The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., Oct. 20, 1999

First Session

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 513
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 514
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. for the Office of the Fire Marshal, Hon. R. Russell 514
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Econ. Dev. - Call Centres: Training - Investment, Hon. G. Balser 514
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 202, Educ. - School Bus Safety Awareness Week - Recognize,
Hon. J. Purves 517
Vote - Affirmative 518
Res. 203, Econ. Dev. - Vol. Planning Task Force: Best Wishes -
Extend, The Premier 518
Vote - Affirmative 519
Res. 204, Educ. - New Germany Elem. School: Verbal Abuse End -
Project Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 519
Vote - Affirmative 519
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 6, Maritime Life Assurance Company, Hon. J. Purves 519
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 205, St. Philip's African Orthodox Church - Archbishop
Vincent Waterman: Work - Commend, Mr. P. MacEwan 520
Vote - Affirmative 520
Res. 206, MLAs - Mental Illness: Mocking - Avoid, Mr. J. Holm 520
Res. 207, Commun. Serv. - Harbour House (Lun. Co.): Work -
Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 521
Vote - Affirmative 522
Res. 208, Commun. Serv. - Harbour House (Lun. Co.): Fund-raising -
MLAs (Lun. Co. [PC]) Attend, Mr. D. Downe 522
Res. 209, GG - Literary Awards: Nominations (N.S. [4]) - Congrats.,
Ms. E. O'Connell 523
Vote - Affirmative 523
Res. 210, Sports - Aspotogan Trails Assoc.: Work (Chester) - Recognize,
Hon. J. Chataway 523
Vote - Affirmative 524
Res. 211, Tourism - Natl. Geo. Soc. (Traveler Mag.) Beautiful Place
(World [50]): Bras D'Or Lakes - Recognize, Mr. K. MacAskill 524
Vote - Affirmative 525
Res. 212, Gov't. (N.S.): Bible (Cor. XIII) - Read, Mr. K. Deveaux 525
Res. 213, Culture: Oktoberfest (Lun.) - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 525
Vote - Affirmative 526
Res. 214, OC: Mary Baker (Ingonish) - Congrats., Mr. K. MacAskill 526
Vote - Affirmative 527
Res. 215, Educ. - Bernie Francis (Membertou Mi'kmaq Commun.):
LL.D. (Dal. Univ.) - Congrats., Mr. Robert Chisholm 527
Vote - Affirmative 527
Res. 216, Justice - Kentville: Policing - Commun. Involvement Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 528
Vote - Affirmative 528
Res. 217, Sports - Duathlon (Natl.) Champ.: Brian Barkhouse (Chester) -
Congrats., Hon. J. Chataway 528
Vote - Affirmative 529
Res. 218, Educ. - Whycocomagh Consol. School: Environ. Conf.
(Hawaii) - Attendees Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 529
Vote - Affirmative 530
Res. 219, Heritage (Cdn.) - Hfx. Citadel Clock: Anniv. 196th -
Recognize, Hon. J. Purves 530
Vote - Affirmative 531
Res. 220, Culture - Theatre Antigonish: Anniv. 25th - Congrats.,
Hon. A. MacIssac 531
Vote - Affirmative 531
Res. 221, Opposition (N.S.) - Gun Registration: Views - Represent,
Mr. B. Taylor 532
Res. 222, Justice - Jail (Burnside): Need - Awareness Demonstrate,
Mr. T. Olive 532
Res. 223, Tourism - Ferry (Gloucester-Shelburne): Efforts
(Shel. Mayor P.G. Comeau) - Recognize, Mr. C. O'Donnell 533
Vote - Affirmative 534
Res. 224, Educ. - Hfx. Educ. Fdn.: Dedication - Applaud, Ms. M. McGrath 534
Vote - Affirmative 534
Res. 225, African N.S. Commun. - Black Cultural Ctr.:
Griot Award Recipients - Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 535
Vote - Affirmative 535
Res. 226, Econ. Dev. - Export Achievement Award (N.S.):
Survival Systems - Congrats., Mr. T. Olive 535
Vote - Affirmative 536
Res. 227, Health - Queens Gen. Hosp.: Helipad - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Morash 536
Vote - Affirmative 537
Res. 228, Scouting: Apple Day (23/10/99) - Support, Mr. B. Barnet 537
Vote - Affirmative 538
Res. 229, CFB Hfx. - Military Police: East Timor Participation -
Recognize, Mr. B. Taylor 538
Vote - Affirmative 538
Res. 230, Educ. - Hfx. Reg. Police: Schools Violence Address -
Steps Applaud, Ms. M. McGrath 539
Vote - Affirmative 539
Res. 231, Health - Country Hbr. (Guys. Co.): Cancer Battle -
Fund-raising Recognize, Mr. Ronald Chisholm 540
Vote - Affirmative 540
Res. 232, Culture - Music: DonnaWendyAndy - Recognize, Mr. D. Morse 540
Vote - Affirmative 541
Res. 233, Educ. - Yar. Commun. Heritage Website: Launch -
Congrats., Mr. R. Hurlburt 541
Vote - Affirmative 542
Res. 234, Sports - Soccer (Millwood HS): Deonna Read & Team -
Congrats., Mr. B. Barnet 542
Vote - Affirmative 543
Res. 235, DFO - Lighthouse Protection Act: Shel. Mun. -
Lobbying Recognize, Mr. C. O'Donnell 543
Vote - Affirmative 543
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 76, Fin.: Casino (Hfx.) - Penalties, Mr. Robert Chisholm 544
No. 77, Health - Paramedics: Negotiations - Conditions, Mr. R. MacLellan 545
No. 78, Fin.: Casino (Hfx.) - Penalties, Mr. Robert Chisholm 547
No. 79, Fin.: Progs. - Review, Mr. D. Downe 548
No. 80, Econ. Dev. - Scotiabank: Call Centre - Aid, Mr. F. Corbett 550
No. 81, Justice - WCAT: Seminar - Cost, Mr. R. MacKinnon 551
No. 82, Econ. Dev.: Winter Works Prog. - Cuts, Mr. F. Corbett 552
No. 83, Justice - Glace Bay: Court Services - Removal, Mr. D. Wilson 554
No. 84, Justice - Jail (Burnside): Springhill - Feasibility, Mr. H. Epstein 555
No. 85, Justice - Jail (Bedford/Burnside): Cost - Increase, Mr. M. Samson 556
No. 86, Econ. Dev. - Vol. Planning Task Force: Prog. Review -
Terms of Reference, Mr. Robert Chisholm 557
No. 87, Abor. Affs. - Marshall Decision: Native Rts. - Fairness,
Mr. D. Downe 559
No. 88, Fin. - Casino (Sydney): Charities - Policy Change, Mr. J. Holm 560
No. 89, Fin. - Vol. Planning Task Force: Decision - Final Arbiter,
Mr. R. MacLellan 562
No. 90, Health - Pharmacare Prog.: Premiums - Eliminate, Mr. D. Dexter 564
No. 91, Econ. Dev. - Winter Works Prog.: Cancellation - Justify (C.B.),
Mr. Manning MacDonald 565
No. 92, Educ. - Sir John A. Macdonald High School: Air Quality -
Rectify, Mr. W. Estabrooks 567
No. 93, Econ. Dev. - Winter Works Prog.: Boys and Girls Club (Digby) -
Contact, Mr. W. Gaudet 568
No. 94, Agric. - Middleton Grain Centre: Closure - Meetings,
Mr. John MacDonell 569
No. 95, Econ. Dev. - C.B.: Assist. ($12M) - Date,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 570
No. 96, Educ. - P3 Schools: Change - Muns. Add,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 572
No. 97, Housing & Mun. Affs.: Jail (Burnside) - Interchange (Hwy.),
Mr. P. MacEwan 573
No. 98, Devco - Coal Leases: Ownership - Confirm, Mr. F. Corbett 575
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 7, Financial Measures (1999) Act, Hon. N. LeBlanc 576
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 156, House of Assembly - Lobbyists: Registration Legislation -
Proceed, Mr. J. Holm 577
Mr. J. Holm 577
Mr. Manning MacDonald 579
Hon. R. Russell 582
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 3, Coastal Properties Study (1999) Act 584
Mr. W. Estabrooks 584
Hon. E. Fage 587
Mr. R. MacKinnon 591
Mr. John MacDonell 595
Ms. M. McGrath 597
Hon. J. Chataway 598
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Educ.: System - Commend:
Mr. M. Parent 600
Mr. P. MacEwan 603
Ms. E. O'Connell 605
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Oct. 21st at 12:00 p.m. 607

[Page 513]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1999

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to the House this afternoon, two members of my constituency who are well-known farmers in the area, Mr. Richard Melvin, who happens to chair Horticulture Nova Scotia Water Supply Committee right now and Mr. Bruce Rand. Both of them have been involved with farming. Mr. Bruce Rand is the broccoli king of Nova Scotia, according to Maclean's Magazine. So I would ask the House to welcome them. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure today to introduce the Grade 12 political science class from Middleton Regional High School, my hometown, and also Mr. Bill Hines and Mr. Calvin Eddy, faculty at the Middleton Regional High School. Would you please stand and would the House please recognize them. (Applause)

513

[Page 514]

MR. SPEAKER: The topic for the late debate tonight was submitted by the member for Kings North:

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend our public education system for its importance in the development of our future leaders and our province's economy.

That subject will be debated tonight at 6:00 p.m.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

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

and the committee recommends this bill to favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister Labour.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report for the Office of the Fire Marshal for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1998.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to make an announcement. I am very pleased to share with the members of the House the news of further investment in training with respect to call centres here in Nova Scotia.

[Page 515]

Mr. Speaker, this expansion is good news, 300 jobs will be created. It is a real boost to the province's economy. This announcement is also sending a strong message about Nova Scotia as a place to do business. It is concrete proof that our workforce, our infrastructure

and our training facilities are among the best anywhere.

I am very pleased to hear that this call centre is top-ranked in customer satisfaction. We have an excellent workforce here. That is due, at least in part, to our commitment as a province to education and training. It is a commitment we have made as a government. It is a commitment that is evident in the Scotiabank operation.

Before the employees at the centre process their first mortgage or dispense their first piece of financial advice, they go through an intensive training program at the Nova Scotia Community College. Mr. Speaker, more than 200 of the bank's employees have been trained at this college since the call centre opened a couple of years ago. A number of these graduates were hired in entry level positions as customer service representatives two years ago and many have moved on to supervisory positions. These employees are helping to make Nova Scotia an even better place for teleservice companies to expand. Their success is helping to fuel not just this industry, but the entire economy of the province.

The 300 new Scotiabank employees will go through similar training at the Bell Road campus over the next three years, and I am proud to say that this province is an enthusiastic partner. We are continuing to invest in the recruitment and training of these new employees under an agreement that was reached in 1997 - we honour our commitments. We will pay the recruiters and the community college a total of about $7,500 for each employee. That works out to about $1 million a year over the next three years.

Today's announcement is more than that, today's announcement is an investment in the future of Nova Scotia and in the future of Nova Scotians. It is an investment that is supporting 300 new jobs here in Nova Scotia; it is an investment increasing our tax base; it is an investment in growing the economy of this province; it is an investment that will pay for itself. We will get our money back through payroll taxes almost as fast as it is being paid out. The dividends will continue to flow, long after the agreement has expired. These are good jobs and I am optimistic that they will be here for a long time to come.

A well-trained workforce is one of our largest competitive advantages here in Nova Scotia. These workers will help us continue the growth of financial services that we offer, to grow the e-commerce industry and the other telecommunications businesses.

During the campaign we said he were going to focus our attention on training and infrastructure development. This announcement is clearly consistent with that promise. This is a great day for Nova Scotia and for training facilities in this province. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 516]

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to thank the minister for giving me a copy of his statement but since he did not, I will not. That is indicative of how these guys are doing economic development - it is three-card monte - you switch them around, you tell the people of Nova Scotia one week, no more handouts to large corporations, then you go and cut a deal with a billion dollar company while people cannot get help at the food banks and the disabled are not getting access to buildings. But you will pompously sit there and tell people that is moving this province forward.

Your famous jail should become a debtor's prison the way you people are doing economic development. You should be ashamed, that much money going out to a corporation that can darned well afford to do this on their own, but you want to dole it out to your buddies instead of to the people in rural Nova Scotia. What about the people in Yarmouth that need those jobs; the people in Cape Breton; the people in Guysborough? No, no, no, you are doing exactly what the former government did, keeping a hub and spoke method of economic development, keeping it here and the heck with everybody else. You should be ashamed of yourself, your Leader should be ashamed, your whole government should be ashamed. You should put your money where your mouths are and get jobs for rural Nova Scotia in areas that need the jobs and do not give the money to billion dollar corporations. (Applause)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to thank the minister for the advanced copy of of this statement but that is all I am going to thank him for.

[2:15 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: We didn't get one.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, let me say at the outset that I, like everybody in this House, would welcome jobs coming to Nova Scotia; there is no question about that. I think we are all in agreement with that. But I think that there are a number of questions that have to be addressed here today and one of them, first of all, is the gall of this minister coming in here today, to tell this House that he is creating yet more jobs in the Halifax Regional Municipality with a company like the Bank of Nova Scotia, when yesterday the government admitted that they were going to cut out money for charities in all of Nova Scotia and cut out a Winter Works Program so desperately needed in industrial Cape Breton.

When this government came to power the first thing they said was no more loans to business, they were going to do business differently. That particular minister questioned me, Mr. Speaker, a number of times on the need to promote jobs in rural Nova Scotia and

[Page 517]

everybody who has come through the door at the Department of Economic Development since he took over, has been from this area and all they have to do is walk in and they are getting a cheque.

There was another announcement made today on a company that went sour in this province and resurfaced under another name and it is business as usual for that company, as well. So I say to that minister that he should be ashamed of himself to be bringing this kind of announcement to this House in this kind of a situation where he knows that the jobs are needed throughout rural Nova Scotia. He represents rural Nova Scotia. We haven't heard a word from you or your government about what you are going to do in rural Nova Scotia. All we get are these announcements going to firms that don't need the money and I might add that they have paid a recruiter in here to get these jobs. Since when did the Bank of Nova Scotia or the senior mandarins at the Department of Economic Development need a recruiter?

So I say to you, Mr. Speaker, shame on that minister for abandoning rural Nova Scotia and shame on that minister for going back on his word that there were going to be no more loans to big business in this province. Thank you very much. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 202

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

Whereas on October 17th-23rd is School Bus Safety Awareness Week in Nova Scotia; and

Whereby the campaign serves to remind the public of the importance of school bus safety throughout the school year; and

Whereas Nova Scotians must remain cautious and aware of school buses and students on the roads and highways;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize School Bus Safety Awareness Week as an occasion to mark the province's laudable safety record and emphasize the importance of keeping it that way.

I request waiver, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 518]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 203

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

Whereas governing in the late 1990's and beyond can no longer mean exclusively making decisions for the people of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this means working side by side with citizens, workers, business and others in a manner that is fair to all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas this morning the government announced that Voluntary Planning is establishing an independent, non-partisan task force to consult with Nova Scotians on the best strategy to restore fiscal responsibility to this province; and

Whereas every effort is being made to ensure that the voices of as many Nova Scotians are heard in this independent, non-partisan process;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend best wishes to the Voluntary Planning Task Force on their work in the months ahead and encourage all Nova Scotians to bring their opinions forward.

I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 519]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 204

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

Whereas New Germany Elementary School Principal David Ferns launched a campaign at his school to end verbal abuse; and

Whereas the campaign Voices Are Not For Violence instructs that verbal abuse is at the root of almost all physical violence, from pushing and shoving to punching and kicking; and

Whereas this government supports the commitment to safer schools and learning environments;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Principal Ferns for launching this monumental project which teaches that violence, verbal or physical, is no longer an acceptable part of our lives.

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 6 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 96 of the Acts of 1986, the Maritime Life Assurance Company Act. (Hon. Jane Purves as a private member.)

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

[Page 520]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 205

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

Whereas Archbishop Vincent Waterman of the African Orthodox Church has provided exemplary leadership to St. Philip's Parish in Sydney for the past 17 years and has made a major contribution to the Sydney area community; and

Whereas Archbishop Waterman was recently one of several notable leaders accorded special recognition by the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia; and

Whereas St. Philip's African Orthodox Church has met the spiritual needs of its parishioners for some 70 years now and continues to thrive thanks to the leadership and commitment of Archbishop Waterman;

Therefore be it resolved that this House go on record as commending and appreciating the work of Archbishop Waterman and of St. Philip's African Orthodox Church at Whitney Pier in Sydney with hopes that their good work may carry on with success for many years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 206

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

[Page 521]

Whereas this year the member for Kings North took the lead in the all-Party support for efforts to end the stigma of mental illness; and

Whereas in late debate yesterday, October 19th, the member for Dartmouth South supported the Burnside jail site by suggesting the member for Dartmouth North should tour the Nova Scotia Hospital so that "he may get lucky and find a room";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House should take care not to mock their neighbours and fellow Nova Scotians who suffer or have suffered mental illness.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 207

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

Whereas Harbour House provides safe accommodation to women who have to leave their homes to find safe shelter for themselves and their families; and

Whereas the Kinnette Club of Bridgewater and area have adopted two rooms through Harbour House's Adopt a Room Program, having a total cost of $3,500; and

Whereas Harbour House relies heavily on the generosity of businesses and organizations throughout Lunenburg County to carry out their valuable work for the benefit of women and families facing difficult times;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Harbour House and its many supporters for their fine work on behalf of women and children of the South Shore and, in particular, the Kinnette Club of Bridgewater and area for their contribution.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 522]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester North on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome here today Mike Kaminski and 15 students from the Nova Scotia Community College, Truro campus. I would like the House to give them a warm welcome. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 208

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

Whereas the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Human Resources have become very cozy in their new position in Halifax; and

Whereas these ministers should not forget the people from Lunenburg County who have elected them to serve their interests; and

Whereas the people of Lunenburg County only support those who show support for them;

Therefore be it resolved that the ministers follow my lead and plan to attend Harbour House's fund-raising lunch and blind auction in support of women's shelters in the Lunenburg County area; a non-profit organization.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 523]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 209

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 four Nova Scotians have been nominated for the Governor General's Literary Awards: Wendy Lill, Susan Goyette, Marq de Villiers and Daniel MacIvor; and

Whereas they have been nominated in the fiction category, poetry category, non-fiction category and drama category respectively; and

Whereas this is Wendy Lill's fourth such nomination;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Wendy Lill, Susan Goyette, Marq de Villiers and Daniel MacIvor, and wish them continued success in their literary endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 210

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

Whereas the goal of the Aspotogan Trails Association is to turn an 11 kilometre section of abandoned rail line into a multi-use trail as part of the National Rails to Trails Project; and

[Page 524]

Whereas the association is the first group within the Municipality of Chester to begin work on a trail project, and its work is being looked upon as a model for other such projects; and

Whereas the association recently appointed Leen Nette to coordinate the construction and fund-raising for the project;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the work of the Aspotogan Trails Association to turn abandoned rail lines into safe, picturesque recreation areas and further enhance the beauty of the Chester area and the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 211

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

Whereas National Geographic Society's Traveller magazine named the Bras d'Or Lakes one of the world's 50 most beautiful places; and

Whereas it is the people of Cape Breton, along with the scenery that makes Cape Breton so beautiful; and

Whereas all of Cape Breton deserves special recognition for its breathtaking beauty;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the great honour bestowed upon the Bras d'Or Lakes and, indeed, all of Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 525]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 212

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 Corinthians we are taught to have and believe in "faith, hope and charity", with charity being the greatest of these; and

Whereas the poorest people in this province have used faith, hope and in many cases charity to see them through the worst of times; and

Whereas this Tory Government has broken the faith, destroyed the hope and taken from the charities that support the poorest amongst us;

Therefore be it resolved that the next time a Tory Government member wants a good book to read, they open up the Bible to Corinthians and re-examine the spirit and meaning of faith, hope and charity.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 213

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

Whereas the Town of Lunenburg recently celebrated Oktoberfest, which was a time to celebrate Lunenburg's County German heritage in a spirit of good fun; and

[Page 526]

Whereas Oktoberfest in Lunenburg was held through the cooperation of the German-Canadian Cultural Association, Lunenburg's Traditional Events Society, and the Lunenburg Board of Trade; and

Whereas the event included the Schmaus and Stradtbummel, among other events;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate all of the organizers and individuals who contributed to the organization of Oktoberfest in Lunenburg.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 214

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

Whereas the Order of Canada is a prestigious award presented to outstanding Canadians; and

Whereas Mary Barker of Ingonish, in Victoria County, is one of those Canadians who was recently chosen to receive this award; and

Whereas Mary Barker has made a significant contribution to the local area where she spends her retirement years, as well as her country of Canada;

[2:30 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mary Barker on her great achievement of being presented the Order of Canada.

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

[Page 527]

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. 215

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

Whereas Bernie Francis, a member of the Mi'kmaq community in Membertou, has been honoured with a Doctor of Laws Degree from Dalhousie University; and

Whereas Mr. Francis has worked tirelessly to help develop the Francis-Smith Contemporary Phonemic Writing System for the Mi'kmaq language, the only fully contemporary Mi'kmaq grammar in existence; and

Whereas Mr. Francis saw the necessity to develop the language for natives who have difficulty understanding the English language as well as legalese;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the good works of Bernie Francis and his contribution to the Mi'kmaq community.

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 Kings North.

[Page 528]

RESOLUTION NO. 216

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 Kentville Police Service has initiated a process to increase community involvement in identifying issues of concern to the residents of the Town of Kentville; and

Whereas the formation of a community consultative committee will consist of a cross section of the town's 5,600 residents so that the police department can hear first-hand what is on the mind of area citizens; and

Whereas the idea of the group will not only be to identify ongoing problems but also to perceived or potential issues and how best to deal with them;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in acknowledging and congratulating the Kentville Police Service as well the residents of the Town of Kentville in taking this very proactive approach to ensure a very safe and healthy community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 217

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

Whereas on August 21, 1999, Chester resident Brian Barkhouse won the National Duathlon Championship in Hull, Quebec, for the second time, leading all competitors in his challenging run and bike race; and

Whereas in June he placed 6th at the World Championship in Switzerland; and

[Page 529]

Whereas his performance was the best of any North American competitor at both of these events; and

Whereas he is a nephew of a former honourable member of this House;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Brian Barkhouse for his achievements which rank him among the best duathletes in the world and convey best wishes for success in future competitions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 218

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

Whereas five students from the Whycocomagh Consolidated School have been selected to attend an environmental conference in Hawaii which begins this Friday; and

Whereas Jamie Sealy, John Jardine, Stephanie MacDonald, Garnett Smith and Devin Gillis, Grade 8 students, were chosen to attend the conference based upon projects they completed during the past year; and

Whereas two of the students, Stephanie and Devin, won a national competition in February with a project they completed on the environment of the Bras d'Or Lake and that as part of their eligibility requirements these students had to raise $500 for five other young people from developing countries to attend; and

Whereas Whycocomagh will also benefit from the conference when students present what they learned to their peers and sponsors here at home;

[Page 530]

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House congratulate this group of students on this achievement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 219

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

Whereas October 20th marks the 196th Anniversary of the city clock which sits atop Citadel Hill; and

Whereas Prince Edward commissioned this clock to be constructed in 1803; and

Whereas historic sites, monuments and properties in this city make the riding of Halifax Citadel a national and international tourism destination;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the importance of our historic landmarks, particularly our city clock, on its 196th Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 531]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 220

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

Whereas the weekend of October 1st to October 3rd marked a significant milestone in the history of Theatre Antigonish; and

Whereas the popular university-based community theatre celebrated its 25th Anniversary in concert with St. F.X. homecoming celebrations; and

Whereas during the course of the past 25 years approximately 2,200 amateur actors, technicians, costume workers and musicians have taken part in more than 100 productions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in extending heartfelt congratulations to the staff, entertainers and performers, the audiences and community members who have contributed in countless ways to the unique history and the bright future that is Theatre Antigonish.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West on an introduction.

MRS. MURIEL BAILLIE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the presence of Harvey A. Veniot in this House. Harvey A. Veniot was a long-time member for Pictou West and a past Speaker in this House from 1961 to 1968. In fact, he is a landmark in Pictou West and has the honour of a causeway being named after him. Please welcome Harvey A. Veniot, his wife, and their friend. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 532]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 221

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

Whereas the former Savage and MacLellan Liberal Governments carried the same voice to Ottawa as the former defeated Liberal MPs did by saying absolutely nothing during or after the completion of the debate on the long-gun registration component of Bill C-68; and

Whereas the federal Liberal Government has and is continuing to do its utmost to cripple Canada's $6 billion per year sports shooting industry; and

Whereas the RCMP openly admit that they have no accurate figures on how many guns are entering Canada illegally which pose a vastly greater danger to Canadian's safety on an annual basis than the shotguns and rifles owned by law-abiding citizens;

Therefore be it resolved that the Opposition Liberals and New Democrats, who always have something to say but have been exceptionally quiet on gun registration, begin to represent the views of the thousands and thousands of Nova Scotians by publicly denouncing the Chretien Government's approach towards gun registration.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 222

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

Whereas there is a definite need for a new provincial forensic and psychiatric facility in the metro area to better serve the needs of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas combining common services in a cost-effective manner through the construction and operation of such a facility is a positive way to serve those needs; and

Whereas locating this much-needed facility in a non-residential area of metro which is close to all necessary amenities is a goal that has now been achieved;

[Page 533]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House demonstrate their awareness of the need for this new hospital and correctional institution and recognize that irresponsible fear-mongering about safety issues to the citizens surrounding the facility does little to assist the people of Dartmouth North.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 223

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

Whereas the Premier recently noted that exports to New England from eastern Canada grew $3.3 billion between 1994 and 1998 - an increase of 40 per cent; and

Whereas the continued development of these trade relationships as noted by the Premier will continue to strengthen our economies and create jobs; and

Whereas the development of a ferry service between Gloucester, Massachusetts, and Shelburne should only mean an added incentive for trade links to continue to prosper between New England and eastern Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature recognize the tremendous effort being put forth by Shelburne Mayor P.G. Comeau towards getting this ferry service up and running as residents await the release of a study being conducted by the State of Massachusetts concerning the Gloucester-Shelburne service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 534]

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 Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 224

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

Whereas the Halifax Education Foundation was established in 1995 by a group of concerned parents and educators for the purpose of supporting public education in the City of Halifax, and now Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas over the last two years, the Halifax Education Foundation has raised over $75,000 for library books in public schools throughout HRM through their Bucks For Books Campaign held every November; and

Whereas tonight, October 20th, the Halifax Education Foundation will be honouring the volunteers, schools and corporate sponsors who have assisted in raising these funds;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the significant impact of the Halifax Education Foundation, its volunteers and participating public schools for their hard work and dedication in providing support for public education in HRM, and literacy in particular.

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 Preston.

[Page 535]

RESOLUTION NO. 225

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

Whereas the elders of the African-Nova Scotian community were recently honoured by the Black Cultural Centre for their valuable contributions to their communities and to society; and

Whereas honorees received the Griot Award, which derives its name from the African term for a wise elder who has a story to tell and who has truly made a unique and lasting difference; and

Whereas among the recipients of this award were: Deacon Bessie Sparks of Cherrybrook-Lake Loon; Ada A. Clayton of East Preston; Frances L. Smith of North Preston; Deacon Gordon Kane of North Preston; Marjorie Ross of East Preston, presently residing in Lower Sackville; and Daisy Fairfax of Cherrybrook-Lake Loon;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in extending their sincere congratulations to each of the award recipients, and particularly those noted above from the constituency of Preston, as they made an invaluable contribution to their communities as well as to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 226

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

[Page 536]

Whereas the 15th Nova Scotia Export Achievement Awards were recently presented; and

Whereas one of the recipients of this award was Survival Systems, based in Dartmouth, who won the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Export Market; and

Whereas Survival Systems leads the world in the development and delivery of safety survival training programs and simulation training devices for the industrial off-shore, aviation and marine industries;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations to the staff of Survival Systems and its President, Albert Bohemier, on their receipt of this prestigious award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 227

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

Whereas Queens County General Hospital was in need of a helipad to transport seriously ill and emergency patients from Queens County to regional and tertiary hospitals in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in January 1999, a helipad committee was formed to determine how to ensure that a landing site would become a reality in the absence of available funding; and

Whereas as a result of the hard work and resourceful nature of community members, local organizations and corporations, the Municipality of Queens and the Helipad Committee, a fully approved and functional landing site now exists at Queens General Hospital;

[Page 537]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in extending a heart-felt thanks and congratulations to all those involved in assuring the success of this important initiative, and recognize the generosity of local donors in making such a lasting contribution to the people who depend upon the valuable service of Queens General Hospital.

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.

[2:45 p.m.]

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 228

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

Whereas Saturday, October 23rd, is Apple Day for hundreds of Beavers, Cubs and Scouts in our region; and

Whereas the scouting organization will be out in the community offering apples to the public; and

Whereas the commitment and dedication of these young people, through events such as Apple Day, is indeed a true character builder;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the hard work of the leaders and youth during this year's Apple Day and lend our support to this worthy event.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 538]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 229

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

Whereas 10 military police officers from CFB Halifax left for the civil war-torn country of East Timor yesterday morning; and

Whereas the 10 military police constables will be gone from their families and friends for the next six months, including the Christmas holidays; and

Whereas the CFB Halifax military police officers do not expect to be placed in any kind of extreme danger but have prepared themselves for duties that will include assisting ground troops with route signing and escorting convoys with supplies from one location to another;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize the bravery and courage of these Halifax military police officers as they participate and join with an Australian-led international peacekeeping force, which has been in East Timor since September 20, 1999.

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 Leader of the Liberal Party on an introduction.

[Page 539]

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce two visitors to Nova Scotia. I want to introduce Mary Macdonald and Kay Marshall. Mary Macdonald was an executive assistant to the Right Honourable Lester Pearson. (Applause) She was the first female executive assistant on Parliament Hill, and she was also an employee of the Right Honourable Pierre Trudeau. I want to welcome Mary and Kay to the House and hope they enjoy their experience and their visit to Nova Scotia. It is certainly a privilege to have them with us today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 230

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional Police have recently launched a new program to prevent schoolyard bullying and violence; and

Whereas an anti-violence police hotline, 490-SAVE, will now let elementary, junior or senior high students leave anonymous tips about bullies who are intimidating them or intimidating someone they know; and

Whereas upon receiving a tip, police will investigate and intervene to defuse the situation and discourage future incidents of intimidation and violence in our schools;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the significant steps taken by the Halifax Regional Police to address violence in our schools and extend a particular thank you to Constable Ian Burke who initiated this hotline idea.

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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

[Page 540]

RESOLUTION NO. 231

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

Whereas four residents of Country Harbour, Guysborough County, are fighting a costly and difficult battle against cancer; and

Whereas the cost associated with having to travel to Halifax for treatment is placing undue hardship on these individuals and their families; and

Whereas the people of Country Harbour have demonstrated what community spirit is all about by rallying around their neighbours and hosting a prize bingo this past Sunday, raising over $4,000 to ease the financial burden being placed on these families;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the many organizers and all who came out in support of this event, a true expression of fellowship and community spirit, and extend our best wishes to William Armsworthy, Bonnie Cameron, Tracy Sheppard and MacRichie Smith as they continue their battle against cancer.

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 Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 232

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 1998 East Coast Music Award nominees DonnaWendyAndy, recently launched their latest CD, Ship of Dreams at the Atlantic Theatre Festival in Wolfville; and

[Page 541]

Whereas the musical trio of Donna Rhodenizer Taylor, Wendy LaPierre and Andy Duinker, who began performing only three years ago as children's entertainers, have since expanded their musical base to include adult contemporary, Maritime, traditional and original songs for more mature audiences; and

Whereas their inspirational lyrics and magical harmonies bring life and emotion to their original compositions, including Heaven's Open Arms, a moving tribute to the Swissair Flight 111 disaster, suitable for radio or as a hymn in church alike;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize DonnaWendyAndy as rising stars in the East Coast music industry and wish them best of luck with their new CD, Ship of Dreams.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice. I would add that anybody who would like to purchase one they are available in the east wing.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 233

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

Whereas the Yarmouth Community Heritage website was officially launched on September 29th, at the Western County Regional Library headquarters; and

Whereas the website, a partnership project of the Joint Heritage Advisory Committee and the Western Counties Regional Library, provides detailed information on heritage properties both within the Town and the Municipality of Yarmouth; and

Whereas the website began when two students from the Burridge Campus designed a web page and registered the heritage properties of the Municipality of Yarmouth and was brought to completion with the library net fund;

[Page 542]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all who were involved in this unique project and recognize it as a model for other municipalities to consider.

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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 234

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

Whereas Deonna Read of Millwood High School was recognized by local media as a rising star in the sport of soccer; and

Whereas her commitment to the sport and her school provides a shining example for others to follow; and

Whereas Millwood High School has a long and proud tradition of fielding both good athletes and good students;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Deonna Read, her team and Millwood High School for their hard work and achievement in both academics and school sports.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 543]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 235

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

Whereas the Municipality of Shelburne has gone on record in calling for support of a national lighthouse protection Act and for an immediate moratorium on the disposal of Canadian lighthouses; and

Whereas the cost of losing 290 or so lighthouses presently in place in the Maritimes will be staggering because many small-scale fishermen still need the protection offered by lighthouses, as they cannot afford the new global satellite technology equipment needed if lighthouses go by the wayside; and

Whereas lighthouses still play a pivotal role in the safety of numerous people trying to make a living from the sea;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs recognize the historical, culture and heritage protection needed to keep lighthouses from disappearing in the Maritimes and support the efforts of the Municipality of Shelburne as they lobby the federal Minister of Fisheries to introduce a Canadian lighthouse protection Act.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

[Page 544]

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, last night in the heat of debate I made a comment that was not becoming that of the level of decorum that this Party and this government has desired to bring to the Legislature. I believe that in that comment, in the excitement of the debate, I may have, in fact, maligned - I did in fact malign - the member for Dartmouth North in my comment regarding a room at the Nova Scotian. I would like to withdraw that and apologize to the member for Dartmouth North and all members of the House for that statement. (Applause)

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

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, we have today with us David Gillis. David is the Deputy Clerk for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary's; along with Helen MacDonald, who is the Clerk for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary's. With them, on behalf of the honourable Minister of Finance, is Patsy Schofield, who is the Deputy Clerk for the Municipality of Clare. So I welcome them. (Applause)

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

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

FIN.: CASINO (HFX.) - PENALTIES

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. Today it has been confirmed that neither the Gaming Corporation nor the province is collecting the $10,000 per day completion penalty from the Sheraton Casino. Now, think of that in connection with what we talked about yesterday which was the $350,000 program annually for the disabled being cut, $2.2 million being ripped out of the hands of the poor in this province last week. I want to ask the Premier, what does the failure to collect these penalties say to Nova Scotians about your government's priorities?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, the government is negotiating the payment schedule by Sheraton to the province, recapturing the $10,000 a day late completion fee that is part of the contract. Unfortunately, the minister responsible will not be joining us until later in the afternoon and could give you perhaps a completely up-to-date report as to where those negotiations are, but those negotiations are ongoing and we expect the money to be forthcoming.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Did not negotiate or discuss with charities, did not negotiate or discuss with the disabled, but is prepared to engage in discussions with the Sheraton. Mr. Speaker, the Halifax casino is late, let's remember, because Sheraton decided

[Page 545]

they would stop construction. They did so in order to twist the former government's arm so they could get additional concessions, like 24 hours free alcohol and the rest of it. Now Sheraton says the payment of that penalty is under discussion as does this government.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: My question to the Premier is, a big corporation owes the people of Nova Scotia $10,000 per day. They are not paying. What is there to discuss?

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: That is my question, what is there to discuss?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that the government fully expects to receive each and every dollar owed to it by Sheraton.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, in a news article on September 9th, the Chairman of the Gaming Corporation is quoted as saying "Everyone's has been pretty firm that next Wednesday, the $10,000 per day starts, and we'll be collecting it,". Well, the next Wednesday was September 15th, over a month ago, still no payment. That fine, extended to April, represents $2.2 million - the same amount that was ripped out of charities in the Province of Nova Scotia. My question to the Premier is, will your government start collecting that money and repay to the trust fund the money your government took in breach of trust?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have been joined by the Minister of Finance who is responsible for the Gaming Corporation. I would ask him to answer the question.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I know that the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party has been made aware of why this program decision was made. I want to reiterate, again, here today that in facing the problems of this province in regard to the deficit, we have a $497 million deficit; this program had not begun. We made a decision in regard to this program being a new program that we would not proceed at this time.

[3:00 p.m.]

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

HEALTH - PARAMEDICS: NEGOTIATIONS - CONDITIONS

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, in estimates yesterday, the Minister of Health said that he couldn't comment on the contract negotiations between the paramedics and the emergency medical care because the province wasn't involved, but I would like to say to the Premier that that isn't necessarily the case.The Premier, in his election document, in his

[Page 546]

campaign material, said that the Progressive Conservative Party would determine the government's legal obligations with respect to its contract with emergency medical care, and it says that this is the first step in improving wages and benefits for Nova Scotia paramedics.

I just want to know what this condition precedent has to do with fair treatment of our paramedics? I would like to ask the Premier, as well, have these legal obligations been determined by this government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member for Cape Breton North and Leader of the Liberal Party, it would seem strange that the government that the member for Cape Breton North led, in fact, has been in charge of this negotiation for 13 months, and he is in any way prepared to criticize what we have done to bring this matter to a satisfactory resolution in two months. It would seem to me that one of the problems we face here today is the fact that negotiations have been allowed to go on so long.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, it seems that the Premier has forgotten his own campaign material. What I want to know is, is the Premier having difficulty determining what his legal obligations are? Is the Premier forgetting that he put this criteria in over and above the wage negotiations for the paramedics? Why has the Premier not been able to determine what the government's legal obligations are, as he has said he would do in his own campaign material?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows full well that a legal process is going on and that is a labour negotiation between what is a private firm and a legal union in the Province of Nova Scotia. I believe that any attempt at this point to interfere with that would be contrary to good labour negotiations. I share the concern of every Nova Scotian that this process will this time fail us, but I don't expect that it will. I am fully expecting that both parties will use the time remaining to come up with a satisfactory resolution and a contract that is fair to both sides.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, what I want to ask the Premier is, why he put this condition precedent to determine legal obligations with respect to its contract with emergency medical care. This is a condition precedent, nothing to do with the negotiations themselves, he put this in.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: We don't know why. I want to ask the Premier, does he not realize the contract for the province was negotiated by his own Chief of Staff, Karen Oldfield? If the Premier wants to know what the legal obligations are, why doesn't he just go across the hall and ask his chief of staff, what this contract means and get on with the negotiations?

[Page 547]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member opposite that that contract was negotiated by the chief of staff when she was engaged in private practice. I would expect that the member opposite would in fact realize that, and is somewhat inhibited in terms of what she can discuss in terms of providing private service and maintaining legal client confidentiality.

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

FIN.: CASINO (HFX.) - PENALTIES

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I directed a question a minute ago to the Premier. He didn't have a clue about it, so I am going to go to the Minister of Finance. (Interruptions) I am going to the Minister of Finance on the whole issue of why the government is not collecting the $10,000 a day completion penalty from the Sheraton Casino. In light of the fact that they have told us now for the last couple of weeks how tough things are, they ripped money out of the pockets of the poor and the disabled in the Province of Nova Scotia, yet they cannot seem able or willing to collect a $10,000 per day completion penalty from the Sheraton. Would the minister please explain?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, there is a contract between the Sheraton and its successors in the province in regard to the casino operating here in Nova Scotia. They are late in fulfilling that contract and my understanding is that the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation is in negotiations with the Sheraton to have that paid as soon as possible. I don't disagree that it is owing, and that is our position.

AN HON. MEMBER: If it was John Q. Schmuck, you would arrest them. (Laughter)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Do you want to ask this question? That was actually a good line, may I use that?

Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary is to the Minister of Finance. You are right, there is a deal, there is a contract, and Sheraton broke it. The former government kept doing that, letting the Sheraton off the hook; you said you were going to be different, that you were going to hold them to the contract. Why aren't you collecting $10,000 per day from the Sheraton? Explain that.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the position of this government is that $10,000 per day is due for every day that they are late, and they shall pay it.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: It is interesting how this government treats people in the Province of Nova Scotia. They trample over the rights of the disabled and the disadvantaged in the Province of Nova Scotia, with no discussion. They didn't talk to the trust fund board

[Page 548]

of directors, they didn't even tell them that they had been disbanded, but they are sitting around waiting for the Sheraton to decide whether they are going to pay that money.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I want to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, will his government start collecting that money now and put it back in the trust funds of those charities where it should be going to service the poor in the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I stated to the member that $10,000 per day is due by the Sheraton Casino to this province. There were exemptions made by the previous administration to Sheraton and they were exempted. It is not the intention of our government to give any waivers to the penalty, it shall be paid.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN.: PROGS. - REVIEW

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. We learned today that the government is allowing Nova Scotians to, so-called, have their say in a program review. It is interesting that this government has taken it upon themselves, without any consultation, to take away $2.2 million from charities; cancelling enterprise zone measures for rural Nova Scotia; and economic development jobs in rural Nova Scotia; eliminating programs for the disabled for access in rural Nova Scotia. It is interesting that all of these measures are measures that the Liberal Government had brought in in the last budget.

My question to the Premier is, why would he take it upon himself to punish the powerless in society just because those programs were a Liberal initiative within the last budget, Mr. Speaker?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite that the real punishment for Nova Scotians will come if we don't go down the road that we have decided to travel. The real punishment will come in the future. We have initiated an extensive review of how this province will have to be governed during these tough financial times. That requires a review of all government spending and that is what we have initiated, that is what we will follow up on, that is what we will carry through on, and in the end we will all be better off for it.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting how the Premier is so self-righteous in regard to his vision of the future of this province, without a plan by the way, but one that just seems to be muddling along and spending money on programs that they said they don't need in the province any further. The public consultation seems to apply to an elite set of programs and others that are not part of the public review, as I understand it. It is interesting that a

[Page 549]

program review will only allow two weeks for public consultation. Will the Premier commit to add additional time for public consultation that will include monies for charities - the $2.2 million clawed away from the people who need it in the Province of Nova Scotia. Will he allow for public consultation to include the disability programs, the Winter Works Program, instead of listening to the Premier in waiting, the Minister of Finance, as he is the only one who has any say in regard to programs that are important to Nova Scotians?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier. I don't believe there was a question there but if you can figure one out from it, you are welcome to answer it.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government has set up an independent process. If the member opposite has advice or information that he wishes to share with the fiscal management task force, he certainly should feel free to do so. But this government will not be interfering with the actions of this task force. We have given the task force a mandate and the liberty to go out and fulfil that mandate.

MR. DOWNE: What I am suggesting today, if the Premier and his government had any compassion for Nova Scotians, that mandate would include the arbitrary decision of the Minister of Finance who is dictating to his government policy in regard to charities and people who didn't have a voice in regard to those decisions, be part of that.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, this committee . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Can I have your question, please?

MR. DOWNE: Yes, Mr. Speaker. This committee has a number of illustrious members and Richard Goldbloom is a member.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DOWNE: My question to the Premier is, why should Nova Scotians trust a government who ignored the advice of Dr. Goldbloom who recently gave a very thoughtful and experienced report to them, takes money from programs without consulting and, most of all, considers the Minister of Finance's advice more important . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: . . . than the advice of Nova Scotians?

[Page 550]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite that somewhere in his speech there was a question. I believe it had to do with why did we ignore the report of the task force? Simply because it answered a question that we didn't ask. What we needed to have asked, and what this government failed to put in the mandate of the task force is alternatives to a regional health board system that isn't working.

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

ECON. DEV. - SCOTIABANK: CALL CENTRE - AID

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. Just a couple of days after we discovered they are grabbing $2.2 million in charities and nearly $1 million from disabled people, this government announced that they are ponying up $3 million for Scotiabank. Scotiabank made profits of more than $1 billion last year, while food banks are struggling just to keep up with this year's donations. Why are you giving $3 million to a multi-billion dollar company and taking money away from organizations that feed the hungry?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. He is somewhat confused. We are not giving money to a bank, we are investing in the future of this province. We are investing in an infrastructure that will allow people to receive training so that they can find jobs in the new economy. The training facility will remain long after our agreement with Scotiabank has expired.

MR. CORBETT: Somewhat like the Scotiabank, I disagree with the minister. Scotiabank said this morning that that $3 million is for our training, but the minister seems to say that it is for training in infrastructure, at the Bell Road Community College. Can he tell us which is accurate?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the latter.

MR. CORBETT: Again, Mr. Speaker, they are after the disadvantaged. Again, he doesn't mind taking food out of the mouths of Cape Bretoners, I tell you.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CORBETT: This last June, the federal and provincial government gave $1 million to the Marconi Campus in Sydney to do such a program.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could I have your question?

[Page 551]

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. CORBETT: Why are you duplicating it? Is it for the banks or is it for Nova Scotians?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the facility is there to train Nova Scotians for job opportunities . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Duplications.

MR. BALSER: . . . and it will be there long after this agreement expires. In fact, I remind the honourable member opposite that the people employed at the Staples centre also received training at that facility.

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

JUSTICE - WCAT: SEMINAR - COST

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. The Department of Justice is sponsoring a seminar entitled Foundations of Administrative Justice for its WCAT commissioners and it is being sponsored at the home of the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site. Given the government's policy on government expenditure whereby ministers have to personally authorize any expenditure over $1,000, would the minister please apprise this House as to how much this course that is being sponsored at the Halifax historic site is costing the taxpayers of Nova Scotia?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I believe the honourable member is speaking about a judicial education program. As the honourable member will realize, the judiciary of this province is independent and I have no intention, nor would any Minister of Justice, intend to interfere with the administration of justice of this province and it would be absolutely irresponsible to do so.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, at no point in time would I ever suggest that the Minister of Justice interfere with the actions of the justice system, but I am concerned about the waste of taxpayers' dollars. What we have is a government that is taking from the poor at the same time trying to portray being accountable. We have, withing the Department of Business and Consumer Services, . . .

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

MR. MACKINNON: . . . a large, ultra-modern training and conference centre that could be easily utilized rather than wasting taxpayers' money at the national historic site.

[Page 552]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACKINNON: My question is to the Minister of Business and Consumer Affairs, why hasn't this conference been scheduled within the provincial department confines and save taxpayers' money?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the member may bring up a good point that maybe there are some facilities that the judges could use and I will bring it to their attention. If they can use that facility, then I will be more than willing to make it available. I have no problem with that. However, I want to go back to what the member is inferring that we control the judiciary. We will inform them. Obviously the previous administration did not do so and we are more than willing to do so.

MR. MACKINNON: This government doesn't even know what is going on even in its own department. This not about the judges, this is about the WCAT commissioners that they have in training. They could have very easily gone down to the Business and Consumer Services Department, the conference floor, and saved thousands of dollars that have been taken from the poor, even within the Department of Justice.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACKINNON: I ask the Minister of Justice or the Premier, whoever wants to answer, why hasn't that money been better utilized for the Elizabeth Fry Society or the Victims Services Division within the Department of Justice, rather than spending it at some lavish fortress across town?

MR. BAKER: First of all, I am not so sure that the honourable member knows what he is talking about with the lavish fortress but, in any event, the real issue, Mr. Speaker, is, as I indicated earlier, WCAT is an independent, semi-judicial tribunal in which government should not interfere and, as a former Minister of Labour, he should be very aware of the independence of WCAT. I should also tell that honourable member that this government is prepared to cooperate in those things, but they are independent.

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

ECON. DEV.: WINTER WORKS PROG. - CUTS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. As I am sure many people in this House are aware, parts of this province are suffering from extremely high rates of unemployment. This winter, thanks to the Tory Budget, it seems that the unemployed people will not be able to turn to the Winter Works Program to get a seasonal job. I want to ask the minister, why has he cut $1.2 million of the Winter Works Program from his budget?

[Page 553]

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the issue of the Winter Works Program is one that was carefully reviewed. This province faces very difficult decisions. We did an analysis of the success of that program. The fact is that 70 per cent of the people who find employment in the Winter Works Program are unemployed six months after the program expires. So in terms of job creation it is short term at best.

MR. CORBETT: This group loves to kick people when they are down. The Winter Works Program is used by many small businesses and charitable organizations. I will name a few: Big Brothers, Big Sisters, volunteer fire departments, the Red Cross, the Cape Breton Transition House, food banks, the Elizabeth Fry Society. They have all been robbed. They do not have a chance to get employment for these people to further their goals and you took $2.2 million away from them by the casino money.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CORBETT: I ask you, Mr. Minister, did the minister consult with these 200 organizations who have used the program in the past before cancelling it? What did he recommend that they do without this program?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again to the honourable member opposite, what we need to do in this province in terms of job creation is find ways in which with limited dollars we create sustainable employment. The problem is when you create make-work projects, when the funding expires, little remains. So we need to use money wisely to create sustainable employment.

MR. CORBETT: Maybe, Mr. Speaker, Peter Godsoe will have the Winter Works Program down in the Caribbean when he is down there this winter while Nova Scotians are freezing in the dark. In the past couple of days we have learned of this government grabbing money from charities and disabled. Now it seems they are going after the unemployed too. Is there nothing sacred? My question is why is this government targeting only the disadvantaged and the vulnerable in this province for cuts while they hand out large sums of money to huge corporations like Scotiabank?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, we cannot just look at the expenditure side of the budget. We must find ways to grow the revenue side to increase the tax base so that in fact we have an economy that is sustainable. You do that by creating long-term viable jobs and you do that by investing scarce dollars wisely in programs that create sustainable employment throughout Nova Scotia, whether it is rural Nova Scotia, the extremes of Cape Breton, or metro. Jobs created are good for the economy.

[Page 554]

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

JUSTICE - GLACE BAY: COURT SERVICES - REMOVAL

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice. The minister's department will be consolidating court services from the community of Glace Bay to Sydney, much to the detriment of the local economy in Glace Bay. Would the minister indicate how much this move is going to cost?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Thank you very much for the honourable member's question. The move is going to save $100,000.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, may I remind the minister that although I am a rookie MLA, I was not born yesterday. Lease rates in Sydney are $28 per square foot versus $20 per square foot in Glace Bay. The department is going ahead and negotiating with Martin Chernin of Pearl Realty to locate in some of the most expensive office space in industrial Cape Breton.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. WILSON: Would the Minister of Justice please be willing to table the information concerning the costs of that move from Glace Bay to Sydney?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier, the decision has been made because of our determination to save costs in administration. If the Government of Nova Scotia is not going to be committed to saving costs, then we will never ever get this deficit under control. The reason that we have a $500 million deficit in this province is because the former government never met a hard decision they could not make.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I did not hear an answer. The people of Glace Bay cannot lose any more occupants in their downtown core. Glace Bay has suffered enough already. I ask the minister, again, would he please table that information in this House and will he commit today to keeping the court facilities within the community of Glace Bay?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the new facilities will be approximately 12 minutes away by car from the old facilities. These new facilities will represent a very large administrative saving to the Province of Nova Scotia. We can do this. We can provide the same service to the public, a better service to the public in a different location. It is the kind of thing that we have to do so our children and grandchildren can be assured of a prosperous future.

[Page 555]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

JUSTICE - JAIL (BURNSIDE): SPRINGHILL - FEASIBILITY

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I also have a question for the Minister of Justice. We have already said here that the location of the new forensics facility in Dartmouth North was a foregone conclusion; it is obvious we were right. There was the most perfunctory of consultation with that community and the most perfunctory attempt to consider other possible sites. My question to the minister is, can he tell us what efforts his government made to look into the feasibility of locating some or all of the parts of the new facility, say, in Springhill?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I thank the honourable member for that question, because as I have indicated earlier and often, Springhill is a wonderful community with a very strong history of corrections in this province. It is a wonderful corrections town and it offers a great deal of benefit for correctional bases. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, because 1,500 individuals per annum at the facility that will be constructed are coming from Halifax-Dartmouth, it is simply too far to transport those individuals on a daily basis, back and forth, to Springhill. In addition, as was also indicated in this House earlier, the facility is going to be constructed with a forensics hospital and that forensics hospital has to be close to the services of the Nova Scotia Hospital in Dartmouth.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, it was obvious from the start that the minister's attitude was that this facility was going to go into metro, but many prominent Conservatives lobbied hard for a Springhill site. They included the member for Cumberland South; the Member of Parliament for Cumberland-Colchester; I understand the town's mayor said she wanted the jail to be located in Springhill. As recently as last week we read statements quoted from the member for Cumberland South continuing his vigorous lobbying for a location of the site in Springhill.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. EPSTEIN: My question for the minister is, did you let these members of your Party blather on about the possible Springhill site just so they could pretend to their voters that they were in the running for construction work and some jobs? Isn't that the reason?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member doesn't recognize that it is the job of every MLA to lobby on behalf of his constituents and what he feels is in their best interests. Members of our Party, and every other Party in this House, represent their constituents to the best of their ability. Those members were doing what they should do, which is to lobby the government for facilities that are good facilities. The reason they did that was because we hadn't made a decision; no decision had been made. (Interruptions)

[Page 556]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, we have never been given any details of the kind of consideration that the minister claims his department gave to alternative sites. Yesterday we heard in the debate from the member for Dartmouth South, that he thought Springhill was an inappropriate site, but he also said he would have welcomed having the facility in Dartmouth South. My question for the Minister of Justice is, the current facility is located in Dartmouth South on extensive grounds that could hold a new or renovated facility, can he tell us what efforts his government made to help the dream of the member for Dartmouth South come true?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier in the House, we have looked at all the possible sites in metropolitan Halifax-Dartmouth for the correctional facility. I can assure the honourable member that we looked at sites all throughout metro, including any sites that were available in Dartmouth, whether in Dartmouth South or elsewhere, and the only appropriate site for that facility that we could identify was the site that we chose.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE - JAIL (BEDFORD/BURNSIDE): COST - INCREASE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question, as well, is to the Minister of Justice. Mr. Minister, last week you told this House that you hoped moving the jail from Bedford to Burnside would be cost-neutral, yet yesterday your cost-neutral turned out to be a $1.2 million hit for the Nova Scotia taxpayers. Will the minister confirm today for Nova Scotians that he and his staff were not aware last week of this $1.2 million cost to taxpayers as a result of their political move?

[3:30 p.m.]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome this question by the honourable member and I would like to table today in the House copies of correspondence from John Hamm to the then Premier of Nova Scotia, the member for Cape Breton North, where he asked that Premier to hold up construction of the facility because our Party was committed to moving it out of the Bedford site. His Party, his government went ahead with constructing the facility knowing that if the government changed the taxpayers of Nova Scotia would have to pay the bill.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the fact is, our government made a decision which was right, not one which was politically right like with the Tory Government. Not only has the Minister of Justice's costs escalated to $1.2 million, as he informed this House, but their press release indicates that the new costs for this facility will be $58.9 million as compared to the original cost of $57 million. This results in a difference of $1.9 million, not $1.2 million.

[Page 557]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: Will the minister explain to this House this blatant discrepancy in numbers?

MR. BAKER: Very simply, it is a question of simple math, Mr. Speaker. (Laughter) The government of which he was a member authorized the lower figure, the higher figure is the difference of $1.2 million, that's the difference in the press release, that's the difference in between the costs.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is becoming quite clear, as we stated yesterday, that Nova Scotians are going to see clearly that $1.2 million is just a hidden cost by this government and we will see the real cost. The fact is, by moving the site from Bedford to Burnside, this government went from a 100 acre site to a 50 acre site, which in essence will prevent any future expansion of this new facility.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: Will the minister table for this House the exact cost to the Nova Scotia taxpayers for moving this new jail to Burnside?

MR. BAKER: The short answer to the member is yes, but the long answer, Mr. Speaker, is that the honourable member is very sadly mistaken. He is very sadly mistaken because the accusation here is that it was a decision on the part of this government that was politically motivated. (Interruptions) In fact, we were looking at proper planning principles. It was the former government that was determined to ram this down the throats of Nova Scotians.

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

ECON. DEV. - VOL. PLANNING TASK FORCE:

PROG. REVIEW - TERMS OF REFERENCE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question, through you, to the Premier and it is with respect to the blue ribbon task force on program review. The NDP wants much greater public participation in the budget-making process, as this government and as this House knows. We agree with him that positive lasting change must meet the test of an open and honest process that Nova Scotians trust. The Premier said today that his government will heed the recommendations of this task force because it has the right terms of reference, unlike their response to the Goldbloom task force on regionalization.

[Page 558]

I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, will he tell Nova Scotians exactly what the terms of reference are - we have not heard them yet - for his task force and how it fits into the budget process?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will try to table the terms of reference before the end of Question Period.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the other part of that question was how the task force role fits into the budget process, but let me go to my first supplementary and maybe the Premier can come back to that. Nova Scotians have had a bit of a taste of this government's priorities in the past couple of weeks, and now they learn that the Premier's task force will report to government in January, five months after the Conservatives' internal review began and only a few weeks before final spending estimates are tabled.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I want to ask the Premier, why was the internal review given a five month head start?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, somewhere along the line I think the member's question got garbled, but I think what he was trying to ask is why the announcement today and not, say, two months ago. What I can say to the member opposite, even before this government was sworn in, I made the initial visit to Voluntary Planning to start the process that resulted in the press conference today. A considerable amount of planning has gone on since that time until this, in getting the terms of reference right and allowing Voluntary Planning to do those preparatory things to allow them to be a participant in what I think is a very important process for all Nova Scotians.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, members of this House know that the budget process starts now, that it will be pretty much finalized by the end of December for next year. We are trying to find out whether or not this isn't just window dressing to hide what is an already determined outcome by this government.

My final supplementary, before and during the recent election, the Premier and his colleagues ridiculed the notion that letters and open houses provide proper public participation. We agree with that. My question to the Premier is, will he give Nova Scotians real participation by telling people the options that are really on the table? What options are really on the table - don't say that it is all there - and will he hold public meetings where Nova Scotians can hear each other's views and help priorize options that are actually under active consideration?

[Page 559]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe that we got an answer from the people of Nova Scotia on July 27th, because we did go to the people of Nova Scotia with a platform that represents a complete plan. Part of that platform indicated that they would be partners in this process, right along, and the announcement today of a fiscal management task force is an opportunity for Nova Scotians to be ongoing participants in the actions of this government as we move down the road to fiscal responsibility.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

ABOR. AFFS. - MARSHALL DECISION: NATIVE RTS. - FAIRNESS

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs. What steps have you taken to ensure that all native rights, as defined by the Supreme Court's Marshall decision, are observed and that all natives are represented in a fair and equitable manner?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question because it is a very good question. One of the difficulties with the Marshall decision is, unfortunately, the Marshall decision lacks a lot of clarity. One of the major issues under the Marshall decision is the problem of who is entitled as a treaty beneficiary. Clearly that is one of the issues that this government is very definitely working on in determining who is a treaty beneficiary.

Secondly, to the member, which is part of the question, which is make sure that rights are respected. We respect the Marshall decision as being a decision of the highest court in the land. We intend to live with the decision of the highest court in the land. However, there are a number of issues which both need to be negotiated and which need to be clarified, and we are hoping that those things will happen as time progresses.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, this time my question is for the Minister of Justice. Mr. Minister, the Department of Justice must be prepared to act if Ottawa decides to restrict native fishing rights. What steps - to the minister - have you taken to prepare your department for any such directive from Ottawa, and to ensure that the Province of Nova Scotia is not caught flat-footed again, and to guarantee that justice is carried out swiftly and without prejudice?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the very short answer is that the police services in this province will enforce the laws of Nova Scotia and of Canada. We are determined that that is going to take place. We call on all Nova Scotians to abide by the law. One of the difficult problems that we face with the Marshall decision is that the law is, frankly, not clear. We are very hopeful that the federal government will clarify the situation with respect to the fishery, because one of the difficult situations with the fishery is the law is not clear.

[Page 560]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. It appears in just listening to the discussion here that one minute the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs is talking in regard to how he interprets it, and the other one as Minister of Justice, in fact, as part of that process of defining it.

My question to the Premier is, it doesn't seem fair to me that we have appointed a Minister of Justice and a Minister of Aboriginal Affairs in the same minister. It seems like a conflict of interest.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DOWNE: In wake of the native fishing crisis and the fact that the province is in a legal proceeding with natives over access to Crown land and fibres, will the Premier admit

that he has, in fact, made a mistake with regard to the minister being two of the same and shuffle his Cabinet once again . . .

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

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, I believe that the Minister of Justice and the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs is doing a very credible job and I full believe he will continue to do a credible job on behalf of this government and, more particularly on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia.

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

FIN. - CASINO (SYDNEY): CHARITIES - POLICY CHANGE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance who yesterday, outside this Chamber, confessed that the government had secretly abolished or dissolved the Sydney Casino Charities Profits Trust Fund Board of Directors so that they could grab the cash. He also admitted that the government hadn't bothered to inform the board of directors that they had been dissolved. So my question to the minister is - and that, by way, the Premier had to apologize for - is that your disregard for common courtesy part of the Cabinet Minister's new code of conduct?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I think common sense is a good code of conduct and I will say to the member that I had contacted the chairman prior to those statements being made outside this House, but I had not yet had time to contact the other four. As such, I regret that, but I did speak to them personally subsequent to my comments before the evenings news. However, I would have much preferred to talk to them in person before that was made public.

[Page 561]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister also said that the Order in Council had been passed in September. Then, of course, when I raised a point of privilege in this House, the Government House Leader said, in fact, it hasn't been sent yet to the Lieutenant Governor. In fact, as recently as yesterday, the most recent batches of Orders in Council, that is still not in it. So the board still exists.

MR. SPEAKER: Do you have a question, please?

MR. HOLM: Yes, Mr. Speaker, a very clear one. My question to the Minister of Finance, since the Premier said that consultation will be the hallmark of this government, will you assure the House that the board will not be dissolved until you have consulted with the charities in this province whose money you are taking? Will you stay the order and hold those public consultations?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, he asked about four questions and I want to make sure that I can try to answer them all. If I don't perhaps he can do it on his final supplementary. I will say that the Order in Council was dated prior to the budget being tabled. As such, the fact of the matter is that it can't be made public before the release of the budget because that would violate the confidentiality of the budget and so it was held in abeyance until after the budget was released. As such, the Clerk of the Council had not yet brought it to the Lieutenant Governor for signature. That is something that will be rectified shortly and, as such, all the necessary paper work will be done.

MR. HOLM: In the fullness of time it will be rectified. Mr. Speaker, the budget has been in for some period of time and Orders in Councils that were released as recently as yesterday still don't contain it.

Mr. Speaker, the minister is the same minister who is talking about tough times, gives his colleague the Minister of Economic Development over $1 million to pass out to Scotiabank to set up their drive-thru call centre at the department to collect money while at the same time you are ripping away over $2.2 million from charities. My question to the minister is quite simply this, when the government talks about belt-tightening, is it its view that only the most vulnerable will pay, but those who have the greatest amount of means will continue to collect the government largesse?

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I know the member is probably sincere in what he is saying but it shows in my estimation a lack of understanding of the problems that we have in this province. When he says today that Scotiabank will receive monies, he gives the impression that the bank is being paid directly. If we are going to have a debate, the debate should be honest and open. I think the members should acknowledge that the money is going to the community college to provide services for Scotiabank. Also, it will provide training for

[Page 562]

companies, such as Staples, which is located in your riding. It will provide training for other institutions. If you want to have a debate, you should have a debate in an open function. We made a decision and I know that it is difficult, however, I believe it was in the best interests of the Province of Nova Scotia.

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

FIN. - VOL. PLANNING TASK FORCE:

DECISION - FINAL ARBITER

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, it is the Minister of Finance who doesn't know what is going on in the province. People are destitute; they don't know how they are going to cope this winter, and now the government has taken the carpet out from underneath their feet.

We have listened for the last few weeks on the obnoxious and incessant comments of this government about how they had this plan of where they were going. Now we find out that they don't have a plan. They have initiated Voluntary Planning; they have put together a committee to tell them what their plan is.

Now suppose the government does have something that they discovered from their own internal investigations and that the Voluntary Planning group comes out with a recommendation that runs counter to what the government has proposed. Is the Voluntary Planning group going to take precedence? Is that what the government is going to follow, or does the government know?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I know the honourable member is asking a question that he thinks is important but I think you have to put it in perspective because he says that the people of this province are - I think he used the word destitute. Obviously there are some who are having difficult situations. However, I should say that one of the first things we learned when coming into government is that this previous administration had put forward initiatives supposedly to save almost $100 million and presented a budget that included those savings, which were never planned for, which they never had any intention of.

That stresses why we have to do this plan, why we have to do planning and why we have to basically involve Nova Scotians in bringing about the reduction of costs so that this province can stand on its feet and deliver services to those same people who he says need them. Otherwise, we will not be able to, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, Voluntary Planning is not going to report before January. There is a lot of snow and cold weather before then. There isn't any government. They can't make a decision except on how to treat and berate destitute people. This is not a

[Page 563]

government, it is a virtual government. They can't make a decision so they have gone to dial-a-government to the Voluntary Planning. I mean this is an absolute disgrace.

We have heard that they have been putting together ideas. There is nothing. Their whole election platform is hogwash, they have done no preparation. They still don't know where they are going.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: I ask the Premier, is he going to allow Voluntary Planning to make the decisions of government? If there is a conflict between what government said they are going to do and plans, is Voluntary Planning going to have precedence over the opinions of government?

THE PREMIER: To the member opposite, Voluntary Planning will be part of a consultation process that we promised the people of Nova Scotia, that they would be partners with us as we move down the road to more effective government, resulting in a better future for all Nova Scotians.

The member opposite knows that despite good economic times in recent years in Nova Scotia more and more Nova Scotians are hungry, more and more Nova Scotians are having difficulty surviving in the current environment we provide for them. If we continue to do the actions that were part and parcel of the way of the previous government, then things will, as they have been, continue to get worse.

We are going down a different road and it may seem at times that we will be doing difficult things because we will be doing difficult things, but we are only doing them because we see no other way.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that this government is going down a different road, it is going down the road to oblivion. (Applause) I want to know if this government is going to be doing the same thing to these people who are going to contribute

and where they think this province should be going that they did to the people in Cumberland County, who honestly believed they had a chance of getting the jail and the forensic centre, leaving them high and dry when the time came to make a decision and not giving their input any consideration?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Question.

MR. MACLELLAN: I want to know why it is that this government has led the province to believe that they had some idea where they were going when really in fact they have dial- a-government to make the decisions for them?

[Page 564]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite that it certainly would have been very attractive to this government to have found a way to move the jail to Cumberland County because the member for Cumberland South lobbied long and hard knowing that this government still had yet to make a decision on the siting of the jail. Other communities expressed great interest but, as the Minister of Justice has clearly indicated, because of the nature of the population in that jail, to have it remote from metro would create ongoing operational costs and that is why it was a sound decision to have the jail in the metro area.

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

HEALTH - PHARMACARE PROG.: PREMIUMS - ELIMINATE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this government when they were in Opposition were very vocal about the need to make the Seniors' Pharmacare Program fair and affordable by eliminating premiums. The present Premier even encouraged the formation of a working group to examine how to improve the system and make it more affordable for seniors. Eliminating premiums was a Tory election promise in 1998, but was ignored by the members opposite in both this election campaign and the Speech from the Throne. So my question to the Premier is, what happened to your commitment to make Pharmacare affordable for seniors?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in response to the member opposite, the member full well knows that as a result of our initiative a task force was set up and came back with four options. Seniors' groups were asked to comment on those four options. It would appear that while the process did not complete itself, that seniors themselves were more supportive of another option than the one that we had proposed as a political Party. Why that is not going forward at this particular point in time is because we are looking at what government services will go forward. We are looking at over 1,000 government services that we have to analyze to determine how we can best and effectively use taxpayers' dollars and provide the services that Nova Scotians feel are the most important.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, last year the current Minister of Finance criticized the way that decisions were made about Pharmacare premiums and he told the House that there must be a fairy on a hill somewhere that is coming up with these plans and saying it is fair. My question to the Premier is, will your government also be consulting with the fairy on the hill or will you be holding meaningful consultations with seniors about how to move towards your past commitment to eliminate Pharmacare premiums?

THE PREMIER: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, but the questioner's voice did not carry to this side of the room.

[Page 565]

MR. SPEAKER: Will the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour repeat the question, please.

MR. DEXTER: I would not want him to miss this question. My question to the Premier was, will your government also be consulting with the Minister of Finance's fairy on the hill or will you hold meaningful consultations with seniors about how to move towards your past commitment to eliminate Pharmacare premiums?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite that we have made a commitment to the Senior Citizens' Secretariat and the group of nine to allow us to do exactly that, to have a ready vehicle whereby this government on a regular basis can consult with seniors.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this government won the votes of many seniors by posing as a caring government that would provide them with fair, affordable health care. Now many seniors are worried that their health is just one more thing that the government will say it cannot afford. What are the Premier's plans to ensure that the Seniors' Pharmacare Program is affordable and meets the needs of the growing senior population?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite gives me an opportunity to say to all Nova Scotians that the reason that we are undergoing this process is so that this government will be able to do exactly that, to provide a good Pharmacare Program for seniors and a health care system in which all Nova Scotians have confidence.

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

ECON. DEV. - WINTER WORKS PROG.:

CANCELLATION - JUSTIFY (C.B.)

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Hundreds of people across Nova Scotia will not have employment this winter because the Minister of Economic Development was instructed by the Minister of Finance to cancel the Winter Works Program that provided jobs to areas of high unemployment, especially in Cape Breton and, I might add, also, in Digby, Guysborough, the Eastern Shore and Preston, to name some other areas in this province. Many of the jobs, of course, are located in Cape Breton.

In fact it was done without consultation and without program review and as a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Minister of Finance, how does he justify the elimination of these jobs at a time when Cape Bretoners need them most?

[Page 566]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member believes that I directed the Minister of Economic Development to cut any programs, obviously that is the way it worked in their previous government. It is not the way that it works in our government. The program is run by the Minister of Economic Development and I will ask him to respond to the question specifically.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, as I stated earlier, we faced many difficult decisions. In actual fact, the decision to eliminate that Winter Works Program was taken by the previous government. It is one we looked at very carefully, analysed the information and determined that in fact those jobs, while they may be needed, do not contain sustainability. They are simply stopgap measures and we feel that, in a time when there is very little financing available, we have to ensure that the money is invested in a way that will ensure the jobs that are created will remain after the funding expires.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would ask him to table that information he has there, if he would. My first supplementary is to the Minister of Economic Development. The minister should know and does know by now that in the past couple of years the Department of Economic Development, the bureaucrats - who for the most part are fine people, but they sometimes forget that there are other parts of Nova Scotia other than Halifax metro - have suggested to me, time and time again, that we should do away with that program. I have rejected that and introduced money into my budget, when I was a minister, to have that program go forth.

I want to list a number of charities and organizations in Cape Breton, such as Cape Breton Transition House, the food bank, Brass Tack Industries, Loaves and Fishes, St. Vincent de Paul, all of whom . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Can we have the question, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: . . are going to be negatively impacted. I would ask the Minister of Economic Development, how does he sleep at night knowing that these people will not have jobs next winter, especially those in Cape Breton and those in Digby?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again to the honourable member, it is our intention to look at a strategy that will create jobs that last. For too long, in many regions in this province, the strategy has simply been to provide funding in a stopgap way that did not result in any sustainable employment. It is our view that when you have very little money to work with, you had better spend it wisely. That is our intention to use it in a way that creates jobs that last long after the funding expires.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I find it incredible that that minister would suggest that jobs that only last six months are not good jobs in the winter in rural Nova Scotia, with people desperate to have jobs. Would he rather put them on welfare?

[Page 567]

My second supplementary is to the Premier. Mr. Premier, it is obvious to me that this government has no conscience and you are being run by your Minister of Finance. There is no moral compass here; that is becoming obvious by the day. It is clear that this government, your government, is punishing Cape Bretoners. Will the Premier do the decent thing and restore funding to the Winter Works Program so it can be reviewed on an equal basis with all the other programs being reviewed, or will he echo the sentiments of the Economic Development Minister that short-term jobs are no good?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite who, I know, has a genuine concern for those people that he represents, but by way of this question I have an opportunity to say to that member that during the six years since 1993, the people of Cape Breton have continually told me that each year along the way things have gotten worse. The methods and the processes of the previous government have not resulted in a better economy for Cape Breton and I believe Cape Bretoners are looking for something that will improve things and are prepared to go along with this government to allow us to do those things that will provide sustained jobs in Cape Breton and right across Nova Scotia.

[4:00 p.m.]

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

EDUC. - SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD HIGH SCHOOL:

AIR QUALITY - RECTIFY

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Sir John A. Macdonald High School is a 32 year old high school that has been identified as the number one priority school for renovations by the Halifax Regional School Board. Members present have heard me speak at length about this high school. This school has a notorious air quality problem that has plagued students and staff for years. In fact, within the last week, students had to stay home on Friday and on Monday due to fumes in that school. Students, staff and the community want answers, Madam Minister. What are you prepared to do for the students, staff and community of Sir John A. Macdonald High School?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I also heard the member opposite speak at length about the problems at Sir John A. I absolutely agree with him, there are problems at Sir John A. I believe, as he knows, a temporary air handling system has been installed, that a complete new air handling system will be installed by the new year. I actually have a letter here, I would like to table, from our Environmental Health and Safety Officer with the Department of Education, who was at the school on Monday. There is a little bit more detailed information on the matter. We are doing everything we can.

[Page 568]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, thank you for that letter, I look forward to seeing what it says. That is a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. Sir John A. has portable classrooms in the parking lot due to overcrowding. The air quality problems do not need temporary solutions. We are concerned where Sir John A. is on the renovation list for your department. It is, number one in the Halifax Regional School Board. Where is Sir John A. on the renovation list for older high schools in this province?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, the department acts on requests from school boards concerning new schools and renovations of schools. Sir John A. has major problems, I have said I agree, we are well aware. At the present, the Halifax Regional School Board and the Department of Education are doing an assessment of all high schools in the metro area to determine which should be renovated and/or new schools built first. That study should be ready, I am told it will be ready, early in the new year. I know Sir John A. will be on that list.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Madam Minister, tonight at 7:00 o'clock at Sir John A. Macdonald High School, the School Advisory Committee will be meeting. On behalf of the community, I want to cordially invite you or a member of your staff to be present at that event. Will the minister come to Sir John A., to tour this facility, to see first-hand what our kids are actually putting up with?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, this evening I am otherwise engaged in the happy pursuit of being briefed on estimates for the Education Department. I will see if a member of my staff can go tonight. I do commit to visiting Sir John A., I just cannot give a date.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

ECON. DEV. - WINTER WORKS PROG.:

BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB (DIGBY) - CONTACT

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. Mr. Minister, Digby County was counting on you to deliver economic development to your community. Winter Works was one program that not only provided employment in your area, but also assisted organizations that have a great history of helping so many individuals in your home town. My question is has the minister been in contact with the Boys and Girls Club of Digby with regard to cancelling the Winter Works Program?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. Specifically with regard to the cancellation of the Winter Works project, the answer is no. Have I been in conversation with the Boys and Girls Club in Digby around other issues? Yes. Regular conversation on an ongoing basis. So, yes, I have talked to them about many things with regard to their funding.

[Page 569]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, in actual fact our Minister of Economic Development has handed the Boys and Girls Club of Digby a double blow. Last year they used this position to raise additional funds for their operations. Not only have you taken away their fund-raising position, you are also reviewing the grant the Boys and Girls Club receives from your government. Last year the Digby County Family Resource Centre used Winter Works to hire a worker to provide parenting programs for individuals in the Digby County area. My question to the minister is, have you contacted this organization and informed them of your decision not to offer a Winter Works Program?

MR. BALSER: Again, to the honourable member, have I contacted that organization directly? No, but we are aware of the issue and, in fact, as I have said earlier, the difficulty with these funding programs that are short-term job creation is that organizations come to rely on them for funding. When this whole program was initially introduced some time ago, it was seen as a short-term solution and what has happened is we have come to rely on that with no real view of how to create sustainable employment. That is what we need to focus on. In a time of difficulty we need to start thinking creatively about how we create employment that lasts.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, short term; I can't believe that. My final question to the minister is, the Black Employment Partnership Committee of Digby County has also benefited from the Winter Works Program in the past. Could the minister please explain how he can justify turning his back on organizations and individuals in his community, most in need?

MR. BALSER: Certainly the impact any time that a government has to look at what programs will be reduced or eliminated creates hardships. What we need to do is look at how we can use those scarce dollars to really grow the revenue side. Create jobs that last and help by increasing the tax revenue for this province. We cannot simply look at stopgap solutions. We have to look at an overall strategy that will fix the problem for the long term.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. - MIDDLETON GRAIN CENTRE: CLOSURE - MEETINGS

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, and I will direct my question to the Minister of Agriculture, please. The minister told me in August that he would speak with his department, the Federation of Agriculture and the farmers in the Valley who have voiced concerns over the closure of the Middleton Grain Centre. My question to the minister, what was the result of those meetings?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question; a very good question. Those meetings were held with representative groups from Annapolis County concerning the Middleton Grain Centre along with local RDA officials. We came to a resolution where if they wish to have a grain centre viable in their community that they

[Page 570]

would put forward a proposal and a business plan and myself, and my department are awaiting that plan to be returned. Thank you.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: My question to the minister again, will the minister now share - since he is in the role of Opposition and must know more - with the House and to all Nova Scotians all the aspects of the deal to put taxpayers' investments into private hands?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I believe the honourable member meant to say that I am on the government side of the House now, not Opposition as he indicated. What he was referring to, I believe, is a deal that was signed by a previous government concerning East Coast Commodities. The question is sketchy, but I assume that is what the member was asking me. Since East Coast Commodities is a co-operative, private company, I will take that under advisement if it does not infringe upon their legal rights in this agreement, I will certainly provide those figures to the honourable member.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I think the minister did misinterpret my question. It is taxpayers' dollars and I think they should be allowed to be aware of what the conditions were for that deal.

My final question for the minister is, is the minister willing to commit to replacing this facility with one the farmers say they need?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as I spoke earlier, that commitment was made to the farming community. The commitment was made to that group of farmers and individuals that if they put forward a proposal, we were more than willing to look at that proposal and business plan and, if it was acceptable, certainly we would be supporting that group of farmers, and we await that proposal. Thank you.

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

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the honourable Minister of Economic Development. A few minutes ago, the Premier talked about a new beginning for Cape Breton that he and his government are working on. As the minister is aware, the provincial government has promised $12 million to top-up the $68 million approved by the federal government to help kick-start the industrial Cape Breton economy.

Recently you and your Premier on visits to Cape Breton gave indications that this money would be provided and you won't, indeed, forget Cape Breton. My question, Mr. Minister, is your department committed to providing the $12 million in this fiscal year?

[Page 571]

HON. GORDON BALSER: To the honourable member, what has been suggested by the federal government is a committee to review a strategy that will ensure this money will not be expended as has been the past practice. In our discussions with the federal counterparts, we have indicated a willingness to participate. One of the concerns we have, if we come forward with $12 million, is that that money not be spent as has been the past practice and that means simply funding short-term programs.

So, are we considering the $12 million? Yes, but we want to see what that plan will be before we commit entirely.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary to the minister. Here we go again; this is another program that is under review. The people of Cape Breton were led to believe that this was a done deal, that the government was going to partner with the federal government to provide kick-start money for the economy for Cape Breton.

Mr. Minister, there is no indication anywhere in your budget, or in the Throne Speech for that matter, where this $12 million is. Is it in your department estimates or is it contained in another budget? Is it contained anywhere? Is it in the Finance Department's budget? Is this money committed? Cape Bretoners want to know.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the plan is to be a multi-year strategy so the commitment will be over, I believe, four years, so the money is within the budget. When we are sure that the plan is going to truly work and make a difference, then we will put the money forward so that it can be used to leverage job creation projects that result in a real increase in the number of jobs in Cape Breton.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I would ask the honourable Minister of Economic Development to table where it is in the budget; I would like to see this and I am sure honourable members would also like to see where it is committed in the budget.

Also, Mr. Speaker, considering the Tory Government has confirmed what Nova Scotians already know, namely that Tory times are hard times, and the fact that your government has taken $2.2 million destined for charities and have cancelled the Winter Works Program, which also takes money from charitable organizations, will the minister today commit to providing $12 million for projects much needed in Cape Breton immediately, or has he completely written off Cape Breton?

MR. BALSER: Let me assure the honourable member opposite that we have no intention of writing off Cape Breton. What we are concerned with is that we no longer spend money as has been the past practice; that is, simply spending it on short-term projects that have no real long-term sustainability.

[Page 572]

What we will do as a government and what we fully intend to do is participate as equal partners, with full say in the strategy once we are assured that the job creation projects will, at the end of the day, result in some real long-term, sustainable employment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - P3 SCHOOLS: CHANGE - MUNS. ADD

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Education. We all know the Liberal Government's P3 school policy is a disaster. One of the side effects of the P3 school construction plan is the downloading of costs to municipalities, who have not been at the decision-making table and are now waking up to find that they have to contribute significant funds for infrastructure. My question to the minister is, what plans, if any, does this government have to make municipalities a partner in the building of schools?

[4:15 p.m.]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure the member for Halifax Needham that we agree with her and that any schools that this government builds, the municipality will be a partner.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I would like to thank the minister. Recently, we have seen that the HRM had to pick up the bill for new sidewalks for the Beechville school and sidewalks for Sackville Heights Elementary School when, in fact, there was a serviced site . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: . . . for this last school. All of a sudden, the school is being located where the developer has a subdivision. Coincidence? No, I think not.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Since the minister says she agrees it is not appropriate, I would like to ask the minister what concrete steps will be taken and when?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, in the case of this particular school, the site was selected, I am told and I believe, by a parents committee and it was the preferred site. Even though we do agree that the municipality should be a partner and will in the future, the municipality has known about this site since it was selected and has had time to get its ducks in a row.

[Page 573]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there is only one taxpayer and it seems to me that these costs for the Sackville Heights school, regardless of when that decision was made or under what government, this site selection appears to favour the developer that was involved in that school.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I would like the minister to reconsider that decision and ensure that the municipality does not have to pick up these additional costs. Will she do that?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell the member opposite that another change that we would like to see in the construction of schools, and that we will see in the future construction of schools, is that the sites will be selected before we find the builder. This will avoid the perception that there is funny business about. So we will fix that process in the future.

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

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS.: JAIL (BURNSIDE) -

INTERCHANGE (HWY.)

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to return to the issue of the jail and the hidden costs of relocating it in Dartmouth North, as compared to the former site in Bedford. Yesterday, I raised this matter with the Minister of Transportation. I asked him if a highway interchange was required for the construction of the jail and his answer, as recorded in Hansard on Page 481 was, "Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that there will not need to be additional costs for a highway to connect that building.".

I would like to ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs, through you, Mr. Speaker, if he is aware that the Halifax Regional Municipality has twice applied for an interchange for the Burnside site and have twice been denied by the Department of Transportation and Public Works?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for the question. I can say to the honourable member that in the, I am not sure if it is, two weeks that I have been within the department, that is not a document or a question which I have seen come before me, but I will certainly take the matter under advisement and agree to reply to the honourable member on a future day.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I have here a briefing note from the Department of Transportation and Public Works, headed Burnside Industrial Park. It states that street access is not currently in place, but it would be by the time the facility was opened. It further states

[Page 574]

that the major issue with this site is that the Halifax Regional Municipality business park's office support is contingent upon the Department of Transportation and Public Works approving another level crossing intersection on Burnside Drive.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACEWAN: The Department of Transportation has twice rejected (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

I would ask the honourable member to table that document and the question.

MR. MACEWAN: Having read from it, let me table it and let me provide another copy to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works so they can peruse its content. I would like to ask the minister is it not a fact that the Department of Transportation has twice rejected the Burnside Business Park's request for this fourth exit and the development of the jail is contingent upon the provision of that additional interchange?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I am not sure if you can find a question in that, but if you can, go ahead.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the issue of the interchange is one that was discussed prior to the locating of the jail, as I responded yesterday to my understanding, at that point. There would be no need for additional infrastructure creation around that. (Interruptions) Certainly, in light of the recent announcement, the department will be considering what is required and we will make that decision at the appropriate time.

MR. MACEWAN: It would appear from this vantage point that the government has not been candid with the House with respect to this particular matter and I would like to ask the minister, in view of the briefing note that I have tabled here in the House, would he be kind enough to revisit the issue of the true costs of relocating that facility and to report back to the House with accurate and substantiated and verified cost projections, perhaps by tomorrow to the House.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I believe the question has been answered. Prior to the decision to locate the jail in its present location, there had been discussions around the need for an interchange. It was decided by the Department of Transportation and Public Works at that time it was not needed. Now, at this point, there may be a need to look at it, but that will be done in the fullness of time.

[Page 575]

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

DEVCO - COAL LEASES: OWNERSHIP - CONFIRM

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. As the Premier is no doubt aware, official for sale signs have been put on Devco. In the past in this House and in other places there has been a conflict of who owns the coal leases, the province or the federal government? I would like to ask the Premier, has he finally resolved this problem with Ottawa and can he tell this House, who owns the leases for Nova Scotia coal?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I actually welcome the news that, in fact, Nesbitt Burns is now contacting prospective buyers for the Cape Breton coal field, including, as I understand it, the railroad, the separation plant, the loading pier, the Donkin site, the Phalen Mine and the Prince Mine. It is an integrated coal company, as the member opposite knows. So I think this is a piece of good news and this province is going to cooperate every step of the way to find a private owner to take up coal mining in Cape Breton.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, as someone who grew up in the ash piles of No. 12, I certainly want someone to take over those coal fields. But that's not the question. The question was very simple. Who owns the coal leases, Ottawa or Nova Scotia, very simple?

THE PREMIER: I think the member opposite knows the answer to the question, but I want to give the opportunity to the Minister of Natural Resources to respond to the question.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the simple and straight answer is that the leases are under the direction of the Department of Natural Resources for the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. CORBETT: I thank the minister for answering the question his Leader couldn't.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh-h-h.

MR. CORBETT: I asked him twice and he couldn't. Now with this, Mr. Speaker, comes certain responsibilities. In the Plummer Report, it notes that training for the province's underground mining inspectors must be improved to match international standards. Mining inspection has to be improved to meet international standards.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 576]

MR. CORBETT: Now if Devco was sold to a private interest and it reverts back to Nova Scotia resources, what plans does your government have to provide sufficient training for people to act as inspectors so that the people in Cape Breton who mine coal will work in a safe workplace?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite is interested in the question and I would defer to the minister responsible for the Devco file.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite well knows, that is part of the negotiations on transferring the takeover with the federal government. Currently federal inspectors, and federal regulations apply to coal mines.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, you will know that I have given to you, sir, and to both the Government House Leader and the Liberal House Leader a list which has the various times allocated for the different pieces of business. The Minister of Finance had wanted to table a bill and we gave him permission to do that. So before we technically start, we certainly would give the Minister of Finance permission to take a brief moment just to table the bill. We agreed to do that just as a courtesy, to revert briefly.

MR. SPEAKER: We will revert the order of business to Introduction of Bills.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 7 - Entitled An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. (Hon. Neil LeBlanc)

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

The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, we will find out what little tax measures the government has in mind very shortly by reading that legislation, and we will examine it.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

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

[Page 577]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 156.

Res. No. 156, re House of Assembly - Lobbyists: Registration Legislation - Proceed - notice given Oct. 18/99 - (Mr. J. Holm)

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, Resolution No. 156 is very simple and straightforward in terms of actually what the resolution says. What the resolution that I introduced on Monday basically does, it calls upon the government to introduce into this Legislature for passage, a piece of legislation that would require that those who are paid, professional lobbyists, must be registered.

I am anticipating that during this first Opposition Day for our caucus that we will have some success in having this particular resolution passed. I say that, Mr. Speaker, because quite truthfully during the election campaign there seemed to be some support coming forward from the former Government House Leader - when they were in government for the Liberals - and there certainly seemed to be some support for the NDP proposal by the then Third Party, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, who is now the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, over the history of Nova Scotia and certainly, I know, as long as I have been involved in politics and going back beyond that, we have had a history of backroom politics, about alleged backroom politics, about alleged influence peddling.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Say it ain't so.

MR. HOLM: The member for Richmond says, say it ain't so, but that member for Richmond was a member of the Cabinet who I am sure better than I, can attest to the fact that, yes, it was so, because indeed over the years we have seen that there have been, and I am sure that there continue to be, those who are trying to, for pay, influence decisions that are being made by government.

[4:30 p.m.]

The former Government House Leader for the Liberal Party, in terms of talking about lobbying - and I think one of the clearest and certainly a very accurate and honest statement, admission by the member, and I congratulate him for having said so - the member for Cape Breton South said, with respect to lobbying, it is a fact of life in Nova Scotia, I mean, I am lobbied every day of the week. That is reality.

What we are simply saying in our legislation, and basically what we are saying in this resolution is that we believe - as the now Premier had said that he also agreed during the election - we believe that those who are lobbying government, those who are trying to

[Page 578]

influence policies, those who are trying to do that should have to be registered in a formal way and that should be public information.

What we are really talking about is the bill that was introduced by the Leader of the New Democratic Party, a couple of days ago, in which he outlines those who would have to be registered. It talks about what lobbying means, it talks about who the lobbyists are, and it goes through procedures as to what information and how that information should be made public. We are not worried about whether our piece of legislation as it is is tabled and passed exactly as we introduced it. What we are more concerned about is that we come into the tail- end of the 19th Century and go into the next century up to speed. Other jurisdictions have similar legislation.

Under this, for example, " 'lobbyist' means a person who, for compensation . . .", not an individual who appears before a committee of this House, not a person who is coming forward as an individual to represent their own cases, but somebody who compensation, " . . . advises on or engages in lobbying activities directed at (i) members of Government, (ii) deputy ministers, (iii) the civil service, (iv) members of boards, commissions and bodies appointed by the Governor in Council, or (v) members of the House of Assembly and the staff of such members;".

In other words, if, for example, the member for Richmond should someday decide that he is tired of being on the back benches and would like to enter the world of free enterprise and become a consultant, and we know that former members of this House are now involved in businesses that act as consultants, those individuals may - and they may not - find themselves in a situation where they are being hired to lobby government, trying to lobby deputy ministers, trying to influence government policies.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is in the best interests of those individuals and anybody else who is trying to lobby government for changes to have that information public as well. It separates, it clearly shows who are legitimate lobbyists and who would not be legitimate lobbyists. There have been, and in the spirit of cooperation here today, I am not going to try to bring up or try to go through and talk this individual or that individual, somebody who may or may not have gained some notoriety in the press for supposedly alleging that they have influence on government.

Mr. Speaker, the reality is, however, that if individuals or companies are registered as paid lobbyists, and they are going out trying to seek compensation or trying to suggest that they can gain favour with government and get decisions made or policies altered in return for being paid, all those companies or individuals who, having that approach made to them, can find out very quickly if they are a legitimate lobbyist or not. All they would have to do, according to our legislation as being proposed, is click on the Internet, go to the sites and find out if they are legitimate, registered businesses.

[Page 579]

You would also then, Mr. Speaker, be clearing up all of the allegations, or hopefully clearing up most of them anyway, suggestions about the backroom people who are directing the government policies. It would become an offence for those who have, in the past, been involved in these backroom politics to be doing that and they would be trying to direct government policies in a way that it would be beneficial to themselves to do that and there would be a hefty penalty if they are trying to do things in the backroom.

That, therefore, Mr. Speaker, I think would be a benefit to the government of the day, too. I say this sincerely. When members are elected, whether this be your first time or if it may be your second, third or fourth time, no matter how many times, when people run for elected office, I believe - and I sincerely hope I am right - that most people do that because they are interested in making the right decisions for their constituents and for their province.You all know, even though you haven't been elected for a long time, that there are people who are trying to influence you. There are people who would like decisions to be made in certain ways that may be favourable to their business or what have you.

If there is a requirement that those who are lobbying and putting this kind of pressure be registered, that, I believe, would make each and every one of our jobs a little bit easier. I certainly believe, Mr. Speaker, that it would, hopefully, put an end to this cloud that hangs over this place about the decisions being directed by people who are not elected to make those decisions.

Mr. Speaker, with those few comments, I indicate that I am certainly hopeful that there will be support from all Parties to see this resolution go forward and pass so that legislation can be introduced, hopefully this fall, that would achieve the objectives of what we are, I hope, all trying to achieve. Thank you.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and join in the debate on Resolution No. 156. Again, in listening to the honourable NDP House Leader, in his preamble, he talks about the need for this particular legislation and, of course, it is typical NDP with their holier-than-thou attitude on everything. But here, again, their thinking is flawed, and I will get into that in a few moments as to why. A more cynical person, perhaps, would say that this is another hit and run resolution by the NDP hoping to . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Retread.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Retread, as the honourable member says. It is not well thought out, like most NDP resolutions. However, the government should give serious consideration to proceed to take a serious look at lobbyist legislation, similar to registration in other jurisdictions, perhaps, so we will know in advance who is out there and why. The why is important. Lobbyists should declare who they are working for and why, including, by

[Page 580]

the way - and this is to the honourable NDP House Leader - high-powered labour leaders, some of whom sit in and sat in on the NDP caucus meetings. Does anybody in this House seriously suggest that they are not in there lobbying for their best interests, just in case the NDP pulled off the impossible, winning government in Nova Scotia? Imagine. They are not lobbyists.

However, I am not interested in making it harder for persons or groups to have access to government, such as charities; non-profit community-based organizations; church organizations; the disabled; minorities; special complaints to departments like Community Services; disadvantaged groups; or individuals looking for help. We don't need legislation for all of those people. We should be accessible to all of those people. That is part of our system and should remain so.

We don't need legislation to cover off that part of it; there is no problem there. Where I have a problem - and I would hope that the government can correct this this year - is when lobbyists are allowed access to government officials, including ministers, to promote their own interests personally, or for businesses they are acting on behalf of, for profit or to curry favour for future considerations.

Mr. Speaker, in a perfect world lobbying for profit should be banned, but you and every member of this House knows as long as there are people who are interested in the almighty dollar, who are operating with the motive called greed, they won't allow that, and their access to ministers and members is all too easy, because there is another way they can get at ministers of the Crown - and I think that is where the NDP resolution is coming from - through senior officials of those government departments who have a great deal of control over what happens on a day-to-day basis in those departments.

I refer to an incident earlier today when the Minister of Economic Development was talking about a policy, and I'm sure that policy wasn't his policy; it was a policy that he was convinced to employ as a result of the wishes of his senior deputies, his senior people in his department and not necessarily the wishes of himself or his political associates opposite. So, access to senior civil servants should also be restricted, as well as access to ministers of the Crown. Again, we should know who is out there and we should know why they are out there. If we register the lobbyists we will know that and that is fair enough.

Access to senior public servants should also be banned, as far as I am concerned, in this province; it should be banned altogether. Senior public servants are there to do their jobs on behalf of their political masters, the Ministers of the Crown and the government, not to be having dinner with lobbyists every other night of the week, deciding what they want in their agenda in those departments and not what their political masters deem to be in the best interests of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. I can tell you - and the House Leader for the NDP knows this because we talked about this - that senior government people can move you in

[Page 581]

the preferred direction they want to go in and not the direction that may be in the best interests of the people of this province.

Ridiculous spectacles like day-to-day lobbying - some taking place right out here within earshot of where I am right now, on a daily basis, should not be allowed. I, personally have had spectacles day in and day out where I, and I have said this publicly before, would be approached by no less than a dozen lobbyists in one day in the Department of Economic Development, calling me on the phone, meeting me on the street, inviting me to dinner. Not on their own behalf, but on behalf of people who are employing them to do so.

They should be made to register. It is a distasteful practice that I have had great difficulty with, and I know that other Ministers of the Crown have had difficulty with it, past Ministers of the Crown, and I am sure that no different situation is going to take place for current Ministers of the Crown. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, in the last few days I have witnessed some lobbying taking place out here, by previous Ministers of the Crown talking to present ministers of the Crown. They were not in there talking about the weather. They were in there on behalf of somebody, and that is fine as long as we know they are there and what they are looking for and it is public knowledge as to what kind of business they are in.

I don't envy the position of the current ministers of the government because they are going to face this. All they can do is to do what past ministers - either in this government or previous governments - have done, resist the opportunity to do business with these people, at any cost. I think there should be a change to prohibit any lobbying of any government officials, as I said before, either elected or appointed. Government can show the way here. Government has an opportunity to show the way here. The whole question of lobbying for profit is distasteful, I have said that before, I said it publicly. I don't have to stand here in the House and say it, I said it outside the House before.

[4:45 p.m.]

Sometimes we have no idea who is out there lobbying and why they are lobbying. People can be lobbying by telling Ministers of the Crown or government officials that they have the support of groups to do that lobbying. I suggest that registration might cut down on the numbers, if nothing else, of those people who are purporting to be out there working for groups that are out there doing business in the best interests of the people of Nova Scotia or that they are out there doing business for their own benefit only.

Government decisions must be made with the best interests of all Nova Scotians at the forefront. We must make these decisions to serve the people that were elected in this place to serve and not the privilege to have access to high paid lobbyists or to people who have influence either now or previously in this place.

[Page 582]

There are many of you here today who are in this place for your first session of the Legislature, you will find as time goes on that your position makes you very vulnerable. Believe it or not, your position makes you very important in the eyes of some people in this province. Don't get carried away with that because the day that you are not in that position, the phone will stop ringing. I am going to tell you, in my particular case, I am happy the phone stopped ringing because I found it very distasteful that people would try to use my position in government to further their own gains.

I suggest that any legislation that this government can bring in to stop that practice would certainly be welcomed by myself, and I am sure would be welcomed by all members of this House. I would then challenge the government to bring that legislation forth as fast as they can. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak to Resolution No. 156. It is one of these things that goes around and around and never seems to be able to reach resolution, that is the impact that certain people in certain professions have upon members of this House. It is not a problem that is specific to this House, it is every Legislature, every Parliament across the world that faces the same problem, where groups come forth and try to push particular pieces of legislation, particular pieces of points of view, and attempt to do that, quite often in a fashion that borders on the criminal.

Mr. Speaker, when I first read this resolution, and it was this morning when I first read it, I went out and retrieved the bill on the registration of lobbyists, but I retrieved the wrong bill because as those members who have been in this House for a while would recognize, this same bill has been recirculated in this House several times. There are very slight changes in the bill in 1998 to that that was entered into the House for second reading just the other day by the Leader of the New Democratic Party.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to just simply say that I think lobbyists are entrenched, and I don't think we can get rid of lobbyists, I think that is an impossibility. They have arrived on the scene, and they have been more or less accepted as a legitimate profession. I mean a profession in that the lobbyists are certainly highly paid, they are highly trained, and they are normally masters of putting their point across. They are very good spokesmen for the people that pay their salaries. I think they are here to stay.

What we have to do as parliamentarians is to ensure that there is no skulduggery going on whereby members are being unduly influenced, particularly for a return, whether it be in the form of, as somebody said, dinners, which is just a minor detail, however, in the form of cash and certain other advantages that are sometimes offered by lobbyists.

[Page 583]

Mr. Speaker, I think every member in this House, on a daily basis, is lobbied by their constituents. We are not talking about that kind of lobbying. We are not talking about the lobbying that comes forth from a group that has an association and they want government to do something. We are not looking at those kinds of people. What we are looking at are the people who are paid by a corporation, or any other group, to bring forth the views and the aspirations and desires of that particular group to the attention of a minister or to the attention of government.

Mr. Speaker, I think that that falls right within the platform of this government because our present Premier, John Hamm, in Opposition, spoke about the need for developing ethics in government and, certainly, if you are going to have an ethical government, you don't want one where you have people who are accepting advice from outside groups, particularly for favour.

Mr. Speaker, certainly, that particular aspect of lobbying and pressure on members, I think, is one that we can support. However, having said that, if you read the resolution submitted by the New Democratic Party, Resolution No. 156, they are talking about "Therefore be it resolved that the government should proceed this fall with lobbyist registration legislation along the lines of the NDP proposal that was endorsed by the Progressive Conservatives.". I don't think we really endorsed the bill that he is speaking of. What we said was, yes, we support registration of lobbyists and we said we support doing those things that are going to enable government to be more open. In other words, if somebody is out there who is a registered lobbyist and comes up to me and speaks, people will know that that person is a lobbyist and I would be advised to take that advice, but not, perhaps, to go any further with it. (Interruption)

Yes, it is right and proper that we have that kind of legislation. Don't rush me. I still have two or three minutes yet.

As I said before, Mr. Speaker, we have to be very careful when we craft this legislation that we don't divorce ourselves from people who have a legitimate right to come and press a point upon a government, upon a member or upon an Opposition Party. That is absolutely right. But I think that it should apply to all. As the House Leader for the Liberal Party said a few moments ago, I am not just looking at industry. I am saying that also unions are a very powerful lobbying group and they approach government, no matter what the government is, and they approach the Opposition. They, too, have their papers and come forward with propositions.

Mr. Speaker, I think that, in the crafting of this bill, we have to be very careful, as I say, to define what is a lobbyist and what is lobbying and what are members' responsibilities. I think that, quite truthfully, we, as a Legislature, should subscribe to a code of ethics and we don't really do that at the moment, but I think we should. But that is something for an all-Party group to decide at some future date. One of the things that I think that every member

[Page 584]

in this House should be aware of is that, indeed, it is not ethical to accept favours for pushing some particular point of view.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to move that the motion of the honourable NDP House Leader pass and I would commit that this government this fall, hopefully, but not necessarily - we have a fairly heavy agenda between now and when we pull up stakes in the House, but either this fall - or in the spring session, we will commit to delivering to this House a piece of legislation regarding lobbyists. Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the question be now put.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a motion that Resolution No. 156 pass. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as I call the next order of business, I want to say to the Government House Leader that I very much appreciated his comments and I agreed with everything he said. I am pleased that we had the cooperation on that resolution and I look forward to seeing the bill crafted and drafted and introduced into this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 3, the Coastal Properties Study (1999) Act.

Bill No. 3 - Coastal Properties Study (1999) Act.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, that last example of cooperation is the very thing, which hopefully, will take place here during the next few moments as we look at an issue that you have heard me speak about in the past. It is with much pride that I bring forward to the House today the intent that is needed when we look at an ongoing problem involving the coastal communities in the various areas of our province.

[Page 585]

However, first I would like to point out to members that this bill is not anti-foreigner, that this bill is not fear-mongering and discouraging investment and people moving into our various coastal communities. What this bill is intended to do is to bring this province up to speed with our neighbours from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

I would like to take this opportunity to table, for the interests of members of all Parties, the P.E.I. Land Protection Act initially introduced in 1988, with revisions made in two following years, 1990 and 1991. Also, at the same time, I would like to table for the interest of members present, the Coastal Management Plan as devised by our neighbours from New Brunswick. I would like those tabled for the interest of the House.

Mr. Speaker, that says to me that we have adjoining provinces that have looked at this problem and realized that it is a concern for New Brunswickers and Prince Edward Islanders. I can assure you that it is a concern for the people in my constituency of Timberlea-Prospect. I am well aware that it is a concern for other members in this Chamber today. I have had the opportunity to speak to other members in this Chamber: the member for Queens and I, the member for Hants East who you will hear from in a few moments. This is a concern that Nova Scotians want to get a handle on.

The key parts of this bill - we would like to have a public review; Section 4(2), "The study shall include public hearings and a comprehensive report.".

Now, Mr. Speaker, the previous government gave the commitment - the Minister of Natural Resources at that time - in this House in the last session that there would be a committee of senior bureaucrats to look into this. That is not good enough; that is not good enough for Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other want to have their say on this matter. In coastal communities, from Glace Bay to Yarmouth, and, incidentally, I point out to the Cape Breton members present that there is a provision in here that the Bras d'Or Lakes are also included in this piece of legislation. This legislation is intended to use the data that we currently have available and that we must make fuller use of, to clarify the issue of non-resident ownership.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that I have had various responses from people throughout the province in the last number of months. I have received e-mails, faxes and phone calls from people of all political stripes who would like to have the opportunity to clear the air on this issue of non-resident ownership. I would like to point out that in taking a clear course the Progressive Conservative Government, when they were campaigning, made the promise that they would introduce legislation, and I quote from Page 21 of the blue book. "They will allow those areas of the province where large segments of land are being bought up by non-residents to take steps to protect Nova Scotia taxpayers.".

[Page 586]

[5:00 p.m.]

I congratulate the PC caucus at the time and the government today on a good piece of politicking because, when I canvassed in my coastal communities from the Terence Bay Gut through to the Peggy's Cove Light, it was pointed out that the Progressive Conservatives are going to do something about the non-resident issue along our coastline.

I, politically motivated that I am, Mr. Speaker, said to these people that, yes, I introduced a resolution in that we want the open public process and certainly not what we were getting from the Liberals at that time when they were going to offer to us some senior bureaucrats to review it.

Now there is another very important provision in here and this provision is that the terms of reference of this public review, this study, will be determined by the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, the House of Assembly - which is, of course, chaired by my good friend the member for Pictou East - that I had the opportunity to attend the other day. I point out to members present the terms of reference would be determined by a committee in which there is a majority of government members, the terms of reference including the public review that is necessary, and when and where these meetings would be held. The report is to be completed within one year. Now that is a time-frame that I think we can work with; I think there is good time to make sure that we get out across the province and listen to Nova Scotians about this concern.

Thirty days after the public review is completed, then we will have a report tabled. Do we or do we not, Mr. Speaker, have a problem with non-resident ownership in this province? Do we or do we not have a problem with traditional access to coastal community beaches and islands? I can point out to you areas in my community that are now gated communities, that have private property. Those gated communities mean an old road that at one time a family went down for perhaps a clambake or various other reasons, and when we were younger - I won't go into those, but I see the member for Queens laughing - I can tell you that there is a road near my home that is a gated community and that gated community means that there are three or four other places down there that are summer homes and they are owned by non-residents.

Now we must, in my view, clarify the issue for Nova Scotians. We must make it very clear for the public where exactly we are going, in my humble opinion, with one of our greatest natural resources, our coastlines. I know members present will agree with me that the tourism business is a big one in Nova Scotia and people from throughout Canada and throughout North America and the world come to this province because of the scenic beauty, because of our unique coastlines from one end of the province to the other. The time cannot be allowed to happen when our coastlines are not under our own control.

[Page 587]

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, in certain areas that is where we are headed. It is of real consequence for me that I can have the members of the PC caucus and the government of the time, with this piece of legislation, and then I can have a journalist who says in a piece in The Chronicle-Herald - Peter Duffy wrote on May 30, 1990 - that in the meantime, the sooner this study is started the better for everyone's sake, including our grandchildren. Now MLAs, we have a journalist agreeing with us. I don't know whether that is a good sign or a bad sign, but I think it is an indicator that journalists are aware of this need that has been expressed to them in many other places in this province in their place of work from their neighbours and various other Nova Scotians. I have received e-mails, e-mails from Jim and Helen MacDonald, who have said we must act now before we lose our greatest resource.

I have had the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to speak to a couple of members from the New Brunswick Natural Resources Department, I have spoken to the Prince Edward Island Natural Resources Department on the Land Holdings Disclosure Act. The Act that we are currently operating under is a 1973 piece of legislation. It must be updated. The way we update that is we have this public review and this study of the problem. That committee would then present its findings and from that, hopefully, the government would then enact a piece of legislation, as they promise in their blue book.

I have heard many Nova Scotians on this topic. They want some action. They want to know where they are. They do not want senior bureaucrats. They want their say and you have to have a public review to have that happen, Mr. Speaker. This piece of legislation will encourage that. I want members present to be aware of the fact that this is an issue in rural Nova Scotia. This is not metro Halifax-Dartmouth. Nova Scotians from throughout this province want to have control and access to their coastlines and their islands and they want to have it for their children and their grandchildren. I ask for your support on this bill. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in my spot today and respond to the Act that we are discussing here this afternoon. It is an Act to Provide for a Study of Non-resident Ownership of Coastal Properties in Nova Scotia. There is no question, when we start to examine the history of coastal properties, non-resident ownership, access to beaches and virtually access to any piece of property whether owned by someone in the community or outside the community, it certainly creates some attention from the public. It certainly creates attention when people who have traditionally accessed a property or a beach and have treated it as communal suddenly would find a barrier of some sort erected and access denied to that particular area.

When you examine the fact of the matter, the coastal area itself would rarely be the problem that you were denied access actually on the beach because that is still publicly-owned property, the beach itself up to the high water mark, and it would come under the jurisdiction

[Page 588]

actually of the Department of Natural Resources of the Province of Nova Scotia. So a private owner would have the use as any member of the public would of that particular zone on their way to the watercourse, but restriction happens when the property above the high water mark becomes the ownership of somebody not in that community.

I think we have to be cognizant that a number of situations out there are not only ownership of non-residents from Nova Scotia but a number of them are non-residents of the community. I think of how many people who would live, whether it is in the metro area or the Valley of Nova Scotia, who have a cottage on the Northumberland Strait. Those lanes and communal efforts, obviously, people desire to protect their property and sometimes when ownership changes, lanes will be cordoned off so that people are not able to proceed down there. Along the South Shore and certainly here in the Halifax area, I receive expressions of concern when a piece of property is sold, a larger home, or an estate virtually, or an island is purchased, and it is a non-resident of the Province of Nova Scotia and in many cases not even a resident of this country - in Europe and to some degree in Asia, and certainly the United States. We do own as a province, have access to some of the greatest recreational, pristine wilderness land left in the world and that is here in Nova Scotia.

Obviously, our coastal areas are in high demand in recent years for that type of development. Through the years, a number of situations and governments have had the subject debated and had a look at it. In 1973-74, actually, a select committee of the Legislature even held public hearings on it, examining this very issue on land holdings and ownership. Out of that arose what we now have, the Land Holdings Disclosure Act. This Act requires non-residents to file a disclosure statement. Compliance with the Act is probably, in reality, sporadic at best. There is virtually no way that you can track or enforce this particular Act that grew out of that study of the mid-1970's.

Enforcement under the present scheme is impossible, really. There is nothing we can do. I think that is why it is so critical that that type of major assessment and review of that particular Act and legislation is occurring and should continue to occur as we move forward in this review, and actually, . . .

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, would the honourable minister entertain a question?

MR. FAGE: Absolutely, it would be my pleasure to entertain a question and attempt to answer it if I can.

MR. EPSTEIN: I can recall quite vividly, when I was in the private practice of law, adhering to the requirements of the Land Holdings Disclosure Act, whenever I acted on behalf of a non-resident purchaser of land, filling out the appropriate forms and submitting them to the Department of Natural Resources. I certainly know that other lawyers did the same, although I just heard the minister say he thought compliance might have been sporadic.

[Page 589]

What I do wonder is whether his department has ever aggregated the information that was given on those forms as to the total acreage that was purchased by non-residents and what type of land it was and whether these were non-citizens, as well. I remember those were various categories. What I really wonder is whether this information has ever been put together from the forms that were submitted?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member opposite, through you, yes. Since I have assumed the role of Minister of Natural Resources, this is actually one area that is keenly under review. That is leading up to trying to get a handle on what amount of foreign ownership or non-resident ownership does exist. We are currently trying to compile those statistics. I would say they are sporadic and were not evenly adhered to across the province.

What we are also doing is looking to other government departments for information as well. Obviously, the assessment rolls through the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs are of more keenly, timely information for us. That part of the review is being generated through that department as well. We are attempting to put numbers and get a handle on the degree of non-resident ownership out there, whether that is coastal land or whether that is land along inland waterways or anywhere in the province.

I think it is extremely important that as we move forward in that assessment that we don't limit ourselves just to coastal properties, if we are going to do a fair and open assessment. When you look at the concerns out there that the general public is raising, and rightly so, that non-resident ownership is becoming a very large issue. It does impede the ability of native Nova Scotians to access certain properties, certain historical sites, certain recreational sites and, certainly, the properties that, in many cases, they have accessed for generations and suddenly they don't have access to them anymore. That is, actually, part of what needs to be done and, currently, the undertakings of that are starting within the departments now.

[5:15 p.m.]

A significant limitation with current provincial land ownership information and database is accuracy. So that is why we are moving out into the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs to try to supplement that information to ensure that we have up-to-date and the most accurate information that we can possibly have as we move forward.

I think it is very timely, also, to continue with this review and ensure that a review is comprehensive and does happen, because when we look at other jurisdictions and how they have handled it, obviously you want recommendations that, hopefully, lead to structure that would be suitable to protect the rights of all residents and non-residents, and also to offer Nova Scotians the ability to access certain properties under certain conditions. I think that would have to be examined as well.

[Page 590]

I guess when I look at other jurisdictions, I am looking at P.E.I., for instance, Mr. Speaker, where non-resident ownership of land is an issue, whether it is coastal or whether it is inland, and they have restrictions on the maximum amount an individual can own, whether it is a farm holding, whether it is a woodlot holding or recreation. A designed preferential tax structure, as well, is involved in that set-up in P.E.I. where non-residents, I believe, pay twice the rate as what the figure is for a resident owner. Those types of things, certainly, are beneficial to the full-time residents of the province and it would be prudent to review.

Also, I think, as we move forward with this, it is extremely important to make any study or review larger in focus and encompassing more than possibly the Act that we are debating today, that that type of situation of review can be generated largely internally with documentation to support how much acreage is part of holdings outside of the Province of Nova Scotia and, indeed, outside of Canada and where it is located. The other thing I think is extremely important, is that we take into consideration, in any study, the concerns of those people who own those properties, and their families.

In many cases, Mr. Speaker, that was the family homestead one generation before and, certainly, there is a strong traditional tie that takes place in those situations and we have to be cognizant of that as we develop and assess what the degree of foreign ownership is, what types of situations that the taxpayers, and indeed residents, of Nova Scotia would be comfortable with and what type of disclosure, in regard to the holdings of land, that we would want to examine to have safeguards and a workable system if such legislation went forward beyond the study stage to an actual enactment of legislation that would protect Nova Scotians, protect residents and would protect the landholdings of all the resident and non-resident people involved in this current issue.

When we start examining inland holdings and coastal holdings, I guess you would have to then assess whether you want to put limitations on areas of ownership, all those types of things in that regard, because that is how you would manage that aspect of foreign or non-resident holdings. Then, Mr. Speaker, you get into situations, I think of the timber industry, for instance, where parent companies that are possibly not Nova Scotian now own significant landholdings in this province in the forest and wilderness areas.

Certainly those types of situations, the situations dealing with easements, provincial parks, national parks, all have to be incorporated in that type of analysis and study. It needs to be comprehensive and widespread. Once you have your information leading up to if indeed Nova Scotians, after being consulted, wish to proceed and wish the government to proceed with legislation, then those are just a few of the venues that must be assessed, also along with the aspect of waterways, of inland bodies of water. As well, the coastal zone and the coastal region and the ownership of that access, too, becomes paramount in that whole debate because certainly in areas away from the coastal area, there are significant holdings now from ownership in Europe, where they have the summer homes and many freshwater lakes across

[Page 591]

this province. Certainly if you are doing that type of study and are concerned, you would move that beyond a simple survey study of just coastal areas.

I think this whole issue certainly needs to be addressed. We have to ensure that Nova Scotians are consulted and that a study, when it moves forward, should be much more encompassing for the good of Nova Scotians and for the thorough airing of the subject than a narrow bill that is study-focused on just one particular area of land access in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and offer a number of interventions on this particular piece of legislation, An Act to Provide for a Study of Non-resident Ownership of Coastal Properties in Nova Scotia. While I applaud the efforts of the honourable member who introduced this resolution and, indeed, this particular piece of legislation, I must say it is seriously flawed and lacking in substance, for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, much of the information that the honourable member seeks to attain and the end result for which ultimately his objective is, is now available within the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs and, indeed, within the Department of Natural Resources. The last thing we need in Nova Scotia is more studies. It appears that the NDP seems to just thrive on the notion of studies in much the same fashion as they saw fit to waste taxpayers' money with some of their fandangled missions to try to embarrass the government, regardless of political stripe.

I am certainly in favour of consultation, Mr. Speaker, but I just fail to understand how any reasoned individual could even come to the point of introducing legislation that we would actually do a study. Have we reached such depths in the use of the time and the energy and the resources of this House that we have to introduce legislation to do a study? That is why we have the Human Resources Committee; that is why we have the Natural Resources Committee; that is why sometimes we will set up select committees. We already went through a rather extensive evaluation of land holdings here in Nova Scotia, attached to the Royal Commission on Forestry back in 1984, of which many of those recommendations even today have not been adopted.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources was quite correct in his assessment when he indicated the concern about some of the possible intrusions on the existing market place arrangements between such large multinationals as Stora Forest Industries in Port Hawkesbury, and indeed, Scott Paper, which has some holdings, and by extension, foreign ownership.

[Page 592]

Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member, in his quest to try to satisfy some local issue that he has in his own constituency, whether it be on his own behalf or some particular constituent of a like persuasion, I am not sure, and he certainly didn't clarify that, but albeit with the lack of substance with that particular piece of legislation, there are some rather significant concerns that have been raised on the issue of foreign ownership over the years.

First and foremost, we have to ask ourselves, what percentage of Nova Scotia's landholdings are foreign-owned? I have heard the figure of 2 per cent tossed around. In some jurisdictions, in some counties in this province, I have heard it is as high as 13 per cent, in local pockets. You have to look at the whole picture. You will also have to, as has been suggested, examine some of the efforts and the methodologies and the legislation that is in place for adjoining provinces and in other jurisdictions in general.

Mr. Speaker, you will find Prince Edward Island does address the issue of foreign ownership in some very good and substantive ways. For example, if I wanted to buy a piece of real estate, waterfront property in Prince Edward Island, I could certainly do that with no encumbrance in Prince Edward Island. However, if I did not construct a residence, whether it be seasonal or full-time on that particular piece of property within, I believe it is, two years, then I am prohibited from any further expansion. I know there are other aspects to that particular piece of legislation that apply to larger landholdings. The concern was raised about the Irvings moving into Prince Edward Island and gobbling up much of the valuable waterfront property there for their own.

Mr. Speaker, some of the concerns, even in the government's own policy paper, through its election, I think raised a very valid and legitimate concern with the issue of taxation. If we have people who live in other countries, in Europe and South America or wherever, in the world, and they are not actively utilizing this property, they are sitting on it for investment purposes or whatever, then, yes, I believe that there is no reason, given full examination, why they should not be required to pay a higher taxation than those who are in the province trying to sustain the tax base so that governments can operate and provide the services that are so essentially needed.

Mr. Speaker, that is one aspect that I support, and I am sure that the honourable member who introduced this particular piece of legislation would support that measure. It is certainly outlined in the Progressive Conservative platform, which I have somewhere in my papers here. I believe the honourable minister has alluded to that.

In this particular piece of legislation, Clause 2, the honourable member makes reference, "(2) For greater certainty, for the purpose of this Act, (a) the shores of the Bras d'Or Lakes and the waters connecting them to the ocean are part of the maritime coast of the Province;".

[Page 593]

There are two issues, it is not simply the issue of coastal ownership. For example, under the Mulroney Administration, that privatized the CN connecting route from Sydney to Truro, the long-term implications are profoundly negative in the sense that nothing was ever contemplated by virtue of the fact that along this route, between the highway and the Bras d'Or Lakes, runs this railway corridor and presently RailTex is now contemplating charging a fee for all the landowners to be able to access the properties that they so rightfully own. They gave up their right to assist the Canadian government, the people of Canada, in transporting of goods and services and now they are being held to ransom by an American company which, in many cases, will take two and three weeks even to return a phone call.

[5:30 p.m.]

People are prohibited from actually developing their property on that side because the planning regulations, both provincial and at the local municipal level, make it impossible to allow for that subdivision of land, thereby holding the landowners to ransom, prohibiting them from utilizing their property, in effect making their tenureship almost negligible, despite the fact that they are paying higher and higher taxes.

Mr. Speaker, that is the type of issue that we should be addressing and I believe the suggestion that we have to introduce another piece of legislation just to study a glance into the obvious, in my view, is a waste of time and money.

The honourable minister made reference to the issue of the high water mark. It is an opportunity to draw to the attention of all members of this House a concern that many Nova Scotians, particularly in the area I represent, have with regard to the actions of the staff and, indeed, the general policy within the Department of Natural Resources as it pertains to waterfront properties. Historically, we will see that landowners, many in rural Nova Scotia - they may have a cottage, they may live on an old farm and they would probably have a small jetty or wharf on their property - now it appears that the intent of the Department of Natural Resources is to start charging a fee for you to have a wharf in front of your property.

In fact, this past summer, staff from the Department of Natural Resources travelled up and down the 28 mile Mira River looking for places where there were wharves so they could catalogue and find if they could either have them removed or indeed set a basis for this new taxation scheme, so that the Department of Natural Resources can generate some additional revenue. That is unacceptable. If you are going to start measuring from today on and develop a new policy and a tax regime, well that is fine and dandy, but don't go back 15, 20 and 30 years and say, okay, that is there, and the legislation we have says, look, we can go back as far as we want. The habits of the people of Nova Scotia, if we were to hold everybody to task for every error and omission and every law of this land, I tell you, 999,000 Nova Scotians would be incarcerated. That is reality, it is human nature to make mistakes.

[Page 594]

It became a common practice that many of the tourists, many of the summer cottage owners, would put their summer jetties out there, and they would take them in in the fall. Now they are going to have to start paying a fee. Why? To sustain the budget within the Department of Natural Resources. That is where I have problem, but that is not addressed in this particular legislation.

Mr. Speaker, the minister also has made reference to the issue of the high water mark. What high water mark is he referring to? Ordinary high water mark? The neap tides? There is a significant legal difference in terms of the implications on ownership. The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto has indicated that he has handled some legal transactions on waterfront properties - for non-residents, mind you. The implications are quite profound, particularly as it pertains to erosion and accretion, but yet, within the Department of Natural Resources, they have a double standard. They will certainly come onto you pretty heavy if it is erosion, but if it is accretion then they will find a way to roll you back, and I have seen ample evidence of that. These are the types of issues that rural Nova Scotians are concerned with as much as they are any of the other issues.

I applaud the fact that we have to address the issue of foreign ownership. Unfortunately, it is not addressed in this particular piece of legislation and the last thing we need is more studies, more paperwork. What we need is action.

I notice that the honourable member who introduced this particular piece of legislation, time and time again refers to a particular piece of real estate in his constituency. At least he has alluded to that on a number of occasions and now he is saying, just because you are not from Nova Scotia - and until this very moment he hasn't even included in his legislation the definition of a non-resident. I have a daughter who lives in Edmonton now because she had to go there to find a job. That is the nature of the process. Am I now going to be punished if I give one of my children a piece of real estate on the Mira River because that is part of their heritage? She may be living there five years, she may be living there 10 years or she may be back next year, so how do they define non-resident?

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I would like to clarify Clause 2(1)(c) "non-resident". The term has been defined according to the Land Holdings Disclosure Act. If we read the Land Holdings Disclosure Act, we see no difficulty with the definition of non-resident as is expressed in that 1973 piece of legislation.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I certainly acknowledge that I read that, but the fact of the matter is, that is as ambiguous as the piece of legislation that this honourable member has introduced, so why should we waste our time debating something that is so frivolous? If he is on a mission because of some problem that he has in his constituency, he should address it in the proper forum and not beg the indulgence of all members of this House in an inappropriate fashion.

[Page 595]

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the large issue here for the government is control of our own destiny and indeed taxation. I thank you for this opportunity to make this position.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make some comments in regard to this bill. The first thing I was going to do when I stood up was say black to see if the honourable member for Cape Breton West would say white. It doesn't seem to make much difference as to what New Democrats get up and say, the honourable member will certainly argue the opposite. (Interruptions) Only about a year and one-half of it.

The honourable member seems to have a fear of what this bill may mean. Well, all this bill is saying we should do is study. The member is stating that the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs have the information that is needed and therefore study is not needed yet, when in government, knowing all that, they didn't bring out a bill, so why would he complain about this right now? He has already made a statement that it has to be determined what high water mark you are talking about or where it is at. I think somebody might want to investigate that if that is a concern of his. Maybe a study would be worth doing.

The member also seemed to worry about what this may mean in terms of Stora or Kimberly-Clark, but Clause 3 of this bill says, "This Act does not apply with respect to land or an interest in land held by way of security for a debt or other obligation.", so I think those other obligations might take care of that. The honourable member for Richmond mentioned earlier that he is a lawyer, so I think he would have some idea of that.

I think that definitely to make some inquiries in this regard would be an important thing. This province, in the last few years, really has gone through a recession. I think that members in the House and the communities in which they live, depending on where they are, would certainly be aware of foreigners coming into the province and buying up properties in their area.

If economies around the globe improve, then we certainly are going to see more of this. Land values here, compared to what people may have to pay in other jurisdictions such as Europe, are very attractive for the volume of the land or the acreage of land you can buy in this country for the dollar value. So I would expect that as the economies improve, people will be looking for places to invest their money and Nova Scotia is going to be one of those places.

There has been some mention already about legislation in New Brunswick and in Prince Edward Island, and I certainly would think that some look at that legislation in this study will be worthwhile to see if anything in that legislation can be applied to Nova Scotia and to ensure that what does not apply, does not become part of this legislation. Certainly anybody

[Page 596]

would think if you look at the size of Prince Edward Island and the fact that it is an island - Prince Edward Island is half the size of the school board that I used to work under here in Nova Scotia - you would assume that some of the characteristics of legislation for that area may not apply to what characteristics we may want in this province.

Certainly you would want two objectives in legislation for non-resident ownership: one would be to protect the land, and the other one would be to control negative impacts on that land. Today the honourable member for Victoria read a resolution in this House regarding National Geographic's Traveler magazine's identification of the 50 most significant or beautiful places on the globe and the Bras d'Or Lakes were one of those places. It does not necessarily take information gathered by Traveler magazine, but that type of notoriety certainly tells the rest of the world what Nova Scotia has to offer, not to mention the everyday occurrences of people coming from other places - they have heard of Nova Scotia - to see whether it is true.

The word is out there. We have a beautiful province. We have almost an island; therefore lots of coastal property, and that coastal property can be gotten at very reasonable prices compared to other locations. As a matter of fact, the worst of that is it is quite reasonable for people in other jurisdictions, but the price is not necessarily reasonable for all Nova Scotians.

In my riding of Hants East, we certainly have a section of coastal property along the Minas Basin, part of the Bay of Fundy and, as much as I encourage people to go there to visit and see the beauty of the area, I certainly would like to see it stay in the hands of the local residents in that area.

Government has a role to ensure that public access to coastal property, or as the Minister for Natural Resources has mentioned, even inland waters, lakes in particular, that there is still some public access for people who live in those areas and spent their lives in those areas, so they are not shut out of access for those areas. That is a reasonable thing for people to think their government would do, to protect that for them. So while we still have property available - rather than wait until we run up against the wall where most of it is gone - this is the best time to act, to be proactive rather than reactive, but this study must include public input. We have already heard that the Departments of Natural Resources, and Housing and Municipal Affairs, as the member for Cape Breton West would say, have enough of that information, but there will not be any public input into what is disseminated from that information.

I am not at all sure what wharves have to do with this piece of legislation, but I certainly would support the government undertaking an initiative to do this study, to support this bill, and to see that coastal properties for Nova Scotians are preserved in some way. Thank you.

[Page 597]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

MS. MARY ANN MCGRATH: Mr. Speaker, the first thing I would like to point out is that Clause 5 of this bill calls for this Legislature to expend money, therefore making this bill a financial bill, and perhaps inappropriate to be introduced in this forum. However, this is important legislation, it is an important issue and I would like to speak to it in any event. (Interruptions)

[5:45 p.m.]

The honourable members opposite have pointed out, and rightly so, that we have coastline that requires protection. In fact, I recall from school that if you stretched our coastline out in a line from end to end, it would wrap around the earth something like two and one-half or three and one-half times. That will give you an idea of the scope of the problem in front of us.

It has also been mentioned that we have data available to us via the Municipal Affairs Registry of Deeds and assessment offices. Now so far as that data is concerned, I dealt with that data for 25 years in my professional life and I can tell you that it is inadequate to answer the problems and the questions we have posed by this piece of legislation.

The nature of the data - for instance, an assessment, if you are a foreign owner and you own land and you file with assessment a mailing address, very often that mailing address is in the form of an agent with a local address. So that does not allow for any availability, in any accurate terms, to decide how many people own offshore land in this province.

The Registry of Deeds information is similarly inadequate in that there is no provision in documentation that shows the address of ownership of the people who acquire property. Similarly, the data that has been collected under the Non-Residents Disclosure Statement is also lacking in enough data to supply accurate current information, even if it were on a database that was usable, to answer the questions we have before us.

This lack of infrastructure alone would place this Act in jeopardy because if used currently, we would end up with a study that meant nothing. The information is outdated, inaccurate and expensive to collect, so we would have a situation where we would be spending money on something we can't afford when, if we were to wait a little while, allow these offices to update their information, update their data collection ability, get better detail, we may be in a position where we can actually find the information we need without spending a great deal of money.

As to the business of public hearings, I agree that the public's input is important. I might add, the honourable member who brought this piece of legislation represents an area where my husband's family has owned land on the coast for 150 years. I am well aware of the

[Page 598]

problems and the implications of owning coastal land in this province, about the value to people who live along the coast and their attachment to that availability. My husband's family has spent a great number of years, both during my time and before, enjoying that accessibility of the coastal land, as I have, from the Bay of Fundy.

That is an important issue but it is also an issue that has a lot of emotion and panic around it at times. Without the government and without anybody who is in a position to conduct a study as to the extensiveness of foreign ownership of land here, without the prior availability of good, concrete data going into public hearings across the province, runs a huge risk of creating panic and of having a study that is full of anecdotal information that can't be substantiated. That would not result in any kind of information that we could legitimately use.

We have to continue, during the next year or so, to upgrade the data we have available, those data collection systems at the Registry of Deeds and the assessment offices have been worked on, are still being worked on. There is a great deal of work that has to be done, insofar as legislative initiative, to improve the detail of the data that we have. Currently we don't even have the requirement to ask some of the hard questions that need to be asked when people file registration documents for ownership of property. That has to come before we can get the data we need for this. This piece of legislation is not going to make the requirements that we need in order to get the data we need to find the answers to these questions.

I understand that there are implications in waiting, but if we were to wait we can do two things; we can allow the necessary government departments to get to a point where their data collection systems are more able to answer the questions that we need answered. And we can also try to improve the requirements in the data that we collect, so that we not only have better availability of the data that we have but also that the data that we have contains better information, which it currently does not.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. JOHN CHATAWAY: Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member opposite for bringing up a very important point. He is indeed right when he said that it is a problem in rural Nova Scotia, at least that is where I claim I am from and I do know it is a problem. The interesting thing about it, and I think he should be congratulated because it is a problem that we are going to have to deal with and face.

I have some problems with the way the bill is worded in that it says coastal. In my mind, from what I understand, and I looked at the definition of coastal, it said coastal could be my 100 by 200 or 200 by 200 acre on the water or it could be right beside me, somebody who owns 500 acres of which abuts very narrowly on a piece of the coast. It is going to be a most odd configuration of a law that would have to deal with land that is very oddly configurated.

[Page 599]

He is right, though, in this sense too, there are many long-term residents of Nova Scotia who, through luck or whatever, have ended up living along the coast. They are getting very distressed because as more and more foreign ownership comes into our province, because of our assessment base, based on market value assessment, it literally has the tendency to drive them off their properties. They can't afford to keep up their taxes. So the poor person who got Aunt Betty's property and can no longer afford to pay the taxes, say they are working at an average job, can no longer pay these high taxes assessments.

I think it was alluded to by one of the members opposite that the fact is that many people living outside of the province, or even outside of the country, can come into this province and see what they think are great bargains. They buy the land up and they can buy vast tracts of it up.

I think another problem that is going to have to be faced at sometime by us in this room, not necessarily addressed to this bill, is this whole vast acreage of inland property that is being bought up. You don't know by whom. They are certainly not residents. That is causing a problem. I think there is a tendency with some people to rape the resources of the land and then leave very little except used land, if that is a good term, for the people who remain here.

There are some other problems. I agree with my honourable colleague, the member for Halifax Bedford Basin, who did point out that there is a problem with the Land Holdings Disclosure Act. I don't think the Land Holdings Disclosure Act, in its present form, is going to tell us much of anything. It has got more loopholes in it than . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time has expired for the debate as well as Opposition Members' Business.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise, to meet tomorrow, Thursday, October 21st, at the hour of 12:00 p.m. We will sit until 6:00 p.m., and the order of business will be the daily routine; Oral Question Period; Supply, estimates continued by the Minister of Health; and if time allows, the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. The next speaker will be the member for Kings West. God be with us until we meet tomorrow.

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.

[Page 600]

The subject for the late debate this evening was submitted by the honourable member for Kings North:

"Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend our public education system for its importance in the development of our future leaders and our province's economy.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

EDUC.: SYSTEM - COMMEND

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I want to address the issue of public education. In large part, my perspective on this issue and many other issues comes out of my background, having grown up in the country of Bolivia, South America, where my parents moved after living in Port Williams. In Bolivia, South America, contrary to what many people think, there is a significant number of wealthy people - in fact, one of the wealthiest people in the world, at one time, came from Bolivia , the owner of a silver mine there - but they are offset by a great many poor people.

I noticed while growing up in that country that the rich had access to education while the majority in Bolivia, the poor, did not. They had to deal with the lack of textbooks. Oftentimes there were no textbooks and the only way the teacher could instruct was through memorization. They had no furniture, no equipment, substandard teachers who did not have adequate training, and if the children were able to get an education at all, they had to drop out of school fairly early in order to go into the workforce to help their family survive. That experience growing up in Bolivia has marked many of my perspectives and much of my opinion on many issues, not the least of which is the importance of free public education.

With a good education, social and personal economic productivity is enhanced as well as with a good education people are able to be responsible citizens and have political involvement in their respective countries. In fact John Ralston Saul who is one of Canada's better known philosophers and authors - and I believe if I am correct, to use the politically correct word, the significant other of our new Governor-General - once stated that the single most important element in the maintenance of a democratic system is public education.

I had the privilege last year in 1998, Mr. Speaker, of being in the Country of Bolivia. The Vice-President of Bolivia came from the indigenous people of Bolivia who previously did not have much opportunity for education, but through the work of Canadians such as my parents, he was able to get an education. He stood and publicly acknowledged the importance

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of that education in freeing him up to be involved in the political process and to rise to become the first Aymara Vice-President of the Country of Bolivia.

Nova Scotia has had a strong history of free public education, much stronger than in the Country of Bolivia, thank heavens. On May 10, 1864, the Lieutenant Governor assented to an Act to Amend the Law Relating to Education and a system of free schools was inaugurated here in this great province of ours. This was the achievement and work of many people, but in large part the achievement and work of Charles Tupper, to whom I am related. I have the privilege of being related through my mother's family. There was a lot of discussion of the need for it and of the poor state of education for many children in Nova Scotia leading up to that Act. In 1825, a study revealed that barely one-quarter of the children of Nova Scotia received any education. This lamentable situation prompted much discussion among the Legislature and among the citizenry at large.

[6:00 p.m.]

By 1863 this had improved somewhat, but still it was not a situation that was a happy one for the province. Of the 84,965 children between the ages of 5 and 15 living in the province at that time, only 33,652 attended school. So the majority of children between the ages of 5 and 15 still, at that time, in spite of all the discussion about the need for free public education, were without the benefit of such.

That same year, however, in 1863, Charles Tupper and the Conservative Party won a decisive majority. This proved to be a real boon to public education in this province since Charles Tupper set out for himself two main goals in his four or five year mandate. The first was a system of free, non-sectarian public schools for Nova Scotia. The second was - and this is an interesting one in itself - a corporate union of the Maritime Provinces.

Well, needless to say, in the second he was not successful, but in the first, Sir Charles Tupper was successful and so we had the Act of 1864, known as the Free School Act, which provided for compulsory assessment for the support of common schools. This Act of 1864, along with amendments to the Act in 1865 and 1866, established, in the words of Dr. H.P. Moffatt, the first Deputy Minister of Education for the Province of Nova Scotia, a system of free education for all people. So we have a great history of it and it is an important history for us to keep in mind.

Increasingly, not only in this province, Mr. Speaker, but increasingly across the country of Canada, we have seen a growing push for and trend towards private education. For example, in Nova Scotia the statistics are the following: between the years 1992 to 1997, the student population in our public system fell by 0.1 per cent. At the same time during that period of time the student population in private schools in this province rose by 10 per cent.

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Now while I would deny no one the right to pay for a private education for their children, I do ask for those who support this trend towards private education to consider what the outcome would be for the citizenry at large and for the students at large if a large group of parents, those who could afford to, opted for a private education over a public education.

I can sympathize, as I said, with the various concerns which drive parents and students in this direction. Some of those concerns that have been voiced are lack of discipline in the classroom and ability to enforce discipline there; overcrowded classrooms; teachers who have perhaps grown complacent over the years; a lack of sensitivity to religious and ethical and community standards; and concerns that in our public education system excellence and high standards are perhaps not being met as they could be.

Mr. Speaker, rather than condemning public education, what I am calling for is that we, as citizens and as Legislatures, support and, if necessary, if we need, supplement such education for the good of all. If our public education system needs help then let's work at helping it, rather than abandoning it.

My point then is in this regard, that we need to consider not only our actions as individuals and as parents when we look at the private versus public system, but that we need to consider how this impacts upon other students across this province of ours.

The rich can always get a good education for their children, as I saw in the Country of Bolivia. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford that and that is why, in 1864, in this province, we instituted free public education for everyone, so that all children, both rich and poor alike, may have the benefits of education. As I mentioned before, with proper education comes personal and social economic productivity and the ability to participate in venues such as this and to have a free and a democratic nation. So the importance of it cannot be overstressed.

There is an old illustration, you have all heard it, if you take one stick, you can break it quite easily, but if you take a group of sticks and bundle them together, they are unbreakable. So, as individuals, in a sense, we become weak, but when we gather together we can become strong. So my plea, through this Legislature, to politicians and to all citizens is to consider the importance of public education and to support such.

They say, Mr. Speaker, that behind every successful marriage is two people, a single girl and an anxious mother. Well, we smile because we know that there is more than that involved behind every successful marriage, that it takes many more people in order for it to work. The same with education. Politicians, citizens, parents, students, teachers and administrators all need to work together in order to ensure a strong, healthy, public education for all. Thank you.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I have no difficulty in supporting any generalized call for support for public education. The unfortunate fact is that this government is doing no such thing. I have here in front of me, a headline story from the front page of The Chronicle-Herald on September 10th. The headline is "Tories put 16 Schools on hold.". It goes on to enumerate what those schools are. They come under five different school board headings throughout the province. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and the area that I come from, is being cut by three schools; the Chignecto-Central School Board is being cut by seven; the Conseil Scolaire Acadian Provincial is being cut by three; the Southwest Regional Board is being cut by two and the Strait Regional School Board cut one.

There is the reality, Mr. Speaker, despite the generalized homily that we just heard intoned opposite. The reality is that this government is not supporting public education in Nova Scotia. When I consider the field of education in Nova Scotia, I am inclined to look at it from the perspective of Charles Dickens' novel, A Tale of Two Cities. I believe that also dates from the 19th Century, like much of what we just heard opposite. The best of all worlds was the time when our good Liberal Government was in power. That was the best of all worlds. There was a government that was truly committed to education, a government that embarked upon the greatest school construction program in the history of Nova Scotia. We were committed to that program. If we had been elected in Nova Scotia in the election held in July, those 16 schools that were put on hold would be going ahead.

I have a new such school under construction on Victoria Road in Whitney Pier. Fortunately, it is at an advanced stage of construction because I was able to get the school fast-tracked. Sort of like insurance, when you take out insurance in case bad things might happen to you. I was concerned about the possibility that just, perhaps, maybe our government might not get re-elected. In that case, I wanted to be sure that that school would be sufficiently advanced in construction that no NDP or Tory Government, if elected, could possibly stop it because it would be too far gone.

You can't trust the NDP that way because Roy Romanow out in Saskatchewan closed down hospitals that were three-quarters constructed and stopped their construction as part of his austerity program. But I was satisfied that we had that school sufficiently advanced in construction that if the Tories got in, they would not dare stop it and they haven't dared to stop it. It is going ahead. It is a proud achievement of our Liberal Government even though it is no longer in office, as there are a number of other construction projects in my constituency which they have not dared to try to stop because they were too far advanced. But in any event, Mr. Speaker, where they could, they have wielded the scalpel. Where they could, they have employed the axe. They put the axe to education in Nova Scotia; that's what they have done. They haven't supported it in any way at all. They have done everything they could in the field of education as well as in a countless number of other fields: health, Sysco, support of charitable organizations, you name it.

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This government has come across so far as a government of unparalleled and amazing arrogance. It is a government that has the attitude to me, it seems at least, that Marie Antoinette had in her famous retort of "Laissez-les manger du gateau". Let them eat cake. That's the attitude that this government has. Let them eat cake they say to those who are attempting to get the field of education advanced by the construction of new schools. Let them eat cake, they say to those that want to see our health care system supported as it would have been supported under the Liberal plan. Let them eat cake they say to those that look to the profits of the Sydney Casino, for the support of charitable foundations. They don't care about the Glace Bay Food Bank, they don't care about the other organizations like the New Waterford Family Centre that I mentioned in the House the other day. They don't care.

They are more dedicated than was Herbert Hoover to the concept of very small "c" conservative financial management. It doesn't matter if the people are suffering, starving, new schools are being put on hold, it just doesn't matter to this crowd opposite, so lest they become too intoxicated with their own achievements to date, whatever they think they might be, I think that from time to time, we on this side of the House need to call them back to their senses and to remind them in a very calm and gentle way of some of the things that they have failed to do, some of the things which they have done which they ought not to have done and in general there are a great many shortcomings and transgressions. I am sure the voters will remind them of that in due course in any event.

So, ". . . resolved that the members of the House commend our public education system for its importance in the development of our future leaders and our province's economy.", yes. That is what the Liberal election platform was all about and that is what we would have done if we had continued to control the destiny of Nova Scotia, but once this crowd opposite got in, they pulled the rug from under the feet of education. That's what they did and the record is there to show it and I am sure the people of Nova Scotia will not forget.

I am also sure, Mr. Speaker, that this is just the beginning. It is only chapter one in a record that will last, I guess, for four years, unless in the meantime, through defections or by-election losses, or whatever, they are brought to their senses and turfed from office. But if it does last for four years, then I am sure that by the end of four years much greater damage will have been done to education than has been done to date because they have only had a little time so far to be in office and to do their thing.

So I am sure that as time unfolds, perhaps even our honourable friend, the member for Kings North, will recognize the retrograde steps that this government is taking in the field of education and perhaps he, too, will join with me to try to call them to their senses before they completely wreck and destroy the educational system of Nova Scotia. I thank you. (Applause)

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: My, oh my, oh my. What a relief to know that the members on all sides of this House are in favour of public education. I can't tell you how far I have been sitting on the end of my chair for this one. Mr. Speaker, I do support the resolution, to be sensible about this and I am glad to see it come from a member of the government. I thank him for bringing it. I think it was sincere and I think he meant it. It is well known that many members of this House come here from the teaching profession and we have all been to school. Many come here having had children in school or having them there now, so I don't think there is a single person in this House who doesn't know what a challenge it is to teach and to learn and to provide all of the supports that go with it.

The problem with the speeches from the member on the Opposition side and the member on the government side, is that the education process can be helped or hindered by political masters. If there ever was a case for the pot calling the kettle black in this House, here it is. Both of these Parties have been in government.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, my beginning in the teaching profession coincided almost to the day when the Progressive Conservatives got elected in 1978, and governed this province until 1993. The Progressive Conservatives were the ones who, over many years, engaged in school construction as a form of political patronage. They promised schools before one election, and built them before the next to keep everybody on the hook.

Then, under Premier Donald Cameron, they froze teachers' salaries. Then, along came the Liberals. Not only did they freeze teachers' salaries, they engaged in a public relations campaign - I was there, and I know this happened - to denigrate the work that teachers do and to convince the public that they were not worth the money that they were making.

Then along came the Liberals in 1993, and they not only froze the wages of public servants and teachers, but they completely destroyed the process of collective bargaining. In the process, substitute teachers were paid pitiful wages. Now the whole time that this Liberal Government was in office, they engaged in what I call rhetorical flights of fancy. They built this philosophical edifice, if we want to talk philosophy here, in which and under which education was a kind of glorious engagement, but every component of which was for sale to the highest bidder.

Lord knows, I have said enough in this House about the P3 school construction, and I must say I was quite surprised to hear the member for Cape Breton Nova boasting in this House that he had fast-tracked the P3 school in his riding. When they were sitting over there, they assured us time and again, over and over, ad nauseam, how fair this process was. It was so fair that nothing could be said to criticize it.

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Here we have, on the one side of the House, the newly Opposition Liberals and on the other side of the House, we have a member on the government side, and both are saying, yes, they believe in public education, with some hesitations and with a little political patronage thrown in. The Tories inherited a dog's breakfast. I don't blame the last Liberal Minister of Education, because he inherited it from a minister, as I said, who had some kind of revelations from the skies and who proceeded to create utter and complete chaos.

What those people over there inherited from this government was a damaged, underfunded, under-staffed system with a compromised expensive school construction program and a philosophical hodge-podge.

My message to the member for Kings North who brought in this commendable resolution would be to go to the Minister of Education and tell her to get a grip on this, because there is work to be done. Let's decide what is important. Let's not spend our time jaunting around to Japan selling high school seats as if they were hog futures. Let's get down to what is important here. Let's talk about the students, the available resources including the teachers.

Let's stop blowing money on ill-conceived schemes, public relations, obsolete or soon-to-be-obsolete technology. Let's get some good books, some clean air, some young and vibrant teachers who can learn from the older ones. Let's pay them enough, substitutes included. Let's not boil, bake and fry people involved in teaching. Let's say to them, here are the right tools to do the job. Do you know what, Mr. Speaker? Education is not about the member for Cape Breton Nova getting one of these glossy new, high-tech schools in his riding so that some private developer can make a profit off it. No sir.

Let me tell members of this House who have never been teachers, and who may already know because they are learners, what teaching and learning are about. Teaching and learning are about that moment where you discover something, with the aid of a teacher, a good book, a parent, or another student or the school secretary or anybody in your life, that magical moment where your consciousness is changed, you discover something that you never knew before and it is with you and it stays with you for the rest of your life and changes who you are.

The honourable member for Kings North can make his criticisms of the public education system and he can point out that people will leave the system, those who have the economic advantage to do so. That is where charter schools have come from, Mr. Speaker. The problem with that is you drain the system and you find out that these solutions don't work and all you have done is put the system in further jeopardy because these are solutions to a failing system; instead of fixing the system you walk away from it.

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Mr. Speaker, my suggestion for everyone on the government side is to tell this to the Minister of Education, say what needs to be done, say how we can do it. We have probably hundreds of pages over the last few years in this House of discussion and debate about what education could be. So yes, I support this resolution. I suppose you could say it is kind of motherhood.

There are a couple of things about it that I would like to point out to the member for Kings North. Yes, I commend our public education system for its importance in the development of children and students. I would like to say I commend them for surviving and still functioning and still doing it in these horrible, chaotic times that have brought so many school buildings, teachers and staff and students to grief, Mr. Speaker. I would like to point out the last part of the be it resolved says . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Your 10 minutes has expired. We stand adjourned until tomorrow at noon. Thank you.

[The House rose at 6:25 p.m.]