The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Thur., Nov. 1, 2001

[Page 6311]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Fairview:

Therefore be it resolved that the government provide residents living near the tar ponds and coke ovens with full information about test results and options about whether to be relocated.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 6312]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby beg leave to table a petition, the operative clause which reads, "We, the undersigned, are opposed to the use of Sunrise Manor as a secure treatment unit for chronically disabled persons who are currently residents of the Halifax Rehabilitation Centre. This decision was made without input or agreement from the residents. It is disruptive. It puts stress on residents who are already dealing with many problems in the building and it decreases the number of units of public housing available for seniors' housing. We ask that the Hamm Government and the Minister of Community Services look to another solution to the closing of the RRC." It has been signed by 175 residents of Sunrise Manor and their families and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We are doing petitions.

MR. MACASKILL: Oh, I am sorry.

MR. SPEAKER: It's okay. (Laughter)

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, before beginning the statement, I would like to welcome back to the House the Minister from Nova.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Member.

THE PREMIER: Sorry, the member for Cape Breton Nova. (Interruptions) (Laughter) I might say, it is good to have him back. (Standing Ovation)

Mr. Speaker, seven weeks ago we were witnesses to unspeakable evil and Nova Scotians responded with the best of humanity.

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True to our tradition of kinship with our American neighbours, Nova Scotians grieved for the devastating loss of nearly 7,000 victims of the September 11th attacks. Nova Scotians lined up for hours to donate blood and they assisted the families of the victims through numerous fundraising efforts and events.

[2:15 p.m.]

Firefighters and police hosted a barbeque and ribbon campaign that raised more than $40,000 for the families of emergency workers who died in the line of duty at the World Trade Centre in New York. And one woman inspired many friends with her simple, heartfelt gesture of support. Together, they made thousands of red, white and blue ribbon pins and raised more than $20,000.

It is a great pleasure to introduce to the House today, Firefighter John Blandon and as well joining us today from Shelburne County, Ms. Bonnie Shand and a number of her friends: Margarite Howie, Jeri Lynn Cunningham, Donna Goodwin, Charlene Nickerson, Robin Ross, Kenny Nickerson and Ruthie Swim. I would ask our guests to rise and receive the thanks of the House. (Standing Ovation)

True to our tradition of resourcefulness, Nova Scotians rallied in the hours and the days that followed this September 11th tragedy. With compassion and efficiency they provided food, shelter and countless other necessities to more than 8,000 stranded passengers.

I am very pleased to introduce to the House today: the Director of the Emergency Measures Organization, Mr. Michael Lester; the EMO Co-ordinator for the Halifax Regional Municipality, Mr. Barry Manuel; and the Regional Director of the Canadian Red Cross, Mr. John Byrne. I would ask our guests to rise, please. (Standing Ovation)

True to our tradition of hospitality, Nova Scotians opened their hearts and homes to strangers in need. Without a moment's hesitation, Nova Scotians responded to the call for help. They donated supplies and they worked around the clock at shelters. They showed the world how quickly the people of this province step forward to ease the difficulty of others.

It gives me great pleasure to recognize in the House today, Sackville Lions Club members, Mr. Jim Sherry and Mrs. Jean Sherry and the Vice-Principal of Sackville High School, Mr. David Hill. Please stand. (Standing Ovation)

True to our tradition of cultural acceptance, gestures of kindness and comfort were extended to the members of our Muslim community. During this time, Nova Scotians embraced the opportunity to learn about the Islamic faith and they demonstrated their commitment to ensuring that all Nova Scotians live free from discrimination, free from oppression and free to worship in their own way.

[Page 6314]

It is a great honour to present to the House an esteemed Islamic scholar and Saint Mary's University Professor, Dr. Jamal Badawi. (Standing Ovation)

True to our long-standing tradition of military pride, Nova Scotians gathered when the HMCS Charlottetown, Iroquois, and Preserver set sail on October 17th. Nova Scotians lined the shores of Halifax Harbour to show their support as the ships departed for the Arabian Sea, joining the HMCS Halifax already en route.

Through many other gestures of kindness, Nova Scotians have lent their strength to the wives and the husbands and children who are carrying a heavy burden in the absence of nearly 1,000 of our sailors and air crews. There is perhaps no better demonstration of doing one's duty, no better example of people who dedicate their lives in the service of their country. In recognition of this, please join me in welcoming Lieutenant-Commander Byrne, Major Spike Laveen and Sergeant T. Purcell. (Standing Ovation)

Mr. Speaker, there are four more people I would like to salute. It is indeed a special privilege to have with us today Ms. Tammy Saunders, accompanied by 12 year old Chris, six year old Zoey and five year old Jacob. Their dad is serving aboard HMCS Iroquois en route to the Arabian Sea. Please join me in welcoming the family of Master Seaman Patrick Saunders. (Standing Ovation)

Over the past seven weeks, the men, women and children I have introduced today, and countless Nova Scotians, in fact we could fill this gallery 100 times over with the people who stepped forward to offer help and support and 100 times more with just the families of our military personnel who have been deployed to the Arabian Sea. Together they have shown the world what the people of this province are truly made of. Nova Scotians answered every call for help, supplied every need and rose above every challenge. As a Nova Scotian, I know you will join with me in this and, as Premier, I can think of only one word that describes what I am feeling as we reflect on our provinces response to the events of September 11th, and that word is pride.

Through their actions and by virtue of their compassion, Nova Scotians have re-affirmed our tradition as a caring province. So it is with great pride in the people of Nova Scotia that I introduce the following resolution:

RESOLUTION NO. 1955

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

Whereas when the attacks on September 11th affected lives around the world, true to tradition, Nova Scotians answered the call for help; and

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Whereas without hesitation, Nova Scotians responded with kinship, resourcefulness, hospitality and a strengthened commitment to religious freedom; and

Whereas nearly 1,000 of our Canadian Forces personnel departed for the Arabian Sea in an atmosphere of gratitude for their bravery and support for their families;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the Canadian Forces personnel, their families and all Nova Scotians for their acts of compassion, kindness and service that have made this province proud.

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. (Standing Ovation)

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by associating myself with the remarks made by the Premier, and in particular his thanks to those who join us today in the gallery. I also want to express the thanks of our caucus to all Nova Scotians who responded in the wake of the events of September 11th. I want to express my support and the support of my caucus for the over 1,000 Nova Scotia women and men who have put themselves in harm's way in the battle against terrorism and to deliver food and medicine to the Afghan people. These women and men are parts of our community, they're our neighbours, they are our friends and their children play soccer, basketball, and hockey with our children. It has been said time and again that this will be a different war. There will likely be no decisive battle since there is no single adversary, territory or strategy and Nova Scotians are approaching it with customary grim determination. Patience and perseverance will be among our strongest assets. It will take courage and it will take resolve and we must stand with our neighbours and with our friends heading into conflict and offer them our full support.

It is not only the individual who serves at a time of crisis, Mr. Speaker, spouses and children are asked to understand, support and shoulder a burden that the rest of us can only imagine. I was struck by the words of one woman who was asked what she was feeling about her husband heading into the conflict and she said it is a mix of pride and anxiety. These are

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things that many of us are feeling these days. The contribution of these family members is great. Their loved ones will be gone for an extended period of time; they have to live with uncertainty and with the strain of waiting, with the ups and downs of worry and hope. Their job also demands the qualities of courage and resolve. Our job is to support those families in any way we can. Part of the job of supporting families is what we're all doing here today. Our job is to ensure that justice, fairness, equality, and hard work continue to be the attributes that keep our province strong.

We must also strive for more than tolerance of others, we must strive for the acceptance of the different ethnic, racial, and cultural mix of this province and of this country. It is that mix that strengthens our democracy. It is the acceptance of that mix that strengthens our communities and our political system, and it's that system, Mr. Speaker, that military women and men are working to defend and they, in turn, are being supported by their families and communities.

I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to respond to the Premier's statement. (Applause)

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, there is a tendency when times of great crisis occur to have the moment when the awful news is first heard imbedded in your memory. You hear many people describe the death of John F. Kennedy that way and now, for us, the events of September 11th have had the same effect.

Mr. Speaker, there we were on that day in a small office, in a small tower also of glass, steel and concrete, also on a harbour, many miles up the coast and, with no reason to feel that way, we felt suddenly vulnerable; vulnerable because it happened so close, in buildings that people we know, people present right here in this Chamber have visited and had meetings. This horror was tangible.

[2:30 p.m.]

Not a lot of work was done that day in our office, we watched and watched and waited and hoped that somehow it wouldn't be as bad as we all knew it really was. But it has been very bad. We have seen the very people we depend on for our safety and security - firefighters, police and paramedics - lose their lives trying to save others. And in the days since, under the atmosphere of terror, we have people going about their basic daily duties like postal workers, political staff and news employees have had their lives endangered.

Yes, it is very bleak, but the human experience shows that we persevere and we as Nova Scotians, with our very diverse backgrounds, have proved this time and again. Mr. Speaker, shortly after the attacks on September 11th, Nova Scotians from all parts of this

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province, once again, did us proud. From volunteering in emergency shelters for stranded passengers, to donating blood, to signing condolence books, each and every Nova Scotian who donated their time and energy made a difference. The spirit of our province and the strength of our people truly meant so much to so many at such a difficult time. On a lighter note, even the 700 meals prepared for a postponed dinner with the Prime Minister that night got used, and some in this House might argue, for a better purpose.

On behalf of our Liberal caucus, I thank each and every Nova Scotian for having made a difference. Also, on behalf of our Liberal caucus, our heartfelt sympathies have and continued to be extended to these families. Our sympathies are also extended to Nova Scotians who lost good friends and co-workers who worked in the World Trade Center.

Just this morning, the member for Lunenburg West met with the Acting Consul for the United States and presented him with two condolence books from his area and I know there are others to follow. It is incumbent upon all of us as elected officials to ensure that the anger and sadness felt by all Nova Scotians does not blind us to injustice that takes place within the confines of our province.

We must, at every opportunity remind Nova Scotians to be tolerant of people who may have a different last name or colour of skin or a different place of worship. We must never allow terror to be the victor over tolerance.

Mr. Speaker, as a Liberal caucus, the images of September 11th weighs heavy on our minds. Perhaps as vivid are the images we all viewed on October 17th in Halifax Harbour as members of the Canadian Armed Forces left to assist our allies. They left under different circumstances. Their enemy is unknown, their enemy has no borders. As a Liberal caucus we have and continue to support the members of the military and their families.

During these times of urgency and uncertainty, we as elected officials owe these brave men and women no less. That is why the MLA for Glace Bay felt that it was important that the government Web site include a link to a site that enables the people of Nova Scotia to send messages to those serving in Operation Apollo and I congratulate the Veterans Affairs Committee for passing that resolution. It is the duty of all of us to support our military and our duty to keep them and their families in our thoughts and prayers.

Mr. Speaker, this is a challenging time for all of us. Challenging times require leadership. We owe it to the people of Nova Scotia to be the best leaders we can possibly be because on September 11th we were all reminded of just how precious our way of life and life itself really is. Mr. Speaker, before I take my seat, I too, on behalf our caucus wish to thank and acknowledge our special guests in your gallery today. Thank you very much. (Standing Ovation)

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MR. SPEAKER: There are several requests for introductions so maybe we will take the time to do it now.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the good member for Cumberland South, I would like to introduce two very special people sitting in the Speaker's Gallery today. We have with us Holly Rushton, who is the member's constituency assistant and we know that the constituency assistant plays a very major role in the work we do as members throughout Nova Scotia. Also her mom, Janice Boss, is with us as well. We would like to recognize her history of working with a certain Party in Nova Scotia. We would ask both of these nice, lovely people to stand and to receive the warm welcome of this House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you and I certainly welcome these two special people to the House today.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, it is my great privilege to welcome two friends to the House, Dale Aldrich and Doreen Roberts. Doreen Roberts happens to be the new Chair of the Kings North PC Executive. We are delighted to have her. Her late husband made sure that Ed Twohig got elected, so Doreen is going to me sure that I am going to get re-elected. So if they could stand and we could welcome them. (Applause)

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

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce to you and to members of this House three visitors from Sackville Heights Junior High School visiting these Chambers here today. With us today in the east gallery, opposite, are Matt Burton and Mitchell McKenzie, who are two Grade 8 students at Sackville Heights Junior High School, along with them is Mr. England, their teacher. If they could stand and receive the warm applause from the House. (Applause)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery today I am pleased to tell the House that we have a very special guest, a very proud member of the Mi'kmaq Nation, Maureen Jollimore, from Halifax and she is here to observe the proceedings of the House. I would like the House to extend a welcome to Maureen. (Applause)

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to the House the members of the Civil Service Provincial Council of the NSGEU and they are in the east gallery. I am just going to read the names and perhaps they would stand: Kathleen MacKinnon; Gordon Anderson; Dena Redden; David Brewster; Karen Peters-Newell; Roy LeBlanc; Beverley Hiscock; Pauline Gabriel; Carol Ann MacKenzie; Carol Anne Gaudet; Wanda Pulsifer; Joan Jessome, who is familiar to you I am sure; Ian Johnson; and Ken Conrod. I don't think I have missed any one. Can we have a welcome to the House, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act.

RESOLUTION NO. 1956

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

Whereas from September 11th to September 15th, Nova Scotians once again showed their remarkable capacity to respond to an emergency, and their remarkable capacity to make visitors welcome; and

Whereas emergency organizations, which included volunteers, and many other Nova Scotians from various parts of the province, provided not only food and lodging but emotional and other types of support to more than 7,200 of the 8,200 visitors who made unscheduled visits to our province on September 11th; and

Whereas the appreciation of the visitors for the hospitality received is exemplified by the thank you note which stated that an intended vacation in New York had turned into a visit to heaven;

Therefore be it resolve that this House rise and applaud the members of emergency teams and other Nova Scotians who offered so many forms of support to assist the passengers stranded in our province because of the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

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It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable Minister responsible for the Status of Women.

RESOLUTION NO. 1957

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

Whereas in October, Halifax lost a dynamic and passionate advocate with the passing of Kate Carmichael, Director of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission; and

Whereas among Ms. Carmichael's many accomplishments was her election as a Halifax Alderman, her election as Chairman of the Lunenburg District School Board and the establishment of the Craftman's Christmas Market; and

Whereas Ms. Carmichael's courage, strength, energy and spirit will live on in the memories of all those who had the privilege of knowing her;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature observe a moment of silence in honour of the life of Kate Carmichael and extend their deepest sympathies to Kate's family on their loss.

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.

We will now rise for a moment of silence.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1958

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

Whereas the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia is holding a two-day conference on November 1st and 2nd called "Community Growth: Youth and Adults in Partnership" to increase the understanding of cultural and racial issues facing youths and adults; and

Whereas this conference is just one of numerous ways this association is actively working to educate and create awareness about multiculturalism in Nova Scotia, as it has for the past 26 years; and

Whereas MANS' work to educate Nova Scotians about multiculturalism is important now more than ever before;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia for its ongoing efforts to promote understanding and equality for all cultures in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

RESOLUTION NO. 1959

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am moving a motion and I will read the first part of the motion and the two other House Leaders have agreed with the passage of this resolution.

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Mr. Speaker, I move with the concurrence of the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid and the honourable member for Cape Breton South at this time that the House do resolve:

(1) that the House declare pursuant to subsection 5(3) of the House of Assembly Act and the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly that a Select Committee be established to report to the House respecting:

(a) composition of a Provincial Boundaries Commission on electoral redistribution,

(b) terms of reference for the Commission,

(c) a timetable for the Commission to complete its report;

(2) (a) that the Select Committee be composed of the following members of the House:

(i) The Honourable Neil Leblanc

(ii) The Honourable Michael Baker, Q.C.

(iii) The Honourable Jane Purves

(iv) The Honourable Rodney MacDonald

(v) Brooke Taylor, MLA

(vi) Frank Corbett, MLA

(vii) Howard Epstein, MLA

(viii) Paul MacEwan, MLA

(ix) Manning MacDonald, MLA

(b) that the Honourable Michael Baker, Q.C. be appointed as Chairman.

[(3) that a member of the Select Committee may be replaced by any member of the same Party at any time;

(4) that all questions before the Select Committee shall be decided by a majority of voices, including the voice of the Chair, and whenever the voices are equal the Chair has a second or casting vote;

(5) that the Select Committee complete its report to the House by the 30th day of November;

(6) that the Select Committee consult as many interested persons as it reasonably can, including persons in the Acadian, Black and Mi'kmaq communities;

(7) that the House declare, for the guidance of the Select Committee, its support in principle for:

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(a) a House composed of 52 members, plus one additional member who would represent the Mi'kmaq people in Nova Scotia,

(b) the need for boundaries that address the community of interest in the composition of the House, including the Acadian and Black communities, and

(c) the importance of having a person from a minority group serve on the Provincial Boundaries Commission;

(8) that notwithstanding the said Rules or any Rules of the House, the Select Committee of the House be empowered to examine and inquire into all such matters and things as may be referred to it by the House, and from time to time report to this House its observations and opinions thereon, and the Committee be further empowered to send for and examine witnesses, papers and records, and to extend to any witness the protection of the House and to obtain such assistance as it deems necessary;

(9) that all the powers and privileges under the House of Assembly Act and amendments thereto and the Rules of the House applicable to Standing and Select Committees while the House is in Session shall apply and be of full force and effect during the sittings of the Select Committee;

(10) that the Legislature Internal Economy Board be authorized to provide the Select Committee, its members and staff with such facilities and funds as are required to carry out their duties and as are provided for by and pursuant to Section 80 of the Public Service Act.]

Mr. Speaker, I would move, with unanimous consent, that this resolution be agreed to.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 70 - Entitled an Act to Repeal Chapter 27 of the Acts of 2001. Healthcare Services Continuation (2001) Act. (Mr. Wayne Gaudet)

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[2:45 p.m.]

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

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, just prior to introducing this piece of legislation, with your permission, I would like to introduce two visitors in our gallery. One is Sara Dennis who is the Chair of the Board of the IWK-Grace Health Centre and Rick Nurse who is the CEO. I saw Mr. Nurse earlier and I understand they're here. I would ask the House to give them a warm welcome, please. (Applause)

Bill No. 71 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 26 of the Acts of 1996. The Izaak Walton Killam - Grace Health Centre Act. (Hon. James Muir)

Bill No. 72 - Entitled an Act Respecting Electronic Evidence. (Hon. Michael Baker)

Bill No. 73 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 6 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Agriculture and Marketing Act. (Hon. Ernest Fage)

Bill No. 74 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 104 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Costs and Fees Act. (Hon. Michael Baker)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1960

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

Whereas the nightmare of September 11th has again made Nova Scotia a point of departure for our very best to take up station in a far off and dangerous place; and

Whereas during the sail past on October 17th, Nova Scotians paused to think of the thousands upon thousands who have sailed from Halifax into the maw of armed conflict through two European conflicts and, in later years, in the Persian Gulf; and

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Whereas like those before us, we pray for the safety of our friends and neighbours now near distant shores;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House send their fervent prayers and fond hopes for a safe voyage and a quick return to our Canadian Armed Forces people now and soon to be in harm's way in the Arabian Sea.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1961

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

Whereas September 11th will forever be etched on the minds of Nova Scotians and citizens around the world; and

Whereas Nova Scotians once again showed their true spirit of generosity, kindness and giving by opening their hearts and doors to strangers worldwide; and

Whereas men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces have bravely answered their call of duty in an operation that will see them fight an enemy without borders;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge and extend our appreciation to our professional staff, volunteers and military personnel and their families for their unselfish actions during a time of great need.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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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 Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1962

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

Whereas the Municipality of Cumberland County recently honoured seven local emergency service providers for their courageous participation in the recovery efforts immediately following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre; and

Whereas these heroes left for New York on the very day of the attack and reported for duty Wednesday morning, responding to the crisis as trained emergency personnel and without consideration for personal safety; and

Whereas this courage is a matter of pride and gratitude to all Nova Scotians, many who felt helpless and unable to assist and those who recognized the quality of mind and spirit of these men who faced such peril fearlessly;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud Jeremy Dunphy, Danny Brooks, Laurie Melanson, Glen Levy, Maurice McKinnon, Scott McLellan and Paul Seguin for their selflessness and courage and thank them on behalf of their fellow Nova Scotians for going to the aid of our neighbours to the south.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 6327]

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. 1963

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

Whereas the events of September 11, 2001, have forever changed the way in which we live and interact with others; and

Whereas Nova Scotians, again, reached out to those in need as they were stranded in our province as a result of the incidents in New York and Washington; and

Whereas one such generous family, the Bradleys of Cole Harbour, were recognized for their efforts and support with a mention in the Italian magazine Chi;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize all those who helped stranded travelers on September 11, 2001, and in particular Steve, Peggy and Cody Bradley of Cole Harbour, for once again proving to the world that Nova Scotian generosity is second to none.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova. (Extended Applause)

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: I hope they will applaud that well for my resolution, Mr. Speaker. (Laughter)

[Page 6328]

RESOLUTION NO. 1964

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

Whereas Mr. Jim Petterson of 1220 Lingan Road, Sydney, a resident of Cape Breton Nova, celebrated his 90th birthday on December 16, 2000; and

Whereas Jim Petterson still rides his horse daily, cares for 15 beef cattle and projects an air of youthful exuberance and energetic confidence for everything he does; and

Whereas Jim Petterson does these things with enthusiasm and dedication, particularly in his support for the Liberal Party;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend and congratulate Jim Petterson on his achievements and wish him continued health and happiness in the years ahead.

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 Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1965

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

Whereas firefighters battled a raging fire throughout the overnight and presently remain at the scene of St. John's Anglican Church, the second oldest Protestant church in British North America, having been founded in 1753; and

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Whereas St. John's Anglican Church is a heritage property and landmark in the Town of Lunenburg and is and has been a spiritual centre for many Lunenburg County residents since settlement began; and

Whereas St. John's Anglican Church has suffered massive fire damage;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend our heartfelt sympathies and support to the Parish of St. John's at Lunenburg and the church congregation at this immensely difficult time, while paying tribute to the many firefighters who did everything humanly possible to keep this fire in check.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1966

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

Whereas this government has completely revamped the focus and the delivery of social services legislation in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas these changes, heralded by the government as a helping hand, have resulted in reduced benefits for many recipients and advocacy groups fear additional reductions wait around the bend; and

Whereas these advocacy groups work tirelessly on behalf of those most in need in our society and provide invaluable information in the formulation of social policy;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services join the House in thanking all the anti-poverty and social services advocates for their continued efforts on behalf of the most disadvantaged among us.

[Page 6330]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1967

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

Whereas the current Cedars Hall has celebrated the importance of Lebanese and Syrian culture for 45 years; and

Whereas celebrations were held on October 27 and October 28, 2001 to celebrate the 45th Anniversary of the current Cedars Hall location; and

Whereas the people of Sydney have been enriched by the presence of Lebanese and Syrian culture for over 100 years;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Sydney Cedars Hall and its volunteers for its significant contribution in 45 years of operation.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

[Page 6331]

RESOLUTION NO. 1968

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

Whereas out of the aftershock of the devastation in New York City, a generous idea was born and a kind gesture became a national mark of sympathy and support; and

Whereas Bonnie Shand of Cape Sable Island made a simple ribbon of red, white and blue, and fastened it with a pin displaying the Canadian and U.S. flags to wear in recognition of those who died and those whose lives were devastated; and

Whereas this symbol struck a cord in the hearts of many, and with help from friends Bonnie tied hundreds of ribbons and began selling them for donations for the victims of the terrorism, raising more than $20,000;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud Bonnie Shand for her thoughtfulness which raised financial assistance for New Yorkers in need and thank her and her helpful friends for the token itself which has become part of Canadians' shared expression of sympathy and sorrow.

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 Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1969

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

Whereas on September 21st past, the House of Commons unanimously adopted a resolution by federal NDP Leader Alexa McDonough calling for tolerance in the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11th; and

[Page 6332]

Whereas that resolution called upon the House of Commons to "issue an urgent and immediate plea to political, community and faith leaders to speak out against violence, intolerance, or hatred of any kind, directed at Muslims, Arabs and other visible minorities"; and

Whereas the resolution further states "in the name of the Canadian people, reassert our country's fundamental adherence to the rule of law, and to preserving and protecting our human rights as outlined in our Charter";

Therefore be it resolved that this House join the Minister of Tourism in his plea to go beyond tolerance, to truly understand each other in the aftermath of September 11th and adopt the House of Common's unanimous resolution of September 21st, as proposed by the federal NDP Leader, calling for tolerance and preservation of human rights.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

[3:00 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1970

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

Whereas 45 per cent of Nova Scotians live in rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas rural Nova Scotians could be faced with increased telephone fees because of where they choose to live; and

Whereas rural telephone subscribers already receive less service than urban subscribers;

Therefore be it resolved that the government is not doing enough to assist rural Nova Scotians in their struggle against these telephone rate increases.

[Page 6333]

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 1971

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

Whereas Margie Grant-Walsh was struck by an overwhelming need to help when she heard about the terrorist attacks on the United States; and

Whereas Ms. Grant-Walsh learned that individuals who were sorting through the rubble and debris needed work gloves; and

Whereas realizing this was a way for all of Pictou County to help, Ms. Grant-Walsh and Pictou County's Big Brothers and Sisters have collected over 1,600 work gloves for New York's firefighters, police officers and emergency workers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank Margie Grant-Walsh for her compassion in the face of this tragedy and her exemplary display of the Nova Scotia spirit.

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.

[Page 6334]

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1972

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

Whereas the deployment of our sailors and ships from the Port of Halifax is an oft-told tale in Nova Scotia's proud history; and

Whereas on October 17th, our sons and daughters, husbands, wives, partners and friends followed this time-honoured tradition in deployment to the Arabian Sea; and

Whereas in their wake are many families in need of comfort and support who turn to the capable staff and volunteers of the Military Family Resource Centres on Canadian Armed Forces bases in the Halifax area;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate and thank the staff and volunteers of the Military Family Resource Centres for their kind and capable support of the families of those service people deployed to the Arabian Sea.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1973

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 Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia was formed in 1989 as a provincial non-profit association representing the music industry of Nova Scotia; and

[Page 6335]

Whereas the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia hosts the annual Nova Scotia Music Week that takes place November 2nd to November 4th in Halifax; and

Whereas the awards ceremony celebrates the success of our industry professionals and our vast talents;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia on another year of success in recognizing the musical talents in Nova Scotia.

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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1974

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

Whereas the aftermath of the September 11th tragedy saw more than 8,000 international airline passengers diverted to the Halifax International Airport; and

Whereas a number of venues throughout Sackville, Beaver Bank and Hammonds Plains, including Millwood High School, St. John Vianney Parish and the Sackville Sports Stadium opened their doors to many of these travellers in need of shelter; and

Whereas the generous support of many local residents and volunteers in the face of this horrific tragedy marks another proud chapter in the history of these communities;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the people of Sackville, Beaver Bank and Hammonds Plains for coming to the aid of these international travellers diverted to Nova Scotia as a result of the closure of the American air space on September 11th.

[Page 6336]

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 Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1975

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

Whereas the events of September 11th have led to the participation of Canada in the current efforts against terrorism underway overseas; and

Whereas in support of that effort, almost 1,400 Canadian men and women are being sent to the Arabian Sea, including almost 1,000 from the East Coast Navy's base in Halifax; and

Whereas Canadian peacekeepers have a tradition of assisting anywhere in the world at any time, requiring their often long absences from friends, families and hearth;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House urge their constituents to send best wishes in any way they can to our troops and all are welcome to use the link established at the NDP Web site - www.ndpcaucus.ns.ca.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 6337]

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 1976

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

Whereas the member for Cape Breton Nova suffered a serious illness and injury earlier this year; and

Whereas the member for Cape Breton Nova has made a successful recovery; and

Whereas the member is as fit as a fiddle, proving you can't keep a good MLA down;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House officially welcome the member for Cape Breton Nova back to the House.

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. (Applause)

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1977

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

Whereas Rev. Mary-Beth Moriarty and more than 50 children and adults from the Pictou United Church have sent sympathy cards to the Metropolitan Community Church of New York and the Broadway United Church of Christ in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attack; and

[Page 6338]

Whereas the Pictou United Church has invited an Islamic speaker to an upcoming Sunday service followed by a discussion sponsoring a sale of handcrafted items from Third World countries, including Islamic nations; and

Whereas the Pictou United Church had put a face to people of another faith through its card campaign and has assisted people in feeling a little less helpless and paralyzed in the face of current world events;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly proudly congratulate the Pictou United Church and Rev. Mary-Beth Moriarty for compassionately working to promote understanding and awareness in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attack.

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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1978

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

Whereas the men and women who have served in this country's Armed Forces deserve to be honoured; and

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion is now more than just an organization, it is indeed part of the Canadian landscape; and

Whereas Royal Canadian Legion 133, Montgomery Branch, in Enfield, will celebrate 75 years of providing a place where veterans, service personnel, seniors and volunteers can gather to remember at its awards and honours banquet on Saturday, November 3rd;

[Page 6339]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 133 for their enduring service and steadfastness throughout the last three-quarters of this century.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1979

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

Whereas the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has announced pending closures of eight schools for the 2002-03 school year; and

Whereas four of these schools are elementary schools, namely Gowrie Elementary, Churchill Elementary, Portage Elementary and Grand Mira Elementary; and

Whereas the closure of these schools will have a significant negative impact on several hundred children and the communities in which the schools are located;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education work with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to ensure all options are considered in an effort to prevent the closure of these schools.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond on an introduction.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege today for me to introduce two elected officials from my constituency of Richmond who are here in the House today in the west gallery. We have with us Richard Cotton who is the Warden of the Municipality of

[Page 6340]

Richmond and with him is Councillor Gail Johnson, councillor for District 10, whom I am pleased to say was just recently elected. It wasn't her first time, but she has just been recently elected as a Deputy Warden for Richmond County. I would ask the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: So on behalf of all members, we welcome our guests to the gallery today.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1980

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

Whereas Kate Carmichael, a former member of Halifax City Council and later Executive Director of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, died on October 17th; and

Whereas all friends of Kate's admired her signal courage as she fought off leukemia this past year; and

Whereas all friends of Kate's listened in admiration and in sorrow as she spoke publicly about her illness, her struggle, and the prospect of death at an all too early age;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offers its sympathy to the husband, children and other family of Kate Carmichael.

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 Glace Bay.

[Page 6341]

RESOLUTION NO. 1981

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

Whereas the government wire today sent out a notice of a briefing on government business; and

Whereas instead of the Premier greeting reporters, it was his press secretary doing his best imitation of C.J. Cregg from TV's The West Wing; and

Whereas the press secretary tried to emphasize the efforts of Tory backbenchers instead of just stating government business;

Therefore be it resolved that this government stop its attempt to blur the line between the governmental and the political and realize that micromanaging reporters is not the way to go.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 3:12 p.m and will end at 4:12 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH: CUTS - EFFECTS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in 2000-01, Nova Scotia spent less per capita on health care than any other province. Already our district health authorities are being forced to close acute care beds, eliminate services, cut hot breakfasts, charge for parking and on and on it goes, yet those health authorities are still running deficits. What is the government's response to the crisis in health care? They are going to cut another $9 million

[Page 6342]

from the Department of Health budget. I want to ask the Minister of Health, how can an additional $9 million in health cuts not result in reduced services?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I should point out to the honourable member that the ability of Nova Scotia to pay, in terms of the ability to pay, this province ranks third in Canada, third in the contribution made in the ability to pay. (Interruptions) Let me try it again for them. In terms of the ability to pay, we make the third greatest contribution in Canada. As a matter of fact, if you take a look at the percentage of our program spending that goes to Health, we are second in Canada.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Yarmouth Hospital is in desperate need of renovations. After numerous delays, on October 18th the DHA authorized the CEO to proceed with Phase II of the redevelopment project. Now imagine the surprise of the CEO when she found out through the media that the government had halted the project. The DHA was not included in the decision and the same is true of the cuts to the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre. My question to the Minister of Health is, why do you have such little respect for local health administrators that you don't even bother to inform them of your decision ahead of the press?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the project in Yarmouth has been delayed, not necessarily the fault of the Department of Health by the way, and for the honourable member's information, the decision to take that money that was not going to be used back this year was communicated to the local board, and there was a bit of a problem internally.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it is estimated that there are several million dollars in claims against the Southwest Nova DHA already due to delays in the first phase of the renovations. Certainly the DHA cannot be expected to find that money in an already inadequate budget, yet the minister has not assured the DHA that they will not be held responsible for these claims. I want to ask the minister to assure the people of Southwest Nova that they will not have to cut even more hospital services to deal with the present and any future claims lodged as a result of construction delays.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that those disputes are still a matter for the legal system, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment.

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

HEALTH: BILL NO. 68 - WORTH

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the last day we were all gathered in this House was one of the most appalling sights this Legislature has ever seen. Let me serve

[Page 6343]

notice, their treatment of the media, of the staff and of the public will soon not be forgotten by Nova Scotians. My question for the Premier is, after one of the most offensive sessions witnessed by this Legislature, after the Premier fought for weeks against arbitration only to end up hiring an arbitrator, and after the most contentious labour struggle this province has ever seen, can the Premier, today, tell me was Bill No. 68 worth it?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government will continue to find a way that will enable a satisfactory labour negotiation to occur between public sector workers and the government itself at the same time as preserving service. That was the intent of the government and we did achieve that.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I thought the Premier might feel this way, but I am sure his backbenchers feel otherwise. If the Premier is so confident of the success of Bill No. 68 and he is convinced that it was worth the cost, could he please state for the House the exact cost, exactly what his government spent on Bill No. 68?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite would well know that without some advance warning I could not answer that question. If the member was truly serious about receiving the information, he certainly would have done it in a more formal way than he has attempted to do via Question Period.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am not surprised that suddenly the Premier is less confident of the worth of Bill No. 68. We know the other costs of Bill No. 68, people who had medical treatment delayed and postponed, the nurses who have left the province, and the doctors who have lost confidence in the system. But what about the other costs, the financial costs for legal help, the government's own proper polling and communications? Will the Premier commit here today to revealing what his government spent on outside firms in order to pass Bill No. 68, yes or no?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in the preamble the member opposite indicated very clearly what this was all about, because he talked about the delay and the holdup in the provision of medical care. What the government is committed to, and I believe what health care professionals are committed to, is eliminating delays in the delivery of health care in this province. That is what the intention of government is, and I believe that is what the intention of health care workers is.

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

EDUC.: STRAIT REG. SCH. BD. (SULLIVAN, J.) - LOAN DETAILS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education, who my question is directed to, has had a most unremarkable two years in office as the Minister of Education. Her term has been marked with incompetence, petulant statements, and vengeful policies.

[Page 6344]

She tells students to bring toilet paper to school only this past spring, and it seems every time the Minister of Finance holds a press conference he has to correct her department's numbers. With Knowledge House, we see the minister has blended incompetence with secrecy. I want to ask the minister to explain why she didn't immediately tell Nova Scotians that a senior official from her department was in the room when the Strait board signed a loan guarantee for Jack Sullivan.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct a statement made by the honourable member and that is about secrecy. Two examples of how we have not been secret is volunteering to go to Public Accounts over the Knowledge House deal and coming out and holding a press conference on the irregularities in the school board. Those are not examples of being secret.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, this minister has basically admitted that she has little idea what her own staff is doing in her department, which is the cardinal error with regard to being a Minister of Education. Her deputy minister knew that the Strait board had to pay $8,700 to the Royal Bank but he did not tell his own minister that that money was paid out; again, incompetence blended with secrecy. In order to get to the bottom of this fiasco, will the Minister of Education testify before the Public Accounts Committee and will she urge and push for the former ministers, Robbie Harrison and Wayne Gaudet, to also testify before the Public Accounts Committee?

MISS PURVES: I have a word to describe the member opposite and that is called inaccuracy, Mr. Speaker. The deputy minister did not know the amount of that loan payment. I have already said that all the facts as they are brought forward are going to be made public in this House and nothing is going to be kept secret. We are doing an investigation to find out all the facts.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, this minister wants the Strait school board and any other school board she can find to take the fall because she wants to go ahead and take control of the board's matters and finances. I want to ask this minister why Nova Scotians should put more control in the hands of the Minister of Education who gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to Knowledge House one day before it went bankrupt.

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yet another inaccuracy. The last I heard, Knowledge House was not bankrupt. As I said, all the facts, as they become known, will be made public. They will be tabled in this House; they will be made public to the press and that is all I can say. That is as open as I can be. The school boards are working with us and this information will be made public as soon as possible.

[Page 6345]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC. - ADVANCED STUDIES PROG.: STUDENTS - REFUND

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. It is quite clear that other than taxpayers, the students and parents of those involved in the Advanced Studies Program are the real victims of what has occurred here. Some of the 83 students who were enrolled in the Advanced Studies Program have incurred serious financial expenses. All of the students involved required specific computer programs and software to complete their studies at home and they also required special calculators. Some parents have spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on computer software and hardware needed so their child could remain in the Advanced Studies Program. One single mother scraped together the money that she had been saving for five years to see her sister graduate in British Columbia; today that dream is gone and so is her daughter's dream of graduating from the Advanced Studies Program.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Education is, is the Department of Education going to refund the students, and their parents, who have been negatively financially affected by the cancellation of the Advanced Studies Program?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the member for Richmond agrees that the Advanced Studies Program was a good one that students and teachers were very excited about, because, indeed, it was a good program. That was the whole point of trying to introduce it, and no one is sorrier than I that the program was not able to continue this year.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the fact is that students, parents, and even some school boards, were not even aware of the fact that special computer programs and expensive calculators would be required for students participating in the Advanced Studies Program. My question to the Minister of Education. Why weren't the students, the parents, and even your own school boards in this regard, warned of the expenses that would be incurred by students who participated in your heavily touted Advanced Studies Program?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I have actually asked staff in my department this question before and they have assured me that no expensive personal materials were needed for this program. But I am quite willing to ask again, and if I get a different answer I would be quite happy to supply it to this House.

MR. SAMSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, this again shows us an opportunity of the fact that the minister's staff is either not telling the minister the truth or they are intentionally withholding information from her. What I have here is a letter that was sent to the Minister of Education from a single mother with a receipt showing expenditures of $776 for the equipment needed for her daughter to participate in this program. I also have here a letter

[Page 6346]

dated October 16, 2001, signed by Nancy Whittaker, Chairperson of the Tri-County District School Board which says, "We were not aware that the students would have to have ready access to a computer with particular programs and graphing calculators, both prohibitive purchases for many families."

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: My question to the minister is very simple. Will the minister admit today that her staff has not given her the correct information, and will she commit to reimbursing these families for the expenditures incurred as part of the doomed Advanced Studies Program?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I will rephrase my previous answer, and that is if personal expenditures were necessitated by the Advanced Studies Program - if they were, which I have been told they were not - of course, students would be reimbursed if those expenses were mandated.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

TOURISM & CULTURE: CULTURAL DIV. - POSITIONS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Tourism and Culture. The minister's department, in particular their cultural division, has been undergoing a restructuring, a realignment, over the past year whereby the existing 13 positions will be replaced by 11, along with an executive director. We understand now that these 13 people have received pink slips; in other words these positions are going to be empty by the end of the year. I would like to know if the minister would confirm for us here today whether in fact these positions are going to be filled before the end of the year?

[3:30 p.m.]

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member talks about the cultural division and indeed there is a restructuring process occurring which will take effect at the beginning of the new year. I just want to say that the new structure will reflect what a dynamic division this is and the growth of the cultural industry will benefit from it.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, clearly it wasn't all that dynamic, otherwise it wouldn't have gotten restructured, but my point in asking the question is this, that these 13 people have received pink slips and in light of the Finance Minister's statement a few weeks ago that no vacancies would be filled, I want to ask the minister, is he going to ignore, like everyone else, what the Finance Minister says or will he confirm for us here

[Page 6347]

today that those positions will, in fact, be filled and that this new, more dynamic cultural division will be up and running come January 1st?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think what the member is trying to tell this House and tell the people of Nova Scotia is that they would leave everything the same. They would not take a look at the changes needed in the departments. They would not take a look at ways to grow the cultural industry and if that member takes a look at the programs we introduced this summer, it is to grow export development for cultural industries; it is to support community development; it is for those communities' outreach in Nova Scotia that require and deserve an opportunity for programming.

So I can tell that member, Mr. Speaker, the restructuring will benefit not only our division in Tourism and Culture, but it will also benefit the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, clearly the Minister of Tourism and Culture is spoiling for a fight, but he's looking at the wrong member because I know that the cultural community is in support of this restructuring. They, in fact, support what it is that the minister is intending to do. What we want to know and what they want to know is, will the minister commit here today that he will be ignoring the directive from the Minister of Finance, and that those positions will, in fact, be filled, that this new cultural division will be up and operational on January 5, 2002?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his endorsement of this government, this Party, and our direction for culture. It is great to see he is on the right page.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC.: ADVANCED STUDIES PROG. - TRANSITION

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. In a September 19th news release the minister says that her, ". . . first and foremost concern is to minimize the disruption . . .", to students affected by the demise of the Advanced Studies Program. In a form letter sent to each student, the minister says: The department will do everything possible to assist schools in identifying and implementing the program solution that will be in the students best interests. My question to the Minister of Education is, what is your department and your staff doing to assist these students in this transition back to the normal classrooms?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, among the things that we have done and are doing, we are working with school boards, talking to principals. Some of these students have stayed in classes together to work on programs together. Some of the students have been moved into other advanced areas. Some students are being integrated back into the classroom

[Page 6348]

and I would like to repeat that I am very sorry about this disruption. The only good thing is it happened early in the school year, not later on, and we will continue to try to help the students and teachers whose lives were disrupted early in the year by this program.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the best thing that could have happened here is had the minister taken her job seriously and not allowed the Advanced Studies Program to go forward when it was clear Knowledge House would not be able to provide it for this academic year. That would have been in the best interests of the students involved.

Mr. Speaker, at least one school received a tutor; only this Tuesday, a month and a half after the Advanced Studies Program ended and only to teach pre-calculus. We are hearing from parents constantly concerned about the fact that their students are falling behind. The students need to be tutored in all subjects because they missed the introduction of all their courses that they are now taking. Some students have failed their tests because they had no one to help them in their studies. My question to the minister is, is the, ". . . seamless transition back into other school programs . . .", that you refer to in your same press release?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the students involved in this Advanced Studies pilot that had to be cancelled are among the best and the brightest students in Nova Scotia. I am sorry, again, for the disruption to their school programs, but we are working with them, with the boards and the principals and I can assure you by the end of the year these students will be excelling in all of their subjects.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I hope the minister is willing to write another letter to the students indicating that exact statement by her, and making it a commitment that she will make sure that they excel by the end of the year. The point is, this is the Minister of Education who allowed the Advanced Studies Program to go forward this year when everyone else in Nova Scotia, other than her, knew that Knowledge House was on the verge of financial collapse and unable to carry out this program. To show you how well the minister and her staff have done, Nancy Whittaker, the Chairman of the Tri-County District School Board said, "We share your disappointment and frustration at the matter in which this whole situation has been handled."

My final question to the Minister of Education is, are you going to provide additional tutors and resource staff to assist these students in getting caught up with the rest of their class, or are you going to let the department's failure continue to affect these students?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, what the department is going to do is to continue to work with the students and teachers to make sure that these students are integrated back into the classroom and that they do as well as they possibly can do.

[Page 6349]

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

EDUC.: C.B.-VICTORIA REG. SCH. BD. - FUNDING FORMULA

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this government continues to attack Cape Breton every chance it gets. This government is going really far this time. They are attacking the very future of the Island, and that is our children's education. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is being forced to review five elementary schools for closure. That is Grand Mira, Gowrie, Churchill, Gannon Road and George's River and to close the doors on three others. A review of these schools is part of a transition plan ordered by this minister. So I want to ask the Minister of Education why she continues to refuse the request to revisit the school board funding formula in Cape Breton when she knows her refusal to do so is causing schools to be shut down?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, Nova Scotia student population is declining. We have too much classroom space in Nova Scotia for the students there. Empty classrooms do not educate children.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows herself that the funding formula works against areas that are economically disadvantaged. She knows that and it is rigged that way. This very Premier wants the federal government to revisit its federal-provincial equalization programs, but certainly it doesn't seem to work the other way when this government is cutting programs in schools in Cape Breton. As a result, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board will be forced to get rid of 184 teaching positions over the next four years; that is 42 in year one, 42 in year two, 52 in year three, and another 42 in year four. So I want to ask the Minister of Education, why does she continue to punish the children of Cape Breton?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows that this government has given more funding to school boards over the last two years, but I also have to point out, in case we get too self-centred here, that there are issues in Nova Scotia that all school boards have to deal with to do with too much space in old schools, and that there are other school boards also looking at closing schools. It is not a fact of life any community enjoys, but it is a reality that we have to face.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the minister likes to think of this as just being empty classrooms, but what it is is budgets. The school board superintendent predicts that the best next year will see is no increase in funding, but more likely it will be a 2 per cent cut. I want to ask the Premier why he is willing to sit by quietly while the Minister of Education does irreparable harm to the education system in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board?

[Page 6350]

THE PREMIER: The member opposite well knows that there is a dramatic fall in school population in Cape Breton-Victoria, in fact the most dramatic in all of the province. It is a difficult time of shift when, in fact, you have a large infrastructure in place with a rapidly declining school population. It is a time of change, but I believe that the decisions being made to spend more money in the classroom and less money in propping up old, half-empty buildings are the right way to go.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN.: TERRORIST ATTACKS (09/11/01) - EFFECTS

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Since 1999 the government has taken in over $0.5 billion in new revenue. We have seen the debt in excess of $1 billion. The Minister of Finance could have balanced the budget last spring, but we all know he blew it. Despite the downturn in the economy of September 11th, this government has taken in over $5.1 billion. Given that kind of income, how can the minister justify using the tragedy of September 11th for all his financial problems?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I have to say that I disagree with the member opposite that we're asking Nova Scotians to believe that September 11th is the cause of all problems in Nova Scotia. The economy was projected to slow down in the latter two quarters of 2001. Obviously that was the case. That was going on, but we have to face facts that since September 11th, things have changed also.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I can't believe the minister has found one more thing to blame for all his own ineptitude. In 1999 he blamed the previous government; in the year 2000 he blamed the federal government; this spring he blamed the health care workers in Nova Scotia; and now he is using the tragedy as an excuse for all his fiscal problems. He can't even guarantee his promise of a tax cut. My question to the minister is, for once will this minister take responsibility for his own budget and tell Nova Scotians that it is he and he alone who is responsible for his own budget debacle?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I failed to hear a question in the rambling of the member opposite. I do want to point out that we have made some changes this week in regard to our spending. Any responsible government, as you get halfway through your year, should examine where you are. If changes are required, they should be made. That is what we did; that is what Nova Scotians expected to do. We will manage the finances of this province.

MR. DOWNE: My final supplementary is to the Premier. We have all heard the excuses by the Minister of Finance for why he cannot do his job. My question is simple, for the Premier. Will you give your personal guarantee, your word, Mr. Premier, that you will live up to your promise of a balanced budget this spring?

[Page 6351]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the way in which the government is going about managing a very difficult time is, I believe, the only way that we can proceed at this particular time. The whole issue of what was happening to the economy, I think, was well explained by the Minister of Finance. Yes, we were in a decline. On the other hand it was a manageable decline. At this particular time, and I have said this publicly before and I will repeat it again for the benefit of the members of the House, there are no long-term projections that at this point allow any government in Canada to make long-term estimates of where we'll be either 12 months or 18 months out.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - TOBACCO USE: REVENUE - EFFECT

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. This government collects over $100 million a year from tobacco taxes. Last April, taxes on a carton of cigarettes rose by $4.00, giving this government an additional $15 million to $20 million in revenue. Now we learn tobacco taxes are about to increase again.

The Nova Scotia Division of the Canadian Cancer Society says that a comprehensive tobacco strategy would cost $2.8 million in year one of a multi-year plan, but sadly, this minister has committed only $1 million. I want to ask the minister if he'll commit today that new revenue from tobacco tax will lead to his improving on his half-hearted effort to control tobacco use in Nova Scotia?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this government did implement a comprehensive tobacco strategy. There are two parts of that left to be fulfilled. One is to raise the taxes in tobacco to the level recommended by the advocacy organizations and indeed I have been recommending that since last spring and I will continue to advocate for that.

The second thing is the tabling of legislation which we intend to do in the spring.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as the minister well knows, or he should know, more needs to be done to decrease the number of smokers than merely raising the cost of cigarettes. Additional funding for smoking cessation programs is a critical part of an effective tobacco control strategy. This government pockets 95 per cent of the revenue it raises from tobacco tax into general revenue. I want to ask the Minister of Health, why does your government continue to hoard cigarette tax revenue instead of adequately funding the programs required to make a real impact on smoking rates in this province?

[Page 6352]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the provincial tobacco control strategy has a number of elements. I am pleased to say that we've acted on most of those things. I responded to the first question indicating that we did have some more to do and I continue to work toward that. I am delighted to see that she is supporting the government's efforts to control smoking.

In terms of the amount of money that was allocated to the tobacco strategy which we announced in Clementsport about two weeks ago, pro rated on an annual basis, that money would equal or be greater than the amount that had been requested by the advocacy groups.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this province spends $170 million annually treating chronic health problems associated with tobacco use. I want to ask the minister to explain why he won't take more aggressive steps to reduce tobacco use, saving health care dollars which can then be redirected elsewhere in the health care system where they are needed?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, our tobacco strategy has a number of features. One of them was taxation and I have indicated that we went about half as far as I would personally have liked to have seen it go or even higher. We have legislation and an additional policy which will be tabled in the spring session, we have media and public awareness, we are recommending treatment and cessation programs, we have the youth Tobacco Advisory Council which has made recommendations to us. Indeed, a number of those things were integrated into the tobacco strategy that was tabled. We have committed money to community health boards, indeed $1 million and hope that they will take some of that money or a good deal of it and put it into a cessation program at the community level.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

PSC: ARBITRATION BD. - RESPONSE

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. So far this year, the Public Service Commission has put out only four news releases and three of those news releases have referred to Bill No. 68. You have to wonder what, if anything, is going on in that department. Since an arbitrator issued the decision relating to the health care workers affected by Bill No. 68, this government seems to be doing everything it can to avoid addressing the situation of some 5,000 civil servants who have been almost two years without a contract. In July, the NSGEU asked the Civil Service Employee Relations Board to convene an arbitration board and the union has forwarded the list of issues it wants discussed.

My question for the minister is, has the government responded yet to the Chairman of the Board, Professor William Charles, with its comments and a list of issues and if not, why not?

[Page 6353]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, negotiations are still underway and I am not going to negotiate on the floor of the House.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I wasn't asking the minister to negotiate before the House, just for a simple answer. The government has closed the line of communications with the public sector unions. It hasn't just closed them, it has completely cut them off. They don't exist at all. It is not that an arbitrator hasn't been chosen that is holding up the progress on this matter. The union picked their nominee for the arbitration board and the government doesn't even bother to respond. My question for the minister is, will he inform the House who, if anyone, has been chosen to represent the government with respect to these outstanding issues?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is suggesting that the government has closed off conversations with the union. That is not so. In fact, I've got a note in my hand just delivered to me from Joan Jessome of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, it might be a good idea if the honourable minister tabled that message that he has from Joan Jessome. It is probably looking for what they have been looking for all along, a reply. Since day one, this government has done everything in its power to alienate the public sector, including passing one of the most regressive pieces of labour legislation that Canada has ever seen. I would like to ask the minister to be straight with this House and tell us whether this government is deliberately dragging its feet because it is trying to delay these matters until the spring budget, when it is planning to take a chainsaw to the Public Service?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have the finest Public Service in Canada in the Province of Nova Scotia and I can assure the honourable member that this government will protect that Public Service.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

PSC: EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS BD. - RESPONSE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister responsible for the Public Service. Nobody in this House expects the minister to stand on this floor and bargain here a collective agreement, but we do expect some clear answers when the process has broken down. It has been a year and a half since the collective agreement between this government and public servants in Nova Scotia has expired and bargaining has reached a stalemate, despite the assistance of a conciliator and despite the fact that the union has requested that the dispute be referred to an arbitrator. My question to the minister is, if he won't explain why the government has not responded to the request of the

[Page 6354]

chairman of the Employment Relations Board to provide a list of items in dispute as required under the Act, perhaps he will say when he intends to conform to the law in this province?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that will be done momentarily.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, these employees have been remarkably patient in their attempts to reach a settlement. On September 12th, Professor Charles, who is Chairman of the Employment Relations Board, wrote to the government requesting its list of items in the dispute. The Act requires clearly 10 days; it gives 10 days after the request is received for a response. So I want to ask the minister if he can offer any reasonable explanation why his government has ignored the provisions of the Act to provide the requested information within the 10 day time limit which clearly has expired?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have not ignored the process and, indeed, as the honourable member I am sure is aware, the process of negotiations between employer and employee is always a long, drawn out process. But I can assure the honourable member that a resolution will be reached in the near future.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is a sad day when the workers of this province have to come to the House in order to get the collective bargaining process on the rails and working for them. Will the minister assure this House right now that public sector workers will see a new commitment from their employer to pull its chair up to the table and conclude negotiations for a fair and mutually acceptable settlement right away?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that, indeed, we do and we will continue to work towards reaching a fair and equitable agreement with those employees who work for the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH: COBEQUID MULTI-SERVICE CENTRE - OPENING

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Recently we have heard and it has been mentioned here today, that the Minister of Finance and the Premier blame September 11th of this year as a reason for their mismanagement and their incompetence. The Minister of Health has re-announced, this year, the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre on May 14th with a promise to tender; call for design would begin by the end of June 2001, now passed. My question simply to the minister, will the Minister of Health tell us when he now plans to have the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre open?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to be able to stand up and tell the honourable member that it's going to be opened tomorrow - he's talking about the new one obviously - but I can't do that. Planning is continuing for that. There is money, $500,000,

[Page 6355]

committed this year, still, that will be used for various activities and moving that project forward.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the people of Sackville and the surrounding areas, the many communities there were counting on the minister to deliver on the promise that he made on May 14th last year. Not starting the tender call, as he promised at the end of June this year, shows that something was happening. Something was terribly wrong in the health care planning in this province long before September 11th. I don't need to remind the minister that his only commitment to the people of Sackville this fiscal year was a call for the design of the facility, a zero cost essentially, a commitment, if the tender calls are planned properly. My question to the minister is, why would you sacrifice the health care needs of 100,000 people by cancelling a commitment that was going to cost the government practically nothing?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the government continues to be committed to that project. The fact was that when we were, like all good governments, reassessing our financial picture, we realized that the amount of money that had been budgeted could not be spent this year and, therefore, that money that could not be spent was taken from the budget.

[4:00 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, today we heard a commitment from the Premier to honour a promise to the people of Yarmouth during their next fiscal year for Phase II of their hospital there. He said in one of the daily newspapers that it was a case of which is more important. What does that say for the Sackville area and the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre there? I would like to table, by the way, I just happened to run across a newsletter from the MLA for Sackville-Beaver Bank - a nice picture - announcing all the goings-on (Interruptions)

My question to the minister is, in light of the Premier's commitment to Yarmouth's hospital, will the minister commit here and now that the plans for the construction of the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre will be fast-tracked so that the new facility will open as he promised for December 2003?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to draw to the attention of the members of the House and to the honourable member, when he occupied the portfolio that I have, he made absolutely no commitment to that facility, and we did. (Interruptions) That government, when they would commit neither to Phase II of Yarmouth nor to the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre, we have done both. We will honour those commitments.

[Page 6356]

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

COMMUN. SERV.: TOUCH ON WOOD - CLOSURE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, mental health patients often struggle to gain control of their condition and find opportunities to contribute to society in a meaningful way. The Minister of Community Services has stated publicly that proactive mental health treatment is a priority of his department. Touch on Wood is a non-profit, community proactive training facility that helps mental health patients learn new skills and contribute to society. The goals of the minister and Touch on Wood seem to fit perfectly. I want to ask the Minister of Community Services, why were you prepared to allow a quality program like Touch on Wood to close its doors to the very people you tend to support publicly?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest the honourable member needs to do a little more research. Community Services had been sponsoring that program, and we were going to continue. The people who pulled out were HRDC.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I certainly know HRDC pulled out, but what we are talking about is the words of that minister. The words of that minister about being proactive and helping these people, such as the people at Touch on Wood, that provides opportunities in an area that has high unemployment for able-bodied workers, let alone people with disabilities. We all know that that would have closed if it wasn't for the Persons With Disabilities Partnership Association of Industrial Cape Breton and private donations. I want to ask the minister, when are you going to stop downloading provincial responsibilities onto the community?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that not only did Community Services but the Department of Health supported that program. We have indicated to them that we are going to continue supporting that program and, as we do with all associations, we await their business plan to see what we can do. I will repeat, the issue they had is the cash flow because of HRDC's withdrawal.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, let's make perfectly clear that what HRDC did was reprehensible, but let's talk about how this government was willing to take charity funds from a casino in that very area, almost right next door to the very building that we're talking about. I want to ask the minister, with that mind, why won't you commit to the House today that Touch on Wood will get the required funding it needs to operate, that when the funding runs out in March you will give it the required funding to operate for another year at least?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I can give a commitment to this House that we will be working with Touch on Wood as we do with all programs that we have for people with challenges, people going back into the workforce. We will be working with them all to provide those services for all Nova Scotians.

[Page 6357]

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: SECONDARY RDS. - PIPELINES

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Continuing the saga of natural gas, or the lack of it, in Nova Scotia, my preamble to the minister is that rural Nova Scotians need natural gas to grow their economies. Without it they will be at a clear economic disadvantage compared to metro Halifax. So far, no pipeline company has said that they can deliver gas to rural Nova Scotia without placing pipe on the side of the roads of this province. My question is, is the minister considering allowing for pipeline to be inserted into the shoulder of secondary roads in Nova Scotia to allow for gas distribution in rural parts of this province that are desperately looking for it?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the policy of the Department of Transportation and Public Works is the same today as it was yesterday and the same as it was a year ago and the same as it was in the directive issued in 1998. We will not permit the placement of high pressure lines in the shoulders of the highways of this province.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister may want to read today's Halifax Chronicle-Herald with regard to this issue. My first supplementary is going to the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. As this minister should be aware, his Party campaigned on a platform largely directed at rural Nova Scotians. He should also know that no company will distribute natural gas to rural areas without allowing pipe to be placed in the shoulder bed of the secondary roads of this province. Could the minister explain to rural Nova Scotians if he favours the distribution of gas in rural areas by allowing gas distribution companies to use the road shoulders of this province?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, clearly the policy direction lies with the Department of Transportation and Public Works. The policy is the same today as it was yesterday and will be into the future until a policy decision is made.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that minister continues to know nothing whatsoever about what is going on in his department. My final supplementary is to the Premier. My question to the Premier is simply this, why won't the Premier take a leadership role and defend the interests of rural Nova Scotians by allowing for gas distribution in rural Nova Scotia instead of allowing two ministers to have the opinions that they have, obviously not talking to one another? When is the Premier going to take a leadership role to ensure that natural gas will get to rural Nova Scotia in the coming years?

[Page 6358]

THE PREMIER: This is an important issue. The availability of natural gas to Nova Scotians is an issue in many rural communities. The previous government had failed to provide a scenario which would allow that to happen. We are seeking to have one that will work.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH: DHAs - CONSULTANTS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health has been participating in behaviour which in some circles could be described as blackmail. The inadequate funding of the district health authorities has left a number of them in a deficit position. The Department of Health offered to pay off the deficit of at least one health authority in exchange for their agreement to participate in a role study of their facilities and programs. So I want to ask the Minister of Health, why were you strong-arming this health authority into accepting your appointed consultant in exchange for having their deficit eliminated?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am not entirely sure what the honourable member is speaking of, but there was a letter that went out last week or the week before and I think it went out from other departments as well, instructing the district health authorities that they had to live within their budgets and if they did not it would be charged in next year's budget.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, not only did the health authority have to accept the department's consultants, but they were also expected to agree to whatever the study might recommend. Hospitals all across the province are having to make difficult decisions resulting in limited or discontinued services or added fees for things like parking and yet they're still carrying deficits. My question to the Minister of Health is, how can you allow your staff to use the serious financial problems of the health authorities as bargaining chips in your efforts to control them?

MR. MUIR: Most of the facilities across the province charge for parking now. I don't think that's unusual. I know in my home constituency of Truro-Bible Hill, the Colchester County facility has been doing it for a number of years and it goes into the hospital foundation. Sometimes money goes into the foundation and I expect that in some cases it does go into the operations of the facilities.

There is no question the district health authorities have a challenge - they have to meet their budgets. We don't have a bottomless pit. My colleague, the Minister of Finance, has articulated some of the financial woes, not so much this year, but we expect in future years and some decisions have to be made and the boards have to make those decisions. That's why we've devolved that . . .

[Page 6359]

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

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order arising from Question Period. The Minister of Health mentioned that relative to the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre - and I couldn't quite hear, I will have to review Hansard - our lack of commitment to that facility and the needs of 100,000 people in that area for health care and services. There was a release involved that an announcement was made by myself and it was reported in March 17, 1999 relative to the construction, primary health care and emergency services would begin in the spring of 2000 and would be completed by the spring of 2002. I would like to table this. In other words, we would have had in a few months' time a finished multi-service centre for the (Interruptions)

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

Bill No. 22 - Liens Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure on behalf of the Minister of Justice to speak to second reading of this legislation.

The Liens Act was first introduced in April of this year. Like the enforcement of Judgements and Decrees Act, it is part of our national, commercial law strategy. This strategy is designed to reform and harmonize commercial legislation across this country. The purpose of this strategy is to create a comprehensive framework of commercial law. The goal is to make it easier to do business in this country. In other words, it is designed to cut red tape. This strategy was first approved by Ministers of Justice from across Canada in December 1999. I am pleased that Nova Scotia has adopted so many pieces of legislation to conform with the strategy and to help create a climate of opportunity for business.

[Page 6360]

[4:15 p.m.]

The Liens Act will protect those who provide labour and material for the purposes of restoring, maintaining or improving goods, or those who store or transport goods. The bill allows them to place a lien on goods for which these services are provided. The lien, Mr. Speaker, must be in the amount which has been agreed upon for the actual services provided. If there was an agreed amount, the lien would then be secured based on the fair value of the services. In order to enforce the lien, the lien claimant must actually be in possession of the goods or they must have written authorization to proceed to serving or an obligation to pay. The lien can be attached in two ways. It is attached either through the possession of goods or by registering a financial statement under the Personal Property Security Act.

Mr. Speaker, this bill also establishes a priority rule for those liens when additional creditors are involved. This legislation allows for the lien claimant to sell the goods 30 days after the debt becomes due, a time frame which is outlined in the Personal Property Security Act. The lien can be enforced by a sheriff who has the power to seize goods.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, this Act will bring us in line with the practices of other jurisdictions. As part of the commercial law strategy, it is a product of a great deal of consultation with business groups, law reform organizations and government representatives. In streamlining our commercial law, our economy and our citizens benefit. Thank you and I move second reading of Bill No. 22.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my caucus, as the Justice Critic, I rise to say that we are going to the wall on this one. Our caucus has no problems with Bill No. 22. It is clearly an opportunity to have harmonization of legislation across all of Canada and that can't be anything but good for commercial activity, for an opportunity for people, whether they be from British Columbia or Yukon or Nova Scotia to know that there is an opportunity, that the rules are going to be the same throughout and that it will make it easier both for those practicing law throughout Canada and for those who, of course, do commercial activity. I think that is what it is all about. If we can harmonize our legislation, if we have an opportunity to do that, I say that is good for business in Canada and that is good for Nova Scotians, as well.

I will say that I hope to maybe talk with some people in the legal community before this bill makes it to the Law Amendments Committee to give them an opportunity to give us some feedback with regard to the legislation. I must admit that even though I am a lawyer by trade, I never really did deal with the lien's area, so I would look to seek some advice from others who may have and give them an opportunity to give me a few comments. But, otherwise, our caucus has no problem with the legislation in principle passing through

[Page 6361]

second reading and we look forward to hearing more comments in the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to make a few comments on Bill No. 22, the Liens Act. It is ironic, the honourable Government House Leader in introducing it said it first made its way to the floor in April 2001. It is unfortunate it has taken this long to make its way finally through the House, but it appears many bills from this government have suffered similar fates. It appears to be a practice.

Mr. Speaker, when the Premier went on the record saying that this session was going to be a quiet one, I have to wonder if he had Bill No. 22 sitting directly in front of him. The issue of liens is not the stuff that makes for dramatic political debate on the first day back in the House of Assembly, or maybe that is the whole point. However, it is a vital part of the everyday world that businesses and people in Nova Scotia have to operate in from time to time.

Mr. Speaker, I must say that I cannot help but express my disappointment that the Minister of Justice, who introduced these bills, has chosen not to speak on these bills here today, although they are relatively straightforward and not controversial, it certainly would have been helpful to have the minister speak on the bills which fall under his authority. Liens were originally a creation of the common law and the three existing pieces of legislation that we have was an attempt to set out some ground rules that would apply to different circumstances. However, a problem with existing legislation in all provinces has been the unpredictable and often unregisterable liens claims for different businesses, such as garage owners, repair people, innkeepers and warehousers.

Mr. Speaker, times have changed and the methods of doing business have changed as well. It is obvious to everyone that all the provinces and, indeed, all countries in the world are becoming increasingly interdependent and reliant on trade. If rules are harmonized or made as similar as possible across Canada, this will help to lower the cost of doing business inside and outside of Nova Scotia. This will increase overall efficiency and, it is hoped, at least lay promising groundwork for more interprovincial trade and commerce.

The demands of business have changed and legislation is thankfully begun to change with them. Steps taken to clarify and codify the rules relating to the creation of liens for the modern business world will certainly be welcomed by those businesses who are affected by them. Harmonizing legislation as much as possible across the province is a desirable goal, so long as we don't blindly adopt bills that have been drafted elsewhere.

[Page 6362]

Mr. Speaker, it's important for this government and for all Nova Scotians that we don't lose sight of our local needs. My colleague, the member for Cape Breton The Lakes, will speak more about the concerns of a possible negative impact that this might have on Nova Scotians. Perhaps the most important feature of the legislation is that it sets out the priority that liens will have against other security interests. This is set out, of course, in the PPSA, the Personal Property Securities Act. The PPSA has been warmly welcomed and used by the business and legal communities since it was passed over five years ago by the Liberal Government. It has proven to be far preferable to the confusing mass of Statutes and common law rules that business people and lawyers used to deal with.

Mr. Speaker, this bill will be a welcome addition to the reforms brought about by the PPSA and it will complement that legislation. As mentioned by the other Opposition, certainly we have some concerns, as my colleague is going to allude to very shortly, about some of the negative impacts here that might allow for some changes to be made to this legislation. Clearly, we will also be looking forward to the Law Amendments Committee process, to see the presentations that come before us, and certainly hope that the government will be open to any possible amendments that might be brought forward to make sure that this is the best possible legislation to reflect the intent to protect those business affected through the liens process.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I am going to take my place. I know that my colleague, the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes, has a few concerns that he wishes to raise with this bill.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I would like to give my support to the comments made by my colleague, the honourable member for Richmond. Our caucus is in full support of this legislation, and we believe it helps to clarify the law and assists businesses to do business in the Province of Nova Scotia. Harmonizing the law, of course, as much as possible across the province and across all provinces is a good thing. We believe it should be done so long as our particular local needs are served by the passing of this legislation.

However, having said that, many residents have raised concerns with me about some of the issues in this bill; concerns surrounding whether consumers themselves will be adequately protected under this bill. Every member in this House has people, of course, in their constituencies who have to get by on a very limited income per month, people who have to budget for every cent that comes into and goes out of their household on a monthly basis. The situation that concerns me is, for instance, when people take their vehicle to a service station or to a repair shop, a maintenance garage to get it serviced. If an estimate is done up and it is in writing and it is agreeable to both sides, then everyone is happy. However, under

[Page 6363]

some situations people may not think to act for or ask for a written estimate in regard to the repairs that are required on their vehicle.

I'm thinking particularly, Mr. Speaker, of people, individuals who have had the experience of their vehicle breaking down on the side of the highway unexpectedly, or some individuals who have been involved in car accidents. People can be very upset in these situations and they may not be in the proper frame of mind to ask for and get a written quote. Under this bill, in those situations, a lien would secure their fair value of the services rendered, but if an estimate is not agreed to beforehand then who is to say what fair value is when you're not an expert as in an auto mechanic or in auto mechanic repairs.

Mr. Speaker, a recent incident happened in regard to a resident from Cape Breton who it actually was a student who was traveling to the Halifax area to attend university. It was a young female. Her vehicle broke down on the side of the road and she had an estimate from a service centre in the Truro area. The estimate was for approximately $300, but when she went back four days later to obtain the car, she realized the bill was much greater and there was no option, no negotiation. She had to pay the bill for the vehicle and she felt it was very unfair, particularly when she did have a quote from the repair shop. Instances like that create a problem for the consumers in this province.

This bill, of course, states that a dispute over the amount secured by a lien can be taken to court and can be resolved. In most circumstances this will involve amounts under $10,000; so it will involve the Small Claims Court system. First of all, is the average person going to know that they can go to court if they dispute the bill charged to them because it was not agreed to beforehand? Even if they go to Small Claims Court, Mr. Speaker, will an adjudicator be an expert in auto mechanics who can tell what fair value is for repairs done to a motor vehicle? Probably not. So there's the risk that they will tend to rely on what the garage or the auto mechanic says is fair value. Someone who is disputing the amount secured by a lien could get their own expert on auto mechanics to testify in Small Claims Court but they may have to pay for that person's time which, of course, means more money to the consumer which, I would suggest, creates a burden in some cases.

These are important issues, Mr. Speaker, because what can be at stake in this particular example is a family's vehicle, of course. Under this particular bill, the person who owes the garage money and fails to pay the debt within 30 days, then the garage could realize on the goods and, in this case, the vehicle could be seized. The bill also says that the Personal Property Security Act applies to this bill. Under that Act, the person owing the money could make a claim to exempt their motor vehicle from being seized if it is necessary for their employment, or no public transportation is available to them. However, this can only be done if the vehicle is not worth over $6,500. First of all, is the average Nova Scotian going to know that they can exempt their vehicle from such seizure? I would suggest not.

[Page 6364]

Mr. Speaker, secondly, what if the car is worth more than they and their family stand to lose on the vehicle? Don't get me wrong, businesses in this province and businesses which operate across Canada need legislation that is clear and as consistent as possible. This bill is a good step in that direction. However, we shouldn't lose sight of how the average person may be impacted by these changes.

Mr. Speaker, I truly wish the Minister of Justice was here today.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, he should be here.

MR. BOUDREAU: There is no doubt that the Minister of Justice should be here in attendance today for the debate of this bill.

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member knows he is not to identify the fact of a member's presence or absence and I will ask him to refrain from that please.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, there are consumer issues here which concern many of the people who are vulnerable in this province. With that, I will take my place. Thank you.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I hadn't contemplated speaking on this particular piece of legislation, Bill No. 22, however there are a couple of issues here I thought would be worth noting, in particular as it relates to interprovincial jurisdiction. Obviously the intent, to a certain measure, is to harmonize our business relations from one provincial jurisdiction to the other, and indeed with the federal government.

I can't help but recall, just a little over two years ago when we amended the Workers' Compensation Act, we made what we thought was a rather significant policy change as it relates to businesses here in Nova Scotia with their counterparts in other provincial jurisdictions. That being the fact that up until we introduced and had that particular piece of legislation approved there was a six month holiday, for any business outside Nova Scotia who would be awarded a contract in the province, upon which they would be required to pay workers' compensation premiums. In other words they could very easily opt for paying those premiums in their own provincial jurisdiction, and knowing the fact that Nova Scotia, I believe, at that time had one of the highest rates in the country for the cost of doing business, we sought, and with the approval of the Legislature here, the policy change that that be brought down to five working days.

[Page 6365]

In other words we put the Nova Scotia companies and different contractors and the like on an even playing field with the non-Nova Scotia firms. Now, how does that tie in to Bill No. 22? Well, because this particular piece of legislation is now extending in to other provincial jurisdictions, or at least we are moving in harmony with the other provincial jurisdictions to allow us to be able to secure judgement and perhaps mechanic liens against individuals and companies outside of Nova Scotia. I believe that is good, that offers us some additional protection. However, the concern I have is process, process with the workers' compensation system itself and the manner in which the Workers' Compensation Board operates.

Mr. Speaker, unlike an individual or corporation in the private sector, the Workers' Compensation Board can come along and hit an individual or a contractor or a company with judgement without giving them notice. They automatically go to the sheriff's office, through the prothonotary's office and, within 24 hours, they can have a lien established against that individual or corporation, with no opportunity for relief in presenting the argument; in other words you present your argument after the fact. Now maybe that is not a standard policy, but I can attest to the fact that it has been done. I am not sure, in fact, if that works equally so with the federal government. I know under the Revenue Act, the federal government can do that. They don't have to give you notice, they just move in unilaterally and they can do that.

So we have to be careful, Mr. Speaker, that we don't treat Nova Scotia companies and individuals trying to compete with companies and individuals outside of Nova Scotia differently than we would treat them here in the province. If we're going to make this application of policy through legislation or regulation or what have you for Nova Scotia firms, we have to make sure that's equally so for those individuals and corporations in other provincial jurisdictions.

We have to make sure that the provincial legislation outside of Nova Scotia - in other words, for the other nine provinces and territories - that there's no legislation that would prevent us from being able to cross the Nova Scotia boundary into New Brunswick and so on, thereby limiting our ability to protect Nova Scotia's interest. I think that is a genuine concern. I believe that the minister, in introducing the legislation, would be mindful of that. But be mindful of it in ensuring that we have that same compatibility from one provincial jurisdiction to the other. In other words, we're afforded that right through this harmonized process of equal stature I think is extremely important. What it does, it will put a lot of individuals such as the ones that my colleagues for Cape Breton The Lakes and Richmond have referenced to. That is something that I am quite concerned about and that's a major issue. It may not seem like a big issue for those that aren't in the private sector or not self-employed or don't run their own business. But, believe me, it's major because just that one amendment to the Workers' Compensation Act, in my view, generated significant dollars to be able to offset the cost of dealing with the backlog at the Workers' Compensation Board.

[Page 6366]

The tens of millions of dollars that were being lost on that one issue to the Nova Scotia economy was just outstanding. Just that one simple amendment, by putting Nova Scotia firms on an equal playing field. So this particular piece of legislation will have an impact and I hope that application will be equally applied across the board. That is essentially the message I wanted to address on Bill No. 22 and I hope that the minister and/or his staff will be mindful of my comments. Perhaps they won't even have application to the genetics of this particular piece of legislation, but I believe they do and they will have profound impact, particularly when the cost of business in Nova Scotia is high compared to other jurisdictions. That's an issue that - I wouldn't want to see individuals or corporations be disadvantaged by the ability of companies and individuals to come from other jurisdictions and lay a firm legal hand on our interest, but yet we're not able to do the same thing as it relates to the workers' compensation system.

That was the point I wanted to make. Equally so, I guess we could look at other jurisdictions, how it impacts with the Department of Health and so on, but that would be getting a little extraneous. I do hope that the minister will give some attention to this particular matter and hopefully some explanation would be forthcoming at the Law Amendments Committee or at least back in Committee of the Whole House, giving us that quality assurance for individuals and corporations in Nova Scotia. Thank you.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: I hadn't originally intended to speak to this bill, but I want to tell you that I have rarely in my years in this House heard such an invigorating speech as was delivered by the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes. It was eminently researched, it was completely thought out, it was very explanatory of the point he was trying to make. He is a member that has considerable experience in this field. This is a bill to amend the mechanics' Liens Act. I think anybody who takes a look at the honourable member will see that he obviously represents mechanics 'lean'. I don't think he represents mechanics 'fat', but that is another story. But, certainly, with his years of experience in this type of business, he understands where people are coming from and he can explain to you how people who are travelling and don't have a great deal of money can get very disoriented when their car breaks down on the road and the nearest garage that they have to go to might have some extravagant payment scheme that requires money they don't have and they don't know what to do. He can tell you all about it.

I hope that before this bill receives its final wording at third reading that his views are taken into consideration because there is a member who knows what he is talking about. I just wanted to get up and say these things publicly. I had said under my breath that it was a great speech, but I would like to put it on the record that it was indeed a great speech and I think that it should be circulated to all voters in Cape Breton The Lakes so they can get an idea of the kind of representation they are getting here in this House from that member.

[Page 6367]

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I don't intend to wax long on this bill. I think the point has been made that I wanted to make. We have a good member for Cape Breton The Lakes. He represents his constituents very well and expresses the concerns that they face from day to day very eloquently here in this House and he should be congratulated. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Government House Leader it will be to close the debate on Bill No. 22.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes, the honourable member for Richmond, the honourable member for Cape Breton West and the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova for their remarks. I listened and I can assure the honourable members opposite that there is a senior member from the Justice Department in the gallery taking notes and the minister, who is unavoidably absent from the House this afternoon, will be informed of the remarks made. I must say that they were most useful.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would now be pleased to terminate the debate on Bill No. 22 by asking for passage of second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 22. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 23.

Bill No. 23 - Enforcement of Canadian Judgments and Decrees Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Minister of Justice in moving second reading of this bill. This legislation means that enforcing a judgement from another jurisdiction here at home will be easier. This bill, known as the Enforcement of Canadian Judgments and Decrees Act, is part of a national commercial law strategy, a strategy developed by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada and designed to reform and harmonize commercial legislation across this country.

[Page 6368]

Essentially, Mr. Speaker, this legislation allows for the registration of a judgement made in a civil proceeding from another jurisdiction to be registered in the Province of Nova Scotia. Once it is registered, it can be enforced as if it were a judgement of a Nova Scotian court. It streamlines and simplifies the process. This legislation does not require there be a reciprocal enforcement regime in place in order for the judgement to be enforced. That is the case under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act. With this legislation, the courts will no longer have to decide whether the court issuing the judgement has the jurisdiction to do so. Again, this means that parties can save time and can save money.

[4:45 p.m.]

The legislation also allows for the enforcement of non-money judgements, such as orders for injunction or specific performance. Under the current legislative framework, Mr. Speaker, that is not possible. In bringing this legislation forward we are joining with several other provinces which have already enacted similar legislation which is, of course, the objective of uniform law. It is important to note this legislation will not apply to maintenance orders. It will not apply to issues relating to the care of a minor. As well, the bill does not apply to matters of probate, fine payments, or non-monetary orders made by a tribunal. In short, that is the essence of the bill. As we work to harmonize commercial law, we streamline the processes and create a more efficient and effective legislative framework and that is good for all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 23.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, as the Justice Critic for the Official Opposition, I am pleased to stand for a couple of moments and just talk about Bill No. 23, echoing some of the words of the House Leader on behalf of the Minister of Justice with regard to the enforcement of the Canadian Judgments and Decrees Act. When this first came across my desk, when it was first introduced, my first question was don't we already have reciprocal agreements with regard to judgements in Nova Scotia from other provinces. I asked for some clarification on this. My understanding is that this legislation enhances the scheme that we already have in place in this province, that if a judgement is rendered in Ontario, or the Yukon, or British Columbia, or Quebec, that that will be recognized here in Nova Scotia. We already have that, but this enhances it.

The House Leader spoke about some exceptions. I think those are good exceptions. I think also though that this legislation, Mr. Speaker, talks about some of the issues that needed to be enhanced and something that my Party in principle can accept, can agree with, doesn't have a problem with - maybe on some of the specific issues. For example, this now ensures that the courts of Nova Scotia can't look behind the reasoning of a decision, that basically if a decision is made in another province, it must be recognized here unless there

[Page 6369]

are some very extenuating circumstances. That basically leaves us in a position where we must recognize the authority of the Court of British Columbia, or Ontario, or any other province or territory in Canada. That may be a good thing.

On the other hand, Mr. Speaker, that may be something that we're then putting ourselves in a position where we are recognizing judgements from another province that may have a very different perspective on the law than our own Nova Scotia perspective. It is just a question I have at this point and one that I hope that through the Law Amendments Committee process, if there are those who have concerns about that, that they would come forward. I understand that this is harmonizing. I understand that all provinces in Canada are doing it, but the point is that in this Legislature we create legislation for Nova Scotia and I want to make sure it is the best legislation possible. So, in principle, our Party will support this in second reading, but I look forward to comments at the Law Amendments Committee to see if anyone has any concerns.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise as the Justice Critic for the Liberal caucus and say a few words on Bill No. 23, Enforcement of Canadian Judgments and Decrees Act. I appreciate the House Leader indicating to us that the minister could not be here today. It is unfortunate because I was hoping he would because when I heard the Premier announce just a few weeks ago that he was appointing him the minister for terrorism, I was curious as to whether his role was to protect Nova Scotians or protect the Tory caucus. So I wasn't quite sure what his exact role was going to be on that.

Mr. Speaker, like Bill No. 22, this second bill will also help business do business in this province. Under the existing legislation, the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act, businesses have to engage in costly and, more often than not, complete unnecessary court applications in order to have simple money judgements enforced in this province. This merely drags out the process of collecting on judgements and dramatically increases the costs related to collection and sometimes it would result in Nova Scotian courts, in effect, rehearing the original issues all over again. Under the existing legislation our courts have a supervisory role and could inquire into whether the original court had jurisdiction to make the judgement in the first place. A court in Nova Scotia might also inquire into the merits of the original issue and thereby reopen the entire issue once again, starting the whole procedure from square one. In effect, this was a redoubling of the cost of collection on a simple judgement. In many cases it made pursuing judgements so unprofitable that it simply wasn't worth pursuing.

Mr. Speaker, this procedure under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act is appropriate when our courts are dealing with judgements from foreign jurisdictions outside of Canada and that's why that Act will continue to operate. In those instances an in-depth look at issues such as jurisdiction, the process of acquiring the judgement and sometimes

[Page 6370]

even the merits of the issue may be the appropriate steps to take. However, after years and years of Confederation, we have reason to have faith in the superior courts of other provinces and territories. A simplified process of simply registering and then enforcing a Canadian judgement is far preferable to re-litigating these issues again in another court. If there is an issue relating to the correction of a flaw, then that is a matter to be dealt with where the original decision was made.

Now an important development in this bill is the inclusion of non-monetary judgements such as injunctions. This measure will not only be helpful to business, but it may also assist Nova Scotians who find themselves in difficult situations characterized by harassment and the potential for violence.

It should be encouraging for many people living in our province to know that protection orders would fall under this bill. In these matters enforcement is not so much an issue of invoking the help of a local court as it is in getting local law authorities to respond to a request for assistance. When police are called in to intervene in a situation of domestic harassment or violence, the response may turn on whether a valid protection order exists. If police are satisfied, they may be more prepared to intervene in potentially volatile situations. If police are forced to rely solely on Criminal Code provisions they may be reluctant to intervene except in cases where the potential violence or breach of the peace is clear-cut.

Under this new bill a protection order can be enforced by law enforcement officials even if it has not been registered in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, hopefully this will be a very positive step in tackling the ongoing crisis of domestic abuse in this country, and that certainly is something that the Liberal caucus strongly supports. This bill also provides needed protection for law enforcement officials, from civil liability, who act in good faith while enforcing purported protection orders.

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, certainly our caucus, in principle, is in support of Bill No. 23 at the second reading stage. We look forward to the presentations at the Law Amendments Committee when Nova Scotians have the opportunity to provide additional comments on this bill, and certainly I would hope that if there are any very positive changes that are suggested in that, that the government will be open to making any necessary amendments to make sure that Bill No. 23 is the best possible piece of legislation we can put through to address this very important issue. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Government House Leader it will be to close debate on Bill No. 23.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 6371]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, again I would like to thank the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage and the member for Richmond for their comments on Bill No. 23. These bills that are coming forward to - as I would say in non-legal terms - standardize laws and processes across this country are, I think, steps in the right direction. So I appreciate the remarks and, as I said before, there is a senior member from the Department of Justice in the gallery who has been taking notes and, indeed, the remarks will be passed on to the Minister of Justice.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I would move second reading of Bill No. 23.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 23. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am going to ask the permission of the House to revert to the order of business, Statements by Ministers, and I am also going to ask if we can recess the House for approximately five minutes, if that would be acceptable.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We will recess until 5:00 p.m.

[4:54 p.m. The House recessed.]

[5:01 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, prior to the recess I asked for unanimous consent to revert to the order of business, Statements by Ministers, and I would now ask for approval of that motion.

[Page 6372]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[The motion is carried.]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to rise in this House and announce that the Nova Scotia Government is becoming even more vigilant in our battle to combat smoking. Effective Friday, November 2nd at 12:01 a.m., the Nova Scotia Government, together with the federal government will raise tobacco prices by $4.00 a carton. The provincial portion of the tax increase is $2.50 while the federal portion is being raised by $1.50. Ministers of Finance in the Provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ontario are making similar announcements today.

I first raised the issue of higher tobacco taxes with other provincial and territorial Ministers of Finance at a meeting in Vancouver just three weeks ago. Just last Sunday, we met again, this time in Ottawa with the federal Finance Minister, Paul Martin. I pointed out the damage caused by smoking-related illnesses and the enormous cost to our health care system. I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that my colleagues listened and the provinces affected quickly came to a consensus and indicated their willingness to pursue a higher tax on tobacco.

Mr. Speaker, this initiative could only work with the full co-operation of the provinces and the federal government, and I am pleased that we achieved that goal. I would also like to thank my fellow Finance Ministers across the nation. Studies have proven that price is the most effective deterrent, especially for young people, to prevent smoking.

At 30 per cent, Nova Scotia has the highest smoking rate in the country. Nova Scotia's youth smoking rate is also high; 25 per cent of youth aged 15 to 19 currently smoke. That is unacceptable. This figure is already way too high and should not be allowed to climb any higher. Our biggest fight is against the diseases caused by smoking. The Department of Health is now better armed to take on this fight, with their tobacco strategy in place.

Mr. Speaker, the health of Nova Scotians, young and old, is paramount. I hope the honourable members of this House will join in applauding this move on behalf of present and, I sincerely hope, future generations of Nova Scotians. Thank you very much for the indulgence of the House to make this statement at this time. That concludes my comments. (Applause)

[Page 6373]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Official Opposition I am pleased to rise to support this particular increase in the tobacco tax. We have to keep in mind that the tobacco tax is really unique and that it is really much more about health than it is about taxation. As this Minister of Finance recognized in a previous budget, tobacco taxes are about health. What the minister said about it being the single most effective and most cost-effective way of cutting down smoking rates, particularly among the young, is true and we have to bear that in mind at all times. We support this tax increase.

However, this is an opportunity for the government to be more forthcoming than it is with the information it has. It should be in a position to state exactly how much extra revenue is going to be coming into the Treasury as a result of this tax increase. It seems to me that the minister should be telling the public exactly how much extra revenue is needed because that revenue should be devoted to taking care of the health-related issues, about putting money on the table today. Not next April, but putting money on the table today to help smoking cessation programs and smoking prevention programs.

This minister, among others, has always said that the biggest obstacle to increasing tobacco taxes even further is the problem of smuggling. At least some of this additional revenue needs to go to enforcement. Let's put to rest once and for all this smuggling issue, which the government has said before is what is preventing them from putting the taxes up.

The final point I would like to make is that the minister has a problem in his department. We all woke up this morning to read in the local Halifax newspaper that the minister was going to make this announcement today. I think the minister is well aware of the problems that are caused when proposed tax increases are announced in advance. I hope that minister is going to investigate and find out who leaked this information because we all know that when this kind of tax increase is released in advance, wholesalers and retailers and consumers have ways of arranging their affairs to evade the tax. This is a big problem, Mr. Minister, and I hope you are going to deal with it.

With those reservations and suggestions and helpful advice, I would like to congratulate the government and the minister for making this move today. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: On behalf of our caucus, I too compliment the fact that the minister has come forward with the increase in tobacco tax as a deterrent for people to stop or start smoking or for those who are smoking to find reasons why they should quit.

[Page 6374]

I do say that the minister was not very clear, specifically, about where the dollars are going to go. Is it going into general revenue or, in fact, is it going to go to programs specifically for smoking cessation? The minister talks very well about the number of youths that are smoking in the Province of Nova Scotia. Where in his statement did the minister indicate or direct what percentage of those dollars that will be coming now in taxation will go specifically for youth programs? Or for programs for those that are addicted to tobacco smoking today?

We take in about $100 million in revenue from tobacco. We spend about $170 million in health-related problems because of tobacco smoking. Here clearly, there is a reason why we need to support that initiative. What I would like to see is this government be more specific about giving the armament to the Minister of Health to be able to do something specifically.

The program that's there now has approximately $2 million in the budget for cessation of smoking, rehabilitation programs, education and things of that nature. There is about $2 million that is committed and the tax alone last year on the $4.00 increase represented about $20 million in revenue to the Province of Nova Scotia. This new tax will be an additional revenue stream to the province. It's a matter simply of multiplication.

As the minister said in his statement, the Department of Health is now better armed to take on the fight with a tobacco strategy in place. I want to say the tobacco strategy now should have additional dollars to do the job it should be able to do in order to help people who are smoking.

I say, also with interest, it appears that the minister is somewhat "born again" to the issue of increasing the taxation level on tobacco. It was not that long ago that the minister said to this House that he only wanted to increase $4.00, while the Minister of Health was saying we need to have $8.00 on a carton of tobacco because that will be a real deterrent against smoking. So either this minister now has become born again to trusting and believing the Minister of Health or he's maybe just trying to get on the right side of the Premier. I don't know. Clearly he understands now that he needed to do this six months ago and if he had done it six months ago, maybe we would have had a better program for the Minister of Health to work with.

I want to say also that the minister talked about smuggling. I think the minister at the time indicated that the reason he was scared and nervous about increasing the taxation to $8.00 was that this will be helping smuggling and tobacco in Nova Scotia. Then, of course, we all remember the debate about lowering smuggling fees for minor access to tobacco. At the same time he said, this might increase tobacco smuggling. Well the Minister of Health, I understand, commissioned a study that showed clearly that increasing tobacco prices will not increase smuggling. I believe that the minister had that study prepared so that he could use it as an argument with the Minister of Finance.

[Page 6375]

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, but he couldn't release it for a year.

MR. DOWNE: But he couldn't release that study for year. Anyway, we will find out more about it. I want to say, in closing, Mr. Speaker, I support the minister. I notice that he said that he led the charge in Ottawa and convinced all the other provinces, including Paul Martin, to do this, but we will find out more about that later as we talk to Mr. Martin. I compliment the government for going ahead with this initiative and I only hope that those dollars go into the program of health, where it belongs. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the Government Business for today. On the morrow, the House will go into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills and we will be debating Bill No. 7 - Lobbyists' Registration Act. The House will sit at the hour of 9:00 a.m and we will rise at 12:30 or sooner, tomorrow, and adjourn for the weekend. So, without further ado, I move the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for the House to adjourn.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[The motion is carried.]

We will now revert to the moment of adjournment. The motion before the House is:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government provide residents living near the tar ponds and coke ovens with full information about test results and options about whether to be relocated."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - TAR PONDS/COKE OVENS RESIDENTS:

INFO - PROVIDE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for Halifax Fairview for bringing this issue forward. I would like to take my time allotted tonight to speak on what I find some very concerning and constructive matters about what is going on

[Page 6376]

to the people who live in and around the tar ponds and the north end of Sydney and those people who live in Whitney Pier and an area commonly referred to as north of the coke ovens.

Mr. Speaker, in my speech tonight I am not going to attack one level of government, be it federal or provincial. I think what I want to get on the record tonight is a perspective of mine of why I believe that we are where we at with this problem. One of them is trust. It is hard, you know, we have people who I think are best described as ordinary Nova Scotians who want to, like the rest of us, live in a nice clean neighborhood, get a job, support our children, have our children go to school, have our children be healthy and so on.

What is happening in these neighborhoods is there is a level of fear rising there that is certainly someway founded and someway, I would have to say, unfounded; but therein lies the problem. How do we separate those two out? Do we just take the latest report and say, okay, that's it? Do we take, we will say, what people want to call the made-in-Sydney guidelines for arsenic, which I think is somewhat of a misnomer and I understand where governments want to go with this? Nothing can be accomplished if governments at all levels are not going to be open and candid with those residents. What we have is, whether it's myself as a politician or other political stripes, going in those neighbourhoods and telling people what we feel is right.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I've tried in many of my visits to, whether it is the Intercolonial Street area over on the tar ponds side or those in Hankard Street or those over on Vulcan Avenue and some areas north of the coke ovens, come in and listen to them. I will make a real admission today, I am not a professional, I do not know what's going on within the grounds in and around the old coke ovens site, in around the tar ponds, but what I do know is that when I talk to these people, because I don't go in and tell them, okay, here is what we're going to do, I want to know what they are facing and what we can hopefully do for them. When we sit down there is a mistrust, whether you're an Opposition politician, whether you're a government politician, whether you're a provincial politician, whether you're a municipal politician or whether you're a federal politician. There is a mistrust.

All these people want are straight answers. I will give you, by way of example of a frustrating mistrust, if you will, the federal government was going in and doing studies for the people in and around north of the coke ovens and doing what we would call intrusive testing. These results, everyone was led to believe by newspaper advertisements, would be made available by the end of August. Well, they weren't, they still are not. All of a sudden the government starts backing off and saying, oh no, we never meant this to be the deadline.

[Page 6377]

Mr. Speaker, reasonable people, thinking in a reasonable way, certainly understood those ads to say this testing is going to be finished, completed, compiled, ready for public consumption on this date. Yet, the government then backs off from it. Is the government lying? No, I don't think so. What they failed to do was be perfectly candid with the people in the area they were testing. It goes back to my idea of trust. What these people want, does everybody that lives in the area, north of the coke ovens want to be moved, does everybody want x amount of money for their homes? I don't know. Probably not.

What they want is some kind of leadership from levels of government to say this is what we're going to do. They want to see the results of testing, to see where they're at, to see if it's safe, to see if governments will give them the option of relocation, to see if governments will come in and say, look, there are some contaminants on your site, we're willing to remediate the area, we're willing to relocate you for a certain amount of time until we remediate the site, then move you back in. These are things that I think reasonable people expect from a reasonable government.

Mr. Speaker, governments at all levels and all levels of politicians have let these people down. These people have gone through not only what one could describe as somewhat of an environmental disaster but they've also gone through an economic disaster, because these people who live in that area were primarily or predominantly employed at Sydney Steel or a faction of Sydney Steel, whether it was the old coke ovens site or not. These are people wanting to get by. These are people who want and desire the same things the rest of Nova Scotia wants and desires.

The reason I am glad to see this resolution here today is to impress upon the government that is today sitting there and has the ability to move this faster and it has the ability, if there is another level of government impeding that progress, if there is another level of government impeding the process they can get involved and get that level to move

themselves along.

Mr. Speaker, I think what we want here is we don't want something irreconcilable to happen to people's health in that area. What we want, and I think when I talk to the residents that go there as to what they want, is straight talk. We all, and I'm as guilty as anybody else, throw numbers around, but what we want is a comprehensive idea of what's going on so that we can earn of the trust of those people who live in those areas, that they're treated like ordinary Nova Scotians, that we can do the best for them. Whether it is the municipal government going to do that for them, whether it is in concert with this provincial government, in concert with the federal government, we have got to stop. There has got to be a day when a level of government takes the proverbial bull by the horns and says enough is enough, that this is it, we're going in there and we're going to get the trust of these people.

[Page 6378]

That doesn't mean buying these people off. You know, I don't think it means throwing millions of dollars at the problem, but sitting down as reasonable people with reasonable people, Mr. Speaker, and finding out what we can do to rectify the situation. We all know there's a problem. Obviously, we don't know the depth or the width of that problem, but I think it is high time that it's done and it's done, I would suspect, in a concise manner that will bring back the trust of those residents in those affected areas, their trust in all levels of government, all politicians and the people who are supposed to look after the well-being of those people. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the honourable member for Cape Breton North. I would just like to say a few words on the issue brought forward by the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre. Certainly as everybody in this House is aware, it has been a long-standing process to resolve the issue that is probably of paramount concern to the citizens of Sydney.

Mr. Speaker, I suppose if we were starting off today, we would start off differently from what was started off in the mid-1990's. In other words, I think everybody had good intentions when we set up the JAG process, the Joint Action Group. It was set up in such a way that everybody, and I mean everybody, had the opportunity for input into the process, but unfortunately, like most things, you can't run something by committee when the committee holds about 50 or 60 people around the table and everybody wants to say something and everybody has perhaps a slightly different approach to resolving the problem. Unfortunately, not only do you have those 50 or 60 people around the table, they are representing another 50 or 60 people within their own suborganizations.

So, Mr. Speaker, they had a tremendous job and, quite truthfully, as I say, if we were starting afresh, I think that perhaps we would have started off with a different type of organization. I know that the first target of the JAG Group was to, within a period of three years, come forward with a process, not a cleanup, but a process to clean up the tar ponds and the coke oven site. I think that that three years expires in January 2002. It is very close anyway. It is not all that far ahead and in point of fact, when you look at where we are right now, we haven't got to that process yet, but we are certainly well on the way to getting that process because, as I think all members of the House are aware, there have been a number of proponents who have come forward with various processes to clean up the mess that we have in the tar ponds. We're at the stage now where we have sent out samples from the tar pond site to these various proponents so that they can use their processes to determine, first of all, if they're going to work and, secondly, to make recommendations to JAG which will then at that time decide on what process will be used for the cleanup.

[Page 6379]

I think, basically, that that is not a bad idea and I don't think we are too far behind the eight ball insofar as timelines are concerned. The biggest timeline we have missed on, Mr. Speaker, is the one that we have given to the people who live in that area, and we have said, at the end of August we will have a report for you which will tell you good people whether or not you have a chronic health risk by remaining in this area. Then it was postponed until some time I think in September and then October and November and December, and probably it will be the end of December before that word finally gets to the people.

Mr. Speaker, I don't apologize for that because we have to have good science and we have to make sure that what we are doing is right. I think in many respects we are being unfair to the people who live in that area by giving them a date and then not making that decision point within the timeline that we have given to the people.

Mr. Speaker, there are things going on right now, as I am sure all the members for Cape Breton are aware. We are working on the, I was going to say the dump, but I shouldn't call it the dump, we call it a landfill today, and this landfill has had problems. It has leached and we are going to look after that and we are working on that, and that is a step along the right direction. It is not doing very much for the tar ponds and not doing very much for the coke ovens but, nevertheless, it is part of the problem. We are also working on the sewer intercept system and that is proceeding according to plan.

Mr. Speaker, I am convinced that this problem is going to be resolved and I am convinced that within a period of six months we are going to be radically ahead of where we are today. Now I know that doesn't bring comfort to the people who expected to have answers back in August, but I believe that when we do have the answers for the people with regard to the chronic health risk, as to the need for relocation, whether it be temporary or permanent, I think that if we can come out with those concrete answers to the people and put it in layman's terms so that people can understand it - there is no use having a tox, I can't even say the word myself . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Toxicologist.

MR. RUSSELL: . . . yes, indeed, giving a report in terms that people cannot understand. What they want to know is are my kids and myself are we safe from the various contaminants that are within that area.

Mr. Speaker, I am convinced that those answers will be forthcoming and I can also assure the honourable members, as the minister partially responsible, anyway, for the processes that are going to cleanup that area, that we will move. Thank you.

[Page 6380]

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

MR. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. I must just make a note before going to my brief comments, this is the first time since I was elected that I have been able to be in the House with the member for Cape Breton Nova and I look forward to the days and months ahead. I do want thank my colleague for (Interruption) We will see each other in the New Waterford Community Press, I am sure. I want to thank, as well, the member for Cape Breton Centre for the way and manner in which he addressed his comments today. I think what it does illustrate, anyone who is from Cape Breton truly has an understanding that there is a community impact at the heart of this issue, and it is a true human impact.

If I could just go briefly back to my history in this process. I grew up on the Northside. Living on the north side of Sydney Harbour, growing up in our town we looked across at the orange streak and that was the steel plant. That is where my uncle worked and that is all we basically knew of the steel plant, that hue that went all the way down past New Waterford off Glace Bay and into the ocean. On my side of the harbour, in the heart of my community, there were two fish plants. Those fish plants didn't survive the economic conditions of the time and, subsequently, Sysco hasn't survived the economic conditions. But there is a big difference of what happened to the impacts on the community; financially and economically we try to move ahead. The different impact in my community is we had a renewable resource. The impact of that resource was taken care of by normal environmental processes. With the issue of the tar ponds, 100 years of steelmaking, that was a non-renewable resource, and the impact is very evident today on the environment of that area. We struggle to deal with that in a constructive manner.

[5:30 p.m.]

When I came to this House, I was met, at one point, when there were advocates with a concern who said, what are you doing about it and what are you prepared to bring to your government? I said, I am prepared to bring myself as an informed member of this government, but also a concerned Cape Bretoner who is concerned about the outcomes. I set out to do that, working with people in the community, working with my colleagues and with the honourable Ministers of Transportation and Public Works and Health, to meet with the people in the community and get the facts straight and make sure that we see due process considered.

As everyone has already said, the time line is to no one's satisfaction. We all want a positive resolve to this. What I do know is that in response to the actual motion itself there are two points I want to bring forward. The first point is full information on the test results. I don't think anybody has said that they do not want to see that brought to fruition and brought to the public table for everyone's knowledge. At the same time, we have to have the full consideration of the science behind this.

[Page 6381]

We understand the emotion behind this issue, we understand the community fears behind this issue, we understand the pressing need to move this issue forward, but we also understand it's essential to know the science. It is essential to know the full details necessary to make decisions that benefit the whole community, and not just a short-term solution. We are committed. If the process moves slower than we all desire, we are committed to a solution that is the long-term solution. There isn't a quick fix. We need to know the full details of what happened.

Just quickly in my last few minutes, I remember stories from my uncle . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Your time has expired. Thank you very much.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to make a number of observations on this particular resolution:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government provide residents living within the tar ponds and coke ovens with full information about the test results and options about whether to be relocated."

It's an excellent resolution. I think it's a very timely resolution, but I must say, equally, I am disappointed. I am disappointed with the minister's comments, and I am disappointed with the comments from the member for Cape Breton North. Obviously he has kind of simmered down a bit since his last dissertation on this particular issue, where he was going to conquer the world. He had met with all the residents from down in that area.

The Minister of Transportation and Public Works says, well, he doesn't know exactly what the word is to describe this situation and so on. It's quite simple, the area is contaminated. It's as simple as that. The test results that have come back consistently show contamination levels in a number of individuals higher than the acceptable level. It's as simple as that.

Mr. Speaker, I spoke with a resident from Whitney Pier less than a week ago, and he advised me that officials from Public Works and the federal representatives came along and asked for permission, in fact they didn't ask for permission, they wanted this individual to put a fence around his property and post it as being a contaminated site. Can you imagine? If it was that important for them to come and identify his property as being contaminated, surely to heavens they must know there is a serious health problem. They wanted him to post a sign on this fence that would be erected around his property in the Pier that it was a contaminated site, stay away. What they didn't tell this individual is liability. Had he agreed to put that fence up, had he agreed to put that sign up, he would be liable for the health and well-being of everyone who crossed that property or came in contact with that site.

[Page 6382]

Mr. Speaker, that's what the federal and provincial governments are failing to tell the people. Never mind the foot-dragging, never mind playing mind games with people. There have been enough studies to conclusively state that these residents are at risk. Never mind the double-talk, never mind about the landfill and the flow-down. We know that water flows downhill. We know that there's a rather contaminated site and all the residual from that extensive landfill, but you know it is going to come back to haunt them and I will tell you why. If all those residents - and here's what I would recommend to these residents, every one of them appeal their assessment, and there is a process that will clearly and legally define the value of their property at $1.00 at best, $1.00. And I'm being generous based on the information that has been provided by various government levels.

The real estate agents are saying you're not going to get any money. Real estate agents are now prepared to state that that property cannot be valued at any more than $1.00. They've told me that and I know how that process works, Mr. Speaker. I did sell real estate at one time and if they were to go and get a licensed real estate appraiser and document that, list let's say, for example, randomly across the community 20 or 30 or 50 homes, and after a six month or a one year period, a six month period, test the market. That's the benchmark they use at the Assessment Appeal Boards: have you tested the market and have you got an expert that will say this is what the property is worth?

If they appeal all those assessments, they get that documentation, the market is tested, people now have properties listed and people can't even list properties because real estate agents are saying no. Who loses? The municipality loses all that tax money and what happens? They have to go to the province because they have to get more transfer dollars because the municipality can't do it. Then the province says, oh, well, that's more pressure on our budget so we have to go to the federal government for more transfers. So the buck-passing continues. That's the reality. If those residents want to bring this to a halt in a hurry, pinch them where it hurts the most, the pocketbook. So all the colorful language, all the eloquent speeches about history and about the yellow smoke billowing of 20 years past, they don't give a hoot about that, Mr. Speaker. They don't care. They want to know what the government is going to do now. They want to know that their children and their children's children are not going to be sick or die because they're living in a contaminated site and nothing is being done.

When the government, when they were in Opposition here, members of that group across, they said it doesn't matter about the evidence, there's a genuine fear, relocate. The Leader of the Third Party, who is now the Premier, said relocate, we don't care what the evidence says, relocate. (Interruption) Well, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is saying not so, not so. Read Hansard. Read the speeches and the comments he made to the media. He wasn't interested in facts. Is the Minister of Transportation and Public Works now saying he only said that to get votes? Is that what he's saying? It wasn't about the health and the well-being of the residents? There's enough evidence to

[Page 6383]

conclusively state that those residents should be moved. It is a matter of health. It is a matter of safety.

The basic human laws of dignity would compel any government with a heart to have the compassion to move those people to a safe environment, Mr. Speaker, but that's not what's being done. They think it's a hockey game where they're going to rag the puck. The residents in the Pier and Intercolonial Street and down the upper reaches of Sydney don't care whether it's a Liberal Government, a Tory Government, they don't care if it's a Mongolian monk, they don't care who is in charge. They want results and they want them now and there's enough evidence; for bureaucrats, for the politicians, (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, it doesn't matter who is in charge. For any government to abdicate its responsibility and pass it off onto faceless bureaucrats who are not really accountable in the true sense of the word to the general public - because if they were, that evidence, those reports would have been tabled long ago. Instead of trying to find other ways to raise the bar as to what a contaminated level is acceptable for certain elements in one system, whether it be cadmium or lead or what have you, the bar that they've put in for what's acceptable is so high it would be safer to live next to a nuclear power plant that has a leak. It would be safer to live there than it is to live in Whitney Pier. It must be when the federal government employees are coming around fully clothed as though they were going on a space mission. There's not one part of their body exposed and yet they're saying it's okay for the children to play in the dirt - just don't put it in your mouth. Be careful.

Come on, give us a break. What kind of intelligent logic is that? It's not, that's the point. Why are they coming around like space cadets all dressed up in these airtight suits and saying we don't want to be exposed but it's okay for you? Why treat them like they're not even citizens; like they're not even people? This is not some kind of an experiment for the X-Files. Give us a break. These are genuine people, the same as us, and that's our job here to represent and protect them. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Time has expired for the late debate. I would like to thank the honourable members for taking part in this debate this evening.

We are adjourned until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 5:42 p.m.]