The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., June 1, 2001

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HALIFAX, FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1571

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

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Whereas 30 Grade 11 students received the Lieutenant Governor's Medal in a special ceremony in Lockview High School in Fall River yesterday; and

Whereas the recipients came from 15 Halifax Regional School Board high schools and were chosen for their leadership and commitment to their schools and communities; and

Whereas medals will also be presented to students in the rest of the province in five other ceremonies;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate winners of the Lieutenant Governor's Medal in schools throughout the province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1572

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

Whereas the cultural legacy of Lauchie Dan N. MacLellan, a noted Gaelic singer and storyteller from Dunvegan, Inverness County, has been highlighted in a book, Brìgh an Òranin; and

Whereas this 400 page volume represents only a fragment of Lauchie Dan N.'s legacy as recorded by John Shaw, a noted Gaelic scholar; and

Whereas his generous contributions to songs and stories will be remembered by the many individuals he touched;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the great legacy of Lauchie Dan N. MacLellan and congratulate John Shaw for his great collection and his hard work that went into producing such a great piece of history.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 67 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 18 of the Acts of 1998. The Municipal Government Act, to Expand Standing Before the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. (Mr. Graham Steele)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1573

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

Whereas Sempra Atlantic wishes to downscale its gas distribution plan for Nova Scotia, like changing horses in midstream; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development indicated this government will not endorse Sempra's plan; and

Whereas the timid Tories, after having been told it is Sempra's way or the highway, want to foist off the decision on Sempra's about-face to the Utility and Review Board;

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Therefore be it resolved that this government hold Sempra Atlantic to its contractual commitments by walking softly and carrying the big stick of legal action to force Sempra to honour its contractual commitments.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1574

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

Whereas from May 30, 2001, until June 4, 2001, the beautiful Annapolis Valley will once again host the 69th Annual Apple Blossom Festival; and

Whereas celebrations will continue this weekend in many communities from Windsor to Digby; and

Whereas this year's theme, Volunteers - Seeds of Our Success, honours most appropriately the hundreds of volunteers who work so very hard to ensure that the tradition of the Apple Blossom Festival continues;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Claude O'Hara, President, the Board of Directors of the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival and all the volunteers who have worked so hard to make this event the success it will be.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1575

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

Whereas after two busy months of deliberations, the business of this House for the spring session is winding down; and

Whereas during the early mornings, late nights and all hours in between, the staff of this House have worked non-stop to ensure that the business of the House has run as smoothly as is humanly possible; and

Whereas those who we should thank for this include the trusted team of Mike Laffin and Peter Theriault; their efficient Pages; the invaluable Legislative Library staff; our dutiful Commissionaires; our great chef, Charlie Whalen; the hardworking cleaners, Richard and Michael; the dedicated staff in the Clerk's Office, Speaker's Office, and the Committees Office and, of course, the technical specialists of Legislative Television and Hansard who broadcast and record the entire proceedings;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the tremendous and efficient efforts of all involved in the operations of the House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1576

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

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Whereas communities across Cape Breton and the rural mainland have recognized that access to natural gas is a long-term economic advantage which should be available throughout the province; and

Whereas this government inherited and embraced the former Liberal Government's preference for relying on one large private-for-profit distributor to bring natural gas to Nova Scotians; and

Whereas that short-sighted, short-term thinking by Liberals and Tories alike rejected the community-based options that have brought natural gas to western Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this government should be big enough to admit that it made a mistake by taking the Liberal path of reliance on one large out-of-province company to fairly distribute natural gas in Nova Scotia.

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.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1577

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 Premier has promised to maximize opportunities associated for offshore gas in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Premier has failed to ensure any additional benefit is coming to Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Premier's latest failure means the ability of Nova Scotians to burn their own gas has been delayed for at least two more years;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier take better control of the situation and stop allowing our offshore opportunities to slip from his grasp.

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Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 1578

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

Whereas Mr. Greg Brown has served as the General Manager for the Halifax Regional Development Agency for the last six years; and

Whereas Mr. Brown and the RDA has made significant progress in those years including the creation of the agency itself, creating the first ever Regional Community Economic Development Strategy for HRM, establishing the Regional Trails Team and numerous other important community projects and refocusing the Regional Development Agency's role; and

Whereas Mr. Brown has also been active politically both as a PC candidate for Eastern Shore in 1998 and has also served as campaign manager and constituency president for Preston;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature commend Greg Brown for his work with the Halifax Regional Development Agency and wish him well as he pursues new career opportunities.

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.

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The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1579

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

Whereas the Society for Women Healing from Addictions and Abuse plans to open Marguerite Centre, the province's first home to help women recovering from alcohol and drug addictions, in response to a dire need; and

Whereas the federal government has been asked to fund the centre until March 31, 2003, through Human Resources Development Canada; and

Whereas the provincial Departments of Community Services and Health have been asked to commit to help cover the centre's operating expenses after that date;

Therefore be it resolved that this House and this government applaud the Society for Women Healing from Addictions and Abuse and its Coordinator, Joanne Bernard, for their hard work and dedication in establishing Marguerite Centre and vow to commit the funding required for the province's first home to help women recovering from alcohol and drug addictions.

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.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1580

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

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Whereas the IWK Health Centre Telethon for Children will be held on June 2nd and June 3rd in Halifax with remote sites in Sydney, Fredericton and Charlottetown; and

Whereas each year, thousands of individuals, companies, community groups, schools, military personnel and employees dedicate valuable time and effort to raise funds for the IWK Health Centre; and

Whereas in addition to raising the necessary funds for medical equipment and research, the telethon enables all of us to meet first-hand some of the courageous patients who have been so well taken care of by the staff at the IWK Health Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend our appreciation and thanks to the countless volunteers and fundraisers who work year-round to make the IWK Health Centre Telethon a success and extend our best wishes for a productive and fun-filled weekend.

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 Health.

[9:15 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1581

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

Whereas sadly Felipe Alou has been fired after nearly 10 years as Manager of the Montreal Expos; and

Whereas for many of those of years Felipe Alou was recognized as the best manager in baseball; and

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Whereas Felipe Alou was part of the Montreal Expos organization for 28 years;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank and congratulate Felipe Alou for his contribution to major league baseball, particularly in Canada, and wish him and his family success and happiness in the future.

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 Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1582

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

Whereas Windows on the Past, an original dramatic production of P to 6 Ecole St. Joseph-A. MacKay School, explores the Halifax Explosion of December 6, 1917; and

Whereas vignettes examined the war years when the explosion occurred and the tragic loss of life, including children who died as a result of the collapse of the former St. Joseph's School on that terrible day; and

Whereas also examined is the relief effort, rebuilding of the old North End, today's Hydrostone area, the erecting of the Memorial Bells on Fort Needham and the dedication of stained glass windows at St. Joseph's Catholic Church;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate students, staff, parents and community members of Ecole St. Joseph-A. MacKay School for the exceptional production, Windows on the Past, a heartwarming showpiece of outstanding quality.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1583

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

Whereas as the members of the House of Assembly know by now, on February 28th a Department of Transportation and Public Works snowplow destroyed the Church Bridge in Middle River; and

Whereas despite creating not only an inconvenience but also a hazard for emergency vehicles, the minister refused to take immediate action and repair the bridge; and

Whereas after much badgering, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works at least agreed to meet with the residents of Middle River to discuss replacing the bridge when the House closes;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works fulfill his promise by setting a time and date for this meeting as soon as the Legislature rises.

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.

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The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1584

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

Whereas Mr. Frank Webber of Dartmouth prevented a near-fatal accident while driving downhill along Highway No. 7 at Head of Jeddore on May 11, 2001; and

Whereas due to the quick thinking and professional handling of his 18-wheeler, Mr. Webber managed to brake and pull off to the side of the road when an eight year old bicyclist rode into the path of his truck; and

Whereas the young boy's life was spared after going underneath the trailer, between the front wheels and exiting between the rear wheels, with no more than a mere scratch;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. Frank Webber for skilfully saving the life of Simon Abs through his expert prevention of a potentially fatal accident.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1585

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

Whereas the Lieutenant Governor's Medal is a prestigious award for high school students across this province; and

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Whereas this award recognizes the exceptional talents of students; and

Whereas Sir John A. Macdonald students Caitlin Pierlot and Kelsey Tonner were chosen as Lieutenant Governor's Medal winners;

Therefore be it resolved that the Legislature congratulate Sir John A. Macdonald students Kelsey Tonner and Caitlin Pierlot and all other winners of the Lieutenant Governor's Medal.

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. 1586

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

Whereas on Friday, May 11th, the Department of Environment and Labour honoured 20 Nova Scotia companies during the province's first annual Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards; and

Whereas the award was meant to recognize the company which registered the top Workers' Compensation Experience Rating in their respective county, the experience rating being determined by comparing the company's accident experience and workers' compensation claim cost against the standard for the company's industry group; and

Whereas St. Anne's Nursing Care Centre of Arichat, which has been serving the health needs of Isle Madame and Louisdale for many years, was chosen as the recipient of the award for Richmond County;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mr. Eric Burke, Administrator; the board of directors; administration; and dedicated staff of St. Anne's Nursing Care Centre for being recognized with the Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1587

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

Whereas two individuals are being honoured today for their outstanding contributions to corrections through the Lunenburg Correctional Facility; and

Whereas Randolph B. Stevens has worked tirelessly over the years to coordinate church services for inmates of all denominations, and has helped inmates to find employment opportunities sometimes on his own farm; and

Whereas Carol M. Dimock has been a consistent supporter of inmates and has offered year-round spiritual guidance, becoming a great resource both for offenders and staff;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend and congratulate both Mr. Stevens and Ms. Dimock for their efforts and extend sincere appreciation for their efforts and extend sincere appreciation for their dedication and compassion to the inmates and staff of our correctional system.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1588

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

Whereas Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia has provided stellar entertainment to theatre lovers since its founding in 1972; and

Whereas Mermaid's use of puppets for unique adaptations of children's literature has served to acquaint hundreds of thousands of young people with the literary works that delighted their parents and grandparents; and

Whereas co-founder and Managing Director Sara Lee Lewis, has been awarded the Order of Canada for her glowing efforts on behalf of the arts;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Sara Lee Lewis of Mermaid Theatre on receiving the Order of Canada.

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 The Lakes.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1589

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

Whereas Carla Jean Johnson of Sydney River was chosen as a counsellor with the Children's International Summer Village Program in British Columbia; and

Whereas Carla earned a Bachelor of Arts degree last year from Saint Thomas University and this year she will again graduate with a Bachelor of Social Work degree. In the fall she will begin a masters program at Mount Saint Vincent University; and

Whereas Carla has been an active community volunteer since her high school days at Riverview High School in Coxheath;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Carla Jean Johnson on her past accomplishments and wish her every success for the future.

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 Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1590

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

Whereas New Democrats from all over Nova Scotia gather this weekend in Sydney at the New Democratic Party's annual convention; and

Whereas delegates at convention will discuss and develop policies which stand for the good of everyday Nova Scotians; and

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Whereas New Democrats will emerge from convention renewed and reinvigorated because they are the only credible alternative to years of Liberal and Tory mismanagement of Nova Scotia's affairs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House wish Nova Scotia New Democrats well at this weekend's annual convention in Sydney.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1591

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

Whereas the Premier claims that municipalities have been offering salary top-ups to physicians for decades; and

Whereas the Premier should know that municipalities don't pay doctors, the Department of Health does; and

Whereas this is typical of a Premier who had no idea the debt would continue to rise until 2007;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier is clueless as to his own policies and that such inattention to detail means the taxpayers will continue to suffer at the hands of his inept administration.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 4466]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1592

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

Whereas Medic Alert Month was celebrated in Halifax on Saturday, May 26th; and

Whereas the Medic Alert Foundation is Canada's largest membership-based charity; and

Whereas the foundation is recognized as Canada's leading provider of emergency medical information services;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate the Medic Alert Foundation for its 40th year of contributing to the health and well-being of more than 1 million Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1593

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

[Page 4467]

Whereas another House session will have come and gone and the government will still retain $3.8 million destined for charity from the Sydney Casino; and

Whereas once again, every Tory caucus member is compliant in this heartless measure; and

Whereas this government, through this action, is proving once again that it has all the compassion of a cold-blooded snake;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House who support the government in taking $3.8 million from charity have lost any moral authority to maintain elected office and by retaining office, these measures prove they have no heart or perhaps even a soul.

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.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1594

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

Whereas David Sheppard has served this House of Assembly with a high degree of professionalism; and

Whereas during his five year tenure at the Legislature, he has served with three Premiers and two governments; and

Whereas the job of a legislative Page is an essential part of the Parliamentary tradition;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House thank David Sheppard for his dedication and service and wish him all the best in the times ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4468]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1595

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 Sydney Kinsmen's International Air Show is ready for lift-off this summer; and

Whereas the annual show has been bumped ahead more than a month to accommodate the Canadian military acrobatic team, the Snowbirds, return to Sydney; and

Whereas the event, which features aviation displays and numerous military and specially-modified aircraft, normally takes place over two days in late August but this year the shows are scheduled for July 7th and 8th;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Sydney Kinsmen for putting together one of the finest air shows in North America and encourage all Nova Scotians to come to Sydney for the July 7th and 8th show.

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 4469]

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1596

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

Whereas part of the challenges facing health care are that decisions are still being made on political expediency rather than sound clinical practice; and

Whereas simply bringing doctors to a municipality based on its ability to pay is a prime example of why health-care decisions must be made based on sound statistics and clinical outcomes; and

Whereas the only reason Barrington is short of a physician is that the government has not made Barrington a priority;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health has failed the people of Barrington in that their physician recruitment efforts have failed due to government inaction, and the other reasons are simply excuses.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1597

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

Whereas the County of Victoria does not have the means to engage in a bidding war for doctors; and

Whereas such complaints are falling on deaf ears as the government pits one municipality against another; and

[Page 4470]

Whereas Victoria County deserves doctors based on medical need and not based on its ability to pay;

Therefore be it resolved that the province has an obligation to take a leadership role in physician recruitment and that municipalities should not be forced into a bidding war for medical services that are a right and not a privilege.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1598

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

Whereas a government that receives an unprecedented $613 million in extra revenues since coming to office has no excuse for not balancing their budget; and

Whereas despite promises to make Nova Scotia the lowest-taxed area of the Atlantic Region, by this time next year Nova Scotia will be the highest-taxed province; and

Whereas despite this fact, income taxes keep going up and the Premier refuses to freeze taxes;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the mismanagement of this government and urge the Premier and his Finance Minister to admit they are raising income taxes, but instead they are denying what is obvious to any thinking person.

[9:30 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4471]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1599

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: I will try one more time. I hope the MLAs for Inverness and Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury listen very carefully.

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

Whereas the Conservative Government continues to turn their back on the Strait area when it comes to economic development issues; and

Whereas it is this government which has refused to locate a petroleum office in Port Hawkesbury, has refused to give the Strait area representation on the Nova Scotia Business Inc. board and has no long-term plan or vision for the future development of the Strait area; and

Whereas the latest insult has come with the announcement that the clerical position in the Port Hawkesbury office of the Nova Scotia Department of Economic Development will be terminated effective June 18, 2001, leaving one development officer in the office to address the development issues in the Strait;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House call upon the Premier and his government to immediately reverse this decision and finally make a commitment to support the growth and economic development of the Strait area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 4472]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1600

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

Whereas the previous government established the first call centre in Cape Breton; and

Whereas call centres like EDS in Sydney are providing good-paying, respectable jobs to Nova Scotians; and

Whereas for the past year the Liberal Party has been lobbying the government to take more action to bring Stream International Call Centres to Glace Bay;

Therefore be it resolved that this government recognize the economic and moral necessity of helping the people of Glace Bay and do its utmost to bring the Stream call centre to the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1601

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

Whereas prior to the last election, the Premier promised to consult with municipalities on any major changes to their roles and responsibilities; and

Whereas the Premier has failed to consult the UNSM and individual municipalities to see if they support the idea of paying doctors' salaries from property taxes; and

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Whereas the actions of this government will not only affect health care but it will also hurt municipal relations for years to come;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations should remind the Premier of his promise to ensure Nova Scotia municipalities are not engaged in a doctor-recruitment bidding war.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

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, Public Bills for Third Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 10.

Bill No. 10 - Order of Nova Scotia Act.

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

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to move third reading of Bill No. 10.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: The Order of Nova Scotia, with the passage of time, I am sure will grow in prestige and the recognition that the first number of winners will receive when those announcements are made.

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I know that for a moment this morning, as you were entering the House, I wondered how you were recognized when you received that prestigious award in Ottawa a number of years ago. As the House is aware and hopefully Nova Scotians are aware, our Speaker has received the Medal of Bravery for an act in, I guess in the line of duty, but beyond that, that Medal of Bravery, of course, recognized his accomplishments on a particular day. The significance of that medal and the fact that there is a comparative process with regard to the Order of Nova Scotia, I believe that with the passage of time, awards such as the Order of Nova Scotia will gain the prestige that I know the Speaker feels when he is in a position where he can wear his Medal of Bravery.

There will be throughout a number of municipalities and communities in this province, throughout those areas, an interest in the Order of Nova Scotia and the interest will revolve around how individual Nova Scotians can nominate other Nova Scotians for this award. That is of some consequence that this government and the minister responsible makes it abundantly clear over the next number of months the process for accepting nominations for the Order of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I know there are people in your community, the long-time volunteers, people in the communities of Springhill and Parrsboro, as are in communities that I represent from Terence Bay, Timberlea, Upper Tantallon, that I would look forward to nominating for this award. That nomination process is of some importance in establishing an open and transparent approach to the first winners of the Order of Nova Scotia. Those first winners, as has been said in this House, are going to be tough to select; difficult because, of course, there will be so many candidates who could be eligible for that award.

The minister and his staff have accepted the suggestion that in the first year there will not be five winners of the Order of Nova Scotia, there will be 10 and those 10 are exemplary Nova Scotians. I congratulate the minister and his department for accepting that change and that suggestion and including it as an amendment that was brought forward to the Law Amendments Committee. The Order of Nova Scotia, with time, will grow in prestige. It will grow in recognition. It is something that has been long wanting in this province and our caucus is in full support of Bill No. 10 as amended. Thank you for your time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I just rise for a few minutes to speak on Bill No. 10, the Order of Nova Scotia Act. Certainly our caucus has raised different concerns with this bill and certainly made a number of suggestions to the minister which I certainly hope he will keep in mind and bring forward as the process to enact this bill is put into place. I know that my colleague, the honourable member for Lunenburg West, our Tourism and Culture Critic, has certainly spoken on this and indicated our caucus' support for this.

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Certainly I think this finally is a sign of the government doing something which is positive rather than the numerous items they have thrown on the floor of this House and outside of this House which has meant more to divide Nova Scotians than unite them. Finally, I think Bill No. 10 is one of those pieces of legislation which all Nova Scotians can look at to unite us in celebrating our history and our achievements and, as a result of that, Mr. Speaker, we will be supporting this legislation and certainly hope that the minister will take our recommendations under consideration in order to make Bill No. 10 and the Order of Nova Scotia the best award that it possibly can be.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 10. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 12.

Bill No. 12 - Assessment Act and Municipal Government Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, I move third reading of Bill No. 12.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, just a couple of minutes on this bill. I know that this is a piece of legislation that the government has introduced, but also for the record, there was an amendment to this legislation that encompassed a bill that was introduced by my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview. That was a bill dealing with, I believe Bill No. 55, which dealt with the Assessment Act and there were members of the Halifax Regional Municipality who were living on Smith Street in Halifax, in the South End, there was a fire and those people were then being told they had to pay the full assessment on their property even though their houses had been burned down. It seemed like a real injustice. It is something that our Party brought forward in Bill No. 55 to get it addressed because the city, HRM, said they couldn't address it until there was an amendment to the Act, which was introduced in Bill No. 55.

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The government has incorporated Bill No. 55 into Bill No. 12, the amendment. We are happy to see that, that is a sign of good cooperation, it is good law. It is going to be good for the people of Smith Street and anyone else in this province who finds themselves in a horrible situation where their houses have been burned down or destroyed in some manner and they are still being told that they have to pay the full assessment. I am glad to see the government has done this, this is a sign of good co-operation. We will have no problem supporting Bill No. 12.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to rise in my place and congratulate the minister to bring this bill forward and thank him on behalf of the fire departments that I represent of course. We are a little disappointed and we feel that the government could have went a little further with this bill. However, we do support the bill and will be voting for it. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Government House Leader it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to close debate on this bill and to mention that indeed I think this was a good bill and I think it was a bill that was made better by the comments of the Opposition during its passage through this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 12. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 14.

Bill No. 14 - Energy Resources Conservation Act/Pipeline Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased on behalf of the Minister of Economic Development to move third reading of Bill No. 14.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is very tempting to use some considerable time talking about this particular piece of legislation. I know I am being encouraged by my colleagues to have some considerable words to say. As I begin my briefer than (Interruption) I hear the honourable member for Dartmouth East also encouraging me to say a few words and to go on for some time in this.

This is a bill that is actually fairly important. As we are rising and we are doing third reading on the legislation today, we are having yet another, I guess I would have to say, sad episode appearing to unfold in Nova Scotia. If we go back, we can go back well over 20 years in which Nova Scotians have been promised that we are on the cusp of tremendous things happening here in Nova Scotia. (Interruption) I am hearing from the former Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate who is squawking and so on and saying that if it were up to us nothing would ever happen. Of course, he doesn't want any revisiting of history because we been given a little better advice being given back in those days, a number of things may not have happened.

If one looks at it, we go back to the days of the 1970's, of the Regan Government, we all remember that little vial of oil that was held up. (Interruption) It is oil, yes. We were promised and we were told about all of the quick benefits that were going to be coming to this province, and that of course was not too far before an election. What the legislation that is before us today really does is do away with, for example, the Energy Conservation Board. Now that was a secretive body that the government used to give it advice. It was also the body that was supposed to be ensuring that Nova Scotians received the maximum benefits from the development of our oil and gas resources. That was a body that the former government used without any public hearings to grant approval for the construction of the pipeline across the Strait to Cape Breton, that approved this pipeline, which as it turns out, is too small.

[9:45 a.m.]

It is also flawed. It cannot have the compression it was promised to be able to put on that pipeline to ensure that the volumes of natural gas that we would be able to send to Cape Breton would be able to meet the needs of that community and the industrial area of Cape Breton. Instead, that pipeline has had to operate and is now being required to operate on reduced capacity because of the flaws in that line. So about 50 per cent of the uncompressed volumes can now get to Cape Breton.

That body is being done away with, Mr. Speaker, and now the minister is going to have - and he already did have, anyway, as far as I am concerned - the ability to get advice from others. The powers that that conservation board was supposed to have, in terms of being able to regulate, are now going to be given to the Utility and Review Board to hold public

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hearings and so on, which makes a lot of sense, because they do have the staff and they do have some expertise and the ability to get more expertise to, in fact, have proper hearings and hopefully, not have the kind of problems that occurred in that last laying of that line that was granted by that board, by the conservation board, the energy board. Hopefully, those kinds of things won't reoccur.

Mr. Speaker, my comments are going to be painfully brief. If we look at it, and the . . .

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Brief is not painful.

MR. HOLM: The Government House Leader has heard me enough times, Mr. Speaker, and across the floor he suggests that brief is not painful. Some days I like to be as painful as possible and therefore try to make my comments anything but brief.

Mr. Speaker, if one looks at it, what have we got? We have received a very small royalty compared to what most parts of the world receive for the development and the use of our resources, non-renewable resources. So our royalty rate is low and of that royalty rate that we do receive, because of agreements that were entered into by this government with Ottawa, 70 per cent of the limited royalties that we do receive actually go to Ottawa. The amount, that 30 per cent that we do receive, that then reduces our equalization payments from Ottawa as well. So in terms of royalties, net monies coming into Nova Scotia, we are getting a paltry amount.

When you take a look, Mr. Speaker, at the whole issue of benefits to Nova Scotia in terms of the initial phase and certainly of the development of our resources, we haven't been getting the percentage that we were promised. Of course, the regulatory body that has that authority to monitor, has no powers, really, to enforce. When one takes a look at the pipeline that carries the natural gas from onshore to onshore, we had the opportunity to own 50 per cent of that through the back-in provisions and that is something, a line that is regulated in terms of its profits and would have been a guaranteed money-maker for the province but we gave that away for nothing as well, costing us a potential of many millions of dollars in profits a year.

We do have the industry up and going. There is no question about that and that is a good thing. We also know, Mr. Speaker, that the potential and the probability of expanded projects getting underway and getting underway very soon, is excellent because we all know that there are tremendous resources off our coast, tremendous volumes of resources. We also know that we have location. We are close to the major New England market and the United States, its desperate need of energy, we have it, we are close by and it will be developed. We do need to do things better. We do need to clean up our regulatory process. We do need to streamline the regulations so that those who wish to explore and develop and invest, that they know what the rules of the game are and that they can therefore move ahead in an efficient manner, but that doesn't mean that we have to roll over and cave in.

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We know that there is now more drilling being done, and more requests to drill onshore. We are getting 11 cents an acre for the right to explore here in Nova Scotia. Absolute peanuts. In fact . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. I would ask the honourable members to take their conversations outside, please.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that what those members in the back and the government benches are talking about is the wisdom of all of what I am saying. They are listening to every word I am saying, and they are discussing those very points.

Mr. Speaker, we would have to sell the rights to about a dozen acres at that 11 cents an acre rate to be able to buy a very small, little, tiny bag of peanuts. That is what we are giving it away for. We now have, and it has been in the press considerably the last 24 hours, about the distribution issue here in Nova Scotia. Sempra, I am sure, has a number of very legitimate issues that they would like to raise with the province. They are a big boy when it comes to the gas distribution system in this world. When they agreed to the terms, they knew what the rules were when they went into it. They said that they were prepared to take the losses at the initial stages. They said they could meet the requirements and were prepared to put up the money to do that if in return they were given the monopoly, the sole franchise to distribute natural gas in this province.

Now it appears that for a number of reasons, and I think that they are absolutely correct, which were beyond their control, the conditions have changed and it is not as rosy as they had once thought. They should have known that going in. They have been involved in the industry. They knew that there was no guarantee as to the actual price of natural gas at any given time. They knew that they couldn't have a lock on what the price on the international markets was going to be. They were also the ones who developed their own projection costs for what it was going to cost to develop a distribution system in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Now it appears that what they want to do is retrench on what their commitments were and only to deliver it to a few markets, those that are very close to the main lines and to the major Halifax metropolitan area, which is the big market, the place where the most money would be made. If members on the government benches or on the Liberal Party benches would like to, if they haven't done so already, take a look at what happened out West, when natural gas was first being distributed across those provinces, and one large company was given a franchise. What did they do? They went to the large, populated areas, to the large cities, large urban areas where they could make the most money, and they had no real interest in expanding out into the smaller rural areas. (Interruptions)

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The member for Kings South is suggesting he would like to come over here and join us in this caucus. I say to him that we have a process that he would have to go through if he wished to do that. I am not sure he could cut the mustard and would be acceptable. If he wants to make it as a formal request, I assure him that at least I will take it to the next step so it could be discussed. We will strike a committee to review that possibility. Hopefully I won't be on it, for his sake.

Mr. Speaker, that having been said, in those provinces, like in Alberta, and it was under the Conservative Government of Premier Lougheed, they passed a Gas Distribution Act in Alberta which opened the system up so that it wasn't going to be only up to one major distributor to distribute the gas. They allowed for co-operatives and municipal units to get involved in the distribution of natural gas. When they did that, then all of a sudden we saw

distribution taking place.

Mr. Speaker, some members are saying, not even close to the bill. Well, I am close to the bill in this regard. The minister is now going to have the ability to get advisors who can start to give him some good advice so that the kinds of mistakes that have been made by the former Liberal Government and then exacerbated by this Conservative Government may not happen again. You would have a hard time convincing the majority of Nova Scotians that the Governments of Nova Scotia have done a good job in the development of our resources and you would have a hard time convincing Nova Scotians that Nova Scotia is getting a good deal out of it because they know better. They know that our resources are being used and distributed in the Province of New Brunswick.

The also know, Mr. Speaker, that they are being used and developed in New England and that some of those resources are going to be stripped out and used in petrochemical and other industries in other jurisdictions. They also know that power plants are being constructed in other jurisdictions. They know that if natural gas is going to be restricted to a few areas of this province, they know that that means that those areas that don't have access to the natural gas are going to be yet again in a more disadvantaged position with those areas of the province that do have it for attracting and maintaining businesses. Nova Scotians understand that.

I will say, Mr. Speaker, I was pleased that the Minister of Economic Development, in the committee, did say that the government would be filing a brief with the Utility and Review Board about Nova Scotia Power's application. They wanted to be able to set different rates, those rates to go head to head with natural gas in the areas where natural gas will be available, but not to provide the same rates across the province. In fact, the government did, although they haven't publicized it, to the best of my knowledge, but we did check and did go after a copy of that brief and they did actually do that. So therefore I was pleased that that has been done. But, surely to heavens, the government should be representing more than just the interests of a few in the metropolitan area.

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So, Mr. Speaker, I could go on without any difficulty for a couple of more hours. The member for Kings South is begging again. I think he is suggesting that he wants to bring a couple of more members with him. I am not sure because he is not supposed to be speaking across the floor and it is hard to make out exactly what he is saying. But the reality is, we need, as a government, as a province, to get our act together. Regardless of what this government does, there is going to be development. We have an opportunity to see that development benefit Nova Scotians generally or we can just see that natural gas that is going to be developed just continue to truck on down the road.

We talk about the fact that natural gas in now onstream and that certainly has given Nova Scotia a surplus of trade in terms of the value of the products that are being exported compared to the volume of products that are being imported in the province. Yes, it has affected that balance of trade, but almost all that money that is coming in for the paying of that natural gas, Mr. Speaker, travels to the oil companies. It doesn't come to the people of this province. We all know that. We also all know, or we certainly should know, that we have other important industries in this province like the fishery. We know that the companies are dumping offshore, ethylene glycol, which is a hazardous material.

The Minister of Environment and Labour got the advice quickly enough when I asked him a question about that the other day to coach his answer quickly because he knew he was being set-up, as I was trying to do. He was a little bit astute enough not to get caught and not to be set-up, but the reality is that he knows and we all know that that is an extremely hazardous material. We also all know that to protect the fisheries and our fish stock, there are observers on the deep-sea trawlers to try to eliminate and cut down on the kinds of abuses that used to take place and probably, to an extent, still do in some cases on the offshore trawlers, to ensure that the fishery is protected and so that those who live in the rural communities like Shelburne and Yarmouth and in all parts of this province will not have that key industry, which is worth over $1 billion, be harmed because of that and destroyed.

[10:00 a.m.]

But those rigs that are operating off our coast and whether that be in the pumping of the resource, at the production of it or in the exploration, while we have regulations, we have no observers on those rigs to ensure that the regulations are, in fact, being followed. It wouldn't even cost the government any money, either federally or provincially, because if that were required by regulations, those companies that are doing the exploration are required to pay to the board, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, sufficient funds so that it is a cost-recovery system. It would help provide added protection for our important fishery and for the environment.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the passage of this bill is going to do anything that is going to improve what is happening here and make future developments any better than what has gone on before. The only thing I do know for certain, I shouldn't say for certain but that

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I strongly believe is that it can't make it any worse for Nova Scotians and certainly the Utility and Review Board has a lot more credibility than the secret body that the provincial government has in place at the present time, which can hold and make decisions without any kind of public consultations, as we have seen them do in the past. We also certainly know that they have done a very poor job in ensuring that Nova Scotians actually receive the maximum amounts of benefits that Nova Scotians should be entitled to.

So, with those few brief remarks, Mr. Speaker, I will be resuming my place and I will be looking forward to the Liberal Critic, I am sure, getting up and wanting to gloss over and forget about all of the history under their regime and just pointing out how had we ever been in power, of course, nothing would have happened, we would have just, as they always like to heckle from the side, bankrupted the province and driven everybody away. Well, that's fine, they can say that and all I would suggest is that when they do that, they also hold their record up for the public to see. While they might like to blame everything on the current government and certainly this current government has a heck of a lot of blame to shoulder; one of the biggest criticism to be placed on this government is that they have been continuing to follow the directions and path that were laid down for them by the previous Liberal Government. Thank you, very much.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what is evident here today is that there is lots of NDP gas flowing around in this Chamber this morning. (Laughter) From the few members who are left there.

I just want to rise in support of the bill and unlike my good friend the NDP House Leader, I am not going to be doing any huffing and puffing about the history, as he has done, or anything else. I don't often agree with the Economic Development Minister but in this particular case, I agree with this bill.

The difficulty I have with the position of the New Democrats, Mr. Speaker, on this bill, is if it were left up to that Party nothing would happen in the energy field in Nova Scotia, it would be still out under the ocean and they would be literally talking the whole energy sector to death while the world passes us by here in Nova Scotia. That's what the NDP dwell on all the time, doom and gloom, don't do anything that might see the province become self-sufficient someday. I believe bills like this will enable the province to become self-sufficient someday. I look forward to that day and I want to congratulate the minister on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Government House Leader, it will be to close the debate.

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The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move third reading of whatever the bill is that we are doing, which is Bill No. 14. I would just like to make two very brief comments on the remarks made by the House Leader of the New Democratic Party.

Number one, he was speaking about quick benefits. It is my experience in anything that those who try to take quick benefits from any venture are liable to end up in problems that are long-term and certainly this government has taken the long-term view with regard to the exploration of the offshore. I agree with him when he says we have tremendous resources out there and, Mr. Speaker, I can assure you - and assure him - and the people of Nova Scotia that they will be exploited in such a way as to obtain the maximum return. (Interruption) No. He was speaking about Sempra being in difficulty because of things beyond their control. Certainly there were some things beyond their control, but it is a long stretch to say that the putting of high-pressured pipelines adjacent to the highways of this province . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I am sure the minister isn't try to imply that I was suggesting anything about the pipelines, or that I even mentioned the highways in my remarks this morning. (Interruption) No, when I talked about pipelines, I talked about the pipeline coming onshore. I never mentioned the pipeline being built along the highways in the Province of Nova Scotia in my remarks today.

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

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I accept the explanation from my friend across the way, but however the point is that Sempra is well aware of the policies of this government and they were not new policies put in place specifically for Sempra. They have been there since the early 1990's. The last thing is simply I wish that that honourable member could understand that there is a large difference, an extremely large difference, between exploring for gas and oil in Alberta than there is for exploration on the offshore.

Mr. Speaker, with those few remarks I would like to close the debate on Bill No. 14.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 14. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Speaker. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

Bill No. 25 - Justice Administration Amendment (2001) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief with respect to this matter. I just want to say that while many aspects of this bill are fairly routine and housekeeping in nature, there are a couple of very brief things to make observations about. The first is that the bill contains a number of amendments dealing with probate and vital statistics, which are as a result of consultation that had occurred with the practising Bar on those areas after the original bill was passed. We had tried to be responsive to the practising Bar. As the honourable members will remember, the bill itself, particularly the Probate Act, was drawn up as a result of very extensive consultations with the practising Bar and what we have attempted to do with respect to probate and with respect to vital statistics is to be constantly responding to those concerns.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the matters involving the interest on fines, which had been the matter of some discussion, I want to thank the honourable member for Richmond who raised that matter in committee. As I indicated in committee, the reason for charging the interest on fines is simply to encourage people to pay the fines that they would otherwise be responsible to pay. An amendment was made yesterday to extend from 30 days to 90 days the period of time for the interest being initially collected and that is in keeping with the principle of the original bill.

As was indicated yesterday by the Government House Leader in my place, it is our intention to clarify the ability of people who can show justification in hard circumstances and those kinds of things to apply under the Remission of Penalties Act to have interest remitted, in the same way that fines and other penalties can be remitted under legislation. That should provide an element of the relief that the honourable member for Richmond had been discussing. I wanted to thank both the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage and the honourable member for Richmond for their co-operation with respect to the bill. I appreciate that their approach has been co-operative with respect to the bill and I know sometimes omnibus bills may seem a tad complicated, but in situations where you are making a number of changes, many of which are connected, it is sometimes the most efficient way to deal with matters.

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Clearly, there was never any intention - I want to say that for the record - to try to put anything through the House without the Opposition's full understanding and appreciation of the bill. I do want to thank the honourable members for their co-operation because I think the bill is a good bill and to quote the Government House Leader, "It is a good bill made even better.".

Mr. Speaker, with that, I move third reading.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to speak for very long on this bill. It is an omnibus bill with regard to changes under the justice administration. There are many changes in it. Some of them I am sure the member for Richmond will highlight more than I will, particularly on the issue of interest payments on fines, with an amendment made to it in Committee of the Whole House, based on one of his amendments changing it from a 30 day limit to a 90 day limit. It is a good amendment, I am glad to see the government adopted it. There are other amendments in there. The government has made a commitment, I believe, to, in regulation, address the issue of potential reason on compassionate grounds for dismissing or removing the interest on fines. These are all good things.

I want to take a minute to also talk about the fact that this piece of legislation, Bill No. 25, also recognizes that this government is continuing to move forward in recognizing rights of same-sex couples and addressing the fact that these couples under the law of Canada, based first on the Supreme Court of Canada and now the government instituting what the Supreme Court of Canada has dictated, is recognizing that same-sex couples shall have the same rights and benefits and responsibilities, quite frankly, as heterosexual couples. That is a good thing, I am glad to see the government continue to move in this direction. I don't know if there is any other legislation that needs to be changed. Maybe this is something our House can take time to debate in the future, but I am glad to see this government continuing to move forward with an agenda of dignity and equality for all Nova Scotians. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill No. 25. I certainly appreciate the minister's comments. There were certainly a couple of items in this bill that caused us great concern. Our caucus spoke at length on them and brought forward the amendments which we suggested could make this bill a little bit of a better bill. We still don't agree with all the concepts contained here, especially the idea of charging interest on overdue fines and what it is actually going to accomplish. But I am pleased that the minister has accepted the Liberal amendments to try to make this a better bill and we look forward to the regulations coming forward as he suggested which will deal with this also.

[Page 4486]

I don't want to speak at length, but I have to say again, I think the minister is sincere when he made the comment that the changes to the Summary Proceedings Act contained in Bill No. 25, that there was no intention on his part or his department's part to kind of slip that in without being noticed. I think he is sincere when he says that, but really, there was no bill briefing on Bill No. 25. At no point did the minister or his government tell Nova Scotians up front that they were raising the court fees from $20 to $30. That is a tax increase, there is no better way to describe it. I think Nova Scotians have a right to know when they are being dinged on their taxes by this government. So, the court costs went from $20 to $30, plus they are going to start charging interest on overdue fines, another tax.

It would be a lot easier for me to take the minister at his word that they had no intentions to hide this had they come out right up front and said, here is what is in this bill, I want to make sure that no one misses anything and I want Nova Scotians to know up front what we are doing. He didn't do that. The Minister of Justice has had a habit of being selective with which bills he wants to have a press conference on and which ones he doesn't want to have a press conference on. This one he did not have a press conference on and he did not tell Nova Scotians up front that there were two tax measures involved in Bill No. 25.

[10:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I have told this minister before that coming in with justice administration Acts is not a good policy when it comes to bringing in legislation to this House. He says again this year that this is just housekeeping measures, there was nothing to be alarmed about. The changes to the Summary Proceedings Act caused us great alarm. I think it caused Nova Scotians great concern as was reported in the media. This was a serious matter. You will remember last year the famous Bill No. 80, the Justice and Administration Reform (2000) Act last year had the changes to the Assessment Act dealing with Sable Gas. The minister says that the changes in these justice administration Acts pretty much all deal with similar items. Now I don't know how you can tie into small claims court, which was amended in Bill No. 80 last year, to assessment of the pipeline for Sable Gas.

How the minister is going to tie in those two items and say that those should be under the same bill, I really look forward to seeing that argument. I know he has got his Q.C. designation now and maybe that is what is going to give him the ability to tell this House how those two items should have been contained in the same bill and that those two items (Interruption) yes, that he gave to himself - that those two items should be in there. Last year the changes to the assessment, once again the minister did not have any press conference to deal with that, it was slipped in there. It ended up that there was an uproar initially from the municipalities because they had not agreed to this. At the last minute the government cooked up a deal with them to get them to agree to these changes and now we know that what the government said was going to save money and was going to be best for municipalities, in fact the assessments have gone down. The municipalities are going to lose the revenue which they would have gotten with the initial assessment established by the previous government.

[Page 4487]

Once again, the government caved in on this and the municipalities lost potential revenue which they could have received.

As I said, bringing in justice administration Acts is not a good way to govern. There are many items in here which could be housekeeping but I really have got to tell you that I know the Minister of Justice says that the Probate Act brought in last year was with the consultation of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society. What I would really like to know is if the final legislation was actually put in front of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society first because in Bill No. 25 there are 18 amendments to last year's Probate Act brought in by this government. We are all human, we all make mistakes, a little slip up here and there. Eighteen errors in a bill brought in last year by this government, by this minister. That is not an acceptable way to govern in this province. That is not acceptable legislation, 18 errors. That is 18 on top of the errors which were pointed out when the bill came in in the first place.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow for an introduction?

The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today and introduce two individuals in the east gallery. On the right is Annette Newton who works in the PC caucus office but the new addition is Allie, I should say Allison Jarvis but she prefers to be called Allie. Allie is a recent graduate of the University of Maine with a Bachelor of Education Degree, she is also a graduate of Kings College and she will be working at the PC caucus this summer. If they would arise and accept the welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our visitors today and especially Allie to the life of politics. The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the other big point in this bill, really when you are wondering how much of a grip this government has on governing. Last year when they brought in the changes to the legislation recognizing same-sex relationships, they said that one could register those relationships with vital statistics. What did the government do? They forgot to amend vital statistics to allow for this to take place so that is contained in Bill No. 25 also, the changes to the Vital Statistics Act. Really, what a bizarre way for this government to govern. Let us make it clear, I want to make sure that all members understand this, especially the government backbench. Bill No. 25 is another bill which we support in its efforts. It is another bill which reinforces the legislation passed last year recognizing same-sex relationships. Each member of this House should recognize that and we commend the government for that.

[Page 4488]

Mr. Speaker, last year you will recall that although the Opposition gave its unanimous approval, the government itself had two of its members that did not support this government legislation making important changes to social policy here in this province and respecting basic human rights in this province. That was from two government members themselves, who are here today. I want them to know that they voted against that legislation. Bill No. 25 reinforces the legislation that they voted against. I am very curious to see how they will vote on this bill this time around, whether they have changed their minds, whether they have recognized how wrong they were in voting against that bill, whether they have changed their right-wing attitudes against this and see what they will do this time around.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place, but I do want to point out that the minister almost got this slipped through this time without anyone noticing. There are over 60 bills in front of this House, but I can assure you, from now on, we will be going through his legislation with a fine-tooth comb to see exactly what is contained and that there are no further taxing measures that the minister tries to slip by the people of Nova Scotia.

Again, in closing, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the Liberal amendments were adopted. It has been increased to 90 days. At the end of the day, I look forward to the next time we meet, once this has been implemented, so that the minister can tell us exactly how much of an impact this has had on people paying their overdue fines. We now know the minister has absolutely no reasoning to show why this would have any hopes of achieving success. So once it is implemented, I look forward to him coming forward and giving us the numbers showing what a wonderful success this measure has been for his government.

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I am just going to rise to close debate. I will be very brief. I just have to disassociate myself from some of the comments made by the member for Richmond, but I will make one point, Mr. Speaker, that is very brief. This bill is, I think, very responsive to improving the Statute law, particularly in the area of vital statistics and same-sex couples and probate. I think that is a good thing and I look forward to bringing forth further justice administration bills in the future to improve our present justice system. I would be glad to hold as many bill briefings as the honourable members opposite want to come to. [I move third reading of Bill No. 25.]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 25. Is the House ready for the question? Order, please. I would just remind the honourable members as well that if we are going to vote on these bills I would ask the members to take their seats.

A recorded vote is being called for.

[Page 4489]

Are the Whips satisfied?

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: As I understand it, there is no ringing of the bells, we are just going to have a recorded vote?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, we are ready to take the vote now.

[The Speaker calls the roll.]

[10:23 a.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Rodney MacDonald Mr. Carey

Mr. Christie Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Baker

Mr. Russell

Mr. Muir

Miss Purves

Mr. Fage

Mr. Balser

Ms. McGrath

Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Morse

Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Chataway

Mr. Clarke

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. Deveaux

Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. Gaudet

Dr. Smith

Mr. MacAskill

Mr. Wilson

Mr. Boudreau

[Page 4490]

Mr. Samson

Mr. Robert Chisholm

Mr. Epstein

THE CLERK: For, 31. Against, 2.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 28.

Bill No. 28 - Securities Act.

Bill No. 31 - Agriculture Administration Amendment (2001) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of these bills. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that these bills do pass. Ordered that the titles be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that these bills be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 54.

Bill No. 54 - District of Barrington Health Professionals Assistance Act.

MR. SPEAKER: We are speaking in regard to the hoist amendment on Bill No. 54.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 4491]

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I have spoken on Bill No. 54 on third reading, so I would like to really conclude my comments on Bill No. 54 during this hoist amendment. I rise and speak in support to the six months' hoist amendment so Bill No. 54 could have a reasoned approach both throughout the community of the Shelburne area, where there are five municipal units that are immediately impacted by the effects of Bill No. 54 but also so municipal units throughout Nova Scotia could become aware. It is only within the last 48 hours or so that they have been aware of the impact of Bill No. 54.

[10:30 a.m.]

I want to start off, Mr. Speaker, and I think what I will do is circulate an amendment to Bill No. 54 that we brought in. I know you can't propose an amendment at this juncture because we are speaking already on an amendment, but I do want to acquaint members, particularly on the government side, of what we propose. Along with that, I want to table a

letter from Mr. Brian Holland, Clerk-Treasurer of the Municipality of the District of Barrington, where he outlines the reasons they brought forward to this bill. Somewhere between the proposal from Barrington and how Bill No. 54 was written, maybe there was a problem. Was there a problem in drafting? Or, as we have addressed the issue, there seems to be some initiative of government that they have moved into more than what was intended, and may be using Barrington as a shill for the government, the government's lack of strategy for recruitment and retention of physicians particularly, although I know this bill does impact on dentists and other health professionals, such as nurses, physiotherapists, LPNs, caregivers, social workers, all of the team.

We basically, in addressing this bill, have addressed the impact of physician recruitment and retention. Whether something has happened deliberately or something has happened by design of or just accidentally, we are still not clear on this side of the House. I, for one, and our caucus do not understand why this bill, through the passage, the readings of the House and the Private and Local Bills Committee, why an amendment was not accepted and brought forward by the government, to change their bill, to make the bill right.

This government has opted to allow property taxes - the taxpayers' money - of municipal units, to go forward to top up physicians' salaries. We think that is wrong. We think that sets a dangerous precedent. The NDP member for Dartmouth North spoke very strongly (Interruptions) My colleagues are mentioning, also the member for Cape Breton Centre. The line that was used by the member for Dartmouth North was that we were embarking on a slippery slope. We agreed with that member. He spoke very strongly in Private and Local Bills Committee.

Mr. Speaker, that has been the thrust of this. We are concerned with the lack of a comprehensive strategy for physician recruitment and retention, that this bill would be coming forward. We know that the deputy minister has spoken publicly about his concern for the role of the communities in the recruitment and retention of physicians. I think it

[Page 4492]

would be fair to say that he feels that role is minor, if any, perhaps it has no place in the recruitment and retention of physicians.

We are concerned that this is representing policy of the Minister of Health and the Department of Health and this government, that putting property taxes of municipal units into topping up physicians' salaries, and we are concerned that this bill represents a policy, particularly with a lack of a workable strategy for recruiting physicians. Is that the route they were going? Why has this government allowed this bill to remain in its present form, before this House of Assembly?

We have done what we can. We think we have done adequately, we will not be speaking a long time today on this bill, but we have used the opportunity afforded to us within this British parliamentary system to address the issues at various stages. We have communicated as well as we can with the media, and tried to point out our concerns. This is not politics, this is addressing a bill that is wrong, it is flawed and, worst of all, it is not going to have the dangerous parts of this bill, where the municipal unit can dictate the services provided by a physicians and it can use property taxpayers' dollars to top up physicians' salaries, it is basically wrong.

Worst of all, it is not going to solve the problem of getting a doctor in Barrington. Barrington is a high-needs area. They don't have ready access to a good community health clinic or a hospital. It is a high-needs area and it has been traditionally for a long period of time. Doctors have come and doctors have gone. Doctors, even before Medicare, often dispensed their own drugs in communities such as Barrington. A lot of that is changing now; it is more professional, more sophisticated. So we are moving away from that style of practice.

Here is a community that we have expressed concerns about, and I will allude to that momentarily, but in the meantime, particularly for the members on the government side, we want to just simply table the amendment that we had shared with government through the Minister of Health. I want to table that, and I want to table that particularly to that side of the House first, and also the letter from the Municipality of the District of Barrington to all members of the House, but particularly to the government members and just ask them to take those two documents and compare them to see if it isn't - if I am mistaken - that this is exactly what the municipality, the clerk representing the Council of Barrington, is not asking for. They are not asking for any more; they are not asking to have property taxpayers' dollars go to top up doctors' salaries.

Some of those doctors are now getting $250,000 to $350,000 anyway, or more. So what is the purpose of this? Well the Minister of Health has access to those numbers, like I did when I was minister, so we won't get into those. (Interruptions) Yes, here is a note that has just been passed to me - Will this create a flurry of docs seeking higher pay from municipalities by threatening to resign? Of course, that is exactly what we are talking about.

[Page 4493]

We are talking about, number one, a bidding war being able to start between municipal units and also that you have doctors, can you imagine in the middle of winter, in the middle of a flu epidemic in Barrington, some doctor coming before the council saying okay we have an agreement, we have a contract and you have agreed to top up my salary - which will probably not be disclosed, at least to the people of Barrington - and that if you don't give me an extra $20,000 or $30,000, then I think I have an offer from Ontario or British Columbia, or Texas, and I just am going to think about that. I am not saying that necessarily would happen, but I am sure it will if that avenue is open to those particular physicians.

Mr. Speaker, I promised I would not speak for a long period of time on the issue. It is an issue that we feel very strongly about. The Premier has spoken on this matter and although it is a Private Member's Bill, it represents to us, we can only conclude that it represents government policy. I just want to quote from Thursday, May 31st, The Daily News, which I can table, but everyone I am sure has glanced at it by now. I want to quote from that article under the headline of Brian Flinn: "Hamm said he is determined to pass a private member's bill that would let the Municipality of Barrington top-up doctors' salaries and offer other incentives to move to town."

That is what the Premier has said, Mr. Speaker, and I can only assume that this represents government policy. The bill as written simply places added responsibility and onus of physician recruitment on the municipalities and the Premier has said so. The minister and Premier have also mentioned that there are other municipal units that are topping up physicians' salaries. Despite our challenges to the Premier and the Minister of Health, they have not been able to table that evidence. There is no question that the municipalities have been involved with recruitment and retention of physicians. They have been involved, and well they should, they have been traditionally involved.

My problem is not with Barrington. In fact I have brought matters here before this House last November asking the minister to provide the $4,000 needed monthly to the area of Barrington, so that they would be able to recruit and retain a physician there, to provide services in that community, services that would stay in that community and build the infrastructure. Surely to goodness, we need that in rural Nova Scotia. We need infrastructure in health care. They are paying the price for not having that.

Our interest in Barrington didn't just start with this particular bill. The good people of Barrington are concerned, and they are trying to do what they can. Unwittingly, this has been written into this legislation, that property taxpayers' dollars can go to top up physicians' salaries. The local member, the honourable member for Shelburne, I am sure he meant well when we brought this forward. I hope he looks at the amendment we gave to the Minister of Health as a member of that Executive Council for government, and compares it with the letter from his own municipal unit that the Clerk-Treasurer, Brian Holland sent to us, to just see if what we have proposed is not really what the letter from the Barrington council is asking.

[Page 4494]

What is the problem with this government? Why are they so stubborn? Are they just ill-advised? They can't be that stupid. They must have some other ulterior motive. That is the issue we felt we had a responsibility to bring forward. The lack of an overall comprehensive strategy for physician recruitment and retention in this province, the lack has been pointed out and underlined by the Deputy Minister of Health that there is no place for communities in recruitment within that strategy, that the responsibility is at the provincial level, and that is where the MSI dollars are, and that is where the flexibility of infrastructure, that is where the $15 million in equipment that the federal gave will go, into communities, have it go into communities like Barrington.

When the June 6th is being held with the deputy ministers, where is that list from Nova Scotia, and the $15 million that was spent. The $15 million last year is reasonably well documented, but the $15 million for equipment that the federal government has given this province is not well document. Why not put some of that into Barrington? Where is the list that the Minister of Health has, of where that $15 million federal money has gone?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member for Dartmouth East allow for an introduction?

DR. SMITH: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the honourable member for Dartmouth East, who yielded the floor for this introduction.

Mr. Speaker, to you and through you to all members of the House, we have special guests in the east gallery this morning. We have a group of students from Ecole Joseph Dugas, from Pointe de l'Eglise, Church Point. They are accompanied by their teacher, Maria LeBlanc. Maria LeBlanc was one of my former students. I won't say how far back that is. She is accompanied by a group of parents, we have Debbie Doucet, Karen LeBlanc, Theresa LeBlanc, Joanne Flynn and Jeannette Stuart. We have 30 Grade 6 students from École Joseph-Dugas from Church Point. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. Bien venue. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our guests to the gallery today. We hope you enjoy your visit here at Province House.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I was just wondering if the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works wanted to make a response to this. (Interruptions) Thank you, I am truly honoured by such a senior person, who on occasion I have been mistaken for,

[Page 4495]

I am very pleased to add. (Interruptions) I have to be cautious on Fridays, because things tend to happen. It is sort of like Halloween around here. I was mistaken for the honourable member, who is a bit senior to myself, and I was asked by one of the media people what kind of a weekend I had. I said, what kind of weekend did you think I had, when I was mistaken for the honourable member. That is all she needed to ask, that was the end of conversation. She knew exactly what I meant. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: I wish I had that honourable member's energy.

DR. SMITH: And I do, too. We are speaking, that is energy with an e.

[10:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, back to the hoist, because this is important and I should address the matters relative to the hoist. The challenges we have made to the Premier and to the Minister of Health to table evidence they have that municipal units are topping up doctors' salaries with property tax dollars - to date, we have seen none. The President of the UNSM, the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, Ms. Allen, said she is not aware of any municipal units topping up salaries. So who is right, in fact?

Pitting municipality against municipality, community against community, is wrong. Using property tax dollars to top up physician salaries is wrong. This government knows it and political pride, as I mentioned, is standing in the way of making an amendment that would protect property taxpayers in Nova Scotia. We don't know what is going to happen in the next few years. We are looking at the oil industry here and everyone is looking for more federal transfer dollars, monies from the oil industry, all this. But, maybe in tougher times, Mr. Speaker, there will be a bit of a turn. This legislation, I understand, as a special bill will take precedence over the general Act, the municipality Act. Municipality Act is the name of the Act. I think it is correct.

AN HON. MEMBER: The MGA, the Municipal Government Act.

DR. SMITH: The Municipal Government Act. So this, by being tabled after that Act has been tabled, which is obvious, and the fact that it is a special bill as opposed to a general bill, it is my understanding and advice that this will take precedence over the municipal Act that governs municipalities, and that has to be a concern. So this bill will not only impact on Barrington, that bill will be here within the Statutes of the Province of Nova Scotia that will have precedence over the municipal Act and that is another concern.

So is it pride? Is it arrogance? I gave them the doubt that it wouldn't be stupidity. They couldn't be that stupid. (Interruption) Well, maybe they could, somebody said, but I don't really believe that. So we have to say it is political pride and it is arrogance here. The municipality is not asking for this and why is the government holding it out there, enshrining

[Page 4496]

it and, particularly in light of not having an effective, workable strategy for recruitment and retention of physicians in this province.

The bill, out and out, Mr. Speaker, hurts poor rural municipalities and even the Halifax Regional Municipality. Currently, doctors who are recruited in the HRM do not qualify for rural incentives. So, here in Dartmouth, in the Woodlawn Medical Clinic where I worked and up here on Gladstone Street or whatever, those doctors who come in there do not qualify for those rather substantive rural incentive program dollars. If municipalities are to top up physician salaries, this puts the Halifax Regional Municipality at an even greater disadvantage. Just think, a doctor who locates in a rural area that qualifies for the incentive program, gets an additional $150,00, approximately. That can vary. It can be more; it can be less. It varies on the facilities and on-calls and all those other initiatives; but that could be $150,000 extra.

So part of the reason for bringing this forward, for Barrington to recruit the doctor, is the fact that they are short doctors. So, they have a busy practice there waiting for some doctor to come and fill. So they have 8,000 or 9,000 patients, I understand; MSI would certainly reimburse. It is just the matter of filling out a card, electronic billing or whatever they might be doing. On top of that, the doctor gets $150,000 and yet we have legislation that is going to allow or encourage, whatever, or download to the municipal units to add monies on to that and, also, dangerously, dictate the types of services that doctors must or may provide to meet that agreement with that municipal unit.

I don't believe the people in Barrington and that council understood exactly that that legislation was going to reflect back. So with the passing of the bill, the District of Barrington and any other municipality could top this up. The Halifax Regional Municipality may have to really top up a doctor's salary to $150,000. That is the irony of it. It may impact more in the Halifax Regional Municipality than in some of the municipal units, where the doctors can qualify for the rural incentive program and they cannot qualify here in the Halifax Regional Municipality. So, today, six doctors are needed here in the Halifax-Dartmouth area, family doctors I would say. Just think that this bill may mean that the Halifax Regional Municipality would have to find - if that was the case - over $1 million if they choose to participate in the bidding war. That is what we are concerned about and that is what we don't want to see happen.

Sadly, with this bill as written, they may have no choice. They are short of doctors here and even though there is more population here, there is still need and that is evident and sometimes they have less resources in a way, to recruit physicians specifically where the broader area tends to draw.

I am not going to speak much longer on this bill. I think we have had a good airing of it. We think it is wrong. We think it should have been changed. I think that if it goes forward, we have done what we can. This government has a majority, so we will have to see how it

[Page 4497]

goes and do as well as we can and monitor and hope that the worst doesn't happen. But why it is still out there is just beyond me to understand.

It will not solve the problems of recruiting physicians in local communities or in any other areas as I have pointed out. It is certainly not going to help the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The municipal units have had a long tradition of supporting and recruiting physicians and their families in those communities. We encourage that. We recognize that is real. We don't support property taxpayers' dollars going in to top up doctors' salaries, as I mentioned in my earlier comments that are already quite substantive, particularly in rural communities with high populations per doctor ratio.

The second point also, in closing, I would like to say that - and I said this earlier - it is a form of double taxation. We don't feel that municipal dollars - even the dollars going to recruit and bring in, maybe fly doctors in for visits, to sustain their expenses while they are here, even those dollars - I would call on the minister to, instead of supporting and bringing in legislation like this, bring in a comprehensive package that some place like Barrington doesn't have to take their equalization dollars. I mean, they qualify for equalization. That is a lack of resources that they are challenged with in Barrington, so to take those hard-earned monies and even have to go into some of the other recruitment benefits that they extend, and they may have to bring in several physicians before they get the one that will stay. So, instead of bringing in this type of legislation that will take monies out of the municipal units, why don't we support communities like Barrington more?

Like I mentioned here in this House of Assembly last November, the $4,000 that they needed per month to support a clinic and facilities there. Maybe provide a nurse to work in that community, to work in the schools, to work with the adolescents and youth; maybe speak about tobacco use, because that is a high-risk community. I know, because I grew up in the South Shore and I know those communities. The issue of nutrition, there is lots for the health care workers to do there.

The province should be funding that. You shouldn't be downloading the recruitment/retention, even that part of it. I think the minister could come forward and do a much more comprehensive program than what is being done. And then to go the step further and say that municipal units may have to top up salaries when they are already adequately paid according to the national level, that is just not right. So it is a double taxation. I don't think the people in Barrington intended that when they asked this government to address the legislation.

So the grant for topping up, using property taxpayers' dollars . . .

[Page 4498]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. It is very difficult to hear.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East has the floor.

DR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I know that some members are anxious today here probably to, well I know the NDP want to go down to their conference. (Interruptions)

Another point I would like to make in closing on this, this does seem to me that to take the decision making from the community health boards and the district health authorities in those communities, to take that type of decision making away from them and put more power regarding the delivery of health care into a municipal council, I don't support. I don't think that is the route that this government spelled out that they were intending to do. This is the government that was going to get decision making closer to the people. As to the Goldbloom report, which I support the firming up and the recognition of the formalization of the community health boards that we all support that this is the direction we are moving, and those communities that have functioning community health boards will have a council that will be, if they choose to pay the money to top the doctor's salary, that they will have a say in the services provided.

We just don't think that is the body to do it. We think that is the wrong move. Give the power, the policy at least if you are not going to give them budgets to any extent, $1 million for all the community health boards in Nova Scotia, but give them some resources to function and listen to the people. Consult with the people in that community, particularly over the six months' hoist time when this legislation could be part of the decision making. What does the community health board think of this? What does the district regional health authority think of Bill No. 54? I doubt if they think very much of that, if they truly do know what is in that legislation. Why is it there, the topping up of doctors salaries in that legislation? We have a system in place, it is going through a transition period, community health boards, district health authorities, nine of them, multiple community health boards. Why add another layer into what tends to be sometimes a very complex health care system anyway?

I think I have covered most of my comments. I have touched on the legal matter, the points that I have added over my previous comments I think are more of a legal nature of this being a special Act, a special legislation that will take precedence over the general Act of governing the municipalities. That is a very dangerous precedent, that you have potential for topping up doctors' salaries, to have that in there and an Act which will take precedence over a general Act is wrong. I think it is legally wrong, I think it is wrong in legislation, it is wrong in good health care policy and it is wrong in the relationship between the provincial government, the Department of Health and municipal units.

[Page 4499]

I did comment to say that I would come back to comments of the involvement, while traditionally municipal units have been involved in recruitment and retention of physicians, I support that in a modest way but not to put added costs like has been happening in the Strait of Richmond area on that community trying to retain physicians in that community. The deputy minister has sometimes come to some criticism - mainly his salary, you can't blame that deputy minister for his salary - but I want to say that the more I hear of him and listen to him, that the gentleman is really working hard and he must be terribly frustrated often with this government and the types of policy. He doesn't feel that communities should be as involved in the recruitment and retention efforts, that this is a strategy needed at the provincial level.

I was particularly impressed with the sincerity and interest of the deputy minister in the IT even though we had a government and process that was not followed with request for proposals that was about four or six years old that they went through and, again just like Knowledge House on the education end of it, just gave - through some connections without a proper tendering process - out those contracts to Meditech. We see this coming, this pattern developing and evolving. The deputy minister, I know is driving projects like that. I think he is a person who is building a credibility, and his own public relations will have to speak for itself. In any way, here today, I don't want to pit anything that he has said against the minister. I know the minister values that deputy minister, and it's a tough job.

[11:00 a.m.]

I know when I was there, Mr. Speaker, and one of the things that maybe did incense me a little bit was when the Leader of the NDP launched a personal attack on me as Minister of Health the other day - I know my colleagues came to my rescue, thank you very much - but there was a time that I had three deputy ministers and I did find that particularly difficult at a time when finances were tight and all those initiatives, and we weren't getting all the windfalls from the federal government at that time; in fact my job was trying to absorb the costs of some of the cutbacks. Now the federal government, since the Tories are in, has just opened the floodgates again and money is coming, just as if a 707 airplane has gone over and the doors are open and the money is just flowing and the oil is coming in.

So why are we bringing forward legislation that is going to download on the municipal units, such as Barrington, that are qualified for equalization payments? We can't understand that. We wish the good people of Barrington well; we will continue to speak on their behalf, as we have last year and this year. To the member for Shelburne, we say no personal offence that we have opposed this legislation. I think he meant well. I think he was misled and I hope he understands what he is doing. (Interruption) Well, I didn't mean that to come out quite the way it did, but I will let the record, Hansard, speak for itself.

[Page 4500]

To the government, why are you so stubborn? Why are you so arrogant that you will not admit that you have brought a special Act in here that will take precedence over a general Act that is opening the gates for the municipalities to use property taxpayers' dollars to top up physicians' salaries and start a bidding war and download further onto municipal units, most of them, in this province in the rural communities, cannot afford. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: If there are no further speakers, the motion is for a hoist amendment on Bill No. 54. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

A recorded vote is being called for.

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

[11:03 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied? A recorded vote has been called for on the hoist amendment.

[The Speaker calls the roll.]

[11:15 a..m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Manning MacDonald Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. Gaudet Mr. Christie

Dr. Smith Mr. Baker

Mr. MacAskill Mr. Russell

Mr. Wilson Dr. Hamm

Mr. Boudreau Mr. LeBlanc

Mr. Samson Mr. Muir

Miss Purves

Mr. Fage

Mr. Balser

Mr. Parent

Ms. McGrath

Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Olive

Mr. Morse

Mr. MacIsaac

[Page 4501]

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Taylor

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Chataway

Mr. Clarke

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Deveaux

Mr. Holm

Mr. Robert Chisholm

Mr. Estabrooks

Mr. Epstein

THE CLERK: For, 7. Against, 33.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is defeated.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the previous question be now put.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I have a few things to say on Bill No. 54. I want to tell you that first of all, I am proud to be a member of a caucus which has decided to put the interests of Nova Scotians first. We can now stand in this House and say that this is the one caucus, the Liberal caucus, that has decided to fight for Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the next, to fight for them to have health care which is to be paid by their tax dollars which they pay to the Province of Nova Scotia not health care to be paid based on their property taxes in their own municipal units. That is what this debate is all about.

I read where the member for Shelburne said that these were cheap tricks by the Liberal caucus. Well, Mr. Speaker, he can go tell that to Kent Blades, I believe is the name, and The Coast Guard. He can go tell that to the Mayor of Windsor, who is also the President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. He can go tell that to the wardens and mayors from

[Page 4502]

throughout this province who have said they do not support this legislation. That is the bottom line.

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that I believe the member for Shelburne, himself, has recognized and said that the bill and its language is flawed. He, himself, has said that he agrees that the word grant should be amended to include non-monetary contributions. Yet, we saw a glimpse today of the intolerance, hard-headedness of this government when on Bill No. 25, and I am pleased to see the Premier here today. In case the Premier missed it, I want the Premier to know that the intolerance that was in his government last year when the bill came on same-sex relationships, we were glad to see that the Premier rather than deal with that intolerance has sat silently and allowed that intolerance to continue. Well, Mr. Premier again today, two of your backbench members of your government once again voted against your legislation to allow for same-sex rights in this province. So, rather than deal with intolerance, Mr. Premier, you have approved of that intolerance in your government.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you, at least those two members stood in their place and said how they felt.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member is speaking to another piece of legislation, not the bill that is before the House. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member for Richmond to bring his comments back to Bill No. 54, please.

The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I am making reference to the governance of this government and to how they have dealt with Bill No. 54, and pointing out the fact, as I said, again, today, that two of his own members, this morning, voted against basic human rights in this province.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, he cannot do that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I don't need the honourable Government House Leader to tell me how to run the House. I would ask the honourable member for Richmond, please, to bring his comments back to Bill No. 54.

The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

[Page 4503]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the point I am making is on Bill No. 54. The MLA for Shelburne, himself, said that the Liberal amendment clearly reflected what the people of Barrington wanted, but instead the Government House Leader, rather than allow that, said no way, we are shoving this through, we are a majority government, we are going to do what we want and those Liberals aren't going to tell us how we should amend the bill. The MLA for Shelburne, himself, has said he would accept that amendment. It is the Government House Leader who said no. That is why this debate has continued.

We stood our ground. We said from day one we did not approve of this legislation, and we stayed here all week and have continued on that, we stuck to that principle. How ironic to watch the socialist caucus, under their famous new leadership. Immediately, they started by saying they didn't support it, then their Leader decided to tell the MLA for Dartmouth North, the MLA for Cape Breton Centre, no way, we are not going to support the Liberals on this; they have the lead, they got the first story, so we are going to go against it. How shameful it was to see them vote today against the six months' amendment which would have allowed municipal units from one end of this province to the next to be able to deal with this legislation and to decide whether they support it or not. Today is the day that the NDP caucus voted against democracy in this province, and voted against a six months' hoist to allow Nova Scotians to learn more about Bill No. 54.

Mr. Speaker, not only is it shameful for the Leader to have done what he has done, but I would challenge him today, the Leader of the NDP, to stand in his place and tell Nova Scotians why his Party caved in. At the same time, I know many of our members are looking to go to their local drugstore to buy congratulation cards on the recent marriage which has taken place between the Premier and the Leader of the NDP. We were going to send them some flowers. It is our understanding that the MLA for Dartmouth North is going to be the maid of honour, as part of the marriage, also. Maybe the MLA for Sackville-Cobequid could be the flower girl, also for that wedding.

Mr. Speaker, today on Bill No. 54, we see who is the true Opposition who speaks on behalf of each and every Nova Scotian in this province. The Liberal caucus has stayed here. This government has thrown long hours at us; 10 hour days, 8 hour days, they even had one day - what was it? - a 14 or 16 hour day, and the Liberal caucus has been here right through. We stuck to our principles. We have not given in. When we took a position, we didn't wait to do opinion polling, we didn't go ask the press whether they thought it was a good issue, unlike the NDP caucus who would first go out and check, are you guys going to give us a story here, before they would even take a position on an issue. That is what you get, that is the substance you get from that NDP caucus.

Mr. Speaker, you have seen it here today, by them voting down an amendment which would have given municipal units six months to be able to absorb this. Bill No. 54, how ironic - and here is the other story here. Bill No. 54, the Government House Leader tried to ram it through as quickly as he could. I will tell you why. Guess who has been away for the

[Page 4504]

beginning of this week, guess who was away last weekend? All the mayors and wardens of this province were away. The Government House Leader knew that, the Premier knew that. They figured, if we can ram this through they won't even know what happened before they get back from the Federal Municipalities Conference which took place in Banff.

As soon as they arrived back on Thursday (Interruption) The MLA for Halifax Bedford Basin said, for God's sake - the minute they arrived, they immediately started to show their opposition to this. If the member for Halifax Bedford Basin has something to say, let her stand in her place and say what she has to say and see if she agrees that municipal tax dollars should be going towards funding and topping up doctors' salaries.

That is what the issue comes down to, Mr. Speaker, a simple amendment from the Liberal caucus. Had the honourable Government House Leader been willing to accept that, it would have cleared this up. We could have passed this and we could have allowed Barrington to do what it wanted. They could have reintroduced the bill with the consent of this House with the changes that were recommended and we could have allowed that bill to make its way through this House with the unanimous consent and we could have been on our way to having Bill No. 54, or whatever number the new bill would have been given, and allow the District of Barrington to do what it wanted.

An offer was made. It was made in good faith. It was made earlier this week. So anyone asking on the government benches, why are we still here? I hope that they all know that there was an amendment that you could have simply accepted and this could have been dealt with. If it is true, Mr. Speaker, what the Premier has said, that all Barrington wants to do is to be able to help out with recruitment efforts and it is not going to go to salary, we could have been out of here. Again, it shows the intolerance of this government to be willing to listen to amendments and to be willing to listen to change.

That is why earlier, Mr. Speaker, when speaking of intolerance, I made reference and I wanted to make sure the Premier was aware of the intolerance we saw again today when two of his own backbenchers voted down government legislation to enshrine basic human rights in this province. It is that same intolerance. It is a pattern that we are seeing from this government of intolerance and of alienating Nova Scotians. What they did with Bill No. 54 is said, it is the Liberal caucus against the people of Barrington. What could be further from the truth when the former Minister of Health, my colleague for Dartmouth East, has been on the record trying to urge the Minister of Health to help the people of Barrington, to help the community of Arichat and Isle Madame, to help the Strait-Richmond Hospital and to help every single area in this province which does not have the level of physicians which they should have.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are taxed to death as it is. They pay their fair share and they know that their money, $1.8 billion of revenue, goes into the Department of Health. Nova Scotians aren't asking too much when they tell this government that they should have

[Page 4505]

basic coverage of physicians in their communities, regardless of where that community is, regardless of whether they are wealthy, regardless of whether they are poor, regardless of whether they are white, regardless of whether they are a minority in this province, they should all get basic physician coverage in this province. That is the least they should ask for. Whether or not their municipality has financial abilities should never come into consideration.

Basically, the message today, Mr. Speaker, with this bill, the message to Richmond, the message to Inverness, the message to Port Hawkesbury, the message to Mulgrave is that if you want a doctor at the Strait-Richmond Hospital, pay for one yourself. That is what the Minister of Health is saying. Go see your warden and tell your warden that you are looking for a doctor. Tell your warden to take some of your tax dollars and put it towards paying a salary. That is what this does.

While the NDP have caved in and they have said, I will even quote what their Leader says, buying into the Tory argument that, look, this is all Barrington wants to do. Don't get hung up on what the language is or what it means. Again, it shows you the depth of the NDP caucus and their research work on this, saying, well, we are not even going to look at it. I know it was confusing for them. There were a whole five clauses in this bill, so I can understand how confusing it was and too time-consuming for their research staff or for the caucus members themselves to go through this. Listen to this, "But it is not up to us to say this to a group of people, you will suffer because we feel that there is a higher principle at stake and that we are going to punish you because we don't believe that your municipal government has the capacity to make a decision in your best interest. That would be wrong. That is not what we are going to do. Thank you."

Do you hear that we are not going to argue that there is a higher principle here. That shows you the depth of the NDP caucus. That shows you, Mr. Speaker, how a Liberal caucus here has said there is a problem with this. Nova Scotians are going to be adversely affected by this. Municipal units are going to be adversely affected by this. There is a higher principle here and, by God, we will stand in our place and we will fight for that higher principle, whether the socialists want to give in on it or not. Regardless of what the Tories say, that is what the language says. We know what impact this is going to have and now it is unfortunate that we do not have more legislation that we could be dealing with here and that we could not go into next week so it would give us ample opportunity to hear from more municipal units, to hear from more mayors, to hear from more wardens, to see if they support Bill No. 54.

[11:30 a.m.]

The Premier can't say anymore it is just the Liberals. The MLA for Shelburne can't say it is just cheap political games being played - the warden of his county doesn't even support this bill, the President of the UNSM, wardens from other areas, and mayors - unless he is

[Page 4506]

going to argue they are all Liberals and it is all a big Liberal conspiracy. Based on how he voted today on Bill No. 25, with the logic he used today, that just might be part of his thinking that he uses on this also, that this is one big Liberal conspiracy.

Mr. Speaker, this is not a Liberal conspiracy. This is not about playing political games. This is about legislation which is flawed. This is about legislation which is bad. We can all sit here and use the old line, see no evil, hear no evil, and say it is just Bill No. 54, it is just five clauses, my God! let's let it go through. Why are we holding up on this? This is nothing to be worried about. That is obviously what the NDP has adopted. Their MLA for Dartmouth North, I asked him the other day, on Bill No. 54, MLA, are you a man or a mouse? I can tell you, today I asked the kitchen staff here in Province House to order a big block of cheese for the MLA for Dartmouth North.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is totally unparliamentary and I would ask the honourable member to retract it.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I will be more than happy to retract that. The point is that member took a stand in this House, he said clearly that he did not support this. He said why he did not support this for the municipal units, how it would negatively affect them and he was silenced by the Leader of the NDP. I hope this weekend that they can see exactly what they have for a Leader in this province for the New Democratic Party. When it came to an issue like this, how ironic that the Leader of the NDP is also the Health Critic. Who should know more the impact this is going to have on our health care system and what a dangerous road that it potentially opens up than that particular member?

Yet instead, in their rush to leave this House, in their rush to go away, and not willing to stand here and debate important legislation which affects Nova Scotians, they caved in on this. Nova Scotians will remember them and when the day comes - and we all hope that it never happens - when municipalities start to bid against one another to try to attract physicians in a desperate attempt to get physicians in their areas because of the Department of Health and that minister has abandoned them, my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, our Health Critic, can stand in his place - as with every member in the Liberal caucus - and say we stood against Bill No. 54. We said what would happen with the language contained in that bill, we saw where this was going, and we fought against this.

We stood in our place, one by one. We even put an amendment in there giving this government six months, six months to be able to put this legislation out for consultation and, again, we didn't even need six months, we didn't even need an hour. Within one minute the Government House Leader could have said we are going to adopt your amendment, we are going to bring in a new bill with the consent of the House. That is all it took. We didn't have to be here, I shouldn't be standing right now. It wasn't unreasonable. The MLA for Shelburne himself said he would accept it. He said, that is exactly what Barrington wants.

[Page 4507]

He said the language does not reflect what they are asking for; the Liberal amendment is specific as to exactly what they are asking for.

If you look at the letter sent from the District of Barrington, which the Premier waved at us the other day, our amendment is specific to what they have requested. Yet, once again, when Nova Scotians want to see how strong the leadership is in this province, how strong our Premier is when it comes to listening to the concerns of Nova Scotians, listening to the concerns of the Opposition, the whole philosophy that it appears to be adopting is that of see no evil, hear no evil.

Rather than accept a reasonable amendment, which would have allowed the people of Barrington to do exactly what they have requested, instead the Premier allowed his Minister of Transportation and Public Works, the Government House Leader - well trained during the Buchanan Regime - to today prolong this debate as it has because he would not accept a simple amendment because that would be admitting defeat. Instead they could say, look, we are a responsible government. The Premier, what an opportunity to say, I said I would give an open and accountable government, I would listen to Nova Scotians, we would be willing to make changes, we would allow for free votes of our members, we would govern in a new way. This didn't have to be a negative as a loss, this wasn't a loss. Making legislation better is not about winning and losing, it is about doing our job, it is about doing what Nova Scotians have asked us to do.

As I said before, we are all tired, we have been here for what, 50 days, we have sat the long hours. The government has tried their best to break the Opposition, yet each and every day we have stood here, we have asked the right questions, we have debated on the bills put here, we have put forward the amendments, we have gotten the changes.

I remember one of our major victories, one of the major accomplishments - I shouldn't say a victory because as I said before it isn't about winning and losing - one of our major accomplishments was to get the government, the Liberal caucus convinced them to waive that $20 fee on the Child Abuse Register. That is another example of where the government has been willing . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I remind the honourable member again that he needs to be speaking to Bill No. 54 please and to bring his comments back to the bill.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your guidance in that. What I am trying to show the government is that it is not unprecedented for them to make changes and that is what we ask in Bill No. 54 and I am just citing some examples of where they made changes in other areas. We are not reinventing the wheel here, we are not asking them to do something that hasn't been done before and they could have done that. Nova Scotians have a right to know that this could have easily been resolved and as much as the government, as much as the Premier, and as much as the MLA for Shelburne may try to say that it was the

[Page 4508]

Liberal caucus against the people of Barrington, the media has clearly shown that that is not the issue is at all. The issue here is that this bill and its language does not reflect what the people of Barrington actually wanted and it sets up a dangerous precedent.

Mr. Speaker, in the end I want to tell you again how proud I am to be a member of a caucus which has stood its ground, which has said we do not support this, which has said we will continue to use all of our parliamentary privileges to be able to delay this bill. To give the municipal units time to get their reaction to this bill, which we have shown has clearly been negative, and give this government one more opportunity to be able to see that had they just adopted the amendment, and they didn't even have to take our amendment. They could have come in and said we have amended it ourselves and not even admit that there was an amendment from the Liberal caucus. Whichever way they wanted to do it or spin it, they could have done it. Instead we see here, once again as I said before, the intolerance of this government and this government not being willing to make changes. The minute that the House Leader decided this is going through and I am going to put it through and I don't care what. What are the hours for today? The hours are 9:00 a.m. to midnight.

Mr. Speaker, is that what we call an open and accountable government that on a Friday they would say that we are going to sit 9:00 a.m. to midnight. Is that a government that is interested in listening to Nova Scotians or listening to the Opposition? This is a government determined to shut down the Opposition, to drive through legislation whether it be good, whether it be bad, whether anyone supports it, but by God if it is Tory legislation then everyone should accept it, we are going to shove it down their throats and the Opposition, we're going to give them all the time they want to talk but we're not listening and we're not going to do anything. That is what Nova Scotians should remember about this session. Nova Scotians should keep in mind that today we see the real face of the Hamm Government. We saw it this morning in the vote that took place, the intolerance. We see the intolerance again here today. Mr. Speaker, how ironic when I refer to the intolerance that the sponsor of this bill was one of the individuals who voted against his own government legislation to give basic human rights. That is what happened here today.

Mr. Speaker, in closing I want to tell you again that Bill No. 54, while it might be a Private Member's Bill, has the name of the Premier on it, it has the name of the Minister of Health on it, the Minister of Education, the Minister of Finance, the Tory House Leader, the Minister of Community Services, the Minister of Tourism and Culture. I am very interested for the Minister of Tourism and Culture and the MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury when they go home this weekend, I do hope that they will call the Warden of Inverness and the Mayor of Port Hawkesbury and ask them exactly what they think of Bill No. 54.

The Mayor of Port Hawkesbury has made it quite clear what his feelings are on the representation that the Strait area has gotten from the Tory caucus members from the Strait area. He certainly hasn't hesitated on his comments to show how disappointed he is and how voiceless they have been on issues affecting the Strait and the idea, Mr. Speaker, that having

[Page 4509]

a Cabinet Minister and a government backbencher in the Strait area and the Strait-Richmond Hospital has gone five months without a doctor, my God, they must be without shame. That is the only thing I can explain as to why this is happening. They must be completely devoid of any sense of shame. For five months they have allowed their community to go without basic emergency coverage.

In the end, Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you one more time how proud I am of this caucus, of my colleagues; our House Leader who has guided us through this debate; our Leader who has continued to speak on behalf of our caucus and on behalf of Nova Scotians; our Health Critic, the MLA for Dartmouth East, who continues to be a lead advocate for health care issues in this province, and I would say the one person Nova Scotians can look to to support them in their efforts of health care in this province and of trying to keep this government accountable in our health care system. The member for Dartmouth East has done it throughout his entire career and he has certainly done it again here today in the debate during this session.

With that, Mr. Speaker, just as I wrap up, I want to remind Nova Scotians, once again, this could have easily been resolved. This is bad legislation. The wording is very dangerous. Anyone who looks at the wording and can say you should not be concerned about the word "grant" and to give a grant to induce someone to come, Mr. Speaker, I would hope that the people of Barrington, that the municipal councillors there, as frustrated as they might be, that they do not use the temptation of using property tax dollars to give a top-up incentive to physicians. They have said in their letter it is not their intention and it is my sincere hope that it is not, because I know they are frustrated. As I have said before, Bill No. 54 is a cry for help from the people of Barrington.

Rather than tabling Bill No. 54 in this House, the member for Shelburne should have tabled it with the Minister of Health and told him here is how desperate this community is, that they are willing to use their own property tax dollars to bring a doctor, because you have abandoned the community of Barrington as you have abandoned the Strait-Richmond Hospital and the community of Isle Madame. It was a cry for help.

The Minister of Health has not stood in his place once to say whether he supports this or whether he does not support it. He has told us this takes place in communities all around the province. The Premier has said that also. Yet they haven't been able to give one example, Mr. Speaker. Nova Scotians will judge them on their integrity on this issue based on that. They make a statement; when asked to back it up, they run away from it as fast as they can. The Premier showed us that for two Question Periods as did the Minister of Health, and Nova Scotians will remember that.

Again, it is the same Premier who told us we had a deal with Newfoundland. There was no deal. He had a deal for Highway No. 101, there was no deal. He had a deal on softwood lumber, there was no deal. Now there are municipalities topping up doctors'

[Page 4510]

salaries, there are none. Nova Scotians will judge the credibility and the integrity of this Premier based on his comments this session and on what the Liberal caucus has been able to hold them accountable for.

In the end, Mr. Speaker, this legislation should not go through. I can assure you that our caucus will be voting against this bill. I look forward - I shouldn't say I look forward because it is sad to me to see what has happened to the NDP Party in this province, that they have come to this point, that they have given in on this sort of legislation, and that they will be voting in favour of this sort of legislation. It shows you the new leadership they have.

I almost have to say, Mr. Speaker - and I never thought I would say this - it is almost a shame that the member for Halifax Atlantic no longer leads that Party because never would he have backed down once they would have planted the flag on an issue as the new Leader of the NDP has done. So he can at least sit back today and say this would have never happened under my leadership, but clearly the new leadership of the NDP has shown just how much spine they have when it comes to issues such as Bill No. 54.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I close my remarks. I look forward to the continuing debate on Bill No. 54. I look forward to hearing from the government members, even the member for Shelburne, to tell us exactly why he would not accept the Liberal amendment which he personally said he did accept and that he could see no reason why it should not be adopted. Maybe he can go and talk to his House Leader and ask him. Look, I told the Liberal caucus that I would accept that amendment, why won't you allow the amendment to go through so that this bill could have gone through? I guess he will have to have that discussion on his own with his House Leader and again it shows just how much clout the MLA for Shelburne has with his Cabinet colleagues, that he could not get a simple amendment to his own bill approved by the Government House Leader.

[11:45 a.m.]

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place and, as I have said before, I am proud of the job that we have done as a Liberal caucus to hold this government accountable on Bill No. 54 and to give Nova Scotians an opportunity to see, in detail, where this government is going with our health care system and the dangerous road to privatization, which they have now, or they are going to in a very short period of time, embark Nova Scotians on. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISOLM: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to speak for a few moments on this bill. While I just got a real vote of confidence from the member for Richmond about how wonderful my leadership was, I don't think I will ask him for a reference. I do want to clarify a few points with respect to Bill No. 54 and the position of the NDP caucus. In the foment

[Page 4511]

that has been generated by the Liberal caucus, things have become a bit cloudy and a bit unclear.

Mr. Speaker, my colleagues who have spoken on this bill in committee and again at third reading have made it clear that we believe the principle of municipalities having to fight for physicians and for medical services is a dangerous one. Unfortunately, it has been going on for far too long in this province. Under the Liberal Government, in fact, under the direction, the leadership, so called, of the member for Dartmouth East, when he was Minister of Health, the flow of doctors was restricted. He restricted and his government restricted enrollment to the medical school for physicians; they restricted the enrollment of nurses to nursing school. One of the results, therefore, has been a restriction in the supply of doctors and nurses in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is one thing.

The other point is that in the face of very serious shortages from one end of this province to the other, not just in rural Nova Scotia but also in Spryfield, in my constituency, also in Dartmouth, also in Sackville and other parts of metro, in the face of shortages of medical professionals, of doctors, in particular, the Liberal Government was completely inept and unable to respond to that crisis, Mr. Speaker; absolutely unable to respond to that crisis. I understand that it is a complicated problem. The supply of medical professionals throughout the province is a critical problem, but what causes me some concern is the level of hypocrisy coming out of this Liberal caucus to get up and condemn . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic has the floor.

MR. ROBERT CHISOLM: Mr. Speaker, the members of the Liberal caucus haven't had enough time to talk. (Interruption) They want a take on some of my time. With the love and support I get from the member for Cape Breton South, it makes me hesitant to leave this

let me tell you.

Mr. Speaker, the point is that there is a serious problem with the supply of medical professionals in the Province of Nova Scotia; there is a serious problem in terms of the distribution of those medical professionals throughout the province and in particular to rural Nova Scotia. The consequence of that is what we see coming out of the Municipality of the District of Barrington, coming from Yarmouth, coming from Richmond, coming from Amherst, coming from municipalities throughout the province. I know that back when the member for Dartmouth East was the Minister of Health, I was in Yarmouth on a number of occasions and met with a recruitment committee in that municipality, who, as a result of the inability of the provincial recruiter, were working hard, with municipal support, to try to attract physicians, specialists and general practitioners to their community.

[Page 4512]

We talked about that, and we talked about the problems of one municipality competing against another but, as they said to me, listen, if we can't get any satisfaction out of the provincial recruiter, we have to do something. We have to do something, that is what they said. You have to appreciate where they are coming from. The bottom line is people in those communities want to have medical professionals to service their people, to service their communities, and I think that is important.

We do not believe, and that has been clearly stated, that municipalities should be in that position of competing against one another. If the province had a plan, had a comprehensive and a functioning plan to deal with the recruitment and retention of physicians in the province, then municipalities wouldn't be in that position. The Liberal Government didn't have that kind of a plan for Richmond or for anywhere else, that is why the community worked there, so hard, in spite of the lack of activity, in fact the blocking of the Liberal Government to respond to that problem, and this is again a problem here . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member has clearly made a statement there which he knows is not correct. He said this government blocked physicians entering Richmond County. He knows, himself, that with the support of all members of this House, at least I suppose that the NDP were supporting our efforts at that time, we got a full-time physician for the Strait-Richmond Hospital, Dr. Celine Finn, Dr. Marcel Couture, for the Isle Madame area, Dr. Tan and Dr. Ginege for the L'Ardoise community, and Dr. Thomas for the Strait-Richmond Hospital.

His statement, saying that we blocked physicians coming into Richmond County, he knows is not correct. He was there when that happened. He supposedly supported our efforts at that time. If he does not support it, then that is different. But to say that we blocked physicians coming in is not a correct statement. It is misleading because the facts, in fact, show that that is not correct. I would hope that you would ask the member to clarify his statement or withdraw those remarks that are clearly misleading this House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order, it is a disagreement of the facts between two members.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic has the floor.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I don't mind clarifying those comments at all, because I met with that committee in Richmond on a number of occasions. They were extraordinarily frustrated with the lack of response of the Liberal Government, very frustrated. It was only after pressure from a number of sources came to bear on the government were they able to come forward with the kind of plan that allowed that to happen.

[Page 4513]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic to bring his comments back to Bill No. 54, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will get back to Bill No. 54. I think it is an indication that this bill is here, it is an indication of the difficulty that municipalities are having, the problems that exist in rural Nova Scotia for retaining and attracting physicians. It is a problem that should be dealt with provincially by this government, as it was a problem that should have been dealt with by the Liberals when they were in power for six to seven years. (Interruptions)

For the Liberals to ask the people of the Municipality of Barrington and the representatives that are trying to respond to this issue to wait for another government, like their government, to do nothing, I think is asking a bit much. I think it is our role here as the body which deals with the legislation, which constitutes those municipalities, that it is our responsibility to listen to what it is that is going on at that level and respond to it as best we can, not to tell them how in fact to carry out their activities.

So, Mr. Speaker, I want to just make one other point, at least one, but one point. When the member for Dartmouth East was up and he was citing as an example the problems of municipalities topping up the strategies to attract physicians to a particular community, he said, and I was shocked, frankly, that imagine during a flu epidemic or some other type of illness in a community that a doctor comes before council and says, you promised me $20,000 or $30,000 extra and you haven't given it to me. If you don't give it to me, I am going to go down to the United States. Now I couldn't believe that the member for Dartmouth East said that.

We have been accused, in this caucus, of being somewhat inflammatory towards physicians over the years, but I know that I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of doctors and nurses across this province over my lifetime and I can't imagine any of them, including the member for Dartmouth East, who is a physician, holding a community at ransom for more money. I just can't imagine that and I frankly was . . .

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I have to clarify something here on a point of order. Two members from the NDP caucus, the member for Dartmouth North and the member for Cape Breton Centre, went to a Private and Local Bills Committee and voted no against Bill No. 54. I want to know why they are not here today voting in their place?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton East would know full well that it is not in order to recognize the fact that members are present or absent from the Legislature. It is not a point of order.

[Page 4514]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, so that having been said, I have a couple of other things here, a couple of other notes I made. One is that this amendment that the Liberal caucus talked about, this great amendment that they were going to bring in to try to make this bill better, it is not a bad amendment, frankly. I don't know that it is an issue. I don't know that they have talked to the Municipality of Barrington and that that can be done. It is not a bad issue. Too bad they didn't bring it forward during the Private and Local Bills Committee or in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills when a substantive amendment to change clauses of the bill could have been dealt with. It is too bad they didn't do it then.

It again supports the idea that these Liberals have made a political decision, Mr. Speaker, and I say to members of this House, after having been near silent throughout the last 10 weeks that this House has been sitting, the Liberals have decided that they will try to go out in a blaze of glory, that they will try to close down this session of the House by taking on the government. In fact, the member for Richmond said it is too bad there isn't more legislation on the books that we can deal with, then we could hold up Bill No. 54 and really hold this government's feet to the fire.

Do you know what? When you make decisions to take a stand, if you are serious about it, then you plan it, then you organize yourselves and you carry out your parliamentary responsibilities in a way that will in fact meet your ends. But this Liberal caucus did not do that, Mr. Speaker. They spent their time railing at our caucus, shame on you they say over there, which is the honourable member for Richmond's favourite phrase, but when it comes to actually doing something about a bill that they feel so intent upon, they have come up far too short and it is unfortunate, Mr. Speaker.

[12:00 p.m.]

There is no question that municipalities in this province need support. They need help and they need leadership from the Minister of Health and from his colleagues to deal with the serious shortage of doctors. So did they have that problem when the Liberals were in power. I think it is incumbent upon all of us here to tone down the rhetoric a bit and deal with the real problem, which is municipalities being faced with a real problem in terms of ensuring that medical services are there when people need them and where they need them. That ultimately, Mr. Speaker, is where the New Democratic Party caucus stands when it comes to this and any other issue being dealt with in this House. Thank you.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am rising to make a few comments regarding Bill No. 54. I have to tell you that it is disconcerting to hear the former Leader of the NDP, who is trespassing on the time of the House here today, with hopefully what will be his last speech here because he is actively looking for work and I sincerely hope he finds a job soon so we won't have to have him back here in the fall. As a matter of fact, he didn't

[Page 4515]

even take out an ad. He got somebody to write a press release saying, please give me a job, anybody in Nova Scotia so I can get out of here and stop humiliating myself in the back row of the NDP caucus here. That is what that member has contributed here.

I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that my colleague for Richmond and my colleague for Dartmouth East and my other colleagues here have made reference to the flip-flop of the NDP on this bill, Bill No. 54. You know and I know that these members were muzzled, these two members for Cape Breton Centre and for Dartmouth North. They were muzzled. They are not around, but they were muzzled anyway. They were here yesterday and could have spoken on this bill and they didn't.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind the honourable member for Cape Breton South not to acknowledge the fact that members are present or absent.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for reminding me that we are speaking on Bill No. 54. I do want to say that those members who did not speak on Bill No. 54 yesterday, and they had the opportunity to do so, have now gone down to their phone booth in Cape Breton where they are holding their annual meeting. I am sure the people of Cape Breton are waiting with great delight to see them perform this weekend with Alexa the martyr as the guest speaker, but I digress. There will be more Leaders than members down there this weekend.

Mr. Speaker, I want to try and confine my remarks to Bill No. 54, even though it is difficult to do so with my former left-wing colleagues who are now my right-wing colleagues and who knows what flavour they will be next week as they try to curry favour or get press on issues like Bill No. 54. They have been all over the lot on this bill, Bill No. 54. Now they finally decide at the last moment that they are going to get up and say a few words to try to redeem themselves here.

Mr. Speaker, again, I digress, but I will get back to the bill. The bill, as it is written, simply places added responsibilities and onus of physician recruitment to the municipalities. That is fundamentally wrong. Anybody who has read the motion that came out of the Municipality of the District of Barrington, if you read the motion, the motion differs from the rest of the letter. What the motion states is, and I won't read it all and it has been tabled here on numerous occasions, it enables, ". . . the Municipality of the District of Barrington to provide a grant to health professionals to encourage doctors, dentists and other health professionals licenced to practice in the Province of Nova Scotia to locate in the Municipality."

The official motion of that council, Mr. Speaker, doesn't say anything about office space or travel costs or pens and pencils or anything. It says a grant to health professionals, which throws the door wide open for the Municipality of the District of Barrington to dig in to their municipal coffers, take money from the taxpayers, lift it out of their pockets, the

[Page 4516]

property taxpayers, and pay it directly to a doctor. Now the Clerk of that municipality, Mr. Holland, takes great pain after the resolution about what the intent is.

Mr. Speaker, it is not the intent we are talking about here today, it is the motion that was moved and a motion that this government knows exactly what is contained in that particular motion. That motion is to provide a grant to health professionals - I am not saying that; the motion is saying that - which opens the door for a bidding war. Not only that, it opens the door for adjoining municipalities who are trying to attract physicians to put similar legislation to this House because it will no longer be precedent setting, it will be an acceptance of this province because there is legislation on the books saying that this municipality can provide a grant to health professionals. That is the motion of that council.

Mr. Speaker, adjoining municipalities, or municipalities from Yarmouth to Glace Bay, have been told by this government and echo the comments of the Premier. He said, probably the municipalities can do a better recruiting job than the province can. That speaks volumes about the physician recruitment program the Department of Health has and where they are going with their physician recruitment. I am going to tell you something. There is no better physician recruiter in this province than Dr. Naqvi at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. Now why would anybody suggest that he should not be responsible for that anymore and that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality should be responsible for it with their tax dollars? Why would anybody suggest that?

Why would anybody suggest that any municipality in this province go to their taxpayers and say, never mind the provincial Department of Health, never mind the fact that taxpayers in this province pay income tax to the province to pay tax for health care in this province. Never mind all of that. We are going to ask our taxpayers for a levy on their property taxes because we want to get one up on the municipality next door. The municipality next door is going to offer $50,000 to a doctor, we are going to top it up by $100,000 over and above what MSI pays that doctor. That is what is going to happen in this province and then the government is going to say, it is not our responsibility, we are not getting you a doctor fast enough, as is the case in Richmond, let the council of Richmond get their own doctor. Just go out and take some money from the taxpayer and go buy a doctor. That is what is going on here. That is exactly what is going on here and the people of Nova Scotia have to be aware of it. It is downloading again. It is this government unloading health care to the municipalities. That is what is going on here. They are saying, we are not going to bother getting doctors, we are getting out of the recruitment program, but what we are going to do is allow municipalities to tax the property taxpayers of each unit and go out and buy a doctor.

That will be the new slogan, let's go buy a doc. We know the doctors are going to get minimum income anyway from MSI, but let's top it up. Let's give them an extra $100,000 if the next municipal unit gives them $50,000, we will give them $100,000 and they will just step across the street into our area and practice there. That is what is going on there. That is

[Page 4517]

what is happening with this bill. For the NDP to allow this bill to go through, by their support, they are supporting the downloading of health care from the responsible agency which is the provincial government in Nova Scotia to municipalities. That is what is happening here and the NDP have agreed with that concept by their vote and by their silence in this House on this very important issue.

This speaks volumes about the credibility of that Party and that is why they have never been in government in this province and that is why they never will be in government in this province. That is why whoever tries them on, only tries them on once. They are void of any principles and including this particular one here - the downloading of health care to municipal units.

Mr. Speaker, I really don't have any problem with the member for Shelburne's part in this whole charade. I really don't have any problem there. His council moved that motion, the council of Barrington, and like the dutiful member of the Legislature that he is, he came here with it. He went to his Party and he said, I am going to introduce this bill. I think the government caught on here and said, hey, that is not a bad bill, because it sets a precedent that we can refer to in the future.

They think it is a good thing because this government did not have the intestinal fortitude to come in the front door with the Minister of Health and the Cabinet and the Premier with this type of direction for the Department of Health; instead they came in the back door with a Private Member's Bill. So, in the future, when every municipality in this province is experiencing difficulties in attracting physicians, they will ring up the Department of Health, and the Department of Health or the minister or the Premier will say, well, don't you know that your municipality can do that. Your municipality can top up. You go tell your mayor that he can provide municipal tax dollars and get you a doc, no problem. But don't call us, call your mayor.

This government, along with abdicating everything else they can abdicate and download, now they are getting rid of health care, piece by piece. What they don't privatize, they are going to put back to the municipal unit. They are going to lay it right on the doorstep of the mayors and wardens of this province. What are you going to end up with at the end of the day? You are going to end up with double taxation for medical services. The poor municipal taxpayer who is paying large sums of money now, in a lot of cases, for property taxes are now going to have to fork out even more money for physician services in the future, as a result of this bill passing through the House.

Mr. Speaker, I am not naive enough to think that by me standing here today and reminding Nova Scotians of the danger of this bill it is going to stop the bill. We just saw the motion that we made for a hoist defeated.

AN HON. MEMBER: How did the NDP vote?

[Page 4518]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: They voted with the government, the NDP voted with the government. Thanks for asking the question. Let's just remind Nova Scotians once again that the NDP couldn't give two hoots about health care in this province, and never did. I want to say to you, Mr. Speaker, that this particular bill is a bill that will have a tremendous backlash in the future for this government.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say to you that I took great exception - many exceptions but one in particular - to the member for Halifax Atlantic, when he made some, what I consider to be nothing short of - I was going to use another word, but it would be unparliamentary - severely damaging remarks to my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, the former Health Minister of this province; a person whose reputation in this province is well-known as a tremendous physician, but not only that, as a Health Minister who cares, who cared when he was Health Minister. He cared about getting a doctor in Richmond. (Applause) He cared about ensuring that we had a cancer treatment centre in Sydney, at the regional hospital. He cared about all those issues. For the NDP to stand in this place and berate a former Health Minister of this province is disgraceful. But I digress.

Mr. Speaker, I want to get back to the bill again and say I can't be strong enough in my condemnation of this bill because I want Nova Scotians to know that this is the tip of the iceberg. This government is heading down the road not only to privatization in health care, but to downloading in health care and they are duping the member for Shelburne and that small council into being a willing accomplice. That is what is going on here. Even the Warden of Shelburne County and other municipal officials down there are against this bill.

[12:15 p.m.]

I don't blame the member for Shelburne because he is doing his duty, but how far does his duty extend, Mr. Speaker? Does it extend simply to a motion of the council or was there a consultation? For example, was there a public meeting held to discuss this in Barrington? Were the ratepayers advised in Barrington they were going to have to start paying to attract a doctor? Were the ratepayers advised? Were they asked their opinion? No. Were there any letters of support here from ratepayers? No. Were there any letters of support here from municipal officials? No. What about the other municipal units in Shelburne? Against it. So who is for this bill? The Town Council of Barrington, a mover and a seconder, a Mr. Hunt and a Mr. Smith, and the clerk is all I can see here.

If you wanted to be somewhat Machiavellian here, you know, you could suggest that this is not a simple bill from a small municipality asking to attract physicians, Mr. Speaker, and provide money to do that. This is a larger issue we are dealing with here. I believe that this issue went from the government to Barrington and back to the government by way of a Private Member's Bill so the government could get on the books of what they want to do here. They are trying to ram this through because they are going to start getting out of the doctor recruitment business at the provincial level and simply tell mayors and wardens, if you

[Page 4519]

want a doctor, don't come crying to us, go to your taxpayers and ask them for more money. (Interruption)

Well, I am sorry, the House Leader for the NDP is asking the Clerk if the Lieutenant Governor is around and she will just have to wait. I am sorry if you are in a hurry to get out of here, but she will just have to wait a little while.

I want to say to you, Mr. Speaker, that this government is succeeding once again in pitting municipality against municipality in this province. Conquer and divide, that is what is going on here. Never in my eight years in this House have I seen a Private Member's Bill attract this much interest and in the past, when a Private Member's Bill attracted any interest, it was shelved. It wasn't called for second reading. (Interruption) Yes, the member for Pictou West, her bill never saw the light of day because there is a bit of a controversy there. Why aren't we discussing that bill on the floor of the House? Because it doesn't suit the front bench agenda, it doesn't suit the Minister of Health's agenda, the Premier's agenda, which is to conquer and divide municipalities in this province at the highest level.

The providing of health care in Nova Scotia is now going to be downloaded to municipalities and, Mr. Speaker, that is not the way Nova Scotians want to proceed in trying to get doctors. Doctors are paid for through the prescribed program of the provincial government in this province and should not have to go municipality-hopping looking for better deals from municipal taxpayers. The rich municipalities can afford to pay more. The poorer municipalities can't afford to pay anything. So in the future the provincial government can say, well, I am sorry, but you will have to raise your taxes there if you want to get a doctor.

Has anybody done a financial analysis in Barrington, for example? How much more are the taxes going to go up to pay for this next year? Has anybody asked the ratepayers if they are willing? Did they have a plebiscite? No, they didn't have a plebiscite. But, do you know what, Mr. Speaker, whatever is politically expedient for that crowd, they will do it. It was politically expedient in Cape Breton North to get a doctor over there in 24 hours because that member is heading for the Cabinet as soon as this place rises and they can't have any embarrassment of that honourable member left without a doctor in the hospital on the Northside. (Interruptions)

Well, if he doesn't get to Cabinet I'll be the most surprised person in the world. This government can't find any money for the charities for example, but they can find money for a sports facility in that member's riding, just this week. I am not saying that is a bad thing in his riding, but I am saying that it's no problem when you have a newly-elected member to this House who is heading for the Cabinet.

I want to get back to Bill No. 54 because I know you are just going to tell me to do that, so I'll save you the trouble. I'll get back to Bill No. 54.

[Page 4520]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I do want to say, Mr. Speaker, that politics is coming into play here in a big way. Anybody who would believe that this Private Member's Bill is here being debated this long, in this House, at this hour, at the end of this session, this Private Member's Bill because they want to put a Private Member's Bill through for the honourable member for Shelburne, is dreaming in Technicolor. There is another agenda here, and it is a government agenda. They didn't want to come in the front door with the agenda so they brought it in the back door and they duped the member for Shelburne into doing it with his council. That is what is going on here. The precedent is now being set for a further direction in doctor recruitment in this province.

Who is it going to be next? Are they going to start telling nurses, we don't have any money but go see your mayor, they're doing it for doctors, go get the municipal taxpayers to start buying nurses, start competing for nurses like they do at the private hospitals in Florida and other places in the United States. That is what is happening here. You are going to have municipality fighting against municipality. Do you know who is going to win? The municipalities with the most money, that is what is going to happen here. The municipalities that can't afford to charge their taxpayers any more money are going to be left out in the cold here. They are going to be left out in the cold.

Mr. Speaker, I have had some calls on this issue in the past couple of days from the CBRM and they are asking, what does it mean to us? Well, I always use the analogy that if it isn't broken why fix it. In the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, I believe we have an excellent doctor recruitment program heading by Dr. Naqvi and the professionals down there in the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

The question that was asked of me when people call me, does that mean that is no longer going to happen; now, once the precedent is set, that municipalities are going to be required to do this if they so wish, or is it going to be mandatory? Is the government going to get out of the physician recruitment program? If they are not, why didn't they put a doctor in Barrington? Why does Barrington have to send a motion to this House begging for a doctor, begging for the permission to take money from taxpayers to buy a doctor? If they are so concerned and want to keep the recruitment program going, why don't they recruit a doctor for Barrington and, also, while they're at it, Richmond. I suggest they didn't have any trouble in Cape Breton North, because they have plans for the honourable member for Cape Breton North and they have no plans for the honourable member for Shelburne, and that is what is going on here.

This is a political bill of the finest kind, that is before this House and it has to be stated that way, this is pure politics. They couldn't care less about the people of Barrington. If they did, they would have had a doctor there by now. What they have done is they sent the poor member for Shelburne trotting up here with a Private Member's Bill, Machiavelli at its

[Page 4521]

finest. That is what is going on here, that is what is going on here right under the very noses of the municipal units who are just now catching on to what is happening, they are just now catching on to what is happening. This bill is going to go through this House sometime later today or Monday, but it is going through this House aided and abetted by the NDP. I think that a Party who states that they speak for people in this province, they speak for health care professionals, nurses and people who use the system. They should be ashamed of themselves for supporting the government on this bill. Those that chose not to, the member for Cape Breton Centre and the member for Dartmouth North, were muzzled. As soon as they were off Committee of the Whole House on Bills, they got in here on the record and they weren't even allowed to speak on it.

Mr. Speaker, I want to refer you again to the official motion of that council, which has been missed by some people. A grant to health professionals to encourage doctors, dentists and other health professionals licensed to practice in the Province of Nova Scotia, to locate in the municipality. It doesn't say anything about office supplies, car allowance, free hair cuts or anything. It says, grants to doctors to locate in municipal units. In this case, Barrington. It is opening the door to a wide-spread interpretation of this, which will mean it is open season. Any municipal unit can engage in this practice because the precedent will have been set.

Mr. Speaker, our Party, which has been maligned about our stand by the New Democrats on this issue, we think that using property taxes to prop up physician salaries in this province is fundamentally wrong. If you open the door to that in this province, then you are going to talk about, well, we got away with it with doctors, RNs are next then LPNs are next . . .

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Orderlies.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: . . . and orderlies, as the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley states, another right winger who would rather download everything he possibly can to municipalities than take ownership of anything. But his interventions are helpful; they just encourage me to keep going here. But I will tell you that what is wrong here, Mr. Speaker, is that we put a perfectly legitimate option to the government regarding this bill. We went to the government privately, our Health Critic went to the Health Minister with a perfect solution to this problem. The solution was, take the word grant and work it so it did not have anything to do with salaries.

We thought the Minister of Health was interested in that for a brief moment, but political pride took over on that side. They were going to dig in. They weren't going to change anything because, we thought it might be political pride - you can't give the Liberals any credit for changing this bill, heaven forbid you do that. But you know what, Mr. Speaker? I don't think it was only that. The intention of this government is to open the door for municipal units to eventually become responsible for physician recruitment in this

[Page 4522]

province with municipal tax dollars, paid for by municipal taxpayers. Double taxation is what is going on here. The MSI program in this province, the Department of Health's program, will now be supplemented and perhaps if this government has its way, taken over by the municipal units, a range war from Yarmouth to Glace Bay, doc for hire. Who has the most money? We are going to start giving out cars and we are going to start having lotteries to raise money for doctors. We are going to go out and take the taxpayers' money and use it for doctors.

Mr. Speaker, the bill hurts poor municipalities. I would suggest to you that it hurts the HRM as well because they don't take part in the rural incentive program now and they will probably write them out of the legislation eventually when a full-blown set of regulations comes before this House, if they ever do. Or they will just enshrine them in regulations now that they have a precedent bill on the books because it is only good for rural Nova Scotia.

[12:30 p.m.]

The problem is, in rural Nova Scotia and the CBRM, none of these units, or very few, have the financial ability to spend taxpayers' dollars for physicians. Heaven knows they are spending taxpayers' dollars on everything else, now on more and more that they shouldn't be spending it on because the government is downloading these costs.

We have witnessed a great deal of debate on this bill and my reason as House Leader for our Party to be on my feet closing the debate for our Party on this bill - we may not be closing it though, we will have to see how things go - it is to once again take the opportunity and it will be my last opportunity because the rules of this House state that once I sit down, I am done on this bill. I know that.

The Liberal caucus feels very strongly about this bill. We feel very strongly that there is another game being played here other than satisfying the wishes of the member for Shelburne. I think they have used him and they have used that municipality to go to a bigger agenda here. That is what is going on here. They couldn't care less, they have written that seat off anyway, so they couldn't care less. So the Cabinet said, who are we going to get in that backbench to introduce a bill here in this House that is going to call for physician recruitment? Oh, well, we will get the member for Shelburne. He is expendable. We can't get the member for Cape Breton North, we have to put a doctor in there right away because he is going in the Cabinet. But, there are a bunch of backbenchers down there - they probably put all the names in a hat and drew one - and the member for Shelburne won the draw so he had to go down and sell his council on this, that blindly went ahead with this issue, without bothering to consult their taxpayers, without bothering to consult anybody. They just put a motion through the town council and it ended up on the floor of this House.

[Page 4523]

I have never seen a Private Member's Bill in this House go this far when there was any controversy. The one-term wonder from Preston over there is making helpful interventions again. He is another one of those expendable ones that I was talking about, so the next time that the government wants to sneak something through the House, they will probably pick his name out of the hat and make a martyr out of him, or a sacrificial lamb.

The Minister of Health and the Premier both said that throughout this province there are other municipalities engaging in this practice. Yet when asked to name one both of those gentlemen have selective amnesia. They can't remember where they are. The Premier knew but he didn't know. It is just like everything else the Premier has been doing these days. He knew but he didn't know. He was asked directly by the member for Cape Breton East - now known as Glace Bay - were there any municipalities in this province topping up doctors' salaries? Out there he said there were, in here he couldn't say. He went on with some bafflegab for about three minutes and never answered the question. He talked about some kind of a subject that wasn't even closely related to what the member asked him; light-years away from what the member asked him.

Mr. Speaker, despite our many challenges to produce any evidence that this bill is not precedent-setting, any evidence that this bill is not precedent-setting, to table it here in the House, and they didn't do it. They couldn't do it. They couldn't do it. Their agenda is not to do what the Council of the Municipality of the District of Barrington wants. That is not the agenda of the front bench here and the Government House Leader and the Minister of Health and the Premier; the agenda is much wider. This is just the vehicle to get there. This is just the vehicle to get there. Instead of being honest with taxpayers in Nova Scotia, and honest with people in the health care field, and coming as a ministerial statement that this is the direction the government is heading in, and producing legislation to do that, they came in the back door, so they can say, we didn't do it, it was a Private Member's Bill; a Private Member's Bill is not a Government Bill.

But, every other municipality in the province can take advantage of that now, once this goes through. Then, when you call up, when the Mayor of Stewiacke or the mayor of anywhere else in this province that I can think of, the Mayor of Annapolis Royal or the Mayor of Digby, when they call up the government and say we need a doctor, oh, you don't have to call us, you just go to your council, get them to give you some money from the poor municipal taxpayers. Never mind bothering us, we have enough problems here trying to survive politically. We don't want to be worrying about doctor recruitment. We are going to download that to the municipal units, that is what we are going to do. We are going to download it to the municipal units and we are going to do it on the backs of the District of the Municipality of Barrington, by their motion.

This will be precedent-setting, which will enable a bidding war to start in Nova Scotia to attract doctors. We wanted a simple word change, that is all, to prevent municipal units from topping up salaries to doctors, rightfully the domain of the Department of Health.

[Page 4524]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow for an introduction?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Sure.

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

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery, a couple of visitors, actually, from my local area, one being my sister, Charlene MacDonald. Charlene is at St. F. X. University, just finishing up. As well, her boyfriend, Stephen Gillis, who is in the nursing program at St. F. X. University. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our guests to the gallery today. Obviously, a much younger sister to the honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture, much. (Laughter) Thank you to the honourable member for Cape Breton South for yielding the floor.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I, too, want to welcome the guests in the gallery. I hope that when he is practising he doesn't have to go to the municipal unit to get paid. (Laughter)

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to this whole situation with the government's plot here, I call it a plot to download recruitment programs to the municipalities, to say we are not involved in this any more. We gave the government a chance this week to be honest with this bill. If the government really meant what they say, that this is nothing more than a Private Member's Bill for the District of the Municipality of Barrington, if it was nothing more than that, why didn't they accept our amendment? Why didn't they accept our suggestion?

People will say, you can't move an amendment at third reading. You can do anything in this House, with unanimous consent. Anything in this House with unanimous consent, but what the Government House Leader and others here neglect to say is that we offered to help the minister and the member for Shelburne, a way out of this dilemma before that by suggesting a wording change. No, the front bench wouldn't let them. The Government House Leader wouldn't let them. They said, we can't do that because that will change the intent of the bill.

What is the intent of the bill? If the intent of the bill is only to provide office space and that, why wouldn't they do it? Because the intent of the bill is to open the door for municipal units to start topping up doctors' salaries, and entering into a bidding war, that is what the intent of this government is. They are not fooling anybody with that intent. We know that; unfortunately the NDP haven't caught on to that yet. Maybe they will after they it receives Royal Assent and they say, oops, we made a mistake. I am going to tell you, Nova Scotians are going to know that that government and that Opposition are selling them down the river.

[Page 4525]

Whenever you start employing municipal tax dollars to buy physicians, we are heading in the wrong direction. We are sending the wrong message to the people of this province that no longer is the Department of Health going to be responsible for physician recruitment, it is going to be up to the municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, that is fundamentally wrong, that property taxpayers could be used for physician recruitment. I believe, we believe as a caucus - and I believe it very strongly - that this bill should have been hoisted for six months to have municipal input from across this province, which wasn't done, and to have consultation with the people of Barrington, which wasn't done. Their own editorial writers in The Coast Guard are against this bill; the people who have called us from down there are all against it; the municipal leaders are against this bill. So, why is it here? Why is it here if there was not consultation on this bill? Why was it tried to be pushed through the House in the way it was? Because this government has another agenda. This government has another agenda and it is simple, we are getting out of the recruitment business, we are leaving it up to the municipalities. If you want a doctor, call up your mayor, call up your warden, call your councillor, put another few dollars on everybody's tax bill. That is setting the stage, a dangerous precedent in the health care field in this province.

A dangerous precedent in this province because the next time they have difficulty with health care workers, the next time they have difficulty with a group, they will simply pick another back row member to put in another bill respecting nurses, or technicians, or hospital workers of all kinds. That is what they will do. They will say we've done it with physicians, now we are going to do it with nurses, now we are going to do it with X-ray techs, now we are going to do it with hospital front-line workers; we are going to do it with just about everybody. This government is determined to do one thing, look after its political friends and get themselves re-elected, and this kind of bill, I think will impede that progress to tell you the truth, once Nova Scotians find out what is really being done here.

People of Nova Scotia are smart people, they will see through this. They will also make sure that the number of one-term wonders that are over there won't be back for a second term because of legislation like this. Because of legislation like this you can kiss some of those seats goodbye, Mr. Premier, on that side of the House. Combined with the other legislation that this government has put through this House and the kind of user fees that this government has placed on the heads and shoulders of Nova Scotians, then a combination of those things is going to mean simply that Nova Scotians will not trust this government with another mandate.

Never before can I recall any government agreeing with a municipal unit paying property taxes. I mean, how are they going to work that? Are they going to draw some cash out of the bank and run off to somewhere in Ontario, under the cover of darkness, with the taxpayers' money, meet with a doctor and say, we heard you were going to Halifax, but we

[Page 4526]

have a little bit more money down here in Digby, so why don't you come down here and we will pay you this money, cash up front. Is that what is going to happen?

[12:45 p.m.]

This legislation permits that because it says, a grant to health professionals. It doesn't say for paper clips or for coffee or for office space or for a Lexus or any other kind of car. It doesn't say that. It says a grant to encourage people to come to Barrington. That is what it states. Why this government wouldn't allow that wording to be changed to satisfy what they say they are satisfying, one can only wonder. I can tell you why; because this is not the end they want to achieve. The end they want to achieve is to put it on the record of this province that it is open season. Let the games begin; let the competitions begin; doctor for hire. We will pay more than the next guy.

I never thought I would stand on my feet in Nova Scotia, in this place, and have to tell Nova Scotians that we are heading down the road of municipal tax dollars being paid . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Another tier in the health system.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Another tier in the health system. Municipal taxpayers' dollars are going to be paid to top up doctors salaries. If the Department of Health isn't satisfied with doctors' salaries, let them do something about it; let the Cabinet do something about it, but don't download it on municipalities and say, we can't afford to put a doctor in Richmond, but the Richmond council, you guys can do it now. There is legislation through the House to permit you to provide a grant to a doctor. It is on the books. So if you want to do it, go ahead. We can't do it so the good people of Richmond will have to do it, right out of their wallets. In addition to all the other things that have been downloaded on them, now they are going to have to pay for a doctor.

As I stated before, the member for Cape Breton North didn't have any problem getting a doctor because they don't want to embarrass him because he is going to be a member of the front bench, I would suspect within a week after we get out of here. The guessing game is who is going? I am sure there are other members back there who are going, after the next election, including the Municipality of the District of Barrington, after the people realize, I guess is the word I was looking for - I had another word, but it would have been unparliamentary, so I resisted in using that.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, when the people of Barrington find out what is really going on here, that they were duped, that all the MLAs put their names in a hat and the member for Shelburne lost so he had to go and convince a couple of counsellors that this is a good thing, to get this bill before the House. There are other Private Members' Bills. I will remind Nova Scotians, here that went through this House to a stage. The minute the red flag went up, they were pulled. They were left on the order paper or disappeared altogether, but not this one.

[Page 4527]

You have to ask yourself, why are the Premier, the Minister of Health and the Cabinet so exercised over this Private Member's Bill?

AN HON. MEMBER: It doesn't pass the smell test.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: It doesn't pass the smell test is right, as my colleague says. It doesn't pass the smell test because there is another agenda going on here. It is opening up the floodgates in Nova Scotia for municipal participation in the recruitment of doctors. Next year it will be municipal participation in the recruitment of nurses and other health care professionals. If you read this motion, to encourage doctors, dentists and other health professionals. That is what the motion says. The motion doesn't say anything about providing any kind of a coffee cup machine or something for their office or paving their parking lot or anything like that. It talks about grants to professionals.

The last time I looked, a grant meant money. It isn't specific in the motion. Sure, the Clerk tries to put the best face on it in the preamble to that, but that is their intent.

Well, Mr. Speaker, we are not interested in what their intent was. We are interested in the motion that is going through this House, the language of that motion, and I am going to tell you it permits an all-out recruiting war in Nova Scotia for physicians. That is what it does. It opens the door and municipalities, particularly that abut one another, are going to be at each other's throats trying to get doctors.

Mr. Speaker, you and I both know - you have been around here a few years and so have I - that Private Members' Bills simply don't reach this stage in this House, this stage of debate, this level of debate, this time that is spent in this debate, and the reason we are debating this bill as long as we are is because we are firmly convinced that this government has another agenda here other than satisfying a private member. Private Members' Bills, when we were in government, would come before a committee of the caucus or the Cabinet and they would be discussed. We would go out and we would solicit opinion across Nova Scotia or in a particular area that affects that bill and we would make our judgment based on that opinion.

Was there any opinion sought here? No. There wasn't any opinion. There were no meetings held with the people of Barrington. There were no letters of support from the people of Barrington. There were no letters of support from municipal units. As a matter of fact, the contrary happened here. Municipal units are not supporting this. The people who we have talked to in this municipality aren't supporting this. So why is it here? Nobody that I know is supporting it except these two councillors who are listed here plus the member for Shelburne and the Cabinet, the Health Minister, the Premier, the Government House Leader. Why would the Premier, the Health Minister, and the Government House Leader be sitting here on a Friday afternoon listening to a Private Member's Bill being debated? Now, you tell

[Page 4528]

me that, because there is more at stake here than approving a Private Member's Bill for a small municipality like the District of Barrington.

The good people of the District of Barrington are being duped here. They are the vehicle that is making sure that we have a precedent-setting bill to go through this House so that this government can change direction in the future in how it handles physician recruitment in Nova Scotia. That is what is going on here, nothing more and nothing less. So any vain attempt by that government to try to disguise this as a simple Private Member's Bill is laughable. To try to disguise this bill as a simple Private Member's Bill is laughable. We know the difference. Unfortunately, the NDP didn't catch onto it, but they will eventually, or maybe something has happened there to change their minds on it because they can read the same as we can. Their researchers are intelligent people, as ours are.

I believe that if the backbench members opposite went back to their municipal units, talked to their mayors and wardens, explained it, then they would have a different attitude on this. Did they have a chance to do that, Mr. Speaker? No. A six months' hoist would have done that but, no, this government wants to railroad this bill through the House as quickly as they can using false pretenses. That is what this government is doing, using false pretenses here, bringing this bill in here under the guise of a Private Member's Bill through the back door, instead of the Minister of Health and the Premier telling Nova Scotians what is really going on here and through the front door, and saying that we are changing direction in the provision of recruitment services in this province for doctors and we want to tell Nova Scotians why.

That would be the honest way of doing that, Mr. Speaker. That would be the honest way, not coming through the back door with what the Government House Leader laughingly said yesterday to the press, oh, this is nothing but an innocuous bill, I don't know what the Liberals are getting all upset about here, can't understand what the Liberals are getting upset about. The reason he can't understand it is because somebody is taking exception to their agenda. That is what they can't understand.

The divine right to rule is what is going on over there. Never mind Nova Scotians, never mind the fact that they are going to have to pay more property taxes eventually for physicians, to top up salaries, never mind that. Never mind the fact that the debt is going to rise steadily in the next few years, that is only additional interest payments Nova Scotians will have to pay, all of that stuff because this government has one agenda and one agenda only, to try to con the people of this province into giving them a second mandate. Before they do, they are going to look after the good old boys club in the Tory Party from Yarmouth to Glace Bay.

Mr. Speaker, the reason for this bill is that when they can't get a doctor to go to a municipal unit, they are going to blame it on the municipalities. It is not our fault, we gave you the legislation, we allowed you to do this, if you don't want to pay for a doctor that is

[Page 4529]

your problem, that is your problem. I can just see the council meeting now, when they are moving resolutions. How much money are we going to set aside for how many doctors next year? I know a good doctor, I will run out and tell him not to sign up next door because we are going to pay him more. When they call the Department of Health, the Department of Health will say, we are not in the recruitment business any more, the municipal units are. That is what is going on here. The municipal units are in the recruitment business, go see them, go see your councillor. See how much money he will agree for the municipal taxpayer to be fleeced of, to do what should be done by the Department of Health and this government.

Mr. Speaker, I know that this government has done some crazy things in the two years that it has been in office, only two years, less than two years, but this takes the cake. This takes the cake, to try to say that this is an innocuous Private Member's Bill from the Municipality of the District of Barrington and doesn't mean anything other than it is going to enable the good people of the District of Barrington to buy some paper clips for a doctor. That is all it means. Anybody who would believe that. Here we have about 25 government members sitting here on a Friday afternoon, not taking any chances, because they have been told to sit in their chairs, because that is the importance this government attaches to this particular bill. That is the importance this government attaches to this particular bill.

Why are they so concerned about a Private Member's Bill from Barrington? Is there something I am missing? Something you are missing? No. What is happening here is the much larger picture, what is happening here is precedent-setting. It will lead to a further downloading of responsibility to municipalities. That is what is going to happen here.

Mr. Speaker, political vanity came into play here, too. This government is going to go out there when this session is finished and tell this government about all the good things it has put through this House this session. But I bet you they are not going to say too much about this bill, and they are not going to say too much about some of the other important ones they left on the order paper, but we will have something to say about the promises that aren't being kept by the Premier in certain legislation to date. Maybe they will be kept in the fall or next spring, as we move closer to the next election, but I wouldn't count on it. We are through this session.

We put more bills through in a minority government than this crowd put through here. Now they are trying to get out of here with the least fanfare on this bill as possible. Well, excuse me, but the jig is up. The jig is up on this bill. We know, because we offered the government a way out, they said it was nothing but an innocuous bill, we offered them a chance to prove that and they said no. What they have left in here is the ability, the clear ability for the Municipality of the District of Barrington to top up salaries to doctors, a dangerous precedent-setting move in this province. I never thought, as a former municipal politician, that I would ever see this day, that you would sit in the council and debate whether or not you are going to put $100,000 or $200,000 or $1 million aside to try to attract doctors,

[Page 4530]

because the guy next door is doing the same thing. The municipality next door has more money than we have. That is what is going on here, downloading to municipalities. Pitting one municipality against the other, keeping everybody at each other's throats. That is what is going on here.

[1:00 p.m.]

Now, the unwilling accomplice to this whole thing is the member for Shelburne. I say unwilling, because in discussions with our caucus he supported the amendment . . .

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

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to stand to speak for a few minutes on the bill that is before us. Despite all of what, and if you listen carefully to everything that the previous speaker said there were a few grains of truth in his comments. For example, he said that politics were at play here in a big way, and I couldn't agree more with the member on that comment, that politics are at play here in a big way.

Yes, indeed, the member, and the Liberals are talking about this amendment that they are proposing bringing forward. They brought it forward privately, during third reading debate, where there cannot be, without unanimous consent, any consideration of that. There is no requirement for any kind of unanimous consent to consider that amendment had it been brought forward during the Private and Local Bills Committee meeting nor during the debate here in the Committee of the Whole House. It would have been brought forward and it could have been discussed then and voted on.

Mr. Speaker, why was it not brought forward until after the time when you can bring forward amendments? That is a very good question. Was it because they didn't really want to have that amendment debated or considered? Was it because they wanted what has been happening, to take place? I would suggest that I lean towards the latter. There is no question whatsoever that we have a problem in the Province of Nova Scotia with recruiting and training physicians and other health care workers. That is a problem across the province, not only in Barrington, not only in Richmond, but there is a problem - and I am sure the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank could tell you, as well, that we need more doctors in our community. (Interruptions)

[Page 4531]

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I am certainly listening intently to the member for Sackville-Cobequid and I know how quick he is to get up on his feet to request if members will entertain a question. Therefore, I would like to ask that member now if he will entertain a question?

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid entertain a question?

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think I even know what the question will be and I think I know what my answer will be, but, sure, he can place it and then I will answer it in the due course of my comments.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. SAMSON: There is one issue here that the NDP continues to refuse to address. The one issue about this bill we have said that there is a fundamental problem with the fact that this would allow municipalities to take property tax dollars and to top that up on doctors' salaries. In all of their speeches, to date, not one of them has addressed whether they support the notion contained in this bill, that would allow municipalities to use property tax dollars to top up the salary of physicians who locate in their area. Therefore, the question is, do they support topping up the salaries of doctors with municipal money?

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

MR. HOLM: That was exactly the question I anticipated the member would make and, I say to you, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased he has been listening intently. That is one of the first times he has been, because he obviously hasn't listened intently to the comments that were made by previous speakers from this caucus on this bill. If he listens intently between the time I am talking right now and the time that I sit down, hopefully he will have understood the answer when it comes to the time of putting that into the proper context, and I will be answering the question. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable members had their opportunity to be on the floor.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, they are just making the case for me from before that obviously, and for the honourable member for Cape Breton South by their heckling and the kind of comments that they are shouting out, that there is indeed an awful lot of politics at play here. They are demonstrating that quite clearly.

Mr. Speaker, we have a shortage of physicians in the Province of Nova Scotia. This bill and no bill like it should be before this House, and in fact municipalities and communities shouldn't have to be involved in a physician recruiting program. That shouldn't

[Page 4532]

be necessary because if there was a proper and efficient physician recruiting program in the Province of Nova Scotia, then Barrington, Richmond, Cape Breton North, Sackville, none of the communities should have to be involved in recruiting because that is properly the responsibility of the provincial government. If we did have more physicians in the Province of Nova Scotia, it would also not be a problem.

Had the former government not reduced the number of persons who could take physician training, the problem would not be as severe as it is. Just the same as had they not laid off so many nurses, we wouldn't be having the nursing crisis and the shortages in the province that we are having right now. That is history and they don't want to hear about history and, quite truthfully, history really doesn't matter. What really does matter is where we are and how we move forward.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why are you talking about it then?

MR. HOLM: They ask why I am talking about it, maybe that is because sometimes it is a little bit enjoyable to remind them of it when you hear the hypocritical comments that are being made and coming out of that source.

Mr. Speaker, the members asked about topping up salaries, and they talk about front door, they talk about back door. I ask you this, you can talk about incomes, you can talk about salaries, if you have a business and somebody comes along and says to you, look, we are going to do this for you, we are going to pay for your secretary, we are going to pay for your assistant, we are going to pay for your researchers, so you don't have to pay for them, is your profit going to go up if you lose that expense? If somebody comes along and says we are going to pay your telephone bill, we are going to provide you with all the equipment that you need in the office for free, do your profits go up? Is that subsidizing your income? If somebody wants to come along and take my power bill and my phone bill, give me free rent, then that is increasing the salaries or the income of that person, that is increasing the income.

You can talk about front door, you can talk about back door, you can talk about - what's the word I am looking for? - semantics, whatever you want, but the reality is it shouldn't be happening, it shouldn't be necessary, we should have enough physicians. The honourable member for Shelburne, the honourable member for Cape Breton North, the honourable member for Digby, the honourable member for Dartmouth, any of them - I am ignoring you Minister of Finance - we shouldn't have to, our communities shouldn't be asked to dig in their pockets for property taxes. It shouldn't be necessary; it shouldn't be required. This government and the last government both have failed - this government hasn't had quite as many years to fail as the last government, but they are failing just as the other one did over a longer period of time - in terms of recruiting physicians. The reality is that if you were going to say to a dentist, if the dentist is willing to come to your community, we will outfit an office for you for free, no charge, we will put in all of the X-ray equipment, the drills and all those other things that are there that I try to stay away from, those other things that they

[Page 4533]

were sticking down my teeth the other day when I got a number of root canals and all of that equipment. If somebody else is paying for that for you, that is increasing your profits. That is an increase to your salary.

Now we can cut semantics, we can do whatever we want. I don't like this bill. I wish this bill wasn't coming forward. But the reality is, Mr. Speaker, I don't like this bill or any other bill like it, as I was saying, because I don't think any municipality should be in that spot, that one or Guysborough. But I am not going to say that for the case in Barrington, that I am going to be disrespectful to the council of Barrington and not give them the opportunities to do what they want to do and what they consider the only legal way to do it where it is being done elsewhere.

Mr. Speaker, I know the members of the Liberal caucus, who talked at some considerable length - and they want anybody else who isn't just going to automatically stand up and applaud them, pat them on the back - they want them to sit down. They don't want to hear anything. When anybody who disagrees with them gets up, they just say, sit down. Well I listened to them and I respect their right to say what they said, regardless of whether I agree with it or not, and I don't. The council of Barrington passed a resolution, the Liberals are saying they don't believe them, they don't trust them. They have presented a letter saying this is what we intend and this is what we are going to do.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. At no time did we say we do not trust the people of Barrington or that they have evil intentions. The member is clearly misleading this House by saying that. Our point has been that what they have requested is not what is reflected in the legislation. We are saying that the language contained in the legislation does not reflect what they are asking. It opens up a larger ability here, which is not what they have asked. That is why we propose an amendment which clearly, almost word for word, reflects what the council of Barrington has requested. In no way, shape or form have we said that they have evil intentions or that we do not trust them. That is misleading the House and the member knows that that is not correct.

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

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I was just about to sit down before I had an intervention. It was a clarification of his interpretation. What they did say of course, very clearly, was that the Barrington council was duped. I think that the council of Barrington and municipal councillors, it is a bit of an insult to suggest that they have been duped. I have a little bit more faith in that council, as I do councils generally across this province, obviously more than the former government did.

[Page 4534]

Mr. Speaker, municipal councils are elected by the residents in those municipalities. They are accountable to the people in their municipalities for the decisions that they make, just as we are responsible to our electorate for the decisions that we make or don't make. They are going to be accountable to the voters in their district for the decision to have this legislation brought forward. If they deviate from what they say are their intentions, and they do that, then they will be accountable to the voters in that district should they do that.

Mr. Speaker, they are elected to determine how they will be spending your municipal tax dollars. It is not for us just to turn around and to dictate to them what they can and they cannot do. Municipalities and communities have, for a long time, been involved . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: Yes, Mr. Speaker, if I could just finish my one sentence.

MR. SPEAKER: I believe your microphone is off.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Once again, I know that member has been here for ages and a couple of decades, much longer than me, but that member knows very well that we have a municipal government bill here. Municipalities are limited in where they can spend, how much money they can spend on certain items. For the member to say here that municipalities have a free-for-all on how they spend their money, that member knows very well that that is not the case. In fact, many municipalities, such as mine in Richmond County, wish there weren't as many restrictions as there currently are on them so that they could give more to physician recruitment and to other efforts. For that member to say here that municipal units have a free-for-all on spending money, he knows very well that that is not correct.

[1:15 p.m.]

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

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to say that the member for Richmond is rather creative. Even though his time has expired, he does manage to find ways to get up during points of order to be able to speak and, yes, indeed, he has learned well because I confess, I have done that myself before, so I am not going to be critical of him for that. I just point out that, obviously, he is trying to rebut the arguments and try to defend the indefensible position that they may be trying to bring forward.

Mr. Speaker, I have no hesitation in saying I will be voting in favour of this bill. I will be doing that knowing that the municipal council has made commitments as to how that money is going to be used. I am not going to be offending them by saying that I am going to

[Page 4535]

be turning down the request of the municipal council on this particular issue. Our job is to hold the government accountable. That is what our job is. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, there has been tons of debate in this House and we have heard a lot of silence at certain times from certain sections of the House. I am not going to provoke or bother getting into that any more because it is not necessary. We do know that right now municipalities and communities are purchasing supplies and equipment. We know that they are paying staff, providing for free rent, all of these other kinds of things as well that have the same net effect as increasing the bottom line, what is in the pocket, for the physicians, for the dentists and so on. My understanding from this legislation is, whether you call it this hand or that hand, it has the same net effect and, therefore, I will be voting in support of this legislation.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I was hoping that this would not have to end up this way and I was hoping that I didn't have to go where that crew over there is now taking me, but let me tell you (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: To Cape Breton.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I will be going to Cape Breton later on, but I wonder why several members in the NDP caucus will not be going to Cape Breton this weekend and I wonder why they are not attending their convention in Cape Breton this weekend. Perhaps the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage isn't going to Cape Breton this weekend for particular reasons, but I will go to Cape Breton later on, I will be attending a little party there later on and I am sure there will be more people at that party than there will be at the NDP convention.

Mr. Speaker, I didn't want to go there, but this is nothing new. What we are talking about on Bill No. 54, today, and the reaction of the NDP is nothing new because they did the same thing with Sysco when they sold Sysco and the steelworkers down the river. They did the same thing. (Interruptions) They did the same sort of hypocritical action that we are seeing here today when they said they were not in favour of what that government did to Sysco.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member he has been speaking to Bill No. 54 and I would ask him to bring his comments back to that bill, please.

[Page 4536]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, there is a direct relation there because of what they are doing today with Bill No. 54. What we are seeing and what we have seen in the past is that members of the NDP have stood up, they just won the Academy Award of hypocrisy in this Legislature today and their main competition is over there; for that member for Sackville-Cobequid to stand up and call us hypocritical for what we are doing. This is one of the biggest flip-flops we have ever seen any Party pull off in this Legislature. I was at the Private and Local Bills Committee. I sat there, along with the member for Dartmouth East, along with several members on that side of this House, and the chairperson on that side of this House and, also the member for Cape Breton Centre and the member for Dartmouth North in the NDP, and I know, and the members on that side know, exactly how they voted. We don't need a record to show us.

Mr. Speaker, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage said to me earlier today, it is not on the record. It is not on the record, but I have witnesses and I am one of them, that both of those members voted no, against this bill. No. Then, when they come into this Legislature, the Interim Leader who is now down vying for a permanent job as Leader of the NDP, the Interim Leader of the NDP says to both of those members, you are not talking on this bill. You are not allowed to talk on this bill because you opposed it in that committee and I am muzzling you because you have a differing opinion. You have an opinion that agrees with the Liberals. That is why those members were muzzled. That is why those members now have a choke chain around their neck, and they were not allowed to stand in their place in this Legislature and speak their minds about Bill No. 54. If that is not hypocritical, I don't know what is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. First of all, to use the word, hypocritical, is unparliamentary and I would ask the honourable member to retract it. Secondly, I would ask the honourable member to bring his comments back to Bill No. 54, otherwise, I will call for another speaker. The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

MR. WILSON: Thank you Mr. Speaker, I will retract that comment and I will return to Bill No. 54.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, on an edition of Maritime Noon, today, on CBC, there were municipal officials from Shelburne who spoke out on that program, against Bill No. 54. It is not just the Liberals who are saying Bill No. 54 is wrong, it is municipal officials in this province, it is the President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. It is mayors and wardens from across this province who are saying this bill is fundamentally, ethically and morally wrong. They are in agreement with us. No one on that side of the House is paying attention, not only to us, they are not paying attention to elected representatives in municipalities across this province. That is shameful. They have done the same thing on

[Page 4537]

other issues, like equalization, in this Legislature. They have not paid attention to municipal officials.

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to see municipalities, and the Liberal caucus does not want to see municipalities pitted in a bidding war against other municipalities in this province. If it comes down to a choice that the people of this province, who live in Shelburne, who live in North Sydney, who live in Sydney Mines have to make a decision whether their property tax dollars are used to pave roads or build playgrounds for their children or to hire a doctor, then I would suggest to you that those property taxpayers will say it is the provincial government who is supposed to be looking after doctors in this province and do not use my property tax dollars to take away from what they should be giving to myself and my children. The Minister of Health knows that, the Minister of Finance knows that, the Premier knows that and, most of all, the Government House Leader, who has rammed this bill through this Legislature, knows that. He knows it.

What has happened here, and what my colleague, the member for Cape Breton South has said, they had a chance. Even the member for Shelburne has agreed that his bill is flawed. He has said that, but he cannot get it through to the Cabinet in the front row that this is wrong, and because it went so far they have put up a giant wall and said, we are ramming this through come hell or high water, no matter what the Liberals say, no matter what happens.

Before I continue my remarks, I would like at this point to call for a quorum count, if I may.

MR. SPEAKER: The count for a quorum has been called. We are well within the quorum numbers.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East has the floor. (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: Too bad.

MR. WILSON: No, it's not too bad, I realized that, I think, but I want the members to pay attention, and obviously during all of our debates here in the Legislature no one has been paying attention on that side. It's about time they stopped skirting around it and gathering over at the door and playing little games. We are talking about something that affects each and every taxpayer in this province. Each and every taxpayer is going to be put into a position where their tax dollars, their property tax dollars, are going to have to be used for something that it should not be going towards.

Of all people, the people on that side of this House who have been involved in municipal government before, should know better. Those former municipal councillors who went to Halifax Regional Council and the other councils before HRM and spoke on behalf of their property taxpayers, they know what property tax dollars are supposed to be used for.

[Page 4538]

They know they aren't supposed to be used in a bidding war to try to buy a doctor for a municipality. They realize that, but they have not had the intestinal fortitude to stand in this Legislature and say so.

Mr. Speaker, you know what's happening here on Bill No. 54 and what's happening with the New Democratic Party on Bill No. 54? They have decided to play jack-in-the-box and pop up just because we have taken the lead on this. They are trying to grab the latest headline in the newspaper tomorrow. Well the latest headline in the newspaper tomorrow will say that the Tory-NDP coalition is alive and well in Nova Scotia. That coalition was first formed in the Private and Local Bills Committee. Now it has become a reality. Whoever would have thought that in the Nova Scotia Legislature you would see the New Democratic Party and the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia get together to put a bill through. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I will pay no attention to the quacking that's going on over in the corner of this Legislature because as long as you do not have the intestinal fortitude to stand here on your feet on behalf of the people who sent you here, you have no business to be heckling from the back rows of the Tory Party; absolutely no business. You know over there, every one of those people know full well that they have the right to get on their feet. They have the right during this debate to stand up and talk on behalf of this bill, but nobody, and especially the Minister of Health, not once has that minister said whether or not he agrees with this bill; not once. The Premier of this province says one thing outside of this House and another thing when he enters this Chamber.

Mr. Speaker, the Tory-NDP coalition that occurred here today, and that is quite evident, will be remembered for a very long time. What people will remember here is that it was the Liberal caucus, the members of the Liberal caucus who stood on their feet and defended the rights of every Nova Scotian. Not just a couple of people who appeared with a flawed idea before the Private and Local Bills Committee of this Legislature; a flawed idea that could have been corrected with a simple amendment - as easy as that - a simple one word amendment would have taken care of this. That's why we find ourselves where we are.

Mr. Speaker, I don't like this bill. Those are not just my words. Not too long ago, about six or seven minutes ago, those very words were spoken by the member for Sackville-Cobequid. I don't like this bill, but I have to vote for it. He was told by his Leader - the interim Leader - for some mixed-up reason he decided that it was his course to support the Tories in this bill, and therefore turned around and said to the rest of the members of the NDP caucus, you had better do what I say, because I am your Leader - for now.

[Page 4539]

[1:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that does not work very well. A guy by the name of Stockwell Day has tried it out, and he is in a lot of trouble. If I was the interim Leader of the NDP, I would be careful that I wasn't the next Stockwell Day. Again, we have risen time and time again, and we will continue to do so to let Nova Scotians know that this is fundamentally, ethically and morally wrong, what is happening in this Legislature and what is happening with Bill No. 54.

Mr. Speaker, we have spoken against it for valid reasons which show that the municipalities in this province do not support this bill. Every day since we started raising this issue we hear from more and more municipalities that they are not in favour of Bill No. 54. As my colleague, the member for Richmond, said earlier, the municipal officials happened to be away at the time at a federal-municipal conference. He suggested, and I concur with him, that that is why this government decided to try to slip Bill No. 54 through the Legislature, because those municipal officials would not know until they returned to Nova Scotia what was happening in their province.

I am sure the government thought that hopefully, they wouldn't be back until later on, and they wouldn't be able to grasp exactly what this bill is about. Certainly not in time to stop it and get in touch with their MLAs throughout their constituencies and saying, we don't want that bill to go through; we don't want it to go through because what you have done here is created a very slippery slope.

Mr. Speaker, let me tell you, they will hear it when they go home, when all of these MLAs return, and if they haven't already called their municipal officials which I would say that some of them have not because they don't want to hear what they are saying, but I am sure there is a message waiting, when they pick up the phone later tonight or tomorrow or Monday, whatever the case may be, and that taped operator comes on and says, message waiting, one of the messages is going to be from their municipal official, their warden or their mayor or their councillors. It is going to say, what is wrong with you? What is wrong with the Tory Government, when they decided to introduce Bill No. 54? Didn't you listen to the Liberals? What the Liberals are saying is right.

Mr. Speaker, it came down at one point during this whole debate to just letting common sense prevail. Common sense should have told the Government House Leader that the member for Shelburne wanted to agree with the Liberal amendment. He said he did. If common sense had prevailed, then the Government House Leader would have had to swallow a little bit of pride and say, okay, what we are going to do here is agree with the Liberals and accept the amendment.

[Page 4540]

Mr. Speaker, in closing what I have to say on Bill No. 54, I am extremely proud of my colleagues in the Liberal caucus. I am extremely proud of the member for Dartmouth East, who has led the charge on behalf of the Liberal caucus. I am extremely proud of our Liberal Leader, who has stood here and looked at a united caucus, where every member in this caucus agreed and stood on their feet and defended what they thought was right, not a caucus divided like the NDP, where its members vote one way in a committee meeting, and another way - oh sorry, not in any other way in the Legislature, because they don't even bother to show up. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member knows, as I warned all caucuses earlier today not to acknowledge the fact that members are here or not here. I realize the honourable member for Cape Breton East is so involved in the debate that he forgot that, but I know that he won't do it again.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East has the floor.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, that momentarily slipped my memory and I apologize for that. Let me say this (Interruption) I can continue. I said I was going to wrap up, but I certainly would have no problem taking up the rest of my time; no problem whatsoever because what we are doing over here is the right thing to do. You have no problem standing up in this Legislature and speaking when you know what you are talking about is the right thing; the right thing and not the wrong thing.

The NDP referred to it the other day that there is a higher principle they said. Their illustrious Leader said there was a higher principle here that we are talking about, but they won't defend it. We will defend the higher principles in the province, that is why we are here, to defend Nova Scotians and to defend those principles. We have done that through this debate and we showed exactly why the NDP is there and why they will never be over there. We have also shown that by defending those principles that Nova Scotians now know, with certainty, that when it comes time to picking the next government of this province, it is right here in the Liberal caucus of Nova Scotia, and we know that.

Bill No. 54 is wrong, it is wrong for Nova Scotians, it is wrong for municipalities, it is wrong for the people who pay property tax dollars. With that comment, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The question that is before the House now is the motion for the previous question.

A recorded vote is being called for.

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

[Page 4541]

[1:37 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Speaker calls the roll.]

[1:49 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Rodney MacDonald Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. Christie Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Baker Dr. Smith

Mr. Russell Mr. MacAskill

Dr. Hamm Mr. Wilson

Mr. LeBlanc Mr. Boudreau

Mr. Muir Mr. Samson

Miss Purves

Mr. Fage

Mr. Balser

Mr. Parent

Ms. McGrath

Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Olive

Mr. Morse

Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Taylor

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Chataway

Mr. Clarke

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Deveaux

Mr. Holm

Mr. Robert Chisholm

[Page 4542]

THE CLERK: For, 31. Against, 7.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

The motion now before the House is for third reading of Bill No. 54. Is the House ready for the question?

A recorded vote has been called for.

Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Speaker calls the roll.]

[1:53 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Rodney MacDonald Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. Christie Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Baker Dr. Smith

Mr. Russell Mr. MacAskill

Dr. Hamm Mr. Wilson

Mr. LeBlanc Mr. Boudreau

Mr. Muir Mr. Samson

Miss Purves

Mr. Fage

Mr. Balser

Mr. Parent

Ms. McGrath

Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Olive

Mr. Morse

Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Taylor

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Chataway

Mr. Clarke

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

[Page 4543]

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Deveaux

Mr. Holm

Mr. Robert Chisholm

THE CLERK: For, 31. Against, 7.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

ACTING SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor is without.

MR. SPEAKER: Let Her Honour be admitted.

[The Speaker and the Clerk left the Chamber.]

[The Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Myra Freeman, preceded by her escort, and by Mr. Peter Theriault, Acting Sergeant-at-Arms, bearing the Mace, entered the House of Assembly Chamber. The Lieutenant Governor then took her seat on the Throne.

The Acting Sergeant-at-Arms then departed and re-entered the Chamber followed by the Speaker, the Honourable Murray Scott; and the Chief Clerk of the House, Roderick MacArthur, Q.C.

The Speaker, with the Acting Sergeant-at-Arms on his right and the Clerk on his left, took up his position at the foot of the Speaker's Table.]

ACTING SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: It is the wish of Her Honour that the ladies and gentlemen be seated.

MR. SPEAKER: May it please Your Honour, the General Assembly of the Province has, in its present session, passed certain bills to which, in the name and on behalf of the General Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour's Assent.

THE CLERK:

Bill No. 1 - Land Registration Act.

Bill No. 10 - Order of Nova Scotia Act.

[Page 4544]

Bill No. 12 - Assessment Act and Municipal Government Act.

Bill No. 13 - House of Assembly Act.

Bill No. 14 - Energy Resources Conservation Act/Pipeline Act.

Bill No. 15 - Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act.

Bill No. 17 - Optometry Act.

Bill No. 18 - Registered Nurses Act.

Bill No. 19 - Licensed Practical Nurses Act.

Bill No. 20 - Government Restructuring (2001) Act.

Bill No. 21 - Transportation Amendments (2001) Act.

Bill No. 24 - St. Francis Xavier University Millennium Centre Grants Act.

Bill No. 25 - Justice Administration Amendment (2001) Act.

Bill No. 26 - Chester Trails Act.

Bill No. 27 - Veterinary Medical Act.

Bill No. 28 - Securities Act.

Bill No. 30 - Financial Measures (2001) Act.

Bill No. 31 - Agriculture Administration Amendment (2001) Act.

Bill No. 32 - Livestock Health Services Act.

Bill No. 33 - Scalers Act.

Bill No. 34 - Social Workers Act.

Bill No. 45 - Upper Stewiacke Fire Protection Act.

Bill No. 54 - District of Barrington Health Professionals Assistance Act.

[Page 4545]

Bill No. 56 - An Act Respecting the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Nova Scotia.

Bill No. 57 - Halifax Corresponding Committee Act.

THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR:

In Her Majesty's name, I Assent to these Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: Your Honour, having been graciously pleased to give your Assent to the Bills passed during the present Session, it becomes my agreeable duty on behalf of Her Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, Her faithful Commons of Nova Scotia, to present to Your Honour a bill for the Appropriation of Supply granted in the present Session for the support of the Public Service and to request Your Honour's Assent thereto.

THE CLERK:

Bill No. 39 - An Act to Provide for Defraying Certain Charges and Expenses of the Public Service of the Province.

THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR:

In Her Majesty's name, I thank Her loyal subjects, I accept their benevolence and I Assent to this Bill.

[The Speaker and the Clerk left the Chamber.]

[The Lieutenant Governor left the Chamber.]

ACTING SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: His Honour, the Speaker.

[The Speaker took the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, and members of the House of Assembly, I move that this Assembly be now adjourned, to meet again at the call of the Speaker.

[Page 4546]

MR. SPEAKER: The House is now adjourned.

[2:01 p.m. The House adjourned.]

[Page 4547]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1602

By: Mr. Michel Samson (Richmond)

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

Whereas the Minister of Health refuses to make a firm commitment on the location and time frame for construction of the new Richmond Villa; and

Whereas staff and residents have experienced fear and anxiety of not knowing when the new facility will be constructed since last October; and

Whereas the minister had the chance to put these concerns to rest during Question Period last week but he chose not to;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health put these concerns to rest and make a firm commitment on the location and time frame for the construction of the new Richmond Villa.

RESOLUTION NO. 1603

By: Mr. Michel Samson (Richmond)

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

Whereas since December 23, 2000, there have been no full-time physicians at the Strait-Richmond Hospital to cover the emergency room during the daytime; and

Whereas the Municipality of Richmond does not have the means to pay additional salary in a bidding war for doctors; and

Whereas health decisions should be made for clinical reasons and not be based on a municipality's ability to pay;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health take responsibility for the health system and ensure all communities have adequate physician coverage instead of allowing for a province-wide free-for-all.

[Page 4548]

RESOLUTION NO. 1604

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas the First Parrsboro Scout Troop is presently busy in their community doing what they do best, helping families, friends and the community itself by taking part in Operation Good Deed; and

Whereas the scout troop has been involved in refinishing the Parrsboro and District Board of Trade billboard for the community by sanding, scraping and painting through the efforts of scouts Matthew Pettigrew, Stevely and Bradley Wood and also Ken Campbell, Past-President of the Parrsboro Board of Trade; and

Whereas the First Parrsboro Scout Troop, which is led by Ross Robinson with the assistance of many parents and citizens, including Ashley Skidmore and Bernice Byers who assisted in canoe training for the scouts;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs applaud the efforts being put forth by the First Parrsboro Scout Troop and wish them continued success in their scouting ventures and also thank Gregg Matthews, Hughie Pettigrew, Will Dunphy, Jeremy Dunphy, Arnold Wood, Rosalie Pettigrew and Brian Wheaton for their assistance to these great young citizens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1605

By: Dr. James Smith (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Mary Catherine McDonnell of Halifax and Lunenburg has been a volunteer with Health Canada for nine years; and

Whereas she has been recognized by the Honourable Jane Stewart as a volunteer who represents all those who help deliver federal programs and services; and

Whereas as a social worker who has worked with children to those with special needs, especially those with renal failure;

[Page 4549]

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognizes and congratulates Mary Catherine McDonnell for her personal commitment to the care of those people she has served and for exemplifying the true spirit of volunteerism and professionalism.

RESOLUTION NO. 1606

By: Dr. James Smith (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas Prince Andrew Woodlawn Environmental Enhancement and Conservation Association (PAWEECA) is now well established with Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth East; and

Whereas they have identified and accepted the challenges of issues both locally and internationally with modest resources but youthful determination; and

Whereas they have committed their energies to raise $30,000 over the next three years toward the Point Pleasant Park project for the survival of trees;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the commitment and the initiatives of PAWEECA and congratulate them for their unique and outstanding commitment to their school community and global village.

RESOLUTION NO. 1607

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas Jump Rope for Heart is a school program offered by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and teaches students the importance of caring for their hearts at an early age through fitness and heart-healthy education; and

Whereas every year hundreds of thousands of students across Canada jump rope to fight Canada's number one killer, heart disease and stroke; and

Whereas students of the Grade 4 class at Parrsboro Elementary raised $785.87, the largest amount of money from their school, during their school's recent Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser;

[Page 4550]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate students of the Grade 4 class at Parrsboro Elementary and all students who participated in the Jump Rope for Heart program, for their awareness of the importance of cardiovascular fitness and for raising funds for a very worthwhile cause.

RESOLUTION NO. 1608

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas Oxford Regional High School student Trevor Rector was a recent winner at the Highland Festival for Young Writers held at St. Francis Xavier University this month; and

Whereas Trevor was 1 of 3 Oxford Regional High School students to enter the two day festival and won the competition with his very first story; and

Whereas Trevor's imagination enabled him to write his science fiction story entitled Mr. Frost;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLAs in this House of Assembly recognize the significant talent of Trevor Rector and wish him every success with his future writing efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 1609

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas a design prepared by seven year old Sasha Baldwin, River Philip, was selected from several designs as the River Philip community flag, as part of Nova Scotia Museum of the Arts Millennium Flag Project; and

Whereas the new River Philip flag was flown at the Nova Scotia Museum of the Arts during Festival of Tall Ships and is now flown at Hewson's Corner, River Philip; and

Whereas Miss Baldwin's flag design features the colour green to depict the Cobequid Mountains, yellow for the rising sun, gold for the flow of maple syrup, purple/navy for the blueberry fields, blue for the River Philip, brown for the fertile farmlands and light blue for the sky;

[Page 4551]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the creativity, imagination and artistic skill demonstrated by Miss Sasha Baldwin and thank her for her great contribution to her community and its local history and culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1610

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas Nikki Hoffman, an Oxford Regional High School student, was recently awarded the NSSAF Exemplary Participation Award as senior female student athlete; and

Whereas Miss Hoffman was presented with the award during the NSSAF celebration of school sport luncheon at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax on May 3, 2001; and

Whereas fellow student Mark Crossman was nominated as senior male athlete and Coach Aaron Stubbard was nominated as coach of the year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Miss Hoffman and all participants in school sport across the province for their dedication to athletic excellence through fair play, team building and physical fitness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1611

By: Mrs. Muriel Baillie (Pictou West)

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

Whereas the River John Remembrance Garden, a project of local Legion Branch 108 and built around the Legion hall, is a symbol of pride for the community; and

Whereas the trees and flowers in this garden serve as living memorials to friends and family members in this community; and

Whereas the members of the River John Legion and the community have embarked on numerous fundraising projects to enhance the garden by providing recreation facilities, programs for seniors, and makers for the shrubs and trees that were donated;

[Page 4552]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the members of the River John Legion for the success of their first ATV poker rally held last weekend in order to raise additional funds for the garden.

[Page 4553]

NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

Given on May 31, 2001

(Pursuant to Rule 30)

QUESTION NO. 1

By: Mr. Graham Steele (Halifax Fairview)

To: Hon. Neil LeBlanc (Minister of Finance)

(1) For each of the last three tax years (1998, 1999, 2000) how many individuals in Nova Scotia filed a personal tax return?

(2) For each of the last three tax years, how many of the individuals from question one paid zero Nova Scotia tax?

(3) For each of the last three tax years, how many of the individuals from question one paid Nova Scotia tax of less than $1,000; between $1,000 and $2,500; between $2,500 and $5,000; and over $5,000?