The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., May 9, 2001

[Page 2909]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MAY 9, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House urge the federal Liberal Government to do what is right for the health and safety of our military personnel and complete its 1993 commitment to replace the aging Sea King helicopter fleet.

This subject is to be debated this evening at 6:00 p.m.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

2909

[Page 2910]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 992

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

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia is hosting a Recognition of Excellence Dinner for industry professionals this evening as part of the association's annual general meeting; and

Whereas these tourism industry professionals have achieved national certification in their chosen occupation, which required a significant investment on their part; and

Whereas these professionals play a key role in building a healthy and successful tourism industry in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join me in congratulating these industry professionals and wishing them continued success in their work within the tourism sector.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 993

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

[Page 2911]

Whereas on this date nine years ago, 26 men - husbands, fathers, sons and brothers - lost their lives in an underground explosion at the Westray Coal Mine in Plymouth, Pictou County; and

Whereas nearly 200 brave people risked their own lives to make every possible effort to try to save those who were trapped below in the mine; and

Whereas the Westray tragedy will forever be one of the darker days in the history of this province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House today honour the memory of the 26 men who lost their lives on May 9, 1992, and extend our condolences to the family and friends they left behind.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on that particular notice of motion, I would ask if the minister would be willing for one minute of silence in respect to the miners who were killed.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The House will rise for one minute of silence.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, please be seated.

[Page 2912]

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 994

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

Whereas throughout the Mi'kmaq nation many individuals are working at the grassroots level to revitalize their ancestral language; and

Whereas more than 250 Mi'kmaq educators, from pre-school to university, parents, elders, community members, students and researchers from the four Atlantic Provinces, Quebec and Maine are gathering today at St. Francis Xavier University for the annual Mi'kmaq Language Conference; and

Whereas against a backdrop of Native music, art and food, this three day conference includes sessions on story telling by Mi'kmaq elders; strategies for enhancing the Mi'kmaq language in schools, pre-schools and communities; and the use of technology to revitalize the Mi'kmaq language;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the value of the Mi'kmaq language and culture in Nova Scotia, and applaud these conference participants for their efforts in furthering this important element of our province's heritage.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 995

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

[Page 2913]

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia is hosting its 24th annual general meeting tomorrow; and

Whereas the association represents hundreds of tourism operators in all areas of the industry and in all regions of the province; and

Whereas the Department of Tourism and Culture is pleased to work in partnership with the association to further develop and enhance our billion dollar plus industry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join me in recognizing the hard work and dedication of the association's staff, board and members who are a driving force behind the success of this vital industry sector.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East on an introduction.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence and those of the members of the House, it gives me great pleasure to introduce members of the Pictou County Crime Prevention Association. In our east gallery we have Barb Dewtie, Constable John Kennedy of the RCMP, Shannon Campbell, Mary Carrigan, Darren Mailman and John Hilton. I will ask the House to give them the usual warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview on an introduction.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, a large number of people have travelled down from Sydney to be with us today, they are current and former residents of the Whitney Pier area as well as their friends, neighbours and supporters and including a number of people from the Sierra Club of Canada. I can't introduce them all to the House, but I would like to mention the names of the people who spoke to the media this morning in Province House and they are in all three galleries of the House: Debbie Ouelette; Mary Ruth MacLellan; Cindy Steele; Ada Hearn; Bruno Marcocchio; Stephanie May, the mother of

[Page 2914]

hunger striker Elizabeth May; Cheryl Williams; Lenny Axworthy; and as I said their friends, neighbours and supporters. I would ask the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome all visitors to the gallery today.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 52 - Entitled an Act to Protect the Occupational Health and Safety of Workers. (Mr. Frank Corbett)

[2:15 p.m.]

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 996

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

Whereas nine years ago today 26 men lost their lives in the Westray Mine disaster; and

Whereas ever since the Westray tragedy, the families of those killed, the miners with whom they worked, their brothers and sisters in the union movement, and many other Nova Scotians and Canadians have struggled to ensure that such an event will never happen again; and

Whereas in honour of those fallen miners a memorial service will be held this evening at the site of the monument built in respect of their memory;

Therefore be it resolved that on this, the 9th Anniversary of the Westray Mine disaster, this House pauses to remember the 26 men who lost their lives nine years ago, as well as their families, and reaffirms its commitment to vigilant enforcement of workplace safety legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2915]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 997

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

Whereas on the morning of May 9, 1992, the Westray Mine was rocked by a methane explosion; and

Whereas 26 coal miners lost their lives in this mine disaster; and

Whereas the preventable tragedy at Westray is the most recent coal mining disaster to rob Nova Scotians of parents, partners and loved ones;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House observe one minute of silence in standing tribute to the memory of those lost at Westray and in other mining disasters.

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 record will show that we have already observed one moment of silence in memory of the Westray disaster.

[Page 2916]

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 998

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

Whereas Thorburn Consolidated School held its annual Entrepreneurship Day for its Grade 9 Atlantic Studies class; and

Whereas students, working for a grade, provided their own product and retailed their goods, and were inspired, like all business people, by the potential for profit, which they could keep; and

Whereas this practical application of the students' curriculum provides business experience and promotes money management and customer relations;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Thorburn Consolidated School for instilling the entrepreneurial spirit in their students, for encouraging them to set goals and for teaching them the skills they need to reap the rewards.

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. 999

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

Whereas Curragh Mining were the owners and developers of the Westray Mine and Curragh's Clifford Frame skilfully gained public funds and government backing for his various mining ventures; and

[Page 2917]

Whereas one of Clifford Frame's closest associates in Curragh Mining was Ralph Sultan, a man who then joined the group that bought Curragh's major asset when Curragh went bankrupt; and

Whereas Ralph Sultan is the B.C. Liberal candidate in the safe seat of West Vancouver-Capilano, but his campaign biography omits the details of his mining career;

Therefore be it resolved that this House notes with dismay the possibility that a senior executive who shared responsibility for the Westray Mine tragedy could enter the Government of British Columbia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1000

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 and his Petroleum Minister are asleep while large oil companies are planning to strip Nova Scotia of our natural gas; and

Whereas the Premier has not made a clear statement whether he supports an undersea pipeline to New England or not; and

Whereas the Premier is also allowing PanCanadian to go unopposed in its plan to process natural gas offshore even though it certainly means fewer jobs and spinoffs for Nova Scotians; and

Therefore be it resolved that it's time for the Premier and his Petroleum Minister to wake up and assert Nova Scotia's rights to its natural gas so that Nova Scotians are the principal beneficiary of natural gas and not the large oil companies.

[Page 2918]

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1001

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

Whereas debate is a part of good government and a cornerstone of our democratic system; and

Whereas not often enough are young people engaged in political processes or taught about the workings of the Legislature where law and public policy are debated; and

Whereas Mr. Dennis LeBlanc, a teacher at the Eastern Shore District High School, is teaching his students about government and politics and brings his classes to Province House as a regular part of their lessons;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Mr. LeBlanc for encouraging his students to be informed and for involving them in the Nova Scotia Legislature and the processes which govern their lives.

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 2919]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis on an introduction.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure today to rise in the House and welcome Mr. Mark Dittrick from the Annapolis County Environmental Protection Association. Mr. Dittrick is in the Speaker's Gallery. Would he rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to our visitor today.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1002

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

Whereas Dr. Carrie Best of New Glasgow started the first Black newspaper in Nova Scotia, The Clarion, which ran until 1956; and

Whereas Dr. Carrie Best is the recipient of several awards for various achievements as a lifetime social activist, journalist, poet and orator, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada; and

Whereas Dr. Carrie Best was honoured in Halifax on April 21st at the duMaurier Theatre in a ceremony called Harmony of Souls: A tribute to Dr. Carrie Best;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join in honouring Dr. Carrie Best for 97 years of achievements as a human rights activist, journalist, poet and orator.

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 2920]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1003

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

Whereas today is Licensed Practical Nurses Day in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas LPNs are a vital link to the delivery of health care in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas LPNs continue to work despite insufficient support from the provincial government;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend gratitude to LPNs for providing quality and caring service to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 1004

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

Whereas the RCMP Community and District Office in Lake Echo is bridging the gap between the police and the community at large; and

Whereas for three years Constable David Church has served as the community officer reaching out to other organizations, making friends and building trust in the community; and

[Page 2921]

Whereas with his good work, the RCMP has become an integral part of the community, sharing information, joining discussions and strengthening the relationships between the detachment staff and the community office volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank Constable Church for his important community service in the Lake Echo area and welcome Constable Francois Hebert as the new community officer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1005

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

Whereas this week marks North American Occupational Safety and Health Week, within the theme, Prevention is the Cure for workplace injuries and fatalities; and

Whereas on Monday past, Nova Scotia saw its sixth tragic workplace fatality this year when Gregory James Gillott died after a trench collapsed on him near Woodville, Hants County; and

Whereas such tragedies bring home to everyone the need to be vigilant in ensuring safety in the workplace;

Therefore be it resolved that this House express its deepest condolences to the friends, family and co-workers of Gregory James Gillott, who died tragically in the workplace on Monday May 7, 2001.

[Page 2922]

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. 1006

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

Whereas from May 6th to May 12th Canada is celebrating National Forestry Week; and

Whereas our forests are a source of natural beauty and a vital industry in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas it is in the interest of everyone in the forestry industry to work together to sustain our forests;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly encourage all those involved in the forest industry to use sustainable practices so we can build strong and healthy forests for generations to come.

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 2923]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1007

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

Whereas FCLD Enterprises was honoured recently at the Annual Volunteers Awards banquet sponsored by Sport and Recreation Nova Scotia; and

Whereas FCLD Enterprises was awarded the 2001 Building Healthier Futures Corporate Award in recognition of their support for numerous community organizations such as the Acadia SMILE Program, the Kings Crime Prevention Association, the Kings SPCA, Big Brothers, Big Sisters Association and the Apple Blossom Festival; and

Whereas FCLD Enterprises is owned and operated by the Falconer family;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Fred and Geraldine Falconer and their children for their generosity and willingness to make Kings County a better place in which to live.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1008

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

[Page 2924]

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 Jamil's Road in Hage's Lane in the community of Prospect 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 the residents of Prospect when these roads will be paved.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1009

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

Whereas Canada Post plans to close the sorting station in North Sydney in June; and

Whereas the jobs that Nova Scotia may lose will be transferred to Newfoundland and New Brunswick; and

Whereas this government is responsible for not only creating new jobs, but keeping existing jobs in the province;

Therefore be it resolved that this government take immediate action to keep those jobs in North Sydney where they rightfully belong.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 2925]

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1010

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

Whereas the members of the Scotsburn Fire Department want to give muscular dystrophy the boot; and

Whereas these local heroes recently held their boot drive to collect money for the fight against this devastating disease; and

Whereas the people of Scotsburn are proud of their firefighters and have shown their support by donating over $1,500 to this charity;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the members of the Scotsburn Fire Department for championing this good cause and congratulate them on the success of their efforts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1011

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

[Page 2926]

Whereas in 1976 a coffee drop-in program for seniors began in Dartmouth; and

Whereas in the last quarter of a century that drop-in centre grew to become the hub of activity for seniors in Dartmouth, where seniors can volunteer and where they can access the support and assistance of a volunteer; and

Whereas over the years a full range of programs have been developed at the centre, including Meals-on-Wheels, Home Helpers, transportation programs, Daily Hellos, the VON foot clinic, the Lunch Brunch, snow shovelling and library services, to name just a few;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all those involved in the delivery of programs at the Dartmouth Seniors' Service Centre, its 25th Anniversary, thank Executive Director, Dorothy Britten, for her leadership and wish them all many more years as an inspirational asset to our community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 1012

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

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas the Digby Zone of the Valley Senior Games will be hosting the Regional Valley Senior Games on June 27, 28 and 29, 2001; and

Whereas participants from West Hants to Clare are involved in such activities as bridge, bowling, cribbage, skip-bo, darts, crokinole, and track and field; and

[Page 2927]

Whereas the continued success of these games is largely dependent on the support of many volunteers who are working to enhance the interaction of the seniors within their own area and across the Valley;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the efforts of the organizers of this very worthwhile event.

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 Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1013

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

Whereas Realty World Atlantic has named its number one sales representative for the Atlantic Region in the year 2000; and

Whereas the top Realty World Agent in all of Atlantic Canada is Cathy LeBlanc; and

Whereas this ranking comes to Ms. LeBlanc at the same time as the designation of Sales Master, which she has now achieved three years in a row;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Cathy LeBlanc of Realty World of Amherst on her top sales rating and acknowledge the hard work and dedication this achievement has taken.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 2928]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1014

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

Whereas in a memo tabled today at the Legislature's Public Accounts Committee meeting, Mr. David Reid, Superintendent of the Halifax Regional School Board stated, "Brian Forbes and NSTU don't give a damn about our custodial maintenance staff."; and

Whereas considerable concern was raised about senior staff not providing complete and accurate and timely information to elected school board representatives before they were required to vote on matters of public policy; and

Whereas Mr. Reid's continued attempts to dominate and control answers to questions put by members of PAC clearly demonstrated Mr. Reid operates in a vacuous, authoritarian style independent of the elected board;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education take action to put an end to this continued confrontational attitude displayed by Mr. Reid which is hampering opportunity to resolve the custodial strike.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1015

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

Whereas the Horton High School Reach for the Top team secured the Nova Scotia top title this past weekend, bringing back to the school the title won in both 1997 and 1998; and

[Page 2929]

Whereas this honour will take the team to the nationals in Alberta on May 25th to May 30th to represent Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Coach Barry Leslie and team members Matt Howatt, Gene Mercer, Jason Matthews, Jane Sponagle and Jenny Trites - four of five of whom are first-timers to the event - have worked hard to capture first place;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Horton High School team of 2000-01 and its coach for this honour and may they 'reach for the top' in Edmonton in the national championship.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1016

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

Whereas David Purcell of Sheet Harbour devoted his life to education, encouraging the gift of learning in students and setting an example for all educators to follow; and

Whereas Mr. Purcell passed away recently at the age of 50 after a brief illness; and

Whereas at the time of his death, Mr. Purcell was the Principal of Robert Jamison and Harbourside Schools;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend condolences to the family and friends of David Purcell and recognize his love of teaching and the many contributions he made to his profession.

[Page 2930]

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 Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 1017

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

Whereas the Tri-County District School board recently held a contest to name a school under construction in my constituency of Argyle, receiving nearly 200 entries; and

Whereas this school is being built on a hill - one of the three drumlins in the area - which are a matter of geological interest, especially to many visitors to this province; and

Whereas Jesse d'Entremont, a grade four student of Argyle School, chose the name Drumlin Heights to reflect this unique geography as well as the beauty of the local terrain;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House commend Jesse d'Entremont for his pride and appreciation of the unique nature of Argyle's landscape and for his creative naming of the new Drumlin Heights Consolidated School.

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 2931]

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The Oral Question Period will begin at 2:36 p.m. and end at 4:06 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

EDUC.: C.B.-VIC. REG. SCH. BD. - CLOSURE/LAYOFFS: MIN. HALT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to table a very troubling document which I obtained today. It is a letter from the superintendent of schools for Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. It was written yesterday and it outlines new and drastic cuts being forced on the board. In this letter the superintendent outlines what will have to be done to meet the Department of Education's budget. He says he will have to close 11 schools, take 8 school buses off the road, cut more teachers. These are radical actions, they will affect thousands of students and cost unknown numbers of jobs. The proposal is unacceptable. The school board has been forced into this position by the Minister of Education and it is the Minister of Education who is responsible.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask, will the minister assure the House that schools will not be closed and buses will not stop running in an attempt to save money in Cape Breton?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, first may I say that the drastic circumstances outlined by the member opposite certainly will not be occurring, and I also have to repeat that we are not looking to save money in Cape Breton. We have given the board $900,000 extra beyond their funding.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the document that I just tabled tells another story. This is no longer about financial responsibility or reasonable spending limits when the Minister of Education tells students in Halifax to provide their own toilet paper and Cape Bretoners that she is cutting 42 teachers, closing 11 schools and stopping 8 buses, the cuts have just gone too far. So I want to ask the minister, when will she admit that she is failing to provide adequate funding and maintain a basic standard of education?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, if you add up 42 teachers, 11 schools, stopping bus runs, et cetera, we are talking way beyond $300,000. I would like the issues in Cape Breton to be resolved among staff, not on the floor of the House.

[Page 2932]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has asked the minister to come to Cape Breton and talk directly to them about their transition plan and they don't mean send the deputy minister in her place. The school board is waiting for a response, when will the minister go to Cape Breton to meet with the school board and face the cuts that she is demanding that they make on her behalf?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I will be meeting with the school board as soon as we get closer to a resolution of this $300,000 issue among the staff of the board and my department. Thank you.

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

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

RESIDENTS: RELOCATE

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Residents of Sydney are shouting loud and clear that enough is enough. The government is dragging its feet on a clean up of the coke ovens, tar ponds and Sydney Steel sites. Residents who live near the tar ponds and the coke ovens are being subjected to the stress of living next to the worst toxic waste sites on the continent. My question to the Premier is, will the Premier do the honourable thing and move residents, who wish to be moved, away from this toxic disaster?

HON. JOHN HAMM: (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I know this is a stressful issue for those who are living in that area, and that is why the whole process is on fast-forward. I would ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, who met with many of those concerned people earlier today, to give an answer to the member opposite.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as the Premier just said, the Minister of Health and myself had a meeting with a group this morning, and it was a most informative meeting. As we told the group, we are awaiting Dr. Lewis' report, which will provide his impressions of the situation in the area adjacent to the old coke ovens site. At that time, there will be further developments.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, there is no need for more study, there is only a need for action. A study released by the Joint Action Group last month found 70 times more arsenic than the acceptable federal guidelines' limit in Whitney Pier. People have requested to be moved from this area and this Premier has an obligation to act. My question to the Premier is, what is it going to take for the Premier to recognize the problem and take immediate action?

THE PREMIER: We will coordinate a response with the federal government. We will do what science tells us is the right thing to do. I believe that you will find that our reaction

[Page 2933]

will be much more prompt than the reaction that came forward by that government when they were facing the issue.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, when we were in office we took action. The people of Sydney deserve the respect of the Premier. My question to the Premier is, why won't the Premier demonstrate leadership and resolve this problem now?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are moving ahead quickly. We understand that the residents are under duress and, when the appropriate analysis has been done, the appropriate reaction by government will be undertaken.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

WESTRAY MINE DISASTER - OH&S ACT RECOMMENDATIONS:

JUSTICE RICHARD'S INQ. - IMPLEMENTATION DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, all members in this House are aware of the tragedy that befell this province nine years ago. I think all members of the House are or should be familiar with Justice Richard's inquiry and the recommendations following his examination of that tragic event. One of the key recommendations he made was to ensure corporate responsibility for occupational health and safety. My question for the Premier is, why have you failed to follow Justice Richard's recommendation and improve corporate accountability measures in the Occupational Health and Safety Act?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, perhaps, of all of the members in this House, there was no one who remembers that event any more clearly than I do, having been at the site of the accident less than an hour after it happened. As resolutions earlier today have indicated, it was a dark day in the history of the Province of Nova Scotia, and one that will not be allowed to be repeated. Having said that, the recommendations, many of those have gone forward. There will never be a resolution of that particular accident to the satisfaction of everyone. On the other hand, what government must be prepared to do is to provide the framework that will prevent an accident such as that in the future, and we are prepared to do that.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier talks the talk, but he doesn't walk the walk. The current provisions for corporate accountability were introduced five years ago by Guy Brown. He never claimed that provisions were a satisfactory response to the recommendations. No wonder, the provision only holds corporate directors and officers responsible if they are directly involved in a violation of the Act. There is no provision to make executives responsible for maintaining a safe workplace. I ask the Premier, knowing the existing legislation does not satisfy Justice Richard's recommendation, why will you not act immediately to establish corporate responsibility for occupational health and safety in this province?

[Page 2934]

[2:45 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the issue that the member brings to the House is a very complicated one. One that obviously all of us think about on a not infrequent basis. On the other hand, I am not sure if, in fact, that particular piece of legislation would have prevented what had happened in Westray, so many years ago now. On the other hand, if that becomes obvious that that is what government should do, that is what government will do. But it does take some analysis.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, well the irony is that last year this Premier moved a resolution congratulating Alexa McDonough and Peter MacKay for pursuing the matter of corporate responsibility in the federal Criminal Code, which was also a recommendation of Justice Richard. So my question is to the Premier and it is this, instead of cheering others from the sidelines, why don't you do the right thing since you are in a position to do so?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is far more learned in the law than I am, so surely he must realize that the responsibility for the Criminal Code of Canada does not lie in Halifax, it lies in Ottawa. That is the initiative that we supported at the time and I think it was a strong one.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - JANITORIAL STRIKE MEDIATION:

NSUPE REQUEST - MIN. CONFIRM

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. We are now in the seventh week of the labour dispute between the Halifax Regional School Board and the striking workers. The quality of our children's education continues to be compromised by the deteriorating state of our schools. Today, we have learned that the Halifax Regional School Board has written to the Minister of Education requesting a mediator. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour, has the minister received a request for mediation from the Nova Scotia Union of Public Employees?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, that is an appropriate question to ask and, in fact, I was speaking with my deputy just moments before we came into the House. As of that time, we had not received a request from them but we would be certainly entertain one and we are considering whether the appointment of a mediator would possibly lead to a successful conclusion to this labour dispute.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, under Section 40 of the Trade Union Act, the minister has the power to call both sides to mediation. What will it take for the minister to act under Section 40 of the Trade Union Act?

[Page 2935]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for his question. In fact, we would want to feel that we were in compliance with the Trade Union Act and that would mean that the appointment of a mediator would have to have a reasonable chance of bringing about a successful conclusion in order for the department or me as the minister to appoint one.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, waiting requests from both sides is the minister's strategy. His strategy is not one of leadership or fairness. We are in the seventh week of this dispute. How much more time must pass before you show leadership and call for mediation, Mr. Minister?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in my previous answer, the concern is that we have to feel that there is room for sufficient movement on both sides before going to the next step, from conciliation, which I would remind the member opposite has been in place for some three months now without success. We would have to feel that there is some change on the part of both parties to bring about a successful conclusion per the requirements of the Trade Union Act.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - TAR PONDS/COKE OVENS SITES:

PHASE II REPORT - RELEASE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, next week officials from the Department of Transportation and Public Works are expected to receive the Phase II report regarding the tar ponds/coke ovens sites. This report will provide some indication of just how bad these sites are contaminated. However, it will not be released to the public immediately. Residents will have to wait an additional four weeks while department officials, edit, correct, and figure out a communication strategy or plan to deal with the impending public outcry. I want to ask that minister, will the Minister of Transporation and Public Works commit to this House to release this report immediately when he receives it, rather than hold it back four weeks so he can do his spin?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I think that the honourable member would surely agree that it is prudent to take a look at a report before you release it generally.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, come on, come on, the public . . .

MR. RUSSELL: Indeed it is because this report is not just a simplistic, one-page document. It is a very complex document.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, so let's get this right. They want to do a spin while people in Cape Breton get sick, but there is no double standard. You have a double standard

[Page 2936]

here. Last week, the federal officials were so concerned about the residents of Tupper, Laurier and Hankard Streets that they wanted to move those people; that was May 3rd, and it is now May 9th. I want to ask that minister, when will these families be moved? When will you take charge and move those families?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the determination has to - if and when the families are going to be moved - be made after a proper assessment of the data that is available.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, highest rates of cancer, birth defects and all the like, that is not data for this government. If that problem sat here on Inglis Street in Halifax, they would be gone. I want to ask the Premier then, as a family physician will he stop these immoral acts, move these people and move them this week?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite obviously is not going to adopt the government view. The government view is we will analyze the data and we will make the appropriate response after we have had an appropriate decision and evaluation made by those who know. The member opposite cannot hold himself up as somebody who knows.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

NAT. RES. - MEMORIAL HS: DNR OFFICER -

FIREARMS POLICY EXPLAIN

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question this afternoon is to the Minister of Natural Resources. Students and staff at Memorial High School in Sydney Mines were very scared and alarmed yesterday when a man with a loaded shotgun was stopped on school property but, lo and behold, the man turned out to be a DNR employee tracking an injured deer. Can the minister explain to the House how in the world could this happen?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is correct insofar as yesterday a wounded deer was sighted at the school. School officials called DNR and the officer reported to the site but, unfortunately, communications broke down at that point between the officer and school officials. A misunderstanding arose and police were summoned. The incident was unfortunate and protocols are now in place to ensure, hopefully, that that does not happen again.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, the employee arrived in an unmarked car and apparently had no uniform, and he didn't identify himself to school officials when he arrived. Will the honourable minister explain to the House the guidelines that are in place with his department with the staff at the conservation office who do this kind of work?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, when the call was received from the school officials regarding the wounded deer, a technician was sent out by the local detachment. The

[Page 2937]

technicians have the option of wearing a uniform or not wearing a uniform and, unfortunately, when the officer arrived on the scene, he did not communicate directly with the school principal and the misunderstanding arose at that point.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his answer, but any conservation officer or anyone else called to the school, you would think the first person they should talk to would be the school principal. Apparently, according to the report in the paper today and I will table it, no such communication has happened. There is a lack of communication here. Will the minister agree today in the House that he will correct that lack of communication and see that it does not happen again?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly the member opposite is correct, there was a lack of communication. The protocols have been put in place and, hopefully, this incident, which is the first of its kind, will not be repeated. School officials plus regional police, RCMP, and enforcement officers from the Department of Natural Resources have come up with a system that will communicate when an incident like this arises in the future.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - WHITNEY PIER RESIDENTS:

RELOCATION - TALKS STATUS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, last week the residents of Laurier, Tupper and Hankard Streets were led to believe that they would be moving away from that toxic cesspool that is going to have long-term health effects. Nothing has happened. Talks continue while residents are forced to wait in that unhealthy environment. Federal officials are concerned about residents' health and the provincial government continues to maintain there are no health risks associated with living in that area. Will the Minister of Transportation please update this House on the status of those talks and what is your government going to do to help those residents?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there are ongoing discussions between the provincial and federal authorities, both in the health field and from the Department of Public Works. The resolution of the federal government is exactly the same as that of the provincial government.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, what is becoming more and more clear every day is this is not about health. This is not about high cancer rates. This is not about an area that has one of the largest miscarriage rates, birth defects, that occur in this area. This is simply with this government, this cold-hearted government, a matter of dollars and cents, not as the Premier says about science because science bears out the cancer rates, the birth defects.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 2938]

MR. CORBETT: So I want to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, why is this about money and not about health risks?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how many times you have to tell the honourable member what the facts of the matter are, but this is not about money. This is about the well-being of the people within that area and I can assure the honourable member that we do have compassion and I can assure the honourable member that we are simply awaiting a scientific report that has been commissioned and will be coming to the government in approximately a week or so and at that time we will be making some decisions that may be of interest to the member.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, many times in this House that same minister accused me of thinking I am an expert. Well, I am no expert, but I know that my neighbours are dying at a higher rate from cancer than anybody else in North America. I know that much. I may not be a scientist, but I know that.

So let's move on to the all-caring Premier, Mr. Speaker. These people, Mr. Premier, are marching in the streets. They are on hunger strikes and they are here in the gallery today. So why don't you, as Premier, as a family physician, tell them that the science is in, we are moving you and we are moving you now?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite used the term long-term effect. He used that term. We have been assured by the local medical officer, the provincial medical officer, there is no short-term danger. That analysis is being verified by others. If there is a short-term danger to the people of that area, then they will be moved. The whole issue is not something that arose yesterday, it is a chronic problem. If there are acute . . .

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

ECON. DEV. - ECONOMY (N.S.): SLOWDOWN - MIN.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. Last month I brought up the fact that Nova Scotia saw the largest month-to-month rise in unemployment of any province in Canada. Manufacturers' shipments in February declined 3.9 per cent to $701 million over January 2001. In January, Nova Scotia reported the largest year-over-year increase in retail sales; in February, Nova Scotia is reporting the greatest year-over-year decline. On Monday, statistics released by the Department of Finance show Halifax leads the country in the percentage decline of building

[Page 2939]

permits, dropping 38.5 per cent in the value of building permits over last year. My question to the minister is, does the minister have any concern about the economy slowing down?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, obviously we are concerned whenever there are changes in the employment levels or the rate of growth in the economy. Having said that, Nova Scotia is still performing well compared to other jurisdictions.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this government has no concern that offshore gas processing and a new undersea pipeline means the end of any future in oil and gas development in Nova Scotia. The minister started a 1960's-style Economic Development Department with the creation of Nova Scotia Business Inc. This sends out a signal that the government is more concerned with bringing in another heavy water plant than the next Microsoft. My question is to the Premier. I would ask the Premier, when is the Premier going to show interest in economic development, rather than riding on the successes of the previous government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, on previous occasions I have provided the member opposite with a litany of our successes in recent months in providing jobs, not only in his area but across this province. There is a downturn in the economy in North America, well documented, that that member is aware of. I believe that we will have some insulation. We are predicting a growth this year of 2.3 per cent, which I think compares very favourably with other strong areas in the country. On the other hand, we are not totally insulated from what is happening around us.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what is well known and well documented is that this Premier and this government are doing absolutely nothing in Cape Breton about the problems in the economy. That is what we know for sure. Statistics indicate the provincial economy is stalling, and the Premier doesn't seem to care. Since the Premier and the Economic Development Minister are asleep at the switch, maybe I will try the Finance Minister for my final supplementary. My question to the Finance Minister is, will that minister take the lead role in economic development by implementing a comprehensive program of tax incentives, before an economic slowdown becomes a recession?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I think it is important for any government to give direction. Our government has said we have a four year plan to reduce the deficit. We have told Nova Scotians when they will tax cuts. That bunch over there wants us to make a knee-jerk reaction every time the statistics change. We have told people when they will get tax cuts. They will get them as we promised.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 2940]

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

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. I find it very hard to believe that the Minister of Environment and Labour may actually not appoint a mediator in the Halifax Regional School Board strike. This is a no-brainer. Anyone who watched events outside this House yesterday can see this and anyone who was here in this Chamber for Public Accounts this morning could see this as well. These are parties that clearly need help. I want to ask the minister, will you do your job and appoint a mediator today?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for her question. I will certainly follow the Trade Union Act and as soon as we are satisfied that there is a chance for a settlement, we will appoint a mediator, assuming that becomes the case.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have no idea what the minister needs to consider. The board agrees they need help. The union negotiator told the media outside this House this morning, it is worth a try. The Teachers Union is concerned about teaching and learning and the conditions in the school and they want the strike to end. I want to ask the minister, what psychic powers does the minister feel he has that puts him in a better position than the union, the boards and the people who are affected by this lengthy labour dispute?

MR. MORSE: I want to thank the member opposite for caring so much about this - as we do as well in government. It is good that we are starting to get signals from the two parties that - perhaps - there is now a willingness to close the gap and as soon as we feel that there is a reasonable chance of success, we would be pleased to appoint a mediator.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I would like to ask my last question to the Minister of Education. The education system in the Halifax Regional Municipality is at stake here. We have parties that need help. Are you prepared to speak to the Minister of Labour and ask him to appoint a mediator today in this dispute?

HON. JANE PURVES: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I have written to the minister asking that he consider appointing a mediator. I have spoken to the minister already today about my belief of what is in the best interests of the students and the department, but the appointment of the mediator is, in the final analysis, the decision of the Minister of Labour.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 2941]

HEALTH - NURSES' STRIKE: CONTINGENCY PLAN - DETAILS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, My question is to the Minister of Health. We heard a status report from nurses on Monday with regard to future conciliation plans and possible strike action. This government has driven nurses to the point that they may soon have to make difficult choices. My question to the minister is simply, what contingency plans does he have in place should the conciliation process not be successful?

HON. JAMES MUIR: The collective bargaining process is ongoing between the two unions that have nurses as members and I am confident that the collective bargaining process will come to a successful conclusion.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the public of Nova Scotia deserves more than just to say that we hope that the conciliation process works. We all saw this government's so-called contingency plan for the paramedics in the fall of 1999 - there wasn't one. There was no plan. My question to the Minister of Health, can the minister please indicate whether he has had meetings with the Nurses' Union and hospital officials to discuss any contingency plans in the event of a strike?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, members of the association of health organizations through the negotiation process have talked about sort of essential services and trying to get the unions to define what services would be maintained, to define them specifically if the talks were not successful, although I am confident that the collective bargaining process will reach a successful conclusion.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, hoping that the conciliation will work is not good enough and this is a serious issue that affects the health care system, and the nurses, as we know, are the backbone of that system. This minister is ultimately responsible for the delivery of health care, Bill No. 20 says that very clearly. My question to the minister, how does the minister plan to ensure the safety of Nova Scotians in the event of a strike by nurses?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the collective bargaining process is ongoing. As I indicated in my response to the previous question, there have been discussions between the negotiators on both sides about what essential services would be continued. Again, I remain confident that a resolution at the bargaining table will be reached.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE: ACCESS POLICY (SENIORS) - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, there is a major problem with the single- entry access policy for long-term care. This policy was intended to promote fair access into nursing homes for seniors and to free up hospital beds occupied by seniors awaiting nursing

[Page 2942]

home care. The single-access policy has been having the opposite effect. Seniors are spending longer periods of time in hospitals beds waiting for placement and nursing homes have greater numbers of empty beds waiting for seniors to be placed in them. My question for the Minister of Health is this, are you aware of the problems with single-access policy and what are you doing about them?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the current slowdown in processing clients is not due to the single-entry process at all. The single-entry process is working remarkably well and if you want to find out how well it is working, just ask those people who are involved in it. The difficulty came on February 1st this year. It was directed that everybody who is admitted to a nursing home be classified, and that is the major change. It has nothing to do with the single-entry process at all and indeed we are currently bringing more resources into the Department of Health to try, and it's the financial assessment that the problem is with, the member is correct, and we are bringing resources to try and remove that bottleneck.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, long-term care health providers are telling us the problem with the single-access entry is almost completely due to financial assessments. The Health Department has extended the period for which a senior is assessed from 18 months prior to application to 3 years, and this has more than doubled the time it takes to gather the information for the assessment from banks and other institutions, and it has also significantly increased the workload and time required for health staff to process the information.

Mr. Speaker, it is a simple matter. Seniors need nursing homes and beds they are waiting for, why has the Minister of Health tied up this process in a bottleneck of bureaucracy?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, one of the interesting things about pilot projects is that they provide feedback so that you can determine your next course of action. It is actually the effectiveness of the single-entry process that has created some of this difficulty and the member, as I say, is correct. We have now gone out and are in the process of getting more help to do these financial assessments, plus the fact that we have made some policy changes which should improve the flow.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this policy means that people who have scrimped and saved all their lives are being punished. The more you save the more assets you will accumulate and the longer it will take to gather the information and process the application. My question to the minister is this, at the very least will you initiate a policy that will allow seniors who have been approved by the panel for long-term care, to enter the care facility while the financial assessment is being processed?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I believe that some of the changes that have recently occurred with the processing of clients will take care of a number of those people of whom the honourable member speaks.

[Page 2943]

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - VOLUNTARY PLANNING TASK FORCE:

RECOMMENDATIONS - LEGISLATION INTRODUCE

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Voluntary Planning's fiscal policy task force made many recommendations to this government for which not very many of those recommendations, in fact, have been followed. Some of those recommendations might even have been able to enhance the current position of the government today. Yet, for some unknown reason this government has failed to follow through on a number of those recommendations. The fiscal task force urged the government to legislate pre-budget consultation for Nova Scotians. A year has passed and no process has been put into place. My question to the minister is, will the minister introduce legislation that will enshrine pre-budget consultation prior to the 2002 budget?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, there were many recommendations that were put forward by the fiscal task force. The member opposite suggests one that was the pre-budget consultation and whether or not that should be put in legislation. I will say that we do have pre-budget consultations, as to whether or not they will be put in legislation is something that government will consider.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I realize the minister does some consulting, obviously, not the amount of consulting that he needs to do. Pre-budget consultation with business, with labour, with farmers, with municipalities and community groups would ensure there would be no nasty surprises in budgets as we currently have seen. I want to table to the House recommendation No. 25 of the task force. I would like to table this to the minister so he can read it for himself. It also allows for more orderly planning processes for budget processes to follow in the future. Instead of forcing interest groups to scream and holler the loudest . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DOWNE: . . . about their concerns, why won't the minister simply go forward and have a consultative process legislated so we all can be involved in the budget process for next year?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, obviously the member opposite hasn't listened. We are having pre-budget consultations. We do meet with the Federation of Agriculture. We also meet with many groups across this province. I take the time to speak to many different groups across this province to hear their views. So contrary to what the member opposite is saying, we are listening.

[Page 2944]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the bottom line is that Voluntary Planning went around the province and they said there wasn't enough consultation being done. Their fiscal task force recommended to the minister and he is ignoring their recommendation. If the minister won't implement pre-budget consultation, how can Nova Scotians expect government to follow through on the more substantive measures that they have recommended to the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I can say one thing, I listen much better than that honourable member does because I told him three times that we listen to the people of Nova Scotia. So, obviously, it is time to remove the ear plugs of the honourable member, because we are having those consultations. (Interruptions) I believe that I struck a nerve.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Hants East. (Applause)

AGRIC.: N.S. ORGANIC GROWERS ASSOC. -

SPECIALISTS: MIN. AWARENESS

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I hope I get an answer. (Laughter) My question is for the Minister of Agriculture. On March 25th I attended the Nova Scotia Organic Growers Association AGM. Dale Kelly, the Executive Director of ADI spoke of the upcoming hirings of ADI but would not commit to hiring a specialist in organic agriculture, one of the most rapidly sectors in the industry. He did say, however, that he would bring their concern to the Minister of Agriculture. So I want to ask the minister, did Mr. Kelly bring the organic growers' concern for specialists to you?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I want to welcome the honourable member back. It is good to have a question from him. Yes, Dale Kelly and I have had discussions, along with the Nova Scotia Agricultural College dean on that particular subject.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister, during estimates, had mentioned that ADI would have specialists that had a background in organic agriculture. I want to table a section of the March 28th edition of Farm Focus on which the 11 jobs are listed and there is no mention in any of those job descriptions of requiring any knowledge in organic agriculture. So I want to ask the minister, can he tell us what he has done with the information that Mr. Kelly gave him around the need for an organic specialist in agriculture?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, along with ADI, Dale Kelly and the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, there have been organic agriculture initiatives centred at the NSAC. Currently we are working with our federal counterparts to establish a chair in organic agriculture here in Nova Scotia and I hope we will be successful in those endeavours.

[Page 2945]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, this minister cut the specialist from the department last year, it is his responsibility to see that specialists are replaced, not the federal government. So I want to ask him, what is he going to do to ensure that an organic specialist comes to the Province of Nova Scotia for this sector of the industry?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to point out to the honourable member that the production and services related to agriculture, whether it is organic or commercial operations, are, in most cases, identical. Marketing and certification are the two issues. Certainly, the department has never employed people specifically designed for that and that is why we are attempting to establish it through the Nova Scotia Agricultural College with research in that area because there is market opportunity. We intend to pursue it in a vigorous manner.

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

NSLC - PHARMACIES: POLICY - PREM. UNAWARE

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Yesterday, we revealed, much to the Premier's surprise, that the government is planning to allow private liquor stores to occupy the same space as pharmacies. When asked outside the House about this important policy decision, the Premier was completely without an answer. For the record, I would like to ask the Premier a simple question. Why was the Premier not aware of his government's policy to allow liquor stores in pharmacies?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the only person who isn't aware of government policy is the member opposite, so I would ask the minister responsible to explain it.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the Leader of the Liberal Party for the question. Indeed, there is mention in the bill with regard to repealing a section in the previous Act with regard to allowing drugstores the opportunity to have an agent store. There may be a special case in a part of rural Nova Scotia or, in fact, somewhere in Nova Scotia, where the only opportunity for that community to have a store may be in a store that has a drugstore. So we are simply allowing that to happen with this change in legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Just before the honourable member has his first supplementary, I would just remind him that Bill No. 20 is a bill that is before the House and would ask him not to ask specifically about the bill. Policy will be allowed, but not specifically about the bill itself.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this is not about the bill, it is an interview that the Premier did yesterday. This is the same Premier that did not know that the debt was growing. As of January 1, 2000, it become illegal for drugstores to sell tobacco if a tobacco shop was

[Page 2946]

in the area. It would have to have a separate entrance and a separate operation. My question to the Premier, to see if he has been fully briefed, is, will drugstores have to have the same separate entrance regulations in order to sell liquor?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the minister responsible.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, indeed, if the member would take the opportunity to look at what was put in place for the request for proposals for the agency stores, he will notice that there are certain parameters, which agency stores are supposed to operate. Indeed, should a pharmacy acquire an agency store somewhere in this province they would have to follow the same sorts of frameworks which do include security measures.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this is a significant question of policy but the Premier is a little scant on details. My question to the Premier is, why is he setting different rules for selling alcohol in drugstores as opposed to the sale of tobacco?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe the minister responsible has already answered that, but I will ask him to respond to the member opposite.

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I said in my previous answer, there are frameworks around which agency stores are supposed to operate, and should an agency store end up in a pharmacy, they would have to follow the same parameters. Indeed, if the member has suggestions, going forward in the legislation, I would be most willing to take a look at them as would anybody on this side of the House.

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

HEALTH - GAY YOUTH PROJECT: FUNDING NEED - MIN. AWARENESS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth Project is a local organization that provides services from homophobia workshops to counselling and tutoring. The youth project has improved the lives of gay youth in Nova Scotia. The project's work has been recognized by Health Canada. It is one of four projects in Canada that has received a three year term of funding from the federal department, but that funding runs out this September. I want to ask the Minister of Health, is he familiar with the youth project, and is he aware of their need for funding as of this September?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, although we have kind of been out of commission in terms of mail for a couple of days, I have received no request, from that particular project, for money, that I have seen.

[Page 2947]

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, of the four projects funded by Health Canada, Nova Scotia is the only one that has not yet had talks with its provincial Department of Health. It is my understanding notification had been given a long time ago that the youth project, in fact, it has had numerous people and letters of support, I believe, to this minister, asking them to fund the youth project. Health Canada has even stated it will help facilitate talks between the department and the project, but the project is still waiting for a response. Their work is important, and they need stable funding to keep doing their job. I will ask the minister, what will the minister do to ensure that the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth Project continues to provide services for youth at risk?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the honourable member has suggested, I do not remember receiving any letters of support for that project from anybody during the period of time that I have been Minister of Health. I am not saying that other people in my department haven't received that, but certainly I haven't seen any communication. What I would suggest that they do, the same as with any other group, if it is located in Dartmouth as the honourable member says it is, he should approach the Capital District Health Authority. They can also write to our department. It would be treated like any other organization.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I didn't say it was in Dartmouth, I believe it is in Halifax. This project is very important. Time is running out in September. I believe they have been notifying this minister of their desire to meet. The fact that it is brought to the floor of this House should mean that they should be given an opportunity to meet with this minister. For my final supplementary I will ask the Minister of Health, will he commit, here today on the floor of this House, that he will meet with the youth project in an attempt to discuss whether funding can be continued for their needs.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, what I can assure the honourable member is that if a request comes it will be afforded the same courtesy as requests of a similar nature.

[3:30 p.m.]

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

EDUC. - JANITORIAL STRIKE (HRM): BARGAINING - GOOD FAITH

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: My question is for the Minister of Education. Recently, there have been charges flying around as to who is actually bargaining in good faith in the janitors' strike at the Halifax Regional School Board. My question to the minister is, can the minister inform members of the House if she believes that both sides, to her knowledge, are bargaining in good faith?

[Page 2948]

HON. JANE PURVES: What I believe personally is that both sides - as in all disputes - want what they want and hopefully, both sides are prepared to give a little in order to get something. In answer to the question about bad faith, I would never say any such thing about either side.

MR. MACKINNON: This morning at Public Accounts, we learned that the Halifax Regional School Board had asked for a mediator and we certainly applaud that. However, a document marked Restricted Distribution dated May 7, 2001 to the Halifax Regional School Board paints an entirely different picture. The same day that the school board asked for a mediator, on the communications section, newspaper ads will run in both the Chronicle-Herald and the Daily News reaffirming the board's position time line daily beginning Wednesday and continuing for 10 days.

My question, given that Miss Nancy Mosher, the minister's Regional Education Officer has been participating in in-camera discussions at the Halifax Regional School Board as recently as last night, how can the minster actually claim to be optimistic about the appointment of a mediator when she knows full well the Halifax Regional School Board does not appear to be bargaining in good faith?

MISS PURVES: Yes, the question was a bit convoluted, but what I can say about Nancy Mosher is that the job as the Regional Education Officer across the province - in this case in Halifax for her - is to attend all board meetings on behalf of the department so that we are able to monitor the situations that we do, in fact, monitor all the time.

MR. MACKINNON: It is very unfortunate that the minister is ill-advised as to what is taking place in her department. Ms. Mosher, as recently as last night, at an in-camera school board council meeting participated in the discussions as to what the board would be offering the union. Clearly, the minister's representative has come down on one side of this particular issue. My question to the minister is, will the minister direct Miss Mosher to withdraw herself from further participation in strike discussions to ensure that this government is not seen to be taking sides on this issue?

MISS PURVES: Since I wasn't at that meeting and I presume the honourable member was not at the meeting, how he knows what this woman did or did not say, that I would be very interested to know that. And, the answer to his question is no, I will not do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - CLIENT: WORKFORCE ENTRY - AID

MR. JERRY PYE: My question is for the Minister of Community Services. I spoke recently with Miss Shirley Steele from Kentville who lost her job earlier this year and is

[Page 2949]

currently on employment insurance. She just wrote her GED and is starting a computer course on May 23rd. This woman is trying as best she can to get back into the workforce. She receives $616 a month, yet her rent alone is $680 a month. Unless she gets help, she won't make it. She has applied in Kentville for assistance from Community Services, but she has been denied on the basis that her income is too high. I understand the minister does not want to discuss individual cases so let's pretend that Ms. Steele is client x. Will the minister undertake the case of client x personally to see what can be done to aid this woman in returning to the workforce?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member mentions the case of person x and honourable members from time to time have the opportunity to bring issues to us and we work with them. We have indicated our goal is to help people get back in the workforce, to help them get training, and clearly that is what we would do.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, that obviously isn't what is happening. Client x is under much stress and has health problems. She is determined to make a go of it in spite of her MLA's refusal to help her. If she receives assistance, however, it will continue through the new rules that will be in place in income assistance on August 1st. My question to the minister, can the minister tell us whether clients of Community Services in client x situations will be eligible for income assistance after August 1st given that the new rules are geared to putting people back into the workplace?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the answer to his question is very simple. The answer is we help people to try to get back into the workforce and we help them with those various aids that we have announced. We have announced all the programs.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, obviously there are a number of these cases coming before us which would imply that the minister is misspeaking. So my final supplementary to the minister is, can the minister tell us what assistance, other than monetary, will be available after August 1st to persons like client x who need retraining to get back into the workforce?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the member asks the question, what have we announced that is going to be available after August 1st. We have indicated that we are going to be involved in child care for those who need it. We have indicated increased transportation support. We have indicated people can carry on their Pharmacare if they go back into the workforce. We have announced all of those things . . .

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

[Page 2950]

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - BRAS D'OR BRIDGE:

TRAFFIC PROBLEMS - MIN. NOTIFICATION

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. There is repair work ongoing on the Bras d'Or Bridge on Highway No. 105 in Bras d'Or near the junction of the Point Aconi Road. This construction site is causing severe traffic tie-ups with delays as long as an hour and lineups as long as approximately four kilometres long. My question to the minister is, have these traffic problems been brought to his attention?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of members in this House who would be delighted to have that kind of problem.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, this is a very important issue. It is in regard to public safety if I have to remind the minister. Temporary traffic lights help guide traffic on Highway No. 105, but lineups make it nearly impossible for vehicles to turn safely on to Highway No. 105 from the Point Aconi Road. How does the minister ensure safety of drivers and pedestrians at this dangerous intersection?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that safety is the watchword of the Department of Transportation and Public Works and that every effort is being made to ensure the safety of the travelling public.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, local residents believe this is a management problem. Traffic lights and lineups could be better coordinated by DOT staff. In fact, the contractor erected these lights without consulting with the Safety Coordinator of the Department of Transportation and Public Works in that area. What steps is the minister taking to solve these traffic problems so traffic and the necessary bridge repairs can move forward?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will certainly have staff take a look at that problem and see what it really is. It is a fact of life that if traffic is stopped, they don't have too many accidents.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - YEAR OF THE ROADS:

ELECTION PROMISE - STATUS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, when the Minister of Finance addressed the Truro Chamber of Commerce in March of this year, he said the Tory election promise to address roads would be handled in this current budget. (Interruptions)

[Page 2951]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, it is the Tory "year of the road", but much to our surprise and I am sure also to the Truro Chamber of Commerce, roads in this province continue to suffer underfunding from this government. It is obvious that the direction the government has decided is to head down the road to nowhere; nowhere where there is no financing. I would like to ask the Premier, what happened to the year of the roads? Is it just another broken promise or a joke put forward by the Minister of Finance in Truro?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the issue of rural roads, in fact roads in general in the province, was very recently articulated by our minister when he laid out the enormous problem that we have in Nova Scotia. Despite that, he is finding more money for capital projects, more money for rural mitigation projects, and while it won't solve the problem it is a step in the right direction.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Premier, our tourism season is upon us and visitors to this province can expect to face a bumpy ride. Instead of spending dollars on tourist attractions, tourists can expect to spend money to get their suspensions repaired. So I want to ask the Premier, why have you failed to address this issue like you promised you would in the Tory year of the road?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I don't want to make light of the member's question because we are all concerned about roads in this province, but on the other hand it is an endless list of requests that comes from that caucus, requests that we simply don't have the money to satisfy. In one instance the public of Nova Scotia told that caucus that the government must not ignore the deficit and the debt, but the caucus chooses to ignore the public and come forward on a regular basis with requests that government couldn't possibly address all at once.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, during that summer campaign when we read that campaign literature and some of those press releases, proudly it said this would be the "year of the road" and the year of the road in this province is full of downright dangerous roads. So I will ask the Premier again, do you ensure that no one will be injured on some of these dangerous roads during this upcoming tourist season because of the rotten shape they are in?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, while the member opposite was asking his question, his colleague for Dartmouth North was waving the blue book, which, by their count, has some 243 commitments. I can reassure the members opposite, and tell Nova Scotians in general, 75 per cent of those commitments are well along the way to commitment and, before we are finished, we will do them all. (Interruptions)

[Page 2952]

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please! I would remind members on both sides of the House that there are to be no props used in the House. I would ask him to keep the book and the pamphlets down please, both sides.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - GLACE BAY HERITAGE MUSEUM SOC.: TAXATION - MIN. EXPLAIN

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Non-profit museums generally receive little or no support for their programs and services from this government, as is the case with the Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society. Unfortunately, the government feels the need to take away from museums by penalizing municipalities for providing exemptions from property tax. The Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society will now be subjected to property taxes for the first time ever. My question to the minister is, why is he attacking the Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society by trying to tax them out of existence?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. Perhaps, the honourable member would be well advised to ask his seat mates about that because the situation which he describes comes about as a result of the amendments to the Municipal Government Act which was brought in and became effective on April 1, 1999, when they were the government. (Interruptions)

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

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, clowns to the left of me and jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please! I guess it is just you and I. (Laughter)

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I will table right now a copy of a letter that was sent to me to Mr. MacIsaac, Minister of Municipal Affairs, from the Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society, which is doing a public service by trying to raise funds to restore the Old Town Hall in Glace Bay. The society has gone on in that letter to say, "We would consider its demise to be an insult to our past and a total disregard for those that built a town . . ." My question is, will the province do the right thing and allow municipalities to provide tax exemptions from property taxes for museums?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to advise the honourable member that amendments of the nature of the one that he is asking me to bring forward are amendments

[Page 2953]

which are not considered until the government is requested to do so by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. I can say that as a result of requests from them, we have the legislation before us with respect to fire halls, we have considered that request, we are acting on it and, hopefully, we will get that legislation through. If we receive similar requests from the UNSM with respect to the matter the honourable member is raising, we will be more than willing to consider those requests.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, if I ever heard a cop-out before, that is a cop-out. The Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society is asking this government and that minister to help them save their society, period. The government sits there and claims to be reducing red tape, and non-profit groups are being taxed out of existence.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. WILSON: Assessing heritage museums above all, assessing heritage museums is just plain wrong. My question, Mr. Speaker, will the minister ensure that community museums in the province do not disappear because of the tax policies of that government?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, apparently the honourable member had some difficulty understanding my first answer. I would advise him to read it in Hansard, but I will point out to the honourable member that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality does, if it so desires in its wisdom, have the ability to exempt such a property from taxation and I believe that until such time as there is an amendment to the Municipal Government Act, that is where the honourable member and the society should focus their attention.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - ROAD CONDITIONS (CUMBERLAND SO.): REPAIRS - DETAILS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. You know, Mr. Speaker, it is a question you may take some special interest in as I have some questions about roads in Cumberland South. The MLA for Cumberland South is quoted in The Citizen as saying that it would probably take the entire provincial budget just to fix the roads in Cumberland County. The folks along the Parrsboro shore are sure fired up about the terrible condition of local roads, as the member for Cumberland South can testify from the Port Greville meeting. My question for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, can the minister tell those people in Cumberland County why his government refuses to fix the roads in that area? (Interruptions)

[Page 2954]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I want order in this House, so I can hear this answer.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know which highway he is referring to, but I do know that there was a tender (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. RUSSELL: . . . for Route 209 that was signed just last week.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. For clarification of the House, that would be the road the honourable member is questioning about?

MR. ESTABROOKS: The roads in Cumberland South, not one particular road, Mr. Speaker. A Parrsboro RCMP officer is quoted in The Citizen as saying that the roads in his area are the worst he has seen in his career and he has worked all over Nova Scotia. The worst, and he says when he has to leave Parrsboro to go to Advocate it takes 15 extra minutes. That is 15 extra minutes for emergency vehicles such as fire trucks, ambulances and, of course, the RCMP. Will the minister explain, why doesn't he put the health and safety of residents of Cumberland South ahead of the bottom line when it comes to his beloved budget and the lack of money for roads in this province and in Cumberland South?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to field that question because, you know, I think it was yesterday we were hearing a horror story about Route 333 and about the road out to Peggy's Cove and now the honourable member is looking after the problems in everybody else's constituency. I wish he would make up his mind. I suppose the funding that we have available for Route 333, we are going to have to have a look at and see if perhaps the road down to Advocate is in worse condition. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I appreciate the question the honourable member is asking on behalf of the good residents of Cumberland South. I hope he asks another one tomorrow.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, you know, that is why I am here, to speak up not just for the people of the Prospect Road, not just for tourist operators on Route 333, but for tourist operators along the Advocate shore, a road that I travelled many times. I want you to know there are tourist operators who are concerned about this problem. Will the minister assure tourist operators in Cumberland County, and the rest of rural Nova Scotia, that he won't let their businesses die a slow death as they attempt to fix the roads across this province with tourist destinations?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member said that is why he is here and I would like to tell him why I am here. (Laughter) In all seriousness, the reason I am here is because I have to make priorities. I have to decide and I have to do those things without an

[Page 2955]

abundance of funding to satisfy all the priorities that are out there. I will do my best. I will do my best for that member and I will do my best for you, Mr. Speaker, but I cannot accommodate everybody's requests.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

ACADIAN AFFS. - EXEC. DIR.: POSITION - INTERVIEW DETAILS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs recently appointed a new acting director for Acadian Affairs after a nine month vacancy in this position. Ironically, the new acting director hired by the minister is a well-known Tory who just happens to have recently completed a stint in the employ of former Tory MP, Mark Muise. My question to the Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs is, could the minister tell the House exactly how many people were interviewed for this position?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, someone was appointed in the interim and there were not other people that were interviewed. But I will say to the honourable member opposite that before the appointment was made in the interim, I had discussions with the committee, that is an advisory committee across the province. As I indicated to them, because they urged me to appoint someone in the interim, I told them I would select someone and I would bring it back to them before I made the appointment and I did so and they concurred.

MR. SAMSON: How ironic, Mr. Speaker, that this is the same committee that the minister himself decided to arbitrarily appoint as to who he wanted to be on his advisory committee. So how surprising that this committee would have approved his choice and I am sure this committee never told him to go out and find whatever Tory who is out of a job to be the acting director. The Minister of Finance has clearly learned well from his Buchanan days through his application of the province's hiring rules by making this position indefinitely as acting. The minister knows very well that as long as it is an acting position, he avoids the real hiring process in this province. Can the minister tell this House how long we can expect the word acting to remain in front of the director's new title?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, as I already told the member opposite in a discussion, it will be very short - in a matter of a few months. I want to point out for the edification of the members, we have appointed big Tories to this committee, and a gentleman of which included, Allister Surette, who was a Liberal Cabinet Minister whom I defeated at the polls, who happens to be the President of the Collège de l'Acadie of this province. I think I have been more than fair in the people that I have appointed and that no matter what that member says, we have treated the people of Nova Scotia fairly.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this minister showed his disdain for Acadians in this province and his disdain for the democratic process here in this province by denying

[Page 2956]

Acadians from one end of this province to the next the opportunity to present themselves for service on his advisory committee by arbitrarily appointing his own committee. This is the same minister and government that have absolutely no plan for the upcoming Acadian Congress in 2004. When will the minister do the right thing and immediately advertise for a permanent director of Acadian Affairs in this province?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I have already indicated that there will be a posting. I have indicated that it will be a public process and if the honourable member will let me answer question, I will. I gave him the respect to ask the question, he should give the same to me when I am answering. The committee, which is formed of many different organizations across this province, has suggested that we look at what goes on in other provinces of this country before we post the position. I accepted their recommendation and once that review is done the position will be posted, that is more than fair, contrary to what that member across the floor says.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - ROUTE 348: REPAIR - URGENT

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, as we have been hearing, roads across Nova Scotia are in terrible shape, some are worse than others. On May 7th a petition of concern for Route 348 in Pictou County was presented to this House. There are 350 names on that petition and that speaks volumes about the poor condition of that particular road. The people who signed that petition live in the many communities that are found in the East River Valley. They signed the petition in order to highlight, "the urgency of the need for repair to the roadS." These 350 people feel that the road is now a hazard and it is becoming impassable.

My question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, will his department immediately repair Route 348 so that these residents don't endanger their families merely by driving on that road?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto. The roads in Halifax Chebucto are not very good either, I haven't heard any complaints about those from the member. Route 348 is one of the roads that does need repair and there may be some funding that becomes available to carry out a little bit of work on that road.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, according to the municipal councilor for the area, one section of Route 348 runs alongside the watershed that has to provide safe and clean drinking water for thousands of Pictou County residents. The petition calls the road hazardous. If, due

[Page 2957]

to the road's hazardous condition, a fuel truck or a truck with any other dangerous cargo had an accident, we will have a major environmental disaster.

So, why is the Minister of Transportation and Public Works failing to do his duty so that the road's hazardous condition is not putting the health of thousands of Pictou County residents at risk?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member reminds me of Chicken Little, the sky is falling. That is simply fear-mongering, the roads in Nova Scotia are safe, we will maintain them in a safe condition.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister mentioned Chebucto and the urban areas, but you know our water supply is well protected and well insulated. The economy of rural Nova Scotia is remarkably dependent on the condition of the highways, the health of tourism, of forestry, of fisheries and manufacturing are all profoundly connected to the condition of the roads.

I would like to know from the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, why is it that your department is failing rural Nova Scotia by not providing adequate infrastructure for its businesses and industries?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, highway financing 101 is simply this, if we provide more money for the highway system in this province, which would be very nice, the money must come from somewhere. There are only about three or four sources; one is to take it from the Health Department; the second one is to take it from the Department of Education; the third one is to take it from the Minister of Human Resources; or we go out and borrow it. Perhaps he would like to come forward with a suggestion as to where all the money is going to come from.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

NAT. RES. - LAHAVE RIVER WATERSHED: PUB. DOMAIN - PRESERVE

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the residents around the LaHave River watershed are alarmed to learn that a planned federal divestiture of harbour beds, in particular, about a nine kilometre stretch of the LaHave River from the maximum tide line of the old Bridge Street to Bear Hill near Pleasantville.

My question is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, what discussions have you and your department had with the federal officials about preserving this river in the public domain?

[Page 2958]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of any discussions but perhaps the discussion would be with the Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, then I will refer the question directly to the Minister of Natural Resources. Would the minister be able to inform me of what discussions he or his department has had with the federal government with regard to preserving the LaHave River as part of the public domain?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, we have had no discussions in regard to this particular piece of land. Any of those type of divestitures would fall under the realm of properties that the federal government would declare a surplus. At points, we look at areas like McNabs Island, ones of significant areas, but this particular property, to my knowledge, has not been put forward by the federal government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West, you have about 20 seconds.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, this property, in fact, has been brought forward. My question to the Premier is, a private owner or operator of rivers makes no sense to those living along the LaHave River, recreation or economic activities can be curtailed by private owners. I ask the Premier now, what steps is he and his government prepared to take to make sure that . . .

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

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have distributed the schedule. Would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 38.

Bill No. 38 - Provincial Sovereignty Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 2959]

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I am here to move second reading of Bill No. 38 and speak in favour of that. Bill No. 38, An Act to Protect Provincial Sovereignty over Essential Public Services. I have to explain what exactly this is all about. I think members should understand why it is that such a bill has come before the House and what does it actually have to do with.

The title is, An Act to Protect Provincial Sovereignty over Essential Public Services. From whom are we seeking to protect our sovereignty? The answer is, from the federal government. In what respect is the federal government moving to encroach upon provincial sovereignty in the Province of Nova Scotia with respect to essential public services. Well, this is not all that difficult to understand. The recitals of the bill points out that the federal government is now engaged in a series of negotiations with other nation states, first under the auspices of the World Trade Organization and, second, under the auspices of the Organization of American States.

Pursuant to those negotiations, first with respect to the World Trade Organization, they are contemplating the possibility of an agreement known as the General Agreement on Trade in Services, or the GATS. Under the OAS, there are negotiations with respect to a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas. Both of these agreements have the potential to encroach upon provincial sovereignty, and that is what this bill is about. I will leap ahead just to say that the essential public services that this bill contemplates protection for are a public education system and a public health care system.

Now, why do we think that there is some potential for encroaching upon the sovereignty of the provincial government through international negotiations? I would like to take just a moment to explain the constitutional situation, because this is very much to the point. Normally, one would think that under the constitutional arrangements, which split responsibilities for different topic areas between the federal and provincial governments, there would be no opportunity for encroachment by one level upon the areas of jurisdiction of the other. However, the question becomes clouded a little bit when we begin to deal with international agreements. The question becomes, could the federal government, by entering into an international agreement that deals with some subject areas that are normally within provincial jurisdiction thereby influence how provinces deal with them?

This question has come up before. This question actually arose in the 1930's for the first time in Canada. At that time, the federal government entered into international agreements that had to do with certain topics that were normally within provincial jurisdiction because they had to do with occupational health and safety and hours of work. The legal question became, could the federal government, by signing an international agreement, assume jurisdiction in its implementing legislation over those areas? Could they, therefore, remove this area that would normally be within provincial jurisdiction into the area of responsibility of the federal Parliament?

[Page 2960]

This was litigated at the time and the answer that the courts ultimately gave late in the 1930's, in what is known as the Labour Standards case, is that no it was beyond the jurisdiction of the federal government to do that. In general, a federal government could not acquire jurisdictional power over areas of provincial responsibility simply by signing an international treaty that had something to do with it.

Clearly, the federal government has powers to enter into international agreements. That is a federal power, it is not a provincial power, but if the federal government chooses to sign an international agreement that has something to do with areas of responsibility that are normally within provincial jurisdiction, they are in a bit of a box. They would then have to seek the consent, and the concurrence and the agreement, and the implementation powers of the provincial governments in order to move ahead with those international agreements.

It doesn't mean the international agreements are invalid and it certainly wouldn't mean that if the federal government bound itself to some kind of remedy or penalty, if it failed to live up to its international agreement, it wouldn't mean that the federal government wouldn't be obliged to pay those penalties if payment was the form that it took, or to abide by the treaty in some other fashion, depending on what was in it.

If that were the case, if that were the extent of the jurisprudence, there probably wouldn't be much need to assert provincial sovereignty, although it would be a useful thing to do. On the other hand, although no direct cases have come forward since the 1930's, there have been some cases that have gone to the Supreme Court of Canada in which there have been some indirect comments from the court about the ambit of the federal government's treaty making powers. There have been at least some hints from members of the Supreme Court of Canada that they might be prepared to rethink this question; they might be prepared to think that the federal government could intrude, to a certain extent, on provincial jurisdiction.

Well, the result of this is the situation is a little clouded. We just don't know. It would be not necessarily very desirable to have to go through the route of litigation after a negotiated international agreement had been signed that actually impinged upon provincial sovereignty. So what this bill says is why don't we think about it right now? Why don't we think about protecting provincial sovereignty right now and let the federal government know that the Province of Nova Scotia does not want it to negotiate with respect to essential public services like health and education. This bill says to the federal government: hands off health and education; they are public services.

Now, in doing so, we would just be taking the federal government at its word because representatives of the federal government have said on a number of occasions that they are not interested in negotiating away sovereignty or dealing at all with public health care, public education. What they have suggested is that these are simply not on the table. What they have suggested is that public health and education - and they have gone so far as to say also social

[Page 2961]

services - will simply not be included. Perhaps they will also be specifically excluded, but we have reason to worry.

There is reason to worry about that because when we look at the thrust of what the General Agreement on Trade in Services is about and when we look at the thrust of what the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas is all about, they follow in a line from other international agreements where the trend of the thinking is very clear. The FTAA follows from the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the United States implemented in 1989 and the NAFTA agreement implemented in 1994. The trust of those two agreements is quite clearly to give additional powers to corporations to invest and move their assets and their businesses fairly freely across North America. That is what the FTAA is all about, it wants to expand the number of countries but it is also talking about the possibility of expanding the ambit.

When we think about the GATS, the GATS follows in a whole series of negotiations that have taken place over the last 50 years to expand the ambit of corporate investment, and we have seen a variety of examples of this. That is, in fact, what the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade has been all about. It is what the failed MAI agreement was all about and it is what we now know the GATS is all about.

[4:15 p.m.]

When we look at the actual text of what it is that the GATS says there is very little comfort to be had that these public services are actually excluded in terms that are so clear that one could feel entirely comfortable. Article 1.3 of the agreement states, "For the purposes of this agreement . . . 'services' includes any service in any sector except services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority;". I will just end my quote at that point and say that it seems fairly clear that if you just read that far, one would think that governmental authority services are thereby exempt. It goes on and I will now quote the rest of this Article 1.3.

". . . 'a service supplied in the exercise of governmental authority' means any service which is supplied neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers.". Now here is the problem. The problem is that for a government-protected service, or as they say here, a service supplied in the exercise of governmental authority, to be exempt from the GATS as it is now drafted, it would both have to be offered neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers.

The problem with health and education is that in our province - and I think in no province, are we pure with respect to health and education - there are, for example, private schools and private schools receive some funding from provincial governments. That is quite usual. There are, in the health sector, certain elements that are already offered through the private sector. I have in mind some of the long-term care. I have in mind some of the services

[Page 2962]

for pharmaceuticals, some of the lab services. There are a variety of things that are already offered from the private sector and are not purely offered by the government in a way that would make it crystal clear that these essential public services, health and education are exempt.

So I worry. I worry when I look at the language of the GATS because it is not obvious at all that this is intended or that in the language there is a clear guarantee that they will be completely exempt from any kind of the ambit of the GATS. If we have reason to worry about that, then we should take steps to protect our sovereignty, because we know that in similarly worded agreements, for example, under the agreements that the European Union operates under or under NAFTA, when there have been questions about the ambit of government authority, in virtually every case, the corporations have been the winners in any of the disputes that have come up. I think members will be aware of the American Ethol Corporation's case and S.D. Myers has a case and, of course, the most recent decision was that of Metalclad that affected a town in Mexico. Of course, the result of that has been an impingement upon the sovereignty of municipalities in Mexico.

So I think we have to go on record about this to set out that Nova Scotia wants to protect these essential public services and that is what Bill No. 38 says. It says that we don't consent to intrusions upon our sovereignty. We don't consent to the federal government negotiating on our behalf in any of these international agreements with respect to our essential public services. Bill No. 38 says, furthermore, that we will speak to the federal negotiators and we will ask them for a reservation with respect to our essential public services. A reservation is a term used in international law to mean an exemption.

Finally, what Bill No. 38 says is if the federal government is so unwise as to negotiate such an agreement, we won't implement it. It will be public policy here not to implement the federally negotiated international agreements in any way if they might impinge upon the free ambit of offering these public services to people.

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

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise this afternoon and take a few moments of the time of the House to talk specifically about this particular bill. As I was listening to the member opposite, again I was drawn back to some of the people who have spoken in this very Legislature about this very issue some 125 years ago. In fact, Joseph Howe, one of the Fathers of Confederation, who put aside his own personal reservations about whether or not entering into the Confederation agreement that formed this great country was, in fact, in the best interests of Nova Scotia, but that individual did say that it was for the greater good.

[Page 2963]

I believe at the time that those discussions were being undertaken Nova Scotia could boast that it had the largest merchant navy in the entire world. The flag of Nova Scotia was known in every port of call in every continent on the globe and in fact that was something that even to this day we hold as a source of great pride for us. I believe that it is incredibly important that we as a province and we as a country continue to develop those trading alliances. I think everyone recognizes that free trade has been good for Canada and it has been good for Nova Scotia. In fact, when the federal government undertook to balance their particular budget on the backs of the provinces by reducing transfer payments to Atlantic Canada, and in particular to Nova Scotia, it forced us as a province to begin to reforge those historic trading links with our partners to the south.

I believe now, and it certainly has been in the past, the United States is our largest single trading partner but, in particular for Nova Scotia, the opportunity to trade into the New England States and in fact into other regions of the Eastern Seaboard has been of great benefit to this province. The Premier is going to take part next week in a Team Canada Trade Mission into Atlanta which is going to be a tremendous opportunity for our companies to continue to grow and develop those trading alliances.

Mr. Speaker, the issue is protecting those very things which make Canada the greatest nation in which to live, that is our national Health Care Act and our health care program and the education program. The federal negotiators, in fact the Prime Minister, has indicated that it is not his intention to jeopardize either health care or education as we begin these discussions around developing even larger and more intricate trading alliances with our neighbours to the south and to the further south. In fact, I believe that anyone who recognizes growing an industry will realize that the only way to do that effectively is to trade outside of our boundaries. In fact, the numbers we have would indicate that $68,000 of export monies results in one new job being created. Many of the new jobs that have been created in Nova Scotia over the last few years have been directly linked to the development of greater trading alliances.

In fact, Nova Scotia is going to be a net exporter for the first time in some number of decades. So we are taking part in these opportunities. I believe that what we need to do is not hide from opportunity, but embrace it. Many of the businesses in this province can boast with some pride that they can compete with any jurisdiction anywhere in the world and they can do it effectively and well. So contrary to the member opposite's position that we need to hide and protect ourselves, I believe that we have an opportunity to prove to the world that Nova Scotian businesses can compete anywhere and be aggressive in so doing.

Mr. Speaker, I look to the issue of the softwood lumber dispute and, in fact, this province has been very much a part of an Atlantic Region team that has raised that issue certainly with our federal counterparts and again in Washington. I believe that through working together as a group we have been able to sensitize both our federal partners and again the Americans around how important that issue is to Atlantic Canada and, in particular,

[Page 2964]

to Nova Scotian businesses. I believe that we can work within the negotiated agreements and do so effectively.

Mr. Speaker, I think also that it is important to note that we do have people in our government who are very aware of the issues related to GATS and have been involved with the discussions. It is very short-sighted I believe to try to insulate ourselves. I think we have to go forward with a clear plan of what we are willing to put on the table, if you will, but one of the great issues facing Canada as a nation is the fact that we are becoming very polarized around particular partisan views.

With relation to the softwood lumber issue, the Province of British Columbia has a particular partisan view about what is in its best interest. The Province of Ontario has a view about what is in its best interest. The Province of Quebec has a view about what is in its best interest and I believe that the more often those kinds of issues come forward to divide this nation of ours, it creates long-term difficulty when we have issues of common concern. I think what we need to do is bring forward a strong team to represent Nova Scotia and, in fact, represent Atlantic Canada in the discussions.

Mr. Speaker, I think, too, everyone should be aware that the discussions around expanding the trading agreement are only in their very preliminary stages. On one occasion when we met, as a group of provincial ministers relating to international trade, it was really at the very preliminary stages of discussion. In fact, I think there is going to be some great opportunity for dialogue about how these discussions and negotiated agreements will unfold over time.

Mr. Speaker, again, there are tremendous opportunities for Nova Scotia as a province and for Canada as a nation to expand trading opportunities. I agree with the member opposite in terms of his view that we need to ensure that we don't lose more than we gain through this process. Certainly the issue of health care and the provision of health care in this province is something that the people hold near and dear. In fact, questions related to that very issue, and to education, occupy a great deal of the time during Question Period.

I can reassure the member opposite that this government is going to do everything in its power to ensure that those items are protected, but there will be opportunity, I believe. Certainly the whole knowledge-based economy is creating tremendous opportunity for our IT companies to export into a global market. Companies such as Knowledge House and ITI, are world leaders in the knowledge industry. There is no reason to think that companies in Nova Scotia will not be able to compete and hold their own in a global economy that is driven by intellectual capital.

Mr. Speaker, we boast repeatedly, and rightly so, that we have the most literate workforce per capita in North America. We have a number of post-secondary institutions that are world-class in their abilities, and certainly in terms of biomedical research there is a view

[Page 2965]

that Atlantic Canada, in particular Dalhousie Medical School, will be able to leverage significant investment from the federal government around developing greater opportunities through research and development in biomedical research.

I think that while we have cause to be aware of the issue, I believe it does present an opportunity, and that by capturing that opportunity as a province and as a nation we can actually emerge, from these discussions and what may happen down the road, stronger and in a better position to take advantage.

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier on, those who are involved in marketing their products on a global scale here in Canada will point to the Free Trade Agreement that was brought forward with a great deal of concern expressed by various groups about what it would actually do to the long-term competitive abilities of Nova Scotia. They have demonstrated clearly that it hasn't been to their detriment, it has been to their benefit. In fact, if I remember my facts, it was the previous federal government, under Brian Mulroney, who first brought forward the discussion on free trade. In fact, at that time the then Leader of the Liberal Party, who was in the Opposition, spoke against the Free Trade Agreement, that it would be the demise of many of the businesses in Canada. When that person became the Prime Minister, he changed his perspective quite radically and tried to assume the glory that was associated with it, or at least the accolades that came from the business community as a result of our ability to move forward.

I would also remind the member opposite that the federal government does have the capacity and the responsibility to speak on behalf of the entire nation, and that while we as a number of provinces come together and express our concerns, it has . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I wonder if the honourable Minister of Economic Development would please inform the House what bill he is talking about?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I didn't hear the answer. Order, please.

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. BALSER: As I said, I am talking to the Provincial Sovereignty Act, the Act that was introduced by the honourable member for Dartmouth. Certainly again, because it is the - Halifax Chebucto, excuse me, somewhere. He should speak more regularly then I would know where he was from. (Laughter)

In any event, there has been a great deal of public concern expressed around the Free Trade Agreements, the GATS and NAFTA discussions. I think what we need to do is work

[Page 2966]

as a nation and share our concerns as a region, certainly Atlantic Canada. The GATS do not cover service supplied in the exercise of governmental authority, so some of what the member opposite, in this bill, is alluding to may be unfounded. As I said earlier on in comments, we are some ways from any formalized documents being generated. These are preliminary discussions and, as I said, we have people in the department who are aggressively following this process and who have been meeting regularly. In fact, if anything good has come out of the discussions around the softwood lumber dispute, it has been that our counterparts in our sister provinces are, in fact, sharing their information on a more regular and timely basis.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the concern over the over-liberalization of opportunities surrounding these trade agreements may not be entirely founded in fact. The World Trade Organization is a body that speaks to these problems related to trade, but by the same token it does provide a forum for these discussions to occur. Rather than trying to avoid the discussions entirely, I think it is appropriate that we come together and seize the opportunity to clearly articulate where we want the Province of Nova Scotia to be in relation to trading opportunities. That is what this should be about rather than, as I say, trying to avoid a situation or hide from a responsibility or advocate responsibility. What we need to do is become a very aggressive participant to ensure that Nova Scotia's concerns are addressed as discussions move forward and, as ultimately, an agreement is ratified, and we may be some time from having an agreement ratified.

If one looks back to the negotiation of the original Free Trade Agreement, it wasn't something that happened in a matter of weeks or a matter of months. The discussions were held over a number of years and there was tremendous opportunity for various organizations, whether they be provincial or simply lobby groups to come forward with their concerns. I believe that at the end of the day the Free Trade Agreement that was reached to some degree dealt with those concerns and did in fact, as I have said already in my comments, prove over the course of time to have been a good thing for Canada and, in particular, for Nova Scotia. So I think if it is approached in the proper manner that we will be able to position Nova Scotia to take advantage of the trading opportunities which will come as new markets are brought into the fold, if you will. Thank you.

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on Bill No. 38. This Bill No. 38 is an important piece of legislation because it goes to the very essence of our federal system. I believe that provinces should be consulted on major trade deals. Having said that however, the wording of this legislation is essentially flawed. It is dangerous and would have far-reaching effects on the federal system.

First of all, this is more of a constitutional amendment than a bill. Such an amendment would require the support of two-thirds of the provinces and with at least 50 per

[Page 2967]

cent of the population. In addition to that, both the Senate and the Commons would have to agree.

Section 3(1) says that Nova Scotia " . . . has never consented, to allow the Government of Canada to act on behalf of the Government of the Province in any international negotiations, treaties, conventions, charters, protocols or agreements." Is the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto serious? The reality is that the province has absolutely no power to negotiate in international negotiations, nor has it ever negotiated an international treaty. Is the honourable member actually suggesting that the province become a sovereign nation with its own embassies and diplomatic corps, Mr. Speaker? This is straight out of the Parti Québécois playbook and I, for one, do not support the goals of the Parti Québécois.

Mr. Speaker, I believe all members of the House remember when Nova Scotians debated the Calgary Declaration in 1997 and 1998. Members of this House of Assembly appointed a Select Committee on National Unity that travelled throughout the province to hear what Nova Scotians had to say on the Calgary Declaration. Many people who attended these hearings in December 1997 expressed that we need Quebec to remain as part of our Canadian family. La majoritée des gens qui se sont exprimés au séance de consultation souhaitent que le Québec fasse partie du Canada. Nova Scotians want to build on a strong Canada that includes Quebec.

Mr. Speaker, the other great concern we have is what implications this bill has for the Canada Health Act. Is the honourable member suggesting that there should be no federal role in health care? If that is the case, this member supports a patchwork of Medicare across the province. I am sure the Provinces of Ontario and Alberta would be more than happy to go along with this bill. That way they could bring private control over the health system with no control from Ottawa. Ontario and Alberta might be happy to support this bill, but here in Nova Scotia everyone agrees that the first concern is health care in this province; a need for more specialists, a need for more doctors and a need for more nurses. The need for more front-line caregivers is a concern for all.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that our government would not want Ottawa to be allowed to download its responsibilities to the provinces and territories over having no federal role in health care. This bill opens the door to the destruction of Medicare in Canada and here at home.

This bill, in Clause 2, talks about reaffirming the exclusive sovereignty of the province. If there is no role for the federal government in health and in education it means less funding from Ottawa and no CHST, no Canadian Health and Social Transfers for Nova Scotia. This bill threatens our basic service in this province. Let's look at education. Education also requires federal support. My colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, will have a chance to say a few words on health in a few minutes, but let's talk about education.

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Education requires federal support including projects like the information economy initiative, which was a $73.4 million federal-provincial government project. This initiative has invested $38.2 million in 6,200 computers, Internet access and software for 181 junior and senior high schools. Installation of the final pieces of equipment was completed in June 2000. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that this was a project implemented by the previous Liberal Government. In addition, post-secondary programs like the Canada Student Loan Program would conceivably be perceived as an infringement of provincial responsibility under this bill. This legislation has not been well thought out. It is a knee-jerk reaction to pander to those who participated in the Quebec City protest. Unfortunately, instead of addressing their concerns about globalization, this bill is a threat to our education and our health system.

Mr. Speaker, I have concerns about globalization, but I understand that protectionism, high tariffs and building walls around countries do not work and I will tell you all, whenever trade is hindered, economic decline begins, freedoms are taken away and, worst of all, wars are begun. Opposition to free trade, no matter how well intentioned, plays into the hands of dictators. One need only to look at the Great Depression and World War II to realize that protectionism is a dark road with severe consequences.

In the United States, the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act of 1930 imposed stiff tariffs on imports. Business at the time theorized that the tariff would protect American business but, in this case, it certainly did weaken the stock market crash of 1929. This led to unemployment, Mr. Speaker, in other countries that erected their own trade barriers in response. In March 1993, international trade plummeted to 33 per cent of its 1929 level. The world-wide depression was deeply entrenched. Hawley triggered a long-lasting, world-wide depression, which gave opportunities for demagogues like Hitler to rise to prominency.

The goal of any free trade democratic country is to export democracy. Free trade without control is also dangerous, Mr. Speaker, and we must ensure labour laws, environmental concerns and basic civil rights are protected. Free trade does not happen over night and it is not part of a world-wide business conspiracy. The Summit of the Americas is part of an international movement towards lowering tariffs. It started with the GATT process of 1947.

Mr. Speaker, it is important to study history before reactionary pieces of legislation like this bill are brought forward. Closing the door to trade only hinders freedom. Opening the doors provides opportunity. Free trade is not a panacea. Protestors like those at the Summit of the Americas do have something to tell us about democracy, the environment and human rights. We should listen to the majority of peaceful demonstrators. However, we must export democracy along with fish products, with tires, with natural gas, but simply opposing free trade for its own sake is not good public policy.

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Mr. Speaker, in closing, I believe Nova Scotians need better networking and co-operation between the provinces and between the provinces and federal government. Our challenge as a nation and as a province is to develop the ability to rapidly respond to a constantly changing world and country. This has become the first condition for growth and progress. I will turn whatever time is left to my honourable colleague, the member for Dartmouth East.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: I thank my Leader for sharing time on debating Bill No. 38. This Bill No. 38, Mr. Speaker, brought forward by the socialists is extremely interesting under the guise of protecting provincial sovereignty over essential public services, particularly relative to health and education. There is no question that international agreements do impact on services within individual provinces. But we would see under this no Canada Health Act. What I would see the scenario playing out under the event that we ever did, heaven forbid, see an NDP Government in this province, that after they overspent and bankrupted this province, they would have to turn to a new set of revenue generators.

The hospitals could well be turned under that scenario into bringing in (Interruptions)

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, order. My goodness, the honourable member for Dartmouth East has the floor and I would ask honourable members to please respect the fact that the honourable member does have the floor. Other members will have an opportunity to speak, I am sure, at a later date.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. SMITH: I too have been frustrated with the federal government on occasion, I have seen what will happen, particularly at ministerial meetings when Quebec is not at the table and Ontario is left to bulldoze its way through the other provinces through intimidation and other ways. We do need a strong federal presence here. We have seen in this province pilot projects - particularly under health - on primary care and initiatives, early intervention programs for children and strengthening families relative to child abuse and potential neglect.

Under the Canada Health Act, the importance of the criteria or the tenets of the public administration of our Medicare program or comprehensiveness, our universality, our portability of that program and accessibility, these are guaranteed that people right across this country can move in and out of provinces and not be penalized within this system. Is this what we want to do, put the barriers up and protect our own sovereignty? That is the next step. No, we think that this legislation is flawed and has not been well thought out. It has catered - in my opinion as well and I share that with our Leader - to those groups like the Naomi "No Logo" Klein, Maude Barlow who solicits funds from senior citizens, or Alexa

[Page 2970]

McDonough showing leadership - how to fend off police. Is that leadership? Is that what they would have? Put up the barriers and have Alexa McDonough at the Tantramar Marsh pushing away everyone else that wants to come in and share the services? No. That is a knee-jerk reaction to pandering to that type of foolishness.

The federal government has a role to play in health and in education and we must work there with them in that and use our Canada Health Act to our advantage to people in Nova Scotia and preserve that and not this kind of silly legislation. Thank you.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: I was actually hoping that the members of the Liberal Party, the Third Party were going to come with their free Jaggy Singh T-shirts to tell us how much they actually supported legislation that protected the things that Nova Scotians hold so dearly - health care, education among other things.

What we have heard - and they talk about this being reactionary legislation. If I have seen the level of hyperbole cranked up by the Leader of the Liberal Party to say that this type of legislation leads to demagogues and dictators and leads to depression and economic disaster - I don't know what piece of legislation he was reading, but I must say it seems as though he has been cranking up the rhetoric a few too many notches before he actually came forward and read the legislation.

Let us be clear. Canada, as a federation, is built on the concept that some issues, some policies are best dealt with at a provincial level, that the province is the best place to manage those services. In 1867 when we created the Constitution, that was health care, that was education, it was property rights, it was many things under Section 92 of what is now the Constitution Act of 1867. Back then it was the British North America Act.

At that time, the founders of our federation said, let's allow those services to be provided at the provincial level. That hasn't been changed. There have been a lot of constitutional amendments since 1867, including, obviously a major rewrite and repatriation in 1982 and never did it become an issue that the provinces would give up their right to control over health care and education. It is a provincial jurisdiction because the provinces are best able to deal with these issues.

Don't get me wrong. Canada has become a better country because we have had a federal government in the past that has had a desire to ensure that health care is provided to all Canadians. That we have had federal governments in the past that have attempted to ensure that our provinces are providing basic services across Canada at a level that was fairly equitable.

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Mr. Speaker, that was governments in the 1960's, the Pearson Government of the Liberal Party. I think that is important to recognize, but let's also recognize that the things that we hold dear in this country, the things that we say make our country the best country in the world, like Medicare, like accessible education, post-secondary education, a decent education system, are things that were created and developed and incubated at the provincial level.

Let's use health care as an example. It was the 1940's, it was Saskatchewan, it was a province that was destitute, still reeling from a depression 15 years earlier. That province, under a CCF Government decided they were going to institute universal health care. It took many years, it didn't happen overnight. It was a province that had the desire and the leadership to go ahead and create what was later on to become a national program. It wasn't the federal government that had that idea, it was the provincial government.

Mr. Speaker, you could say, even now, issues like universal child care are things that are being incubated at the provincial level; Quebec, British Columbia. A lot of issues around accessibility and education were probably first dealt with at provincial levels. The provinces, because of their nature are closer to the people, they are closer to the whole issue of what the people want, and they are better able to adapt to the cultures of those provinces. Because of that, provinces are incubators of the good ideas.

Mr. Speaker, that is what made Canada as good as it was, provinces that were being creative and implementing theories and ideas that their people wanted. The federal government may adopt some of them. Maybe they will eventually adopt universal child care and our federation will be stronger for it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allocated for Bill No. 38 has expired, as has the member's time. (Interruptions) I apologize, honourable member. Carry on.

MR. DEVEAUX: I wasn't sure what that signal was to me earlier, I thought it meant I had 10 minutes left, actually.

Mr. Speaker, my point is this, that the incubator of ideas are our provinces. That is what has made our federation strong. Yes, we need federal governments when they are being proactive to help make them universal programs across Canada, but that will not be done unless we have provinces that maintain control over jurisdiction over those ideas. That is what made our health care system strong, it is what made our federation strong; a balance between a central government and provincial governments.

Now we have a Liberal Party that seems to think that this legislation is trying to rip apart that balance, it is trying to take away the federal powers. No, that is not what this is about. It is about reflecting and entrenching the fact that our provinces are still in charge and still the ones that have control. Why? Well, when we had governments like that of Lester B.

[Page 2972]

Pearson, we probably didn't need it. His was a proactive government, he was going out and creating new, innovative programs that were making better the lives of Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, the problem is now we have a government and we had a previous government before that under the Mulroney Government, that over the last 15 years has been chiselling away at the foundation of what makes our country great. They have been selling our health care services, they have been selling our right to legislate in the area of child care, education, to regulate in those areas and to develop ideas in those areas that can make our country strong. Our country is based on the concept that government can do good work as long as it is done in unison, in partnership with individuals, with the private sector and with others.

Mr. Speaker, that cannot be done if we have governments that are giving away the farm, selling the farm for a few baubles, and that is what we have had in the past 15 years, whether it is the Free Trade Agreement with the Americas, whether it is the North American Free Trade Agreement, whether it is GATT, whether it is GATS, our governments in the last 15 years have buckled under the pressure of the private sector and transnational corporations in an attempt to provide fewer and fewer benefits to their people while opening up the market of capital and investment for the few in this country and in the world that will continue to accumulate wealth, while the many who continue to have less money and less opportunity to get ahead continue to get less and less. That is not what we want. We want a country that again, and will in the future, reflect the fact that federalism can work and it works best when we have provinces that are protecting the services that are near and dear to the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, we have talked in the past with regard to taxation, but it is just as reflective with regard to health care or education. These programs weren't necessarily invented or created like Medicare in Nova Scotia, but the point is they reflect our values. Now we have a federal government that is trying to chisel away at that, tear down what has made our province as good as it has been.

Mr. Speaker, we have talked in the past with regard to taxation, but it is just as reflective with regard to health care or education. These programs weren't necessarily invented or created like Medicare in Nova Scotia, but the point is they reflect our values. Now we have a federal government that is trying to chisel away at that, tear down what has made our province as good as it has been.

Mr. Speaker, that is wrong and that is why we need legislation like this because we need legislation that is going to ensure that the people of Nova Scotia are able to continue to protect those services. We have a problem. We have a government that is on a constant and ongoing daily basis going out and negotiating with other governments the sale of our rights, our right to universal free health care, our right to accessible post-secondary

[Page 2973]

education, our right to accessible child care, our right to welfare and other services when necessary, when people are in trouble.

We have a federal government that is going out on a daily basis trying to negotiate those things away, Mr. Speaker, and that is a problem and this legislation is legislation that would help ensure that our province will not agree, whether overtly or covertly with those negotiations. It will not be able to do it, but on the other side states that this government, any government of Nova Scotia, cannot do that on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia. These are the rights our constitution has entrenched for the people of Nova Scotia - protection of our health care system, protection of our education system, protection of our social programs. That is what Nova Scotians have entrusted their provincial government to deal with and this government or no other government should have the right to give that away. Our federal government is trying, but they know they don't have the legal power to do it. They need the provincial governments, and in this case the Tory Government, to agree either overtly or coverttly with that.

Mr. Speaker, we need this legislation to make sure that this government and every government subsequent to it does not try to do that. That is all this legislation is about. I heard the members from the Liberal Party, the Leader of the Liberal Party and the member for Dartmouth East, say this is about pandering to a few people. No, it is about those people in Quebec who run - you know this is so funny actually, maybe it is because of my age, but I find it ironic that a lot of the language you hear now about the people in Quebec, it is probably not that different than the language that a lot of people of the generation who would have fought in the war probably said about people in this room, baby boomers. In the 1960's and 1970's when a lot of people who are in this room would be considered baby boomers were railing against the system, were challenging the system, were saying we are not happy with the system the way it was, the people of the generation before them probably made a lot of comments, like the comments made by the member for Dartmouth East or the Liberal Party Leader.

Mr. Speaker, that is a sin because have they not learned from history that the same comments that they make about the young people today who are in Quebec City are the same comments that were probably made about them when they were younger and, yes, we can say it is the folly of youth, but the point is sometimes we need those fresh eyes to look at the issues and say, I don't like what is going on here. We need to do things differently and there has to be a different way of dealing with trade in the world, to dealing with how our health care system is protected, how our education system can be improved, and there are ways.

That is all they are saying. If anyone took the time to listen, what they said is quite straightforward. There are examples in the world today of systems that can work. My friend, the member for Halifax Chebucto, I think mentioned it earlier, the European Union. Let's look at countries like Greece, or Spain, or Portugal, or Ireland, that clearly were in a situation that they were very much close to if not in Third World standards. Over the last 20 or 30

[Page 2974]

years, with the help of the other members of the European Union, their standards have risen to the point where they have the same or an even better standard of living than the people of England, the U.K., Germany and Norway.

Mr. Speaker, it has taken time and it will continue to develop, but that will not happen overnight and we should not be entering agreements - and I will tell you the difference. In the European Union it isn't just about free trade, it is about fair trade. It is about recognizing the fact that trade must be tied to standards over an extended period of time and phase-in periods that ensure that the wealth that can be created from free trade is being distributed to ensure that people in those countries that are not as well off have an opportunity to succeed as well. That does not happen if we do not have standards in place. Those standards can be implemented. The European Union has proven that. We need to do the same thing here. Yes, let's have trade. Trade is good for Canada, but trade based on freedom; trade based on no labour, environmental or human rights standards will result in the end in our rights and our quality of life being diminished to the lowest common denominator and that is wrong.

We need trade based on fair and equal standards that over a period of time the people of Bolivia, or Paraguay, or even Mississippi, will have to come up to. They will be able to rise to the standards of Canada so that we are all playing on a fair playing field so that we can all compete on a fair playing field; we cannot compete with the people of Paraguay. We cannot compete with the people of Chile in many ways because their rate of labour is lower because the standards that they have to meet are lower.

Mr. Speaker, until we reflect that fact, until we say, yes, we need trade, but we need trade based on fair standards, we will lose. We will lose our democratic rights. We will lose our human rights. We will lose our right to free health care. We will lose our right to accessible education. That is not what anyone in this room wants, but if we don't act now, if we don't adopt legislation like this, the federal government will continue to sell us down the river. That is not what we want. We want legislation to ensure the people of Nova Scotia and the values that we hold true will be values that will be entrenched so that we can protect our health care system, so that we can protect our education system.

[5:00 p.m.]

The people who went to Quebec, standing up for those rights, are people we should be applauding, not mocking. They are the people who are saying, we need to do more to protect those rights, not just for our sake, but for the sake of the people in Paraguay or the people in Peru or the people in El Salvador. They have as much right to the standard of living that we have. That won't happen overnight, but like the European Union, it can happen, but not if we pander to transnational corporations, only if we recognize the government has an important role to play in our society, a good active role to play, and we must entrench in that standards that ensure that governments are playing that active role, while allowing trade,

[Page 2975]

while allowing the private sector to flourish, as well. It can be done. We have seen the European Union. We have seen what they have done there. It can be done here, as well, but it takes the will to do it.

We are in this House and sometimes you can say these are issues that we can't deal with. Well, Mr. Speaker, we can. We are not at the table in Quebec. We are not at the table at the next round in Argentina and Buenos Aires. We can be here talking about this and entrenching legislation to protect what, in the Constitution Act of 1867, was given to this province so that in the future the people of Nova Scotia will continue to have a quality of life they have grown accustomed to and they want to continue for their children. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allocated for debate on Bill No. 38 has expired.

The honourable member for Preston.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to make aware to the members of the House that one of our Pages will be leaving us today, it is her last day, Joanne MacRae from Guelph, Ontario who studies here locally. She was also one of the young people who did go to Quebec for the Summit of the Americas to see first-hand with regard to democracy in action and also to hear the concerns of the development of the free world. I would also like to thank her for her service in the House and I wish her well back in Ontario. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, very much on behalf of all members, Joanne.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting NDP House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 947.

Res. No. 947, Nat. Res. - Clear-Cutting: Action Plan - Min. Introduce - notice given May 7/01 (Mr. J. MacDonell)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will read the operative clause in introducing this debate:

"Therefore be it resolved that the minister introduce a plan of action immediately to curtail the practice of clear-cutting and protect Nova Scotia's public lands from untold damage to wildlife, forests, rivers, recreation, tourism and future generations."

[Page 2976]

Mr. Speaker, this is a topic that I would expect will probably go in the same direction as the previous one. I would say that as legislators, you tend to think that people with a common interest would come together and recognize when something so extremely stupid occurs in the province that there could be a united voice that would stand up and see that that practice was stopped.

Mr. Speaker, the evolution of forestry practices in this province go back a long way. I would say that probably about the turn of the 20th Century was when we really started to look at large land holdings or large leases by companies in this province, actually, I think back to 1899. Although the practice of clear-cutting certainly was not in evidence at that time, but certainly in the last 25 years it has become quite predominant. I would say, unfortunately, it has been an evolution that has been endorsed by people in the industry, people who are educated in forestry practices who actually believe this is a sensible way to harvest wood fibre in the province. I think the problem that has been generated with clear-cutting is the fact that the people who seem to have the most say and the most control over the practice are those who only have a single interest in the forest, and that is particularly tonnage of biomass that is used in mills for either pulp and paper or for lumber.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of other issues that should be considered when it comes to forest practices and harvesting of forest material. Certainly, if anybody is going to try to separate the forest from the trees in this predicament, then they are losing sight of the issue because almost anyone who has spent any time in rural Nova Scotia, spent any time in the forest, would recognize that a forest is an ecosystem or a number of ecosystems that involve the interaction between living and non-living parts of the environment. Our forest is something that is sustainable and renewable which is a gift that we can actually pass on to future generations harvested in a fashion that meets a limited need for forest products but also ensures habitat for wildlife, good water quality and habit at for those aquatic organisms, as well.

Mr. Speaker, one of the first things that hasn't happened in this province is the implementation of an annual allowable cut with Nova Scotia. Now, there was a time that the Department of Natural Resources used to talk about the annual allowable cut. What we have come to realize in the present is that you can't find anybody in the Department of Natural Resources who will even say annual allowable cut. It is a term that is avoided at great expense, I think. I don't know whether people think that their careers will go down the tube if they mention it.

Certainly, it is something that if you are going to talk about sustainable forestry practices and you realize that Nova Scotia has only a certain size, I think that has been well mapped with lots of evidence to indicate how large the province is, then we should be able to figure out that there are only a certain number of trees, although we use the analogy of going the way of the cod fishery, we have the ease of being able to go out and determine how many trees we can actually cut in this province. We can walk around, we can take

[Page 2977]

photographs, we can use any number of technical advances to indicate exactly how large the forest in Nova Scotia is.

Now with the Registry of Buyers, we can actually determine how much wood fibre is actually being harvested and then relate that to the overall harvest and then predict how long this can last. Well, Mr. Speaker, a comment was made to me recently by the deputy minister and he said we are presently harvesting those stands that we did silviculture on in the 1970's and 1980's. The comment I didn't make to him at that time was, we are not harvesting clear-cuts that were made in the 1970's and 1980's. Clear-cutting the forest is no way to regenerate it. In the pursuit of what the minister will say is silviculture practices - if you are clear-cutting, what you are doing is that you are harvesting all the plants in a given area, or those you don't harvest you destroy by running over them, then you allow it to come up in natural regeneration, which seems to be a common approach.

When the minister talks about silviculture, the only thing I have ever seen anybody do in regard to silviculture in this province has been to plant trees. I haven't seen, in any large scale, anyone on Crown land, in particular, go in and do pre-merchantable thinnings or any other silviculture practice. What we are saying is that when it comes to silviculture, silviculture is planting trees in clear-cuts where the number of trees don't come back readily on their own. Well, that is not much of a way to sustain the forest. Actually, according to the Department of Natural Resources own documents, there is real evidence that we should be concerned because their analysis of what the forests looked like in 1996 indicates that for trees 81 to 100 years old, there is about 3 per cent of the forest that is that age. For the age of 100 years - and we would always say that it takes 100 years to create a forest - there is only 1 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, the largest part of the forest that we can harvest is 39 per cent; 39 per cent of the forest is between 41 and 60 years. That is a long way, at least in traditional terms, from being a forest. I am saying it is not 39 per cent that is 60 years old, it is 39 per cent that is between 41 and 60; 32 per cent is between 61 and 80 years. Now, if we take 32 per cent of the operable forest, which is around 5 million acres, then at 30 cords to the acre it would take about 16 years to harvest that section of the forest. That is making the assumption that it is 80 years old now or 80 years old as of 1996. It is not all 80 years, it is between 61 and 80 years. That means that if we were to harvest all of that 32 per cent, then in 16 years the next section, which is between 41 and 60 years of age, would only be 76 years old. That would be that part of it that is 60 years old now.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is obvious that we can see that over time - and that is at present harvesting levels - that we are cutting younger and younger forest. Maybe for the minister and maybe for industry, maybe this seems like a viable alternative to forestry. We will come to a stage someday where all we will really be cutting will be poles that we ordinarily would have cut for fence posts and rails and that will make up the timber for our industry. People have already made that argument. Mills have employed the technology that allows them to

[Page 2978]

mill smaller and smaller trees and that should be an indicator to anyone that the forest of the future is going to be a smaller and smaller tree. That is great if you are planting trees in your backyard, you can do what you want.

In the case of a forest that has to provide habitat, then there are those creatures that live in large, mature forests. They don't live in pole groves and use that as their habitat, that is not the case. That means that the damage that we do in clear-cutting, the damage to the soils, the damage to the water, the damage to habitat, will just occur at a faster and faster rate. Just about the time that the forest floor starts to heal from one clear-cutting exercise, we will already be into another clear-cutting exercise. That does nothing for air quality or for water quality or for habitat, not only just for the organisms that are non-human, but for people generally within the province. If you are going to have any kind of quality of life we are going to have to put a stop to this.

I think members opposite tend to think that clear-cutting occurs on a small scale. Well, over 95 per cent of the harvesting in this province is by clear-cutting. There are clear-cuts in this province that are a kilometre across, there are clear-cuts in this province that are six kilometres long, these are not small and the impact on the environment by those is significant.

The department should engage in an annual allowable cut so that we are not pursuing a continual increase in the cut in our forest, and they should also employ harvesting practices that enhance the forest. Harvest in a way that leaves trees that will grow for the future so that you don't have to put as much money into silviculture practices and leave some forest behind when you finish that operation. It will create uneven-aged stands and not allow for the monocultures that we get by plantations. Clear-cutting makes absolutely no sense for the industry, it makes no sense for the environment, it makes no sense for the people of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

[5:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: It is a pleasure to rise today to speak on this resolution because, indeed, certainly the forestry here in Nova Scotia has been historically and continues to be a major employer in rural Nova Scotia. With over 22,000 direct and indirect jobs involved in this industry, it is a critical issue to the citizens of Nova Scotia and particularly it needs to be on a renewable and sustainable basis.

I think we need to take a look at the history of harvesting wood in Nova Scotia. Certainly, through the last century the majority of harvesting was conducted by hand and using horse-drawn power. There were not the areas that were harvested, first of all, of significant size and secondly, many areas that were remote were not harvested, because first

[Page 2979]

of all, the demand was not there and secondly, it was just not economically viable to harvest in many locations across this province.

With changes in time and mechanization of not only the sawmill industry, but of the harvesting industry. With mechanization certainly less people were employed in the direct harvest here in Nova Scotia.

One of the products of several hundred years of selective harvesting is what is known as high-grading. Many forests in Nova Scotia that have been harvested in recent years are forests that have sustained harvesting over many decades or centuries and the forest that is there on those particular sites have been the poor quality trees left. There are species, such as fir, that are not as acceptable as the red and black spruce to the lumber industry and you have large tracts of areas that harvesting those species and replanting with red and black spruce certainly increases the productivity of those particular holdings. So, clear-cutting with mechanization and with high-grading has become part of the practice of the last number of decades that would be employed here in Nova Scotia.

Because of the climate here in Nova Scotia, natural regeneration occurs very quickly and especially with desired species like red spruce. On a majority of properties here in Nova Scotia, less than one-third of the harvested area would require the planting of new trees. The natural regeneration would take part in a natural cycle. We have to remember that a productive forest like Nova Scotia, it is a harvest cycle that when the trees are harvested, regrowth occurs and the cycle occurs over again.

Certainly, on many pieces of property that grow very viable commercial stands, that is the natural cycle that has occurred for a number of centuries and can be enhanced in the future. I think there is another couple of factors to balance what happens in our forests out there that we have to keep in mind.

Seventy-five per cent of the forest land in Nova Scotia is privately owned and twenty-five per cent is owned by the Crown, or the people of Nova Scotia. Traditionally, regulation has occurred majorly on Crown land with some restrictions on private land. The previous government and certainly our government in regards to sustainability and realizing strongly that those lands that are owned by the Crown out there, have a number of potential uses. Those are certainly the commercial aspects but also the recreational, social and wildlife aspects.

Legislation of recent years and regulations that our government are putting in force regarding sustainability of supply, the Wood Buyers Registry and regulations that will soon be out in the industry regarding not only Crown but private land in regard to cavity trees, stream courses, wetlands that will not allow harvesting in those areas, and certainly will allow, with the cavity trees and the seed trees that must be left on any harvested site, for the transfer of the flora and fauna, the insect life, the wildlife, the riparian component to move

[Page 2980]

forward in a sustainable manner. Those are key initiatives that we need to continue with to ensure a sustainable supply, not only on Crown land but certainly on private land.

When we look at some of the demands that occur on Crown land in Nova Scotia, specifically, here, with our 31 protected areas, we have set aside 31 sites, and with our park lands in the province, in excess of 23 per cent of that Crown land that is only 25 per cent of the total set aside for perpetuity for the enjoyment of Nova Scotians and for those lands in protection.

When we deal with the issue of clear-cutting as a harvesting technique, certainly that is one that is employed, but other major employments that occur is not only thinning, weeding, selective cutting, these techniques allow for multiple harvest on the same piece of property, it allows for maximum growth on those properties, on those stands as you thin them. In 10 to 15 years, there is another cutting there. And so on, the cycle is repeated.

Many of our major contractors, and certainly many landowners in the Province of Nova Scotia employ those techniques. That recognition of that through regulation and the law of the province is extremely important. As we look at reforestation sustainability, certainly this government's most recent budget is reflective of that, when we see additional monies being allocated to silviculture and reforestation. We see the proclamation of the sustainable forestry regulations, it ensures that when a piece of Crown land or a piece of private land is harvested, then sustainable practices have to be used in the first place, water courses and wetlands have to be respected, wildlife zones have to be respected, and the nature of that forest that is being harvested, the regeneration of those insect populations will be carried forward in cavity tree and seed zone regulations.

Also, as we look at more and more demands on our recreational components, we see the watercourse regulations that are being enacted, will provide shade for those streams, so that the fish population and the bird population, the wildlife population have those areas that are critical to their sustainability and their habitat as their life cycle continues in the forest in Nova Scotia.

When we look at the average of stands in a boreal wild forest, yes, mature trees will be 80, 100, 100-plus years to reach maturity. In stands that have been thinned and weeded properly, selective cutting has occurred, that lowers that time frame, and the productivity of our forest increases upwards to one-third to 50 per cent in a number of cases, so that when we look at a stand of trees that traditionally reach a certain size for saw logs that may have taken a 100 years, those are occurring out there now in some circumstances with that selectivity in the 40 year range so that each one of those methods ensures that there is wood supply and sustainable wood supply out there into the future.

The forest industry and certainly the government and research people from many academic communities and universities work very closely through programs like model

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forests to devise the best techniques on that productivity, on that sustainability, because they full well know that if you outstrip the forest's ability to supply that supply, then you endanger the economic potential and the economic benefits that occur to rural communities in Nova Scotia. You endanger the wildlife population and you endanger a major industry in Nova Scotia and that being tourism.

With the department's launch of integrated resource management where each piece of Crown land in Nova Scotia, every parcel, is assessed on the different potentials that that particular piece of Crown land has, whether it is the view scape, whether it is the water resource, whether it is recreational potential, whether it is tourism potential, historic settlements, any of those things, commercial values, it allows a footprint, it allows a process where the use of that particular piece of Crown land, everyone of those model uses are taken into account. If a particular piece of property is one of a view scape that is a large part of the tourism industry and the tourists enjoy that view, if harvesting would take place, then it has to be the type of selective cut that does not damage the total canopy in that area or detract from its natural beauty.

Those are some of the techniques with Crown lands, Mr. Speaker, that the department in regulation has put in force to ensure that those benefits are there for all Nova Scotians and all sectors. By trying to come forward with that balanced approach on how we address our Crown holdings here in the Province of Nova Scotia with our partners certainly in various industries and our partners with the Department of Environment, as well as groups and associations that are concerned about trails, recreation and different segments of the environment, we are able to hopefully come forward with balanced uses for different Crown lands in Nova Scotia that offer the protection so that those various interests, although at times appear to be competing, can be balanced.

When we are able to address those various concerns in one particular project that we have, which is known as the model forests, it really offers a unique opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to have industry people, large and small on the commercial side, landowners, environmental groups, recreational associations, trails associations, to sit down in a common forum, in a common room, and come up with those types of compromises on various pieces of property that will satisfy to the best of their ability and balance the needs of each one of those interests.

So, in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, clear-cutting is an accepted harvesting practice here in Nova Scotia, but it is only one of a number of accepted practices that would be employed on specific pieces of ground depending on the type of terrain, depending on the type of species that would be on that piece of property, but certainly management techniques employed by the industry, such as thinning, weeding, selective cutting, replanting, are also part of the techniques that are employed in this province to ensure that we have a sustainable supply of forest products in this province for the benefit all Nova Scotians benefit in the future.

[Page 2982]

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

The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to talk for a few minutes this evening on the resolution before us. I might advise the Speaker that I will be sharing my time with the honourable member for Lunenburg West.

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking on the resolution before us today, Resolution No. 947, with mixed emotions because I do believe in Nova Scotia we have a plan relative to sustainable forestry in the province, a plan that was introduced when I was minister which we referred to as Towards Sustainable Forestry. I believe that the Department of Natural Resources today does have a plan and that plan is Towards Sustainable Forestry. Is that plan enforced? We are not sure.

[5:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we introduced Towards a Sustainable Forestry Strategy back in 1997, which if implemented by the government would introduce some order to what would be perceived as some of the chaos in our forestry industry in Nova Scotia today. In that strategy, we introduced a Buyer's Guide, the Wood Acquisition Plan and in that was included Wildlife Corridors - Buffer Zones Around Streams and Highways. Not to take anything lightly about the situation in our forests today, indeed, as the two previous speakers have mentioned, it is a vital source of jobs and dollars; it adds $1.4 billion to the economy of Nova Scotia and over 20,000 jobs.

Mr. Speaker, it is clearly in the best interests of all involved in the industry to operate under a system of best practices that will sustain the forest industry for future generations. I recall, during my time in the ministry, the forestry in Nova Scotia, at that time, was facing many challenges. We were facing challenges from mineral rights, from the mining industry and the mining interests. We were facing severe problems with insects. We were facing challenges from interest groups. As the minister stated, we have 29 per cent of the total forest mass controlled by the government, the rest is small woodlot owners and woodland owned by larger companies.

Mr. Speaker, we believe the large mill operators in the province do provide and do make an effort to provide for good forestry practices. I sincerely believe that. I believe Irving, Stora, MacTara have very good forestry practices. I am not sure if we should be targeting those people and while they harvest the most and while they take the most from our forest, we believe that the smaller woodlot owners their forestry practices may not be as good. Should the big operators pay the penalty for the bad practices that are going on with small woodlot owners? That is a challenge for us.

[Page 2983]

Mr. Speaker, some of the things that we believe our government should do is to follow up on the sustainable forestry strategy or Towards a Sustainable Forestry by monitoring the practices through the Buyer's Guide and the management practices through the Wood Acquisition Plan.

Mr. Speaker, this government promised to restore and maintain natural woodlot, hardwood and softwood ratios in our forests. Again, has it done as much as it should or could? I can't answer that because I believe it takes money to do that. I am not sure that the Minister of Natural Resources is given the money he needs to maintain the forest practices that we need in Nova Scotia today. We were promised a code of conduct to ensure best practices take place in our forests today. It is not happening. I don't believe it is. Let me go on to say one of the biggest challenges facing our forestry today may be eliminated if the tariffs on our softwood lumber are not restored.

Mr. Speaker, if those tariffs are not restored then our woodlots could become safe for a number of years. If it is the fact of overharvesting, if we don't have a deal with the U.S. relative to the tariffs on softwood lumber, our woodlots may be safe. I don't think anyone is expecting the government to fix the sustainability problem instantly, but I have said that we provided an excellent guideline some years ago when we were in power, and that is Towards a Sustainable Forestry.

Mr. Speaker, the resolution we are talking about tonight regarding clear-cutting, we do have a limit to clear-cutting in this province but is it monitored closely? Do we have the staff, do we have the people to monitor all clear-cutting sizes? I don't know that we do. If we don't, then what good is it going to do to lower that? Some people will argue that other jurisdictions have adopted a no clear-cutting policy, they are I believe, New Hampshire, Vermont and, probably, Maine. In those jurisdictions some will argue that there was a fear that that would cut into the industry and affect it adversely. We don't believe that has been the case. I believe they have other practices there that may be equally of benefit to new growth as clear-cutting.

Mr. Speaker, we do know that some of the larger countries where they have been harvesting wood for many, many years, two countries that I am familiar with or know a little bit about are Sweden and Finland, use clear-cutting as a reforestation practice, and it works very well there. They are at least 20 years ahead of us in terms of silviculture and reforestation. The economics and lumber industries in the jurisdictions I talked about where they have no clear-cutting policies, some people will argue that they thrive on the no clear-cut policy, but that may be another practice that we are not familiar with.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to note that the sustainable matters require commitment from all stakeholders in order for it to work and to be successful. I believe most stakeholders do. We believe that the difficulties we have today is not on land owned by the government, but on the small woodlot owners and the small operators, the ones who don't

[Page 2984]

need a wood acquisition plan. Therefore, there is no way to monitor the practices or the activities that they follow.

Mr. Speaker, there has to be a buy-in from government, producers and consumers and it has to be from all stakeholders to ensure that we have a sustainable forest for generations to come. I want to make reference, if I may, for a few moments on this book put out by the Nova Forest Alliance. This is an excellent document and it goes into comprehensive study on forestry in Nova Scotia. I want to read a bit through here and there in the document. It says that forests are an integral part of the economy and the way of life for Nova Scotians. One of the groups most interested in the long-term viability of the forest is the group who own woodland.

Mr. Speaker, the beliefs and attitude of woodlot owners play an important role in how forests are managed and sustained. Yet a comprehensive study of the socio-cultural character of woodlot owners has not been undertaken in Nova Scotia in recent times. Within this context, the current research is directed and an in-depth understanding of the perceptions, beliefs and behaviours of the people living in and near the forest alliance and they make reference to the Nova Scotia Model Forest project area which would constitute an area of 458,000 hectares or 1.3 million acres and stretches between Truro, Halifax, Windsor and Caribou Mines.

Mr. Speaker, in particular, this study focuses on woodlot . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member advised the Speaker early on that he wanted to share his time with his colleague. There is about a minute and a half left. (Interruptions)

Order, please. Everybody is trying to be helpful to the honourable member for Victoria.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to let the House know that this is a very good document and I would encourage all the members of the House to get these documents and go through them. I noticed as I go through the more specific objects related to the survey, it lists clear-cutting way down there at the bottom. They go on to say, to determine what sources of information the woodlot owners use to get information on forestry issues and the value they place on these sources.

Mr. Speaker, if you go down to one, two, three, four, five, number five out of nine, they dwell on clear-cutting. So, in closing, I don't believe that clear-cutting is our biggest problem facing our forestry industry today, but I think the fact that we don't monitor what is happening to our woodlands may be our biggest detriment to the forests today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 2985]

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, in listening to the comments of the Minister of Natural Resources and I suppose as well to the comments of the member for Victoria, you would not really know exactly what is wrong with clear-cutting. They seem to have travelled all over the province and they certainly travelled all up and down all sides of the subject without quite getting to the point. I heard the minister talk about the integrated resource management program, which is a commendable program in his department, and I heard him talk about tourism. I heard him talk about high-grading and I heard him talk about silviculture and reforestation regulations, but I did not hear him talk about what was wrong with clear-cutting. I heard him say by implication that he didn't think there was much other choice but, you know, let's focus on why it is that my colleague, the member for Hants East, brought this resolution forward in the first place.

Let's just think for a moment about what it is that is the problem with clear-cutting. I want to lay out first what I think are the environmental problems with clear-cutting, why it is that there is a problem associated with it, and here it is. First is that you clear-cut when you are planning to take all of the trees in a set area. It is a harvesting method which as has correctly been pointed out is associated with a high degree of mechanization, it also associated with a high degree of mono-culture. Here is what happens. The first thing that happens after all of the clear-cutting has taken place and there is hope for some kind of replanting or regeneration to occur naturally, first thing that happens is that there is the spraying of herbicides.

[5:45 p.m.]

The reason for this is that clear-cutting is used as a technique on plots of woodland that are oriented towards producing one or two or at best three or maybe four species of softwoods, not softwoods and hardwoods together, not a real forest, not a mixture of all the things that grow naturally. It is essential a tree farm and the idea is to grow one or two or possibly three or four species and therefore, competing species are discouraged.

The way that competing species are discouraged is through the application of herbicides. Competing species usually means things like raspberries, competing species can also mean hardwoods. In general what is being grown almost overwhelmingly on land that has been clear cut is two or three species of softwoods. They want it for pulp and paper, to a lesser extent they want it for lumber products, mostly it is oriented towards pulp and paper and they don't want anything else to grow. The owners of the land or the people who have control over it, they certainly don't want raspberries but they don't want hardwoods. What they want is red and black spruce, maybe depending on the kind of lot it is, maybe some fir, maybe some pine. They want softwoods to haul away to the pulp and paper plants that we have in the province that depend on huge volumes of wood to be fed into their paper-making machines.

[Page 2986]

So that is the first thing that is wrong, is that it is associated with the spraying of herbicides. Now I know there are lots of argument about the health effects of herbicides, but I have no doubt that these are dangerous substances and I also have no doubt that they are not always used properly. It is easily the case that they end up in rivers and streams and therefore do not get the chance to break down, dissipate, render themselves harmless. So I worry about that and particularly I worry knowing that in Nova Scotia we had a history of aerial spraying of herbicides. I don't relish the thought of going back to that at any time. So that is the first problem. The first problem is that along with this kind of highly mechanized and mono-culture style of growing goes the application of herbicides. This is problematic.

Here is the second problem, and this is just the second environmental problem. The second environmental problem is that clear-cutting leads to soil erosion. As soon as you take down massively all the trees on a given plot of land, particularly if that plot of land has any unevenness to it, then you get soil erosion. Now it is one thing if it is purely flat land but I am not aware that we live in the Prairies. We don't live in the Prairies here, we live in territory where the land goes up and down and we have a huge number of hillsides which are getting clear cut.

Now it may be that they are not as steep hillsides as we see in British Columbia, but there is still clear-cutting going on there. As soon as you take those trees out you get soil erosion and that is a problem. It is a problem because if there is ever any hope of using that land for any other purpose, if the soil becomes eroded then it will not be available ultimately for agricultural purposes, or if it is available for agricultural purposes with less top soil. Heaven knows that the geological history of our province is not such as to have left us with huge amounts of deep top soil all over this province, indeed it is quite the opposite. We, in fact, have relatively thin top soil here and if we allow harvesting methods of forests to continue that lead to erosion of soil, we are depleting a soil resource which is already not abundant here. That is the second environmental problem.

Here is the third environmental problem; some of that topsoil ends up in nearby streams. It ends up in streams and rivers, and what you get is siltation of those streams and rivers. In and of itself, the loss of the topsoil is harmful to the land but when that soil ends up in nearby streams and rivers, the health of those streams and rivers is impaired. What that means is that habitat for fish is impaired; what it means is that another activity that we want to maintain in rural areas, that is the ability to fish, becomes impaired. This is wrong; this should not happen.

There is another environmental problem. This is loss of habitat for wildlife. I know a lot of the people who live in rural areas don't want to lose habitat for wildlife, just as they don't really want to lose habitat for a fishery, because as well as wanting to live in rural areas and maybe make some of their living cutting wood, they want to fish and they want to hunt. Yet, if they engage, and if we allow them to engage or set up a system in which they have virtually no other choice except to engage in clear-cutting what happens is there is a negative

[Page 2987]

impact on two other activities that they would like to enjoy. They would like to go out and be able to hunt; they would like to be able to go out and fish and know that their streams have rivers in them.

If we encourage or require clear-cutting, then we are setting up a system in which the rural way of life is going to be impaired. This is not good. Even for those animals that are not subject to a hunt, we know that ultimately we need all of the animals that make up part of an ecosystem that is a forest, because a forest, as was said quite clearly and accurately by my colleague, the member for Hants East earlier, is a complex ecosystem. A forest is made up of a whole variety of species and a whole variety of plants and animals working together, whether you can see them or you can't. That includes microbes and it includes mushrooms and it includes other fungus and it includes birds and it includes the small mammals and it includes the larger animals. This is something that we always have to remember.

If we interfere with wildlife habitat, then we are going to diminish the richness and perhaps even the vitality or existence of that ecosystem, because the wildlife cannot support itself if it doesn't have habitat. Wildlife needs land to live on, and that land has to be wild land itself.

The final thing we get, of course, is loss of diversification in the ecosystems. So all of these things are wrong; all of these things are environmental problems that go with clear-cutting. But there may be people out there who think, who cares about the environmental agenda? Who really has an interest in this?

Well, I think that the new economics has to be the economics of sustainability. We can argue the toss on this, and we can go into details about it if you like, but there is no getting around it, that is the hard fact. Even if there are people out there who are unable to make the connection, or unwilling to make the connection, between clear-cutting and some economic set of circumstances, let me make it for them.

If we allow clear-cutting to be the main tool of harvesting in our province, we will just run out of wood. Now, there is a hard economic fact. I speak to the people who live in Queens County, and I want to speak to the people who live in Lunenburg County, and I want to speak to the people who live in Victoria County or in Inverness County or in Colchester County, and who make all or part of their living from cutting wood.

If it turns out that the rate of cutting that is taking place through this instrument, through this technique of clear-cutting is such that we will run out of wood, they are going to run out of a livelihood. Think about that for a moment, because there are thousands of people in Nova Scotia who make all or part of their living from cutting wood. If we continue to move so aggressively, so unsustainably to use this technique of clear-cutting what we are clear-cutting ultimately are their jobs. We are clear-cutting trees, but they are clear-cutting their own jobs. This is something that will be virtually impossible to recover from.

[Page 2988]

This is something that we have to pay attention to. This is something which if we as Nova Scotians do not pay attention to, it is not clear that there is anyone else out there who will. Our pulp and paper companies are large enterprises that are foreign owned. Ultimately, they don't care. Ultimately, if they get their capital investment back and their profits over a 30 or 50 year period and they have to move somewhere else, they are prepared to do it. They are not the local people who live here, who are tied to rural Queens County or tied to rural Lunenburg County. Neither are the managers of those plants, they are mobile. They have an education level that will allow them to move.

I remember very vividly a long conversation I had with the chief forester for Abitibi-Price about a decade ago just after the Berlin Wall came down and just after the end to the Cold War when the Soviet Union fell apart. I talked with him - I was at a conference with him - and I said, don't you think this now means that the vast forest resources of the former Soviet Union are going to come onto the international market? And, don't you think that in about 10 years or so what that will mean for Canada is huge competition with our forestry sector on the international market? Don't you think that we are going to lose a lot of jobs in Canada as a result of that?

Here is what he said, chief forester for Abitibi-Price, he said, yes, we have thought about that. Second, we don't think it will take 10 years, it will probably take about 20 to 25 years before it shakes out, before things calm down over there, before they become big competition in the international forest products and paper products market. Then he said, in our company, we figure we are going to make a lot of money by building pulp and paper facilities in the former Soviet Union.

Think about that for a moment. What they were saying is, they anticipate closing lots of pulp and paper companies in Canada and moving them to the former Soviet Union because they think they are going to make money out of it. And, do you know what? That was in 1989.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the hours for tomorrow will be extended and I do that reluctantly, but I had some amendments offered to the Opposition which were not accepted, so tomorrow morning the House will meet at the hour of 8:00 a.m. and sit until 12:00 midnight and the order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading, and Bill No. 20 we will commence with. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The hours for tomorrow were given by the honourable House Leader.

[Page 2989]

A recorded vote has been called for.

Ring the bells.

[5:59 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: A recorded vote has been called on the House hours for tomorrow.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[6:59 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Rodney MacDonald Dr. Smith

Mr. Christie

Mr. Baker

Mr. Russell

Mr. LeBlanc

Mr. Muir

Miss Purves

Mr. Fage

Mr. Parent

Ms. McGrath

Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Morse

Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Taylor

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Langille

Mr. Chataway

Mr. Hendsbee

Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

THE CLERK: For, 26. Against, 1.

[Page 2990]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

We are adjourned until tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m.

[The House rose at 7:01 p.m.]