The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Mon., Nov. 2, 1998

First Session


Res. 1497, Women, Status of - Muriel Duckworth (Hfx. Activist):
Birthday (90th) - Congrats., Hon. F. Cosman 3087
Vote - Affirmative 3088
Res. 1498, Human Res. - Long Service Awards: Recipients - Congrats.,
Hon. W. Gaudet 3088
Vote - Affirmative 3089
No. 57, Town of Lunenburg (Linden Avenue) Act, Hon. D. Downe 3089
No. 58, Cemeteries Protection Act, Hon. R. Harrison 3089
No. 59, Trade Union Act, Mr. F. Corbett 3089
No. 60, Optometry Act, Hon. J. Smith 3089
Res. 1499, Commun. Serv. - Homes for Special Care: Workers -
Mistreatment Recognize, Mr. R. Chisholm 3090
Res. 1500, Health - Northwood Manor: Strike Contingency Plan -
Provide, Dr. J. Hamm 3090
Res. 1501, Health - C.B. Reg. Health Care Complex: Quality Superior -
Applaud, Hon. Manning MacDonald 3091
Vote - Affirmative 3091
Res. 1502, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Distribution (N.S.) -
Position Reconcile, Mr. J. Holm 3091
Res. 1503, Commun. Serv. - Adoption: Records Open -
Promise Deliver, Mr. J. Muir 3092
Res. 1504, Culture - Rita MacNeil: Support - Continue,
Hon. R. MacKinnon 3093
Vote - Affirmative 3093
Res. 1505, Culture - Film (New Waterford Girls): Location
(New Waterford) - Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 3094
Vote - Affirmative 3094
Res. 1506, Educ. - Min.: Exco Actions - Fairy Story Explain,
Mr. G. Balser 3094
Res. 1507, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Guys. Co. Business Expo -
Congrats., Mr. R. White 3095
Vote - Affirmative 3096
Res. 1508, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 113: Need -
Re-Evaluate, Mr. W. Estabrooks 3096
Res. 1509, Coast Guard: Cost-Cutting - Condemn, Mr. G. Archibald 3097
Res. 1510, Inv. Vol. Fire Dept.: Bonnie MacIsaac (First Female
Firefighter [Inv.]) - Congrats., Mr. Charles MacDonald 3097
Vote - Affirmative 3098
Res. 1511, Health - Hepatitis C: Fair Settlement - Urge,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3098
Res. 1512, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Premier (Nfld.) Visit -
Brunch Only Ensure, Dr. J. Hamm 3099
Res. 1513, Econ. Dev. & Commun. Serv. - Pictou Ind. Ltd.:
Loan Guarantee - Consider, Mr. C. Parker 3099
Res. 1514, Devco - Investment Requirement: Gov't. (N.S.) -
Parties (All) Mobilize, Mr. R Chisholm 3100
Res. 1515, Aboriginal Peoples (Congress)/Human. Res. (Can.):
Challenge to Change Prog. - Recognize, Mr. J. Leefe 3101
Vote - Affirmative 3101
Res. 1516, Educ. - CEED: Contribution - Recognize, Mr. G. Fogarty 3101
Vote - Affirmative 3102
Res. 1517, Housing & Mun. Affs. - SCAP: Eligibility Criteria -
Review, Ms. R. Godin 3102
Res. 1518, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Petroleum Lease Guidelines:
Intentions - Reveal, Mr. E. Fage 3103
Res. 1519, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Cdn. Tire Store (Pt. Hawkesbury):
Opening - Congrats., Mr. R. White 3103
Vote - Affirmative 3104
Res. 1520, Culture - Mel McMullin (Bras d'Or): Children's Book -
Publication Congrats., Ms. Helen MacDonald 3104
Vote - Affirmative 3105
Res. 1521, Justice - Youth: Position - State, Mr. M. Scott 3105
Res. 1522, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Ryan MacNeil & Colin Crowell
(Middleton HS): Nova KnowledgeAwards - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Montgomery 3106
Vote - Affirmative 3106
Res. 1523, Health - Lupus: Lupus Society (N.S.) - Consult,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3106
Res. 1524, Housing & Mun. Affs. - HRM (N.E. Hfx.): Amalgamation -
Ineptitude Apologize, Mr. B. Taylor 3107
Res. 1525, NDP (N.S.) - Concrete Policy: None - Admit,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 3108
Res. 1526, Culture - Antigonish Sculptures: Clare Gallant -
Innovation Congrats., Mr. H. Fraser 3108
Vote - Affirmative 3109
Res. 1527, Environ. - Pictou Co. District Planning Comm'n.:
Composting Fin. - Absence Explain, Mr. J. DeWolfe 3109
Res. 1528, Opposition Leader - Quebec Election: Party Support -
Reveal, Mr. M. Samson 3110
Res. 1529, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - PMF: ISO 9001 - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Scott 3111
Vote - Affirmative 3112
Res. 1530, NDP (N.S.) - Agenda: Tax Increases - Reveal, Mr. H. Fraser 3112
Res. 1531, St. John's Anglican Church (Lun.) - Natl. Historic Site:
Contribution - Recognize, Mr. M. Baker 3112
Vote - Affirmative 3113
Res. 1532, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Cornwallis Pk. Dev. Agency:
Kespuwick (New Enterprise) - Congrats., Mr. G. Balser 3113
Vote - Affirmative 3114
Res. 1533, Hfx., Port of - Cruise Ship Traffic: Econ. Benefits -
Recognize, Mr. G. Fogarty 3114
Vote - Affirmative 3114
Res. 1534, Agric. - Farm Safety (Rural Children) Day (Onslow):
Organizers - Applaud, Mr. G. Archibald 3115
Vote - Affirmative 3115
Res. 1535, NDP (N.S.) - Educ. P3: Lib. Strategy - Recognition Thank,
Mr. L. Montgomery 3115
Res. 1536, Commun. Serv. - Metro Commun. Serv. Network: Meet -
Commitment Explain, Mr. J. Muir 3116
Res. 1537, St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church (Lun.) -
Mun. Heritage Pty.: Recognition - Congrats., Mr. M. Baker 3117
Vote - Affirmative 3117
No. 47, Municipal Government Act 3118
Mr. C. Parker 3118
Mr. J. Pye 3122
Mr. N. LeBlanc 3127
Mr. D. Chard 3132
Hon. R. MacKinnon 3141
Mr. J. Muir 3146
Mr. P. Delefes 3152
Ms. R. Godin 3156
Mr. G. Archibald 3159
Adjourned debate 3166
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Nov. 3rd at 2:00 p.m. 3166
No. 10, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - NSRF: V-Fin System - Patent Failure,
Mr. P. Delefes 3167

[Page 3087]


Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

6:00 P.M.


Hon. Ronald Russell


Mr. Donald Chard

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






MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.


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


[Page 3088]

Whereas last Saturday, October 31st, marked the 90th birthday of Muriel Duckworth and through her strong principles, her social activism and her unwavering determination to stand up for what she believes in, Ms. Duckworth has contributed immeasurably to our local, national and world communities; and

Whereas she has given unstintingly of her time and her skills in the founding of numerous community organizations, the Voice of Women, the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, and Nova Scotia's Women's Action Coalition to name but a few; and

Whereas her work has been recognized in national awards and honours such as the Person's Award from the Governor General, the Order of Canada and a long list of honorary degrees from universities all across Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize, salute and congratulate Muriel Duckworth on her 90th birthday.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

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 Human Resources.


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

Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia is fortunate to have among its staff many dedicated and talented employees; and

Whereas today the Nova Scotia Government held its Long Service Award Ceremony to recognize civil servants who have achieved 25 years of service with the province; and

[Page 3089]

Whereas these civil servants represent government departments, agencies and commissions and professions ranging from administrative support to engineering to public health and social work, reflecting the wide variety of services for which the provincial government is responsible;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extends its recognition and congratulations to the 181 men and women honoured today for their years of service to the public.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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.


Bill No. 57 - Entitled an Act to Establish the Boundary Lines of Linden Avenue in the Town of Lunenburg. (Hon. Donald Downe as a private member.)

Bill No. 58 - Entitled an Act to Provide for the Protection of Cemeteries. (Hon. Robert Harrison)

Bill No. 59 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 475 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Trade Union Act. (Mr. Frank Corbett)

Bill No. 60 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 328 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Optometry Act. (Hon. James Smith)

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 3090]


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

Whereas wage parity between hospital and nursing home workers has been a significant issue for at least six years as nursing homes have increasingly filled the gap created by hospital bed closures; and

Whereas the present and former Premiers recognized the inequity and promised wage parity between these two health sectors where workers do the same job; and

Whereas this government has refused to reveal any contingency plan for nursing home strikes and refused to admit that its policies were driving desperate, impoverished workers towards strike action;

Therefore be it resolved that the Northwood strike and Cape Breton walkout should be a wake-up call for the Liberal Government to recognize this serious situation created by years of mistreatment of workers in homes for special care, and to provide leadership in establishing fair wages and working conditions.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.


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

Whereas 500 Northwood Manor residents are directly affected by the legal walkout this afternoon; and

Whereas the Minister of Community Services and the Minister of Health have, to date, accepted no responsibility for a continency plan; and

Whereas this government is a partner with Northwood Manor in providing a secure, safe environment for the 500 seniors at Northwood Manor;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health, the Minister of Community Services, the Premier, or someone on the government benches provide the details of the government's contingency plan at Northwood and the Cove if, in fact, it now exists.

[Page 3091]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.


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

Whereas a recent accreditation team's assessment of the Cape Breton Regional Health Care Complex concluded that Island residents are well-served by the facility leading the team leader to note, we were very impressed with the highly qualified staff here; and

Whereas the four person accreditation team, lead by a senior physician at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, Dr. Martin Wolfish, recommended that the hospital be accredited for three years by the Council of Canadian Health Services Accreditation; and

Whereas Health Care consultant, Mona Kynes of Saskatchewan noted, there are some good news stories in this complex and I think it is time they were told;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the superior quality of health care at the Cape Breton Regional Health Care Complex and commend the staff for their hard work and dedication, resulting in its three year accreditation.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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 Sackville-Cobequid.


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

[Page 3092]

Whereas for two weeks running, the Premier made an unequivocal promise to Nova Scotians that natural gas will be available to all areas of the province within a reasonable time; and

Whereas on the weekend, the Premier appeared to back off by suggesting that natural gas distribution depends on federal funding which has so far been denied; and

[6:15 p.m.]

Whereas individual Nova Scotians, municipalities and industry have lost faith in the incomplete, indecisive and incredible positions that the Premier takes on the offshore development; and

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should reconcile his mid-October promise of natural gas throughout Nova Scotia with his late October suggestion that federal funding is necessary for gas distribution.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.


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

Whereas November is National Adoption Awareness Month; and

Whereas more than four years have passed since the Ministerial Committee on the Release of Adoption Information prepared a detailed report that recognized the fundamental right of birth parents and adult adoptees to identifying information; and

Whereas the minister of the day accepted in principle the recommendations of the ministerial committee, promising committee members, adult adoptees and birth parents that the Liberal Government would take the necessary steps to open adoption records;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services keep her government's long-standing but never delivered promise and immediately open adoption records so that birth parents and adult adoptees will have access to information they have a right to know.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3093]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Labour.


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

Whereas Cape Breton treasure, Rita MacNeil, will have a Halifax launch for her book on Thursday, November 12, 1998 at Frog Hollow Books; and

Whereas her book, On A Personal Note, chronicles her early struggles overcoming physical handicaps to rise to international fame; and

Whereas this autobiography can serve as an inspiration to all Nova Scotians who, like Rita, realize they can make it through determination and grit;

Therefore be it resolved that the people of Nova Scotia continue their support of this truly gifted individual who continues to serve as one of our best ambassadors.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

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.

[Page 3094]


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

Whereas production of the feature film, New Waterford Girls, began in Cape Breton in October; and

Whereas this is the first feature film by Nova Scotia screenwriter, Tricia Fish, who grew up in New Waterford; and

Whereas upward of 500 Cape Bretoners will appear in the movie including two New Waterford sisters, Cassie and Krista MacDonald, who have supporting roles as siblings of the main character;

Therefore be it resolved that the producers of this film, Julia Sereny and Jennifer Kawaja and executive producer, Christopher Zimmer, be congratulated on their choice of location for shooting this moving, although where else would you find the best people to play the roles of New Waterford girls but in New Waterford.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

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 Digby-Annapolis.


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

Whereas the Brothers Grimm often used children's fairy tales as a means to pass on social commentary regarding the political ills of the day; and

[Page 3095]

Whereas the Minister of Education and Culture's position on P3 school construction bears more than a passing resemblance to the plot of The Three Little Pigs; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance's reaction to the first quarter budget report has been remarkably like that of the character, Henny Penny, from Chicken Little;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education draw on his experience as a classroom educator to explain to the Premier and his Cabinet colleagues the political significance of the children's story, The Emperor's New Clothes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.


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

Whereas Guysborough County's first ever business expo was recently held and has been described as a tremendous success; and

Whereas about 700 people attended the expo, which featured more than 50 businesses; and

Whereas the event was sponsored by the Guysborough County Regional Development Authority and the Guysborough County Business Development Centre in order to demonstrate the wide range of business services available in the area;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer congratulations to the organizers and participants of the first Guysborough County Business Expo and extend wishes for good luck as they plan for next year's expo.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 3096]

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.


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

Whereas the Department of Transportation is apparently pursuing the proposed Highway No. 113 as a connector between Kearney Lake and Highway No. 103; and

Whereas the proposed Highway No. 113 is looked upon by area residents as not needed and just another convenient way to move garbage to the dump at Otter Lake; and

Whereas these monies could be more effectively used on other projects in our province, such as the twinning of Highway No. 101;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Transportation's staff listen to the concerns of Timberlea, and the residents of Sheldrake Heights in particular, and re-evaluate the need for Highway No. 113.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver. (Applause)

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 3097]


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

Whereas the federal government has abandoned wharves around our coastline; and

Whereas the federal government is carrying its cost-cutting to the Coast Guard of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the latest withdrawal of service has been accompanied by a gag order to stop the affected Coast Guard workers from discussing this federal corrective action;

Therefore be it resolved that the corrective action be condemned by all Nova Scotians who are concerned for the safety of fishermen, of mariners and others who may be using the waters off our coast.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.


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

Whereas the Inverness Volunteer Fire Department recently welcomed Bonnie MacIsaac as the first female firefighter in Inverness; and

Whereas Ms. MacIsaac is following in the footsteps of her father, Mossie MacIsaac, who served as a firefighter in his day; and

Whereas Ms. MacIsaac is preparing to take first response training and hopes to become a full-fledged member after the mandatory year of probation;

[Page 3098]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Bonnie MacIsaac, the first female firefighter in Inverness, and wish her luck as she continues to serve her community in this very important way.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.


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

Whereas a $1.1 billion federal-provincial compensation package for hepatitis C victims was announced with great fanfare this past March; and

Whereas it appears that negotiations regarding this package have been stalled for months; and

Whereas the result has been that not one cent of compensation has been paid out to any hepatitis C victims;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health use every effort to ward off the continuing human misery caused by this delay by urging his provincial and federal confrères to get on with arriving at a just and fair settlement.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 3099]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.


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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Liberal Party and its Leader are once again looking to the Liberal Premier of Newfoundland for guidance; and

Whereas this time they are hoping he will be a drawing card for their Party's fall fund-raising brunch; and

Whereas instead of dining with Newfoundland's Premier, perhaps Nova Scotia's Premier would serve this province better by fighting for what should have been a solid case on the Laurentian Basin dispute, a dispute which will now cost $350 an hour to fight thanks to the ineptitude of this Liberal Government when dealing with Liberals in Ottawa or Newfoundland;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier remember Tobin's words when in Texas, Tobin said, "Newfoundland has an appetite to become another North Sea", and ensure at the Liberal's $100 a plate fund-raiser that it is only brunch that is served on a platter to Mr. Tobin and not Nova Scotia's natural resources.

MR. SPEAKER: That notice of motion was much too long.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.


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

Whereas Pictou Industries Limited has a sterling reputation for building quality ships by a skilled workforce; and

Whereas Pictou Industries Limited can create up to 300 full-time jobs by constructing two and perhaps three catamarans for Great Lakes Fast Ferry Corporation; and

[Page 3100]

Whereas the one issue to be resolved before construction can proceed is a loan guarantee similar to that obtained by Irving Shipyards;

Therefore be it resolved that this government give every consideration to a loan guarantee for this project so as to create jobs in Nova Scotia and to prevent the same jobs from going offshore.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


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

Whereas the Premier has publicly acknowledged that the future of Devco and of the Cape Breton coal industry is at risk; and

Whereas reduced investment in Devco and the coal industry has already caused hundreds of lay-offs and increased reliance on imported energy; and

Whereas the government has publicly noted the success of an all-Party delegation, meeting with key federal ministers, in raising awareness within the federal Cabinet of a Nova Scotia initiative with national implications - Maersk-Sealand;

Therefore be it resolved that the government should mobilize all Parties to lead an effort to bring the need for investment in Devco and the need to maintain domestic energy supplies forcefully to the federal Cabinet's attention.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek 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 Queens.

[Page 3101]


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

Whereas the Challenge to Change pilot project created to assist native youths develop career objectives, has begun in Milton, Queens County, Truro and Sydney; and

Whereas the program will focus on self-awareness, aboriginal history and community awareness with the goal of fostering greater self-confidence; and

Whereas this program provides native youth with the encouragement and financial assistance necessary to complete high school and attend community college or university;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the Challenge to Change Program and applaud the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and Human Resources Canada for their sponsorship of this promising initiative.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.


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

Whereas the Halifax-based Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development has helped thousands of high school students learn the skills needed to develop a new business; and

Whereas over 100 businesses have been started in the past year alone with help from the centre; and

[Page 3102]

Whereas the centre recently hosted delegations from Sweden, Finland, Belfast and Boston;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize everyone involved with the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development for their contribution to Nova Scotia's reputation as an innovative province vis-à-vis economic development.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.


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

Whereas the population of Nova Scotia is an aging one; and

Whereas both senior citizens and the health system prefer to keep the aged in their homes as long as possible; and

Whereas many seniors have been living in the same home for decades and these homes are in need of repairs;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs take a serious look at its Senior Citizens Assistance Program and determine if the eligibility criteria is keeping in line with the reality of today's seniors and their needs.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3103]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

[6:30 p.m.]

The honourable member for Cumberland North.


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

Whereas the Minister of Business and Consumer Services continues to give the Retail Gasoline Dealers Association of Nova Scotia the royal run-around concerning the implementation of petroleum lease guidelines; and

Whereas the Retail Gasoline Dealers Association of Nova Scotia employs approximately 8,000 Nova Scotians, and have been waiting for nearly two years for answers from this Liberal Government; and

Whereas new investment in the gasoline retail market has essentially dried up because of the government's refusal to introduce guidelines and provide somewhat of an equal footing for retailers in their dealings with the major oil companies;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Business and Consumer Services provide gasoline retailers across Nova Scotia with a specific answer as to whether these guidelines are going to be implemented or whether the government will continue to stonewall this industry and continue to watch the gasoline retail industry across Nova Scotia remain stagnant.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.


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

Whereas the Strait area's brand new Canadian Tire Store will celebrate its official opening tomorrow in Port Hawkesbury; and

[Page 3104]

Whereas the Strait area has, over the past several months, witnessed the completion of Stora's new super calendared mill and the start of construction of the natural gas fractionation plant at Point Tupper; and

Whereas over the past two years, the Strait area has seen the expansion of 50 businesses, creating 300 jobs, an example of the tremendous growth and consumer confidence in the area;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations and best wishes to Rick and Evelyn Arsenault and the Canadian Tire Store 213 Team on the opening of the new store, a further example of the growth of consumer confidence in the Strait area, and wish them every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.


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

Whereas Kyle's Imaginary Friends is a series of four children's books written by Mel McMullin of Bras d'Or and printed by Capers Aweigh; and

Whereas this is Mr. McMullin's first endeavour at a children's picture book; and

Whereas these books take children into a fantasy world of animals, cowboys, pirates and dinosaurs;

Therefore be it resolved that Mr. McMullin be congratulated on the publishing of his first books and wish him well as he continues work on another book.

[Page 3105]

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

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 Cumberland South.


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

Whereas last week, Canada's Ministers of Justice began their annual meeting by trying to come to a consensus on a federal proposal to revamp the country's youth justice system; and

Whereas Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island are clearly in support of tough changes to the Young Offenders Act that would strengthen the message to our youth that violence is not to be tolerated; and

Whereas in January of this year, our Leader echoed support for the ten-point plan advocated by those provinces and called on the Premier to offer Nova Scotians support for this improvement;

Therefore be it resolved that this Premier and his Justice Minister state where they have Nova Scotia positioned on the very vital issue of youth justice and vocalize that stand so that Nova Scotians know how they are being represented when this government speaks nationally on any changes coming forward.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 3106]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.


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

Whereas two Middleton High School students, Ryan MacNeil and Colin Crowell, were finalists in the Young Leader category of Nova Knowledge's Smart Enterprise Awards held recently in Digby; and

Whereas the two young entrepreneurs have turned an interest in web page design into a thriving business called Thunderstruck; and

Whereas the pair have won numerous Internet awards for web pages they designed for Nova Scotia companies and businesses from as far away as Texas;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer congratulations to Ryan MacNeil and Colin Crowell, two enterprising young people who have proven that rural Nova Scotia has a part to play on the world economic stage.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.


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

[Page 3107]

Whereas lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect an organ or a system in the body, affects one out of every 2,000 Nova Scotians; and

Whereas in Nova Scotia the greatest barrier to having this disease diagnosed is the lack of rheumatologists, with a three to six month waiting list; and

Whereas the only barrier to needed treatment of lupus is having it diagnosed;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health consult with the Lupus Society of Nova Scotia regarding the health care requirements of those suffering from this illness.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.


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

Whereas the forced amalgamation in the Halifax Regional Municipality has been an unmitigated disaster since day one because of the organized confusion demonstrated by the Savage and MacLellan Governments; and

Whereas taxes have increased in rural parts of HRM while services are being cut within metropolitan areas of the municipality; and

Whereas the latest cutback within HRM will be the closing of the Lady Hammond Road Fire Station, meaning residents in the north end of Halifax will be waiting upwards of 12 minutes for the arrival of a fire truck in the event of an emergency;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs apologize to the residents of north end Halifax for their government's inept handling of the amalgamation process that could potentially see lives in jeopardy as a result of the cost-cutting which was forced upon HRM.

[Page 3108]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.


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

Whereas the NDP has contradicted its own policy so many times in this session that it is becoming more and more apparent that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing; and

Whereas the NDP calls for a balanced budget, yet the member for Halifax Chebucto introduces a bill to eliminate the HST which would automatically add $225 million to the deficit; and

Whereas the NDP say they are against P3 schools but then urge the Minister of Education to build them as quickly as possible;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP admit that they have no concrete policy for Nova Scotia and they should present their plan for the future of Nova Scotia instead of a hodgepodge of misguided policies and enormous spending proposals.

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 Antigonish.


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

Whereas works of art are taking root all over the Town of Antigonish; and

[Page 3109]

Whereas this art is taking the form of sculptures carved from elm trees, that will reflect the cultural history and heritage of Antigonish; and

Whereas the sculptures are the idea of businessman Claude Gallant, with plans for 15 to 20 carvings to be sponsored by various local groups and businesses;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and congratulate Claude Gallant and the citizens of Antigonish for taking this innovative approach to celebrating local history, while at the same time creating works of art that will serve as unique tourist attractions to the area.

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.


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

Whereas the Pictou County District Planning Commission, in keeping with the Province of Nova Scotia's waste diversion program, initiated a process to construct a new composting facility to service all municipal units in Pictou County; and

Whereas the commission was led to believe that if they selected a system with proven technology in Nova Scotia, there would be some financial assistance from the Liberal Government; and

Whereas despite their efforts which included the establishment of a technical committee to review the project proposals and representation on the committee by the Department of the Environment they have been informed that funding will not be coming from the province;

[Page 3110]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment contact the Pictou County District Planning Commission immediately and explain why financial assistance is not forthcoming, in spite of earlier indications that it would.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.


M. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, based on the importance of this resolution, I seek the indulgence of the House to introduce it in Canada's two official languages.

Monsieur le président, par la présente, j'avise que je proposerai à une date ultérieure l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que jeudi, le 29 octobre, le député de Queens a présenté devant cette assemblée une résolution que mettait en question la position du chef de l'opposition face aux élections ayant lieu au Québec; et

Attendu que le chef de l'opposition ne s'est pas encore prononcé sur cette question d'actualité de grande importance au niveau national; et

Attendu que les Néo-Écossais devraient se sentir confiants que leurs leaders politiques sont prêts à faire front commun pour défendre l'unité nationale;

Qu'il soit résolu que le chef de l'opposition fasse connaître à l'assemblée ici présente, aujourd'hui même, s'il appuie le parti qui travail à préserver l'unité canadienne, ou s'il appuie le premier ministre Bouchard et ses objectifs séparatistes et socialistes visés par le Parti québécois pour l'avenir du Québec.

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

[Page 3111]

Whereas the member for Queens tabled a resolution in this House on Thursday, October 29th, that questioned the Leader of the Opposition on his position with respect to the Quebec election; and

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition has not, as yet, stated where he stands on this issue of vital national importance; and

Whereas Nova Scotians should be confident that their political Leaders are prepared to stand up for and defend national unity;

Therefore be it resolved that the so-called Leader of the Opposition inform this House forthwith whether or not he is in support of the Party that is fighting to keep Canada together or if he supports Premier Bouchard in his separatist, socialist plans for Quebec. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.


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

Whereas Parrsboro Metal Fabricators recently celebrating its earning of the ISO 9001 quality system registration with a special ceremony; and

Whereas to achieve ISO a company must show that it follows a strict set of quality management standards which assures customers of the quality of the products being manufactured; and

Whereas Parrsboro Metal Fabricators was also presented with a certificate of recognition from the Progressive Conservative caucus;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join the PC caucus in congratulating Parrsboro Metal Fabricators, its 160 employees, and the Town of Parrsboro for achieving international recognition as a leader in quality management.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3112]

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 Antigonish.


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

Whereas on Friday in this House during discussion on the Municipal Government Act, the NDP member for Halifax Chebucto suggested he was in favour of higher taxes for some residents of the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas the Leader of the NDP has already admitted to the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that he plans to raise taxes in Nova Scotia to pay for his expensive platform; and

Whereas the NDP has vowed to eliminate the harmonized sales tax but failed to divulge to Nova Scotians how they plan to replace the lost revenue;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Leader of the NDP along with his finance minister-in-waiting, to reveal to Nova Scotian taxpayers what their agenda is in regard to raising taxes should they succeed in seizing power.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.


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

Whereas St. John's Anglican Church in the Town of Lunenburg was recently designated a national historic site by the Government of Canada; and

Whereas St. John's Anglican Church has been a landmark in this picturesque and historic community throughout its history; and

[Page 3113]

Whereas over the years renovations have been made to St. John's Anglican Church Parish Hall, enhancing its unique architecture, including a recently restored mural of the English Royal Coat of Arms;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly recognize the contribution to our province of St. John's Anglican Church as demonstrated by its designation as a national historic site and extend our gratitude to all who have contributed their time and effort to enhance and preserve this landmark and to the contribution of this church to the rich history of the Town of Lunenburg and this province.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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 Digby-Annapolis.


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

Whereas the Cornwallis Park Development Agency is being hailed as one of the most successful rehabilitations of a military base in Canada; and

Whereas the agency will now be operated as a not-for-profit business organization with a new mandate, a new board of directors and a new name, Kespuwick, which in Mi'kmaq means Cornwallis; and

Whereas November 7th has been set aside as the date on which the official celebrations marking this special occasion will take place;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend congratulations and best wishes to this new enterprise.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

[Page 3114]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.


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

Whereas Halifax Harbour recently hosted the Norwegian Crown, the 53rd cruise ship to dock in our port this year; and

Whereas the Halifax Port Corporation already has requests for 71 luxury vessels seeking berth in Halifax next year; and

Whereas Port Corporation President, David Bellefontaine, says next season Halifax could witness up to 100,000 cruise ship passengers for the first time ever;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the major economic benefits of cruise ship traffic to ports across the province and urge all Nova Scotians to offer a warm welcome to those who visit our shores via the traditional maritime method of sea travel.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Kings North.

[Page 3115]

[6:45 p.m.]


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

Whereas whether children are living on a farm or visiting, the potential for accidents is very high due to the unique features of farm life; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Women's Institute, in cooperation with the staff of MacLeod's Farm Machinery, recently volunteered their time to hold the first Farm Safety Day for rural children; and

Whereas children attending the day came away with significant information regarding essential safety procedures and safe activities when surrounded by machinery;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the Nova Scotia Women's Institute, the staff of MacLeod's Farm Machinery and the community of Onslow for their proactive approach to teaching children about farm safety.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

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 Annapolis.


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

Whereas last week during Question Period in this House, the NDP member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage seemed to flip-flop on his Party's anti-P3 school policy; and

[Page 3116]

Whereas the NDP member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage stated that new schools needed to be built now as opposed to later; and

Whereas the only plan that will get new schools built as soon as possible is the Liberal plan;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the NDP for finally recognizing that the Liberal strategy for school construction is the best one and urge the NDP to admit their inability to propose any feasible alternative.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.


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

Whereas more than half of the fiscal year has elapsed, and the Department of Community Services has not confirmed the status of operating grants to the many community-based, not-for-profit social service agencies throughout metro; and

Whereas the Minister of Community Services has yet to respond to a request by the Metro Community Services Network to discuss the stability of operational funding for community-based agencies that are vital to an effective social service network; and

Whereas this uncertainty has generated great anxiety for the agencies' staffs, volunteers and the people they serve;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services meet with the Metro Community Services Network to explain her commitment to the many community-based agencies and outline a clear plan to ensure adequate funding is provided to maintain service levels and alleviate the anxiety on the agencies' staffs, volunteers and the people they serve.

[Page 3117]

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.


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

Whereas St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church was dedicated on October 17, 1887; and

Whereas St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church has a long and proud history of preaching the gospel, a history which includes six members who have heeded God's call by joining the ordained ministry; and

Whereas St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church was recently recognized by the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg as a municipal heritage property;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly thank this congregation for preserving their beautiful, historic church and congratulate the municipality for recognizing the significance of St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 3118]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 47, the Municipal Government Act, and I believe the member for Pictou West adjourned the debate.

Bill No. 47 - Municipal Government Act.

MR. SPEAKER: That debate was adjourned by the member for Pictou West and he has approximately 40 minutes remaining.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me again to have an opportunity to say a few words about Bill No. 47, the Municipal Government Act. I guess, as I explained previously on Friday, I had a few issues that were wrong with the bill but overall, I think it is a good bill. It is certainly an omnibus bill, 250 pages, so I am just going to review a couple of the items that I talked about on Friday and then I have a couple of other items I did not get the opportunity to speak about at that time.

The number one concern I still have is that there is no municipal charter outlined here. It does lay out some of the provisions of a municipality but still, the municipalities are at the whim of the province and the province, at any time, could decide that they did not like what the municipalities were doing and actually do away with them. Maybe that is not very likely but the possibility is still there. Again, I would like to re-emphasize that point, that the municipal charter is wanted and needed by our 55 municipalities in this province.

A week or 10 days ago, I did have the opportunity to attend the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities conference held in Yarmouth. Certainly, this year they had a very good turnout. There were more delegates there than last year and some other years. They believe that their annual conference is their forum to get together and talk over issues of concern and present their concerns to the minister, who was there at that time. I know some years there have been

[Page 3119]

other ministers there as well and it is certainly a good opportunity for them to present their concerns.

I want to come around then again to Bill No. 47 and just quickly go over a couple of items. Clause 10(1), again, I emphasized Friday that we do need more than three members to form a municipal council. Most in this province have at least seven members at this time and some of the rural municipalities have councillors of 14 to 17 in the large rural municipalities. Three to me seems like too small a number and if one becomes sick or disabled but is still a councillor and cannot attend, you have only got two left. If one has one opinion and the other has another, how do you settle it? I think the number should be more than three.

Clause 12, as I mentioned, was the option of a rural municipality to choose whether they want a warden or if they want to go to the system of a mayor and I think that option is good. Most rural municipalities will probably want to stick with the idea of having a warden but there may be one or two out there that decide that they want to serve the nine months notice and decide to have their chief administrative elected official as a mayor. That way all people in the municipality would have the option to vote on him or her.

Clause 17(2), when a councillor decides they want to resign, I think there should be some notice, there is some food for a serious second thought that they can withdraw their resignation. In the heat of the moment they might decide they want to resign but on the next day, or a couple of days later, they may think it is the best thing that they want to withdraw that before it goes to the full council. The way it is written in the legislation, I believe, is that the clerk, once presented with that letter of resignation, has to present it to the council. I think there should be the option for the member to withdraw it if they so wish before the next council meeting.

Clause 18, I do not think I mentioned this on Friday, but it talks about a councillor that is no longer a councillor but is offered a position with the municipality. There is a period here of six months before they are eligible to even be considered for employment. That may in some ways discriminate against a good person. Perhaps a position opens up within the municipality, whether that be recreation coordinator or public works director, or whatever, but a very qualified individual that might have the right characteristics for the job is not eligible if the position came up before those six months are over. I wonder if that is not hurting the municipality and that the best person is not being hired.

Clause 23 is around the pay issue. As here in this House, our pay for members is determined by an outside agency. I think the same should be true for a municipality in that the council itself should not determine the level of pay for their members but it should be a neutral third party, or an unbiased group, that can seriously look at the work and the compensation package for their members but certainly not the members themselves.

[Page 3120]

Clause 69 was an income base exemption for property tax. It should be based more than just on the person's ability, whether they are receiving a disability pension, or an Old Age Pension, or whatever, but really it should be based on income regardless of the source. If they work and they are only earning $8,000 in the year, then they should be eligible and not have to be dependent on a pension. It should be based solely on income, I believe.

Clause 71 deals with the exemptions for charitable organizations. There has been some movement afoot that maybe churches, or community halls, or fire departments, or some of these charitable organizations should pay property tax based on their assessment. I think that is dangerous because we ask volunteers in our community to serve in their fire departments, or perhaps volunteer in a church, or whatever, and it certainly would not be right that these types of charitable community organizations would have to pay property tax.

I had some reservations also about Clause 74 around the minimum tax. A municipality has the option under this bill to charge a minimum amount, whether it is $200, or whatever the case might be. Again, that might be very difficult for some low income people to come up to that level when the actual value of their home is worth far less than the minimum tax. So I have reservations about that.

Clause 77 is the farmland tax acreage exemption. The difficulty I expressed with this is that the Governor in Council may at any time take it away. I think it is great that it has been brought back in. It is reinforced in this bill and it is reinforced through Bill No. 13. Why it was ever taken away in the first place, I am not sure, but the way it is set up here is that a government could take it away again at any time. I think it should come to the full Legislature for discussion and not just be at the whim of the government of the day and the same thing on the forest land exemption, the Governor in Council can take it away at any moment. Again, I think it should be at least this body here, the full Legislature, that has the decision on whether it is rescinded or changed in any regard.

Clause 174 was the right of a municipality through by-laws to set up a civic holiday. That is good, but sometimes it creates confusion and some towns have a civic holiday on the first Monday in August and some do not. It should really be uniform across the province. If there is a Natal Day, or some type of civic holiday in one municipality, then it should really be in all our municipalities right across the whole province, just to not create the confusion of what is open on that day and what is not.

[7:00 p.m.]

Moving on, Mr. Speaker. Clause 174 of the bill is about the whole issue of pesticides in the municipalities. I am glad to see mentioned in here that it does not apply to agricultural or forestry operations outside of urban or semi-urban areas. I think there are some questions still around how it would be administered, and there have certainly been issues raised by some people in urban areas who are sensitive to pesticides and their children are allergic or very

[Page 3121]

sensitive to a particular fungicide or insecticide, whatever. I am not sure if this fully addresses the situation in urban areas, it may have to be looked at again. I have some reservations about it, but I think the principle is right that it would apply only to the urban areas, but it has to be fair to all.

Clause 176 of the bill talks about by-laws that respect rooming houses. I think that is good. We certainly, in this province, need some more tight regulations to make sure our rooming houses are up to standards and are better. In that same section - I don't know if that is new or not - under Clause 176(e), off-road vehicles on public or private property. I guess off-road vehicles are something new within the last number of years. They have really become a sport or recreation for many people. They almost, in some areas, are becoming a nuisance in that there are so many four-wheelers out there. Everybody enjoys their fun, but they have to respect the rights and property of private individuals.

I believe it was in the Town of Mulgrave that there were some real serious difficulties there with the town not being able to regulate four-wheelers that were tearing through the streets and the private property of that particular town. So I think that is good, it gives the municipalities some authority to take action where there is abuse of four-wheelers.

Clause 182 is applying to water supply management areas and, again, I think that is good in that it is laid out clearly what you are allowed and what you are not allowed to do within a water management area, preventing cutting of firewood or setting up camps or preventing fishing and that type of thing within the watershed management area. There is a lot in the middle of the bill that applies to subdivisions and planning and it is probably good and necessary; it is not necessarily my field of expertise, so I am going to skip over that.

Clause 566 of the bill is the next area I want to talk about, and that is dealing with the term of office of councillors. Right now, councillors and mayors and wardens serve for three years but, in the future, under this bill, they will have the right to serve for a period of four years, starting with the next municipal election which is in the year 2000.

Generally, I feel that is good in that I know lots of councillors come on stream and it takes one or two years before they get adjusted and get used to their job and know what their responsibilities are. So four years will give them a longer period of time to settle into the job of municipal councillor. Although, maybe in some ways, too, there can be abuse there, that maybe four years is too long. I am just a little undecided on whether it is good or bad. I guess if I had to come down on one side or the other at this point, I would say it is probably good, but it could be abused.

Mr. Speaker, I have reviewed the bill. It is certainly long and detailed, and I know it has been consulted upon on at least two occasions, gone back to municipalities so that they can have their input. There were over 100 submissions the first time, over 80 submissions the second time, and people have had their say, and generally it is good. I would recommend that

[Page 3122]

it does go on to the Law Amendments Committee, and I am sure there will be other interventions there at that time. That is about all I want to say on it at this time. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to respond to certain clauses of Bill No. 47, an Act Respecting Municipal Government. I just wanted to make a quick general statement, if you don't mind. That is, when this government states that it recognizes municipalities as an order of responsible government, it is simply stating the obvious. One must remember that provincial governments have always been recognized as a local municipal government.

If this government is serious about recognizing municipal government not only as an order of responsible government, but as a level of government in Canada, then the Nova Scotia Government should call upon the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to have the federal government enshrine municipal government in the Canadian Charter as a third level of government in Canada. As a third level of government, this would allow the municipalities, and they would be entitled to enact their own legislation, for example, the ability to tax federal and provincial governments and Crown Corporations, or any other corporate entity at an assessed real property rate to levy business occupancy tax on the said properties.

Mr. Speaker, I would hope that the government would look very seriously at that particular proposal, and possibly the Law Amendments Committee might look at enshrining, and I don't know how far that would go, and I think in all fairness, this is an issue that should be addressed in its proper domain, and that is the proper domain of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, I want to go on further with respect to this bill, and I want to say that this bill is 249 pages of municipal governance and 249 pages of legislated municipal government. The provincial government states that this is done in response with respect to numerous representations made by municipalities to provincial governments over the years. While it is important to obtain the view of the legislative framework of municipal government by elected politicians, it is equally important to involve other stakeholders, that is the voters, with the opportunity to suggest legislative changes to the Municipal Government Act. Without their involvement, the provincial government automatically assumes that local elected municipal officials know what is in the best interests of the voters.

No wonder voter turnout is so low at the municipal level. Here we are going into the 21st Century, on the eve of the next municipal election, and we didn't bother to have voter input. For example, the length of the term of office; this term was proposed by elected politicians, those who have a vested interest in feathering their own nest. Of course, they use the old excuse that this is designed to save taxpayers' dollars, and allows politicians the advantage for long-range planning.

[Page 3123]

Many of the citizens I have spoken with said that this term in office is too long, and one must remember that local government is the government closest to the people and should be more accountable, not that all government shouldn't be accountable. I remember all too clearly when municipal amalgamation took place, and the councillors were elected for a five-year term, the public outcry then. As a matter of fact, the voter turnout was extremely low, and I would suggest that it was below the 40 per cent mark. This only acted to further distance the voters from their politicians.

Mr. Speaker, on this legislative change, I would recommend that the Law Amendments Committee give serious consideration to reverting back to the three year term in office. Here again is another instance whereby there was lack of public participation on the district municipal council heads, wardens.

The Municipal Act allows for municipal councils to have discretion on whether the wardens will be selected among their peers, or by the public through a voting process. This may cause inconsistencies across the province and will definitely cause confusion to the voters where one municipality allows their warden to be elected and the adjacent municipality may choose to select from their peers.

Mr. Speaker, ideally, I prefer that we are moving into the 21st Century and it is about time the voters had the right to elect their wardens, particularly since we allow this term to be a four year term of office. This I recommend to the Law Amendments Committee, barring that at least the bill should provide for a uniform policy across the province by allowing for one method of determining wardens for municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, the reason why I say this is because I can certainly recognize the kind of confusion that might very well exist throughout the province with respect to this. I do know that the minister can recognize that, as well. Let's assume that in an adjacent municipality, where the warden is determined that they will be elected at large and another where the warden is selected by his peers. There are obvious concerns with respect to that and the kind of confusion around that particular area.

The notification of consultation with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. Mr. Speaker, I welcome the consultation, but I think the consultation goes only to the municipalities and there is no level or step-down from the municipalities with respect to consultation with the voters or the constituency of the municipality, particularly when we look at the serious problem that had occurred with respect to municipal amalgamation.

I recall, back in 1993, the Liberal Party was first elected to the Province of Nova Scotia. The year proceeding that in October 1994, there were municipal elections. Two weeks after the municipal elections came notification from the government to the municipalities, in fact, municipal amalgamation would take place. There was no room for public input. It was determined that, in fact, the municipalities would follow through on this particular request by

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the government. Public outrage was very strong. They have felt that there was very little input and I think there ought to be recommendation with respect to this bill that says that although there is going to be consultation with the municipalities on major issues with respect to planning, with respect to amalgamation, with respect to the impact of the revenue that may have a detrimental effect on a municipality, there must also be public participation in the process.

I think that this is the area that concerns me most of all, the area where there seems to be very little public consultation with respect to bringing the bill forward. Now the argument can very well be made that municipal politics is grass-roots politics and that, in fact, they get their sense or their feel from their voters at the grass-roots level. However, I have concerns that maybe they are not, in fact, carrying the exact message that their voters would like to be brought forward. There are many qualified individuals who can speak to legislative Acts, who can make legislative recommendations, so that, in fact, provincial and municipal governments are aware.

Mr. Speaker, I would recommend to the Law Amendments Committee to look at reflecting that within the bill, looking at the possibility of drafting something within that legislation to deal with, primarily, having the citizen re-involvement at the municipal level. The partnership authority, where it explicitly spells out that, in fact, if I can make comment, the Municipal Government Act gives municipalities explicit authority to enter into partnership. This I see as a very real issue.

I am clear that there is flexibility by the municipalities to enter into partnership agreements at the present time. I don't know how clear that is, but I do see that it explicitly implies that municipalities now have the right to enter into partnerships, and knowing the kind of economic crunch that many of the municipalities find themselves in, and knowing the number of people who work in the public domain of municipal government, such as snowplow operators, such as grounds crews, such as parks and recreation individuals, the fact that this can be made into a private partner arrangement and that in fact municipal government can all of a sudden now, without being answerable, engage in that kind of activity gives me reason to pause and reason for concern. I think that we have to be very careful of how we draft the Act that allows that. Somewhere there has to be accountability. I do not see the accountability within the bill that allows the municipality to be accountable. Once it has made a decision and the council has decided that that is its decision, then in fact that is the way it will go.

[7:15 p.m.]

I want to take an opportunity now to use a great example of where that has created the greatest hardship of all. It was, in fact, the privatization of crossing guards in the Halifax Regional Municipality. I know the minister has seen comments on this with respect to the newspapers and so on. These crossing guards automatically were earning $12 to $13 an hour.

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They suddenly found themselves after contracting that service out through the police department earning $6.00 an hour wages. They were responsible and required to be there at a specific time. They were only getting certain hours, however, they were still expected to be there and to be employed. The bottom line is that it interfered in their daily process and it interfered in their activity and it also diminished the income and also diminished their sense of responsibility to the commitment and to the job that they were doing.

I can see this happening, giving the municipalities across the province that blanket that says, yes, you can go ahead and do this and there is very little or no accountability. I would hope that we would seriously look at that process of accountability.

With respect to the exemption of veterans, I am very pleased to see that the minister has recognized that. I served on the Veterans Affairs Committee as a stand-in on one occasion and I have to tell you that the veterans are quite concerned with respect to municipalities taxing their organizations. They were non-profit organizations doing excellent jobs in the committee and I commend the minister and those people on the executive of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities for recognizing the great contribution that these people provide to the municipality and by that great contribution, allowing them the opportunity to be tax exempt by the municipality. That, I have to say, is a very good move.

The disclosure of municipal election campaign contributions, again, is a right move in the right direction; $50 and above ought to be recorded; $10,000 ought to be audited. There is no question, but what troubles me here, and I am troubled because there is no ceiling or no placing of limits on amounts spent on election campaigns and that would decide the outcome. I have difficulty in the fact that there is no ceiling on the amount of dollars that can be spent by a municipal politician. There is a very serious concern with respect to that.

Many of the Members of this Legislative Assembly represent more than many town mayors. I use the Town of Windsor for an example, I think there is about 5,000 to 8,000 population. We as legislators here in this Legislative Assembly are accountable. We can only expend a maximum amount of dollars based on the number of eligible voters. I think the day has come when the municipality must be accountable for that.

Not only did this have the effect of making the municipal politicians accountable, but it is one of the considerations that will, in fact, cause citizens, who are least likely to be able to afford to, to run campaigns against those who have incomes and dollars far beyond their reach. What this will allow, if, in fact, the Law Amendments Committee sees within its power the opportunity to bring that forward, what it states is this is the maximum ceiling which you can spend in a municipal election campaign. It also sends a message out to all those other individuals who want to be actively involved in municipal elections that, in fact, here is the maximum amount of dollars, so these are the dollars I can raise.

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It has to be reasonable because I think that many people are excluded from the democratic process of becoming actively involved in, in particular, municipal government. I harken back again to the election of December 5, I believe it was 1996, when, in fact, there were two candidates running for the Halifax Regional Municipality. The tremendous number of dollars that have been purported to have been spent on those campaigns - mind you there has never been a real disclosure, so no one knows - however, if the public is aware that this is the ceiling on those campaign dollars, then the public has at least some conscience, or some direction that, in fact, they are not beholden to any particular interest group, or business, or union movement, or anything of that nature, simply because the ceiling of the dollars there would reflect that. I think it is very important to look at that.

Another issue that I have and I haven't seen and, again, Mr. Speaker, it is left to the discretion of the municipalities, and that is with respect to their salaries or stipends. Although Bill No. 47 repeals the HRM, the new Municipal Government Act would continue to allow councils to decide the salaries or their stipends. As we are all aware, the practice has been that council would establish an independent committee, or a group of prominent citizens, to make recommendation with respect to salaries councillors receive; however, council would have the last word.

Mr. Speaker, this practice should be integrated into a natural legislative scheme from my point of view. Who are the prominent citizens? How is this independence determined? There is a real need to draft legislation around this because I recall when, in fact, serving on municipal council in the City of Dartmouth, there was a review of the municipal stipends and many of the citizens had felt that if council were to select the prominent people and so on that council has a vested interest and, therefore, the determined outcome of what those stipends, or what the results would be, or the recommendation would be, was a fait accompli. I think that what we have to do in this particular area is draft legislation that says, yes, we will address that there ought to be legislation with respect to municipal stipends and/or salaries; yes, we are going to define who those individuals are; and, yes, we are going to draft that into legislation.

Mr. Speaker, if I can go to Page 232 of the Municipal Government Act - and this deals with the spouse, and I think that there needs to be a definition of the spouse - there is within this bill, and it is within Clause 566, the Municipal Government Act, and it is Clause 566(11), Section 49A(1)(d), here, in fact, is a definition of the spouse. I believe that this is a problematic definition because the reasoning it employs is circular. Many people still regard the word spouse as meaning a husband or a wife. This is a definition that excludes same-sex couples. Bill No. 47 defines spouses as, ". . . a person married to another person and, for the purpose of this Section, includes persons who, not being married to each other, live together as if spouses and have done so for at least one year.". While this exclusion may not have been the intent of the drafters, greater clarity is needed. Rather than using the word spouse within the definition, I think one could simply say, live together as common-law couples for a period of at least one year or words to that effect.

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I would like to bring to the attention of the minister that the Minister of Finance has agreed to change that definition of spouse within Bill No. 13. I believe there has been a commitment or agreement to make that particular change. I would hope that this bill would also make that particular change.

In closing, in principle I agree with most of the aspects of this bill. I certainly hope that the Law Amendments Committee will review my recommendations that I have brought forward. I think they are very important recommendations, they are few and minor recommendations but I certainly hope that the Law Amendments Committee will, in fact, bring this forward. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Dartmouth South for yielding the floor. I just have a few small comments that I would like to make on the Municipal Government Bill. It is a very large bill and I think first of all we have to say that Bill No. 47 has been brought about, I think, to be fair to the government, in the proper manner, in the sense it has taken a long time, there has been a considerable amount of consultation and I believe it started in January 1995, per the information that was given to me, I was not part of the Assembly when a lot of this consultation was taking place but actually there were two draft bills released so people could put their input into it.

I often use the adage that no matter how much consultation and how much debate you have, there is not a bill that is perfect. When I start talking about this bill I realize that there are some parts of it that we could probably strengthen. I am hoping that from the debate that will take place here tonight and the other days, that hopefully we will come out with a stronger bill.

I know from my own personal experience that the Acts that are in place are unwieldy, they are complicated and outdated. So we have to bring about some form of legislative change and I thank the honourable minister for bringing forward this legislation. I look at it in the sense that there are some good parts to this bill and I will try to go over some of those.

One that I really feel very strongly about is that the municipalities will be given some notice ahead of time, if the provincial government is looking to make some cost savings, in the sense of passing on some increased costs to the municipalities or in other words another form is basically increasing taxes on them, reducing their revenues. That, I think, is an important first step. I have been part of government before and I know a lot of times they were making decisions and, if anything, what the municipality used to say is that we do not have anything to say about these changes and we are trying to react subsequent to the changes being made.

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I look at this session of the Legislature that we are in right now and the government only brought in the budget some time in May, I think it was. So for the municipalities, I know from speaking to a lot of the councillors in my riding, they were very frustrated. They are trying to set their budgets and make responsible decisions and they do not know what is coming down the line. So that makes it very difficult and as much as we sometimes make changes municipally, they may cost $8 million, $9 million, or $2 million, or $3 million, or $4 million, or $5 million, or whatever the amounts are, if you look historically they have not cost the municipalities $20 million, $30 million, $40 million, or $50 million in a year.

[7:30 p.m.]

Most of the changes that we have done, whether it be through some changes in property tax rebates or changing of the capital grants that we give to the municipalities, it has often been $2 million, $3 million or $4 million or $5 million or something like that. That sounds like a lot of money and it is, but it was divided among, well, it used to be 66 municipalities, now we are down to 55. So when you divide it up, as a percentage of the budget, we are not talking 10 per cent or 15 per cent, but we are talking 2 per cent or 3 per cent at the most. So, for ourselves, if we can give them advance notice, they can make better decisions. I think that, for ourselves, as provincial politicians to say that we cannot do that, that we cannot give you a year's notice, then I don't think we are being responsible. Because $6 million, $8 million or $10 million, or even $15 million as a percentage of our provincial budget, which is approximately $4.5 billion is a very small amount. So when the municipalities ask for some advance notice, I think it is reasonable.

I look back in retrospect and it is strange that it is in this bill because it is one of the suggestions that I brought back to the caucus table as a member coming out of retirement, because I did miss a term from 1993-98, and you listen to people and they were bringing forward . . .

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: And we missed you too.

MR. LEBLANC: The honourable member for Kings North says that he missed me. I am glad to learn that.

Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member would like to make an introduction, I would be more than willing to yield the floor.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce to the House, through you, the 2nd Fairview Cub Pack. There are nine Cub Scouts here tonight with their leaders, Paul Heath, Grant White, John Turner and Brad Doell. They

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are working hard today on their Law Awareness and the Blue Star. That is why they came to the House. I would ask you to give them a warm welcome tonight. (Applause)

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, perhaps all members of this House could work on getting that star too. I would like to welcome our visitors.

MS. O'CONNELL: And the law awareness, too.

MR. LEBLANC: That is right. Back to the bill, Mr. Speaker, I guess to collect my thoughts again, I go back to the point that if we can be responsible in a sense of giving them notice, then I think, as municipal politicians, they would make better decisions. I am very pleased to see that that was into that and I was making the point, I recall, that a lot of councillors are always telling you about that and saying that we should give them notice of any changes and it was one that I had actually discussed at our caucus. I am very pleased to see the minister has it in the bill.

It also begs the other question of when should the municipalities be notified of changes? There are also other provisions in here that are outside the control of the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, or perhaps not. They still want to know what the rate for education is. That is another important part for them to make a decision. That is more a budgetary decision. This bill, mostly, is encompassed with the internal affairs of how a municipality works and not so much about monetary provisions. But it is something that I think if municipalities could know in a timely way what the provincial government's costs are going to be that year, then they could make a better decision.

This year we brought down the budget in May and we didn't debate it until June. I don't recall all the dates, but that is late for municipalities. I am sure members on the opposite side, the government benches, got the same complaints that we did. They were all trying to set their budgets and didn't know what was going on. I look back at it and I think provincial governments, as much as possible, should make an attempt to get these numbers into municipalities in a timely basis so that they can make decisions.

Now whether that is something that should be brought into legislation, I don't know the answer to that, Mr. Speaker, but it is something that I think should be discussed at the Law Amendments Committee. When I am talking about Law Amendments Committee, I heard a few of the speakers today speak about the different provisions that they liked or they didn't like. One gentleman from the New Democratic Party said that he didn't like the four year term. This had brought about changes and says that it is going to be a four year term, rather than a three year term for municipal councillors.

Mr. Speaker, we can agree or we can disagree here and we could say that there was enough consultation or say there wasn't enough consultation, but I am very proud to be part of an Assembly, and it is relatively unique in Canada that we have a Law Amendments

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Committee here that people can come forward and make presentations. I had four ladies that came from my area, West Pubnico, and I was giving them a tour Friday of this House. I was showing the, I guess, in a sense, the rich history that Province House encompasses. Then I showed them some of the things that we, as legislators, have brought about and one of them is the Law Amendments Committee. When a bill is debated on this floor, it is introduced and then it is read for second reading as we are doing right now. We are speaking here to the principle of the bill. Then it gets sent to the Law Amendments Committee. Basically, in essence, every Nova Scotian, as an individual or as a member of an association can come forward and make presentations to the legislative committee that sits there to hear people's concerns. In real terms, everyone couldn't come, because you wouldn't have the time to hear them. It is very rare, and I can speak from experience, that someone wasn't given the opportunity to come speak at the Law Amendments Committee. So that is something that is relatively unique.

If you go to other provinces, that isn't the case. It is good to hear people saying that they have concerns and they don't agree with this and maybe it should be this or they don't know. But we can express our views as members of the Legislature here tonight, and we know that if someone agrees or disagrees with what we are saying that they have the right to go down the hall to the Law Amendments Committee and speak their piece. Then we as legislators will have to make a decision whether we support the changing of the provisions in that bill or not.

I think that those are the types of things that we would like very much to support as an open dialogue, but also know that people have the right to come forward. A lot of people that I speak to have a lot of concerns about municipal governments, and it has usually been around the secrecy of it. What has happened in the past is a lot of decisions have been made in secret at municipal councils. This bill discusses opening up the process. I think that the people who have had complaints in the past would like to see what is in this bill. If they support it, I hope they come forward to the Law Amendments Committee. If they don't think it goes far enough, I hope they come to the Law Amendments Committee, because I think we have given ourselves the opportunity to have an open dialogue on this, and I believe that we have made some strides or great strides in opening up the process.

It is the one complaint about municipal governments, that a lot of times, whenever a difficult decision has been made, they went into a closed meeting so people couldn't hear what they were saying. I think that is a criticism that they are subject to that this will prevent. For some members, that will be a change of the way that they have operated for many years, and they may not be comfortable with that. But, Mr. Speaker, we didn't used to have the camera in this Legislature, and a lot of people sort of felt insulated, they felt if they said something, no one was going to see them. Now we have cameras here that record everything you say, and it is piped into people's homes. That was a big change for most of us, and I was here when that took place. For the first month, everybody was kind of camera-shy, and we didn't know what to do, but it didn't take too long for some of us to learn to play to the

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camera, and other people to come to realize that it is a part of the House and it isn't going to change.

I think it has played an important purpose in bringing the government to the people, and I hope that these provisions that the minister has brought in will also, I guess in a sense, make people in the municipalities feel that they have access to government. Up until now, some of them have said that they haven't, and by opening up the process, I really believe that we are going in the right direction, and that everyone who is a municipal councillor will be able to stand up and say, the process was there, we didn't agree with it, you should have come forward and put forward your piece. So I agree with that.

This opening up of the process, I was reading some of the comments about the fact that it is opening up pretty well everything other than contract negotiations, personnel matters, labour relations and a few other things, or even trying a negotiation for land deals and so forth. I think anyone can appreciate that there are going to be some provisions of dealings with the municipalities that are going have to be secret, because it is like a lot of us negotiating everything on the floor of the House. Sometimes the members, even the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism has said, we can't debate everything on the floor. He is right. A lot of times, you can't very well say exactly what you are going to do. After the deal is done and we ask for the provisions, well, that is a different case. But I am getting off the topic, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: You are kind of straying a little.

MR. LEBLANC: Okay, well, thank you. I had just come to the realization that I had gotten off the topic. I look at it in the sense that for ourselves, it is the openness that I support, and I think that the councils themselves will be very pleased with what is there.

There is another provision here that I agree with and that is in disclosure of contributions. I was one that supported the changes that were brought about, I am not sure how many years ago, that as MLAs we would have to disclose who gave to our campaigns. I believe in that, because I felt that if I couldn't tell the world who was supporting me, then there was something wrong, and if people felt there was something wrong, they were probably right. I would much rather have that be public knowledge so that at least people will know who is supporting me as Neil LeBlanc or who is supporting Robert Chisholm or who is supporting the Premier or whatever. You are into a situation where I think we should be able to say these are the people who support us. If we are not comfortable with that, then our campaigns should not accept that money.

So I look at this situation whereby in municipal governments people will be required to disclose that amount and I think that is a positive step. I know in the past there have been some attempts and challenges during municipal elections for people to disclose who was giving to their campaigns. Subsequent to those events, especially when you have some

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relatively large dealings with municipal governments, people were always wondering if there was some reason for the support or this position. So if you disclose where your municipal contributions would come from, then you, as a politician, do not have these innuendoes being pointed at you, and it is a protection for the members themselves, in the sense that people will know who supported you and if you are comfortable with that, then everyone knows it and there isn't any secrets slurs or rumours going around that there must be some reason because of this.

So I think it is the proper thing. There will be some costs in administering that and I am sure that the Chief Electoral Officer for the Province of Nova Scotia which administers municipal elections as well as provincial elections will probably find he or she working long hours now in trying to keep up with all this extra work also. But I think we have come almost into the year 2000 and we are well beyond the time when this should have been done. So with that, I also agree.

I have talked at length on a lot of different provisions in this, but I think for myself, the point that I am trying to stress is that there are many good points. I haven't read the bill in its entirety. It is my critic area, but it is one that involves me. It is bringing forward a lot of the things that I have felt for a long time were required. As such, I am going to be supporting this passing through second reading to go to the Law Amendments Committee. I just want to pick up, I had one specific clause that I wanted to bring forward. It may be an oversight because of the fact that we already had the Financial Measures (1998) bill introduced earlier.

On Page 40 under Clause 77(3), this is about the farm tax rebate, it says, "The Governor in Council may, by regulation, change the grant per acre.". In the Financial Measures (1998) bill, that clause has been deleted. So that one specific clause would have to be deleted from this bill to make it adhere to what was passed on the Financial Measures (1998) bill. I know that this was drafted before that amendment came in and I am sure, as the members speak on this bill in the House, we will find more and more of these things that have changed. I do not think it is any intent on the part of the minister to pull a fast one on the House. I just want to point out to his attention, because there is 200 and some odd pages of this and it is all in legalese. I think it is making the lawyers smile. When I see a bill this long come in, I know the lawyers are all very pleased and probably have worked long hours in trying to make sure that all the t's have been crossed and the i's have been dotted.

On that note, I would like to end my comments and thank very much the Assembly for letting me make those comments.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fact that due note has been made of the fact that I am speaking from the place of the honourable member for Yarmouth. Occasionally confusion arises as to the identity of speakers, more often, I think, in the press

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than in the House itself. It is not that I would have any objection to any of my comments being attributed to the member for Yarmouth, but he might take exception. I am glad that my comments will be attributed to myself and I will not have the experience that the honourable member for Yarmouth had recently when one of our local papers here in metro had the misfortune to confuse him with the member for Queens and mis-labelled a photograph.

[7:45 p.m.]

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I have been referred to as the member for Yarmouth but I am the member for Argyle. I would like to thank the honourable member for pointing that out and perhaps The Daily News could clearly articulate that the member for Queens, John Leefe, happens not to be the member for Argyle. I will just have to have my face recognized a little bit more so hopefully they will not make the same mistake. Thank you, very much.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to start out by making a few prefatory comments. I would first of all like to compliment the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs who I have noticed since this bill has been introduced and since debate has started on it that he has paid considerable attention to the comments of the members and I am sure we will see this reflected in some adjustments, after due consideration, when the legislation goes on to the Law Amendments Committee.

To move more directly to the bill itself, I think it is appropriate when a bill accomplishes positive things for that to be acknowledged. I would like to acknowledge that the provision for increased disclosure of election contributions is a positive step and I trust it will meet with the support of all members of this House. I am sure no one would quibble with the intent of the legislation to ensure that there is more openness in the conduct of municipal government.

I do, however, have some concerns that in Clause 19(6) of the bill dealing with notice of council meetings, there is a provision that, "A meeting of the council is not an illegal or invalid meeting by reason only of (a) a failure to give notice; or (b) meeting elsewhere than provided in the by-laws, a policy or a notice of meeting.". I would suggest that this is something that might need a little further consideration to ensure that it does not lead to any abuse. I am sure that is not the intent of the legislation and that this provision is intended merely to allow for certain exceptions. It is understandable that in an emergency situation some exceptions might need to be made but I think it should be clear that meetings should normally follow due notice and that exceptions are to be rare indeed and only when circumstances absolutely require it.

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Another point I would like to raise is the definition of an aggrieved person. This deals with the question of appeals from decisions of municipalities, most commonly on planning matters. At one time the Planning Act of this province which this legislation replaces, defined those people who could appeal decisions of municipalities to the old Planning Appeal Board which is now the Utility and Review Board, it defined people who could launch appeals as interested parties. Now some years ago a change was made in the provision of the Planning Act to allow only aggrieved persons to appeal decisions made by municipalities. My recollection is that the reason given at the time was that this would ensure that there were no frivolous appeals. I am aware of some evaluations that have been done on appeals, as far back as they are recorded or at least in modern times, when that provision for interested party was in the legislation that there were, in fact, few, if any, frivolous appeals coming from members of the community to deal with decisions made by their councils.

Indeed, at the time the change was made from interested party to an aggrieved person, the government stated its intent that the change in the legislation was not meant to restrict unduly an individual's right to appeal an action within the community, but in practise the change in the definition has led to a considerable restriction and has meant that in a number of instances members of a community, unless they belong to a particular organization with a clearly defined interest in a matter, or possibly in a property that was subject to a planning decision, or individuals who owned property adjacent to the property in question, other individuals had great difficulty in getting standing before the old Planning Appeal Board and would, today, have considerable difficulty and might find it impossible to get granted standing before the Utility and Review Board.

I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that the continuation of this narrow definition is unfortunate and it does create an unfairness, perhaps unintentional, but it perpetuates an unfairness in the whole appeal system. This is something that I would submit should be addressed by the government and, hopefully, we will see some adjustment when this measure is discussed at the Law Amendments Committee.

I would like now, Mr. Speaker, to move on to the question of supplementary funding. This is a fairly complicated question. We are talking here about the supplementary funding, not the mandatory portion of funding which municipalities must provide to their school boards for educational purposes, but that additional amount of dollars which certain municipalities are able to provide their school boards in order to ensure that certain boards are able to provide something a little extra to the students of those boards.

We have had two boards, Mr. Speaker, in this province - the old Halifax City School Board and the Dartmouth City School Board - which had the ability to provide supplementary funding to their boards above and beyond the mandatory contribution which the municipalities make. It is certainly appropriate that this legislation continue the provision for that supplementary funding. Indeed, what we have here in this bill is essentially a continuation of the provision that was made in the amalgamation Act that brought Halifax, Dartmouth and

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Halifax County together to form the Halifax Regional Municipality. There was a provision when the amalgamation took place to continue the supplementary funding and this legislation carries this on.

That is appropriate because these boards have been struggling with underfunding and have had some difficulty in dealing with very basic needs in areas such as special education, which is one area of supplementary funding. I know in the case of the Dartmouth board on which I served as a member for several years, it had to take supplementary funding and apply it in order to ensure that the basic needs of students would be met. I am pleased to see that this provision continues and that, as in the amalgamation Act, the municipality may not reduce supplementary funding beyond a certain percentage in each year.

I would submit, however, Mr. Speaker, that this cushion that has been provided in the amalgamation Act, and is continued here, still creates some problems. The problem basically is that when the three boards - Halifax, Dartmouth and Halifax County - were amalgamated into one large regional board, the amalgamation of the board did not address some of the difficulties that were created by the fact that there was no provision for supplementary funding from what had been the old Halifax County School Board. This has created very considerable problems for the new regional school board. We have seen the consequences of this, the difficulties created by this. On paper, we have one regional school board out of the three old boards, in practice however, we still have some arbitrary and very unfortunate barriers between the three boards.

I would submit that if this legislation could somehow nudge the Halifax Regional Municipality into providing equitable additional funding for what used to be Halifax County, it could help to address some very considerable problems which the Halifax Regional School Board has been facing since amalgamation. In order that the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs has a clear understanding on what these difficulties are, I would like to take a few minutes to elaborate on them.

One of the difficulties which we have been facing in this metropolitan area is that there has been some movement of populations from the old inner-city areas, particularly from the peninsula of Halifax to suburban areas in what used to be Halifax County. What this has resulted in is that there is a fair amount of extra space, if we can call it that, in some schools in the peninsula of what used to be the Municipality of Halifax. At the same time, there is crowding in schools in suburban areas.

Now, it would seem logical for parents who live in some areas of the county, the old county, that are experiencing crowding but who work in downtown Halifax to be able, if they were given the opportunity, to take their children with them when they come to work and place them in one of the schools that has ample space. But Mr. Speaker, this is virtually an impossibility, because of the differences in funding, that the perpetuation of this disparity between the three components of this new school board are labouring under. We now have

[Page 3136]

space in the schools, we have parents who have in some instances expressed an interest in their children being able to go to these schools, because they would be much closer to their parents' workplaces. It would enable parents to go to the schools, to attend events, but they can't do it unless they make up the difference in funding. Otherwise, their children would be getting subsidized by the taxpayers of Halifax and Dartmouth, and this is recognized in this bill.

Rather than just recognizing a difficult situation, I think the challenge before this government is to show some leadership on this issue and make a provision that would enable the board, through the municipality, to get equitable funding and to make more effective use of space in the schools. The consequence of the board not being able to do this is that we now have, for the second time in three years, the Halifax Regional School Board embarking upon a review of certain schools which have comparatively low enrolment, and the outcome of that review might be closure of some of those schools.

Mr. Speaker, the superintendent of the school board has himself stated that he is opposed to these reviews, that they are costly in their own right, they are divisive, they pit school against school, they pit neighbourhood against neighbourhood, and community against community. The outcome could be the loss of some space that may in a few years time be needed in the system, but because of the financial predicament the board finds itself in, it has regrettably felt that it has no choice but to pursue a review of these schools.

Mr. Speaker, I would submit on this point that it would be most useful if the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs could take another look at these proposals about supplementary funding and see if there is any way he could use his powers and use the provisions of this bill to bring about more equitable funding and, thereby, more effective utilization of space in our schools which, I am sure, would be welcomed by all taxpayers and by many members of our communities.

[8:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would like, very briefly, to move on to some provisions in this bill concerning the Dartmouth Common, part of which lies within my constituency. I do appreciate the fact that this measure, this bill, will maintain some provisions that were in the amalgamation Act and will continue the protection of the Dartmouth Common to ensure that there is no inappropriate building on this common. The Common is a very significant site within the community. It is very significant historically, being one of only a handful of common lands which have survived the test of time since they were originally established in the 18th Century; in fact, the Halifax Commons go back virtually to the founding of Halifax in 1749; and the Dartmouth Common followed shortly thereafter.

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if I could interrupt the honourable member for a moment for an introduction.

[Page 3137]

MR. CHARD: Certainly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for yielding the floor for a second. In the east gallery, I would like to point out the 1st Lake Echo Boy Scouts. They are accompanied by some very good friends on mine: Mr. Peter Vieau, Mr. Brian Eisener, Mr. Don Mosher, Reverend David LeBlanc and Mr. John Eldridge. I would ask the House to give them a warm welcome and ask them to stand. (Applause)

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that members understand why these provisions are here in the bill. What we have found is that over the years many of the common lands, that were established for the benefit of commoners or residents of communities in this province, have disappeared. They have been eroded, lands have been alienated. They have been sold by municipalities, who have tended to act as if these lands were like any other open space or parkland. They have, in some instances, failed to recognize that the commons are really a trust that have been established through original grants going back to the very early days of settlement in this province, from 1749 on, for the common good.

In the case of the Dartmouth Common, lands have been eroded to the extent that where the original common was approximately 150 acres in size, there are today only about 15 acres left that are properly regarded as part of the Dartmouth Common. There are other lands there that are still public, but they are not perceived as part of The Common as such. I do appreciate the fact that this bill before us does propose to maintain certain of the protections that were accorded to the Dartmouth Common through previous legislation.

There were two measures brought to this House to protect The Common. One was by one of my predecessors, the honourable Roland Thornhill, and that measure, in fact, even though it was a Private Member's Bill, did receive the consent of this House and there was, at the same time, however, a measure brought in to accomplish the same end by the honourable member for Dartmouth East at that time, who is still the member for Dartmouth East. There has been recognition by, I think, all of the Parties in this House, that the common lands, such as the Dartmouth Common, are special and need special protection, and I am pleased to see some of these protections continued in this legislation.

I would just draw to the minister's attention what appears to be a minor slip in the drawing up of the bill. In Clause 529(3), it states, "Subject to subsection (4), person shall build on the Dartmouth Common.". It would appear that a word has been left out in this subsection. I can appreciate that in a measure of this length it is not surprising that minor slips such as this would occur. I trust that that is, in fact, the case and that the operative word that should be there is, no person shall build on the Dartmouth Common. It is a minor point but I know that the minister would want to ensure that the bill is accurate and that there are no slips that would cause us problems there in future.

[Page 3138]

Another point that I would like to raise in the bill concerns the issue of liability. The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto has raised this issue in general terms and spoken already on the issue of, as he referred to it, protected liability, and noted that under this bill you cannot sue a municipality unless it has been grossly negligent. I would submit that there are some very practical reasons why municipalities should not receive this extraordinary protection or immunity from action on the part of residents of that municipality. I would like to take the general comments that the member for Halifax Chebucto made and put them in a very specific context.

A number of years ago when John Savage was the Mayor of Dartmouth, the Municipality of Dartmouth came to this House seeking an amendment to the Dartmouth Charter, to the municipality's charter. What they requested and what was looked at by the Law Amendments Committee, among other things, was a proposal to do away with the liability which the municipality might incur if, for example, the municipality had made some mistakes in working on sewer or water lines on residential streets.

The consequence of these mistakes in some instances has been that unfortunate residents adjacent to areas where these problems have occurred with the water and sewer lines have had their basements flooded. When in the Law Amendments Committee on the occasion of the municipality attempting to get a change in their charter, it was pointed out - and I believe it was the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid who pointed this out - it is certainly not just a nuisance to a homeowner if a sewer pipe backs up into their home and a finished basement gets flooded. Indeed, neighbours of mine had this precise experience and had these not at that time been a provision in the Dartmouth City Charter, which ensured that municipality had to address the question of liability caused by their negligence, in dealing with problems out in their lines, the homeowner would have been out of pocket a considerable sum of money.

When the municipality brought this proposed change to their charter to this House, the honourable members serving on the Law Amendments Committee raised the difficulty and the Law Amendments Committee saw fit to suggest that they would not be able to support this measure. At the time the City of Dartmouth objected and pointed out that the Dartmouth Charter was not consistent with the Halifax Charter and that the old City of Halifax Charter allowed the municipality to escape responsibility for problems in its sewer and water lines. The end result was that homeowners were, unfortunately, stuck with the cost of a lot of problems that were not of their own making or of their own responsibility. The Law Amendments Committee suggested that this was a very interesting point to raise and that this discrepancy between the charters of the old Cities of Halifax and Dartmouth should, indeed, be addressed but not by changing Dartmouth's charter to bring it in line with Halifax's charter. They suggested that the committee should invite the City of Halifax to come to the Law Amendments Committee and that Halifax's Charter should be changed to bring it in line with Dartmouth's charter.

[Page 3139]

Unfortunately, this seems to have been lost sight of if I correctly interpret this bill and what it has to say about protected liability and the fact that one cannot address these problems unless the municipality has been grossly negligent. I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that this has created an unreasonable burden on residents and taxpayers in those parts of Halifax Regional Municipality which previously could take action to deal with negligence and did not have to be able to prove gross negligence.

In fact, what this means, what the existing legislation in the Halifax Regional Amalgamation Act means and what is perpetuated in this bill is a situation of which many homeowners in the former City of Dartmouth may be unaware and if they do not realize that they need to increase their homeownership insurance to ensure that they have coverage to deal with problems such as this, they could end up facing a very considerable bill for dealing with these problems.

I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that it would be very much in the public interest for the minister to direct his staff to look at the implications of this measure and determine if, really, the measure should continue to be worded as it is here.

The final aspect of the bill which I would like to speak to now is Clause 174(1)(j), and it has further subsections (i) to (iv). These are the provisions of the bill dealing with pesticide regulation. Like several other speakers who have addressed this measure, I must say, Mr. Speaker, that I was most disappointed in this measure here. It is really a callous disregard of very genuine health concerns by many residents of the urban areas of Halifax Regional Municipality. In effect, by not allowing residents who have concerns about possible health problems arising from the use of pesticides on adjacent properties - and we are speaking primarily of residential properties in urban areas, we are not speaking about rural areas where these measures could conflict with legitimate agricultural or forestry uses, we are talking about measures that more appropriately would apply to urban areas - but what these measures would mean is that an individual, even an individual who has a proven medical problem with pesticides, would get very little relief from these provisions.

All that the provisions would allow for is a registry and notification to the homeowner, to the resident, that spraying is going to take place on an adjacent property and that imposes a considerable hardship on the homeowner who may then be forced to vacate their property until the spray, the pesticide, has sufficiently dissipated so that it will not cause a health problem.

I would, Mr. Speaker, suggest that the government should have listened to the large number of individuals in the metropolitan area who have expressed concern about this measure. I have heard from a considerable number of such individuals, but by the same token I have had no one come to me, as my Party's Critic for the Department of the Environment, and suggest that it is inappropriate to create an exclusion zone which was what was originally requested, I believe, by the Halifax Regional Municipality. It would suggest that someone is

[Page 3140]

not listening to the will of the public and is not listening to the many individuals who have health problems, recognized health problems, or who wish to avoid those problems by ensuring that their property is not subjected to a chemical spray on an adjacent property.

[8:15 p.m.]

I think when a government chooses to listen to a very small number of voices who want, primarily, I suspect, to protect certain commercial interests, and the government chooses not to listen to many people whose health and well being and safety it is obligated to recognize and protect and, indeed, in another clause of this bill, it does state, and perhaps there is a conflict in the legislation here. There is another provision in this bill, in Clause 174(1) on Page 75, I believe, which states that, "A council may make by-laws, for municipal purposes, respecting (a) the health, well being, safety and protection of persons;". We may well have a conflict here and I would submit that it would be indeed wise for the Minister of Municipal Affairs to address these concerns.

I think what I would like to close with on the point of this pesticide law is a quotation from a Member of Parliament made in a debate in the House of Commons back in 1886, in which speech the honourable member stated, and these are fairly strong words, Mr. Speaker, but I do think they strike right to the heart of the matter which is a government's responsibility to deal with the concerns of the people it represents. What the honourable member stated is, "What is hateful is not rebellion but the despotism which induces that rebellion; what is hateful are not rebels but the men who, having the enjoyment of power, do not discharge the duties of power; they are the men who, having the power to redress wrongs, refuse to listen to the petitions that are sent to them; they are the men who, when they are asked for a loaf, give a stone.".

What we have received, what we would receive if these measures concerning pesticide regulations passed, what we would receive is the stone rather than the loaf. In case anyone is curious about the honourable Member of the House of Commons who spoke those words, it was Sir Wilfred Laurier, a good Liberal, which does show that, indeed, there are Liberals in this country who recognize their responsibility.

AN HON. MEMBER: Or there were.

MR. CHARD: Or there were, Mr Speaker. But I do have hopes that the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs, who has been paying considerable attention to these comments, will take them under advisement. On that note, Mr. Speaker, I thank you.

[Page 3141]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I offer just a few interventions on this very important piece of legislation, an Act Respecting Municipal Government. First of all, I would like to congratulate the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for this rather worthy and positive piece of legislation, because it is quite evident that the government is listening to exactly what municipalities are saying across the province. The minister has shown the leadership in responding to exactly the consultation process over the last four year period and, indeed, responding by amending the legislation on a number of occasions to meet the needs of the respective municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to clarify a number of misapprehensions or, indeed, a number of comments that certainly were not correct. I am not suggesting they were made intentionally. I am sure that the observations that were made by the Opposition were made with the greatest of intentions. But the fact of the matter is and this is public record, all eight municipalities in the County of Cape Breton openly supported regional government. That is public record. Public record will show . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Louisbourg.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, perhaps those who haven't heard or don't want to listen will listen to what the public record says. If they wish, for the new members who are just first time around in the House of Assembly, would like to check the public record, will go before the Law Amendments Committee, the official record, the presentation that was made on behalf of all eight municipalities unanimously supported regional government in Cape Breton County. (Interruptions) Now, that is the public record, that is not Russell MacKinnon saying that they said it, that is what they themselves have said.

Mr. Speaker, I want to draw on the fact that sometimes people believe one thing, they perceive that sometimes this is what is being done when in reality, it isn't. I believe . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if the minister would entertain a brief question? I am just wondering if you could refresh our memories on why it was he ended up sitting as an Independent Liberal a number of years ago?

MR. MACKINNON: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid should very well know. It was on the issue of exchange of services, which was an entirely different piece of legislation. But perception becomes reality, and the NDP as usual like to mish it together to make it look like people are saying one thing and doing another. Typical of their philosophy. But the reality and the public record will show that I spoke for over 45 minutes supporting regional government in this House, and I also spoke for one hour opposing the exchange of services in this House.

[Page 3142]

The honourable member knows that. The honourable member also sat on the Law Amendments Committee when the representation from the eight municipalities came before the Law Amendments Committee advocating full support for regional government. That honourable member was on that committee. He knows that, but he won't tell the people, because it is not good politics because sometimes confusion arises.

Mr. Speaker, one of the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid on a (Interruptions) Why are you on your feet?

MR. HOLM: I was going to wonder if the minister would entertain another question?

MR. SPEAKER: Would you take another question?

MR. MACKINNON: If it will help educate them, sure.

MR. HOLM: Thank you. I always appreciate the minister's cooperation and efforts to help to educate we on the other side. To the Minister of Community Services, I will do my utmost to listen.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Put the question.

MR. HOLM: My question to the minister, because he said that the service exchange was a totally separate matter from the amalgamation, and they were indeed two separate bills. But is the minister stating that he does not believe that the service exchange which led to tremendous downloading of costs to municipalities was not a prelude to and part of the reason why the amalgamations were forced upon the municipalities, such as those in Cape Breton?

MR. MACKINNON: No, absolutely not. If the honourable member would read the report, the C.A. Campbell report that was prepared for regional government and for the exchange of services, there were a number of conditions and factors that were to be applied. For example, for municipalities such as the Municipality of the Town of Louisbourg, who wanted the benefits (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, he asked the question, I will try and answer it the best I can.

The Town of Louisbourg wanted the benefits of the exchange of services, but didn't want regional government. The fact of the matter is, under this proposed plan which they themselves supported the exchange of services, they would have to be prepared, if they were going to continue as a town, they couldn't have that exchange of services benefit, which would, in effect, take them off the emergency funding, which they were on for 10 out of 13 consecutive years. So, in effect, Mr. Speaker, they couldn't have their cake and eat it too. If

[Page 3143]

they wanted to stay as a town, and I indicated that if that is what they wanted, yes, I would support them, but, very clearly, that they, themselves, would have to be prepared to vote for a 30 per cent increase in their taxes. They did not want that. That is what the residents told me, despite the fact that municipal council voted behind closed doors and then brought it to Halifax with the other seven municipalities and turned around and said, yes, we want regional government.

Mr. Speaker, they were telling the residents one thing. They were telling the political Leaders here in Halifax something different. So to answer the question, let's go back to Friday past. We have part of their own problems sitting in their own caucus. The member previous, who spoke on Friday, advocated that all the municipal taxpayers in the rural areas should pay increased taxes to pay for this. What do they want? They want their cake and they want to eat it too. This is not pie in the sky. This is not la-la land, like they want to try and make people believe. (Interruption)

Let's go on to the next point. Since, again, we have caught them in their own contradictions. (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased that the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre decided to provide a side-shot intervention because I am going to read from an editorial in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald today, in reference to one of the reasons why this is such a good piece of legislation because it opens openness, transparency and it brings this municipal cloak of secrecy, which has been so common in the past, certainly in the Town of New Waterford, certainly by certain interventions that have been provided at the municipal level.

Mr. Speaker, let's see what Councillor Frankie Morrison has to say. Well, I am sure the member for Cape Breton Centre can tell you. He is worried that stricter rules on private meetings are going to stall this year's budget talks. Where are they meeting? Down in some bunker down in the radar base or what is it? That is the problem. They are doing their budgets at the committee level and behind closed doors. Councillors, such as Frankie Morrison, don't want that. The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre can certainly identify with what I am referring to, but we want open, transparent and accountable government and I congratulate the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs for such an excellent proposal. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, members opposite refer to perpetuation of disparity.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the honourable member would entertain a question? I can't speak to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality legislation, but the existing Halifax Regional Municipality Act requires the municipal council to establish a rural rate that clearly delineates the services that the rural area is receiving and the rate is to reflect the services. Under the present legislation, the legislation that we are speaking about here this evening, the provision has changed somewhat and it gives council the ability, or at least it says that council may establish a rural rate. I wonder if the honourable Minister of

[Page 3144]

Labour is concerned that, perhaps, in the Halifax Regional Municipality, and maybe even in Cape Breton, council could set a rate that really is not reflective of the services that are received, if they are moving towards unified rates in both districts?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member well knows from the previous day, I certainly raised concerns to that effect but subsequent to and doing the debates on the Halifax Regional Municipality Bill, I, as he well knows, was on sabbatical, so I guess I am going to have to plead a little bit of ignorance there.

[8:30 p.m.]

It is not for me to start advising municipal councillors on what they want to do, the whole purpose and concept of this bill is to recognize that municipalities have now matured and become of age and they not be creatures of the provincial and federal governments, but be a government entity unto themselves. I believe that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and this government certainly recognize that and if that is what the municipal councillors want, then that is what they will get because that is what they say the people want and it is power to the people, is it not?

The member for Dartmouth South suggested, or at least alluded to the fact, that the government was perpetuating disparity, particularly as it relates to school boards. Perhaps the honourable member will go back in time and make reference to the Graham Royal Commission on Education, the Graham Report as it was so well known, versus the Walker Report. Being an enlightened individual, I am sure the honourable member will certainly recognize that it was the Liberal Government of the day that recognized that funding for education was based on need and not just on per capita, how many students you have is the amount of money you get; in other words, creating a disparity toward rural Nova Scotia.

The municipal representation, I believe there are three or four from the NDP caucus alone, have done very little to address this at that level and the record will show that, so let us not be misled and let us not mislead the people of the Halifax Regional Municipality on that.

I would like to also address the issue, and the honourable member for Dartmouth South raised a very legitimate concern with regard to personal liability versus municipal liability on any acts or omissions, but the honourable member - and I guess I am speaking a little bit from experience - is quite correct that certain municipalities got this special protection. That was during a previous administration before this government or the Savage Government took over. It was that special provision, there was a halting to extending that on an ad hoc basis to municipalities because, as I recall, those types of provisions were brought forth as Private Members' Bills and dealt with at Private and Local Bills.

[Page 3145]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would the honourable member take a question? I am just trying to get this straight because I am listening to where the minister is going and I certainly remember being in this House on many occasions when a lot of municipalities would be proposing legislation to exempt themselves from certain kinds of liabilities; for example, sewer and water. If my memory serves me correctly - and I ask the minister through you, Mr. Speaker, and if he is not familiar maybe he could direct the question sideways and get counsel from the Minister of Municipal Affairs - it is my recollection that it was during the Savage Government's regime that a blanket piece of legislation, an amendment was made to the Municipal Act, that extended that liability coverage to all municipalities. I should remember the exact year but I believe it was done about three years ago?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely correct and I was leading up to that, but I wanted to, I suppose in fairness to the honourable member who spoke previously, give the background leading up to and the thought process as to why such a piece of legislation was brought forth. There were grave concerns that there would be an extensive number of frivolous lawsuits brought forth without establishing some benchmark for protection for the public purpose because the cost of insurance to the municipalities, which subsequently would mean significant increases in the taxes for the individual property owners across the province was a grave consideration. So, Mr. Speaker, what balance was struck? Again, I have to confess I was not here at that time. I will certainly take it on notice, but that was the major concern but just giving blanket special protection to some municipalities and not others was the inequity.

We also have to recognize that this piece of legislation is an enabling piece of legislation as well, because municipalities now have the ability to enact, to provide by-laws in the respective municipalities without coming to the province and receiving that final step of approval. I will give you an example with regard to mobile home parks in the province. For example, in the municipality where I reside - and I am sure the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid can identify as well - in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, and it is an issue that I raised in the House on a previous day, in a previous life . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: When you were in Opposition?

MR. MACKINNON: No, I was on the government side. (Interruption) Yes, I was.

Mr. Speaker, there were by-laws governing mobile home parks in the Municipality of the County of Cape Breton at one time, but for whatever reason, they were eliminated. For several years, for many years actually, for nearly 15 years the residents within that municipality wanted them brought back in because this type of no regulation, lack of regulation or deregulation, however you would like to word it, created a lot of problems for residents living in mobile home parks. The road standards, drainage, water, sewer drainage, lighting, the setback requirements, requirements for recreational facilities. Basically the developer in many cases really was not fair-minded. Even since the new Cape Breton

[Page 3146]

Regional Municipality was established, an issue again I raised, after it was established, that by-laws governing mobile home parks be implemented. They drafted those regulations more than a year ago and are, for whatever reason, refusing to bring them before their council and have them implemented.

They cannot use the provincial government now as a scapegoat to say that this is something that is in the mix, in consultation with the province. They are now given the authority that once they approve them at the municipal level, they can deal with them. They become law. We have reduced the red tape. We have reduced the chance for argument that the provincial government is once again beating down on the municipalities. Again, I congratulate the minister for having the foresight and in taking under advisement a number of presentations that have been made, both towards his office and himself. I think the fact that he has incorporated such processes into this legislation is indeed indicative of the high quality of leadership that he has provided in this particular piece of legislation.

Any piece of legislation that has come before this House (Interruption) Indeed, as the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid has indicated, it is open for the approbation of the House, for discussion, for suggestion for amendment. That is why we send it off to the Law Amendments Committee, that if individuals wish to come in - it is the only forum, unique in Canada, obviously, a lot of people are not aware of that - an individual can walk in off the street and say, I support this legislation or I oppose this legislation or I propose certain amendments that will make it a better piece of legislation. This is the public consultation forum and, indeed, I am sure there will be some suggestions to improve the bill, but in principle, Mr. Speaker, and that is what we do at second reading, discuss the principle of the bill. I support the principle of the bill and I urge all members of this House to support it as well. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand to speak on Bill No. 47 for a few minutes. I, as a newcomer to the Legislature, am very impressed or somewhat overwhelmed by the length of it. I think there are approximately 600 clauses in the thing and it runs close to 250 pages. Despite the help from my learned colleague from the southern part of Musquodoboit Valley, this has been quite a task for me to get through this.

There are two or three things, in particular, I would like to say in the beginning. First of all, I think the bill is good in principle and I would like to recognize the effort of the people who put this together. When you see something of that size - and not being an experienced municipal politician - but it does seem to me to be very comprehensive and, therefore, does have the potential, probably, to be legislation, which won't make everybody 100 per cent happy, but it will, Mr. Speaker, probably make most people happy.

[Page 3147]

The other thing that I see in looking at it is it is the result of a rather lengthy consultation process. For the most part, I gather that it was a legitimate consultation process. One of the things that governments do, I should state the Savage Government and the MacLellan Government, they give lip service to consultation, but have basically sort of done whatever they wish to do. I do think, in this case, perhaps the consultation has been sincere. Like I say, there are a lot of examples where the government has made up their mind and then ask people to support it. If they didn't support it, they just ignored it.

Amalgamation itself probably was an example of that, Mr. Speaker, and with the amalgamation of school boards, that was another thing that was rammed through. The lack of adequate consultation and sort of reflection has meant that there are all kinds of problems out there these days that perhaps could have been avoided if this government had been sincere about the consultation process.

I do think, Mr. Speaker, from what I have heard about this bill and what I have seen, is there may have been some sort of legitimate consultation and I congratulate the minister for that. For example, I know that the village in my constituency, the beautiful Village of Bible Hill, did make representation and I see that some of the legislation in here does pertain to villages. I see village officials regularly and they don't come with a great deal of apprehension about this particular bill. So if the Village of Bible Hill seems to be relatively satisfied with it, I am satisfied that legislation that pertains to villages must be relatively good because the people who live in Bible Hill and are the municipal politicians are very astute individuals and very conscious of the status of the village and the fact that some people would like to see villages legislated out of existence. I am pleased for that particular thing.

Another thing that I would like to address like my colleague, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, mentioned here in asking a question to the Minister of Labour a few minutes ago, has to do with the difference between the wording in Clause 73, which refers to setting commercial and residential tax rates. It reads right now, this legislation, and I hope that the minister will consider an amendment here, is that the legislation is permissive now. It says, "The council may set separate commercial and residential tax rates for the area of the municipality determined by the council . . .", and it talks about, "(a) a rural area receiving a rural level of services; (b) a suburban area receiving a suburban level of services; and (c) an urban area receiving an urban level of services.", and to allow the council the right to, this clause basically would enable the council to set a uniform tax rate as I see it.

[8:45 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: And we are going to lose our rural protection.

MR. MUIR: And the protection for the rural areas would disappear. Mr. Speaker, as my colleague has pointed out, there were certain things that the urban areas, taking the

[Page 3148]

Halifax Regional Municipality, are responsible for and that burden should not be placed on rural taxpayers where there is a lesser level of service and a lesser demand for particular things. I think changing the wording of that particular clause so it would read that the council shall set separate commercial and residential tax rates, that that would probably strengthen that and, I think, alleviate a number of the fears of the more rural voters in the province, the rural residents.

I would think, too, Mr. Speaker, that there are some constraints in this bill that I will speak to. First of all, any system of any legislation which enables the municipalities to stand on their own two feet, you know, to have their feet a little bit more planted on the ground, is probably a good one. If the municipal government is to be most effective, then it has to have some type of independence. It cannot be basically always looking over its shoulder at the Department of Municipal Affairs, or other agencies of the provincial government. Municipalities, it is like they are growing mature. It is going from perhaps youth through adolescence into adulthood and this is a recognition of this, Mr. Minister, and I think that is a good thing. I think most of the municipalities, I understand, would welcome the opportunity to have more control over their own affairs.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, one of the things that municipal governments, unfortunately, seem to be very good at - school boards in those days were an arm of, I guess, municipal governments, quite often a direct arm of municipal governments - were conducting their affairs away from the eyes of the public. They welcomed the opportunity to make decisions behind closed doors and, while I recognize that some decisions cannot be bandied around in the public domain to protect the parties who might be the object of discussion, whether it happened to be a tender or a business deal or a personnel matter or something like that, too frequently municipalities and boards and agencies of municipalities used the in-camera meeting as a way to keep themselves isolated from the people who they were elected to serve, or appointed to serve in some cases. Therefore, putting restrictions on the number of in-camera meetings is a good thing.

I have seen this from experience, Mr. Speaker, when I was involved with school boards. I can remember going to school board meetings and they all hold an in-camera session in which every issue that was to come before the board was discussed fully. What they did was, when they got into public meetings, somebody would get up and say, I move this, seconded, pass. Somebody else would get up and say I move this, seconded, pass. The only minutes that were really made public were the public record.

As a consequence, the public, other than seeing what decisions were taken, had no understanding of perhaps why those decisions were made. This legislation, which does limit the number of private meetings, therefore seems to me to be a good thing, and it is going to make municipal governments more open, and if they are more open, then they are going to be more responsive. It means that the people who are coming into council are going to be

[Page 3149]

held more accountable for what they do. It is really increasing, to me, the accountability of municipal councils to their constituents. I think that is a very good thing.

I look at that particular clause as relating to making these people, the councillors, accountable. That is a very positive thing, much as I feel we, in this Legislature, are accountable to our constituents. It is sometimes interesting to think that people say the municipal level of government, because it is local, is more accountable to their constituents. I know what happens in this House, where every word is recorded and we now have those cameras, which have been referred to, that the people in here have to be pretty darn accountable for their actions. I don't think that was always the case. I think they are. I gather there has been a marked change since the public had a greater view of how the business of this House is conducted, and how their elected representatives conduct themselves in relation to the province's business, but also the business of their constituencies.

I think too, and my colleague for Dartmouth North spoke to this, the change in the space between municipal elections. The recommendation in Bill No. 47 is that municipal elections go from every three years to every four years. Whether that is necessarily a good thing, I am not sure, but it is something that I think should be reflected on at the next stage of this bill in the Law Amendments process and, indeed, that the minister would be open to hearing arguments from those who would like to see the three years stay instead of extending that to four years.

From a very practical point of view, you get into four years, you are talking about the same thing as the provincial elections and the federal elections. Some people have enough difficulty as it is separating the levels of government, but we knew that the shorter term, we were talking about the municipal elections, well, it could change in here, but in general, we were looking at the municipal elections having a shorter period of time and therefore, people knew it was municipal time and not necessarily the provincial time.

In respect to the municipal elections, there was now going to be a provision for the names of contributors to campaigns to be known. Again, I look at this as a healthy thing, because it is a sign to me of the maturity of municipalities. At one time, you didn't really have to be accountable, but it is now a recognition that people who are submitting themselves as candidates in municipal elections, we can be assured that if they are representing particular vested interest groups, at least those who have a financial concern, we can see that.

It also means that for those who are contributing, they too, I mean, normally when people make substantial contributions to a campaign, they probably have a vested interest in, conceivably, something that is going to happen.

AN HON. MEMBER: Democracy.

[Page 3150]

MR. MUIR: Sometimes it is democracy, sometimes it is some other things. You know, sometimes it could be appointments on the Worker's Compensation Board. (Interruption) No, Russell, I was talking about the Civil Service appointments, not yours.

Anyway, the idea of making the contributors' names known is a good thing and it does line it up with the provincial conditions and also with the federal conditions where if you make a substantial contribution to an election campaign, then that has to be declared by the candidate and there will be a list published for all to see. I do realize that in the Halifax Regional Municipality there was some discussion about that a few years ago and I am pleased to see that the minister has acted on that and I think that is a good thing.

Another thing which I think is appropriate in this bill and it is probably one of the most crucial parts, is sort of the downloading warning. The government that we have now and its predecessor were really good at downloading without much warning and this downloading created a lot of difficulties for municipalities, they really did not have time to adjust. Also, the feeling was that sometimes this downloading happened and there was not adequate time for consultation. So if we have this 12 month downloading warning, it not only warns about the costs that are to come and enables municipalities to make plans so that they can accommodate the downloading but it also, I think, provides some breathing space. This breathing space is sometimes necessary. The municipalities can look at this, they may think it is a good thing or it is not a good thing or they are warm to it when it first comes out and then they look at it and they say gee, that is a real problem for us.

The 12 month period will provide this buffer zone so that either the provincial government or the municipal governments can then, if it is necessary to discuss this a little bit further, they can do so. It may be possible to adjust the downloading just a little bit, just change a regulation as opposed to changing a complete Act. It would make it satisfactory and better for the interests of the provincial government and also for the municipality and its residents. So I think that 12 month time span or buffer zone is a good thing. I hope that that is not just window dressing in there and if this legislation passes with that buffer in it, then it will be used as is intended, that it is put in there basically with good intentions not just something to make the bill look good but it is something that Minister Gaudet and his people are committed to in trying to make this work better for all Nova Scotians.

Another issue in this particular legislation that people in my constituency have said to me, which is sort of a two-edged sword, but it does permit the councils to make up their own minds as to whether they will elect their wardens by popular vote or they will elect them by a vote of the members of the council. The advantages of giving every citizen or every taxpayer or every registered voter the opportunity to decide who will be the warden of a rural municipality is interesting or it may be a mayor because there may be some of the rural municipalities that may decide to call it their chief executive officer, may call it the mayor, or may call it chief magistrate I guess is the word I was looking for.

[Page 3151]

However, for the rural areas one of the things that is going to happen is if one wishes to run for the Warden of Colchester County, which is part of my area or I have some part of Colchester County, it is going to be moving up the cost of elections for municipal politicians. Because it means if they are going to have to go to every voter, and you get these wide geographic areas, well, as everybody knows, is that some of these geographic areas, if you took the Halifax Regional Municipality, my soul, that is 40 per cent of the voters in Nova Scotia or something like that. If they were going to sort of elect that by popular vote and the mayor and I guess if it was a popular vote, that makes it more difficult. If a person is well known, okay. But even in the rural area where municipal councillors don't get paid much money and to go out and have to set up an expensive campaign to go around in a great, large geographic area to campaign to become the mayor or the warden, or whatever it would be, it puts a different complexion on it.

[9:00 p.m.]

I know that some of the people in my area with whom I have spoken in the last two weeks say, gee, if I wanted to be the warden, in this case, it is the warden, if I had to actually go out and campaign for that on a door-to-door basis like the provincial politicians, I couldn't afford to do that, time-wise or there is just not sufficient reward in that, in some of these smaller areas for being the mayor or the warden of a council, to make that attractive. So the provision is there, but I am not so sure how widely it is going to be accepted, certainly, in rural Nova Scotia.

I think, too, Mr. Speaker, Part VIII, which runs from Clauses 192 to 269, which deals with the planning strategy, I have had some people in my constituency speak to me about the power of the planner. Every municipality has a planner and a planner is able to do certain things and he or she has certain rights and they are concerned that there be, in this legislation, a way to keep the planners in check. I hope that the minister, when he reviews this legislation and when it goes to the Law Amendments Committee, that the 75 or 77 clauses that deal with the planning process will be carefully examined to see that there is an appropriate balance between the power of the person who is designated as a planning officer and the rights of the council and balance that off too with the rights of the citizens in the communities or in the municipalities to see that everybody is protected. The fear is that sometimes planning officers can make decisions which are really contrary to the public good. They don't do it because they are not interested in the public good, they do it because the way the previous legislation was written is that it could be done without really reflecting on what the public good is.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to close by saying that I do support this bill in principle. I began by saying it is a very long bill and very detailed. As it passes through the Law Amendments Committee, I expect that there may be some other interventions by interested groups that have now seen the final product, or at least the draft product, and would like to make some changes. But I do recognize that it was the product of a wide, consultative process and, therefore, the number of interventions are certainly going to be a lot less than

[Page 3152]

if there had not been this consultation. But I am prepared to see it move on to the Law Amendments Committee and certainly support it in principle. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, I do welcome the opportunity to say a few words on the Municipal Government Act, Bill No. 47. The bill, indeed, is a lengthy and complex bill. It consolidates a number of Acts and parts of Acts which govern the operation of local governments. It is a very weighty to me indeed. I think it is probably one of the lengthiest bills that has been introduced in this last session. Some bills I think are one page in length. This one is some 250 pages. It represents an overhaul of existing municipal legislation, much of which has been out of date.

One of the good things about this bill, Mr. Speaker, is that the draft circulation of the bill has been in circulation for about three years. So there has been ample opportunity for public input in preparation for the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Can we have a little less chatter in the House.

MR. DELEFES: There has been commentary by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and by individual municipalities. So there has been a fairly extensive period of consultation regarding the bill over a three year period. It is a good thing especially for a lengthy and complex bill like this one.

Several members of our Legislature have served on municipal councils. They have considerable background and expertise with the myriad of details in a bill such as this. I have listened carefully to previous speakers and I have read it in its entirety. It is a bit daunting for someone like myself with little experience in municipal government but it is an edifying experience. It is quite reader friendly and I have learned a great deal about the operation of municipal government as a result of having to deal with it.

I do agree in principle with the contents of this bill and I would like to add my voice to reinforce some of the positives already mentioned and to raise one or two concerns. Hopefully, these will be addressed as it moves into and through the Law Amendments Committee process. The purpose of this bill is to provide broad authority to municipal councils. It gives them authority to pass by-laws. It entrenches in municipal councils the right to govern municipalities as they deem appropriate within their own area of jurisdiction. It establishes municipal government as a distinct order of government with more independence and it articulates the role and the purposes of municipal government.

Let's deal with a couple of the clauses. The first I would like to deal with is Clause 23(1)(d) which provides authority for councils to make policy with respect to the remuneration of councillors. The bill should ensure that councillors are not receiving extra pay

[Page 3153]

for sitting on committees, boards and commissions. The regular pay should be a fair wage which would be all they would receive by way of salary. Service on various boards and committees is part of their job and there should be no extra remuneration except for the expenses incurred in carrying out their duties. Municipal councillors certainly do put in long hours and no one begrudges them a fair salary but a single source of income would ensure the process of remuneration would be more open and transparent.

I would like to say a few words about Part II, Administration, Clause 30(1) names the chief administrative officer as the head of the administration branch. The bill is unequivocal that the council communicates to its employees solely through the chief administrative officer. However, there is a provision that the councillors may communicate directly with employees to obtain and provide information. Of course, it is important that councillors do have access to employees to receive information. To make sound decisions, they must be well informed in all aspects of municipal government. Similarly, at the provincial level, I think it is important for us to have access to senior civil servants, again to receive important information.

It is understandable that councillors should not be instructing or giving directions to an employee of a municipality either publicly or privately. The role of council is to provide direction on administrative plans, on policies and programs to the chief administrative officer who is then responsible for administering the affairs of the municipality in accordance with those policies. If individual councillors were dictating policy or giving instruction to employees, there would be confusion among the ranks, as you would appreciate. It is very desirable that councillors are able to communicate directly with employees to obtain and to provide information. Issues surrounding government are very complex and there is always a need for information to make informed decisions.

I would like to make some reference to Part VII, BY-LAWS, the clause pertaining to pesticides. Clause 174(1)(j). This bill gives councillors the right to make by-laws respecting the use of pesticides. ". . . for the maintenance of outdoor trees, shrubs, flowers, other ornamental plants and turf on the part of a property used for residential purposes and on property of the municipality . . .". This refers to the cosmetic and domestic use of pesticides. Essentially, it allows people to spray their lawns and gardens to kill bugs and insects and weeds. I would like to highlight a couple of elements of this section.

A by-law, under the new regulations, would require a notice to be posted when pesticides are to be used. The municipalities have the option of enacting such a by-law. I can give you an example of this. If my neighbour is planning to spray his property with a pesticide and has hired a local landscaping company to do the job, or, in fact, if my neighbour is planning to spray his own lawn, then he must post a sign on his property indicating the pending use of pesticides. The council would then decide on the form, manner and time of the notice.

[Page 3154]

Also, under these regulations the council may establish a registration schedule, open to the public. This is a good scheme. 174(1)(j)(ii), ". . . a resident who has a medical reason for objecting to pesticides being so used may file with the clerk an objection to pesticides being so used in the vicinity . . .", of his or her property. Thus, those who are chemically sensitive or have a respiratory problem could object and they could be registered. A list of those with medical problems would be on file with the municipality. It could then be required that notices would be sent to all those who are on the registry, that is, all those who have medical problems, and live within a certain distance of where the pesticides are to be used. To be clear, the by-law, 174(1)(j), ". . . does not apply to property used for agricultural or forestry purposes;". It would apply to properties in an urban setting.

Mr. Speaker, I do have problems with the provision which is inadequate with respect to regulating the use of pesticides for cosmetic and domestic reasons. I agree with the member for Halifax Chebucto, who has stated that it is an affront to those with chemical sensitivities who wish to avoid a grave danger to their health and well-being. I recently saw a sign from the Sierra Club of Canada. It read, "I love my family and the environment more than my lawn.". I think this helps to put cosmetic pesticide use in perspective. Pesticide use is a genuine health issue. We know that pesticides are poisons. They include toxic substances which are harmful to our health. Our environmental Act acknowledges that fact.

Pesticides are another toxic substance which, on their own and in combination with other chemicals, can lead to serious life-threatening illnesses. We know there is a high incidence of cancer in this province and in part this is caused by chemicals in our environment, including the food we eat and the air we breathe. Pesticides just add to the chemical background in which we live and breathe. The provisions of this bill do provide a registration system but, to be registered, you have to be sick or suffer from chemical sensitivity. Only those on the registry would be notified when pesticides are to be sprayed in their vicinity. This is not good enough; it doesn't help those who don't want to get sick and those who want to avoid being exposed to the harmful effects of pesticides.

[9:15 p.m.]

The sick people have only one alternative when notified of pesticide use in their area. They have to leave their homes for a certain period of time to go elsewhere. As has been mentioned, these are people with chemical sensitivities who have gone to great lengths to make their homes free of chemicals and have a hard time going elsewhere to find a sanctuary where the environment is safe for them.

Bill No. 1, the bill our Party introduced, called for exclusion zones for persons with chemical sensitivities, that is a person who objected to the use of pesticides could come forward and prevent their use in the vicinity of his or her home. Such persons would be registered with the council and notified when pesticide use was to take place; such a measure would offer a measure of protection to those who have medical problems which would be

[Page 3155]

exacerbated by the use of pesticides. This power to establish an exclusion zone should be available to municipal councils.

As the member for Halifax Chebucto indicated, during the Law Amendments Committee process there will be many representations from concerned groups and citizens regarding this clause in the proposed bill, and I hope that changes will be made to the bill to provide a measure of protection for our citizens against pesticide use.

Part IV, Clause 81(5) provides for a municipality to install a system for the supply or distribution of gas, and allows it to enter into contracts to provide a gas service to the public. Now there is a very brief reference to gas distribution in the bill, and it deals basically only with the infrastructure; that is the laying of the gas pipelines. With gas coming ashore, there has to be a consideration of how the municipality will interact and deal with private interests in the provision of gas to the citizenry. Several municipalities are looking at operating as private gas utilities themselves. This section of the bill should be broadened to deal with the question of how municipalities can function as gas utilities in the same way that municipalities deal with the management, distribution and sale of water to the public, and there is no provision for such an arrangement in this bill.

The last item I would like to comment on is Part XV, DANGEROUS OR UNSIGHTLY PREMISES. Now this provision provides that, "every property in the municipality shall be maintained so as not to be dangerous or unsightly.". This, of course, is absolutely necessary, and it is not new. Clause 348(1) indicates that, "Where a property is dangerous or unsightly, the council may order the owner to remedy the condition . . .", and there is a process in place for dealing with dangerous and unsightly premises. An order is issued to a citizen whose premises are unsightly, the citizen can appeal the order, the municipality can then take measures to see that measures are in place to ensure safety and sightly premises.

The terms dangerous and unsightly are defined. Items considered unsightly include things like ashes, junk, yard rubbish, derelict vehicles, parts of machinery, et cetera. It also includes property that is unsightly in relation to neighbours' property, because the exterior finish of the building is not maintained. This could include paint which is peeling, but I am not sure if, in fact, paint is included here. I raise this because there is no reference to colour in the bill. I am not suggesting that we go on to regulate the colour a person would paint his or her dwelling, but a person however, at present, can paint his or her home in a kaleidoscope of colour and neighbours would have no recourse. There is no protection in this bill for such a matter and we do have a very good and vivid example of this in south end Halifax. I am sure many of you are familiar with the property along Robie Street between Shirley Street and Pepperell Street which was indeed painted a variety of colours. Each course of shingles was a different colour and very sloppily done with uneven colours overlapping the different courses of shingles.

[Page 3156]

The neighbours considered this use of multiple colours was markedly out of keeping with standards. In short, it was an eyesore. There is no provision in this legislation to prevent what I have described from happening. So in the Law Amendments Committee process consideration should be given to adding a provision which would prevent property owners in residential areas from painting dwellings in such a way that they would be out of keeping with community standards.

I have highlighted a few matters which are of concern and which I hope will be dealt with in the Law Amendments Committee. Improvements can certainly be made to this comprehensive bill and I hope they will take place with respect to the use of pesticides. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, the member for Halifax Chebucto said at the start of his comments about this bill that it is very important to pay attention to the details. Well, there are a lot of details in a 250 page bill and therein lies a big problem from the perspective of the so-called average Nova Scotian and that is actually a term that I do not like very much, as I do not believe anyone is average. The point I would like to make is that when any government writes a bill or an Act I would hope it is something that the people it governs can easily read and understand.

I know a lot of people but I think I can honestly say that I know few people who would want to sit down and take the time to read every detail of this bill, although I do imagine that the member for Cape Breton Nova might actually enjoy it. I do sincerely hope that everyone who will be affected by this, and there are many out there who will be, will take the time to read it. Personally, I can think of more enjoyable ways to spend an evening or two but then I am single. But it is very important that people read the details and they do not get lost in the details or the very thing that the member for Dartmouth North spoke about earlier tonight could happen. That is that people will be so overwhelmed by these details that they will hesitate to get involved in municipal politics. This proposed legislation, Bill No. 47, must be read carefully because there are some parts of the bill that are troubling, at least to me.

My background is in journalism and I have a great interest in anything that has to do with Freedom of Information. We have an Act provincially and it no secret that some members of this House think that it needs work. I do not know whether you can call me nosy or what but I just have this philosophy that I want to know things and there has to be a reason for keeping things confidential or secret. Still, I have to wonder why this is addressed in Bill No. 47 through a series of about 40 clauses and some are quite extensive clauses, like Clause 20 of the proposed legislation.

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I would feel more comfortable if Freedom of Information and public accountability of public officials and departments was handled all under one Act and that would be a provincial Act. Openness and accountability must be demanded by the electorate, it is their right. The secrecy surrounding government must end and if I can address some of the clauses in the bill directly, Clause 463 says, "The purpose of this Part is to . . . (b) provide for the disclosure of all municipal information with necessary exemptions, . . .". There we go. It is these necessary exemptions, okay. But my concern is, who determines these exemptions?

Further on in the bill, it outlines reasons for this secrecy or these exemptions wherein harm might be realized between municipalities and a list of other agencies. But my real problem is who makes this decision? There are people in our political world who would close everything down and have tried on different occasions and we all know that. So I ask, again, who is that so-called responsible official going to be? Say it was me. While, in my previous life, I spent over 20 years chasing down information and I can tell you that I have developed a personal philosophy that nothing is secret.

In fact, the more you try to keep something secret, confidential - I know the member for Richmond, I think, prefers the world confidential to secret. We have been through that before in another committee - others are out there trying to assert their rights to know what is going on. Eventually, the facts or a reasonable facsimile or an unreasonable facsimile will come out. Secrecy, confidentiality is such a frustrating exercise.

This responsible officer, as outlined in Bill No. 47, will have the power to extend the maximum time from 30 days to further on. That 30 days is the maximum time that he is supposed to get the information to an applicant. Now a provision is made for the applicant to complain but, as with any appeal process, even more time is then taken. Is this going to be a built-in stalling tactic to dissuade someone from going further? Don't forget, there is a fee for this service, unless it is personal information on yourself. So who pays for that extension? Fees, themselves, are a deterrent to that portion of the public to whom even $10 can buy one-half a week's groceries.

Municipalities will have the power to set their own fees, if I understand the bill right. So will the fee, in some municipalities, be too prohibitive to the very people who need this information the most? Clause 473 outlines why a responsible officer may refuse to disclose information to an applicant. I believe that it is too broad and it is left up to the discretion of one so-called responsible official. It makes me uncomfortable to have an arbitrary decision made by one person. One person, Mr. Speaker, effectively, can shut down what should be a public process and that is dangerous in a democratic society.

Mr. Speaker, at the risk of invoking your rebuke again, I am going to speak about something and it is in this bill this time. I just don't understand this and I continue not to understand this. I have constituents living in a community that has supplied drinking water for Halifax since 1974, yet they cannot persuade three levels of government that ignored that

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community 25 years ago to come forth and rectify that situation now. The community is Upper Hammonds Plains. Pockwock Lake, the lake that supplies water to most of Halifax Regional Municipality, is in that community and was given by that community for $100,000 in 1973.

Yet, Mr. Speaker, on Page 243 of this bill, under Schedule B, entitled, "STATEMENT OF PROVINCIAL INTEREST REGARDING DRINKING WATER", there is this statement. "A safe supply of drinking water is a basic requirement for all Nova Scotians.". A basic requirement. One day soon, I hope that this sentiment moves from words on this page to action by all three levels of government, to give this community of Upper Hammonds Plains drinkable water.

[9:30 p.m.]

I am going to leave that topic, Mr. Speaker, and hopefully my point is made, again, and if not, do not worry about it, I will bring it up again at every opportunity. I am glad to see Part XV in this bill. Clause 346 says, "Every property in a municipality shall be maintained so as not to be dangerous or unsightly.". I am very glad to see this. This is badly needed all over this province to protect tenants who are most vulnerable to being taken advantage of and that is the economically disadvantaged, the poor, who must live in whatever shelter they can afford.

What this province gives in social assistance, well, it is not much and it is not enough. Clause 348 would give a municipality the power to order a landlord to make repairs to bring a dwelling up to standards that, hopefully, are safe and healthy. Last spring, the member for Halifax Needham went on a tour of rooming houses in the core of Halifax. What she saw, Mr. Speaker, was deplorable and it probably was not the worst that is out there. Something has to be done about sub-standard, dangerous housing and this clause in this bill is a step in the right direction.

I am going to finish tonight, Mr. Speaker, with something else that I heard earlier this evening and I am heartened, I am really encouraged, by the member for Cape Breton West when he said tonight that his government supports an open and transparent government. I hope this is a change because a comment like that, coming from a member of a Party whose Leader flatly refused to appear before our Public Accounts Committee until threatened with a subpoena, is a refreshing change.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is much too much chatter.

MS. GODIN: After that I have no more to say on the bill, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

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MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Bless my soul, Mr. Speaker, when that speaker decided it was time to stop speaking, she did not fool around, she quit. I do not know how anybody could go over this Act and speak so briefly. Why this is about as big an Act, this is a book, it is a novel. I do not know who introduced this. Well, the honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, I think this is his first book, and he should have had a signing down in your lobby because this is big, a lot of stuff in here.

Mr. Speaker, I was drifting along and I put those little green things on the sides so as I can find them as we go and those are the areas that I would like to talk about a little bit. This bill, I had better read the proper title of it - An Act Respecting Municipal Government. By golly, I think it does. There is not a single part of municipal government that this does not attack except the one part I was most interested in.

Do you recall, Mr. Speaker, last fall when the day of nominations for the municipal elections, the Minister of Municipal Affairs instructed the deputy to send a note to the candidate, particularly in Kings County, who works for the Department of Assessment, telling him that anybody who worked for the Department of Assessment could not run for municipal council? So I thought that would be covered in this but it is not. They did not cover . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: That would be under the Assessment Act.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, and when that comes, I am going to vote against it because that was a terrible thing that that department tried to do, Mr. Speaker. I am relieved that it is not in this Act because I would have to vote against it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Trying to cut off democracy.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, they were trying to short-circuit democracy on nomination filing day, Mr. Speaker, and they are still at it. They have not relented a bit but we are watching them and we are going to do everything in our power to see that fair play continues to prevail.

AN HON. MEMBER: It was not this minister though.

MR. ARCHIBALD: No, it was not this minister. It was another minister. Well, I asked that minister a question in Question Period and he was defending the actions of the former minister. I do not know why. One of the things this bill does, Mr. Speaker, in Kings County, for instance, we have a warden, Warden Ray Leslie, who is a very good and capable person. He used to work for the Housing Authority. He does an excellent job as warden in Kings County. However, under this Act, if it goes through, the council may decide that rather than have a warden as we now have him, he will be a warden elected by all the people living in Kings County. So that rather than the system we now have where the municipal council, at the first meeting, they all sat down and they said, Ray Leslie is the man for Kings, so they

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appointed him warden at a secret ballot vote around a council. It took all morning, but they did it.

What they are thinking now is that we could maybe change this under this rule, and that the council may at any time decide the chairman of the council can be elected at large, in which case he would be warden-elect. I could vote for him, at the present time I can't vote for the warden because he represents a neighbouring district. If he was running, then my colleague to my left here, he could vote for him too, if he wanted to or he could vote for somebody else. That is something, and that gives the option. I think I like that part of it. So many things dealing with the municipality, the government says, this is what you are going to do, this is the way of it. It is nice when the Government of Nova Scotia says, look, it is up to the municipal council to decide how they are going to run their affairs.

Now council meetings are outlined in here. What you can and what you can't do at a council meeting. That is good too. It specifies in this bill just exactly what the council may do in private and what they can't do in private. (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, you should bring this guy to order. He is not helping me. It says what they can do in private. If they have a lease they want to talk about or a minimum price if they are going to sell something, personnel matters, labour relations, contracts, litigation or potential litigation, legal advice, public security. These are the sort of things that you really should be discussing in private. That is what this bill says that they can do in private, but there won't be any more of these great decisions taken in private, behind closed doors, because the government says that is not the way to do things; everything out in the open.

I am a great believer in doing as you say, not saying (Laughter) I am getting some help. Do as you say, what? (Interruptions) Well, that is exactly it, my learned friend in the NDP says do as I say, not as I do. That is what this government is saying. So the government is telling the municipal units that they should really not be holding these private secret meetings to any great extent, most everything should be out in the open. But the Government of Nova Scotia, their Cabinet tries to make decisions in secret and keep them from us, but we ferret out all the secrets of this government as best we can. That is really the crux of the matter.

The government knows that the public should be informed of all things, however the government isn't always following its own rules. So you see, this tells you something about this government, they know what they should be doing, but sometimes they try to do something else. You can remember what Abe Lincoln said, he said, you can fool some of them some of them time, and all of them some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all of the time. This government has found that you can't fool anybody anytime with the foolishness they are up to. We can see through it very quickly.

Mr. Speaker, the council has great powers and it must exercise its powers, and there are several sections on the powers. The council may provide police service, well, that is a good thing. That is one of the things you would expect a council to do. That is sort of a lot

[Page 3161]

of what is in this piece of legislation, it is duties and actions that you would fully anticipate that the municipal council would be charged with. "The municipality may levy an area rate applicable only to the commercial property and business occupancy assessments in the area benefited by the expenditures in order to recover them.". Well you know, this area rate business and the occupancy tax that municipalities charge, that is a real problem.

If there is anybody here that likes paying taxes hold up your hand - you see there are no volunteers for that because nobody likes to pay taxes. One of the taxes that people hate the most (Interruption) The Minister of Labour over there he has got his hand up, he likes to pay taxes. The Minister of Finance likes to pay taxes. Well, you are living in the right place, bud, because you sure are charging a lot. One of the most hated and unfair taxes (Interruption) Do you want to say something?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Just order, okay. The business occupancy assessment in there, that is one of the taxes that I hear more complaints about than any other tax. One of the things about taxation and it is a real problem and we are going to get into that in a minute and that is with the taxes that they are charging, for instance, in Kentville. You compare the services in Kentville and you compare the taxes in Kentville and then you drive down the road - you could just walk because you are on a little line and it says Kentville and then you walk across the line and there you go you are in New Minas, zip, your taxes are reduced by about 25 per cent. Your services are not too much different but the taxes are.

If you go out the other side and head out toward Halls Harbour and Canning and so on your taxes are greatly reduced. In the area surrounding Kentville there are subdivisions where people are building beautiful homes. For many reasons, the tax rate is so different in the county compared to the town and really, when you are driving down the road leaving the Town of Kentville, it is pretty darn hard to say where the town stops and the country starts. However, every year at tax time you sure know the difference. So we do have to . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: There is a sign that says Welcome to Kentville.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, there is a sign that says Welcome to Kentville and everybody feels welcome. Were you there, Mr. Speaker, looking at all our pumpkin people? We had thousands and thousands of people come to the great Town of Kentville to look at all of these pumpkin people last week and it was fantastic. Some of that was due to taxes because the taxation from the business community was able to sponsor that celebration. All of the store owners, the restaurants were telling me that it was a big boon, they have been doing it about five years and I think you would have to say this was the first year that it has really had a huge appreciation in traffic due to the people coming from all around Atlantic Canada to look at all these pumpkin people. It was a great event.(Interruption) Yes, Charlie Brown had a display on his front lawn.

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Another thing this bill does it allows the, ". . . municipality to agree with another municipality to share taxes or grants in lieu of taxes paid or payable to the municipality.". Well, that is only fair but you know (Interruption) What did you say?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: This bill allows municipal units to share taxation. For instance, the Annapolis Valley Industrial Park has a municipal tax rate. It is within the town limits of Kentville but the taxes are based on the municipality and that was in exchange for the taxes that are shared due to the Michelin Plant in Waterville. This shows that municipal governments do work in cooperation with each other and this bill allows them to carry on.

[9:45 p.m.]

The council may, by policy, grant an exemption from taxation. At many times over the years, Mr. Speaker, I have had calls and inquiries from charitable organizations, the Masonic Lodge, for instance, a couple of the churches, they said, look, we have to get out of this business of paying municipal taxes, we are finding it hard. So municipalities are allowed to make exemptions, and it is not just the charitable organizations, but people who are in great financial difficulty are able to get tax relief by the government, and fire departments, community health, emergency services, that sort of thing, they are able to get tax relief and this bill allows that to continue.

The thing that is really vexing, though, is on Page 38, Clause 73, and I am going to read it to you and see if you pick up too. "The council may set separate commercial and residential tax rates for the area of the municipality determined by the council to be (a) a rural area receiving a rural level of services;", and what I am concerned about here, Mr. Speaker, and maybe you didn't get it, but it says "The council may set separate commercial and residential tax rates. . .". (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: That is right, Mr. Speaker. The council may make a separate tax rate; well, we have heard a lot of complaints. You know what is unique, not one of the rascals that caused the amalgamation is now on the front benches. Not one of them had the courage to run again or to get re-elected. The whole darn works of those people who did that, they are just rascals.

Remember, the Premier called the mayors into his office one night and said, boom, you are all one city. Then he went out and drove his car into a lamp-post. (Laughter) There was some poetic justice in that, Mr. Speaker. You talk about consultation in amalgamation . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Did he know where he was going?

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MR. ARCHIBALD: He still doesn't. Mr. Speaker, this is one of the problems from this huge amalgamation, when you get Ecum Secum and Hubbards . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that true, George? Did he really hit a lamp-post?

MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, right out front.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

AN HON. MEMBER: Was it a Volvo too?

MR. ARCHIBALD: He didn't know that; it was the first he heard of it, Mr. Speaker. Dear knows what I might tell you that you haven't heard before.

This amalgamation, I don't know if you can find five people who have said amalgamation was good for the metropolitan area of Halifax-Dartmouth.

AN HON. MEMBER: There are two over there.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Okay, there are a couple across there. Two of the government ministers think it is great. Can you tell me why somebody living in Hubbards or Ecum Secum or anywhere on the road should be paying the same taxes as someone who is living in downtown Halifax and receiving all the benefits?

This is a very serious situation, Mr. Speaker. It says, under Clause 73, the council may take into account the difficulty. It doesn't say it will or it must; it says it may. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. Through amalgamation, the City of Halifax, how far in debt is this?

AN HON. MEMBER: It's $360 million.

MR. ARCHIBALD: It's $360 million and it is climbing. The Minister of Economic Development said it is getting more. Is there anybody going to be safe in this municipal unit, Mr. Speaker, from increased taxes, even though there aren't street lights and they are not having sidewalks? They don't have a police station right around the corner; they may not have fire service or paid fireman right around the corner; and they don't have a hospital right beside their back door, but they are going to be paying the same taxes.

AN HON. MEMBER: Their roads won't be plowed.

MR. ARCHIBALD: The roads, my goodness, Mr. Speaker, somebody just mentioned the roads aren't even going to be plowed in many of these second-class-citizen areas. The City of Halifax has created two classes: the class for plowing, and the class for not plowing. Yet the people whose roads are not going to be plowed for 24 or 48 hours after it stops

[Page 3164]

snowing are going to be paying the same taxes, so you see, councils should be told that their tax rates should be fairer.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are we going to amend that, George?

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, I don't know if we are going to amend it or not. We are going to have it in the Law Amendments Committee and hopefully, some of the citizenry of Halifax will come in and suggest that. Then we would take that into account and I am sure that we would do it.

Well, Mr. Speaker, you know, you roll right along and you find more good things. (Interruptions) Then we get into (Interruption) We are only into Clause 77, unsightly premises doesn't come for another 60 pages.

Clause 77(1), "The Minister shall in each year pay to the municipality in which farm property exempt from taxation . . .". You see, Mr. Speaker, Clause 77 covers the farm tax rate. I could not believe the callousness with which this government treats agriculture. Since 1993, agriculture, I guess because it starts with "a" it must be the first thing when they get up in the morning and say, what can we do to hurt agriculture today? It is the first thing on their hit parade because most of the agricultural programs have been reduced, staff levels have been reduced. Right now there are private companies out doing the work that Department of Agriculture officials used to do five years ago. The farm management specialists are all there. All of the functions . . .

Would the Minister of Finance like to say something?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Stand up. If you want to talk, stand up and defend it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance on a question or point of order.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: This is an invitation, Mr. Speaker. It was an invitation.

MR. ARCHIBALD: I gave you an invitation. If you want to defend it, I think you should.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: If the minister wants to defend the actions of his government regarding agriculture, then he should do it but I don't think he can. This farm tax, he hasn't done it in public, in private or around the Cabinet Table. The farmers in this province have

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been hard done by by this government and they look to this minister to defend them and I don't believe for a minute he is.

This government decided that it was going to tax farmers. They did not go out and meet with the Federation of Agriculture. The former Minister of Finance who didn't even run again . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member is straying from the principle of the bill.

MR. ARCHIBALD: No. It is right here. Clause 77 and it is to exempt farm property from taxation. I am just saying why it has to be here. This government is the government that caused all the problem when they took it away. Every municipality in Nova Scotia handled this problem in a different manner. Some counties said, all right, this is a terrible thing to try to stick it to the farmers. We will just absorb it in our regular tax rate. Others said we will share it 50/50. Some said 40/60. Some said why did they do it, but all farmers were annoyed. So now the government comes in and they put it in this bill that farm property tax equal to $2.10 per acre with respect to the land. That is the tax. This government has indicated that they will pay the taxes for $2.10. That means they are getting back in the fairness game again as far as agriculture is concerned.

When you get Clause 77(3), "The Governor in Council may, by regulation, change the grant per acre.". I don't like that being in here. Do you want me to tell you why? Because Governor in Council can do it on any Thursday of the year, down in the Cabinet Room, they will just sign and then guess what? The farmers are nailed to the wall and the Legislature is not sitting that time and who is there to defend the farmers? Nobody. The time they did it before they did it in a budget document and it had to be debated on the floor of the House so each and every Nova Scotian knew what a bunch of scoundrels they were. That is exactly what they want to do again.

Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that Clause 77(3) should be stricken from this bill and I hope that all members of this Legislature will agree with that because it is not fair and it is not right. If this government wants to put a special tax on farmers, then let's get the gumption to come in here and do it here. This is where taxation should take place, not on a Thursday morning in the Cabinet Room under the signature of the Governor in Council, by regulation. So let's agree (Interruption) Will the minister agree to that amendment? Nod your head if you do. He is just grinning, Mr. Speaker. But we will show him. We mean business. It is the same thing in the forestry land, but not being the Forestry Critic, I will let the Forestry Critic take it. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, I wish we were doing a bill for the Minister of Education. To hear him chatter over there with his helpful hints . . .

[Page 3166]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education, the job he is doing with schools and children, it could use a good debate in this House. (Applause) I think that minister should have some legislation, so that we can debate, and we can tell the people of Nova Scotia what a terrible job this minister (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I just noticed what time it is. I would like to make a motion that we adjourn debate until tomorrow. Would that be suitable with you, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn the debate.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will meet between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., and we will continue with Bill No. 47. I move that we do now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

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

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 9:57 p.m.]

[Page 3167]


Given on October 30, 1998

(Pursuant to Rule 30)


By: Mr. Peter Delefes (Halifax Citadel)

To: Hon. Manning MacDonald (Minister of Economic Development and Tourism)

During the spring session of the Legislature, I wrote a letter to you inquiring about the Deep Towed Profiling System (the V-Fin System) which was developed over a number of years at the Nova Scotia Research Foundation, one of the forerunners of InNOVACorp. The most concentrated period of development spanned the years from 1972 to 1976. Further engineering refinements continued until the early 1980's. Work on the enhancements to the V-Fin System, resulting in a 1987 patent, was conducted by an NSRF employee between 1981 and 1984 and was continued into the early 1990's.

Regrettably, I was mistaken in that letter with reference to the year in which a patent was given to an NSRF staff member for significant enhancements to the system. The patent (Canada Patent #1219944) entitled Method for Finding the Acoustic Properties of Seabed Sediments was issued in 1987, not in 1997 as stated in my written question of June 26, 1998. I apologize for this transcription error which would have significantly altered your response to my question. The 10 year difference in the dates given would have meant that your search for the patent record would have been fruitless, which is what your response indicated.

In fact, the patent was issued in 1987. You indicated in your letter that the NSRF acted as the developer of the V-Fin System, a new and improved way of performing seismic profiling. Yet, the V-Fin System, which was totally developed in Nova Scotia, was not patented at the time, even though it was sought after by commercial interests. As a result of the patent issued to a staff member of the NSRF in 1987, significant enhancements could have been made to the system to allow it to better determine the characteristics of seabed materials. Support for this patented improvement was never given by the NSRF. With these enhancements to the V-Fin System, a world market for the system could have been secured for Nova Scotia.

Why did this valuable piece of technology vanish from the scene in Nova Scotia? It is now being used in the North Sea and is available, for rent, from a British company. As you indicated in your response to my question, the NSRF brought the V-Fin System to the point of commercial viability, developed markets for the technology and sold a number of units to various private sector geological companies. It is my understanding that one such company did have an office in Nova Scotia until about 1992, but that it sold out its geological operations and moved out of the province at that time. A consequence of this sell-off was that

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the company's V-fin System was sold to a European buyer, leaving within Nova Scotia no support of the V-Fin System technology whatsoever.

Why didn't the NSRF, at that time, follow a policy which it had adopted a few years earlier in the case of an abortive privatization of marine gas and electrical slip-ring invention; namely, that of readopting the operation, management and continuing development within the NSRF until such time as a more successful privatization attempt could again be made. (In the case of the slip-rings, the modern success of the N.S. Company, Focal Technologies Inc. attests that this policy was an astute one.)

(1) Why then did NSRF not patent this commercially viable system and make further improvements to the V-Fin System which would have been possible through the incorporation of the patented improvements sought by an NSRF staff member? It appears that as a result of this short-sightedness by the NSRF, a valuable piece of Nova Scotian technology has been lost to this province.

It should be noted that at this time, the system has been specifically requested by Mobil Oil for survey operations near Sable Island. Were it still in our hands, it would be a great revenue provider for the Province of Nova Scotia.