The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., Oct. 15, 1999

First Session

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 15, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTER:
Culture: Culture in the New Millennium - Planning Our Future,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 341
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 106, Commun. Serv. - Foster Family Week: Foster Families -
Contribution Honour, Hon. P. Christie (by Hon. R. Russell) 344
Vote - Affirmative 345
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 4, Gasoline and Diesel Oil Fair-marketing Practices Act, Mr. J. Holm 345
NOTICE OF MOTION:
Res. 107, Edward Lorraine (MLA for Col. N. 1981-84; 1988-99) -
Dedication: Gratitude - Extend, Mr. R. MacLellan 345
Vote - Affirmative 346
Res. 108, Educ. - John Huntley (Teacher [Hfx. Co.]): Death of -
Condolences Extend, Mr. J. Holm 346
Vote - Affirmative 347
Res. 109, Irene Slaunwhite (New Minas): Death of - Condolences Extend,
Mr. D. Morse 347
Vote - Affirmative 347
Res. 110, Sports - Hall of Fame (N.S.): Pat Connolly (Journalist) -
Inductee Recognize, Mr. Manning MacDonald 348
Vote - Affirmative 348
Res. 111, Health - Cobequid Multi-Service Centre Foundation:
Fund-Raising - Congrats., Mr. B. Barnet 348
Vote - Affirmative 349
Res. 112, Health - Paramedics: Fair Deal - Authorize,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 349
Vote - Affirmative 350
Res. 113, Health - Plan: Funding - Reveal, Dr. J. Smith 350
Res. 114, Pictou Co. - Princess Diana Humanitarian Award: Laura Fraser -
Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 350
Vote - Affirmative 351
Res. 115, Econ. Dev. - District 18 Business Assoc. (HRM): Expo -
Congrats., Mr. Robert Chisholm 351
Vote - Affirmative 352
Res. 116, Gov't. (N.S.) - Election Campaign (1999): Commitments Rural -
Unfulfilled, Mr. D. Wilson 352
Res. 117, Health - Jessica Longtin (Hfx.): Benefit Event -
Organizer (David Arsenault) Congrats., Ms. E. O'Connell 352
Vote - Affirmative 353
Res. 118, Health - Strategic Plan: Absence - Realize, Dr. J. Smith 353
Res. 119, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101 (Mt. Uniacke-Windsor):
Twinning - Sonja Wood-Determination Recognize, Mr. D. Morse 354
Vote - Affirmative 355
Res. 120, Commun. Serv. - Poverty Elimination (U.N. Day 17/10/99):
Responsibilities - Remember, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 355
Res. 121, Commun. Serv.: Harbour House (Bridgewater) -
Work-Recognize/Kinettes-Thank, Mr. D. Downe 356
Vote - Affirmative 358
Res. 122, Educ. - Anna. Valley Reg. Library: Contribution - Recognize,
Mr. M. Parent 356
Vote - Affirmative 357
Res. 123, Econ. Dev. - Women in Business Conference (C.B.):
Honorees - Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 357
Vote - Affirmative 358
Res. 124, Educ.: South Shore Alternative School - Mr. John Risley-
Donation Honour/Work-Recognize, Mr. D. Downe 358
Vote - Affirmative 359
Res. 125, Educ. - Bel Ayr Elem. School: Playground Project -
Success Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 359
Vote - Affirmative 360
Res. 126, Educ. - Dr. T. L. Sullivan JHS: Elevator - Install,
Mr. B. Boudreau 360
Res. 127, Health - Plan: Introduction - Remember, Mr. D. Dexter 360
Res. 128, Lbr. - Injured Workers (Rights): Ms. Mary Lloyd -
Continuance Urge, Hon. R. Russell 361
Res. 129, Exco - Workers' Advisory Prog.: Job Offer (Ms. Mary Lloyd) -
Investigate, Mr. W. Estabrooks 362
Res. 130, Gov't. (N.S.) - Lead, Mr. R. MacLellan 363
Res. 131, Gov't. (N.S.) - Promises: Dropping - Explain, Mr. K. Deveaux 363
Res. 132, Lbr. - Fire Marshal: Report (08/09/99) - Receipt (Min.) Delay,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 364
Res. 133, Justice: District 9 (HRM) Neighbourhood Watch - Commend,
Mr. J. Pye 365
Vote - Affirmative 365
Res. 134, Health - Yar. Reg. Hosp.: Church Point Royal Bank Team -
Fund-Raising Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 365
Vote - Affirmative 366
Res. 135, Agric.: Poultry Show (Fall Classic-Bible Hill) - Recognize,
Mr. John MacDonell 366
Vote - Affirmative 367
Res. 136, Fin. - Casino Revenue: Charities - Removal Reconsider,
Mr. B. Boudreau 367
Res. 137, Donald & Helen Middleton (Sackville-Cobequid):
Wedding Anniv. 60th - Congrats., Mr. J. Holm 367
Vote - Affirmative 368
Res. 138, Lbr./Econ. Dev. - ADR Process: Crown Corp. - Non-Participation,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 368
Res. 139, Sports - Soccer: Hfx. West HS Warriors - Success Congrats.,
Ms. E. O'Connell 369
Vote - Affirmative 369
Res. 140, Educ.: Priority - State, Mr. W. Gaudet 369
Res. 141, Sports - Boxing: Kirk Johnson (N. Preston) - Success Congrats.,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 370
Vote - Affirmative 371
Res. 142, Gov't. (N.S.): Rural (N.S.) - Abandonment,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 371
Res. 143, Gov't. (N.S.): Priorities - Improve, Mr. F. Corbett 371
Res. 144, Lbr. - Volunteer Firefighters: Tax Credit - Promise Fulfil,
Mr. K. Deveaux 372
Res. 145, Fish. - Seniors: Licence Fees - Elimination Honour,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 373
Res. 146, Sports - Softball Champions (N.S.-Girls Squirt Div.):
Dartmouth Devils - Congrats., Mr. J. Pye 373
Vote - Affirmative 374
Res. 147, Fish. - Lobster Fishery: Hardship/Peril - Recognize,
Mr. John MacDonell 374
Vote - Affirmative 374
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 3, Estimates - Comm. of the Whole House on Supply,
Hon. N. LeBlanc 375
Mr. J. Holm 375
Mr. D. Downe 385
Referred 398
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 12:28 P.M. 398
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 12:36 P.M. 398
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 2, Costs and Fees Act and Probate Act 399
Hon. M. Baker 399
Mr. H. Epstein 400
Mr. R. MacLellan 403
Mr. K. Deveaux 403
Hon. M. Baker 405
Vote - Affirmative 406
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Oct. 18th at 4:00 p.m. 406

[Page 341]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 15, 1999

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

10:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House about the new strategy for Nova Scotia's culture sector which was released today in English and French. The strategy is called Culture in the New Millennium: Planning Our Future. It is the first of its kind in Canada and it is a strategy developed by the cultural sector.

341

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The province-wide strategy focuses on the economic aspects of cultural development in Nova Scotia. It aims to increase the rapid growth in this dynamic sector which includes arts, crafts, design, cultural industries and heritage. Since the culture sector already accounts for roughly 5 per cent of jobs and GDP in Nova Scotia, its contribution and the need to sustain growth is clearly important for the provincial economy. While its importance to the provincial economy cannot be overstated, culture has a value well beyond that.

As the strategy states, "The culture sector receives respect and recognition - measured well beyond dollars.". "Culture is at the heart and soul of Nova Scotian society.". "Culture in all its forms is embedded in the roots of our communities and draws upon our sense of place and the unique character of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotians enjoy cultural activities, and understand the contribution culture and its creators make to education, the economy, and physical, mental and spiritual health."

Mr. Speaker, I am particularly pleased to note that more than 350 people from all aspects of Nova Scotia's culture sector and from a host of cultural organizations worked on this strategy. They worked on committees and participated in focus groups, Internet exchanges and a provincial conference. Many more people volunteered their time and energy and they all proved their dedication to the development of culture in the province. For this effort, they are to be congratulated and thanked.

Several people who worked on the strategy are with us today. I would ask the House to recognize Debra Burleson of the Museum of Natural History; Mary Sparling, a member of the Nova Scotia Coalition of Arts and Culture; Andrew Terris with the Cultural Network; Peggy Walt with our department's Cultural Affairs Division; and, as well, Russ Kelly with the Nova Scotia Arts Council. If possible, I would ask those people in the gallery to stand up and be recognized by the House. (Applause)

Together, these and many other people identified a vision and six goal areas for the strategy. Those goals include expanding creative capacity and increasing sales. Another goal is to strengthen the workforce, organizations and cultural institutions in the province. Yet other goals include educating Nova Scotians about their culture and heritage and finding new sources for investing in culture. The sixth goal concentrates on community development so that the cultural sector can thrive everywhere in Nova Scotia.

The strategy also includes an action plan for attaining each goal, with the organizations involved forming a new coordinating group to monitor implementation. The group will also form teams to work on specific priorities. I can assure you that my department will be an active partner in implementing the strategy.

Implementing this strategy is more than simply funding. More importantly, the strategy recognizes a need for education and policy direction as well as setting the right climate to grow and expand this vital sector.

[Page 343]

The process of developing the strategy was funded in part by the Economic Diversification Agreement. Along with our federal partners, the province provided $104,000 to make this strategy possible. There was also significant private sector support.

Mr. Speaker, our department recognizes that a commitment to culture and heritage is essential to this province's future economic growth and social well-being. Now that the strategy has been released, we look forward to working in partnership with the culture sector to implement its activities. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the minister, his staff and members of the committee who have worked so hard to bring this initiative forward, this strategy, Culture the New Millennium. It is very fitting in a province such as ours that is steeped in history, culture and identity, through our cultural past and cultural future. For that I want to say to the minister a hearty congratulations for working with these organizations in the private sector in championing this initiative.

I come from the South Shore and the cultural issues in the South Shore and Lunenburg County are very real and well known. For that, I know in my discussions with many of those, realizing not only the social benefit to society, but the economic well-being of society through the acknowledgement of the cultural side and also through trying to partner together to make it happen.

I am also encouraged by the minister's leadership with regard to bringing in the private sector. That co-location of private sector, federal-provincial governments and industry, means that there is opportunity to build a self-reliance as well as economic benefit and identity. When we realize, as we move into the new millennium, with the technology out there and all of the changes happening in the global context, that we don't lost sight of where we come from, where we are and who we are as a people.

On behalf of our Liberal caucus, I want to congratulate the minister and the government for moving that initiative forward, one that I know we have worked on for a number of months - this has been in the hopper for quite some time - but I want to congratulate the minister for taking the leadership as well as the members of the committee and the department staff for realizing the importance this will play in building a stronger, more self-reliant society and also obtaining and holding true to reality that culture is a major part of our future and our past and our present. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 344]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in this House today and to respond to the minister's statement on the culture strategy. There are several things in this statement that I think will give comfort to the great many people who are involved in cultural industries and those who, in general, value culture in our province. I would not be surprised if the culture sector is in fact much bigger than is indicated in this statement. One of the things that should give us all comfort around this issue is the notion that culture will receive an important priority, that there will be a sense of its value and importance within this newly created Department of Tourism and Culture.

Mr. Speaker, the other thing that I think should give all those who care about culture some comfort today is the minister's clear understanding in the statement of what culture is, because I think there have been people concerned in this province about the government's understanding of culture. After all, this is the same Party that years ago put it in a department called Culture, Recreation & Fitness.

Mr. Speaker, this is a good sign, a sign of a new broader understanding of the government's grasp of the importance of and the nature of culture in Nova Scotian society. When the minister says that it is embedded in the roots of our communities and draws upon our sense of place and the unique character of Nova Scotia, it tells us that there is a broad and deep understanding of culture in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I want to join with the minister and with the other Opposition Party in welcoming those people who have come out today to hear the minister's statement in congratulating them on the work that they have done, and in pointing out, finally, to the minister and to the government that this is a wonderful example of community consultation and one that could be a model for a great many of the activities that the government engages in. Thank you. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

RESOLUTION NO. 106

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

Whereas October 17th-24th is National Foster Family Week; and

Whereas 695 foster families are caring for more than 958 children in Nova Scotia; and

[Page 345]

Whereas we must all do everything possible to support foster families in their effort to care for children;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join me this week in honouring the contribution of foster families to children, families and communities in Nova Scotia.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 4 - Entitled an Act Respecting Fair-marketing Practices in the Sale of Gasoline and Diesel Oil (Mr. John Holm)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 107

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

Whereas political friends and opponents alike will gather tonight in Truro to honour the gentleman farmer of Colchester County, Mr. Ed Lorraine; and

[10:15 a.m.]

Whereas Mr. Lorraine faithfully represented the people of Colchester North for a total of 12 years and served this province as Minister of Agriculture; and

Whereas Mr. Lorraine is respected far and wide by people of all political stripes;

[Page 346]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join with friends and family of Ed Lorraine in extending gratitude for his many years of service to his constituency, for the work that he has done on their behalf, and to thank him for his dedication to the Province of 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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 108

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

Whereas on Wednesday, Nova Scotia lost one of its best known and most dedicated teacher/activists with the sudden death of John Huntley; and

Whereas John Huntley devoted 34 years, his entire adult life, to the teaching profession; and

Whereas Mr. Huntley devoted himself to his union, serving in any capacity, including as President of the Halifax County Local of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and twice as a staff officer at the NSTU;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize John Huntley's contribution to students, teachers and the teaching profession, and extend its deepest condolences to his wife, Anne White, and all of his family.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 347]

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 109

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

Whereas the community of New Minas and surrounding area of Kings County was much blessed by the presence of Irene Slaunwhite; and

Whereas she lived her life as the consummate lady, volunteering extensively for many worthy organizations including the Canadian Red Cross, Valley Regional Hospital, Centreville United Baptist Church and many more; and

Whereas her spirit, cheerfulness and loyalty compelled her to work even in the recent general election, despite being afflicted by her terminal illness, a testimony to her character;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the passing of Irene Slaunwhite, a special lady and close personal friend, and extend heartfelt condolences to her family.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

[Page 348]

RESOLUTION NO. 110

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

Whereas later this month Sydney native Pat Connolly will be inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame; and

Whereas on Thursday, Mr. Connolly was recognized in Cape Breton for his outstanding achievement in sports journalism where he has worked for five decades; and

Whereas Pat Connolly got his start in the business as a teenager with the Post Record;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Pat Connolly's outstanding career as he is inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame later this month.

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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 111

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

Whereas the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre Foundation has raised over $300,000 during their 1998-99 fund-raising campaign toward new and improved facilities; and

Whereas the Throne Speech recognizes that Nova Scotians must know their health care system comes first and that responsibility for ensuring good health care rests with them as well as the health care system; and

[Page 349]

Whereas on Saturday, October 16th, the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre Foundation will be holding a walkathon to help continue their efforts in raising much-needed funds to enhance their facility;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre Foundation for their efforts to date, and send best wishes to all those who have organized and helped participate in tomorrow's walkathon.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 112

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

Whereas yesterday the conciliation report was filed on the dispute between EMC and the paramedics who are on the front line of emergency health care in our province; and

Whereas this starts the clock running towards the day when the paramedics will be in a legal strike position; and

Whereas the paramedics are seeking labour standards, pay and working conditions that are equivalent to those in other provinces;

Therefore be it resolved that this government should act upon its commitment to health care by authorizing EMC to offer Nova Scotia paramedics a fair and acceptable deal.

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

[Page 350]

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. (Interruptions)

When I asked for waiver, I did not hear a No.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 113

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 budget tabled yesterday is merely a pale imitation of year one of the Liberal Health Investment Fund tied up with a big, blue bow; and

Whereas once this package is opened and examined, one can clearly see that this gift comes without a plan, without accountability, without a guarantee and without batteries; and

Whereas this government promised Nova Scotians that they had a plan for health care that Nova Scotians could afford;

Therefore be it resolved that this government come clean and bring forward their promised plan, including their plan for payment.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 114

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

Whereas retired Churchville nurse, Laura Fraser, is this year's winner of Pictou County's Princess Diana Humanitarian Award; and

[Page 351]

Whereas Ms. Fraser is involved in countless volunteer activities within Pictou County and next year will mark her 50th year as a member of the Churchill Women's Institute; and

Whereas Pictou County initiated the award following the death of Princess Diana to commemorate her humanitarian efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature recognize the outstanding contributions put forth by Laura Fraser for important community projects in Pictou County and wish her every success in her future.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 115

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

Whereas on October 3, 1999, the District 18 Business Association hosted its second annual community breakfast and business expo; and

Whereas 1,000 residents of Halifax Atlantic and surrounding area turned out for this event; and

Whereas more than 765 breakfasts were served and 56 local businesses rented space to exhibit their goods and services to the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend and congratulate those members of the District 18 Business Association that organized and promoted this event.

Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver of notice.

[Page 352]

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. 116

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

Whereas during the election campaign the Premier stated, "Technology, like tourism, education and other small businesses are leading the way into the future for Cape Bretoners."; and

Whereas yesterday's budget failed to implement the 15 per cent new media tax credit to the detriment of all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Tories failed to implement enterprise zone measures that would enhance opportunity for Cape Bretoners and all Nova Scotians outside metro Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier's statement during the election campaign was misleading and that he has no intention to live up to his commitments to rural Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to take a look at that resolution, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 117

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

Whereas 11-year-old Jessica Longtin of Halifax is undergoing treatment for a brain tumour; and

[Page 353]

Whereas medical and home care costs are causing significant financial hardship to the Longtin family; and

Whereas to assist them an auction and dance will be held at the Vimy Legion on Cogswell Street in Halifax on October 23rd from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate David Arsenault, the organizer of this event, and wish the Longtins every success in their medical and financial struggle.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 118

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 government made great fanfare during the election campaign when they promised all Nova Scotians that it would take only $46 million to fix health care; and

Whereas this government further elaborated on this fanfare by saying that Nova Scotians deserve a quality health care system that they can afford; and

Whereas this government is now saying that they will spend an additional $204 million on health care;

Therefore be it resolved that all Nova Scotians realize that they were misled by this government during the election campaign and be very aware of the lack of a strategic plan for providing health care services to all residents of this province.

[Page 354]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The resolution submitted by the member for Cape Breton East, I will allow it.

The notice is tabled.

There wasn't a request for waiver, was there?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Sure.

MR. DAVID WILSON: I would request so, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 119

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

Whereas Sonja Wood, a prominent advocate of several worthy causes, was partially paralyzed in a head-on collision on Highway No. 101 in 1985; and

Whereas Sonja has made her vigil to twin Highway No. 101 to help save others from a similar fate or worse in the face of considerable political obstacles; and

Whereas Sonja's commitment to twinning Highway No. 101 is measured not by her disability but by her God-given abilities;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature recognize Sonja's sheer determination and considerable national media success in obtaining a meeting with the federal Minister of Transport that will hopefully be an incentive for the transfer of federal highway tax dollars to support the twinning of Highway No. 101 beyond Mount Uniacke.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 355]

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. 120

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

Whereas October 17th has been declared the International Day for the Elimination of Poverty by the United Nations; and

Whereas a recent study completed by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities confirms that Canada's poorest people have been the hardest hit by the drop in family incomes during the 1990's; and

Whereas the study found that the poorest 10 per cent of residents in Canadian cities suffered a fall of 18.8 per cent in their total income since 1992 while the top 10 per cent enjoyed a 6.8 per cent increase;

Therefore be it resolved that this government be mindful of its responsibilities to all citizens for the policy direction it chooses and the impact these choices have on income security, particularly for the poorest Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I will be seeking waiver and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed.

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

[Page 356]

RESOLUTION NO. 121

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

Whereas Harbour House is a haven for women seeking safe shelter in the Bridgewater, Lunenburg County, area; and

Whereas the Kinettes of Bridgewater and area are a major supporter of the Harbour House Adopt-A-Room Program; and

[10:30 a.m.]

Whereas Kinettes have adopted two rooms in Harbour House and they have sponsored the refurbishing and repainting of these rooms making them more enjoyable for the residents;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the work of Harbour House and extend thanks to the Kinettes of Bridgewater and area as they continue to serve the communities' greatest needs.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 122

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

Whereas the Annapolis Valley Regional Library was the first regional library to be established in Nova Scotia and is presently serving the Annapolis Valley population through 11 branches and two bookmobiles; and

Whereas the Annapolis Valley Regional Library is celebrating 50 years of library service since its inception in 1949; and

[Page 357]

Whereas the prosperity and growth of the regional library is reflected in a 11.4 increase in circulation at the Kentville branch, a 3.1 increase in Port Williams and a combined 1.3 increase by the two bookmobiles;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in recognizing the library's tremendous contribution to the citizens of Kings County, in applauding the efforts of all those involved in providing this valuable service over the last 50 years and in extending best wishes to the Annapolis Valley Regional Library for its continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 123

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

Whereas on October 25th, the Women in Business Conference will be held in Sydney, Cape Breton; and

Whereas this year the conference will honour a group of Cape Breton Island's older, successful, female entrepreneurs to mark the International Year of the Older Person; and

Whereas the year celebrates the increasing importance of older people in today's society and the theme "Towards a Society for All Ages' and emphasizes greater integration between the young and the old today, building a stronger society for tomorrow;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the honorees of the Women in Business Conference: Alexandra Shebib; Jean Poirier; Edna deSanctis; Rose Schwartz, (posthumously); Ethel Webber; Anna Guzdziol; Mary Dunlop; Rita Joe; Eileen Landry and Wayne Lorway.

[Page 358]

I would 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 Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I inadvertently said Nay to a resolution submitted by the honourable member for Lunenburg West, a resolution which recognized the work of Harbour House and I regret that. I would ask for the unanimous consent of the House for the vote to be put on this particular resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: 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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 124

MR. DONALD DOWNE: First I want to thank the member opposite for that and I appreciate that.

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

Whereas Clearwater President John Risley has thrown his support behind the South Shore Alternate School with a donation of $15,000; and

Whereas the alternate school opened in 1994 for students that find it difficult making the transition between junior high and senior high school; and

[Page 359]

Whereas with two teachers and more than $10,000 a year to rent the school making it is expensive to operate;

Therefore be it resolved that this House honour the donation of Mr. John Risley and recognize the outstanding work of the South Shore Alternate School.

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 Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 125

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

Whereas Bel Ayr Elementary School held the official ribbon cutting for its new playground on Wednesday; and

Whereas the playground came about as a result of the hard work of Nancy Bent and her playground committee, along with students, parents and staff; and

Whereas the major funding sponsor for this community project was the Saturn Car Company donating $25,000;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Nancy Bent, Principal Dorothy Haley, Bill MacNeil of Saturn, all corporate sponsors, all parents students and staff at Bel Ayr Elementary School on the success of this community project.

Mr. Speaker, I would be asking for waiver and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 360]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 126

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

Whereas the former Minister of Education,Wayne Gaudet, approved funds of $175,000 for a new elevator at the Dr. T.L. Sullivan Junior High School; and

Whereas this elevator is designed to make the school more accessible for those who are physically challenged; and

Whereas work was delayed on this important project, and now the completion date is in doubt;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education and Culture act immediately to assure the students and staff that the new elevator at Dr. T. L. Sullivan School will be completed on schedule.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 127

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

[Page 361]

Whereas when the Premier unveiled his 1999 plan for Nova Scotia he said that "first and foremost our priority will be to stabilize our health care system", and he dedicated half of the Tory report card to health promises; and

Whereas the Throne Speech redefined the first priority as "a healthy society", but dropped some of those health promises; and

Whereas the budget does not describe health care as a priority of this government, and suggests that government's goal is to provide only "basic health care";

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind the government of the Premier's words in the introduction of his plan, "We will make sure that when individual Nova Scotians need health care, it will be there for them.".

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 128

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

Whereas Pictou County resident, Mary Lloyd, has long been recognized as a dedicated expert in matters concerning injured workers in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas recognizing this knowledge and her genuine compassion and caring for her fellow injured workers, officials at the Department of Labour and the Workers' Advisers Program offered Ms. Lloyd a position whereby she could assist government in improving the lives of injured workers; and

Whereas Ms. Lloyd, despite being assured that there were no strings attached to this offer, declined, and has chosen to remain an independent activist for the injured workers of Nova Scotia;

[Page 362]

Therefore be it resolved that we wish Mary Lloyd well and urge her to continue the work for the rights of injured workers and to advise government at every opportunity in areas of mutual concern.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 129

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 Minister of Labour offered a position under the Workers' Advisers Program to Mary Lloyd, a well-known advocate on behalf of injured workers, a position she did not seek nor want; and

Whereas in doing so, the Minister of Labour contravened the Civil Service hiring practices; and

Whereas the Premier has stated time and time again his commitment to a fair and open hiring practice;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier investigate this attempt by the Minister of Labour to subvert the hiring guidelines of the Civil Service and any ethics guidelines which bind his Cabinet members, and ensure to this House that the minister did not intend to silence an outspoken and well-respected opponent of the workers' compensation system.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 363]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 130

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

Whereas yesterday, the Minister of Finance quoted Robert Frost when he said that Nova Scotia would embark down the difficult "road less travelled"; and

Whereas Robert Frost also said "Don't ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up."; and

Whereas this Progressive Conservative Government is quickly moving to tear down fences without thought, rhyme or reason;

Therefore be it resolved that this government act like a government and lead Nova Scotians instead of pushing them down a road of uncertainty.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 131

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 now Premier said on June 25th that, "the NDP are prepared to promise anything to achieve power. I simply will not do that. And this is not the time to experiment."; and

[Page 364]

Whereas most Nova Scotians rely upon and value the services of Crown Prosecutors, nurses, hospital information staff and public health workers; and

Whereas the budget broke $40 million in first-year Conservative promises to these and other Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should explain why Conservative promises are being dropped so quickly, if he was not promising anything to achieve power and experiment with the hidden agenda of this government's philosophy.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 132

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

Whereas the Minister of Labour advised all members of this House that he had only received the Fire Marshal's Report a couple of days ago and did not have an opportunity to review it; and

Whereas the Fire Marshal's Report, dated September 8, 1999, was distributed to staff at the Department of Labour at that time; and

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour explain as to why he was one of the last persons in the Department of Labour to know about this report, except perhaps the cleaning lady.

I would ask for waiver of notice, 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 Dartmouth North.

[Page 365]

RESOLUTION NO. 133

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

Whereas the Neighbourhood Watch Program aims at reducing crime in the community; and

Whereas the District 9 Neighbourhood Watch is the most active program in the Halifax Regional Municipality, with a membership of well over 600; and

Whereas the District 9 Neighbourhood Watch has worked closely with law enforcement agencies to the betterment of the community;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature commend District 9 Neighbourhood Watch for their community-first thoughtfulness.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 134

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

Whereas the regional hospital in Yarmouth is in the process of a major fund-raising campaign in order to carry out renovations to their facility; and

Whereas the ambitious staff of the Royal Bank in Church Point pledged to raise $10,000 in support of the hospital; and

[Page 366]

Whereas the Church Point group came up with fun and innovative ideas like a rocking chair rockathon to help raise money;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Church Point Royal Bank team and thank them for their generous contribution to the Yarmouth Hospital and continued dedication to their community.

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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 135

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

Whereas present hybrid varieties of poultry are the product of the gene pool of the old barnyard varieties of pure stock maintained by many poultry fanciers across the province; and

Whereas those that presently preserve these old breeds do so as a labour of love more than as a labour of profit; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Poultry Breeders Association held the Fall Classic Poultry Show on this weekend past in Bible Hill;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the value of the work done by these poultry breeders and congratulate the participants and organizers of the Fall Classic Poultry Show and wish them the best for the future years.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver.

[Page 367]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 136

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

Whereas yesterday's do nothing budget gave several indications that the spring budget will be a slash and burn budget; and

Whereas the budget removed $2.2 million in casino revenue, which was to go to charity groups in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this clearly means the Tory approach to deficit reduction will inflict great pain on the people of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this government reconsider punishing Nova Scotia charities, and immediately restore the $2.2 million taken from them in this budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[10:45 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 137

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

Whereas on October 14, 1939, Donald Middleton and Helen Wright wed in Moncton, New Brunswick; and

[Page 368]

Whereas a celebration was held on Sunday, October 11th, to remember the many pleasant memories from their lives shared together; and

Whereas yesterday they were foremost in the thoughts of their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild and their many friends, as they celebrated their special day;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its best wishes to Donald and Helen Middleton on the occasion of their 60th Wedding Anniversary, and wish them many more years of good health and happiness.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 138

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

Whereas the Alternate Dispute Resolution, ADR as it is better known, has proven to be an extremely productive and cost-efficient tool in the resolution of labour-management conflicts; and

Whereas in a recent press release, the provincial government boasted the merits of the ADR;

Therefore be it resolved the Ministers of Labour and Economic Development explain to members of this House and to all Nova Scotians as to why, through its own Crown Corporation, the provincial government refuses to participate in the ADR process resulting in increased employers' premiums.

[Page 369]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 139

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

Whereas the Halifax West High School Warriors soccer team is comprised of students representing nine different countries of origin; and

Whereas these countries are: Ghana, Nigeria, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Bosnia, Egypt, Italy, Croatia, and Eritrea; and

Whereas the team's number of wins now equals that number, nine, and it has no losses;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Halifax West Warriors soccer team for their fine performance and for their internationally inspired team effort in the service of their school.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 140

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

Whereas Nova Scotia is a leader in the information technology industry, an industry which requires a well-trained workforce; and

[Page 370]

Whereas the Progressive Conservative election platform contained no less than 25 promises for eduction; and

Whereas yesterday's provincial budget, and the recent Throne Speech, barely mentioned Nova Scotia's universities or the tuition difficulties faced by many university students;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education state in this House whether or not education remains a priority of this government.

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 Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 141

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

Whereas North Preston's heavyweight boxer, Kirk Johnson, is ranked 7th in the World Boxing Association and 8th in the International Boxing Federation; and

Whereas Mr. Johnson has 20 career knockouts and has distinguished himself as a former Junior World Champion and Canadian Olympian; and

Whereas Mr. Johnson won his most recent match in Round One, bringing his professional boxing record to 28 wins and a draw;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend sincere congratulations to Kirk Johnson and best wishes for continuing success in his boxing career.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

[Page 371]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 142

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

Whereas the film industry has become a $120-million industry thanks to a generous tax credit implemented by the previous Liberal Government; and

Whereas the government's first promised initiative to spur growth in the film and television industry was to scrap the 5 per cent additional tax credit for areas outside Halifax metro, stifling job creation and putting in jeopardy hundreds of jobs in rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the additional tax credit would have expanded production along the South Shore, Shelburne, Cape Breton and all rural Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the present Tory Government has abandoned rural Nova Scotia despite its support in the last general election.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 143

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

Whereas this Progressive Conservative Government is spending $400,000 to add another department and an equivalent amount to keep the MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's in Cabinet despite his removal as Minister of Housing; and

[Page 372]

Whereas this same government told reporters that it is ending the Winter Works Program that in recent years provided some employment in districts of very high unemployment, like Digby and Cape Breton; and

Whereas hundreds of thousands of dollars for two extra Cabinet Ministers, but less for the unemployed is a clear Tory choice;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to improve its priorities before they take the Progressive Conservative knife to jobs, health and education that were supposed to be safe and sound in Tory hands.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 144

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

Whereas in June of this year the new Minister of Justice spoke for his caucus' anger and outrage that firefighters had not won a $500 tax credit in the Liberal budget; and

Whereas on June 3rd the now Minister of Justice then declared that commitments made in this House should be carried out and not ignored; and

Whereas on June 10th the now Minister of Justice then demanded that volunteer firefighters receive the balance of their $500 annual tax credit as well as a $75 reduction in annual vehicle licensing fees;

Therefore be it resolved that this government should explain why it is not keeping its promise to the volunteer firefighters of this province instead of using one of its many reviews as an excuse for an indifferent Progressive Conservative Government.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 373]

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 145

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 member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and other members of the Progressive Conservative caucus introduced numerous petitions and notices of motion in this House asking for free fishing licences for seniors; and

Whereas these motions and resolutions correctly indicate that gouging these seniors for $17.25 is unacceptable; and

Whereas petitions requested the past Minister of Fisheries to eliminate the charge for fishing licence fees levied against seniors and the House agreed by resolution;

Therefore be it resolved that this new Minister of Fisheries honour the resolution which was unanimously passed in this House to exempt seniors from this unfair tax grab.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 146

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

Whereas the Dartmouth Devils are a girls softball team, squirt division; and

Whereas this team participated in the Provincial Squirt Championship; and

Whereas the Dartmouth Devils won the Provincial Squirt Championship;

[Page 374]

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulate the players, coaches and parents of the Dartmouth Devils for a job well done.

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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 147

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

Whereas Thursday was the opening day of the lobster fishery; and

Whereas a lobster boat sank in the Minas Basin on the first day; and

Whereas four were rescued and one man remains missing;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the hardship and peril involved in the lobster fishery and offer our support to the fishers and their families.

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.

[Page 375]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[GOVERNMENT MOTIONS]

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 Supply.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, no.

MR. RUSSELL: I am sorry, my error.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Is the honourable Government House Leader calling the adjourned debate?

AN HON. MEMBER: You have to keep an eye on these rookies.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 3, Estimates - Committee of the Whole House on Supply, adjourned debate.

Res. No. 3, re Estimates - Committee of the Whole House on Supply - notice given Oct. 8/99 (Hon. N. LeBlanc)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid. I believe you have 45 minutes left.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, 45 minutes, thank you. I was starting to think that the honourable Government House Leader did not want to hear the rest of what I had to say, but I am sure that that is not the case and that he is going to be sitting there listening intently to every word that I do in fact make during the remaining 44 now, probably, minutes left or thereabouts.

Mr. Speaker, when I went home last night, I reviewed again the Budget Address and the Estimates Books. I regret that when I did that, I found that I reaffirmed or re-confirmed my heated reaction of yesterday. I have to say, the very deep sense of disappointment that I felt in what the government did. I am sure, based on the commentaries that I have heard so far, that sense of deep disappointment is shared by many.

[Page 376]

Just a few months ago, the Premier and you, each and every one of you who are sitting on the government benches, whether you are a new member coming from Yarmouth, from Kings North, from Dartmouth South, from Preston, from Pictou County, no matter where you are from, each and every one of you gave Nova Scotians your word. You gave Nova Scotians your bond. You might say that those who ran for the Tory Party shook hands with Nova Scotians, they said trust us, have confidence in us, believe us because we have a plan. We will bring honesty, we will bring integrity, we will bring compassion to the Government of Nova Scotia. Those were your words as spoken by your Premier.

Yesterday, when the Minister of Finance delivered his budget, he not only broke his word and that of the Premier, he broke the bond, he broke the trust that each and every one of you gave to the people of Nova Scotia and to your constituents. I should say, as I begin, in fairness that everything wasn't negative in the budget, and that I and my colleagues in the NDP caucus fully support having proper accounting in the Province of Nova Scotia. We, like the Tories, said that we wanted to have consolidated financial statements. We would have done that had we formed the government. That means that we, of course, are very pleased that the Tories have followed through on their commitment to do that. It is something that we, in our caucus, have been advocating for years and years.

For far too long, games have been played. The Liberals, as the Tories had done before them, hid the true debts of the Province of Nova Scotia. They hid debts off-book for political reasons. It was as if they expected Nova Scotians to believe in the tooth fairy. Well, we all knew what the true debts were in the spring, or at least those of us who had access to much of the information that was being hidden off-book. Of course a lot of those in the public did not have that same access that we did. (Interruption)

[11:00 a.m.]

Yes, indeed, Nova Scotia Resources was one that was hidden by the former Liberals and one they didn't make known until just before the end of the election. However, the Minister of Justice will know that if he looks back in the records, he will see that I was telling the Liberals and the Tories what the debt of Nova Scotia Resources Limited was and he will know if he checks those figures that I was almost bang on. So there was, for anybody who wanted to pay attention, very little debt. Certainly, when the summer election was under way, we knew. We knew the true state of finances when we were making our election promises and that's why we, in the New Democratic Party, were very cautious. We were not prepared to make hundreds of rash promises that we knew we couldn't keep.

Nova Scotians have seen far too much of that in the past. They deserve better. Even the former Liberal Finance Minister, who stood in his place here in this House, pretended that we had a modest surplus. When he was asked in the press conference following his Budget Address in the spring, admitted that the budget was not indeed balanced. The bond rating agencies (Interruption ) Oh, it was before the address in here, I am sorry, it was in the press

[Page 377]

scrum before the address. I stand corrected. Yes. (Interruptions) But then he came in afterwards. The former Minister of Finance, I humbly apologize, I did indeed make a mistake, I erred. He made the confession, first down the hall in the Red Room and then came into the House and developed selective amnesia and forgot about his confession, Mr. Speaker.

Well, certainly the bond rating agencies knew and, in fact, they have said so. Nova Scotians also knew. So the Liberals paid a very heavy price for their attempted deception. Nova Scotians do deserve the truth about the state of our books because it is, I remind each and every one of you on the Government Benches, their money and their debts. They didn't run them up but they are on the hook for them. Therefore having fully consolidated books is a good thing and we fully support it.

On another point, Mr. Speaker, program review. Program reviews, in and of themselves, are not a bad thing. It is a major concern, however, that the criteria to be used is still unknown. Also, the early but very clear signals being given out where cuts have already been made in the budget and where money has been taken from - I don't know if it is unparliamentary to say stolen or not so I won't put that in, I have said it outside - those things plus the tone and the rhetoric do indeed, I believe, give all Nova Scotians reason to have concern. I will be saying a little bit more about that later on, Mr. Speaker, if time permits.

I will say, however, that I do agree with the former Liberal Finance Minister on one fundamental point at least. What we saw yesterday was, in essence, the Liberal's budget of June. Yes, the colour of the cover has changed but in essence what we got was the LiberTory budget. If ever Nova Scotians need any evidence that a Tory is a Liberal too, all they have to do is look at yesterday's budget and compare it to the budget of June. In most ways, even some of the harshest of cuts line up almost right down the line.

Now I know, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Finance likes to say, let's not dwell on the past. He said that in the Red Room, he said that in here (Interruption) and across the floor he said, that's true. However, some of the past that the Minister of Finance wants to forget is so recent that you can really call it current events. So let me turn briefly now to a couple of those current event speeches of June and July that the Minister of Finance and the Premier want to forget. I am hoping that particularly those new members who were elected are not prepared to forget those commitments that were made and that they will exert some pressure on their front benches to honour them.

Last spring, the then Tory Finance Critic, he is now the Tory Minister of Finance, said in his Budget Address, and I was reading this last night, and here is one of his quotes, and he was then referring to the Liberal Government," . . . I think this government's credibility or rather the lack of . . . what is being debated or considered here . . .", so he said.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said that?

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MR. HOLM: The present Minister of Finance on the former Liberal Budget said, it is the lack of credibility that is being debated in the Budget Debate. He also said, "`Everybody says where's the plan . . .'". That is another quote directly from his statement referring to the Liberal Budget and the Liberals' non-existent health care plan for that budget.

Well, Dr. Hamm in launching the Tory platform said, and another quote, "This plan . . .", referring to his own Tory plan in the 1999 election platform he said, ". . . is short on abstractions and long on nuts and bolts.". That is what he said, " . . . short on abstractions and long on nuts and bolts. Where there is a need for legislative changes, they are identified.", Dr. Hamm said. "Where there is a need for structural changes they are spelled out.", Dr. Hamm said. "Where there is . . . money it is budgeted.", Dr. Hamm said. Candidates who ran on the Tory team, I am sure, believed, all of you, you must have believed, that what you were telling Nova Scotians was true. Those of you who were elected and those who supported you have, therefore, I believe, every right to be as disappointed in the leadership that is being given as other Nova Scotians are in that lack of vision and lack of leadership and, Mr. Speaker, the failure to honour those commitments.

The Premier is quoted in today's press as saying that he acknowledges that some of his commitments in his earlier speeches were a little fuzzy. A little fuzzy?

Mr. Speaker, if those statements, which were absolute and made guarantees, were fuzzy, I would hate to see what any kind of commitments meant if they were slightly fuzzy. There could have been nothing clearer than what the now Premier, when he was running in the campaign, committed. It was clear.

To the Minister of Finance, to the Premier, I say, as a former Finance Critic for the Tories, now Minister of Finance said in the spring, your government's credibility, or rather lack of it, is what is being debated and considered here today.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if honourable members who are carrying on conversations in the Chamber wouldn't mind, perhaps, taking those conversations outside as the honourable member does have the floor. (Applause)

MR. HOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate the fact that you want to hear my remarks.

The budget delivered yesterday was long on abstractions. I ask the Minister of Finance, I ask the Premier up in his ivory tower across the road or wherever he may happen to be, where are the nuts and bolts that you promised? Where are the needed structural changes spelled out in this budget? I ask, where is the money necessary to meet your commitments for year one identified in your platform? Where is that money budgeted?

[Page 379]

You gave Nova Scotians, each and every one of you, your word. Now what does your word mean? You are in year one. You have made commitments. You gave your bond. What does your word mean? Your credibility, your integrity is on the line. Has the Tory Government developed selective amnesia so soon after forming government? Have you become so arrogant so soon that you have concluded that you may do as you wish because you have a majority? Have you concluded that Nova Scotians will forget, before the next election rolls around, what commitments you made and what you promised and what you actually did?

The Conservatives talked a lot more about health than about program reviews in the election campaign, Mr. Speaker. You may remember that. But when they did talk about the program review in their platform, there was more detail than we heard yesterday. That one and only paragraph said that they would, "Immediately initiate a review of all government programs with a view to eliminating those that cannot be justified on the basis of necessity, cost and efficiency. Every single dollar spent by government must benefit Nova Scotians;.", so it said.

Some might question the necessity, cost and efficiencies of adding another Cabinet Minister instead of completely replacing the MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's. I want to remind the government of some other specifics in their platform. Instead of saying that government is an intrusion into people's lives, their platform said the government would, "Undertake a complete review of services that can be more efficiently and cost-effectively provided by the private sector, while ensuring appropriate standards are maintained, and honouring the commitment . . . to the NSGEU.", on private sector partnering is maintained. That was then. That is a far cry from the budget declaration that this government is dedicated to reducing its roles in the lives of the public and the economy.

If health care or education are not there when Nova Scotians need them, if privatizations are as clumsy and costly as in the past, there will be a pretty big intrusion into people's lives, much bigger than we have seen to date.

[11:15 a.m.]

Yesterday's budget showed clearly that John Hamm's Government has pushed the delete button on their election commitments made just a few short days ago. I say to the Premier and to the Minister of Finance, and to the front bench colleagues, shame on you. I say to those of you who are not in the front benches, who are not in Cabinet, if you allow them to get away with it, you are allowing them to break your word to your constituents, and then it will be shame on you. I know you would not have had a say in the preparation of the budget document and in the budget, but you are part of this Chamber now and you are responsible to your constituents, you are responsible for upholding the commitments that you made and that were made by your Premier on your behalf.

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I ask each and every one of you to look at the commitments you made, to look at what is being done. Look into your heart and look at what is being proposed and being done, and what this government is setting up to do. I ask you, on the inside, to fight for those things you said you believed in on the campaign trail and insist that the front benches - and you outnumber them by the way - honour your commitments to your constituents that you represent. People expect no less. Don't be lemming; don't simply follow; don't be rubber stamps. Show some independence; show some credibility; show your integrity.

During the elections, the Tories trumped John Hamm's plan for Nova Scotia. I must say they did an excellent job in selling it and the integrity to Nova Scotia. You mocked all who doubted you. If I may say so myself, you got off pretty easy in the media, who didn't press you on how you were going to be fulfiling those 243 promises. Maybe that will change now. Now the Minister of Finance, to the applause from the Premier, is saying wait six months because we are making up our plans as we go. Please, Nova Scotians, have amnesia. Forget everything we told you just a couple of months ago, but have faith in us now because we really didn't say what we said then. Sort of like fudging the books, isn't it, sort of like shell games?

Nova Scotians were even told by the Premier: Be happy, don't worry, enjoy the barbecue season. Everything is under control, we have a plan. We will work through the summer, we have a plan. Yes, Mr. Speaker, in the meantime, the Tories are allowing the deficit to build up. They appear to be allowing - and I might add, to build up and to grow - so that they will be able to justify their ideological agenda of hacking and slashing government.

There is ample indication of this in the rhetoric of both the Throne Speech and the Budget Address. They are trying to pave the way for privatization and the elimination of services that Nova Scotians depend upon. Their smaller government is their way of saying to hit the public sector again, Cameron and Savage them yet again, and, Mr. Speaker, if I get a chance and time, I will come back to that again.

Government is about choices and choices do have to be made, there is no question in that at all. The debts and deficits were not developed overnight, nor can they be overcome overnight. Priorities must be set and we need to do things differently. We should not be trying to simply follow the same ideological route travelled by Don Cameron and John Savage, which is exactly what John Hamm and his Tories appear to be trying to do. All Nova Scotians have seen where that got us and, except for a very select few, we are still paying the price for it and our children will be for years to come. Those policies have failed.

Just because the minister says we are travelling a different road, or a route less travelled, give it a break, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Finance is doing exactly - in the rhetoric, and everything that is leading up to it - what Don Cameron did, and of course he was a member of that Cabinet, as he was, John Buchanan's. Let's not forget, I know it would be

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helpful to the Tories if we forgot about the John Buchanan era and all the debts and bad practices they developed. It is also the same kind of rhetoric that preceded the Liberal budgets of Dr. Savage.

Mr. Speaker, a key to gaining the support and involvement of Nova Scotians in developing the necessary long-term plan, is credibility built on trust. Let's look at that. During the election, Dr. Hamm said while launching the Tory blue book, "As Premier I will lead a government of honesty, integrity and compassion.". Even if I may be of a different political stripe, I truly wanted to believe that; members of our caucus wanted to believe that. Even though we were disappointed we were not elected, we were counting on that, it gave us some comfort. This isn't about us in here, this is about Nova Scotians. It is about your communities, your families, your constituents' families, the seniors, working men and women in this province, businesses large and small, cooperatives, our children, our province's future and our children's future. It is not about us 52 members in here. So we had some hope: honesty, integrity, compassion.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, with this budget the Tories are showing themselves to be a Party quite different from the one that Nova Scotians thought they were voting for on July 27th. This is, I say again - and to put it mildly - extremely disappointing, and it cuts to the very core of that trust and credibility that you must establish. Nova Scotians could be excused for saying - after hearing the Throne Speech and the budget - same old, same old, because once again the trust appears to have been broken.

Let's look briefly at the honesty, integrity and compassion. On compassion; first, the Tories kept some of the most harsh cuts contained in the defeated Liberal budget of June. The Tories' budget maintained, among other things, the deep spending cuts to social programs for income support, diabetic assistance and seniors' programs proposed by the Liberals. In addition, just among a few of the things, the Tories have eliminated the $2.1 Winter Works Project that was aimed at helping families that are in need to put food on their tables through productive work during times of high unemployment and in areas of high unemployment, much of that or most of that in rural areas the backbenchers on the Tory benches represent.

Yet the Tory Government has money to hire Alfie MacLeod - a defeated Tory MLA and former employee in the Tory caucus - to run the Sydney office. Mr. Speaker, I, personally, very much like Elfie. I consider him to be a friend and I do say honestly that I truly have a great deal of respect for him as an individual and I like him as a person, but he has got year-round employment. He has year-round employment and my personal views and like for Alfie does not alter the obvious and apparent injustice.

The Tories' budget also spoke about the $2 million in the Charitable Casino Community Enhancement Program. This is a profit from the Sydney casino that was supposed to go to the charities already reeling from reduced government assistance; some charity. The government has said that they now are more deserving and more needing of that money than

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the food banks, than those who are homeless, than all those other volunteer groups and charities that are trying to provide essential programs and services to Nova Scotia. The Tories have indicated they are even more addicted to gambling revenues than the Liberals before them. Those items contained in the 243 Tory campaign promises, I think not (Interruption) I do not know, how much time do I have left?

MR. SPEAKER: Twelve minutes.

MR. HOLM: Twelve minutes, I will give you your 10 minutes then because I have got 12 minutes left.

Let's look at honest and integrity. When unveiling the Tory plan, Premier Hamm said, "First and foremost our priority will be to stabilize our health care system.". He dedicated half of the Tory report card to health care promises. During the Speech from the Throne, on Page 7, the Premier redefined the first priority as a healthy society, but dropped some of the health promises made during the election campaign. The budget does not even describe health care as a priority. It suggests rather that the government's goal is to provide only basic health care. Credibility, honesty, integrity, compassion - the Hamm Government has failed its own test.

Let's look at some of the specifics, Mr. Speaker, of the election promises for year one and let's check the Tory report card because we are in year one. Election promise, year one commitments, $6.2 million in new money for more full-time nurses within six months of being elected. As recently as the Speech from the Throne, that commitment was made. Look at the budget. You cannot find that money. It has disappeared, it appears; it is gone. What happened to that handshake?

Nursing training, $1.8 million. I have not found any new money in this budget for that promised nursing training. There was supposed to be $30 million for new IT and medical technology - only $3.2 million. That is about 10 per cent for that new technology in the budget, Mr. Speaker. These are all year one and we are in year one as you well know; $1 million for wellness promotion, disease prevention programs, that was promised, year one. The platform specifically addressed tobacco use by school children as a priority. However, last year's estimates for the Tobacco Control Unit was $404,000; this year's budget - $309,000. Is that how something becomes a priority, a 25 per cent reduction? The line for Community Health Services under Strategic Health Services has been wiped out altogether. Public Health Services have been further reduced. No new money in the budget for the program.

[11:30 a.m.]

I am sure that must have been another oversight, obviously, because the Tories would not be intending to break their bond with Nova Scotians that they made just a few short months ago. There was to be - it was committed in your blue book, take it out, reread it -

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$1.5 million to implement the Kaufman Report in year one. What do we have? Two hundred thousand dollars for the Public Prosecution Service to implement the report, a little over 10 per cent. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in new funding for the Senior Citizens' Secretariat was supposed to be there. No new funding for the Senior Citizens' Secretariat. Three hundred thousand dollars for adoption right-to-know legislation; no new money for the new legislation.

Total, $46.5 million in new spending in year one, and Dr. Hamm called these the most critical investments. What we got, $5.5 million. The goal in the election campaign that each and every one of you ran in, the goal of balancing the budget in year two, that is 2000-01, and definitely, however, with no red ink by year three, 2001-02.

Now the Tories are saying year one - this year - doesn't count; it doesn't count. So now you are saying year one is really year two. Now you are saying the budget will not be balanced until the year 2002-03. You know the Tories mocked us when we wouldn't make a commitment to balance it before that time. We had no vision, we had no commitment they said. You can play all the shell games you want, you are now saying that your earliest date would be the earliest date that we had proposed.

You said that the Health Department could be run on $1.5 billion. Health is now budgeted at $1.7 billion. Dr. Hamm said that he would not work without a plan. Of course, why would he have to, because they said in July we have a plan. Well, where is the plan? It has been deleted. They are now looking for six months to develop it.

When the Finance Minister was looking at the Liberals' budget in June, he criticized them for using up the full $52.7 million in the federal compensation for harmonization in year one and all the $107 million that was proposed to be taken up from the CHST one-time transfer, because there won't be any money left for future years. What did he do? Golly, it is all gone. He did exactly that which he accused and criticized the former government of doing.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is the definition of hypocrisy?

MR. HOLM: I don't know what the definition of hypocrisy is, but I think it might go something like T-O-R-Y G-O-V-E-R-N-M-E-N-T.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is that?

MR. HOLM: I don't know if they can catch on to that.

I listened last night to the news, where the Premier was being interviewed. He said something - and these aren't his exact words but the essence of it goes something like this - he told Nova Scotians that it was going to be very bitter medicine, but that the results would

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be a cure. I wasn't sure which doctor I was listening to. I seem to remember that same prescription being prescribed a few years ago by another doctor.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the government, it does appear, has an agenda. It is not all that far hidden. They are talking about making government smaller which means downsizing, laying off, eliminating programs, contracting out and we have seen where that counts.

You know, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance said that every Crown Corporation is up for review and could be sold. We saw where that got us with Nova Scotia Power. I remember the news articles where Dr. Hamm said that he ran because he said that he admired the policies of Don Cameron. You know, the Minister of Finance agrees with the privatization as well. Surely he should because he voted for it. We were told we were going to have lower prices, better service and you know, I don't remember seeing the service improve. I don't remember the electrical rates going down but I do know when it was depoliticized and told to run as an efficient business operation, the profits skyrocketed.

MR. SPEAKER: You have five minutes.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, now they are making about as much profit every year as Nova Scotians got in total for selling it. Instead of firing the president, who was a former Tory Member of Parliament, might I add, instead of firing him and giving instructions that the Power Corporation will be run in an efficient, business-like manner and the profits paid back to pay off the debt and to pay a dividend to Nova Scotia, instead of doing that, they sold it and shareholders are laughing all the way to the bank.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is no surprise that certain business interests are lining up and saying, oh yes, I think it is a good idea to sell some more Crown Corporations. Where can we make more money. Run them efficiently, throw away your ideology, honour your commitments, take charge, get rid of the backroom people who must be telling you what to do. You are the elected representatives, not your backroom cronies who are sitting back there telling you what to do.

This government, this Premier, and each and every one of you, all 30 members, gave your word, made a bond. It is an ethical question. It is a fundamental, ethical question. Are you going to honour your commitments? Are you going to earn the trust, or maybe I should say maintain the trust, Nova Scotians placed in you by electing you, or are you going to betray that trust, set a new agenda, again? Are you going to turn your assault on the most vulnerable within this society? Are you going to cut and slash, particularly at those programs aimed at helping the least disadvantaged, those who have the least in terms of lobbying power and influence in the back rooms, or are you going to honour the commitment of honesty, integrity and compassion? That is a fundamental and ethical question each and every one of you have to ask.

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I don't expect you to be standing up here during this Budget Address and to be blasting your colleagues on the front benches but surely, Mr. Speaker, your constituents have a right to expect that you will be doing anything and everything you can to drive this government away from what is their obvious agenda.

Nova Scotians, public sector workers, should not have to keep their heads down waiting for the axe to fall next June. Let's work it through, let's work it through together, let's grow the economy. We can, working together, undo a lot of the damage that has been done in the past by both Tory and Liberal mismanagement. Let's have some optimism, let's grow the economy, and let's stop playing games with Nova Scotians. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to be able to address, today, the members of the Legislative Assembly on the budget that was just presented. I note with interest Dr. Hamm, a Progressive Conservative said no to our plan just a number of months ago. I asked the question, and so did Nova Scotians after listening to the budget yesterday, where is their plan? Where is their vision and where is the direction they are taking this province clearly at this point in time?

Mr. Speaker, I remember listening during the election debates, the election initiatives that were going on, the radio advertisements saying, by the Leader, we have a vision, a vision for the future of this province. We have a very clearly-defined plan of where we want to take this province for the future. I remember listening to the vision of the Premier and the plan about balancing the budget in the year 2001-02. I remember listening to the Premier state about his vision and his plan about health care, that it can be fixed very simply because all you need is about $46 million in the system and it will be sustainable, it will be predictable and it will be able to not grow at the current rate of costs that we are seeing in the province today.

I remember the Premier stating, in the last two weeks during the election campaign, about his vision and his plan for rural growth and rural economy and about how the future of this province could be built in an effort of self-reliance and sustainability and that all areas of this province would have an opportunity to prosper. I listened to those comments by the now Premier and the Progressive Conservative Party, and I ask the question, where is this vision? In fact, I think if the Premier felt that he had a clear vision during that time and after listening to yesterday's Budget Speech, I believe maybe the Premier might need laser treatment so that he can see clearly, and let us see more clearly what his vision really is.

I want to start off by congratulating the Progressive Conservative Government for following through on a plan that the Liberal Government had actually initiated some months ago. What we have seen in this budget presentation, yesterday, and what we have seen so far by the Progressive Conservative Government is their willingness and wanting and desire to emulate many of the successes that the Liberal Government have brought in since 1993. They

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have tried to emulate and duplicate many of the initiatives that we feel are important for not only growing the economy, in building a dynamic province, and by educating our people, and looking after the health and well-being of our society, and at the same time, living within a fiscal mandate that will provide opportunity for our children in the future.

I want to start off with the initiative of the consolidation of debt. For that I compliment the minister, I compliment the Premier and his Cabinet colleagues and his caucus colleagues for following through and emulating what we had actually started back in 1998-99. Before we do that, I think it is important for members, especially the new members of the House to remember back to 1993. I know we don't want to go back any further than that, I realize that, the Minister of Finance in many of his areas says let's not dwell on the past, we will go to the future, so let's just back to 1992-93, when we took over from a previous government that had this province in a fairly substantial negative position economically. The economy was flat, private sector investment basically didn't exist. The GDP of the province was less than 1 per cent. The unemployment rate was 14.5 per cent. We remember all those days.

I remember that we as a government took over and in a very short period of time realized that once we were elected and had the honour to represent the people of this province, that we were not here just because we won the election and sit back idly by, we had to make some tough decisions. We had to lay out a plan, that would build a stronger and more determined Province of Nova Scotia. I remember when we balanced the ordinary budget of the Province of Nova Scotia, and that was a major coup because never, for many years, did we see, probably 20 years, the ordinary budget of the Province of Scotia, the ordinary expenses, in balance.

[11:45 a.m.]

Then I remember, we moved the benchmark a little higher and when we balanced off ordinary and capital, a major coup, a major initiative that had not been done for a long time. But we did that because we knew we were on the road to recovery with regard to coming into fiscal balance. What we did, we also brought in the issue of disclosure of Crown Corporations which were never disclosed to the degree that we have been able to do. I remember, all too well, a couple of years ago, when I had the opportunity to talk to the Auditor General about the finances of the Province of Nova Scotia, the Auditor General stating to me that he remembered back in 1993 on an accounting basis, the Province of Nova Scotia was in a terrible state of affairs. He indicated to me that of the 10 provinces and two territories, that Nova Scotia ranked 13th. That was deplorable because we never realized the true magnitude of the problems in the Province of Nova Scotia. It sometimes took a year, maybe two years, before we had full disclosure of what was going on.

Things were done for whatever purpose but they were not right and so what we were doing over the last five to six years was crawling our way out of the mismanagement and the way we accounted for things in the Province of Nova Scotia, to the extent where, when we

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brought in the budget of 1998-99, we indicated very clearly, with the support of the Auditor General, that the initiative of consolidation of debt was the right direction. We would move from the middle of the pack of where we were, with all the initiatives we undertook, to be leaders in a country. For that, I felt it was a right initiative. That is why we brought it in and indicated to all Nova Scotians, within two years, we will be implementing that. That is why I compliment the minister and the government for moving toward consolidation of debt.

He has done it in an interesting way. He has done it in a way that instead of doing the proper understanding of what this really means and how you set it up, he had time in the 60 days of taking over government to do it right away. Now I heard in the debates and I heard in the presentations by the minister that they had time to do that but they did not have time to establish a plan of how they are going to move forward. He didn't have time to develop a budget, a budget that would talk about putting his fiscal house in order. What we have seen is a government that has basically gone to sleep for this fiscal year and said that they will deal with the problem in their budget next year.

I think that's disgraceful; I think that's wrong. I think that is taking away the responsibility that they truly have as elected officials in the Government of Nova Scotia because that delay in making tough decisions, Mr. Speaker, is only going to compound the problem later on. It is going to mean additional pain for our Civil Service, our government employees, private sector and small business and our children in the future by sitting back. Maybe they took literally what the Premier said during the summer, after the election, let's stop, everybody go to the beaches and have a barbeque and relax. Well, maybe he wanted Nova Scotians to relax but they, as government, should not have relaxed. They had the opportunity to start making some tough decisions.

What is so surprising, when they had the opportunity, whether it is productivity, savings or whatever it is to make tough decisions, do you know what they did? They went back and took away $2.2 million from charities. Yet, they got a $4.6 billion budget for which they can start grappling with the big issues. They were afraid to deal with it. No guts, no plan, no vision that should have been dealt with today and not left for future generations to have to deal with as they progress down this road of so-called fiscal recovery.

Today I want to talk about the Progressive Conservative's plan re the budget. We are right at the beginning of a new millennium, a very important time for our society, a very important time for our country and a very important time on a global basis. I remember as we approach this new millennium that the now Premier stated during the election campaign that the problems are not going to be all that great that we can't solve right away. I remember health care initiatives (Interruption) Good, Robert, I appreciate that. I remember all too well on the issue of health care for which the Progressive Conservative Government said no to us on our plan. I remember the debate after the budget that they would not support the investment in health care so that we could be able to get health care sustainable, dependable, predictable and reduce the cost escalator in health care; they said no to that initiative.

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Dr. Hamm said, for $46 million we can fix this problem. You see these commercials on TV that you can have this big whatever for one-half the price or one-third of the price or one-tenth of the price that anybody is saying. You have to figure there is something wrong here; $46 million will fix the problem. I remember how Dr. Hamm had said that our plan was wrong; it was wrong to invest in the health care initiatives; it was wrong to invest in health care in the areas that we talked about. Well, let's compare this budget that was presented yesterday and our plan that was only a few months ago.

Our plan talked about $250 million additional investment in the health fund. We talked about $250 million in year one that would be there on an accountable basis, one that we said that number one, the Department of Health and the health boards will have to be accountable to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. We said that it has to be sustainable. We said that the Auditor General will be reviewing every investment we make so that we can determine that we are getting a return on investment to Nova Scotians and that those investments are going to pay dividends in the long-term costs of health care. I remember that we talked about, very clearly, bringing legislation in to make sure that the health investment initiatives would be clear, open and transparent to all Nova Scotians.

Those are very substantive efforts on behalf of a government, a government that says we are daring to be bold enough to go forward to make the right decisions in health care so that not only long term can we have it sustainable but, more importantly, we can slow the rapid rate of growth that health care is consuming in the Province of Nova Scotia. Health represents over 46 per cent of the budget and if you don't control the high escalating costs of health care, it is going to consume areas of Natural Resources and Agriculture's budgets and all the other budgets in a very short period of time.

So clearly we had a vision of where we wanted to go under the leadership of our then Premier and now Leader of the Liberal Party; a plan that was sustainable, a plan that was predictable, a plan that put accountability into the system and transparency that all could see. So, let's compare what we have in this budget.

Well, the number one issue that is facing all Nova Scotians, and we all agree, is health care. There are three lines in the budget that refer to health care. As stated in the budget, they overspent the budget by not $46 million, not $146 million but $204.6 million in Health; $204.6 million in Health. It is phrased in the document as being the previous Health Investment Fund. I ask the questions, well, if they spent $204.6 million additional in the Health budget, where is the difference? What did they spend it on?

What I found out is, number one, the Y2K initiatives are a little less expensive than they were before, so that is a saving. But they didn't invest in the infrastructure and the technology that is required to make the health system less expensive in the future. So, yes, they squandered the $204.6 million away and didn't invest in the area that is going to give them a return on investment; didn't give them an opportunity to reduce the long-term costs of

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health care. They negated their responsibility on that initiative. Instead of investing in areas to reduce long-term costs, they let it go away and wasted the opportunity to have fiscal control in years to come.

On top of that, in the budget that we presented back in June, we talked about the fact that there is a $35 million opportunity through the science and technology initiatives out of Ottawa. Those science and technology initiatives that we could access, dollars that we could access out of the federal system, were there to be able to take advantage of the technology required in the health care system. We had been negotiating with Ottawa on those initiatives. We missed the opportunity, here, of investing in health care technology to reduce the costs, but we also missed the opportunity of accessing those millions of dollars up there in Ottawa, to help Nova Scotia financially in the future; a waste, Mr. Speaker, an absolute waste of opportunity.

This is an area that no plan was given consideration to, no opportunity was given to take advantage of those dollars. Even if you took a look at those dollars in Ottawa and divided them on a per capita basis, we would access $95 million. Well, you are not going to get it just because you have a population base, you are going to get it because you are investing in areas where it is going to have long-term sustainability to a health care system; you are going to have predictability and you are going to reduce costs in the long run and be able to provide quality health care to the people of Nova Scotia. What I saw yesterday, Mr. Speaker, was no plan, there is no accountability and no value for the $204 million that they put in. They forgot to invest in the areas that they should have.

Our plan said that it was a bold initiative, one that will provide benefit to Nova Scotians. They said, no; their option today was not $48 million or $46 million to fix the problem, but in all reality they have basically squandered the opportunity of a very important initiative.

Regarding the Health Investment Fund, not only did we have a plan on how the program would go forward and the accountability - reporting back to the public of Nova Scotia - we also had a plan on how it would be paid for. We have not seen that initiative yet, except for the fact that they have gone on to review all of the other initiatives, but we have not seen their specific plan of how they are going to do it, and I will talk about that in a minute.

One of the initiatives that has gone on is the issue of taxation. I said very clearly - during the Budget Speech that I had the honour to present - when it comes to health care, we have four options. Health care is important whether the backbenchers in the Progressive Conservative Government understand or not, and I am sure they do because they are very caring and concerned individuals or they would not have run. It is the same with all Parties; I believe that fundamentally, and I think they care about where this province is going.

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There are four options in health care that are important for you to understand. You either invest the money to fix the problem, or you establish a two-tiered health care system, or you slash and burn, or you increase taxes. There is no other way that you are going to be able to have sustainability in the health care system unless you deal with the issue of health care and bring the escalator down.

Mr. Speaker, they have had 60 days to develop a plan but, more importantly, they have had 70 hours of debate prior to that. But, even more importantly than that, they have had six years to sit down and develop a strategy and a plan on where they are going to go, one that they could roll out when the election was called and roll out if they were to take over power. They called the election, they made the election a reality, they charged $6 million to the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia to have this election, and Nova Scotians gave them the opportunity, the privilege, to represent them, and yet we have not seen the specifics of a plan, except innuendo and platitudes, but no real reality. What we have seen is efforts on accounting, which are important, but they cannot hide behind the veil of consolidation of debt; they cannot hide behind that forever. They are there to govern; they are there to move forward.

Let's talk about the economy, because there is not an awful lot in here that deals with the issue of economic opportunity and growth in the province. Again, the Liberal Government, in 1993, had a plan; we had a very clear plan. As I indicated earlier, the Province of Nova Scotia was, if you use the analogy out of a hospital, it needed to be defibrillated; you know, we are having a heart attack, we are in serious shape, we are in an emergency ward. As I indicated, the unemployment rate was 14.5 per cent. When we left it was about 9.6 per cent. The GDP of the province was flat. The GDP of the province was around 3 per cent when we left; in fact, one of the fastest growing economies anywhere in Atlantic Canada and anywhere in the country.

[12:00 p.m.]

The private sector investments in the economy of the Province of Nova Scotia led the nation. We led the nation for the last number of years in private sector investment. We have created an environment to foster economic growth, self-reliance as they would refer to it, and I do not disagree with that, but not on the backs of all. We built that initiative. We rebuilt that and the private sector did. It was done through a number of initiatives. It was done because we were aggressively pursuing business and economic opportunity.

We provided tax initiatives that have helped stimulate the economy. We put, in the last budget, an initiative called the enterprise zones that talk about economic opportunity for rural Nova Scotia because whether they accept it or not, we have two economies. We have the hot economy here in Halifax in the HRM area that is growing and flourishing. We have seen phenomenal numbers and recoveries in these initiatives. We have problems here but, generally speaking, the economy here is doing reasonably well, but we have got rural areas that are not

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quite as robust and that is why we have two economies and that is why we brought forward a plan called the enterprise zones - for rural development, Mr. Speaker.

In this budget I have not seen too much about the initiatives for rural development. We brought in programs that actually built on the new emerging industries, such as the multi-media initiative. We brought in areas for the film tax credit to be increased in areas such as say Shelburne, Shelburne that has a facility, but now they have lost the additional tax credits for film enhancements. We talked about tax holidays for small mom and dad, family-run businesses, that can actually grow the economy. They have taken those all away. So they said to the enterprise zones, the areas of the province, like Cape Breton, or Yarmouth, or anywhere in this province that had problems, they said no, to the initiatives that would help create jobs and economic opportunity.

What have the Tories done on the other side to deal with this initiative? They, obviously, do not have a plan for rural Nova Scotia. I applaud them for their efforts in agriculture with regard to the drought problem, but I do not think Nova Scotians should be taken away too far on that initiative because what they have done is really, again, emulated what the Liberal Government did a year ago. We established a $20 million fund to help the drought-stricken farmers throughout the Province of Nova Scotia. The payment structures were on a $4 million per year basis. You know what they did? They did not give $10 million over and above that. They took the first $4 million and clawed out $6 million out of the forward year's and brought them into this year to help the farmers.

I am glad that the farmers are helped, Mr. Speaker, and I understand that problem. I have driven down there. I have talked to the farmers and it is real. It is a real problem and I applaud them for helping in that area, but they have used the program that we actually built to do that. What I have not seen is really serious initiatives to help grow and stimulate economic prosperity because, as the Minister of Finance knows, to balance it off, you have to reduce costs and you have to increase revenues. Increased revenues, in our view, were done by growing the economy, not by increasing taxation. What we have seen here today and yesterday is maybe what the Progressive Conservative Government is really planning to do with our plan and that is an area of increasing taxation.

They have taken away a Winter Works Program that is important to many areas of this province, but I want to deal with the issue of taxes. I remember the election campaign all too well. It is ingrained in my mind when they talked about, our plan for the future of this province is to reduce taxes. I applaud them for that and I said, my gosh, that is great. Taxation reduction is again emulating the Liberal plan for the future of this province. I remember them saying, we will do it in a very short period of time. I think they got mixed up in the years in listening to the debate here the last couple of days. Well, maybe the Premier made a mistake on his year, account, whatever, but nevertheless they are moving in that direction.

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Let us go back and compare a little bit. It was a Liberal Government that actually reduced the personal income tax, provincial side, in our administration, reduced for the Province of Nova Scotia. That is the first personal income tax reduction in the history of the Province of Nova Scotia, and it was done with a Liberal Administration. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear! Hear!

MR. DOWNE: We turned around, Mr. Speaker, and then what we did is, when the federal Liberal Government reduced personal income taxes, we flowed it through the Province of Nova Scotia so that Nova Scotians now have $60 million more in their pockets today than they had when we took over in 1993. That $60 million more is monies that will be spent throughout the Province of Nova Scotia, in all areas of this province.

I listened with great interest to what the initiatives will be for the Progressive Conservative Government, which I believed were moving in the right direction. Well, do you know what they have done? They knew the consolidation of debt was right; they knew that they had to move forward on it. They knew that we said in our budget the blueprint for the consolidation of debt would take a couple of years because it is a complex issue, but yet they had it figured out and dealt with in 60 days. But they didn't have figured out how they were going to deal with the impact of that decision in 60 days. They didn't have the plan in 60 days; they didn't have the vision where it is going in 60 days, but, instead, they want to go to sleep like bears in the winter for another six months until they develop their plan for the future.

Seeing that the problem is so great, we all knew that when you consolidate the debt of the province and bring on the boards and everything to the balance sheet, you are going to ramp up the numbers, and let us be very candid, Mr. Speaker, the overall numbers of the province have not changed. They are the same today as they were yesterday, as they were six months ago, but the difference is in the accounting procedure. In that accounting procedure they knew the impact, and yet they said they were not going to increase taxes. Yet yesterday the minister, in his budget facts sheet, tables a tax review. A tax review, $171 million of tax review.

Now, what the minister is saying and what the Premier is saying, is that if we think these taxes are okay, we will leave them alone. They are not okay according to the Progressive Conservative Government, they are going to be reviewed and we are going to take a look at issues of charities, which is obvious; the $2.2 million is gone, but other charities, printed books, people with disabilities, volunteer fire departments, which the Minister of Justice announced - I don't know how many times in election campaigns, because his riding is next to mine and I heard it all the time - they were going to review that.

They talked about municipalities, Mr. Speaker; downloading more pressure on the municipalities by this government. They are talking about new home construction which stimulated economic growth in jobs because we led the nation in housing starts in the

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Province of Nova Scotia; they are trying to shut that process down. Monies for universities. Let us face it, if you take away the subsidies for universities, students are going to pay the bill. Schools, hospitals and other areas. A $171 million review. Where is their plan? They are trying to find it as they stumble through the rest of this fiscal year.

They talk the talk, but they don't walk the walk. They talk about tax reduction, fiscal responsibility, self-reliance, strength of the economy, growing it further, standing on our own two feet, and building this economy that will be able to last the test of time but, at the same time, Mr. Speaker, they are whittling away at the foundation of what this province is all about. I don't think Nova Scotians voted to have tax increases; I don't remember Nova Scotians saying, yes, we want to vote for a government that will increase taxes. I think they sold to Nova Scotians they were going to reduce taxes, and I don't believe they are going to do that.

Mr. Speaker, Premier Hamm talked about decoupling the federal system. I read Premier Harris' document, the Premier of Ontario's plan on taxation reform. I read the documents about how they want to have their own tax structure. In the document it says the reason we want to do this is that if the federal government increases taxes, we don't want to have to do that for our people. Well, that is very good, but the reality is the federal Liberal Government had been reducing taxation across this country and, in fact, they are going to reduce it again in the next budget.

What the Premier is saying is that he wants to decouple that so that he doesn't have to pass those savings and those tax dollars back to the pockets of the people of Nova Scotia. We did. We understand the complexity and the pressures of governing this province. We have the scars to show for it. We had the galleries full of people and the death threats that were given to all of us in Cabinet when we made the tough decisions. We understand that issue. I have the scars and my family has those scars. They are not prepared to show the leadership and governance, because what they want to do is now grab the benefit back to the Province of Nova Scotia and not to the people of this province. That decoupling issue is important to know.

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, the Liberal agenda was to lower taxes, and we had done that. The Leader of the Liberal Party, the previous Leader and the current Leader both realized the importance of the ability to lower taxes and allow the economy to grow, create that environment to make it happen. Yet, we heard this government say yesterday that they are going to review. If they are going to review, they are reviewing with the idea to claw back.

One only has to look at the announcements that were made yesterday in regard to the $2.2 million for charities. You have a $4.6 billion budget, you have $4.6 billion of revenue and your revenues are up $72 million more than what we thought when we were in power a few months ago; $72 million more to work with. Instead of coming up with leadership

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decisions, making some tough initiatives. For example, in your document you talk about that $60 million productivity savings gone, like it didn't exist. I can tell you, that is about 1.5 cents of every dollar spent kept; one and one-half pennies of every dollar to be able to find that $60 million.

Do you mean to say that this group of self-reliant Conservatives, that are fiscally founded on the foundation of making sure monies are properly spent, couldn't find one and one-half pennies out of every dollar so that they didn't have to go after a $2.2 million charity program that helped kids and food banks and other essential services throughout Nova Scotia? I say that is appalling. That is a cop-out. That is unrealistic.

They said they didn't have time to deal with this. Well, they had time to be able to bring in a very fundamental Liberal initiative on consolidation of debt. They had time to be able to do certain things for certain people, but they did not have time to make tough decisions that they should have been able to make. We made them, and I challenge them to stand up and start making some tough decisions instead of hiding behind a veil of this so-called consolidation of debt and inability to show true leadership.

Mr. Speaker, I don't remember the member's name, but he talked about friendship, and we should have friendship and we should have decorum in the House and we should try to make this province work. I am committed as an Opposition member to work with anybody on the other side of this House to do something positive for Nova Scotia. I happen to be Agriculture Critic and I have already spoken to the Minister of Agriculture and I said, if there is anything I can do to work with you to find solutions to the agricultural issue, I will.

The Minister of Tourism and Culture, I praised him today for an initiative that is right for this province, I praised the Minister of Finance for the consolidation of debt because it is the right thing to do and I praised the Premier for having the guts to go ahead and do it, but I cannot praise the fact that they are not prepared to do something about it. It is like being in a horse race; the gate opens and they stop. Everybody is hyped about this race, and yet they are not going to do anything for four months. It is wrong.

[12:15 p.m.]

I think Nova Scotians are frustrated, and I am frustrated. We are here as representatives of this province to actually do something positive for the people of this province. I don't know, I hope they are committed to do that in the future, because we need it. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, they refer to breaking the horse's legs so it couldn't run. If he wants to go back to 1988 and 1989 and 1990 and 1991 and 1992, breaking the backs of the people of the Province of Nova Scotia, destroying the economic opportunities, destroying the economic foundation of this province, let them stand up and be accountable. Let them stand up and be

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accountable. If they want to throw darts, let them throw them, but I have to tell you something, there is always another side to that dart. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: I didn't want to go there, and I won't go there. I will stay away from that. The reality is, we have go to start moving . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member entertain a question?

MR. DOWNE: I will a little later. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I will entertain a question a little later on, but I just want to follow my train of thought. We are here to move forward with the agenda for the Province of Nova Scotia, whether it is quality of life for our people, whether it is enhancement of the educational system so that our children will be able to meet their many challenges in the future, or whether it is to deal with the issues of very serious financial situations that we have all known that we have been in for a long time, and the ability to make some tough decisions that are the right decisions for this province.

I am prepared to support the rights decisions for the Province of Nova Scotia. I have a dream too, as you do, and a vision that some day our children won't have to leave this province to find opportunity. I know the Minister of Economic Development and the Petroleum Directorate and Transportation have a similar vision about his area and his province. I believe the Minister of Finance cares about that initiative. The day that we can see opportunities for our children here at home so that they don't have to start looking at Ontario or elsewhere to find a future, I am prepared to support initiatives that will show that to be true. We, as a Liberal Government, believed in that initiative.

We, as a Liberal Government, had started to see great signs of being able to build a stronger province. When we look at the Gross Domestic Product numbers on this sheet right here in the budget, it shows we were successful. When you look at the per capita income in the Province of Nova Scotia, going all in the right direction, it means that we are on the right agenda.

Mr. Speaker, I want to make sure that their agenda, their vision will in fact be the part of enhancing and emulating the initiatives that we as a Liberal Government have undertaken in the past. The Progressive Conservative Government wanted an election. They said, we need an election because we are not happy with the way it was. They wanted the honour, the privilege, not necessarily the prestige, I would hope that is not what they wanted, but the honour and the privilege to be able to represent our province.

I want them to know that with that honour comes the issue of leadership, comes the issue of decision makers. It is an honour that says that you have to be prepared to lead and govern. When I watched the last couple of days and maybe people can kind of get full of

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themselves about their situation, I would hope that the front benches stay humble enough, not only to be able to relate to their caucus members about their initiatives, but to stay humble enough so that the people of Nova Scotia can be able to talk to them and be able to express to them their views and their opportunities.

I hope this government stays humble enough to realize that tides come in and out. I know, when I look across the way and I see a few there that have been there before and have been there for a long time, they realize tides change. Tides change, they come in and they go out. The reason they do that is because they lose sight of maybe where they are or they are confused or they are frustrated. I hope that that group over there doesn't go so far with their self-importance that they lose sight of the fact that we are all part of this province to make it work.

Before I close, somebody had wanted to ask me a question and I would love to hear that question now.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: The honourable member was giving quite a list of years, I believe. He was recounting events that went on and I noticed that he did not mention anything from 1993 to 1999. I wonder if he could inform the House as to who was in power in that period of time?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the newly-added member of the Cabinet, I listened to his presentation the other day and I was quite impressed. I really sincerely was. I felt this member, who had been here before and had the honour to represent a different constituency years previously, really spoke very well - humorous, insightful, sensitive to the initiatives or to the people who are here, and I respected the comments that he made. I do not think he has been here to listen to my speech, but the essence of my speech is that the Progressive Conservative Government seems to want to emulate many of the initiatives we have done. So I have spent most of my speech talking about 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999. I will send you a copy of Hansard so you can read it over, but I did talk about that.

What I did say, clearly, and I support the comments of the Minister of Finance, you do not always want to go back to go forward. I did not try to go back. I did not go back to the 1980's and the 1970's. I did not do that until I was questioned about where we are today. I do not want to get into that. I want to get going on the future of this province.

The other aspect of this budget, Mr. Speaker, that I think deserves the scrutiny of the House is the remote possibility that there could be a Trojan Horse built within the budgetary numbers of the Province of Nova Scotia. I would not want to believe that this current government in changing the accounting procedure of the full accounting consolidation of debt would ever try to bury some of the 243 promises in their accounting procedure and blame

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some other government for it for their political gain, but we will be watching to see if that happens.

We will be watching to make sure that, as the Minister of Finance, and I believe and trust the Minister of Finance, when he says that we want to be honest, we want to be transparent, we will have integrity and we will not mislead Nova Scotians. I trust the Minister of Finance and that statement because I believe he is a sincere guy, but if I find five cents of misused money to meet 243 promises on the backs of distorting some concept of where we are in the Province of Nova Scotia, then I would ask him to resign, as he should, by what he said yesterday. (Interruption) Five cents, well, maybe 10 cents.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is time for me - how much time do I have actually? I could go on longer.

MR. SPEAKER: Nineteen minutes.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, we, as a Liberal Party, clearly understand the reality and the importance of governing this province. We, as a Liberal Party, understand that decisions are tough to make. Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are not so good. Sometimes they are popular; sometimes they are not popular. My hope is that this government will start making some decisions.

We have not seen a vision or a plan laid out. We have not seen a direction or a focus. I, for one, feel very frustrated at the fact that this government has not been prepared to make some tough decisions on initiatives that are already under way in regard to this fiscal year. I am disappointed that the $60 million productivity savings were not embellished and moved forward on. I know the staff of the Department of Finance, I know the staff of other departments were fully prepared to engage the $60 million productivity saving from the get-go, and they knew how important that was to this province. I knew during the election campaign, because I called to make sure that they were reviewing and looking for ways to save money, so this would have been an easy transition. In fact, I had told my staff very clearly after the election - and I respect the decision of the public - that I wanted the new Minister of Finance to have 100 per cent cooperation; I wanted him to have all the information. I am sure that the Minister of Finance was greeted with open arms and was given all the information that I had.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I think it is very important, and I usually wouldn't interrupt the member's speech, but I will get up because the honourable member says that the planning was done and he informed the staff to tell me about this productivity and that I should proceed. I did speak to the staff and the staff said that $60 million of efficiencies were put into the budget that were not planned for. I cannot be any clearer than that.

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MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that when they went through the list of issues such as air fare, cell phone usage - I listed them off when I presented my budget back on June 1st; in fact, if the minister wants, I can send him a copy of some of those initiatives that were outlined in the budget presentation on June 1st. I don't know if maybe he misunderstood what they said; I don't believe the staff would not admit to the fact that we had a number of initiatives under way on productivity savings in the Department of Finance. Be that as it may, we had some initiatives that could be dealt with. My concern is why this government has not gone ahead and made some tough decisions on that.

Mr. Speaker, I might have a few minutes left, but I really don't want to take any more time, other than to say that I think this budget we just had presented to us yesterday, has some right areas with regard to the consolidation of debt, but at the same time I think they have lost and missed a lot of great opportunities; opportunities that would be very beneficial to us all; opportunities to be able to save additional money; opportunities to be able to set a course that would give us full consolidation of debate but, at the same time, helping us with the fiscal issues that are there. I think this agenda we are seeing by the Progressive Conservative Government is, make it up as we go. That seems to be the strategy, and I don't think that is the right strategy.

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated before, we had a plan, we had a very clear vision. I have not seen their plan, but I can tell you that the clock is ticking and they had better get a plan and lay it out to Nova Scotians very quickly. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The Estimates are referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[12:28 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[12:36 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

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THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 2.

Bill No. 2 - Costs and Fees Act and Probate Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on these amendments today that we are bringing forward to the Probate Act and the Cost and Fees Act. These amendments could really be described as housekeeping in nature as they are really quite straightforward. We are bringing forward amendments to the Probate Act in response to a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Eurig case. In that case, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that probate fees established by regulation were taxes and that they therefore were unconstitutional in that form.

We are seeking the approval of the Legislature today for the amendments to these bills to validate the probate fees which have been a charge in this province since 1982. The province has levied probate fees through regulation. These amendments remedy that. They simply validate the collection of probate fees which have been levied over the past 17 years. Of course, prior to that, Mr. Speaker, the fees were in place through legislation. I want to be clear that the existing fee structure will remain in place. There are no new fees and no increases to the existing fees as a result of these amendments. In response to this constitutional issue, we are mirroring what has happened in other jurisdictions including Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. The fact is, if we do not pass this legislation, our ability to fund the justice system at its current level would be seriously affected.

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We are also tabling changes which will bring the legislation up to date. This legislation, in particular, contains provisions which were carry-overs from the days when certain court officials were paid by commission and we are simply removing the provisions which were inconsistent with the modern arrangement, Mr. Speaker, which is that court officials are civil servants, paid through the Civil Service, through positions that are advertised and filled through the Civil Service Commission. So we are simply removing provisions which were a matter of history in this province. Simply put, these provisions are housekeeping. They are designed to bring the Probate Act and the Cost and Fees Act up to the current legislative reality and there are no new fees.

Significantly, and I think from the question of parliamentary democracy, the Supreme Court of Canada, while it has placed a challenge in front of us from a point of view of timing, has, in fact, forced on the Legislatures an issue which is of great importance which is that taxes should be imposed through a vote of the Assembly and not through regulation, Mr. Speaker. This is what this court decision, in effect, says, that if a province wishes to, or the federal government wishes to impose taxes, they have to do that by a vote of the House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask all members of the Assembly to support me. There is a legislative timetable established, as a result of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia decision, of October 29th and we would ask cooperation from all members of the House in passing this legislation. I would move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, this is an interesting piece of legislation and I am rather sorry that the honourable Minister of Justice has not taken the time to give the members of the House a little bit more detail about what has actually led us to come to grapple with these proposed changes to two pieces of legislation because it is well worth learning the details of what leads to this.

Now I want to be clear that our Party will support these amendments to these two pieces of legislation, the Probate Act and the Costs and Fees Act, but it is important that we do so understanding together what is actually at issue. As the minister correctly says, this legislation comes forward prompted by a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. This is the case of re Eurig Estate. This case was decided by the Supreme Court of Canada in October 1998.

This was a constitutional law case because something we have to remember is that under the Constitution of Canada, there is, of course, to be no taxation without representation. This is a phrase that all of us will be familiar with but it is actually embodied in two clear sections of the Constitution Act, Sections 53 and 90, which makes this mandatory for both the federal and provincial governments. The way these clauses have been

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interpreted by the courts is to say, as the minister indicated to us, that regulation is not good enough. It is important, therefore, that this body, the Legislature, actually imposes any kind of levy that is seen as a tax. Most levies, as a result of the courts' decisions are now to be seen as taxes.

The power that the province has under Section 92(2) of the Constitution Act is to impose direct taxation. That is also what leads to the re Eurig Estate decision. When the Supreme Court of Canada, in October 1998, declared the equivalent sections of the Ontario Probate Act to be constitutionally invalid, the court decided two interesting things that went along with that. Number one, they decided that in the particular case of the Eurig Estate, that the executor who had been applying for probate would not have to pay the fees. The second thing, though, is that they also said that their declaration of constitutional invalidity would be suspended for a period of six months. It would be suspended for a period of six months in order to give the Ontario Government and, of course, other similarly situated provincial governments the opportunity to amend their legislation.

Ontario acted quite expeditiously. A number of other provinces acted expeditiously. The honourable minister listed some provinces and I think to his list we can add British Columbia and Manitoba, which have also amended their legislation. That means now British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, New Brunswick and Newfoundland have amended their legislation. Nova Scotia did not. For whatever reason, the previous government sat with the Eurig decision and didn't take action sufficiently promptly enough to move us forward.

That decision of the Supreme Court of Canada came down at the end of October 1998. They should have called into session, the House, or have brought forward legislation immediately to deal with it. That didn't happen. We have to understand this interesting area of law, because we will probably be called upon to deal, from time to time, with similar forms of fees that would come forward to be levied by the government. It is no longer going to be sufficient to allow the Cabinet, in its regulating authority, to do that.

It is also important that we learn the lesson of acting promptly once the Supreme Court of Canada tells us that there is an issue for the Legislature to deal with. The honourable minister pointed out to us that we are under a different and further time constraint. There is a reason why we are under a further time constraint, that is because although the government of the day last year didn't seem to be taking seriously the pronouncement of the Supreme Court of Canada, lawyers in private practice here certainly were. The first estate of any significance, as to its size, that came forward immediately challenged, on the same basis, the Nova Scotia scale of fees.

That case is referred to in the bill that has been brought forward. It says re the Balders Estate in Nova Scotia. Mr. Justice Saunders in his decision, which was given on August 20, 1999, when he reviewed the Nova Scotia Act in light of the re Eurig Estate decision of the

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Supreme Court of Canada and was asked by the government at the time to give another six months of suspension in his declaration of invalidity, if he were going to give one, he refused.

[12:45 p.m.]

What he said was that he was only prepared to give 10 weeks. What he said was, "Government has already had considerable time to assess its position and to act. Accordingly, I am only prepared to suspend my declaration of invalidity for 10 weeks - from August 20, 1999 - to enable the province to address the issue." He then went on to make it very explicit that we have until 12:00 noon on October 29th to change the legislation. He was leaving no room for doubt.

This, however, brings me to a part of the legislation that I think we have to think about quite clearly. This is the problem of retroactivity. The bill, as proposed, makes it clear that if this bill is adopted by this House, that what were formerly fees and which would under the legislation now become direct taxation are applicable to all estates that have attempted to be processed under the Probate Act prior to whenever we pass this legislation. The legislation specifies that that includes the Balders estate. Yet the lawyers for the Balders estate took very prompt action by starting their case in December of last year, that is to say about six weeks after the Supreme Court of Canada had issued its decision.

It is not always welcome to deal with situations and make legislation retroactive. One has to be very careful whenever one choses to do that. I said a few minutes ago that our Party will support this legislation. We will support this legislation even though it includes retroactive provisions. The Province of Nova Scotia each year takes in through probate fees something in excess of $2 million. That is the amount that the government would stand to lose in a full fiscal year if our regulatory scheme were allowed to drift into a position of complete invalidity.

With respect to the Balders Estate, there is a very considerable amount of money in terms of fees at risk. The Balders Estate is valued at $49 million. The fees that would have been paid are $247,232. So it is no wonder that the lawyers for the executors of the estate took prompt action last year to shelter under the Eurig decision. Let us be clear that in taking the step of making this legislation retroactive, we will be requiring the executors of that particular estate to pay those very substantial fees and I am not objecting to that. I am not objecting to that at all and, indeed, I think though that we should recognize that Mr. Justice Saunders did something different in his decision than the Supreme Court of Canada did in re Eurig Estate because I pointed out to you that in re Eurig Estate the Supreme Court of Canada said that the executors would not be libel for the fees which were then declared unconstitutional.

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Mr. Justice Saunders made no such ruling. He did, however, award costs to the Balders estate. That is to say that since the estate was successful in its litigation, the Province of Nova Scotia would have to make some monetary contribution towards the legal fees incurred by the estate in bringing the litigation. So it was left to us, in the absence of any particular ruling from Justice Saunders, to decide whether in this particular case it is fair to make the fees, now to be taxes, retroactive. As I said, in this particular case, our Party will support the retroactive legislation.

The honourable minister, in speaking to this legislation did not give us the full constitutional law background, which I hope I have now expanded on.

AN HON. MEMBER: And done a fine job of it.

MR. EPSTEIN: It is an interesting constitutional law story, and I think the honourable minister, no doubt, would have been quite able to give us some of the details himself. What I want to compliment the minister on, however, is another matter that directly flows from this legislation. The honourable minister did not point out, but I will, that in fact the Balders estate involves, through relations, one of his own Cabinet colleagues. If it is the case that the honourable minister didn't know this, then it is to the credit of his Cabinet colleague that he didn't know it. Indeed, the situation is the Balders estate is the estate of Nora Balders, aunt of the honourable Minister of Education.

I think that it is commendable on the part of both ministers that there has been no hesitation in bringing forward this legislation and making it retroactive. I wish to commend both ministers and the government for being prepared to do that and, as I said, our Party is unhesitatingly prepared to support this legislation. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the honourable Minister of Justice is quite correct, this is a piece of legislation that is in good form, that has been needed to have been passed for a while. Unfortunately, with elections, with budgets and with the time constraints that we had in the last year, it was not possible to bring it forward. Certainly it is in the form that we as a government would have accepted, and we cannot, in all conscience find any fault with it if that is in fact what we would have brought forward ourselves, so I would say my Party will approve second reading and wish speedy passage of this bill in all stages. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I just want to say a few words in second reading on Bill No. 2. A lot has already been said by my colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto, so I won't take up too much time. There are a couple of things I think that are

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important to put on the record, a couple of points that sort of tangentially relate to how this bill is being presented, both in its timing and in how it is being sort of spun by the government. I think the first thing to remember, with regard to Bill No. 2, is that this is a piece of legislation that creates taxes, a tax in this province that was formerly illegal and was not in place, based on the Supreme Court decision in October 1998.

I see the Minister of Justice nodding his head as I am speaking, so I am sure he will agree with me that what we have in this case is that the first bill presented by the government of this province, the new Tory Government, is to create a new form of taxation in this province, and recognizing this tax as an expense that they are going to impose on the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I want to particularly make this clear because what the Supreme Court of Canada said was that the original probate fees, originally back many years ago, were fees that just dealt with administrative costs. A fee in itself is acceptable when it meets the administrative costs, but when a tax is imposed - much like the Supreme Court of Canada said - it is no longer a fee if the government is making extra money off of it, if that money goes beyond the fee and is actually going into general revenue of the government. That is what was being done across Canada, that is what was being done when the fees were increased and that is the problem that was caused and that is why the Supreme Court of Canada rejected this as a form of taxation without legislation. That is what has particularly happened. That is why Bill No. 2 was introduced.

I think it is important, Mr. Speaker, to make clear one other thing, and that is that there was an option in this case. The Minister of Justice may want to make this seem like there wasn't an option but quite clearly, this new tax did not have to be imposed. The current fee structure, as an administrative fee structure, could have been kept and then that would have been dealt with in that way.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have in the East Gallery the elementary school class from Grade 5-6 of West Northfield Elementary School. West Northfield is in my riding, it is a beautiful community that stretches along the LaHave River, north of Bridgewater, and I would like to welcome them here today and ask for the welcome of the House. They are accompanied today by a number of parents and their teacher. I believe the teacher is Mr. Tom Drennan and there are other adults: Eva Cook, Annette Norris-Bruhm, Paula Cook, Gail Baker, Joyce Baker - I think they are two different people, they have wonderful surnames - Marie Oickle, Gwen Veinotte and Ferne Zinck. I would ask all of those individuals to please rise and receive the greeting of the House. (Applause)

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MR. DEVEAUX: As I was saying, the government had a choice. It could have gone to a fee that would have covered the administrative costs of the government with regard to probate and therefore the fees would have been reduced from what they were before the Supreme Court of Canada decision, or it could impose a new tax that would then allow for a greater amount of money to be obtained through the probate fees and then gone into general government revenue. The government chose to go with the increase in tax and I think it is important for the record that that be noted.

There is another point, I think, Mr. Speaker, that needs to be addressed in all this, a smaller point, but one that I think is part of a bigger initiative or symptom that I am seeing in government. That is what I like to call, "gun to the head politics". We saw it last year with the judges' salaries, with this probate bill, with same sex benefits and we see it with the native fishery; where governments are unwilling to make changes until they are forced by courts, where courts are basically having to impose deadlines in order for governments to act because governments aren't willing to do it themselves. That is a problem that I see and I would hope that this is only the beginning that governments would begin to look at this, particularly this government, over the next four years, of being a little more proactive in seeing problems before the Supreme Court or any other court in this country or this province is forced to have to impose through deadlines, things that should be done otherwise. It is a dilemma that I have seen in the past and I am hoping that we can see removed in the near future. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable 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. I wanted to make a number of comments in response to some of the information provided. First of all, I don't believe it is useful to do a finger pointing exercise about why we came. All I can indicate to the House is that within two months of our government coming to office, we brought the bill before the House. Certainly that is our obligation to do that. I appreciate the support of the three previous speakers, the honourable Liberal Leader and the other two honourable members. I appreciate their support. I feel that this is in the interest of the public that this bill proceed.

[1:00 p.m.]

There had been a tax imposed in the guise of a fee in the past. That is how I would like to characterize it, Mr. Speaker, is that there had been a tax imposed in the guise of a fee. We are now simply being transparent in imposing it in the form that it really is, which is a tax. That tax is essential to funding the justice system in this province and it is particularly important that this matter proceed. I appreciate the cooperation of the other Parties in bringing this matter forward and I want to indicate and comment to the first speaker, the reason I did not give the long explanation of the history of this is because (Interruption) It

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seems that the honourable member maybe is on a billable hours method. (Interruption) I am one flat fee.

Mr. Speaker, in any event, I think it is very important that this bill proceed forward. I thank the cooperation of the other Parties. I think my time has elapsed and, thank you, I would move second reading of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 2. 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, I move the House do now rise to meet again on Monday at the hour of 4:00 p.m. We will sit until 10:00 p.m. The order of business will be the estimates of the Minister of Health and then the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. That will be about it, I guess, for Monday. Thank you.

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

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned until 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

[The House rose at 1:03 p.m.]