The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., May 4, 2001

[Page 2539]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, MAY 4, 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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a couple of answers to some questions, from earlier this week, from the honourable member for Halifax Fairview and the honourable member for Victoria.

MR. SPEAKER: The documents are tabled.

2539

[Page 2540]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 50 - Entitled an Act to Provide for a Committee on Fundamental Tax Reform. (Mr. Donald Downe)

Bill No. 51 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Mr. Jerry Pye)

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

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege. I just want to touch on some comments I made last night during the debate with regard to the recent trip made to Houston; the member for Sackville-Cobequid and the member for Lunenburg West also attended that trip. The fact is that the members were invited because of their experience in this House, because of their knowledge of the industry and because of the importance of all-Party representation. Both members have been very helpful to me in this House since I started. I certainly meant no disrespect and I thank them for their partnership on that trip. (Applause)

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 894

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

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works released his department's report yesterday in the House with the pronouncement that Nova Scotia has a $3.4 billion problem with highway infrastructure; and

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works stated that years of neglect have taken their toll and we need a road plan; and

Whereas the member for Timberlea-Prospect has steadfastly maintained throughout that our highway infrastructure program can only be addressed through a comprehensive road plan;

[Page 2541]

Therefore be it resolved that this House request that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works rename the Department of Transportation and Public Works' long-term study on highway infrastructure as the Bill Estabrooks Study, Part I.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 895

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

Whereas on Saturday, May 5, 2001 Dr. Louis LaPierre will receive an honorary doctorate in sciences conferred upon him by l'Université Sainte-Anne; and

Whereas Dr. LaPierre has dedicated the past 30 years to the protection of the environment at the provincial, national and international levels; and

Whereas Dr. LaPierre is originally a native of West Chezzetcook;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dr. Louis LaPierre on his achievements and wish both him and l'Université Sainte-Anne all the best.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 896

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

[Page 2542]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Government presented awards to deserving volunteers in April; and

Whereas Lulzeem Rrafshi, a doctor, came to Nova Scotia from Kosovo in 1999 and volunteered as an interpreter and liaison in the Kosovar community in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Lulzeem Rrafshi was award the Multicultural Volunteer of the Year Award;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the volunteer efforts provided by Lulzeem Rrafshi as an interpreter and liaison in the Kosovar community of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 897

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

Whereas a recent fundraising drive for Multiple Sclerosis earned the Pictou County Chapter of the MS Society of Canada the Atlantic Division's 2000 Carnation Cup presented to Chapter President Isabel Gallant; and

Whereas the award recognizes local volunteers who have worked hard to raise revenues to support those with MS and assists in finding a cure; and

Whereas the Pictou County Firefighter's Association played a critical role in his fundraising drive by raising nearly $4,000 in their annual boot drive which recently took place at both the Aberdeen and Highland Square Malls in New Glasgow;

[Page 2543]

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs commend the Pictou County Chapter of the MS Society of Canada for their hard work in fundraising and for the honour of winning the Atlantic Division's 2000 Carnation Cup.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 898

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

Whereas the South Shore District School Board is featuring heritage fairs in schools this month to increase student awareness of Canadian history; and

Whereas student projects were displayed at an opening ceremony on April 25th, and some will go to the district fair on May 11th; and

Whereas the winning project for the district fair will go on to take part in the national heritage fair this summer in Kamloops, British Columbia;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate the participants and organizers of the event for promoting Canadian history in our schools and in our communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2544]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 899

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

Whereas St. F.X. University will be holding spring convocation ceremonies on Sunday, May 6th, when close to 885 students will graduate and 5 honorary degrees will be conferred; and

Whereas one of the honorees is Annette Verschuren, President of Home Depot of Canada, recipient of the 1994 Women on the Move Award and the Canada 125 medal, and who serves on several boards including Habitat for Humanity and Mount Allison University; and

Whereas Ms. Verschuren, known for her strong sense of entrepreneurship, was born and raised in North Sydney and is a St. F. X. alumni;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to Ms. Verschuren for receiving her honorary degree and to St. F. X. for recognizing the contributions she has made to the Province of Nova Scotia through her entrepreneurial skills and business leadership.

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 Eastern Shore.

[Page 2545]

RESOLUTION NO. 900

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

Whereas the Lake Charlotte Union Church in Lake Charlotte has been both a centre of worship and community spirit since 1901; and

Whereas in order to mark its 100th Anniversary, the church will this Sunday be hosting an old-time hymn sing, featuring the Jeddore Gospel Singers; and

Whereas members of the congregation, including Reverend Jennifer Power, will also dress up in period costume and hand out old-fashioned refreshments at the end of the service as part of the centennial celebrations;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the congregation of the Lake Charlotte Union Church on their place of worship's 100th Anniversary, and wish them all the best 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 Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 901

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

Whereas the government always claims poverty when not-for-profit organizations need assistance; and

Whereas Recovery House serves eastern Nova Scotia with important addiction services yet even they cannot receive more money to keep their program going; and

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[9:15 a.m.]

Whereas the government has absconded with $3.8 million from Sydney Casino charities money that should have been destined for organizations like Recovery House;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House urge government to immediately restore charity funding so that Recovery House can remain open throughout the summer.

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 Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 902

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

Whereas school music programs are an unending source of enrichment for those involved; and

Whereas the Halifax West High School Jazz Choir, Halifax West Concert Band, Halifax West Jazz Band and the All City Percussion Ensemble will travel to New York City; and

Whereas the students and their Music Director, Stephanie McKeown, will give an outdoor concert at Lincoln Center;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Halifax West High School music group on the honour of performing in New York's Lincoln Center and wish them a safe and successful journey.

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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 903

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

Whereas since 1935, Avon Valley Greenhouses Ltd., with its first site in Falmouth, has spread to several locations and is now one of the province's fastest growing enterprises; and

Whereas Avon Valley Greenhouses is expanding again and making improvements to its operations, creating new employment opportunities; and

Whereas their investment, made possible by a loan from the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board, promises to have a far-reaching impact, benefiting several communities through new employment and creating spinoffs for the outlets which sell its products;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Avon Valley Greenhouses Ltd. on its expansion and recognize its contribution to the local and provincial economies, as well as commend it for the excellent reputation it holds after 65 years in business.

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 2548]

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 904

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 Atlantic Branch No. 153, Royal Canadian Legion, White's Lake, held its annual awards night April 28th; and

Whereas the highlight of the evening was the awarding of Life Memberships to two life members of this legion; and

Whereas William Jollimore and Richard Duggan were awarded Life Memberships at that time;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Richard Duggan and William Jollimore of the Atlantic Branch No. 153, Royal Canadian Legion, White's Lake, on their Life Membership Awards.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 905

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

Whereas North Sydney has established a community board to oversee its Community Employment Innovation Project; and

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Whereas the CEIP is a multi-year project initiated by the federal government to improve the employment prospects of individuals; and

Whereas this project is open to 1,000 Employment Insurance recipients and 500 Income Assistance recipients;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly send their support to all those involved in the Community Employment Innovation Project and wish them 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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 906

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

Whereas the week of April 22nd to April 28th was designated Volunteer Week to honour the more than 7.5 million people across Canada who volunteer their time to help out their community; and

Whereas for more than 65 years, St. Mary's resident Alice Sutherland has volunteered her time to many community activities, beginning with the Red Cross Garment Club in 1936, and including such organizations as the St. Mary's Heritage Society, the Goldenville Heritage Society and the United Church Women; and

Whereas in honour of her strong commitment to St. Mary's through her volunteer activities, Mrs. Sutherland was recently selected St. Mary's Volunteer of the Year;

[Page 2550]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Alice Sutherland on her selection as St. Mary's Volunteer of the Year and also applaud the efforts of all who offer their time to help in the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 907

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

Whereas lighthouses have guided sailors, fishermen and small boat operators through storms ever since there have been sea vessels; and

Whereas in honour of the special significance of lighthouses, Coastal Communities Network, the Nova Scotia Preservation Society and the Lighthouse Day Committee will celebrate Lighthouse Day on May 26th; and

Whereas information about Nova Scotia's Lighthouse Day can be found at the Web site address of, coastalcommunities.ns.ca;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend the committees and individuals involved in bringing attention to the plight of the disappearing lighthouses on Lighthouse Day.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2551]

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. 908

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 patron saint of the Tory caucus, Cyril Reddy, has been named Tory caucus volunteer of the year by the Health Minister; and

Whereas, unfortunately, Cyril Reddy is negotiating with Recovery House officials to try to obtain funding from the government; and

Whereas this action would not be necessary if the Minister of Health would do the honourable thing and allow for full funding of Recovery House;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House urge the Minister of Health to provide Recovery House will full funding instead of relying on a Tory hack with no power to spend money, or at least that is what the Health Minister is telling us.

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 Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 909

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

[Page 2552]

Whereas May is National Speech Month and, in conjunction, National Stuttering Awareness Week will be acknowledged between May 6th and May 12th; and

Whereas stuttering is a speech impediment that affects the lives of 3 per cent of preschool children and 1 per cent of the adult population across Canada; and

Whereas Speak Easy Canada is an organization that provides reference and moral support to those individuals dealing with this impediment;

Therefore be it resolved that as we embark on National Stuttering Awareness Week, MLAs recognize the importance of the efforts of Speak Easy Canada and Executive Director Michael Hughes for caring work and wish their organization well as they continue their important work.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 910

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

Whereas many rural communities in Nova Scotia continue to struggle to build a viable economic base; and

Whereas women in these rural communities often feel left out of the economic decision-making process; and

Whereas the Women for Economic Equality Society has been working with more than 200 women from communities in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland for two years to produce a woman-positive, plain-language guide to the elements of community economic development for use in rural communities;

[Page 2553]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the WEE Society as it launches the publication of Tea You Can Trot a Mouse On: The Elements of CED.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 911

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

Whereas Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year from all parts of the world; and

Whereas Nova Scotia benefits from the revenue generated by these tourists; and

Whereas subjecting these tourists to some of the worst roads in Nova Scotia is an embarrassment to our beautiful province;

Therefore be it resolved that this government find sufficient funds in their Transportation budget to upgrade roads leading to Peggy's Cove, so that the hundreds of thousands of tourists will leave Nova Scotia with a positive impression.

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.

[Page 2554]

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 912

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

Whereas the Atlantic Selects Under-17 girls basketball team has been chosen and is starting to prepare for tough competition this summer south of the border, and two Pictou County girls have made this elite roster; and

Whereas Kristian Taylor of West Pictou High School and Gillian Murray of East Pictou High School look forward to hitting the courts and to being an important part of their team's efforts; and

Whereas with coaching from Mike MacKay of Truro, the team will compete in a June tournament in Rhode Island and then, in July, take part in one of the premiere American basketball events, the Vermont Summer Spectacular;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate athletes Kristian Taylor and Gillian Murray for making the Atlantic Selects and cheer them on their way as they strive to meet these challenges and those 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 Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 913

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

[Page 2555]

Whereas the Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program was launched in Pictou County, together with the local RCMP, spearheaded by an idea of Stellarton RCMP Constable John Kennedy; and

Whereas the program started with the help of $400,000 raised in just 15 months; and

Whereas the program received 57 new sponsors since January 2000 and has now spread to libraries all across Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate the RCMP of Pictou County for their role in creating the Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program and thank all those of the community-minded businesses and sponsors whose contributions have made the program a success nationally.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 914

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

Whereas students of St. Joseph's Elementary School in Sydney Mines are encouraged to celebrate Canada's culture and history; and

Whereas Grade 4 student Tyler Jenkins contributed the winning design in the Tattoo the Moose contest sponsored by National Historic Heritage Program; and

Whereas Tyler will also receive a plaque from the National Historic Heritage Fair to be held at UCCB on May 10th and May 11th;

[Page 2556]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Tyler Jenkins on receiving a Certificate of Achievement at the St. Joseph's Elementary School's annual Heritage Fair which was held on Monday, April 23rd.

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.

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 Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 20

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton South. You have approximately 16 minutes.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: So little time and so much to say. Perhaps a good way to start off here, I should try to pick up where I left off last evening. I will try not to be repetitive, but there are certain things that I would like to again bring to the attention of the people of Nova Scotia and also to the members of the House opposite who would care to listen to reason and perhaps see that Bill No. 20 - along with Bill No. 30, the bill that came before this one - are substantially changed before they are voted into law.

[Page 2557]

I believe that there are substantial changes necessary in these two particular bills, but I will confine my remarks to Bill No. 20, which to me - as I said last evening - was nothing more than a restructuring Act that would permit the Tories to have their way with the people of Nova Scotia without bothering to come back to this place and be accountable.

[9:30 a.m.]

It certainly is an ominous bill as well as an omnibus bill, but ominous in the way that most Nova Scotians will come not to appreciate as time moves on. This bill, essentially, makes the front benches of this government, the Treasury benches, the people who control the purse strings of this province, they will become responsible for the political agenda via Bill No. 20; in other words this bill will bring government back Tory-style; back to the days of political patronage; back to the days of non-accountability to the Legislature; back to the era in Nova Scotia between 1978 and 1993, when this particular Tory Government, of which there are still two remnants, were the ones who successfully bankrupted this province over the 15 years with similar legislative authority that they are proposing again here today; a non-accountable legislative bill that would effectively tell Tories, from Yarmouth to Glace Bay, to belly up to the bar.

The door is open again, where you don't have to bother with competitions, you don't have to bother about your children or your brothers or your uncles or your political hack friends, they won't have to bother to enter competitions for jobs any more. Those jobs will be provided to them, compliments of your friendly Tory Government. That's what is going happen under this bill in this province. Instead of the Government Restructuring Act it should be renamed the Tory patronage Act, because I believe, Mr. Speaker, that they should tell it like it is, that it is nothing more than a bill, an omnibus bill, that permits the widespread misuse of public funds in the future by looking after friends of the government.

The sole purpose of this bill, Mr. Speaker, the sole purpose is to try to get this government re-elected. To do that they need the support of the people in that Party who are not sitting either on the front benches or on the backbenches of this government. They need the backroom boys to get re-elected again in this province. They need the backroom boys and, in order to get the support of the backroom boys for a second time, they need to look after them because that is the creed of the Tory Party. Everybody bellies up to the bar to get their share of the public purse and then we will open our purses to make sure that the government of the day gets re-elected.

Now, a couple of issues I touched on yesterday, and one I want to revisit, Mr. Speaker, is that whole business of the Tory strategy for Cape Breton, and particularly the Tory strategy for industrial Cape Breton. I listened with great interest in the last session of this House and l listened with great interest again in this session of the House when the Minister of Economic Development, the Premier, the Finance Minister, other front bench members, and yes, more recently the member for Cape Breton North, I listened to them all talk about this

[Page 2558]

grand strategy plan for a rejuvenation of the economy of industrial Cape Breton. Stop talking about steel and coal. They said, don't worry, you can get rid of those industries and the people will never notice it because we have a grand plan.

The first thing we are going to do, Mr. Speaker, the government states, is that we are going to put in place a Business Development Corporation Inc. in this province. What little money is left in the Department of Economic Development is now going to be turned over to a select group of 12 people, hand-picked by the government themselves, not responsible to this Legislature, to cherry-pick throughout Nova Scotia where they are going to spend the some $30 million that is left in development money from that particular department.

It makes you wonder why we need a Minister of Economic Development at all, because there is nothing left for him to do. He will have less work to do than the Minister of Tourism does on the front benches over there. The Minister of Economic Development has decimated his department to the point where it is no longer necessary for that minister to be sitting on the front benches of this government. He has turned over the entire development fund of the Department of Economic Development to 12 people, who are going to decide where that money is going to be spent.

Mr. Speaker, it will come as no surprise to anybody, over the next year, where that money is going to go. I will tell you where it will go. It will go to Tory ridings; it will go to business friends of the government. That is where it is going to go. How much of it is going to find its way into industrial Cape Breton? Very little of it. That same government, that stated time and time again that they were going to be interested in doing something about the economy of Cape Breton, couldn't even find one person who would be acceptable to the government, not one, not one person to put on that Business Development Corporation. The many people, good honest people from Cape Breton, who wanted to make a contribution to that Business Development Inc. board were shunned by this government. They were set aside, they weren't even given any consideration.

They looked at the list, and said, my, my, there is no political hack supply from Cape Breton. They are all good honest people, who wanted to really do something for the economy of Cape Breton Island. What happened? They set them all aside, and they went looking for a token Cape Bretoner who was friendly to the government; who they could put on that particular board; who would heel; who would follow in line with the other 11 people who do not represent Cape Breton Island.

Mr. Speaker, for the government to say that they are going to do something about the economy of Cape Breton Island, then sets up a Business Development Corporation that doesn't have a single member, save one who is a Tory hack, on that board, speaks volumes about the sincerity of that government. That Business Development Corporation is not going to be preoccupied with the problems of Cape Breton Island, because none of them have anything to do with the problems of Cape Breton Island.

[Page 2559]

There is not one representative from Guysborough-Port Hawksbury. The member for that area should be very concerned about that. There is not one representative from Inverness County, and the minister from Inverness County, the MLA for Inverness should be very concerned about that. There is not one representative from Victoria County, and I know my good friend, the member for Victoria is concerned about that. There is one member from industrial Cape Breton, Cape Breton County who didn't even apply; he was hand-picked to do the will of the government. They couldn't dare put anybody on there who might speak out on behalf of Cape Breton. They had to set aside all the applications from those good people who applied down there, the good people who applied, set them all aside and put a Tory hack on the board.

Mr. Speaker, that tells you about the sincerity of what the government is doing in industrial Cape Breton. As I said yesterday, the government has not put one initiative into industrial Cape Breton to do anything about the economy, except follow on the heels of federal programs that were instituted, and also using the tax credit system that was put in place by the previous government. There have been no initiatives led by this government to do anything about the economy of Cape Breton Island; not one initiative.

An initiative I thought the government would be announcing long before now is the need for a remediation project for industrial Cape Breton, to clean up the pollution sites that were left there because of the long-time workings of the coal industry, the steel industry and some other projects of an industrial nature in Cape Breton that are causing us some blight at the present time and need to be corrected. These environmental projects would not only clean up the environment in Cape Breton, particularly industrial Cape Breton, but would also provide meaningful employment for upwards of a decade. The government has been reminded time and time again of its responsibility in that area, and the government has done nothing about that.

Mr. Speaker, the way this government treats Cape Breton, again I refer to what has been happening in the school system - as recently as today I had a chance to comment and listen to comments from the member for Cape Breton North, trying to justify why this government has to lay off teachers. It is because of the debt in Nova Scotia and because of the need to bring the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board into line.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I believe that member knows better than that. I believe that member is just putting out the government policy at the present time because he is getting acclimatized to the fact that he soon will be in the Cabinet and will have to toe the government line. So he is now getting practice in doing that, even though, at the present time, he doesn't have to. But if he doesn't toe the government Party line right now, he may not get that lofty position to go to the front benches to be part of the Tory pork-barrel patronage process that is going to be evolving over the next couple of years in this province. He wants to get involved in that because there are a number of people in North Sydney who are waiting

[Page 2560]

for their turn, the Tory backroom hacks down there, who are expecting great things from that member.

I know that member to be a very personable young man who I think will try to do his best, but I hope he just doesn't get caught up in the old-type Tory politics of looking after your friends and forget about the average Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker. Forget about those on the lower end of the economic scale, forget about those who have no advocate for themselves and forget about those hard-working Nova Scotians who are out there trying to earn a living. They won't look after any of them. They will just look after their friends, the rich and the powerful in this province. That is who is going to get looked after in the next couple of years.

Any government, Mr. Speaker, that would sit there and not even try to justify why the provincial debt of this province is going to go up over $400 million in the next four years, and the debt repayment of this province is going up over $1 billion this year, the first time in the history of this province that taxpayers are going to have to pay $1 billion in interest debt repayment, that is enough right there to put this government out of office in the next election. I can assure you that we, on this side of the House, in the Liberal Party, are going to keep this government accountable every chance we get.

As we go into further discussion on this particular bill, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that this bill, like Bill No. 30, is not going to get an easy ride through this House, not an easy ride at all because, I can tell you, there are amendments that we are going to be looking for in this bill. There are amendments that we are going to be looking for in Bill No. 30, either at the Law Amendments Committee or in Committee of the Whole House on Bills. We are not going to let this bill go until Nova Scotians are sufficiently informed as to exactly what is happening here with Bill No. 20. This bill is nothing more than a Tory patronage bill and this bill has to be altered in the best interests of Nova Scotians. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: What is being discussed here today is the suggestion made in an amendment by the Leader of our Party to take Bill No. 20 and instead of dealing with it at the moment in this session of the House, refer it to a committee. The suggestion is being made that this bill ought to go to the Human Resources Committee of this Legislature for a thorough study before we consider even remotely the possibility of adopting it here. I have to say that this is an extremely sensible amendment that has been made and I have every intention of supporting it. I wish now to explain why it is that I am going to support this amendment.

[Page 2561]

Let's look at Bill No. 20. Let's see what it is that it is all about. The title of this bill is An Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia. Well, let's just think about that for a moment - An Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia. Now there is an intriguing title. When you hear something like that announced, I am sure when the public hears something like that announced, they must say to themselves, something serious is afoot. Restructure, now that is a word that seems to have serious import. That is a word that says to the public, that tries to say to us that the government has engaged seriously with the difficulties of how to administer the provincial government, how best to deliver services to the public, how best to achieve economy, efficiency, effectiveness, and they have come up with some brilliant ideas.

Well, how disappointing is the bill in its reality when you compare it with the title. That is the problem. One of the benefits of taking this bill and having the Human Resources Committee, or indeed any other committee of this Legislature, take a serious look at the need for the restructuring of the Government of Nova Scotia, we could only benefit from something like that. The public could benefit from it, they would get the opportunity to come along and make their suggestions.

[9:45 a.m.]

Let's just think for a moment about what that true restructuring could actually be about. When I think about this, I compare restructuring, as put forward in this bill, with the attempts of restructuring that have gone on, for example, in the federal government of our nation. This is hardly a new idea, restructuring of government. But really what we have here in this bill is tinkering, at least so far as the array of departments is concerned. We have something more serious when it comes to labour relations, and I will get to that in a few minutes.

When it comes to the idea of restructuring, all we see here is some tinkering. We see a department renamed; we see something invented, the so-called Civil Service Commission that my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, indicated was first brought forward in Nova Scotia in the 1920's. Well, provinces have experimented with having something called a Civil Service Commission, they danced in and out, but everyone knows that there have been serious problems. If the difficulty is one of fairness in hiring, there is nothing in this bill that really addresses that in any serious way.

I know that members here have been directed to the pioneer work that was done by the political scientist R. McGregor Dawson, early on. One could only commend that, but indeed there is more recent work. We can look at what it is that Professor Aucoin - still with us and still writing - has done in his study. I am referring to Peter Aucoin, professor at Dalhousie, who has just published a little article called, Nova Scotia: Government Restructuring and the Career Public Service. It is to be found in a brand new book called Government Restructuring and Career Public Services, a study from all across Canada. He goes through the whole history of what the problem has been when it comes to patronage inside the

[Page 2562]

government structure of the Province of Nova Scotia. I commend this article by Professor Aucoin to all members of this House. If you want to see, laid out, the history of what it is that has gone on in terms of feeble attempts to deal with patronage inside the Nova Scotia Civil Service over a 60 year period, have a look at that article.

That's exactly what the leisure of referring this bill to the committee would allow us. It would allow us the opportunity to talk to Professor Aucoin, face to face, and see in more detail what it is he has to say, because it is not apparent that this government retained background advisers or scholars like Professor Aucoin, or others, to advise them on how the Civil Service ought to be restructured. It is not obvious who on earth they might have been talking to to allow them to come up with the bill they have introduced here. In fact, if there is any reasonable conclusion that might be drawn, it is that they haven't really been talking to anyone, and that is the problem right off the bat; the a problem is that they haven't defined what it is they are trying to achieve. They haven't thought in any effective way about what it is the public of Nova Scotia needs, and we can compare this with what went on in the federal Civil Service over the last 30 or 40 years. There have been watershed studies done of the federal government time after time.

Everyone knows that this started off with the Glassco Commission Report in 1962. Those of us who have followed what it is that went on in the federal government's restructuring will recall the multi-volume study that was done under Glassco's direction. So before steps were taken at the federal level to think about inventing entities like the Treasury Board and giving them their powers and defining what it is that the Auditor General ought to do and so on, they had a study. It was a public study; in fact, I think it had the status of a Royal Commission.

Now, this is a serious attempt on the part of the federal government to engage with what it is that the Civil Service ought to be doing, with what it is that government restructuring should really be about. Let us not forget that is what Bill No. 20 claims that it is about. It claims that it about restructuring the government of Nova Scotia.

Well, was there a Royal Commission recently to tell us what we ought to do about restructuring the Government of Nova Scotia. I don't think so. Were there even serious academics hired to do specific studies that were then put out in the form of a White Paper for discussion amongst the public so that they could have the opportunity to think about it? I don't think so, now I might have missed it but I don't believe so.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, I know so.

MR. EPSTEIN: I am hearing from my colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, that he doesn't know of any. It seems likely that those of us who have been watching it, we would have known about it. Well, it didn't happen. Why didn't it happen? This is the right way to go about doing something.

[Page 2563]

What this amendment that has been brought today in the midst of discussion of a bill that claims it is all about restructuring the Government of Nova Scotia, what this amendment does is says to us if we haven't had a Royal Commission, if we haven't had special studies commissioned by academics, let's at least pause and think carefully before we move ahead because indeed I think everyone could agree that the government could do with some restructuring. I would like to make a suggestion just to throw it into the hopper right now to illustrate the kind of thing that undoubtedly people would come forward with if they had the opportunity to think about what it is that government restructuring should seriously be about in our province.

I often have wondered why it is that we don't have some government agency or department that has a generalized mandate to deal with sustainability. Now we all know there is going to be transformation of our economy either voluntarily or, if not voluntarily through external pressures and that that pressure will be exerted on agriculture, on mining, on forestry, on fisheries, on how energy is generated and on all businesses. Now we all know how to use the language of sustainability ever since the Brundtland Commission invented the term. Well, and I hear members of the government opposite use it from time to time. They talk about sustainability as an objective but they don't actually do something about it. Maybe if we put some of those departments that existed now together with a different mandate and specifically said to them, your job is to achieve sustainability in the various natural resources and other economic sectors in our province, maybe it would happen. Now that is just one suggestion of something that would amount to serious restructuring of the government of the Province of Nova Scotia. That is an idea, I throw it out. I am sure there are lots of other citizens out there who have their ideas about what would make sense if there were to be serious restructuring.

Now, I have another example. Where is there a government department that has as its mandate the elimination of poverty in this province? There is no government department that has as its mandate the elimination of poverty in our province. We have a Department of Community Services; we have a Justice Department; we have a Labour Department; we have odds and ends and little bits and pieces of agencies, hither, thither and yon; we occasionally see little financial measures here and there, but there is no one government department or agency that has as its specific mandate eliminating poverty.

Well, there is a suggestion for restructuring the Government of Nova Scotia and both of these suggestions that I have made are principled suggestions for how it is that the Government of Nova Scotia could be restructured. They are ideas that have a solid base in the necessities in our province; they are ideas that could be easily understood by the public; they are ideas that could lead to the transformation of our government; and more importantly, the transformation of our society. But that isn't in Bill No. 20, a so-called Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia. Tinkering, that is what this bill is about. When it comes to the different government departments and agencies, it is all about tinkering, it is all about giving little different names to different agencies hither, thither and yon. This is a

[Page 2564]

disappointment, there is nothing here to actually advance a useful policy agenda. There is nothing here that actually says to us, and I would hope the government would want to say to the public of Nova Scotia, this is what our government is all about, these are our policy objectives.

Well, there has got to be something in the bill, it is long enough and clearly enough there are things in there but it is certainly a misnomer to talk about this bill and to title it An Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia. Now, what actually is in there? Well, there are a couple of things, they change a lot of the rules about liquor and liquor control and that clearly embodies a certain agenda that the government has as to moving towards privatization of liquor services. I notice, for example, that along with changing the name of the agency and giving it certain powers it is now going to be quite okay to sell alcoholic beverages in the same business where they have a pharmacy. Well, that is great you know, that is a little thing stuck right there in the middle of the sections that deal with alcohol. I think this probably isn't alcohol for medicinal purposes, as was just suggested by my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North, but clearly it is a position taken by the government, but they haven't exactly advertised it. It is buried there in something called An Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia. More accurately, when you get to provisions like that, it is an Act to restructure how it is that life will be experienced in many of our communities, including all the small towns up and down our province.

Maybe the government feels it has support for something like that, but let's test the waters. Let's go out and talk to people about it. Let's refer it to the committee, take it out there and see what it is that people have to say. This isn't something that has to be done this week, next week - it doesn't have to happen that quickly. Do you know what? There are a lot of people who have good ideas out there. I don't say it has to be a Royal Commission or formal academic studies. We have lots of experience in this Legislature of going out and talking to people in a semi-formal way and inviting their submissions - it is a good process, it is a democratic process, it is a consultative process. It is exactly the kind of thing that this Legislature ought to be doing when it is thinking of taking some serious steps. I am concerned about things like that and I hope we can do better. That is really what it comes down to, can we do better?

Let's turn again to this question of what restructuring the Civil Service and the administrative structure of the Government of Nova Scotia should be all about. Members will recall that when I started discussing this earlier on, I immediately turned to the word patronage. It is hard to talk about the Civil Service of Nova Scotia for any more than about 30 seconds without finding the word patronage pop up.

Why is that? It is almost an embarrassment to pretend to seriously ask that question. Clearly, it is only a rhetorical device when you say, why is it that patronage is virtually the first term that comes up as soon as you talk about the Civil Service of the Province of Nova Scotia. Everyone knows that regardless of the political Party that has formed the government

[Page 2565]

in the Province of Nova Scotia, the Civil Service has been rife with patronage. Everyone knows that this has been a serious problem. Everyone knows that it has been much debated inside political Parties. Everyone knows that it is the kind of thing that caused endless problems for Premiers like John Savage or Donnie Cameron. Everyone knows that these issues, furthermore, have not gone away.

I remember reading with joy and interest quite a fascinating book by Jeffrey Simpson called Spoils of Power, the Politics of Patronage. Probably lots of the members of this House have had the opportunity to read this book, it is a 1988 book, it is not all that old. What was striking? His chapter on Nova Scotia. His chapter on Nova Scotia is just a joy to read because Jeffrey Simpson lays out in such an astounding, extensive, abundance of detail just how detailed, pervasive and petty the patronage has been over the years in Nova Scotia. He awards Nova Scotia the crown when it comes to the comparison of all provinces - when it comes to patronage having pervaded the Civil Service, Jeffrey Simpson awards Nova Scotia the crown. He doesn't have any doubt in his mind.

That chapter, if there is possibly any member of this House who has not read that chapter in Jeffrey Simpson's book, I immediately suggest that they rush right out and borrow a copy from the Legislative Library and have a look at it. I just asked them to bring it in here so that I can demonstrate to members - it is here, I haven't even signed it out. It can go right back to the Legislative Library, everyone (Interruptions) you know, I take it back, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is suggesting that I might have actually absconded with this book. They brought it to me, maybe they did sign it out. I take it back, I got a little carried away there, but I am happy to send it back and return it.

The chapter on Nova Scotia in this book is a treat. I suggest that every member should have a look at it if, by any chance, there is a member who hasn't had a look at it. This is exactly the kind of background material and reading that should be done by members in this House when this matter goes to committee. When this matter goes to the Human Resources Committee I anticipate that every member of that committee, and indeed every member of this House, I hope, will read that chapter on Nova Scotia and the history of Nova Scotia patronage. It should probably be part of the background materials handed out to the public when they come.

[10:00 a.m.]

Why is it that I have spoken so much about this problem of patronage? Well, it is obvious. It is obvious because it should be one of the fundamental objectives of any bill that calls itself an Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia, to make sure that patronage is not part of the Civil Service. Ability to do the job regardless of political affiliation should be the main criterion for hiring. That is it. That is what should be the criterion. We have to distance ourselves from our sordid past. The province has a disreputable history when it comes to patronage, and I don't see that there is anything particular in this bill that purports

[Page 2566]

to call itself an Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia that really advances that. It is just not there. We don't have the strongest Statutes when it comes to preventing that anyway.

I mention this because it would be part of the principled approach that ought to be taken to figuring out what a genuine restructuring of the Government of Nova Scotia ought to be about. So far I have named two things that it ought to be about, but which don't really seem to be apparent in this bill. First is it should do something to advance policy agenda on a broad scale. That was my suggestion about sustainability and attacking poverty. The second thing it ought to be about is tackling the problem of patronage. Those two things, and of course there could be other examples, should be part of a bill that calls itself an Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia.

We have to search for what policy objectives are sought to be advanced by a bill like this. So far, it is pretty meagre stuff. If the kinds of changes that I am talking about are not in the mind of the government, maybe it has something else in mind. We have to ask ourselves, why is the government moving to bring in a bill on the restructuring of the government? You have to ask yourself what other objectives might they have. If it is not broad policy signals to the public, and if it is not patronage that they are dealing with, maybe they have in mind the traditional kind of terminology that Auditors General think about, efficiency and effectiveness, value for money. Maybe that is what they have in mind. Maybe that is what motivated the government here to think about restructuring the Government of Nova Scotia.

Well, that doesn't seem to be part of what is there. It is not as if there weren't precedents for this. Again, we can look at what it is that the federal government has done; we can look at what it is that successive governments in Ontario have done; we can look at the British model; we can look at things that have happened in our neighbour to the south, the United States; we can look at New Zealand. There is no shortage of interesting models where governments have engaged with this problem of efficiency, economy and value for money.

Well, that doesn't really seem to be part of what it is that this bill is all about. It doesn't proclaim that; it doesn't do something to advance that agenda. When one reads this bill, we are left still puzzled as to what it is that the government thinks it is trying to achieve. Make no mistake, we think that efficiency, economy and value for money are important things to try to achieve inside the provincial government. We agree with that; we think that is right. It is not the only value, but it is one that is important to be there. Policy and advancing policy, transformation of our society, that is equally important, but while you are doing that, we can't be profligate with the taxpayers' dollars, we have to be careful. We know we only have so many dollars. One would agree with that, but it is not there. They haven't come to us, again, with studies about how it is that they are thinking of achieving economy and efficiency and value for money inside the government and saying here it is, here is what

[Page 2567]

restructuring is all about. Indeed, what we see is a desire on the part of the Cabinet to be able to pop up any day and invent, name a new government department any old time that it wants.

It is hard to see how this could be consonant with efficiency and economy, value for money. It doesn't seem to be what this is all about. Indeed, it might lend itself to abuse. Now I don't say that the government has that necessarily in mind, but the point is we don't know. We just don't know what they have in mind, because they haven't told us. They haven't said here is how many government departments we think we are going to have. Is it 31, a department for every member opposite, plus their pals? Well, they are not saying. They are just not laying it out. It is certainly not in this bill.

Unfortunately, what is in this bill is the opportunity for the government, through the Cabinet as it exists today, to simply invent some new department any old day that it wishes, and abolish some other department any old day that it wishes. This doesn't seem like a good idea. Why isn't it a good idea? Never mind that they haven't said what they're thinking of doing, the main problem is that they could do it without coming back to this House in order to debate it. The government, of course, has a majority. Debating it in this House doesn't mean that it won't happen. If the government is determined to do something, they have a majority, ultimately it will happen. They just have to sit there silently - as they generally do - and wait until the processes of this House go through the various formal steps that are required, and ultimately they will vote yea in favour of the measures and that will be that.

Well, the importance of bringing something to this House is not that somehow the government could be impeded and prevented from putting it into place, if that is their perspective, the importance of bringing it here is that it is done in public. The importance of bringing it here is that the government has to focus on particular measures and they have to announce them to the public and they have to stand up and defend them. You know what? That is why the government is structured the way it is, so as to require this House to meet once a year. The government is structured with an Opposition with the right to ask questions. This is of crucial importance because the public demands to know. That is what our democracy is all about. It is not about an executive system in which the executive can do what it wants, it is about responsible government in which a Cabinet is answerable to the floor of this Legislature and, ultimately, to the electors of the Province of Nova Scotia. That is what responsible government is all about.

It seems almost absurd that we would have to remind the government that this is what it is all about. This is the province where responsible government in our nation was first well established. That is what our legislative building houses. This is the home to responsible government, and we say this as part of the tours. When people come here, we are proud to say it, but we should be proud to be able to show it to them in practice on the floor of this House. If the government opposite is not interested in doing that, I can assure them that we are interested in doing that, and I can assure them as well that the public of Nova Scotia is interested in seeing that done, and won't stand to see it done any other way. The government

[Page 2568]

structure here is not about devolving all power to the executive, and that is the fundamental error of the bill that we see in front of us, called an Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia.

So it turns out that there actually is an important point buried inside that bill; it is just not declared there. So the restructuring that the government seems to have in mind is one in which the locus of power is seriously shifted away from this Chamber - and through it an open, accountable process to the people of Nova Scotia - to shift it away from that to the Cabinet. The term that is sometimes used for that, is things being done in the backrooms. We hear a lot of talk in politics about the backrooms. We know that such things exist; of course they exist. In responsible government there is a place for the privacy of the Cabinet and the privacy of Cabinet meetings. No one says that ought not to be the case.

What we do say is that when important decisions are made, they have to be announced; they should be debated; they should be clearly justified to the people of Nova Scotia. It is not part of what it is that we desire to see in the transformation of the Government of Nova Scotia, to increase the power of what goes on in the backrooms. That is, in fact, exactly what we reject, and it is why the people of Nova Scotia value having a strong Opposition here in this House. They know that we will raise the questions that are important to be raised on their behalf, just as we are doing now.

If there has been no Royal Commission, and there have been no formal academic studies, and if the government is actually thinking of taking this serious step of transforming the locus of power, shifting it to the executive so strongly, who on Earth can they have been reading or listening to? Well, I can take a guess. Probably many members have read what is seen as an interesting and influential book known as Rethinking Government. Ted Gaebler is one of the authors. I wouldn't be surprised if the members opposite had been reading Rethinking Government and one of the main underlying thoughts of that book is that citizens are to be seen as customers. Citizens, the authors say, are interested only in getting their services and they don't care how those services are delivered.

Government, they say, should see itself as existing in some kind of competitive environment. If it means contracting things out, and if it means downsizing your government departments and entering into partnerships, extensive partnerships with the private sector, and if it means dismantling your Civil Service, it doesn't matter. That is really what it is that they are saying, you have to think in the new competitive environment.

I have been having a little look at this. Although there are some sensible observations in this book about reinventing government, there certainly are some that are not so sensible. I am going to just cite one as an example, if I may, because I worry that this is the philosophy that the government has adopted. After Ted Gaebler and his collaborators published Rethinking Government, the Institute for Research on Public Policy in Canada held a conference in which Gaebler was invited to present a paper; this was back in 1992-93. The

[Page 2569]

proceedings of this conference were subsequently published, and I want to just read you an extract, as a matter of fact I will table the extract from this article.

Here is what it is that Gaebler had to say - he is talking about the kinds of services that citizens get from their government - "The citizen doesn't care which government delivers services. Citizens want a seamless opportunity for getting their needs taken care of . . . When I turned on the water this morning in the hotel, I had no idea whether I was turning on a public water system, a private water system or if the water had been brought from a cistern or a well. I had no idea where the water came from; nor did I care. Citizens don't care who delivers."

[10:15 a.m.]

Do you know what? I think Mr. Gaebler is fundamentally wrong. I think citizens do care who delivers, because they understand what democracy and economic health is all about and they understand that democracy and economic health is about sharing the wealth; they understand it is about developing your local community; they understand that it does matter whether essential public services that are offered on a monopoly basis are owned and controlled in the public sector or in the private sector. It may be true that if an international consultant like Mr. Gaebler flies in and stays in his hotel, he doesn't care, but I can assure you that it matters very much to local citizens who is in control and who profits and how much. They are the ones who pay the water bill. They are not the ones for whom someone else is paying the hotel bill.

So I hope it isn't books like, Reinventing Government, that the members opposite and this government have been reading, because if they have been, they have the wrong idea in their heads. It is worse than that because the centrepiece of this bill has to do with labour relations and, here, they have gotten it wrong, fundamentally. This is a transformation or a restructuring of the Government of Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, it is much more than that. It goes a lot further than that. I cannot think that the government opposite can have any understanding of how labour relations work, let alone any understanding of how true civil society works, if they can think to bring forward Bill No. 20 in the form in which they have presented it. This is why referral to committee makes sense. Referral to committee would give the opportunity to look, in detail, at the values that have led to this fundamentally misconceived initiative.

Let me just be clear what I am talking about so that everyone understands. This bill says the following thing: this bill says that there can be a broader public sector. Never mind the traditional public sector of government employees. They say, look, we give money to universities and hospitals and schools. Of course, universities and hospitals and schools may have their own boards of directors or their own governance structure. They may have some autonomy and they may bargain and they may even let school boards be elected. But, this bill says, ultimately, we, the provincial government, give them a lot of money so we are now

[Page 2570]

wanting to take a step with respect to the governance of those institutions. The step we want to take is to give ourselves the ability to interfere with the running of those institutions by Cabinet directive. We want to have the power, particularly in labour relations, to oversee what it is that goes on in the bargaining and in the workplace at the universities, the hospitals, the schools and in any other entity that we want to designate.

We are not going to take the trouble to come to the Legislature any more when we want that power. We are not going to bother. If we have something special we want to do in labour relations, like last year when it was a question of trying to deal with the paramedic strike, we are not going to come in and bring in special legislation. We are not going to take the trouble. We are not going to call the House into session. We are not going to put a special bill before the House. We are not going to put something special before the public. We are just going to do it by order, in Cabinet, in the backrooms. That is what this bill says.

That bill, Bill No. 20, that we are talking about here, says we aren't going to take the trouble to go in front of the other Parties, the representatives of the people of Nova Scotia, and justify what we are doing. We are going to do it once. We are going to bury it in the middle of this bill and that's it forever. After that, any time we want to get involved in labour relations, we are going to do it. Let me tell you, this is exactly the kind of thing that needs to be discussed publicly and extensively in a committee, whether it is the Human Resources Committee or some other committee, there have to be public hearings about something like that because this represents a fundamental change in how the life of the Government of Nova Scotia and how labour relations in the public sector is proposed to be carried on and it is fundamentally wrong.

I want lay out a little bit of personal history, if I may, just to explain something about labour relations. I won't take long. I have been a lawyer for a long time and after I had been a lawyer for about five years, working in Ontario, I came back to Nova Scotia in 1978. I set up a law practice, in fact, interestingly enough, I set up my law practice right across the street, right across Granville Street. There was a small building there, where One Government Place is now, owned by a man named Grover Cleveland and Art Donahoe and Leonard Pace and Charlie MacIntosh, had a law office over there. Upstairs from their law office, which was already a walk-up, was a small piece of space that I rented. So in 1978 I set up my law practice just across the street in an office building where One Government Place is now. I practised there (Interruptions) I hear the Minister of Finance offering to put up a commemorative plaque, well, it is not necessary. I practised law there for a number of years and here is what happened in my law practice.

Like many young lawyers, I was doing a general practice. One day a man came in to see me - this was 1978-79 - Perry Ronayne, and lots of people who are busy in labour relation issues in Nova Scotia will know Perry Ronayne. I know, for example, that the Leader of our Party knows Perry. Well, we have to say knew Perry now, because unfortunately he died of cancer. Perry worked for Nova Scotia Power as a foreman. He did lots of other things

[Page 2571]

in his life, but Perry was a union man first and foremost. Perry had a small union going in Dartmouth.

Now, in a sense what he did was he helped it get organized, he helped it get started and he was their adviser. This union was looking for a business agent. Perry came to me and he said, I heard you were interested in these things, would you like to be the business agent of this union? We talked and for five years after that I was the business agent for that union. That union is the Nova Scotia Union of Public Employees. At that time, it represented civic employees of the old City of Dartmouth and it now represents civic employees of the amalgamated HRM, including those school board employees who are now out on strike. That was the union for which I was the business agent for five years.

They had - this is public sector bargaining - units that were employed by the municipalities, by the school boards and there was a small unit down the Eastern Shore that was employed by one of the hospitals there. As business agent, I did their bargaining - I did their grievance handling, I did their administrative work - but I did their bargaining. My experience in bargaining is in the public sector and it wasn't limited to that. It also included university sector bargaining. So when I start talking about interference with collective bargaining in the municipalities, in the universities, in the hospitals, I know exactly what I am talking about because I have done this and I have done contract work for the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and I know what the dynamics of bargaining at the table are in this context.

Now, what is it that Bill No. 20 does? Bill No. 20 says that all of a sudden there is a new partner at the table. Furthermore, it is a ghost, because this partner isn't really at the table, this partner is somewhere in the backrooms. Do you know what it turns out? It turns out that where I had my little law office across the street, which I thought was an honourable and a humble small little building, now that it has been replaced by One Government Place, it turns out that is where the backrooms are and that is where the bargaining is going to take place. I object to that. I object to it personally, but I object to it on behalf of the public sector bargaining. (Interruptions) I hear yells from Cabinet Ministers opposite in which they are saying, how can you call that a backroom? Do you know why it is a backroom? Because those people are not at the bargaining table, which is where they ought to be.

Let me tell you what goes on in bargaining and why it is that Bill No. 20 is wrong and why it should be referred to committee. Bargaining is the following dynamic. Bargaining is a dynamic in which an employer and a set of employees get to know each other and to understand their relations in detail. There is a history to it and it goes on over a number of years and from one set of negotiations to another set of negotiations. It has built up of the personal relations of people and it is built up of the nature of work and it is built up of the history of discipline and it is built up of the interactions on the shop floor, whatever that shop floor happens to be. There is a trust relationship that can sometimes be built up and there can

[Page 2572]

be a mistrust relationship that can be built up. This is a delicate process not to be interfered with unless there is the best of reasons and unless it is done publicly and openly and only in the most serious of circumstances. It is not to be done casually. It is not to be done in those backrooms.

Bargaining is too important for that. Bargaining is something for which we have expressed - and by we, I mean in this context, all Nova Scotians by which Nova Scotians have expressed - our support, that it should be made up of labour, management and neutral third parties to help the process along when necessary. It is not for the government to sit back and choose to intervene on a capricious, arbitrary and unreviewed basis. That is wrong. That is not the way labour relations has to be carried out. I cannot imagine who on earth the government could have been talking to if they think this is labour relations as it ought to be carried on. It is simply wrong.

Why is it that the government thinks that they can do this? This amounts, in the language of some people, to deregulation. Surely they must think about it this way. They must think, well, this is what we are doing, but it isn't. It is the opposite. What it is is it puts tighter controls on the bargaining process. It should be left alone. The basic phrase that is used is free collective bargaining. Free collective bargaining is what our system is all about. That means you leave the parties alone to sort it out, unless you can do something helpful in order to move the process along, which is why the government offers conciliation services, which is why the government has a Labour Relations Board, which is why the government can have mediation, if necessary. But what the government shouldn't have, including, of course, in its own labour relations, is the power to simply step in and negate a contract that has been worked out and bargained by the parties who know best the workplace and the dynamics of what goes on as a final last stage.

Let me tell what's wrong with that. Never mind that it is being done in the backrooms. I have already said that that is wrong and that something like that shouldn't occur. Here is what is wrong with it. You won't get genuine bargaining by the parties at the table if they know that the context within which they are working is one in which the government can step in at the end and suddenly change the terms. If someone can step in at the end, unannounced and all of a sudden change things, what is there to induce the parties to bargain at the table? Why should they bargain honestly, openly, in good faith? Why should they move, grant concessions, trade one thing for another? They don't know who they are ultimately dealing with and whether when they sign something off, that is it or it is the end, or whether, all of a sudden, someone is going to sit there in those backrooms across the street and suddenly say, we don't like it. We have changed our financial targets for this year and, from the universities, we want an extra 1 per cent of money and it has to come out of the salary budget and we don't like the idea of what it is that you have negotiated at the bargaining table, so give us back an extra 1 per cent and that is the end of the bargaining.

[Page 2573]

Well, what on earth could induce anyone to be bargaining in that kind of context? It is an entirely different kind of bargaining and, yet, this is exactly what Bill No. 20 says that it wants to do and it won't work. You will not get true, honest labour relations that are productive at the bargaining table if that is, in fact, the scheme you have in mind as appears from Bill No. 20. That is exactly why Bill No. 20 has to go to committee. It is why Bill No. 20 has to go out to the public, to see what it is that they have to say.

[10:30 a.m.]

Let me tell you another reason why this is wrong. This is wrong because the structure of government in the public sector, the broad public sector in Nova Scotia, already has responsible authorities out there. We have university boards, we have school boards that are elected, and in the hospitals, we have these regional health authorities. They have authority of their own to try to deal with what it is that ought to be going on. Indeed, there should be a devolution to the lowest authority, if possible, that is those who have the best knowledge of the workplace and what is going on. If we think that having a university board of governors is a good thing; and if we think having regional health authorities is a good thing; and if we think having schools boards is a good thing, let them do their jobs. There has to be some respect for what they are doing.

I am not saying we can't criticize them. We can stand up in public and criticize them all we like, and indeed we should. When it comes to special things like the health of the students and the safety of the students, there is a role for the minister to interfere, but that isn't what this bill is about. This bill isn't about the health and safety of the students, this bill is about interfering with labour relations, with collective bargaining, at the last minute, and it is about changing the rules in the middle of the game. This is not what the government ought to be doing. This is not democratic. It is not respective of what it is that ought to be part of the structure of civil society in Nova Scotia, and it is not what civil society has looked like so far in Nova Scotia.

I cannot see these provisions in Bill No. 20 as anything except an attack upon unions. That is what it comes down to. Why on earth would the government want to do that? I don't remember them being elected on that platform. I don't remember John Hamm standing up in 1999 and saying, I am anti-union, I am going to attack every union I can find, and furthermore, I am going to centralize all power within the broader public sector in the hands of the Cabinet, in the backroom, in One Government Place, opposite, on Granville Street. I don't think he said that. I paid a lot of attention, and I didn't hear him say that. It just wasn't there.

If you are not elected on that platform, if it is not what you declared to the people of Nova Scotia that you are going to do, then you shouldn't do it or, as an alternative, if you are going to do it, you should try to justify it in some way. You should put out a White Paper, you should put out something for discussion, or you should take Bill No. 20 and refer it to

[Page 2574]

the Human Resources Committee for public hearings so that people in Nova Scotia can get their chance to see what it is that an inappropriately-named bill, An Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia, actually means. We have to know what it actually means.

If the government has in mind to attack unions, and I cannot read Bill No. 20 in any other way, then I would add to the background materials that members and the public ought to be given when they come to the hearings of the Human Resources Committee, a couple of essays by Elaine Bernard. Who is Elaine Bernard? Elaine Bernard runs a school, a department at Harvard University, called the Harvard Trade Union Program. She is the executive director. This woman is a genius. I have heard her speak; I have met her; I have read her articles. She is excellent. I mention her in particular because she is in Halifax today. She is in Halifax today, speaking at 3:00 p.m. at the Annual Convention of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union.

If the government wants - and since it is at 3:00 p.m., we will just be adjourned - members could go over and listen to her. Elaine Bernard has written extensively on such subjects as why unions matter. I will table extracts from her papers of why unions matters or her comments on labour law. Here they are; they will be available for members to have a look at, they will be tabled; here are extracts for them.

Professor Bernard points out, very sensibly, that all of us who work are engaged in a social situation in which the majority of our day is spent. Those of us who are outside the home, employed, deal with each other in a complex of social relations and what goes on in the workplace is extremely important. It matters a lot, it is at the core of civil society in many respects because it is one of those places in which citizens get together and they have the opportunity to talk to one another and sort out what their life is going to be like.

I want to quote from some of the articles that I have tabled. This is the first one from Elaine Bernard on Labour Law. She points out, "the state has played a heavy handed role in undermining workers basic civil rights to form unions, to collectively bargain with employers, to extend solidarity and take concerted activity with other workers, and ultimately to go on strike and apply other economic sanctions against a recalcitrant employer." I don't think there is much doubt that this is true in terms of a broad look at what it is that the role of the state has been.

This is not a desirable thing to do. This is exactly the opposite of what it is that the state ought to be doing. The state ought to be moving in a different direction. The state ought to be encouraging interactions at the workplace, and through the formal mechanism of a union, that are productive, that help the employees help them achieve what it is that civil society is designed to achieve.

[Page 2575]

As she also says in some of her other writings, unions do matter, even in the United States, which has much smaller extent of unionization than we have in Canada. Here is how she characterizes labour in the United States - but of course, this is applicable here as well - "the labour movement remains the largest multi-racial, multi-issue membership organization in the country. As such, it is a prime target of the New Right's assault on working people's rights, both in and out of the workplace."

I have to say that I agree with everything Professor Bernard says in these articles. Her exploration of what it is that civil society is about and its manifestation through the labour movement is entirely the right analysis. I don't know why it is that this government would want to ally itself with the agenda of the New Right. It is not the correct agenda, it is not the agenda on which the government campaigned, it is not the agenda that represents the values of Nova Scotians, and it is not the agenda that we over here are prepared to put up with. Bill No. 20 unfortunately moves in that direction. Bill No. 20 in its breathtaking attempt to grab power for the executive is so fundamentally at odds with what it is that represents the values of Nova Scotians that I cannot think that a government would continue along that path once it took the opportunity to listen to Nova Scotians.

The amendment that has been made to send Bill No. 20 off to committee would force the government to do exactly that - well, force may not be the right term - it is an invitation to the government to step back for a moment and say to itself and the public what it is they think they are trying to achieve. It is an invitation to them to step back and try to put a principled framework around this bill and it is an opportunity for them to step back and go to the public and ask, what do you think about these ideas?

What do you think about our attempt to take bargaining power for the broader public sector out of their hands and into the backrooms through Bill No. 20? Is this what you think is appropriate in civil society? Do you want that the government should say to the citizens of Nova Scotia that we should never ever have to come to the Legislature ever again and bother their heads and bother your heads about thinking about labour relations problems in the public sector?

I think that Nova Scotians like to talk about these things. I think that Nova Scotians want to be consulted, not just now about Bill No. 20, but they want to be consulted about important decisions. That is not their idea of government. When it comes to restructuring government they don't want government to be restructured so that the public and their representatives are excluded from it, they want something different. They don't want to be treated like customers and patrons and as irrelevancies, they are citizens. The people of Nova Scotia are citizens and they want to know what is going on when a political issue is relevant, they want the opportunity to listen, to talk, to hear, to understand what it is that the debate is all about. I am sure that many of you have had this experience.

[Page 2576]

We know that sometimes it is maybe a little tiring being here in this Chamber and sometimes we sit and we watch each other on Leg TV and we make fun of each other, but you know what, citizens at home watch those broadcasts. They often don't like to admit it. Perhaps you have had this experience, I often have had conversations, I have had conversations with hundreds of people and here is what they say, they all say exactly the same thing, they don't like to admit that they watch Leg TV all the time so they say, you know I was flipping the channels the other day and I happened to see you do this. Well, they actually do sit at home and they watch this and they watch us here (Interruption) well especially when I am speaking, as the Leader of our Party has said, they sit at home and watch it and there is a big thirst out there for knowing what is going on.

The people of Nova Scotia will not stand for taking power out of this Legislature and moving it into the backrooms across the street on something as important as labour relations. That is why it is that Bill No. 20 is fundamentally wrong as structured and why it is that the motion to move it to public hearings through the Human Resources Committee is entirely appropriate and a motion that I support. Thank you very much Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise this morning and to speak on this amendment to refer this bill to the Human Resources Committee for consideration. The first thing off the top of my head before I go with this, something just came to my mind, I wonder who the new president of the Liquor Corporation will be? (Interruptions). Perhaps I could ask George and George, they would likely have that answer, that reply, far in advance of any of the backbenchers, particularly on that side of the House, obtaining it.

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see some of my former colleagues, who were closest to the people, are in the room. I really appreciate the opportunity for them to hear. They are the former government individuals who went door to door and said, hey, vote for me, trust me, I know what to do, I was your municipal representative and look at the good job I was doing and look at this and look at that, vote for me. Do you know what? It worked. I have to agree, the honourable gentlemen across there, during their municipal days, didn't have George and George or the Sheriff over there to intimidate them and they were doing very well, until they came into this House. Now, all they are, well, you can see them, we will let ordinary Nova Scotians out there to judge for themselves.

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated . . .

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My colleagues want me to ask the honourable member if he is Little John, because if I am the Sheriff of Nottingham, perhaps he could tell us that? (Laughter)

[Page 2577]

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, that minister he is as silly as (Interruptions) Very silly - he can call me whatever he wishes but I can tell him that at least over here in Grit territory we stand tall.

[10:45 a.m.]

Control, Mr. Speaker, is very much the theme of this bill, not government restructuring like this gang over here would like Nova Scotians to believe. Back come the good old days of the John Buchanan rule, back to the pork-barrel politics of controlling everything for a privileged few friends. Just a few. Happy days are here again for the Sheriff and his merry men. This is a very good reason why this bill should be referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources for further study. I don't understand why this government wouldn't agree to send it back to the committee and allow Nova Scotians an opportunity to get educated on this bill.

There is no secret that to many members around the House here, they have two bills that are very important to them. One is Bill No. 30 and the other is Bill No. 20, which is this bill. If they are so important and they recognize and regard them as being so important, then why are they afraid to debate the bill? Why? To begin with, rule number one over there is that they are not allowed to debate. That is the first rule. Rule number two is that before they would commit to debating the bill, they would have to run out to George and George to get their approval.

However, sadly, we will not likely see this bill being referred to the Human Resources Committee because that type of action would be far too open and accountable for this particular group and this particular government. We are heading back to the days when the Civil Service Commission existed only to hire Tory friends. Nova Scotia was a laughingstock of this nation from 1978 to 1993. Politically during this time, Nova Scotia was seen as the worst managed, most corrupt government going. Sadly, this bill will give us in the Province of Nova Scotia an opportunity to return to those days.

I would like to just take a few moments of my time to draw attention to an agreement signed by the then Leader of the Tory Party, who was in third place at that particular time, and now that particular Leader is the Premier of this province, Premier John Hamm. This letter is dated and signed on July 24, 1997. This document, in part, reads, "Whereas, Nova Scotians deserve to be fully involved in assessing the impact of privatization on the quality of public services, and on the province's communities and workers, therefore,", and Mr. Speaker, here are a couple of points I would like to make. Number one, "A provincial public service will not be privatized or contracted to the private sector without public consultation

[Page 2578]

and without demonstrable evidence that privatization will lead to improved services for Nova Scotians."

Mr. Speaker, this is what that particular Premier signed, on the dotted line, January 24, 1997, he made the commitment, promised honestly. What is he doing? Do you wonder why Nova Scotians want this bill referred to the Human Resources Committee? It is quite obvious why they want the bill referred to the Human Resources Committee. They want this bill to follow the guidelines set out by the Premier in 1997. That was the commitment he made to the voters in 1999.

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, I don't have a high expectation that this bill will be going forward before the Human Resources Committee, that is for sure. We all know, when we vote for that, what is going to happen. However, as I indicated the other day in this House, when we look at all these increased taxes and fees that this government is imposing on Nova Scotians - they call it a fee, I call it a tax (Interruptions) The argument is between two members across the floor. However, as I indicated the other day, ultimately Nova Scotians will decide whether they are fees or taxes. That is the gamble those honourable gentlemen are taking. I would suggest that when the crying towels come out on election day, George and George will be nowhere to be seen.

Mr. Speaker, this is the second point I would like to make, decision to privatize. This is John Hamm's letter in which he made a commitment, and I will table that document. In this letter, this is the second point that he makes, "A decision to privatize or contract out a service will not be made without a full and open review by an independent and mutually agreed upon Review Agency or individual, who will ensure full cost/benefit analyses and comprehensive social and economic impact studies are conducted." That is the commitment the Premier made in that letter when he signed it.

Where is the process, I ask this Premier and I ask those members over there. I would like to ask those former municipal representatives, the closest-to-the-people guys, why those rules are now being broken. Why are the commitments being broken? Why are they hiding? And, what are they hiding? Stay tuned, because we have some very interesting points for those backbenchers. I would suggest that they pay attention, because they are being led down the golden path by the wrong pretense. We have ministers over there, and they don't even know where they are. They do what they are told, it is as simple as that.

You can look at any issue that arises here. They create a problem, then they try to correct it, make a mess out of the whole situation, and then after listening to the advice from this side of the floor, they go out and fix it, and then they stand up and pretend to be heroes. As I indicated before, and it has been said in this House by many members on this side of the House, there are going to be a lot of disappointed members on that side of the House come election day when that Premier has the courage to call an election because we, on this side,

[Page 2579]

already, are very eager to deal with the issues and to deal with the issues that that sheriff continues to bring forward. (Interruptions) He is leading us. Great stuff.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would appreciate it, certainly, if all members in this House would give the member who is standing some consideration as to hearing what he has to say. The member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, most Nova Scotians know this comment, but just in case there are a few out there who don't, I will repeat it. This honourable Finance Minister is leading this province that far in the red that we will never get out of it if he continues on the path that he is. We now pay more money to service his debt and the John Buchanan debt, we pay more money than we put into education in this province. You wonder why the Minister of Education stands in this House and suggests parents bring toilet paper to school. It is not hard to figure out.

The third point I would like to make in regard to John Hamm's commitment to the people of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, is that "Public sector workers and their representatives and other interested parties shall have standing in the review process." Well, where is the process? There is no process. The fourth item is, "In the event that a specific privatization is recommended and found to be in the best interests of Nova Scotians, employees will have the ability to move to the new employer with all existing rights, benefits and entitlements." I refer to the fact that I believe, very strongly, that compliance officers, in particular, would recommend to any member of this House that this bill be referred to the Human Resources Committee for proper review and analysis. I don't see any consultation process.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, I wrote the Premier a letter in regard to the five point plan. I wanted information about how these workers could enter into the process to have input as he promised in his letter. Well, guess what? There is no process because the honourable minister returned my letter and said, look, as soon as we figure one out, we are going to write you back. It is a disgrace.

Tourism in the province is down. Ever since this government took over, it has been falling off. You can look at any issue, any government department, Mr. Speaker, and they have a mess made out of every government department. Look what they did to municipalities.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The member mentioned tourism numbers. In fact, during the previous 16 months of this government, it is up 10 per cent compared to the 16 months previous to the Liberal Government.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is not a point of order. I also believe we have had this discussion before, I think, at one point or another. Nonetheless, it is not a point of order.

[Page 2580]

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I take no pride - and I appreciate the honourable minister's comments. However, I have made a commitment to the residents who I represent that before I believe anything from over there I will check the figures (Interruptions) It wouldn't be the first minister

[11:00 a.m.]

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. As an MLA who represents an area with a heavy tourist traffic, I want to confirm that the Minister of Tourism and Culture's facts are correct and true and I encourage that member to at least admit that.

(Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order and seems to be turning into a dispute between several members. I am wondering if the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes, at this time, would allow for an introduction please?

MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West on an introduction.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure, through you to the members of the House, to introduce a distinguished group of individuals in the west wing, the west gallery, and (Interruptions) El Presidente. I would ask the members of the House to give a warm welcome to a group of teachers that are here to see how the House is operated. I would like to introduce one individual, Chuck LeCain, who has been here many times with classes, and these other teachers who are here to see if maybe, in the future, they could bring some students to see how the Legislature of the Province of Nova Scotia works and functions. I would like to ask all members to give a warm welcome to these very fine gentlemen who are responsible for our students.

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome our visitors.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, on that point of order, if it was a point of order, I would just like to say that coming from over there I really don't give it too much credibility, particularly from that member, after what I seen that member do with his - as his experienced research for the honourable member for Yarmouth. I will still check the figures the minister gave before I give an credibility to that

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Before we go too far, perhaps we could return with some relevance towards what we are speaking about here at the moment.

[Page 2581]

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I agree with your statement. I guess, more importantly, I want to note the line that states, "I hereby support and endorse the 'Quality Public Service Protection Plan',", and the signature affixed is, John F. Hamm. There were groups of workers who breathed a sigh of relief when this government came out with its much-touted report about privatizing liquor stores. Remember that gentlemen?

The only thing left, I guess, for us on this side of the House is to figure out which Tory is going to become the new president of the Liquor Corporation. He may even be a volunteer, you never know, he may be a volunteer. I notice, by questions from my honourable colleague, the member for Cape Breton East, that some of these guys really do volunteer their efforts, according to the honourable Minister of Health. So maybe he will appoint a volunteer to be president. How much are they going to pay this volunteer I wonder, and how many benefits will he reap from the taxpayers of this province.

Mr. Speaker, the workers at the commission felt that they were spared when the report came out and stated that a few agency stores would be - the report, of course, indicated that a few agency stores would be established while the status quo would remain the same for the already existing liquor stores or outlets.

Mr. Speaker, this bill, really, in all seriousness, needs to be referred to the Human Resources Committee to further question and investigate the government's true intentions with regard to changing the Liquor Commission to the Liquor Corporation. I can't for the life of me figure out why they would be afraid of that. What are they hiding? Why are they afraid for these workers to know what they have planned for their future? Why? And you wonder why each member that rises on this side of the House questions the integrity and the honesty of that government?

Mr. Speaker, why are these government members afraid to allow this bill to go forth before the Human Resources Committee so that it would get the proper opportunity to be debated in the proper forum and then, that government, if we are wrong on this side of the House, which I am very doubtful that we are, they would have an opportunity to prove the Opposition wrong.

Mr. Speaker, when I look at all the little toys that they play with, they will take any opportunity to try to embarrass the Opposition members. So why wouldn't they take this opportunity? Why? Nova Scotians should ask themselves why? Why this government doesn't have the integrity to stand up and tell those workers, along with the other public service workers, what their intentions are for that workforce? I will suggest that many of the people that I am familiar with who work within the Public Service in this province have families and they have children, mortgages, car payments and the ones I talk to are concerned. Because they are no different than the steelworkers down in Sydney. Every Nova

[Page 2582]

Scotian, everybody in Atlantic Canada, in fact everybody in this country, has seen what this group did to those steelworkers. Now, they may want to forget what they did to the steelworkers but we are not going to let them.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's why you're here, Brian.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, more importantly, I can assure those Opposition members, steelworkers and their families will not allow that government to forget what they did. Most Nova Scotians don't realize what they actually did in that steel plant with rail orders by contract, men who had children home walked out and the rail orders, the contract was sent back. Work - it was in this province - was turned away and sent somewhere else outside the province. They don't even know, if you asked one of them where it went, they don't know, because they couldn't care less.

Well, when it comes out why they needed a new equalization scheme and the people of Nova Scotia begin to understand and realize what they did to them, particularly low-income earners in the Halifax Regional Municipality, trying to get those people to subsidize but they goofed up in regard to this tax relief that previously was provided by other governments. To the tune of $1 million, Mr. Speaker, that steel plant provided revenue in lieu of taxes to the CBRM that no longer exist. Guess who is going to fund that bundle? The low-income earners is what was suggested by that minister and that government, the low-income earners in the HRM, that is who; people who earn less than $20,000 a year, but none of those friends. You may recall the Sobeys and all those individuals, they won't even be touched. The working poor will be attacked. That is the reality and the direction of this government. As I said before, when Nova Scotians decide if it is a fee or a tax, it will be too late for them.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am wondering if the member would allow for an introduction? I will take that as a yes.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MRS. MURIEL BAILLIE: Thank you, honourable member, for allowing me some time to do an introduction. I have some people here attending from West Pictou High School, Lyons Brook. They are attending the Nova Scotia Schools Athletic Federation, where they are receiving some honours. They are here with their Principal, Lynn MacLean; a teacher, Steven Saulnier; two students, Jenny Ferguson and Brenda Hickey Kemp I will ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 2583]

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

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, the steelworkers are not going to forget this government or those members, I can assure you of that. I can assure you of another thing, the 53 teachers in the CBRM are not going to forget either. More importantly, the parents of those children will not forget.

Mr. Speaker, when I look at an issue like, just this week, at the emergency ward of the Northside General Hospital, when politics became the priority with that issue. With the disregard of the safety of that community, and the health and welfare of those residents, politics played a roll-over. I would suggest, given these conditions (Interruptions)

MR. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I think it is important that the record show that people go into the hospital with their health cards not a political membership card. That hospital in the Northside serves Liberal ridings just as much as Tory ridings. (Applause)

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

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

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, maybe, perhaps, that honourable member should send that message down to Richmond, and to other areas in this province where they can't find a doctor because of the process this government set up to try to bring doctors here. Perhaps the good people in Richmond and other areas. This government is perfect at creating a crisis and then coming along and trying to make themselves look like heros when we tell them how to fix it. That honourable member over there is absolutely correct about Victoria and Cape Breton The Lakes, and that is why the doctors returned, because these members reminded that minister of the commitment that was made to those people during the by-election. That is why. Written commitments. That is why that member has the gall to stand in this House and refer, just the other day, that it was his role, that he brought that doctor into that hospital.

Mr. Speaker, it was after Question Period here the other when the questions came from this side of the House that the minister left this room in a rush and went and got his . . .

[11:15 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Will the members please bring themselves to order.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, we all know why the good people in Cape Breton North used their intelligence, because they know Tory Governments and they know they can't be trusted. They didn't vote for them because they supported them, they voted for them

[Page 2584]

because they were more scared of them than anything. Workers need to know that the Premier was being true when he signed that letter, when he gave his word, when he signed the Quality Public Service Protection Plan, as they call it. What do they do? They bring this bill forth with no public consultation, nothing; no process, nothing. That doesn't sound like being a representative closest to the people, like my former colleagues over there bragged about during their municipal days.

Mr. Speaker, I certainly will be one of the first to come to their defence because it is not their fault. That honourable gang over there are no more honest with their backbenchers than they are with Nova Scotians. Those backbenchers are being led down the garden path too. They are being led by a little chain. Once in a while, they are allowed to take their muzzles off and stand up. They have the same opportunity that I have on this bill, if they are so foolhardy to believe in this bill and this process and the way they are treating public workers in this province. Stand up and tell those people where you stand on this issue. They will know when the vote comes down, because they will be told how to vote and they will be told to rise and vote along with the sheriff and his gang over there.

The Human Resources Committee, Mr. Speaker, could question - that is why they are afraid of it - and ask why the minister responsible for the Liquor Commission is intent on establishing an advisory committee. An advisory committee, imagine, when he, the minister, would have an appointed president and a board of directors. Now who do you suppose is going to appoint this board of directors and the president? I don't suggest there will be a proper process put in place for that either. I would suggest that there will be no process other than what the Minister of Municipal Affairs did with the equalization after a 5:00 p.m. announcement on a Friday evening, because they are afraid to face Nova Scotians with the truth. That is why.

That is why we are eager, down in the CBRM, like I indicated before, I am sure that the parents are really eager to talk about why, for the first time ever, full-time teachers are being lost to the education system in this province. Why? Why don't they take the money out their trust fund?

AN HON. MEMBERS: That's your trust fund.

MR. BOUDREAU: Why didn't they take the money out of the slush fund? They have about six slush funds over there.

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

The honourable member for Annapolis, on a point of order?

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: No, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the honourable member would entertain a question?

[Page 2585]

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

MR. BOUDREAU: No. Mr. Speaker, if they really want to ask questions over there, send them to the Human Resources Committee and they can ask any question they want; any question. Any question they have over there, the committee could provide an avenue so then questions could be answered. It is as simple as that.

In reference to the sheriff's indication that he doesn't have a trust fund, well he certainly has a slush fund that he uses from time to time, as the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education I am sure could attest to.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Short of everyone standing up and speaking at the same time, I don't really know how much more noise you could create in here. Would the members please bring themselves to order.

MR. BOUDREAU: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can get up here and be bold and boisterous and everything else. I could huff and puff and blow all the houses down . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: The big, bad wolf.

MR. BOUDREAU: During the recent by-election in Cape Breton North, vote for me, I will go up there and I will huff and puff and blow all the houses down. I don't support John Hamm, don't think of John Hamm in this by-election. Leave him out of the picture, he is no good, we don't want to talk about him. This is what he told people on the doorsteps, and then has the gall to come up here and stand up and say what a great Nova Scotian John Hamm is.

Well, I will show you greatness. I tabled it today. The letter of commitment that that Premier made to the people he represents. Why don't these backbenchers ensure Nova Scotians and the people that they represent that he fulfills that commitment, but they don't have it over there. They want to rise here and ask a question about a single MLA on this side of the House.

Refer the bill to the Human Resources Committee, Mr. Speaker, and then they will have all kinds of avenues to answer their questions; all kinds of avenues. But they won't, they are afraid to send it to the committee because they don't want Nova Scotians to know the truth.

Mr. Speaker, it has been my experience, at least when I deal with people at least in my neighbourhood, that you don't play with their intelligence. Nova Scotians are more aware (Interruptions)

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

[Page 2586]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, they might think they are fooling Nova Scotians, they might that they are going to come out with all these slush funds and buy their way back, well, it is not going to happen. Nova Scotians are aware of . . .

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I believe the honourable member is referring to Hawco, not slush.

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

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable Minister of Finance could straighten that honourable member out about any type of question that he has in regard to slush funds, trust funds, or any other funds, because he has the experience to show for it. Honest John showed him the ropes. When he forgets about something, George and George are there to make sure that he is aware. They provide a direct avenue to him, just to refresh his mind from time to time, like John Buchanan and Donnie Cameron did to the people in this province.

They all look on me like George and George - they don't want to hear those names over there. No. They don't want Nova Scotians that live out in the rural areas of this province to know that they are meeting on a regular basis with these two individuals. No. They wouldn't dare, would you minister? Why, if this bill, if they would agree to refer it to the Human Resources Committee, they could even bring George and George there. And they could bring us all up to date - those two honourable gentlemen could bring us all up to speed on any information.

It is pretty frightening when you consider the potential that these two Georges are going to have. It is pretty frightening. We already pay more fees than I don't know who. I didn't say fleas, I said fees. There may be some fleas in and about - I am not saying if there are or there isn't - I don't want to be misunderstood, but I do know that there are a lot of fees that have been created over there. Increased fees and new fees.

What is a fee? That is what I asked in the House the other night. What is a fee? I say a fee is a tax, but they say, it is not a tax. That is not a tax, it is a fee. Let's not be mistaken here - Nova Scotians are going to send the message over there eventually whether they regard a fee as a tax or as a fee. I say it is a tax and I say that the majority of Nova Scotians agree that those new fee structures are tax increases. That is what they are and if the federal government didn't buy them out all the time over there, pity help the debt of this province. They have added enough debt on the province at approximately $3.5 million a day since they took over.

We pay more in servicing our debt than the Minister of Education puts into education. Or the Finance Minister, the sheriff's boys over there, whatever you want to call them. In any event, Nova Scotians are aware and they educate themselves on the happenings within the

[Page 2587]

province. Health care - $46 million and then we are going to fix it. They were going to do this by eliminating all the bad administration that we had in the province. All bad, well, it is obvious they did think it was bad administration because they have now successfully imported the highest number, richest bunch of bureaucrats in the history of the whole entire country. They spend more money on administration and in the Health Department than they do - imagine the money that could have been spent supporting nurses in this province, how much money they could have saved?

They have already spent approximately $300 million in health care in Nova Scotia. That is a far cry from $46 million that they said they could fix it with. They were going to fix it with $46 million, but guess what, Nova Scotians are aware, $300 million has already been spent, approximately, and the way this gang is going, and in particular that minister when it comes to health care they aren't done yet.

[11:30 a.m.]

Perhaps we are seeing the beginning of the establishment of a bunch of advisory committees so as to duck the lobbyists' bill whenever that comes back to the light of day of course. Remember that bill? I am just wondering, is the advisory committee in the case of this bill a privatization committee in disguise? A valid question in regard to any of the issues, that is why I feel that the Human Resources Committee should have time to investigate and question the entire affair.

Now, this bill has approximately 63 clauses, which reminds me, why are they afraid to debate these clauses? Perhaps it is the same reason why they don't want to debate the equalization formula with the residents in the Halifax Regional Municipality or the mayor or the council or anybody. They created the problem, they created that problem then they got all the municipal units in the province bickering and snickering and created divisiveness unheard of in Nova Scotia politics, divided municipality between municipality. Then they went to the UNSM and said, here, you guys fix it. You have 30 days to come up with a formula to come back and tell us what to do to fix it.

When the UNSM would not agree to come back in 30 days they agreed to provide at least a three month extension. But, the other requirement, there were two things that the UNSM requested originally. One of them was the three months, but more importantly and more recognizable is the fact that the UNSM demanded leadership from over there. Do you know why? The municipal politicians in this province know there is no leadership coming out of that crew over there and they demanded the three months and that the leadership stand up. I didn't see any leadership come forth, not an ounce of it. Create the problem, make the poor people pay and then try to look like heroes with the rich in repairing the problem. Imagine.

[Page 2588]

Now, why fix something that works? I would like to know what Nova Scotian in their right mind, if they had a washing machine and it was working properly everyday they needed to use it, why would they call in a repair man? Now, that is why this bill should be referred to the Human Resources Committee so that the backbenchers, and one already stood up - well, two or three of them stood up - and made comments. They can stand up there. They could come to that committee at the committee level, provide the proper information, obtain what they certainly have, that obviously the backbenchers don't have.

Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, after watching the last make-work project for the backbenchers over there, I wouldn't suggest that they create a committee and go out around Nova Scotia, that is for certain. That is why the Human Resources Committee can service and deal with the issues that are in this bill and then they wouldn't have to go out like they did on the make-work project and spend taxpayers' money going from one end of the province to the other and then coming back, tabling the report and putting it in the garbage. There would be no need of that. So the Human Resources Committee is, in my opinion, the proper forum for which this could be debated. (Interruptions)

Of course I know who suggested it, Mr. Speaker. I do know who suggested it go to that committee. The NSGEU suggested it go to that committee in a letter. I certainly have that letter that the NSGEU suggests that this bill should be debated the way John Hamm promised the people in this province. The letter, and I have the letter here - and I think all good members have the letter - and in my opinion the president of that particular group knows full well that this government cannot be trusted. I would suggest this individual knows that from past experiences.

Perhaps the compliance officers could tell a few stories. I would challenge any of the honourable members over there to come forth with any of the compliance officer's names, letters or anything that they provided to allow those workers an opportunity to have an input into the direction that that minister has directed his department to go forward with.

Mr. Speaker, I am very eager why a Minister of Municipal Affairs would rise in this House upon a question from myself and state that one of the most civilized organizations in the entire world, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, approached his department. Imagine making a comment like that. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is difficult to hear the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes. He does have the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate your comments. It is getting kind of hard to think in here. Just ask any of those backbenchers over there, they will tell you that.

[Page 2589]

This Human Resources Committee could provide an avenue for the compliance officers, in a reasonable fashion, to learn what this government has planned for them and their families over the next few years. What is wrong with that?

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are not going to forget this government. Nova Scotians are paying attention. Those backbenchers, I hope they are listening today, because sooner or later they are going to be back on those same doorsteps they were just on, the same as I, and the same as all members of this House. That will be the day when they are going to find out if eliminating full-time teaching positions in this province, for the first time ever in the history of Nova Scotia, is going to be acceptable. If Nova Scotians feel that education should be higher in one area and lower in another, we are going to learn the answer. We will learn from those voters.

As a Nova Scotian - and yes, I am proudly from Cape Breton - I don't believe for one moment that the people on the mainland want the children treated any differently on Cape Breton Island than they do in the HRM. No one will ever convince me of that. There might be a few individuals around who may wish that on the community in Cape Breton, but democracy states that the majority makes the decisions. I would just love the opportunity to be on some of those doorsteps when these guys go back there and they are questioned about the commitments they made and the ones they broke.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure those honourable members that the electorate in Nova Scotia will be well aware of what those issues are, because that is our job; that is our job, to make sure that the residents of this province know where that government is going, what they are responsible for, and they will be held accountable.

In closing, I am looking forward . . . (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I hope that with my time allotted, and it is only an hour, unfortunately - I think it is important the members on the other side see the passion in the voice of the member for Cape Breton The Lakes. Clearly, this issue is important to every Nova Scotian, and this bill is important to every Nova Scotian. That is why we need to send it to a committee. I think the member for Cape Breton The Lakes showed the passion for those he represents as to why it is important and why this piece of legislation is so, for lack of a better word, sneaky.

There is an opportunity in this legislation to try to quietly pass changes that, quite frankly, are not in any way going to result in anything more than power being centralized in the hands of a few. We have seen examples of that already, whether it be with the district

[Page 2590]

health authorities or with the school boards, particularly the South West Regional School Board. We have seen that this government, since it has been elected has attempted to centralize power in the hands of few bureaucrats, a couple of politicians, the theory being they need it in order to control costs, to control spending so they are better able to slay that dragon known as the deficit and the debt.

[11:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the problem is it is all a facade. It is like a movie set, you can see in the front it looks like a real western town - the old western movie sets - but it is all just thin plywood backed up with a couple of two-by-fours and there is nothing in behind. That is what this government is doing with legislation like this. It attempts to show that it is tough on spending. It is cutting the waste like the Premier promised in the July 1999 election. They will tell us that this is the type of legislation we need to cut the costs, to rein in the bureaucracy that is out of control. In return, we will slay that deficit dragon. We will begin to pay down the debt. That is what they want us to believe. Unfortunately, it is not the case.

The people of Nova Scotia are paying to eliminate the deficit, not the bureaucrats. The people in Nova Scotia are paying in a couple of ways. One, with an extra $120 million a year in taxes that are being imposed on them. That goes a long way to helping to address the deficit, Mr. Speaker. The government doesn't want to talk about that. People in Nova Scotia are paying with reduced health care services, no long-term care beds for their parents to go to when they are not well, surgeries being cancelled or eliminated. These are just a couple of examples of this government's way in which they are forcing Nova Scotians to pay.

The irony of it is, spending in this province is at a rate that is higher than it has ever been before this government ever came in. The Liberals might have been known as spenders but, quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, they never spent as much money as this government is spending and is asking for approval in its budget and Financial Measures (2001) Bill. They don't want to tell us that. They don't want people to know that they are actually spending a lot of money, yet our services are going down, down, down.

Mr. Speaker, what does that mean? Where is that money going? Where are they spending that money? That is the point of this legislation. That is why we need a committee. The people in Nova Scotia should really, truly have an opportunity to hear from this government, to speak to this government, to create that dialogue that tells this government how the people feel. Do they want more tight controls on spending held in the hands of a few people? They might say that is a good idea, but they might also assume that if there are going to be tighter controls on spending in the hands of a few bureaucrats and politicians, that there will also be benefits from those tighter controls on spending. Yes, the waste might be removed from the health care system. Yes, the waste may be removed from our education system, if there is any.

[Page 2591]

Mr. Speaker, that is not happening. This legislation is actually to put through this Legislature things that are already being done by this government. They have already restructured government. They have already tightened government to the point where the Treasury Board, the Minister of Finance, the Premier and a few bureaucrats are the ones already making a lot of decisions with regard to the spending in the various departments. Yet, still, we have government departments where there is waste. Yet, still, we have health care and education where there probably is still waste, financial, fiscal waste, while, at that same time, we have essential services that are being cut and slashed.

This government is not spending wisely and the people of Nova Scotia need an opportunity to hear about that and that is why we need to send this piece of legislation to a committee, Mr. Speaker. It is important that Nova Scotians know exactly what this government is doing. The people of Nova Scotia, for a lack of a better term, are being hoodwinked into believing, from this government, that they are going to be tight on spending. They are not going to increase taxes. This is what they have been telling them for two years and, from that, we will see the light at the end of the tunnel. The deficit will be slain. We will begin to pay down on the debt. Well, these things are not happening.

Taxes are increasing, user fees are increasing, which are just another form of tax, Mr. Speaker, $120 million a year. They don't want the people of Nova Scotia to know about that, but if a committee went around to the various villages and towns in this province and talked to them about Bill No. 20, maybe there would be an opportunity for the people to hear exactly what is happening. The government is wasting money in areas that they claim they are going to cut waste when, in fact, there is a lot of waste still in the system that they have not addressed. It is funny enough that it is in the areas that they want to spend money. Yet, at the same time, the essential services that the people expect from government in health care, in education, in municipal services are not being provided for.

I think it is safe to say that this government is doing the complete opposite of what it promised the people of Nova Scotia it would do in 1999; it promised to save health care by cutting waste and only having to invest $40 million; it said it would save our education system with an injection of cash; it said it wouldn't raise taxes; it said it would maintain our essential services that people expected of government - like health care, like education - while at the same time giving us a tax cut in our fourth year. Well, as I said, we are seeing the complete opposite. We are seeing a government that has jacked up taxes, jacked up user fees and cut essential services to a level where they have never been seen before.

The people in Nova Scotia in 1999 were tired of a health care system that was failing them, and they were tired of an education system that wasn't working. I remember just around the time of the vote on the budget of the Liberal Government during the minority - Mr. Speaker, you were here as well - over in Dartmouth at the school board there was a huge rally one evening with regard to primary school and a lot of parents - and many from my riding - were saying, what is the matter with our education system that we are losing primary

[Page 2592]

schooling? I think the proposal then was to cut it to 60 per cent days from 100 per cent days and the people said, this is ridiculous. Here is an opportunity for children at age five to get a decent education, these are the formative years - Grades Primary, 1, 2, and 3 - where they needed that injection of support of education so that they could be better able to cope with junior high and high school and post-secondary and to be productive members of society, and our school board was talking about cutting. It was a key issue.

It was just one example of what people at the time were saying. Look at our school system, it is failing us. Many people in this province voted Tory because the Tories said we will fix that, we will solve that problem. In my area, during the election, it was the issue of lunch fees. This was another one that many people in the metro area may remember, particularly in the former county, I believe. Students used to be able to walk to school or take the bus and they were able to stay for lunch and the school would provide monitors and so on and so forth, and it was a decent system that worked in the former county.

Well, in the middle of the election - I remember it was a Saturday, the day after school finished, just near the end of June - I was walking door-to-door on Caldwell Road in Cole Harbour and I heard from various parents at that time, saying, I got a notice that they are going to make me pay $200 next year for the school lunch for my children. That is ridiculous. I am too far away. In that case, if you lived on Caldwell Road close to the Cole Harbour Road area, you would be two or two and a half kilometres from the school, Caldwell Road Elementary or the Astral Drive Junior High School. They were expected to walk? And they were expected to pay $200. And I remember quite clearly that the Premier, after about a week of parents being incensed at the time when he was on the campaign trail, coming forward and saying, this is ridiculous, we won't let this happen.

Another sign of him - the Premier - trying to address people's concerns about our education system. That is a concrete example, but it is a symptom of a much bigger problem in which people were saying, I am sick and tired of having to pay more to get less out of my education system. And the Premier tried to allay those fears and say you elect the Tories, you elect us, we will fix that for you.

Well, it was to some extent fixed at a local level with the help of myself and some others, and many other MLAs, we were able to work with local schools so that they paid a fee that reflected the cost recovery of the program. Not an extra surcharge of $200, it worked out to be about $40 a year. Some people still don't like it, and let's make it clear that in principle I don't like it either. But given the education system the way we have it, the problem has at least been dealt with for most people.

This is my point. The Premier said, we can fix that problem in our education system, we can fix all your problems at a bargain-basement price. His price would also include tax cuts. The people of Nova Scotia voted believing that this Premier would do that for them, that he would improve their education system, their health care system and yet we now see

[Page 2593]

it is the complete opposite. Our education system is in tatters. That is why we need this legislation, Bill No. 20 to be sent to a committee, to give the people of Nova Scotia, to give the people of my riding, an opportunity to meet with this government and say, you promised us in 1999 that you were going to save our education system, you were going to address those user fees in schools, you were going to address early education so my children had an opportunity to succeed. Where is all of that?

We are not talking about a few bucks scattered around lightly or maybe a pretty pamphlet to talk about reading recovery in early ages, we are talking about serious commitments and investments in our education system so our children can be competitive in the global economy. That is what the people in Nova Scotia want, they want to believe that their children get the best education possible so they can go out and achieve good jobs whether it be here or somewhere else, hopefully here. We have a problem when our education system isn't even able to do that. Nova Scotia used to be known that our greatest exports were brains. Well, I think that is at risk given the state of our education system right now.

I am going to give a couple of examples, let us be clear, the janitors' strike is a problem for this government. The Minister of Education continually tries to blame someone else, tries to blame the school boards, says it is their fault, they are just negotiating, this is a labour dispute, she is not going to get involved. But let us be absolutely clear, there is a dispute between the school board and its custodians and maintenance staff because the Minister of Education and the Minister of Finance last year and this year are cutting costs in education. The school board is being squeezed and told you cannot run a deficit therefore you must find a way to save money. Salaries are the biggest chunk, I think it is 80 per cent to 85 per cent of the board's actual costs, so if they are going to save money it is going to be through salaries.

So essential services, and that is what they are, custodians, maintenance staff, and many of them live in my riding. I have talked to people who were plumbers and pipefitters with the school board, I have talked to people who are custodians at schools like Northbrook or Notting Park or Caldwell Road Elementary. These are people that I have known for awhile and I see how much they are hurting because of this strike and I know this strike did not have to occur if this government took a legitimate and simple approach to investing in education. I am not talking about going out and wasting money like the P3 program, that was a waste of money, that was taking money out of our classrooms and putting it into the hands of private developers. I am talking about serious investment in education in the classroom. That is what the people of Nova Scotia wanted in 1999.

There are a couple of concrete examples that have come home to rest with me and people are starting to say, my gosh, what has happened to our education system? Here is the irony, I talk about tax increases, I have talked about user fees in this House all this session because they are very important; $120 million a year taken out of the pockets of Nova

[Page 2594]

Scotians annually. Well, who makes up these costs? These are just the costs that they pay but there are other costs. When the Department of Education slashes the budget, individual Nova Scotians, parents with children in the school system and otherwise are paying. Where do they pay? They pay through property tax increases, we are already talking about that in metro because of supplementary funding; something I support in the short-term but in the long-term we need the province to fund our education system appropriately, but that means more property taxes for all people in HRM.

Let us talk about the fact, I mentioned the user fees for lunch, the lunch fees. There is another user fee that comes out of the pockets of Nova Scotians and people in metro, another one that people don't always think about, and one that I have mentioned in this House before, and that is all those fundraisers our schools have to do. Whether it is chocolate bars or catalogue sales or Christmas auctions, there are so many ways in which our schools, our PTOs, our PTAs, our Home and Schools have to raise money for things that should be paid by the government through funding our education system appropriately. Whether it be computers, whether it be curtains for the school, legimate capital costs or even just costs that go into a general pool so that the teachers can tap into it when they need it, these are the funds that our PTOs, our PTAs are raising money for because this government isn't willing to invest appropriate amounts of money in our education.

I got a note on the Colby Village Elementary PTO the other newsletter - not this month, I guess it would have been April - and it is actually quite funny because they were thanking some local people who did some work for them and they wanted to recognize their efforts. One of them was recognized for donating a couple of computers, that is very good. It is good to see people get involved in their community.

[12:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, one of the people they were congratulating was a person, God love them, who donated photocopy paper for the school because they didn't have any. It is a sad day in our province, in Nova Scotia, when the people of Nova Scotia have to donate reams of paper to our schools because the province isn't funding our education system enough. That is a concrete example of exactly what they are doing. We have PTOs throughout my area, and I am sure throughout Nova Scotia, that are doing a lot of hard work to raise money, raise money to make up for the lack of funding from this government.

Now, this is the kick in the pants. One of the biggest things that most schools have, not all but a lot of schools have, are things called spring fairs. These are spring fairs that the PTOs use to raise money. They sell hotdogs, hamburgers, they have games for the kids, they have cake auctions, there are various things, they have various things they do. I am sure we have all been to them. It is a good thing to do for politicians, to go out to your local school to the local spring fair.

[Page 2595]

Mr. Speaker, where do they hold those spring fairs? They hold those spring fairs at the school. But because this government created a janitors' strike in HRM, the schools can't hold their spring fairs, because they are not allowed to use the schools. The schools are off-limits after regular school hours. Spring fairs are held on Saturdays or Sundays. Those schools are off-limits, these spring fairs won't go ahead, and we have a situation where thousands of dollars that would go towards our education system - these are usually the biggest fundraisers for any PTO, they can raise $3,000, $4,000, $5,000, $6,000 in a year, in a school that may raise between $10,000 and $20,0000. These major fundraisers are now being cancelled, I know of two in my area that have been, Astral Drive Elementary and Colby Village Elementary, because the school is off-limits, because this government hasn't invested in education, and essential services like janitors are on strike.

Mr. Speaker, it is a wicked way of treating our volunteers; it is a wicked way of treating our parents and our children. Basically, let's cut schools, education funding so that our schools don't have enough money. That will force janitors out on strike, into a very harsh and bitter strike. The PTOs, at the same time, are trying to raise money for essential services that our government should be funding anyway, aren't even able to do that because the schools are closed, because our provincial government has created a janitors' strike.

Mr. Speaker, that is wrong. Maybe, just maybe, the people of Nova Scotia would like an opportunity to talk to this government about Bill No. 20, and the type of expenditures that they are trying to restrain. They talk about trying to save money, they think that this is a way to control costs, when in fact what we are seeing is a government that is wasting. Somebody said this to me the other day when this bill was introduced, they are trying to nickel and dime our education system to death, they are trying to nickel and dime our health care system to death over here, while at the same time they are over here shovelling wads of money out the window to their friends, PR firms that help prop up a bad Sysco deal, $3 million, no big deal; $500,000 for a consultant for the health care system, no big deal; $37,000 on coffee, and somebody is going to say, I am sure people over there are rolling their eyes.

It is a symptom of a much bigger problem, a government that seems to be trying to tell the people of Nova Scotia that we are tightening our belts and you have to as well, so don't expect as much out of your education system, don't expect as much out of your health care system, but close your eyes while we continue to waste money on our friends, on our PR consultants. That is a horrible way of running a government. The people of Nova Scotia need an opportunity to talk about this. They need a committee that will go around the province and talk about whether this restructuring will truly result in a better government.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk a bit about the fact that this sort of facade I mentioned earlier, a government that continues to talk about the fact that it is so fiscally conservative that it is doing a good job of saving money. As I said earlier, this government is spending more money than any government in the history of Nova Scotia. Some would say, well, the rate of inflation and real dollars, they might be spending less. Let's be clear, no government

[Page 2596]

before this one ever spent over $5 billion in a year. That is a lot of money, $5 billion. No government in the history of Nova Scotia had ever spent that kind of money before; this government is doing that.

I can remember going around during the 1998 election and again in the 1999 election, and I would hear from people. They might say it in different ways, but the most consistent thing I would hear was, I don't mind paying my fair share of taxes; because they know it can go to the right thing. The problem is that people would say, but I feel, in the last 10, 15 years that I am spending more on taxes and paying more and I am getting less. That is what people don't want, and maybe that is why you have governments trying to respond by saying, well, I will cut your taxes for you. You see, you will get less service and you will pay less money.

Well, that is not really what people are saying, at least that is not the way I interpret it, and that is not the way our Party interprets it. What they are saying is, let me pay my fair share and allow me to be able to get the services I need so I can continue for my family to succeed, for my children to get the education to succeed, for my parents or myself to be able to have that long-term care bed when I need it. That is all they want. They want to be able to live in this great province; they want to have clean drinking water; they want to have decent roads; they want the opportunity to ensure that their education and health care systems are working for them when they need it.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 20 is supposed to restructure government, it is supposed to ensure that we have a government that is more receptive to what the people of Nova Scotia want by restraining the waste and ensuring that the government can meet its promises. The problem is it isn't working that way, and that is why we need a committee that can come forward and listen to what this government is doing, listen to the people of Nova Scotia. That is why we need this amendment passed.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia have been led to believe, by this government, that they are fiscally conservative, that they are not overspending, but the one example that they just can't seem to get away from, why they are being wasteful, why they are not as fiscally observant as they like to tell people, is the fact that they have raised over an extra $120 million a year in user fees and taxes. That is a lot of money. That probably makes up the difference, why they are over $5 billion in spending, because they are raising so much extra taxes.

I just want to identify a few of these. The first thing this government did when it got in was decouple the tax system. They probably figured the federal government was going to start reducing taxes and they said, we better get out of this arrangement. It used to be that our province, our taxes were based on a percentage of the federal tax, so if federal taxes went down, we got less money here.

[Page 2597]

This government said, whoa, we don't need that, we better get out of this. I support decoupling, don't get me wrong, but decoupling of our tax system can mean two different things. It can mean a cash grab from the people of Nova Scotia that this government is doing, $120 million more in taxes, $46 million more a year just from decoupling our tax system; $28 million from bracket creep; $12 million from the basic personal exemption tax increase; another $1 million from the equivalent to spouse credit that they have taken out of the pockets of Nova Scotians; then $5 million that the Premier just chalks up to general revenue increases through the decoupling.

That is not what people who support decoupling wanted. They want a tax system that reflects Nova Scotian values. What does that mean? Well, it can mean a lot of things. We recently did a poll. We did a poll that asked Nova Scotians what is your biggest concern about the future of Nova Scotia? What do you want? As I said, it relates back to what I heard on the doorstep, and many of my colleagues, and I am sure the people across the way heard on the doorstep as well, I want to pay my fair share of taxes so I can get the services I want, whether that be education, whether that be health care, whether that be good roads, whether that be general municipal services, whether that means clean drinking water. They said, I am prepared to pay my fair share of taxes, just make sure I get those basic services.

Mr. Speaker, it was an overwhelming majority who said they wanted that. I would suggest to you that is a Nova Scotian value, having a tax system that is fair and reasonable and ensures that working and middle-class families in Nova Scotia have a fair tax system for them so they know that what they are spending is going to the services that they want, something we haven't had in this province in 15 or 20 years probably, God knows, maybe never. In the last 10 years we have seen some drastic changes in our tax system that have resulted in working and middle-class families paying so much more and that is why we need a committee to review Bill No. 20 so the people of Nova Scotia have an opportunity to see exactly where this government is bringing in money and where it says it is trying to control spending. That is what Bill No. 20 is about, restructuring government. Let us give the people of Nova Scotia a chance to hear exactly how they intend to do that.

I am going to give a couple of examples, the classic one was originally the GST. You know, people were paying a provincial sales tax of 10 per cent or 5 per cent - if you were in Alberta you weren't paying any sales tax at all - then lo and behold along came the 7 per cent GST. Well, you never saw such anger. Why? People don't like tax increases, of course they don't. This was a tax that hit at the heart of basic Nova Scotian values, basic Canadian values, and no matter how our tax system worked one of the things that was always there was that we did not tax essential services, we did not tax food, we did not tax shoes, we did not tax clothing.

Well, in the last 10 years we are beginning to see how that changed. The first $100 on a pair of shoes, or the first $100 on clothing or $200, I can't remember, was exempt. Originally I believe it was just everything then it became that and now we have whittled

[Page 2598]

down to no exemption. The government for some reason thinks the people of Nova Scotia aren't paying attention because they believe that if we do it slowly maybe Nova Scotians won't realize what we are doing, but they know. They know that this government and the governments before them have continued on necessary goods, whether that be heating oil, electricity, clothing, shoes, and in some cases basic food and grocery products, they are taking it out of their pockets.

I remember back, when the GST came in it was the funny story that everyone was saying that if you bought one donut you had to pay GST but if bought a dozen or a half dozen donuts you didn't. People used to laugh and say, what kind of tax system is that that I don't have to pay GST on a dozen doughnuts but I have to on a single donut. I guess it was encouraging people to fatten up so that our health care system could skyrocket in costs. The point is that Nova Scotians and Canadians saw through what they saw as a tax that clearly wasn't fair and that is just a symptom of a bigger problem which was the tax was more greatly imposed on those working families who have a bigger chunk of their income that goes to basic things like rent, like buying a house, like buying a car, like leasing a vehicle, like buying clothing or shoes or food or groceries, heating oil, electricity.

Let us just be clear, the GST and its predecessor the BST is a regressive tax. It does not impose a greater share of the tax on those who can afford it, who have a greater income, it imposes the same level of tax on all Nova Scotians and if a bigger percentage of your income is spent on necessities, non-disposable income, housing, heat, food, clothing, then you are going to pay more in GST as a percentage of your income and that is why that was such a horrible tax. The BST just added to that and it made people very angry. The Liberals are in third place, you were here, I wasn't at the time when this BST bill passed but I think we can agree, the Liberals are in third place in the seatings of this House today because in no small part to the BST and what it meant to Nova Scotians and how angry they were about what those people were doing. It is not just a tax, it is a tax that unfairly hurts working Nova Scotian families.

We have had much restructuring both public and private, quiet and open debates about restructuring government whether it be how we bring in money, how we spend money, how we save money as a government over the last 10 or 15 years, those are just a couple of examples. The people of Nova Scotia have expressed their position on an ongoing basis and they are frustrated and they want another opportunity to express their opinion and that is why we need to pass this amendment so that Bill No. 20 can go to a committee so the people of Nova Scotia have an opportunity to be heard as to whether they think this restructuring is truly helping them. I think I know that answer, but I would like to hear from them.

Nova Scotians need an opportunity to be heard. They want a tax system, they want a government that is not spending money wrongly. They don't want waste while our essential services are being slashed. They don't want their taxes jacked up while our health care system is in ruins, while our schools are unsafe and unhealthy. Let's have a system that reflects the

[Page 2599]

Nova Scotian values - investing in our education system and investing in our health care system. That is what Nova Scotians want.

[12:15 p.m.]

And it can be done with a reasonable tax system. I applauded the member for Lunenburg West today when I was asked by the media. He submitted a bill in this House today - I don't know the number of it - asking for a tax commission. It is a decent piece of legislation. I may not agree with the member for Lunenburg West as to what that tax commission should be looking at. He seems to be moving towards more tax cuts, I would suggest that Nova Scotians have told us, we have said that in the polling that we did and we gave that to the media and to the public, that Nova Scotians don't want their taxes cut necessarily. They want an opportunity to ensure that those services are being maintained at a decent level when they need them. Then, once that is done, let's talk about a fair tax system.

Maybe a tax commission can do that, maybe it can look at how we maintain those services while providing a fair tax system. This was done by the NDP in Ontario back in the early 1990's with some success and I applaud the member for Lunenburg West for picking an idea from their brains and deciding to go with it. I think it is important to remember that any tax commission is not only looking at how we save on taxes, but how we ensure the basic essential services that people in Nova Scotia want, that reflect Nova Scotian values, are being provided.

That is the problem here. This is a government that is wasting money, that is shovelling money out the window to its friends while at the same time essential services are not being provided for. That is what Nova Scotians can't get their head around, that is what makes them angry. That is why they look at legislation like Bill No. 20 and say why do you want such tight controls? Why are you so keen on wrapping all the power into the hands of a few bureaucrats and high-level politicians when clearly you are not - if you did that and made my education system better, if you could do that and make my health care system better, fine. Maybe they would say it was acceptable.

Quite frankly, what we have is a system that is more tightly and tightly controlling spending in the hands of a few people at the top in the Premier's office and the Treasury Board office and the Minister of Health's office and the Minister of Finance's office and in the Minister of Education's office while at the same time, that tighter control has not resulted in a better education system. It has not resulted in a better health care system. Quite the opposite.

What it has resulted in is blame. It is like they want all the power, but they don't want to admit that they are the ones actually doing all this. You hear this from the Minister of Health on a daily basis. He will stand up in this House and say, I couldn't do anything about that, that was the district health authority. The district health authority is the one who is to

[Page 2600]

blame for Northside General Hospital losing its emergency room or it is the doctors' fault or the nurses' fault. He has a list there, I am sure, on his desk and he just goes through them and checks them off one at a time. When he has done one, he just goes on to the next. The problem is, everyone knows that all the power rests with him. When he passed that legislation last year, he ensured that spending decisions had to go over his desk, had to have his signature on it. That means that the buck stops with him.

Harry Truman was willing to say that. Harry Truman was willing to say the buck stops here which meant he was willing to take responsibility for his decisions. I just wish we had a Minister of Health that would do the same thing. I wish we had a Minister of Health who wouldn't constantly try to blame others for his failings. Blame others for his inability to actually solve our health care problems. It is a tough job. He has, by far, the largest department; over one-third of the whole government expenditures are in his department, $1.8 billion plus. That is a big job, but maybe the people of Nova Scotia would appreciate if the Minister of Health said, look, this is a tough job, it is going to take some time.

My Premier said some cockamamie things back during the 1999 election and seemed to promise that we could do this for $40 million. We can't. But, give us four years and we will prove to you our health care system will be better. You will see the light at the end of the tunnel. You will begin to see that those surgeries that used to be cancelled are now being met. That nurses are no longer the lowest paid nurses in the country. That our LPNs are no longer the third lowest paid in the country. But our LPNs are given respect as real nurses, that our health care system is ensuring that we have the long-term care beds so that the people of Nova Scotia have a system that is there at the appropriate level when they need it. Admit that. Say that that is going to take time. Develop a plan. Consult with Nova Scotians. Implement it.

That is all they want, but what we get from this government is blame. Blame the district health authorities. Blame the doctors. Blame the nurses. Blame the individuals for smoking to much. You name it. Blame anyone but the Minister of Health. Blame anyone but his deputy. Blame anyone but this government for making grandiose promises it could never keep. That is not a very honest way of providing government. That is not the way government should be run and, quite frankly, if that is an example of what this Bill No. 20 and restructuring will do, then I suggest to you that is why we need this amendment, so we can go to a committee and have the people of Nova Scotia talk to this government about why restructuring has not worked and why this proposal is not working and won't work.

Standing next to him we have the same person, Mr. Speaker, same line from the Minister of Education, except with her it is blame the janitors. Blame the custodians. Blame the maintenance staff. Blame the school boards. Blame the teachers. Blame the students. That is the newest one. Blame the students because they like to make a mess, I guess, is the thing. Blame anyone other than her and her department and what they have done to our education system. She has a little more wiggle room, because except for the Southwest Regional

[Page 2601]

School Board, from Lunenburg over to Digby, not every spending decision has to go over her desk. It does for that area. She signs off on them all, like the Minister of Health does for all the district health authorities. But she doesn't have that same direct control.

Maybe Bill No. 20 is going to allow that to happen. Maybe Bill No. 20 is going to begin, because my understanding is, all those spending decisions, all that other stuff now is going to be coming under the tight controls of Bill No. 20, which means the Treasury Board, the Minister of Education, the Premier, the Minister of Finance are all going to have a much bigger influence on exactly how those boards are spending their money. Well, again, power is being centralized, blame is being decentralized. Nova Scotians are being told it is their fault, it is their school board's fault. It is their bureaucrats fault. It is the fault of everyone except this government.

Mr. Speaker, people will know better than that. They remember what they voted for. They remember what they were promised - a government that would solve their education, solve their health care problems, give them a tax cut, not raise taxes and wrap it up in a pretty bow within four years, with a few other scatterings of 243 promises. The people of Nova Scotia know better. They know what they voted for. They know who they voted for and, quite frankly, it is not what they got. They have opened up the gift they got on July 27, 1999 that they bought. They opened up the package and found that the goods are damaged. In fact, it is not even the same thing they thought they were buying. What do you do? You don't keep it. You send it back.

Bill No. 20 would be a good opportunity for this government, in the middle of its term, to go back to the people of Nova Scotia, through the Human Resources Committee, to listen to them, to hear from them, to know exactly what the people of Nova Scotia want. What type of restructuring do they want? They want restructuring that ensures that the health care system is there when they need it, that elective surgeries aren't being cancelled after people who are already on the operating table, the non-elective surgeries being cancelled willy-nilly. They want a health care system that ensures that their parents or themselves have a long-term care bed when they need it.

Mr. Speaker, these are the things that people want in their health care system. The Minister of Health has not been providing them. Why do we think that Bill No. 20 is going to do anything different? Why do the people in Nova Scotia think that Bill No. 20 is going to make their health care system better? As I said before, people will vote for a government that makes the train run on time. I had someone come in the other day talking to me about his wife having fallen and split her head open, an older woman, a senior. They went to the Dartmouth General Hospital and they waited for three or four hours and they saw no one. There were no beds at all in the emergency room. Three or four hours and they say they have things called suture beds, I am told, which are beds that are supposed to be made so people can be stitched up. They said those beds were now being used for other purposes and that

[Page 2602]

they didn't know how long it would be before there would even be a bed. It could be several hours. It could be 12 hours.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bring your own bed.

MR. DEVEAUX: Bring your own bed. Yes, exactly. Well, this is similar. You know what the fellow did for his wife? He took her home and sutured her up himself. I said, that is quite impressive. He said . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Bring your own needle and thread.

MR. DEVEAUX: Yes, bring your own needle and thread. Keep a big first-aid kit at home, like you are going to hike the Himalayas, because there is no hospital nearby. Don't assume there is one. You could be waiting hours and hours, so you better learn how to do your own sutures, you better learn how to stitch your own head injuries. That is crazy, Mr. Speaker, but it is happening right here in Nova Scotia because we have a health care system that is in crisis and this government is not doing a single thing to fix it.

This restructuring bill, Bill No. 20, does nothing to fix that, and that is why we need to send it to a committee, so that the people of Nova Scotia have an opportunity to hear what this bill is really doing and what they want in their health care system. You make the trains run on time, you make the health care system be there when you need it without having to wait too long, without having to pay $50 a day in a bed because you have no long-term care beds and no plan for getting any more, no investment in them, and you make sure there is an education system that ensures it doesn't make little Johnny or Jane more sick than they already are.

That is all they want. They want to be taught, they want their children to be in a reasonably sized class where they can learn. None of that is being provided. I had another constituent come by - I think it was yesterday - a compelling story. The woman's son has ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. What is so sad about this government and what it is doing to our education system is there is a whole group of children with behavioural problems that result from things like ADD or ADHD, or just general behavioural problems because of what is going on in the homes or in their lives, who are just falling through the cracks.

I met with the principals in my area, whether it be Tallahassee Elementary School, Sea Side Elementary School, South Woodside Elementary School, Astral Drive Junior High School, or Cole Harbour High School. I met with the principals back in the fall and I talked to them. I asked them all basically the same set of questions, and one of them was, what is happening to those children who have those special needs? They said there are two types of children with special needs. There is what they call the high-end special needs, and those are the children who are part of the inclusion program. They are given an EPA, they are given

[Page 2603]

either a half-time or a full-time staff person to watch them so that they can be given that extra assistance, mainly because of the physical nature of the job of the child's needs, they need someone there to attend to their needs.

The problem is a lot of those children - God love them - they will continue to, in some way, play a small productive role in society. Inclusion can work to doing that. But he said there are a lot of children with special needs, be it ADD, behavioural problems generally, or other issues, learning disabilities, those children if we invested in them, if we gave them - every principal said the same thing - that extra attention, not just some IPP in a classroom full of 35 children, but truly gave that extra investment, they could go out and become productive members of society. These children may not go on to post-secondary education, some may, but at least they could get a high school education and go out and have the skills to become productive members of society in a trade, in a profession. There are so many different opportunities for them, but instead there is nothing for them. There is no extra money, there are no resource teachers, or very few, and they are stretched so thin that they are actually not getting any attention.

These children, these young adults are now falling through the cracks. They will drop out; they will become involved with the Justice system; they will become involved with our welfare system. We will end up spending money, a lot more money on them than if we actually invested in them through our education system. Yet this government doesn't seem to see that. I don't know who they are talking to, but maybe they should take the time to talk to the principals in the various schools. I don't mean at some big conference, but one-on-one. Maybe the Minister of Education should go around and just randomly pick one in every riding, 52 principals, and throughout the year, maybe one a week, I am sure they would love to come up and sit down with her, and for half an hour or 45 minutes just allow her and them to talk about what their concerns are.

They know, in the education system, what is going on. They are at the front line listening to the problems. They have to deal with the parents. They have to deal with little Johnny and Jane who have behavioural problems and how that is impacting on them or how their parents lives are impacting on them. Yet, they are just basically able to hold it together with what this government is doing, with the help of PTOs, who can raise money when the schools aren't shut down because this government has created a janitor's strike.

[12:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, these are the front-line workers in our education system who so desperately know what is going on and want help. This government is doing nothing about it and this restructuring will do nothing to ensure that we have an education system that ensures that children with ADD or ADHD or any other behavioural issues or learning disabilities are going to get the attention of they need, become productive members of society. It is only a short walk from the Minister of Education's desk to the Minister of

[Page 2604]

Community Service's desk, but it is a long journey for those children in the education system who end up over in the Community Services Department or in the Justice Department.

The costs are spiralling out of control, maybe in Community Services, maybe we have a lot of extra costs there. But if we invested in our education system, if we invested in our health care system, maybe we could begin to address some of those issues in Community Services. It is not going to happen overnight, but in 10 or 20 years, Mr. Speaker, we could have a system that is truly working, ensuring that Nova Scotian children, Nova Scotian families have those essential services. It took 15 years to rip apart the essential services Nova Scotians so desperately rely on to get them to this level. I think we are getting close to hitting rock-bottom, to believing that this is it - it can't go any lower and we can begin to rebuild. I don't think this government has faced that yet. This government doesn't even think there is a problem. They are too busy blaming everyone else.

Well, Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia know there is a problem. They are desperate for us to know that we have hit rock-bottom and it is time to begin to invest in those programs again, with a fair tax system that can afford those programs. This government is doing nothing about that and this restructuring will do nothing about that. That is why Bill No. 20 needs to be sent to Human Resources Committee so the people of Nova Scotia can hear from this government their rationale for this restructuring and why it isn't working and what they truly want out of their government.

Government restructuring isn't shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. It is not putting a fresh coat of paint over the walls of something that clearly has a lot of problems. If we are going to restructure, let's restructure to ensure the people in Nova Scotia have more say. Let's restructure so the people of Nova Scotia can begin to see an education system that is working. That is not what is happening here. This is about a few bureaucrats and politicians centralizing control. It is not making our education system better. It is not ensuring that there is clean water in Chezzetcook. It is not ensuring that the roads are any better on the way to Elderbank, Mr. Speaker, as you, I am sure, know, that is one bad road and 194 metres of new paving this year isn't going to fix it.

You want to talk about restructuring, one of the promises they made in 1999 was that, and I am sure you are well aware of this, they went around saying to people, you know we collect over $220 million a year in motive fuel taxes, gas taxes from gasoline and diesel. Then we have got all that extra money we collect from registration of vehicles and licenses and so on. We are going to take that money and we are going to put it into roads. You know what? I think we said that was a good idea. It is a great idea. We have a government that hasn't done that. They promised that this year, if I recall. Maybe the road the Minister of Finance drives on all the way down to Argyle is actually really good, I don't know. Maybe they have just paved that one road all the way to his house and he thinks the roads are in great shape.

[Page 2605]

I would encourage backbenchers over there to take the time to take the Minister of Finance, let's face it, he holds the purse strings, take the Treasury Board Chairman, I think that is the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, take them on those roads. Let them see exactly what the problem is. Because Nova Scotians - it is like making those trains run on time - want roads that are going to work for them, that they are able to drive on, that are safe and that will try and do something to attract business to their area and try to do something to ensure that they have accessibility in their own communities. These roads are in deplorable shape.

As my colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect said yesterday in response to the statement from the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, we probably have the worst roads in North America and that is a shame. The weather doesn't help - the heaving and the amount of plowing in the last year, I am sure things haven't improved, but let's face it, one of the things that people expect from their government are good, decent roads. Not beautiful roads, not perfect roads, but good, decent roads and if this government can't provide that, then why are we even bothering to restructure government?

Restructuring must have a purpose. Restructuring isn't an end, it is a means to an end. It is a means to a better form of government that is more responsive to the people of Nova Scotia and that ensures that the services that Nova Scotians expect from their government are going to be delivered more cost effectively and hopefully, at a better quality. Or at least at the quality that we expect. We are not expecting Cadillacs, but we are expecting a Chevrolet when it comes to the services. Not a Lada, not a Skoda. We want a Chevrolet, or a Dodge or a Ford. I am not sure what Mr. Speaker drives, but I think it is a GMC isn't it? Chev. Sorry.

People want to ensure they have a Chevrolet level of roads, a Chevrolet health care system, a Chevrolet education system. Not Cadillac, not Lada, but they expect those services to be there when they need them and that is what this government was elected on and that is what they promised they would do. They didn't promise to destroy our health care system. God knows they wouldn't have been elected. They didn't promise to take all the paper out of our school, they wouldn't have been elected. They didn't promise to put janitors on strike, they didn't promise to eliminate clean drinking water in various parts of this province, yet that is what they have been doing. If restructuring doesn't fix those problems, if restructuring does not do anything to ensure Nova Scotians have a Chevrolet way of life - I should be doing an ad, maybe - is not doing what the people want and that is why we need some time to send this to the human resources committee so the people of Nova Scotia have an opportunity to talk to their government about exactly what they want, the services they demand, what they need from their government.

There is another group that we haven't talked about and I haven't raised before which is also impacted by this bill - it is what they call non-government organizations, or NGOs. These are groups that get money and these are the volunteers in our communities. I think

[Page 2606]

about in my own area - the Boys and Girls Club in Cole Harbour and now they are moving into Eastern Passage. I used to be on the board of directors - they do fantastic work. There are other groups, but I am just using that as an example in my area. They get money from community services. Some funding every year, blockfunding for operations to help them ensure they can provide the services. Why? Because they can provide them at a cost-effective level. They are in the community, they have connections in the community. They can provide those services in a cost effective manner - it is good spending of our dollars.

Now we have a government that is going to rein them in. It is going to force them to provide detailed business plans and if they don't like it, they are going to be cut off or they are going to tighten the screws on them so that they are spending their money more appropriately - at least how the government says.

These are people who are already worked to death. The pencils have been sharpened down to the nub, their fingers are bleeding from the amount of work they are doing, late into the night they do work for our communities. They don't work 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. - they are running youth programs, they are providing hot meals for seniors, they are raising money. I think in Eastern Passage, the Benevolent Society, they raise money through lobster dinners and bean dinners and so on so that money can go to people who have medical problems. You don't know how many people have come to my office because they can't get drugs through the health care system. Drugs that should be covered, services that should be covered and are not being covered. If it weren't for the good people of Eastern Passage raising money and putting money into a pool that the Benevolent Society could dish out whenever needed for someone who needed help, those people would be in desperate shape.

Instead of rewarding people like that, instead of saying these are community people who are doing things, this government is trying to restructure government to put more bureaucratic red tape on their backs, trying to ensure that these people have less opportunity to actually focus on their real task, which is helping people that this government should be helping. Instead they are trying to put red tape and paper work and bureaucracy imposed upon them so that a few bureaucrats and politicians across the way have more control. Quite frankly, I see this coming, they will start blaming them as well. Just like they blamed the school boards, just like they blamed the health authorities, just like they blame municipalities and just like they blame individuals, they will start to blame our volunteer groups. They will start to say that it is their fault if they didn't get money this year, because they didn't provide us with the proper business plan or they didn't meet their business plan or their business plan wasn't appropriate. These are the people who are spending their time volunteering and are committed to their communities so we have better communities and this government is only trying to impose more red tape, more bureaucracy, more restructuring. That doesn't help the people of Nova Scotia. Maybe we need a few months to go to a committee so that the Human Resources Committee can hear from Nova Scotians as to what these volunteer groups want.

[Page 2607]

Mr. Speaker, that's the problem. This government has a bunker mentality. It seems to be not focusing on what the people of Nova Scotia want. That's what the backbenchers are there for, I am not sure what they are doing but their job is to be saying, listen, I went to that bean dinner last night or on Saturday or maybe the Minister of Finance says to the member for Annapolis, how was your weekend? He says, well, I went to that bean dinner last night and they told me that they are sick and tired of all the red tape. Maybe it was a bean dinner for the local volunteer fire department, there are some good things being done for fire departments because they deserve it.

Maybe there is a need for those people to not have to do all that red tape you are asking them to do, Mr. Minister of Finance. Why don't you think about that. Maybe that's what the conversation should be like. I am not sure what is happening, they are not telling me whether they are consulting with their backbench, but the point is, that the people of Nova Scotia are sick and tired of this level of more and more red tape, more and more taxes and less and less services, and more and more blame.

Mr. Speaker, it doesn't add up. The people of Nova Scotia know it doesn't add up. The quality of life is deteriorating and this government seems to have no grasp on that and Bill No. 20 as a restructuring bill does nothing to improve the life of Nova Scotians, does nothing to improve their quality of life. That's the final test, any restructuring of government, any decisions you make, the final question is, are people going to be better off, short term or long term. Quite frankly, the answer is no to Bill No. 20. That's why we need to send this to a committee so the people of Nova Scotia can begin to say, we have a quality of life we want to maintain. We have a quality of life that we want to build for Nova Scotians, for our families, for our parents, for our children, for our grandchildren, in our communities and that won't happen until Bill No. 20 is addressed and restructuring begins to make government work for us. That's why we need this amendment. Thank you.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I certainly welcome the opportunity to speak on the amendment to refer this bill, Bill No. 20, the Government Restructuring (2001) Act, to the Human Resources Committee for consideration.

Mr. Speaker, I need not look back too far in order to give you a very good example of why we should be sending this bill to a committee such as the Human Resources Committee for reconsideration. I don't mean to open up some old wounds and pour some salt on them here but sometimes that is what you have to do in order to make a point.

My point here is that if you take a look at the Private Members' Bills Committee, which was a committee when I first arrived on the scene here that people told me it didn't meet too often, it didn't really do that much important work. It did occasionally deal with certain things that were certainly not controversial. You couldn't describe them as

[Page 2608]

controversial in any way, shape or form but upon being appointed a member of that committee - well, I guess a part of me was quite happy when they said it didn't meet too often - I found out in very quick order that the committees of this Legislative Assembly do some very important work.

My example, Mr. Speaker, in this committee in particular is what we referred to as the Acadia bill, it came before the Committee on Private and Local Bills. The Acadia bill, which was a bill that said, well, basically, it dealt with the structure of the Board of Governors of Acadia University. A pretty innocuous sort of bill, I guess, at first glance. At first glance one would think that perhaps some members on the government side were introducing it just as a matter of well, here is a bill the committee or the board of governors and everybody at Acadia is in favour of. They are all very happy and they would like it to just go by, just fly by this committee of the Legislature with no problem.

[12:45 p.m.]

Well, lo and behold some government members who were supposed to introduce that bill first of all did not become involved, as a matter of fact they were nowhere to be found with the introduction of that bill and had other members on their side introduce that bill for them. Why? Well, as it turns out, this bill in that particular session became very controversial, very controversial. We heard on that committee, the lowly Private Members' Bills Committee in the Nova Scotia Legislature, we heard from 65 people, individuals and groups about the Acadia bill. I was absolutely astounded.

People had told me, and that is why I am here, that is a cliche that gets pretty tired rather quickly, but it is, we have a job to do, people keep telling us that we have been sent here to do a job, we get paid a salary to do a job. We are being told by people on a daily basis that we want you as politicians above all to listen to us, please listen to us. So, as a member of the Private Members' Bills Committee in the last session, we sat down and we listened to 65 individuals and groups bring their concerns to that Private Members' Bills Committee. I didn't think that on one matter you could have that many differing opinions, but it was phenomenal.

We heard from alumni, the Alumni Association, the board of governors itself, the student body from Acadia, individuals who had gone to Acadia University and had a sincere interest in what was going on at their former university, and we listened to those people. And because of that, because of listening to them, we found out that there was more to this than meets the eye and we also found out that unfortunately we were in the middle of somewhat of a family squabble and we decided as a committee we decided that we didn't really belong in the middle of that family feud and that it would be appropriate for the parties concerned to take it back home and deal with it in-house first and then bring it back to a legislative committee and we would deal with it from there.

[Page 2609]

The lesson we learned from that one simple little committee, the Private Members' Bills Committee that nobody said would accomplish anything, could do anything and it was just a Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am sorry if I have the name wrong, the Private and Local Bills Committee. It was a committee that everyone said well, it is really not that big of a deal to be on that committee, but we found out that indeed the committees of this Legislative Assembly are very, very important. They give people, ordinary, everyday, average Nova Scotians a chance to have their voices heard. I don't know if there is anything more important that we do in this Chamber than listen to people and their opinions when they are trying to change our minds. So what is being proposed here in this amendment is that it be referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources. That simply means that we want people to be heard on this bill, on Bill No. 20.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of people in this province that indeed would like to be heard, but the government can come up with any excuse at any time. It is unbelievable how many excuses they come up with. Usually their number one excuse is always blame the Liberals, that is the number one excuse on the government side. Blame the Liberals. The NDP seem tovfind it quite appropriate to use too, blame the Liberals, they were in power, blame them, because everything is wrong because of the Liberals. Or, blame the federal government, blame the federal government, they are in power in Ottawa, they got re-elected again so blame the federal government.

Wait a minute, if you have run out of excuses, blame the municipal government, they are wrong. Maybe we will take a proposal to them about equalization, but we will do it without listening to anyone first. We will let them fight it out, we will pit one area of the province against another, Cape Breton versus metro Halifax. That is always a good one, too, I will add another one to the list, blame Cape Breton. Cape Breton had Sysco; Cape Breton had Devco. Cape Bretoners are really a sore point in this province because we spend too much money in Cape Breton. Blame Cape Breton.

If you can't blame Cape Breton, then blame anybody else you can find. Blame teachers for the problems; blame students for the problems we are having in schools in our province right now. You can blame them, or you can blame their parents. You can pretty well blame anybody in society. If you fail picking out any one particular group, come back to the Liberals and blame us one more time. Lay the blame on us.

You can blame social assistance recipients for the problems we are having with the social assistance system in this province, blame them. Don't only blame them, but hurt them at the same time, cut their cheques, make sure they get less money, that will solve the problem. That will solve the problem in areas of high unemployment like Cape Breton. Cut their cheques and then tell them, by the way, get out there and get a job. We will retrain you. By the way, there are no jobs, but we will retrain you to go out there and get that job that doesn't even exist.

[Page 2610]

The government blames nurses for the problems that we are having in hospitals, or they blame doctors, or they blame administrators, they never take the blame themselves, never shoulder the blame for anything that goes wrong in this province. Never. Again, bottom of the list again, when you are in doubt and you can't find anybody else to blame, blame the Liberals again. Maybe, I don't know, blame Lee Harvey Oswald, maybe he did it.

As long as you don't take the responsibility yourself, as long as you are not willing to stand up and say, I am sorry I may have been wrong and I will listen to you, I will listen to your concerns. I will sit back before I make some silly decision and I will listen to you because, number one, I am interested in hearing what you have to say; number two, it may change my opinion, it may actually be a good idea; and number three, we are a responsible, open, accountable government that was put here under the premise - because you told Nova Scotians that you were going to listen to them. You were going to be open and accountable, you ran on that ticket. That was the ticket that put every government member here, including the 18 backbenchers over there, including all of you. You know it, you know it in your hearts, that you have to speak up sometime.

I am assuming - but I am only assuming, and it is very dangerous to assume - but I am assuming that some government backbenchers at some time over the past couple of years, have gone to their Cabinet Ministers and said, very privately, very secretively, Mr. Cabinet Minister, Madam Cabinet Minister, because they would probably be going to the Minister of Education a lot, she makes the most mistakes, and they would say to her, I think we are making a mistake here. I think perhaps we are making a mistake, and maybe we should be listening to other people. Maybe we should be listening to teachers, for example, in Cape Breton and throughout this province, the NSTU, for instance, who is saying that teachers who received layoff notices from the school board last month in Cape Breton, they are going to be desperately needed in years to come. You lay them off now, and in another year down the road we are going to have a teacher shortage on our hands.

If you listen to the teachers, as many as one-quarter of the province's teachers are now approaching retirement age. In Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, that figure jumps, 35 per cent of the current teachers there will be eligible for retirement in 2005. (Interruptions) There is the Minister of Health, again, with the number one excuse that the Tories use, blame the Liberals. Blame the Liberals. The Liberals did it. The same Minister of Health, who, in this Year of the Volunteer, the other day in this House, in Question Period, said, oh yes, we have a volunteer who is working on a problem down at Recovery House in Antigonish. We pay the volunteer $41,000 a year, by the way. His name is Cyril Reddy and he is the caucus liaison between caucus and Cabinet. Now, I am in Cabinet and the other guys and women are in caucus, but that caucus liaison hasn't bothered to tell me that he is down at Recovery House.

[Page 2611]

The only answer the minister had, was to stand up, blame the Liberals and say, that Liberal over there is wrong. Cyril Reddy lives in New Glasgow, not Truro. That is the only answer he had. He lives next to the mayor. Well, who cares where he lives? The fact of the matter is that this is exactly where this government is heading. This is exactly why the amendment is being proposed to get this to the Human Resources Committee because, pretty soon, it is not going to be the politicians who are making decisions over there, pretty soon it is going to be all the backroom boys who are going to be making the decisions. That is what is going to happen. It is going to be done in the Liquor Commission. It is going to be done on VLTs. It is going to be done everywhere.

I hate to bring up the two Georges again, but my colleague for Cape Breton The Lakes raised them first. What is the song in Cape Breton about the three Marys? Here and now there are two Georges and every time you say, two Georges, you can actually hear the hairs on the necks over there stand up.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, they are fine gentlemen.

MR. WILSON: I am sure they are fine gentlemen. Nobody says you can't be a fine gentleman and something else. I don't know where that is written. Mr. Speaker, it is exactly where we are heading with this government. This government is on self-destruct. It is only a matter of time that they are going to press the button. Only a matter of time, maybe tomorrow, it may be a couple of years from now when finally they decide to call an election again in this province. The people who they are not letting be heard are going to be the ones who finally say, now we will be heard. They will remember that, at several stages, or almost every stage throughout the government's tenure, that they could not be listened to. Nobody would listen to them.

Mr. Speaker, there are charities in this province by the hundreds; non-profit organizations that that government and, in particular, that Finance Minister and that Premier have not paid attention to. Now, these are non-profit organizations and charities that exist on very limited funding. These are charities and non-profit organizations that if you gave them $1,000 it would mean the very existence of that organization as to whether or not they could continue. The work they do is absolutely incredible. Pick a topic, pick a subject on what these organizations do, everything from volunteer firefighters to groups who go out and raise money to put supplies in schools; to groups who go out and raise money to supply the children of abused women with school supplies so they can have what they need during the school year.

Mr. Speaker, all of these groups were anxiously awaiting to get a very small piece of the pie. That is all they wanted. They were told by a Liberal Government - here comes number one on the list again, blame the Liberals, but in this case you can't blame the Liberals. One-half of the profits from the Sydney Casino, the charity casino in Sydney, were going to be given to non-profit organizations and charitable groups across this province. Lo

[Page 2612]

and behold what's the name of that song, along came John, slow talking John. If I could sing, I would sing it to you, but along came John, sweet talking John. Sweet talking John who said, we are here to save this province. We are here to be open and accountable. We are here to make this province better for the people of Nova Scotia and we are also here to take away the money from charities. Because that is exactly what happened.

[1:00 p.m.]

The applications were printed. The ads were run in the newspapers. The forms were being sent out and the charities were saying, we are finally going to get a little bit of money. Finally. But then the big bad Finance Minister, the big bad wolf came huffing and puffing and was going to blow down their door. That's exactly what he did. He blew down the straw house and he blew down the one made out sticks and he blew down the one made out of bricks. He said to all those people who could use that money, you're not getting it, I am taking it. Me, the Minister of Finance, the big guy. I am going to take that money from you and put it in my pocket. I am not even going to tell you where I am putting that money. It is only a little bit of money anyway, it is only $1-some million, you don't need that.

The Finance Minister knows this is true. He is pretty good with figures, somewhat, he's pretty good, he forgets about things like debts and that but he is pretty good with figures. He takes that and you calculate it over the years that have gone by and you will come up with an approximate figure of $3.8 million. This is $3.8 million that charities in this province could have had over the past little while.

Mr. Speaker, l know charities in my own riding that are about to fold because they don't have enough money, whether it is to pay the rent on their buildings or they don't have enough money to even exist. If you had offered them a couple of thousand dollars, let me tell you, they would be pretty happy right now and they would say, that's going to make the difference between whether or not we are here.

Let me give you an example, Mr. Speaker, an important example, the food bank, the Glace Bay Food Bank Society. The Glace Bay Food Bank Society serves hundreds of men, women and children on a weekly basis. It is unfortunate that we even have to have food banks in society these days, but without them, I don't know what those people would do. So there you have a very worthwhile charitable organization that exists on a limited amount of funding, in the first place it is not enough to exist on. They say, okay, we will be able to do a few other things and buy a few other items and maybe get some helpers in here with that limited amount of money that we are going to get but we will also be able to do a little more with the money we are going to get from the Sydney charity casino. They were expecting it. They were really looking forward to it, as a matter of fact, as a positive move. They deserved it.

[Page 2613]

They deserved it big time and they still deserve it but they are not going to get it. They are not going to get it because the big bad wolf came and blew down the door and blew down the house. Again, Mr. Speaker, every time you turn around the government says, well, it is not our fault, it is the Liberals' fault, they did it, blame them, blame them again and again and again, they don't really bother blaming the NDP but they blame us all the time because well, sometimes you just have to say it the way it is in this House and they don't blame the NDP because they weren't there, they will never be there and we were and we will be again. That's probably why they are blaming us all the time. They are scared we are coming back.

Back in the good old days and I hesitate to say, when I describe this, because, Mr. Speaker, this was left in a note for me and it says, back in the good old days of John Buchanan. Well, I can't in all honesty stand here and say that when John Buchanan was in power that was the good old days. That scares me. That scares me a lot. I remember the commercials, Honest Its John for Nova Scotia. I remember watching them and I remember hearing it time after time after time after time, we were inundated with those commercials. It is much the same as being inundated with that cliché that the other group over there is using these days you have to mean it first; in order to say it, you have to mean it.

Mr. Speaker, back in the days of John Buchanan, back in the pork barrel politic days of controlling everything for a few privileged friends - happy days they refer to them as - a lot of the Tories say those were the good old days, boy, let me tell you, those were the good old days when John and Don were here and we could appoint anybody and we could do anything we want. That is what they are aiming for again. Don't let anybody kid themselves. The public of Nova Scotia should not be under a false impression that this government is anywhere near a responsible government. This government is on a direct course, and they are taking aim to get back to the days of John Buchanan, back to those days when one person would be calling the shots for everything.

Mr. Speaker, there is a very good reason why this bill should be referred to the Human Resources Committee for further study. That, in itself, is a very good reason. Likely this bill, we won't see it referred to the Human Resources Committee because, if it happened, then that government would finally be willing to stand up and say, okay, we are open and accountable, and we will send this bill to the committee. I am afraid that we are heading back to the days in this province when the Civil Service Commission existed just to hire nothing more than friends of the Tories; that is all it existed for. It scares me. It scares me because I remember the many stories, that I read as a news reporter over the years, about Nova Scotia being the laughingstock of this nation. The laughingstock of this nation. This bill will give that government carte blanche to return to those days, and that is what scares me; that really scares me.

Mr. Speaker, one of the amendments under the bill, which we are looking to send to the Human Resources Committee, had to deal with the Liquor Control Act. Actually that is the lengthiest part of the bill itself, it deals mostly with the Liquor Control Act, and

[Page 2614]

restructures the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission and makes it into the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. We see amendments that allow the chair and the board of directors of that corporation to be appointed by Order in Council for terms and salaries to be determined by a Governor in Council. A general theme of all pieces of legislation brought in by this government is the degree to which details are left up to the Governor in Council, which enables government to change conditions and terms and remuneration without being accountable in the Legislature for doing so.

How can anyone not stand up and oppose such legislation? How can we not be here, doing what we do, and stand up and oppose that when it takes away the very powers that we are here to protect? We have committees and we have structure in this Legislature to ensure that that thing doesn't happen, but what is being proposed by the government is, indeed, we will go back to those good old days and we will do exactly that.

Mr. Speaker, there are so many things in this bill that need to be addressed and need to be changed, and it would certainly take more than the hour that I am being allotted to talk on it today. The reason why we are here, the motion is that this bill, the Government Restructuring (2001) Bill, be referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources. A lot of people will have a lot to say about that. I would dare say that, indeed, as I brought up in an example earlier, there were a number of people, a large group of people appeared before the Private and Local Bills Committee that I was on. I can give you an example of some people who would certainly be willing to appear before the Human Resources Committee; certainly that would be the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union.

I would make it a safe bet, Mr. Speaker, that the NSGEU would appear before the Human Resources Committee about government restructuring. I know because the president of the NSGEU has already written a letter to the minister responsible asking that Bill No. 20 be put on hold, because in the view of the NSGEU, that bill shouldn't be allowed to go any further in the Legislature, at least beyond second reading, until there is a full opportunity for public consultation. Those are the words of the president of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union. Joan Jessome is calling for full public consultation on this bill. This is a union that represents over 21,000 public sector employees. This bill could have an impact on almost every single member of that union, but it also has an impact on the services that they provide and it also has an impact on every Nova Scotian.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very wide-ranging piece of legislation and as I have mentioned, it deals with the functioning of government. There are more opinions that need to be heard before we can simply allow this government to say, well, this is the way it is going to be. We are going to do this and, if you don't like it, that is too bad. So what we are asking is, we are hoping this government would allow more time for this legislation, would allow more time for it to be heard and allow for more people to be heard on this matter.

[Page 2615]

Mr. Speaker, if there is one thing we don't need in this province it is more red tape.

We don't need more bureaucracy. We don't need bureaucrats who are created by the Tories and put there by the Tories to call the shots on their behalf. A shining example was the red tape task force last year, which, to this very day, I am still asking for people to tell me, on the government side, what did that red tape task force accomplish? Can anyone tell me what came out of that red tape task force and why they did what they did, why they were there, aside from the obvious, that the members probably had some very good trips during the summer.

By the way, Mr. Speaker, maybe your recollection is better than mine but, if I recall properly, there were no Opposition MLAs on that task force, which is another great example of open and accountable government. We will take a task force and we will send it around the province to hear from people, but we don't want anybody on the Opposition benches to be on that task force because if they heard a fairly good idea, they might bring it back to the Legislature and, Heaven forbid, they might propose it and we might have to agree with it. Although, as we have seen, and we are still seeing, that doesn't happen with this government.

Mr. Speaker, there are some things over the last few weeks which have come out of this government which have left a lot of people shaking their heads. They are not nodding their heads yes, like the Minister of Health. They are not nodding their heads, they are shaking their heads and saying, what is going on with this government? What are they doing? Where have we come, at what stage are we in Nova Scotia when our Minister of Education is glib enough to say to our school children, take your own toilet paper and soap to school. Where have we gone? Furthermore, what type of government, what type of leadership are we looking at when the members of the Cabinet and the Premier on that side of the House allow a Minister of Education to get away with that.

I haven't heard anybody on the government side stand up in this House and say the Minister of Education is sorry for saying that. She never really should have said it, it was the wrong thing to say and it was totally inappropriate and, by the way, maybe she should be ordered to stand up and apologize in this House.

[1:15 p.m.]

Those are more of the things that worry me about this government and worry me about a bill that will restructure government and we don't have enough details on it. We go back and we have been here in other sessions and we have said the same thing. We have absolutely no details unless we have gone to get them ourselves. We have found that information by digging and digging and by freedom of information requests and so on. We come up with information about that, but it is never been willingly given to us by government.

[Page 2616]

So, this is much the same. No details. It is smug. It is very smug of that government to sit there and think they can get away with this. If I look across the floor right now, it is there, that attitude is there, they don't care. We have been standing there for hours and hours on end as Opposition members and we will do that, we are quite willing to keep doing that. We have been bringing issues to this floor, and they sit back in their seats in that smugness and that glibness is there and if you are not careful it can really fire you up, because you look at it and you say, oh boy, they've got nerve, they've got arrogance. They sit there and they say, you are not going to get it through anyway, you are the Opposition. Keep us here as long as you want, we don't care, we are going to do what we want anyway. What do we have to listen to Nova Scotians for?

As I have reminded members on that side of the House before, not everybody voted to put them there. We are all elected members in this Legislature, not all of us came here with an overwhelming majority, including myself, to represent their constituencies. Whether you are elected by 1,500 votes or whether you are elected by drawing from a hat, it doesn't matter, you were still sent here to represent all of your constituents. All of them, no matter what their opinions, no matter what their political stripe, it doesn't matter; you represent them in this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, I suggest to you that that job isn't being done by a large number of members in this Legislature. They occupy the government side of this House. I forget who it was but another of my Opposition colleagues on this side of the House did refer to the fact that it is not unheard of and it is not wrong and it is not illegal and it is not against any rules in this House for a member of the backbench to stand up and speak in this House. They don't need the permission of the Premier, they don't need the permission of the House Leader and they certainly don't need the permission of the Speaker. They can get up on their feet and they can talk on this amendment and they can talk on bills and they can make their point. They would be making their point on behalf of their constituents. But you know, I have not witnessed that, as yet.

What I have seen from backbenchers over there is a number of silly little resolutions they want introduced because they want to get a certificate to send back to their constituents so they can appear to be doing their job, if that is their job. What I saw in this House the other day was one of the most unparliamentary things I have ever witnessed in my life, and that was for a member of that government to cross this floor and threaten me. To threaten me with the fact that a Private Member's Bill, that I introduced on behalf of my constituents to change the name of my riding, would be held up. I told that member and I told the honourable House Leader, if you are going to hold that over my head, we will sacrifice that name change. We will sacrifice it in the sake of democracy. I will say the same thing here today.

[Page 2617]

Mr. Speaker, it is another example, and this is from a backbencher, I don't know, Cabinet Ministers are the same, but I would imagine that they are taking their lessons from Cabinet Ministers, but it is an example of arrogance, an example of a government that thinks they can pull the strings on anybody they want to and that they are going to call the shots. If not, you are not getting something. I will hold that over your head.

Mr. Speaker, it didn't happen and it won't happen. I hope it doesn't happen again. As I said, I was sent here on behalf of my constituents to do the job, and that is one thing that everyone in my constituency has said has been a good thing. I know it is a Private Member's Bill and I know it can be turned down by one no vote and I understand that. But I don't think anybody on that side of the House or any other side of this House has the right to hold that over my head as a threat and think that just because I have a job to do as an Opposition MLA, that I am going to kowtow to those sorts of demands. It is not going to happen. It won't happen.

Mr. Speaker, the government is in control and that is what I am talking about here. Control is very much the theme of this bill and that was a prime example of trying to control people. It is not about government restructuring, it is exactly about control, control, control. They want to control us. They want to control Nova Scotians. They want to control the whole agenda.

Mr. Speaker, at this point, if I may, I would like to call for a quorum count?

MR. SPEAKER: There are 15 members in the House including yourself, so the quorum is accepted.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, it is one of the things that the government has to realize. I can count very well. Yes, indeed, I can. One of the things that you better realize over there is that you better sit in these Chambers and you better listen because you are not listening outside of these Chambers and, as Opposition MLAs, we will make you stay in your seats. We will make you sit there and we will make you listen, whether or not you like it or you don't agree. (Interruption)

I am not threatening you. I am making you a promise. I am making you a promise that we are doing our job on this side of the House, making you a promise and a promise to the people in our constituencies that we are going to hold your feet to the fire. You better believe it. We will hold your feet to the fire. We will make you do your job. Your job right now is to be over there paying attention.

Mr. Speaker, it is more arrogance. I don't know who these guys think they are fooling. I have no idea because they are certainly not fooling the people of Nova Scotia. You can see through them from a mile away. Again, all the backbenchers on that other side of the floor have all these cute little comments that they like to heckle because nobody can hear them on

[Page 2618]

the microphone, nobody can pick them up on the microphone. My microphone is on, so if all the backbenchers over there would like to stand up and say something and go on the record and be heard by their constituents, why don't they stand up and get their microphone turned on by the Speaker? My microphone is on and everything that I am saying is being heard and being recorded on the record. All the snide little comments from the backbenchers, the 18, the silence of the Hamms on the other side of the floor cannot be heard, and they all know that. They can't be heard by me. Oh well, they can, but they don't bother me. Sticks and stones will break my bones, names will never hurt me. (Interruption) Yes, Hamms will never hurt me, or Hammites, whatever you call them, termites.

Mr. Speaker, we can hear those comments on this side of the House, but the people who they represent can't hear them because they don't have the nerve to stand up and ask you to turn on their microphone and speak on behalf of their constituents. That is why we are asking that this bill be sent to a Committee on Human Resources, where the microphones will be on and where people can come and it will be on the record. That is what we are asking for. Let's start putting things on the record in this Legislature. We stand up and we have no problem putting them on the record at all, and we will stand by what we say. We will stand by everything that we put on the record in this Legislature, which is a heck of a lot more than you an say for government MLAs on that side.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of people in this province and, as I mentioned before, the biggest part of this bill is about liquor store employees, and they need to know what is going on, they need to know that it is not the beginning of a privatization drive in their workplace. This would give them the opportunity to come, as employees of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, soon to be the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, and it would give them a chance to tell the honourable Minister responsible for the administration of the Liquor Control Act, a chance to be responsible and listen to the employees and hear from them. We have heard their concerns before, and they are concerned about this, they are concerned about the direction the minister is heading with this.

I would think the minister would understand, because I know outside of this Chamber he is a reasonable person. I would think that he would understand that employees want to be heard, and that everyday Nova Scotians want to be heard. I can't understand, maybe it is something that happens when you become a minister, maybe it is something that happens when you walk through that door and you sit on that side, maybe it is the air on that side of the House, maybe it is draft from the window, maybe there are things falling from the ceiling, maybe there is just too much dust on those lights on that side of the House and it is falling down and it does something to them over there.

I can't get any other explanation.

AN HON. MEMBER: A dust-up.

[Page 2619]

MR. WILSON: I don't know, my colleagues says it is a dust-up, I don't know if that is proper or not. I don't know what happens when you are there. You don't listen; you don't pay attention. If you were a teacher in school, back in those good old days, back in the John Buchanan days, the good old days, if you were a teacher in school you would probably be telling a lot of those members to go sit in the corner - as they used to do, back in the so-called good old days - because they weren't paying attention. They are not paying attention, and they are not listening.

Mr. Speaker, let's not be naive here. I am about to make the understatement of the year. We are all politicians here and this is politics and it is a partisan business, but when you become partisan does it take away common sense, does that leave? Apparently it does. Common sense would tell you that what is being proposed here in this Government Restructuring (2001) Bill, common sense would tell you let the amendment go ahead, let it be taken to the Human Resources Committee, and let people come in and be heard and speak with their differing opinions. That would be common sense. That would tell you what to do.

Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely amazed at the lack of common sense that is on that side and the lack of interest, the lack of accountability, the lack of openness, and a total lack of concern on behalf of this Tory Government. It has actually blown me away, what I have seen that has gone on in the past number of years. In this case we are approaching two years in July, two long, hard years in Tory rule in this province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Only two more to go.

MR. WILSON: That is correct, Mr. Speaker, and not many more to go, because I am telling you, nobody is taking this, nobody in this province is sitting back and saying, what a great job they are doing, that they are doing a fantastic job of listening to Nova Scotians and listening to their concerns.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, if I may, how much time do I have remaining?

MR. SPEAKER: You have 13 minutes.

MR. WILSON: I was just about to use my best line, but I will save it to the last. I have many great lines and, again, if the backbenchers over there - who do that little job on heckling while they are over there doing other things - if they paid attention to what I have been saying, they would also know that they have an opportunity to get up and use some great lines. Again, they have not done that.

I am a former member of the media and I am proud of it, very proud of the time I spent in the broadcast media. Some of the members of the media have been saying - have been referring to this as kind of a silly season in this House, the fact that certain things are being done by certain silly members and we are all getting blamed for it. We are all getting blamed

[Page 2620]

that perhaps we just don't want to be here and perhaps we want to go home, perhaps we are not serious.

[1:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I can honestly say that anybody on this side of the floor who has stood up so far I have considered to be serious about what we are doing. I consider them to be very serious. When I see some of the tactics that have been used on that side of the House and some of the arrogance and smugness that has been used on that side of the House, I can stand here and say that they are not very serious about it. I can guarantee you that they want to get out of here. The government members want to get out of here because the government members don't want to sit around here and go through more things like Question Period. Why would they want to go through Question Period? They would be open and accountable, they would have to answer some questions. Although, in all of the question periods so far I can honestly stand here and say I haven't heard a Cabinet Minister answer a question yet.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I just want to remind the member, on Bill No. 20, an amendment with regard to referring this to the Human Resources Committee, I would ask that the member focus on that amendment.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East has the floor and has approximately a little over 10 minutes left.

MR. WILSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps all of the Cabinet Ministers should be referred to the Human Resources Committee, as well. If they were there then ordinary Nova Scotians would get up and be able to ask them questions. That is what is being asked for here in this amendment, that this be referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources so we can do exactly that, make them accountable. Make them accountable for what is being done in this province; make them accountable for what they say and for what they do. That is all we are asking for, because throughout the tenure so far of this government what we have seen is a great tendency to hide things. This is what is being proposed with government restructuring. There are going to be people outside this Legislature who are going to be given a tremendous amount of power and there are going to be more secret meetings. I have already mentioned one example of their caucus liaison, the Volunteer of the Year, who is now working on making things better at Recovery House.

There are going to be more examples of that, of people who will have tremendous amounts of power in terms of hiring, in terms of what goes on in government under this bill. That is very, very dangerous, it is extremely dangerous to go down that road right now. As a matter of fact I wouldn't even stray down that road. I would be very very careful because we have seen what has happened in the past. We have seen the abuses of power and we have seen debt loads skyrocket beyond believe that are still there that are going to have to be dealt with eventually. You know, they don't go away, those issues don't go away and Nova

[Page 2621]

Scotians realize that they are going to be around. I am scared because this bill will amend a series of Acts to conform to the government's new alignment of responsibilities and departments.

The Public Service Commission, in essence, is a hiring agency, if I am not mistaken. I am wondering if this means that hiring will be more suspect as a result of this change. I don't want to see us go down that road. I don't want to see us go back to the days when only friends of the government got jobs. I don't want to go there. As various human resources functions that are now being conducted in various departments, I am wondering what it means there, and will professionals in those human resource functions in the various departments who are doing the recommendations, only to have their decisions, maybe their decisions will be vetoed by the Public Service Commission. That worries me, because why would this government want to duplicate a hiring service, why would you want to do that? Think about it for a minute. You would want to do it so you have more control; you want more control on the front benches over there. You want more control for your friends.

You want to be able to hire who you want to hire because you aren't listening, you aren't paying attention. It isn't what Nova Scotians are telling you. Nova Scotians didn't tell you to go out and hire Cyril Reddy and pay him $41,000 to speak on behalf of your government. But I will tell you one thing, taxpayers' dollars are paying for Cyril Reddy. Those are taxpayers' dollars that you are paying him with to go out and do the job of a government department.

The Department of Health, the Minister of Health and all that expensive staff he has, can't do that job. The reason you want to do it is because you just want to smooth over a political brouhaha that may occur down at the recovery house, because you aren't doing what you told Nova Scotians you were going to do. You aren't taking care of the people in this province who need it the most. For that, Nova Scotians will remember.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned before, and again I am not keeping track. I am getting lost of how much time I have left here. I have about five or six minutes left, I believe, is that correct; five or six minutes left? Five minutes left. As a warning to my colleagues, I am not going to take the full hour. (Interruption) I am getting to that punchline in a minute. I knew you were waiting for it. You are absolutely going to love it; I have been looking for the appropriate place to use this punchline. I must tell you, and I know what you will say but it isn't original; I borrowed it from somewhere. We all stand up and speak in this House and have borrowed expressions or newspaper articles and excerpts from articles that we use, and we read and we pretend that they are our own, but I will be quite upfront with you, I borrowed this punchline.

I have said in the past that this government is on self-destruct and that eventually people are going to see you for what you actually are. There is a good show on TV these days; now, it's not a very popular show. I don't know why. (Interruptions) It kind of reminds

[Page 2622]

me of what I used to do for a living. It's not a very popular show and it may not make it through the ratings, but the cliché phrase on that show has become very popular these days. When I first heard it, I said, it applies to the Tory Government, it's perfect; it fits them to a T. It is: You are the weakest link, good-bye. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have an opportunity to rise to speak on the amendment that was moved by the Leader of our Party. I think the impact that this piece of legislation will have on accountability - or the lack of accountability - in this province would certainly mean that we should send this off to the Human Resources Committee for them to take a look at.

Before I get into rolling along very much, I want to take a look back at the speech by the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works when he introduced this piece of legislation. Mr. Speaker, I think his speech capsulizes what governments really have done over the past number of years. The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour had spoken about back to the 1930's and how this really is nothing new, and that successive governments have restructured in one way or another and basically not created anything original, and just flip-flopped back and forth changing the names of particular bodies so that it was an appearance of some greater vision, some greater accountability, and some greater control on the spending in the province.

I will pick a few statements made by the Government House Leader. He says "I am pleased to rise today to speak on Bill No. 20, An Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia. In March 2000, Premier John Hamm announced plans to make much-needed improvements in how we deliver programs and services to Nova Scotians. It was clear that we needed to better define government's role and to improve service delivery."

Well, Mr. Speaker, to define government's role and improve service delivery, if there is anything that Nova Scotians have gotten from this government it was not an improved service delivery; as a matter of fact they have higher costs and reduced service. The other day we heard tell of somewhere in the range of delays in 2,000 operations in the province. I had heard actually, constituents of mine have relayed three stories of people who actually got on the operating table and had to get off because they couldn't actually continue to prepare them for the operation; even to that point of getting them on the operating table before they realized there was no bed for them once they did the operation.

Actually, one of the people who had an operation, who was prepped, she said you're not sending me home. She said do the operation, I will go home afterwards. If you don't have a place for me, I will go, because what that meant to her, she was a single parent, she had to have somebody look after her children, she adjusted her workday, et cetera, and to her it was worth the risk to her health and to her family to have an operation that she was told she

[Page 2623]

needed, because to try to rejig her time schedule to do that some other point was just going to cost her too much. She was willing to risk her health to see that that was done.

The government doesn't seem to be willing to risk their own health to try to see if they could supply beds so that the people of Nova Scotia can get the treatment that they actually deserve. How is this bill going to improve service delivery, no one on that side of the floor has articulated that to me, Mr. Speaker, and they certainly haven't articulated it to the people of Nova Scotia.

Now, to continue, Mr. Speaker. "As you know . . .", says the honourable Government House Leader, ". . . around half of government program spending, some $2 billion, is actually spent by arm's-length agencies, boards, commissions and other organizations. Much of this money is probably well spent but that doesn't relieve the government of the responsibility to double-check that it is well spent . . . we must, on behalf of all taxpayers, make sure that they tell us how they are going to spend the money and what the results will be when they do."

Accountability. I agree with the Government House Leader that accountability definitely is what we need in government. But why isn't there any accountability in this bill? Why is it that when this government came into power the very first thing they did, Mr. Speaker, was to create another board? That was the board that was supposed to, under the right-to-farm legislation that was brought in by the Minister of Agriculture, the first thing they did was to create another board. Now this was a government that spoke about smaller government, less dollars to run government, and the first thing they did was create another board.

"This bill creates the internal infrastructure to monitor our spending through departments or third party agencies, boards and other organizations." Now, in one statement, he is saying that these are all at arm's length and the taxpayers want accountability and then, in the next statement, he says, the board creates the internal infrastructure to monitor spending through third party agencies, boards and other organizations.

[1:45 p.m.]

Well, you can't have it both ways. In one sentence he seems to condemn the present structure of government and in the next line it is endorsing the present structure of government. "The Treasury and Policy Board, a Cabinet committee, will be able to define government priorities with both financial and policy objectives considered together." A Cabinet committee. Well, a Cabinet committee is not at arm's length. A Cabinet committee is about as close as you can get to the executive of government. "The administrative unit that supports the Cabinet committee, also called the Treasury and Policy Board will coordinate and oversee the broader policies and plans of all of government." This is centralizing the

[Page 2624]

power of the government to a smaller group and actually not allowing input from the Legislature or from the public at large.

I would say that in the case of a majority government, the Human Resources Committee, we would understand, the majority of the members on it are going to be Tories. So whatever they are going to do, they are going to get their way anyway. The difference is, at least they have to spell that out to the public because there are Opposition members on the committee. Even though we know the government is going to get its own way in the Human Resources Committee, Mr. Speaker, they at least have to go to the public, in a sense, and let the public know what it is they are doing. (Interruption)

I heard the Minister of Community of Services say, like the Law Amendments Committee. The minister is right. He is absolutely right that anyone who has concerns about this piece of legislation from the public can go to the Law Amendments Committee and they can state their concerns. But what the Minister of Community Service is not emphasizing here is that the government has a majority. Having people come before Law Amendments is not a guarantee that this piece of legislation is going to change. There are a lot of people in Nova Scotia who can't get to Halifax. What it means, in a facade of accountability and a facade of openness, is that what we are going to tell people is that we are going to take away some of your rights to comment on the things that we do. We are going to be able to run government without giving you all the information that we need, but we are going to tell you that first and then we are going to make the decisions because we have a majority and we can run this bill through the House and then once we have it, we don't have to come back to you with anything.

Mr. Speaker, I know I have said it before in this House and I probably will say it again, but it is the legislation that government puts forward and passes that really identifies who they are. It doesn't matter what you say during campaigns. It doesn't matter who you run into on the doorsteps and how you try and promote your case during election campaigns. It doesn't matter what you say after election campaigns when you try to put your spin on that legislation. But when the legislation comes forward and you are promoting and supporting it, that identifies your agenda. I have to say that I have to admire the tenacity of the government to keep coming back to try to keep their agenda hidden, try to keep information away from the public and anything that they backed away from previously will show up again. They are consistent.

The message is consistent. The approach differs from time to time, but the message is consistent. We saw this when we had the battle over the 911 fees, they came back. We see it now in this bill over the privatization of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. This may not be complete privatization of the Liquor Commission, but it is a step toward that. I have to say that there can be no grey area any more as to what this government is up to or how determined they are to achieve their agenda and I would have to say, if I were a member of the government that had a majority, then we would work toward our agenda as well. I would

[Page 2625]

like to think that the agenda we worked toward would be the same one we campaigned on. That is not what this government is doing.

To quote the Government House Leader, "It will set the policy framework for responsive and accountable human resource management and it will undertake an ordered function." Well, I think I have been here long enough to know that you can make pretty near anything sound good. What the minister is saying and what he is doing in his legislation are two different things. Some of what the bill will do, or some of the things the government has already done, the restructuring in some departments - for example in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Some things that we see, the Nova Scotia Business Inc. where the individuals who are appointed to that corporation are - and some will argue that these people are all people with good credentials and I would say that they may be right, the problem with those appointments and with the structure of Nova Scotia Business Inc. is that they can appoint their replacements. That doesn't come back to the Legislature and that is a mistake. There is no accountability for the distribution of the taxpayers' dollars that they will have power to hand out by individuals who are not in some way picked through the committee process or the legislative process in this House.

Therefore, the government has stacked Nova Scotia Business Inc. with people who are close to them and they will replace themselves with people who are close to them and no accountability for the taxpayers' dollars in this province. Now, the one thing we see throughout the Government House Leader's speech is accountability, accountability and there is none found in this piece of legislation.

Even if we talk for a second about the Public Service Commission which is to be created, this falls directly in line with other things that the government has done. District health boards, the Agriculture Development Institute, here we create a structure that will deal with taxpayers' dollars and they will make decisions based on the dollars that are allocated to them. Yet, whenever they can't do what they are mandated to do, the government will say, that is not us. We don't make those decisions. The district health authorities make those decisions or the Agriculture Development Institute makes those decisions, or the school boards make those decisions. We don't make those decisions. But we are the ones who give the funding. The government gives the funding to all of these authorities and boards and institutes, but yet, takes no responsibility for how they impact the lives of Nova Scotians because of the decisions they have to make, based on the lack of funding that they have to

properly run those boards or authorities.

Mr. Speaker, the question is whether or not Nova Scotians will buy this. I hope not. I certainly hope that when members of both of the Opposition Parties rise in this House that they will be able to send a message to Nova Scotians, a message the government is not sending, and that is that more and more of the taxpayers' resources are being put in the hands of people who were not elected. There is no accountability for the spending of those dollars, and no one to account for the lack of service provided to taxpayers.

[Page 2626]

Mr. Speaker, if you are going to restructure government, we would assume that it would be done to the benefit of Nova Scotians. If we were to think for a second, why do we have government at all. If there was no government in this province then what would the lives of the citizens be like? We would have to say that it would be survival of the fittest, that we would think that those who have access to the greatest amount of resources would control those resources and hold the rest of Nova Scotians hostage who wanted or needed those resources.

Mr. Speaker, right off the bat, the first thing that we would think the responsibility for government would be is to have an equitable distribution of resources for its citizens, item number one. Do we find that there are a lot of people in this province who want to be involved in government at any level; municipal, provincial or federal? There is not. If we look at the size of the population, there just isn't a significant number of people who want to bother spending their lives doing this. But, they like to think that the people who are put in the House of Assembly to represent them will actually do that, will actually make decisions that make the lives of their families better. If they don't make decisions that make their families' lives better, at least they don't make decisions that make the lives of some families better and not everyone. In other words, that they don't use their power in government to improve the lives of a certain lot in the province and cause disparity to others.

Mr. Speaker, actually, that is what we see in this province. We see the government make decisions that actually benefit their friends and those close to government, rather than benefit all Nova Scotians as a whole. I can't say that I can delve into the actual philosophy that any members opposite have, but I will tell you what I think. What I think is that members opposite think that if they can create an environment for a certain element of society, those who are usually the best off, those who already have the most power, those who already have the greatest access to resources, which is usually the business community, by taking care of those people, everybody else will be taken care of because there will be a trickling down of resources at other levels.

Mr. Speaker, a great idea if it worked. But it doesn't work. People have shown time and time again throughout the history of this world that those with power take advantage of those without and they use them to benefit themselves. Actually, that is one of the reasons that people left Europe to come here, to get away from that, a class system where they could never benefit their families. They came here because there was some element of freedom that you could improve yourself over time, but here we are in the year 2001 and our government hasn't come very far in improving the lives of its citizens.

[2:00 p.m.]

Actually, those improvements that had been made in the social way for the citizens of this province - and the members opposite will say, well, it wasn't by you because you have never been in government, but it was because of the attention of this Party and other groups,

[Page 2627]

left-wing groups that are concerned about the welfare of people who don't have access to a lot of resources, that has shifted the agenda so that governments have to be responsible to those people. That's why we are here, to make the government think about its agenda and the fact that it has a responsibility to all people in the province.

Mr. Speaker, I would say that all taxpayers would be in favour of less bureaucracy. They would like to be able to pick up the phone or e-mail, or whatever they do, to contact any department and get a service and have that happen efficiently, quickly and at the least cost. But what we see in this province is we have our bureaucracy cut to the point that we don't deliver any services to our people, or we deliver them poorly for the same tax dollars - actually more tax dollars. User fees, we are somewhere in the range between user fees and taxes of over $100 million. That comes directly out of the pockets of Nova Scotians. What are they getting for those dollars? They are getting absolutely nothing. They aren't getting the services that they were paying for before they contributed that $100 million.

During the estimates debate, the Government House Leader talked about the fact that the Civil Service in this province has less than 20 individuals under 30 years old. Now, I'm not sure - I forget the number he said - I though he said 6,000 civil servants in this province, less than 20 of them are under 30 years old. Is that even conceivable that anyone could run a government, run the bureaucracy of a government, provide services and knowing that your most experienced people are soon going to be gone, and have taken no steps, over time, to ensure that we have a capable Civil Service, that we have younger people coming along, being trained to replace those who have to leave. That's what we have done in this province.

We have cut the guts out of the Civil Service, we can't expect them to deliver any services, they don't have the manpower to do it and they are quickly going to lose their expertise because there are no new people coming in to be trained to take over that job.

They have been the whipping post for successive governments. They blamed this massive bureaucracy, they blamed bureaucrats who they say they don't know what they are doing. Since I have been in this House, actually since 1999, the big thing I heard when this government came in and they were going to make the cuts to the Department of Agriculture, they actually had people out there believing that the people in the Department of Agriculture weren't doing anything, that they had no benefit, there was no relationship to the people in those offices to the farmers out on the ground in this province. Do you know how they did that? I will tell you how they did that. What we had for years was a Department of Agriculture that really had people who went out to meet the farmers, to offer services to them

to help them grow their operations, and that was successful. What happened was that we were able to grow a number of operations, and usually those in supply management that had secure price structures, and the milk industry comes most easily to my mind. Some of those operations grew so large they actually didn't need the staff at the Department of Agriculture, especially the Extension Services as much, they had grown beyond it.

[Page 2628]

I had this argument with two of my constituents, both of whom have quite large dairy operations. One of them made the case that it was difficult for the agriculture sector to complain much because of the cuts to health care. The other member in that argument said well, you know, at one time our dairy operation was a small operation and we required the expertise of the Department of Agriculture to help us and we used them extensively. They allowed for our operation to grow and it grew to the point where we didn't need them as much. But what about the people who have commodities that are not supply managed? They have no secure price structure, they are always on the margin, a narrow margin that they operate on, on the border of going bankrupt, and other operations that are new, that don't have a lot of expertise; the growing of hemp for example, in this province.

If you are going to get rid of what should be new expertise in the province simply because there is not a lot of producers of that, how do you generate those producers? How do you make use of new markets? These are the types of things where the Department of Agriculture should have a vision for the province, they should be looking over the hill wondering what is coming over the horizon, being there ahead of the industry and saying we have the people; going out in the field and saying have you considered this?

The thing that I notice about farmers is that they don't have a lot of time on their hands. If you are going to go and talk to farmers, you have two options. You had better be willing to hop on a tractor when you go and do it, or you are going to have to get them late at night, because while there is daylight they are working. So to have competent, professional people who are accessible to them was important. For about $1 million, which is what it finally amounted to when all the cutting and slashing was done in the department, you lost more than you gained and so did that industry. Now if there is supposed to be some element of accountability from this government for doing what they did with the Department of Agriculture and then combining that with Fisheries, the people of Nova Scotia don't know where it is; they haven't seen it.

How does this bill to restructure government offer us any vision for the future? It offers none. What it does is a replay of what has already been done by successive governments over the years. There is nothing new here that Nova Scotians can look up to and think, my God, these guys are actually looking to the future. It won't happen with this piece of legislation. It takes a step back in time; it removes accountability; it removes the ability of the Opposition actually to ask as many questions as they should about what it is that the government is doing, and of course that would be part of the reason for doing it.

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, raised a couple of concerns; as a matter of fact they are really significant worries about some of the things that this bill does. Actually, it makes me think that opposing this bill more strenuously is probably to the benefit of all Nova Scotians. If we look at Clause 41, it gives the executive the power to enter into an agreement with any person or corporation to do anything under their mandate. Mr. Speaker, this clause allows the government to privatize.

[Page 2629]

Now, we tried during the debate on the Health Authorities Act and one of the amendments that we offered for the minister was to put in writing that they wouldn't privatize health care. The minister wouldn't agree. Now, actually, maybe this is something the members of the Liberal caucus might want to reflect on, the fact that we didn't get any amendments. The Third Party didn't have any amendments for the Health Authorities Act. We had a number of them. Our present Leader of the Party and our Health Critic, at the time, as well, had negotiated with the minister's staff, had arranged a number of amendments for the Health Authorities Act, but the Liberals talked out the time and we never got to make any amendments.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West stepped outside the Chamber to the media. When they asked him what it was he was trying to do, he said, we stood tall. How you can be so low and stand so tall, I don't know, Mr. Speaker. Because what he did, in one fell swoop, was he took away an opportunity for Nova Scotians to have amendments to the Health Authorities Act that would have improved that Act. I can lay practically all the blame at the feet of the member for Cape Breton West, and I do that. But I also have to lay a little at the minister's feet because the minister had every opportunity, then and since, to bring about those same amendments to the Act and didn't do it. He might say, tough, that is politics, we are in power. But we thought he negotiated those amendments in good faith and that he really, sincerely intended to allow us to bring those amendments forward.

Now in my twisted, perverted logic that has occurred since I have come to this House, I wondered if actually the Minister or Health and the member for Lunenburg West hadn't agreed upon that anyway, that it was never going to happen. If the minister was sincere in allowing those amendments, then he could have brought them in himself. The question of privatization, he wouldn't agree to at that time and we see that coming back to haunt us in this piece of legislation again.

AN HON. MEMBER: Trying to get it through the back door.

MR. MACDONELL: Trying to get it through the back door. Now, Mr. Speaker, it would be nice, considering that the government has a lot more resources at its disposal than the Opposition Parties, if they would make use of some of those resources to come up with something that actually turned out to benefit Nova Scotians. Because this piece of legislation doesn't do that. The question is, why doesn't it? If you are going to restructure the government, why don't you do it in a way that actually improves the lives of the people who put you here. This piece of legislation only improves the ability of the government to hide more of what it does from the Opposition and, therefore, from Nova Scotians, generally.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that is not why they are here. They are here to try to deliver to Nova Scotians the vision that they campaigned on, or the vision that Nova Scotians think they campaigned on to improve their lives for themselves, for their children and to create opportunities for the future. We haven't seen any of that since 1999. When the Minister of

[Page 2630]

Education says, bring your own toilet paper to students, what kind of a vision do we have for education in this province? We have a scary one. We don't see anything by way of changes in improving curriculum or what other jurisdictions are doing to move the education of their children forward.

[2:15 p.m.]

When the Premier said to the Opposition, ferret it out, that's what we have done, Mr. Speaker. It appears by this piece of legislation that they are nailing the door shut for accountability and information for Nova Scotians. So not only is the Premier telling us to ferret it out but he is making it more impossible all the time for us to do that. For a government that campaigned on being open and accountable, this has become a no-account government for sure.

So what is it that we would like to see, Mr. Speaker? We would like to see a restructuring of government that is done in a way that actually offers something new to Nova Scotians. My colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto talked about the things that members opposite talk about, that the phrases that seem to spin well with the media, the types of things that they say that actually are not trimmed out with any amount of information, no depth to them when we talk about things like sustainability: sustainability of resources, sustainability of the economy. Do you have a plan to generate that? Not a word. Yet, we will bring out a bill that tends to restructure government that doesn't change government in any way.

I can't believe that the government can be so blatant in its disregard for the people of Nova Scotia. I mean even the fact that you have a majority gives you the power to do what you want to do. So why you would think you need to hide what you have to do from Nova Scotians is the extra last step that it would take in order to bring about an agenda that you are hoping Nova Scotians won't find out about before you go to the polls the next time. I would say that if you were to pick any agenda of this government, the number one agenda is to get re-elected in the next election. To try to convince Nova Scotians that you have actually offered them something when they know they are getting a reduced amount of service and being taxed more for it, paying significantly more. Then to have the audacity to offer a tax break to Nova Scotians with their own money, to bribe people with their own dollars. To think how hard Nova Scotians worked to get those dollars.

The Minister of Transportation and Public Works tabled in this House what I think was supposed to be strategy for highways, a 10 year need. The minister talked in this House in late debate and I thought he spoke well about the conditions of the roads in Nova Scotia. He talked about a 10 year plan; $3 billion over 10 years. I was really interested to see that, Mr. Speaker. I was actually optimistic in the fact that the minister recognized the need. I certainly have roads in my riding and I can think of three right now: the East Uniacke Road, Highway No. 1 through Mount Uniacke, and the Kennetcook Woods, Route 354, that are appallingly

[Page 2631]

bad roads. I was really hoping that in this, I would find some hope for those people who travel those roads every day. There is nothing there. (Interruptions) The fact that the government recognizes the need, any Nova Scotian could recognize the need, what they wanted the government to do was act on it. Seventy million dollars is what the province is going to spend for a $300 million problem this year. (Interruptions)

The member for Sackville-Beaver Bank is saying that Highway No. 1 was paved. It was paved to the entrance of Uniacke House. (Interruptions) No, it was to the entrance of the Uniacke House, to the Uniacke Mines Road. From there to Lakelands, which was the worst section of Highway No. 1. That road is the section that if the government wanted to pave, you might as well pave the worst section first and that was the one they didn't pave.

Mr. Speaker, the members opposite - I am not sure, especially the backbenchers of that Party - when they go to their constituencies, I don't know what it is they tell their constituents they do. I wonder if their constituents ever say to them, why are you there? When my constituents ask me why I am here, I tell them, to hold the government accountable, to be a voice for the people in my constituency. I don't hear any voices from that side of the House. I have wondered what has happened in those constituencies.

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I want to point out to the honourable member that it is not possible for this government or any government to pave every single road in the province all at once. I will say this, that the member opposite will know very well that there have been more roads paved in his part of Mount Uniacke, in that riding that he represents, since this government came to power than in the last 20 years. The member would acknowledge that, I am sure of that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order, it is more of an editorial comment on the roads out in the honourable member's constituency. The honourable member is certainly welcome to respond the editorial comment, if he feels . . .

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I would really appreciate it if the member would table his information that would show that. I would say that if the member is acknowledging that I have been able to get pavement in my riding, he is right. That is the reason I am here. That is the reason I am here, for my constituents. (Interruptions)

What I am saying is not just my riding, but there are lots of ridings that could definitely use more. My riding did get some pavement at the very first of my coming into office, and that was pavement done to try to save the Liberal MLA who was there before me. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: What was his name anyway? He was just here for a second. He was here for a mere blink.

[Page 2632]

MR. MACDONELL: To his benefit, I say thank you, for sure. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, because of the implications of this piece of legislation and because of the - I would say, if for no other clause, certainly - one that allows for privatization, that is reason enough for this piece of legislation to go back to the Human Resources Committee, so that they can have input into the effect of this piece of legislation, and hopefully change the piece of legislation so it actually benefits Nova Scotians.

My colleague, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour made a statement the other day, throw a rock into a pack of dogs and if one howls, you hit one. I guess my earlier comments hit one. (Interruptions) Hound for punishment, at the least.

Mr. Speaker, what we see in the bill, what we have seen in the honourable Government House Leader's speech that introduced second reading for this bill, has been so close to being the same in the sense that the speech talks about accountability, but the bill doesn't deliver accountability. The speech talks about arm's-length groups having more authority, but then it talks about a Cabinet committee in the restructuring. What we have seen is a bill that is basically a reincarnation of previous pieces of legislation from previous governments, but we have never actually seen in any of those governments, anything that allowed for more accountability for the taxpayer.

If there is a reason for all of the cuts that Nova Scotians have been told to bear since 1993, and there have been lots of them, and most of them have occurred since 1999, then it should be for better government. It should be for a better delivery of service and it certainly should be an equal amount of service for an equal amount of dollars. What they are getting is less service for a greater cost.

That is one of the flaws and one of the problems with this government, that it has delivered so little at so great a cost. I certainly hope that Nova Scotians will bear this in mind come the next election, that they won't be bribed with their own money, that they will remember the fact that the schools have been dirty, that there have been questions of health concerns, and that they won't blame that entirely on the school boards. They will actually look to the government and their agenda for the cutbacks that they have made to education and lay the responsibility of that clearly at the feet of the government. The same thing applies in health; the same thing applies in agriculture; the same thing applies in community services; that people are getting far less and paying far more to this government for an agenda that really is only to cater to a small part of the population in this province. I will not be supporting this piece of legislation and, with that, I will take my seat and allow another member to speak.

[Page 2633]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable the member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: I am pleased to rise today to speak on the motion that is at hand. I want to compliment the previous speaker. I understand he spoke well about agriculture and how this government has basically lost sight of agriculture in the Province of Nova Scotia. I think of the fact that they ran on a rural vote and the first thing they do is they kick the pants off the farmers. They are so busy fighting farmers instead of fighting for farmers. It is really frustrating, as a member of an agricultural community, to hear what is going on. I welcome the opportunity today to speak on the amendment to refer the bill to the Standing Committee on Human Resources for consideration.

Control is very much the theme of this bill and that is very much the theme of the Progressive Conservative Government as I have seen in the past; control, power, the authority to be able to manipulate and control the political wing of the Party. They don't have the ability to control the issues of a long-term plan for the Province of Nova Scotia; they don't have control of the ability to set in motion an economic strategy for the Province of Nova Scotia that will work; they don't have the ability to control a plan for education in the Province of Nova Scotia; nor do they have the control of putting a plan in place specifically for health. Above all, they do not have a real control on a fiscal plan for the Province of Nova Scotia.

A prime example of that is that recently, when the Minister of Finance had a windfall of $249 million additional revenue last year and blew his opportunity to put the province into balance. This is the same minister that has had in excess of $0.5 billion in less that 24 months come to the coffers of the Province of Nova Scotia and still has yet to find full balance. And this is the minister who has trumped up the numbers by throwing in everything from the kitchen sink, even areas such as Sysco where not $1.00 has been spent, it is still part of adding to the operating deficit of the Province of Nova Scotia, for which he has so many times tried to blame other ministers in the past.

That is why having this bill go back to the Human Resources Committee for consideration, could ask the good Minister of Finance about the reality of those numbers. It seems to me that Sysco was around when he was a Cabinet Minister under the Buchanan era. Another one of his colleagues, on the front benches, was also around for some 18 years while Sysco was in place in the Province of Nova Scotia, for which large sums of debt accrued to the Province of Nova Scotia, that he and his colleagues were responsible for in the Province of Nova Scotia.

As I indicated, this is a government that very much likes to control some aspects of the political side, because they can't control the management, that has been evident by their last 18 years in government. It is going to be even more evident by the fact that this government is out of control in some areas already, as we speak. They do like the good old days, the good old days of John Buchanan. The good old days when, if you were a Tory, you got appointed

[Page 2634]

to a board, if you were a Tory and you were prepared to pay into the coffers of the Tory fold, you were given plum jobs and plum positions, and if you were the good old boys of the Tory Regime, you were given all sorts of wink, wink, nod, nod, contracts. Do you remember those? If you were a good old boy of the Tory Regimes, you were a winner.

I wonder how many IOUs they have out there that they, in this particular bill, will be able to look after, before the next provincial election. I wonder how many IOUs they have out there for giving jobs and contracts and giving benefits to the Tory fold, and it is all being done through the back door of Bill No. 20, a bill that allows for control and manipulation by this government that so often professes itself to be transparent and open. (Interruptions)

The Minister of Finance is now preaching to his backbenchers about the good old days of the Tory Regime, I am sure, the gold old days of pork-barrel politics and controlling every move within the political sphere of appointments and commissions and boards and jobs for the Tory - the so-called, happy days are here again. Do you remember that, happy days are here again in the Tory Regime. That is why we are saying that that cancerous approach to politics is wrong, that cancerous approach, that draconian approach, that old person's approach, that demented approach of politics is wrong. That is the way they want to build the future of the Province of Nova Scotia, on the backs of hard-working Nova Scotians, only to benefit the few Tory backroom supporters who have gotten them where they are today.

I say shame on the government for coming up with a bill that talks about establishing control, and we will talk about that during this debate. That is why we think that the Human Resources Committee would be the more appropriate committee. I notice in one of the first moves, the Minister of Health established all these extra boards. This is a government that talks about fiscal restraint, this is a government, I can understand those words, I grew up with that, I was taught that. I had a couple of businesses that learned that.

Oh, another demonstration, Mr. Speaker, another demonstration. Another number of Nova Scotians (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. The members of the gallery will not be able to continue to speak out, they are not allowed to make any demonstrations. If they do, they will be asked to leave. (Interruptions)

Order. All right. Would the Pages ask the people who are speaking up in the gallery to leave please. (Interruptions)

Order. All right. The House is recessed.

[2:36 p.m. The House recessed.]

[Page 2635]

[2:43 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable members, the House will reconvene and I would like to begin by recognizing the honourable member for Halifax Fairview on an introduction.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for Halifax Chebucto, I am very pleased to welcome to the House today, eight Grade 8 students from Cornwallis Junior High School, along with their chaperones, Susan Wilson and Debra Frank and I hope the House will give them a warm welcome as they receive a lesson in democracy in this House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, indeed. Welcome to our guests in the gallery. We trust you will enjoy your stay this afternoon.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to welcome the students in the audience in the west gallery and others that are here today. We are talking about Bill No. 20 and that it should be referred to the Human Resources Committee for consideration. We have asked for that. We support that initiative simply because this bill has such wide impacts on all of the governings of the Province of Nova Scotia, that I don't think most of us understand the true implication of this Bill No. 20. There are a lot of hidden agendas in Bill No. 20. There are a lot of personal, political agendas, I believe, in Bill No. 20, that this government has got there for one reason and one reason only and that is for them to be able to do what they want, anytime they want, with a simple OIC.

Many of the things that they have got in here that they can establish, pay people, privatize, do whatever they want through an Order in Council and that is wrong. Many of those initiatives should be dealt with on the floor of the Legislative Assembly. We need to have time to talk. We need to have time to discuss the issues of what these wide-ranging pieces of legislation can have in regard to the functioning of government itself. We need time to consult. Remember, this is a government that has said, time and time again - before they got in power - we will be the government that will consult with Nova Scotians. We will make sure that Nova Scotians feel that they have a voice in our government. We are the Party that will make time to go and discuss with Nova Scotians what is going on. We are the Party that will bring out issues in legislation to allow Nova Scotians to be consulted.

[2:45 p.m.]

I brought a bill in today talking about going around the province and talking about the tax structure in the Province of Nova Scotia, to consult with Nova Scotians, involving representatives of the labour movement, representatives from all Parties, the Conservative

[Page 2636]

Party, the NDP and the Liberal Party, and a representative of the chamber of commerce, a group of five to go around the Province of Nova Scotia to consult Nova Scotians on what is going on in the area of taxation.

Of course, we brought up the issue of how this government, through bracket creep, is grabbing an additional $12-plus million out of the pockets of hard-working Nova Scotians, and how that is unfair because Nova Scotians do not realize that they are being taxed additional tax on them every day that they work. Shame on this government. The Minister of Finance has the opportunity to do something about it. That was the same legislation back in 1986 that Brian Mulroney brought in; now, under Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, they have relinquished that and most of the provinces - many other provinces in this country - have accepted that and all of them, I believe, have flown through the tax reductions, as well as eliminated the bracket creep.

AN HON. MEMBER: Except Nova Scotia.

MR. DOWNE: Well, Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada that not only kept bracket creep, but did not flow through the tax reduction measures that other provinces did.

We asked the government today, and I hope that the minister and the government will be sympathetic to understand that the bill I brought forward was a bill to go around to consult, not to increase taxes; that is the only caveat that we have. We aren't asking him to reduce taxes, we are simply asking the good Minister of Finance to freeze the tax structure so that working Nova Scotians can have a little more money in their pockets instead of having this government grab it from them. Do you realize families earning between $15,000 and $30,000 will be taxed an additional $2 million this year. Can you imagine a family on $15,000 to $20,000 trying to survive today in Nova Scotia? Yet this government is grabbing $2 million out of their pockets in additional taxes because of this regressive taxation regime that is in place.

The people outside, they know; that's why you have a demonstration out here today. They are saying to this government that promised Nova Scotians they would consult, they are out there saying, we want you to consult, we want to be part of that process, we want you to be open, we want you to be accountable, and we want you to be transparent. Allow the proper time to show what Bill No. 20 is all about. Give Nova Scotians and the labour movement of this province an opportunity to feel that they can trust this government and trust the moves they are trying to make.

They reject it every time. They reject the people of Nova Scotia, they reject the workers of Nova Scotia, they reject the Civil Service of Nova Scotia and they reject the workers within the government structure of Nova Scotia; all because they don't want Nova Scotians to have an opportunity to see what their plan truly is. They don't want Nova Scotians to understand that they do have a plan, and that the plan could very well be a plan to eliminate

[Page 2637]

jobs without proper consultation and involvement of the workers of the Province of Nova Scotia. That is why NSGEU and others are saying to this government, listen to what we are saying, listen to what we are asking. All we are doing is simply requesting some time to properly consult.

This government is going through, at this time, a number of contract negotiations and they are coming up over the next number of months, the summer before us right now, that's why we have some strikes. The reality is the working public of Nova Scotia that are affiliated with government are scared, they are frustrated and they are mad and determined to let this government know they will not put up with it forever. They are simply saying, be honest with us, talk with us, share with us, show us what you want to do in the future, show us what you are trying to establish, allow us to have an opportunity to share in the decisions and the future of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Is that too much to ask of a government that is led by a doctor who said during the election campaign, we will consult and we heard it in this House, we will be a government that will be open, we will be a government that will share, we are the most open government in Nova Scotia, we will be this transparent Government of Nova Scotia. You know, that is why we have a demonstration outside the doors of this great Chamber today, because they have not lived up to their promises to Nova Scotians. They have not fulfilled the mandate of their promise and commitment to Nova Scotians. They are a government that said, this is what we are telling you now, but my gosh watch out later on. That is why we in the Opposition are merely here to bring out the facts of what is going on, whether it is to do with the budget or Bill No. 20. That is why the New Democrats are here and that is why the Liberals are here, because we are wanting to make sure that these guys are accountable. (Interruptions)

There is the backdoor man over there, standing up guarding the door, the exit door man. The only thing he is good for is blocking the sunlight as it comes through that door. (Laughter) I tell you, if he had any backbone at all, he would have been up there fighting for the people who are screaming outside because they are people in his own constituency who are asking for an opportunity to have a voice in this bill and he is too ashamed of himself to even be able to speak on this matter. He stands in his place, not sitting in his place, he stands doing nothing but putting his hands in his pockets, shame on that member.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Order, please. Honourable member back to the amendment please.

MR. DOWNE: Back to the amendment of allowing this bill to be put to the Human Resources Committee for consideration. I ask the members opposite, the Progressive Conservative Party of the Province of Nova Scotia to consider the fact that what people are saying not only on this side of the House, in the gallery and outside, give us some time to

[Page 2638]

understand what it is that you are trying to do. Allow us an opportunity to have a voice. Allow us an opportunity to be involved in the process.

Isn't that what democracy is supposed to be about? Isn't that what you said, this government said, we are going to be doing for Nova Scotians, showing them true democracy? Instead, I think what you are saying is we are the ones with the stick, we have the majority of votes, we have the majority of power and, Nova Scotians, we are not really caring what you have to say right now because we are in power. We are going to govern the way we want to govern and by gosh at the end of the day we will do something for you, we will kind of kiss up to you a little bit later on, but right now this is the game that we are going to run with. Maybe that is what their strategy is, but I think that the people outside are saying we are not happy with that strategy, we are not happy with that.

We are headed back to the day when the Civil Service Commission existed to hire Tory friends. I talked about the issue of control and in many ways it is control of being able to hire individuals. Nova Scotia was the laughingstock of this country, of this nation, between 1978 and 1993. I remember that they get up and they do their thing, they do their dance and their rant and their rave, but let us be factual, when that government took office back in 1978 the total debt of the Province of Nova Scotia was $500 million, that was from confederation to 1978. Well, when the Tories left power - and the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works were part of that government - the reality is that we were close to $8 billion and in fact since this Minister of Finance has been in place, the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia has grown by $2 billion. Last year, $1.3 billion alone and yet this minister gets up and he criticizes everybody else but himself.

This is a government that wants to blame everybody but themselves, it doesn't matter what it is. If it is an educational issue, blame the students, blame the teachers, blame the boards. If it is health care, blame nurses, blame the doctors, blame the patients, blame the hospitals and blame the boards.

Never, never do they have enough strength to stand up and say, my gosh, I have failed as Minister of Health, I made a mistake and I am here to apologize to Nova Scotians; or I have made a mistake in Education and I am here to apologize to Nova Scotia; or with the Minister of Finance, I apologize for robbing $12 million to $14 million out of the pockets of Nova Scotians, working Nova Scotians, each and every year I am in power, and that is cascading up, notwithstanding the issues of user fees and new taxes.

Why don't they stand up and apologize to Nova Scotians? They would never do that, because they are scared to. They are scared to apologize. They would rather listen to this rant outside, because these people are mad. They would rather that. They think they are doing their job, wanting to get everybody mad in the Province of Nova Scotia. I don't know. This is a government, they talk about a $1.3 billion growth in the debt last year. That is about $3.5 million a day, each and every day they have been in power in the last fiscal year. The debt

[Page 2639]

of the Province of Nova Scotia is going to continue to grow, it is going to continue to grow, not only this year, not only next year, but to the year 2007, even though they talk about surpluses in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Yet, they bring in the Government Restructuring (2001) Bill, Bill No. 20, so that these people who are working for government might be very well privatized down the road. That is what people are concerned about. Are we talking about privatizing government? Are we talking about downsizing further? Are we talking about the total restructuring? I don't know. I think the people of Nova Scotia are asking very basic questions. What are their futures? What can they count on? Can you give me any kind of a road map of what we can expect?

These are professional, hard-working individuals, people who care about Nova Scotia. They care about the future of Nova Scotia, and they want to add to the benefits of Nova Scotia. They want to be a part of the success of Nova Scotia. Yet they cannot even get basic questions answered, and that is why they are here today, requesting this government to take a few more days to walk through and talk about what this bill is all about, to have input by the individual workers of the Province of Nova Scotia, just to make sure that we can do this together, to build a future that is built on a foundation that will sustain itself, a foundation that is built on the pillars of trust and the pillars of respect, on the pillars of true democracy, on the pillars of a compassionate government willing to show themselves as being a leader who cares about people, a leader who cares about not only the fiscal line of the Province of Nova Scotia, for which they have yet to show 100 per cent, but also to show the fact that this government cares about the future of this province in a positive way.

I have yet to see this government come to that realization and that reality. I have yet to see them raise themselves and raise the bar to that level of integrity by a government. I have yet to see them stand here before us, today, and speak in regard to the reasons why they should go forward with this bill. Let us know why you want this bill to be fast-tracked through this House. Why aren't you allowing some time for people to be involved in the process?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if the honourable member for Lunenburg West would move adjournment of the debate?

MR. DOWNE: Yes, I would, seeing we are at the hour of closure, be happy to adjourn the debate.

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

The motion is carried.]

[Page 2640]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again at 2:00 p.m. on Monday. The House will sit from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading. We will be moving into Committee of the Whole House on Bills, probably on Tuesday.

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

[The House rose at 3:00 p.m.]

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NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 915

By: Ms. Maureen MacDonald (Halifax Needham)

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

Whereas the Atlantic Canada's Planet Entrepreneur Awards were held on Friday, April 27th in Moncton, New Brunswick; and

Whereas these awards are presented by the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development (CEED) to outstanding young entrepreneurs throughout Atlantic Canada for their inspiring and innovative works; and

Whereas this year's winners include: from Halifax, Jason McGrath, founder of KLJ Computers and winner of the Entrepreneurship and Technology Award; from Halifax, Cara Hazelton, owner of The Inside Edge Skating Supplies, winner of the Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award and Service Excellence Award; from Dartmouth, Scott McKellar, Supporter of Young Entrepreneurs Award; and from Sydney, Chris Cameron (17) and Jeff Ellis (16) for Summer Blades Hockey League, winners of the Youth Entrepreneurial Skills (YES) Award;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all those who won Atlantic Canada's Planet Entrepreneur Awards in their respective categories and thank them for their contribution to the growth of a strong entrepreneurial environment in the province.

RESOLUTION NO. 916

By: Hon. Gordon Balser (Minister of Economic Development)

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

Whereas the Forum for Young Canadians was established in 1975 as an initiative to promote communication and understanding and to date there are over 10,000 forum alumni across Canada who have learned that they can make a difference to our country; and

Whereas Stephanie Barr and Peter Mitchell were nominated by the Facility of the Weymouth Consolidated School to attend the Forum for Young Canadians in Ottawa during the recent March Break; and

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Whereas these community-minded organizations and businesses - MacAlpine Auto, Hinterland Adventures, Weymouth IGA, DRS Fire Hall; WCHS Student's Council, Weymouth Branch of the Royal Bank, Clare Mutual Insurance, Weymouth Legion, Weymouth Church of Christ, Lewis Sawmill, Digby Superstore, Weymouth Bridge Publications, Glendon Barr and Sons Fur Farm, Mullen's Fur Farm, Weymouth Pharmasave and Weymouth Foodland - financially supported these delegates to the forum;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the efforts of these individuals in promoting this opportunity for our youth and the delegates for their participation in this worthwhile event.

RESOLUTION NO. 917

By: Hon. Gordon Balser (Minister of Economic Development)

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

Whereas Digby General Hospital Auxiliary, established in 1925 as the Ladies Hospital Aide, has been in operation for 76 years and the present enrollment of 26 has in the last year contributed approximately 1,500 volunteer hours; and

Whereas this group has led by example and influence by demonstrating their strong commitment to the betterment of others through their continued support of the hospital and the hospital staff, thereby providing a link with the community; and

Whereas at the 15th Annual Atlantic Region Awards for Philanthropy banquet held April 26, 2001 at the Westin Nova Scotia in Halifax sponsored The Society of Fund Raising Executives, the Digby General Hospital Auxiliary was presented with the Outstanding Philanthropic Group Award which recognizes outstanding community support by a group;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the continuing efforts of this incredible group of concerned citizens and recognize their invaluable contribution to their community.