The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
June 16, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., Nov. 16, 1999

First Session

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 623, Health - Children's Telehealth Network: CIPA - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 2020
Vote - Affirmative 2020
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 624, Culture: Children's Book Ctr. (Cdn.) - Commend,
Ms. E. O'Connell 2020
Vote - Affirmative 2021
Res. 625, Culture - GG Literacy Award (Non-Fiction):
Marq DeVilliers (Lun.) - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 2021
Vote - Affirmative 2022
Res. 626, Educ. - Dr. Moses M. Coady Debating Tournament 1999
(St. FX Univ.): Jason McNeil (Glace Bay HS-G12) -
Success Congrats., Mr. D. Wilson 2022
Vote - Affirmative 2023
Res. 627, Culture: Bloomfield Calendar Assoc. (Hfx. North End) -
Congrats., Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2023
Vote - Affirmative 2023
Res. 628, Educ. - French Immersion Prog.: Unique - Mr. Grenville Jones
(Kings Co.) Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 2023
Vote - Affirmative 2024
Res. 629, Health - Care: Actions (Post-Election) - Review, Dr. J. Smith 2024
Res. 630, Gov't. (N.S.): Priorities - Unrepresentative,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 2025
Res. 631, Saint Thomas Church (Weymouth Bridge [1864]) -
Preservation: Commun. - Recognize, Hon. G. Balser 2025
Vote - Affirmative 2026
Res. 632, Health - Dep. Min. (Dr. T. Ward): Care Improvement - Use,
Dr. J. Smith 2026
Res. 633, Econ. Dev. - Companies: Assist. - Review, Mr. F. Corbett 2027
Res. 634, Cdn. Forces - Cpl. Joseph Allday (Reservist [Hfx.]):
Heroic Actions - Recognize, Ms. M. McGrath 2028
Vote - Affirmative 2028
Res. 635, Sports - Baseball (Cole Hbr. Minor Assoc.): Success (1999) -
Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 2028
Vote - Affirmative 2029
Res. 636, Parks (Can.) - Kejimkujik Nat. Park: Cliff Drysdale
(Ecosystem Sc. Mgr.) - Award Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 2029
Vote - Affirmative 2030
Res. 637, Law Amdts. Comm. - Members New: Historical Tradition -
Consult, Mr. W. Estabrooks 2030
Res. 638, Agric. - Shel. Co.: Vol. Cranberry Fund Investigative Group -
Commend, Mr. C. O'Donnell 2031
Vote - Affirmative 2031
Res. 639, Fin. - Deficit: Reduction - Pain Share, Mr. J. Pye 2031
Res. 640, Health - Epilepsy Assoc. (N.S.)/Woodside Bowlarama:
Fund-Raising - Applaud, Mr. T. Olive 2032
Vote - Affirmative 2033
Res. 641, Econ. Dev. - Hfx. Herald: Strike Picket Line - MLAs Respect,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 2033
Res. 642, Commun. Serv. - N.S. Home for Coloured Children:
Continuation - Contributions Recognize, Mr. D. Hendsbee 2034
Vote - Affirmative 2034
Res. 643, Sackville-Beaver Bank MLA - Dumping Illegal: Legislation -
Intro. Encourage, Mr. W. Estabrooks 2034
Res. 644, Econ. Dev. - Taggart Quality Hardware (Bass River):
Accomplishments - Congrats., Mr. W. Langille 2035
Vote - Affirmative 2036
Res. 645, Health - Guatemala Assist.: "Missionary Ventures" - Applaud,
Mr. M. Parent 2036
Vote - Affirmative 2036
Res. 646, Agric. - 4-H Show (Truro [Oct. 1999]): Young Speakers
Winner - Kitrin Johnson Congrats., Hon. G. Balser 2036
Vote - Affirmative 2037
Res. 647, Fish. - Economy (N.S.): Cornerstone - Remember,
Hon. E. Fage 2037
Vote - Affirmative 2038
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 251, Health - MSVU (Mother Berchman's Ctr.): Needs - Listen,
Mr. R. MacLellan 2038
No. 252, Fin. - Tax Cuts (Gov't. [Can.]): Taxpayers (N.S.) - Share,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 2039
No. 253, Health - MSVU (Mother Berchman's Ctr.) - Licence,
Mr. R. MacLellan 2040
No. 254, Gov't. (N.S.) - Representation: Interests - Define,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 2041
No. 255, Yarmouth MLA - Conflict of Interest, Mr. D. Wilson 2043
No. 256, Health - Gaming Addiction: D. Murphy Ctr. - Funding Refusal,
Mr. J. Pye 2044
No. 257, Health - Dep. Min. (Dr. T. Ward): Contract - Release,
Mr. R. MacLellan 2046
No. 258, Health - Dep. Min. (Dr. T. Ward): Contract - Table,
Mr. D. Dexter 2047
No. 259, Health - Dep. Min. (Dr. T. Ward): Spending - Limits,
Dr. J. Smith 2049
No. 260, Health - Nurses: Incentives - Deliver, Mr. D. Dexter 2050
No. 261, Econ. Dev. - C.B.: Commitment ($12M) - Budget (2000-2001)
Confirm, Mr. Manning MacDonald 2052
No. 262, Econ. Dev. - Companies: Grants - Continuance, Mr. F. Corbett 2053
No. 263, Econ. Dev.: Special Interests - Selective,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2054
No. 264, Fin. - Prog. Review: Actions - Advanced, Mr. J. Holm 2056
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 1, Gemstone Emblem Act 2059
No. 16, Provincial Mineral Act 2060
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 6, Maritime Life Assurance Company Act 2061
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 12, Mineral Resources Act 2061
Hon. E. Fage 2061
Mr. John MacDonell 2061
Mr. K. MacAskill 2063
Mr. H. Epstein 2064
Mr. P. MacEwan 2069
Mr. M. Samson 2070
Hon. E. Fage 2080
Vote - Affirmative 2081
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Health - Deputy Minister: Contract (Letters [2]) - Signed, The Premier 2081
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 15, Public Prosecutions Act 2082
Hon. M. Baker 2082
Mr. M. Samson 2083
Mr. H. Epstein 2097
Dr. J. Smith 2099
Mr. R. MacLellan 2104
Hon. M. Baker 2106
Vote - Affirmative 2107
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 22, Chiropractic Act 2107
Hon. J. Muir 2107
Hon. R. Russell 2109
Adjourned debate 2109
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 4:28 P.M. 2109
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 5:10 P.M. 2109
CWH REPORTS 2109
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 25, Justice Administration Amendment (1999) Act 2110
Hon. M. Baker 2110
Mr. M. Samson 2113
Mr. H. Epstein 2118
Mr. D. Dexter 2119
Dr. J. Smith 2121
Adjourned debate 2123
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Tourism - Prospect Rd.: Destinations - Feature:
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2124
Hon. J. Chataway 2127
Mr. D. Downe 2129
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 25, Justice Administration Amendment (1999) Act
[Debate Resumed] 2132
Dr. J. Smith 2132
Hon. M. Baker 2133
Vote - Affirmative 2133
No. 22, Chiropractic Act 2133
Hon. J. Muir 2133
Dr. J. Smith 2135
Mr. D. Dexter 2143
Hon. J. Muir 2144
Vote - Affirmative 2144
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 24, Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company Limited Act 2144
Mr. T. Olive 2144
Mr. Robert Chisholm 2144
Mr. M. Samson 2145
Mr. T. Olive 2146
Vote - Affirmative 2146
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 7:15 P.M. 2146
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:58 P.M. 2146
CWH REPORTS 2147
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Nov. 17th at 2:00 p.m. 2147

[Page 2019]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 1999

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for the late debate this evening was submitted by the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that the new Minister of Tourism instruct his department to feature, in addition to Peggy's Cove, other destinations along the Prospect Road.

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

2019

[Page 2020]

RESOLUTION NO. 623

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

Whereas the Children's Telehealth Network, a partnership between the IWK-Grace, MTT, New Brunswick Tel, and TecKnowledge Healthcare Systems Incorporated, is the first network in Canada to connect patients interprovincially via Telehealth; and

Whereas this network has been key in helping the IWK-Grace to bridge distances, strengthen partnerships and most importantly, to provide care closer to home for many families; and

Whereas the Children's Telehealth Network recently received the CIPA, which is the Canadian Information Productivity Award of Excellence, for their innovation and effective use of information or technology;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take the opportunity to recognize the Children's Telehealth Network and congratulate them on this outstanding award.

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 Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 624

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

[Page 2021]

Whereas November 13th to 20th marks Canadian Children's Book Week, during which Canadian and especially Nova Scotian children's authors and illustrators conduct a Canada-wide tour; and

Whereas book week is sponsored largely by the Canadian Children's Book Centre, a national, non-profit organization that promotes the very worthwhile and needed goal of reading, writing and illustrating Canadian children's books; and

Whereas this week marks a time for us to celebrate the creativity and contribution of Canadian children's authors, illustrators and publishers to developing the imaginations of our children;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the Canadian Children's Book Centre and the authors, illustrators and publishers for their contribution to Canadian Children's Book Week.

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 Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 625

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 winners of the 1999 Governor General's Literary Awards have been announced today; and

Whereas in the non-fiction category, one Nova Scotian, Marq de Villiers of Lunenburg, has been announced as a winner for Water; and

Whereas it is an honour to have the talents of Nova Scotians recognized nationally through the Governor General's Awards;

[Page 2022]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Marq de Villiers on this honour, offer our congratulations to all those Nova Scotians nominated for this highly- acclaimed award and applaud the literary achievements and the contribution to Canada's rich literary culture of these individuals.

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. 626

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

Whereas Jason McNeil of Glace Bay has debated his way to the top of the standings at a provincial high school debating tournament in Antigonish last weekend; and

Whereas Mr. McNeil, a Grade 12 student of Glace Bay High School, was successful in his third and final Dr. Moses M. Coady Debating Tournament at St. Francis Xavier University; and

Whereas he managed to rise to the top among a field of 66 high school students throughout Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Jason McNeil of Glace Bay for his success at the Dr. Moses M. Coady Debating Tournament 1999 at St. Francis Xavier University.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2023]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 627

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

Whereas Halifax's North End is a place of considerable history and character; and

Whereas the pride of place and desire to celebrate this history, architecture and character has been captured in a calendar titled, Halifax North Calendar Year 2000; and

Whereas proceeds from the sale of this calendar will go to the Halifax Metro Food Bank;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend our sincere congratulations to the Bloomfield Calendar Association for their noteworthy work and wish them every success in this worthwhile endeavour.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 628

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

[Page 2024]

Whereas for the past 15 years Grenville Jones, a Kings County Academy teacher, has provided a unique French immersion program, including a two week stay in the north of France; and

Whereas fluency in both of Canada's official languages is an advantage for Canadian youth; and

Whereas Mr. Jones will be extending this opportunity to adults this coming summer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in recognizing and applauding the hard work of Mr. Grenville Jones in providing such an important service to the youth and now the adults of Kings County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 629

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

Whereas this ill-informed Tory Government, the group that cannot shoot straight, has brought in a Deputy Minister of Health at a cost of $180,000 per year plus a vehicle, plus yet unknown costs; and

Whereas against professional advice of health providers and decision makers, they have started to dismantle a perfectly workable, effective and caring health care system; and

Whereas this workable system is to be replaced by five additional bureaucratic structures with advisory bodies that will be chosen by the Tory Party while bypassing the normal legislative appointment process;

[Page 2025]

Therefore be it resolved that this government review its own actions and question, for the sake of all Nova Scotians, what they are doing and how these actions will set health care back to the days of the old Tory Government.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 630

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

Whereas in his message to Nova Scotians as Progressive Conservative Leader, the Premier says, "We will accomplish our goal of deficit financing by setting clear priorities that are in lock-step with those of Nova Scotians."; and

Whereas Scotiabank, whose chairperson's annual pay is $2.3 million, is a higher Tory priority than nursing home beds for the Sisters of Charity; and

Whereas Scotiabank, with its record profits nearing $1.5 billion, is a higher Tory priority than care for the elderly by those who have taken the vow of poverty;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his colleagues should think again if any of them truly believe that their Tory priorities are in lock-step with those of Nova Scotians who work hard every day to earn an honest living.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 631

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

[Page 2026]

Whereas the historic Church of Saint Thomas, built in 1864 in the community of Weymouth Bridge, has been designated as a heritage site with the unveiling of a plaque on Tuesday, November 9, 1999; and

Whereas the members of the historical society have raised funds to purchase, restore and maintain the church as a community cultural centre; and

Whereas the community has full supported this ongoing and beneficial initiative;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the efforts of the community and the historical society in preserving and promoting their heritage for future generations.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 632

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

Whereas the previous Liberal Government had a comprehensive plan for nursing, both for students and practising RNs, which was supported by the Health Investment Fund; and

Whereas this government continues to copy its old tradition of throwing money at the same old system but trying to hide this by giving it a new name; and

Whereas without shame, this government continues to take credit for establishing nursing positions, training seats and a nursing advisor position, without coming out with a recruitment program of their own to support nursing students and practising RNs;

[Page 2027]

Therefore be it resolved that this government use its high-priced deputy minister to improve a viable health care system and not as a hatchet man to slash programs and impose user fees on Nova Scotians needing care.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 633

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

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development thinks his department should not face any cuts in next year's budget; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development has obviously forgotten that the blue book stated, "Streamlining the Department of Economic Development so that it focuses on infrastructure, training and marketing rather than on simply passing out grants, loans and loan guarantees . . ."; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development does not want to be a team player, stating "he will argue there should be no trimming of his department's overall budget, estimated this year at 60.2 million, dollars.";

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development should reread the Tory blue book so he knows what promises his government made before he publicly complains again about having only $60.2 million to hand out to big business.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax-Bedford Basin.

[Page 2028]

RESOLUTION NO. 634

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

Whereas Halifax Army reservist Corporal Joseph Allday, a member of the 33 Service Battalion since 1991 was recently part of a rotation of Canadian soldiers serving in Bosnia; and

Whereas during that rotation last June, Corporal Allday helped save the life and the right arm of a boy in Zagreb; and

Whereas in honour of his actions, Corporal Allday received the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff Commendation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in recognizing the heroic actions of Corporal Allday, in congratulating him on his award, and in applauding the efforts of our Canadian men and women who continue to strive for peace.

[12:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 635

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

Whereas the Cole Harbour Minor Baseball Association is the largest in Nova Scotia and provides excellent recreational services for several hundred local kids; and

[Page 2029]

Whereas the Cole Harbour Minor Baseball Association introduced the David J. Bennett Memorial Award in 1996 to recognize the family that contributes the most to minor baseball in Cole Harbour; and

Whereas Gary and Peggy Pierce have shown a strong commitment to baseball in the Cole Harbour area;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Cole Harbour Minor Baseball Association on another successful year and recognize Gary and Peggy Pierce as the winners of the 1999 David J. Bennett Memorial Award.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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. 636

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

Whereas Kejimkujik National Park is considered to be one of the continent's most important study sites for acid rain and long-range air pollution; and

Whereas the park and its ecosystem science manager were recently honoured by the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas; and

Whereas Cliff Drysdale received the council's Gold Leaf Award for the park's exceptional scientific contributions to conservation and to understanding Canada's ecological diversity;

Therefore be it resolved that all members extend congratulations to Mr. Drysdale and all who work so hard to ensure that Kejimkujik National Park continues to be a national treasure.

[Page 2030]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 637

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 Law Amendments Committee has been a unique and valuable part of the legislative process in this province; and

Whereas new government members of this historic committee have not been made aware of the purpose of this committee; and

Whereas the Law Amendments Committee is intended, firstly, to listen to interested citizens and, secondly, to deal with proposed amendments through the caucus process;

Therefore be it resolved that new members of the Law Amendments Committee consult with legislative staff on the historical tradition of this once important committee.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

[Page 2031]

RESOLUTION NO. 638

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

Whereas cranberry farming in Shelburne County has been identified as having excellent potential; and

Whereas a farm owned by Rick Bower in Welshtown, Shelburne County, has worked with the South West Shore Development Authority to start one cranberry operation while doing preliminary work on two other sites; and

Whereas two residents from Prince Edward Island have purchased 594 acres of land in the Clements Pond area of Shelburne County to begin cranberry production;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature offer their encouragement and commend the Volunteer Cranberry Fund Investigative Group organized by Doug Robinson of the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing as they continue to promote the development of the cranberry industry across 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 Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 639

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

Whereas yesterday at the chamber of commerce luncheon, Johnnie Scrooge said the days for governing for special interests are over; and

[Page 2032]

Whereas the Premier said that Nova Scotians really do not need 1,126 programs, obviously admitting that many programs are on the chopping block; and

Whereas the business interest groups were not included as special interest and were excluded from being placed on the chopping block;

Therefore be it resolved that if this Tory Government believes that all Nova Scotians must share the pain of reducing the deficit and the debt, that they tell Nova Scotians how big business is going to share in the pain.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 640

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

Whereas epilepsy is a common neurological condition affecting approximately 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent of the population; and

Whereas in Nova Scotia approximately 4,500 to 9,000 people suffer from this condition; and

Whereas on November 20th the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia is sponsoring a charity bowl-a-thon at the Woodside Bowlarama in Dartmouth;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature applaud the efforts of the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia, together with the Woodside Bowlarama and all participants in the upcoming bowl-a-thon in raising awareness about epilepsy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2033]

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 New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 641

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

Whereas the employees of the Halifax Herald who are represented by the Canadian Media Guild have given notice of their intention to exercise their right to strike as early as November 17th; and

Whereas the publisher of the Herald may try to continue producing a paper with unorganized and replacement workers; and

Whereas striking Herald reporters and editors would be exercising the rights they enjoy under the Trade Union Act that was enacted by this House to promote good labour relations;

Therefore be it resolved that in the event of a strike by the Halifax Herald editorial staff, MLAs should respect the picket line by refusing to answer questions from - or to do exclusive interviews with - anyone who might try to replace Herald reporters and editors during a strike.

I would seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

[Page 2034]

RESOLUTION NO. 642

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 is the oldest co-ed residential facility in the province; and

Whereas since its establishment, 78 years ago, the Home has opened its doors to all children regardless of race, religion or ethnicity; and

Whereas on Sunday, December 12th, the Home will host its 68th annual broadcast for funds to continue its efforts in support of children in need;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the enormous contribution made by the Home's board of directors, management, staff and volunteers and applaud their efforts in ensuring the continuation of the essential services they provide.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 643

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

Whereas illegal dumping remains a major problem for all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank is quoted as saying, "people don't have to break the law to get rid of their garbage"; and

Whereas these irresponsible acts of dumping are inexcusable;

[Page 2035]

Therefore be it resolved that the MLA for Sackville-Beaver Bank encourage the Environment Minister to introduce legislation to improve enforcement.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 644

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

Whereas Taggart Quality Hardwood located in Bass River was recently named the 1999 New Small Business Award Winner by the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce; and

Whereas Taggart Quality Hardwood ships their products to countries all over the world including Malaysia, Belgium, England, Sweden and Germany; and

Whereas Taggart Quality Hardwood is presently expanding their operation and will soon be hiring an additional two full-time employees to complement their present workforce;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize the accomplishments of business owners Ted and Tom Taggart in the establishment of their immensely successful high quality hardwood plant and wish them every success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 2036]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 645

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

Whereas Missionary Ventures is an organization working to assist local leaders in Guatemala through humanitarian efforts; and

Whereas last year a medical team from Nova Scotia treated some 2,000 patients and provided approximately 450 pairs of eyeglasses to those in need; and

Whereas in February a medical team will again visit Guatemala to provide support and services to those who continue to be affected by the harsh conditions surrounding them;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in recognizing and applauding the hard word of Missionary Ventures and the teams of volunteers who so generously provide their assistance and services to those in need.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 646

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

Whereas Kitrin Johnson competed in and won the provincial title at the Young Speakers for Agriculture event held at the 4-H show in Truro in October; and

[Page 2037]

Whereas Kitrin Johnson represented the Province of Nova Scotia in the Young Speakers for Agriculture event which was held at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto; and

Whereas Kitrin's topic was Building Bridges Between Farm and Non-farm Neighbours and she was the only non-Ontarian to place in the final competition;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the accomplishments of this young Nova Scotian and congratulate her on her achievements.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 647

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

Whereas the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council's recent Outlook 2000 economic forecast reported that fish exports lead all other provinces in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the fish industry generates more than $1.1 billion a year in business for our coastal communities and, most importantly, provides thousands of jobs throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas for centuries the fisheries has been a fine example of exporting and leading in maximizing value from our natural resources;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House continue to remind themselves and fellow Nova Scotians that fish is a cornerstone of our economy and will continue to generate millions upon millions of dollars for the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request waiver.

[Page 2038]

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time is 12:26 p.m., the beginning of Question Period, and we will end at 1:26 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

HEALTH - MSVU (MOTHER BERCHMAN'S CTR.):

NEEDS - LISTEN

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has said that he will not cater to special interest groups yet he has asked the business community what it needs. The Sisters of Charity at the Mother Berchman Centre have told the Premier what they need. Why did he not listen to them?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Liberal Party obviously tries to put two issues together that clearly are not connected. We in this province need a business community to grow revenue so we can do what we have to do and that is provide the kind of services that the Sisters of Charity provide, as do many other groups in Nova Scotia, and we are simply saying to the business community, which has done a good job in Nova Scotia to give us the employment statistics that we have today, we will work with that business community to provide the kind of jobs that will bring prosperity to Nova Scotia.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the two are very much connected. He asked the business community what they need, but he takes the money away from the disabled, the charities and those who serve people in need. Why has the Premier turned over the leadership of this province to Voluntary Planning, the business community, while at the same time ignoring the poor, the disabled and those who serve people in need, and have the money ripped right out of their hands?

[Page 2039]

THE PREMIER: It would appear that the member opposite really does not want to appreciate the fact that the jobs that we are going to be promoting here in Nova Scotia will give us the revenues so that we can positively respond to the Sisters of Charity, to the poor and the disadvantaged. That is the road down which we are going to travel. We are going to grow revenues to allow us to provide the services that with the current state of the province's finances we are finding it very difficult to do.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, what the Premier has, in fact, said is that he will focus spending cuts on programs that do not serve the majority of Nova Scotians. Is he waiting until such time as the poor, the disabled and those who serve people in need form the majority of the people in Nova Scotia before he helps them?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that is a very strange question coming from the Leader of the Liberal Party who has just been a Premier of this province during a time of unparalleled prosperity and at the same time the number of poor children in this province grew exponentially.

[12:30 p.m.]

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

FIN. - TAX CUTS (GOV'T. [CAN.]): TAXPAYERS (N.S.) - SHARE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier, will he advise us whether his government will pass on to Nova Scotians, the provincial share of any cuts made to the federal income tax?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the Leader of the New Democratic Party has a better phone line to Ottawa than I have because I am still having difficulty coming to grips with what it is the federal government is talking about when they talk about tax cuts. What I am saying to the Leader of the New Democratic Party is it is a good question because part of our mandate is to provide tax cuts, but we will do it when we have the budget under control.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Finance, representing Nova Scotia, joined other provinces in endorsing a package that included federal tax cuts. What I am asking the Premier is pretty simple. If the Minister of Finance and his colleagues across this country are successful in getting the federal government to make cuts to the income tax system, will he ensure that Nova Scotians will benefit from those cuts by passing on the provincial share?

[Page 2040]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can assure the Leader of the New Democratic Party and through him and his question assure Nova Scotians, is when we have the budget balanced, when the fiscal position of the province allows it, at the end of our first mandate we will be coming in with tax cuts. We are not going to have our agenda driven by the federal agenda.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, that "no" was clearly reflected today when the Premier was on the radio and he said that he doesn't want Nova Scotians to enjoy tax cuts for the next three years.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I want to ask the Premier to square this for Nova Scotians, who was the person who was leading the Progressive Conservative Party during the recent election campaign, who was running all over this province saying that if elected Premier he would ensure that Nova Scotians would enjoy the lowest taxes in this region? Who is the real John Hamm and will he please stand up?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, by getting to my feet I think I have answered the question. What I can say to the Leader of the New Democratic Party is that the people of Nova Scotia are very clear on what it is that we have indicated we would do during the course of our mandate. There seems to be some confusion in the ranks of the New Democratic Party as to what the blue book says, although one member does have a copy. I would indicate again that we will not have the agenda of this province driven by the federal government. We have problems to solve in this province and we will solve them and we will solve them in a way that is equitable to all Nova Scotians.

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

HEALTH: MSVU (MOTHER BERCHMAN'S CENTRE) - LICENCE

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health has revoked the licence to the Sisters of Charity. However, on May 18th of this year, he presented a resolution, Resolution No. 2779, extending his and all of our sincere appreciation for the tremendous contribution of the Sisters of Charity and the contribution that they have made to the lives of Nova Scotians. Why is it that this Minister of Health now does not believe that the same Sisters of Charity, whom he once praised as recently as last spring, are not suitable to provide long-term care to Nova Scotians?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for reminding all other honourable members the high esteem with which I hold the organization of the Sisters of Charity. (Applause) I continue to have that opinion. In the case of the nursing home

[Page 2041]

licence, I should like to remind the Leader of the Liberal Party that that licence was never granted.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I guess the Sisters of Charity should consider themselves fortunate that he doesn't hold them in higher esteem or they would probably be evicted by now. (Laughter) How can the minister say to an organization that has made helping others their life work, that they are not suitable to look after the aged and people in need in this province?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would say, again, I have never said that the Sisters of Charity weren't fit to look after the aged and needy in this province. The fact of the matter is, he is trying to combine two things. One is an application for a nursing home licence and we have a number of those applications and the fact that the sisters have not been granted theirs at this particular time doesn't mean that they won't get one in the future.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, sometimes it is important to combine two things like walking and chewing gum at the same time. I recommend that to the minister. The minister has said, and he alluded in his letter to the Sisters of Charity, that there were competing interests for our facilities for licences and long-term care beds. Why doesn't the minister just say that the Sisters of Charity's need pales in comparison with some very high profile Tories and the business community from which the Premier is taking direction?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased with that question because it gives me the opportunity to state that at least right now, as long as the Tories are in power, that the decisions that are going to be made are going to be evidence-based and they are going to be responsible and they are going to be responsive and they are going to be made in the best interests of all Nova Scotians, something which that bunch over there is certainly not used to.

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

GOV'T. (N.S.) - REPRESENTATION: INTERESTS - DEFINE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, the Premier confirmed today that he will not stand by and allow any tax cuts to be passed on to ordinary Nova Scotians. He has participated in cutting programs to the disabled, to the poor and now to the Sisters of Charity who are trying to provide nursing care for the elderly in the Province of Nova Scotia. At the same time, he asked representatives of big business, what more can I do for you? I want to ask the Premier to explain to Nova Scotians why he believes that his government was elected to represent the interests of the few, the interests of big business, as opposed to the interests of ordinary Nova Scotians?

[Page 2042]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the New Democratic Party continues to confuse both members of government, his own Party and I believe the Liberal Party because in starting to talk about his question, his lead-in is, we are not in favour of lowering taxes. At the same time, we are disadvantaging the poor. Now which does he want us to do? Does he want us to lower taxes or does he want us to have more money for programs? You can't have it both ways.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is making choices, there is no question. On the one hand, he has the majority of Nova Scotians that he says, you will not get a tax cut. On the one hand, he has the poor who says you won't have money for problem gambling for charities. For the elderly, you won't have more nursing home beds . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: . . . in order to care for those people, but on this hand he says, big business, we will represent you . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I ask the member to put the question.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, he has made a choice. Will he explain to Nova Scotians why he has made a choice that is so different from the choice he told them about in the election campaign?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it must be tremendously disappointing to the member opposite, the Leader of the New Democratic Party, that despite the rather confused criticism that comes across the floor, we are sticking to our guns. We are sticking to our guns to balance the budget, to grow revenues, so that we will be able to provide the kinds of services that I know genuinely this Leader supports.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: If you call promising tax cuts to ordinary Nova Scotians and then reneging on that sticking to your guns maybe that is the new Tory philosophy. If you call standing up to big business on ending hand-outs and then turning around and saying, how much can we give you . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: . . . sticking to your guns, then I have to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, if he would explain to Nova Scotians how that represents a caring and compassionate government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest very strongly that the confused Leader of the New Democratic Party (Interruption) request from the member for Dartmouth North a copy of the blue book before he asks his next question.

[Page 2043]

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

YARMOUTH MLA - CONFLICT OF INTEREST

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. This morning on CJLS radio, the Tory MLA for Yarmouth was asked about a conflict involving the company, of which he is still president, receiving a government contract. The member for Yarmouth said he discussed this controversy with the Premier and that the Premier was not concerned about it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh-h-h.

MR. WILSON: My question is, why doesn't the Premier feel he should be concerned that one of his backbenchers is in a possible conflict of interest?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say categorically, having reviewed the House of Assembly Act - and I would suggest that the member opposite review it as well - because on review of the House of Assembly Act, the member for Yarmouth has not contravened the House of Assembly Act. This was a tendered contract and it went to the lowest bidder and that satisfies the clauses of the House of Assembly Act.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the advice from the Premier. I would like to table a page from the House of Assembly Act, Section 18 that clearly states that no person, directly or indirectly, holding a contract with the Government of Nova Scotia, shall be eligible as a member of the House or shall vote therein. Today on CJLS, the Yarmouth MLA admitted he was still getting paid as President of R. Hurlburt Construction.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame.

MR. WILSON: My question, why won't the Premier . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the members allow the question, please.

MR. WILSON: My question, Mr. Speaker, why won't the Premier ask the Yarmouth MLA to leave his seat in this House until this matter is resolved?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite had read a little further, he would have come to Section 20(1)(e) and this is the exception, "a shareholder of an incorporated company having any such contract or agreement, unless . . . ", listen carefully, member opposite, ". . . such contract or agreement is for the building of a public work for

[Page 2044]

the Province and such work has not been let by tender to the lowest bidder.". (Applause)

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the Premier for his advice. I have already read what he has suggested. I know about exceptions and I also know about perceptions, Mr. Premier. The MLA for Yarmouth admitted that his lawyer has only been working on this issue since September. That breaks his election promise of giving up his business in July, which he promised.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. WILSON: My question to the Premier is, will he ensure that all tender bids from R. Hurlburt Construction are declined until this issue is resolved?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can assure the member opposite is that all members of this government will follow the dictates of the House of Assembly Act. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

HEALTH - GAMING ADDICTION:

D. MURPHY CTR. - FUNDING REFUSAL

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question will be to the Minister of Health. The government's definition of special interest seems almost synonymous with disadvantaged. Today's example is the Douglas Murphy Outreach Centre for problem gamblers. The government has refused to provide this centre with funding for the coming year . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order, please. It is hard for me to hear the member that is asking the question. I would ask the members to please respect the member on the floor, if not take the conversation outside, please.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, thank you kindly. That gives me the opportunity to repeat my question. The government's definition of special interests seems to be almost synonymous with disadvantaged. Today's example is the Douglas Murphy Outreach Centre for problem gamblers. The government has refused to provide this centre with funding for the coming year, so the centre will have to close. To add further insult, the Minister of Health has the audacity to claim that the centre is just a social club not a treatment centre.

My question to the minister is, if the Douglas Murphy Outreach Centre isn't providing an essential and therapeutic service to problem gamblers, why does the government-funded gambling hotline refer its callers to that centre for treatment?

[Page 2045]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Dartmouth North for that question. I can say, one of the things on which the decision not to fund again the centre to which the honourable member referred is that the funding for addiction services has been devolved to the region, therefore they were encouraged to apply to the region for additional funding.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, once again the minister didn't answer the question directly. The government is profiting at the expense of people with gambling addictions, and now it is turning its back on the responsibility to help gamblers get help when needed. The other addiction treatment programs are overbooked and are geared toward those with substance addition and not gambling addition.

My question to the Minister of Health, once again, is, why has the government bothered to spend $800,000 to train bar staff to spot problem gamblers when it won't fund the centres for those gamblers to get treatment?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member may wish to check the accuracy of his statement about the Department of Health putting all that money into that program. I think you will find that it is shared. I can say that the Department of Health has $15 million in its budget this year for addiction services. Addiction services covers a wide range of afflictions, everything from overplaying on the stock market to playing cards at your neighbour's house and getting carried away. We have eight major centres around the province and 33 satellite centres.

Unfortunately, in the case of the centre to which the member was referring, the initial grant that they received was for $20,000 which was seed money. Their request this year was for greater than $0.5 million.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to inform the Minister of Health, in the event that he is unaware, his Minister of Finance has told me that the total funding for that bar training staff program is funded by the gambling organization. I want to make that perfectly clear right now.

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the minister and his Premier that a society and a government is judged on how it treats its most vulnerable members and when the government dismisses people who are in need or a special interest group, it is not acting in the best interest of our society. My question is to the Minister of Finance. The blue book promised more funding for recovery programs for problem gamblers to come from the gaming surpluses. Why has the minister broken this promise?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that the funding that was in place from the Gaming Corporation for the Department of Health has been maintained. The member brings up a point as to the fact of the people who are afflicted with gambling and I

[Page 2046]

by no means simplify or downplay the fact that there are people in this province who are suffering from gambling addiction. I think we all know that. I believe the Department of Health is delivering on programs to do so, but the funding in our department has been maintained for this budget for this year and I would like the member to be made aware of that.

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

HEALTH - DEP. MIN. (DR. T. WARD): CONTRACT - RELEASE

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Premier told us, when he retained the services of the new Deputy Minister of Health, we would be able to see the contract that the new deputy minister would be signing with the government. What we got was two letters from the Deputy Minister of Priorities and Planning, both dated November 3rd, but no contract. It could not have been considered a contract because it was not signed by the new Deputy Minister of Health. When is the Premier going to give us a copy of the contract?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the contract consists of two letters, which follows the form that is used in employing all senior public servants. The disbursements that are available are the same as those that are made available to anybody who is hired outside the province and who moves to take employment here in the bureaucracy in Nova Scotia. I understand the member's concern with the letters we provided, but we were trying to do it as quickly as we could. We will provide and table a signed copy because that essentially is the contract between the province and the new deputy minister.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, if that is the contract, I am more concerned about the province than I was before. It is not signed by the new deputy minister, but it does reflect a paid-for vehicle to be given to the deputy as long as he is in that capacity in conjunction with the process or the practice of the province. How many other deputy ministers have cars provided to them by the Province of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite is aware, some members who have an opportunity to have a government car have taken advantage of that and some have not. I cannot answer your question specifically, but I will seek out the answer and provide it.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge no deputy minister has a car provided by the Province of Nova Scotia. Here is a government that has just thrown away the chance to save $60 million in the budget, has increased the administrative health units from four to nine, increased the cost of the 911 service by $100,000, and now is providing cars to deputy ministers; not much of a record for saving money for the Province of Nova Scotia other than on the backs of the poor.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 2047]

MR. MACLELLAN: Why is this Premier not going to, in fact, enforce the rules that are already there and make the deputy minister provide his own vehicle?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is aware that this is the eighth deputy minister in six years. The member opposite is aware that there were very heavy separation payments made by that government to departing deputies. That member is aware that at times we had two deputy ministers on the payroll at once. We finally have one, and we have one I believe is capable of doing the job for Nova Scotians. That was the challenge that we had. We made this a priority item and I believe that this will prove to be a good investment by government on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia.

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

HEALTH - DEP. MIN. (DR. T. WARD): CONTRACT - TABLE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, almost two weeks ago the Premier and the Minister of Health promised to table the details of the pay benefits and bonuses offered to Dr. Ward, the new Deputy Minister of Health. Yesterday the minister tabled two letters, letters that haven't been signed by Dr. Ward, so how are we to know if they are indeed the terms that he agreed to. It seems odd, because these letters are dated November 3rd, the same day we began questioning the government about this appointment. Surely Dr. Ward would have had a written offer of employment prior to that. Will the minister commit to tabling the contract signed by Dr. Ward before this House rises today, so that we can learn the truth about how expensive this new deputy minister really is?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I believe the honourable member had a little mental lapse there, just for a short period of time, because that was the identical question that was asked by the Leader of the Liberal Party to the Premier about two questions ago. Obviously, you weren't paying attention. Are you going to pay attention now?

Mr. Speaker, as the Premier said, we will be prepared to make that available in the House as soon as we can get our hands on it, and hopefully it will be today.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the condescending attitude of the minister doesn't do anything to instil confidence, in this side of the House or the people of the Province of Nova Scotia.

The information the minister tabled yesterday is very short on specifics and actual numbers, but one interesting thing it does mention is that the new deputy was provided with a job description, the government's plan for health reform, and a mandate letter. Now I am sure Nova Scotians would be very interested in learning the contents of that ominous-sounding document. What were the exact contents of the mandate letter? What was this deputy minister told he was going to have to cut?

[Page 2048]

THE PREMIER: First of all, I can shed a little light on the dating of the letter because, as the member opposite probably realizes, the letter was drawn up on November 3rd and then it took some time for the now deputy minister to come to the conclusion that he was going to sign the letter. So what you saw was the proposal which was eventually signed. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: By way of answering the question, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order.

THE PREMIER: . . . the deputy minister is challenged with providing a health care system that Nova Scotians will have confidence in and that we, as a province, can afford. That is what this deputy minister is challenged with, to work with this minister, and to provide the kind of health care system that Nova Scotians will be confident in and that we can afford.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in just three months we have seen this government is short on compassion and big on cuts, and now they have hired a deputy minister whose résumé refers to a skill at consolidating health care, merging staff, and amalgamations. Ominous and expensive words in the 1990's. Will the minister table, before this House rises today, the actual mandate letter given to Dr. Ward, so that Nova Scotians can know who is going to be the next victim of this government's peculiar brand of compassion?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows the actual hiring is done by the Premier's office and I would refer that question to the Premier.

THE PREMIER: The member opposite seems concerned that, in fact, this government will do a better job in managing health care than the previous government. I can assure the member opposite that this government will do a better job in managing health care than the previous government. I can further reassure the member opposite that we believe that we finally have a deputy minister that is prepared to make the long-term commitment to add stability to the health care department, to allow the health care department to grow into an organization that can satisfy the demands of Nova Scotians and, as well, is affordable to Nova Scotians. (Applause)

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 2049]

HEALTH - DEP. MIN. (DR. T. WARD): SPENDING - LIMITS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. I just have to comment on what the Premier just said that reflects on Dr. Nuala Kenny, what she was not prepared to do. We had a good deputy in this province and she left because she couldn't stand what those people are doing. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

AN HON. MEMBER: Her problem was that she was a Sister of Charity.

DR. SMITH: Yes, maybe that was it. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: Shame.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth East has the floor. Your question, please.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will try to be brief. We are speaking about that two-page document or letter that was tabled here in the House yesterday with a whole host of benefits for the new deputy, maybe it is the slash-and-burn deputy and maybe he is going to send him the leased car that he can drive from Vancouver or wherever he is coming from.

My question to the Minister of Health is, given that this amount comes out of the Health budget, how much input has he had in developing the limits that can be spent by his new deputy? What input has he had on the spending limits?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the honourable member that the salary being paid to Dr. Ward is less than the salaries that he paid two deputy ministers last year at the same time. (Applause) And that was the second time that that government was paying two Deputy Ministers of Health.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is no depth that this government will not go to to bring shame upon themselves and the personal nature. He knows that that was of a personal nature, and to bring that to the House of Assembly in that manner is unconscionable. Shame on that minister.

[Page 2050]

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health is constantly questioning or cancelling decisions and talking about cuts in health care, he is talking about increasing the generating revenue of the department, whatever that means. My question to the minister is, given the so-called contract that we saw for the deputy minister, not signed, has the minister already or will he be speaking to the Premier, who hired the deputy minister, and establish spending guidelines for the new contract, particularly living expenses in the hotel, travel, meals, automobile, et cetera?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I believe the letter to which the honourable referred talked about reasonable expenses, and obviously those expenses that are submitted have to be signed off, so indeed, the reasonableness of them will be examined.

DR. SMITH: It doesn't sound like he has had any input, and he has set no spending limits on the new deputy. The minister is being saddled with a salary that is more than double of any other deputy minister in this government. What does that say as to how this government values the other deputy ministers?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: My question to the Minister of Health is, will he tell all Nova Scotians what will be cut in order to absorb the additional costs for the deputy minister that has been negotiated by his Premier?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, actually I could refer to him, clearly we will be saving money with the one deputy minister as opposed to the two that were there last year. We will be looking for efficiencies in the department, that is obviously part of our ongoing platform. There has been no new money added to the budget, if that is what he is asking, to pay for the salary of the new deputy minister.

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

HEALTH - NURSES: INCENTIVES - DELIVER

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, since the election the Minister of Health has adopted a new philosophy. So far the paramedics, the nurses, the disabled, the Sisters of Charity, have all heard him chant his new mantra, don't worry, be happy. Yesterday, nursing students became the latest group to be told that things aren't really as bad as they think they are, they just think they are bad. Well, things are bad and the minister's stubborn refusal to admit that there is a problem is only making things worse.

[Page 2051]

What assurances can the minister give nursing students that by the time they graduate, they will have job opportunities, job security and economic incentives to practice nursing in this province?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that a number of the regional health boards in the province are looking for full-time people. I think I mentioned, well I guess it was last week, to read the weekend newspapers, the ads were in there. I feel confident. I did meet with the nursing students yesterday, very briefly, and we have another meeting to be scheduled or, it may, indeed, be scheduled right now to try to get together to talk about their concerns.

One of the things that they raised was they felt that there weren't full-time positions at the QE II and the IWK-Grace. I have been trying to find out if that is the case, why it is the case, Mr. Speaker. I can say that there are full-time jobs in Nova Scotia. They may not all be in Halifax but there are long-term care facilities that are looking for nurses. There are other acute care facilities looking for nurses, for example, I am quite sure that if the graduating class would take a look in the northern and central regions, as well as the eastern or western region, that there are opportunities for full-time employment.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, young Nova Scotians do want to stay here and they have a lot to offer, but more and more young people are finding that this province isn't willing to offer them anything. What specific measures will the government take to provide incentives to attract and keep nursing students in the province?

MR. MUIR: We have done a number of things, Mr. Speaker, already. As the honourable member knows, there has been a considerable increase in the funding which was allocated to the health boards this year and a portion of that money can be used to increase the number of nurses that are there. We have invested about $800,000 in additional nursing seats at St. F.X. and at the satellite campus at UCCB, as well as at Dalhousie. We have put $50,000 aside this year for bursaries, to get the nursing bursary program up and running and, indeed, those young people who are graduating this year would be eligible for that. Those would be three things.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health is engaged in training nurses that are going to go to other parts of the country and to the U.S. That's the problem. The minister told nursing students that maybe they just had a bad initial experience with the profession. Working conditions aren't nearly as deplorable as they think. Don't worry, be happy. Will the minister act in the best interest of the province and strengthen the incentives to nurses?

[Page 2052]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, indeed we have increased the incentives for nurses. We have put more money into the boards, which enables boards to hire full-time nurses. We have created nursing bursaries. We have created the position of nursing policy adviser. Indeed, there is no government in the last eight or nine years that has done more for the nursing profession and for nursing students in increasing manpower in the medical field than this government has in the three months that we have been in office.

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

ECON. DEV. - C.B.: COMMITMENT ($12M) -

BUDGET (2000-2001) CONFIRM

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, after that last answer, I don't know who I should be addressing the question to. My question is to the Premier. The task force on the Cape Breton economy met in Sydney on November 12th to hear presentations from elected representatives regarding suggestions on how to best use the $68 million federal commitment and the $12 million provincial commitment the Premier has promised. Will the Premier confirm to the House today that the total $12 million commitment will be included in his government's spring budget, whenever it is introduced?

THE PREMIER: The commitment to partner with the federal government on the economic development envelope is part and parcel of the situation that has been created around the coal mining industry in Cape Breton. That is a four year commitment, as is the federal commitment and we are dovetailing our commitment with the federal commitment.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Still no firm commitment, Mr. Speaker. The Premier is continuously musing publicly about his concern for industrial Cape Breton and all Cape Breton Island and this province. The only concrete examples we have seen of that, so far, has been to take charity money, cancel the Winter Works Program and cancel enterprise zones throughout Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, if the Premier is so concerned about Cape Breton, why did he not send one government representative to this important session in Sydney last Friday? The Liberal Leader was there, the New Democratic Party Leader was there and many MLAs were there. No Tories were there. Mr. Premier, why didn't you care enough to attend?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government cared enough to make the commitment to the economic development envelope and we will be participating with the federal government after the committee provides its report. This government, on a regular weekly basis, sends a Cabinet Minister to Cape Breton to dialogue with Cape Bretoners. This government remains committed to the people of industrial Cape Breton and all of Cape Breton.

[Page 2053]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the government sends a Cabinet Minister to Cape Breton every week to discuss what other Tories down in Cape Breton want in the way of largesse from this government; that's why they go down there. They don't go down there discussing the interests of Cape Bretoners. They go down there to talk to Tories.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier talks a lot about his concern for Cape Breton. Talk is cheap. I would ask the Premier, why was the Premier's lone Cabinet representative from Cape Breton, the member for Inverness, not at the meeting? Was he told to go and ignored the order or didn't you care enough, Mr. Premier, to ask him to be there?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe that the people of industrial Cape Breton will come to realize that this government is committed to them, as it is to all Nova Scotians, and we will have the interests of industrial Cape Breton at heart, each and every day of our mandate, as we have the interests of all Nova Scotians at heart.

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

ECON. DEV. - COMPANIES: GRANTS - CONTINUANCE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. As you are aware, Mr. Minister, your Party made a promise to get rid of the practice of handing out loans, grants, loan guarantees, to big business, but since the election, you have acted like this Party over here, when they were in government. Give millions to Scotiabank and insisting your department not be subjected to expenditure reductions facing all other departments.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, what happened in the last 90 days that made you break your promise to Nova Scotians about not giving handouts to large corporations?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the question. The issue is, how do we grow the revenue side of the budget? How do we support business growth and development in this province? There are many ways in which to do that and the Department of Economic Development reviews those strategies and acts in an appropriate manner: when it is appropriate to support business they do that; when it is appropriate to offer expertise and support they do that, so it is just part of the overall strategy to ensure that business is supported in this province.

MR. CORBETT: Well, I guess Mac Timber is helping to grow the economy. One of your senior officials at your department still thinks Mac Timber was a wise investment and you want that same budget. You are continuing your needless handouts to large corporations. That is growing the economy, I am sure; you ask the people in Cape Breton. Will this

[Page 2054]

Minister of Economic Development explain why he will not live up to his own Party's election promises and stop following the failed practice of giving out handouts to large corporations?

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, we spent some time in a previous Question Period talking about Mac Timber and whether or not in hindsight it was a wise decision. I believe at that time I indicated that looking back with the wisdom of today's knowledge, it was not a good decision, but there is a need to ensure that business grows and prospers in this province, and there is a need for us to have a department within government that ensures that happens. So we will continue to offer support through the government.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, let me see, Mac Timber is a good idea. Giving large amounts of money to a billion dollar company like Scotiabank is a wise investment, but while the same minister slashes Winter Works Projects in Cape Breton. Slashes it. The only job he has created so far in Cape Breton is to a former MLA. This Premier will not send his own minister down when they have a panel on economic development in Cape Breton . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Question.

MR. CORBETT: So the question is, what has this government done to fulfil its commitment to create jobs in industrial Cape Breton, and not just for Alfie MacLeod?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, in the department I think there are some 900 business proposals and plans for the department's consideration. Those plans come from all over this province, many from Cape Breton, many from industrial Cape Breton; in fact, over 80 per cent of the plans within the department involve businesses located in rural Nova Scotia. So we are, in fact, looking at how we can support the growth of employment opportunities right straight across this province.

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

ECON. DEV.: SPECIAL INTERESTS - SELECTIVE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is again to the Premier. Last week the head of a Halifax software company addressed the Metro Chamber of Commerce and called areas outside of metro Halifax a hinterland, and no incentives should be given to companies in the hinterland. I urged the Premier at the time to send a strong signal to people who had such views, ultra-right-wing views. Instead, the Premier has taken the opportunity to address the Metro Chamber of Commerce and ask for their input, while the Premier has sought no such input from charities, the disabled or the Sisters of Charity.

[Page 2055]

Mr. Premier, you have not sought such input from businesses in Sydney, Glace Bay, New Glasgow, Truro, Amherst or Yarmouth. Why, Mr. Premier, are you catering to one special interest group while ignoring the vast majority of Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite seems to have forgotten that part of the consultation process that is being undertaken by Voluntary Planning does have a public consultation process. What I have been doing is encouraging and inviting all of those in Nova Scotia who have a position on what it is government should be doing - including business from one end of this province to the other, including those who provide services to the disabled - to make presentations to the public consultation process. That is what is happening. We are inviting people to be part and parcel of the consultation process regardless of who those persons are.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Premier, you cannot really believe that bull that is coming out of your mouth over there today.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member to retract that, please. That was unparliamentary.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Is that an unparliamentary word, bull?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, sir.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: It is?

MR. SPEAKER: I believe it is. I would ask the honourable member to retract that, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Try garbage.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member . . .

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Try insensitive, absolutely insensitive.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is again to the Premier. The Premier's Voluntary Planning Task Force is nothing but an exercise in public relations. Mr. Premier, you will already have a plan for your cuts in place by December 7th of this year. Now we find that the Metro Chamber of Commerce will be pulling the strings of this government and not the people; certainly not people in rural Nova Scotia. Will the Premier explain to this House, why has he cast democracy aside and is now catering to those who can most help themselves at the expense of those who cannot help themselves?

[Page 2056]

THE PREMIER: I understand the concern of the member opposite, but his line of questioning is so unbelievable because the greatest challenge right now is facing the mess that that government left behind.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the greatest challenge facing Nova Scotians is going to be the mess they are confronted with this winter.

My final supplementary is to the Premier. It is going to be a long, cold winter for people and charitable organizations who relied on the Winter Works Program. They weren't consulted, not like the board of trade is going to be. They were just told no. Mr. Speaker, why does the Metro Chamber of Commerce mean more to this Premier than the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank in Sydney?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that the public consultation process that is being undergone is open to all Nova Scotians and we will be, on a regular basis, from now until those consultations begin, initiating invitations to all Nova Scotians. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: It is interesting that the member opposite (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order! Would the honourable Premier please sit down. Thank you.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

FIN. - PROG. REVIEW: ACTIONS - ADVANCED

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, through you, would like to direct my question to the Premier. The Premier has used the program review to justify the assault on the programs, long-term care beds that the Sisters of Charities were to be providing, to attack the accessibility program, to remove the monies from charity. At the same time, without any kind of program review, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: . . . the government had millions for the banks and it also had $70,000 to create a job for a former Tory MLA.

[Page 2057]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is much too much noise in the Chamber. It is very difficult to hear the questions. I ask the members to respect the member who has the floor. Question, please.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier is a very simple one. Why would Nova Scotians have any faith in your review when the government's actions make it very clear that the only thing that they seem to be interested in are the best interests of the Tory Party and of their special friends in big business?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite that many of his friends in industrial Cape Breton will be very disappointed to hear him criticizing the attempts of this government to forge a bond with those people and to provide access to this government by the people of industrial Cape Breton.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier now has become a comedian. The Premier has failed even to make a clear commitment that it will even follow the recommendations of the Voluntary Planning Board when it comes to evaluating programs. In fact, he has said already that Nova Scotians don't need many of 1,126 programs that have been identified by the committee without even knowing what they are.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. HOLM: So my question to the Premier is simply this, will you finally do what you actually say and that is listen to the committee first before you make your decision as to what is and what is not needed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, yes, the member opposite provides a good piece of advice and I can assure the member that there won't be alterations in government programs until a full consultation process has occurred.

MR. HOLM: I should have been giving the Premier advice before because you have already been altering programs before that review was done. Mr. Speaker, the Premier sits there and he appears to be able to tell the future. He arrogantly believes that he can sit on high and declare certain services to be of a special interest in nature and others to be genuinely big interest.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. HOLM: So, my question to the Premier is, will he tell us when he determines what is the difference between a big interest and a special interest if it isn't that his friends in big business are telling him what to cut?

[Page 2058]

THE PREMIER: I can say to the member opposite that the Metro Chamber of Commerce has over 1,700 members representing small, medium and large sized businesses. A group that this member opposite and that Party opposite are absolutely determined to destroy in this province.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: My question is to the Premier. Mr. Premier, tell the people of Cape Breton that depend on a Winter Works Program and the charities about your consultative process?

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

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, during Question Period, I believe the Leader of the Liberal Party was asking whether or not deputy ministers are provided with a car allowance. They can choose either a car allowance or a leased car. That is available to all deputy ministers.

I have a further point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The first was clarification on a question. Obviously, the Premier was responding to information requested. It is not a point of order. It was a point of information. (Interruption)

Would the honourable Premier table the document, please? Thank you.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am again rising on what I will call a point of order. The former Minister of Health, the member for Dartmouth East, made a suggestion that I had, in any way, cast an negative view on the abilities of any deputy minister that was part and parcel of that government. What I clearly said, and the former minister can check on this, I was making reference to the fact that we needed a deputy minister that would provide long-term stability in the post. I will say to the member opposite that I have always had, and will continue to have, the utmost respect for Dr. Kenny. She did stay on as a favour to government after the election, at our request. We would have been quite happy were she to stay on, but as the member opposite knows, she did not make a long-term commitment to the Province of Nova Scotia. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

Order, please, it is hard to hear the members on the floor. Order, please.

[Page 2059]

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, although I respect the information and the Premier attempting to do some damage control here but he had quite a lengthy rebuttal to something that I am not sure was information sought or whatever.

Mr. Speaker, my point of clarification here would be, had the deputy minister, Dr. Nuala Kenny, been treated with respect by that government she would have made a longer commitment. I believe that to be true. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable please take his seat.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my point of order is on the point of order. What I am asking you to rule upon is whether or not the Premier's intervention was, in fact, a point of order. I would contend that it was not. It is an opportunity to continue a debate that was going on during Question Period and . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. My ruling is that none of the last three comments are points of order. They are merely discussion between members. I thank you to take your seat.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto, on an introduction.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the members of the House to the fact that we have here with us today in the west gallery, observing us in the orderly conduct of responsible government, 20 students from Grade 12 at Queen Elizabeth High School, accompanied by their teacher, Mr. John Miller and student teacher, Christine Ford. I would ask the group to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 1.

Bill No. 1 - Gemstone Emblem Act.

[Page 2060]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: On behalf of the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, I so move this bill for third reading.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 1. 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. 16 for third reading.

Bill No. 16 - Provincial Mineral Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to move Bill No. 16 forward for third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 16, the Provincial Mineral Act.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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 2061]

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, would you please call Bill No. 6 and on behalf of the Minister of Education, I so move.

Bill No. 6 - Maritime Life Assurance Company Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 6. 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 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. 12.

Bill No. 12 - Mineral Resources Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to move third reading of Bill No. 12, an Act to Amend Chapter 18 of the Acts of 1990, the Mineral Resources Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk on this bill for a few moments. This bill, as we have mentioned earlier, is a response to the Westray report. Although some of the recommendations from the Westray Inquiry have come through this

[Page 2062]

piece of legislation, I think that is a good thing, there are some concerns in this piece of legislation.

One of those concerns is that it hasn't really clarified the role of the Department of Natural Resources. It has removed the consideration for safety from the Department of Natural Resources and also has removed the responsibility for the department to be the overseer of mining, plus the promoter of mining, and I think that in itself is a good thing. It is difficult for the one department to wear both hats and I think with regard to safety, which is the paramount concern in this piece of legislation, or it should be, if it is not, if we consider the disaster that resulted in the inquiry that brought about the recommendations. Mr. Speaker, I think that members should be concerned.

There are some things that have not actually been, at least, easily interpreted to be addressed in this piece of legislation and one is the formal process for the establishment of mining operations in the province. There is, what is referred to as, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of the Environment and also the Department of Labour. I was somewhat disappointed yesterday with the realization that perhaps the Memorandum of Understanding isn't clearly identified as a formal process, or that it goes far enough, in whether the Department of Natural Resources could issue a lease for a mining operation to be initiated without the Memorandum of Understanding established by the two other departments.

I also have some concerns relating to the Minister of Labour, with the two hats of Labour and Environment, whereas in Clause 76, we were pushing for a Class 2 undertaking. Prior to opening a mine in this province, a Class 2 undertaking under the Environment Act would ensure that safety concerns are addressed, public hearings, et cetera, a far more formal process than a Class 1 undertaking, which is the present way in which mines are opened in this province.

I certainly didn't get any assurance from the minister that when the review of the Environment Act comes up in the new year that this is going to be something that is paramount on his mind. He certainly agreed that it might be something that he would look at, but I am really somewhat worried that safety concerns, when it comes to opening mines in this province, are not going to be addressed with the review of the new Act. It would have been an easy thing to consider with the amendment that we proposed.

Also, one of the recommendations was that the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, and actually it would probably be a good thing for all deputy ministers, a review of legislation affecting their departments, et cetera, and there was no stipulation in this Act that that would be carried out. I think if we were to consider the role of the deputy ministers, particularly in these three departments of Labour, Environment and Natural Resources, that certainly that would be a good recommendation for those ministers, in particular when it comes to regarding safety factors in mining operations in this province.

[Page 2063]

In regard to the recommendations from Westray that have been adopted, I think it is a better piece of legislation. I am somewhat concerned with the fact that safety concerns are to be addressed by the Department of Labour. I guess it would seem appropriate that those concerns should be addressed there, but my concern lies around the fact that the regulations that are supposed to be drawn up by the Department of Labour have not been drawn yet, and therefore, we have nothing to compare this piece of legislation to. If we are talking safety, we have actually created a gap whereby safety concerns that are supposed to be addressed in the Westray or Plummer report, we can't be sure to what extent they are going to be addressed until we see those regulations from the Department of Labour.

I think it would be in the best interests of all Nova Scotians, and certainly for the mining industry, if the minister could assure the House that those regulations are well under way and will soon be brought forward, because this would help close that gap, and actually it is one of the things that is mentioned in the report, that there have been those gaps in the past. To bring out a piece of legislation that actually was supposed to clearly define the role of the Department of Natural Resources, and in this case, it has partially done that, but also the role of safety with regard to the Department of Labour hasn't been clearly identified. I would encourage the minister to move on that as quickly as possibly. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, just very briefly on Bill No. 12. Of course, we have heard it over and over, the reason for this piece of legislation is dealing with the Westray report. The Westray Inquiry reported these recommendations should take place, that the Department of Natural Resources no longer act as both regulator and promoter of our mineral resources. In its response to the report, the government committed to amend the Mineral Resources Act to deal with these and to remove the regulatory responsibilities for safety and the mine planning monitoring; and that this would be removed from the Department of Natural Resources, the safety aspect, and allow the department to concentrate on its role as resource manager and promoter.

Mr. Speaker, the proposed changes will eliminate the provisions for excavation, milling, mining permits and all specific reference to regulatory responsibilities for safety related to mining operations. Thereby, that will address the conflict in roles of promotion versus regulation and removing an overlap, which we have seen was taking place with regard to the Department of Labour, the Department of the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources. To remove these requirements from DNR will bond the exploration and mining operations for reclamation, thereby removing the overlapping responsibilities. It will retain the mineral rights administration necessary for DNR's role as a resource manager.

Mr. Speaker, emphasis on DNR's role as a resource manager and promoter will focus on the total responsibility for sustainable resource management and development. The government will be seen to have fulfilled its commitment in response to the Westray report

[Page 2064]

by clearly separating the regulatory responsibility from resources promotion. DNR will no longer have to perform the dual role of promoters of the resource and the regulators of the mines. I think that industry will support the decreased information requirements by DNR with respect to mineral leases and non-mineral registrations compared to present information requirements to support mining and milling permits, as well as information requirements for excavations.

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see Bill No. 12 facing third reading and our caucus would certainly be pleased to see it at this stage. I thank the honourable minister for bringing it forward at this sitting of the Legislature.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 12 is a grab bag of amendments to the Mineral Resources Act, a number of them emanating from the public inquiry following the explosion of the Westray Mine. It is unfortunate that the Department of Natural Resources, although specifically told by Justice Peter Richard in his role as Commissioner of Inquiry into the Westray explosion that it was important to separate the regulatory from the promotional aspects of mining, has failed to extract itself from the pervasive grip of the mining industry. The department remains mired, very thickly, in the influence of the mining industry. This is very unfortunate.

I think this appears in Bill No. 12 in a variety of ways. It appears in the way bulk sampling is treated, no change; it appears in the way aggregates are treated, no change; it appears in the way gypsum is treated, no change. To the extent that the bill manifests recommendations from Westray, the unfortunate fact is that it fails to go far enough. I have to say that I am not surprised that the department has failed to act completely, or that the government has failed to act completely, because I am not one who forgets for a moment, that the Westray Mine was a project of Pictou County Tories.

It is a blot on that county and on that Party, being associated together, that remains a part of Nova Scotia history, whether it is Central Nova federally or the various Pictou ridings provincially, the Westray Mine, which was run by people who are no better than murderers and who ought to have been convicted in court for their actions, this remains a blot on Nova Scotia's history, a blot on that Party as well. This Party should have taken the opportunity on this occasion, when dealing with amendments to mining legislation emanating from Westray, to act in the most scrupulous way possible and they have not done so.

[1:45 p.m.]

I want to remind members of what the important documents that were generated by Westray were titled because they tell us something important about that mine, and what they tell us is that the deaths of 26 miners in 1992 were avoidable. The book that has been

[Page 2065]

published in Nova Scotia by journalist Dean Jobb is called Calculated Risk and it is subtitled Greed, Politics and the Westray Tragedy. There is not much doubt, in reading that title, what Dean Jobb is telling us. There is not much doubt in looking at the Commission of Inquiry report what it is that Justice Richard was telling us, because the title of his report is The Westray Story - A Predictable Path to Disaster. There is no doubt what Justice Peter Richard was telling us after his several years and very thorough inquiry. I have, as well, the submission to Justice Richard's inquiry that was put in by the United Steel Workers of America. It was titled Ingredients for Disaster, so there is no doubt what they are telling us either.

I have here as well a remarkable scholarly piece written by Harry Glasbeek and Eric Tucker. They are both professors of law at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto, and they run something called the Centre for Research on Work and Society. I do not know Professor Tucker, but I certainly know Harry Glasbeek, and Harry Glasbeek is one of Canada's most distinguished scholars in any field. It happens to be law that he works in but, let me tell you, there is no one more accomplished teaching in our universities than Harry Glasbeek.

Their study is called Death by Consensus - The Westray Story. One of the remarkable things about their paper is that it was published in November 1992, that is to say within six months of the explosion of the mine and the deaths of the workers, and there is virtually nothing, except elaboration of the detail that appeared in Justice Richard's report that was not already identified as a problem by Glasbeek and Tucker and, again, their title tells it all.

Just to nail it down I am going to quote - and I will table this - from the Glasbeek and Tucker study. Their introductory paragraphs tell us a lot. Here is what they say, "At about 5:20 on the morning of May 9, 1992, an explosion ripped through the Westray coal mine in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, killing 26 miners.". They go on to give a few more details about that actual explosion and then they continue, "In a sense, all of this is humdrum. Mining disasters involving mass deaths are familiar events. In Pictou County itself, 246 miners already had been killed in a series of explosions which occurred between 1838 and 1952. Most miners killed on the job, however, die in less spectacular circumstances. Another 330 Pictou miners suffered accidental deaths from other causes ( i.e. falls of stone, crushed by coal cars, mangled by mining machinery) between 1866 - 1972. In addition, an unknown number of miners were killed between the time commercial mining began, 1809, and the year record keeping began, 1866. Also unknown is the number of workers who died prematurely from occupational diseases. In short, it is routine for miners to be killed, maimed or made ill by their work.".

It is routine. It has been routine in Nova Scotia, but it is not acceptable. That is what Justice Richard told us. That is what everyone who has looked at it has told us. The Government of Nova Scotia responded to Justice Richard's report, and I will table an extract from this, Westray, a Plan of Action, Government's Response to the Report of the Westray Mine Public Inquiry. The Government of Nova Scotia was promising to adopt and act upon each and every one of the 74 recommendations made by Justice Richard.

[Page 2066]

Recommendation 59, which I have tabled along with the response. Here is the recommendation, "Any applicant for an underground coal mining permit should make a clear and unequivocal commitment to the concept of mine safety in the context expressed in the phrase - safe mine production.". The recommendation goes on, "The government's response was, they accepted that. Government will require by regulation that all underground coal mines, regardless of size, will be required to have an occupational health and safety policy and program. The mine developer will also be required to submit a business plan for review before a mine project goes ahead. The Department of Labour will seek advice on the business plan and factor it into its mine plan review and safety evaluation.". The accountable department is to be the Department of Labour and the timing is to be October 1998.

Well, the underground mining regulations have been drafted since 1995. They have been sitting there ready. They are still not in effect. There is no explanation of why not. Does the department think we have forgotten? Do the Pictou County Tories think we have forgotten? Not one bit have we forgotten. But what is all this about? This is all about the problem of how you make sure that a mine is safe. It is a little more refined than that. How do you make sure a mine is safe, if you can, before it is opened? That would be the relevant point.

Unfortunately, once a mine is opened, you are likely to find out that it is unsafe in the worst possible way. Once a mine is opened, what are the safeguards? There is the goodwill of management. We know how that worked in Westray. Now those who speak up for this safeguard, so-called, think that management has an interest in maintaining production, therefore, they will keep the mine safe. Management certainly does have an interest in maintaining production, but history teaches us that they don't always choose to do that by keeping the mine safe. It is not the management that is maimed, gets black lung disease or other afflictions of underground mining or is killed on the job. Mr. Phillips wasn't killed on the job. Clifford Frame wasn't killed on the job.

Is there another safeguard? Well, there are mine inspections. Again, we know what happened, White and MacLean and others when it came to mining inspections, we know how ineffective that was when it came to the Westray Mine. You know what? It doesn't matter if the offenders have been fired or retired. It doesn't matter, although it is desirable to have good or better regulations in place, although heaven knows why they haven't been promulgated, because if such a system again is after the fact and is fallible and as we know from Westray, when politics enters into something, like a business enterprise, like a mine, people are susceptible to real or perceived pressures, even mine inspectors. We saw that to our cost.

What is the third possible defence once a mine is open? The third possible defence is that the miners will do something for themselves. Again, that is a flawed analysis. Again, what illustrates it is Westray. Miners have families to support, they feel those pressures, they can be threatened by their employers, as indeed they were in Westray. Contrary to the

[Page 2067]

Occupational Health and Safety Act, the management told employees that they could not speak about any dangers in the mine. Completely contrary to the law, but management did it and the employees were intimidated. I will tell you something else, they weren't unionized. So they didn't have a union to stand up for them. It takes a while for a group of employees to get unionized and in Westray that is what we saw. We saw a group of employees that were vulnerable to the pressures that were put on them by management, vulnerable to their own perceived notions of having to stay on the job in order to provide for their families. This is not an effective line of defence.

So the real question is, given the fact that all of the defences that could be put in place to help workers after a mine is open have weaknesses, the question becomes, what can be done before a mine is opened? Now, I am not saying it is ideal. I am not saying that there ever are going to be guarantees. I want to be absolutely clear on this. What I do want to say is that we do have a potential device that could have been used in the Westray case and that should be used for all future underground mines in Nova Scotia and that is an environmental assessment.

In my opinion, and in the submission that was made before the Law Amendments Committee by the Ecology Action Centre, no underground mine in Nova Scotia should be opened unless it has been subject to a Class 2 environmental assessment. A Class 2 environmental assessment is the highest level of scrutiny available under our Environment Act.

Now, I want to be clear about this. Underground mines do have to register as undertakings under the Environment Act, but there are different levels of scrutiny. There is a level of scrutiny that is essentially an internal review. There is a level of scrutiny that is at arm's length from the department carried on by an independent body that involves a public hearing and a full examination of all factors associated with a mine including health and safety. This is implicit in the Environment Act as it stands and it is made even more explicit by Clause 76 of Bill No. 12, which amends the Environment Act to make sure that certain information is filed with the Department of the Environment when it undertakes it review.

[2:00 p.m.]

It is not the case in Nova Scotia that underground mines are Class 2 undertakings. They can be if the Minister of the Environment, in his discretion, decides to treat them that way, but that isn't good enough. We know it isn't good enough because since the Westray experience, another underground mine came forward in Nova Scotia for environmental assessment and the Minister of the Environment did not choose to require that mine to be assessed as a Class 2 undertaking. That was a profound mistake. That should never have happened.

[Page 2068]

Underground mines are not opened with great regularity in Nova Scotia. We are not one of the great mining provinces in this country and, yet, there may well be future underground mines. Is it adequate that they should be treated as anything less than a Class 2 undertaking for environmental assessment purposes when this is the one and only main opportunity to review, in advance of the opening of the mine, all of the health and safety aspects that are being proposed for that mine? I leave out of the consideration the environmental aspects. In and of its own, underground mines, on purely narrowly conceived environmental grounds, ought to be treated as Class 2 undertakings.

This gets me back to how it is that the department seems obviously captive to mining interests that seem to want to avoid subjecting themselves to the highest level of scrutiny. The Ecology Action Centre said to the Westray Inquiry in 1996 that no underground mine should be opened without a Class 2 environmental assessment. The Ecology Action Centre said it to the Minister of the Environment in 1994 when the then new Environment Act was being considered at that time, and it wasn't done. The Ecology Action Centre came to the Law Amendments Committee the other day and said if you are amending the Environment Act now, which Clause 76 of Bill No. 12 does, this is the occasion to do the right thing.

Amendments to the Mineral Resources Act, in Bill No. 12, amend the Environment Act. Clause 76 does that. (Interruption) A member opposite is trying to suggest it doesn't. He should read the legislation because that is exactly what it does. Clause 76 is as clear as it possibly could be. Section 53 of Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1994-95, the Environment Act, is amended by adding, et cetera. There it is. It is being amended. That is Clause 76 of Bill No. 12. The only answer given by the minister the other day when we were in committee as to why he is hesitating to adopt this proposed change that was made, it was made in Law Amendments and rejected by the Tory members there. It was made in committee and rejected by the PC members here. The only reason given by the minister was that the Environment Act is due for review in the year 2000 and that is the time to deal with this.

The time to deal with it is right now, when the very issue is in front of members of this House. It is certainly true that there is a five year review of the Environment Act mandated in the Environment Act itself. Section 174 of the Environment Act says that in the year 2000 there has to commence a formal review of the Environment Act. In estimates, I ascertained from the honourable minister that he, in fact, had put money in the budget for this year to do that review. This is fine, but do you know what? We are dealing with an amendment to the Environment Act on mining, on the environmental assessment of mining right here today, now. There is no necessity to wait.

If the minister is saying to us, as he has, just wait, we will deal with it in the formal review in the year 2000, he could have said something else. He could have said, and furthermore, I promise you that pending that review, no underground mine will go forward in Nova Scotia unless it is subject to a Class 2 environmental assessment review. But the minister did not say that. He could have said it but he did not and by implication, what he is

[Page 2069]

saying is, underground mines on my watch will not be subject to Class 2 environmental assessment. They will not be subject to the one and only full opportunity for public review and scrutiny that ought to attach to underground mines.

Underground mines are serious undertakings. They are serious undertakings because lives can be lost if something goes wrong; they are serious undertakings because of the big effect they have on the surrounding environment. It is not acceptable in the light of Nova Scotia's history to fail to adopt this change at this time, the change that has been proposed by the Ecology Action Centre, and that we put in specific legal language that could have added to Clause 76.

There is a lesson and the lesson is, Mr. Speaker, that if another underground mine goes forward and it has not been subject to Class 2 environmental assessment and if something goes wrong in that mine and they fail to act, having been specifically given the opportunity and the invitation today to act, it will be on the heads of the Party led yet again by Pictou County Tories. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth on an introduction.

MR. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great honour and pleasure to introduce to this House one of my best friends, my son, and one of the new owners of R. Hurlburt Construction, Nicholas Hurlburt. Would you please give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, this is important legislation and I am sure that our honourable friends opposite would not want to see it pass without due consideration. These changes were the result, as just has been explained, of recommendations from the Westray Inquiry report. In December 1997, the former government headed by Premier Russell MacLellan accepted all 74 recommendations contained in the Westray report and designated various departments responsible to act on the recommendations.

The changes to the Act were made after several consultations with the Departments of the Environment and Labour and representatives of the mining industry. These changes are necessary to comply with the former government's commitment to amend the Mineral Act in accordance with the Westray report. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party will be supporting these changes; however I hasten to add that the Liberal Party will be supporting these changes after due discussion and deliberation here in these Chambers, and other honourable members from my caucus wish to speak to this bill in addition to myself to clearly indicate and to designate that we are indeed supporting the legislation.

[Page 2070]

Mr. Speaker, the minister stated that these changes would not be proclaimed until new underground mining regulations are proclaimed. We in this caucus would be interested to know when the new underground mining regulations are scheduled to be proclaimed. Also there is some concern with transferring all responsibility for the occupational health and safety regulations to the Department of Labour. As you know, the Minister of Labour has delayed the implementation of the occupational safety general regulations, regulations which our government was prepared to implement immediately but, when this crowd got in, they delayed the implementation of those regulations and have continued to do so to this day, to the best of my knowledge. On the day before these regulations were supposed to come into effect, the minister announced that the date was extended for nearly half a year.

This immediately calls into question, in my view, Mr. Speaker, this government's commitment to safety. The Nova Scotia Safety Council has expressed concern about this and so has the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour. A story in The Halifax Chronicle-Herald last week pointed out that the most concern centred around strip mining operations and inspections.

We in this caucus, Mr. Speaker, would hope that the Progressive Conservative Government would move immediately to reassure all mine workers that their safety is paramount to this government, because if the Tory election platform is to be taken as a guide, then mines are very low on the list of priorities for this government. Mining was on the very last page, and on the very last set of promises contained in the Tory election platform. Of 243 promises, they made only four that dealt with mineral resources. The Minister of Labour has already delayed the implementation of the occupational health and safety regulations, so this transfer of power should make us cautious. However, if it is a recommendation of the Westray report, we would therefore say it is worthy of support.

I trust the honourable member for Richmond is prepared now to illustrate how it is worthy of support. I would invite him, sir, to address the House extensively in the French language, because I think we need more French language discussion in these Chambers, in addition to the discussion in the English language. It is nice to see the Tories have an opportunity to redeem themselves by sitting and listening to the extensive deliberations that I trust will be forthcoming from this side of the House on this bill in both official languages. Therefore, I compliment the Progressive Conservatives for making the time available to us to extensively present our case on this bill. Je vous remercie M. le Président.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, je remercie mon collègue de Cape Breton Nova pour ses mots très gentils.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill No. 12, an Act respecting mineral resources. As indicated by my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova, this

[Page 2071]

initiative is one that was started by our Liberal Government when this came before us. Certainly it was a matter that was being proceeded with until the election came along and threw a bit of a twist into our efforts. I am pleased to see that the Conservative Government is bringing forward these much-needed changes as recommended under the Westray Inquiry report.

I want to commend the New Democratic Party member for Halifax Chebucto for his words of reminding us exactly what goes on in mines, and certainly you, Mr. Speaker, would be aware, in your own constituency, in your own area, of the impact of mining. I can't say that mining takes place in Richmond County, but certainly we are affected (Interruptions) by a neighbouring mine. In fact, the Sugar Camp Mine, which is mined by Georgia Pacific in Inverness, borders on the line with Richmond County, and a great deal of my constituents are employed at that mine. I guess I can say that there is a vested interest in Richmond County, in dealing with these regulations.

Mr. Speaker, I think we all recall, as members of this House, I think all Nova Scotians recall, where they were when they heard of the Westray explosion. Ironically, I had just finished my second year of university, in fact, we had just gone out on our first trip fishing on Banquereau Bank, which was about an 18 hour to 19 hour steam from the harbour in Petit- de-Grat in a 45 foot longline vessel. I remember it was cold, there was still ice in the harbour when we went out, it was in May. I remember when we came back in - unfortunately aboard the boat, we did not have television, we did not have local news updates - it was around 5:30 a.m., Saturday morning. When we got to our house, I got The Chronicle-Herald and we opened it up on the kitchen table - my father and I are both fond of keeping up on the news -

I remember the front page with the pictures. (Interruptions) Not always fond of The Chronicle-Herald, but we opened the front page and on the front page was the story of the Westray mining disaster and what had happened.

I always believed, having fished for a short period of my life, I certainly don't try to portray myself as an expert, I know my colleague from Dartmouth East has many more years and experiences in the fishing industry than I do, but I never thought, having fished on Banquereau Bank in a 45 foot vessel that I would see a profession that was as difficult and challenging, both mentally and physically as what fishing was, until I had the opportunity to visit a mine in Glace Bay, the Miners Museum, and actually go underground and see what sort of condition they were in. It wasn't an operational mine, it was a closed mine and I got to see where these men and women work and the conditions they work in. I remember being hunched over the whole time while underground because the mine is only, I believe, about 4.5 feet high. So you would have to be crunched down the whole time you were down there. The visit lasted about 20 minutes and I remember how stiff my neck was and I thought of the miners who spent days, hours down in those types of conditions and the conditions they are in.

[Page 2072]

[2:15 p.m.]

The member for Halifax Chebucto has certainly spoken on a few of the disasters we have had in this province and the many lives that we have lost as a result of mining activities in this province. In many ways, it was as a result of improper regulations, of improper inspections and improper design of mines throughout this province.

My honourable colleague has suggested that in many ways it was intentional. I don't know if I would go that far. I don't think anyone intends to want to do harm to others but in the name of profit and in the name of money often many concerns are disregarded and pushed aside. That is exactly what we had with the Westray disaster, was a quest for profits and the fact that safety was not number one, it was probably number 10 along the list of priorities in that mine. What we learned in the days and weeks afterward, following that disaster and what we learned of the form of inspections taking place and how the staff at the Department of Natural Resources were negligent in their duties and then how closely tied they were with the mining operation itself, it became very clear, I believe, to not only Nova Scotians but every member of this House that the regulation and inspection of mines could no longer remain in the Department of Natural Resources because no longer could we have the Department of Natural Resources be a regulator and also a promoter of mining in this province. It was something our government realized and as I indicated earlier, that we are moving forward to make the necessary changes.

Again, I would not want to put intent on the employees of the Department of Natural Resources. I think they were in a difficult situation because on the one hand they were trying to encourage the proper and safe mining of resources in this province yet at the same time, having to be responsible that safety was ensured while this process was taking place.

So, today, with Bill No. 12, we remove that burden on the Department of Natural Resources and we allow the Department of Labour to take over this responsibility. I certainly want to commend my colleague, the member for Victoria, for his leadership as the former Minister of Natural Resources, in bringing these changes forward. I also want to commend my colleague, the member for Cape Breton West, for his efforts as Minister of Labour, for ensuring that these changes take place and that the department be prepared to assume the responsibility of doing underground mining inspections and ground mining inspections in this province. I want to commend, certainly, the Leader of our Party, when he was Premier, for the leadership that he showed and the commitment that he gave that the Westray Inquiry report and its recommendations would be adopted by the government of day.

As I indicated to you, Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunately a July 27th election which caused a little bit of a bump on that road but certainly before us we have Bill No. 12. I want to commend the Progressive Conservative Government for upholding a commitment made by our government in bringing forward Bill No. 12. It is unfortunate that the Sisters of Charity didn't receive the same treatment but only time will tell whether that may change also.

[Page 2073]

As indicated, Mr. Speaker, following the Westray disaster and the Justice Richard inquiry that came as a result of that, in December 1997, 74 recommendations which were in the Westray report were accepted by the former government. It designated the various departments responsible for these recommendations to act on the suggestions that were made. Ironically, it is interesting because when we think of mining, we don't really think of how broad an impact that it has, not just on our communities and our economy but the broad impact it has on government. With this bill now, we have at least three leading government agencies which are involved with this. We have the Department of Natural Resources, we have the Department of the Environment and we have the Department of Labour. Certainly, I want to commend my former staff for their efforts in working on this legislation and assisting their colleagues in both Labour and in Natural Resources to ensure a smooth transition and also to ensure that the interests of the Department of the Environment were not left by the wayside with this change.

As I indicated before, our government indicated that it would accept the 74 recommendations. There was extensive consultation, believe it or not - the Tories do not believe we did much of that and we now watch how little consultation they are doing, but there was extensive consultation - with the Department of the Environment, the Department of Labour and the Department of Natural Resources before this bill came forward. The recommendations were not simply thrown on the table and told to be adopted. They were looked at, evaluated and once those three departments had an opportunity to work together on that, they were brought forward at that point.

These changes brought before us today in Bill No. 12 are necessary in order to comply with the former Liberal Government's commitment to amend the Mineral Resources Act in accordance with the Westray report. As indicated by my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova, it is the intention of our caucus to support the changes being made to this Act, but with that support comes concern that while this government, on one hand, is doing what it is supposed to do and supposedly living up to its responsibilities, it is the gaps that the Opposition is seeing in this legislation, the fact that it is not a complete picture. The Tories paint one-half of a picture and then they try to make everyone believe that it is complete and that they have covered all of the holes. The fact is, the Minister of Natural Resources indicated that changes would not be proclaimed until new underground mining regulations were proclaimed.

AN HON. MEMBER: How long will that take?

MR. SAMSON: That has not taken place yet. We have been sitting here in this House, Mr. Speaker, I believe, one month, at least, maybe more, and we have not seen that yet. Our caucus would be very interested to know when the Minister of Natural Resources will be bringing in these mining regulations.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: Very soon.

[Page 2074]

MR. SAMSON: One of the government backbenchers says very soon. We have heard that a number of times. Maybe it will come in the same time as the code of conduct; we have not seen that reach the floor of this House yet, we will have to wait.

It is important, Mr. Speaker, that we have the proper underground mining regulations put into place, not just introduced in this House but that a proper schedule be added with those to ensure that they are put forward as soon as possible and that they are in place so that the spirit of Bill No. 12 is not lost because of the fact that this government has not done its homework or has not done due diligence in making sure that the necessary legislation be put into place which supports the intention of Bill No. 12. I would submit that while this is an honourable attempt at addressing this issue, this government has failed to put forward the necessary support of legislation in order to make Bill No. 12 achieve what it was meant to achieve.

The other big concern we have - and it is unfortunate that my colleague, the member for Cape Breton West, is not here to enlighten us more on his concerns with this very issue considering the eloquent speeches that he has given in this House and eloquent enquiries from the government, I cannot say they received eloquent answers - is a concern with transferring all responsibility for the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations to the Department of Labour. This was a move which the former Minister of Labour, in our government, applauded and supported and, unfortunately, when the new Minister of Labour rode into town, he actually delayed the original implementation date of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations for this province. I know my colleague, the member for Cape Breton West, has asked him on numerous occasions to try to explain this delay and to give Nova Scotians, and those most impacted by this legislation, an idea why it was being delayed. Again, silence was the answer, and no response came from the Minister of Labour.

The ironic part was - and, again, it goes to my whole theory that this government is flying by the seat of its pants - that on the day before, 24 hours before these regulations were supposed to come into effect, a commitment made by our government, in rides the Minister of Labour to announce that the date had been extended for nearly half a year, six months. So long awaited changes to the occupational health and safety were not long awaited enough for this Tory Government for they felt a need to add an additional six months on that effective date. One can only ask if the changes to occupational health and safety regulations will fall under the program review of this government and maybe they will decide that this province no longer needs occupational health and safety, as the charities no longer needed the casino money and the disabled no longer needed that access money, one has to ask.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. No one would find the fishing stories and all those related ones that the honourable member has told any more interesting than the Speaker, I think they are wonderful but I would like to hear them outside the Chamber if I could. I would ask the honourable member to kindly bring himself back to the reason why we are here this afternoon, Bill No. 12 for third reading, please. Thank you.

[Page 2075]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I would honourably submit to you, not questioning your ruling, but I would honourably submit to you that occupational health and safety is directly tied into Bill No. 12 and is an essential element of the implementation of Bill No. 12 and I would submit to you that in discussing our concerns about the fact that these regulations have been delayed, I believe, that is more than appropriate to discuss these when given proper consideration to Bill No. 12 on third reading. Unless you rule that for some reason that they are not tied in, I would submit that it is important as I indicated earlier that with Bill No. 12, it is not just making the changes on the face of it, it is ensuring that there is the necessary supporting legislation around it to ensure that it be able to work. That is the concern that I am trying to raise today on behalf of our caucus is that the necessary legislation to support this is not in place and that this government has dragged its feet on essential elements of the supporting legislation and one of the most crucial ones is the occupational health and safety regulations.

One can only hope that maybe the Minister of Labour will stand on his feet today or tomorrow or the day after or next week and indicate to us that the implementation date will not be six months, that it may be tomorrow, it may be the day after or it maybe the day before. Nova Scotian workers, especially miners, around this province deserve to know that this government is going to provide them with the necessary safety and protection that they deserve. As the member for Halifax Chebucto has shown in his remarks, they have proven the need for their health and safety.

By delaying this for a year and one-half, it raises the questions of this government's commitment to safety. In Bill No. 12, they have obviously honoured a commitment to move the inspections and the regulations dealing with mining safety away from the Department of Natural Resources, which is a promoter of this industry, to the Department of Labour, but again, what happened to the occupational health and safety regulations, why has it fallen by the wayside when this government showed its commitment to safety on the one hand, yet lacks that commitment on the other hand.

As I indicated earlier, one can only hope that occupational health and safety regulations are not part of the program review being undertaken by this government and that we do not see the day when the Minister of Labour - well I shouldn't say, enters this House, they wouldn't have the nerve to do that, but that we don't see a press release on Friday afternoon indicating that this government has abandoned occupational health and safety in this province.

It is not only our caucus which has raised concerns about this, I am happy to say. Once again, I am proud to say that the Liberal Party has its ear to the ground and has listened to Nova Scotians and has listened to those most affected by this legislation and has heard their concerns. I am more than happy to raise those concerns on the floor of this House and I will not allow the arrogance of this government to prevent Nova Scotians from having their voice heard on the floor of this House. One can only hope that someone on the government side is listening, other than you, Mr. Speaker, and that they will take these concerns seriously.

[Page 2076]

These concerns have come from the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour. As I indicated, a story in The Chronicle-Herald a few weeks ago pointed out that most of the concerns came around strip mining operations and inspections. As the minister should be well aware, and as his government should be well aware, I submit that underground mining is no longer the popular way to go these days, that what we are seeing is more and more applications for strip mining. They are seen as being, I would submit, more efficient, probably in many ways safer and in many ways not have as much capital costs involved in setting them up. So these are concerns which the minister has failed to indicate to us clearly as to what changes he is going to put in place to ensure the safety of these strip mining operations.

[2:30 p.m.]

I believe, if I was not mistaken, I read the minutes from Cabinet for last week and I actually believe that Brogan Mining recently received approval from this Tory Government for a strip mining operation, I believe in Cape Breton . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Surface mining.

MR. SAMSON: For a surface mine, yes.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Are they Tories?

MR. SAMSON: The Minister of Justice asks if they are Tories. Well, I cannot answer that. I have not made that allegation. I do not know if the Minister of Justice wishes me to make that allegation on the floor of this House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ask the member for Yarmouth.

MR. SAMSON: We do not know if the member for Yarmouth has any interest in their operation. We do not know that. Maybe the Minister of Justice wishes to speak to me afterwards and raise with me some of his concerns so I can bring them to the floor of this House for their proper consideration. I guess we will have to have our research staff try to find more information as raised by the Minister of Justice.

What we hoped in Opposition, Mr. Speaker, was that this government would actually live up to its statement of being open and accountable and that it was going to put Nova Scotians first as their priority and were going to ensure the health and safety of Nova Scotians. One would have hoped, following the many examples given by the member for Halifax Chebucto, that one of the first things this government would have done is would have said that it was there to protect the safety of mine workers and to tell them that, yes, we are happy with the amount of exports in the mining industry, about the amount of employment that the mining industry is creating in this province.

[Page 2077]

The Minister of Natural Resources, I believe, made mention of that during his estimates, about how it has increased the levels of exportation, but what we have not heard from this government is a statement to tell mine workers that their health and safety was the paramount concern of this government. That is what we have waited to hear from this government. I think Nova Scotians have waited to hear that and, unfortunately, they have not because, while Bill No. 12 transfers over the responsibilities of enforcement of regulations and health and safety to the Department of Labour, the very regulations that they are supposed to enforce, the occupational health and safety regulations, have been delayed.

So for the next six months, although we pass Bill No. 12, miners cannot have the assurances of the Minister of Natural Resources, or of this government, that in the next six months that the enforcement of the occupational health and safety regulations to protect them will be actually in force because of the fact that this government has chosen to delay their implementation.

Again, miners across this province have looked at the Tory blue book and wondered what this Tory Government is going to do for miners. Where do they place the mining industry? If we listen to the Minister of Natural Resources in his statements of the importance of the mining industry for the finances of this province and for the economy of this province and the employment levels, one would expect, following the minister's statements, that mining would be a central issue for this new Tory Regime.

MR. JERRY PYE: It is on the back page.

MR. SAMSON: In their six months in Opposition they would have said and they would have determined how they, if they could have the opportunity to govern, would make changes to ensure that the mining industry was one of their number-one priorities in this government. I was wondering to myself where did they place in the Tory blue book, and I want to thank my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North, who is always . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Again, I remind the honourable member we are speaking on third reading on Bill No. 12, please, and I would ask that he rein himself back in and bring that back in the discussion. Thank you.

MR. SAMSON: Yes, Mr. Speaker. Again I would submit to you, with Bill No. 12 this government has come forward and said that they are making a commitment to miners and a commitment to safety of miners and a commitment to adopting the Westray report. One has to ask - we see this in Bill No. 12, but as a platform and as a policy of this government - where does mining rate with this government? Bill No. 12 is just one step; it is not the end of the road. There is a long road to go. It is just one of the steps taken to ensure mining safety in this province and the continuance of a healthy mining industry in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2078]

That is why I ask, where does it stand in their blue book as a policy measure for this government and where do we go after Bill No. 12? (Interruption) Again, as I pointed out, my helpful colleague, the member for Dartmouth North, has shown that unfortunately it shows up on the last page of this government's priorities. What a shame. What a shame, Mr. Speaker, especially after hearing the speech from the member for Halifax Chebucto about the Westray disaster and about other mining disasters throughout this province, that this government, after six years in Opposition, would have mining on the last page of its book of priorities. Of the 243 promises, of where they are going to bring this province, of where they are going to bring this mining industry, only four of the 243 promises even address mining concerns.

As I stated earlier, with the Minister of Labour having caused a six months delay in the implementation of the new occupational health and safety regulations, we are very cautious about this transfer because when we decided to make this transfer, Mr. Speaker, it was to show our commitment to Nova Scotians and our commitment to the mining industry, that we were going to seriously accept the reports of the Westray Inquiry and that we were going to do our best as legislators and as a government to put a system in place that would help ensure that there would be no Westray number two.

We can't guarantee that as a government. We can't guarantee that as legislators, but we can do our best to put the system in place, the format in place, the structure in place, to help ensure that that will not happen. So today, with Bill No. 12, while we are pleased to see that this step is taken, we are very cautious in our support in the fact that the Minister of Labour has put this arbitrary delay on the implementation of the health and safety regulations. I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my caucus, that if the minister would stand in the House today and give us a clear indication of when those regulations will be brought forward - I know he wanted a bit of a period of delay to review them, but six months. Considering the very capable and diligent staff in the Department of Labour, I would submit to you is an infringement of due process.

This government clearly has an opportunity today to give reassurances to Nova Scotians, to the mining industry, that they are going to enforce and implement those very health and safety regulations which have been put forward for their protection. So Bill No. 12 is a good step, but, again, it is not enough. It is not the complete picture. It is merely a quarter of the picture which Nova Scotians expect from this government and which this government has led Nova Scotians to believe that it would be achieving with Bill No. 12. I submit to you that the diligence of the Opposition Parties of this House have been able to show where this government, again, has failed to properly put in the system needed for making sure that Bill No. 12 is actually capable of carrying out the requirements that have been set out.

[Page 2079]

As I said, Justice Richard in his Westray report did recommend the changes implemented in Bill No. 12. That is why that we, in the Liberal caucus, will be supporting Bill No. 12. But I want to assure the mining industry and assure Nova Scotians that I, and my colleagues and our Leader, will be keeping the pressure on this government and on this Minister of Labour, along with my colleague, the member for Cape Breton West, who has done such a tremendous job of bringing the concerns of workers throughout this province for their health and safety. This is not the end of the road for the mining industry. This is simply one step along that road.

As I indicated, Mr. Speaker, and as stated by the member for Halifax Chebucto, I don't really want to take this time to point fingers and point accusations at the Tories and try to make political hay of the Westray disaster but certainly I want to say, in all humbleness, that it is very nice to see that the Tory Party and that this new Tory Government have taken the opportunity to redeem themselves for the Westray disaster by making the changes to the Mineral Resources Act which we have before us for third reading.

So I state again, Mr. Speaker, we will be supporting this legislation. We do want to remind the government that this is not the end, they are not off the hook. We have many more concerns along the way. We will continue to raise those concerns in the days and weeks and months that lie ahead, not only in this sitting of the Legislature but also in future sittings of the Legislature.

M. le Président, je veux prendre cette occasion pour remercier le ministre des ressources naturelles pour avoir considérer les inquiétudes que j'ai relevé aujourd'hui. Voici les inquiétudes que le Parti Libéral reconnaît aujourd'hui de la loi 12 durant la troisième lecture. J'espère que ce gouvernement va vraiment tenir sa promesse aux mineurs à travers de cette province, aux gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse qui se souviennent si bien du désastre à Westray, pour faire notre meilleur pas juste comme gouvernement mais comme membre de cette assemblée législative pour s'assurer qu'il n'y aura pas un deuxième incident comme celui à Westray dans cette province. Comme je l'ai déjà mentionné, la loi 12 est juste une étape sur ce chemin pour assurer la sécurité et la santé des mineurs à travers cette province.

Alors, M. le Président, en terminant je veux te remercier et les membres du gouvernement pour m'avoir donner l'occasion de dire quelques mots sur la loi 12 et j'espère qu'à la fin de la journée et dans les années à venir, lorsqu'on va réflèchir sur les décisions que l'on a fait dans cette maison, que l'on pourra dire qu'on a apprit notre leçon du désastre à Westray et que les vies des hommes qui ont été perdues durant ce désastre et la souffrance ressentie par les familles ne seront pas laissés inaperçus. Nous avons appris de ce désastre une leçon importante et nous espérons que la province fera les changements nécessaires pour s'assurer qu'un tel désastre ne se reproduit pas encore.

[Page 2080]

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I just want to again thank members of this House for the opportunity to say a few words on this legislation and I hope that in the years that lie ahead, as legislators, we can look back and we can say to ourselves that the lives lost in the Westray disaster, the husbands that were lost, the grieving families that were left behind, we can say that their lives and that their loss was not in vain, that this province has learned from this disaster and that we have made the necessary changes as a result of it to do our best to ensure, or to put the necessary framework, that such a terrible disaster does not occur again in this province. (Applause)

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

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, just a couple of short comments before I move the bill. I want to thank the members opposite from both political Parties for their intervention and especially the former Minister of Natural Resources who honestly and openly recognized how important that this particular piece of legislation was moved forward. I want to recognize and remind the House that the Westray disaster was a terrible tragedy. All Nova Scotians, of every political stripe, acknowledged that. All Nova Scotians of any walk of life do not want to see another Westray ever happen again. It is in that light that the 74 recommendations were made from the inquiry. It is also in that light that a number of those recommendations hinged upon Natural Resources legislation.

I would also like to remind the member for Halifax Chebucto that in those Westray recommendations, there was no recommendation for Level II assessment to be done on mines. That was an official inquiry, not a comment made from other gleanings of various places, that that member would have sought someone else's interpretation other than the official.

[2:45 p.m.]

I would also remind the member for Halifax Chebucto that certainly I was saddened when the issue with him became politics and holding the pain of others who died in Westray and holding children in front of him personally as a shield in his comments when he insinuated intentions were intentional, that loss of life could have happened in those regards. I was saddened to hear that. Hopefully, I misinterpreted the member's comments. Those were not the kind of comments I think should be here.

Mr. Speaker, this is an attempt to ensure that Westray never happens again. The official inquiry by the judge requested that these recommendations be put forward, that no longer would the Department of Natural Resources be the regulator and the promoter of the mining industry, and that the legislation changes would be concurrent with the Department of Labour as well as the Department of the Environment to become the regulator of the mining industry

[Page 2081]

in Nova Scotia, and allow the Department of Natural Resources to be the promoter. Hopefully a Westray disaster will never happen again in this province.

I want to thank the staff for their input and all members of the House. I move third reading of Bill No. 12.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 12. 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, could I have the unanimous consent of the House to return 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 Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table signed copies of the two November 3rd letters that constitute the contract between the Province of Nova Scotia and the Deputy Minister of Health.

MR. SPEAKER: The documents are tabled.

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.

[Page 2082]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 15, the Public Prosecutions Act.

Bill No. 15 - Public Prosecutions Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise today with respect to this bill, to move third reading of this Statute. I appreciated the comments made by honourable members in Committee of the Whole House on Bills, and in particular comments made by the honourable member for Dartmouth East, a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General with respect to the bill and with respect to the proper role of the Attorney General. He and I, as I said, think share a belief in the importance of the independence of the Public Prosecution Service.

I would also indicate with respect to this bill, as was indicated in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, that the purpose of the bill, particularly the purpose of the provision that deals with the 12 annual meetings between the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions, I think that provision historically has not proven necessary. I know during my time as Attorney General, which is rather brief, our meetings have been much more frequent than that. I understand that to be the case with Attorneys General of the former administration. However, as I indicated in the Committee of the Whole House, the purpose of this provision is to ensure that the spirit of Mr. Justice Kaufman's report is complied with. I hope honourable members will take it in that vein.

Mr. Speaker, the other issue, of course, is the opportunity for the Director of Public Prosecutions to, in effect, expend over 5 per cent of the budget allocated by the Legislature, without having to receive permission of the Governor in Council. As I indicated before to honourable members opposite, this is not designed in any way to put a ceiling on the required expenditures. What it is designed to do, Mr. Speaker, is to guarantee that no prosecution in this province will be held up for want of the resources to pursue it, because that is perhaps one of the messages that comes out of the history of prosecutions, some of which were troubled, is that there may have been a perception on the part of some that prosecutions could not proceed because the adequate resources were not available. Quite clearly the bill now allows the Director of Public Prosecutions, as a senior public servant in this province, to take responsibility for a prosecution until appropriate financial resources in excess of that amount can be obtained.

So I think, Mr. Speaker, again in line with the Kaufman report, that this gives an opportunity to further strengthen the Public Prosecution Service, the independence of the Public Prosecution Service, but most importantly, to make sure that justice is done in this province and it is not starved for lack of resources. I think that is the spirit in which this bill has been brought before the House. I hope members opposite will give it its speedy passage.

[Page 2083]

I think it is important that it be done because I think it sends a good message. I know members opposite may have comments, but I think that they will agree with the principle of the bill which is to strengthen the Public Prosecution Service.

As I will indicate in closing, Mr. Speaker, there are other issues in the Kaufman report which need to be tended to. I have every confidence that those matters will be attended to. Many of them have actually been attended to and I anticipate the full implementation of the Kaufman report in a very short order. With that, I would move third reading of the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity so soon again to be able to rise on my feet and speak on Bill No. 15. (Interruption) The member for Yarmouth says to say nothing. Well, if he stood on his feet, we could find out if he actually has anything to say, but unfortunately his government keeps its silence over there. He clucks across the floor and points his finger, but he has enough concerns of his own at home to take care of, not to be shouting any insults at members of this House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable members who want to disagree to not do it before the House, but do it outside. I would remind the member that we are speaking on third reading of Bill No. 15. Thank you.

MR. SAMSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You are very helpful in your post. You are very good at guiding us down the golden path in this House when we sometimes get rerouted along the way.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill No. 15. Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to speak at the Committee of the Whole House yesterday due to my participation in the Law Amendments Committee. I was precluded from having the privilege of being able to say a few words on Bill No. 15, so I will take this opportunity to express some of the concerns that I have with this bill. It is interesting to hear the Minister of Justice requesting this House to give speedy passage to this bill. One would only hope that the minister is not asking that members of this House to reserve their comments, their suggestions or their concerns so that he can have speedy passage. I certainly, unfortunately, cannot give him that assurance for there are many concerns that I have as a result of Bill No. 15.

First I want to speak on what the minister indicated in his comments a few moments ago, on this requirement in the bill to meet with the Director of Public Prosecutions 12 times a year. He said that in reality he has already met more often than the once a month provision. In fact he went so far as to say that previous Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General had done the same. So one is left to ask why has this been included in the bill if it is already practice? The Minister of Justice says because Justice Kaufman said so but, more importantly

[Page 2084]

than that, the Minister of Justice said that it was to try to restore confidence and to respect the faith of which Mr. Justice Kaufman's recommendations were made.

Mr. Speaker, if we are to believe the Minister of Justice and believe that that was his intent, one must ask, why, out of 29 recommendations are we left with a bill that only has three of those recommendations implemented and of the three implemented we now know from the minister's statement that one of those is redundant because it already takes place. The interesting part is of the 29 recommendations in Mr. Justice Kaufman's report, is the practices that do not take place in the Department of Justice between the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions. While he feels fit to put in a redundant provision for something that has already taken place, he feels it is proper to omit, in this bill, the exact activities that are not taking place of which Mr. Justice Kaufman has raised so many concerns to try to ensure that the Public Prosecution Service works efficiently.

I have spoken on this in the past, Mr. Speaker. As I indicated, there were many problems in the Public Prosecution Service. The major problem was a lack of faith and the Minister of Justice tells us that the requirement to meet with the director at least 12 times a year was a sign of good faith - 40 employees of the Public Prosecution Service - to show them that this government is serious, that this government has heard their concerns, this government has read the recommendations of Justice Kaufman and is intent on ensuring that they are respected.

One of the recommendations made by Justice Kaufman, and I will go to number three first, he says, "I recommend that a significant public information campaign be undertaken to educate the citizens of Nova Scotia about the role played by the Public Prosecution Service in the administration of criminal justice.". One would have thought maybe the Minister of Justice could have put in a provision indicating that there may be changes to the Education Act indicating that the Minister of Education would now be responsible for ensuring that the role of the Public Prosecution Service be part of the curriculum in the schools throughout this province, to try to start the education process with our young people throughout this province, which they can carry on for the rest of their lives and that they have a proper understanding of what the Public Prosecution Service is going to do. This is certainly not confidence that one is going to be able to establish overnight, but one would have hoped to have seen some sign from the minister that this is going to take place.

When asked previously and at the bill briefing, the minister was asked, well, there are 29 recommendations, you have only put three into legislation, where are the rest and what are you going to do about the rest because he has already indicated that he intends on implementing the entire Kaufman report and the answer from the minister, most interesting, was, well, these are simply housekeeping measures. So one is left to rely on the assurances of the Minister of Justice that the faith he plans on restoring into the system is simply by saying that they are housekeeping measures which he is going to take care of. It is unfortunate

[Page 2085]

that today, with Bill No. 15, we do not have more concrete assurances that these are going to take place and that this is going to be implemented.

Mr. Speaker, one of the other severe problems there was with the Public Prosecution Service was the relationship between the service and the police. In fact, in Recommendation 6 Justice Kaufman went so far as to say, "I recommend that the PPS-police liaison committee be struck to deal with problems and complaints arising from PPS-police relations.". One would have hoped that the minister, in trying to restore confidence and to show good faith, would have legislated the structure of such a committee and indicated who will sit on this committee and that this committee will meet regularly, and that he has taken this recommendation seriously.

[3:00 p.m.]

Again, unfortunately, the minister comes before us with Bill No. 15 with simply three recommendations and does not give us any indication other than to tell us that they are housekeeping measures and that he is going to take care of this on his own, behind the scenes, behind back doors, and one can only wonder whether the Public Prosecution Service can have any faith that this government is actually going to create such a liaison committee and ensure that this committee is able to operate effectively.

Mr. Speaker, going further into Justice Kaufman's report, he says at Recommendation 7, "I recommend that steps be taken to preclude 'Crown shopping' by the police.". This is a serious concern, obviously, that the Public Prosecution Service has and, I would submit, that we as legislators should have; that it is a concern that Nova Scotians should have. Again, we look to Bill No. 15 to see what assurances the Minister of Justice is giving us to ensure this recommendation and that Crown shopping, he is going to put a system in place to prevent Crown shopping from taking place. Unfortunately, again, the Minister of Justice sees fit to come before this House today with a bill that simply has 3 of the 29 recommendations.

Mr. Speaker, Recommendation 8, Mr. Justice Kaufman says, "I recommend that the appointment and promotion process be revised to make it open, accessible and visibly fair.". Again, we look to Bill No. 15, absolutely nothing. Nothing is stated in that bill which would indicate the Minister of Justice takes this very seriously and that he intends to see to it that there is a system in place which dictates not only while he is minister, but future ministers, to ensure to the Public Prosecution Service that the appointment and promotion process is going to be fair and is going to require the proper qualifications and that we do not fear that members of this caucus have to come to this House and accuse this government of hiring what has been called Tory hacks, or any other hacks for that matter.

Instead the Minister of Justice again rolls his eyes, and what a crazy, crazy accusation the member for Richmond makes to assume that this Tory Government, the Party of John Buchanan, would do such a thing. It is unfortunate that the Minister of Justice is so naive.

[Page 2086]

Mr. Speaker, it is of no surprise, the naivety of the Minister of Justice, when we have Bill No. 15 in front of us with simply 3 of the 29 recommendations, one of which he has already admitted is redundant and basically is absolutely unnecessary to even be in this legislation for he says he meets with the Director of Public Prosecutions regularly.

One of the more interesting comments that the minister made at the bill briefing, and it is ironic to contrast it with his statement today because he said that unlike past Attorneys General and unlike past Ministers of Justice, he will be directly involved with the Public Prosecution Service. He will not only answer for them in the House, he will take care of them. So one is left to wonder what he meant by that, Mr. Speaker. What did he mean by that?

So I said to myself that he is going to be directly involved and he is going to do something that other Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General haven't done. So when I looked at the bill and I saw this requirement to meet with the director 12 times a year, I said, well, maybe that is what he means, maybe the former ministers didn't meet at least 12 times a year and he feels, when he says he was going to get more involved, that that is what he meant, he would just meet more frequently and have better relations, but today when he stood to move third reading, the minister said, the fact was after the speech from my colleague for Dartmouth East that this requirement to meet 12 times a year that he already met with the director on a more-frequent basis than that and he went so far as to say that previous ministers had done the same. So, obviously, when he said he was going to get more involved and that he was going to take care of the Public Prosecution Service, he didn't mean meeting with the Director of Public Prosecutions more frequently. So one is left to ask, what did he mean?

He went further and he said, when asked about what confidence Nova Scotians can have in the Public Prosecution Service that they will take the proper decisions and how to react to important cases, he said rest assured, in cases of important public interest and public concern he will be briefed beforehand, and you can have confidence that the proper decision will be made. What did that mean?

There have been serious questions raised about who the Minister of Justice meets with in cases of public interest. There have been questions asked (Interruptions) Yes, the Minister of Justice rolls his eyes again when asked to be accountable and asked to address concerns that there have been. He is not only Minister of Justice, he is the Attorney General of this province. If he is going to be meeting with interest groups and possibly accused people, then at the end of the day he tells us, rest assured, in cases of public interest I will be briefed beforehand and I can tell you that the right decision will be made.

One can only ask, are we returning to the good old Tory days when there was direct political interference in the administration of justice in this province? One would hope that rather than having the Minister of Justice rolling his eyes, that he could stand in this House and say, no, Opposition and Nova Scotians, Bill No. 15 ensures that that won't take place,

[Page 2087]

that I will not, nor will any future Attorney General, interfere in the administration of justice in this province. Unfortunately, no such commitment is being made by this minister, and we are only left here to try to guess at what he meant by those comments. How can he give those personal assurances because of the fact that he will be briefed, that Nova Scotians should feel secure the proper decisions will be made?

The Public Prosecution Service was put in place to ensure the independence of prosecutions in this province, that they be done for the right reasons and not for political reasons. One can only ask whether the Minister of Justice is going to uphold that or if he is actually giving a clear indication to this House, through his statements, through this bill, that it is his intention to reverse that process and that he, as the new Attorney General, unlike what other Attorneys General have done, become directly involved in the decision-making process. One can only hope he did not mean that, that that is not what his intention was, and that is not why he left so many recommendations out of Bill No. 15, failed to include them.

Mr. Speaker, in the Kaufman report, Page 416, Recommendation 10, Justice Kaufman further went on to say, "I further recommend that minutes of every meeting of the Management Committee be distributed to all Crown Attorneys as soon as practicable after the meetings.". Again, you being well versed in the law, one has to ask themselves, there is a question about over-legislating sometimes. We don't want to tie ourselves too much into legislation that binds us too much into situations that may cause difficulties down the road. I understand that and I appreciate that.

I would understand if that was the reason of the Minister of Justice, if he said, well, look, that is why I haven't included this in the bill, we are simply going to use it as a housekeeping measure because we don't want to over-legislate, I could accept that. I really could accept that argument, except for when the minister stood today to indicate that the changes being made in this bill, Clause 3(a), and said that the requirement to meet with the Director of Public Prosecutions 12 times a year was a redundant clause. It is already taking place, it is already being done. It is just thrown in there as a little bit of public relations fluff, I would submit, as this government has done so often in other instances, and to give a good feeling to the people in the Public Prosecution Service.

Why would the minister not legislate this requirement in here? Tell the Public Prosecution Service, I am serious about this, I am not just going to tell you this is going to be done, I am going to make it a requirement. I am going to make it a requirement whether I am here, whether another member is here, whether the member for Preston replaces me some day, this is going to be a requirement.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Can I go to Richmond? (Laughter)

[Page 2088]

MR. SAMSON: The member for Preston asked if he could come to Richmond, well, you are welcome to visit, but one can only hope that Richmond County never has a member like the member for Preston who refuses to speak in this House for his constituents. I would never wish that upon my good constituents in Richmond County. Unfortunately, member for Preston, you are welcome to visit, but make your stay rather short. (Laughter) Bring lots of money, if you have that, with you.

Mr. Speaker, it comes down to the question of restoring confidence in the Public Prosecution Service. That was the whole idea behind the Kaufman report. We knew we had a Public Prosecution Service, we knew that we had Crown Attorneys that were not pleased with the way that things were going and it was a question of trying to discover what changes could be made to try to ensure this confidence in the Public Prosecution Service.

With Bill No. 15, we really believe that what this government was going to do was take the Kaufman report and rather than come in this House and say, I am just going to take care of these things as housekeeping measures, I think the fact that we had to have Justice Kaufman come in and do a report clearly indicates that the Public Prosecution Service has rejected the notion of Attorneys General dealing with their concerns as housekeeping measures. They wanted a firm commitment that their concerns would be taken seriously and that they would not have to be at this government every year asking for another report or asking for them to finally act on the recommendations.

Bill No. 15 was a tremendous opportunity for this government to do that, for this government to show that it was serious about the Kaufman report and that it was going to make the recommendations and the changes necessary to restore that confidence.

To go on further in his recommendations, Recommendation 18, he says, "I recommend that meaningful performance appraisals of all staff be made once a year.". Again, he could have put a clause in this bill, loosely worded I would say and not have to be too specific, but that just would show that there would be a legislative requirement to make sure that all staff is appraised once a year. One does not have to get into too many specifics. I do not think that is required, but what it does, it sends a signal to the Public Prosecution Service that this is not just a housekeeping measure.

They have to rely on the Minister of Justice to decide whether he wants to do or not, whether he wishes to do that expenditure, and one would only think that in their statements of their program review and how everything is up for review that the Public Prosecution Service would not have much confidence that this government is going to actually expend more money to do appraisals every year, but Bill No. 15 could have made that a requirement, that this minister and Attorney General would have had to do it and all future ones would have to do it. That would have sent a good signal to the members of the Public Prosecution Service of the seriousness of this government in addressing their changes.

[Page 2089]

Recommendation 19, Justice Kaufman said, "I recommend that members of the PPS who may wish to apply for management positions be required to attend appropriate educational seminars.". Again, in Bill No. 15 the Minister of Justice could have made this a requirement that they must - not may, or shall, must, they must - attend these educational seminars because what it does is it ensures that we get the most qualified people in management positions and what it ensures to Nova Scotians is that we get the most qualified Crown Attorneys in this province because never would any of us want to see the day when our Crown Attorneys are so overworked that they are not attending these seminars whereby their counterparts in the private industry are attending these seminars and would become eventually, as the famous saying would go, I would have a leg-up on our Crown Attorneys. We cannot have that day happen and the minister could have clearly indicated his commitment to that and added that inside the bill because, clearly, by Justice Kaufman putting this in his report, it is clear that this is not happening and there is an absolute need that this take place in the Public Prosecution Service to ensure that their concerns are being met.

Yet, again, while the minister admits at least one of his three recommendations here is redundant, when he has an opportunity to put in recommendations of activities which are not taking place in his department, he simply tells us, well, I will take care of it as a housekeeping measure, have confidence in the good Minister of Justice, the Attorney General.

Recommendation 21, Justice Kaufman went on to say, "I recommend that additional funds be allocated to enable more Crown Attorneys to attend continuing legal education events.". Again, it is quite clear, by Justice Kaufman, saying this in his report, that the members of the Crown Attorneys and the members of the Public Prosecution Service, as I indicated earlier, are obviously overworked or do not have the funds necessary to attend these continuing legal education events. You, Mr. Speaker, would know well that these continuing legal education seminars take place quite frequently, more frequently in the last few years than probably ever happened in the past because the Bar Society and the legal profession have recognized a need to ensure that its membership is continually updated of the changes taking place in our legal system.

[3:15 p.m.]

As members of this House and as members of this government, it should be a top priority to ensure that Crown Attorneys have the funding and the necessary time off to attend these seminars because if they do not do so, Mr. Speaker, naturally within a few years, they will start slipping back; not of their own will, not due to lack of education or lack of intellect, but due to the fact that they are being denied the opportunity to attend these events. So the minister could have clearly put in, again I would submit, a loosely-worded provision, indicating, for example, that every Crown Attorney must attend at least two continuing legal education seminars per year and that these seminars will be funded by the Public Prosecution Service through the Department of Justice.

[Page 2090]

Mr. Speaker, you can correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society has actually made this a requirement of all private practising lawyers in this province; it is a credit system they call it, and you have to attain so many credits per year. Those credits are usually granted when one attends these legal education seminars and it is a reassurance, not only to the Bar Society, but the men and women of Nova Scotia who rely on the legal profession to ensure that its membership are properly educated and on top of all changes taking place in the law.

So, again, what a tremendous opportunity lay at the foot of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General, that he could have easily said I am going to make this a requirement. Obviously the Crown Prosecutors are very concerned about this and I am going to put that requirement in there to ensure that this takes place. Again, rather than showing the leadership that the Crown Prosecutors requested and rather than showing the open and accountable government they have claimed that they were elected to give, they would rather come before us with such an important bill, with simply three amendments in that bill. What a shame, Mr. Speaker.

Justice Kaufman went on to say in Recommendation 23, "I recommend that management make every effort to increase the frequency and regularity of the Crown Attorneys newsletter and that contributions to this newsletter be sought from Crown Attorneys at all levels.". Again, the minister could have said, similar to his meetings with the Director of Public Prosecutions that the Crown Attorneys newsletter be published six times a year, eight times a year, maybe even 12 times a year, similar to the meetings between the Minister of Justice and the Director of Public Prosecutions. As he said today, he meets with them even more frequently so I am not quite sure that the newsletter would be as frequent as his meetings with the Director of Public Prosecutions.

It is just another example, Mr. Speaker, of where, again, a loosely-worded provision could have been put in, as a sign of good faith to the members of the Public Prosecution Service from this minister and from this government to indicate that it has taken these recommendations seriously. It is not just going to put them on the back burner and say we will make them housekeeping measures if we have the money to do it. I think that is what my concern is. I think that is what the members of the Public Prosecution Service's concern is, that when the minister says there will be housekeeping measures and I will take care of them internally. Naturally as Minister of Justice I have a budget to take care of and if I have the money available to be able to implement these recommendations, I will do so, but sorry guys and girls, I don't have the money. I guess we will have to wait until next year, and then maybe the year after that and then maybe the year after that.

So where will we be in three years possibly? I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, right back where we started. This government has a golden opportunity to take these recommendations, make them into legislation, make them into law, not make it an option when this government is trying to determine its budget, but make it a requirement that the

[Page 2091]

Minister of Justice not sit down and say, well, I don't think I have enough money this year, but that he says he needs this much money this year because he is required, under the law, to do these very things suggested by Justice Kaufman to ensure a very proper, healthy and viable Public Prosecution Service throughout this province.

I want to commend the government for having implemented Justice Kaufman's recommendation that the Director of Public Prosecutions be authorized to expend an additional 5 per cent of his allotted budget in order to provide funding for any extraordinary prosecutions that may take place. Certainly in this province, in the last few years, I would submit that we have seen quite a few of, what I would deem, extraordinary prosecutions which have been quite expensive and, in many ways, have been fairly controversial which, I would submit, in many ways, has helped bring us to where we are today with this Kaufman report.

While I certainly respect Justice Richard's concern and his recommendation of 5 per cent, I would also submit that it may have been wise for this government to maybe put a looser clause in this bill, rather than stick to such an arbitrary figure as 5 per cent, to say as additional expenditures are necessary. Again, if we reach the 5 per cent overexpenditure, at that point will the Minister of Justice/Attorney General say, well, that is it, we have spent enough. That is the end of the line, end of prosecution, make whatever deal you have to; you have spent enough money and that is it. I think none of us ever want to see that day happen where the administration of justice in this province can be held up due to finances and that the cutbacks being contemplated and, I would submit, undertaken by this government at no time cause a denial of justice in this province.

While this clause gives some form of assurances that this will not happen, by putting the 5 per cent limit on overexpenditures, I would submit that this government could have easily said, rather than using an arbitrary figure such as 5 per cent, not knowing what prosecutions will come from year to year, a clause which could have easily said, any additional, necessary expenditures as deemed appropriate by the Director of Public Prosecutions. I think with this new Minister of Justice, we would not have to fear about the Director of Public Prosecutions running with crazy ideas of spending his money because we hear from the Minister of Justice that they meet so regularly, I am sure he will not have time to sit there and contemplate such wild ideas.

Mr. Speaker, Recommendation 27, Justice Kaufman said, "I recommend that the complaints procedure be revised; that it be made more responsive to the parties, and that the allowable time for dealing with complaints be considerably shortened.". Again, a simple provision, something which is obviously troubling the members of the Public Prosecution Service, something which they feel is causing them difficulty and hardship when the minister was asked, when he had this recommendation in front of him, to make amendments and bring in a bill that would address this, again he fails to do so.

[Page 2092]

The fact is, he has never given us any reasons - which is probably what leads to my aggravation on this bill - or indicated why he has not included these provisions in the bill. As I stated earlier, he could have stood in his place and said, well, that is over-legislating and we do not want to over-legislate; that would be binding us too much and tying our hands. He has never made that argument, he has never indicated that.

One has to ask, is this legislation well-thought-out legislation, or is it simply being thrown on the floor of this House because it was included in the Tory blue book during the election campaign? Is this legislation really the appropriate legislation for dealing with the concerns of the Public Prosecution Service, or is it just being thrown out there so it can be checked off by the Premier next time he speaks to Tories, or to the chamber of commerce, to say that is one more promise kept by this government, another check mark next to it? But at the end of the day, when the Opposition looks at the legislation and what they claim is a fulfilment of their promise, we see this two page legislation which deals with the concerns of the Public Prosecution Service that had an outside commissioner come in to address their concerns due to the gravity of the situation, 29 recommendations left with this House and a Minister of Justice who comes forward with three recommendations and says he is committed, he has fulfilled the Tory commitment to the Public Prosecution Service and to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I would submit to you that in good time we will clearly see, and members of this House will rise to say, how Bill No. 15 did not achieve that promise. Bill No. 15 did not do what it could have done, it did not do what Justice Kaufman asked them to do, it was simply thrown on the floor of this House at the last minute to try to be another check-off next to the commitments supposedly made by this government.

One of the more interesting provisions in the recommendations by Justice Kaufman is the recommendation that there be the legislative exclusion of government lawyers under the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act, that it be reappealed and that the Act be amended to establish a staff lawyers bargaining unit.

I recall, the members of this House would recall, that at one point there was a walk-out by the members of the Public Prosecution Service to show their anger with their level of pay and with their other concerns. I believe that at the time this Tory Government made some statements of support, statements of support by the members of the Public Prosecution Service. I would like to read a few excerpts from a speech found in Hansard, under Assembly Debates, Page 7096, Thursday, June 10, 1999, previous to the last provincial election. It is an Adjournment motion under Rule 5(5).

"MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South." Ironically today's Speaker of the House. It says, "Justice - Pub. Prosecution Serv.: Improvement - Stalling Condemn".

[Page 2093]

He says, "Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak to this resolution:

'Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government be condemned for five years of stalling and immediately commit to implementing the latest round of recommendations for improving Nova Scotia's public prosecution services as a top priority.'." I am wondering if that very member today would say that Bill No. 15 is what he was referring to when he was saying how the government must directly respond to the concerns that were raised by this government.

He went on further to say, on Page 7097, "Justice Kaufman, in his interim report, described the Public Prosecution Service as having a disturbing malaise due to lack of strong leadership and government inaction in devising a better pay system. These are provided to government as two urgent priorities. People in this province are depending on prosecution service every day in the justice system and the whole system is hinging on the Attorney General's Office in this province to provide that leadership and the support that is so urgently needed.".

Mr. Speaker, how ironic to hear a member of that government, now the Speaker of this House, when he sat here in Opposition, giving his full support for better pay for the prosecutors of this province, yet instead, he has a Minister of Justice in his Party that brings forward a bill that does not even address the concerns regarding pay as highlighted in the speech that he gave here in this House.

[3:30 p.m.]

Ironically, Mr. Speaker, not only did the member for Cumberland South have a few words to say on this motion, the irony is that today his Justice Minister had a few comments to make on this motion. On Thursday, June 10, 1999, previous to being a Minister of the Crown, previous to being elected a second time, sitting as a member of the Third Party in this House, he made a few statements also in dealing with the Crown prosecutors. He went on to say that one of the difficult parts of the problem has been the lack of technology. "Technology problems in the Public Prosecution Service have, I think, by everyone's admission, been one of the critical issues, because information management on files is so important, particularly in these days of Crown disclosure and those kinds of issues. It seems like a small thing, but it is a very major issue when the Public Prosecution Service is trying to manage their caseload.".

The ironic part, Mr. Speaker, is then we had the bill briefing of Bill No. 15 - he said this on June 10th of this year, one of the reporters asked the minister: what are you going to do, minister, about these Crown Attorneys who are using these little cards for filing and have no computers and don't have the proper services? I would tell my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, that he should listen to the comment by the Minister of Justice because the

[Page 2094]

Minister of Justice went on to say, well those have already been taken care of; even before I got into office as Minister of Justice, those were taken care of.

One has to ask, when the minister spoke on Thursday, June 10, 1999, did he really have his ear to the ground with the Public Prosecution Service or had those concerns already been addressed when he rose in this House to make these statements and to lambaste the Minister of Justice? Ironic it was to hear him say that these very concerns why he rose in this House were actually already addressed by the previous Liberal administration.

I am quoting again from the member for Lunenburg when he said, "Another issue which my colleague raised was the issue of compensation. I can remember, not that many years ago, looking at the Supplement to the Public Accounts for Nova Scotia, at that time, the local Judge of the Provincial Court was making in the $60,000 a year range. Within a couple of thousand dollars, so was the Chief Crown Prosecutor in Lunenburg County. Time has passed. These were both senior lawyers who were acting in the public interest.".

He went on to say, "In the meantime, what has happened is that the members of the Provincial Court have had their salaries go up by huge amounts leaving behind, however, those very senior lawyers in the Public Prosecution Service, who by comparison are certainly not making anything close to the same compensation. I think it is critical that the government address the issue of compensation and that there be some format, whether it is binding arbitration or otherwise, to resolve this issue. If that issue is not addressed, I don't think that the Public Prosecution Service will ever have true peace.".

So when he is Minister of Justice, when he has the Kaufman report in front of him recommending that the legislative exclusion of government lawyers under the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act, he fails to take any action; in fact he tells us well, I am going to take care of this as a housekeeping measure and we are going to adopt the Ontario model and hope that Nova Scotian prosecutors like the Ontario model. One is left to wonder if it is Premier Mike Harris who has made this recommendation to the Minister of Justice. We are left to wonder, on many issues, who is actually advising this government on some of the decisions that they are making? Ironically, it is very interesting to see the words that the minister says when he was in Opposition and now to hear his statements when he is in government.

One of the interesting statements he goes on to make, Mr. Speaker, is, "I am going to make the following comment, because I understand from the Kaufman Report that one of the issues that has been raised is the issue of the role of the Attorney General of Nova Scotia and the Minister of Justice and the Public Prosecution Service. I can indicate it is my view that in a parliamentary democracy, ultimately the Public Prosecution Service is accountable to the people through its elected officials. I think, that for many years in this province, we have a very serious shortcoming . . . a lack of accountability of the Public Prosecution Service to the taxpayers and the electors.".

[Page 2095]

So one is left to conclude that when he made this statement, once he became minister, the solution to that was this requirement that he meet with the Director of Public Prosecutions 12 times a year. Yet again, as I have stated, when he stood in this House today, his first statements were to indicate that that was a redundant provision. He had already met with the director several times and, that unlike his previous statements that he was going to do something different from other Attorneys General he made the statement that actually other Attorneys General had been meeting with the Director of Public Prosecutions on a regular basis, that no Attorneys General that he could recollect had actually met with the Director of Public Prosecutions less than 12 times a year.

He has never made that statement; he has never produced any sort of evidence which would lead us to conclude that this is what he meant when he said he was going to make the service more accountable. So we are again left to wonder when he made these statements on June 10th, what he meant and what he had as an intention to actually carry this out, once he came into office.

One of his last statements - an interesting one - went on to conclude by saying: "I understand that my time is drawing very near, but I would say that I think that anything that guarantees accountability without providing for interference is in the public interest.". I would agree with that, Mr. Speaker. At the same time, I must say that I am very concerned with the statements made by this minister. One could conclude that he wasn't quite sure what he was saying when he said it and he didn't mean it the way it sounded. I don't think he has really given us any assurances in that regard. He has basically just shrugged off any of our concerns with his comments, or rolled his eyes at us, without giving us any proper explanation of what he meant by those comments when he said that unlike previous Attorneys General, I will take care of the Public Prosecution Service and I will address their concerns. None of that has been indicated by the minister.

Again, one of the concerns I must raise, Mr. Speaker, is the requirement that when the minister does make a decision that it be published in the Royal Gazette. I believe that the minister has already indicated - if he has not indicated, I believe it has already been indicated in this House - that this was already a requirement in the department, that any time a minister made a decision regarding a prosecution or a stay of procedure that it be published in the Royal Gazette. So again, this is not a new initiative by this Tory Government. This is not something new that wasn't being done by previous Attorneys General, as the minister stated that he would be doing things differently, we can conclude that this is what he meant because it was already being done. It is just that it was not included in the legislation. So that is what he has done, he has included it in the legislation and brought that to this House to make Nova Scotians believe that this is one of the different initiatives that he will be undergoing, to ensure openness and accountability of this government.

[Page 2096]

Again, Mr. Speaker, I submit that that is another example of where they have climbed halfway up the stairs but they have not gone the whole way, although they try to convince Nova Scotians that they have. The minister could have easily added a provision in there that said that the reporting in the Royal Gazette must be done as soon as possible, or even that it have a wording in there that said any decision made by the minister will be published in the immediately following Royal Gazette. Now that would have really ensured openness and accountability. That would have told Nova Scotians this government means business; when they say they are going to do this, they are not going to hold it for six months or a year, they are going to publish it right away, no matter what. They are not going to try to hide behind the Royal Gazette in cases of decisions which may not be politically expedient or politically popular. They are going to do what is right and they are going to publish this right away.

How easy it would have been for the minister to have done this in Bill No. 15. Instead, he leaves another loophole, as he has under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, where he has the opportunity, rather than publishing it right away, that he can delay, delay. It goes, similar to the Freedom of Information Act where a minister is still permitted to find the identity of an applicant, where I have said that that can make a big difference between 24 hours and 30 days. Bill No. 15 could have easily ensured that this not happen with the publishing under the Royal Gazette, that it would have been published in the following edition.Yet, the minister again, has failed to do that.

When they were elected on July 27th they made Nova Scotians believe they would do things differently, that they would make provisions in the legislation which would not allow loopholes which they claimed the previous administrations had used to avoid accountability, that they would make it ironclad to ensure government had the requirement to be open and accountable and that there was no means for it to use delaying tactics for any unpopular decisions. Yet the minister has again failed to go the whole way.

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, it is the intention of our caucus to support this legislation. We have very serious concerns about the fact that this government has not gone far enough in adopting the recommendations of Justice Kaufman. I am very sceptical, within a few more years we will be back to where we are today, that because of the cost-cutting of this Tory Government many of the recommendations made by Justice Kaufman will fall by the wayside under the heading of, financial efficiency, by this government.

Review, review, program review. This bill does not give the Public Prosecution Service the assurances it should or the assurances Justice Kaufman recommended in his report. This government has again thrown a piece of legislation to this House so it could put a check mark next to its blue book without really addressing the promise they made to Nova Scotians or to the Public Prosecution Service.

[Page 2097]

Mr. Speaker, I am going to conclude my remarks. I know that there are several other members of this House who wish to make some remarks on Bill No. 15. It is my sincere hope that the Minister of Justice will take those remarks seriously, and hopefully he will go back to his department with the remainder of the Kaufman report, the 90 per cent that remains, and that they will draft a new bill to be brought back to this House to ensure that the recommendations made by Justice Kaufman are put into law and don't just become practice in his department, but that they are made to be a requirement. One can only hope that the minister has taken this debate seriously, that he has taken the information we have presented seriously, and as I said, that he will report back to this House very soon with another piece of legislation which finishes off the task that they have attempted to conclude, with Bill No. 15.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for the indulgence of speaking and making a few comments on Bill No. 15. It is my sincere hope, and I look forward to hearing the comments from other members of this House on their concerns with Bill No. 15 and at the end of the day that we will have the best legislation possible to address the concerns raised in the Kaufman report.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, what an extraordinary expenditure of effort by some members on dealing with a bill that only has three sections. I know that when I have had occasion to comment on economic development in Cape Breton, I have suggested that it would be the ideal place for wind farms. It now seems to me that Isle Madame must be the appropriate location for such.

Mr. Speaker, the members opposite will be happy to hear that I am going to confine myself to observations with respect to just two points about this bill; one has to do with Clause 2 and the other has to do with something that was actually not in the bill at all, but should have been. Of the two points, I think I may have drawn the attention of the honourable Minister of Justice to the former point on at least one other occasion. This has to do with the problem of Clause 2 and the timing factor. Now Clause 2, in and of itself, in its underlying thought, is admirable. It flushes out something that is now in the Public Prosecutions Act. We know that, under the Criminal Code, the Attorney General is given certain powers, under Section 579 of the Criminal Code, for example, to issue stays of proceedings or preferred indictments with respect to certain prosecutions. What the Act at the moment, that is the Public Prosecutions Act, unamended, provides is that this power will not be exercised by the Attorney General, except upon the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions. That seems to be quite the right order of things.

[Page 2098]

[3:45 p.m.]

What Clause 2 of Bill No. 15 does is add an additional requirement that there be publication of the decision to issue a stay of proceedings, or go with the preferred indictment. I have no problem with that. That seems to be exactly the right thing. The only problem I have with Clause 2, as presented in the bill, is that it talks about the publication being as soon as practicable in the Royal Gazette. This seems to me an unfortunately soft choice of words. It doesn't say immediately, which it could have. It doesn't say forthwith, which it could have. It doesn't say in the very next issue of the Royal Gazette, which it could have.

I raised this question earlier in debate and I have to say, unless I have missed it, I haven't heard the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General comment on why he chose the wording that he did. As soon as practicable seems entirely too subjective for something that is an important decision. I think what really would be desirable in this clause would be something more objective, something more pressing, something that gives a sense of the importance of the decision and the fact that it is being published.

So I urge the minister, who will, in the future, have to continue to make amendments to the Public Prosecutions Act in furtherance of the agenda set out by Justice Kaufman in his report, to once again visit this clause and see whether it doesn't make sense to change the wording of this a little bit along the lines I have suggested. I think, with the passage of time, we will be able to judge whether the department or the Public Prosecution Service, on the minister's behalf, is really behaving in an appropriately expeditious fashion when publishing these decisions. We will be able to measure that. I hope that the next time the minister comes forward with amendments he considers this change. By that time, we will have some definite information.

The only other comment I wish to make is that we, too, will be supporting these amendments, with respect to what is, quite clearly, the main omission from the bill. There is, no doubt, an explanation, and I have heard the minister suggest it, why it is that he has not been able to put in place a collective bargaining regime for the Crown Prosecutors. The reason seems to be that he is still negotiating with the representatives of the Crown Prosecutors Association. Of course, I would not wish to suggest that the minister come forward with legislation in the absence of specific agreement with the members of the Crown Prosecutors Association. All I am saying is that the minister has to be reminded that this matter has been outstanding for 11 years.

The Crown Prosecutors Association was formed in 1988. It was formed in 1988 because the Crown Prosecutors were not satisfied with the complete absence of any framework for negotiating their terms and conditions of employment. Since that time, there has been regular action, regular exchange of information, regular reportage on this difficult issue, but there has been no fundamental change in the legal regime that affects Crown Prosecutors in their bargaining. I know the minister is new in his position. I know the minister

[Page 2099]

has many difficult items with which to contend in his portfolio, but I hope that the next time the minister comes forward with amendments to this Act, he will have for us a scheme that we can put into place through legislation that he feels comfortable with and that the Crown Attorneys endorse.

I hope in addition, Mr. Speaker, that this will not be long delayed, that the negotiations that are going on to establish a framework will come to a speedy conclusion. It was not so very long ago that members of the Crown Attorneys' Association visited this building with placards, in a day of protest. I think we all remember. I think the date might have been June 2nd. To find professionals so concerned about the absence of a satisfactory bargaining regime that they were prepared to abandon their places of work, risk disciplinary action, see adverse comment because of how some cases were handled as a result of that, is an extraordinary measure and I hope that the minister will not forget that undoubtedly these professionals had a very serious concern that they wanted to bring to the attention of all members of the House, and they were effective in bringing it to the attention of members of this House.

I hope that in the very next session of this Legislature the minister will come forward with specific amendments to the Public Prosecutions Act to deal with that framework for negotiations that is needed. I look forward to that. I am sorry that the minister has not been able to move yet in concert with the Crown Attorneys' Association to have allowed him to bring forward such an amendment at this point, but I understand the reason for the delay. I do not think many of the Crown Attorneys or, indeed, many of the members on this side of the floor will be very understanding if it continues to be much longer delayed.

With that, Mr. Speaker, those are our comments. We look forward to endorsing these provisions and look forward to future amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I got to my feet for a couple of reasons. Number one, I had the privilege and the opportunity to choose Justice Kaufman for the study, and I was very appreciative. He is a very learned gentleman, formerly of the Appeal Court in the Province of Quebec, a distinguished international figure known for great decision making and great ability to evaluate, to research issues, offer outstanding reports, and a gentleman of much culture. I think we were very fortunate, I really want to say that for the record, that I am very appreciative that he did agree to come to Nova Scotia and evaluate the Public Prosecution Service.

Another reason for getting to my feet, and I hope you would not rule me out of order, I will be very brief, is to defend my colleague, the member for Richmond, when it was referred to by the member for Halifax Chebucto that there was a lot of air and wind down in Richmond County and he could see that. As a past guru from the Ecology Action Centre and a shill for Peter Mancini, on the ability to generate electricity from windmills, I would assure

[Page 2100]

he certainly knows what he was saying and it did offend my colleague, the member for Richmond a great deal, so I really want to set the record straight that he didn't think - bearing off of Scatarie and a few other spots - that there was more wind coming from Richmond County. But I want to thank my colleague for addressing his concerns in this matter in such a concise way and a way that even I could understand.

I want to make a few comments as we go through third reading and these amendments, and I refer to the report of Justice Kaufman because, as others have mentioned, we are dealing with essentially three recommendations from the 29 that Justice Kaufman had brought forward. While they are important, the issue of overexpenditure in the budgets for extraordinary expenses will come one way or another anyway and it is good to provide for them then maybe even 5 per cent might be a modest figure if we tend to have the issues facing Nova Scotians that we have had.

The other issues, also of the meetings, I think it has been cleared now with the debates we have had in the Chamber that other members have not been negligent in meeting with the head of the Public Prosecution Service or the acting head, and I think that has been a relationship that I certainly enjoyed when I was Minister of Justice and Attorney General, and I know other members have as well. We do have concerns that - I know it was in the Kaufman report - you have to legislate meetings. I think that is a dangerous precedent, but one that this government has chosen to make one of the three clauses of this particular bill.

I think it is perfectly clear and it was perfectly clear to me in my time in Justice as to what my rights and responsibilities were relative to the reporting mechanism, that if I chose to intercede in a matter before the Public Prosecution Service, it was clear that I was to send a letter and that would also be, at the same time, published in the Royal Gazette.

I think essentially that leaves all the issues relative to compensation of public prosecutors, the Crown Attorneys, in limbo. The minister has assured us that he will speak to the Human Resources Department and that the group that has been formed under that will be apprising themselves of the function in the Ontario Public Prosecution Service. I think that is certainly important because Recommendation 28 of Justice Kaufman recommends, " . . . that the legislative exclusion of government lawyers under the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act be repealed and that the Act be amended to establish a Staff Lawyers Bargaining Unit.". Now he doesn't spell out what that is. (Interruption). Yes, and that could be interpreted as giving the go-ahead for collective bargaining; that is not the way that I would read that.

As I mentioned earlier in second reading and other times of debate, there is no question that there is time to move forward on that particular issue and the work has been done. I am sure that the Department of Human Resources and probably the Department of Justice both have the information from Ontario. It is not a mind-boggling research initiative that would take much time and it should not be one for delay.

[Page 2101]

It is the whole issue of management, the accountability of the service and how - and I agree with the minister's comments that he has made and I think speaking in Opposition about how it is important that the minister is responsible for the Public Prosecution Service to the House of Assembly, to the people of Nova Scotia through the House of Assembly. I couldn't agree with that stronger, how that is done and I think probably the minister himself will have some second thoughts and probably tone down his promises to be more involved because I think Nova Scotia has a sad history of the involvement of Ministers of Justice in the legal process and that is why we have this independent service today in Nova Scotia, which is unique in Canada.

[4:00 p.m.]

If there are some problems because of the arm's length way that it has been set up following the Marshall Inquiry, then so be it. Let's deal with it. It is done for a reason and it was probably a good place to start, whether there needs to be some changes, the smoothing of the mechanism of reporting and accountability, then it is certainly one that I would favour, but certainly not to return to the good old days, those bad times when justice in this province was interfered with, a terrible black mark in the eye of Nova Scotians, people getting on airplanes that were made fun of if you told them that you were from Nova Scotia because that is where those bad things were happening.

Let's not forget that, that was a black time in Nova Scotian history, not only in the legal sense, but also in the administration of other justice and also probably the function of government. I am referring to those times pre-1993, Mr. Speaker. So when it comes to legal history of the province, Crown Attorneys under the old system, and the newer PPS have been singled out for a good deal of criticism, some warranted and some not of their own making.

Since the Marshall Inquiry, as I mentioned there have been a number of reforms of the system, including the creation of the independent PPS. Attorneys General since then have been very careful not to compromise the independence of the PPS, and I think we should have learned from that. I think the minister's intentions are good. He has made some comments, as I mentioned, that I think would suggest a greater willingness to interfere and let's learn from our history. As Guy Brown would say, quoting Santayana, that those who don't learn from history will make those mistakes again.

I think it is hard from the bill to assess what the intention of the minister is in this regard; it is not clear. This has been dealt with in the media, it has been dealt with to some extent on the floor of the House, but largely outside of the House. So there is nothing coming to this legislation before this House of Assembly that we can deal with relative to that matter, so we are really just hoping that the experience gained by the minister will allow him an appreciation of what his proper role will be and he doesn't fall into the trap of previous Tory Ministers of Justice.

[Page 2102]

The minister does have extraordinary powers, Mr. Speaker, under the old Act and this power has not been exercised, as mentioned above. So while the bill does have some issues of concern raised by the Kaufman report, 3 of the 29 recommendations, there is no check other than the requirements to publish in the Royal Gazette on the extraordinary power of the minister. The 26 are the absent recommendations of the Kaufman report.

I realize it is early in the mandate of this government, but I think the issues were well-spelled out on the need for management changes, the accountability within the management of the PPS. That, to me, is where a lot of the problems were arising, there was some evidence that there were cliques developing within the PPS and there was a great deal of unhappiness and a sense of unfairness, some of it perhaps because there had not been a permanent director, and we await the announcement of that permanent director. Surely it should be near the time, we have been very patiently waiting.

I think that whole issue of that system, I think when that system inside the PPS is working better - and I trust it is gradually improving - then I think it will be an easier system, the service will be an easier service to deal with for the minister because it will be better organized, issues will come forward in a more representative area. It will not be coming to cliques. I think that is so important, that the minister doesn't deal with any of those cliques inside, but that is settled, that it is left to the Director of Public Prosecutions to deal with those issues and that he not be privy to those types of infighting that sometimes happens in the service, that's at arm's length and sets up its own rules and regulations.

The issue of the management committee and how the proceedings, the minutes of those particular meetings, what is the decision making, who receives favoured appointments, and these are considerable financial and prestigious awards that come within that system. It is a very prestigious group of people and I think that is something where we need strong leadership. We need a director who is strong and understands the service, understands the responsibility that he or she would have to the Crown Attorneys themselves and getting collective bargaining in place, having the education, the legal training, the upgrading, the professional development, those types of initiatives in place as being all part of the results of that bargaining unit that would be in place, but, also, who is very aware of the responsibilities to the Minister of Justice and to the people of Nova Scotia that we come to the floor of this Legislature and they are accountable through the minister.

We should have a good service in this province, Mr. Speaker, as you well know. You have been very familiar with not only the function of the Crown Attorneys, but the police forces and it has been a concern of yours, as you have been quoted in Hansard on many occasions. We have paid money out for what should be a good service. I think anything less is not acceptable. So we have documented that and I don't really want to go through those again. I think the recommendations of the Kaufman report, relative to programs such as mentor programs, as I mentioned, continuing legal education programs, those types of issues

[Page 2103]

of new people coming into the service where proper development, professional growth is not only allowed, but it is encouraged and enhanced.

The issue that Justice Kaufman was very concerned about was the complaints procedure and how the Public Prosecution Service itself would deal with the complaints.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is much too much background noise in the Chamber.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. I know some people might find this boring, but they should be very aware that it was not too many years ago when this was a major issue in Nova Scotia that we hope not to see again. It is so important that these recommendations, that we all agree in this House, are thoughtful, they are professionally developed by a very learned gentleman and they are doable. They must be done and there is the issue of complaints, how they would be dealt with and, more importantly, we see this when we address the issues relative to freedom of information, while the school board and others feel they can do it themselves, I just happen to feel that sometimes you do need a system outside that makes them more accountable, particularly with time lines and proper responses that can be evaluated by an independent person. So I think how that complaint system is revised, that is a recommendation of Justice Kaufman.

It is the same with the College of Physicians and Surgeons. We will be talking about the regulatory body regarding chiropractory, those types of initiatives. The first thing I look for in any of those bills and rules and regulations is how they deal with complaints from the outside, the people of the province. There was a time when many of these complaints were inadequately addressed or not addressed at all. So I think the system there has to be doable, has to be workable, has to be accountable and it has to be complete by the group affected, whether it is the Public Prosecution Service, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Dental Association or their regulatory body or what. There is a recommendation also that next year, which will be in May 2000, there will be the Director of Public Prosecutions' report on the implementations of recommendations contained in that report, which are accepted. As of now, we have three, so we are looking forward to other initiatives.

I will not be much longer, Mr. Speaker, because we have had a chance to address this bill before. While we support these three clauses coming forward, we realize that there is more to be done and some are pressing. I think the issue of the bargaining unit, what that would look like, is mandatory. The placement of a Director of Public Prosecutions is absolutely mandatory, with an accountability of the management of the service, and those other issues.

I had some quotes of your own, Mr. Speaker, that I chose to discard at this juncture, but they were very learned and well-thought-out. The current Minister of Justice on June 10th did make a brief speech when he spoke about the lack of technology and the Crown Attorneys

[Page 2104]

not being able to do their job. This has not been addressed in these clauses other than the issue of overexpenditure but the now minister, then Justice Critic, was concerned about the Public Prosecution Service trying to manage their caseload with inadequate technology and I just hope that he remembers those comments.

The issue of compensation was another concern of the Justice Critic back in June 1999 and we mentioned the issue of studying the process in Ontario. Lack of accountability to taxpayers and the electors, I think that is very clear. So we are looking forward to having amendments to this Act come forward spelling out those very concerns that the Minister of Justice in his role as critic brought forward at that time.

I conclude my comments with that, Mr. Speaker. I thank the minister for those 3 out of the 29 and we look forward very shortly, I do not think this has to go over long periods of time. Get on with it. Find out how they do it in Ontario. I am sure for lots of people, a phone call would do it and solve his problem there. Just get on with it because I would not wish him to have a strike on his hands like I did when I was Minister of Justice, but he knows they have not struck lately anyway. Thanks very much.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I just want to say a few words on third reading because this will be the last chance I will have to comment on this piece of legislation before it becomes law. I want to say to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, I listened to his comments yesterday where he said that there was nothing in the bill to justify that there would be more interference by the Attorney General in the process. I agree with that and I always have.

My only concern has been, and I said it was not necessarily with him but with successive Attorneys General, that where you make changes, you are deemed to have changed the spirit of the legislation. I would not want that to be felt or taken as being the case with the changes that are being brought forward in this bill. I want to say to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General that certainly, as with the Kaufman recommendations, that there be any such meetings or any such overruling of the Public Prosecution Service be chronicled in the Royal Gazette. That is fine but I do not want it to be considered to be as an open invitation or to make it easier for interference.

I say that because I have had a concern for some time and this is not the first time I have expressed it, I expressed it yesterday, I expressed it before, that in the days following the Westray tragedy that there were, in fact, in my opinion, some very close linkages between the Attorney General's Office and the Public Prosecution Service. That may be just my supposition, but it was based on what I was seeing and what I truly believed. The reason I can support this legislation is that even if this does not open up the invitation to more overruling of the Public Prosecution Service, then certainly that has taken place in the past before these

[Page 2105]

changes have been brought forward. So it may not make any difference, but I feel very strongly that there has to be a belief and there has to be a spirit here that would frown upon the intervention, or the overruling unnecessarily of the Public Prosecution Service. There is in the bill the wherewithal for the Attorney General to be able to interject and to impose his will where he thought it was absolutely necessary.

[4:15 p.m.]

I want to say, too, that it is a question of spirit and what this government and successive governments are going to be re-requiring. I mentioned yesterday, too, my concerns and the Attorney General then went into a dissertation about how great the Crown Attorneys are. I don't disagree with them on that. I am not quarrelling with the Crown Attorneys or even the middle management of the Public Prosecution Service. I am concerned about high level intervention and interruption of what I think is the proper dispensing of the rule of law and the injustice in the Province of Nova Scotia.

There are, as the minister mentions, three of the recommendations in this bill of the Kaufman commission. That is not a lot. I am not saying that we aren't going to get other changes nor am I saying that all of the recommendations of Justice Kaufman should be followed. I am not saying we adopt the whole 29 recommendations, but I am saying that three recommendations are not much so far. I would encourage him to move on these because there are some that are, frankly, very vital, very key to what we want to do in creating a better morale in the prosecution service.

That is the main reason, frankly, we initiated in our government, the Kaufman inquiry, because we felt that we needed that outside point of view from someone who was very much in tune with what needed to be done. The choice we made, I think, was an excellent one and I think the report is a very good one. I commend Justice Kaufman for the report that he did present.

I don't want to go over all of the recommendations but there are two that I think are vitally important. The first one is Recommendation 8 where he says, "I recommend that the appointment and promotion process be revised to make it open, accessible and visibly fair.". I think that there are a lot of people in the Public Prosecution Service who just feel that - because we talked about cliques earlier - they have been unjustifiably overlooked. Their steadfast devotion to duty, their steadfast point of view with respect to the law and their determination to do the right thing may not have been sufficient to allow them to be promoted, that there may be other social requirements that would come into play. I am being very open here and I think in the spirit of giving to the Attorney General my feelings of concern.

Unfortunately being Premier for only two years did not allow me to do that and it takes a while to get these processes through. I think we made a good start. The former Attorney

[Page 2106]

General, here to my right, did a great job as did the immediate predecessor of the present Attorney General. But it takes time. There has to be a focus, Mr. Speaker, on getting this done, if there isn't that focus there are so many ways of getting derailed in making the changes that need to be done.

The other recommendation which I think is extremely important is Recommendation 18 where he says, "I recommend that meaningful performance appraisals of all staff be made once a year.". I think the people in the service, particularly the lawyers, would appreciate that. I think there is a lot of time that they don't know how their performance is being viewed by their superiors and by others, not only the Public Prosecution Service but the Department of Justice. I think that that is wrong. I think that you lose a lot of the goodwill and a lot of the dedication of these people if they think their dedicated and strong performance is not being viewed properly. I think that is something that we have to bring forward and that we should be initiating.

I say this and I go through these points, Mr. Speaker, in an earnest and straightforward, meaningful and honest, and sincere attempt to have the Attorney General realize that this is a serious matter, and that if the health of the Public Prosecution Service is not improved, then it is going to reflect detrimentally on justice in Nova Scotia. The sooner we work on this, and we have worked on it, but just merely, in an embryonic fashion, and there is so much more that needs to be done.

I know the Attorney General knows of what I speak and I believe in his sincerity to do this. I just want to stress, from our Party on this side of the House, how much we believe it has to be done. We think that a good beginning has been made. We will support this bill in good faith, believing that this is a step forward, as the Attorney General has said, but of course - and he can appreciate this - we will be watching to make sure that that good faith is justified. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury on an introduction.

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, today we have three people in the gallery I would like the House to recognize. We have Olive Archibald from the Newtown-Denver area, as well as Patsy Green and Alice Sutherland. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Justice it will be to close debate on Bill No. 15, the Public Prosecutions Act.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is my tremendous pleasure to rise to close debate on this. First of all, I should thank all the honourable members

[Page 2107]

who have spoken on the bill, particularly at third reading. I can indicate that I appreciate that all of their comments were made out of a sincere desire to see the administration of criminal justice in Nova Scotia improved. I appreciate that; I particularly appreciate the comments of the member for Cape Breton North. I recognize that particularly the members who are members of the legal profession, who spoke on this bill, did this out of a sincere desire to see a true improvement in criminal justice in this province.

This is perhaps a small step but it is a step, along that path, one which I am hopeful will continue over the next while to a successful conclusion.

I don't intend to filibuster my own bill, Mr. Speaker, but I do want to thank the members for their intervention. I heard their comments and with that, I would ask for third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 15, the Public Prosecutions Act. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that the bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. RUSSELL: Would you please call Bill No. 22, the Chiropractic Act.

Bill No. 22 - Chiropractic Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise to speak on second reading of the Chiropractic Act.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, we don't seen to have a copy of that bill and we have been endeavouring to get it. Can we have copies circulated?

[Page 2108]

MR. MUIR: With regard to the Chiropractic Act, in 1995 the Nova Scotia Chiropractic Association submitted a proposal to amend the Statute regulating the practice of chiropractic. In addition to requesting the statutory authority for professional incorporation for chiropractors, the 1995 submission proposed several changes to the existing legislation, including amendments to the scope of practice definition, the powers of the association, the composition of the regulatory board and disciplinary provisions.

The Department of Health has worked with the Chiropractic Association to develop a bill that includes improvements proposed by the association. At the same time, the bill includes a disciplinary process that is consistent with other recently enacted Statutes regarding health professions, for example the Medical Act, the Physiotherapy Act, the Occupational Therapists Act.

The chief function of professional regulation is to protect the public by establishing and enforcing standards of practice. The amendments included in this bill would strengthen that protection by providing for more efficacious regulation of the practice of chiropractic. The bill would update the scope of practice definition, making it consistent with current practice. A professional college consisting of all registered chiropractors would be established. A 10 person board of the college would be responsible for regulating the practice of chiropractic, while a separate 8 person council would deal only with professional issues.

Enforcement of standards would be improved through a new disciplinary process. Finally, the incorporation provisions would ensure that practitioners are not inappropriately shielded against liability claims of patients. The legislation currently in force provides for one organization of chiropractors, the Nova Scotia Chiropractic Association. Since the officers of the association also combine the regulatory board, there is an inherent conflict of interest and confusion of roles. By establishing a board of the college responsible for establishing and enforcing chiropractic standards, and a completely separate council to handle professional concerns, this flaw would be eliminated. As with other provisions of the bill, this improvement was the result of collaboration by the chiropractors and the Department of Health.

Mr. Speaker, just in concluding, we are fortunate to have a team of chiropractors in this province who are committed to providing quality care to Nova Scotians. The amendments government is putting forward today will strengthen public protection. The proposed amendments address several changes, including the establishment of a professional college; the college would be responsible for regulating the practice of chiropractic as well as for professional issues. The provisions of the bill were the result of collaboration by chiropractors and by my department.

Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 2109]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my apologies, I believe the bill has not as yet been printed and distributed, so we cannot continue with that bill. I thank the minister for his introduction to the bill. I move adjournment of the debate on Bill No. 22.

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

The motion is carried.

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.

[4:28 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[5:10 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

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

Bill No. 18 - Petroleum Resources Removal Permit Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment. (Interruption)

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, I did not quite hear the request. I think he was asking should this be read on a future day and I was about to say yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, no, no.

Ordered that this bill be read a third time on a future day.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 2110]

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 25.

Bill No. 25 - Justice Administration Amendment (1999) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the second reading of this legislation. We have a total of 13 Statutes that are being revised and I am sure the honourable members are going to forgive me for the pun, but I believe that is what is called a baker's dozen. These provisions are designed to offer greater protection to the legal consumer. They are designed to improve the administration of justice. Many of them are housekeeping in nature, but are very important nonetheless.

The first clause deals with the Barristers and Solicitors Act and simply ensures that a suspended or disbarred lawyer may not act as a notary public. This change is being made in the interest of protecting the legal consumer, Mr. Speaker. Another clause allows adjudicators of the Small Claims Court to tax the account of lawyers for services provided addressing a Supreme Court finding in the matter. The definition of a court is being expanded in the Constitutional Questions Act. It is expanded to include administrative tribunals. This amendment will ensure that the Crown is given proper notice in constitutional law cases where the public interest is affected. Similarly, the definition of a court will be expanded in the Interprovincial Subpoena Act, adding subpoenas issued by those administrative bodies, such as boards, commissions and tribunals.

The Evidence Act and the Statute Revision Act will be amended to ensure electronic copies of these Statutes will be accepted as evidence. The changes are simply reflective of the way that we are doing business today, Mr. Speaker. We are living in an electronic age and we need legislation to reflect that.

The Intestate Succession Act is being changed to reflect the Supreme Court decision with respect to this matter. With this amendment, it will be clear that a child born outside of a marriage may inherit from intestate father as well as a child's intestate mother, regardless of whether or not the child is born in wedlock. By the way, Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of members of the House, this has been the law in Nova Scotia for some considerable period of time. Unfortunately, the Statute law would not have reflected the actual state of the law in the province. This is simply an amendment which will make it reflective of the reality so that

[Page 2111]

ordinary Nova Scotians reading the Statute would actually appreciate what the status of the law is since the law does not say what the law is. It is quite confusing to people who are not lawyers and, frankly, to some lawyers.

Mr. Speaker, we are amending the Legal Aid Act to address a potential conflict of interest situation. The amendment states that lawyers in different Legal Aid Offices working for opposing parties are not in conflict. This amendment clarifies the situation and I might indicate that the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society has already endorsed this particular provision as not being in breach of the conflict of interest provisions of their code of professional conduct.

We are amending legislation that has not been changed in 20 years. The Public Trustee Act will be changed to allow the Public Trustee to use both capital and income for the maintenance, education and support of a child when in receipt of property less than $100,000. The reason that this became necessary, Mr. Speaker, is because as a result of the current low interest rates, many small estates are producing very low amounts of income and in the interest of protecting the children and giving them an adequate beneficiary, the Public Trustee would be allowed to encroach on capital.

Another amendment allows the Public Trustee to bypass the regular administration process for estates of less than $2,500. These adjustments make sense, Mr. Speaker, when one considers the value of the limits which were in place when these were set 20 years ago and I think all members will realize that the value of $2,500, the value of estates that could be administered has changed a great deal.

In keeping with this vein, Mr. Speaker, we are amending the Regulations Act to remove the requirement that only the last two digits of a year be used in indexing regulation. This amendment is a very small example of how government is responding to Y2K and demonstrates the thoroughness of that response. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, of course, this is not a problem since the regulations are required to be indexed by 99-003, which would be a regulation. Unfortunately, when you go to computerize these regulations, Mr. Speaker, one can see that there might be a small problem that can arise. So we are trying to address that problem.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, one of the most positive changes in this bill is to revise the monetary jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court from $5,000 to $10,000. This is an issue which many ordinary Nova Scotians are greatly concerned by and that is the ability to obtain meaningful justice in an informal process, which may not involve lawyers. It allows people who feel they have been wronged to obtain justice in a cost-effective way. I am sure the members of the Legislature present, who are members of the Bar, have, over the years, encountered people

[Page 2112]

who had relatively small claims, which could be adjudicated, but which could never be reasonably adjudicated because of the limits and, yet, they still were not such that they could be litigated effectively to a full Supreme Court trial with the extensive discovery process, in particular.

We are also tightening up the requirements for the service of documents. In so doing, we are increasing the certainty that parties have actually received these documents. This should result in fewer adjournments, Mr. Speaker, and, therefore, allow for a better process.

Mr. Speaker, the Summary Proceedings Act will change to allow a Justice of the Peace to forgive a penalty in a matter which had been previously dealt with. This can be done in appropriate circumstances. The amendment eliminates the requirement to have a judge of the Provincial Court deal with this matter. This is to deal with the situation of the so-called night courts where someone comes in, perhaps a young person, and they have been found guilty of illegal possession of alcohol. The fines for that offence, in certain circumstances, can be quite high for a young person who may have no income.

The requirement, under the existing legislation, will require that young person to come back during the daytime, often missing work or school for no useful purpose. There is a power to remit penalties and this allows the remission of penalties by the J.P. in the night court, as opposed to the requirement to come back and have the Provincial Court judge do it. It serves no useful function to have that done, Mr. Speaker. It simply delays justice and adds to the inconvenience to the public and no function is being served. This will overcome this problem.

The next issue is that the Act will also be changed to reflect a provision of the Criminal Code. The Criminal Code amendment will permit an unpaid fine to be entered as a judgment against an offender in default. Mr. Speaker, this is to ensure that people who have fines awarded by the court can have those fines enforced because nothing brings the administration of justice into more disrepute than when courts make decisions and there is no effective mechanism to enforce those judgments.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, we are amending the Young Persons Summary Proceedings Act. This is being done to close a loophole that has existed previously. The amendment means that anyone who violates a probation or other sentence imposed under the bill, after they have reached the age of 15, is guilty of an offence. Again, for members of the Bar present, there apparently was a loophole in the law which said that if you were 15 years old and had a probation order imposed upon you and then turned 16 and breached the probation order, because of the way the Statute was previously worded, there was nothing that could be done to you. So, again, it simply brought the administration of justice in disrepute because there was no penalty that could be enforced on the offender. This brings into conformance with the situation with the Young Offenders Act, where if you violate a probation order, it can be treated as an offence. It simply is, again, a housekeeping matter.

[Page 2113]

These amendments make necessary adjustments to several Statutes. In bringing forward this legislation, we are demonstrating a commitment to streamline the justice system and improve the operation, where possible. I would, obviously, look forward to hearing comments from members opposite with respect to the Statute. I think it makes a number of worthwhile changes to areas of the justice system. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. With that I would move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is a privilege to have an opportunity to speak on Bill No. 25 for second reading.

I must say, right from the start, what a dangerous precedent this government is establishing in the fact that they continue to dump bills on this House without having the common courtesy of having bill briefings beforehand to allow members of the Opposition and members of the public to have an opportunity to hear the minister's comments on this bill and to hear, basically, the exact statement he has made here in this House at an earlier opportunity. Then we can take that back, hear his comments, hear his justifications, take that back to our own caucuses and then come back to this House, having an opportunity to not only have considered this bill from our own view, but having taken in the minister's view. Unfortunately, this government - the Minister of Health has now done it on a couple of occasions, now the Minister of Justice is doing it also.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. The allegation has been suggested that something improper was intended. In fact, just for the member's information, the reason that that did not happen is because when a bill briefing is passed, members of the press ask me, why are we here, there is nothing controversial. So, it is very difficult to hold a bill briefing when nobody comes. With all due respect, and I do not intend any disrespect to the members, I can tell you that.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, we only have bill briefings when we have controversial bills. I guess Bill No. 9, dealing with the paramedics was not enough of a controversial bill that that one could be slipped into this House without a bill briefing also. (Interruptions) 911 - I don't know - I guess that taxing measure, a taxing measure was not important enough.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to remind the member that this is second reading on Bill No. 25 and it is the principle of this bill, not bill briefings or other bills, but this bill only. Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. SAMSON: Well, once again Mr. Speaker, you come to the aid of the government members hiding in their shame. For a parliamentary procedure that has been used in this House to have bill briefings and to allow the Nova Scotia public and to allow Opposition Parties the opportunity to see exactly what is being proposed by this minister in Bill No. 25

[Page 2114]

and an opportunity to hear the exact comments he has just made in this House and to be able to bring informed comments and suggestions here on second reading. It is unfortunate that we have come to the point now that we only have controversial bills from this minister that deserves the courtesy of a bill briefing or even a copy of his notes in introducing this type of legislation. So what an unfortunate precedent is being set by the Minister of Justice, especially when we deal with legislation such as Bill No. 25.

Certainly the minister says it is non-controversial legislation. Simply housekeeping measures is how he has termed it. I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that as a member of the legal profession some of the changes in this bill have been long awaited by the legal community. They have been long awaited by Nova Scotians. It is unfortunate that the Minister of Justice simply considers them housekeeping measures of a non-controversial nature that he doesn't see as being worthwhile of even having the courtesy of a bill briefing beforehand.

As the minister has said, these changes apply to a wide variety of aspects of our legal system here in the Province of Nova Scotia. Certainly, having had a quick look at this bill, there are a number of initiatives in that bill that I will be supporting and I will not speak on behalf of my caucus at this point in time until we get further in the process. Clause 2, which provides that "(a) where a barrister has been suspended, the barrister may not act as a notary public during the period of the suspension.".

It also applies where a barrister has been banned from the legal profession. I certainly am aware of an individual situation where a barrister had been suspended and banned from the legal profession, but continued to do legal work on the side. I know it was a concern to many people in the legal profession. It was an awkward situation and it was one where people didn't really want to have to go and tattle-tale on that particular individual who was continuing to do legal work. It caused an uncomfortable situation. It was a loophole that existed in the legislation.

Certainly this will close this loophole and make it quite clear that once someone has been suspended or even barred from the Barristers' Society, that they will not be able to carry out legal work because, as you know very well, Mr. Speaker, one is not permitted to do legal work in the Province of Nova Scotia for remuneration if one is not a member of the Bar Society in this province. So certainly this will close that loophole that has been requested by members of the Bar Society for quite some time.

Certainly Clause 5 in Bill No. 25, which "amends the Evidence Act to permit an electronic copy of a statute to be given as evidence of the statute" brings the province and our justice system in Nova Scotia in line with the changes in technology that are taking place, and the requirement to have hard copies, directly from the Statute Books, is onerous and time-consuming, especially when one is in the middle of a case. This makes it much more efficient for the administration of justice here in this province to be able to use the technology we have

[Page 2115]

in our hands today, which is so prevalent in law firms, but yet is still not seen as much as we would like in our courtrooms or in the justice system of our province.

Looking at other sections of the bill, in Clause 6, which "expand the definition of 'court' in the Interprovincial Subpoena Act to include additional subpoena-issuing bodies" is, again, a clause which will help the efficiency of administration of justice in our system and in dealing with cases that cross our provincial boundaries, which can often be a hang-up point in a number of matters, and causes unnecessary delay. This will certainly help close that loophole.

Clause 7, which "amends the Intestate Succession Act in accordance with the Charter of Rights decision in Tighe v. MacGillivray Estate to provide that a child born outside of marriage may inherit from an intestate father as well as the child's intestate mother." I know there have been a number of litigations on these kinds of matters. It was a bit of grey area in our law, to try to determine if children born out of wedlock could come back years down the road and make a claim against the estate of their birth father or birth mother. Obviously the Supreme Court of Canada has closed that loophole and made it clear that they do have a right to make a claim against the estate. With Clause 7 we are simply bringing Nova Scotia in line to respect those very changes.

One of the more interesting amendments being made is Clause 8, which "amends the Legal Aid Act to clarify a potential conflict of interest situation." If I understand correctly from some of the statements of the minister and some statements in the media, basically what this means is the former situation we had - and I am sure many of the members of this House will have dealt with this - they are not pleasant matters to deal with, they are usually unfortunate matters where you have low income people who have matrimonial problems and there may be issues of violence or abuse and they are both seeking legal representation through legal aid, due to lack of sufficient income. The old system was like it was almost a race to the post and whoever was the first one there would get representation from legal aid and the one who was second would have to get a legal aid ticket and go out to the private industry and try to find a lawyer who would be willing to use this legal aid ticket to represent them in court.

Certainly if any members of this House have had to go through that, they are difficult situations. I know that whichever one is left out is wondering, why don't I get the same treatment just because I wasn't the first one there?

There is also a question, I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that staff at legal aid who represent such cases, I would certainly go so far as to say that they have developed an expertise in this form of case and it is essential that both parties to these litigations have the same access to the expertise of legal aid lawyers throughout this province.

[Page 2116]

[5:30 p.m.]

What this change will mean is that if you had a legal aid lawyer from two different offices working for the same couple, there is no conflict of interest. It allows both the spouses, the wife or the husband, the man or the woman, whichever one, if they are not married or they are married, it allows them both to get the services of legal aid, and it clarifies this potential conflict of interest. Certainly I think that is an amendment which all members of this House will find to be very positive and something we have been looking for for quite some time. It will certainly help us in dealing with these unfortunate situations.

Another change which is one which the legal profession has been seeking an amendment to for quite some time; in fact, I recall when I attended law school that it was something that was being pursued at that time, by the legal profession. It was Clause 16, which increases the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court from $5,000 to $10,000.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you know very well, and many of us have had constituents who have dealt with Small Claims Court; it is a very efficient system, it is much less onerous than the traditional court system that we have. I would go so far as to say that it brings an empowerment to citizens of Nova Scotia, because unlike the regular court system, they do not need to have a lawyer to represent them to have their day in court. They can represent themselves, they can bring their own arguments forward. It is a cost-saving measure. It is meant to try to alleviate the burden on our court system here in this province, which we know is faced with a great deal of work to start off with.

When the Small Claims Court was first put together, it was felt that $5,000 was an appropriate figure. Certainly what we have seen as legislators and as Nova Scotians is that the Small Claims Court has become a very popular avenue for many Nova Scotians to try to settle their disputes. The problem is that with time and with inflation and with rising costs, it became quite clear that $5,000 was no longer an appropriate amount of money. Certainly as ourselves, we have heard enough about vehicle accidents and it doesn't take a very big accident to cause $5,000 damage on a vehicle these days, or property damage of that amount.

Certainly bringing us up to the $10,000 range is a big step forward. I would submit to the minister that I fully expect, within the next 10 years, I would not be surprised to see a move to move that figure either up to $15,000 or possibly $20,000 as inflation continues to rise, and again, as people get more comfortable with the Small Claims Court system and the rising popularity in using that system.

Again, Clauses 17 to18 are more housekeeping measures which deal with the personal service of documents under the Small Claims Court Act. It is an attempt to make this system more user-friendly and to remove some of the onerous provisions under our regular system to try to make it almost, I would submit, as simple as possible for your average Nova Scotian

[Page 2117]

to be able to have their day in court, and again as I indicated, to be able to represent themselves and to try to settle their disputes in a much more efficient manner.

There are a couple of clauses here which at this point in time we will be looking to have reviewed a bit further to get a proper understanding. I wouldn't want to try to draw a conclusion on them at this point. As I indicated, if we had had the bill briefing, if we had the comments from the minister beforehand, then we could have sat down and said okay, I am not quite sure what is meant by this in the bill, but here is what the minister said at the bill briefing. Then I can bring that back and say okay, when I stand on second reading, I don't have to say that I am a bit confused by this, I can say, the good Minister of Justice has clarified any confusion I might have.

In all honesty, I would again submit to the minister that bill briefings, he may see them as an inconvenience sometimes and they may seem to be a waste of time, but I would submit they are very useful. Having been on this side of the House for just a few months, at this point in time, I found them to be very useful, especially the minister himself will be able to attest that each time he has had a bill briefing, I have asked him for a copy of the comments that he has made. I found them very useful. They have been of assistance to me and I know had I had his comments on this bill before tonight, it would have assisted us along that road. I can tell from the minister's motions on the other side that, hopefully, this won't happen again and that we will be able to avoid such circumstances.

Clause 22, the minister pointed out, dealing with the Young Persons' Summary Proceedings Act, which would bring many . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. SAMSON: As I say, Clause 22, which the minister alluded to, the Young Persons' Summary Proceedings Act, which the minister indicated, any judgement or ruling made under that bill, that once an offender who might be under the age of 16 turns 16, that that judgement continues. Certainly, it is one of those clauses, Mr. Speaker, that I would want a bit more clarification on. We know in our rules that we have special proceedings for people who are under the age of 16. I just question that. We should tread carefully and make sure that anything that has been deemed an appropriate penalty when someone was under the age of 16, we have to ask ourselves if it is still appropriate when they turn 16. So it is one of the provisions.

I know the minister has made a few comments but, certainly, I am not comfortable enough. At this point in time, I look for further clarification from the minister and will certainly be reviewing this provision a bit more just to respect the purposes of these bills. Any young offenders that are out there, we all want to do what is best to have them rehabilitated and to make them, again, into positive contributing members of our society. Certainly, I

[Page 2118]

wouldn't want to see Clause 22 be a hurdle in our efforts in that regard. I am sure it is not the intention of the minister to do so and we will be seeking further clarification on that.

Just before I finish, Mr. Speaker, the last clause and, again, this would have been a matter we could have probably resolved with the minister, had we had the bill briefing before hand, is the fact that Clause 23, on the explanation side, says that it provides for the coming into force of the Act, but when we look at coming into force, Clause 23, this bill, except Clauses 5, 6, 7, 8, 13 and 19, comes into force on such day as the Governor in Council orders and declares by proclamation. I am not quite sure why that is, why there hasn't been a date set as an iron date for a proclamation. In this day and age, I would submit, it is a little strange to see legislation come forward which is deemed to be essentially of a housekeeping nature, yet is not given a definitive proclamation date. Again, that is an issue I am hoping the minister will be able to clarify for us, maybe give us some indication why that is, if there needs to be a specific time for implementation of these changes and, if so, that is something that we could consider establishing in the bill, whether it be six months or two months or whatever period is deemed appropriate.

So I want to commend the minister for bringing Bill No. 25 forward. While it is a relatively short bill, it affects a great number of Acts in the administration of justice in this province. I think it is a good step, a positive step. I look forward to debate on this. There may be some provisions that we could be adding into this, or maybe some changes we should be making. I look forward to listening to the debate on this to ensure that we make Bill No. 25 the best possible bill in this House. So, again, I thank the minister and I appreciate, Mr. Speaker, the opportunity to make those comments on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to offer my compliments to the Minister of Justice. It has been obvious that he has been burning the midnight oil reading through every obscure administration of justice Statute that he could find in order to look for areas in which he could offer us significant improvements and, no doubt, upon reading Bill No. 25, it is obvious that he has done a good job of it. Indeed, I thought that his explanation of the bill was very useful. I suppose I should be even-handed, if I am handing out compliments; I have been told by my colleagues that the remarks of the member for Richmond were very good as well. I don't know, I nodded off part-way through but, Mr. Minister, I have to say that if I am left with any questions about the bill, I would like to draw your attention to just two small points, if I may. I am sure you can explain them and I am sure you will help us with them.

The first point just has to do with the part that deals with the Small Claims Court. I have no problem with increasing the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court to $10,000; I think this is just fine. However, the minister will be aware that in general, the civil rules of

[Page 2119]

procedure, I think, have application in the Small Claims Court. I believe there is an exception with respect to the availability of costs to parties who are involved in that.

Now if the minister is suggesting to us that $10,000 is now an appropriate upper limit for the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court, $10,000 is not an inconsiderable amount of money and there will be some cases in which parties will be represented by counsel and that will perhaps be more frequent. The real question I really raise is whether it makes sense, at some point in that continuum, up to $10,000, to begin to allow some scale of fees to operate.

Now there is nothing in the bill that deals with that and I am not sure if it was an oversight or whether it was a deliberate policy choice on the minister's part, but I would appreciate it if he would address himself specifically to this question and give us the benefits of his thoughts on this point. Again, I want to emphasize that I have no problem with increasing the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court. It seems to me that it is entirely appropriate, the $10,000 figure, and I support it.

The second point I wonder about was referred to by the last speaker. It has to do with the last clause and the provisions with respect to the coming into force. Again, I don't think I heard the honourable minister explain what the thinking was behind the timing of the coming into force of the different clauses. It wasn't obvious to me whether it required some other administrative arrangements to be put in place or whether he had hesitations of some sort; it just wasn't clear what the object was.

Those really are the only two points on which I wonder if the minister might give us the benefit of his thinking, of his department's thinking. On the face of it, there seems to be much here to admire. It is one of these housekeeping bills that comes forward from time to time and I am very glad that the minister personally took the trouble to work up this legislation. Thank you very much.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to take a few moments on the Act, and really specifically with respect to the changes in the jurisdiction for the Small Claims Court. I am sure that the minister would know, as a practising barrister in the province, that the Small Claims Court process is one that I think, I would say, is widely used, especially in regard to claims where although the monetary amount is perhaps not great, that the need for an expedited method of adjudication of the claim is required.

I wanted to note to the minister that the idea that lawyers don't attend Small Claims Court or the idea that this has become an informal setting for the adjudication of claims, really has kind of gone out the window over the last number of years. It seemed to me, practising under this legislation that I did for a number of years, that once the level was set at $5,000, you started to see more and more lawyers showing up in Small Claims Court. It is certainly

[Page 2120]

the case in Halifax and in the metropolitan area. I am not sure if that is the practice, although I know that I attended Small Claims Court in Bridgewater, so there were times when people, because the amount was $5,000, felt that they needed professional advice with respect to a particular claim.

[5:45 p.m.]

When you set the level at $10,000, I would submit to the minister that you are going to see even more lawyers engaged in the process of representing clients at Small Claims Court. I echo the concerns put forward by my colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto, I think the time may be coming that you are going to have to look at and address your mind to some kind of a scale for costs with respect to that particular set of claims as they go forward.

I want to mention to the minister, and I am not sure that he knows this, but as my friend the member for Richmond says, you do not have to be a lawyer to attend on behalf of a person in Small Claims Court; in fact I have attended Small Claims Court and seen people being represented by people who are not lawyers. The bill specifically says that you can have an agent who can represent you at Small Claims Court and this I think was clearly intended to allow for those cases where a family member - one member of the family, a mother or a father, might not feel comfortable going to court so a son would go on their behalf - would go with them and they would help them through the process or perhaps there might be a helpful and articulate person who is from the extended family, who would go on behalf of the individual to Small Claims Court.

I know what was intended but, you know, other things happened under the rubric of agency that were very disturbing; in fact, what we saw in Small Claims Court were collection agencies and collection agencies were there and I know as fact that they were disbarred lawyers, who were running collection agencies, who were attending at Small Claims Court as agents and were prosecuting claims in a very professional manner. So there is the opportunity for abuse, and the reality is that that is what we have seen. I have to say one of the most disturbing things I saw at Small Claims Court was the universities using the Small Claims Court to enforce claims against students. I have to say this I do not think was something that was foreseen or intended, but that was the reality of it a few years ago.

I would like to use this opportunity to suggest to the minister that although this bill does change the jurisdiction for the Small Claims Court, that perhaps it is time that the minister actually had a look at the Act in total, that they had a look at the entire Small Claims Court Act, because there is an opportunity to rework that Act and I would suggest that we may be looking at a time when we may want to go to some kind of an administrative court where you are bringing together not just actions and tort and contract but, in fact, you could look at other administrative bodies that are dealing with co-ops, which I think need to have a different set of legislation so that cooperative housing can deal with its own members and

[Page 2121]

have a place for adjudication and where landlord and tenant matters could be dealt with by a sole court.

All of these could be brought together under a Small Claims Court-like vehicle and really cut down on the need for a number of tribunals and vehicles that we have now, which I think are unnecessarily repetitious. They do not provide for the adjudicators to have, I guess, enough of a time investment in the actual system itself to become perhaps as proficient as they might if they were there, and the body of work was such that they were applying themselves in a more full-time manner.

So I would just recommend to the minister that he take the opportunity to look at the Small Claims Court in total and to see if the legislation when it is drafted has now matured over a number of years. If not, it might not be time for you to actually look at the Act and to do a thorough review and see if it is achieving what it is that it was set out to do originally and if it can't be changed or enhanced to take over the administration of other tribunals and do other bodies of work.

I think it would streamline the system certainly. It means that there are not as many appointments to hand out, would be one of the down sides I guess for the government - you do not have as many adjudicators to appoint or tribunal members to appoint. I think overall to have a central kind of administrative core, where members of the public can go and where the rules would become better known because there are different sets of regulations now that govern the different tribunals. I think ultimately the system of justice would be better off.

I know, in fact, that now the Small Claims Court is used as a bit of a training ground, in many cases, for law firms. You will see junior lawyers sent there on a regular basis just to get some feel for what it is like to be in a courtroom setting and what it is like to do small tort actions or small contract cases. It is a good vehicle for that and I think the people who are hiring them know that they are getting young lawyers who are coming out of law school and that this is a part of the process of experience. Nonetheless, I think you have an opportunity to review the bill and to see if you can't combine or bring in perhaps more elements from different areas of law.

Those were the comments I wanted to make, just to be helpful to the minister in his pursuit of cleaning up some of these aspects of the law. I appreciate, as my friend does, that it has come forward, and look forward to seeing it move along to the next stage. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I want to just add some brief comments to Bill No. 25, An Act Respecting the Administration of Justice. It is a broad bill, tidying up various areas of matters relative to justice.

[Page 2122]

The issue of barristers who have been suspended. We have heard some discussion from the legal people here in the House of Assembly relative to some of the practices that, whether it is a Small Claims Court or other matters - in this area in Clause 2, we are dealing with a notary public or, as the Katzenjammer Kids used to say, the notary sojack; they are still with us.

I don't have a lot of comments because it is of such widespread implications. There are a couple of areas that caught my attention, though. Obviously for the small claims adjudicators is the matter of the taxing powers and who is able to do that. The area of legal aid and, I guess Clause 8, this has been an issue in this province and I really want to compliment the minister and the department. I know the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto has commended the minister for burning late oil. He probably has been, I am not sure he was researching all of this, I am sure he had help from his staff. But this is the sort of the thing that the staff are very pleased to come forward because they spend a lot of time trying to deal with these issues and to address complaints that are really not their problem, which is our job. It is our job to deal with these particular issues.

The issue of legal aid this has been an area regarding divorce and domestic dispute that has been very unfair. I think particularly the males of this province have felt very disenfranchised, often have family that find themselves in difficult times, areas of dispute relative to child custody, matters before Family Court, and that they have been unable to be represented by legal aid even though they may well qualify.

I know there is the issue of certificates and all of those particular issues, but I know that sometimes they have not, for one reason or another, been deemed eligible and they have felt, as I say, disenfranchised, that their spouse is being represented by legal aid and they being of that family unit, or the previous family unit, whatever the situation is, they felt that they had not proper access and the due process of law was not being addressed. Sometimes they appeared on their own perhaps and, as they perceived, to their disadvantage and I must say that probably that would be true.

Other particular issues, the matter of the Public Trustee, I do not quite follow some of it. Obviously, it is a matter that would allow this process to work more effectively. I know of situations in my own area where there has been abuse of this process where children have been involved. I have received letters from a particular person who was dealt with in a disciplinary way during the misuse and I know this whole issue of capital. These are other matters I realize and the common good should not be penalized that others may violate the trust that has been placed in them, but it is an issue here of caution when children are involved. The trustee may not make the right decisions and may jeopardize future income.

[Page 2123]

I suspect that this has been well thought out and there have been representations made on this particular issue. It is an area, I guess, as a layperson, that I look at and just see a little bit of a caution here on this particular issue moving from $10,000 to $100,000, including capital as well as income for the maintenance, education and support of children. If that is a situation, the abuse has sometimes happened before it comes to the attention and that has been an issue in some particular areas.

The issues of penalties and all the other matters, the Small Claims Court, Clause 16, certainly an issue there of expediency and I think issues where disagreements arise and I think the speedy resolution of justice matters on that, that that is important. Is it the wish to adjourn at this moment? We will go to 6:00 p.m. then. Okay, that is fine.

Clause 20, Mr. Speaker, under the Summary Proceedings Act permits a Justice of the Peace to remit a penalty in the matter of justice, is dealt with, requiring the matter to be dealt with by a judge of the Provincial Court. As a layperson, again, I trust that that is a satisfactory system that allows the Justices of the Peace to deal with these matters. Certainly anything that would streamline the court process and keep the matter from tying up the matters of the court that does not require that, but I think the system of monitoring and the qualifications of the Justices of the Peace, I think whether that system will be more formalized as the responsibilities are there and whether there is an upgrading and training on that particular issue.

I would move adjournment of Bill No. 25.

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

The motion is carried.

We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject for this evening's debate was submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic:

"Therefore be it resolved that the new Minister of Tourism instruct his department to feature, in addition to Peggy's Cove, other destinations along the Prospect Road.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

[Page 2124]

TOURISM - PROSPECT RD.: DESTINATIONS - FEATURE

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the opportunity of sharing a few thoughts with the Minister of Tourism in light of plans, not just for my area but plans in our new Tourism Department. I mean we have a new minister and a new department and, hopefully, we are going to hear about some leadership plans and not just plans from top down because that is the concern that I would like to address.

I have heard of TIANS and I have attended some of their meetings. I am aware of the fact that all of us come from very unique and scenic parts of this province. Before my daughter headed off to Ireland, she had a number of friends with her and she wanted to show these university friends the area that she was from. In the area where I am from, if you say you are from St. Margarets Bay or Upper Tantallon or maybe even Lakeside, they say to you, so where is that? Well, it is near Peggy's Cove.

[6:00 p.m.]

Peggy's Cove is one of those identifiable destinations, as you well know. Peggy's Cove is one of those high-profile destinations that is well marketed throughout our province, throughout our region, and throughout the world. I think of destinations such as Louisbourg or Lunenburg or the Citadel in downtown Halifax. I think it is very important that before these high-profile destinations are marketed throughout the region and throughout the world, that tourism officials look very carefully at the fact that there are other destinations along the way.

I am sure that members present can tell you that these magnetic destinations that I have mentioned before, along the way there are areas where we must also pay attention to the fact that there are some wonderful parts of our province that get neglected. They get neglected, I think, because of the lack of a good well-organized plan. Take for example, along the Prospect Road and along Route 233, there are no lookout spots. Think of that. There is no spot that you can carefully and very cautiously pull over and have a look at a scenic part of our coastline, because of course, part of my constituency is part of the Lighthouse Route.

As a regular traveller, I come in through the Amherst gateway or the Yarmouth gateway, I see those big tourist attractions and how they are pushed to make these final destinations across our province, but I think it is very important that we also realize that there are other destinations along the way. Hopefully tourism officials will be highlighting some of these destinations so that people will understand that there are other travellers who come to our province, there are hikers, there are divers, there are people who want to tour our province under the ocean. There must be a promotion directed towards these special interest groups that we can attract to our province.

[Page 2125]

In particular, I think that we should follow the example of Prince Edward Island. Prince Edward Island markets their golf destinations. Along the Peggy's Cove Road, along the Prospect Road, there are a number of golfing destinations. I asked the tourism officials to make sure that they make very clear that you can go to Granite Springs, you go to Indian Lake, these are golf destinations that should be marketed in my area. I am sure that other members know that golfing vacations are now one of the big attractions of why people go to the Garden of the Gulf on Prince Edward Island.

The concern that I have is that local tourist operators and the local tourist association have to feel that they have an input and a real input in determining tourist destinations. It is these local operators, bed and breakfast operators, operators such as Golda's Cafe that I mentioned the other evening in my comments, when I invited the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley to drop by and see Golda's. There are other places that I could mention here, and I would take a few moments if I could.

I want to mention John's in Whites Lake. You want fish and chips, I will take you to John's. You will also get some good conversation, very aware politically this gentleman. He points out to me, on many occasions, how I have to do some of the things in my constituency. Terence Bay and the SS Atlantic Heritage Park, some of the other destinations along the way in Blind Bay. Now think about that name, Blind Bay. Historically, you know there has to be a connection to a place as uniquely named as that particular destination.

Those destinations, along the Lighthouse Route, the people who live there and who operate tourism businesses are concerned that sometimes they just get passed by. Now I understand the major destinations, and I understand that they are, after all, one of the reasons that people do visit our scenic province, but I want to point out to members that if we are going to attract tourists to our province we have to make sure that that targetted market out there is well defined. I would turn, in particular, Mr. Speaker, to areas of my constituency that get completely neglected.

Now, there are a number of shipwrecks along the coast which I am fortunate enough to represent and shipwrecks, Mr. Speaker, are an attraction for divers. These divers come into our coastal properties, and they see some of the wonderful treasures which we have. These are tourists that get forgotten in the marketing of coming to, let's say downtown Halifax to go to the casino - that is a topic where I am not going to go - I think it is extremely important that we market other parts of this province, that we point out to tourists that this province, as Canada's ocean playground, is an attraction because of destinations such as Blind Bay, such as East and West Dover and McGrath's Cove.

In particular, I want to take you back to my opening comments because when my daughter took the tour of the coastal properties from Peggy's Cove over to Terence Bay, when she took the time to begin to introduce this area to a friend she had gone to university with, Mr. Speaker, the little unique spots that she had taken for granted, they went to Peggy's

[Page 2126]

Cove, they saw the lighthouse, they saw the attraction, but let's move on. Let's have a look at some of the other places these friends from college wanted to see. When they went to these other places, they had the opportunity to sit at the end of the government wharf, and they had the opportunity to have fish and chips from John's. Those are the very places that must be marketed and must be marketed day in and day out, by our tourist officials.

Now I am aware of the fact, of course, that we cannot mention every bed and breakfast and we cannot mention every little cove in this province, but I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, [Cell phone rings in House.] Now there is a distraction I haven't had to put up with before. Did you notice that?

I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, the concern that I have is that the new Minister of Tourism and his new Tourism Department, have to make sure that the local, small operator is listened to and that local operator of a bed and breakfast, or a particular part of the tourist business has to feel that he or she has their say.

How many times do you drive down the Prospect Road and you go by the butterfly house. Now if you haven't been down there, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you about Mr. Mitchell and his butterfly house. The tour buses want to stop. How do you get on the tour bus stop route? That is a concern that local operators have. Many of those tour buses wind their way down that dangerous Prospect Road - another topic you have heard me speak about - on the way to Peggy's Cove and that is their only stop.

The other tourists, because there is no turn-off spot, there is no opportunity for them to get out and stretch their legs and have a particular view of our unique coastal properties. They have to look out the window. Oh, wasn't that nice. It seems to me that these major tour operators, and they are, after all, a big attraction in this province, whether it is in the peak of the season or, as they say, in the shoulder season, these tourists, they want to see what is different about Nova Scotia. They truly want to see what makes Nova Scotia different, and what makes Nova Scotia different is the small operations that will continue to attract people to our province.

In particular, Mr. Speaker, in wrapping up, I want you at any time to feel comfortable to come to Timberlea-Prospect because I know there are parts of your riding and parts of my riding, we all know that there are major attractions, for example the Anne Murray Museum in Springhill, but there are so many other ways that we have to attract people to come to our areas, to make sure that the local, small operator has his or her say in the overall plan, which this new Minister of Tourism, hopefully, is ready to present to this House on another day. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

[Page 2127]

HON. JOHN CHATAWAY: Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the chance to have a few words and I welcome this topic for the late show. As the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect just pointed out, of course, the very beautiful Prospect Road area that ends up at Peggy's Cove and then that is where Chester-St. Margaret's, as I am sure you are all aware, starts.

In some respects the honourable member and I are kindred spirits in the fact that we both represent ridings that somehow feel squeezed between two other tourist attractions. In my case, certainly Peggy's Cove is a very important tourist attraction; the other one, at the other end of the riding, is the Town of Lunenburg. It has always been a source of frustration for people in between, in that they get the feeling at times that they are not the main show but they very much would like to be.

Anybody who has a chance to travel Route No. 333 in the summer will find that it is called the busiest secondary road in Nova Scotia. Certainly any comments I have heard in this House by the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect and others about the need for improvements on that road are certainly points well made. The only corollary is, let's hope that improvements don't have to start in the middle of the tourist season in the summer. About eight kilometres from Tantallon was done about four or five years ago. It killed about one-third of the businesses because of the traffic congestion, the people just left.

I agree with the honourable member's statement that the small tourism operator has to be listened to and it is extremely important that that be done. They are, after all, the backbone of the tourism industry in Nova Scotia.

I don't have to remind members of the House that tourism last year in Nova Scotia was a $1.27 billion industry. Unless things collapse completely, it is quite natural to think that if not next year then the year after, it will turn into a $1.5 billion industry. It just shows the way it is growing in leaps and bounds. Of course, it is no secret - at least I don't think it should be any secret - why it is such a growing industry. It is because of our natural and cultural heritage here and the natural beauty that I would only remind anybody to go and visit some other place and then you appreciate coming home even more.

We do have the biggest legacy of built heritage in Nova Scotia, more so than in any other province, to my knowledge. We have an incredible, beautiful, natural landscape. I think part of the beauty arises because of its diversity, it is not all the same. Even in the small area of Nova Scotia that I am talking about and the honourable member talked about, vis-à-vis the Prospect Road coming around to Tantallon, even that small area, compared to the big, overall scheme of things, is still a most beautiful part of the world.

I did mention the heritage aspects. I guess I consider myself pretty lucky. I must say before July of this year, before June of this year, even May of this year, I wasn't terribly familiar with the St. Margarets Bay part of the Chester-St. Margarets riding, but as I would

[Page 2128]

invite anybody to do, if they really want to get to know the area they live in, go and run for some elected office because you certainly find out about your area.

I don't know if it is not dignified enough, but I was blown away by the beauty that I found in St. Margarets Bay. Historically, I suppose, it was always part of a cottage area or a summer retreat area for Haligonians, and other people who were lucky enough to discover it. That, of course, has all changed. There are vast, magnificent subdivisions, miles and miles of coastline and inlets and bays that make any part of it very inviting to visit, also very inviting to live there and, of course, many have chosen that.

[6:15 p.m.]

We are talking about tourism. I am sure that the honourable member, when the subject came up to debate, didn't want to set up some sort of animosity between Peggy's Cove and the rest of the area, if you want to call it, because Peggy's Cove is important. It is an icon. It is one of the main attractions in people's minds. People coming into the province, I would suspect, would have some sort of image of Peggy's Cove in their mind. They might have one of the Cabot Trail, they might have one of Lunenburg, but Peggy's Cove is extremely well known in people's minds. If that gets them to the area, so be it.

Of course, Peggy's Cove is an interesting thing. When I went there during the election, I found one point where the private residences are. I think the Peggy's Cove Preservation Act that allows this vast influx in a very small area of a large group of people to visit that place and have a good experience there, at the same time, it is a living fishing village and there are people there who live their private lives, hang out their laundry on the line and live normal lives in the midst of this very crowded, by times, area. I think the preservation Act has had something to do with it. Of course, Peggy's Cove has the DeGarthe carvings and many other things to recommend it. Now, of course, it has become the centre of attention because of the Swissair - it has, in some respects, become one of the focal points of the Swissair - tragedy and emblematic of all the great work done by all the people there who were involved with that. Of course, I am sure most members of the House will take a chance to visit one of the memorials at Whales Back, which is quite stirring.

There is no doubt there is potential outside of the Peggy's Cove preservation area. I have mentioned the geographic assets of the area, but I think there are some other things that can't be overlooked in today's tourism market, because today's tourism market is a diverse market. Many people like to visit art galleries, antique stores and craft shops. I know on the road from Peggy's Cove to Tantallon, if you don't find an antique shop or a gift shop or an art gallery of high quality, each one of these, every five miles, I am sure I have been misled, because it is certainly that way in people's minds. Added to that are many fine places to eat, not necessarily able to take big busloads, but, certainly, can attract many people.

[Page 2129]

I think part of the success of the area - as I say, it is the busiest secondary road in Nova Scotia - has to be the aggressive marketing that the people in the area have done for themselves. One thing that is very visible, very noticeable and points out the numerous little communities along the way, is the signage program. While the signs are all the same, the names on them are all different. You start to notice them. You may go by one or two, but then you start to realize that they are all the way along. Then you realize that this is an interesting area. I would certainly think more should be done to attract tourists to get off the main road, so to speak, and get down some of the secondary roads, the off-roads, because they will see sights of unparalleled beauty. If a person likes to take pictures, there are all sorts of pictures to be taken along there.

I see my time is getting very close and there is a lot more that I would like to say, but, certainly, day trips should be encouraged. Ecotourism was touched on by the honourable member. We haven't talked about sailing, but there are many things I know that could be done to improve tourism there as it should be. I very much appreciate having the chance to speak on the subject. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to rise today in the late debate to talk about the resolution that was put forward by the member for Timberlea-Prospect. I was interested to hear that the minister for Chester-St. Margaret's was somewhat kindred spirits with the member for Timberlea-Prospect, so I thought, well, this is going to be an interesting late debate here today. Maybe we have some unanimity on the issue of how important tourism is.

At their annual conference today TIANS celebrated the fact that this province has now reached the milestone of $1.27 billion worth of sales in tourism in the province of Nova Scotia. A very positive day, economically, for the province and for the tourism association. For that, the minister's announcement today, I would like to concur with the minister and echo the comments in regards to congratulations to TIANS and Mrs. Cabrita and other members of the TIANS organization for doing a tremendous job in promoting the province of Nova Scotia, not only this year, but in years previous.

I recall in 1993 when tourism was a fairly substantial part of the economy, but it has virtually doubled since that period of time and much of it is because of the tremendous work of TIANS. The Partnership Council of the Province of Nova Scotia is another leader in promoting all areas of the province of Nova Scotia for its economic opportunity, its environmental sustainability and for its intrinsic values. I also want to congratulate the staff of the Department of Tourism and Culture today - formerly Economic Development and Tourism - for their dedication in trying to promote all aspects of what this beautiful province is all about; of course, last but not least, the operators within the tourism sector in the province of Nova Scotia, they are the ones that are out promoting this province. They are the

[Page 2130]

ones that are out selling and promoting the beauty of the province. Albeit the debate today is based on the issue of alternative areas other than Peggy's Cove. Peggy's Cove is a landmark for this province, it is an icon and it is very well understood that it represents the province of Nova Scotia.

I, too, would continue to recommend to the Department of Tourism to promote areas along that whole coastal route, and as the member for Chester-St. Margaret's said, it can go all the way down to Lunenburg. Well, there is Lunenburg, and if you want to be a little more parochial you can go along the LaHave River and you can go to Port Mouton and Rissers Beach and Broad Cove and Cherry Hill. Then, in fact, if you want to carry on you could go to Cape Breton to Glace Bay Beach and Schooner Pond and literally to places all over, and then the Eastern Shore and River Hebert and Joggins and Minudie, those places as well, Mr. Speaker.

The point is - and I believe that the member for Timberlea-Prospect brought this up to point out the tremendous beauty that we have throughout the province of Nova Scotia - we are very fortunate to have a province as beautiful as it is, not only in the urban areas but in the rural areas. We as a province, and we as people, as well as the department, should continually promote how beautiful this province is from one end of it to the other, that the rural communities, off the 100 series highways, have so much to offer in their natural beauty.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that we should be promoting the issue of ecotourism and the Wilderness Areas Protection Act that we were able to bring forward just this year. The 31 sites that are now protected in the province of Nova Scotia will bode well for the tourism sector in the province of Nova Scotia. Here is an area of 31 sites that will be kept in perpetuity in their natural landscapes, the many different landscapes that they actually have. We will be able to promote that as a tourism opportunity and for an opportunity for all Nova Scotians to use.

I believe that we are very fortunate to be able to stand and talk proudly about the tourism potential in the province of Nova Scotia, the tourism realities in the province of Nova Scotia and the natural beauty. One of the members did mention - I cannot remember which one and I will give credit to both of them - one of the greatest assets in tourism is the fact that our people are so warm in the province of Nova Scotia and I believe that that is now believed in many areas of the world where they talk about Nova Scotia they talk about how warm and open we are as a people and how we are reflective of the natural beauties we have. We need to continue to promote that aspect.

One area I would like to get into with regard to this debate and this discussion tonight is to know exactly where we are going with tourism in the future. I believe that today was a milestone in regard to reaching the almost $1.3 billion of economic opportunity in tourism. In fact, it is where New Brunswick wanted to be and wants to be and every other area in Atlantic Canada would love to be, where Nova Scotia is today. We cannot sit on our laurels

[Page 2131]

or accept, well, today it happened and tomorrow forget about it. The challenge will be to the minister in a brand new portfolio. It is the minister with a portfolio of tourism and culture. He doesn't have five other portfolios to worry about or four other portfolios to worry about, he has tourism and culture. Not that he is probably the least worked of all ministers, but I think in relative terms, he hasn't got a lot of portfolios.

On the weekend they were there talking to the committee about the economic opportunities of Cape Breton. I didn't see the minister at that meeting, I saw the Leader of the New Democratic Party; I saw the Leader of the Liberal Party and members of the caucus. In fact, I didn't even see any Progressive Conservative at that meeting, not one. Now maybe there was one but I didn't see one. There was an opportunity. The minister, who lives in Cape Breton, should have been there talking about the important needs of economic growth in Cape Breton and maybe talking about the potential of tourism to be expanded even further than it is in the beautiful part of this province, the isle of Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to say that I look forward to the minister's plan in rolling out in the new millennium as to where he visualizes tourism to be for the future of this province. I would hope he would continue the hallmark that has been made by the previous administration in partnering with the private sector, partnering with TIANS, partnering with the council, partnering with the operators around the province, to work in partnership because within partnership this tourism industry can continue to grow. I believe the role of government is to show the pictures and promote the areas and I believe that the Department of Tourism has tried to show not only the high spots of the Province of Nova Scotia, from a tourism point of view, but also the other high spots in the province when it comes to some of the more rural communities.

I had the pleasure a few years ago to be in Europe promoting Nova Scotia. We had a slide presentation that had music in the background, it actually was a very moving song of Nova Scotia. They showed a pictorial arrangement about the Province of Nova Scotia. Yes, they showed pictures from all the rural areas that are not necessarily on the Doers and Dreamers Guides and some of the more publicized documents and it showed how beautiful this province is throughout. Maybe that is an area for all of us to try to see that show because it is absolutely beautiful in this province.

The minister and the member for Chester-St. Margaret's said very accurately that when you want to run for office in a riding you really get to see how beautiful it is. I can say that is true - Voglers Cove or Cherry Hill or up through Rissers or LaHave or Dublin Shore or any of those particular areas in my riding or up in Green Bay. I could go along the coast and I could go into the interior as well. What is important for us is to continue to point out how beautiful this province is throughout its landscapes and throughout its coastal communities and throughout its interior. For that I would certainly encourage that the minister, in his economic strategy for tourism and his development strategy for tourism, will fight very hard to make sure that all areas will be developed.

[Page 2132]

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, one of the major concerns that is rippling through the community of tourism associations is funding for a very important industry that provides billions into the economy. My hope is that the minister will be strong enough to fight for the one portfolio he has and that is securing funding for tourism in the Province of Nova Scotia so that we can all be proud of how beautiful this province is. Thank you.

[6:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank the members for taking part in this debate this evening.

We will now resume debate on second reading of Bill No. 25.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

Bill No. 25 - Justice Administration Amendment (1999) Act. [Debate resumed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable members for the opportunity to continue comments on Bill No. 25. I just wanted an opportunity to review the many issues that are addressed, some of them housekeeping and others getting our system of justice in line with other provinces, other jurisdictions. I had the opportunity to speak on matters relative to legal aid, representations available to particular families in domestic disputes, those other initiatives.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that I have pretty well concluded my comments or I have exhausted my knowledge of the law on these matters. The final issue is the issue of the Young Persons Summary Proceedings Act, that the violations and dispositions made under that summary of proceedings, on attaining the age of 16 is guilty of an offence. I think that really holds accountability at that particular juncture and not letting people fall through the cracks of the justice system.

We are looking forward to matters in that vein relative to restorative justice. I want to thank the minister for the brochure that he put out that actually had a letter in it with my signature. I want to say that is quite unusual. Those letters usually get lost during these transition periods. So it was there and I thank the minister for recognizing that I had some small involvement with restorative justice because we all know in this House this is really an important matter, I think, relative to youth and within the justice system and giving them a chance, giving them a first chance, giving them maybe a second chance, but yet holding them accountable. I think it is important.

[Page 2133]

I want to thank the minister and the department for having those sessions. I know there is one in Dartmouth, I think, tomorrow evening, or some such time, and I had put it in my book hoping to actually be able to go and share with the community that sort of issue. I thank the minister for that and, particularly, to continue the initiatives within restorative justice and impacting on young offenders. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak.

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise and close debate on second reading of this bill. I want to thank the honourable members for their comments. I intend to take those comments under advisement. In fact, I note under Section 29(2) of the Small Claims Court Act, "No costs other than those authorized by this Act or the regulations may be awarded by an adjudicator.". So it is something that may be dealt with by regulation and I intend to, in that spirit, take those comments under consideration as to whether or not it might be desirable to look at something.

I thank the members for their comments. I look forward to hearing their comments as the bill proceeds through the House and with that, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 25. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 22.

Bill No. 22 - Chiropractic Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon for second reading of Bill No. 22, amendments to the Chiropractic Act. I was very pleased to table the proposed amendments to the Act earlier this week. The amendments we have introduced are a long time coming and will be a great benefit to both Nova Scotians and practising chiropractors in this province.

[Page 2134]

Proposed amendments, Mr. Speaker, indeed, are the result of a collaboration between the department and members of the Chiropractic Association. We were very pleased to get their input and incorporated the provisions accordingly.

Mr. Speaker, we were very fortunate to have in this province a team of chiropractors who were solidly committed to providing quality care for Nova Scotians. The proposed amendments will help to ensure that quality chiropractic services continue to be delivered in this province, while ensuring proper professional regulations are in place.

Now let me give you a bit of background as to why this government has introduced these changes and what they mean. In 1995 the Nova Scotia Chiropractic Association submitted a proposal to amend the Statute regulating the practice of chiropractic. In addition to requesting the statutory authority for professional incorporation for chiropractors, the submissions proposed several changes to the existing legislation, including amendments to, first, the composition of the regulatory board, and two, disciplinary provisions.

The chief function of professional regulation is to protect the public by establishing and enforcing standards of practice. The amendments included in this bill would strengthen that protection by providing for more efficacious regulation of chiropractic. The proposed amendments will help provide for a professional college. The college would consist of all registered chiropractors in the province; it would include a 10 person board which would be responsible for regulating the practice of chiropractic; and a separate 8 person council would deal only with professional issues.

Mr. Speaker, let me clarify the importance of this amendment. The legislation currently enforced provides for two organizations of chiropractors, the Nova Scotia Chiropractic Association and the regulatory board. Since the officers of the association also comprise the regulatory board, there is an inherent conflict of interest and confusion of roles. By establishing a board of the college responsible for establishing and enforcing chiropractic standards and a completely separate council to handle professional concerns, this flaw would be eliminated.

Mr. Speaker, the new disciplinary process is also consistent with other recently enacted Statutes regulating health professions, including the Medical Act, the Physiotherapy Act, and the Occupational Therapists Act. The new process will help to facilitate a more improved enforcement of standards for chiropractors. Finally, the incorporation provisions would ensure that practitioners are not inappropriately shielded against the liability claims of patients. The provisions would help to ensure that patient liability claims are properly addressed.

Mr. Speaker, the amendments government is putting forward will indeed strengthen public protection. In closing, I want to reiterate my support for the proposed amendments to

[Page 2135]

Bill No. 22. I support the amendments in terms of how it will strengthen public protection and the practice of chiropractic in this province. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the members of the Assembly for the opportunity to speak to Bill No. 22, a bill that really brings together, in no small measure, the various issues and previous regulations relating to the practice of chiropractic within the province. I must say I am fairly ill-prepared at this juncture. I received a copy off the Internet, and was working my way through that, then later the bill did arrive this afternoon. I have worked my way through parts of it, and I do want to make some comments.

Generally I want to say that our caucus sees this as a positive initiative. I was privy to some copies of correspondence between the association and the Department of Health. Some of their concerns were known and had been circulated to us. Generally, other than a few concerns, as Guy Brown - the member, Mr. Speaker, you might be familiar with, I am sure, from your area that you serve with distinction at this juncture - always said - don't worry if you can't say everything you wanted to say at any one time, particularly on bills, he said there is always a chance another day. So we will have a chance to study this.

I want to thank the staff of the House and Hansard or whoever was responsible for putting this together today, because I know it was difficult getting hold of the bill. As I say, we did access it from the computers and I will try to do as well as I can at this second reading stage.

The chiropractors, Mr. Speaker, have been working on the legislation with the Department of Health, over at least six years. It really has spanned at least a couple of government. But, from my understanding, the association was working with the Department of Health as recently as last Monday to put the finishing touches on the bill. So I can understand some of the hurry and the delay in making the bill available to members of the Legislature.

I think it is important that this bill does proceed. It is one thing that I have always supported since coming to the House, particularly in matters relative to the law or health, any of the systems. It is very important that each practitioner, group of practitioners, have specific legislation that spells out their professional responsibility, their rights and their responsibility. This legislation does this. I am sure we will see amendments over the while and I would like to point out some areas of concern that I have that may want to be addressed in future amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is very noisy in the Chamber here and it is hard to hear the speaker.

[Page 2136]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that is very fine. Thank you. This bill, as I say, does address the trend that we have seen in the last while in the province, addressing the current concerns of issues in the regulation of the health professions in Nova Scotia. Last year, we had the pleasure to bring in legislation relative to occupational therapists, physiotherapists and, of course, for some period of time now, we have had legislation specifically governing discipline committees, complaint committees, relative to the dental profession, the medical profession. This is so important to have this legislation enshrined.

My comments will be touching on - and we will come back to that later - the difference between, for instance, the Medical Society and the College of Physicians and Surgeons, that used to be called the Provincial Medical Board; in other words, the regulatory arm, as opposed to more of the union type representation that the societies or associations or whatever that might be. So in the Chiropractor Bill here, we have had the association and the board and a matter of concern - I am not sure, maybe somewhere along the way, the minister can explain to the House the reasons for not allowing the fees to be charged for either.

I know the occupational therapists and the Medical Society, which is very similar, that this legislation mirrors, they have fees. If I go back to practise medicine, I will have fees that are not inconsiderate, they are not necessarily minor, that would be payable to the society, for which I would have to - whether I chose to belong to the society or not is my decision - pay the money to be eligible to have a billing number and to practise medicine in the Province of Nova Scotia. I think that involves the Rand formula. Likewise, I would also have a fee that would be charged by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which is the regulatory arm.

So here we have an association and we also have a board, which would be under the college. I may get my terms mixed up and maybe by tomorrow, I will have them clearer, but, at least, there is a regulatory board within that college. The concern is, I believe, that the bill provides for the board to charge fees to the members, but not to the association. But who belongs and how that is determined, I think these are extremely important and I have to read the bill a little further to be sure. There is no question. I think, like the Medical Society, whether you belong or not, you should be subject to the regulations for the practice. The idea of being able to opt out to me is not an option for professional people, particularly within the health care system or within the legal system.

So this bill is similar to legislation that our government passed last year regarding physiotherapists and occupational therapists. I understand that this bill is modelled very closely, as I mentioned earlier, to the Occupational Therapists Act which, in turn, mirrors the Medical Act.

[6:45 p.m.]

I believe that the society or the association, the Nova Scotia Chiropractic Association, is pleased with this bill; however some feel it could have gone a little further. I think we

[Page 2137]

always see that. We have the adoption legislation, it is almost like a bottomless-pit syndrome, it is never enough. I guess it would be usual that the association would have some concerns.

I think some of them are realistic, obviously, particularly regarding the fees and the clear spelling out of the membership and who can practice and they will, in turn, be held accountable within the province. Those are extremely important issues and I know they are concerns and maybe the minister can address that at a later time.

The association feels, I believe, that they have reached an acceptable compromise with the Department of Health and the government on this issue, so we will proceed and try to evaluate the legislation as well as we can from the point of view of being in Opposition, and hold the government accountable that this legislation is good for the protection of the people of Nova Scotia and also for the practitioners, that they are treated fairly by their own association.

The compromise, I believe, was in the area dealing with the separation of the regulatory body from the professional body. It is important that these two areas of responsibility are maintained as separate entities. I have seen some organizations, and I would think of the CNA group or the LPNs, that I think are just in the process of separating more effectively those two bodies. So it is a very difficult and non-functioning when there is a blurring of these two bodies, that the regulatory body has to be separate from the association, the society, or as I think of it, as the union representing that professional body.

The regulatory body in this case would be the Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors and they are responsible for making sure that practising chiropractors are trained to the appropriate standard and operate according to the regulations. If a practising chiropractor is suspected to be negligent in some way, the regulatory body will have the power to investigate and determine what disciplinary action will be taken.

That is where I do apologize to the House for not having the opportunity to study the legislation. We were addressing other legislation here today. This is quite an extensive bill. It determines, makes sure, that this legislation has laypeople in the investigative and the disciplinary action.

I think originally the Dental Act did not provide for laypeople. Later that was changed, I am just going from memory here. I think that is so important that the board membership does provide for laypeople, and that they are involved in the investigation and the discipline. Not the same people, so you need several laypeople on the board that they can be involved because after the investigation is done the disciplinary action is passed over to others, but there is lay representation in that and that is one thing I will be looking at to make sure it is there.

[Page 2138]

The regulatory body, in other words, Mr. Speaker, in effect is working in the interests of the public. I think that is extremely important. While it spells out the rights and responsibilities of the membership or the association or the chiropractic practitioners, it is really working in the interests of the public and that is of utmost importance. That will only come about by having an informed board of highly qualified professional people and laypeople who have expressed interest in being on that board and are there for the right reasons, not for some status symbol that they see this as a political appointment, but they are there for the interests of the practice of chiropractic and the interests of the people of Nova Scotia. That is why we are watching.

Your community boards are the committees that will be advising the ministers and appointments to boards because the minister will have two laypeople to appoint here and we will be following that with interest. We don't want to go back to the old days where there were people within departments who sold jobs, and the Department of Health, I was informed when I went there, in the good old days of the Tory Regime, had people whose sole job was to find Tory appointments for agencies, boards and commissions. I may have been misinformed but I really was rarely misinformed on any other matters. We do not want to go back to those old days so we are going to be watching that committee, that these people who come forward and are appointed by Governor in Council, OIC, Orders in Council, that they are, number one, vetted through the Human Resources Committee; they are not just ministerial appointments, but they are appointments through the normal legislative process.

We have had a lot of criticism for this and how cumbersome it has been. I know there are provisions in that that if the appointments are not made in time, the previous board members can serve. I want to say I think that is very important that we do not drop the numbers. So I would compliment the minister on that part in the legislation. I did have the opportunity to read that today.

These are things that I look for because these are practical issues that can be written in legislation that is so important to the function of the boards. So many times if they are not able, if they do not have jurisdiction at a particular time and the Human Resources Committee, although I am sure with the majority that the Tory Government enjoys at this juncture, that we will just see these appointments flowing right through and it will be everybody coming to enjoy their appointments and not have the dilatory nature that committee has functioned under when we were enjoying a minority government.

However, I digress perhaps from the principle of the bill here, Mr. Speaker, so I will say the regulatory body is in effect working in the interests of the public. I think the practitioners themselves would be aware of that and the public should be aware of that as well. The professional body, of course, works to promote the interests of the chiropractors and to promote the chiropractic profession. That involves continuing medical education, upgrading if the person has not practised within a year. I think that is reasonable. I think within the medical profession it is a year, or 18 months, or something like that. I think that

[Page 2139]

is important. Some of us have been out of practice for awhile and would have to upgrade ourselves and I think that is important that that is spelled out in legislation. (Interruption) I hope that Hansard could hear that, if you speak a little louder. I think the minister wants me to go back to practising medicine, Mr. Speaker, and get me out of his hair. I am not that silly. I mean money is not that important.

Seriously, Mr. Speaker, according to the Nova Scotia Chiropractic Association, these two bodies should be kept separate which is addressed in the bill; that is extremely important, I am sure we would all agree. However, they also feel that each of these two bodies should have the ability to charge a fee and this is what I was referring to earlier, that they have the ability to charge a fee from their members. This is what is done with the Medical Society and the College of Physicians and Surgeons; the Medical Society being the professional body and the College of Physicians and Surgeons being the regulatory body protecting the rights of Nova Scotians.

It seems in the case of chiropractors, the Department of Health does not feel it is appropriate to legislate that practitioners must join a professional organization. I understand that and I know in the health profession a physician, you do not have to - my understanding is, I could be wrong, but I think it is still true - join the Medical Society but you have to pay the fee. So we can come back to that later until I have had a chance to look at the legislation further. (Interruption)

The minister may be indicating that some of that is there, but I think that is really important that we know who is out there, who is practising. It is better to have them in the tent than outside, as Lyndon Johnson would say, or at least that is part of what he said. This is an issue that the chiropractors are willing to compromise on and they have done that through the legislation. I want to commend them for that. Obviously, as I say, we have been privy to correspondence that they shared with us, as the minister would know, but they have come together and for the sake of the bill they have compromised on this.

I am suspecting that they might be right on this one and it will just be interesting to hear the reasoning behind it where we have the occupational therapists and the Medical Society being able to charge and prohibited with the chiropractic. It is perhaps an issue that we can explore further as the bill winds its way through the legislative process.

The chiropractic profession is growing quickly in Nova Scotia and across Canada. While they have not been recognized within the health care system - I do not know how the minister would feel about that - I know a lot of private plans are covering the chiropractic

practice. I must say, as a practising physician, primary care, family physician, whatever my title was in those days, I really did enjoy my relationship with the profession of chiropractic. I chose them carefully. In my experience they were very professional. For them, I really know that they have been in the forefront of their profession, that they have come together and are

[Page 2140]

looking forward to this Act. They have offered good care and relief. They have not made outrageous complaints.

I remember growing up on the South Shore, I thought it was morally wrong or unethical for the local weekly newspaper in Liverpool to be carrying an ad from a chiropractor claiming, and I can remember this very clearly, that (Interruptions) Pardon? The Liverpool Advance, Cecil Day was the editor at the time, but they ran ads from a chiropractor in that area, Bridgewater and Liverpool, that they cure cancer, they would come in and manipulate your spine and cure your cancer, that sort of thing. We don't see that sort of thing anymore. They have truly come together as a professional body.

I was always careful that I did proper x-rays or at least shared them with the chiropractor, and we together saw our patients. They came back, and sometimes they were cured and sometimes they were not. That is the way the health care system is. I enjoyed my relationship with them. I think there has been a bit of animosity, sometimes, between some of the health professionals, particularly the physicians, in sharing. I hope that is changing. I saw that changing during my time in practice. I think it has probably changed for the better now, where there is lots of work to go around and whoever is the best person, the most qualified (Interruption) The honourable member said there are kinks in the bill. I don't think I should go there. It is more flexible, I think there is flexibility built into the bill.

Mr. Speaker, seriously, there are currently 50 chiropractors practising in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is necessary for the profession to have a strong mechanism for peer support. I think it is really crucial that they support each other and they share their experiences and their learning experiences, the professional clinical experiences along with their continuing chiropractic education.

Up to this point, chiropractors have been very diligent in promoting themselves as a professional association, and they have done this, I think, with distinction. The regulations, as I mentioned earlier, which they operate under, outlined a thorough mechanism for peer review, as well as the disciplinary process. This means that as chiropractors, they police themselves and respond to the complaints. They have been doing this all along, but it is good to see that this is enshrined in a new Act. I won't go over the reasons that I feel it is so important, and with lay membership on those particular bodies, the investigative and the disciplinary committees of the board.

In fact, the new Act essentially will not necessarily change the practice of chiropractic in Nova Scotia, but it will change it in some ways for the better over a long period of time and I think, rightly so, bring them in as the team members. Maybe the minister will not have in his budget, within the MSI budget, the ability to have chiropractic covered under the MSI plan in Nova Scotia. I understand the demands on the budget, but other provinces have been able to do so - Ontario - our richer provinces. I know that many of the private plans now cover this, but it is a hardship for some people that know they can benefit, in fact, they do

[Page 2141]

benefit from the care of the chiropractor and this is not covered. I think that is something that we should look for over the years ahead and it is big step and I understand some of the challenges there. Somebody could rightly say, if you felt so strongly about it, why didn't you do it as a minister yourself. We didn't do it because of budgetary issues at that juncture.

[7:00 p.m.]

Also, Mr. Speaker, the bill will have great benefit for the public, in my opinion and improve public accountability. The public interest is paramount with all bills, that is why we are here. We are here representing our constituents and I think the minister bringing this forward today is doing a responsible thing to represent all the constituents that we share throughout the province by bringing this bill and the legislation forward.

It is a fairly extensive bill and I did just want to mention that it is interesting that the definition of a spouse on Page 2 is a man and a woman, staying very traditional, and I would mention that to the minister. I am only half way through my time, yes, well, I will conclude my comments before the hour because I don't want to drag this out longer, unless I have some relevancy. I know how repeating oneself is not allowed within the Chamber.

I did want to address, to the minister, the board, on Page 8, under Clause 7, that the board consists of "(a) six members of the College elected in the manner provided by this Act;" six members of the college, that is the practice of chiropractic; the Registrar; the immediate past chair; "(d) two persons appointed by the Governor in Council . . .", that would be the minister's appointments or the Governor in Council's appointments through the minister's recommendation, and they are not members of the college and they have shown an interest. I mentioned my concern about, they show an interest, if they understand. I think this is so important, that people getting into these boards, it is very demanding. I know that when I was Minister of Community Services, and I asked some people to serve on the board of examiners for social work, little did I know, at that time, and little did they know, what work was entailed - weekends, Saturdays and Sundays. It so happened that my wife was also on that board by another route. So I knew the commitment that was being made. It was weekend after weekend and they, too - I forgot to mention the social workers and I hope my wife isn't watching at home, I am sure she isn't if I am speaking.

AN HON. MEMBER: She is watching Jeopardy.

DR. SMITH: I had better be careful, otherwise I will be in jeopardy when I get home. Seriously, she played a large part in the early development of legislation for social work. I was pleased to be able to bring in similar legislation when I was Minister of Community Services. We had to go through all the registration of who was a social worker in Nova Scotia. We still see difficulties in that area because we see marriage counselling and family counselling shingles up, not necessarily saying they are social workers, but now it is becoming important and better defined as to who can actually call themselves a social worker.

[Page 2142]

People can still call themselves family therapists or sex therapists or marriage counsellors without, really, a criteria. So that is still a very loose area and someday I am hoping there will be legislation governing that. But at least we know now who can be a medical doctor, who can be a dentist, who can be a social worker, occupational therapist, physiotherapist; and now chiropractic will be tightened up and this will be for the protection of the people of Nova Scotia.

Just continuing with the chiropractic board within this bill, Clause 7(2), "Members of the Board shall be elected or appointed to office for a term of two years.". My question is, why two years? I am looking at the changeover, and I will come to this point as we read through. Notwithstanding subsection (2), they can be appointed, though, I think, up to four consecutive times and will continue their appointments if someone else isn't appointed in their place. So that part, I think, is commendable.

Clause 7(3)(a), "three members of the College elected for a term of one year; (b) three members of the College elected for a term of two years;". You get a bit of overlap there, so I think that addresses my concern. But the two persons appointed by the Governor in Council for a term of two years, so your laypeople, who have to be educated probably in the ways of their responsibilities, will both change together as my understanding goes. The Registrar and the past Chair of the Board is for two years so you might have quite a turnover that first year. I would wonder if one should not consider staggering the new members because to have two new people on - they are just getting to know their job a bit and then they are pulled off, unless I am misunderstanding here.

I think I never got too much further in the bill today, except to Page 10 and so I think I had better conclude my comments for another time. But within that subclause relative to the board, Clause 7(7), "Only members of the College who practise chiropractic in the Province are eligible to vote in an election of the Board.". I just wonder who practises chiropractic - I guess that might be covered under definition, I will have to research that a little better. I would feel that that person - at least my concerns essentially, in summary are that anyone practising just at least pay their dues or adhere to any continuing education programs and not just be out there practising and can opt out. That they are really held by other criteria, other than their practice, that they are eligible to vote in an election of the board.

I will conclude my comments with that and return another day when I have had a chance to review this very important bill. I want to compliment the minister and his department, and also particularly the association and the Board of Chiropractic for the good job they have done on their inadequate legislation or legislation that needed to be brought together has now arrived. I think that the general thrust, on the principle of the bill, we are supportive. We will look at various issues that were before the minister and whether they see fit to bring in amendments at another time in the legislative process. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

[Page 2143]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to rise this evening to say a few words about the Chiropractic Act. I know that I listened intently while the member for Dartmouth East was talking about the various considerations that he had with respect to the bill. Certainly in many respects I would like to associate myself with those remarks, for the most part anyway. I am pleased, the members of our caucus are pleased to see that the bill has come forward at this point in time.

Certainly all the Parties have received representations from chiropractors in the province about the need for the legislation. I think what it does is it goes some way to recognize them as a bona fide part of the health care delivery system in the province. It is important for them, certainly the chiropractors in the province - as my friend was mentioning - have reached a level of professionalism where their practice is widely respected. The courts have started to receive chiropractic evidence and to treat their opinions and receive their opinions and to rely on them in many cases. This is just part of the overall recognition of the profession.

I know, for example, that when Team Canada goes to the Olympics, they have chiropractors who travel with the teams; in fact in a particular case in this province chiropractors from Halifax have travelled with the Olympic Team and provided services while they are in other countries representing Canada. The practice has evolved over a considerable period of time, so it is appropriate that this bill come forward for the consideration of the House at this time.

It is a comprehensive piece of legislation. I have spent some time reading through it over the last couple of hours. I think there is a lot to digest in here, certainly the separation, as was mentioned by my friend, between the association on one hand and the college on the other, is an important distinction within the bill. We will have an opportunity over the next little while to read through the bill in greater detail and do some analysis, at which point I think we will be in a position to offer perhaps some more helpful advice to the minister, which I know he likes to receive and often acts upon. We certainly like to be in the position to be cooperative and to provide him with the good advice that he so badly needs on many occasions.

So, Mr. Speaker, I don't intend to belabour this in any fashion at this point. As I was saying earlier, I will have a fuller opportunity to do some analysis of the bill and to offer some advice, so with those few comments I would just once again say we are happy to see this bill come forward at this time and look forward to further discussion. Thank you.

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

[Page 2144]

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank the honourable member for Dartmouth East and also the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour for their constructive comments. I listened with interest to the honourable member for Dartmouth East, a person who knows far more about the medical world than I do, from being inside it, and also to the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, whom I know probably requires the use of a person like this after his basketball exercise. We do believe it is good legislation. I am delighted that the members of both Opposition Parties have seen fit to endorse it in principle and I would now like to move it for second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 22. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RON RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 24.

Bill No. 24 - Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company Limited Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to move second reading of An Act to Amend Chapter 156 of the Acts of 1910, an Act to Incorporate the Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company, Limited.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I was just wondering if the member who is sponsoring this bill would take a few moments and explain to members of this House the reason behind the introduction of this bill. I would certainly appreciate it. I have a little bit of

[Page 2145]

information, but I think there are other people here who would like to learn more about this bill, and the member for Dartmouth South could help us.

I say this intervention in the form of a question. I wonder would the member for Dartmouth South mind getting to his feet to answer that question.

[7:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: I would be very pleased to, Mr. Speaker. I thank the member for the question and for the comment. Yes, I did do a little research on this because I anticipated that I might be asked the question. As you may be well aware, the Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company, way back in 1910, passed a private Act to incorporate the company. Subsequent to that and in recent time, as a matter of fact, you are probably also aware that the Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company has amalgamated with three other major organizations in Atlantic Canada. The actual Clause 14A(1)(a) of Chapter 156, makes reference to the fact that the company is directly or indirectly controlled by Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company Limited and that clause is, in fact, being eliminated because it is no longer controlled by Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company Limited. I hope that clarifies the matter for the honourable member. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, certainly I appreciate the question put forward by the Leader of the New Democratic Party because as I was preparing to rise to my feet it was to put the same question forward to the member for Dartmouth South. It is a relatively small piece of legislation, but certainly I don't think we had a bill briefing for this one either, nor did we have any sort of information, nor did we have any indication from that member of the actual purpose behind this bill.

Certainly, I would recommend that in the future the member give some indication to this House of the reasoning behind this very bill. Hearing his explanation, I was not aware that MTT had actually gone under a private Act in 1910 to incorporate the company. Knowing where MTT, I believe now is the proper way to refer to them most recently, have been a leader in innovation in the telecommunications industry here in this province. We are aware that they have amalgamated with other companies to provide better service to Nova Scotians. They have gone a long way in the service that has been provided.

For my own part, and I am pretty confident I speak on behalf of my caucus, we do not have any immediate objection to this bill, maybe in the Committee on Private and Local Bills something will come up. Someone may call with some serious concerns that we are not aware of at this point in time. As a good Opposition Party, we are always ready to hear any concerns

[Page 2146]

that Nova Scotians might have on this one clause bill that the member for Dartmouth South has brought forward. Having heard his explanation, this Liberal caucus here in the House would not want to be seen to be standing in the way of MTT moving ahead in its innovation and its service to the good people of Nova Scotia, whom we have all been elected to serve.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, we do support moving Bill No. 24 to second reading, and again to the Law Amendments Committee where we may have numerous amendments to make to this bill. One can only tell with time. Certainly at this point in time, we will not hold up this bill any further, and see it make its way through the House. Thank you. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I will take the advice from the honourable members who have much greater experience than I do in the House, and I thank you for the question. I would like to move second reading of Bill No. 24.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 24. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

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.

[7:15 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[7:58 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

[Page 2147]

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the hours of sitting will be from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. It is Opposition Business and we will be dealing with Resolution No. 454, Resolution No. 594 and Resolution No. 597. Those are the three resolutions we hope to deal with. We will see what kind of time we have and how that will get apportioned.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again at the hour of 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

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

The motion is carried.

We are adjourned.

[The House rose at 7:59 p.m.]