The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., May 8, 2001

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HALIFAX, TUESDAY, MAY 8, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that occupational health and safety is not a priority of this Tory Government and that workplace safety is being compromised as a result.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

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MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of close to 500 residents of the Middle River area. I will read the heading on it, "We, the undersigned, strongly urge the Minister of Transportation and the Government of the province of Nova Scotia to replace, as soon as possible, the bridge that spans the Middle River (locally known as Danny Neil's Bridge), joining the westside of Middle River to the Cabot Trail. The collapse of this bridge has affected, not only the daily lives of the people and the businesses of this community, but it has also seriously compromised the effectiveness of the delivery of health and fire-fighting services to the residents of this community in Victoria County." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition consisting of 15 names. The petition was collected by Dr. Tom Crawford and is calling for more bone densitometers for Nova Scotia. It is addressed to the Minister of Health and states, "this issue must become a top priority for your government. This ounce of prevention could end up saving our province a pound of nursing home and other medical costs in the future." I have affixed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 960

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

Whereas today is International Red Cross/Red Crescent Day, celebrating the basis for the movement which was to bring aid to the wounded in time of war; and

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Whereas today society volunteers respond to human suffering in communities around the world, bringing assistance to vulnerable people by promoting humanitarian principles and values, disaster response, disaster preparedness, and health and care in the community; and

Whereas the goals of the Red Cross are peaceful, its workers often toil in the midst of unrest and danger, none so tragic as the recent slaying of six of its employess in northeast Congo as they travelled to deliver medicine and supplies;

Therefore be it resolved that on this day members of this House recognize the tireless and selfless efforts by millions of Red Cross/Red Crescent volunteers in countries around the world and honour the memories of those volunteers killed during the delivery of that humanitarian 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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 961

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 Premier issued a May 8th news release in which he personally encourages Nova Scotians to find out what is happening in their communities and have fun; and

Whereas the Premier extols the well known virtues of physical exercise in his news release; and

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Whereas Whitney Pier residents know what is happening in their community, extreme levels of arsenic and other poisons around playing fields and yards where children played, with his government's tacit encouragement;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should extend his concern for personal health and physical fitness to Nova Scotians in Whitney Pier, who were left in the dark and left without a lifeline by this government.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 962

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

Whereas the St. Joseph's Council of the Catholic Women's League in Sydney are calling upon the Government of Nova Scotia to recommend to all Atlantic Provinces that funding be provided for the establishment of an expanded pediatric bone marrow unit at the IWK; and

Whereas the QE II Health Sciences Centre has an adult bone marrow transplant unit, however, some youth and most children are referred to other areas of Canada, mainly Toronto; and

Whereas bone marrow replacement greatly improves the lifespan and quality of life of cancer patients, including the 1 in 333 children affected by cancer in Atlantic Canada;

Therefore be it resolved the members of this House urge the Government of Nova Scotia to work with all Atlantic Canada Governments towards the establishment of an expanded Atlantic Canada pediatric bone marrow transplant unit at the IWK.

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. 963

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

Whereas being on the receiving end of kind and generous acts is like riding a bicycle, it's something you never forget; and

Whereas Ken Eastman and Dave Graves remember certain simple joys of childhood and are making these memories possible for children who could so easily miss out; and

Whereas these owners of Kentville's Bike Shop are putting old bicycles to good use by fixing them up and donating them to their local Big Brothers-Big Sisters Association;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Ken Eastman and Dave Graves for their goodwill and thank them for contributing to happy and healthy lives for children in need.

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.

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RESOLUTION NO. 964

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

Whereas Nova Scotian students are known for their many creative talents; and

Whereas students from R.B. Dickey and E.B. Chandler Schools in Cumberland County were encouraged to write stories and poems as part of the Cumberland Literacy Initiative; and

Whereas the Tantramar Theatre Society took on a project for Cumberland Literacy Initiative and turned these students' stories into a play;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates the students of R.B. Dickey and E.B. Chandler Schools, members of the Tantramar Theatre Society and the various funding agencies on a successful literacy project through the Cumberland Literacy Initiative.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 965

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

Whereas on February 28th, a Department of Transportation and Public Works snow plow destroyed the Church Bridge in Middle River; and

Whereas the minister says he won't repair the bridge anytime soon because it is not a serious inconvenience for residents; and

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Whereas this morning, I tabled a petition signed by almost 500 residents who indeed believe the loss of the bridge is more than an inconvenience;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works take the concerns of these 500 residents seriously and immediately put the bridge back in working order.

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 966

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

Whereas on Sunday, May 6th, citizens of all ages gathered in Lake Echo to celebrate Community Flag Day; and

Whereas this day was an opportunity for various volunteer organizations, local churches, school choir, youth and seniors' groups and other community service and recreation clubs to proudly fly their colours and hang their respective banners in the foyer of the Lake Echo Community Centre; and

[12:15 p.m.]

Whereas events such as this foster and nurture a sense of civic pride and community duty through volunteerism, especially in the year 2001, the International Year of the Volunteer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly applaud and congratulate the organizers and facilitators of Community Flag Day, the Lake Echo Community Board and the Lake Echo Lions Club and thank them for their commitment to their community.

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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. 967

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

Whereas the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program, or DARE, provides students with a knowledge base on the effects of drug abuse that go beyond the physical ramifications and extends to emotional, social and economic aspects of life; and

Whereas DARE builds decision-making and problem-solving skills and strategies to help students make informed decisions and resist drug use, peer pressure, and violence, and provides students with alternatives to drug use; and

Whereas Colby Village Elementary School's Grade 6 students will celebrate the completion of their Project DARE Program on May 31st;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Principal Barb Coady, Grade 6 teachers Graham Pierce, Jim Marshall and Christine Nickerson, RCMP Constable Joe Taplin, and all the Grade 6 students at Colby Village Road Elementary School on their innovative Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 968

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's nurses are the lowest paid in the country; and

Whereas without nurses it is impossible to provide excellent health care in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Minister of Health suggests that our nurses should be willing to accept very low salaries for the privilege of living in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this government realize the value of our nurses and guarantee them not only a nice, scenic place to live, but a salary worthy of their talents.

I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 969

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

Whereas last Sunday, the Lismore Community Centre was alive with the sounds of the fiddle; and

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Whereas the master himself, Buddy MacMaster, along with members of the acclaimed Pictou County Oldtime Fiddlers, played to the audience's delight; and

Whereas this celebration of music was also a fundraiser to assist young fiddle students attend the Gaelic College this summer;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the many organizers of this very successful event on their aim to further the talents of the next generation of fiddlers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour on an introduction.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, we are delighted today to have in our gallery three distinguished guests from outside the country. The first one is David Perkins, he is a waste management specialist from New Zealand, who is here to learn a little bit about what we are doing with our residential organic waste management in Nova Scotia. (Interruptions) Yes, he is going to be seeing New Era. With him are Richard Nicoletti, from a U.S. firm, and his partner Paul Gormsen. I would ask the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome the special visitors to the gallery today.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 970

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the visitors, we have much to learn, I can tell you, yet, on that topic.

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

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Whereas area residents throughout the growing constituency of Timberlea-Prospect have conscientiously collected the signatures of homeowners on petitions requesting paving; and

Whereas the residents of Three Brooks Drive and White Sands Court in the community of Hubley have submitted these petitions for attention to their roads; and

Whereas these taxpayers have agreed to pay their share of this road paving;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works state clearly for these residents when their roads will be paved.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 971

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

Whereas the member for Kings North has said, politicians of all stripes are masters of saying little while talking too much; and

Whereas fortunately for the member for Kings North, he does not speak to any substantive issues at all, especially when it comes to bills introduced by his own government in this House lest he be accused of talking too much; and

Whereas, in fact, the only useful function that member provides is to show up for votes that ram legislation through the House and to support government policies like the removal of $3.8 million from charities;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Kings North is a politician, that he should be reminded that Tories govern for Tories, not for the benefit of humanity and if the member had a conscience he would say something substantive about government policy rather than espousing mindless drivel more worthy of an amateur debating society than a democratic body.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

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RESOLUTION NO. 972

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

Whereas a child whose parents take an interest in their schooling is likely to do well and schools whose community members participate actively will be strong; and

Whereas the Sheet Harbour Consolidated School is growing with the help of its Parent-Teacher Association and their supporter, Michael Coady, who does his part every year by playing a role in the PTA's annual dance and auction fundraiser; and

Whereas this Watt Section man is the auctioneer and all around entertainer for the event and helps raise thousands of dollars as well as people's interest;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Michael Coady for his support of the Sheet Harbour PTA and thank him and all the community-minded people like him for taking an active part in the success of their schools.

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 Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 973

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

Whereas yesterday federal Conservative Leader Joe Clark called upon the federal government to act with the provinces and territories to establish enforceable national drinking water standards that would be enshrined in a safe water Act; and

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Whereas Liberal Senator Jerahmiel Grafstein has called for water to be protected under the federal Food and Drug Act; and

Whereas the NDP has long called for implementing comprehensive enforceable and understandable standards for water quality;

Therefore be it resolved that this House express its full support for the call by federal Conservative Leader Joe Clark for a federal safe water Act regulating national drinking water standards.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 974

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

Whereas the St. Louis Catholic Women's League of Louisdale, Richmond County, is calling on the government to cover the cost of arthritis drugs; and

Whereas the CWL points out that arthritis is the most common cause of long-term disability in Canada, afflicting over 130,000 Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the group also points out that every province, except P.E.I. and Nova Scotia, provide full coverage for the cost of the drugs Celebrex and Vioxx;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health take seriously the concerns of the CWL and direct the provincial formulary to review these two drugs with consideration providing full coverage for the cost in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 975

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

Whereas the RCMP's Spurs & Stetsons Clubs in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick recently held their Challenge Cup for young people at Camp Aldershot in Kentville; and

Whereas this event for these 76 youths between the ages of 14 to 18 involved a first aid drill, a written exam as well as crime scene investigation and area search; and

Whereas the winners of this year's Challenge Cup were the members of the New Minas Spurs and Stetsons who were sponsored by the Kings detachment of the RCMP;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all the participants of this year's Challenge Cup, especially the winning New Minas Spurs and Stetsons and their RCMP sponsors at the Kings detachment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

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RESOLUTION NO. 976

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

Whereas the Town of Truro experiences some form of flooding on an annual basis and has even received emergency relief in previous years; and

Whereas Truro received 53.4 millimetres of rain in 18 hours on the last weekend in April, causing widespread flooding and great concern for local business persons and homeowners; and

Whereas Carl Shaw, Emergency Measures Co-ordinator for the County of Colchester, was relieved that the county did not have to implement a disaster plan;

Therefore be it resolved that this government act now to provide the infrastructure necessary in Truro and other communities in Nova Scotia, such as Shubenacadie, with chronic flooding problems, so that disaster relief plans aren't in the news in the spring of 2002.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I head a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 977

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

Whereas the Premier stated that while attending the Offshore Technology Conference he would be lobbying top executives at Exxon Mobil to obtain more significant benefits for Nova Scotia in the Tier II development; and

Whereas it is the primary task of the Premier to negotiate the best possible benefits for Nova Scotia; and

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Whereas the Premier failed in his commitment to Nova Scotians when Exxon Mobil refused to promise greater benefits for Nova Scotians in the Sable project's second phase;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier explain to this House how his government plans to negotiate a better deal for Nova Scotians in the offshore industry.

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 Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 978

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

Whereas more than 200 volunteers, young and old, give freely of their time and love to Glen Haven Manor; and

Whereas Glen Haven Manor held its Volunteer Appreciation Night to salute these volunteers who lend the facility a helping hand and who give their affection to the residents who live there; and

Whereas the large number of volunteers speaks highly of Glen Haven Manor and speaks volumes of the esteem the people of Pictou County hold for their elders;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the volunteers of Glen Haven Manor for their kind services, and applaud Glen Haven Manor for welcoming so many volunteers and the care they bring.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2803]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 979

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

Whereas May is Hearing and Speech Awareness month; and

Whereas over 100,000 Nova Scotians face daily challenges in speaking, hearing, understanding and expressing language; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres provide hearing and speech services to all citizens across the province at 25 locations;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize those individuals faced with communication challenges and commend the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres for their dedication to helping people deal successfully with these difficulties.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 980

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

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Whereas the Minister responsible for the administration of the Liquor Control Act seems to be planning to allow liquor to be sold on Sundays; and

Whereas this would represent a major policy shift here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this is the government that promised to be open and accountable, it seems odd that they haven't asked what Nova Scotians think;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister be chastised by the House for not consulting with Nova Scotians before considering such an important policy decision.

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 Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 981

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

Whereas competitive sports are an excellent way for children to become physically active and to learn the value of sportsmanship; and

Whereas the Lunenburg Minor Hockey Association recognizes good sports at their annual awards night; and

Whereas junior players, Murray Merhi, Josh Mosher and Drew Oxner were recognized as good sports at this year's awards;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly commend Murray, Josh and Drew on their sportsmanlike conduct throughout the year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 982

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

Whereas the month of May has been recognized as Gaelic Awareness Month in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the quest for Scottish heritage has brought people from all over the world to study in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Shawn McDaniel, originally from Oklahoma and a third-year Celtic studies student at St. Francis Xavier University, is the winner of this year's Fr. John MacGillivray Gaelic Summer Scholarship to Scotland;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Shawn McDaniel on his scholastic achievements at St. F.X. University, and wish him every success in his studies in Scotland.

[12:30 p.m.]

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.

[Page 2806]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 983

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

Whereas Cub Steven Laureijs of Stellarton has accomplished what few Cubs do and earned his 56th Cub badge, the most any Cub can receive; and

Whereas Steven made it his personal goal to collect all the badges, and applied himself to various tasks like crafts, carpentry, cooking and sports; and

Whereas this Grade 5 student at G.R. Saunders Elementary School has proven that when he sets his sights on a challenge he can succeed;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Steven for above-average efforts, and for inspiring other children to set goals and work hard to reach them.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 984

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

Whereas the nine remaining survivors from the Halifax Explosion have been receiving compensation from Ottawa, from a $40 million fund started after the 1917 explosion; and

[Page 2807]

Whereas the survivors have not received an increase in their pensions since Veterans Affairs began to administer the fund in 1994; and

Whereas on Friday, May 4th, after much lobbying and pressure from various groups, organizations and the pensioners themselves, the federal government finally announced they would lift the freeze;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud these explosion survivors for fighting for the restoration of regular increases to their pension benefits, and commend them for their contribution to the historical significance of our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 985

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

Whereas Nova Scotia Business Inc., a Crown Corporation created to stimulate economic development opportunities throughout Nova Scotia, appointed its first Board of Directors on May 27th of this year, and selected its Chairman, Dan Potter, on April 25, 2001; and

Whereas Brian Pleet, incoming President of Information Technology Industry Alliance of Nova Scotia, recently described Nova Scotia Business Inc. as "a good piece of work to try to focus the efforts of the government in sustainable economic development"; and

Whereas Mr. Pleet praised Nova Scotia's Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Ron L'Esperance, for going out of his way to help Nova Scotia's business community with their economic development issues and concerns;

[Page 2808]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the great value and importance of Nova Scotia Business Inc. in developing Nova Scotia's resources and expanding the vast economic potential of the province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. We are just about to go into Oral Questions Put By Members. There are a number of ministers missing on the front benches. We know of only one who asked to be out of the House during Question Period. We have some questions for the Minister of Education and the Premier. Could we take a short recess to see if we can find these people? Are they going to be here today? (Interruptions) We have at least five ministers out of their seats.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is unacceptable.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: And that is not acceptable, Mr. Government House Leader. Are they going to be here, or what?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I was just asking the question, are we finished Notices of Motion? (Interruptions) Oh, we are.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am not sure if there any more Notices of Motion.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, none on this side, and we support the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Any more Notices of Motion on the government side? (Interruptions) No.

The honourable Government House Leader, any idea how long we could recess for to wait for these ministers to arrive?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would think about five minutes. They are very close. (Interruptions)

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MR. SPEAKER: We will recess for approximately five minutes. We will ring the bells when the ministers arrive.

[12:35 p.m. The House recessed.]

[1:08 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on Bill No. 20 be now resumed. (Interruptions)

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Just for formality's sake, we have to have it on the order paper. I believe that you are requesting permission to revert to that and that Question Period will resume because we wouldn't want to miss the opportunity, I am sure the government members wouldn't have missed Question Period.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. For the information of the Liberal Party House Leader, the honourable Government House Leader has made a motion that we revert to second reading of Bill No. 20 and at the arrival of the appropriate people, we will then revert back to Question Period. Is that correct?

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

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

MR. SPEAKER: Last evening we left off with the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: How much time, Mr. Speaker? (Interruptions)

[Page 2810]

Mr. Speaker, you know I didn't expect to be rising so early today to speak on this (Interruption) Well, the Minister of Justice says it is a pleasure.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have a captive audience.

MR. CORBETT: One of my colleagues says it is a captive audience, Mr. Speaker. While it is somewhat humorous, it is somewhat sad in the same sense that the people's House is locked down like this. You know it probably speaks a lot about this bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's a good thing that we are here.

MR. CORBETT: It is a good thing that we are here, Mr. Speaker, because it speaks about this whole idea of being inclusive, right? I mean whether you agree with what these protestors have to say, it is their House and I think they have a certain right to say it and I would think with the frustration levels, with the lockdown, if you want to refer to it as that, it may have some aspects of inciting this.

That being that, I want to talk about referral of this bill to the Human Resources Committee because there are many things in this bill that should be aired. Now I spoke last night at some length about the aspect of WCB and the lack of anything substantial in the Cape Breton economy and Nova Scotia Business Inc. but I am going to go back a bit to the Cape Breton economy. There has been a major restructuring, as the government says, in its bill here yet one of the things that is not mentioned in this is a major problem that is going on within, I would say, the second largest area of this province - and that is industrial Cape Breton - because in their talk of restructuring, there are really no new kinds of initiatives, if you will, to help that economy. I think there is a responsibility there that the government must play.

Now one could make a small argument for the government and say well, they are, by way of Nova Scotia Business Inc.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I think when we look at that we realize with the size of that board and only one person from Cape Breton is on that board and that the very people who would have applied for that board that didn't even get called to that board, but they went out and solicited this name. I know, in talking in estimates with the minister, he said, yes, they did solicit this individual. So, right away, the legitimacy of that person on that board is questioned. It comes back, I guess, to the Human Resources Committee, because if that is an open process and we can get these back to there and vet these things, as opposed to merely stating, we set up an agency and we are going to go up and do this.

That is not being very inclusive, Mr. Speaker. It is not the type of process that we should be concerned about here. What we should be doing is airing this out. As the minister said, this legislation is only going to deal with changes that have already taken place, to

[Page 2811]

reflect the changes in governmental departments. Well, if that was the fact, then I think a vast majority of this bill can be just chopped off and just go forward to recognize various government departments, such as Environment and Labour, that they are one and recognize that and move on. But we are looking at wholesale changes in many departments.

Many of the people who are directly affected by these changes, the people who work for the Province of Nova Scotia, have not had a chance to look at this. They do not understand or do not know, because the government didn't include them in what the impact to changing Nova Scotia Liquor Commission into Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation is going to have on their employment status, Mr. Speaker. Is this the thin edge of the wedge? Are we now going to see many things privatized?

We just saw today in this House, Mr. Speaker, people from New Zealand and the United States in here talking about waste management. Are we looking at privatizing more things within the Department of Environment and Labour? We are in a crisis in parts of this country over potable water. We have problems today, as we speak, in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. We have the federal government and, indeed, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party nationally in this country, saying that there should be a national safe drinking water policy, which my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, put a resolution in today and it was unanimously accepted that we support this effort.

So we are worried about when you accept that, what does this bill have to do with agencies such as the Department of Environment and Labour, who, I would submit, along with the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, that they would have a role to play in providing and making sure that our groundwater is safe and for those who consume it, that it is being kept to standards and, indeed, that there be national standard, as there is in the United States, Mr. Speaker.

[1:15 p.m.]

This arose, I believe, in the United States from the early 1980's when there was a breakout, I believe, in the Milwaukee area, Mr. Speaker. They have a much larger and comprehensive safe drinking water policy and legislation in the United States than we have here in Canada. So, while that may seem to some to be far afield, what it is when you have such a large bill as Bill No. 20, we really don't know what is in it. If we had time to take this to the Human Resources Committee and see the total impact of this bill then, certainly, again, there would be time for us to vet that if there are things in here that wouldn't allow the Department of Environment and Labour to enter into such an agreement.

We are here speaking in terms of what this legislation means today. I want to go over some ground of last night, Mr. Speaker, and tell my colleagues who may have missed it last night. It wouldn't be the first time that we got out of this House and found out that a piece of legislation from this government means something entirely different. We talked about the

[Page 2812]

municipal affairs Act last year, and we get out of the House and what do we find when we get out of the House, it is putting a pressure on municipalities over taxation and right away of the pipeline. That was hidden in that bill.

Let's look at the health authorities Act. (Interruption) What about the community participation aspect of that Act, Mr. Speaker? That is certainly not there. Now we look at another bill, again, these large bills that this government is becoming famous for. I go back to the Sysco sale and the impact of the environment. That is something they are going to spend a bit more time on because, again, I think the Human Resources Committee would best understand this.

There are many protesters growing up over the fact of what is going on in the Whitney Pier area and, in particular, Hankard and Laurier Streets, because this government, in a tripartite way, have signed on to be part of the agreement with the Joint Action Group. Now, this group goes out and takes its leadership from the grassroots.

Quite honestly, Mr. Speaker, if I am allowed to stray for just a moment on this, this group is certainly representative of a new way of doing things. Truly, it is a ground-level, ground-zero, community-based type of action group that is supposed to be responsive from the bottom-up instead of top-down. I think with areas especially around the environment one has to worry about children, and whether your children are New Democratic children or Tory children, it shouldn't care. Maybe other people are more partisan than myself but I truly think it is - even if you are from Port Hood.

Mr. Speaker, I want to get on again about the Joint Action Group because this group went out and after years of probably battling for recognition within its own community has grown and has become respected. There are people within Cape Breton who would say that that formula is not working, it is taking too long. Well, you know, these people are kind of looking at erring on the side of caution. Again, as I have said in previous statements in this House, there is not everything that the Joint Action Group does that I agree with, but I don't ever disagree with, by and large, the volunteer group's motives and their motive is to clean up that toxic waste site. Here is where we hit a hitch, because that group unanimously approved that the people north of the coke ovens area should be removed from where they live until further testing is done. But what the minister responsible has said is, no, no, no, we are going to do more study.

Mr. Speaker, I find this perplexing because here is a government and a minister, in particular, who says, yes, there may be health risks, but we are willing to study it. We are willing to allow these people to stay in arsenic-contaminated soil and study it. We don't know how long that is going to take. But the same government, when we say to them, take this bill, it is not going to be injurious to this government's health, put it to the Human Resources Committee and study it and allow it to be exposed, if you will, to other eyes and other thoughts in this province and allow them to see it. The government says, no.

[Page 2813]

So it is a really perplexing message we are getting here, that if you are living north of the coke ovens and you may be economically depressed in an economically depressed area and you know there are toxins in your own household, seeping in your basement, it is all right for you to stay there for an indeterminable amount of time, because the government has never said the testing will take one week, two weeks, two months, two years. They don't agree with that. They don't want to move them. They want to leave them there.

On the other hand, we can't afford to allow regular Nova Scotians to see what is in this bill, to dissect it and go forward and say, okay, this is really representative of what is good for Nova Scotia. Let's move forward. Let's pass this bill and get on to the various stages, Mr. Speaker, get on to governing the province, if you will. But, no, this government doesn't want to do that. So we are left in the lurch again. So that is one example.

Another example, Mr. Speaker, is this government went to some expense last year to send this red tape commission around the province. It was semi-purported to be representative of the province, but it wasn't. It was a government task force by government members only. There were no Opposition members on this red tape task force, just government members. That was it. This very one-sided task force went around and had various hearings and came back with a lot of huff and puff, but really no results. They came back and said a few things around Sunday shopping. What it was, it was like a lot of . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: It would make them feel important, though.

MR. CORBETT: To be kind, I think they weren't very definitive on what they wanted to do. It was make-work project for the backbenchers, Mr. Speaker, clearly. This is a proposal, an amendment. This referral to committee would allow all Nova Scotians to sit in and give an opinion. It would allow all political Parties an opportunity to get involved, not a heavy-handed, one-Party approach to economic development, as this red tape commission purported itself to be. It was not representative of Nova Scotians. We couldn't get out and get it. Yet, it was for their own edification that they did this and not, I would submit, for the reality of helping Nova Scotians. This is an offer, truly, if they want to go to see if Nova Scotians agree with this direction they want to take the province and kind of reinventing government, then it would work out for their benefit.

So, Mr. Speaker, why, after those two short examples, wouldn't this government want to give this bill - and it is, again, quite often referred to as an omnibus-style bill - hearing right across the province? Why wouldn't it? There is nothing to hide. The minister himself has said that all he wants this bill to do is to bring in line what has already happened. That is the prerogative of the government, certainly. So why doesn't the minister do that, step to the table and say look, these are the amendments and this is how we are going to operate this bill? But, no, he doesn't.

[Page 2814]

I want to go through some of the other things that I believe that by giving this bill a clear airing through the Human Resources Committee, what it would mean. One of the worst problems we see with this bill, it opens up the doors of patronage, Mr. Speaker. Patronage, as we well know, is still alive and well in this province. We know that and I don't know if we are ever going to slay the head of that dragon but what happens is it is making it worse again.

It is going back to the days of, I guess you remember, Mr. Speaker, when days after the election, if government changed hands, everybody was let go from the Department of Highways and everyone was let go at the liquor store. Then whatever Party was in power, their people came back to work in those jobs. I would submit to you that that is not a healthy way to run a province, it is not a healthy way to inspire the economy. I believe with giving power into one ministry's hands, that this becomes a fact that you have, what I think some people in this House refer to as a patronage czar. So what you have is one minister who everything can filter through.

I think, again for the people who weren't here last night, Mr. Speaker, because of various commitments, it is interesting to say because I think last night I spoke in terms of what went on at the WCB where Reg Allen was the Executive Director there and he ran it, one could say, I think, almost ran it into the ground. He was largely responsible, I would submit to you, as the architect of the unfunded liability. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North, reminds me of his stellar performance in an economic way at the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission, which you know we are still paying off in Deutschmarks, that splendid piece of financing.

Mr. Speaker, these are the types of things we have to worry about. We saw the protest today and we saw that these two groups, the school board and NSUPE, they seem to be escalating instead of calming down. We have a Ministry of Environment and Labour willing to sit on the sidelines and let this go on. They seem to be kind of just abdicating their role in this. You have a minister here who will not get involved. I wonder, is his hesitation to get involved, is it something in this bill that says, here we are going to put a labour czar in place and we are going to be able to go out and get ourselves involved in a third Party type of way and be heavy-handed and be seen as overly supportive of one side of the dispute over the other. I wonder about that. I wonder what is in this bill, where is it going to impact?

We are just trying to start to feel our way with DHAs, district health authorities. Mr. Speaker, how is this bill going to impact on the DHAs? There is some concern out there. There is concern about some of the involvement of the boards and what this bill really is going to mean because people haven't had time to dissect it. What about teachers and people in the education field? How is this going to impact on collective bargaining for teachers? How is it going to impact on professional development for teachers if one group, if one ministry has this omnipotent type of authority? That causes me great concern.

[Page 2815]

[1:30 p.m.]

A lot of these problems could be eased. A lot of these fears would be eased, I believe, if the government would give this bill fair hearing. It is certainly from my estimation, not doing so. It is not giving the bill the fair, honest and open type of hearing that it would get in the Human Resources Committee. We have a sitting date here that could end next week, could end the end of May, could end the end of June - could go right to the fall, I don't know. We, as an Opposition don't control the business of this House, it is the Government House Leader and the government. It just so happens that is the same individual who will be responsible for running all the aspects that come out of Bill No. 20. That type of authority shouldn't rest in one individual ministry.

If all you are doing is being the gatekeeper for patronage, that worries me. Are we going to go out and revisit the days when we had untendered contracts for our roads, we had untendered contracts for all the government services - is that what it is? Do we have one minister overriding that? So, where are we at with that? So, that is why I say to you that this bill should revert to the Standing Committee on Human Resources. That is just some of the ones.

We were here last fall and debated the Sysco bill again and I talked about the environmental impact of that bill - that is another one of those bills that kind of just took a life of its own after it went through the House. You try to take the government at its word and be supportive of that bill because they tell you it means employment, it means those who qualify will get pensions. While we were not happy with that bill, we supported it. The reason we supported that bill was because the government was telling us, support this bill and cheques are going out to those who are eligible for pensions and they used terms like, pass this bill and people will be working there tomorrow.

Well, we know after the fact as it rolled out, that the government was spending a lot of money on a communications plan, it was spending a lot of money at Ernst & Young, it was spending a lot of money with downtown Halifax lawyers and literally no money on steelworkers or the like. What we have is at one time government saying, trust us, we will do what is best for you and then once we buy into it and support that government, we clear the House and that trust is not reciprocated. We all know where that deal went.

It causes us on this side of the House to be leery of large government bills. Quite honestly, we are not as eager to be supportive. I am going to use my words carefully here because I don't want to use unparliamentary words and I think it is important that we understand that it is not - once bitten, twice shy. We are worried about what these government bills mean.

[Page 2816]

I think we have to deal with bills from now on from this government in this context. Instead of looking at a bill and saying, we can be supportive of that and it is good for Nova Scotians and I think, as responsible legislators, that we are going to go and be supportive of the government. It is not just our role to nay everything, but we find ourselves in that position of being burned by this government a few times, as people who supported their legislation.

We are much more cautious when they put legislation in front of us. With that thought, we obviously then have to ask, what tools do we have in front of us to try to bring as much light to this bill as we can. Clearly this proposed amendment is one of them, and it is a very good one. It does two things. It gives time for us, as legislators, to directly pour over it; and for concerned Nova Scotians to see it directly, and to have a direct voice in it. I am not putting down the Law Amendments Committee process, because it is a very necessary process to allow people to get to the table at the Law Amendments Committee and beyond the Law Amendments Committee to be able to say, this bill is not good. It is not just a mere amendment to the bill, when those people go, I think what they would do is give suggestions and a full airing.

Mr. Speaker, you know yourself, when you go the Law Amendments Committee you are allowed a certain amount of time to table your concerns, and it is gone, and it is left to the members of the Law Amendments Committee to yea or nay those positions. If you were in a less formal setting than the Law Amendments Committee - and I would put to you that the Human Resources Committee is less formal in that way, because it is broader, it is not just talking about the amendments directly, we are talking about the wholeness of the bill - they would be allowed to speak in more personal terms, and the government could see these things, whatever it is, whether it is Sunday shopping hours at the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, which this government says it doesn't want to do; whether it is changes at WCB, which they say they don't want to do, so spell it out; the impact on our offshore resources; the effect of the Cape Breton economy; the impact on health care corporations; the impact of its employees; and the impact it may or may not have in regard to patronage.

Mr. Speaker, therefore I stand in support of sending this bill back to the Human Resources Committee so it can have a true and honest airing. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that we adjourn the debate on Bill No. 20.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 2817]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 1:38 p.m. and will end at 2:38 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - JANITORIAL STRIKE: MEDIATOR - APPOINT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, every member of this House is keenly aware of the point to which the strike by school board custodians has come. The Minister of Education has repeatedly said that this is a matter for the Minister of Environment and Labour. My question is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. Will you, under Section 40 of the Trade Union Act, immediately appoint a mediator in this dispute?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for the opportunity to talk about the procedure in appointing a mediator. The tradition is that to appoint a mediator you want to have the agreement of both parties. As soon as we have that agreement, we would be delighted to appoint one.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that is a regrettable response from the Minister of Environment and Labour.

I want to ask the Minister of Education whether or not she will now undertake to work with her colleague, the Minister of Environment and Labour, to get a mediator appointed immediately. We have dirty, filthy schools; they are unhealthy places to learn and unhealthy places to work. The minister has an obligation under the Education Act. I want to ask her, will she actively work with the parties to see that a settlement in this dispute is achieved?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I am well aware of my responsibilities under the Education Act. This is definitely a regrettable situation between the school board and its workers, but at this stage there still may be room for them to negotiate a settlement.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, well, I think it is clear that the parties need help to reach that agreement. Finally, in view of the extraordinary security measures that were taken today, locking people inside and outside the building, will the Premier agree to call the Internal Affairs Committee together this week to review procedures that protect public safety without provoking people who find their Legislature locked down?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, the member opposite perhaps is indicating that something more happened today than really did. People in this province have the right to demonstrate; they have a right to make their position known to government.

[Page 2818]

AN HON. MEMBER: They have a right to be in here as well.

THE PREMIER: While I didn't see everything that happened outside, we, on the government side at no point felt threatened. As I say, people have a point to make and they are making it.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - JANITORIAL STRIKE:

MIN. INTERVENTION - TIME FRAME

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, this weekend the janitors and inside workers at the Halifax Regional School Board objected to the latest offer by the board so soundly that they didn't even bother to take a vote. Today, out of desperation, students and workers expressed their dissatisfaction with the government's inaction, with their protest here before the Legislature. I might suggest the Minister of Environment and Labour is facing, probably, one of the most significant labour disruptions in the province's history. (Interruptions) My question to the minister is, will the minister please indicate to how long he will allow this unfortunate strike situation to continue before he steps in and provides some leadership?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, what the member has basically asked is whether I am prepared to interfere with the collective bargaining process, and the answer is no.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure who is briefing that honourable minister in that department. Clearly, if he had read the Trade Union Act he would know that he has a responsibility in this particular strike, a major leadership role. My question to the Premier is, will you direct the Minister of Environment and Labour to review all the circumstances surrounding this particular strike and ensure that all possible action is taken to bring closure, both from a contractual point of view and from a student point of view, and all the stakeholders, before somebody gets seriously hurt?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that what he suggests is already happening. The Minister of Environment and Labour, and the Minister of Education, on a daily, if not an hourly basis, are monitoring the situation. At this point, it is obvious that the process, while it has not resulted in a resolution, can result in a resolution, and allowing the process to unfold will ultimately provide, I believe, the best resolution.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, all Nova Scotians are monitoring the situation simply by turning on their radio or the television. That is not good enough. As a minister, whether of Education, Health, Environment and Labour or, indeed, the Premier, that is not good enough, just to monitor it. They have a responsibility as ministers to ensure that all possible action is taken to bring closure. My question to the Minister of Education is, when

[Page 2819]

will she step in and ensure that Dave Reid is acting in accordance with the terms of his mandate, of the employment at the Halifax Regional School Board, and not contravening the Education Act, thereby prolonging this strike?

[1:45 p.m.]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the Superintendent of the Halifax Regional School Board is acting within his mandate. The strikers are employees of the board. Last year, when we were talking about Bill No. 47, quite a lot was made of the powers of school boards and how the Minister of Education was not to intervene. If and when the Opposition convinces us to take over school boards, then certainly I will intervene.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

EDUC. - C.B.-VIC. REG. SCH. BD.:

TRANSITION PLAN - REJECTION EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to table a letter from the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to the Department of Education. This letter, which my office just obtained, amounts to a plan laid out by the board to handle the province's drastic funding cut. This is a good plan, and it will keep the board from laying off young teachers, and will allow it to handle teacher cuts through attrition. The board has requested $300,000 to be able to stabilize its situation. I want to ask the Minister of Education, why did you reject this plan by the school board?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the deputy has been talking to the school board; he has gone up there several times. He has said he is prepared to work with the board on a plan, when he sees one. The particular letter supplied by the board to the department, which I also have, is not a plan.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the rejection of this plan is incredibly short-sighted. The truth is that teacher cuts are going to happen all on their own. In three years time, teacher retirements are expected to increase significantly. If we hold off cutting permanent teachers until then, we might not have to cut them at all. This is important, because keeping those teachers in the classroom matters. It matters to our education system, it matters to Cape Breton, whose economy has already taken too many blows. My question to the minister is, will the minister admit that by setting an inadequate budget and by rejecting this plan, she has failed the students of Cape Breton?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, not only did we give the board more money in operating grants this year, we are also paying off $900,000 of their deficit. That is more than we are doing for any other board in the province. If the board can come up with a plan that is more than an ask for $300,000, we will be glad to work with them on that plan.

[Page 2820]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, board Superintendent Davis writes, "We trust you will view our plan as a responsible and realistic approach to our stabilizing the boards long-term staffing and finances." Instead, the minister just shot the plan down, rejected it outright. I want to ask the Minister of Education, will she reconsider that decision, and start working with the board to save 42 teaching jobs in Cape Breton?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, when the board presents a plan that is more detailed than simply an ask to cover all their deficit instead of three-quarters of their deficit, then we will be glad to work with them, as we do with all the boards.

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

EDUC. - C.B.-VIC. REG. SCH. BD.: TRANSITION PLAN - MIN. READ

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Education, and it also involves the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is facing declining enrolment and future retirement of a number of teachers. In the meantime, this government's budget requires that the board lay off probationary teachers, new teachers the system needs and should be keeping. In response, the board developed a transitional plan to deal with the period between this year's budget and next year's loss of teachers through retirement. The department claims it hasn't rejected the plan. The fact is the department has said no to the local board.

My question to the minister is, that the department said no to the request but claims it hasn't rejected the plan. Some people at the board think that the staff and the deputy reviewed it. My question to the minister is, did the minister personally read and review the school board's transition plan, yes or no?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I have read the letter. I repeat, the letter is an ask for more money, it is not a plan.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that minister knows full well that the board presented a transition plan to her government, through her office and I asked her whether or not she had read the plan and said no to the plan or asked for further review. That is what I wanted to ask the minister before. She knows the transition plan is there.

My first supplementary is, less than $300,000 this year preserves new teachers in the system and allows natural attrition through retirement to take its course beginning next year. The minister has a letter from the board requesting she meet personally on this important matter. Will the minister commit to meeting personally with the board to discuss this transition plan that is now in her hands?

[Page 2821]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, when the deputy, the staff and the staff of the board have been able to work on a real transition plan, then I would be happy to meet with the board. (Interruptions) In that case I will meet with the board but this situation is going to be solved by work at the staff level and it is not going to be solved at the political level.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the answer is that the minister will not meet with the board. That is what that minister just implied that again, it is not a matter for the Minister of Education to get involved when the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is losing permanent contract teachers and she is sitting by letting it happen when $300,000 is all it would take to keep the transition plan going for the next three years and settle the problem for the minister.

My final supplementary to the minister is rejecting a worthwhile, sensible plan that she doesn't think is sensible, doesn't bode well for the system. Many think it is an indication of things to come in the education system, where we will have permanent teachers laid off on a regular basis. Some people say this is decision-making control. I want to ask the minister to give her commitment to this House that the province's school boards will not be dismantled and that she will allow for the orderly transfer of the budget over the next couple of years and sit down and meet with that board?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would be quite happy to meet with that board. On this particular issue, I would like that settled at the staff level before I meet with the board. That is all I said and I repeat it. Thank you.

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

EDUC. - GREENFIELD ELEM. SCH.:

CONTRACTORS' DISPUTE - MIN. PLANS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, is also to the Minister of Education. Yesterday school was cancelled at Greenfield Elementary School, not because of a storm or a holiday, yesterday the students at River Ryan missed school because the general contractors haven't paid their bills. Once again we see the Liberal P3 scheme rear its ugly head.

Subcontractors picketed Greenfield Elementary School because they are owed over $0.5 million in wages for work done; some of that work had been done over a year ago. The subcontractors deserve to be paid and students deserve to go to school. I want to ask the Minister of Education, what is she doing to ensure students in River Ryan will not be forced to miss another day of school because of this dispute?

[Page 2822]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yes, we were just speaking today with the regional education officer up in Cape Breton and I believe that issue will be settled shortly. I believe the contractors are going to be meeting and attempting to resolve this issue this week. Certainly, those disputes between contractors and owners at the P3 schools should not be preventing kids from going to school, I absolutely agree with the member opposite.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we have had meetings between the subcontractors and the general contractor before and they haven't been resolved. They deserve to be paid in a timely manner for work long since completed. The subcontractors have also told my office that if the bills aren't paid, tomorrow they will be picketing Harbourside Elementary School in Whitney Pier. So I ask the minister, what will she do to intervene and make sure that these subcontractors are paid this week?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member is aware that the Department of Education has met all its obligations, has paid it bills and is paying leases on those schools right now. The dispute is between the general contractor and the subcontractors. I cannot interfere in that particular dispute. I can ask them to please resolve the issue and not prevent our students from going to school, in order to resolve that dispute.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it is typical of this government to make sure that the big guy is looked after, but the heck with the little guy. These are small-business people who are barely getting by, most of them, and can't afford to have this money held back for over one year. There are over 11 schools involved, Madam Minister. Yesterday, 415 students missed school and if this problem isn't resolved quickly, more will probably miss school. So I want to ask the minister again, what is your plan to resolve this issue and prevent more students from missing school?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as I have said twice already, students should not be missing school because of a work dispute on an issue in which the department is not directly involved. We are working quite hard to see that those two sides sit down at the table and resolve their issues.

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

EDUC. - EARLY INTERVENTION:

COMMUN. SERV. - COORDINATION

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Community Services congratulated himself for early intervention initiatives. Today, students with pervasive development disorders, or PDDs, require additional supports in the classroom. Budget cuts to boards like those in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board have the exact opposite effect. Teaching assistants are lost, not gained. My question is to the Minister of Education, hopefully it will be her first answer today. What efforts did her department make

[Page 2823]

to coordinate planning with her colleague in Community Services so progress made in early intervention is not undermined by a loss of classroom supports?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, my colleague in Community Services and I have had a number of discussions, both together at Cabinet, regarding these issues. They are as coordinated as they can possibly be between government departments. We are both very well aware of each others issue in this area.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I dare say I was looking for a little bit more detail than what was supplied. Early intervention will create earlier demand for support services, and support services we presumably want to provide. My question again to the Minister of Education is, can she make a firm commitment here today that students identified by early assessment as needing classroom supports will actually receive them?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we do that now and we hope, through early intervention, to be able to do that even better in the future. The fact is, a lot of the times kids coming into school now in Primary, this is the first time anything has ever been identified as being wrong with them. With this new initiative, over time, we will be able to identify even more correctly the kinds of supports the students need.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I am looking for some specifics here on classroom support. Either early intervention is tied to classroom support or it isn't. So I will ask the Minister of Community Services in my final supplementary, since his colleague in Education is rather vague. I am asking the Minister of Community Services what action, beyond the assessment services that he announced yesterday, is he going to undertake to provide treatment for PDDs identified by early intervention authorities?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the member asks a very good question because the whole process of early intervention is to try to identify those issues and be able to stream them into the proper treatment, whether it is in the health system, as we coordinate our mental health for children with the Department of Health or it is with education. So all of those things have to be brought together and as we identify the issues, as early childhood development identifies the needs, we will be making those things available.

[2:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

JUSTICE - SMALL BUSINESS: RIGHTS - PROTECTION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, small business in this province needs protection that is not currently afforded to them under the current Mechanics' Lien Act. A perfect example of small business being victimized under poor legislation is happening today

[Page 2824]

in New Waterford. Five local subcontractors have done work to get local P3 schools up and running. The subcontractors have not been paid; in fact, they are owed $500,000. The schools are occupied, the rents are being collected, but the people who did the work are not getting paid. I want to ask the Premier, why has he failed to protect the rights and interests of small-business people in the province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would refer that to the Minister of Justice, who is responsible for the Act in question.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, the Mechanics' Lien Act in Nova Scotia governs the rights and responsibilities of subcontractors vis-à-vis the builder. There is a 10 per cent holdback - again as the honourable member knows - which is provided for lien claimants. The honourable member has tabled a bill and we are looking at the bill, but this issue, as he knows, is much more complex than this particular case.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what we know is that there are small businesses that are owed $500,000 for work they performed and they want their money. The P3 schools were built at the request of the Government of Nova Scotia and as such this government has an obligation to protect those who did the work. So my question again to the Premier is, what will the Premier do to guarantee that these hard-working individuals are paid what they are owed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, yes, it is always disturbing when the little guy seems to be the one who suffers but, again, I will refer the question to the minister who is responsible for Act in question.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, again, as the honourable member knows, the subcontractors would have known the arrangement in the law when they took the contract. It is up to the subcontractors to make whatever additional contractual arrangements are required. We are looking at the matter and we will certainly be trying to address the concerns, but I can tell you that the Nova Scotia legislation is very similar to much of the legislation in this country.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this government and this Premier say that small business is the backbone of our economy. Instead, small businesses are being taken to the cleaners by those who know how to manipulate the current rules. So will the Premier commit to investigate this situation and make changes to legislation to ensure that this type of situation does not happen again?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice indicated that the government has concern on this issue and is looking at the matter.

[Page 2825]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - N.S. NURSES' UNION: NEGOTIATIONS - DETAILS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Yesterday the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union announced that they are not proceeding with optimism in their contract negotiations with the province. The union has described the province's position as uncooperative. Will the Minister of Health, the representative of the province, favour us with his interpretation of the negotiations between representatives of his department and the Nova Scotia's nurses?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that the Department of Health is not directly involved in those negotiations. The people in question are employed primarily here in the Capital Health District by the Capital Health Authority, and the NSNU people are in acute care for the most part and in other parts of the province; there are some in long-term care. As I understand the process, or the stage of the proceedings right now is that the NSNU has asked for conciliation, which is part of the collective bargaining process.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, not long ago the Minister of Health told us, in response to another question, if there were nurses willing to work in Nova Scotia he would find a job for them. The question now seems to be, can the minister find the money to actually pay those nurses for those jobs? The nurses in Nova Scotia, as we all know, are the lowest paid in the country. The question to the minister is, can the minister tell the House how he expects to retain nurses in Nova Scotia if he refuses to remunerate them?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the collective bargaining process is ongoing. The member is basically right, although we are talking pennies in terms of the dollar amounts right across the country. But the honourable member knows that our nurses are sort of the last ones in the cycle to go to the bargaining table; and we have also announced $5 million annually for a nursing recruitment retention and workplace improvement strategy. I believe once the collective bargaining process has been completed, our nurses will be fairly and adequately compensated at a price that the province can afford and, thus, the health care system will be sustainable.

DR SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that minister has essentially said to nurses that they are unaffordable in this province. Currently, by failing to properly staff the hospitals, the minister is paying out huge sums in overtime. The question to the minister is, does the minister have any idea how much he will spend on overtime for nurses by the end of this summer if nothing changes in this province with nurses?

[Page 2826]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, overtime would be paid by the employers rather than by the Department of Health. I expect, because we have now instituted rather rigorous reporting systems, which were not in place before, that we would be able to determine that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

ENVIRON. & LBR.: WATER QUALITY - ASSURANCES

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, at the meeting of the Legislature's Resources Committee this morning we learned that we have come a long way when it comes to water quality in Nova Scotia but that there is still a long way to go. My question to the minister is simple. What assurances can you give the people of Nova Scotia that a Walkerton or North Battleford will not happen here?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest a question that is very much in the minds of Canadians right across this country. The assurance I can give the member opposite is that we continue to improve our systems that we have in place to prevent such a tragedy as has happened in Walkerton and now, it would appear, in North Battleford. We will continue to move along on this, as we have announced with our water strategy, which is part of our program for this year, and we look forward to a program of continuous improvement.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, there is no question there are some good things happening in Nova Scotia, but what the committee heard this morning was that there is no mandatory protection of water at source, it is only voluntary. There are not enough audit and enforcement resources to minimize the opportunities for human error and deception, which were factors in Walkerton and North Battleford. There is an aging water distribution infrastructure which will require many millions of dollars to upgrade. In light of this information, my question to the minister is, why is this government not doing more to protect the quality of our water?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Halifax Fairview for his question. In fact, the member would be pleased to know that this is something that has been of a concern to the department for some time. In fact, back in 1999, the department had been working on this but the government did not have the appetite to bring it forward. But I can assure the member that it is not the case with this government. We will continue to work on this until we have all the protections that are possible in place to protect Nova Scotians' safe drinking water supplies.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, you can't filter your water with rhetoric. What the committee also heard this morning is that there is no lab certification yet in place. There is no mandatory testing for the majority of national standards. We heard, for the first time, that

[Page 2827]

there is a shortage of certified water plant operators in Nova Scotia and meanwhile the department, over the last couple of years, has been laying off staff. In light of this information, I would like to ask the minister again, why is this government not doing more to protect the quality of our water?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, as was announced in the budget, there is $850,000 which we are putting toward the water strategy this year. Inherent in that strategy, we are hiring more people to assist out in the regional offices, to help Nova Scotians make sure that they have safe water supplies, including the hiring of hydrogeologists in each of the four areas, a couple of water planners. These are positive steps and we look forward to a successful conclusion.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - QE II: LIVER TRANSPLANT PROG. - STATUS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. On May 5th we learned that a liver transplant specialist at the QE II is no longer going to perform liver transplant surgeries. At that time the QE II reported that the recruitment was ongoing for a replacement but not for the doctor who is no longer performing surgeries but for a different liver specialist who is leaving Nova Scotia, Dr. Vivian McAlister. My question to the minister is, considering the conflicting reports, can the minister tell us the status, in the House today, of the program and why Nova Scotians will be forced to travel to Ontario and Quebec for surgery?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is correct, Dr. McAlister is leaving Nova Scotia. I am pleased to say that there has been a replacement recruited. That person will be in effect on July 1st. I have been told by the people at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, at least it has been reported to my staff, that the other liver transplant specialist, Dr. MacDonald, as many in this House would perhaps know as one of the two founders of what was known as the Halifax and now the Edmonton Protocol, is going on a lecture sort of sabbatical thing and therefore, because his services will not be available, people will be sent elsewhere.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the QE II is the centre of liver transplants, as we know, in Atlantic Canada and there is certainly concern growing about a liver transplant specialist who is no longer performing transplant procedures due to some administrative changes at the hospital. This has been just alluded to by the minister. My question to the minister is, what is the minister doing to ensure that we do not lose another liver transplant specialist due to these administrative changes at the QE II?

[Page 2828]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member says administrative change, the information that I have is that the liver transplant specialist is going to go on a lecture tour simply disseminating some of the excellent research results which he has achieved here in Nova Scotia.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that is just not good enough to have these people sent out of this province to Ontario and Quebec for surgery. Even when Dr. Moser does arrive, the new physician for liver transplants, he arrives on July 1st, the team is still going to be short one member. Liver transplants, it takes a long time to build the team. It is highly specialized and takes years to develop. The team involves surgeons, anaesthetists, pathologists, specialized nurses, technologists, technicians, and many other support members.

My question to the Minister of Health is, what is the minister doing to ensure that when the liver specialists leave that the equally valuable, highly trained and highly skilled team members won't follow and leave our system in further disarray?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre we have one of the best transplant units in the country; indeed I am told that there will be more transplants done at that unit than at any other single facility in Canada this year. Furthermore, the outcomes are very good, which is the important thing.

[2:15 p.m.]

Clearly, one of the things that we struggle with in this province, and I have spoken of it before, is critical mass. As much as we would like to bring in a lot of additional people, they have to have the work to keep their skills up. The Queen Elizabeth II, they are in charge of the recruiting, and obviously they know their needs best.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

FIN. - BST: REMOVAL - TIME FRAME

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Last week, our neighbours in Prince Edward Island removed their provincial sales tax from necessary items like clothing and footwear. Our Party has always said that we felt that the BST was unfair, and it was particularly unfair to impose it on necessities like clothing and footwear. At one time I believe that this government, when it was in Opposition, said the same thing. My question to the Premier is, will he stand here and tell this House when he will remove the unfair BST on clothing and footwear for Nova Scotians?

[Page 2829]

THE PREMIER: The very issue that the member opposite brings to the House is one that I brought to the House when the province got itself engaged with other provinces and the federal government with our provincial sales tax. It took from us the ability to remove the tax on individual items, which is one of the major criticisms that we had in Opposition. Clearly, that is one of the major weaknesses in the arrangement that we have. On the other hand, there are some advantages to the arrangement that was agreed to by the previous government. We do not have the ability to do what the member opposite suggests.

MR. DEVEAUX: Just because you may have to actually talk to your neighbours in Newfoundland and New Brunswick about this doesn't mean that it is not possible, and I wish the Premier would reflect that before he stands up and talks.

Among other things, scrapping the provincial sales tax on clothing and footwear in P.E.I. will give a boost to the retail sector. In Nova Scotia, our retail sales in this last few months have dropped like a rock, and not only for consumers, but for retailers. Removing the BST on necessities like clothing and footwear would be good for our economy. I want to ask the Premier, why would you not help flagging retail sales in this province by removing the unfair BST on clothing and footwear?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite, having legal training, should understand far better than I that we simply can't do it because of the arrangements that we have with the blended sales tax.

MR. DEVEAUX: The Premier in the past has promised to get rid of the BST deal. He made that promise having read the agreement. He said he would set up an all-Party committee to decide how we would replace the BST, yet he has done nothing in the almost two years that he has been Premier of this province. Since you refuse to live up to your promise to scrap the BST, will you at the very least introduce a one-year exemption of the BST on clothing and footwear, so the people of Nova Scotia can evaluate how it is actually helping them and helping retailers in this province?

THE PREMIER: I go back. I explained very clearly to the member opposite that the arrangement that this province signed, the previous government signed with Ottawa and our two sister provinces, absolutely precludes the suggestion that the member opposite brought forward to the House.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - WORKERS' COMP. BD.: APPTS. - DETAILS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: My question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. The Minister of Environment and Labour recently appointed a committee to look into changes for the Workers' Compensation Board. One of the appointees was Mrs. Barbara

[Page 2830]

Lewis from Sydney and she was supposed to be the representative of the injured workers. Not only was she not an injured worker, she didn't even know that she was appointed to this particular position. My question to the minister, can the minster inform this House how the government appointed Barbara Lewis to this committee?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for bringing up that question. There were a number of names that were put forward as suggestions for the injured workers and we felt that it was important to have some representation in Cape Breton and since she is the President of the Cape Breton Injured Workers Association, that she is why I recommended her.

MR. MACKINNON: Obviously, Barbara Lewis was a political appointee, there's no two ways about it. She is a well-known Tory, President for the Tories in that particular constituency of Cape Breton South and her son ran for the Tories in the last provincial election.

AN HON. MEMBER: How did he do?

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: He lost his deposit.

MR. MACKINNON: Yes, Mr. Speaker, he lost his deposit. The Department of Environment and Labour and workers' compensation should be very careful about political interference, especially when it comes from injured workers. So my question to the minister, who suggested, specifically, that Barbara Lewis should be appointed to this post?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for the opportunity to answer his question. There were a couple of names that were put forward to me, I am not going to reveal the other one. There was wide-ranging discussion of them, none of which was political (Laughter) and it is good to hear that there are some high profile Tories in Cape Breton and I thank the member opposite for that information.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Environment and Labour should receive the silly putty award, because that is about all we are getting from that honourable minister. Not only did Mrs. Lewis resign because she was in England and didn't even know she was appointed but there was also another representative from down in the Windsor area who resigned, a good friend of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, against the recommendations of some of the major stakeholders in that area.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister (Interruptions)

[Page 2831]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West on his supplementary question.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister, will the minister release all documents, phone records and records of any conversations regarding this appointment to this committee with regard to Mrs. Lewis or the gentleman from Windsor, Nova Scotia?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for the opportunity to answer that question. I would tell the member that in the Department of Environment and Labour, we follow the FOIPOP protocols to the letter and we would be pleased to see him put in a FOIPOP request and anything that is available will surely come back to him.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB.WKS. - PEGGY'S COVE RD.:

TOURISM IMPACT - MIN. PLANS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Last night the CTV National News featured a story on beautiful Peggy's Cove, calling it the most photographed lighthouse in Canada. But there is a problem, as was noted in that story by that journalist, the road to Peggy's Cove is in embarrassing shape. One bus driver quoted in the story said, "We used to say that New Brunswick had the worst roads in Canada, now we are saying that about Nova Scotia." The owner of the Sou'wester Gift & Restaurant in Peggy's Cove worries that the condition of the road will affect tourism business this summer.

So I want to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, who made a candid, I believe, presentation on the national news about the embarrassing shape of the Peggy's Cove Road, what is he doing to ensure that tourism will not be hurt by the condition of that road?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if anything is going to have an adverse effect on the tourism to Peggy's Cove, it is going to be remarks such as that by the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. ESTABROOKS: In other words, if we don't talk about it the pot holes will go away, if it is not called embarrassing, if it is not called the worst road in Canada, it will all get better. Is that how we improve roads in this province? I would like to ask the Premier, if I could, it is the Tory year of the road, according to the blue book. This government talks so much about revenue, but it now appears it is willing to sacrifice tourism dollars by allowing this road to go unattended. So I would like to ask the Premier, why has he allowed his government to fail the business people and the residents along the Peggy's Cove Road?

[Page 2832]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member opposite that this government did make a decision to increase capital expenditure on the roads this year, to increase money for the rural mitigation project that provided a lot of benefit last year. No, we don't have enough money to do all that we would like to do, but we are finding some additional dollars to put them where people want those dollars put, and that is on the road system.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I am going to table this for the Minister of Tourism and Culture. Here it is, the photo opportunity of the most photographed location on the East Coast of North America; Peggy's Cove and this lighthouse. I want to appeal to the Minister of Tourism and Culture to finally intervene. His department and the dollars it generates are about to be affected because of the mismanagement of that Minister of Transportation and Public Works. So will the Minister of Tourism and Culture intervene to assist the tourism business in Peggy's Cove with a situation that will directly affect not their bottom line, but also the bottom line of his department?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the question. Indeed, myself and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, along with our Premier and our Cabinet have had many discussions regarding the roads in this province. That is why we did put more money into the capital program. That is why we put more money in such things as marketing for this province. That is why we put more money in product development. That is why we are bringing more tourists to this province and we will continue.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EMO - PERSONAL EMERGENCY KIT:

PRESS RELEASE - DISTRIBUTION

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the office of the Minister of Health issued a press release encouraging all individuals in Nova Scotia to develop a personal emergency kit. My question to the Minister of Health, who is also Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act is, can the minister indicate if this release was distributed in Richmond County?

HON. JAMES MUIR: I would assume, Mr. Speaker, that it was, although if he tells me it wasn't, I will check and see that it is.

MR. SAMSON: Well, not surprisingly, again the minister doesn't really have any idea what is happening in Richmond County or in health care in this province. Mr. Speaker, those in Richmond County do maintain a personal emergency kit, at least some form of emergency health care because the Strait-Richmond Hospital doesn't have a working daytime emergency room and has not had an emergency room doctor during the day for the last 130 days. Can

[Page 2833]

the Minister of Health explain the progress that his department has made in recruiting an emergency room doctor for the Strait-Richmond Hospital since I asked him last week?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we continue our efforts to recruit a specific physician to work in the emergency room at the Strait-Richmond Hospital. We also continue our discussions, along with the community, to work with the physicians in the area to see that emergency service will be restored there during the daytime hours.

MR. SAMSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, the local physicians around that hospital put in a proposal to this minister in January of this year and have yet to even get a response from the Department of Health that shows their commitment. The Northside General Hospital went 48 hours without a doctor and they were able to find one here in Halifax to go down there. In fact, that doctor had to drive in front of the Strait-Richmond Hospital to get down to North Sydney. In Richmond County, what do the people get but a press release from the minister saying, you should have a personal emergency care . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Richmond on your final supplementary. Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, all the people of Richmond County get from this minister is a statement saying you should get a personal emergency care kit. Well, no kidding, Mr. Minister. Will the minister now tell us, when will the Strait-Richmond Hospital's emergency room re-open, fully staffed with a competent emergency room doctor?

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I recognize that the honourable member would like to have an emergency room physician in the Strait-Richmond Hospital. I can assure him that, as the Minister of Health, I would like that too. We are making every effort possible to see that that position is filled as quickly as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - QE II: TRANSPLANT SURGEON - RETENTION ACTION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, yet again, we have an example of the ineptitude of this government in overseeing the health care system. The QE II had three liver transplant surgeons, one has left and one is unavailable, according to a hospital spokesman. For the next eight weeks, patients requiring an emergency transplant will have to go as far away as London, Ontario. Imagine having to travel all the way to Ontario in an emergency. I want to ask the Minister of Health, how long were you aware that Dr. McAlister would be leaving the QE II, and what did you do to try and convince her to stay?

[Page 2834]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we have been aware for some time that Dr. McAlister had indicated that she was going elsewhere. I am pleased to say that the institution was able to recruit a replacement. That replacement should be on board on July 1st. When that person arrives and Dr. MacDonald returns, the liver transplant team will function as it has before.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, one of the remaining transplant surgeons, Dr. MacDonald, has said that he will not be doing surgeries because administration is restructuring the program. He says it was not his decision. The hospital claims the reason for not scheduling liver transplantations over the next week is because of Dr. MacDonald's many speaking engagements. Either way, the administration should have had sufficient time to plan for a period of transition. My question to the Minister of Health is this, what do you have to say to the patients and their families who will have to go halfway across the country for emergency health care?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I say this - and I don't mean to be flip but I am saying it - and I said it yesterday in the press, I regret that people have to travel to have that done. I would really love to have it done in Halifax. If you need a liver transplant and you can get one, it is better than the other option.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, he is right, that is a very unbecoming response to a very serious question. The seriousness of this situation is being diminished by the government by their statements that only two or three patients will be shipped off to Ontario, but it is not so insignificant a number if you or a family member happens to be one of those two or three. I want to ask the minister to tell us what he intends to do to ensure that in the future Nova Scotians in need of emergency services normally provided here will not have to leave the province to get it?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there are certain specialized procedures that are not done in Nova Scotia. We would like to do everything here, there is no question. We are a centre for Atlantic Canada. We have raised the issue of best practices and critical mass with regard to Atlantic Canada before. To be quite frank, some of the procedures that are done, we don't do a whole lot of them. If a person is going to be competent to do them, they have to keep up their practice. We are concerned about offering high-quality service rather than service at any cost.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

HEALTH: ST. ANNS AREA - AMBULANCE SERVICE

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health, and it is in relation to paramedics in rural areas of the province. A couple of weeks ago I asked the minister a question on the response time for an ambulance call in the St. Anns

[Page 2835]

area and we have since learned that there is an ambulance sitting in storage north of Smokey due to the lack of paramedic staff. My question to the minister is, what is the minister doing to ensure that every effort has been made to get this ambulance on the road where it belongs, saving lives?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Notwithstanding the fact that there are some openings for paramedics north of Smokey, I am pleased to say that the service continues to be delivered there, good high-quality service and that is the nature of the ambulance system that he has. EMC, which is the service provider, is responsible for providing the paramedics and they continue to make efforts to encourage people to relocate to that area and fully staff that service there.

MR. MACASKILL: I want to thank the honourable minister, but the fire chief in Ingonish is very concerned about the service gap between paramedics and first responders. First responders are concerned that they will be the first to arrive on a scene for which they are not trained to handle and they are even more concerned at this time of the year, tourists are coming. I want to ask the minister, given that there are local people interested in taking on the role of paramedics, is the minister prepared to do something for these people in the way of training?

MR. MUIR: We have had some communication with the community college for providing Level 1 training and as the honourable member would know, at the Collège de l'Acadie the other day, one of these (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, that day a Level 1 training program was announced and I believe it was just last week. It may be, I know the Collège de l'Acadie is in that area as well as in other parts of Cape Breton, it may be the most viable option to have that college, which does a whole lot of extension work, provide that service until something more permanent can be put into place.

MR. MACASKILL: I just asked the minster to do whatever he can to make sure that area is covered by some sort of paramedics who will be trained to do their work.

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

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture on an introduction.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: I would like to draw your attention to the east gallery and we have a special guest from my riding. His name is Frankie MacInnis and he is a member of my executive and he happens to also be a cousin to Greg MacEachern who is very familiar to the Liberal caucus as well. I would like to welcome Frankie and ask him to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 2836]

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. [debate resumed]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I was waiting for a moment to get up. Some people expect that I am going to be the wrap-up speaker on the amendment, but I can't believe that actually is the case. I think everybody on the Opposition benches has spoken, but I know - or at least I feel quite confident - that there are members on the government side who would like to speak on this very positive amendment that has been brought before us. I appreciate that they have been given the marching orders and they have been told that they are supposed to stay down. They are not supposed to speak on the amendment that is before us.

Do you know (Interruptions) I hear the member, the Wal-Mart greeter, he said that it would be senseless for the government members to speak because he knows that the majority of the members are going to follow the directions that are given to them by the Government House Leader and, therefore, Mr. Speaker, he feels that he is sort of - I don't want to say inadequate, but - maybe ineffective, and that he knows that he can't effect any change. Therefore, since the government members, the backbenchers over there obviously feel that they are not able to speak, that they are not allowed to speak, I will try to speak on their behalf and on behalf of their constituents. I am sure many members on the government benches must agree with what we on this side of the House have been saying because if they didn't, they would have been standing up in their places to mount some kind of defence for the front benches.

Now the amendment that is before us is not a complicated one. What the amendment before us simply calls for is this bill to be referred to the Human Resources Committee and to give the Human Resources Committee - which I might add is under the control of government members, they have the majority. So even if it does go to the Human Resources Committee, the government can still ensure that there is a hometown verdict or report that comes from that committee, if they choose to do so. But you know, on that committee we

[Page 2837]

have the member for Kings North, who is the chairman; we have the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank; we have the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury; we have the member for Eastern Shore; and we also have the member for Dartmouth South - five members on the government benches, all backbenchers, people who normally would not be considered to be part of government. They know that.

Their job here, apparently, is to be a number to keep up the quorum, as the member for Yarmouth does, but to keep quiet. They are not involved in any of the decision-making processes. They probably aren't even consulted about the legislation that is coming before this House. They probably don't understand it, Mr. Speaker. They are obviously envious, jealous or upset when other members, even those on the Opposition benches, are treated, I guess, maybe, with a little bit more confidence and their advice is taken more often than his own. The member for Yarmouth is obviously upset because you hear him back there as he leans against the wall, with his barbs coming from the backbenches, nothing that is really audible, but it makes a noise and it makes him feel good, as he is feeling good right now.

Mr. Speaker, it would be a treasure, it would be a treat, it would be an eye-opener, it would be so refreshing to have the member for Yarmouth stand in his place on the floor and to share his wisdom with the rest of us because he has so much, he says. So I would like to hear why the member for Yarmouth doesn't believe that Nova Scotians should be afforded any opportunity to be heard on this particular, or any other piece, of legislation.

The Premier talks about leading a government that is open, that is accountable, a government that listens to Nova Scotia. He made that commitment over and over again during the last election. Since that time, supported by the lemmings on the backbenches and guided by the directions given by his colleagues on the front benches, the Premier is even running around trying to persuade Nova Scotians that that fiction is reality. Well, people aren't confused. People know the difference between a fairy tale and reality, and people know that they have not been consulted on this legislation.

[2:45 p.m.]

The Government House Leader, the real power behind the throne here, tells us that this legislation really is almost like housekeeping, that all it is really doing is legalizing what has been done for a long time in terms of the restructuring of government. If that were to be taken at face value, that would mean that what the government has been doing has not been legal to begin with. But, Mr. Speaker, things go a lot further than that; it goes a lot deeper than what the Government House Leader would have people believe.

So far, based on the absolute silence of members on the government benches, Tory members don't seem to care. Every single member on the Opposition benches has taken the opportunity to stand in their place to speak on this legislation. Except for the Government House Leader, who introduced it, not one peep; not even the Premier appears to have been

[Page 2838]

allowed to speak. Not even the Premier dared to get in his place to defend the legislation; not even the Premier would get to his feet to articulate any kind of argument as to why this has to be railroaded through this House or why it would not be a good idea to have this go to the Human Resources Committee.

That committee - and I am not a member of that committee now, but I have been in the past - has done constructive work in the past. That committee has held hearings from one end of this province to the other, under Tory Governments, so it is not a new idea that is being proposed. It is simply a suggestion that we go back to doing some of those things that once upon a time were considered to be of value in this province, and that is to consult with Nova Scotians, most particularly those Nova Scotians who are going to be directly affected.

Mr. Speaker, in my remarks this afternoon, I am going to be, in part, repetitive in some of the things that others have said. I will do my best not to be repeating myself as I go through my remarks; I don't think I need to repeat myself too often to find plenty to say. But I want to go back and look at some of the comments and some of the things that others have also said, so if I trespass upon some of that, I am sure that government members opposite won't mind. They would be very happy to hear the same kind of messages.

There is an old saying that when you say something enough times that you are absolutely sick of saying it, that you feel like you can't say it one more time, that's when people actually often start to hear what you are saying. So maybe by the time we finish our debate on this bill, people like the member for Preston will have actually heard what we are trying to say, it will start to sink in and he will lead the revolt against the front benches and he will start to demand that the government, of which he is a part, starts to become accountable.

We are told that this is about restructuring. When my colleague, the Leader of the NDP, moved this very responsible and reasoned amendment, he pointed out that restructuring in the government is not new; in fact you might say it is becoming the ever-expected, ongoing, constant kind of change. I am going to touch on a couple of those things, and I have a reason for this, Mr. Speaker, and I think that the Human Resources Committee should be looking at what has been done, what has been the net effect of it and then taking a look at what it is that this government is doing. Unless you understand a little bit about the history, you are bound to repeat those mistakes. Normally, when you talk about studying history so you don't repeat the same mistakes in the future, you are normally talking about mistakes that were committed a long time ago and having to go way back in history. But this history is so modern you might as well call it current events.

Don Cameron, anybody remember him? He was that short-term Premier for the Tories. Yes, he got to be government. He didn't win government, he is the fellow (Interruption) Oh, he got to be in government. Yes, he even got to be in government. Yes, he even got to be in the Premier's chair and Nova Scotians even got the opportunity to boot him out of the

[Page 2839]

Premier's chair. Now, they didn't have a very wise choice in his replacement, mind you, but at least he was there. Democracy is the proper, right way to do things. (Interruption)

I am glad that the member for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley appreciates the importance of democracy and that means, Mr. Speaker, that that member over there would obviously respect the importance of the people's House of Assembly. He would obviously believe, and I saw him nod, obviously agree that this place, whether it is awkward sometimes, it is inconvenient to be here maybe sometimes, he might believe that this body has got to be the ultimate authority in the Province of Nova Scotia, that this is where power has got to rest, finally, where major decisions have to end here. This is where the buck stops. I don't see him standing up to disagree with that.

So, Mr. Speaker, if that member then believes that, that the House of Assembly must be supreme, then I am sure he has some concerns, even if he isn't able to get up and address them on the floor of the House, I am sure even he has some concerns about the absolute power that the Cabinet is trying to wrestle away from this House so that they have the authority to do all kinds of things without ever having to come back here again, on those whole array of issues.

The old saying going, that democracy may not always be convenient but it sure beats the alternative. What I see as happening in this legislation, Mr. Speaker, is that the government is trying to move more towards that alternative and to diminish the importance of the House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, going back to Donald Cameron (Interruption) I got his attention and I got the attention of the member for Eastern Shore, who is on the Human Resources Committee, who I am sure would love to shoulder the responsibility of taking part in those public hearings to give the people an opportunity to have their say on this legislation. I am sure, as he did when he was on Halifax Municipal Council, he did have a lot to say and he stood up for the best interests of his constituents. I am sure if he had a chance on the Human Resources Committee that he also, there, unlike in here, would have the opportunity to represent his constituents and he might have something to say. So I am trying to help him have a purpose and to make him feel like he is being worthwhile.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: I appreciate the support.

MR. HOLM: He appreciates my support, Mr. Speaker, he said so across the floor. Now, when we go back a little bit about some of these bits of restructuring: Don Cameron, Tory Premier, back 10 years ago, February 1991, eliminates the Small Business, Solicitor General, Mines and Energy, and Advanced Education Departments through amalgamation and achieves a smaller Cabinet but no longer has a separate Housing Minister, and by downgrading the Management Board, the body charged with the control of spending, Cabinet was reduced from 22 to 17 members. Cameron's goal was to cut the number of departments

[Page 2840]

to 17 and to eliminate 500 jobs, in 1991-92 alone. He said, this is a time for fundamental change in the way our government is managed, real reform is the actual structures of government, and reform that results in a reduction in the actual costs of government, eliminates waste and duplication of services.

The same kind of thing you hear over and over again, whether those so-called reforms or restructuring were done by the Tories under Don Cameron, under the Liberals who came later or under this Tory Government, always the same kind of rhetoric. Guess what? Costs don't go down. He promised legislation that blends some boards, agencies and commissions into departments.

Then we had the Savage team. They were the red Tories. They were the red Tories, as in not red Progressive Tories but in the red team. There are two political Parties in Nova Scotia. One of them is very much united and the other is very much divided, internal strife. We have the New Democrats which are a united Party, knowing what they want and what they believe in. Then we have the Liber-Tory Party, one hides behind a red banner and the other hides behind a blue banner, but they both govern the same way, down in the bunker behind closed doors, in absolute secrecy, excluding the public and not giving Nova Scotians an opportunity to be heard.

We have the divided Liber-Tory Party, and they like to take turns, alternating from one to the other, back across the floor. Then we have the united New Democrats. The united New Democrats, our goals and our objectives have not changed. Of course, they haven't, as for the Liber-Tory Party, power at all costs.

The Savage Government, their first Throne Speech announced the elimination of the Management Board, that was something Don Cameron had come up with, by merging it with the Civil Service Commission to create the Department of Human Resources. Reform of the Public Service must result in more effective government, he said, more open, more client- and service-oriented and less dependence on institutional structures. Sounds like Don Cameron all over again, two years later.

Mr. Speaker, I can keep on going. I can read through pages and pages of information on reforms. My colleague asks where it got us. I can tell you where it got us, it got us to May 8, 2001, where we are, again, hearing from this government that we have to do what everybody else has done, and that is, once more, restructure. What happens is that one department disappears in name, it merges with another, only to have another part of that department, a year or so later, hived off, joined in with somebody else. The ministers get new titles.

I have been in this House, as was the Minister of Finance, as was the Government House Leader, when Terry Donahoe couldn't remember the name of his department, because it was post-secondary education, then it was advanced education and then it was technologies

[Page 2841]

and something. In a matter of months, the department changed its name so many times that not even the minister could remember what it was called.

Mr. Speaker, what does it matter? What does it matter what you call the departments? What matters is that you have an efficiently well run government that has an opportunity and the people who work in those departments have an opportunity to coalesce around what their job functions are. It is not about, oh, now we have to put the Hamm stamp on it. We had the MacLellan stamp and we had the Savage stamp and we had the Cameron stamp and we had the Bacon stamp and we had the Buchanan stamp. So we have gone from Bacon to Hamm, so now we have to have different stamps.

[3:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that is a waste of energy. It is a waste of money. It is a waste of talents. So as you are spending all of your time figuring out what you are going to do here, what you are going to do there, all that happens is that you keep the Public Service in total disarray. You have the public absolutely confused as to who or what they are supposed to contact if they have an issue or concern. You are spending scarce resource on more consultants, more plans, more this, more that, and less on delivering programs and services in an efficient way. Guess what happens? Costs go up. I know that you know that. The Minister of Finance knows that. He knows that but he can't disagree with his Cabinet colleagues, especially with the hammer, the Government House Leader, who is now taking over Richie's job of getting this stuff through.

Mr. Speaker, the legislation that is before us, what does it mean to Nova Scotians? Can you tell me what this legislation will do, how it will help one iota with the issues that are important in the lives of Nova Scotians? What is this going to do to resolve the ongoing dispute in the Halifax Regional School Board? Can anybody here tell me how this legislation will in any way help to resolve that dispute? We heard today, the Minister of Environment and Labour plays Pontius Pilate, washes his hands of any responsibility, as does the Minister of Education, while all the while our schools become filthier and filthier. They become unsafe. Children and staff who work in those schools are becoming ill. Do you know what?

The superintendent of the school board sent a letter to the teachers and was upset because some teachers dared to report to the union the conditions in the school and said it was unprofessional of the union to take out the ad and to publicize the conditions in the schools.

That is at a time, Mr. Speaker, when schools had to go begging for paper, the superintendent sends a letter to all schools and tells them to photocopy this and to provide it to all staff. They send notices home to all parents with the school board's propaganda on it, on school board paper and school paper when they haven't got enough resources for the kids in the classroom, and I am right on that.

[Page 2842]

What is this legislation going to do? Nothing. If you don't have a government and you don't have ministers who have the spine to do their jobs, you can restructure any way and every way you want. If the Minister of Environment and Labour is going to continue to sit on his duff waiting for the deputy premier, Mr. Batherson, to send him down a note from the galleries when he is here during Question Period as to what he should say in the way of an answer, if you have ministers who will not take their responsibility seriously, no amount of restructuring will solve your problems. It ain't gonna happen.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: What kind of English is that?

MR. HOLM: Bad English, to the member for Preston, that is what kind of English it is. It is called slang.

AN HON. MEMBER: No wonder you are not a teacher any more.

MR. HOLM: There are a lot of things I wouldn't say in the classroom that I will say in here. I think that the Minister of Economic Development might agree that sometimes the standards in here aren't what you would expect in a classroom.

This will do nothing to solve that problem. This legislation doesn't come close. It won't address the health care issues. This legislation isn't going to change the fact that the nurses in Nova Scotia are - I believe - the lowest paid in the country. How is spending more money on consultants, how is spending more money on restructuring and all the energies that go into that, costing more money in administration - how is that going to help resolve the issue in our health care system where we have overworked-under-appreciated-by government, nurses? It isn't. Doesn't come close. And the Human Resources Committee could look at the ridiculousness of what this government is doing yet again. Restructure.

It is a lovely day. I would like to ask the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate, how many people in Nova Scotia on this beautiful Tuesday afternoon with the sun shining - it is warm outside, how many people in Nova Scotia - are going to be able to have a barbeque in their backyard using Nova Scotia's offshore gas? Nobody. Not even our Premier can go to a restaurant and have a burger cooked over a gas stove using Nova Scotia resources, but the Premier in our sister province, he can and he has.

It is our gas - the member for Halifax Fairview said he thought it was our gas. It is our gas, but Nova Scotia seems to be paying more attention to the government's hot air than they are to our gas. Everybody else is getting it except us; New England, New Brunswick. You can restructure all you want, but if you have incompetent ministers and an incompetent government that is unprepared to stand up for Nova Scotians' interests - it ain't gonna happen. Using that bad English again. I apologize to the member for Preston. Now I discover he has another job other than being the greeter at the door, he is also to watch my English

[Page 2843]

grammar. My colleague makes a good point, we don't know how good his grammar is because he never speaks. Good shot, but, I wish I had thought of it first.

It doesn't happen. Now we are hearing a lot of things about the government's good intentions. I ask the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury who has been silent on this, what do the people in your constituency think about this legislation? Have you told them about the things that it is doing? Have you told them that you were going to be far less significant? Your significance as an elected representative is going to be decreased because no longer will you even be consulted in this Chamber where you are not allowed to speak, but at least you hear what goes on and can become informed this way. But now you don't even have to be consulted on a whole host of things because, by Cabinet decree, down in the bunker, decisions are made or will be made in an undemocratic manner and some of those decisions don't even have to be made public.

It must be awfully hard for people like the member for Eastern Shore - when you used to be an outstanding municipal councillor and you were able to stand up regularly in council chambers and participate in debates on behalf of what was in the best interests of your constituents - to now to be muzzled, having to obey Party discipline. But as a member of the Human Resources Committee, Mr. Speaker, one of the things that I have to say - and I say this in complete sincerity - when you serve on some of these select committees, you can get more accomplished, you can get more agreement and, quite honestly, the partisan bickering that often goes on in this place will disappear. (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: That's why we want you on the fire commission . . .

MR. HOLM: Do you know, I think the Minister of Environment and Labour he actually can hear, I don't know that he listens, but I will leave the fire commission alone for the moment, Mr. Speaker. Under the Don Cameron Tories there was an all-Party select committee established on education. Do you know that committee went across this province? Members on that committee were able to and, in fact, were encouraged - even under Don Cameron, who was not what you might call the most progressive or friendly towards Opposition Parties - all Parties were encouraged to work together and to come up with a report and recommendations that could be supported by all.

The Premier should learn something from his Pictou County cousin. Because there were some disagreements, and I sat around that table and I found myself agreeing with Liberals and with Tories, and I watched Tories disagree with Tories and agree with Liberals and myself on issues. You had a good-ranging discussion, and ideas from all sides were accepted; it wasn't closed mind. The Human Resources Committee did the same thing, it did it on education issues and others; tourism issues were dealt with that way. Some things produced results in terms of government actually acting on them and some did not, but reports and recommendations were made.

[Page 2844]

Now, here we have a piece of legislation that has a fundamental impact upon how Nova Scotia is going to be governed and ruled. So what is wrong with having a broad-based consultation? The Premier knows because the Government House Leader has said that this bill is really just going to be putting into effect a lot of things that we have been doing already. Well, if that's the case, there isn't any urgency for it. What's wrong with consulting Nova Scotians who are affected?

I know, Mr. Speaker, the Premier's memory is not all that short, sometimes it may be selective, but I am sure that the Premier will remember signing a letter back in 1997, July 24th, his signature is above the name, Dr. John Hamm, Leader, Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party. That was signed by that honourable member when he sat and had more wisdom because he was on this side of the House. I should take that back, I shouldn't really take that shot; not necessarily more wisdom, but he sometimes looked through different glasses at a different view. He then sometimes, maybe, was able or felt he could be more idealistic and stick closer, spout his principles maybe a little bit stronger than he can now that he is over there.

[3:15 p.m.]

The Premier signed the Five Point Quality Public Service Protection Plan for Nova Scotia. That was less than four years ago. Our Leader signed it as well. I will read this, not for the Premier's benefit, because I know the Premier will remember and he will know clearly what it is says, but some of the backbench members may not be as aware. The document that he signed on July 24, 1997, says,

"Whereas the trend to privatize public service is increasing in Nova Scotia despite the absence of a mandate or policy to do so, and 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,

A provincial public service will not be privatized or contracted to the private sector without public consultation and without demonstrable evidence that privatization will lead to improved services for Nova Scotians."

AN HON. MEMBER: That is where David Reid comes in.

MR. HOLM: I heard a colleague say, that is where David Reid comes in, and I won't go into the fact it was under the former government that they allowed the privatization of the bus transit system to Stock, which, of course, is costing a lot more money and now lost control. I won't get into that one. The Tories were the ones who did Nova Scotia Power and a bunch of other things I may have an opportunity to talk about.

[Page 2845]

"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 . . ." could have used that in an awful lot of the restructurings that have gone on in the past, a full cost benefit analysis ". . . and comprehensive social and economic impact studies are conducted." The Premier, then just Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party agreed to those two points. He put his signature and said, that is what will happen. It was part of an election campaign too.

He agreed that the "Public sector workers and their representatives and other interested parties shall . . ." shall, that's mandatory ". . . have standing in the review process."

"The reviewing agency or individual will issue a final report and recommendation and will table the report and all studies and analyses to the House of Assembly and/or the Legislature's Public Accounts Committee." Then, recognize the importance of this House.

It also said, "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."

Now you might say, Mr. Speaker, what does this have to do with the bill and the Human Resources Committee? But you know one of the things that the Human Resources Committee could do is to look at the commitments that were made, compare that to this bill, An Act to Restructure the Government of Nova Scotia, and recommend ways to amend this legislation to put the words of the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia, now Premier, into action. If you take a look at this bill, what does it do? We know what it doesn't do. We know, based on past experience, it is not going to save any money. We know, based on past experience, it is going to cause even more upheaval and confusion in the Public Service, lost energies, resources and, therefore, undoubtedly, more confusion, poor service.

We know it won't even begin to address the issues in education and health care. The Minister of Community Services knows that it won't do anything to address the problems that those who are in need of his department's services have, knows that it won't enable people in this province to get a fair deal for our resources. But we do know it will do some things. This will mean that Cabinet Ministers, in absolute secrecy, in total contempt of what the Premier talked about in terms of being an open, accountable and a transparent government, that they will be able now to delegate any authority they want to whomever they want without even having to obtain an Order in Council. They don't have to go to their Cabinet colleagues at the Executive Council down in the bunker to get approval, to give their authority off to somebody else. The fact that they don't have to get an Order in Council, Mr. Speaker, that means there isn't a public record of it.

[Page 2846]

So the Minister of Labour, if he wants, he can say, I am going to give responsibility of safety standards to David Reid. He doesn't have to get Cabinet approval. He can do whatever he wants. He doesn't need Cabinet approval which means, even if they know about it, and they might have some discussions about it, but Cabinet approval is not necessary, therefore, there does not have to be an Order in Council given and if there is no Order in Council given on Thursday, I think it is the day that the OICs come out, there will be no public record. Media, don't worry, don't look. It is not there. We snuck that one by people. The public doesn't know.

The member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, a deputy speaker, as are two other deputy speakers and yourself, sir, I am sure appreciate and understand the importance of this House, that this House has got to be supreme, the supreme lawmaker in Nova Scotia within, of course, the bounds that can be set by the courts, but in those areas of our jurisdiction, to make the laws and whether you like it or not, in this place some people find it less enjoyable than others and you know as the summer rolls around and the heat will start to build up and July 1st comes and goes, maybe it will get a little warm in here.

Regardless, I can say to all members that members on all sides, as the fine weather comes here, would rather, maybe, be somewhere else, with their families or enjoying the weather outdoors. But that is not what we were elected for; that is not why we are here. We can have battles in here, it can be uncomfortable in here, but this place, surely, has to remain supreme, whether we like it or not, in terms of making laws. Once you pass a bill like this one, it is done. It is very unlikely that another government, unless of course it was a progressive government like a New Democrat one, we would probably want to reverse it - I say, chuckling, but in reality - we would, much of the bad legislation that has been passed by Liberals and Tories.

Mr. Speaker, that having been said, the Tories, for example, fought shoulder to shoulder with us, using every delaying tactic in the book, every angle they could muster, fighting some of the rule changes imposed by the honourable Richie Mann, the hammer, when he was Government House Leader for the former Liberal Government. Members who are on the government benches know that, but when they took power, were they willing to go back and change things to the way they were?

We always did things by unanimous consent, the changes in the rules in this House, through the Committee on Assembly Matters. That was by unanimous consent, until the practice got blown away and major battles took place. Even though they were opposed to them then, it is to their advantage for convenience now that the Tories are in government, they are not going to change that.

This legislation, if passed, will mean that the government - right now, they have to restructure through legislation on the floor of this House if they are changing more than two departments - if this passes, no more. You don't need that legislation in here. There doesn't

[Page 2847]

have to be any review. Maybe the Department of Tourism and Culture will be divided into two departments the next time. Who knows?

There are some members on the backbenches who are looking for something to do. Maybe this or a future Premier will decide that maybe 11 isn't enough or 12 isn't enough or 13 isn't enough, maybe we have to go back to a John Buchanan-style Cabinet and have 20. How many did he have, 22, 23, 24? He even had ministers without portfolios, a Minister responsible for the EMO and that was it, the total job, the same pay.

AN HON. MEMBER: Must have been rough.

MR. HOLM: Yes, a colleague says it must have been rough, having to work half a day a month, but that was harder work than he had to do when he was a minister without a portfolio, I think. No need for any legislation to come forward, it simply can be done by Executive Council, as you spend taxpayers' dollars. No opportunity to evaluate it, even if what you are suggesting or proposing makes sense. Surely to heavens, in a democracy, those who are elected on all sides of the House should have an opportunity to have questions raised about it.

It gives the government the power, the Executive Council, to create something called offices. Who knows what offices are and what those offices are supposed to do? I am sure that after this legislation passes, the government will tell us what an office is, when they create an office to do whatever this office is supposed to do. They also have, if this passes, the power to enter into agreements, as was spelled out very articulately by my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview. I won't try to get into all the details that he did - and I couldn't begin to explain it in as articulate a manner as he did - but in my very simple, poor English method, inept way, according to the Minister of Economic Development, maybe, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure it is inept in terms of the ability to portray what I am trying to get across well, but it is not as inept as the minister's defence of the bill because he is afraid to get on his feet and say anything about it.

[3:30 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: He still has time.

MR. HOLM: And he does have time. I apologize. I am sure he will get to his feet when I sit down, if he is allowed. So maybe in the next 10 or 15 minutes you could run over to talk to the Government House Leader and see if you are allowed.

Mr. Speaker, this gives the government the power to enter into an agreement with any other level of government - that is fine, I have no problems with that - with individuals, with corporations, institutions, on anything basically that they want.

[Page 2848]

My colleague, the member for Dartmouth North, talked considerably about the Department of Community Services and the minister's so-called defence saying, oh, we are only talking about software. You get your foot in the door and you never know where that is going to end. What this legislation, if passed, will mean is that government has the ability to contract out, to privatize out any service of government it wishes without ever having to set foot in this Legislature to debate it or to defend themselves.

As I say that, Mr. Speaker, I am reminded of the Premier's commitment less than four years ago, about privatization and contracting out. The Liquor Commission turned into the Liquor Corporation; the government says, oh, it has nothing to do with privatization. That is not our plan, but, of course, we do want to set up some small agency stores. But if you look at what it also says, the government can also set up agency stores in populated areas as well if it is deemed that those that are there are not making enough profits. Only two members of the Tory benches were here when you sold off Nova Scotia Power. You sold it off because you said it wasn't making money. The Tories said it wasn't making money. There was pressure to sell it. It couldn't be run properly by government so we have to turn it over to the private sector.

Mr. Speaker, I don't disagree for a moment that the Nova Scotia Power was poorly run, not for a second. There was far too much political interference. Every time an election was rolling around, rates have to be stabilized, rates have to be cut. If that means an increased debt, if it means building a power plant that wasn't needed, but it is needed for political reasons, you do it, no question. It was mishandled, misused by both Liberal and Tory Governments and that had to come to an end, but you didn't have to sell it. What you had to do was set up a proper business plan. You had to put business people in charge of Nova Scotia Power, give them complete independence of government, make it so that you couldn't have political interference being done without that coming through this House.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's what happens with privatization.

MR. HOLM: Well, the Premier said that is what happens when you privatize it. Well, not necessarily, Mr. Speaker, because, in fact, you can still have political interference in private operations, as the Premier well knows. If the government had had a difficult philosophy, if the government had had the philosophy to want to turn this into a profitable, money-making business for the people of Nova Scotia, said that is our goal and we are going to appoint, independently and maybe even get some consultants to select the best board of directors with the hard-nosed business sense to do that.

We got peanuts when we sold that, but every year since we sold it - I don't know, I don't have any shares in it. I knew when it was being sold that I could make a couple of bucks in a hurry if I took some money, and I think I could have even been allowed to go out and borrow $10,000 to buy shares. And, you knew you were going to make money right away and they did. That corporation, since it has been privatized, has made approximately $100

[Page 2849]

million a year. That was eight, nine years ago? About $900 million? Just think if the government had taken a different approach and said we want that run like a hard-nosed business venture and we want the profits poured back into that company to pay off the debts and then to pay back Nova Scotians in terms of dividends to the government.

The debt of Nova Scotia Power would be gone, or almost gone. Power rates in Nova Scotia could drop. That would make us more appealing to businesses that wish to locate here and employees get more jobs. But, no, Mr. Speaker, ideology prevented that. This legislation, based on ideology gives the government the power to do more of that.

Like Nova Scotia Liquor Commission - turn it into a corporation and it can be gone. I say to the Minister of Tourism who is responsible for the Liquor Commission, you know and the consultants who did the report for you told you that the Liquor Commission will make less money because of those agency stores. Profits will be less than they would have been had you not done that. So here again is ideology costing taxpayers money.

The Treasury Board is going to have the ability to declare who are civil servants really, for the purpose of Finance and Human Resources. That means that for contract negotiations, if this legislation passes, not even the whole Cabinet, not even the full bunker team gets to decide, but just the Treasury Board and Priorities & Planning. They are going to be able to declare - not municipalities, mind you - United Way, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, any body, any organization that receives money from the Province of Nova Scotia, or which delivers any services, to be an agent, and to be under this.

Even if you look at it in your own constituencies, volunteer organizations, service groups, community groups that deliver recreation can be brought under the thumb of the Government House Leader. Not only do the backbenchers not have any say, but half the front don't either. How much time do I have left?

MR. SPEAKER: Five seconds.

MR. HOLM: Five seconds. So, with those few brief words, I look forward to hearing from some government members actually taking their place to speak on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I believe all the speakers who are able to speak have spoken on this.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I know it was inadvertent, but you had indicated that all members who had a right to speak could speak and certainly there are members on the government benches who have not spoken. In fact, only one has so there are many speakers left.

[Page 2850]

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid for that clarification. Are there any further speakers on the bill as far as the amendment motion?

Is the House ready for the question? A recorded vote has been called for.

Ring the bells to the Whips satisfaction. Call in the members.

[3:40 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[4:40 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Corbett Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. Deveaux Mr. Christie

Ms. Maureen MacDonald Mr. Baker

Mr. Dexter Mr. Russell

Mr. Holm Mr. LeBlanc

Mr. Manning MacDonald Mr. Muir

Mr. Downe Miss Purves

Dr. Smith Mr. Fage

Mr. MacAskill Mr. Balser

Mr. Wilson Mr. Parent

Mr. Boudreau Ms. McGrath

Mr. Samson Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. MacKinnon Mr. Olive

Mr. Pye Mr. Morse

Mr. MacDonell Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. Robert Chisholm Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Estabrooks Mr. Taylor

Mr. Epstein Mr. Dooks

Mr. Steele Mr. Langille

Mr. Chataway

Mr. Clarke

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

[Page 2851]

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

THE CLERK: For, 19. Against, 29.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is defeated.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would now move that the previous question be put.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice moves the previous question be put.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. We are now back on the main motion. The government were the first speakers on the main bill. The Official Opposition was the second speaker and the practice in the House is that you rotate between the three caucuses when you are speaking on a bill. The bill was introduced by the Government House Leader, we spoke second and the next speaker on this bill should be the Liberal caucus. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, the honourable member is talking about continuation of debate on the bill. The honourable Minister of Justice was moving a motion.

MR. HOLM: Assuming it is recognized.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, automatically we are back on second reading of Bill No. 20. I am the next scheduled speaker and I rose to take my place in this House and speak on Bill No. 20 on second reading. (Applause) You can't move motions in the middle of debate on a bill.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. If you look at Page 456 of Marleau it says, "The previous question cannot be proposed by the mover of the main motion . . .", that is why the Minister of Justice attempted to move it, I presume, " . . . nor

[Page 2852]

can it be moved by a Member who has been recognized on a point of order . . . ", which he wasn't either. It also says, though, "It can only be moved by a Member recognized to speak in the regular course of debate."

In the regular course of debate, the Liberals are next. The House Leader for the Liberal Party was up first. Therefore, clearly, in the regular course of debate, the Liberals have to speak next and the Tory member cannot speak. (Applause)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure again to have the opportunity . . .

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I haven't ruled yet on my decision. I thought you were still up on the point of order. (Interruptions) Oh, no. (Interruptions) Order, please. (Interruptions)

Order, please. After the recorded vote was taken, I did recognize the honourable Minister of Justice, who, my understanding was, would have been getting up to speak on the main motion, even though he did move a motion for the previous question. He rose to make a motion, so in all fairness to all Parties, the Third Party would have had the opportunity at that time to speak on the main motion, so I will recognize the honourable member for Cape Breton South. (Applause)

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, once again I am happy to have the opportunity to rise in my place in this House and speak on Bill No. 20, a bill that, as I have stated in this House before, is an omnibus bill which is really an ominous bill, which is a Tory patronage bill. That is what it is, it is nothing more than a Tory patronage bill which effectively takes democracy out of the operations of government in Nova Scotia and puts it in the hands of a select few. It doesn't make any difference which clause of this bill you take, or which clause you examine closely, you will find that government is putting together a structure here to make it easier for them to do business out of sight of the scrutiny of this House.

Mr. Speaker, earlier today we witnessed what this government is all about when it comes to the way they run things around here as a majority government. Here we are dealing with a very serious bill, Bill No. 20, and we have the spectacle in this House of the member for Halifax North and the member for Halifax Bedford Basin singing a tune in their seats over there and making a mockery of the business of this House when we are debating a very serious bill. Then, further to that, we have the member for Preston sending over . . .

[Page 2853]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Obviously we are interested in strictly adhering to the Rules of the House and I ask that the Rules of the House be referred to relative to the relevance of the speaking. The honourable member opposite was not speaking to the second reading of the bill. The honourable member opposite was speaking to extraneous matters, and I believe that the honourable member should be speaking only to the second reading of the bill. If the rules are going to be enforced, they need to be enforced evenly.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member for Cape Breton South alleged that I passed over some papers to the word of a song to him, he alleged that I did it. I had no actions to that and I would like to have an apology from the member. My signature is not on it because I didn't sign it and I didn't send it over. I would have sent a toy over to you before I sent a signed sheet over to you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. On the first point of order, I would ask the honourable member for Cape Breton South to bring his comments around to Bill No. 20 and the second reading of that.

On the second point of order by the honourable member for Preston, it is a disagreement of facts between two members and I would ask the honourable member, again, to keep his comments to Bill No. 20, second reading of the bill.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South has the floor.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again, when you are talking about Bill No. 20, I was making a point that Bill No. 20 is a wide-ranging political bill that is being presented to this House, and I was simply making some observations to the type of politics that this government is playing in this House and what they hope to continue to play to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia once this bill clears this House, and this bill will clear the House.

Mr. Speaker, I will abide by your rulings, I don't need the Minister of Justice, the huff and puff Minister of Justice over there telling this House what I should be talking about and what I should not be talking about. That is your purview, that is your domain, not his. This is two or three times now that minister has been on his feet trying to tell the Speaker of this House how to operate this place. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that you can do that very well on your own without his help.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I thank all the honourable members for the advisement but I try to do the best I can, myself. I would ask the honourable member for Cape Breton South to bring his comments back to Bill No. 20, second reading, please.

[Page 2854]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this bill is all about government, Tory style. As I said before, and other members on this side of the House, both the Official Opposition and our Party, are saying at every opportunity that the good old days are back. The good old days of Tory patronage are back alive and well. This bill provides it from cover to cover, it provides a series of moves here that are going to make it easier for the Tory Government to look after their friends. You know what, their friends haven't been looked after for a number of years now. The good old days of 1978-1993 are about to be revisited upon the taxpayers of this province because this bill is going to enable this government to look after their friends in a style and manner that they have never been looked after before. They are out there waiting for this because that is the Tory way, that is the Tory way. You put the legislation in place to look after your friends. The rich and the powerful of Nova Scotia will be well served by this particular bill.

I am going to go into a number of sections of this bill and demonstrate, hopefully, to Nova Scotians and to you, Mr. Speaker, that this bill is certainly not going to be in the best interests of the taxpayers of this province, as we stated with Bill No. 30 earlier on about the tax measures, the grand plan that some of the tax measures are incorporated in that bill to coincide with the eventual passing of this bill, enabling legislation to do their will with the people of Nova Scotia. I referred before to the tax measures that are included in Bill No. 30 that will have an impact here in Bill No. 20 and a number of them are not tax increases. They are user fees because the Premier said at some point last year, I don't know the exact date, there would be only one tax increase in Nova Scotia and that would be an increase on tobacco.

[5:00 p.m.]

Every other increase is called a user fee. There are user fees on just about everything but the telephone poles out there, but none of them are taxes. The Premier, with a sleight of hand, he and the front benches here, have literally placed Nova Scotians in a position where they are going to pay much more and they are going to pay in more than one way. They are also going to pay directly through income tax payments which they were supposed to get in the federal government and didn't get and this crowd over here is going to try to convince Nova Scotians that they are going to be good to them in a couple of years when, in effect, they are only giving them their own money back. I want to say again that this ominous bill here is paving the way for just about every friend of the government to be looked after here in one way or another.

With the creation of the Public Service Commission, will that creation mean that Human Resources professionals, some of the departments move over to the Public Service Commission or will the government be adding more administration to the new Public Service Commission in order to do the same job that is currently being done in the departments?

[Page 2855]

At the end of the day, we are going to have one minister responsible for hiring in this government. One minister. That is quite a heavy burden, but it is also a very joyous occasion for that particular minister because he will become the minister of doling out jobs in this province and I will guarantee you that when that happens, you are going to witness again what you witnessed earlier today in Question Period when the member for Cape Breton West, our Labour Critic, asked the question of how an appointment got made in Cape Breton to the Workers' Compensation Board Review Committee and lo and behold, it was revealed that a Tory stalwart, a Tory hack from Cape Breton was put on that committee and didn't even want to get on it. Wasn't even in the country when the appointment was made. But they rejected every single person who applied for that committee that was submitted by the Injured Workers' Association and they put a Tory hack on there. The same as they did with the Business Development Corporation.

From time to time, the Premier waxes eloquent about what he is going to do with the economy in Cape Breton. They put a Business Development Corporation, which is in this bill, into place. There are 12 members on that committee - 12 members who are going to oversee the spending of public dollars in that particular department over the next few years. That Premier, who continuously talks about the economy in Cape Breton, let this committee be formed without one single representative from Cape Breton except the person that they wanted. They put one person from Cape Breton - nobody from Victoria County, from Richmond County, Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury - there is one from industrial Cape Breton on it and that one person was seconded by the government. That person did not apply, that person was seconded.

The people from Cape Breton who applied for that particular board were rejected out of hand. Rejected. The end result is this Tory Government put the people on the Business Development Corporation it wanted on there for political reasons. It wanted this committee so this committee can go around the province and cherry-pick where they are going to spend public dollars over the next couple of years. How many of those dollars are going to find their way into Cape Breton? Who is on the board speaking for Cape Breton? They have the president of the industrial area board of trade on there - who they seconded - and rejected people who had applied to go on that committee from Cape Breton.

Is that telling me that the Premier and the Minister of Economic Development are serious about improving the economy in industrial Cape Breton? I don't think so. The people are not going to be fooled by that. We asked the question earlier how Barb Lewis got on that committee - she didn't even know herself. I will give her credit for that. The Tories figured that she did some work for us, so we don't have to ask her if she wants to go on there, we will just put her on. We will just put her on, and whatever reward she can get from that, they are due her because was she was a good Tory, faithful solider.

[Page 2856]

Mr. Speaker, I bring that up at the outset of my remarks because I want to again remind Nova Scotians what kind of con game is going on here with this government. There is a con game going on here, it is called a political con game of the finest style. Pork barrel politics at its best. Bringing back the good old days, the good old days when all you had to do was ring up your favourite minister or member and say, I need a job for this person or I need a grant for that person, or I need to get this client of mine or this constituent of mine an award through the compensation board, which is what the common practice was back in the 1970's, 1978-93 in particular.

Mr. Speaker, the bill makes no reference to any kind of responsible effort by this government to try to reduce the long-term debt of this province. In effect, they are saying nothing in Bill No. 20 about the money costs for all of this. What we do know now is the long-term debt of this province is going up in each of the next five years, over $400 million. There is no addressing that particular debt in here. This crowd is going to go back to the polls with the largest long-term debt in the history of this province, and they are going to try to sell that to Nova Scotians. They are also going to go back to the polls with the largest single debt repayment structure in the history of Nova Scotia. They are going to be paying over $1 billion next year in interest costs on the long-term debt of this province.

Is there anything here in Bill No. 20 to address that? No. What is here in Bill No. 20 is a patronage scheme to add to that. That is what is here in Bill No. 20. That is something that we have to continue to remind Nova Scotians of at every opportunity, including the opportunity we have today, tomorrow, the next day, next week, next month and, perhaps, in the months to come. Unless we get some answers to this particular bill, as to what the true intentions of the government are, this bill is not passing through this House easily, I can tell you that.

Bill No. 20 is a bill that is fooling nobody. Whoever was the architect of this bill must have been around in the 15 years the Tories were in office in this province, between 1978 and 1993. The worst patronage-ridden government in the history of this province, in those years, the worst. I think what is happening here is that the backroom Tories have told this crowd that they better go one up on that one, or they are not going to continue to support them.

I believe that elements of this government, people in this government don't really know what is going on here, because the Premier himself didn't seem to realize that the long-term debt of this province is going up. He didn't really realize that in the next four years the debt of this province is going up $400 million. I am not saying that, the Auditor General is saying that. I am not saying the interest payments in this province are going to go to a $1 billion, he is saying that. The people who do the books, the bean counters, they are saying that, I am not. I am just echoing their remarks here. Over $1 billion is going to be paid out in interest payments in the next year in this province. The highest debt repayment in the history of this province.

[Page 2857]

When this crowd has the nerve to go back to the electorate, it will be the highest debt ever in the history of Nova Scotia. They are going to try to sell that to Nova Scotians. Do you know how they are going to try sell it, they are going to try to sell it by giving the tax payment back that they took out of the pockets of Nova Scotians when the federal government had hoped that it would flow through to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, like it did in every other province. So they are going to try to calm the people of Nova Scotia into believing they are going to give them something.

Now the other interesting thing set out here is normally stipends and payments for expenses and all those things the public has a right to know about are going to be, some of these organizations are being set up and some of these committees are going to have the power to set their own stipends for their members. So try this one on now. For example, they get a Voluntary Planning Board going and they tell their friends to apply for this because we now don't have to go to the Legislature, we will just appoint you. Then, once we appoint you, you guys can set our own stipends and that, according to this. Never mind any public scrutiny, you just go ahead and set your own, whatever you think you are worth. You people just make a motion at your own committee level and do it for yourselves because the Tory Government knows that is a way of paying you back for looking after us in the election.

Now, Mr. Speaker, take Voluntary Planning, for example. The bill alters Voluntary Planning so that the board itself can appoint the members, instead of the government through Governor in Council; the appointees of the government get to make public appointments without the benefit of public knowledge. Certainly one has to take a look at the transparency of that particular organization.

Mr. Speaker, even more important than that, we have again the spectacle in this bill of the Department of Economic Development continuing as a government department to be downsized, while at the same time we have a blue-chip panel of unelected individuals responsible for the funding of economic development initiatives in Nova Scotia. We have 12 people hand-picked by the government to oversee the spending of over $30 million in available money for economic development, and they are not even responsible to this Legislature.

So if I represent a small business group in my area that wants to access some of this largesse that is going to be thrown around. I will go to this board and say I would like to get some money for this group, and here is a plan. They will say, well, where is this group from? Oh, well this group is from Sydney. Okay. Then they will call the minister and say, do we have any members in Sydney? No, we don't. Okay, what do you think we should do? Well, the minister will say, use your discretion. You have only so much money to spend here, you can't spend it in every riding and I have another 30 proposals from other ridings throughout Nova Scotia that we should also take a look at. I will prioritize them for you but you make your own decision.

[Page 2858]

That is what we are going to see here, political pork-barrelling of the finest kind in distributing public funds. They are going to hand out taxpayers' dollars without any public scrutiny. In other words, Mr. Speaker, the difference is going to be that the Department of Economic Development had to answer on the floor of this House for the development initiatives that were done in this province and that will no longer happen. In other words, the deals will all be backroom deals, and they will be backroom deals done for the benefit of that government, I will tell you that.

They have taken the apparatus of government, in Economic Development, dismantled it and handed it over to a group of 12 hand-picked people. I repeat again, Mr. Speaker, that the one person who was appointed from Cape Breton didn't even apply, just as Barb Lewis didn't apply. She wasn't even around, she was out of the country when she was put on it. She didn't apply. This government is so intent on filling these slots that become open with Tory hacks that they even put people on who didn't even seek to get on them. In Barb Lewis' case, I give her full credit for resigning from that particular committee because she was taken for granted by this government. They felt she wanted to get on there, so they put her on even though she never even applied for the position.

[5:15 p.m.]

Where is the government's commitment to small business, Mr. Speaker, when the Small Business Development Act is repealed? I don't know whether Nova Scotians realize that, but the Small Business Development Act is gone. There is no need for that any more because it is all going to be patronage. It is all going to be 12 people going around cherry-picking projects for the friends of the government, that is what is going to happen here.

Will the new board pay attention to small business? Well, you know, it is going to be awfully difficult for an area of this province that doesn't have any representation on this board to get the ear of this board because that is the sum total of what will happen here. Those who can get the ear of this board will get the money. How many people are going to be on that board, Mr. Speaker? How many people are going to be on that board who are going to truly take into consideration the needs of the poorer areas of this province, Guysborough, Port Hawkesbury, Inverness County, Victoria County, Cape Breton County and other areas of the province? Where is their voice going to be? Where are their needs going to be addressed with this particular board, the Business Development Incorporated, nothing more than a Tory patronage board to dish out money to help the government get re-elected, to look after the rich and the powerful.

As I said in Bill No. 30, there are no measures in the legislation here to look after the people who struggle in this province, the disadvantaged, the people who have no advocate for themselves, the people who are wondering on a daily basis how they are going to get through the next day, the next week, the next month. This government doesn't care about

[Page 2859]

this crowd, this government is setting up a regime over there to look after the rich and powerful.

We heard some reference earlier today to the Liquor Control Act and I want to tell you, the Liquor Control Act and what is going on with the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission is purely and simply a privatization bill. It is setting forth the necessary legislation for eventual privatization of the Liquor Commission in this province. This government did not fool anybody in the last session when they suggested they were going to try some trial stores, that they were going to pick areas of rural Nova Scotia to place private operators as a demonstration project, I guess.

I mentioned the other day here, one of those areas was Iona, you know. Now, Iona doesn't have a grocery store, Iona doesn't have a drugstore, but now Iona is going to get a liquor store. If anybody can tell me the wisdom of putting a liquor store in Iona when you have one down the road; it is only going to take business away from the other one, which is a publicly-owned corporation. You are setting up a liquor store in Iona and, as I said the other day, the only people who would use that liquor store is somebody that goes down the wrong road, sees one and decides to get a bottle of booze while they are there.

AN HON. MEMBER: Somebody who wants to say, I own a liquor store.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Somebody who wants to say they own a liquor store, that's right. But that has got nothing to do with the (Interruptions) Well, they'd rather a grocery store and a pharmacy, I think, or maybe you can put a hospital there. The Minister of Tourism and Culture should maybe consider putting a hospital there, then.

I am saying that you are using the people of Iona, using them, because you have a plan for the Liquor Commission. You want it to start off by putting a few private stores in areas that shouldn't be because they are not viable and you know, Mr. Minister, that they are not viable. Anybody who would tell me that a liquor store is viable in Iona - you know, don't stand in this place and say that, Mr. Minister of Tourism - that a liquor store can be viable in Iona. It may be when the festival is on down there for a couple of days, but the other 11 months of the year it would be pretty hard to make a case for viability there.

I refer to - there is another place called Advocate, I believe, up in Cumberland County and a couple of other small places - but, Mr. Speaker, that has nothing to do with the issue. The issue is that some Machiavellian plot is being put on the table here. Somebody dreamed this up and said, look, if you want to privatize the liquor stores, here is how you do it. You start off by putting a few private stores in small areas so you get the people of Nova Scotia thinking private liquor stores. You get them thinking that, yes, we do have private liquor stores in parts of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2860]

What is the next step? Well, the next step is to put their legislation in place, setting up the authority to run the Liquor Commission. It allows the chairman and the board of directors of the corporation to be appointed by OIC. Now who do you think, by OIC - Order in Council, it means the Cabinet - the Cabinet is going to put on these boards and commissions? They are not going to put Liberals or New Democrats on there. They are not going to put ordinary Nova Scotians who don't have any political clout. They are going to put friends of the government on there, every single one of them. Then they are going to tell them, Mr. Speaker, they can set their own stipends and their own expenses. So that is your reward. The only thing we want you to do when you get on that board is think privatization and here is where we want the stores to go - into the corporate empires of the rich and powerful in this province, including those who are operating the large corner stores in this province right now and the supermarkets. That is where the liquor stores are going to go.

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, in my area, one of the liquor stores now is in a private area down in Sydney, but at least it is still run by public employees and it is making a profit. I always thought that if something isn't broken, why would anybody attempt to fix it? Now the Liquor Commission has made substantial profits for this province, giving good service. I haven't had any complaints about the service, but if there is a problem with the service, why wouldn't the government simply provide more service to the people of Nova Scotia, if they require it, in different areas of the province? Why would the government move to privatize liquor stores?

Number one, to get rid of the public employees who are there, put it in the hands of the private sector. Number two, to look after their friends, Mr. Speaker, because their friends have said, we have these stores, we want to maximize our profits. What is the way to do it? Put liquor stores in the large convenience stores of this province and in the grocery stores. Is the move to privatization going to mean that we are going to have Sunday liquor stores? There is the Wal-Mart greeter going again, the doorkeeper over there, who every time he speaks, I can tell the Government House Leader that we will be here another hour, and the clock is counting on the Wal-Mart greeter over there anyway. He will only be here another two years and he will be just a blip on the radar screen from this place. Anyway, I am being sidetracked and I shouldn't do that, but there are certain irritants around here that get to me from time to time.

I would think, Mr. Speaker, in regard to the liquor stores, if it isn't broke, why is the government trying to fix it? What is wrong with the current system addressing the current problems with service in this province and moving to do something about that? Are we going to see Sunday liquor stores in this province? I suggest that once the privatization comes, that will be the next step. I am sure that the Premier would not agree with that. A Premier that doesn't agree with selling clothes on Sunday certainly can't agree with selling liquor, even though we allow the casinos to operate on Sunday, but that is another story. There seems to be a contradiction of morality kicking around, but whatever is politically expedient.

[Page 2861]

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. He is talking about morality on Sunday openings. In fact, it was his government that signed the agreement with the NSLC workers about putting in an agreement for those workers working on Sundays. If he would think back to, I believe it was 1998, he would know that. So when he is talking about morality on Sundays, maybe he should look in the mirror.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South, I would ask you to bring your comments around to second reading of Bill No. 20.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South has the floor.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Well, I guess what the minister just said, that the people who work at the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission don't have any moral character. That is what he just said. Shame on that minister for saying that. That is what he just said, and Hansard will reflect what he just said, but anyway.

I was talking about privatization in the Liquor Commission and what will happen with privatization. What the minister was trying to say, and very badly, was that there were agreements put in place to allow agreements between the government and the Public Service union representing liquor stores, in terms of hours and conditions of work. That is all. Quite different, Mr. Speaker, than allowing private corner stores to sell liquor.

Mr. Speaker, Clause 7H(3) allows the Governor in Council to make regulations establishing a consultation committee to advise the minister. Why wouldn't this be entrenched in legislation, as opposed to regulation? Again, the reason is that with legislation comes public accountability, the same accountability that is going on here in this House today that the government doesn't seem to enjoy. There is public accountability on the floor of this House at all times, when you are talking about a bill. When you take that away from the people of Nova Scotia, that ability to see and hear and read Hansard, Legislative Television, news reports, Question Period, when you start taking all that away from the public domain, this place, then you are in serious difficulty in terms of credibility and providing a service to the people of this province.

I refer again, Mr. Speaker, to something else that is not in here, to a great degree anyway, which is the terms of reference I spoke about before for tobacco in this province. You would think that Bill No. 20 would pay particular attention to that serious problem in the province, but it hasn't. Instead, the government tries to justify why it is reducing fines for smuggling tobacco into this province; aiding and abetting criminal activity is what the government is doing here, by making it easy for the criminal element to smuggle tobacco into this province.

[Page 2862]

Now I have stood in my place twice and asked the government to give me another reason why they are heading in that direction, because the lamebrain excuse given before, that the courts wouldn't implement, wouldn't assess the previous fines - well, first of all, Mr. Speaker, that simply wasn't true because there have been maximum fines in the courts on this particular issue. It simply wasn't true. Even if it was, that government should not be interpreting what the courts will or will not do. That government has a responsibility to make it tough for criminals to operate in this province when it comes to tobacco smuggling. That government dropped the ball terribly on that issue, by reducing the fines down to a joke, making a joke out of it. On the one hand the Premier states that we are going to put a $4.00 tax on a carton of cigarettes and then makes it easier for the smugglers to take it in illegally in this province.

Now I haven't heard a satisfactory reason from this government as to why they are doing that, so it leaves one to wonder why they are doing it? Who are they satisfying by doing that? Are there people out there who got to this government and said . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the honourable member is imputing motives, clearly.

MR. SPEAKER: I would happen to agree with the honourable Government House Leader, that some of the comments the honourable member has made in the last few minutes are suggesting bringing into question the character of members of this House or maybe members of government. I ask the honourable member to retract the statement and to divert from those comments, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, all I am telling you is that we haven't got a satisfactory reason why this government would lower taxes to make it easier . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the honourable member for Cape Breton South to retract that statement, please.

[5:30 p.m.]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: What statement was that? I asked a question. I said, is there a reason . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South made a suggestion.

[Page 2863]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Well, I will retract the question I asked.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: The question was, is there a reason why this government . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I heard the question and ask the honourable member who has retracted it to carry on with his debate.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I asked a question and I will retract the question.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I will follow it up with a comment that there has to be a better reason why this government would lower the fines for criminals in this province. Now that is not impugning anything, it is a fact that the government is doing this. I am not impugning anything here. I am saying that the government hasn't given me, or Nova Scotians, or anybody on this side of the House the rationale why they are making it easier for criminals to operate in this province in tobacco smuggling.

To stand in their places and say that the courts won't do their job and that is the reason why they are reducing the fines is not a satisfactory explanation to me, and I don't think it is a satisfactory explanation to anybody in this province. The courts don't need the advice of this government on how to run their domain, they don't come in here and tell us how to run the Legislature. So again I will leave that by saying that I am not satisfied with their reason; I am not satisfied at all. So rather than me impugning anything, I will just leave it up to Nova Scotians to decide why this government is reducing fines for smuggling.

Mr. Speaker, I want to go to a letter that was sent to the government by Joan Jessome of the NSGEU regarding their concerns about this bill. Basically the letter talks about consultation, and this letter has been tabled here so I won't waste the time of the House tabling it again. It talks about the Government Restructuring (2001) Bill and it says that it is a wide-ranging piece of legislation which, by the way, the Government House Leader has stated outside these doors to the press and to anybody else who was there that most of the provisions of this Act are already in place. Well, how could they already be in place if we are just on this floor discussing the issue now? I will tell you why they could be in place, because we have a majority government that is ramming its agenda to the people of Nova Scotia as fast as they can, because they only have two more years to do it and then they are history.

They are going to be history for a number of reasons, but one is the colossal gall of this government to tell Nova Scotians that they are responsible, that they have responsible government well in hand here, knowing full well that the long-term debt of this province is

[Page 2864]

going up $400 million in the next three to four years and that the debt repayment is going to be over $1 billion this year. Highest in the history of this province. That is the responsible government the Premier and his cohorts in the Executive Council and the followers in the benches behind him are trying to convince Nova Scotians of.

When you look at the draft of this particular bill, the actual bill, it establishes a number of departments and it literally changes the entire face of government here. I have to tell you that I agree with the previous speakers on this particular bill, that this bill should be a bill that Nova Scotians fully understand, that Nova Scotians understand that basically it is going to affect their lives. If you work for the government or you are employed in the private sector, either in small business or you are self-employed or you are looking for a job in this province, it is going to affect everybody.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things this bill will do is if you are looking for a job and you are not a Tory, forget it, because the mechanism is being put in place, the sign will go out, only Tories need apply, send your membership card with your résumé and two letters of reference from the Tory organization in your area. The same as Barbara Lewis, only she didn't get around to it, they put her on anyway. In my riding, it is very hard to find Tories. Barbara was a good Tory but, unfortunately, she didn't apply, and she did the right thing by saying, how dare you people put me on this committee without my knowing about it. So she quit. She didn't quit being a Tory, but she quit this particular committee. I give her full marks for that.

However, this bill doesn't make much reference to Education. It is about the only department that it doesn't touch to any great extent. It does mention that it establishes a new Department of Education. We have seen examples of what is happening in that particular department. We see examples of the members of this House, who know full well the serious implications we are having with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. No reference in here to making a special case for doing something with a school board that has declining enrolments, because of the current economic situation, the downsizing of the mines, there are no recommendations in here to deal with that.

The only recommendation in here is to lay off permanent teachers, because that is what the minister is setting out to do. As I said to one interested member of the press earlier today, this is setting in motion, again, another government strategy to finally get into the ranks of the permanent teachers in this province. From here on in, they have set the precedent, they are using the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board as a scapegoat for that. That is what is happening there.

If the government was sincere in its efforts to keep the education system intact in my area, they would keep the student ratio for the time being, accept the plan to increase that in the future, and not lay off any permanent teachers, which, by the way, is the situation up here. There are no permanent teachers being laid off, they are handling it by attrition. There are

[Page 2865]

over 40 permanent teachers going out the door in industrial Cape Breton, the same area that this Premier keeps saying, there is a new direction starting. The direction is going that way, because people are getting laid off.

Mr. Speaker, this government doesn't address the problems, in Bill No. 20, of industrial Cape Breton at all. As a matter of fact, the only initiative this government has in industrial Cape Breton to date was to piggyback on the federal government and our previous tax plan to put call centres in the area. They have done nothing else - and that is only the last one - there have been no initiatives initiated by this government to help anybody in industrial Cape Breton and, in fact, Cape Breton Island itself.

Now, I want to say, in addition to that, that there is no reference here (Interruptions) Oh, yes, they closed the steel plant, that is an initiative in the right direction. And they couldn't even do that now, they can't even get rid of the assets. They left 200 steelworkers swinging in the wind on that deal, who are still pretty upset about the false promise the Minister of Economic Development made. But I digress.

What I wanted to say was, nowhere in here or in Bill No. 30 or in any other bill that I can see coming before this House does the government address the need to do something with the environment in industrial Cape Breton, the legacy that 100 years of steel and coal have left, and some of the other pollutants in the area. This government has a golden opportunity to put its collective mouths where the money they put on the debt of this province, booked it for the Sysco cleanup last year, and start creating some jobs down in Cape Breton. That is not reflected anywhere.

This government has not created so much - as a matter of fact, they just got rid of 40 school teachers; 40 school teachers gone, out of the system. The only school board, maybe, except the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board that is losing some permanent teachers, the first time in a long, long time that there are permanent contract teachers being let out of the system.

Even though that board presented a viable transition plan for the next three years, Mr. Speaker, that minister stood in this House today and said there was no such plan. That minister was misinforming this House, there was a plan. I don't know whether she saw it. If she did, it would be the first thing she saw in that department, according to what is going on over there. But we are losing permanent contract teachers and that should not happen.

What is happening here is this Bill No. 20 is paving the way - and I really can't believe that the current Premier of this province would allow this type of political shenanigans to go through this House - where we are setting up a fiefdom here where every single Tory from Yarmouth to Glace Bay is going to get looked after once all this legislation passes. This is a housecleaning, but it is a political housecleaning, a political housecleaning that is going to enable the government to have its way with Nova Scotians without the scrutiny of this House

[Page 2866]

on a number of departments, to have their way with Nova Scotians and to look after their friends.

We had a spectacle last week about a situation politically, a little political fence mending, which is what is happening in this bill, right from cover to cover. But we had some political fence mending last week with the doctor situation in North Sydney. Political fence mending, that is all it was. It wasn't that hard to go out and get a doctor if they wanted to. They can't seem to have the same success in Richmond County. It is strange, 135 days now in Richmond County and they don't seem to have the same success there. They have to protect the member for Cape Breton North because he shortly will be going into the Cabinet and the Premier and other senior people who have been in that area have assured the people of North Sydney that the member for Cape Breton North will play a major role in his government. There is no question in my mind that is what happened.

So you can't have an embarrassing situation that in the first three months of his tenure here, he loses the outpatients at the hospital. You couldn't have that happening. So right from the sky, a doctor just happened to fall into North Sydney. They can't put one in Richmond, can't put one there, but you can put one in North Sydney in the blink of an eye. How long he will be there is another story. We got rid of one impasse, there will be another one coming up.

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of other interventions that I would like to make here. I would just like to find out how much time I have left?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has 11 minutes.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Eleven minutes, okay. Well, I was just getting started, but I am sure I will back here in Committee of the Whole House on Bills or perhaps a little later on in debate on this particular bill. People wonder why we are debating this bill to the length that we are. It is a lengthy, omnibus bill which amends a series of Acts, Mr. Speaker, that the Government House Leader says is only housekeeping. All of these issues are already taking place, it is only housekeeping. Who in the name of heaven does that minister think that he is fooling by saying that? This is the biggest piece of political legislation, political chicanery, that I have ever seen in this House.

When you are talking about the entire system of government, when you are talking about appointing boards and commissions, Mr. Speaker, that can set their own stipends, can give themselves their own per diems, can spend money on behalf of the taxpayers of this province on economic development projects without having the burden of coming to the House and explaining it to the Opposition, from time to time, those will be done by this committee going directly to the bunker with the recommendations and this money will find its way into the government's friends' hands, wherever and whenever it suits them.

[Page 2867]

Now, what they should have done if they were going to give the limited money available in Economic Development away to 12 people, if they were going to do that, they might as well close down the Department of Economic Development because there is nothing left over there. I am hard pressed to ask that minister a question anymore because he doesn't control anything anymore. He has farmed everything out.

[5:45 p.m.]

I suggested to him on more than one occasion that he should do the right thing and follow the lead of the previous government and put the Petroleum Directorate in Sydney and I got short shrift to that particular suggestion. One word - no. I would think it makes sense and the member, soon to be minister, for Cape Breton North would agree that putting the Petroleum Directorate in Sydney makes sense, but no. One word from the minister. No. Heaven forbid they do anything in Cape Breton that would smack of any government intervention on anything down there.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Minister of Non-Economic Development.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, the Minister of Non-Economic Development, says my colleague from Glace Bay soon to be Glace Bay, I even forgot the old name already.

I want to assure this House that being the member for Cape Breton South, I can tell you that nobody in Cape Breton South is watching this tonight so I am not up here grandstanding for my own use back home. I don't need to do that. As I reminded the Minister of Justice when he asked earlier how his member made out in Cape Breton South in the last election, we said he lost his deposit and we asked him if there were any more questions.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. As I said before, I am quite willing to give the members quite a wide berth of latitude, but I would ask the honourable member for Cape Breton South to bring his comments back to second reading of Bill No. 20 please, the principle of the bill. The member for Cape Breton South has the floor.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Thank you for reminding me. Sometimes one gets carried away, you know, when we are talking about a bill. I can tell you that sometimes you have the tendency to try to talk politics and remind members opposite just where some of us sit on the political landscape these days and remind members that they too can be replaced. Remind members that the faces of this place have changed dramatically in the past few years. A lot of new faces over there and some of them better pay attention to this bill or they won't get their you-know-what warm here before they will be out of there.

Having said that and going back to the bill, how much time do I have left?

MR. SPEAKER: You have six minutes.

[Page 2868]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Six minutes. I fully intend to allow some time for my colleagues over the next few hours to have their say here and I felt that this bill was important enough that we should get into various sections of this bill over the next few days to make sure that Nova Scotians are made perfectly aware of what this government is trying to do here. Perfectly aware of what this government is trying to do.

What this government is trying to do is run this province by political dictum right out of the Cabinet office. Democracy is going right out of the window. Right out the window - no more accountability on the floor of this House. They might as well do away with Question Periods. That will be coming in the next bill. The Question Periods are unnecessary, debate on bills are unnecessary and yes, Mr. Speaker, the Speaker is unnecessary. That is what will be coming next because (Interruptions) Not this particular Speaker, the institution of the Speaker. That is a democracy in this building that we are responsible to. This bill is a sham because it speaks directly against the responsible government that we have in this House and the Speaker's role in keeping this House accountable to the people of Nova Scotia.

This government has no intentions of following the parliamentary procedures that have been set and adhered to in this province since this province was incorporated. One of the oldest seats of government in North America being eroded by Bill No. 20, a political bill that has been put in place to look after Tories.

Mr. Speaker, I feel so strongly about this bill that I think at this point I am going to introduce an amendment here. I would like to make the following motion: that Bill No. 20 be amended by deleting all the words following the phrase "as follows" and substituting therefor the following: "that Bill No. 20, Government Restructuring (2001) Act, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence." (Interruptions). Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions).

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton South has moved what is commonly known in this House as a hoisting motion. Order, please.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, you are ruling that more than one dilatory motion can be entertained on second reading, is that the ruling that you are making?

MR. SPEAKER: That's right.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I recall, although I have spoken to the Clerk and we can't trace this down, but when the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova was in the Chair, I can remember trying to move a second dilatory motion on second reading and I was advised that in this House that that was not acceptable. I was told to take my seat.

[Page 2869]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, we had during a brief period of time a number of precedents that have gone on in this House for as long as I can remember that were not followed. The overriding precedent of this House has been that members can move so the next time when a government member gets up to speak on the motion they could move the third type of dilatory motion. There are three different types of motions, as you know better than most, Mr. Speaker. We, of course, can't move all three so I look forward to the government members, when they first get a chance to speak, to move the third one. (Interruptions.)

MR. SPEAKER: Any further interventions?

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. SPEAKER: It is my understanding - I did take the matter under advisement earlier and my understanding is that not more than one motion of the same - the same dilatory motion can be moved twice on second reading, however, each dilatory motion could be moved for second reading of the bill, which would in fact make the motion by the honourable member for Cape Breton South in order. (Interruptions.)

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Thank you. Mr. Speaker, I had prepared my remarks fully expecting to address second reading of the bill, but I find myself rising to address the amendment moved by the Liberal House Leader. I have to say it is an excellent amendment, I think it is one deserving the support of this House. So, instead of addressing the bill on second reading, I would like to make a few remarks on why I intend to support the amendment that has just been moved.

Mr. Speaker, normally I might have stayed in my place on this bill, but I saw something in the newspaper the other day that made me feel that I had to get up and speak. In last Saturday's local Halifax paper there was a quotation from the Government House Leader where I felt sure that he must have been misquoted because it seemed so far from my understanding of what Bill No. 20 is all about. The president of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union was quoted as saying about Bill No. 20, it has serious, serious implications for every public sector worker in the province. Shortly after that the Government House Leader is quoted as saying, "The bill is perfectly straightforward. It is a restructuring that has already taken place."

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to table that although I am sure the government members have seen that. I just found it puzzling that the Government House Leader would place that interpretation on the bill because, quite frankly, I see a great deal more in Bill No. 20 than

[Page 2870]

simply recognizing restructuring that has already taken place. It seems to me - now, I won't speak on behalf of my colleagues, I will speak only on behalf of myself - that if the government brought forward a version of Bill No. 20 that only implemented changes that have already taken place, that I, for one, could see my way to lobbying the members on this side of the House and saying, well, that is not such a bad bill; it is not a perfect bill, it is not a great bill but it is really not something that is bad or is offensive, perhaps, as Bill No. 20 in its current form.

After all, Mr. Speaker, what has already happened are things like the merger or amalgamation of departments. To give one example, the Department of the Environment has been put together with the Department of Labour to form the Department of Environment and Labour, which are two very different kinds of things. In fact, in the original government plan, it was to be called the Department of Environment, Labour and Regulatory Affairs, which I thought a little amusing because it reminded me very much of the British television series and books, Yes Minister, which was a satire on government. Maybe the members on that side saw it or read it and thought it was serious but it was actually a satire on government and government restructuring. For the purposes of this satire, a department was created.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. I would just remind the honourable member for Halifax Fairview, he did start out saying that he was prepared to speak to the bill itself. I want to remind him that he is speaking to the hoist amendment and I would ask him to bring his comments around to the hoist amendment and as to why this bill should hoisted for six months.

MR. STEELE: I assure you, Mr. Speaker, I am coming around promptly to that point. The department in that satire was called the Department of Administrative Affairs, which sounds very much like our government's plan for the Department of Regulatory Affairs. Perhaps they didn't see the humour in that particular satire.

The other point and the reason why I think we do need six months to consider this, and this is a point I made earlier, is that despite the fact that the government is claiming that this is only recognizing restructuring that has already taken place, the government has not brought forward one shred of evidence, not one iota of proof that this restructuring will either save money or result in more effective government for Nova Scotians. In fact, Mr. Speaker, they did just the opposite.

In the budget they brought in, the accounts were presented in such a way that it was literally impossible for the public and the Opposition to consider whether the restructuring that has already taken place had resulted in any improvements over the pre-restructuring government. It is impossible. You would think that if they had the proof, they would be shouting it from the rooftops, but they didn't.

[Page 2871]

One has to ask oneself why the government would do that if, in fact, they had the evidence, if they had the proof, why would they not bring it forward for Nova Scotians? It seems to me that six months is the perfect period for the government to assemble and release to the public the proof that this restructuring they are proposing in Bill No. 20 is actually going to save any money, is actually going to result in one taxpayer's dollar being better spent or that it is going to result in one better decision from the government. Six months from now I look forward to coming back to this place to receive that evidence.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject of tonight's debate, submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes:

"Therefore be it resolved that occupational health and safety is not a priority of this Tory Government and that workplace safety is being compromised as a result."

[6:00 p.m.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - OCC. HEALTH & SAFETY: PRIORITY - EFFECTS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am please to rise and make a few comments on this particular Adjournment debate resolution. I believe it is a very timely resolution and I believe it is a very important resolution because, just yesterday, the minister stood in his place and asked all members of the House to support his resolution, and I quote, "that we celebrate North American Occupational Safety and Health Week by each making a renewed commitment to workplace health and safety and by acknowledging the role we can each fulfill in making our province the safest and healthiest place in the world to live, work, and play."

Now, it is rather straightforward and certainly supportable by all members of this House I would think. The sad part about it, the sad reality is because members of this House lack the confidence of that minister that the Minister of Environment and Labour couldn't even have that resolution approved. Something that was certainly supportable, so what is the problem? It is certainly not the resolution aside from one of the operative clauses where the minister says, "It is the goal of the Department of Environment and Labour to increase awareness among all workplace parties of the province's occupational health and safety regulations and responsibilities."

[Page 2872]

Well, that is where the minister goes awry. If he were only to check the actions of his predecessor before he arrived in that department, he would find that the previous Minister of Labour brought in a sunset clause to do away with the safety regulations in this province. That most likely would be one of the primary reasons for not supporting the actions of the minister on that resolution yesterday. Yet you will find that my colleague, the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes, who introduced an almost identical resolution, another supportable resolution, received unanimous consent and endorsement of this House. That in itself should be a signal to the minister that the attitude of that department and the actions of this minister are highly suspect and questionable at best. Again, so disappointing.

Mr. Speaker, it is ironic. We arrived at the Standing Committee on Resources this morning, which comes under the purview of the minister and, the presenters that came before the Natural Resources Committee this morning were representatives from the Department of Environment and Labour. The darnedest thing. The questions that were asked by the members of the Tory caucus at that committee where none other than the questions, for the most part, that were written and scripted by the minister and his department, and, yes, we can prove that. I will table a list of the questions that were faxed from the minister's office to the Tory caucus and from the Tory caucus to the members of the committee. So we are now once again making a complete farce of this process because the minister lacks the confidence in his own caucus colleagues to sit on that committee and represent the interest of the government and indeed the Department of Environment and Labour.

Mr. Speaker, that to me smacks of McCarthyism and, perhaps even more, a touch of nepotism and parochialism. It clearly indicates that the minister responsible for this department doesn't have the confidence in his caucus colleagues to represent the interests of the government, but even more concerning (Interruptions) I certainly will table it for the honourable member. I would ask the member for Queens to look at the top, the source of the faxes, the Department of Labour, and where it came from. We are now having the minister and his department using taxpayers' dollars to advocate political causes, in this case, for the Conservative caucus. Why are we using the taxpayers' dollars to do the research for the Tory caucus?

Mr. Speaker, perhaps we should allow it for all three caucuses; that his department should be doing the same for all three caucuses if they are going to do it for one. Or else, clearly follow the Rules of the House. Is it little wonder that the Minister of Environment and Labour would stand in his place and answer questions defending his department. Yes, it all comes down to occupational health and safety. We saw how the minister hid under a rock, for the most part, when it came to dealing with the occupational health and safety issues in the 144 schools in the Halifax Regional School Board.

Mr. Speaker, all the minister had to do was to ask somebody in his department, or even himself, to lift up the phone, ask an official from the Halifax Regional School Board or, indeed, from the Department of Education to supply to his department all 144 JOSH reports,

[Page 2873]

or however many would be in existence from the last time they met, and he would be able to get a much better view of what is happening in those schools.

Mr. Speaker, maybe that could have very easily prevented those students from being on the steps of the Legislature today. The minister is shirking his responsibility. He is hiding behind bureaucratic red tape and legalese, that somebody within the department is advising him. He certainly doesn't understand the negotiating process, because if he did he would have stood in his place, if not in this House, in his department, from his office and taken a stand and given the signal to both Parties to bring closure on this particular, very unfortunate situation.

Mr. Speaker, no, what does he do? Like a cheerleader from the stands he passes off questions relating to the issues in his department to other ministers. There was little or no value in appointing a minister to that department if that is all we are going to receive. On the issues of occupational health and safety, the minister's own report clearly indicates that the total number of time-loss claims in the last year, since they changed that legislation, has increased. The average duration of time-loss claims increased since that legislation was brought into force.

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that occupational health and safety is only an issue of propaganda with this government. It is not an issue of due diligence; it is not an issue of making sure that workers are protected in the marketplace, because if that were the case, the minister and his department would not have interfered at Amherst Fabricators; they would not have interfered at the Yarmouth, and Valley Regional Hospitals, when inspectors went out and issued orders, and those orders were ordered to be rescinded for political purposes, contrary to the legislation, to the laws of this province.

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely shameful. I say shame on this minister. I wish we had more time to speak on this. We will be back. Thank you.

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

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, even though the motion was not moved by the honourable member opposite, the member for Cape Breton West, I am delighted that he, in fact, stood in for the member who actually moved the motion. The House should know, and I think that Nova Scotians would remember well, that, indeed, that honourable member had the honour of being the Minister of Labour in a previous government. I would say that Nova Scotians would probably remember well his time there. In fact, I would say that the Liberal Party has put a lot of responsibility and shown a lot of support for the words of that member opposite by paying him the great honour, at one time, of having him serve as the Minister of Labour.

[Page 2874]

In fact, I would even defend the member opposite that when he was Minister of Labour he shared some wisdom with Nova Scotians in this House. It was on Tuesday, May 26, 1998, when he was up in this House discussing the role of how the government should not interfere with the collective bargaining process. In fact, he said, "I have always indicated that we are facilitators, not the negotiators, and there is no intent by myself as Minister of Labour or anyone within the department or, indeed within the government to interfere with the collective bargaining process."

I would suggest that those words were quite appropriate at the time and indeed, they would still be appropriate today. However, with the passage of time it would appear that the honourable member has forgotten the wisdom he shared with this House and with Nova Scotians. Therefore, it is good to have Hansard, so we can pull these back and we can remind him, and all Nova Scotians, of the contradictions we hear from that honourable member in virtually every Question Period in this House, at every opportunity he has to get up.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table that for the honourable member's benefit and I would encourage him to read his own words and perhaps learn from them. They were certainly well spoken and, as you can see, they are not lost on me and I try to learn from the wisdoms, no matter where I find them. I also try to disregard the foolishness, no matter where I find it. Indeed, I get both from that honourable member.

I would also like to thank the member for the opportunity of getting up and speaking a little bit today about a number of things that are important to all Nova Scotians. One is Safe Communities. Safe Communities is a program to extend the concept of safety beyond the workplace right into the community. It is a 24 hour a day commitment. This has been undertaken globally and has been introduced to Canada by a gentleman named Paul Kells.

Unfortunately Paul got involved in this because of the tragic death of his son Sean. Sean, as a 19 year old, was in his third day of a job in Ontario where he was mixing chemicals. There was an absolute lack of occupational health and safety - which has since been dealt with by the court - unfortunately, a spark set off an explosion and, as a result, Sean died 24 hours afterwards.

I suppose the only positive thing that came out of this, if there could be a positive thing, is that it has been a great motivation for his father to try to raise the bar on safety, not only in the workplace, with occupational health and safety, which was so neglected in this instance, but indeed, 24 hours a day, though the Safe Communities programs.

I am very proud that in the riding of Kings South, Wolfville is the first community in Nova Scotia to embrace this. Mr. Speaker, the results have been dramatic. The reduction in accidents in safe communities have, in fact, led insurance companies to reduce their premiums for clients in those areas. Indeed, it leads to the cultural change that we have to bring about here in Nova Scotia, to become, as much as possible, accident-free.

[Page 2875]

Accident-free is a process. We have to change the culture. In changing the culture, there are organizations like the Nova Scotia Safety Council, which bring volunteers together and working as volunteers, they heighten the awareness of safety. But, again, it cannot only be confined to the workplace, it has to be throughout the community, 24 hours a day.

[6:15 p.m.]

The media is working with us on this, Mr. Speaker. The media plays an important part in this because when the media brings forward positive stories, they help to change the way we think. As we change the way we think, just like it was done with the Mothers Against Drunk Driving, it changed the culture. It is no longer acceptable to drive drunk. Perhaps at one point in time, it was not the taboo it is today. Now anybody who drives drunk is seen as a criminal, which is what they are when they do so.

So there are a lot of positives here but again I have to note that the Liberals have appointed that honourable member to be their Department of Environment and Labour Critic and that is a great responsibility. I hope that the Liberal Leader has a chance to maybe enter into this debate at some point in time and explain why he has chosen that member to enlighten Nova Scotians in the importance of occupational health and safety. As the member mentioned, just yesterday morning, all three Parties came forward with very similar resolutions and I am going to read mine into the record again.

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

Whereas May 6th to May 12th is North American Occupational Safety and Health Week, with the theme this year being Prevention is the Cure; and

Whereas it is the goal of the Department of Environment and Labour to increase awareness among all workplace parties in the province's occupational health and safety regulations and responsibilities; and

Whereas the Department of Environment and Labour is kicking off Occupational Safety and Health Week with the distribution of a 16-page supplement in The Daily News promoting effective safety systems, programs and resources to employers and employees across the province;

Therefore be it resolved that we celebrate North American Occupational Safety and Health Week by each making a renewed commitment to workplace health and safety and by acknowledging the role we can each fulfill in making our province the safest and healthiest place in the world to live, work and play."

[Page 2876]

So, Mr. Speaker, I think that what Nova Scotians are asking is why would the Liberal Party and, indeed that member opposite, be the ones to veto the unanimous consent needed for that resolution.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The point of order is the fact that the minister has misled this House on this particular reference to myself with regard to not interfering with the collective bargaining process. Clearly, the process that we are dealing with, with the existing custodian strike and the reference, the document that the minister has tabled is in reference to the back-to-work legislation that was requested by the Conservative caucus at that time, an entirely different issue. I would ask for a ruling that, in fact, the minister has misled this House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am not sure if that is a point of order, to be quite truthful with you, but it is definitely a dispute between two members and perhaps we should leave it at that. I will rule that it is not a point of order for the time being.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour has approximately 30 seconds left.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that the PC caucus supported those similar resolutions by the members opposite and that Nova Scotians might like to inquire of the Liberal Party why their Labour Critic would want to be adverse to this type of fundamental statement about occupational health and safety and what that reflects back on the Liberal Party. I think Nova Scotians would ask the Liberal Leader to answer those questions. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we are one day away from the 9th Anniversary of Westray. I find it less than amusing when I hear, in particular, a Minister of Environment and Labour and a Conservative Government talk about workplace safety and what I would describe as platitudes because I basically agree with this motion because I don't think they are serious about it.

I would remind the members opposite, I have never heard any of them disavow themselves of the comments of the former Premier of this province, Donnie Cameron, when Donnie Cameron stood or sat in his place in the Westray Inquiry and blamed the workers. He blamed the workers. It had nothing to do with his kind of rush to build himself a little monument in Plymouth, Pictou County. It was all about workers are unsafe. Did I ever hear one of those people come up and say, shame on you, don't ever show your face around a Conservative function again because you are wrong. No, as so many over there, they never

[Page 2877]

met a boot they didn't like to lick. They have not ever kind of made that former Premier stand up and back up those statements.

Clearly, if that was the case, Judge Richard would have found so, but no, Judge Richard in his wisdom found quite the opposite. It was a chain of events put forward by an inept government that caused Westray. It wasn't an infamous piece of bubble gum put on a gas monitor as the likes of Donnie Cameron would have you believe, the former Premier of this province. He blamed the workers. When you don't disavow yourself, and we are not talking about maybe something that Bob Stanfield or Ike Smith did, and somebody would say that is clearly 40 to 50 years ago, we have to distance ourselves from that. No, we are talking about a disaster of monumental proportions that was seen and heard world wide, hoisted on this province by, I would say in Judge Richard's words or not his words but certainly by his efforts, an incompetent government led by leading incompetent officials.

We have had Dr. Ian Plummer's report on that and we have seen those things, yet this government tweaks a few things and says, no it is all right. It's all in the past, let's forget about that, let's forget - we have been in this House and we have heard various people go on about the Buchanan years and the legacy of his debt and everyone just wants to gloss over that. Yet, we are reminded - I don't know about you, Mr. Speaker, but when I drive home to Cape Breton on the weekends - that stretch of highway almost to the end of what is referred to as the divided highway on the Trans-Canada, you can still see remnants of the Westray Mine and it is a reminder. Within that community they have a monument.

Until this government would disavow itself of remarks from a former Premier who was a member of their Party who blamed those workers, I really can't see where this government has any kind of moral ground to move forward and say that they are in support of substantial workers' rights and OH&S in the workplace. We look at that in that context and bring it on into this year and just within a year the fall sitting of 2000 of this House and Bill No. 68 where it introduced sunset clauses on the safety regulations. These weren't regulations that someone had thought up two or three weeks in advance. They didn't come out of thin air. Again, many of these regulations came from, I would say, Westray. They have been vetted by committees that represent very well both sides of the stakeholders, both employers and employees. Yet this government felt fit that it was worthwhile to put a five year sunset on these.

This is the same Party that has governed this province off and on for over 25 years and has not done anything substantial with the Trade Union Act for over 25 years. They do not want to bring that into any kind of 2001 year mode, so you have to worry, really, what they are all about. So I stand in support of this resolution and I believe that this government has done little or nothing in support of workers' rights in and around occupational health & safety. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 2878]

MR. SPEAKER: The member for Cape Breton West. You have approximately three and a half minutes left.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: I am pleased to rise and just clarify a few points because I was so disappointed by the presentation by the Minister of Environment and Labour that I couldn't help but get back up. I was absolutely astounded. I have never seen it before. I have been in this House since 1988 and I have never, ever seen a minister who has been so uninformed and ill-prepared for his department.

The only rebuttal that the Minister of Environment and Labour had towards myself as a previous minister is a quote that he took out of context during Question Period. In reference to letting the process work, and I will quote what the minister would not quote, most important was the fact that it was indicated by myself that any proposed back-to-work legislation would be an absolute last resort because the Party opposite was looking, pushing the government for back-to-work legislation. The process I was referring to was, in fact, in that context.

The Minister of Environment & Labour either doesn't know what is going on in his department or was deliberately misleading the House. I wouldn't want to think or suggest that, but all the evidence seems to be stacking up against this minister, that either he doesn't know what is going on in his department or we need a new minister.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the member that that would be unparliamentary to use those terms and I would ask that he retract them. You have approximately one and a half minutes left.

MR. MACKINNON: It certainly wasn't my intention to state categorically that that was the case, but - and I will certainly abide by the Speaker's guidance on that - one cannot conclude anything other than what the facts point to.

If nothing else, I ask the Premier on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia to please review this appointment. It is an absolute, unmitigated disaster, what we are seeing here. What is happening at the Halifax Regional School Board, what happened at Amherst Fabricators, what happened at the Yarmouth, and Valley Regional Hospitals, and we can go on and on. It is absolutely shameful what is happening to the workers.

Do you know what is even more disturbing? Tomorrow is a very sad day in Nova Scotia because of what happened at 5:30 a.m. on May 9, 1991, for reasons for which that government was part and parcel of, a dark day in Nova Scotia's history. If anything, the Premier, with his advisers, should reconsider the stewardship within that department for the safety and well-being of the workers of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for debate on the late show has expired.

[Page 2879]

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

Bill No. 20 - Government Restructuring (2001) Act. [Debate resumed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview on the amendment to Bill No. 20. The member has approximately 53 minutes remaining.

[6:30 p.m.]

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: I am pleased to resume my remarks on the hoist amendment. I was saying before the break that part of the motivation for me standing up and speaking was a comment I read from the Honourable Government House Leader that was quoted in the paper last Saturday, although I am sure he must have been misquoted, where he said, "The bill is perfectly straight-forward . . . It's a restructuring that has already taken place."

[6:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, surely that couldn't have been all he said, or perhaps in the jostle of the crowd he perhaps wasn't speaking straight. There is so much more to Bill No. 20 and so much more that needs to be examined. It seems to me that six months is exactly the time we need to do that.

Mr. Speaker, in remarks in the last amendment I have already alluded to some of the difficulties. I will cite them only as examples of the broader point. These are things really quite stunning, increases in the executive power. These are things that need to be looked at very carefully and certainly six months is an appropriate time.

Clause 4, where delegations of authority can now be accomplished even without the approval of the Governor in Council. It is stunning, Mr. Speaker, that delegation of authority, the authority that the Legislature has decided to cloak officials with, can be given to someone else without approval of the Governor in Council, in fact, without the approval of this Legislature.

Clause 38, which my colleague, the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, alluded to, it is now no longer necessary for the government to come back to the House to approve creation of more than two departments; stunning, Mr. Speaker, because that means this government, no government of Nova Scotia, ever again needs to come back to this House. They can restructure and re-form as much as they please and they never need to seek the approval of this House again. That is a stunning grab of executive power and certainly something that needs to be examined very carefully.

[Page 2880]

Clause 40, the creation of these nebulous beasts called offices, whatever that might be. It's not a department, it's not an agency, it's something called an office. Mr. Speaker, why would the government be creating all these different bodies where it is so completely unclear what it is they are creating? The Government House Leader says, "The bill is perfectly straight-forward . . . it's a restructuring that has already taken place."

If that were the case, Mr. Speaker, there would be absolutely no need to give themselves the unlimited power to create offices now or at any time in the future. Sure, they have one or two going now; the Petroleum Directorate, the Office of Aboriginal Affairs, although it is a mystery to anyone why they didn't fit into the existing categories. Okay, we have two. If they want to recognize those, the restructuring that has already taken place, let them do it. I am sure the members on this side of the House would have much less difficulty with it if that were all the bill was about, but it is not what the bill is about. That is why six months seems like a good length of time to review it. In fact, six months might be a good time for the Government House Leader to review the bill he has placed before the House because, apparently, he is of the understanding that it is a restructuring that has already taken place. So it seems to me that maybe the Government House Leader needs six months to examine the bill to see how much more is in it.

Clause 41, Mr. Speaker, the open-ended power to contract out government services. If it was just a recognition of things that have already happened, like the slapping together of the Departments of Environment and Labour, it is hard to imagine why that clause is in the bill, because it goes so much further than simply recognizing restructuring that has already taken place. That clause, which I read into the record the other day, is a stunning grab of executive power. It allows the government, by contract, to privatize, to contract out any matter within the purview of any department. That is stunning, because it is the Legislature

that is supposed to approve that kind of thing. That is what we are here for; that is why this body exists. That is why this building is here, so there could be open debate and open discussion, not open-ended grants of executive power.

Mr. Speaker, another item that is not in the least a recognition of anything that has happened so far is the power given not to this House, not even to the Cabinet, but to a committee of Cabinet called the Treasury and Policy Board. The power will be given to the Treasury and Policy Board to create a beast, an administrative beast, heretofore unknown to law or to the government, heretofore unknown to Nova Scotia, called a special operating agency.

Mr. Speaker, other provinces, notably Manitoba, have had these things called special operating agencies. It was one of the prides and joys of the Conservative Government of Manitoba, but it seems to me there is a great deal of controversy and question over whether this move to special operating agencies in Manitoba was a good thing. It seems to me that six months is a good time for all members of this House to be informed about exactly what happened in Manitoba when they made that move. There is a particular part of that that

[Page 2881]

caught my attention - if I can only find it here - and that is the terms on which these special operating agencies would be created - I have found it - because not only do they get to create these completely unknown administrative beasts called special operating agencies to do who knows what, but they are giving themselves the power to "establish an operating charter for a special operating agency . . . containing the objects of the special operating agency, and terms, conditions and other provisions governing its operations."

Mr. Speaker, this is stunning. This is a stunning grab of executive power. Not only do they get to create something that is completely unknown to Nova Scotia law, but they get to set the terms on which these beasts are created. They get to create these things and then they get to set the rules by which they operate. Now, what is that all about? I have looked through Bill No. 20 in vain for the least bit of information, for the slightest bit of background about why those provisions are there. There is one thing that I can say for sure - perhaps the only thing that we can say for sure about these special operating agencies - is that they have nothing to do with "a restructuring that has already taken place". That is the justification offered by the Government House Leader and the sponsor of this bill for why Bill No. 20 should just sail through this House unopposed, because it just recognizes things that have already happened.

Mr. Speaker, that is so clearly not the case. It seems to me that six months is a good time to study the bill. It is also a good time for the Government House Leader to familiarize himself with the contents of the bill since - if he was not misquoted, which he may have been - he seems so unaware of what is actually in the bill. Then after that, and I am really only hitting the highlights of the bill, not even getting into detail, then there is the provision that gives the government the power to dip its hands, dip its fingers into every single body in the province that receives government money.

Now we are going far beyond government departments and government agencies. What is says is "The Governor in Council may make regulations designating a body or class of bodies, other than municipalities that receive funding from the Province . . . as a government agency or government agencies . . ." Now, in the total context of the bill, it seems very clear that what the government wants to do here is say if you receive any money from us, we get to tell you what to do. What the bill does is it gives the government complete power over the collective bargaining, over the Human Resources management and policies of everyone in the Public Service.

Mr. Speaker, did someone on the other side say that this was a stretch? That is what the bill says. I am not making this up. Here it is. I am sure every member on the other side of the House has read the bill from top to bottom, the way that everybody on this side has. Now they haven't actually gotten up to speak, so they haven't given any evidence that they have read it. But I will be charitable and assume that they have all read it and I will say it is there. There it is right there. That is what it says. Clause 49, Section 89(2) says, "The Governor in Council may make regulations expanding the definition of 'public service' in

[Page 2882]

Section 17 to include employees of other bodies, . . . that receive funding from the Province . . ." That is what it says. I didn't make that up. I was just reading from Bill No. 20. That is what it says.

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that perhaps my reading these words from the government bill is catching some of the members on the other side by surprise. So what I would like to suggest is that if that is not what the government intends, if that is not what they want to do, then there is a very simple solution. Let's hoist the bill for six months and revise it so that it does, in fact, reflect what it is that the government wants to do. Because if that is not what it wants to do, the bad news I have for the members on that side and particularly the member for Dartmouth South, who is being vocal from his sitting position but has never risen to speak on the bill . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He is not allowed.

MR. STEELE: I won't speculate on why he hasn't risen to speak, Mr. Speaker, but what I would like to say is that six months seems like a good time for all the members, including the member for Dartmouth South, to look at this provision and if that is not what they mean to do, then, by golly, let's change it. Let's take the bill off the table for six months and let's have a look at it.

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me, I have really only hit the highlights of the bill. There is so much in this bill that goes beyond what the Government House Leader said - it is a restructuring that has already taken place. Well, I will be so bold as to say that that is simply not true. So I will assume that the Government House Leader was misquoted on that because as the sponsor of the bill, he has to know that that is not true. It is simply not the case that all this bill does is recognize restructuring that has already happened. That is why I support the proposed amendment.

Mr. Speaker, there is an opportunity in Bill No. 20 to do something good. There is another subject that should be part of the bill and could be part of the principle of the bill but is not. That is reforming the way that Nova Scotians are appointed to agencies, boards and commissions. It seems to me . . .

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I observe that the honourable member, who is supposed to be speaking to the hoist amendment is now speaking on what is not in the bill. I would suggest, respectfully, that that is not the rule, that is not relevant to the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am not exactly sure if that is a point of order. Nonetheless, it is a point to, I would suppose, consider at a future time. I will certainly do exactly that. But I will remind the member, at the same time, that we are speaking about a hoist amendment here and the member for Halifax Fairview has the floor.

[Page 2883]

[6:45 p.m.]

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I used the wrong phraseology, it seems to get up the noses of members on the government side when I say that I am speaking about something that's not in the bill. So let me rephrase it a little, Mr. Speaker. One could say that what I am speaking about is the very reason for the hoist, that we need six months in order to amend the bill so that it properly expresses a principle that could receive the support of this House. (Interruptions)

Or, Mr. Speaker, if that is not satisfactory to the members on the government side, then what I will say is that I am addressing very directly the task, the proper role and function of the Public Service Commission, and that six months is the perfect time to elaborate on what the Public Service Commission being set up by Bill 20, I am sure, will do. So, Mr. Speaker, that is the point I am addressing, the Public Service Commission which is created by this bill. If talking about the Public Service Commission which is created by this bill is, for some reason, not on point, then I am afraid that perhaps there truly is something I don't understand.

One of the problems that has plagued Nova Scotia over the years is this question of patronage. Certainly, no one government can claim to be any better than another. Certainly the Liberals were no better than the Conservatives before them, who were no better than the Liberals before them, who were no better than the Conservatives before them. We have come a long way. One of the bits of progress we have made is that, thanks to the last Liberal Government, the Human Rights Act was amended to include political affiliation as a prohibited ground of discrimination. So the fact is that patronage is illegal in Nova Scotia but it is not quite that easy to stamp it out. It seems to me that the creation of the Public Service Commission is a perfect opportunity to once and for all stamp out inappropriate patronage in the province.

To do that with respect to appointments to agencies, boards and commission, requires three essential elements, which I am sure the Public Service Commission being created by this government will pursue. The first one is that the qualifications for the job must be stated in detail, in advance. I don't actually see that requirement anywhere in Bill No. 20 but it is certainly one that could be written in or it is one that could be pursued by regulation. It is certainly one that I would commend to the government's attention as it pushes forward with this restructuring. If we are going to have restructuring, we should make sure that it achieves positive things.

The second essential condition for stamping out patronage is to ensure that the jobs are advertised in a way that will bring them to the attention of those who are qualified. This is a point on which we have made some progress. When I first stood up in this House, Mr. Speaker, I said I will give credit where credit is due and I will criticize where criticism is due. But it was the last Liberal Government that instituted the practice of widespread advertising for agency, board and commission appointments. It is something that they started in 1994 and

[Page 2884]

then didn't repeat nearly as often as they should have, but it is a practice that has resumed and it is a good one.

Now there are some questions about the details, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions) The members on the other side who have said nothing in this debate suddenly find themselves with a great deal to say from the sitting position. They complain loudly and long about the Opposition not having positive recommendations for change. Here is a positive, detailed recommendation and they are telling me they don't want to hear it. I am a bit taken aback by their attitude, Mr. Speaker.

There is a chance here to do something good, a chance here to make this restructuring more positive than would appear from Bill No. 20 itself. What I am saying is that six months is a perfect time to work out the details for such a plan. What I am doing is laying out what such a plan might look like in order to open the debate that would take place over the next six months. If the members on that side, who have had so little to say on the record, don't want to hear a positive solution, well, I guess they just don't have to listen.

Mr. Speaker, the third requirement and the one on which every government has so far failed, not through lack of trying and not, I would suggest, through lack of good faith, but on which they have nevertheless failed, is that the appointment process has to be transparent in the sense that every aspect of it has to be subject to review in some kind of a public way. It is this third requirement that I would like to spend a little bit of time on.

Mr. Speaker, currently, the appointment process is done through the Human Resources Committee. It is not a great process, because what the members of the Human Resources Committee get is the résumé of the person that the government proposes to appoint. There is no way for the members of the committee to know who else applied, what their qualifications were of who else applied and, in fact, there is no way of knowing, based on the information placed before the committee, whether the best person has been chosen. The only way to cure that is to have some way for the process to be open to scrutiny.

Mr. Speaker, one of the advances brought forward by this government was to institute - it goes by many names - what you might call a citizens' screening committee. It was something that was promised by that government before they were elected, and it was done in good faith and it was done for the best of reasons. I think we have to acknowledge that the fact is they are not working very well. That is why I am saying that this new Public Service Commission proposed by Bill No. 20 is the perfect opportunity to do things right, but because so little of the details are contained in Bill No. 20, we need time, time to come up with those details, and six months seems like the perfect time. That is why I am supporting the hoist motion.

Right now there is no knowledge about how the members of the citizens' screening committee are selected; there is no knowledge about what criteria, if any, they are following;

[Page 2885]

there is no knowledge about what names they are recommending or to whom. All we know is that, for the best of reasons, these citizen committees were appointed as some kind of screen, to screen out the worst abuses. I would suggest the system is not working, and they fail for the same reason that all such attempts fail, and that is because they don't recognize the sheer volume of work. We have hundreds of agencies, boards and commissions. We make thousands, literally thousands of appointments in the run of a year, and no volunteer committee, composed of people who have other things to do, who have other full-time jobs, can possibly deal with the volume of appointments. For every appointment, there might be 3 or 4 or 20 people who apply and are not appointed.

We are talking about thousands and thousands of applications that these citizens' committees have to wade through. What has happened is that they are simply not able to deal with the volume, but a Public Service Commission could. That is why I have chosen to spend some time tonight, the time that I have available on Bill No. 20 to talk about this point. There is a chance to do something good, a chance to do something significant to improve the situation. What the citizens' screening committee has been unable to do, what the Human Resources Committee has been unable to do could be done by the Public Service Commission.

Mr. Speaker, I put forward, for the consideration of the government, the point that that is the only way for the third essential condition to be met - and that is the condition of public scrutiny - in light of the sheer volume of appointments, is for the appointment process to be conducted by - and I am not using these words in any technical sense - a full-time secretariat that is then subject to audit by a body at arm's length from government for compliance with publicly-stated objective and policies.

Now it seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that the perfect candidate for this full-time secretariat is the Public Service Commission that this government is creating in Bill No. 20. It is this body, with full-time civil servants, who would do the time-consuming work of soliciting applications, of sifting through applications, of writing up job descriptions and of applying the criteria to the applications to make sure that the very best people go forward.

I want to make it clear that I am not suggesting for one moment that anyone but the Cabinet, the Governor in Council, should have the last word on appointments. In our system of government it is a fact and it is appropriate that Cabinet has the last word on appointments. It also seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that if we give this job to the Public Service Commission that Cabinet will be working with much better information than they currently have. The most important advantage this would have is that the recommendation of the Public Service Commission would be public. Cabinet is free to accept or reject that recommendation but at least the rejection would be public. If the government is willing to answer the criticism of its critics, if it believes there is some good reason to appoint a person other than the one whose name is put forward by the Public Service Commission, that is their right, that is their prerogative, but at least it would be public.

[Page 2886]

The crucial part of this system that I am proposing is what I will call the auditor. Again, I am not using that in any technical sense of the word. The auditor could be the Auditor General or it could be someone working at the direction of the Human Resources Committee of the Legislature, or both. The important thing is that the role of this auditor, and I don't mean this in any financial sense, Mr. Speaker, but the role of this person would be to do spot checks, to make sure that the policies set by the Human Resources Committee are followed. That is the only way we can end the unfortunate practices of patronage.

The Human Resources Committee has an important role in all this as well, that is not to deal with the minutiae of individual applications, as they are doing now, but to act as a kind of board of directors for the appointments. So their role is setting policies, setting broad policies about what should be done by whom. It seems to me that the members of the Human Resources Committee would find that a much more productive and effective use of their time if the debate at the committees was about what the policies ought to be that would be applied by the Civil Service Commission. It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that once and for all that would give the Human Resources Committee a valued and important role in the process which it has not had to date.

I would point out that the Human Resources Committee, as currently constituted, has a majority of government members, and that is as it should be. The Conservative Party won a majority in the last election and it is appropriate and fair that they have a majority of members on the Human Resources Committee because they won a majority of seats in this House. The essential point is that the debate over those policies would be public. Any member of the public could attend, it is recorded by Hansard and there is a full transcript available to the public, and at least that debate would be public. That would be an important advance over what we have now.

So, again, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that having Bill No. 20 before the House, that proposes the re-creation of a Public Service Commission, provides us with a perfect opportunity to reform a system that is badly in need of reform. There is very little detail in Bill No. 20 about this Public Service Commission and how it will operate. So the reason I am supporting the hoist motion is that I believe that six months is a perfect time for us to work through the implications of this proposal so that Bill No. 20 can have a good, positive impact. That is why we need six months, because it is not currently in the bill as written.

[7:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, there is another aspect that I think is very important because the word patronage gets flung around a lot without a great deal of examination about what it means. Whichever Party is in Opposition accuses the Party that is in government of patronage. That Party did it when they were on this side of the House; certainly, now that the Third Party is on this side of the House they are flinging those accusations across the aisle at the

[Page 2887]

government. Everybody does it, but I think it is very important to examine that idea a little bit and say, well, what exactly is it that we are talking about.

I also believe that it is entirely appropriate and fair that in our system of government, people appointed to some agencies, boards and commissions be generally sympathetic to government policy. I don't see any reason why any government should be expected to appoint people who, for example, are vocally opposed to government policy on the subject matter that the agency, board or commission covers. I don't see why any government should be expected to appoint a person who is on record as opposing the creation or the mandate of the agency, board or commission to which they wish to be appointed. Where exactly the dividing line is, I couldn't say, because while I will readily agree that some agencies, boards and commissions should have members who are generally sympathetic to government policy, there are some agencies, boards and commissions that most definitely should not.

It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that Bill No. 20 is a perfect opportunity for us to implement some of the system that I am talking about, although there is so little detail there that I think we need the hoist motion in order to give this House six months to consider this proposal. We have an opportunity here and we shouldn't let it slip.

Among the agencies, boards and commissions that in my opinion, although it may not be shared even by members on this side of the House or not by members on that side of the House, that should be entirely free of political considerations - frankly, Mr. Speaker, in my mind it is a relatively short list - it is a list of ABCs that are doing what lawyers call quasi-judicial functions. These are agencies that are holding hearings, receiving evidence and deciding on the rights and entitlements under law of Nova Scotians. There is no place in those ABCs for political considerations.

That would capture at least the following short list: the Utility and Review Board; the Residential Tenancies Board; the Social Assistance Appeals Board; the Review Board under the Criminal Code; the Review Board under the Hospitals Act; the Pay Equity Commission; the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal; the Police Review Board; the Alcohol and Gaming Authority; the Labour Relations Board; the Labour Standards Tribunal; the Small Claims Court; and, finally, the Occupational Health and Safety Appeal Panel. It seems to me that those agencies, boards and commissions should be entirely free of political considerations in their appointments.

It also seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that there can be legitimate debate about all other ABCs, about whether political considerations are appropriate, and to what extent. To what extent, and I ask this as an open-ended question, not suggesting that I have the answer, but to what extent should the boards of directors of universities, at least the provincial representatives on them, to what extent should those provincial representatives be broadly sympathetic to government policy? To what extent should provincial appointees to health

[Page 2888]

authorities, hospital boards and other boards in the health care sector, to what degree should the members of those boards be broadly sympathetic to government policy?

It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that there is room for a very legitimate debate here. That may be the final piece of the puzzle in addition to everything that I have spoken about up to now, which includes the Civil Service Commission that is created by Bill No. 20. But the final piece of the puzzle is acknowledgement that for some ABCs, general sympathy with government policy is a legitimate concern. That is something that has never been acknowledged as the Opposition Parties, whether they be NDP, Liberal or Conservative when they are in Opposition, in all the flinging of accusations about patronage, that debate,

the really meaningful debate about the appropriate role of sympathy for government policy, that debate has never been held.

If the members are not used to listening to the members on this side, if they don't wish to listen to members on this side, all I will say is that much the same kind of points - although not in quite so much detail - were made by the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia in their report on Reform of the Administrative Justice System in Nova Scotia dated January 1997.

Of course, when the Law Reform Commission wrote this report, they did not know that Bill No. 20 would be forthcoming. They did not know that this government would be proposing the creation of a Public Service Commission. Clearly, they don't address that specific point, but it seems to me that the general gist of what I am saying tonight and the general gist of what the Law Reform Commission said in 1997 could be incorporated in Bill No. 20. The advantage of the hoist amendment proposed by the honourable Liberal House Leader is that it would give us the time necessary to incorporate ideas like this into the mandate of the Public Service Commission.

Just reading one sentence only from this report of the Law Reform Commission, there are many recommendations. I certainly commend it to the government's attention. It was reported a number of years ago and perhaps like many reports, it was left to gather dust, but there is a lot of wisdom in it, there are a lot of good ideas in here. As I was reading the other day in the Reader's Digest and if it was in the Reader's Digest, it must be true, Linus Pauling, the Nobel Prize winner - in fact I believe he is the only double Nobel Prize winner, one for chemistry and one for peace. I believe that is correct - was quoted as saying, the only way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.

So, to paraphrase that a little, one way for this government to have good ideas is to listen to lots of ideas, ideas coming from the members on their side of the House, the members on this side of the House as well.

[Page 2889]

The sentence I was going to read from this Law Reform Commission is, "Although it should not be a basis for an appeal of a decision of the ABC unless bias is established, a new law should say that the appointment process should be transparent and accountable." And that is only one sentence out of a much longer volume that has a great deal of insight in it.

It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that we don't get many opportunities to make our appointment process transparent and accountable and we have an opportunity before us. We have an opportunity on the order paper and it is not only on the order paper, but has actually been called for debate tonight and over the last few days and over the next few days. We have Bill No. 20 before us which creates this Public Service Commission and it seems to me it would be a shame to miss this opportunity to do what the Law Reform Commission suggested to do, to do what simple fairness suggests, and that is to have some degree of accountability and transparency in our appointment process.

Again, that is why I pose the hoist amendment, because I think we need time to make sure that those ideas - or ideas along those lines - are incorporated into Bill No. 20. I am certainly not suggesting for one second that I am the only one who has the right idea. What I am suggesting is that there are some principles that we could follow, but the details could be different. Different people would have different ideas of how the details would flow out.

So, with the principles I have talked about, I commend that idea to the government's attention that we have an opportunity here that should not be missed; the opportunity is the creation of the Public Service Commission. The creation of the Public Service Commission gives us an opportunity to do the right thing. I will not repeat the points that I made when I stood on my feet the other day to address the previous amendment. I think my views are very well known.

This bill goes far beyond simply recognizing the restructuring that has already taken place. It goes far beyond that and I think the government knows that; I am sure the Government House Leader knows that. That is why we think it is so important that the provisions of this bill get the attention that they deserve: the provision that allows for the contracting out or privatization of any function of government; the provision that allows the government to give administrative directives to any part of the Public Service or Civil Service; and, most importantly, Mr. Speaker, that the bill gives the government the power to define what the Public Service is and it gives the government the power to include in the Public Service for purposes of this bill, any person or body that receives money from the government. It seems to me that is far broader than necessary, and that is why we want to bring these provisions of the bill to the government's attention and to the public's attention.

So, Mr. Speaker, with those words, with that concern that the bill goes far beyond legitimate restructuring of the government, with the concern that it represents the reasons I outlined the other day, a vast granting of power to the executive to the detriment of this Legislature, with those reservations and also the thought that there are opportunities here to

[Page 2890]

genuinely improve government, I will take my seat and say that I propose to vote in support of the amendment proposed by the Liberal House Leader. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is almost like waking up from a bad dream and realizing that we are back at this again simply because this crowd over here are so bloodthirsty for power. What a nightmare it is. (Interruption) And we have the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval at the back of the room. The motion of a hoist for six months is an appropriate period of time. It is an appropriate period of time so that Nova Scotians, one and all, can realize what Bill No. 20 is all about. A six-months' hoist means that Nova Scotians would be able to understand first-hand just exactly what this government's intentions really are with regard to this bill.

You know we have the union that represents some 21,000 Public Service employees, they are requesting that this bill be held back. They are saying they are concerned about Bill No. 20. They are concerned, 21,000 are concerned about what this bill means to Nova Scotians and yet this group of some small number of elected officials are going to drive the agenda forward with or without the support of the workers that they represent. This is about power; this is about the Executive Council taking over the highest level of power from Nova Scotians, the power to be able to manipulate and control, the power to be able to change, to be able to hire and fire and pay whoever it is that they want, as long as of course they are a Tory, to do the work that they want to do in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Yet this is a government that, only a few months ago, was telling Nova Scotians that they were the government that they could trust, the government that would be honest and straightforward, the government that would be transparent, the government that would, in fact, be a government that would bring in policies, that would be consulted and consult with Nova Scotians, consulting for the Nova Scotia public. Oh how they changed their tune, Mr. Speaker. Here we are, less than two years into their mandate, and already they are trying to drive through legislation that is not going be able to be discussed properly, but let it be known that this side of the House will be holding them accountable.

[7:15 p.m.]

We will be asking the questions and we will be here long enough to let them know that we want answers to the questions that are there. I look with interest at the backbenchers who are rivetted by those comments, with the exception of the doorman in the back, realizing that they too want the answers to these questions; they too want to understand what is going on with the issues surrounding Bill No. 20 and the amount of power the front bench, who already have a fair amount of power in relationship to the elected representatives of this House, how much more they are really going to have.

[Page 2891]

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about the structural changes of things that we have right now such as the Liquor Commission. We have the Liquor Commission in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is unique to all of Canada. The Minister of Finance probably needs more than a new set of glasses to see the light of day that we are trying to talk about here in this Legislative Assembly today. In fact, I can lend him mine, but I know that even with these he could not see the light of day on the issues I am trying to bring forward to the Minister of Finance.

Let's take a look at the structure of the Liquor Commission in Nova Scotia; the Liquor Commission that is unique to the rest of this country. I see with interest the minister responsible, the young fellow over in the corner, barely old enough to even go to the Liquor Commission. I note some of the more mature members of the government were considering that was a low blow but, in fact, it was a compliment to the young fellow. You know he understands, even though how young he is he should understand that the Liquor Commission is an important part of the economy of Nova Scotia. It creates over $100 million in direct revenue to the Province of Nova Scotia; over $100 million, $130 some million if I remember correctly. They have a good board. Now what this new member wants to do, he wants to set up an advisory board.

This is a government that talks about getting rid of red tape and duplication. Do you remember that red tape task force that consisted of nothing but backbench Conservatives over there to get rid of one thing.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is the rodeo.

MR. DOWNE: It is rodeo is right. You know it is the Wyatt Earp crowd back there. They were the ones back there who were saying, we are going to get rid of duplication and red tape. That is why they call them the red tape task force. So what are they going to do now, this government who has a board, a very practical board, a board of hard-working individuals? When I was minister, I believe one of the representatives on that board was appointed by their government when they were in power, under the Buchanan Government.

You remember that Buchanan Government, the Buchanan Government that left this province with the biggest legacy of debt this province has ever seen in its life. We have all seen the merits of the Buchanan Government. A great individual as far as being a personal individual, no question about John Buchanan being a very nice individual; to shake hands, he could remember everybody's mother and brother and aunt and uncle, but when it came to being an administrator, (Interruption) Senator Buchanan, he is now a Senator, yes. Brian Mulroney made him a Senator. There is another great Tory, Brian Mulroney made him another . . .

[Page 2892]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I just want to remind the honourable member that he is to be speaking to the hoist amendment that has been put before the House. I think the history lesson that the honourable member has given us, we have probably heard before. I would ask the honourable member to bring his remarks back to the hoist amendment, please.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fact that some of the members there ask questions and I shouldn't really try to show them the light of day in answering some of their questions about their Senator John Buchanan, who, when he took over power the total debt of the Province of Nova Scotia - but I won't go that far, I will not go there. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. For the second time, I would ask this honourable member to bring his comments back to the six months' hoist amendment. He is repeating what I asked him not to repeat.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I think they are mad at you, and they put the wood to you about holding us to the six months' hoist. I will talk about the six months' hoist. The Speaker will probably be under a great deal of heat when he goes off here tomorrow.

They are setting up, in the structure of the power corporation, an advisory group. That advisory group is going to be established, not through a structure such as I understand, it is not going to go through the Human Resources Committee, but it is going to through the OIC, an Order in Council. (Interruption) Yes, they are going to be appointed by OIC. Six months hence would allow us to have a better structure.

The other part of that bill, under the Liquor Commission, Clause 23, Subsection 66(2) of Chapter 260 is amended by striking out certain words. I wonder what this really means. Is this really a major policy shift that this government is making with regard to the Liquor Commission? Is this a major policy shift that is going to affect Nova Scotians? We have just seen, recently, that tobacco has been taken away from the sale of pharmacies in the Province of Nova Scotia. Maybe what they are talking about now is selling liquor in pharmacies across this province. Maybe they are talking about selling liquor in pharmacies throughout Nova Scotia.

We voted against Sunday shopping, the Conservative Government said no to Sunday shopping, but maybe this is their way to be able to sell liquor in Nova Scotia seven days a week, because pharmacies are open seven days a week. If that is the case, why wouldn't they be strong enough and determined enough to stand up in this House and give that information to Nova Scotians right up front. Instead, they have it masked through this bill, Bill No. 20.

[Page 2893]

Yet, they do not want to come clear on that bill, and that is why I have said six months hence, the amendment for tabling this for six months is an appropriate period of time. This could be a major policy shift of government. If it is a major policy shift of government, why are they so ashamed, hiding it through the back door of a policy such as this? Why wouldn't the Premier stand up in his Throne Speech or in the Budget Speech by the Minister of Finance saying, we are now going to allow liquor stores to be open seven days a week, and we are going to do that by using pharmacies in rural Nova Scotia to make it a reality.

Shame on this government, if that, in fact, is what they are trying to do. I was going to ask the Premier if that is the case. The Premier, this last while they have kept him in some kind of no-person's land, they have him out with a tin cup on equalization around the country, wrapping himself in a flag on other issues, and here he is, when we talk to him about certain issues, he didn't understand that the debt was growing each and every day they are in power. I don't think he really realized that. I don't think he liked that. I don't think he really cared for that. But it is, and we had to bring it to his attention. I don't know if the Premier knew that when they had surpluses, I think next year they are projecting it, they have no plan how they are going to deal with surpluses. Are they going to pay it to the debt? Are they going to use it for program spending? Are they going to come out with tax reductions? We don't know that, nor did the Premier.

That is why six months later we would all know, including the Premier, what this bill is all about. We didn't realize, we never knew they were considering selling liquor in pharmacies. I am sure the good Premier doesn't realize that. I don't think the Premier would support that, but that is what this bill could do. This bill has all sorts of powers, and we think after six months we would know better, exactly what this is all about. I think they have basically kept the Premier right out of the loop of what is happening. I don't know who is really calling the shots. I would like to know who really is driving the agenda over there on that side of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is it Michael Baker.

MR. DOWNE: Is it Michael Baker, the Minister of Justice? Is it the member for Lunenburg, is that who it is, do you think? Or is it the Minister of Finance? Or is it the Minister of Transportation and Public Works? But six months from now we would know because one of those guys would stand up (Interruptions) I think it is the doorman at the back of the room (Interruptions) the Wal-Mart greeter is the guy who is doing this. Can you imagine the Wal-Mart greeter being the man in charge of doing this? No wonder we are asking for a six months' hoist of this bill.

We are hearing from government employees throughout the province, thank goodness there is a Party on this side of this House that was holding this government up so they can understand what is really going on. This side of the House, both Opposition Parties, the Official Opposition and the Liberals, we are holding the government's feet to the fire waiting

[Page 2894]

to see what is really on their agenda, so Nova Scotians can say for themselves whether or not they are accurate.

We need a six months' hoist. Even the caucus chair knows that not only do they need a six months' hoist, some of those guys over there need a bigger hoist than that. Six months is needed, hoist her right out. I don't know how they would pronounce that in Lunenburg, Mr. Premier, but a hoist is a hoist. (Interruptions) It would be a heist all right, they are heisting dollars out of the pockets of Nova Scotians because of bracket creep every single day they are in power. They are heisting the money right out of your back pocket, that is why we need six months on this.

I mentioned to the Premier not too long ago that the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia is going every day since they have been in power. I think he was somewhat shocked and almost appalled by the actions - didn't realize that the debt of the province has grown over $2 billion since they have been in power. In last year alone the Minister of Finance increased the debt by $1.3 billion. That is why we need six months to understand what else is going on in that bill. That is a $3.5 million a day growth in the debt. Six months from now we would have the Premier educated on exactly what is happening with regard to the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Maybe we would bring some solutions to that Premier, they would bring some suggestions as to how they can start dealing with the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia, that is obviously out of control. They are projecting surpluses yet the debt continues to grow. It is growing faster than ever before. We are seeing that day in and day out - no plan. That is why six months from now we would be able to explain this to the Premier because I think the Premier means well but he has this crowd that hides him from the facts of life, hides him from the reality of what is happening in that Cabinet.

I can't imagine that Premier, when I asked him the questions, not knowing, except if the players in the upper gallery who send the message down to him every day have kept him in the dark. They send him off on little journeys around the country. He does a good job as he goes around, trying to represent this province in a respectable way. Little do they know that he doesn't know the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia is growing. That is why six months from now we would be able to get that message out with the Premier and explain to the Premier that the debt is continuing to grow, without the Minister of Finance bringing in some sort of surplus management plan.

Bill No. 20, Mr. Speaker, is being requested and asked, almost begged, by the employees that work for the government today. They are saying, give it six months so we can understand what is going on. Now, I wonder, the poor gentlemen and lady in the back, who are dealing with these employees on a day-to-day basis when they go back to their constituency, what are they going to tell them? Are they going to tell them - what are they going to tell them when they say, we would like to have you take a break for a minute. Take

[Page 2895]

six months, don't kill the bill, just give us six months to hoist the bill so that we can - now what, Mr. Speaker? Did you want to say something to me, Mr. Speaker?

[7:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: I was so enthralled with the debate that I was - would the honourable member allow for an introduction?

MR. DOWNE: Oh, yes. Absolutely.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. I would like to take the opportunity this evening to introduce two gentlemen who are in the Speaker's Gallery. Mr. Alan Sokolow, who is a Director of the Eastern Regional Conference of the Council of State Governments. Also, David Alukonis, I hope I have pronounced that correctly, he is the Assistant Majority Leader of the Finance Committee of the State of New Hampshire House of Representatives. These two gentlemen are here to meet with all three caucuses tonight and tomorrow to discuss matters of equal importance between the Eastern States and Nova Scotia.

I certainly want to welcome these two gentlemen to Nova Scotia and hope they enjoy their two day stay with us. I know they are looking forward to meeting with the three caucuses and the Premier tomorrow. I would ask all members to give them the usual warm welcome to Nova Scotia as we always do. I would ask them to rise. (Applause)

Thank you to the honourable member for Lunenburg West, who now has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: Thank you very much and I too want to welcome them to this House as we are standing here trying to show, from a democratic point of view, that to give a six month period of time so that Nova Scotians and the union can understand exactly what is going on with this bill. The backbench doesn't understand what is going on, gosh, the Premier doesn't understand what is going on. Only a couple of select in the front have figured out what is going on. The biggest union in the Province of Nova Scotia is saying, we don't understand what is going on. We want some answers; the employees, the parents, the mums and dads of the children that are going to school to build a better Nova Scotia are saying, we want some answers on Bill No. 20. (Interruptions)

They laugh, they laugh with glee over the fact that they don't care what anybody thinks about that bill. They are going to drive it through no matter what, so they say. Well, we are standing here in this House, Mr. Speaker, letting them realize that six months is not an unfair request, so that we can find out whether liquor is going to be sold in pharmacies throughout Nova Scotia and rural Nova Scotia. This is the same group that said to rural Nova Scotia, vote for us. That is where they got the majority of their power. Vote for us in rural Nova Scotia and we will look after you.

[Page 2896]

The very first thing they do, they take the Department of Agriculture and Marketing - an organization highly regarded and respected right across this country - from being an organization, a Department of Agriculture that had a relationship with the farm organizations that was second to none anywhere in this country, and do you know what they have done? They have grabbed hold of it within less than a year and they grabbed it by its throat and they shook it until they let 100 individuals go; 100 professional staff who spent their lifetime educating Nova Scotia farmers about how to be more competitive, how to be more productive and how to do their job better.

There was a technology transfer, a scientific transfer of information to the grass roots of rural Nova Scotia and to the farm business people across this province. What did they do? They eliminated them. They fired them and let them go and they said, no, if farmers want that technology transfer, find it yourself. Pay for it yourself. I said shame on that government a year ago; that is wrong. I wish now, and I bet you they wish they had waited six months to understand the implication of that. I doubt very much if they had understood what they were really doing that they would have . . .

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

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you are getting to their conscience when you talk about how they fired 100 staff at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and how they basically are trying to destroy agriculture in this province. It is no wonder they are so sensitive over there. For the very first time, we now have the Federation of Agriculture, an organization in excess of 100 years that would have loved to have this bill hoisted for six months so they would know about the privatization issues at ADI, which now could very well be privatized and another fee charged to the farm community in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Clearly, this Premier has been kept out of the loop and it is time that we bring him back into the loop, back into the loop of reality, back into the loop of what this bill is all about, so that he understands that drugstores will not be selling liquor across this Province of Nova Scotia, and he will understand that the farm communities that were really affected last year will not be affected again this year.

This bill that we are talking about today, Mr. Speaker, as has been mentioned many times, is a bill about power. It is a bill that says to the government side of the House and to the government front benches, they want power and they want control, power to head back to the so-called good old days of the Buchananites, the good old days when a couple of the front benchers who are there now could go back and grab hold of their old crony friends and put them in high positions to pay them back for IOUs during the election campaign. Shame. That is why we are saying, let's wait six months so we can understand the implication of this bill.

[Page 2897]

This House and Nova Scotians don't want to revert back to those days; they don't want to revert back to toilet seats and roads that go nowhere; they don't want to revert back to hotel sales; they don't want to revert back to the old days of scandal and everything else. What patronage leads to is corruption, and, Mr. Speaker, it should be extended for a six months' hoist so that we can explain these issues to them. Some people refer to the word patronage as patronage, and they are saying that within that patronage, in Ontario, that is okay under a Tory Government because they call that nation building. Well, quite frankly, we don't call it in Nova Scotia nation building, we call it in the Tory trough and that is exactly what they are trying to establish under Bill No. 20. Shame on them.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think I may have overheard the honourable member speaking to the bill and not to the motion earlier and particularly what was the content of the bill. I understand that you need to be speaking to the motion, not to the content of the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Not that any members here stray from the debate that is before the House now, but I would ask the member for Lunenburg West, again, to bring his comments back to the six months' hoist, please. That would be, I think, the third time I probably brought it to your attention.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in all fairness, I have been talking about the six months' hoist. I must have mentioned it 35 times since I have been standing up here today. So I think if you are going to take your direction from that member, well then we may as well shut down this House right now because he knows no more about what I am talking about, because he is not paying attention.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member knows full well that the decision of the Speaker is not to be challenged. Is the honourable member saying he is finished debate on this bill?

MR. DOWNE: No, I am not, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Well then I ask the honourable member to bring his comments back to the six months' hoist.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am not challenging you . . .

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is the third time that you had to talk to this honourable member for Lunenburg West and remind him of what he is speaking. I am going to request that you ask him to stand down or be put to the bar. (Interruptions)

[Page 2898]

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member for his intervention, but I think I am quite capable of bringing the honourable member back to his comments. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor on the hoist amendment.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about the six months' hoist. They can go across the street to a bar, but I am not interested in that. I am here to talk about Bill No. 20 and the fact that we want to extend it for a six month period of time; that is what I am here about.

We are here to hold that government's feet to the fire to point out that Nova Scotians are wanting a six month period to review what this bill is all about. They are scared about what this bill really means. They are nervous about what this bill really means. They are concerned that this bill has all sorts of devious plots built into it, that all it means is an OIC down in the Cabinet Room - I don't call it that. The Cabinet Room. I hold it in too high a regard. In that Cabinet Room where decisions are going to be made, that government can turn around and do whatever they want. Carte blanche with no regard for fairness and justice. They can do whatever they want down there and that is why we are saying, give us six months.

This is a government that ran on a campaign - religiously said, we will be transparent. We will be involving Nova Scotians about this process. About any process. They said their hallmark will be a hallmark of consultation. If that is the case, then why not allow six months so that the ministers responsible for different parts of this bill can go and can consult with Nova Scotians. They can in turn, allow the Premier to go and consult with his counterparts and the Minister of Finance to consult with his counterparts over that six month period.

The Minister of Tourism and the Liquor Commission can consult with his counterparts for a six month period. Or the Minister of Community Services to consult with his counterparts for a six month period. Or the Minister of Justice - they call him Rambo here, I don't know what his name is, but the Minister of Justice, I would call him the Minister of Justice. I wouldn't refer to that - because it would be out of order. But he, in turn, could go and consult with his people for a six month period or we can go to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works who is part of this process. Priorities & Planning, he is on the Treasury Board, a major part of this bill. He could consult with the people for a six month period.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about the Minister of Tourism?

MR. DOWNE: Then we have, of course, the Minister of Education who, in turn, could take this bill and explain to the government employees in Nova Scotia over the next six months what this bill means. Then, of course, the Minister of Health who is constantly in hot water. There is nothing he would like better than to explain to all the nurses and all the other

[Page 2899]

employees within government what this bill is all about. He could spend the next six months going around reviewing that process.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are being repetitious.

MR. DOWNE: Then of course, we have the Minister of Economic Development and Petroleum Directorate that deals with Bill No. 20. He, too, could spend time reading over the bill and the implication of that bill and go to the people of Nova Scotia and talk about the hoist for six months, what that six months could do to educate people about this bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: And maybe then the new minister, the member for Cape Breton North.

MR. DOWNE: Well, maybe we will have a new minister because I think there will be a Cabinet shuffle shortly after this House rises and that new member for Cape Breton North will be a Cabinet Minister. I wonder which one of the front benches is going to be moved aside? Gosh knows, but I bet you if they had six months to go around the province and explain what the bill was all about, six months, how better this province would be to understand what is going on and how much more knowledgable they would really be about what this bill is all about. And, of course, the members on the back bench would finally know what this bill is all about. Allow it to be discussed for a six month period just to make sure that we are going to be selling alcohol in liquor stores and things of that nature.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: In drug stores, drug stores.

MR. DOWNE: Oh yes, pardon me, drug stores. Ha! Ha! Ha! We are going to be selling liquor in liquor stores. That is why they need that six months' hoist, just so they could get the message straight.

[7:45 p.m.]

I read with interest that the Premier deserves to be fully involved assessing the impact of privatization on the quality of public service and on the province's communities and workers therefore. This Premier stood up, very tall and very strong on the issues of fairness and equality. I remember listening to him in those discussions, the Premier we currently have, the Premier we hope will be voting on this side of the House for hoisting this bill for six months.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is being persuaded, I can see him, he is starting to crack.

MR. DOWNE: Well, as long as that Minister of Finance isn't beside him, dragging him down. He, in turn, the Premier made it very clear in signing a document that he wanted to make sure that benefits and entitlements and rights that are existing to employees would

[Page 2900]

be enshrined and protected and that anything that would be changed in those particular rights should deserve at least a six month involvement to allow them to be part of a process of education and awareness. This First Minister, this Premier, could spend time consulting with Nova Scotians, as he has indicated so many times before that he himself has signed a declaration saying he wanted to do that.

AN HON. MEMBER: I read it to him this afternoon.

MR. DOWNE: Did you read it to him this afternoon? Well, you know I am sure that the Premier signed that document in good faith. I believe that Premier signed that document with the greatest of intentions. I believe that Premier signed that document with the greatest conviction. I believe that Premier signed that document never really realizing he is going to be a Premier of a Cabinet that wants to bring in a bill that nobody understands what the implications of it would be. Now he has a chance to set the record straight; he has a chance to go back to what he stood for. He has a chance to go back and rectify the devious plots of some of those members over there of trying to move things forward without showing what the true meaning of this bill is about.

If he had the six months, Mr. Speaker, under his belt to go through that and explain it, then we would call him the six months Premier who had a conviction, who had a determination to go forward and explain that bill.

I want to thank the honourable minister for a glass of water. I trust it will be a glass of water when it comes back. Ha! Ha! Ha!

AN HON. MEMBER: Meanwhile back at the ranch.

MR. DOWNE: Meanwhile back talking about the need for this government, that Minister of Finance to stand out there and start explaining to the NSGEU workers and the workers across this province that six months - thank you, honourable member, and there is a member there, I am sure if he was not dragged and controlled by a couple of those guys over there, he would agree that six months hoisting this bill would be a reasonable solution so that he could explain to the workers in Nova Scotia, explain to the ones, and that same member, come to think of it, has a hotel in his riding that is owned by the great people of this province, and it is one of the most beautiful hotels anywhere in the country . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: And a golf course.

MR. DOWNE: And a very nice golf course, I might add. It seems to me that when I was minister responsible, we put an irrigation system in that golf course.

AN HON. MEMBER: Have you played golf there?

[Page 2901]

MR. DOWNE: Yes, I have played golf there many times, but six months, Mr. Speaker, (Interruptions)

You put them under control there, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The night is drawing near to an end. I would ask the honourable members to keep the noise down.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West has about six or seven more minutes.

MR. DOWNE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Yea, though I walk through the valley of death here, and they are tormenting us only because they are ashamed and scared to have anybody explain to them that six months is not a bad period of time to go out and then to bare their soul and explain to Nova Scotians what this is all about. I wonder about the good member who got me the glass of water, what he is going to do in his riding when all of a sudden they privatize that particular facility.

Can you imagine the good people of Digby all of a sudden having some big shot from Toronto come down here and take over that facility and all the local people who have local jobs and care about that - and when you go to that hotel it is like a Taste of Nova Scotia; the quality of food; the quality of service; everybody is proud to be a Nova Scotian there. They are proud to be a Nova Scotian, and when they come there and Americans come there it really reflects the values of Nova Scotia. Now, under this bill, that could turn out to be somebody from Toronto, and I don't want somebody from downtown Toronto or downtown Vancouver or downtown Montreal owning that facility, that should be a Nova Scotia facility.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about the good people from New Hampshire?

MR. DOWNE: Well, the good people of New Hampshire understand that they don't want - do you remember Stacey's Jamboree, smell those hands, no gas - anybody from Ontario going down there in Bangor, in New Hampshire, the New England States running their operations, they want their own people. You know why? They trust their people, they believe in their people. These guys over there, gosh knows they would do anything, including peddle off some of the greatest assets and icons in the Province of Nova Scotia just so somebody can have it and that is why. (Interruptions)

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. This week there has been a lot of talk about water quality, nationally, obviously there are many issues, the honourable member has just received a glass of water and since he drank from it his level of debate has gone downhill. I would ask the indulgence of the House that we have the water tested before he goes on any further and does himself damage.

[Page 2902]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West, you have about three minutes.

MR. DOWNE: It is obviously a very subjective point of view that the Minister of Finance just got up and spoke on. Six months from now is not a long period of time, six months from now that this minister has so - it is interesting, the Minister of Finance couldn't give squat about water a minute ago and now he is worried about water. I am worried about the good member for Digby, is he going to lose his facility and whether or not they are going to privatize that and turn all those employees who are hard-working Nova Scotians out on the street. That is what I am worried about and that is what that Minister of Finance should be worried about, he lives down in that neck of the territory. He should be worried about that. Give them six months so that we can go and discuss what is really going to happen.

It was nothing for this government to turn around the Department of Agriculture and Marketing, fire 100 people; set up an ADI; set up a special little body, $2.2 million, the single shareholder of that is the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and he says, maybe we are going to privatize that. Maybe we are going to privatize that. Can you imagine using agriculture? It is just pathetic and that is why six months from now - if the farm community had known what they were doing six months from now - they might have changed their tune. They never gave the farm community six months notice. Now is the time that they can give Nova Scotians six months notice about what this is. If they weren't ashamed, if they weren't hiding, if they weren't afraid of themselves, if they weren't so insecure about why they are trying to do, if they weren't so devious about what they are trying to do then they would come forward and agree to the six month . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I would suggest to the honourable member for Lunenburg West that the word devious would be unparliamentary, and ask him to retract that, please.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I will take away devious. I am not going to get into a match, I think they know all too well names that people are calling them right now with regard to the fact that we have had a big demonstration here on a couple of days. People are knocking down gates, they don't do that because they love them. They don't come down here and knock down the gates because they want to go in there and give them a great big hug and tell them how great they are. They are knocking down the gates because they are saying, we trusted that Premier, when he got elected, that he would be honest and straightforward, and that he, in fact, would be able to consult with Nova Scotians about any bill changes, and that they would be a hallmark within this democracy that we have right now that would allow for individuals to be consulted. Here we go. In six months we could do that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 2903]

The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: I wonder if the honourable member would entertain a question.

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

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I have already been put in check twice, and I only have a few minutes left. Afterwards I would be happy to answer any question that he wants to ask out in the lobby. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. To the honourable member for Annapolis, I guess the answer is no, but you can meet in the lounge afterwards to discuss it.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West, you have about one more minute.

MR. DOWNE: I would happy to show him the answer to anything he needs to know. I know he doesn't know an awful lot back there, but I would be happy to help him later on.

We are talking about hoisting for six months. Just the other day we talked about the need to go to the Human Resources Committee, so that somebody would have the ability to explain and find out. The Premier will go down on record as being the Premier of the ferret, promoting the ferret. I am waiting for him to bring in a bill calling for this legislation to pass the ferret as not the official animal of Nova Scotia but the official animal of the Legislative Assembly. We are going to call it the Nova Scotia legislative ferret, because that is the only way we can get information, to ferret it out of this government.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is going to be the government mascot.

MR. DOWNE: Sure, it is going to be their icon, the ferret.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Due to the hour, would the honourable member like to move adjournment on debate?

MR. DOWNE: I would be happy to, Mr. Speaker.

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.]

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 2904]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow being Opposition Day, I will pass it over to the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, first of all, the hours for tomorrow will be from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. I know we will have the co-operation of government members on two items, Resolution No. 947 and Bill No. 38.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet tomorrow at the hour of 2:00 p.m.

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

The motion is carried.

We are adjourned until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 8:00 p.m.]

[Page 2905]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 986

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas volunteers are the cornerstone of Nova Scotia's strong towns and villages because of their selfless dedication to others; and

Whereas several residents of Cumberland South were recently recognized for their volunteer work in the community; and

Whereas Norma Collinson, Roy Field, Merton Kay, Ann Kirsten, Robin Roselen, Jean Henley, Dorothy Carson, Ross Robinson, Eric Leighton, Donalda White, Catherine Meredith, David Skidmore, Allison Carter and Ritta Gilbert;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate these volunteers on their well-deserved recognition and thank them for the invaluable work they do for their communities.

RESOLUTION NO. 987

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas volunteers of all ages enrich and strengthen our communities; and

Whereas Springhill High School Grade 12 student Adrienne MacDonald was recently named Springhill's Youth Volunteer; and

Whereas Adrienne is a participant on the school yearbook, student council, Prom Committee and a volunteer teacher for the Elementary School Reading Program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Adrienne MacDonald upon being recognized as Springhill's Youth Volunteer and wish her well in her future endeavours.

[Page 2906]

RESOLUTION NO. 988

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas volunteers are the cornerstone of Nova Scotia's strong towns and villages because of their selfless dedication to others; and

Whereas Peter Spicer of Spencer's Island was honoured as the District 10 representative volunteer; and

Whereas Mr. Spicer, a teacher in Advocate, coached basketball, soccer, track and field, and cross-country teams, leading several teams to provincial championships;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Peter Spicer upon his recent recognition and thank him for playing such a prominent role in the lives of the area's young people.

RESOLUTION NO. 989

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas an Activities of Daily Living Suite was opened last week at the All Saints Hospital in Springhill; and

Whereas the All Saints Hospital Ladies Auxiliary played a key role in the opening of this suite with a donation of $4,000; and

Whereas the new suite at All Saints Hospital has been designed to provide inpatients with a simulated feeling of living on their own before they are discharged from the hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs extend their sincere congratulations to hospital Ladies Auxiliary President Jackie Guyette and all members of the auxiliary for their hard work and keen interest in making their community a better place to live.

[Page 2907]

RESOLUTION NO. 990

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas Avard Bentley of Westchester Mountain, Cumberland County, has become the first ever Nova Scotian to be inducted into the Maple Hall of Fame; and

Whereas the Maple Hall of Fame is situated in Crogan, New York, and is run by the North American Maple Syrup Council; and

Whereas Mr. Bentley was nominated for his induction for his vigorous and enthusiastic work on behalf of the North American Maple Syrup Industry;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly acknowledge the dedication and effort put forth by maple syrup producer Avard Bentley through both the good years and years such as this one, when production is not as high as it has been in other years.

RESOLUTION NO. 991

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas volunteers are the cornerstone of Nova Scotia's strong towns and villages because of their selfless dedication to others; and

Whereas several residents of Cumberland South were recently recognized for their volunteer work in the community; and

Whereas Karen Gilbert, Guy Bergeron, Brenda Welton, Amanda Hirtle, Elmer Ling, June Farrell, Audrey Taylor, Inez Smith, Nancy Quinn, Kevin MacMillan, Todd and Malcolm Harvery, Freda Cochrane and Ron Levy;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate these volunteers on their well-deserved recognition and thank them for the invaluable work they do for their communities.