets of Sydney Steel after today when this agreement has either signed away this or it is thrown away and a new one is crafted tomorrow because they are out of the House, the bill has gone through the House, Sysco is no longer a public corporation. This can be changed, Mr. Speaker. It can be changed and I am sure it is not going to be changed to the benefit of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. It is going to be changed to further fulfil promises that were made to so-called Duferco and its agents, whoever they are; Duferco and its people, whoever they are. Are they 1, 2, 10, 20; are there any Nova Scotia businessmen here? Are there any people with Duferco that we know, that are close to the steel business? We don't even know that.

But, what we do know is that shortly, before we leave here this evening, unless something happens between now and then, the curtain will surely fall tonight and Sysco will be a private corporation tomorrow. The government will go home and tell their constituents that they took care of that promise. They got rid of Sydney Steel, but there were no new hospital beds accompanying it, there were less hospital beds. Another false statement during the last election campaign. But it worked. They pitted Sydney Steel and its workers against the rest of the province and it worked.

Sydney Steel workers did not deserve to be used as pawns in this whole game that the government is playing here; they did not deserve it and they will never forget it. I said in this House the other day it will be a long time before the people of my area will ever show any trust in a Tory Government. Imagine, coming to this House today with an 11 clause bill to sell a steel plant. What an affront to democracy. Then, Mr. Speaker, to say that we didn't need to know what was in this unsigned bunch of documents, agreement for the purchase. Can you imagine anybody agreeing that we did not need to see the agreement, that the press didn't need to see the agreement until we got second reading in the House? What an affront to democracy. Who does this crowd think they are that they can ram this stuff through with

[Page 9635]

no details. The devil, Mr. Speaker, is in the details, and the details we don't know, and the details aren't even finalized. The details aren't even signed. Are we going to see a much different repayment schedule if they don't fulfill their obligations in five years? Are we going to see that changed tomorrow? Are we going to see it changed Monday? Could be, could be.

Mr. Speaker, I think the arrogance surrounding this deal is a symptom of the arrogance this government has for Nova Scotians. They think this is a necessary evil to go through the procedures of coming to this House with some bills, and then deciding, well, it is time to go home, so let's get this bill through the House, and we will go home. I don't think Nova Scotians who are fair-minded people are going to ever forget that. I don't think they are going to forget that. Priorities matter. A John Hamm Government will close Sysco. Well, it is not quite closed, there are still 30 people there, so that promise wasn't even kept. There are still 30 people there. Imagine, 5,000 people were there during the war, and there are 30 people there today. The arrogance.

I guess I should also throw in here that the steelworkers are very, very disturbed by the fact they were left with no options. Some of them are reluctantly taking their pensions because they feel they have to protect their families. But I am going to remind Nova Scotians again that it was the MacLellan Government that signed the last contract with the Sydney Steel Corporation steelworkers prior to the Duferco one. This crowd over here, Mr. Speaker, never signed any contract with the steelworkers. They were too busy trying to get rid of them. But we signed a contract with them that called for improved pensions, which meant that the steelworker with 30 years' service at that contract signing would get $1,500 a month.

We also gave them the first raise in nine years at Sydney Steel Corporation. Because we were preparing to take some of the steelworkers out on pension, we signed that first pension deal. When this government comes up and tries to con Nova Scotians into thinking they were very generous to Sydney steelworkers, it was the previous government that put the lion's share of funding in the pension plan for steelworkers. This government topped it up only to make the deal more palatable to get rid of them more quickly. What happened then was Duferco was sent in, some people with that company, and they were sent in for the express purpose of saying to the steelworkers that you either heel and sign this contract or we are walking, the government is going to close the plant, and you will get absolutely nothing. That is what they were told. Can you imagine, bringing them all down to the hotel in Sydney to sign the contract, and as a result of that, telling them all what a great bunch of people they are. Then when I ask for a commitment in this House whether or not they are going to be hired, I can't get that commitment from anybody over there, including the Premier, who said he was going to give them the commitment before, but is not living up to that.

There is no place in this agreement with Duferco that calls for Duferco to employ steelworkers. Nothing in this agreement that suggests that Duferco must employ steelworkers. That flies in the face of what the Premier told the steelworkers. The Premier

[Page 9636]

forgot to tell Duferco that. He told the steelworkers that, but he forgot to tell Duferco. So Duferco is going to have their own way with that plant once this legislation clears the House.

[5:30 p.m.]

I want to talk about another issue the government could have done here in regard to this bill, what they could have done in regard to the equipment on the docks at Sydney Steel, in regard to the equipment, what we call common-use equipment, that other people in the area could have used, small businesses connected with the offshore, shipping, trying to strengthen Sydney Harbour as a major port, they could have used that equipment. The government knew that, and the government could have cut that out of the deal and gave it to the local community in trust with some groups, so that the local community would, in fact, have access to it immediately.

Mr. Speaker, do you know what the government did? The government said, you deal with Duferco, they will look after you. Now the local group has to trot on over to Duferco's offices next week and try to make a deal for that equipment. I will guarantee you that if Duferco doesn't get the deal they want, they will sell that equipment somewhere else, and Sydney will again be the loser, Sydney Harbour. Why? Because perhaps somebody may have said, listen, government, you can't give that equipment to anybody down in Sydney, they might start an industry along the harbour and some other harbour may lose some business, or they will become competitive in the offshore. Heaven forbid that.

The government made sure they didn't give that equipment, which they own, because they own Sydney Steel, the government made sure they weren't going to get involved and give Sydney a leg up with any equipment that would go to the people, the entrepreneurs who are struggling down there to get involved in the offshore industry. Heaven forbid we get a leg up with that. So the government didn't do that. Again, no commitment.

The only commitment the government has made that I can see is to give some company, where we can't identify the principals, $21 million. Why didn't they take the $21 million and be done with it, and give it to the steelworkers, and give them all a half-decent pension? Then give the rest of it to a group trying to develop Sydney Harbour. Why didn't they do that, instead of this sham, getting a new company in here by giving them $21 million and then presenting a bunch of agreements here that aren't even signed, and expecting Nova Scotians to buy this kind of garbage that we are presented with here today?

Mr. Speaker, this is not a good deal for Nova Scotians. It is not a good deal for Nova Scotians, and it certainly is not a good deal for Cape Breton. I can tell you what the people down there were hoping for were some hard fast commitments that people would be employed well into the future, and they are not in this particular agreement. The escape clauses in this agreement call for payments that are nowhere near what the value of the assets of Sydney Steel are. So, you buy something for nothing and it is worth $1 million, and you

[Page 9637]

have to pay a penalty of $1,000, then that is not too bad a deal, is it? You walk away with a pretty good chunk of change.

I hope that is not the case. I hope that I am wrong in my assessment. But I am not wrong in the assessment that the government did not pay any attention to the local needs of that community, our community, my community, the community of the members on this side of the House. I am going to tell you that there are a lot of disappointed people. Again I will go back to the equipment that is on the docks, the cranes, the other equipment that could be used in the promotion of the offshore. Nowhere did the government address that, they just threw it out the window, and never gave any consideration to giving the local community anything. They said, you go deal with Duferco, Duferco will look after you.

Well, I sincerely hope Duferco does what the government wouldn't do. I hope that Duferco gives that equipment in trust to local groups so that they can start doing some work in the offshore and using that equipment for shipping off the piers. I hope that Duferco will do that. I will congratulate Duferco if they do that, because this crowd wouldn't do it when they had the opportunity, when they owned the plant, they wouldn't even do that. They wouldn't even give equipment to local entrepreneurs to give a head start on something in that area. I suspect the reason why is their friends, maybe in other parts of the province, said look, government, don't you dare give anybody in Sydney anything, because they are liable to be competing with us in the future. We don't need that, we don't need anybody from Cape Breton, any entrepreneurs stepping on our toes or infringing on our territory, particularly the offshore. So, the easiest way to slow them down is not to give them any equipment.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know how much time I have.

MR. SPEAKER: You have until 5:48 p.m.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Well that is too bad, because I have about two more hours of speech. Maybe I will come back after a bit, after I finish my first hour.

Mr. Speaker, I would not be keeping faith with the people I represent if I sat down and took this silently. After all that has happened at Sydney Steel, we are reduced to an 11-clause document presented to this House with no details, nothing. There were no details presented during second reading; details that are in the agreement, not signed, can be changed. The government literally got the pants taken off themselves in this deal by a company. They gave the steel plant away and then gave them $21 million as a bonus. That is some negotiation, whoever negotiated that deal . . .

AN HON. MEMBERS: That was a hard sell.

[Page 9638]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, that was a hard sell. Whoever negotiated that deal, I would not want them working for me. It was probably Jim Spurr. He is dealing with everything else over there, speaking for the minister who doesn't know anything about the deal and consistently in this House does not even know who the directors of Duferco are, he probably has not even met them. But that is consistent with that minister in the department. I have gone there before with that minister and he knows nothing about his portfolio at all and he is content to let that be the case. It is come day, go day for him and if he gets through the day, there is tomorrow. I think that is what he has been doing since he got into Cabinet. He certainly has not been talking about this bill with any kind of reason.

Mr. Speaker, I will tell you that the implications of this particular deal are going to be far-reaching but, unfortunately for us they are going to be spread out a little bit; the implications are going to come in instalments. The first thing we will see is part of the equipment leave. The second thing we will see is the equipment on the docks, if Duferco doesn't get the right deal out of the local people who are looking for that equipment - local entrepreneurs, some of them friends of the government who will have something more to say about it, I would expect - if that is the case, if they cannot come to a deal, then that equipment will disappear somewhere else. The company will pick at the assets

If the company doesn't get the kind of tax break they want - and we don't know whether they have a tax break. We don't know what the deal is here. If we only knew, is the government cooking up a municipal tax deal with this company? We don't know that, we have no idea, but I will suggest to you that something is in the wind there, Mr. Speaker, about a tax deal, I will tell you that, because a notice went out to the municipality saying, you are not getting $1 million, and the minister said the taxation would be far less than that, to the municipality. The last estimate I did on the assessed value of the assets of Sydney Steel would have called for a tax payment in excess of $2 million. Is that going to disappear? Perhaps.

What about the agreements with Nova Scotia Power? Now, there is something I haven't touched on very much. There were three conditions to the sale. One was the workers' contract, which they put the gun to their heads, cocked the trigger and said, take it or you are gone; boom, we are out of here. The steelworkers didn't have any choice in that one. The second one, of course, is that they reach suitable financial arrangements with the government and all that goes with it.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Speaker, the third one was successful negotiations with Nova Scotia Power. What are those negotiations? What did the government give away to Nova Scotia Power? I am sure that Nova Scotia Power didn't give that company a break on power out of the goodness of their hearts. Their shareholders certainly would not put up with that if they are going to give away their profits to an American company that may not be here in a couple of years. I am sure that Nova Scotia Power is not in the business of give-aways, but we do not know that, you know, maybe Santa Claus came early through Nova Scotia

[Page 9639]

Power. Maybe that is what is happening here, that Nova Scotia Power woke up and said we want to be better corporate citizens so we are going to give breaks all over the place here in order for this company to exist. If they were going to do that, why did they not do it when the government had the plant and we asked them to do it before?

We do not know that though, Mr. Speaker, because there is nothing in this deal, this unsigned bunch of papers here, laughingly called an agreement for purchase and sale of assets, between about five companies and the government. The schedule on the back is not signed, none of it is signed, just put in here at the last moment because that minister knew that the patience of the press was running out looking for this, that the patience of the members of this House was running out and would probably try to hold the bill up as long as we could because of lack of information. Well, we did not get any more information. What we got was this.

I cannot find any agreement of what Nova Scotia Power is going to do here. I have not even seen the agreement between Duferco and the workers. We do not even know who the signatories are as far as Duferco goes. We do not even know the corporate structure of Duferco (Sydney). We have no idea about the corporate structure of Duferco (Sydney). Maybe the same players are there who were there with the previous company that we put the run on before, the one that Mr. Abbass was representing last week which, by the way, is the only thing I can ever think of that would have been a worse deal than this one, but maybe they are involved. Maybe there is a hidden agenda there. Maybe some of those people are involved, I do not know. Can anybody here tell me who is involved with Duferco, who the people are, whether there are faces to the company name? Can anybody tell me that? Can anybody tell me why Duferco is afraid to hold a press conference in the Red Room and tell Nova Scotians what they are going to do with Sydney Steel and who they are and introduce themselves? Can anybody tell me why Duferco is afraid to do that? No, nobody can tell me.

I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that most members of the government do not know who Duferco is and could not care less. All they care about is getting rid of this plant today and the ramifications of that, we will deal with later. What they are saying, they can go home for Christmas and they can say we got rid of Sydney Steel. What they did was not get rid of Sydney Steel, they gave the Treasury away, they are giving it away. So I say to you that the title of the bill calling for the sale should be reworded and called the give-away, the great give-away of Nova Scotia tax money because that is what it is, to a company we cannot even identify. I have not seen any balance sheets or any kind of financial information on Duferco (Sydney), or Duferco (Nova Scotia), or Duferco Holdings. It depends on which document you pick up which name is on it. I have never seen a company in my life with so many different titles as this one.

Nova Scotians are supposed to be pleased, I guess, with the government, supposed to be pleased that this deal is now done. However, this deal is not done. The government is not out of the steel business because the government has made commitments to this

[Page 9640]

company, financial commitments to this company. So they are still in the steel business whether they like it or not. The difference is they have given the assets away. They have given the assets on the ground away. They have given away forever the right of Sydney steelworkers to make rails. They have given away that away and the Sydney steelworkers made good rails and they will never have an opportunity to do that again in Sydney.

They also probably will have to wait a long time for any remediation work to happen around that site because there will always be an excuse that somebody is working on some part of that plant doing something which would negate the need or the desire for anybody to do any remediation work on that plant. Now, I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that this government has certainly fumbled the ball on this deal. There is no question about that because it is not a deal, it is a straight give-away of taxpayers money.

[5:45 p.m.]

The least they could do is commit substantial funds to clean up a hundred years of industrial blight around that site and to employ steelworkers and other unemployed people in Sydney to do that work. What a legacy if the government would commit $15 million or $20 million to a cleanup project there and employ 1,000 workers for the next five years with some help from the federal government. I know the federal government would kick in if this government took the lead. What a legacy it could leave if they would do that, instead of just walking away from your responsibility, leaving it in the condition it is in now. The working parts of the plant, we don't know how long they are going to be working.

We have no idea how long Duferco is going to be there. We have no idea who they are going to employ. We have no idea even who they are, and this bill is going through the House. I have never seen anything as important as this put up in such a manner that this bill has been put up here in the House. Eleven clauses, no background information on it, no discussions publicly with the company, nothing.

I say again, shame on that government for not introducing the people who are buying the Sydney Steel Corporation plant and getting a $21 million reward for doing it. Shame on them for not introducing that company to the people of Nova Scotia and have them tell the people of Nova Scotia what they intend to do with Sydney Steel Corporation.

Now I understand, Mr. Speaker, that my time is drawing to a close. I just want to leave you with a comment I made when I started my remarks. The curtain is slowly but surely falling on Sydney Steel Corporation. I just hope this deal is not curtains for the community in Sydney. Thank you very much.

[Page 9641]

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to open my remarks tonight about the sale of Sydney Steel and in particular Bill No. 70. This government is going to need to expand its health care budget to get work done on some of the people on the other side, their elbow joints for patting themselves on the back for what a great deal they have done. It would be nice to stand here tonight and everyone be in agreement that this indeed is a good bill.

It is a strange thing, because every Party came from this exact same perspective that Sydney Steel has to be taken out of public hands and put in the private sector. That was the one thing. Mr. Speaker, a wise man once said that in politics, most Parties agree on about 60 per cent of the legislation, and 40 per cent is where the fight lays. I would say that this government did this whole thing in reverse. There is probably about 40 per cent we agree on and 60 per cent we don't. We can give the long history of Sydney Steel, we can go back over 30 years of straight-ahead political interference. Some of the things I agree with the previous speaker, very few things, but I do on the political aspect of it and the idea of what was done to the workers in the community and therefore what was done to the community. Yet both Parties that had a real chance to do something positive over 30-some years of steelmaking in Sydney Steel certainly shirked their responsibility to say the least. In most instances, they out and out played the steelworkers for fools.

We talk about a pension deal for Sydney Steel employees. Is this pension deal adequate? Well, you will hear both sides, you will hear the former Minister responsible for Sysco saying that he was gonna, he was gonna if we just had let him, he was on the very cusp of doing something good for steelworkers. Now you listen to the minister of the day, he is telling us, boy, did we bang out a good deal. Again, neither Party will stand up in this House and say, the one group that really tried to make this arrangement work were the workers, they were the only ones. The member for Dartmouth South says, we are looking at him. No, because the member who used to represent Dartmouth South for the Tory Party was one of the main antagonists that caused some of the problems at Sydney Steel.

Mr. Speaker, nobody seems to stand up there and say, look what these guys did, they were vilified in the newspapers and in advertisements by this government for trying to make this thing work, but did anybody stand up and say, in a sane, rational way, look at these guys, industry-wide, from both sides of the border in North America that are accepting collective agreements and are accepting pension plans that are negotiated well below the industry norm. Why do you think they did that? Because they are dumb? Quite to the contrary, they did it because they were smart enough to want an industry to survive. To make a deal work, both sides, both parties to an agreement have to be forthright. I will tell you, since the late 1960's, by and large, there has only been one party to agreements at Sysco that were being forthright, and that was the workers.

[Page 9642]

They have only had, in 30-some years, one full-scale work stoppage over negotiations over a collective agreement, one, in heavy industry of over 30-some years. This whole idea that this government has foisted on Nova Scotians about steelworkers, and the previous speaker before that, who makes platitudes today about how great steelworkers are, but yet played them the same way. In this very book here, I have quotes, the infamous Christmas after Christmas sale. It looked like a bad Dickens scene, is what it looked like, trying to secure Christmas for these workers, with no real hope of a job. This document I have here is from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, it has various news clipping. What is interesting is to watch these news clippings, because coming up to Christmas, we have a sale, we think we have a sale, we are off to Texas, we banged one out last night. Then starting in the new year, well, it is not doing so good, the world steel market is falling, and so on. Then finally, we don't have a deal.

We have Bill No. 70 and its companion document, an agreement for the sale and purchase of the assets of Sydney Steel, and probably what should be put in there, is another one, another Christmas present from Christmas past, the one from December 31, 1999, the famous Rail Associates deal.

Mr. Speaker, these documents are offensive enough, often by themselves, but they are really offensive when I harken back to the words of the minister who says, there has to be trust. Who in heaven's name are we supposed to trust in this deal? For 30-some years, workers and the community have been getting it, but every time these guys would cook their pre-Christmas turkey dinner and foist it on unexpecting people in the community, what would happen? As Christmas cheer faded and Christmas bills came piling in, so would the broken promises. So there is no reason for anybody in industrial Cape Breton to be particularly happy about this sale. Why should we trust anybody in these governments? Time after time they have been told one thing and had another thing done to them. Yet, we are led to believe that that is supposed to be fine.

But let's talk more about today - it is no sense, what is done is done, but I wanted to get it on the record of how both parties have misused the workers and the community. I think I have done that.

Let's put some parameters around this deal. I will say that the government has been, I would say sly is a good word to use about the deal to sell Sysco. What did they do? They went in and said, okay, this is just a lousy deal for workers, it is a lousy deal for the province, it is a lousy deal for the environment, so how in God's good name do we get this thing passed? Somebody said, here is what we are going to do. We are going to do everything in reverse. We are not just going to package Sydney Steel for Duferco, we are going to tie the bow for them. Because what we did, as opposed to saying, okay, here is your deal, now go, and you have bought this, it is up to you to negotiate pension benefits with your employees, and it is up to you to negotiate a collective agreement. Oh, no that is just too commonplace. That makes way too much sense. That is the industry norm.

[Page 9643]

Step aside here, Bargains R' Us, the Tory Government, we are going to do one better for you. Here is what we are going to do and we are going to do this just for you, this one-time-only sale. Come on down. Here is what we are going to do, we are going to force the employees to take a substandard pension package. Then you know what we are going to do? That's 1999 - no, wait a second, we are going to load onto this deal, you know what we are going to do to really give it to the workers? We are going to get them to vote on the collective agreement that they have no community of interest on because they are out the door, but if you do not accept that deal behind door number 1, that closes the other doors and nobody gets nothing. So here is what we have for you, we got poison in this cup and poison in that cup - drink which one you wish.

That is what happened here. That is what has happened with this deal. So what they deviously did is they put community and workers against each other and indeed, workers against workers. For some reason, this government will look at you and say, that is not what we did. Well, that is what they did. Why in God's good name would you do that? Why would you vote on a collective agreement that you have no interest in? You are going out the door. If you even buy into what they did; say, okay, you got your pension package, you are no longer an employee of the company, therefore you don't have the rights as a member of the collective bargaining unit to vote.

Let's leave it up to these people that are left there - people, they take their substandard pension and they walk away. That makes a bit of sense. No, no, because if they did that they would not be able to box and corral the deal in a nice tight package. So what happens? They go forward and the same people who know that if I do not vote for this, I do not get my pension, therefore I am hell bound, duty bound to do that. I am duty bound to do that, Mr. Speaker, to do that no other way.

So what are we left with? After the compendium documents are done, we are left with banging out a bill. Now, we have wrapped up the workers . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will just interrupt the proceedings for one moment. With the agreement of the House, and we have prior agreement from the House leaders, we will not adjourn for the late debate this evening.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 9644]

[6:00 p.m.]

MR. CORBETT: So we get these documents, then we get the infamous bill, but I get ahead of myself here because we didn't. This infamous document was available and certainly could have been there for the perusal of members of this House and the general public, and indeed the members that work at Sydney Steel that was there for them. No, no. Yet another charade played by this government was, you can't see it until you let us pass second reading. Unheard of. Unheard of. Yet this government is saying, trust us. We have snookered the steelworkers on a pension deal, we have snookered the ones that are left with a collective agreement, now we want to snooker the people in the House, but trust us. Where do they come up with this fact that anybody should trust them? A goat wouldn't trust that lot. Yet, what goes on here?

Mr. Speaker, what is in this deal? I am not as upset as the Liberal Party about who signed the document and what documents within that deal are signed, whether it is called Duferco Farrell or Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation or whatever. I will tell you what I am worried about, because it is in essence a paper company in Guernsey. If we get this deal and if they pull away from this deal and all these ironclad guarantees that this government seems to have built into it, who do they go after? A non-existent paper company in the Channel Islands? Is that what we are left with here? That is what we have. We have a company that is put in by this government with, I would say, their support.

Who is this government going to go after? If they pull out after a year, who is this government going to go after? Is it going to take a little trip to the Channel Islands to see where everybody is? Let's see headquarters and take a stroll through the Channel Islands and see if there is a big glass and steel building 30 stories high with Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation written on it? Not likely, probably a little thatch roof place with a piece of paper on it saying, ha, ha.

Again, Nova Scotians are the losers. Mr. Speaker, that is a very relevant fact here. While obviously my first concern about the sale of Sydney Steel and how it was done is about the workers and the people in the community because that is where I live, a bigger picture here and a more far-reaching aspect is the people of this province, the whole province. This government doesn't realize that it is their money they are playing with. They keep telling us they are responsible financial people, but they are not. That also is another part of the charade. Whose money are they spending? They are spending taxpayers' money.

When Duferco took over, who owned the assets on the ground? Was it Duferco? No, it was the province. Who owned the scrap steel? The people of Nova Scotia. Yet the government took it upon itself to put that in as part of the deal. It was all right for us to give away the unsold inventory, which is unheard of in businesses. If you come in and buy a business, what you do is, someone would do an inventory and if you want to take ownership of that inventory, that is part of the sale. You do not give it away, it is part of the sale and any

[Page 9645]

of the following assets. You do not have to be a Rockefeller to understand that side of the business, but the hay seeds we had involved with this group were like, gosh, shucks, do you want to buy the farm, here it goes. That is the type of negotiations that went in and around Sysco.

Mr. Speaker, why would they want to do this deal like that? Well, as I have often said in this House, it is a self-fulfilling prophesy. They certainly saw that this was a commitment that on the surface Nova Scotians would agree with, and do you know what? They are probably to a small point, accurate. But what is going to happen, what is going to come around and bite them is the fact that Nova Scotians start realizing what a bad deal this is all around.

There is another group besides Duferco that is making out like bandits here and that is Ernst & Young. It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out over the years and the collegiality, we will say, that will be experienced between Duferco and Ernst & Young.

One of the things the previous speaker talked about was, if there is a new deal with Nova Scotia Power. I would think that our good friends at Ernst & Young and Duferco, and maybe to a point this government, have sat down with Nova Scotia Power. I would think that maybe we are going to see some money invested in upgrades at Sydney Steel, which are actually going to be upgrades, eventually, in decent-sized transmission lines to Sydney Steel so they can finally work the electric arc furnace at full capacity - because of the lack of foresight by a previous Tory Government about having adequate transmission lines in there - so that furnace could work to full capacity and therefore be able to make the capacity of steel to make money.

Conventional wisdom will tell you because of that lack of foresight, Mr. Speaker, that is one of the reasons, for the last number of years, why Sydney Steel, when it had orders, could not be profitable, because it was just impossible for it to make the production targets it needed to hit to be profitable because of the lack of foresight of a former Tory Administration. That is the truth; that is fact; it is not workmanship; it is nothing; it is right there; it is in black and white. Even their friends at Ernst & Young will tell them that that was a major fault with Sydney Steel in their ability to work as a full-capacity rail mill.

Again, it is trust me, I know we did this in the past but trust us today because that is where we are with it, Mr. Speaker. We are going to be all right, we are doing this in the best interests of Nova Scotians; we are doing this in the best interests of steelworkers; we are doing this in the best interest of the community. Well, I would like to know why keeping all these deals a secret is in the best interests of anybody, in a government that came to power trumpeting itself as being open and conciliatory and going out and talking to people.

[Page 9646]

It did neither in this bill, Mr. Speaker. This bill and indeed this sale which has to go hand in hand, I am wondering what is in here for Nova Scotians. I want to know, as many Nova Scotians want to know, one, for sure, very large and glowing question, why are we allowed to get rid of the Environment Act as it pertains to Sydney Steel? Why is that? Why is that necessary? This group of negotiators, fresh off a stint at Hee Haw, decided that this was good for Nova Scotia, to get rid of the Environment Act. Can they just think this thing through for a minute? Can you think back a couple of weeks ago when I stood in this very House and asked questions, it looked like a bad scene from a Marx Brothers movie, where they are looking around, who is going to answer? I don't know. That is what was going on here.

The Minister of Environment didn't know what was in that agreement. He didn't know what was in the sale agreement, and did not know what was in the bill. Didn't know what was going on. They are not even talking to their own members of the Executive Council. We are not even talking about the backbenchers, we are not talking about other people in the House, and we are not talking about Nova Scotians. We are talking about other people in the Executive Council, they didn't know what was in that agreement.

What is going on? One large question that people in Nova Scotia want to know is, why is it necessary to get rid of the Environment Act? Why is it necessary, in an area with the worst environmental blight in North America adjacent to it, that we have to compound it? Doesn't the minister realize that that is going to send flags off? Did the minister do anything in a substantive way to say, look, you guys over in the Opposition, you are totally wrong, this is what this means in a clear, concise manner? No. He just went around and around. Do you know why? Because he doesn't know. He is like the little boy who has a note pinned to his mittens and is sent over to the store to pick up a couple of things for mum. That is what the lawyers over in his office do, pin it to his mittens, he comes over here, tables it, and hopefully he doesn't fall and scrape his leg on the way over.

Mr. Speaker, I will tell you, he has fallen many times. That is a problem. He doesn't understand it. I implore the minister to get up and explain, in his own words, why he doesn't believe that the Environment Act is being infringed upon here, and why he doesn't care. Why he doesn't care enough to stand up and tell people the importance of that, and why isn't it important enough for people who are adjacent to the Sydney Steel plant, why their lives aren't important. Why can certain things be waived, why doesn't it matter?

It is not there, and he will not stand up and tell people that. What is he hiding behind? You look at the tar ponds.

AN HON. MEMBER: Had to move the people out of Frederick Street.

[Page 9647]

MR. CORBETT: Well, yes, they got people moved off Frederick Street. Is it going to be part of the whole depopulation of industrial Cape Breton, because when we talked about the social services bill here, certainly hearing from the Premier, his position then was, sure, we will give them money to move. Is that what we are going to do? Then we will go down a bit further in this bill and talk about putting parameters around who can sue and when they can sue. Now they tell you at a meeting that what we are trying to do, what we are trying to access here is from former customers to come back, and whether it is to complain about radial streaking or problems with the head-hardened rails, that is who we are after. That is not what this bill says; the bill does not explain in any substantive way who can and cannot sue, and when they can and cannot sue.

What was in the minds of the authors of this bill, was it the workers, was it the people in the community, was it all of Nova Scotia, when they were putting this bill together? I say not. My contention is it was to get a deal done, get a deal done as quickly as we can, and get it done with Duferco. Is Duferco going to be a good corporate citizen? That remains to be seen.

[6:15 p.m.]

It really has very little impetus to be a good one because what it has here is a willing participant to give them new rules or to significantly bend the old rules. That is what we are left with, with those guys. They are coming in and they are saying, these bunch of guys, as soon as we want something, they will sign it off for us; it is as easy as that. Someone might say, well, isn't that steel plant adjacent to the tar ponds? Not to worry, our buddies will sign off like that; they will give a ministerial order or an OIC and then it is gone.

What's left for Nova Scotians? Do we have other problems out there? When somebody else goes to buy something from this government, do they get the same allowances when it comes to the environment or certain other Acts. We have this government telling us that they are close to a deal for NSRL. Could you just imagine what those negotiations are like? We are the same ones that brought you the Sysco deal, we can sell NSRL. What's in it for us?

AN HON. MEMBER: Ratify the bank royalty deal.

MR. CORBETT: Yes, never mind what the potential of that lucrative company can be, they are the only ones who will come in and say, look, it is in debt so we have to sell it to you at a reduced price, as opposed to most business people who would say look at its potential, and that is what we are selling.

You are into venture capital? Well, this is what we are selling you; we are selling you an ability to get into one of the most lucrative offshore gas and oil discoveries in decades - indeed, of the century possibly. No, we are not going to do that to you, we aren't going to be

[Page 9648]

so crazy as to make the deal look impressive. What we are going to do is quite the contrary, we are going to show you a deal that may look bad; what we want to do is sell this supposed white elephant so we can pay off some debts from the past, we don't want to make money on it. That is basically what they are telling people. Quite honestly, Mr. Speaker, they are confined by a bad deal from the previous government of having to deal only with Exxon-Mobil, and that is a whole other one.

When it comes to selling off a public asset, whether you have the warm and fuzzies about it or whether it is conceived by many as an albatross - as I am sure some across the way see Sysco - you certainly don't make anything off it by going in and running an ad, which they virtually did, and pointing out that we have to get rid of this at all costs - it is a going-out-of-business sale - and expect to get fair market value. Not only did they not get fair market value, they have agreed after the sale to keep money that belongs to two groups of people.

I think from a purely moral perspective, that it belongs to the steelworkers; they worked for it, they earned it, it was their company - and I can quite honestly say that a large section of Nova Scotia had abandoned them - it was their hard work, so therefore it should have gone into a wage package or a pension package for them. If that is not doable by this government and indeed they are not to be the sole owners, then certainly the province is, and they should have taken charge of that money as opposed to sweetening the pot for Duferco.

Let's be honest here, if a group like North American Metals were in the game - the only reason they were eliminated from the game was not because they didn't want to participate or they didn't have the financial wherewithal, it was because of a time line imposed by the government. As we all know, we saw a time line come and go last night with the dispatchers and what they did there was, look, in good faith here, we are trying to get an agreement, so let's extend and see what we can do to get a deal that is best for both parties.

Yet, when push came to shove with this government, and a new suitor came on place, this government went out of its way to push that bit aside saying, well, no, we cannot accept their bid, it is late, and they are looking for public monies.Well, what is Duferco looking for if it is not public monies? Certainly, these two bids should have been allowed a better period in which to be studied, yet this government decided that it was more important to get this off the books right away. It is better to get a bad deal than a fair deal. That it is better to expedite a deal than to take your time and see its way through for a good deal.

We are here today dealing with this bill. It is over 30-some years since the announcement - what is known in Cape Breton as Black Friday. In contemplating in what I was going to say about this bill, the rage you feel, you want to come up and you want to filibuster this deal and go at it for copious hours, as many hours as you are allowed within this House. But you know what, it is like you become like the steelworkers themselves over

[Page 9649]

this bill. What is interesting is someone had mentioned to me, it doesn't seem like the steelworkers are fighting this bill.

What is so pathetic about that statement is when workers, whether they are steelworkers or construction workers or whatever in this province, all you have to do is mount some kind of campaign or fight and you are vilified. You are the one standing in the way of prosperity, you are a dinosaur, you do not want to change and you are the bad guy.

But, on the other side, you have a government that is saying, they are happy, they don't care, if they are not up here protesting they must agree with the deal. I put to you - I think 30 years of fighting, of being fooled and being tugged around has just worn these good men and women down.

Again, for us from the area, you can just close your eyes and think back to the Parade of Concern. The original Parade of Concern. At the packed racetrack in Sydney and thousands of people came out. Is the commitments of the people in Cape Breton any less today to try and secure work for the people of that area any less because tens of thousands did not show up? No, because of a couple of things.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CORBETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Is the commitment any less today? No. I have to say that people are just plain tired. They have successfully beaten them down. We have massive unemployment and earlier as I said in my opening remarks that they did pit worker against worker here and this is what they have done. When you are talking about unemployment in areas up around 40 per cent, when you have tuition increases looming over you and you want to be able to send your children to university. When you want to have some kind of future beyond five months of work and seven months of EI. That is what is happening now.

This government may take this as compliance or simply that steelworkers are acquiescing, well, don't fool yourselves. They know what this government's agenda is and it is not to help workers. We have seen that, we have argued the previous bill before this on Occupational Health and Safety. Was that a forward looking bill? No, it was a bill to take rights of workers away. This is what this is doing. This bill is going to take away the rights of some people in Cape Breton to earn a living. Did the governments sit down and hammer out a deal that would guarantee so many jobs for people within Local 1064, that a seniority provision would kick in. No. This government knows full well that part of this deal, part of the hold your nose, drink whichever cup of poison you wish deal, was that a lot of those rights that were earned over years, decades, almost a full century, Mr. Speaker, of workers' rights of getting collective agreements in that workplace, have been shunted aside for this sale. The deal, to get this done, again, as I have stated previously, was by a group that had

[Page 9650]

no community of interest in this bargaining process, but had to vote on a bad deal so they could access their pension.

Now if the minister in his closing summation on this bill wants to tell me the fairness of that, I would certainly like to know. The fairness of that, the rationale behind giving away the rights of the Environment Act, the rationale of the rights of people to be able to sue, to access damage, I would like to know. Again, all three have been publicly scorned from one end of this province to the other. Yet this government wants to tell you that it is good. So where are we today, Mr. Speaker? I am going to wrap up soon because it is one of those bills you could go on forever. I am trying not to chase my tail on this. I am trying to bring clarity on problems with this bill.

So what happens? In the full circle of what the government has done with this bill, they have ended up putting the Opposition in the position, if they wanted to be, against this bill. What they want to do then, Mr. Speaker, is they want us to be seen as two groups. They want us (a) probably to be against Sysco workers and employees getting access to a timely pension; and (b) to say look that was just more Opposition hyperbole, it doesn't mean anything, they were never for the sale of Sydney Steel. That ends the circle, if you will, it closes it in what they tried to do around Sydney Steel. If it is a feather in their hat, they have successfully done that. But I think they may be morally bankrupt in doing that because they have not done what I think fair-minded Nova Scotians wanted. They wanted a good deal for everybody. They wanted a good deal for the workers, they wanted a good deal for the Province of Nova Scotia, but that hasn't been allowed to happen, because this government's overall ineptitude of trying to close a deal could not see the big picture.

What we got today is a flawed sale, and a flawed bill. One would hope that we would see employment rise at Sydney Steel or Duferco - whatever Duferco is going to call it - over the next number of years, one would hope that would happen, Mr. Speaker. That is not what we are here to debate today. We are here to debate the closing out of Sydney Steel from provincial hands.

Back some 30 years ago, there must have been a Tory Government with a heart that put together a bill that helped keep employment in Cape Breton for sure. But what we have today is a Tory Government willing to put forward a bill that will decrease employment in Cape Breton.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the honourable member for Cape Breton South for the excellent summary he gave of the issues encompassed by this bill. I will commend all who participate in the debate. I am not going to pick any particular member. I just want to congratulate the member for Cape Breton South because he spoke for this Party. I want to make the point that having spoken for the Party, it is not necessary for

[Page 9651]

me to now repeat what he stated. I will send to my steelworkers' mailing list a copy of his speech and mine and say these were the Liberal contributions to the debate, plus those of any other Liberal speakers that speak. (Interruptions) No, I think NDP material could be sent out by the NDP, I am sure they will do it.

[6:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I am disappointed in the deal that has been done by this government with reference to the Sydney Steel plant. I am inclined to go back in my memory to this time a year ago as I stand here because at that time the same minister and the same government were diddling with this particular issue and they were threatening closure and shutdown if they did not sell the plant at that time to a company called Rail Associates Limited, another company that we had no idea who they were or who their principals were. It was something that was a paper tiger. It sounded very impressive, but when you looked for the reality, you could not find it but, in any event, this time last year they were all antsy and threatening and crowing and saying if we do not get this deal through with Rail Associates Limited by midnight on December 31st, well, it is curtains for Sydney Steel. We are going to shut her down.

Well, they shut her down anyway, Mr. Speaker. They shut her down anyway. We heard from them at that time that it was this deal with a phantom company or no deal and here now tonight we are at the final reading of a bill to sell the plant to another phantom company. I am struck by the fact that, well, I have seen a good number of industrial, construction and business deals in my day. I know of various companies that have come to Nova Scotia as newcomers. I know how they generally operate and they generally strive to meet the community leaders to introduce themselves and to pass out their business cards. Sometimes they will hold a little reception or a briefing session or a get-acquainted meet. Those things happen. That is part of business.

I recall Georgia Pacific which is developing a gypsum deposit in Inverness County. The principals of that company met with me in my capacity as critic for the Department of Transportation and Public Works for the Liberal Opposition because they thought it was opportune, it was in their best interests to get acquainted with the person who held that position because they had certain transportation needs and they wanted to at least inform me of their position and of their intentions and how their development would affect the transportation infrastructure of the province. That is how companies operate. That is what they do.

If you and I, Mr. Speaker, were going to develop, I do not know what, maybe perhaps we were going to develop some kind of, well, let's say an industry of some kind, a great industry that would employ people and would do things in the community, say in the community of Glace Bay, I am sure that we would make it our business to meet with the community leaders in Glace Bay and to introduce our people to the residents of that town so

[Page 9652]

that there would be a harmonious and a warm feeling towards our company and it would be accepted.

Duferco has done nothing of the kind. I have not received a single publication from them in the mail. I have not had a single telephone call. I have had the new Mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality wanting a meeting with me and I have had various other individuals who are among the movers in the community on various fronts, industrial and business and so forth, wanting to meet with me even though the House is in session. They do not seem to know that but, anyway, they ask for meetings and you respond. You say, yes, I can meet with you or, no, I cannot right now, but I will at the first chance, let me get back to you. From Duferco there has not been a burp. There has not been anything and we have no idea who they are and yet they want to come into our community and operate the most important industry of all in the Sydney area. That makes me suspicious.

I know that there is a company called Duferco and it is based, I believe, in Switzerland and it has operations throughout the world. I believe we can check them out on the Internet and, hopefully, their website is more up to date than that of the Department of Transportation and Public Works which, as of yesterday, listed the honourable Clifford Huskilson as minister.

In any event, let's look at this in view of some past precedents. We recall Minmetals, China Minmetals, and they wanted to come into the Sysco operation on a joint ventureship basis. I recall attending a dinner at the University College of Cape Breton, in the dining room there, with the various principals, of the China Minmetals company, who were introduced. I don't recall the names, they were Chinese people, about four men and there was one woman. We met with them, the leaders of the government at that time, and the honourable Bernie Boudreau acted as host, and we were introduced to the gentlemen and lady from China who wanted to come in and work with Sydney Steel as partners in developing the steel industry in Sydney.

Has there been any equivalent to that with Duferco? I would like to meet the ladies and gentlemen from Duferco. Where are they? When will they be having their get-together with the community leaders in Sydney, so that we can get to meet them and get to know them? Who will the management be? Who will the general manager of the plant be? I hear that they have already retained and hired some of the officials of the former Sysco operation at Sydney, and they are conducting interviews and operating in a certain way through these people that they have hired from the existing management of Sysco. But there hasn't been any public announcement; there hasn't been one press release. There hasn't been anything that you would get to know, except by being close to the Sysco operation and having a pretty good idea of what is going on, because it is reported back to you by people who know. For example, if you call the Sydney Steel Corporation telephone number and speak to whomever answers the phone. That is the level at which the information is being conveyed.

[Page 9653]

In terms of an announcement to the community, in terms of a press release, a paid advertisement, any of those things that are normally done when a new corporate operation is set up in the community, there hasn't been a peep. So one is compelled to the conclusion that we are dealing with another phantom operation of the type of Rail Associates. This government has announced before that they have sold the Sydney Steel plant to companies that didn't even exist. I have here the Nova Scotia Business Journal, January 2000, headline, Sydney Steel sold, a great accomplishment of the John Hamm Tory Government, and 15 days, I believe it was, after the announcement, we learned that there was no sale, that the whole thing was off and it had never happened in the first place. That is their track record.

You would think they might want to make amends. They might say, this time we have it right, this time we have a solid company, and we invite the Sysco critic for the Opposition or whoever it is they want to meet with, to meet at the hotel room or wherever it might be and we are going to outline our plans, we are going to explain what we hope to do in Sydney. Has that taken place? No, it has not. So what kind of conclusion can you be left with?

Now that is one aspect of this whole business that concerns me, and the second aspect that concerns me is the fate of the workforce. The honourable member for Cape Breton South has already dealt with this, and I don't intend to repeat what he said. I know many of the individuals who are concerned personally. I can't say that I went to school with too many of them, because the ones I went to school with are now all retired, but I know many of them as personal friends and neighbours, and many of them are older chaps now, they are not young any longer - youth is something that is transitory, it comes and it goes, and once having gone, it never returns - these men, now, who still want to work at Sysco, if this ownership change were not taking place, would have continued to have been employed, they would be senior employees, especially as a large number were retired, the ones who were lower on the ladder move up and fill in the top slots.

I don't believe that too many of these older chaps are going to be able to pass a medical examination and get an A-1 medical rating, as a young person would in the prime of life, in their mid-20s or thereabouts - like John MacDonell; I don't believe that too many of these people are going to impress Duferco with their educational achievements because many did not complete high school. You had to have Grade 10 to get hired on at the steel plant throughout most of the years. It became Grade 12 in the last number of years, but it was Grade 10 throughout most of the years, certainly when I was hired at the steel plant. Although I had more than that myself, that was the educational requirement to get hired. Some of those Grade 10 report cards, I don't know where they came from, but they didn't come from Sydney Academy. Anyway, they got people hired, and that was the main thing.

These men may know how to operate the steel plant, they may know how to do the job from experience, but they may not be able to produce college degrees or high school graduation diplomas or that type of paper. They may not have tickets for the trades they know how to do. They nonetheless have the know-how, the hands-on experience. Will that be

[Page 9654]

recognized by Duferco? What standards will apply to these people? Will they apply the same standards to them as they would apply to new applicants? If so, I suggest the process would be weighted against the established workforce at Sydney Steel because they will not be able to pass physical examinations that are geared to the desire to have a totally fit and totally athletic - and totally, well fit I guess is the word I am looking for - workforce. So I don't believe that all the displaced steelworkers, 204 to be exact, are going to be hired by Duferco. I haven't heard one word from the government on that point to reassure me. Of course, that fits in with the pattern that we haven't heard one word from the government on any of these concerns that have been raised in the House.

Their pattern of debate - and you know, Mr. Speaker, I have some sympathy for the member for Kings North because I think I know where he is coming from. He recognizes, even if the rest of them on that side don't, that this Chamber has ceased to be a debating Chamber, and that the series of speeches that take place here in the House do not constitute debates; they do not because debates, by their very nature, are a back-and-forth process. There are two sides to the proposition, pro and con, and they ought to be argued on the basis of equal time for each proposition, those who support the proposition, that being in this case the bill, and those who question or oppose the proposition, in that case being we here on the Opposition.

When I was first elected to this House, Mr. Speaker, as you well know, I have told the House many times that we had genuine debates here in the Nova Scotia Legislature in the days of the Regan Government, and that Cabinet Ministers such as Allan Sullivan and Peter Nicholson and many others would get up and refute, speech by speech, the Opposition when a bill was debated. If a bill was introduced to deal with the Sydney Steel Corporation, and the sponsor on the bill would speak, and the Opposition would respond, then Sully or one of the ministers on that side of the House would get up and answer back what had been stated by the Opposition.

Then if the debate wanted to go another round, the same pattern would repeat itself. It would continue back and forth, back and forth, back and forth until the bill had been thoroughly debated, and then the question would be put. That was the traditional means by which this House dealt with legislation. It continued until the John Buchanan Government was elected in 1978, then it stopped because Buchanan got the idea that if you put the muzzle on all your members and just let the Opposition exhaust itself, speech after speech, sooner rather than later, legislation would clear the House. That was the Buchanan approach, and it has been continued here ever since. It is not a rational way to deal with legislation.

No other Parliament in Canada operates like that, Mr. Speaker. Go to Prince Edward Island or to New Brunswick or to Ottawa or to any of the other provincial capitals and won't see legislation dealt with that way, only here. It is not fair to the people of Nova Scotia that we do not receive from government an explanation of the direction in which they are trying to take the province. Instead we are just given legislation like this bill and said here it is, take

[Page 9655]

it or leave it, have your say, flap your gums, and when it is all done, we are going to put it through anyway. Whatever you think.

That is not a democratic attitude. It is not a democratic way of doing things. I know from travels I have had throughout other parts of the world, it is not done that way in London. It is not done that way in the parliaments of the European democracies. I am not going to get too far afield, Mr. Speaker, and start telling you about how they do things in Australia, I will just simply say they don't do it the way it is done here. I find it frustrating in raising these concerns that I haven't been able to get any answers.

[6:45 p.m.]

I can tell you that my constituents don't understand. They ask me questions like, how is it that the government doesn't have to answer the questions that are put by the Opposition? What happened to our democracy? Good question, what happened to our democracy? Why haven't we been able to get answers to the questions that are raised on this important piece of legislation? Instead, we get concerns that come to you sort of through the back door, well, you have to get the legislation passed quickly because there are five or six men running out of unemployment insurance every week and they are not going to get their pensions until the bill passes. You have to, I suppose, support the thing, or at least let it come to a vote.

Mr. Speaker, I know and you know that on third reading it would be possible for a determined Opposition to mount a filibuster. It would be. It would be possible to move referral of the bill to a committee, it would be possible to move the three months' hoist or the six months' hoist, and it would also be possible to propose a reasoned amendment and to have one hour of speech from each member of the Opposition in turn and chew up about three weeks in such an exercise. We in this Party have decided not to do that. The reason why is not that we accept the bill, not that we accept the government's handling of the issue at all, but we do not want to see unemployed steelworkers held up to ransom by political manoeuvrings up here in this Legislature in Halifax.

Mr. Speaker, for that reason, I am also going to curtail my remarks on this bill, but I want to express several more concerns before I take my place. First, there has been the concern raised by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality that the passage of this bill will result in a loss to the municipality of $1 million per year in terms of financial loss to the municipality. Right now, the province gives the city $1 million as a grant each year in lieu of property taxes for the mill. This will end the moment the sale goes through. I realize that the municipality can levy on that industry, a tax, but it will certainly be a very difficult tax to levy because if it is anything worthy of mention I am sure that the operators would protest.

I know that the write-off or the waiver of municipal taxation has been the traditional means by which municipalities in this province have had to use to attract industry, dating back to the original appearance in Cape Breton of the Dominion Coal Company in 1893, and

[Page 9656]

of the Dominion Iron and Steel Company in 1899. They were given holidays of 30 years freedom from municipal taxation as a carrot to attract them to come to Cape Breton. That is why they came, and I am sure that Duferco will be no different. They will be looking for any break they can get, and I suppose the first place they will be looking for a break will be from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

Mr. Speaker, to make a long story short, I have tried as best I could in my years in this House to plead the cause of the steelworkers because, as I have stated so many times, the steel plant is in my constituency, it is virtually in my own backyard, and I wish that we had done better than this. I know this is the price we have to pay for the way in which our Liberal minority government was brought down by the NDP, and an election forced long before one should have been held, which resulted in the Tories winning the largest number of seats and, thereby, forming the government. That is the price we have to pay. It is tough but it is the real world, and we have to live in the real world.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say in conclusion that I don't believe for one moment that if the Russell MacLellan Liberal Government had remained in power and was in power at this point in time that we would be dealing with any bill of this type at all, I don't believe that. I am not saying that the plant would not have been privatized, because that was the stated goal of the MacLellan Government, but I will say that in the meantime the government, as long as the Liberals were in power, kept that steel plant operational and sought new business for it, sought customers, sought orders and sold product. When the deal with China Minmetals fell through, our Liberal Government didn't talk about shutting down the steel plant and putting everybody out on the street. Instead, we looked for someone else, and Grupo Acerero del Norte of Mexico came along, and there were negotiations there with them. It was just about ready to come to a successful conclusion when things went wrong in Mexico, on the economic front, and they were no longer able to carry through.

What did we do at that point? Did we put the padlock on the gate and send everybody home? No, sir. We looked for somebody else, and we found Royal Dutch Hoogovens, and we brought them in as management consultants with a view to try to bring them in as a new company to operate either on an individual singular basis or as a joint ventureship with other partners, the Sydney works, and things seemed to be going well for a while there, and then that did not work out. But throughout all of those difficulties, throughout all of those vicissitudes we kept that steel plant operating, we kept the men working and if the deal with Duferco had not worked out, we would have kept the steel plant going and hoped to find somebody else. The commitment of the Liberal Party so long as it was in power, whether it was under John Savage or under Bernie Boudreau, or whether later on it was under Russell MacLellan and Manning MacDonald, the fact is that the bottom line was that the Liberals were committed to keep the steel plant going. Whereas the Tories, when they got into office were committed to getting rid of it at all costs.

[Page 9657]

That is the difference between the Liberals and the Tories with respect to Sydney Steel. I would be the first to agree that while the Liberals were in power there were many steelworkers who were dissatisfied for one reason or another and there were many grounds for concerns and there were many stresses and there were strains. I was right on the front lines on that because I was the fellow they came to when they had problems. But we kept the steel plant going and we would have kept the steel plant going a lot longer if we had remained in office.

Mr. Speaker, finally, a word on environmental remediation, because I do not believe for a moment the Tories have any intention whatever of proceeding with an environmental remediation program at Sydney Steel even though they have budgeted $230 million on the books for such work. I know there are many unemployed steelworkers who view that as kind of a safety net for them. They think, well, that if we do not get hired by Duferco we will be put to work on site remediation. Again, sir, I want to say that one of the main differences between the Tories and the Liberals is that the Liberals under Savage, Boudreau, MacLellan and MacDonald were committed to environmental remediation at the Sydney steel plant and took many steps towards that end, even though some of them came to grief.

There was that large-scale program that was under way for the unemployed steelworkers who would otherwise be on welfare. That was carried out under the leadership of an environmental remediation company set up specifically for that purpose. The program was bitterly attacked by the NDP who did everything they could to sabotage it and bring it to its knees through their allies in the press and by direct action among NDP instigators who were employed at the project. As a result of that, the project was sabotaged and came to a premature end, which was tragic.

While it was under way, I can tell you, the difference between day and night, or night and day I should say, if you start with night at the beginning.

AN HON. MEMBER: Signed off by Peter Mancini.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I am sure there would have been work even for Peter Mancini on that project if they had let it keep going instead of shutting it down. But in any event, there were 190 unemployed steelworkers who would otherwise be on welfare who were employed at that program, and if the former Leader of the NDP is opposed to that, I can well understand why he is the former Leader of the NDP.

I want to say this in conclusion. This is not the end of the Sydney Steel issue. This is only the beginning, and as long as God gives me the strength and the people give me the votes to plead the cause of the Sydney steelworker on the floor of this House, I shall continue to do so, notwithstanding all opposition be it Tory or NDP. Thank you.

[Page 9658]

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

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: I will try to be brief, I know other members want to speak, and I think members are hoping to leave here today.

It would be virtually impossible for me to allow this bill to get through this House, through third reading, and not say something regarding the state that this province is willing to leave the people of Cape Breton as far as the environment concerns that this bill refuses to address.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova has stated on more than one occasion that the New Democrats are responsible for this Tory Government. I think in 1998-99 on the votes on the budget, we made it clear we were voting against the budget and the Tories were the ones who supported the budget in 1998. They were the ones that everybody held their breath on to wonder how they were going to vote in 1999. I think we made it clear. So whether or not the Liberal Government stayed or went depended on their vote, to my understanding, and it was them who brought on their own demise, not only by allowing a budget that the Tories would not support, but also being the government that they were, no one could support.

AN HON. MEMBER: The voters showed that.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I think I have stated in this House on more than one occasion that it does not really matter what you say at the doors during election campaigns. There is no escaping what you are when it comes to legislation. You can try to spin it to Nova Scotians in whatever way you think you can sell it and for the most part some of them will be disinterested, some of them will not understand it, some of them will not question it, and many of them will think that unloading Sydney Steel will be a great thing and a great thing at any cost perhaps.

Be that as it may, all members of this House have a responsibility to their constituents and to the people of Nova Scotia and how we are willing to throw some of those Nova Scotians on the scrap heap for a few votes, but there are serious concerns in industrial Cape Breton, environmental concerns, and why do we question environmental concerns? We question them because they affect the health and the lives of the people there.

I want to read to the members some statistics about health concerns around the tar ponds and the coke ovens in Cape Breton. Very specifically on women in Sydney, cancer of the stomach is 78 per cent higher; cervical cancer, 134 per cent higher; brain cancer, 72 per cent higher; breast cancer, 57 per cent higher; lung cancer, 40 per cent higher; and so is multiple sclerosis and a number of other illnesses. These high rates of illness among women in industrial Cape Breton has been blamed on lifestyle, too much salt in the diet, obesity, you name it, smoking. Well, we know that all of these things are health hazards.

[Page 9659]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable Leader in the House of the New Democratic Party allow for an introduction?

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the member for Hants East. I would like to draw to the attention of the House visitors we have in the Speaker's Gallery. First of all, one visitor who is well known to all of us is Mr. Scott Brison, recently re-elected to the House of Commons. Accompanying Mr. Brison is Mr. Bill Hess, the President of the Canadian Venture Exchange; Mr. Scott Paterson, who is President and CEO of Yorkton Securities; and Mr. Jim Stevens, Regional Director of the Investment Dealers Association. I would ask our four guests to rise and receive the greeting of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I would certainly welcome our guests to the House this evening.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the guests to the House as well. I am not sure how it is or why it is that this government is willing to trivialize the health of Nova Scotians. I am amazed, and I do not think the government necessarily should bear the brunt of the report that was done by this legislative review on the Department of Environment. The government has been the government for a short period. This review has taken place concerning the workings of the department over the past five years or so to look at the Environment Act. This report has been rather scathing in how it depicts the lack of enforcement of the province's own Environment Act.

[7:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, for the most part, that number of years of which it speaks were the years when the Liberal Administration was running this province. The bill we discuss here tonight over the Sydney Steel Corporation is a clear indication that the present government has no change of direction or no desire to be different from the previous Liberal Administration. As a matter of fact, this agreement that they have entered into with Duferco - and I have raised this before, and the minister seems to disagree - is one in which the company is basically absolved of the Environment Act, although I am sure the minister will say that only up to the time of sale and anything after that, they are not responsible. Mr. Speaker, the agreement states that, ". . . the Province agrees to forever indemnify and hold the Indemnified Parties harmless . . ." That is to say, in case of a lawsuit, the province will compensate the company.

"The Environment Act (Nova Scotia) and the regulations thereunder, as from time to time in force, supplemented, amended or replaced, shall not apply to matters for which the Province is responsible or in respect of which it has agreed to indemnify any other party or

[Page 9660]

parties pursuant to the provisions of Section 13.1 . . ." Now, what they are saying is that the province is absolving itself of responsibility under the Environment Act, and if that Act was to apply to the company, they are absolving the company, and they are going to compensate the company, basically, if any liability comes in their direction.

One of the recommendations in this report is around remediation of contaminated sites. It says, "Any previous owner, occupier or operator of the contaminated site who was the owner, occupier or operator at any time when the substance was released over in, on or under the contaminated site" - in other words, that is the individual or individuals who are responsible. Well, that would be the government in this case, Mr. Speaker. "The person or persons responsible are required to develop a remediation plan outlining the appointment of costs, these plans may, with approval, incorporate a risk management approach."

Mr. Speaker, this report that has actually put forward recommendations of how it thinks the Environment Act can be improved and how it thinks that the government can actually improve that Act by carrying out the mandate of the Act. At the same time this report comes down, the government has absolved itself of the Environment Act.

Mr. Speaker, the statistics I read earlier around illness and sickness and disease affecting women in industrial Cape Breton, I wonder how many members opposite or any members in this House would be willing to allow their mother or wife or daughters or sisters to be living in a contaminated site like that and leave it there and take no responsibility.

I find the comments by the member for Cape Breton Nova interesting and hypocritical at best when he talks about debate on bills in this House. My memory of the Liberal Government prior to this Tory Government was his complaint was lived in the way they dealt with bills. There was no debate from the Liberal Government. They did exactly as this government is doing and endorsed it as far as I can see. His concern around environmental concerns in his constituency where Sydney Steel is, when concerns came about the orange ooze coming up in basements, he had no regard for that. He dismissed it as nothing when it was affecting the health of the people in his area.

Mr. Speaker, I said I wouldn't speak long, and I won't. I know time is running out, but I want this government to know that in this piece of legislation, there is no escaping what you are. You are throwing people on the scrap heap and disregarding some of the most basic things that any constituent would demand from their legislative representatives, that they actually would take care of their health. (Applause)

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, each time I rise in this House, I always feel very privileged, but this evening, I don't feel privileged. In fact, I don't know how I feel. I have mixed feelings this evening.

[Page 9661]

First of all, I am not going to get into the rhetoric and repeat what my two colleagues, who represented this issue very, very well, in my opinion at least, and that is the opinion of many steelworkers who indicated to me that my two colleagues, the members for Cape Breton South and Cape Breton Nova, whom I might add, bring over 50 years of experience to this House.

Mr. Speaker, it is no surprise I am rising here tonight because we are running out of time, and everybody knows in Nova Scotia that eventually when something comes into this House, whatever issue it is, the Opposition members can tie it up and prolong it and debate it and slow it down, but eventually, when it comes to a vote, the noses on the other side of the House, in fact, outnumber the members on this side.

I would just like to add that the Premier is fulfilling his commitment, there is no doubt, to the people of Nova Scotia. I would suggest that he at the end of the day will be the most disgraced Premier that this province has ever experienced. When, Mr. Speaker, you have to pit community against community, Nova Scotian against Nova Scotian, to achieve a personal goal, then I would suggest this Premier will pay for that in the history books. That is very wrong.

Mr. Speaker, this government, the first attack or assault on the steel plant was when this government refused rail orders and, in fact, cancelled rail orders that were on the order books, and sent them packing. I would like for someone to tell me what a good, responsible, workable government with the responsibility to represent every Nova Scotian in this province would, in fact, send work away from this province and send people home with no means of income. Now many of the steelworkers that went home at that point in time, some of them had no income whatsoever. They didn't have any claim for unemployment insurance and, in fact, were sent home with absolutely nothing.

I am not going to stand here this evening and repeat what my colleagues for Cape Breton Nova and Cape Breton South have indicated. They discussed the many effects on the economy. For instance, locally, the rail line, the suppliers, we must not forget that not just local suppliers are going to feel the effect that this issue is going to play on, in fact hundreds - and many of them on the mainland - of suppliers will be impacted. I would suggest, in at least one instance that I am aware of, there will be job losses in these other industries as a result of the direction this government is taking in regard to Sysco.

Mr. Speaker, I want to go on record as saying that the former government was in the process of obtaining a buyer for the plant, so it is not that we are against the sale of Sysco; we agree that public funds have to be used in a more responsible manner in this province. We agree with that, however I will refer to Trenton Works, in Trenton. When John Savage and the Liberal Government took over in 1993, that particular industry was earmarked to close, but that Liberal Government put a plan in place, a responsible plan, and it supplied the support that was necessary to ensure that that industry could and would continue into the

[Page 9662]

future as a successful industry. In fact, the record shows that that has been obtained, success is at its highest for that particular facility in Trenton.

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that that was the same type of direction the previous administration wanted to go forward in, until, again, this government landed in town. We have seen rail orders, work sent home, employees discarded, treated with disrespect. It is a sorry day for this government.

I had the opportunity, as the representative for Cape Breton The Lakes - in which constituency many of the steelworkers live - to visit many of those homes and listen not only to the steelworkers, but their wives, and more importantly to their children. I will refer to one story that I heard in one of the steelworker's kitchen, when a 12-year-old little girl walked over and asked, where will my daddy work now? That little child was scared and afraid that her father's livelihood was about to come to an end and, being very much aware of the economic situation in that community, she was terrified at the prospect of her daddy not being able to find any employment in the future.

Mr. Speaker, that is the direction that this government moved forward in, creating stressful situations for families and communities in this province. In my opinion, no responsible government would do that. I have heard on several occasions, personally, statements that were simply unfounded by the Minister responsible for Sysco. I have heard statements by several of the merry men along the front benches that the priority here is just discard that Sysco mill because they believe Nova Scotians on the mainland, that is what they want. I have yet to meet a Nova Scotian anywhere in this province, who believes that harming another community in this province or creating an unfair situation or havoc for another Nova Scotian, intentionally, is the correct manner to move forward in. I have yet to find that individual and I hope that that government over there does not believe for one minute that they are going to jump way up in the popular polls because they took another mall and slammed Cape Breton Island because Cape Breton plays a very important role in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[7:15 p.m.]

When you flick your lights on, Mr. Speaker, nobody realizes where it comes from, but the majority of the electricity produced in this province is on Cape Breton Island and the energy is dug by hand by coal miners from there. I have witnessed one minister representing Cape Breton in that particular merry-men gang over there who has said not one word on this particular issue, gutless direction, gutless representation, and that will not be tolerated in Cape Breton. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I know the issue means a lot to the honourable member, but I think he would appreciate as well that using unparliamentary language does not help the situation. So I would ask the honourable member to retract that, please.

[Page 9663]

MR. BOUDREAU: At your request, Mr. Speaker, I will retract it.

Mr. Speaker, Cape Breton as well as other areas of this province require strong representation and I hope the minister is hearing very loud and clear because one of the reasons I stand here this evening is to serve notice on that minister, that Cabinet and those backbenchers, that these communities want real representation. We want to see progressive development in this province for not only our families, but our children who are out there struggling, many of them young, well-educated individuals who have to move out of here to find employment. That is intolerable.

Mr. Speaker, this sale is nothing other than, in my opinion, designed as a yard sale. That is all it is. Most equipment on that site, I would predict, will likely end up overseas in another plant somewhere for any other purpose but scrap. They could not care less anyway. There are billions of dollars spent, they claim, on this site over many years, but the record will show that it has been Tory Governments that have boggled this issue. It has been used as a political football long enough. I agree with that 100 per cent, but the people in Cape Breton and the people in Nova Scotia will not forget these individuals because when we look at issues right across the board, you can look at Bill No. 62, you can look at any bill, there is never any debate. My colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova, indicated very clearly there is no debate in this House. Those ministers show no direction whatsoever. They could not care less. They cannot stand in this House and defend the direction that their departments are going in because they know, as well as this member, that it is wrong. That is why.

Mr. Speaker, the community of Cape Breton has been held hostage long enough, long and hard enough by this government, and basically the steelworkers and their families are not going to go away. I want this Premier and this minister and that gang of merry men to know that we are not going away. This caucus, the members elected to represent that community in this House, is not going to go away. We are not going to take our glove and go home and allow the government to take their bat and go home. We want jobs in Cape Breton. We want jobs in every economically depressed area in this province and this caucus will not stop at whatever means it has to take to ensure that this government provides strong representation. All they plan on doing, and we have seen it through debate on Bill No. 62, is stand and try and take credit for federal programs that are coming into effect in this province and it will not be tolerated by this caucus or the communities which we represent.

Mr. Speaker, the will of the people will prevail and those backbenchers over there, who I was accustomed to having a lot of respect for when they were colleagues of mine during my municipal days, when we all claimed to be closest to the people, well, those colleagues come spring, I can assure you, are going to have a harder time in this House and I intend to ensure and that is a commitment from this member, that they will no longer sit here and soften what they do not understand is affecting our province and this wonderful province that we have a lot of opportunities for.

[Page 9664]

This government, Mr. Speaker, if the people in this province believe that they are going to do anything in this province, just consider this. This province, when my former Leader and Premier Russell MacLellan left office, was number one in economic development in Canada, out of 11. Documents showed just last week, this government, this province, is now 11th. It is unacceptable. We are not going to allow this government to destroy our province that we love.

Mr. Speaker, I remember in 1967, Black Friday. The clouds and the darkness were supposed to be removed from Cape Breton on that day. As I indicated earlier, the darkness has never left that plant. Consecutive Tory Governments, each and every one, have used this issue as a football long enough. As far as that government is concerned, the darkness will be removed when they are cast out of this province once and for all.

In closing, just in the municipal impact, this sale will mean approximately a 2 per cent increase to every household in that regional municipality. Is that responsible government, I ask you, Mr. Speaker? That is insanity. This government will be held accountable, eventually, because each and every one of them will have to do the same as I will - there are three years left, and the clock is ticking - they will have to return to the doorsteps, those same doorsteps that people provided confidence in these people over here. I want to see that repeat performance. After what we have seen from this government, it is a disgrace. To pit a community against a community, a Nova Scotian against a Nova Scotian is totally unacceptable. This caucus will not accept or allow the direction of this government; it will turn, I guarantee it.

I want to be one of the first to welcome Duferco to our community. I just want to explain it, because many of the people out there, many of the ordinary Nova Scotians that they claim to represent - you get into the billions and the millions, and we are talking about all this wonderful stuff - don't understand it. If I had a business or you had a business, Mr. Speaker, for sale, and I was to give you $4.00 and you were to turn around and give me $21 back, I would buy your business tomorrow. That is basically what this deal comes down to.

If that minister thinks he is going to stand here and buffalo the residents of Nova Scotia, saying there is no more money being spent on Sysco, then you just watch. The ink won't be dry and there will be programs and money spent on this site. I will almost guarantee Nova Scotians that one. This government cannot be trusted and don't think you are going on notice, gentlemen, because you're not.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, members will be happy to hear that I don't anticipate to be thumping my desk a great deal during my remarks. I want to start by offering my thanks to my caucus colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, for his observations about the whole range of issues associated with Bill No. 70 and the sale of Sysco. He also

[Page 9665]

made the same range of observations at second reading, and indeed at that time, I, myself, made some comments about the whole range of issues, as I saw them, associated with the sale.

This evening in third reading, I want to confine my remarks to one topic only, and it is not because there is not the full array of problems and difficulties and history associated with Bill No. 70; they certainly have not disappeared. I adopt, unhesitatingly, all of the comments made by my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, which is why I referred to them earlier. I do, however, want to add some comments about the environmental issues in particular.

There are four points that are worth observing and that we must observe about the environmental issues associated with Bill No. 70 and with the sale of Sysco. The first, of course, is that there is an attempt made in the legislation to provide a form of contracting out of the full effects of the Environment Act. This is wrong, it should not happen, and when I look at Clauses 3 and 6 of Bill No. 70, which together address the issues of how it is that the Environment Act is to operate in future and what it is that anyone who might have illness or injury as a result of the long years of operation of Sydney Steel is to proceed, I am worried. I am worried because it is obvious that the thrust of those provisions is to try to minimize the opportunities for persons who live in the district of the steel plant, of its former operations, of the tar ponds and of the coke ovens, it is apparently the intent to try to restrict their opportunities to sue.

I understand there have been some modifications made to the bill since it was first introduced, and yet the thrust of what remains in the bill is obnoxious, it is problematic and the language is vague. I cannot say when I read those clauses, exactly what they mean, but I can say when I read those clauses that I am worried, because their intent seems aimed at making it difficult for persons who live in the area, who might suffer injuries as a result of the polluting activities associated with the long history of the making of steel in Sydney, to sue. I think that is wrong, it should never have happened; that should not have been part of the agreement for the sale of Sysco and it should not have been part of the legislation brought before us. That is the first point I want to make. This is virtually unprecedented and it is to the detriment of individuals; it is not to the benefit of the province, it is just to the detriment of individuals. It is wrong and should not have happened.

The second point I want to say is, I want individuals at home who are concerned about this and watching it - particularly the environmental community, particularly those who live in the vicinity of the tar ponds and the coke ovens and the Sydney steel plant - to know that our caucus made attempts to eliminate those clauses from the bill, but those attempts were defeated by the government members. They would not accept our attempts to clean up this bill so that it would preserve, intact, their rights to proceed if they have legitimate actions to bring, now or at any time in the future. That was resisted by the government, that was not accepted, but we did make the effort. We made the effort to stand up for them as potential

[Page 9666]

plaintiffs and we made the effort to stand up for the full range of protection of the Environment Act.

We do not find it acceptable that such clauses should exist in contractual agreements entered into by the province and we do not find it acceptable that they should be given the force of law by Statutes that come through this House. We attempted to change that, but we were outvoted by members opposite, and I want everyone at home to know that.

[7:30 p.m.]

A third point is that the passage of this bill does nothing for the clean-up of the site which is characterized accurately, of course, by the federal Minister of the Environment as being the most polluted site in Canada. We cannot for a moment lose sight of that. We have in our province, in industrial Cape Breton, the most polluted site in the whole of our country. It is a massive problem. Attempts that have been made to come to grips with that over the years have foundered. They have foundered because there has been an unwillingness to put the resources into it that were needed. There has been an unwillingness to come to grips with the full range of the problems, and I do not see that this bill, because of some of its shortcomings that I mentioned a moment ago, goes much further. Certainly the bill itself does not address the clean-up. Let's not lose site for a moment of the fact that there is an enormous job ahead of us in terms of clean-up of that site if, indeed, we can ever find the proper technology to do it.

It may just be one of those problems that we have to say, we don't know how to do it yet. At some point in the future, the science and technology may develop to the point where we do know how to do it. I hope we get there soon, because at the moment, it is not obvious to me that we know how to do it, but there is a serious problem there, and we are going to have to come to grips with it as a full Legislature, as a society in Nova Scotia. That problem ought not to be lost sight of.

The problem of Sydney Steel wasn't just selling it. The problem, and the greater problem, the worse problem is going to be, what are we going to do with that site? The worse problem is, what are going to be the long-term health effects for people in the surrounding community? We cannot lose site of that.

The fourth point again with respect to the environment is that the whole history of the steel industry in Cape Breton gives us a lesson. The lesson is a lesson for the future, that we have to take every sector of the economy and change it, transform it so that the principles of sustainability govern. This is true in our fisheries, it is true in forestry, it is true in agriculture, it is true in energy, it is true in manufacturing, it is true in any sector of the economy that we want to turn our minds to, that we cannot ignore and pretend there is not a human and dollar cost associated with polluting activities. Unless we do that, we are going to harm our population both physically and economically.

[Page 9667]

Being heavily immersed in environmental activity for 25 years has taught me at least one basic and firm lesson: what is right for the environment is also right for the economy, ultimately. It is wrong to pretend that we can draw a small box around some kind of activity that is anti-environmental and polluting and pretend the costs are just externalities. That is a very peculiar form of arithmetic or mathematics or economics that leads to that conclusion. Ultimately those costs turn up. They turn up somewhere else, and this is the prime example from which we ought to learn the lessons.

Those are the points I want to make about the environment. Believe me, there is a wider range of issues, of course, associated with this bill, and my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, has set them out. I adopt wholeheartedly what he said, but I wanted to add those particular points. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading at this time. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 70, the Sydney Steel Corporation Sale Act.

A recorded vote is being called for.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

[7:34 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[7:39 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Christie Mr. MacAskill

Mr. Baker Dr. Smith

Mr. Russell Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Hamm Mr. Manning MacDonald

[Page 9668]

Mr. LeBlanc Mr. MacEwan

Mr. Muir Mr. MacKinnon

Mr. Fage Mr. Samson

Mr. Balser Mr. Boudreau

Mr. Parent Mr. Wilson

Ms. McGrath

Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Olive

Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Langille

Mr. Morse

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Holm

Mr. John MacDonell

Ms. Maureen MacDonald

Mr. Corbett

Mr. Pye

Mr. Epstein

Mr. Estabrooks

Mr. Robert Chisholm

Mr. Dexter

THE CLERK: For, 34. Against, 9.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried. (Prolonged Applause)

Order, please.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Her Honour, the Administrator is without.

[Page 9669]

MR. SPEAKER: Let Her Honour, the Administrator, be admitted.

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.]

[The Administrator, The Chief Justice, Hon. Constance Glube, preceded by her escort, and by Mr. Noel Knockwood, Sergeant-at-Arms, bearing the Mace, entered the House of Assembly Chamber. The Administrator then took her seat on the Throne.

The Sergeant-at-Arms then departed and re-entered the Chamber followed by the Speaker, the Honourable Murray Scott; Chief Clerk of the House, Roderick MacArthur, Q.C.; and Assistant Clerk, Arthur Fordham, Q.C. They took up their positions at the foot of the Speaker's Table.]

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: It is the wish of Her Honour that the ladies and gentlemen be seated.

MR. SPEAKER: May it please Your Honour, the General Assembly of the Province has, in its present session, passed certain bills to which in the name and on behalf of the General Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour's Assent.

THE CLERK:

Bill No. 59 - Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Act.

Bill No. 60 - Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act.

Bill No. 61 - Electronic Commerce Act.

Bill No. 62 - Employment Support and Income Assistance Act.

Bill No. 63 - Labour Standards Code.

Bill No. 64 - Dairy Industry Act.

Bill No. 65 - Lunenburg War Memorial Community Centre Dissolution Act.

Bill No. 66 - Consumers Protection Act/Mortgage Brokers' and Lenders' Registration Act.

Bill No. 67 - Crane Operators and Power Engineers Act.

Bill No. 68 - Occupational Health and Safety Act.

[Page 9670]

Bill No. 69 - Denturists Act.

Bill No. 70 - Sydney Steel Corporation Sale Act.

Bill No. 71 - Psychologists Act.

Bill No. 72 - Dental Act.

Bill No. 74 - Probate Act.

Bill No. 75 - Law Reform (2000) Act.

Bill No. 77 - Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act.

Bill No. 78 - Nova Scotia Business Incorporated Act.

Bill No. 79 - University College of Cape Breton Student Union Act.

Bill No. 80 - Justice and Administration Reform (2000) Act.

THE ADMINISTRATOR:

In Her Majesty's name, I Assent to these Bills.

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.]

[The Administrator left the Chamber.]

[The Speaker took the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, and members of the General Assembly, I move that we now adjourn to meet again at the call of the Speaker.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 9671]

Just before we adjourn I would like to take the opportunity to thank all members for their cooperation during this session and as well to wish all members and their families a safe and happy holiday season. Thank you.

We stand adjourned.

[7:49 p.m. The House adjourned.]

[Page 9672]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3700

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 since 1993 the Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro has provided visitors with valuable information on the area's unique geological features; and

Whereas on August 5th, Ed and Heather Hewin of Kentville became the 150,000th ceremonial visitors to the museum; and

Whereas to celebrate the occasion, the museum awarded the Hewins a gift basket and a Cumberland County tour package which included visits to more than 15 local attractions, two nights accommodation and meals;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate both the Fundy Geological Museum for recently receiving its 150,000th visitor, and Ed and Heather Hewin for being the ones to mark this impressive milestone.

RESOLUTION NO. 3701

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 last Saturday the Nova Scotia Baseball Association hosted its annual meeting and inductions into its Hall of Fame where Neil Ross, a former shortstop with the Springhill Fencebusters, was one of these inductees; and

Whereas Mr. Ross has been noted as being one of the best shortstops in the Maritimes, as a result of his skills while serving with the Fencebusters when in 1945 they won the Maritime title; and

Whereas the commitment and dedication to the great game of baseball was certainly exhibited by this Springhiller by the fact that in 1947 Florida recruiters offered Neil and team-mate Herb MacLeod $4,000 to play in that area;

[Page 9673]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. Neil Ross on being inducted into the Nova Scotia Baseball Hall of Fame, and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3702

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 November 25, 2000, Baseball Nova Scotia held its annual awards night and inductions into the Hall of Fame; and

Whereas the late Adam Gray of Joggins was one of these inductees as a result of his love for the game of baseball, where he coached many young players in the Cumberland County community of Joggins for many years; and

Whereas in the words of Sonny Foster who said of Gray, "A hero of myself and my boys; a tremendous person and it is an honour to be inducted the same night as him";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize the efforts of the late Adam Gray who in 1946 formed a three team league in Joggins the same year he was invited to Halifax for a try-out for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and thank his family for allowing the community and the province to share in the life of such an extraordinary person.

RESOLUTION NO. 3703

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 last Thursday, David Skidmore, a teacher at the Parrsboro High School, received an award for excellence in teaching from the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union local in Cumberland County; and

Whereas Mr. Skidmore has been credited with exploring strategies that enable all students to have success in the classroom by encouraging their insights and interpretations of poetry, which makes the students realize their full potential; and

[Page 9674]

Whereas his skills were recognized by his school, family and regional administrators to the point where he was asked to take further training in order to share his skills with other teachers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate David Skidmore on this much-deserved recognition for his commitment to the education of our youth and ensuring the children of his classes reach their full skill level, and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3704

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 November 25, 2000, Baseball Nova Scotia held its awards night and inductions into the Hall of Fame which included the late Mr. Don Yorke of Parrsboro as one of those inductees; and

Whereas Mr. Yorke was inducted as a result of his love for the game of baseball where he played in the Navy while serving in World War II and was scouted by the powerful New York Yankees during a stint in Shelburne, as well as playing for the Londonderry Ironclads while continuing to run his local taxi business; and

Whereas Mr. Yorke's love for the game of baseball continues in the community of Parrsboro through the efforts of his family who host the annual Don Yorke Memorial Ball Tournament, an undertaking which has raised almost $50,000 in the past 14 years, which is donated to charity;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate the late Don Yorke and his family on receiving this most prestigious recognition and thank the Yorke family for allowing the community and province to share in the life of such an extraordinary person.

RESOLUTION NO. 3705

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury)

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

[Page 9675]

Whereas the coastline of Nova Scotia is known far and wide as one of the most beautiful in the world; and

Whereas the proof of this beauty is evident in the increasing number of cruise ships visiting our cities and coastal communities; and

Whereas the recent decision by American Classic Voyages of Chicago to make three calls on Halifax and two in Port Hawkesbury next year is the most recent example of our province's popularity as a cruise-ship destination;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House welcome American Classic Voyages to Nova Scotia and express our hope that the number of American Classic cruise ships visiting Nova Scotia will increase in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 3706

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury)

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

Whereas the Sherbrooke Village Show and Shine was on from September 8 to September 10, 2000; and

Whereas this event featured more than 200 antique and vintage cars from across Nova Scotia and around the Maritimes, attracting 2,000 spectators to Sherbrooke at the same time; and

Whereas the Show and Shine benefited several community groups, including the Senora Community Centre, the Old Fashioned Christmas Committee, the Volunteer Fire Department and the Saint Mary's Lions Club;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Show and Shine organizational committee, together with all those who participated in this year's event, for making the 2000 Show and Shine such a success, and wish them well in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 3707

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury)

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

[Page 9676]

Whereas a new carpentry shop specializing in custom-made and installed countertops recently opened in Goshen; and

Whereas Myo's Woodworking, owned and operated by Josh O'Brien, offers customers a quality product and competitive pricing; and

Whereas Josh conducted extensive research before starting the business and received assistance from the Guysborough County Business Development Centre's Youth CEED program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Josh O'Brien on the opening of Myo's Woodworking and extend our best wishes for the success of this new and exciting enterprise.

RESOLUTION NO. 3708

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury)

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

Whereas another milestone was recently reached on the Guysborough Trails Association's latest project; and

Whereas the cables of the suspension bridge crossing the Salmon River have been connected, a major part of the $150,000 project; and

Whereas Sable Offshore played a key role in this project by providing the engineer-approved plans for this spectacular structure;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank the members of the Guysborough Trails Association as another project nears completion, and further thank Sable Offshore for donating the plans for this unique component of the Guysborough Trails network.

RESOLUTION NO. 3709

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

[Page 9677]

Whereas the International Literacy Day Awards and Recognition Ceremony was held in Dartmouth on September 8, 2000, paying tribute to adult learners and educators throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Laura Jarvis of Dartmouth won the Individual Literacy Achievement Award for her personal achievement as an adult learner; and

Whereas the determination shown by Ms. Jarvis is an example to all Nova Scotians, young and old alike;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Laura Jarvis for this distinction and wish her every success in the months and years ahead.

RESOLUTION NO. 3710

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia are renowned for their courageous spirit and selflessness; and

Whereas in that spirit, three Nova Scotians - Amelia Cameron of Dartmouth, Murray Hanlon of Truro and Howard Morash - received awards for bravery from the Governor General at a ceremony in June for their efforts in 1997 to save a man from drowning; and

Whereas two other Nova Scotians, including Roy Louis Deveau of Saulnierville and Michael Laffin of Kingston, were also recognized at the same ceremony for their bravery as each saved another person from a house fire;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate these exemplary Nova Scotians for their acts of courage and wish them all the best in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 3711

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

[Page 9678]

Whereas the Gulf of Maine ecosystem is important to the future of both Canada and the United States; and

Whereas the Southwest Regional School Board, in partnership with the Tusket River Environmental Protection Association and the Canada Millennium Partnership program, will bring young Canadians and Americans together to focus on the watershed of the Gulf of Maine; and

Whereas this program was called the Gulf of Maine Institute Without Walls and was held this summer at Meadowfields Community School, Yarmouth, and ended with presentations of the findings of participants to the Gulf of Maine Council in Portsmouth, New Hampshire;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature applaud the hard work and dedication of the organizers and the participants of the Gulf of Maine Institute Without Walls.

RESOLUTION NO. 3712

By: Hon. Gordon Balser (Minister of Economic Development)

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

Whereas the International Literacy Day Awards and Recognition Ceremony was held in Dartmouth on September 8, 2000, honouring the achievements of adult learners and educators across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Digby Area Learning Association was awarded the Literacy Leadership Award for their long-term accomplishments, innovation, leadership and organizational excellence; and

Whereas this association is a model for communities all around this province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Digby Area Learning Association and wish them well as they continue to make an important contribution to the cause of literacy and education in the years to come.

[Page 9679]

RESOLUTION NO. 3713

By: Ms. Mary Ann McGrath (Halifax Bedford Basin)

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

Whereas for 12 years the Rockingham Heritage Society has played an active role in preserving and promoting the rich history and heritage of the greater Rockingham area for all Nova Scotians and visitors to the province; and

Whereas they recently held a ceremony to mark the installation of their millennium project, a decorative panel in Hemlock Ravine Park at the corner of Kent Avenue and Prince's Walk; and

Whereas this attractive panel, with text and images, depicts the area as it looked during the time the Duke of Kent resided there, including pictures of the Duke and his family;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House extend their thanks to the Rockingham Heritage Society for contributing to the betterment of this already lovely walk, which will rejuvenate interest in the area's history and illustrate for Nova Scotians today and in the future just how we've progressed since the Duke of Kent's day.

RESOLUTION NO. 3714

By: Mr. David Morse (Kings South)

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

Whereas public response to the 5th annual Tim Hortons Holiday Wish List food drive speaks of the sincere generosity of Valley residents; and

Whereas hundreds of the brown paper bags included with the weekly sales flyers distribution and local area newspapers were dropped off at local Tim Hortons' outlets filled with non-perishable food items during the week-long food drive; and

Whereas donations made at the New Minas, Kentville and Coldbrook Tim Hortons were passed on to the Fundy Interchurch Food Bank in New Minas, while Wolfville donations were delivered to the Canning and Area Food Bank;

[Page 9680]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend our appreciation to the Falconer family, owners of the local Tim Hortons outlets and sponsors of the annual Holiday Wish List, as well as the hard-working volunteers with the Fundy Interchurch Food Bank and the Canning and Area Food Bank, and all who so generously contributed to this special annual campaign.