The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 01/02-98

















HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY



DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS



Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott



Published by Order of the Legislature by Hansard Reporting Services and printed by the Queen's Printer.



Available on INTERNET at http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/



Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.





Second Session



FRIDAY, MAY 3, 2002





TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Nova Scotia Teachers College Foundation,
Hon. J. Purves 9474
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3651, Battle of the Atl. - Canadians: Participation - Acknowledge,
Hon. R. Russell 9474
Vote - Affirmative 9475
Res. 3652, SMU - Honorary Degrees: Recipients - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Purves 9475
Vote - Affirmative 9476
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3653, Freedom of the Press/Expression: Belief - Affirm,
Mr. D. Dexter 9476
Vote - Affirmative 9476
Res. 3654, UCCB - Honorary Degrees: Recipients - Congrats.,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 9477
Vote - Affirmative 9477
Res. 3655, McNeil, Dugger - N.S. Hall of Fame Dinner/Fundraiser:
Organizers - Congrats., Ms. M. McGrath 9477
Vote - Affirmative 9478
Res. 3656, Elizabeth Fry Soc. - "Rebels With A Cause" Event:
Honourees - Congrats., (by Mr. K. Deveaux),
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9478
Vote - Affirmative 9479
Res. 3657, Nat'l. Mental Health Wk. (05/06-12/02) - Recognize,
Dr. J. Smith 9479
Vote - Affirmative 9480
Res. 3658, Bowser, Ellen - Arthritis Soc.: Fundraising - Congrats.,
(by Mr. F. Corbett), Mr. W. Estabrooks 9480
Vote - Affirmative 9481
Res. 3659, Nat. Res.: Nat. Forest Wk. (05/05-11/02) - Recognize,
Mr. K. MacAskill 9481
Vote - Affirmative 9481
Res. 3660, Hants Reg. Dev. Auth. - Web Site: Creation - Congrats.,
Mr. J. MacDonell 9481
Vote - Affirmative 9482
Res. 3661, Tobin, Jim - Sydney Mines Museum Proj.: Work -
Recognize, Mr. R. MacKinnon 9482
Vote - Affirmative 9483
Res. 3662, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Comm. Vehicle Reg.: Increases -
Gov't. (N.S.) Responsibility, Mr. M. Samson 9483
Res. 3663, Ins. (Auto) - Increases: Select Comm. - Establish,
Mr. B. Boudreau 9483
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 118, Municipality of Inverness Supplementary Pension
Contribution Act 9485
Hon. R. Russell 9485
Mr. J. Holm 9485
Vote - Affirmative 9485
No. 120, Anglican Church Act 9486
Ms. M. McGrath 9486
Mr. J. Holm 9486
Vote - Affirmative 9486
No. 121, An Act to Incorporate The Mic-Mac Amateur Aquatic Club 9486
Mr. T. Olive 9486
Dr. J. Smith 9486
Mr. D. Dexter 9487
Mr. T. Olive 9488
Vote - Affirmative 9488
No. 123, Halifax Regional Municipality Harbour Solutions Financing Act 9488
Hon. J. Purves 9488
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9488
Mr. B. Boudreau 9489
Mr. R. MacKinnon 9490
Hon. J. Purves 9494
Vote - Affirmative 9495
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 109, Financial Measures (2002) Act 9495
Mr. B. Boudreau [debate resumed] 9495
Mr. D. Dexter 9497
Mr. Manning MacDonald 9504
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9507
Mr. P. MacEwan 9510
Mr. Robert Chisholm 9511
Mr. J. MacDonell 9516
Mr. M. Samson 9520
Mr. J. Holm 9520
Vote - Affirmative 9522
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., May 6th at 2:00 p.m. 9523
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3664, Arts Council - Liberal Caucus: Support - Failure Regret,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 9524
Res. 3665, Conrad, Annette/Big Bike Award Winners: Achievement -
Recognize, Mr. D. Downe 9524
Res. 3666, Eagle, Greg: Nat'l. Summer Games (2002) - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Downe 9525

[Page 9473]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, MAY 3, 2002

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Jerry Pye, Mr. David Wilson

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Just before we begin the daily routine, I just want to mention to the honourable members that we have two more of our Pages, who are here this morning, who will be leaving us today and Monday. At the door is Nancy Ferguson. Nancy is leaving today, it's her last day, and Nick Dauphinee who is leaving on Monday. So we would like to thank both of them for their service to the House and wish them all the best in their career and their future endeavours. Thank you very much. (Standing Ovation)

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I'm rising, just very briefly, on a point of order. You don't often have the opportunity, when the Premier compliments members of the Opposition by saying that the questions are reasonable. Well, on Wednesday, I asked the Premier if he would provide the details, in fact to provide the contract, for Roland Martin of Martillac Consulting with regard to the Intergovernmental Affairs. I know that the Premier will be absent next week and I'm sure that his very busy schedule has meant that he hasn't had the opportunity to provide that information yet but I'm asking, Mr. Speaker, that you request that he, along with the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate, provide that information to this House today the documents for the alternate procurement reports since the contracts were not tendered and those reports have to be completed and those have all been asked for and yet to be received.

9473

[Page 9474]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Obviously that is not a point of order but it is certainly a point, I'm sure, well taken by the House.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the first Annual Report of the Nova Scotia Teachers College Foundation.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

RESOLUTION NO. 3651

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

Whereas from the outset of the Second World War, ocean supply routes were threatened by U-boats and when Britain's lifelines to Europe were severed, bridging the Atlantic was key to strategic supplies; and

Whereas maintaining that lifeline fell to the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Merchant Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force who fought throughout the war's darkest days and until its final end for control of the Atlantic sea lanes; and

Whereas the Atlantic formed a grim battleground of enemy attack, exposure and winter gales, but with incredible bravery, and loss of thousands of Canadian lives, the Battle of the Atlantic was finally won;

[Page 9475]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge with pride Canada's part in winning the Battle of the Atlantic and pay due respect to the thousands of Canadians lost so that their sacrifice is never forgotten.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3652

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

Whereas Saint Mary's University will confer six honorary degrees at its convocation this month; and

Whereas Nova Scotian recipients include musician Terry Kelly, former Premier Dr. John Savage and real estate businessman Simon Spatz; and

Whereas Pennsylvania lawyer and Saint Mary's alumnus James Oliver, Canadian author and critic Dr. Phyllis Grosskurth and U.S. scholar Rev. Dr. William Byron will also receive honorary degrees;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate these accomplished individuals on their achievements.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 9476]

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 3653

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

Whereas since the United Nations first proclaimed May 3rd as World Press Freedom Day, this day serves to remind all nations of the value and importance of freedom of expression as a basic human right; and

Whereas the selection of Zimbabwean editor Geoffrey Nyarota, as the winner of this year's World Press Freedom Prize reminds us of the high price paid for freedom of the press and freedom of expression; and

Whereas to mark Press Freedom Day 2002, Czech President Vaclav Havel has said "I do understand that certain politicians get upset because the press gets to know everything, . . . it cannot and should not be different. I believe that freedom should always be given the priority.";

Therefore be it resolved that on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, in a year when war and terror pose new threats to a free press, this House affirms its belief in a freedom of the press and freedom of expression for all citizens of the world.

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 9477]

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3654

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 University College of Cape Breton will confer five honorary degrees during convocation ceremonies on May 11th; and

Whereas the degrees will be conferred by UCCB Chancellor John T. McLennan at the Canada Games Complex on the UCCB campus; and

Whereas honorary degree recipient Ron Joyce, the senior chairman and co-founder of Tim Hortons, will deliver the convocation address, and other honorary degrees will go to Johnny Miles, Lieutenant General Romeo A. Dallaire, Arthur A. DeFehr, Tom Kent and Matt Minglewood;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate all UCCB honorary degree recipients and all those students who will graduate from UCCB on May 11th.

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 Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 3655

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

Whereas last night, some 900 individuals gathered at the World Trade and Convention Centre to honour the achievements of Dugger McNeil; and

[Page 9478]

Whereas a Halifax businessman and former Progressive Conservative MLA for Halifax West, this hockey legend played for Saint Mary's University and the Montreal Royals, was a player and coach for the Halifax Atlantics and became the first chairman of the board of the World Trade and Convention Centre; and

Whereas this Nova Scotia Hall of Fame Dinner not only honoured this hockey great, but also raised funds to support the Pugwash Regional Blind Camp for Kids;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud those who supported this worthwhile fundraiser and its organizers, and thank Dugger McNeil for his tremendous and varied positive contributions to the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the members of the House to some visitors in the east gallery. They are members of the Halifax Shopping Centre Teen Advisory Board, and they are here with Sherry Kelsey from the Halifax Shopping Centre. Their names are Laura Pickeron, Libby Moss, Kim Hirtle, Dave Brown, Jason Thomas-Hopper and Jessica Christian. Could they stand and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery today and hope you enjoy the proceedings.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 3656

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague, the honourable member for Halifax Needham, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 9479]

Whereas the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia is a non-profit organization established in 1982 to work with women in conflict with the law or those at risk of coming into conflict with the law; and

Whereas on Friday, May 3rd, the Elizabeth Fry Society will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary and holding its 4th annual Rebels With a Cause event to honour five outstanding women who have championed issues of human rights and social equality; and

Whereas the worthy recipients of this year's awards are community activist Doreen Paris, Counsellor and Drug Dependency Community Activist Edith Short, Youth Advocate Sister Mary Ellen Boyce, Childcare and Early Childhood Education Advocate Sue Wolstenholme, and Healthy Families and Child Poverty Advocate Joan Mendes;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend 20th Anniversary greetings to the Elizabeth Fry Society and to this year's Rebels With a Cause - Doreen Paris, Edith Short, Sister May Ellen Boyce, Sue Wolstenholme and Joan Mendes - as they are honoured tonight for their advocacy work on behalf of women, children and families in our community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3657

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

Whereas it's estimated that 1 in 5 Canadians will be affected by a mental illness at some time in their lives; and

Whereas there is no single cause of mental illness; and

[Page 9480]

Whereas education and communication play a vital role in increasing awareness about all aspects of mental health;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature recognize May 6th to May 12th as National Mental Health Week and take a leadership role on matters of social policy that impact mental health issues in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 3658

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Shad Bay resident Ellen Bowser and the Joints in Motion team that she ran with have raised over $260,000 for the Arthritis Society during a Florida marathon; and

Whereas over 18,500 runners participated, with Canadian runners raising $1,098,000; and

Whereas Ellen's perseverance and dedication serve as an example;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate and thank Ellen Bowser for her fundraising run for the Arthritis Society.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 9481]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 3659

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

Whereas May 5th to May 11th has been designated National Forest Week; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's forests play a vital role in the economic, environmental and physical well-being of all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas forestry contributes about $1.4 billion to this province's economy, providing 12,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs for Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize next week as National Forest Week and realize the importance of preserving our forests.

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. 3660

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

[Page 9482]

Whereas the good people of Hants County now have access to the latest information technology without having to travel many miles to Halifax; and

Whereas the Hants Regional Development Authority has allowed Hants County to achieve the electronic milestone of creating its own Web site; and

Whereas this Web site profiles local businesses, historical and cultural events, contains a directory of health services and provides an opportunity for residents to contribute to the development and implementation of a new strategic plan for the area;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend it's congratulations to the Hants Regional Development Authority and all the grassroots people, community groups and the various funding agencies involved with it for working together to produce its own Web site.

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. 3661

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 Sydney Mines Community Heritage Society has housed a fossil museum in the Old Train Station to honour their local industry of coal mining; and

Whereas at one time there were over 5,000 coal miners in Sydney Mines and not even so much as a plaque to recognize their contribution to Cape Breton; and

Whereas local resident, Jim Tobin, has worked on the project of building a new museum for Sydney Mines over the past five years despite being confined to a wheelchair;

[Page 9483]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Jim Tobin and all his hard work and wish him the best of luck in his vision of building a permanent fossil museum in Sydney Mines to remember the miners' contribution to Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 3662

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

Whereas increases in heavy commercial vehicle registration fees will have a negative impact on the transport industry throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the 40 per cent increase, effective May 1, 2002, is an attack on small business operators, especially those in Richmond County; and

Whereas this increase will lead many small business operators in Richmond County to downsize or get out of the industry entirely;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government bear the sole responsibility of job losses as a result of increases in heavy commercial vehicle registration.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 3663

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

[Page 9484]

Whereas Nova Scotian drivers are seeking answers from the government about the sharp increases in automobile insurance rates; and

Whereas yesterday, in Pictou, Mr. Frank Mumford, an insurance executive and Chairman of the Atlantic Committee with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, proposed an interesting solution to this growing problem; and

Whereas Mr. Mumford's solution was for all Nova Scotians to call his or her MLA and ask that this House establish a select committee to study this issue;

Therefore be it resolved that before angry motorists bring down the phone lines looking for their MLAs, this government follow Mr. Mumford's suggestion and establish a committee so that Nova Scotians can learn why auto insurance costs are rising in this province.

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we are going to call four Private and Local Bills for second reading. We can do it en bloc or one at a time, whichever the Opposition House Leaders wish. Is it agreeable to call all four or do you want me to call them one at a time?

[Page 9485]

MR. JOHN HOLM: It's fine to do all four.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bills No. 118, No. 120, No. 121 and No. 123.

Bill No. 118 - Municipality of Inverness Supplementary Pension Contribution Act.

Bill No. 120 - Anglican Church Act.

Bill No. 121 - An Act to Incorporate The Mic-Mac Amateur Aquatic Club.

Bill No. 123 - Halifax Regional Municipality Harbour Solutions Financing Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, one of our critics would like to speak on one of those bills.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 118.

Bill No. 118 - Municipality of Inverness Supplementary Pension Contribution Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture, I would move second reading.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would just indicate that our caucus has no difficulty with this bill proceeding at this time so we can get public input.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 118. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 9486]

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 120.

Bill No. 120 - Anglican Church Act.

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

MS. MARY ANN MCGRATH: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 120.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the same comments that I made on the last bill, I am certainly pleased to support this bill going on at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 120. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 121.

Bill No. 121 - An Act to Incorporate The Mic-Mac Amateur Aquatic Club.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 121.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the honourable member for Dartmouth South for introducing this bill on behalf of one of Dartmouth's long-time traditional boat clubs. The Mic Mac Amateur Aquatic Club has been a large part of the Dartmouth community for a long period of time. There's nothing really substantive that's contentious in this bill and I'm just rising to speak in support of this legislation. It does change the maximum number of the board members of the Mic Mac Amateur Aquatic Club in Dartmouth. Currently the board has 10 members and the bill proposes to make this 14 and

[Page 9487]

authorizes the club to change, by by-law, the maximum number of members of the board. Just for some clarity, this bill also provides that nothing is affected by there having been, at any time, more than 10 members before coming into force of these changes. So that will cover anything that has taken place that might interfere with the function of the club. These changes essentially affect housekeeping matters that have occurred since it was enacted in 1957.

So in my closing comments, I would just like to again compliment the board and those who volunteer in that facility. So many times in the Dartmouth community now we hear, well, since amalgamation took place, there's no more Dartmouth. I always point out to them that it's that little corner of Lake Banook that has the Banook Club and it was the right thing to do, by the way, but the Senobe Club and the Mic Mac Amateur Aquatic Club is there. The socialist over there to my right is beating his gums again, Mr. Speaker, about amalgamation, which is very positive for this community and will allow us to survive in this current century.

So I point out to them, Mr. Speaker, that if you want to see the heart of Dartmouth and you go to that part of Banook Lake, particularly in the summer months, families are there and, as a family physician practising in that area, I was very aware of the family programs that the Mic Mac Club has brought in over the years and the young people in all parts of Dartmouth who gathered there and really allowed themselves to develop their social and educational development through those programs that are offered at a very modest price, I might point out, a very modest cost to families in that area.

So if you want to see Dartmouth - and I'm sure the honourable member for Dartmouth South would agree - you go to that part of Lake Banook in that downtown area of Dartmouth, and that is the core of Dartmouth. We were talking about kayaking here last evening with one of the Pages in the House and I had a call the other day from one of the coaches of my sister Carol, when Carol was doing the double kayak, or whatever it's called - at least two to a kayak, whatever that's called - back in, and I better not say how long that was because she might be reading Hansard eventually, but just to compliment that part of Dartmouth for remaining the traditional Dartmouth that we have known and enjoyed, and as long as those clubs are up and functioning, Mr. Speaker, there will be a Dartmouth and anyone who wants to participate is welcome. I want to compliment the initiative that those clubs in those areas have taken to enrich the family life of not only Dartmouth, but our whole HRM.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I just want to very briefly add my voice and associate myself with the remarks made by the honourable member for Dartmouth East. I understand that the provisions of this bill are essentially putting into law what has been the tradition and what has been the practice already. So we certainly want to support it, and you know this is an institution in Dartmouth which has been supported by the community for many, many years. I know myself and the member for Dartmouth North, when we served on

[Page 9488]

Dartmouth City Council, were certainly very proud to be supporters of that institution and it's one that serves all of Dartmouth. It's literally part of the history of the great city I like to refer to as the "Emerald of the East." So we're very pleased to support this legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable member for Dartmouth South, it will be to close debate on Bill No. 121.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: I would like to thank the honourable members on the other side for supporting Bill No. 121. The comments from Dr. Smith, the member for Dartmouth East, are very appropriate for the long history that the clubs, and particularly this boat club, have had in Dartmouth. I was very pleased to present this bill, Bill No. 121, in the Legislature and as such, Mr. Speaker, I would like to close debate on Bill No. 121.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 121. 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 Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 123.

Bill No. 123 - Halifax Regional Municipality Harbour Solutions Financing Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 123, An Act to Provide for the Financing of the Halifax Harbour Solutions Project by the Halifax Regional Municipality.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think that we're all justifiably proud of the beautiful setting that we enjoy here in our capital city area. When the Tall Ships were here the other summer, we saw the images that were being broadcast across the world and I think that our harbour certainly is one of our greatest features.

[Page 9489]

It's clear that the tons of raw sewage that is pumped into the harbour however detracts from this wonderful asset that we have and is a source, in fact, of considerable public concern. Mr. Speaker, for more than a decade there have been activities underway to see that a solution to the sewage being pumped into the harbour can be found.

[9:30 a.m.]

While the project enjoys broad-based support in principle, there are concerns about the development, the way in which the project has been developed. The lack of public consultation needs to be considered and the degree of transparency with respect to the negotiation of a multimillion dollar contract with a public-private partnership which we know, in this province, has not had that great a track record in terms of value for money for the public. We look forward to seeing this bill going to the Private and Local Bills Committee and to hearing from members of the public with respect to the whole development of the harbour solutions project. Thank you.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I rise today and will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Cape Breton West. We're pleased to see this come forward. It is obviously a very important development for Halifax and I think the record will show that when the Halifax Regional Municipality came forth at a committee approximately two years ago, they were promoting this particular project and looking for support. I think what is disappointing about it is the provincial government obviously has been dragging its feet. This is too serious an issue to have the government drag its feet because the Halifax Regional Municipality and the harbour, of course, the regional council indicated that this was one of the top priorities for this area and that they would like to see the project go forward.

They have been trying to obtain support from this government and the federal government for this very worthwhile and vital project for the Halifax Regional Municipality and to date, it seems it's not getting the attention necessary from that side of the House. What we have to do is start paying attention to the priorities when they come forward from municipal units, particularly when you have such a large municipality as the Halifax Regional Municipality. This government must recognize that these projects are vital for the long-term benefit of Nova Scotia, in general.

AN HON. MEMBER: All of Nova Scotia.

MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, all of Nova Scotia, not just the Halifax Regional Municipality. It's very important that we get this harbour cleaned up.

[Page 9490]

I am a Cape Breton MLA and the Halifax Regional Municipality is no different than the CBRM, as they have earmarked the Sydney Harbour for cleanup. We believe that is the proper thing to do. We need to do this in co-operation with the municipal units. We must obtain a good working relationship with these municipal units in order to see them go forward. That would ensure they would have a positive impact this type of project would obviously put forth for the entire province.

Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with my colleague, the member for Cape Breton West, and allow him to pick up here because he is the critic on environmental issues within our caucus. I will now pass the floor to him, thank you.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I want to make a number of observations on Bill No. 123. Obviously, I would conjecture, by the fact that the Minister of Education has introduced this particular piece of legislation, she has done it at the request of the Halifax Regional Municipality, that would appear to be the protocol in any event, I would tend to think, and the minister is nodding yes.

Mr. Speaker, there are two issues here that I would like to flag. One is the fact that this particular piece of legislation doesn't address any particular financial limit that I'm able to ascertain, and I would draw that to the attention of all members of the House. I believe it's safe to say we know what the estimate of the particular project is by the media reports and having had some conversation with some municipal councillors in HRM, it looks like it's somewhere in the vicinity of $210 million.

The other issue is the fact that it doesn't state who it's giving this permissive power to, in terms of who the money can be borrowed from. Obviously, I would think that we're looking into the conventional lending institutions and so on. We're going outside the norm here which is the municipal capital corporation or the Government of Canada or, in fact, the Province of Nova Scotia in general. I wanted to just raise that. I would conjecture, again, that that is well in hand, as well.

Mr. Speaker, there is one other issue. The fact that the province itself, to date, has not made any contribution or any commitment to making a contribution to the overall cost of this particular project. I think, given the magnitude of this particular project, in our capital city, I would tend to think that the province should be a partner in the financing of this particular project. It's good to be able to respond to the request of the Halifax Regional Municipality, but I think it's better to show that we are partners of this particular project because it's a common problem.

[Page 9491]

It's something that dates back to the early 1980s; it's an on-again, off-again project. At one time the province and the municipality were on side with funding in place, and then the federal government wasn't willing to come to the table. Over time, it seemed to have gone into abeyance, and went through a number of different transformations. Now it would appear that the federal government and the municipality are at the table, but the province is not.

I was a little disappointed yesterday, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations didn't even know about the $1 million a year 30 year proposal that had been put out by the municipality. I guess I'm a little disappointed that the MLAs from the Halifax Regional Municipality are not standing up and explaining to the residents in HRM why they're not being forceful in having the province come to the table as a funding partner. I think that's a disappointment.

As the Minister of Finance has said - and I don't want to be repetitive because it's an issue I addressed in a previous dissertation - $1 million is not a lot of money, relative to a $4.6 billion or $5 billion budget. If that's the case, then I would think, given the size of the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations' budget, Halifax really should be at the table, Halifax being - I mean the Province of Nova Scotia. So I think the member for Preston, the member for Eastern Shore, the member for Halifax Citadel, the member for Halifax Bedford Basin, for Halifax Bedford-Fall River, all these members I really believe should be standing up and saying that, as a government, they're willing to stand up and contribute to this particular project. I don't think it's fair to expect the Halifax Regional Municipality to carry the burden of this.

If you see what an excellent job they did in managing their finances over the last few years, I think (Interruptions) Pardon? Well, Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition said, well, we never committed to it when we were in government. I think he may want to look at the various transformations that took place, as I've stated, various governments were onside at one time, then they were offside, then they were onside and then they were offside. (Interruption) Well, that may be typical in politics but the fact of the matter remains, Halifax Regional Municipality has shown the leadership and I applaud the Minister of Education for bringing this bill here because it shows at least recognition for what the Halifax Regional Municipality is doing in an attempt to accommodate their wishes to proceed with this project but, on the other hand, the province should take a lesson from the Halifax Regional Municipality on, number one, how to manage its financial affairs; and number two, how to make some substantive decisions and move forward, co-operatively.

I'm sure there are at least a half a dozen members on the government benches from the Halifax Regional Municipality and they haven't said one word as to why the province is not willing to come to the table and support this project in a meaningful way. If that were down in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality - I remember when the Cape Breton Regional Municipality bill was on the floor of the Legislature here, any and every member that was

[Page 9492]

from HRM and other parts of the province, they all had a say and they took great delight to try and score some political fodder, but now that it's in their own backyard and they're asked to step up to the plate, where are they? They're leaving the Halifax Regional Municipality holding the bag to almost go it alone the best way they can.

I commend the Halifax Regional Municipality, we don't always agree with the Halifax Regional Municipality. I haven't always agreed with Mayor Kelly, politically.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honourable member stands up and makes a comment that the members representing areas within the Halifax Regional Municipality have not had any conversations and don't have an opinion on the harbour cleanup. I think that's totally unfair. He should be ashamed of himself. He's not aware of the conversations that I and other members have had with councillors and with the mayor. We fully support the cleanup of Halifax Harbour.

At the same time in those conversations, Mr. Speaker, the mayor and councillors who we've talked to fully appreciate the financial situation the Province of Nova Scotia is in. I think it is highly unfair for him to leave that thought with the public.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order. It's certainly a point brought to the floor by the member.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the intervention by the member for Dartmouth South because it points out quite clearly that if he feels that he has made interventions and some representation on behalf of the province to HRM, perhaps he may want to table that information so we will sees how meaningful his interventions really were, because Mayor Kelly says - and I will quote from the press release - "Province Doesn't Realize Importance of Harbour Clean-up."

Well, that kind of says it all to me. Obviously, the member for Dartmouth South and the mayor are on two different song sheets here, they're going in two different directions. I don't know who the member for Dartmouth South has been talking to, these phantom deliberations that he's talking about, but they certainly didn't produce anything substantive because the province hasn't put one red penny into the project.

[9:45 a.m.]

So, talk is cheap, talk is very cheap and that's the message I would leave with the honourable member for Dartmouth South. It's one thing to get up and pontificate about all the wonderful things that you're doing and talking about, but it's another thing to show the tangible evidence. I raise that because I think it's unfair and this bill provides an opportunity for us to raise the flag, so to speak, to heighten the profile of this particular issue in defence of all the residents in the Halifax Regional Municipality. I don't think it's fair for the Halifax

[Page 9493]

municipal taxpayers to carry the full burden of this. It's not the case, for example, in Springhill. A collaborative effort on the water system that's now going to be forthcoming, that's a collaborative effort between the municipal, provincial and federal governments.

Sometimes you have to stand back and look at the dynamics of these particular issues. I would encourage these MLAs who represent various constituencies in the Halifax Regional Municipality to stand up and explain what exactly they've done to convince their government why it should be at the table in a meaningful way. That's all I'm asking. I didn't ask for silence, I didn't ask for phantom discussions, I didn't ask for anything other than, in defence of the residents in the Halifax Regional Municipality and the leadership that's being shown by the Halifax Regional Municipality (Interruption) Pardon? I'm having some helpful intervention here, Mr. Speaker. You'd think he would have learned his lesson yesterday, but I guess not, he likes punishment.

That having been said, I don't want to delay this bill too much because I think it's an important piece of legislation and it speaks to a lot of issues, but I would ask at some point before this bill comes back to the House for final reading - or perhaps at Private and Local Bills Committee - that maybe some of these backbenchers on the government team will actually make presentation to Private and Local Bills Committee as to what they've done, how they've done it and how effective they've really been. I guess actions speak louder than words and so far, we've seen no action. We've seen no progress. We haven't seen the members for Dartmouth South or Halifax Bedford Basin or Preston or the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley bring one penny to the table; not one penny on behalf of the provincial government. I think it's fair to ask, why not?

If we've got millions of dollars for recreational facilities which more than half the community are saying they don't want, and if we're finding $1 million dollar errors in their calculations in their budget that actually show that there are more dollars there - what about the transitional dollars? Consistently the government has not spent every cent that was put in in their transitional fund for the restructuring of government, so why couldn't the government take $1 million out of that?

They were able to get $20 million for the Education budget several years ago. I believe last year there was an $18 million or $20 million surplus in that fund - $1 million could be found very easily without jeopardizing the budgetary process - so I think it's a very weak argument for the MLAs from the Halifax Regional Municipality to say that it's in the name of good fiscal and monetary policy not to be able to come up with these dollars. It doesn't wash. I don't know how they can go back to their constituencies and say that they've done everything they could, because it's just not fair; I don't think it's fair to the municipal taxpayers.

[Page 9494]

We all know - and this will be the final point I make on this, Mr. Speaker, and I will finish my remarks - that municipal taxation is far more regressive than provincial or federal because at least with the federal and the provincial, whether it be personal income tax or the sales tax, whatever, particularly the personal income tax, it's on a sliding scale. The more you make, the more you pay; the less you make, the less you pay. Whereas municipal, whether you have a job or not or whether you can afford to pay for that project or not, when you're assessed, you pay it and that's the bottom line and that's the unfairness, to expect the municipal taxpayers to carry the burden.

I will, at this point, as well, encourage the federal government to continue, as Mayor Kelly has suggested, with very meaningful deliberations. So on that note, I will conclude my remarks and I thank you for the opportunity to speak on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Education, it will be to move second reading of Bill No. 123.

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to address a couple of the comments brought up previously. The honourable member for Cape Breton West mentioned this is outside the norm for borrowing and of course it is, otherwise we wouldn't need a bill. But the framework is there to achieve the best possible pricing for debt related to the cleanup. There are existing provincial borrowing requirements to ensure the debt levels of municipalities remain within acceptable limits. The HRM also has its own debt management policies. So this is simply there to allow them to borrow from the financial markets directly and to get the best possible price on their debt.

The other remark I would like to make concerns the concerns of the honourable member for Halifax Needham. I know that some of her constituents object to a particular portion of the cleanup project, but that has absolutely nothing to do with this bill, which is just about borrowing. It's not about any details of the harbour cleanup.

Mr. Speaker, finally, I would like to congratulate Mayor Kelly, his councillors, the staff and all the people who worked so hard on this harbour cleanup solution. Again, I would like to add that certainly the province has not refused to participate in this cleanup. I think the member opposite was making a bit of mischief in suggesting that there will be no provincial participation in this cleanup. It's going to be a long process and it's going to take a lot of money. With that, I take my seat.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 123. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 9495]

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, 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. 109.

Bill No. 109 - Financial Measures (2002) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor. He has about eight minutes left.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to get right to the point. As you indicated, I only have eight minutes. I spoke last evening in regard to Bill No. 109 and my concern, of course, is Clause 32, which indicates that the insurance rates and the premiums and all the information, at least that I have, that this government and the direction that they're going are causing insurance rates to increase.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention today, of yesterday, that Mr. Frank Mumford, who is the Chairman of the Insurance Bureau of Canada in the Atlantic Region, is calling on all Nova Scotians to call their local MLAs to request that an all-Party committee be established by this Minister of Environment and Labour.

Mr. Speaker, on February 11th - or in February; I'm not sure if was the 11th, but it was actually in February of this year - this is what the Premier said: Clearly we'll have to look at this issue carefully, but it is increasingly difficult for many Nova Scotians now to keep their cars on the road and we have to be concerned about that. It's obvious that the Premier has been listening to Nova Scotians. However, their concerns have fallen on deaf ears. For the minister in charge to take the direction that he has, it's obvious that he's dragging his feet. So I would join with Mr. Mumford in requesting all Nova Scotians who are affected by these increases and are concerned about the increases with their insurance premiums this year to call their local MLAs, whether they be Liberal, NDP, or government members, and bring forth the recommendation that the industry is supporting this caucus; we want an all-Party

[Page 9496]

committee to go out and investigate the insurance rates in this province and to work with the industry and all members of this House to ensure that Nova Scotians receive the best value for their dollar, particularly when they're purchasing insurance premiums in this province.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour, it is his responsibility. Now, I don't know if he understands for sure, and I'm hopeful that somebody over there is going to remind that minister that he does have responsibilities in his department and that he is responsible for the consumers in this province. Now, I know that he's probably a little confused over there because the Premier took the file from Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. We feel it should have remained within the motor vehicle division, where people who work for the provincial government have all the experience with motor vehicles; however, this was transferred over to that minister, and you know, it's just suspicious that he was and is an insurance broker. The honourable minister has indicated that he doesn't sell car insurance. Well, that may be, but he still does business with insurance companies that do sell car insurance. That's very clear, and I know the Minister of Finance got kind of touchy on that issue the other night when I brought it up in the House. I will say it again, it is suspicious.

Mr. Speaker, the Finance Minister has to accept some responsibility for this chaos that's going on in the insurance industry because they are dictating this to Nova Scotians. They don't know what to do over there and they don't want to find a solution. They don't want to accept the advice from this side of the House because they know we're right. But as I indicated here yesterday, as a result of that government billing the Insurance Bureau of Canada for the URB hearings, your rates and premiums will increase in this province next year, because the Insurance Bureau of Canada officials have indicated that they will just pass that price along to the consumer.

Mr. Speaker, they will ultimately pay for the blunder that the Minister of Environment and Labour has initiated on this issue, and I want this government to know that they're going to hear on a regular basis until they do something constructive on this issue. They will continue to hear, each and every opportunity that I have, about insurance rates in this province. Neither I nor my caucus members will allow this government to cause the damage that they're causing to the consumers when they're purchasing insurance. We are concerned about many seniors who have seen their rates go up over 300 per cent and 400 per cent, with no accidents or driving infractions on their driver's abstract. So it's needless. There's real danger here to seniors, people with disabilities, people on fixed incomes, people who live in rural areas that do not have access to public transportation.

[10:00 a.m.]

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member is rambling on regarding the insurance industry. I wonder if he could tell the people of the House, the people of Nova Scotia whether (Interruptions) No. There seems to be a question

[Page 9497]

about whether or not the position of the Liberal Party supports the industry or does it support the government's approach to have this issue heard by an independent body such as the URB. Maybe the member, in his last couple of minutes, could clarify what the position is of the Liberal Party, because it appears from his dissertation that it's in support of the insurance companies.

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, comments by that honourable member just baffle me, because it's obvious that the government is not listening. Even here the other day in this House, when I brought up the fact that the honourable minister is a stockbroker - he sells insurance, he's an insurance broker - and I indicated that they took the file and transferred it from the motor vehicle branch at the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, the minister stood up and said, oh, he's accusing me of selling car insurance. I don't sell car insurance. Oh, he's accusing me of transferring this file over from Transportation and Public Works. They're not listening. Listen very clearly.

Government members, we on this side of the House want to work with industry. We want to find solutions for Nova Scotians. The industry is eager to work with the government to find those solutions. Can you hear that, honourable members?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to rise and to speak to the Financial Measures (2002) Act. I'm not sure what the Minister of Finance is saying. Of course, that's true of most of Nova Scotia, so I feel I'm in good company. I wanted to start, I guess, by explaining a little bit about what's going to happen here today, and the reason why it's going to happen.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is going to come to a vote on second reading and then it's going to go off to the Law Amendments Committee. In the Law Amendments Committee, people are going to have an opportunity to come forward and state their case against the Financial Measures (2002) Act. It's going over to the Law Amendments Committee, and I understand from the Government House Leader there's been some agreement. The Government House Leader is acknowledged by all members in this House and by Nova Scotians just generally as a kind of wily politician, who over the years has shown his mastery of procedure in this House, but I understand there's an agreement that it will go into the Law Amendments Committee on Wednesday. This will allow an opportunity for people who want to speak on

[Page 9498]

the Financial Measures (2002) Act to foster their arguments and to bring to bear what advice they can give to the government on this very important matter.

Of course, one of the things that has been kind of front and centre in the argument around why the Financial Measures (2002) Act should not pass is the whole question of the Arts Council. We have been loud and very forthright in our support of the Arts Council and in our support of the Arts Council legislation, which we say should have been severed out of this for independent debate in and of itself, and, much more than that, in fact, should not have been passed at all.

We made that commitment when my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, spoke first on the Financial Measures (2002) Act. He moved an amendment in order to give the government an opportunity to deal with this matter appropriately, and to allow the government to take six months to consider whether or not what they were doing with respect to the Arts Council was appropriate. We did that for a number of reasons, one of which was to also allow for a fuller debate in this House over the course of the hours that are allowed for amendment. That means the people of Nova Scotia who want to comment on the bill have more time to be able to organize, to put together their arguments.

I must say that it surprises me now that this will be going to the Law Amendments Committee on Wednesday, that it was necessary to give up the debate in this fashion. It happened, Mr. Speaker, because - and I think this should be known to everyone - when our colleagues in the Liberal Party had an opportunity to speak second on the main motion in Law Amendments, they, for whatever reason, decided that they weren't going to move another amendment to this legislation.

Now, this is unfortunate because it speaks to - well, I'm not sure what it says, Mr. Speaker, I hope that some of them will have an opportunity to address this because, obviously, I understood from their Leader outside of this House and from them that there was a commitment to do everything in their power to prevent this legislation from going forward. But when they had the opportunity to do that, rather than moving an appropriate amendment, they simply let the bill slide by, they let the opportunity slide by and that means that rather than having a further opportunity to debate the bill and to point out the folly of the government's ways, we're going to be going to the Law Amendments Committee likely a week sooner than otherwise.

It's unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, because I don't understand and wonder why (Interruption) Well, they're carping on and I know they're very, very sheepish about this because they don't like to have it pointed out to them that their commitment to the arts community and the Arts Council is so thin that it only exists as far as what political advantage can be taken of it. So, it is very unfortunate. (Interruption) The member for Glace Bay keeps talking about not wanting Nova Scotians to have a say on it, but the fact of the matter is that (Interruption) That's right, and law amendments would come whether it came

[Page 9499]

this week or next week, they would have an opportunity to speak. The member keeps carping on but the reality is that the obligation lay with them and they gave it up. I have no idea why but I'm sure that they will have an opportunity to respond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I think it is important that the Leader or half-Leader or maybe Leader of the NDP in his political comments explaining what's going on, I think it's important for Nova Scotians watching that they understand that the political grandstanding taking place by the Leader of the NDP is so enthralling to his own colleagues that only one of them has bothered to show up here to listen to him say it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Richmond knows full well that it is not appropriate in this House to point out the presence or absence of members. I would ask him to rise and withdraw that comment please.

MR. SAMSON: I certainly apologize for pointing out that there is only one member. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: It was not a point of order you brought forward.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I don't know where that member was yesterday when his colleagues were giving up on this bill. Maybe he was sitting in his seat, I have no idea. It is consistent with these guys. What they do is they make the big show but when the rubber hits the road, where are they? They're somewhere else. They don't stand up for Nova Scotians and we, quite frankly, don't know who they stand for. You have a group of people who say one thing out in public, who say one thing but then when the rubber actually hits the road, when they have to stand up on behalf of people, they're gone. (Interruption) There they go, there they go. You always know when you hit a nerve with them. It's right on the top, you always know when you hit these guys.

This is the Party, Mr. Speaker, I understand that the member for Richmond last night was talking about school construction and about the failure of this bill, and the budget generally, to address this. Yet, the member for Richmond was part of the government that caused the fiasco around P3 financing; what happened? He says building schools and he should look at what happened in the Strait board and what that rained down upon the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. I mean the legacy, unfortunately, of the Liberal Government will live on for years to come because of the financial mismanagement of this province. The handing off to private enterprise of every public function that they could and as quickly as they could. (Interruptions)Yes, as quickly as they could. So that's where it lies today.

[Page 9500]

As you know, I have a particular interest and engaged with the Minister of Environment and Labour the other day around the questions of the Insurance Act and what that means to Nova Scotians. Certainly I tried to explain to him a little bit yesterday about the deficiencies that exist already in the Insurance Act and how Section B - and he was good enough to send over to me the report from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the one that was done with respect to, it actually does a comparison among the various provinces of what you can receive in benefits, and in fact what that report does is it confirms what I was telling him. It was interesting, I was actually called by some of the principles of the Insurance Bureau who said that my understanding of the way that Act operated was quite correct and this report demonstrated it.

I wanted to encourage the minister to have a look at Section B of the Insurance Act and this would be a simple enough amendment to make that would be of great benefit to the people of Nova Scotia. In fact I believe that you would find, although the Insurance Bureau never wants to heap additional costs on their member companies, I think you would find from them an acknowledgement that the Section B provisions of that Act are long outdated. The amounts that are set out in there, $140 a week is totally inadequate, and it would be an easy enough bill to make changes to, including the amount of non-insured services under the medical insurance cover should also be expanded - it's at $25,000 now and given the cost of non-insured services these days, because they are rising as a result of user fees and those sorts of things - that cover should be expanded as well.

I want to make a point about insurance and rising insurance costs and the way in which insurance companies have been dealing with the Act. I have a constituent in my riding, a Mr. Chase. He was in a car accident a number of years ago and what he found was that one of the things - he was a stay-at-home dad, looked after his children - was that the insurance company would not cover child care expenses. Even though he suffered a back injury, he was in and out of the hospital, he had a number of different surgeries, he needed assistance, he had a child who was 9 months old and I think another one who was a little older than that at the time, and in order to be able to carry on with his life and do the things that he needed to do, he needed child care coverage, and although they covered it for the period in which he was actually in the hospital and they covered it for the period where he was actually in rehabilitation, even though he couldn't get back to the full operation he needed, they would not continue to cover child care. Normally, under that insurance coverage, it is specific for 104 weeks and you should be able to get that kind of coverage.

So this is deficiency in the legislation, and I know that Mr. Chase is going forward to the insurance ombudsman to try and convince the company, and I know there are other means open to him to make his case, that it falls under this, but it should be clear. We have seen, certainly from my time in practising law, a reduction in the number of coverages under that section as the insurance companies, really in a very arbitrary manner, have decided to pull out some of the coverages and said, no, this is not the purpose of this Act. It needs to be reviewed so that there are broader coverages. Nowadays the reality of families, the structure

[Page 9501]

of families have changed a great deal, more families with two working parents or single-parent families, and the coverages that were put in place in the standard policy form at that time didn't really take into account the changing nature of families. So that's just a recommendation that I want to pass along to the minister, and if he has an opportunity at some point in time to respond to this by way of a bill, we would certainly be interested in taking an opportunity to examine it with him and try to make insurance a better place to do it. I see the minister is asking for an opportunity to respond. I would be happy to allow him as long as I can stand back up, Mr. Speaker.

[10:15 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: You sure can.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for ceding the floor just for a moment. I first want to say that I sent that information over in the hopes that the other two Opposition Parties would read it. I take note that the honourable member, who was a lawyer in his previous career, has read it. I think that his observations are reasonable, and I want to say on the record that I appreciate the reasoned, balanced response that he gives to this. He is not necessarily just accepting carte blanche anybody's submission of the Insurance Bureau of Canada. I'm interested in the Insurance Bureau of Canada's comments, but I think that it behooves us in government and I would suggest, in the Opposition Parties, to try to take a broader perspective. I would ask the member opposite whether he feels that the Liberal critic has done that, or do you feel that he has perhaps completely swallowed the Insurance Bureau of Canada's position? Maybe the member would like to respond to that question.

MR. SPEAKER: It's a reverse Question Period.

MR. DEXTER: Well, I always appreciate receiving questions from the minister, Mr. Speaker, and I look forward to the day when he's in the position to be asking questions more often of members from this side of the House. I want him to know that I've listened carefully to the submissions by the member for Cape Breton The Lakes with respect to an all-Party committee. I'm certainly not and I don't want it to be, perceived as counselling you to listen only to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Certainly that would not be the position of this caucus, but I think the problem is, with the history of all-Party committees and select committees, that the government picks and chooses what it wants out of the recommendations and it doesn't commit itself up front to fully implementing recommendations. We saw that happen with workers' compensation. We've seen it happen with many other committees.

[Page 9502]

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Clearly the Leader of the socialist Party knows full well that the Department of Environment and Labour is the regulatory body that oversees such activities in the marketplace. The industry, the Insurance Bureau of Canada will not have the final say, as is being alluded to by the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, who is the socialist Leader pro team. I would suggest that perhaps an all-Party committee was to seek input from all Nova Scotians, as other all-Party committees, as duly noted.

MR. SPEAKER: It is not a point of order.

MR. DEXTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think the member for Cape Breton West must have woken up in mid-sentence because, you know, that's certainly not what I said. What I've been saying is that the history of these select committees have been ineffective.

AN HON. MEMBER: Going back chasing ambulances?

MR. DEXTER: I don't know if other members can hear what the member for Cape Breton West is saying, but as usual he's being his endearing self.

The point to be made is that there are ways to improve the system. There are ways to pull down the rising cost of insurance, and I think that we have an obligation to do that, to make the industry justify why the premiums are going up, why seniors are paying more, why it costs more for insurance on the dwellings that people live in and all of this has to do with the way in which the rating books are prepared, the way in which they calculate their return on their premiums. It's not a simple matter. I think that's one of the reasons why we asked the government to send this to the Utility and Review Board. We're pleased to see that that review is underway and certainly this is a matter of protecting the public. It shouldn't just be a show; it should be an opportunity to do good work on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia.

I am not going to go on at great length about this, Mr. Speaker, but I did want to talk about a couple of things that I think are particularly important. One of them is, as you know, this is the implementation part of the budget. It contains a number of measures, which in the fullness of time will have a great deal of effect on the people of Nova Scotia. I couldn't help but notice that this government doesn't seem to listen; it doesn't listen to us, certainly. It only listens when it's absolutely pressured by the public to respond on things like the transition house funding. It may, at some point in time, see the light and respond on Arts Council legislation, but that has yet to be seen.

The one that disturbs me greatly, Mr. Speaker, is the Minister of Community Services heard from us and from members of the public around questions with respect to the child protection workers and to the service that is offered by them. I couldn't help but notice in today's paper that in fact the child protection workers who came here to this House, in order to bring to the attention of the Minister of Community Services what was happening in that

[Page 9503]

service, were disciplined and suspended as a result of their engaging in what most people consider to be an appreciated and legitimate practice, which is to bring complaints to this House.

I couldn't help but today, on World Press Day, when all the members of this House unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the right of people to have freedom of expression, that this happens on the same day that the minister's department is disciplining the workers at the child protection services for doing the very thing that we praised in this resolution this morning. I think it's incumbent upon the Minister of Community Services to speak with the officials at his department and to see that this disciplinary matter is reversed and that these people are not chastised and punished for having the forthrightness, for having the concern and courage about what is going on in their department and to come to the minister, and see that they're not punished for that, but in fact they should be congratulated for their willingness to stand up for the things that they think are right and the proper operation of his department.

I can see him nodding his head and I'm not sure what that really means, Mr. Speaker, but what I am hoping it means is that he's going to go back to his department and have a look at this matter because it would be truly unfortunate if we were sending that message to all of the people of Nova Scotia that what you can expect when you come to the House of Assembly to speak with government ministers, if you're an employee of the government, is to be punished. That would be an unfortunate message for all Nova Scotians. I know that they're deeply concerned about what it is that they are receiving by way of advice. They're going out and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on opinion polling. You don't need an opinion poll to know that people would see that as wrong.

This is the same government that values advice so much that they give $1,000-a-day untendered contracts to the super consultant, Mr. Martin. All this takes place under the guise of some emergency, unforseen situation of emergency, but they can't quite recall what the emergency is. But Mr. Martin knows. He knows there's no "I" in team, Mr. Speaker. He's on the team. There's no "I" in team, but there are two of them in invoice. He understands that, front and centre. We've been concerned that the government take the opportunity whenever it can to spend whatever it wants to get what they see is the advice that will support this program that they've embarked upon, whether or not it complies with the wishes of the people of the province.

I thought it was very telling that when they would push people in their focus groups and their polling to say something positive about the government, the moderator of the focus groups said, this was a much more difficult exercise. Well, it's not surprising that it would be a much more difficult exercise, because I, quite frankly, can't recall much of a positive nature that this government has done since it came into power, and apparently I'm not alone on that. Mr. Speaker, it's not surprising to me that the government has had difficulty finding supporters in the general public.

[Page 9504]

I want to talk for a few minutes about the Arts Council, because it is an issue, as I've been telling the Minister of Tourism and Culture. I think we were standing outside on the steps of the Legislature addressing the arts community, and I had the opportunity to tell them of our commitment and, at the time, what I believed to be the commitment of the Liberal Party, which was that we would do everything we could to fight this legislation, and to bring to the attention of the Minister of Tourism and Culture the fact that we are only one election day away from the reinstatement of the Arts Council and the reinstatement of that legislation in this House.

Mr. Speaker, that is going to happen, and the members opposite should know that. I hope the members of the arts community know it. These are people who over the years I have had the great pleasure to be associated with in various capacities. It's a community that is vibrant, and one of the things that doesn't often come to mind, when we talk about the arts community, is just how fiercely independent a group they really are and how they toil in many instances by themselves trying to create, for all of society, something which will cause us to think and to care about particular subjects.

Mr. Speaker, it is said that those who don't take advantage of the opportunity to engage in the arts and the enjoyment of the arts live life in the shallows, and I think there's something to that. The opportunity to explore the wonderful perspectives on life that are offered through the arts community should be important and should be valued. It is by myself and by my colleagues on this side of the floor, and I only wish that the members of the government would take the opportunity to display their confidence in the members of the arts community by supporting the legislation that was in place and by seeing to it that artists are respected for the work that they do.

Mr. Speaker, with those comments, I intend to bring to a close my representations on the Financial Measures (2002) Bill. I understand that the House Leader for the Liberal Party is now going to take an opportunity to speak, and of course we will be listening intently.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and say a few words about Bill No. 109, which, essentially, is the enabling legislation that accompanies the budget each year. This legislation is an omnibus bill that contains a number of provisions here that will have the effect of implementing a number of government programs over the next year.

[10:30 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I want to say, at the outset, that our Party will be voting against this bill when it comes back to the House, and I don't think that should come as a surprise to anybody, not the least of which is the Government House Leader who is smiling over there.

[Page 9505]

There has been some confusion, I guess, in the last day or so as to the speed, or lack of it, that this bill is moving through the House.

Mr. Speaker, I want to inform the House, through you, that our Party is interested. We've spoken on this bill at length. We have had a hoist that we've spoken on. Every member of our caucus has spoken an hour on it, and now we're into second reading. It's our feeling that we would like to see this bill go to the Law Amendments Committee to see what Nova Scotians think about this bill. I think that's the democratic process in this House, not for one Party to try to make political hay by saying the other Party wants to fast-track this through the House. I'm talking about my friends to the right here, who have been schmoozing with the press out there, saying that the Liberal Party wants this bill to go through the House because they're not interested in fighting the bill.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that that's far from the truth. The NDP never cease to amaze me about their attitude or where they're coming from or their lack of conviction. It was the NDP that put this crowd in office. It was the NDP that put this crowd in office. Nova Scotians can thank the NDP for this bill. Nova Scotians can thank the NDP for this mess that's here before us today and these draconian measures that are going to be inflicted on Nova Scotians in the next year. Nova Scotians can thank the NDP for that.

Mr. Speaker, it was the Liberal Party that held up Bill No. 68 in this House, and it was the Liberal Party that held up the ambulance bill. We didn't go chasing the ambulances, we held the bill up in here in the House where it was supposed to be. We have spoken against this particular bill, and I don't intend to speak very long today about it because I firmly believe that we now have a responsibility to send this bill to the Law Amendments Committee, so we can actually see and hear what Nova Scotians say about this bill in the Law Amendments Committee.

I believe that as a result of what happens in the Law Amendments Committee, this bill has to come back to the House here, it has to be debated in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, and we will certainly have another opportunity to see if we can change the government's mind on this particular bill. I don't hold out any hope that we will. After all, we have a majority government over here, and this is the Financial Measures (2002) Bill. This is a money bill from the government that contains provisions that the government is certainly not going to allow any amendments on.

But, I can tell you that the people of Nova Scotia should have the opportunity, sooner than later, to discuss this bill at the Law Amendments Committee, which is the appropriate place to do it. I think we've reached a stage in this House where we've had our say on this particular bill, where we've said what we're going to say on it, that we disagree with the provisions of this bill. We don't have to take three weeks to do that in here. It's our Party's considered opinion that there is other important legislation that we would like to get before

[Page 9506]

this House, not the least of which is the anti-smoking bill that Nova Scotians are waiting to see debated in this House.

Mr. Speaker, it's going to be interesting to see where the socialists come from on that particular bill. It's going to be very interesting to see what their stand on that particular bill is going to be. I believe that Nova Scotians have the right to observe a debate on that anti-smoking legislation sooner than later. That's another reason why we would like to get this bill into the Law Amendments Committee, to have Nova Scotians debate that bill over there while we're debating the anti-smoking bill in here.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia came perilously close to electing an NDP Government a few years ago. From the discussion that I've seen taking place here today from the Leader, the would-be Leader, the wannabe Leader of the NDP, thank heavens Nova Scotians did not let them cross the finish line. Nova Scotians and the Liberal Party stopped them at the one-yard line at that particular time, and they've been going backwards ever since.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to, in the few moments - I'm not going to go very long on this bill, because I firmly believe and our Party believes that we've certainly said enough on it in this place on second reading, but there are a couple of things that I think have to be highlighted here. One is that this bill affects almost all Nova Scotians in one way or another. It's a very important bill that I believe Nova Scotians should take the time to analyze and take the time to make their feelings known on the provisions, the enabling legislation, in this bill when it reaches the Law Amendments Committee and when it comes back for the Committee of the Whole House on Bills debate.

The Leader of the NDP makes reference again to the Arts Council - well, I can tell you what our stand on that is. When our Leader becomes Premier of this province after the next election, he has stated publicly that he's going to reinstate the Arts Council. That is a policy of our Party. That is not something that we're blowing in the wind about, that is a policy of our Party, that we will reinstate the Arts Council of this province when Danny Graham takes over as Premier of this province after the next election.

The important issues in this particular bill, issues pertaining to some social issues, some financial issues, and others, are going to have a lasting effect on the people of this province. The user fees that are in this bill are going to have a lasting effect on the wallets of the people of this province. You might say that this crowd opposite, led by the "Sheriff of Nottingham," are nothing but a bunch of pickpockets who have gone out there and literally picked every pocket in Nova Scotia for some more loose change to try to balance a budget which is not really balanced, because as we all know, this government has borrowed $100 million. The debt keeps going up and the interest on the debt keeps going up and then the Finance Minister stands in his place and has the nerve to tell Nova Scotians that everything is all right, that we've balanced the budget. Well, the budget is not balanced. He knows it,

[Page 9507]

and Nova Scotians know it, and the electorate will know it come next year when the election is upon us - maybe even before that.

I believe it's important for this House to move on. I believe there are other bills that have to come before this House on second reading. Our party is very anxious to see what is being said by Nova Scotians in Law Amendments on this particular enabling legislation and what is going to happen in Committee of the Whole House on this bill. Also, our Party is very anxious to debate the anti-smoking bill on the floor of this House and the sooner that bill is called by the government, the sooner we will know where all Parties stand on the anti-smoking bill. There are people in Nova Scotia waiting for some leadership on that particular bill and I believe that all Parties should have the opportunity to tell Nova Scotians where they stand on this particular bill.

It's for that reason that this Party is letting this bill - as far as we're concerned - go to Law Amendments sooner than later. We will not be supporting this bill and I don't think that should come as a surprise. You know, a reporter asked me yesterday, because we do not want to continue what might be termed a filibuster in second reading when we're at this bill for a week and a half to two weeks now, that because we don't want a filibuster, does that mean you support the bill? I said, it certainly does not mean we support the bill. We're not supporting the bill, we're not supporting anything in this bill. We will make those feelings known when it comes to a vote in this House on this particular bill. But we're not naive enough to know that anything we say here, or anything that we might move in the way of substantive amendments or anything, is going to change the government's mind.

This is the government's money bill. Anybody who would stand in this House and say the longer we speak on it, the more chance we have of changing the government's minds, anybody who would perpetrate that hoax on the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, is not responsible. You know and I know, members opposite know and members on this side know that this is the government's flagship. It's a money bill and we're not going to change that. But we would like to give Nova Scotians the opportunity at Law Amendments to express their displeasure about this particular bill, and also we will have the opportunity in Committee of the Whole House to do the same. So we are certainly not in favour of anything contained in this particular bill that would have, we feel, a negative impact on our fellow citizens in Nova Scotia. However, we would like to see the bill go to the Law Amendments Committee as soon as possible, and it's for that reason, Mr. Speaker, that I will take my place and await further discussions at the Law Amendments Committee on this bill and when the bill returns here to Committee of the Whole House. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to have an opportunity to rise in my place to speak briefly to the Financial Measures (2002) Act. As was indicated by previous speakers, this is a piece of legislation that will allow the government

[Page 9508]

to proceed with their plans to essentially find money from hard-working Nova Scotians in a variety of ways. As was noted, this legislation will have an impact on many, many people in our province; pretty well anybody and everybody in our province. For that reason, it's an important piece of legislation to examine and reflect on and speak about.

Mr. Speaker, this government is making choices that will have a profound impact on senior citizens, for example. I'm the fortunate person to serve a riding where there are many seniors, wonderful people who have worked hard all their lives. I can tell you that it was no surprise to me to see in today's newspaper that senior citizens meeting in Truro are talking about the need to have their own minister, something that I think we need to pay some attention to. There's a fair amount of concern in the senior citizens' communities around this province in terms of how this government, in particular, has failed to address many, many of the commitments that they made to seniors in our province during the last election, commitments to improve health care, to fix health care, to take into account the needs and the interests of seniors. Instead seniors have seen that their fixed incomes tend to be the incomes that have been hit the hardest. Certainly, many measures in this Financial Measures (2002) Act and in the budget, will have an impact on seniors.

Mr. Speaker, one feature of the Financial Measures (2002) Act that hasn't got very much attention, probably because it's such a small number of people who will be impacted by the change but, nevertheless, I think it's really important to address, is that the fees that are charged for families that are embarking on international adoption are increasing quite substantially. While it's been said in the review and the analysis of this particular measure that this probably will not deter those persons, those families who enter into the extensive commitment and the process of going through international adoption, this has to be, I think, one of the meanest kinds of user fees that have been imposed in this budget.

Mr. Speaker, we all know that the situation for waiting to adopt inside our province is one where the waiting periods are extensive to adopt a child and, quite often, families are very anxious to bring into their households an infant, a toddler, a young child who they will make a lifelong commitment to. It's a feature of a caring society that we would have in place the necessary procedures and supports that would encourage and enable people to enrich their lives, the lives of others, and the lives of our communities through the adoption process. International adoptions are certainly a feature of this process and, Mr. Speaker, for this government to embark on user fees of the magnitude that are being imposed - substantial increases in the cost, from $40 registration fees to hundreds of dollars - is very mean and really quite scandalous. Although this will affect a small number of people, this seems to characterize this government in many respects, in terms of the lack of balance in the approach that this government takes and their ability to home in on small groups of people who are often vulnerable and defenseless, but nevertheless important people in our society, and attack them in ways that are profoundly unfair, while at the same time people on the other end of the spectrum - a small, select few - see the benefits of public resources being used to enrich their lifestyles and aspirations.

[Page 9509]

This is a government that lacks balance, Mr. Speaker, in the way it approaches the application of public policy. I don't think there is a greater expression of the lack of balance than the fact that this government spent $400,000 on public opinion polls, yet it disciplined a dozen child protection workers who came down to this Legislature to share their opinions with members of the government on the reduction of child welfare services in certain offices in the province. There's something totally bizarre and incongruent about that situation, where they can get free advice and the free opinions of their own workforce in a particular area, and for that, those workers will be suspended without pay, with a disciplinary record imposed on them that will be on their employment files. This is truly a scandalous situation to have been allowed to occur. I know this will not be a situation that the 1,500 members of the Professional Association of Social Workers in the province will take lightly, nor, I would imagine, will it be a situation that the 6,000 or so members of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union will take lightly either.

Mr. Speaker, there are many aspects of this bill that I've already had an opportunity to speak to, particularly around the imposition of new user fees in the DHAs, the fact that blood work in satellite clinics is now being charged for, particularly along the South Shore of Nova Scotia, increases in ambulatory care and ambulance fees, and so on. There are a variety of impacts on a health care system that's already, I think, under a considerable amount of stress, and as I had an opportunity to say in debate on Wednesday in this House, it's clear that the Tory plan for health care has essentially been a two-pronged plan. It has been one of cutting and rationalization, and an off-loading and increasing of user fees, something that this government likes to euphemistically refer to as alternate funding sources.

Mr. Speaker, before I take my place, I want to just say briefly that I'm very puzzled about some of the statements that have been coming out of the Liberal Party caucus here this morning. They seem to be labouring under quite a bizarre notion that it's members of this Party who put that crowd in office. Let me say that it's very clear that Nova Scotians are the people who, through a democratic election, made a decision about who they wanted. Certainly, in my constituency, I run into people all the time who, in fact, tell me with great regret that they voted for the John Hamm Government and that they sincerely regret it now and that they will not be making that mistake in the next election.

I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that I take some comfort in knowing that they think that members of this caucus are doing a very good job and that we have been standing up for the things that matter to them and they will be giving us the support they know our hard work has brought about come the next opportunity they have to voice their support. So I think it is important to speak the truth when we're here on the floor of the House of Assembly and that we not allow collective amnesia to sort of rule the day. With those words I will now yield the floor.

[Page 9510]

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I had not intended to intervene in this debate on the Financial Measures (2002) Act, although I am thoroughly opposed to it and said that on the debate on the amendment that it be given the six months' standby. Just having heard the interesting intervention from the honourable member for Halifax Needham, who I believe is one of the most articulate members of this House, notwithstanding the fact that she just left and did not want to hear the truth which I was about to declare.

AN HON. MEMBER: She wants to see you on TV.

MR. MACEWAN: She wants to see me on TV. I'm probably even better there than in real life. I wanted to say this, sir, as a matter of fact, there was an election in Nova Scotia in the year 1998 and the voters of the province made their choice at that time and they did not give the Liberal Party a majority government, but they did elect more Liberal members than any other Party. The Liberals, having been the government prior to that election, remained as government and continued in office under the leadership of Premier Russell MacLellan. Sir, it is a fact that had it not been for the interventions of the NDP in response to the election of that government, that government would still be in office to this day and Premier Russell MacLellan would still be the Premier of Nova Scotia to this day and they would have many more members than they have now.

They would have five female members instead of just one. They would have in all, I think it was 18 members - I don't know if Reeves counted or not - but they had a number of members more than they have now and they would still be there were it not for their own folly in pulling down, like Samson pulled down the temple on his own shoulders - was it Samson, yes, it was Samson, I'm not thinking of Michel Samson, he has more sense than that - but they, like the Samson in the Bible, pulled down the temple on their own shoulders and brought about their own certain loss of prestige, status and all those other benefits that went with where they used to be. Now if they don't realize that, perhaps somebody like me has to get up and say it and tell it the way it is because they seem to have collective amnesia and to be forgetting what they themselves did. Let them not be ashamed of their historical record. It is something that will go down in the history books of this province and every one of them who are now here . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Well, I am sure that no one in the House any more than myself is enjoying this retracing the steps of history, I would ask the honourable member not to forget about Bill No. 109, which is presently before the House and ask him to bring his comments back to the bill, please.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I'm not sure if it was retracing history or recreating history. (Laughter)

[Page 9511]

MR. SPEAKER: Whichever, neither is a point of order.

MR. MACEWAN: It's about financial measures. Certainly the measures that I've just talked about have a financial impact on the NDP. Now, if they don't realize that, I can't help it. I just wanted to make that intervention, Mr. Speaker, with relevance to the bill now before the House and the comments of the honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you very much.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the Financial Measures (2002) Act because of a couple particular issues that I want to take with the bill, but I'm also encouraged to participate by the Party adjacent who - how long has it been since 1999, it's been three years - right? - and these guys are still grieving. They're still grieving the fact that they've fallen so far. I would just like to say to the members of the Liberal caucus, get over it, move on guys. You've even got a new Leader: look forward, stop looking back and you'll be much happier people.

Mr. Speaker, it's clear what happened in 1999, the truth was uncovered by us and by others of exactly how badly the Liberals were managing the Province of Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, the choice that Nova Scotians took when they threw the rascals out was to vote for more Tories. But do you know what? That's democracy and that's what Nova Scotians did. Many of them regret having done that now but, nonetheless, that's what they did. We will see what happens in the next election, but let's look forward, all of us, deal with the Financial Measures (2002) Act because it is dealing with the future and let's not continue to look in the past.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk for a few minutes about my opposition to the Financial Measures (2002) Act, which has to do with the huge ramping-up of user fees by this government. Over $200 million in user fees have been cranked out by this government. You know what that is, that's money that is taken out of the pockets of Nova Scotians. They don't want to call it a tax, but it is a tax. In fact it is a tax, Mr. Speaker, and it is a regressive form of taxation because it impacts on people disproportionately to their ability to pay. In other words, for people with modest and low income when they're paying for the increases in various fees and licences, it's a greater proportion of their income than for some of the millionaires who contribute to the Tory re-election campaign. That's a real problem.

If this government needs more revenue from Nova Scotians, if they want Nova Scotians to contribute more to the operation of the Province of Nova Scotia for health care, education, roads, community services and for other things, then they should be upfront, they should be straightforward and courageous and say to Nova Scotians, we want you to contribute more. We want more revenues to come from you; but we're going to be equitable,

[Page 9512]

we're going to be fair and we want to make sure that you're contribution is done on the basis of your ability to pay.

The way to do that, Mr. Speaker, is to increase income tax. Income tax is a progressive form of taxation which means people pay based on their ability to pay. The user fees this government is relying on are not fair. They're absolutely inequitable and they more disproportionately affect seniors on fixed income, middle-income Nova Scotians, low-income Nova Scotians, small business operators and others, people who are less able to pay and, unfortunately, as a result of this government and the Liberals before them, have been asked to pay more than their fair share. That's one of the huge problems with this particular bill, the way it continues to shift the burden, the financial burden of the Province of Nova Scotia, onto the backs of those less able to afford to pay.

[11:00 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I now want to talk for a couple minutes about, and I did, on the increase in tobacco tax revenue, and the fact that the Province of Nova Scotia collects in the area of $150 million, $160 million in tobacco tax revenue in the Province of Nova Scotia. What do they put back in, in terms of prevention and cessation programs? They have budgeted $1.5 million. I say to you, it's not good enough. Even with this bill, which is a baby step towards dealing with the problems of second-hand smoke, of smoking in public places, trying to curb and deal with the issue of young Nova Scotians beginning to smoke, the government continues, as did the Liberals, to fail young Nova Scotians by not putting the resources into proper prevention, public awareness and cessation programs.

That's the kind of investment this government needs to make to really tackle the problems of second-hand smoke and the use of tobacco in the Province of Nova Scotia. Then we could all stand and wholeheartedly applaud the leadership shown by this government but, again, they continue to do things in half-measures or, in this case, in quarter-measures.

Mr. Speaker, the other aspect that I wanted to refer to with respect to this bill is what the government is doing around the Arts Council. The Arts Council was established in 1996, 1997, as an arm's-length body that was going to operate on the principle of peer assessment. In other words, the minister and the bureaucrats in the department responsible were not going to be the ones who would determine what projects would be funded and how much money would be distributed to various artists and projects across the province. It would be done by professionals within that sector, within that industry.

Since 1997 when the first budget was $1.5 million, the Liberals cut it back to $1.4 million, and the Tories have cut it back every year since to the point where they have had some difficulty maintaining their mandate. What this government has done in this case was not work with the Arts Council on the basis of the principle of this arm's-length agency that is responsible for funding - whatever funding the government is making available - they

[Page 9513]

didn't work with them to find out how best to operate this agency, what they did was, in the dark of night, what the minister responsible did was send in his gendarmes to put the padlocks on the doors and to make sure that nobody could get in.

Mr. Speaker, they have also, through this bill, absconded with the funding, the foundation, the endowment fund that the Arts Council and the arts and culture supporters in the Province of Nova Scotia have been contributing to over the past few years. By the stroke of a pen, this government has unilaterally and in an extraordinarily dictatorial manner, in ways we haven't seen for a few years, since the Liberals were in power, made this decision. In the face of overwhelming opposition from people involved in the arts and culture sector and from supporters by the hundreds and thousands across this province, this minister tries to argue that the reason it was done was to save on administrative costs. He's been using some figures that are completely wrong. They're just wrong, and I don't think the full truth has been told about how unbelievably mistaken this minister is and how the information that he's been putting on paper and putting forward in this House is simply wrong. It's just wrong, and all evidence clearly underlines how wrong it is.

Mr. Speaker, he sometimes talks about administrative costs being $270,000, and other days it's $370,000, when in fact the Arts Council's budget, as of February 15th, shows an administrative expense total of $223,465. Do you know what? The bottom line is that by transferring funding control to his department, the most, at the outside, that will be saved is $34,890. That's the truth. Those are the real numbers behind the argument that this minister is making for completely dismantling and taking control again of the meagre funds that have been used to develop and foster arts and culture in the Province of Nova Scotia. They've taken it back under their wing so that, I think, backbenchers and other members of the Tory caucus can hand this stuff out in their constituencies by the $50 and $100 cheques.

It's shameful. It's a step back 20 years, Mr. Speaker, and what it's done is gotten the arts and culture sector so riled up because of the way they've been treated and the misinformation that's being spewed about by the minister and his colleagues. He's got everyone so distracted that it's nothing but a disruption, and it's a serious problem in terms of that sector in the Province of Nova Scotia. I say to you today, we're going to hear, when this bill goes to the Law Amendments Committee, from people in that sector. We're going to hear the truth about what's really happened in this decision around the Arts Council. Then the minister is going to have some explaining to do, when the people directly affected are providing those kinds of facts and figures here in this House. The minister is not going to be able to avoid it like he did the other day, when there were hundreds and hundreds of people outside and the minister refused to go and speak to them. So that's the Arts Council. That's just another issue in this bill that is being dealt with by this government that I believe is wrong.

[Page 9514]

One last thing I want to talk about is the fee increase for freedom of information. The fees for freedom of information requests have been jacked up to the point where they are the highest in the country and to levels that make it prohibitive for people to try to get information from this government. It was interesting at the time, Mr. Speaker . . .

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Just to assist the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic, unfortunately it appears their research isn't working quite well. I just thought I would assist him in his debate; the fee has gone from $5 to $25, just to assist him in knowing exactly what the impact of this bill is.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order, but certainly a clarification of facts for the House. We thank you. The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic has the floor.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the helpful guidance by the honourable member for Richmond. I continue to say that the freedom of information fees have been jacked up and the process whereby that review goes through has been made more difficult. In other words, what the government is doing they're making it more difficult for ordinary citizens or for members of the Opposition to access information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

At the same time, the Premier and his ministers stand up in the House and they say to us, why do you keep filing these freedom of information requests? Why don't you just ask for the information, is what they say, and we'll give it to you. Don't worry about those fee increases, all you have to do is ask. Well, we do ask. We ask again and again and again and we get refused so that's why we file freedom of information requests.

A perfect example of that happened this morning. Yesterday afternoon, my brother asked the Minister of Environment and Labour for a copy of the fire marshal's report for the premises, Mille Hall, in which the Crosbie Centre is housed in Kentville. Reportedly, that building has been condemned by the Fire Marshal's Office, but nobody has seen the fire marshal's report. So, some people have asked for that, my brother being one. He was told by staff of the minister's department to do what? To file a freedom of information request. Imagine. This is an ordinary citizen who is concerned about a decision that this government has made on the basis of a report by the fire marshal. He makes a very simple request to the government and says, can I see a copy of this report on which you've made your decision? Well, they don't say to him, yes, you can have it or you can have it in a couple of days, they tell this citizen of Nova Scotia to go and file a freedom of information request.

I find that shocking. Ultimately, I find it disrespectful that a person would come to a minister or would come to this government - and it happens all the time, this is just one other example. I don't believe for a second that it's the minister who is saying, no you can't have this information. I think it's probably his staff who's saying you can't have this information. That's shocking because there has to be leadership. The Premier says to us, just ask. We ask

[Page 9515]

and we don't get it. Now, not only do we have to file a freedom of information, but we have to pay more money in order to file. Just in order to file. That's an egregious inconsistency, it's a further burden on Nova Scotians, it's a further attempt of this government to hide information from the people of Nova Scotia and it's something that members on the front benches, members in the Executive Council, can do something about. They don't have to abide by that kind of bureaucratic response to information, that kind of bureaucratic response that says, no, we can't give this information out, people will find out what's really going on. That kind of defensiveness, that kind of protectiveness tends to be a bureaucratic response. Protect, defend, control information.

If there's a commitment by the Premier and by ministers of the Executive Council to allow that information to be available - let's not forget that under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, there are a lot of exceptions, there are a lot of reasons in that Act why information isn't available. This isn't one of them. So, we shouldn't be so quick to say to an ordinary citizen in the Province of Nova Scotia who wants some information, go file a freedom of information request. It doesn't sit well and I don't think it sits well with the minister and I understand that he wants to stand up and respond to that.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. As the member opposite would be well aware that the role of the minister does not involve knowing the specific applicants for the freedom of information requests. So it would not be possible for a minister to interfere in the process. It's pretty much laid out in the Act and the regulations.

[11:15 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: It is not a point of order, but a clarification of the facts.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Let's not call it a clarification of the facts, it's a presentation of a particular interpretation of the facts. The reality is, and the fact is, that the only restriction is that the minister is not to see the name, is not to know the identity of the applicant for freedom of information. There is absolutely no prohibition whatsoever for the minister, for any minister opposite, for any minister of the department, to be able to clearly set direction within his department about how information is to be handled. There's absolutely nothing in the Act whatsoever that says that the minister cannot direct his staff, or her staff, to ensure that when reasonable requests, or when requests are made for information that is not covered in the articles of exception, or whatever it's referred to in the legislation, that that information is just simply made available and that people are not required to jump through hoops and obstacles in order to access the information.

The minister can do that, Mr. Speaker, and I suggest to you that if what the Premier says is true, that all you've got to do is ask and if the request is reasonable, then the information will be provided, it should be done - enough of this foolishness about Nova Scotians not being able to have information that they are rightly entitled to. So I just want to

[Page 9516]

make that point. I don't make that point to try to embarrass this minister, in particular. I tried to bring it forward as something in this Act and the contradiction that exists within this government that causes me some concern. You've got a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that is already, I believe, far too restrictive and too prohibitive in terms of what information is available, number one; number two, when we use it, the government says why do you bother going through this, you know, why do you go through FOI, it's too expensive, just ask. We ask and they don't give us the information and now what they've done on top of all of that is they've jacked the fees to try to cover the costs of FOIs which wouldn't exist if they just gave the information. Does that make any sense? I don't know if it does or not.

I think the issue doesn't make any sense the way this government is handling it, and I don't know that I've done a very good job of explaining my concerns, but nonetheless I put them on the record. Mr. Speaker, there is nothing in the legislation that prohibits all members opposite from giving clear direction to their staff that information be provided unless it is prohibited under the Act, the information be provided. Don't encourage people continually to file freedom of information requests. I urge all members opposite to do likewise.

So finally, in conclusion, let me say, as I take my seat, that I believe - the Financial Measures (2002) Bill - two things. There are many provisions in here I don't like and should be changed, number one, and I won't be supporting it; and number two, I believe that the bill should be severed. I believe there should be a separation in this bill between those issues which actually pertain to financial measures, which actually pertain to the budget, and those like the decision with respect to the Nova Scotia Arts Council, Mr. Speaker, that should be separated. They should have been dealt with in two bills. If you're going to dismantle the Arts Council, if you're going to change the Arts Council legislation, if you're going to repeal the Arts Council legislation, bring in an Act to repeal that former piece of legislation. That's the way it's done. That's the way it should be done - up front, clear. Don't wrap it all up together with a bunch of other things like you have in this Financial Measures (2002) Bill. It's an affront to democracy, I believe. We going to hear more about that as Nova Scotians have an opportunity to make presentations at the Law Amendments Committee, a point in this debate which I look forward to. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm actually glad to offer some thoughts on the Financial Measures (2002) Bill, and I will be brief, perhaps not as brief as my honourable colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, is on occasion. I think there are some things that members should think about and actually that the public should think about, and I certainly hope that some of the public is watching the debate today.

[Page 9517]

I think one of the most unfair things that is noticeable in this bill is the exorbitant use of user fees and the impact that that has on the public. As my colleague, the member for Halifax Atlantic, so eloquently stated, this form of taxation is an unfair taxation in that it really places a burden on those individuals in a non-equitable way for those who are of low income, and if they have to pay the same fee that others in society with a greater income do for a service then it impacts them in a much more negative way. This is not a fair way to tax people, actually it really puts a bind on those who definitely have to pay for a service. They have no way around the fact, but it also means that those who might possibly think they could get away without the service and can't afford it, they will not get the service at all, and that is an even greater unfairness to impose on the people of this province. I think, as my colleague stated, the use of the income tax system would be a much fairer way to tax Nova Scotians, because it's based on their ability to pay.

There are those issues that have been raised in this House over the past number of days, and the cutting of funds to the Arts Council is certainly one of those issues, the reduction in funds to transition houses and women's shelters and programs for men - and this is one that the government has kind of side stepped, I think, for the moment. As far as the public may be concerned, this has been resolved, but I want the people to know that, as yet, it hasn't been resolved, I think it's been postponed, and there is no indication certainly in this piece of legislation that the minister has moved away from his agenda to reduce jobs and close transition houses.

All that we know is the redesign, as it's been called, will still go forward and it will just take place over a longer period of time. There's no guarantee that the minister or the government is backing away from this program of cuts. They don't seem to realize, even as yet, with the opposition that has been mounted - and I don't mean Opposition just on this side of the House, but I mean opposition from the public - that this is something, a service that the public deems to be an important service. You can't plan an emergency, and thereby you need to have this service in place for when the people actually need it.

There's something else happening in the Department of Community Services. I heard the minister on the radio the other morning before I came to the House talking about a request for proposals, that the government is looking at the possibility of privatizing the case management side or the social worker side of Community Services and doing this under the guise of trying to save money. I would say that this is taxpayers' money that they are willing to look at giving out to private companies to provide this service, and being sold on the basis that this will save money.

The province is not supposed to be in the business of making money on these services. So why would you hand it over to the private sector who is in the business of making money with these services and use taxpayers' dollars to pay for that service? If that somehow, that twisted form of logic, would make people think that's in the best interest of Nova Scotians, I can't see it. I have to say that I think having the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation work to

[Page 9518]

make a profit, I think that makes sense. I think most Nova Scotians would agree that that makes sense and it seems to be running in a way that it does have a benefit to Nova Scotians in terms of it does generate a profit, it creates good paying jobs and it has some control on the sale of alcohol in this province.

Privatizing the casework side of social services, I would say does not make sense to Nova Scotians and they would not be looking to make a profit on this. They see this as a service that works to the benefit of the people of Nova Scotia and they don't want to see their tax dollars going into somebody's bank account so they can make money on the emergencies and misery or the unfortunate circumstances that people in this province find themselves in, Mr. Speaker.

There is a concern I have, Mr. Speaker, and actually I raised in yesterday in Question Period, when we look at the lack of support for rural Nova Scotia. I questioned the Minister of Agriculture yesterday on the increase in tuition fees at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. I also tried to draw the minister out on a question related to the drop in student numbers in Pictou and Cumberland Counties and to actually see whether or not the minister could see that there might be a connection between his lack of support for rural Nova Scotia and, in particular, agriculture, and the fact that there are reductions in the population there. This is something that the minister couldn't seem to grasp, the Minister of Education had to field that question.

I want to say that if this government can't take a comprehensive look at economic development and its impacts, or lack of development and its impact on the province, on the population in rural communities and the fact that its economic development plan is not geared to sustain communities and keep people there and keep them generating wealth and employed and keep their families there, that it makes it very difficult to provide services in a cost-effective way, and that means keeping your schools open because you have the population base to support that and also the ability to perhaps attract a doctor to a community that has a school. Nova Scotia, we know, certainly needs to attract more physicians and you would think that the province would look at a plan that incorporates all of the areas in which it could be spending money and investing so it can actually reduce that investment by targeting in areas that will have a cumulative effect and have an overall benefit to the people.

Before I close, Mr. Speaker, and I know that my next comments will certainly cause members in the Liberal caucus to come to their feet - I have to say that I certainly will look forward to any interventions that they may have - but I think if Nova Scotians are paying attention this morning to what's being said in this House, then certainly I want to take issue with the comments of the member for Cape Breton Nova. I want to jog his memory, if that's possible. I think the people of Nova Scotia certainly had an opportunity in July 1999 to send a message to politicians. I know that New Democrats heard that message. We still endeavour to get our message out to the people of Nova Scotia that this is a Party that has their best interests at heart and under no circumstances do I accept, that because we voted against the

[Page 9519]

Liberal budget that somehow that's the reason the Tories came into power. The Tories are in power because the people of Nova Scotia wanted them to be in power. I would say that until the Liberal Party learns that, they will stay in the Third Party position. The fact that they're there should be a message for them which is one they don't seem to want to pick up on.

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the honourable members in the Liberal caucus about some of the things that Nova Scotians haven't forgotten, and they are issues around . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Save that for your victory speech.

MR. MACDONELL: Well, I may repeat it, but they are issues around the Ralph Fiske compensation, the Strait Regional School Board, institutional abuse compensation (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova would just wait - no.

Order, please. You know I'm prepared to allow quite a bit of latitude in regard to debate, particularly on this bill, but I would ask the honourable member to bring his comments back to Bill No. 109, please, which is at second reading.

Order, please. Now, the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova did rise on a point of order, I believe.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, my point was that he was getting into Ralph Fiske, who, in my view, served as Minister of Trade and Industry in the government of Gerald Regan in the early 1970s, so I think that's . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I thank the honourable member for that. I think I've already ruled that that is an inappropriate debate at this time.

The honourable member for Hants East on Bill No. 109, please.

MR. MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and yes, it is my pleasure to conclude my comments around Bill No. 109. I want all members in the House to recognize the impact Bill No. 109 will have on the economic development possibilities of the province, and I would like them to think about those economic development initiatives that have not proved worthy of the people, like Orenda, Mac Timber Ltd., Dynatek Automation Systems Inc., et cetera, which I think is a list that members of the electorate have not forgotten from the previous Liberal Government.

[Page 9520]

So with those comments, Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat and listen to the interventions of other members.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise just very briefly to reiterate what was said by our House Leader. We've had the opportunity in our caucus, most of us at least, to speak one hour apiece on this particular bill. I certainly have stated the impact it would have on my own constituents, as our caucus colleagues have.

Clearly, this is a majority government. They are going to continue and push through this bill whether we like it or not. We've reached a point here where we've raised our concerns on second reading. We have heard from Nova Scotians, who have expressed concern, which is why we look forward to going to the Law Amendments Committee process to hear more of their concerns and new ideas as to what their reactions are to this, which we can then bring forward into the Committee of the Whole House process and then into third reading. So we've certainly had our opportunity to express our concerns on this. It is my belief that the members on the government side will pay the political price for the decisions made in this, but in the end they are a majority and, as I say, that will push this forward. I'm sure that we will make sure to remind Nova Scotians that it is they who will pay the political price for the harsh, unjust decisions made in this bill.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I look forward, as a member of the Law Amendments Committee, to hearing the presentations from average Nova Scotians and different organizations as to their viewpoints on this particular bill.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to be uncharacteristically brief in my remarks. (Applause) There is certainly no question that at the drop of a hat one could easily eat up an hour of debate on this bill; it is that bad. The reality is, given the fact that the Liberal Party did not move another amendment in second reading when they had the chance, unfortunately, even if we had used our horses on this side, we could not extend the bill debate beyond Monday. I am very pleased, and I know that the Government House Leader - at least my experience has been that when he gives you his word on business in this House, you can take his word, and the Government House Leader - has given his word that the bill will not be going to the Law Amendments Committee process before next Wednesday. Since that word has been given, and given the fact that even if we were to drag this out a couple of hours into Monday, that's not going to change the end result in that the bill could still be there prior to - in fact, it could have been brought there on the Tuesday.

[Page 9521]

Therefore, as it turns out, since the opportunity to extend the debate was denied by the fact that we didn't really have to drag it out for another week, the fact that we didn't have the other amendment brought forward, I certainly will be willing to have the vote on this matter if there are no other speakers, Mr. Speaker. I would say to you in advance that before I do take my seat, when the bill is called for a vote, I will be one who will be calling for a recorded vote.

I want Nova Scotians to have the opportunity to one more time see the Premier standing in his place to vote on this legislation because if they watch the Premier and other members of the government benches standing up to vote in support of this bill in second reading, then they will have the opportunity to again see the Premier standing up to vote and all members of the Tory caucus standing up to vote to break commitments that they made in the last election. That is an image that I think Nova Scotians should keep fresh in their minds. With those very few brief remarks and I say they are very brief - I haven't touched on all the other items that could be, but I'm sure that there will be other opportunities. I just regret that we aren't going to have the opportunity for another full week or more of debate on this bill in the committee stage. With those brief remarks, I will resume my seat.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Just so everyone understands, the motion that will be before the House at this time, if there are no further interveners, would be the motion put forward by the honourable Government House Leader that the question now be put. Is the House ready for the question?

A recorded vote is being called for.

We will ring the bells to the satisfaction of the Whips.

[11:37 a.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Are the Whips satisfied?

The recorded vote has been called for on the motion that is before the House, which is that the previous question be put. The Clerk will call the roll. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[Page 9522]

[11:45 a.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Christie Mr. Corbett

Mr. Russell Mr. Deveaux

Dr. Hamm Ms. Maureen MacDonald

Mr. Muir Mr. Dexter

Miss Purves Mr. Holm

Mr. Balser Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. Parent Mr. Downe

Ms. McGrath Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Ronald Chisholm Mr. MacAskill

Mr. Olive Mr. Boudreau

Mr. Morse Mr. Samson

Mr. MacIsaac Mr. MacKinnon

Mr. DeWolfe Mr. MacEwan

Mr. Taylor Mr. Steele

Mr. Langille Mr. MacDonell

Mr. Chataway Mr. Robert Chisholm

Mr. Hendsbee Mr. Estabrooks

Mrs. Baillie Mr. Epstein

Mr. Carey Mr. Pye

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

THE CLERK: For, 24. Against, 19.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House . . .

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I was up a few moments ago speaking on Bill No. 109, the Financial Measures (2002) Act. I took issue on the freedom of information Act, the increase of fees and the contradictory messages coming from the government. To underline that, I took issue with a situation involving the Minister

[Page 9523]

of Environment and Labour, where his department had responded to a request from my brother and from our department for some information by telling them to go file a freedom of information request. Well, I want the House to know that within moments of that discussion - coincidence, I'm sure but, nonetheless - I received a response to the freedom of information request, completed in full and with the fee waived. I just wanted to make that point to this House and thank the minister for responding. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member for that.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on Monday at the hour of 2:00 p.m. The House will sit until 10:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading. Just to give the Opposition some indication as to where we're going, we will start off with Bill No. 125, the Smoke-free Places Act and then when we're finished with that bill, whether it be Monday, Tuesday or whenever, we will go back to Bill No. 104, then Bill No. 105, then Bill No. 106. We will skip Bill No. 107 temporarily and go to Bill No. 108, then to Bill No. 113, then to Bill No. 115.

Mr. Speaker, with those remarks I move the House do rise and wish everybody a happy weekend.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is the House do adjourn until 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. on Monday.

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 House is adjourned until 2:00 p.m. on Monday.

[The House rose at 11:51 a.m.]

[Page 9524]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3664

By: Mr. Robert Chisholm (Halifax Atlantic)

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

Whereas one of the most forthright, unconditional commitments made by Liberal Leader Danny Graham was his commitment to the arm's-length Arts Council; and

Whereas Danny Graham visited the Legislature on May 2nd when his Liberal caucus had an opportunity to apply significant pressure in support of the arm's-length Arts Council by moving an amendment to the Financial Measures (2002) Act; and

Whereas the Liberals instead declined their opportunity to delay legislation wiping out the Arts Council and increasing taxes although they know that delay and debate force a government to listen;

Therefore be it resolved that this House regrets that the Liberal caucus failed to follow through on their Leader's unconditional support for the arm's-length Arts Council.

RESOLUTION NO. 3665

By: Mr. Donald Downe (Lunenburg West)

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

Whereas the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Big Bike Ride engages children across the province in raising funds for lifesaving programs and health promotion; and

Whereas the foundation recognizes its most committed young fundraisers with the annual Big Bike Award; and

Whereas to receive this year's award, Ms. Annette Conrad of Lunenburg personally raised over $1,000 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize the achievement of Ms. Annette Conrad and other Big Bike Award winners for their efforts to promote health in their communities.

[Page 9525]

RESOLUTION NO. 3666

By: Mr. Donald Downe (Lunenburg West)

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

Whereas special olympian Greg Eagle of Newcombville will represent Nova Scotia at this summer's National Games in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan; and

Whereas since winning his first gold medal in 1992 as part of our province's championship floor hockey team, Greg Eagle has earned over 100 medals and trophies; and

Whereas in trading his medal-winning speed skates for ironweights, Greg Eagle will be Nova Scotia's power lifter in the 67 kilogram class;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend its congratulations and best wishes to our 2002 National Summer Games athlete Greg Eagle of Newcombville.