The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
February 21, 2017

Hansard -- Wed., Nov. 4, 1998

First Session

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 3261
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1578, Agric. - Maritime Pork Conf.: Anniv. 10th - Congrats.,
Hon. E. Lorraine 3262
Vote - Affirmative 3263
Res. 1579, EMO - 911 Service: Public Awareness - Increase,
Hon. K. MacAskill 3263
Vote - Affirmative 3264
Res. 1580, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Telephone Serv. Staff: Dedication -
Recognize, Hon. K. Colwell 3264
Vote - Affirmative 3265
Res. 1581, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Swissair Flight 111: Investigation -
Assistance (Global) Acknowledge, Hon. C. Huskilson 3265
Vote - Affirmative 3266
Res. 1582, Lbr. - Power Engineers Institute (N.S. Branch): Nat. Award -
Congrats., Hon. R. MacKinnon 3266
Vote - Affirmative 3266
Res. 1583, Culture - African N.S. Music Assoc.: Achievements -
Recognize, Hon. R. Harrison 3266
Vote - Affirmative 3267
Res. 1584, Sunshine Fdn. - Special Children (Maritimes): Walt Disney
World Day Trip - Thanks Extend, Hon. J. Smith 3267
Vote - Affirmative 3268
Res. 1585, Culture - NSMEA Musica Viva Award: Dr. Ruth Prescesky
(Acadia Univ.) - Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 3268
Vote - Affirmative 3269
Res. 1586, Agric. - Long Service Awards: Staff - Congrats.,
Hon. E. Lorraine 3269
Vote - Affirmative 3269
Res. 1587, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Halifax, Port of:
Capt. Svend Madsen (Regina Maersk) - Kind Description Thanks,
Hon. C. Huskilson 3270
Vote - Affirmative 3270
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1588, Health - Care: Nurses Pay - Warning (Premier Mar. 1998)
Remember, Mr. R. Chisholm 3270
Res. 1589, Nat. Res. - Pioneer Coal: Stellarton - Compensation Support,
Dr. J. Hamm 3271
Res. 1590, Educ. - SOEP/N.S. Commun. Col.: Innovative Prog.
(Women [Guys. Co. & Canso Strait]) - Congrats., Mr. R. White 3271
Vote - Affirmative 3272
Res. 1591, DFO - Fish. Policies Ruinous: Cessation - Civil Suit Support,
Mr. John Deveau 3272
Res. 1592, Fin. - Gaming Corp. (PAC): Documents - Premier Forward,
Mr. N. LeBlanc 3273
Res. 1593, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Access N.S. Centres:
Antigonish Opening - Recognize, Mr. H. Fraser 3274
Res. 1594, Fin. - Gaming Corp. (PAC): Files (Premier's Office) - Search,
Ms. R. Godin 3274
Res. 1595, Quebec: Election - Silence (All-Parties) Keep/Win (Can.) Pray,
Mr. J. Leefe 3275
Res. 1596, Women, Status of (Advisory Council) - Young Women
Forums: Initiative - Congrats., Hon. F. Cosman 3276
Vote - Affirmative 3277
Res. 1597, Richmond MLA - Opposition Obsession: Avoid - Encourage,
Ms. E. O'Connell 3277
Res. 1598, Educ. - Schools: Construction Timing - Mistakes Avoid,
Mr. E. Fage 3277
Res. 1599, Opposition Leader - Teachers Pension Legislation:
Criticism - Define, Hon. R. Harrison 3278
Res. 1600, Exco: Sword of Democles - Beware, Mr. G. Balser 3279
Res. 1601, Educ. - Anna. Valley Learning Network: Proactivity -
Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 3279
Vote - Affirmative 3280
Res. 1602, Devco - Action Plan: Task Force - Establish, Mr. E. Fage 3280
Res. 1603, NDP (Can./N.S.) - Reps. (Ottawa/Hfx.):
Commitment (Can.) Full - Required, Mr. P. MacEwan 3280
Res. 1604, Halifax-Cornwallis Progress Club: Anniv. 10th - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Fogarty 3281
Vote - Affirmative 3282
Res. 1605, Sports - Softball: Westphal/Port Wallace Mites -
Success Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 3282
Vote - Affirmative 3282
Res. 1606, Chester-St. Margaret's MLA - Tax Increases (NDP):
Views - Reveal, Mr. Charles MacDonald 3283
Res. 1607, Health - Cdn. Blood Services: Allan McLeod (Grand Lake) -
Donations (400+) Recognize, Hon. F. Cosman 3283
Vote - Affirmative 3284
Res. 1608, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - C.B. (Indust.) BoT: Efforts -
Support, Hon. Manning MacDonald 3284
Vote - Affirmative 3285
Res. 1609, NDP (Can.) - Commitment (Can.): Failure - Condemn,
Mr. P. MacEwan 3285
Res. 1610, Cape Breton Centre MLA - Moral Dilemma (Chester-
St. Margaret's MLA): Independence - Encourage, Mr. M. Samson 3285
Res. 1611, Sports - Softball: Westphal/Port Wallace Lightning -
Success Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 3286
Vote - Affirmative 3287
Res. 1612, Hurricane Georges - Carol & Sandy Reynolds (C.B.):
Relief Efforts - Applaud, Hon. Manning MacDonald 3287
Vote - Affirmative 3287
Res. 1613, Health - Inv. Hosp.: Geriatrics Unit - Congrats.,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 3287
Vote - Affirmative 3288
Res. 1614, NDP (N.S.) - Nat. Gas: Position Coherent - Present,
Mr. R. White 3288
Res. 1615, Halifax Chebucto MLA - Gov't. (N.S.[NDP]): HRM -
Tax Increase Reveal, Hon. K. Colwell 3289
Res. 1616, NDP (N.S.) - Year 2000 Problem: Awareness Raise -^
Phones Use, Hon. R. Harrison 3290
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 399, Health - Long-Term Care Workers: Commitment (Premier) -
Fulfil, Mr. R. Chisholm 3290
No. 400, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Goldboro/Pt. Tupper -
Engineering Work, Dr. J. Hamm 3292
No. 401, Health - Long-Term Care Workers: Strike - Wage Parity,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3293
No. 402, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Supplies - Source, Mr. G. Archibald 3294
No. 403, Health - Long-Term Care Workers: Wage Parity -
Commitment Honour, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3294
No. 404, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Shearwater Dev. Corp.:
Principals - Identify, Dr. J. Hamm 3296
No. 405, Health - Long-Term Care Workers: Wage Increase -
Sufficiency, Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 3297
No. 406, Fin. - Gaming Corp. (PAC): Disclosure - Failure,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 3298
No. 407, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Hfx. Port Authority - Appts.,
Mr. B. Taylor 3299
No. 408, Educ. - P3: Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea - Site Selection
Comm. Resignation, Mr. W. Estabrooks 3300
No. 409, Coast Guard: Cutbacks - Protest (Premier), Dr. J. Hamm 3301
No. 410, Educ. - Hammonds Plains: School - Construct, Ms. R. Godin 3302
No. 411, Aboriginal Affs. - Sable Gas: Land Disputes - Prevent,
Mr. G. Balser 3304
No. 412, Nat. Res. - NEB: Socio-Economic Study (N.S.) - Position,
Mr. J. Holm 3305
No. 413, Agric. - Pork Industry: Survival - Announcement,
Mr. G. Archibald 3306
No. 414, Nat. Res. - Coal (Strip Mining): Royalties - Insufficient,
Mr. C. Parker 3307
No. 415, Environ. - Thorburn Mining: Residents Concerns - Address,
Mr. C. Parker 3308
No. 416, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Toll Highway (N.B.) - Impact,
Mr. M. Scott 3310
No. 417, Lbr. - Safety Regs.: Advisory Comm. - Status, Mr. F. Corbett 3311
No. 418, Health - Care: Nurses - Wage Parity, Mr. G. Moody 3313
No. 419, Tech. & Sc. Sec't. - Year 2000: Funding (Gov't. [Can.]) -
Commitment, Mr. P. Delefes 3314
No. 420, Fish. - Shrimp: Mulgrave Plant - Future, Mr. N. LeBlanc 3316
No. 421, Educ. - Career Academy of Aviation: Students -
Bond Refund, Ms. E. O'Connell 3317
No. 422, Health - Colchester Reg. Hosp.: Physicians - Recruit,
Mr. J. Muir 3318
No. 423, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Granbury Place: Residents - Protest,
Ms. Y. Atwell 3319
No. 424, Human Rts. Comm'n. Exec. Director: Vacancy - Fill,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 3320
No. 425, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cobequid Pass: Tolls Removal -
Assistance (Gov't. [Can.]), Mr. E. Fage 3321
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 39, Gas Distribution Act ~ 3323 ~
Mr. J. Holm 3324
Mr. M. Samson 3326
Dr. J. Hamm 3330
Mr. John Deveau 3332
Mr. F. Corbett 3334
The Premier 3335
No. 42, Municipal Amalgamation Review (1998) Act 3335
Mr. R. Chisholm 3335
Hon. W. Gaudet 3338
Hon. R. MacKinnon 3339
Mr. B. Taylor 3340
Mr. G. Pye 3343
Ms. Helen MacDonald 3345
Mr. H. Fraser 3346
No. 46, Toll Highway Prohibition Act 3346
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3346
Hon. C. Huskilson 3347
Mr. M. Scott 3349
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
NDP (Can.) Leader - Health Policy (PQ): Endorsement - Condemn:
Mr. P. MacEwan 3351
Mr. G. Balser 3354
Mr. J. Holm 3357
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Nov. 5th at 2:00 p.m. 3358
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1617, Educ. - Schools: Construction - Need Ensure,
Mr. R. Chisholm 3359
Res. 1618, Health - Long-Term Care Workers: Promises - Review,
Mr. F Corbett 3359
H.O. 5, NSLC - Truro Store: Location Change - Leaseholders Corres.,
Mr. J. Muir 3360

[Page 3261]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we commence the daily routine, I would advise members that the motion on the Adjournment debate today was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that the pro-separatist interventions of NDP federal Leader Alexa McDonough and her endorsement of Lucien Bouchard's health policy in the midst of the Quebec election campaign be condemned and censured by this House.

The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, may I make an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: By all means.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and to all members of the House, in the west gallery - today is Take a Student to Work Day and with me I have - Josh Bragg from West Kings District High School. Josh's dad, the late Ross Bragg, was a member of this Legislature for some time, as many of you who have served here since the last session know. Josh, on the way down, told me that he is thinking of politics as a career. I asked him what Party and he is debating between the Liberals and Tories right now. (Laughter)

3261

[Page 3262]

I will also tell you, Mr. Speaker, that he attended our caucus today and I informed the Premier earlier on the way up when he met Josh, that he helped us with our questions today, so they are really tough. Please give a welcome to Josh Bragg. (Standing Ovation)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to draw the attention of members of the House to two visitors in the west gallery from the George Dixon Horseshoe Club, Mr. Bill Fenton and Mr. James Delong. I would ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of members of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw to the attention of the members, two guests in the Speaker's Gallery. We have with us today, the Mayor of Stellarton, Mayor Art Fitt and Councillor John Kyle. I would ask our guests to rise and receive the warm applause of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member of Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to also introduce from Lunenburg County, Mr. Daniel Simms who is with me today on the Take a Student to Work Day. Mr. Simms attends the New Germany Rural High School. I would like to ask the House to give him a warm greeting. (Applause)

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1578

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

[Page 3263]

Whereas the 1998 Maritime Pork Conference is being held in Halifax on November 6th and November 7th; and

Whereas the theme of this year's conference is A Decade of Progress in celebration of the conference's 10th Anniversary as a Maritime-supported event; and

Whereas this is an important way for Maritime pork producers to promote Nova Scotia pork and share information that is vital to the future of the industry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the 1998 Maritime Pork Conference and join organizers and participants in celebrating its 10th Anniversary.

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 Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1579

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

Whereas yesterday at Duc d'Anville Elementary School in Clayton Park, as Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act, I had the pleasure of participating with officials of the Department of Education and Maritime Tel & Tel in the public launch of a province-wide Children's 911 Education Program; and

Whereas this education package, which is in schools now, is already providing teachers with the materials and support they need to effectively teach children how and when to get help in an emergency by dialing 911; and

[Page 3264]

Whereas this particular education program is an excellent demonstration of how partnerships between government, business and academia can benefit Nova Scotians province-wide, by integrating the valuable 911 public safety service into the Nova Scotia education curriculum;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in doing their part towards increasing public awareness of the 911 service and the importance we should place on educating children about this vital resource.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver 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 Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1580

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

Whereas the Business and Consumer Services' Service Delivery and Operations Telephone Services fielded over 250,000 phone calls last year, assisting Nova Scotians with everything from motor vehicle registration to business start-up enquiries; and

Whereas over 83 per cent of the calls are answered within 20 seconds and less than 2 per cent receive a busy signal; and

Whereas the Department's Consumer Satisfaction Surveys reveal that the quality of service continues to meet and exceed customer's expectations to a level that surpasses world-class service delivery standards;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that dedicated telephone service staff, who take pride in their work and work hard to deliver the best in quality customer service to the people of Nova Scotia.

[Page 3265]

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 Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 1581

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

Whereas Transportation and Public Works employees are building a frame of the nose section of the Boeing MD-11 to help investigators determine the cause of the Swissair Flight 111 crash; and

Whereas Nova Scotians continue to be generous in the aftermath of this crash, dedicating both their compassion and their expertise; and

Whereas people around the globe have been affected by this crash and have likewise offered every assistance;

Therefore be it resolved that this House stands in respect of the ongoing generosity, compassion and dedicated effort displayed by Nova Scotians and others around the world as the investigation of this tragic event continues.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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.

[Page 3266]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1582

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Branch of the Institute of Power Engineers has earned a reputation as being among the best of their profession; and

Whereas their dedication to excellence was recognized by their peers when the Nova Scotia Branch of the Institute of Power Engineers, and their honoured members, received the 1998 National President's Cup; and

Whereas this award is given in recognition of their dedication, accomplishments and excellence in operations;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the members of the Nova Scotia Branch of the Institute of Power Engineers for bringing national recognition to their organization and, by extension, to the people of Nova Scotia.

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

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1583

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

[Page 3267]

Whereas the African-Nova Scotian Music Association is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development, promotion and enhancement of African-Nova Scotian music locally, nationally and even internationally; and

Whereas in one short year since its founding, the African-Nova Scotian Music Association has built its membership and created numerous opportunities to showcase the talents of African-Nova Scotian musicians; and

Whereas the First Annual African-Nova Scotian Music Awards luncheon takes place tomorrow, Thursday, November 5th, at noontime at the World Trade and Convention Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the achievements of the African-Nova Scotian Music Association and extend our best wishes for a successful inaugural awards luncheon.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[2:15 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1584

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

Whereas the Sunshine Foundation is a national charitable organization with a mandate to fulfil the dreams for special children who are challenged by life-threatening illnesses or severe physical disabilities; and

Whereas on Saturday, November 7, 1998, the Sunshine Foundation of Canada will depart from Halifax to Walt Disney World for the very first time with approximately 80 special children from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island; and

[Page 3268]

Whereas this once in a lifetime adventure for these special children would not be possible without the support of volunteers, health care practitioners, Transport Canada, the Halifax Regional Municipality Police, the RCMP and employees of Radio Shack;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend our heartfelt thanks to all individuals involved and wish the children all the best for a wonderful day.

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 Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1585

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

Whereas Acadia University music professor, Dr. Ruth Prescesky has been recognized for developing Crosby Kids, a 10 week human services program pairing music and sociology students to work with youth at risk; and

Whereas Dr. Prescesky was commissioned by the Nova Scotia Choral Federation to compose the Gathering of the Birds, which explores issues of ethnicity and diversity for students in Grade 4 through Grade 8; and

Whereas Dr. Ruth Prescesky has been awarded the Nova Scotia Music Educators Association Musica Viva Award in recognition of her outstanding achievement as a music educator;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Acadia's Dr. Ruth Prescesky on her achievement and receipt of the NSMEA's Musica Viva Award.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 3269]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1586

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

Whereas on Monday, November 2nd, nine staff from the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing and the Nova Scotia Agricultural College received long-service awards; and

Whereas the following staff were recognized: Doug Crosby, Bruce Curry, Marilyn Grant, John Hampton, Susan Horne, Margie Johnson, Hank Kolstee, Bill Morley and Phil Talbot; and

Whereas these individuals have worked hard on behalf of Nova Scotia producers for 25 years and are an inspiration for their colleagues;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and congratulate the staff members of the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing for their long-standing service to Nova Scotians.

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.

[Page 3270]

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 1587

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

Whereas the Port of Halifax is considered one of the best ports on the East Coast; and

Whereas this consideration was confirmed in yesterday's Chronicle-Herald in an article detailing the regular calls to Halifax of the largest container ship to visit North America, the Regina Maersk; and

Whereas the Captain of the Regina Maersk described Halifax Harbour as one of the best ports and worry free;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank Captain Svend Leo Madsen for his kind but accurate description of the Port of Halifax, and encourage the good captain to spread the word about Halifax's potential as a post-Panamax destination.

Mr. Speaker, I 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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1588

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

[Page 3271]

Whereas on March 17th the Yarmouth Vanguard reported a one-on-one interview with the Premier; and

Whereas in that interview the Premier was asked about wage increases for nurses and support staff in the health care system; and

Whereas the Premier declared that, "It's a question of having them feel that their government wants to be fair to them,"; and

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Liberal finger-pointers should remember the Premier's own March warning that, "There has been a feeling for awhile that they haven't been treated fairly and they've been carrying that with them on the job.".

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1589

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 Environmental Review Committee determined that the Town of Stellarton should be compensated by the strip mining company; and

Whereas the issue of compensation to those in the immediate neighbourhood still has not been satisfactorily resolved; and

Whereas the then Minister of the Environment and the now Premier have supported the town's request for compensation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier take what he quietly supported and now publicly support the Town of Stellarton in its bid for fair compensation from Pioneer Coal.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1590

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

[Page 3272]

Whereas the Sable Offshore Energy Project and the Nova Scotia Community College are partnering in a new program to encourage more women to consider trade and technology careers; and

Whereas the program involves 48 female Grade 9 students from Guysborough County and the Canso Strait area; and

Whereas these students will spend five months researching careers and participating in workshops and work with female role models from Nova Scotia industries;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the partners in this innovative program, the Sable Offshore Energy Project, the Women in Trades and Technology National Network, the Nova Scotia Community College and the Department of Education, and wish best of luck to the young women who are exploring exciting new careers.

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.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 1591

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

Whereas Thomas A. McKay, Tony Cunningham, and the Canadian Fishermen's Defence Society recently commenced a civil suit against the federal government to stop the damage it has done to our once abundant fisheries; and

Whereas they claim that the policies of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have hastened the decline of stocks; and

Whereas these same policies endorse the collapse of coastal communities dependent on the fisheries;

[Page 3273]

Therefore be it resolved that this House support Thomas A. McKay, Tony Cunningham and the Canadian Fishermen's Defence Society in their efforts to stop the ruinous fisheries polices of the federal government and to preserve coastal communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley on an introduction.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, through you and to all members of the Legislature, I have the privilege of introducing Jim Henley and members of the Nova Scotia Mainland Trades Council. I wonder if the group would stand and receive the warm applause from the House. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 1592

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

Whereas the Premier has indicated to the members of the House of Assembly that he would ensure that all documents in his office pertinent to the current casino controversy would be released; and

Whereas this same Premier who confirmed that he directed his Deputy Minister, David Thompson, to review the serious allegations of government interference brought to his attention by Ralph Fiske, CEO of the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation; and

Whereas the Premier testified today that he has had his staff check his files on two occasions and that unbelievably they cannot find one document pertaining to dealings with the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier pull a rabbit out of the hat, find the documents requested and forward them to the Public Accounts Committee as he said he would.

[Page 3274]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 1593

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

Whereas Access Nova Scotia Centres put many of the most needed government programs and services under one roof, including motor vehicle registration, drivers' licensing, debtor assistance and residential tenancies; and

Whereas Access Nova Scotia Centres have successfully improved services to customers in communities and surrounding areas where they are located; and

Whereas in early 1999, an Access Nova Scotia Centre will open its doors in Antigonish, located at the site of the former MacDonald's Drug Store on Main Street;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that the Department of Business and Consumer Services continues to offer more efficient and convenient access to government services at Access Nova Scotia Centres located throughout the province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1594

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

Whereas a former Education Minister once tried to convince this House that his department needed expensive new offices by stating that staff were worried about mice in their workspace; and

[Page 3275]

Whereas the casino files in the Premier's Office and in the offices of staff who report to him are mysteriously empty, not even containing copies of memos sent directly to the Premier; and

Whereas the Liberal Government is at a loss to explain these disappearing files;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government should conduct a thorough search of the Premier's Office for mice and other rodents as they attempt to discover what happened to the Premier's files.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1595

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

Whereas last week, the Leader of the Nova Scotia NDP was equivocal respecting who he prefers in the Quebec election, Jean Charest or Lucien Bouchard; and

Whereas yesterday in the House in the House of Commons, the Leader of the federal NDP, Alexa McDonough, spoke in support of Lucien Bouchard and the Parti Québécois' health care record; and

Whereas the NDP is now two for one ahead of the Prime Minister respecting gaffes which give comfort to the sovereigntists' agenda;

Therefore be it resolved that all Parties put short-term partisan considerations aside and keep their silence respecting the Quebec election except to say we hope and pray those who prefer (Interruptions) Why don't you listen. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, if I may.

Therefore be it resolved that all Parties put short-term partisan considerations aside and keep their silence respecting the Quebec election except to say we all hope and pray those who prefer Canada will win the day.

[Page 3276]

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 Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1596

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

Whereas the young women of Nova Scotia will play a highly significant role in determining the future of this province; and

Whereas the issues they face are unique to them as women and are often challenging and sometimes difficult; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women has undertaken a series of forums across the province for young women, entitled Hopes, Dreams and Directions: Twenty Years from Now, to help young women voice their views and opinions on current issues and solutions for the next millennium;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and congratulate the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women for its initiative and the young women themselves for their active and enthusiastic participation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 3277]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1597

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

Whereas the member for Richmond suggested yesterday in this House that the federal member for Bras d'Or, Cape Breton should go home and raise her son; and

Whereas it is true that young boys need to be with their mothers; and

Whereas it is clear from the howling coming from his crib on the government side of the House that the member for Richmond is maturity-challenged and should not be away from his mother;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the member's mother to come to Halifax with him, at least until he has been weaned from his obsession with the Opposition that distracts him from the concerns of the good people of Richmond.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1598

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 Education is continuously on record as having the education and the future of this province's children at the heart of every decision made by his department; and

Whereas part of looking after the future of the children of this province is to ensure that he not burden them with sweetheart land deals which will cost this and the next generation for years to come; and

Whereas the Armoyan Group appears poised to attempt to take advantage of its position as a P3 partner, a problem which could easily multiply since Municipal Armoyan has the school "bundles" for projects in metro, CSAP and Chignecto-Central, a bundle which could easily grow from the needs assessment report results;

[Page 3278]

Therefore be it resolved that this minister make up for the Horton sweetheart land deal by ensuring that our children are not paying years down the line for costly mistakes by a government more concerned with the timing of schools for election purposes than it does for a fair deal for the citizens and future generations of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice of motion was much too long.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1599

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

Whereas the NDP Finance Critic publicly stated his opposition to the budget long before he or any other Nova Scotian had seen it; and

Whereas the NDP Finance Critic has criticized teachers' pension legislation as too brief, disrespectful of teachers and their profession, and contrary to the wishes of the NSTU; and

Whereas the statements of the NDP Education Critic, other NDP caucus members and the NSTU before the Law Amendments Committee say the opposite, and show the critic to have done no research, no consultation with teachers and no communication with his caucus colleagues;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the Opposition tell Nova Scotians which NDP critic's comments reflect his Party's policy - those of his Finance Critic or those of everyone else on his Party's benches.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 3279]

RESOLUTION NO. 1600

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

Whereas Catherine the Great was duped by her Minister of Economic Development into believing that prefabricated building fronts and smiling peasants was a clear indication that all was well in the Russian countryside; and

Whereas the Minister of Community Services' apparent lack of appreciation for the plight of the working poor is remarkably like that of Marie Antoinette who, when informed of the starving populace, said, if they have no bread, then let them eat cake; and

Whereas history down through the ages has taught us that kings, dictators, despots and even Premiers who have failed to accurately gauge public opinion will ultimately face the wrath of the masses;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Cabinet be ever mindful of the fact that this government lives daily neath the sword of Damocles.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1601

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

Whereas the Annapolis Valley Learning Network has helped 247 adults get their high school education since 1994; and

Whereas the network recently released a new strategic plan for adult education; and

Whereas the Learning Network understands the importance of a basic education in today's economy and is working to promote the idea that the more you learn, the more you earn;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate everyone involved with the Annapolis Valley Learning Network on their proactive approach to adult education, and encourage those who didn't complete high school to explore the benefits of education.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 3280]

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 Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1602

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

Whereas Enterprise Cape Breton has indicated that the coal industry in Cape Breton is responsible for one-tenth of Cape Breton's Gross Domestic Product, which amounts to $300 million in wages, pensions, taxes, contracts and other offshoot benefits; and

Whereas Devco's highly-touted five year plan has failed to realize its projections for development, production, cost reduction and inventory; and

Whereas the United Mine Workers of America have recommended a task force be formed to develop an action plan comprised of everyone who has an important stake in Devco - such as the government, unions, agencies and the private sector - can work together to maximize the resources of Cape Breton to help grow the economy;

Therefore be it resolved that in the absence of a Liberal Government energy policy, the government immediately adopt the recommendation of the United Mine Workers Union and establish a task force charged with the responsibility of developing an action plan for Devco.

MR. SPEAKER: Again, it is much too long.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1603

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

[Page 3281]

Whereas New Democratic Party Leader Alexa McDonough has set off a political storm in Ottawa by her embrace of Parti Québécois Leader Lucien Bouchard giving aid and comfort to the separatist Government of Quebec; and

Whereas the NDP line is that Lucien Bouchard and the Parti Québécois care more about the future of Medicare than does our Liberal Government of Canada; and

Whereas this endorsement of the separatist Parti Québécois by the NDP in the midst of the Quebec provincial election campaign certainly speaks volumes about where that Party is coming from;

Therefore be it resolved that the people of Nova Scotia can ill afford representation either in Ottawa or in Halifax by representatives of a Party that is not 100 per cent committed to Canada.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1604

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 Cornwallis Progress Club, a member of the Canadian Progress Club, is celebrating its 10th Anniversary; and

Whereas each Progress Club selects an organization to support and the Halifax Cornwallis Progress Club has chosen Phoenix House; and

Whereas the Progress Club's Women of Excellence Awards dinner is being held this evening to benefit Phoenix House and to recognize women for their contributions to the community in the fields of Art and Culture; Communications and Public Affairs; Corporate Management and the Professions; Education and Research; Entrepreneur/Innovator; Health, Sport and Fitness;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Halifax Cornwallis Progress Club on its 10th Anniversary, applaud their continued efforts on behalf of Phoenix House and congratulate the finalists of the Women of Excellence Awards, one of whom is a member of this House, the honourable Minister of Community Services.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 3282]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1605

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

Whereas minor sports in Nova Scotia plays a vital role in improving and enhancing the physical fitness and social skills in young children and adults; and

Whereas approximately 3,600 young people were registered to play softball in Nova Scotia this season; and

Whereas the Westphal-Port Wallace Mites softball team had a very successful season this past summer;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the coaches and players of the Westphal-Port Wallace Mites for a successful season and wish them all the best in times ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver 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 Inverness.

[Page 3283]

RESOLUTION NO. 1606

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 Leader of the NDP says the member for Chester-St. Margaret's is a natural addition to his caucus because the member campaigned on issues important to the NDP; and

Whereas this comment will probably come as a surprise to the good citizens of Chester-St. Margaret's who believed they were voting for the Progressive Conservative platform; and

Whereas the NDP campaigned on an expensive platform while hiding their secret plan to raise taxes;

Therefore be it resolved that this House request that the new NDP from the Tory riding of Chester-St. Margaret's reveal to the taxpayers of his constituency whether or not he supports the NDP plan to raise taxes.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I rise on an introduction. In the west gallery, we have Donald Zwicker, who is a Municipal Councillor for the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg in the House today, and I would ask him to rise and receive the greeting of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1607

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

Whereas the citizens of Nova Scotia and Canada have always been generous when called upon to respond to others in need; and

Whereas the Canadian Blood Services, formerly the Red Cross, depends upon the generosity of individuals to donate blood to be used in many ways that benefits others; and

Whereas Allan McLeod of Grand Lake recently gave his 401st blood donation in his over 30 years of donating;

[Page 3284]

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and salute Mr. McLeod's long commitment and generosity.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

RESOLUTION NO. 1608

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

Whereas the Industrial Cape Breton Board of Trade has been active in seeking new business opportunities for industrial Cape Breton; and

Whereas in honour of local efforts, the board of trade will hold its 10th Annual Excellence in Business Awards on Wednesday, November 4, 1998; and

Whereas 36 nominations have been received in categories representing the service, tourism, retail, manufacturing, information technology, agriculture, aquaculture and forestry sectors;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly unanimously support the efforts of the industrial Cape Breton Board of Trade to promote a healthy business climate in industrial Cape Breton and congratulate all board of trade members for their 10th Annual Excellence in Business Awards.

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

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3285]

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 Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1609

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

Whereas in October 1997, over a year ago, federal NDP Leader Alexa McDonough proclaimed it was time her Party moved off the sidelines on the national unity issue and for the NDP to adopt a policy on the future of Canada; and

Whereas to do this, a series of exhaustive consultations was planned, consuming probably years, while in the meantime the Party could continue comfortably, as it has been, to have no policy on the future of Canada; and

Whereas the NDP strategy to carefully avoid the issue of national unity has been cleverly crafted so as to allow the maximum flexibility to play to the Quebec separatist lobby wherever expedient;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP be condemned for its failure to come clean with the people of Nova Scotia as to its fundamental lack of commitment to our country.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1610

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

Whereas the newly minted socialist member for Chester-St. Margaret's gave his first resolution in the House yesterday; and

Whereas the Leader of the NDP exhorted all members of his caucus to applaud in support of their newest New Democrat, who the Leader praised for sticking to his principles; and

[Page 3286]

Whereas at that time there was a conspicuous lack of applause from the NDP member for Cape Breton Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that if the member for Cape Breton Centre is experiencing a moral dilemma over his new caucus mate, then he should be encouraged to stick to his principles and cross the floor to sit as an Independent with his neighbour from Cape Breton East.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health and Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1611

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

Whereas the Westphal-Port Wallace Lightning captured the Nova Scotia Squirt B Softball Championship; and

Whereas this championship capped off a successful year in league play; and

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas Coach Paul LeBlanc, Assistant Coach Darlene Galpin, and Manager Jim Kowalski worked tirelessly to make this a fun-filled and exciting summer for these young people;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Westphal-Port Wallace Lightning for their successful season and extend our best wishes to all in the times ahead.

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.

[Page 3287]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 1612

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

Whereas over one month ago, Hurricane Georges cut a large swath of destruction through the Island of Puerto Rico; and

Whereas clean-up efforts continue with the help of eight Cape Bretoners including Sandy and Carol Reynolds, who are also members of the Red Cross; and

Whereas Carol Reynolds returned from three weeks helping the effort in Guaynabo on Thursday, her husband, Sandy departed upon her arrival for three weeks of assisting the people of Puerto Rico in the struggle to rebuild their lives;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the relief efforts of Carol and Sandy Reynolds and all those Nova Scotians who lend a helping hand throughout the world.

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 Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1613

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

[Page 3288]

Whereas the staff of the Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital, along with the Eastern Regional Health Board, recently held the official opening of the newly-renovated Progressive Geriatrics Unit; and

Whereas the renovations will provide better fire safety, improve the quality of the home for residents, and provide a better working environment for staff; and

Whereas this project was a true commitment of community effort with help from the Department of Health, the regional health board, the Inverness Charitable Foundation and the hospital auxiliary;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulate and thank the many volunteers who worked to make the new and improved Inverness Hospital Geriatrics Unit a reality and wish the residents best wishes as they enjoy their new home.

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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1614

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 member for Sackville-Cobequid has recently become a born-again critic of the Sable gas project, especially when it comes to province-wide distribution of natural gas; and

Whereas the NDP believes that the private sector should not have anything to do with the development of gas, concluding that the project should have been stopped at one point, and leading another uninformed New Democrat to say there is only 14 years worth of gas; and

[Page 3289]

Whereas the member for Sackville-Cobequid had a real opportunity to impact on gas distribution when he was offered a spot on the Utility and Review Board, an appointment he was bullied into refusing by his Leader;

Therefore be it resolved that this House request the NDP (Interruptions) present a coherent position on natural gas or again prove to Nova Scotians that they have no plans, no policies and only rhetoric.

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 Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1615

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

Whereas the member for Halifax-Chebucto, the Minister of Finance in waiting, stated in this Chamber that taxes should rise for citizens of Halifax Regional Municipality who live outside the original boundaries for Halifax and Dartmouth; and

Whereas the member, in a fit of compassion, said that the increase did not have to happen immediately but could be phased in over a number of years; and

Whereas at no time did the member state how much taxes should rise for these citizens;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Halifax-Chebucto come clean with the citizens of Halifax Regional Municipality and let them know exactly how much their taxes would increase under an NDP Government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Education.

[Page 3290]

RESOLUTION NO. 1616

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

Whereas the research director for the New Democratic Party has canvassed all departments and constituents of the public body of the Government of Nova Scotia for documents concerning its Year 2000 problem; and

Whereas in lawyer-like fashion as becomes a man of his profession, he has shown a preference for statutory red tape rather than the ease of his telephone to obtain the information; and

Whereas the telephone is faster than any statutory process; and

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge Graham Steele and the New Democratic Party to shed their legal approaches, pick up their phones in pursuit of this very commendable effort to raise Nova Scotians' awareness about their government's effort to deal with the Year 2000 problem.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: We will run until 4:21 p.m., I think is the right time today.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE WORKERS:

COMMITMENT (PREMIER) - FULFIL

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Premier. This question is being directed on day three of the nursing home strikes. This morning I was up at the Northwoodcare facility where I met with nursing home workers, some family members and the administration.

Do you know what, Mr. Speaker, they all want the same thing. They want this government to respect the services that nursing home workers provide to residents. They join nursing home workers across this province in asking the Premier to fulfil the commitment he made to both administrators and workers, that workers would get wage parity with hospital workers.

[Page 3291]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: My question to the Premier is, will he explain to all of those involved in the long-term-care sector why it is that he has backed away from his promise to this sector?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that we want the workers to be treated fairly and that is what I have assured them they will be treated and that is the undertaking that I made.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in this House it was the Minister of Labour who was blaming nursing home administrators for creating expectations for parity when all Nova Scotians know that it was the Premier who created these expectations when he was on the campaign trail last spring.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: My question to the Premier is this, why will he not intervene now, like he did during the election campaign, to ensure that these workers receive the treatment that they so desperately deserve?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the workers have been getting very good advice from their unions. Unfortunately, they decided they wanted to believe the NDP when the NDP went up and told them if they held out, they would get more, that the Premier would have to come get them more. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: The NDP is not a Party of labour. It is a Party of anarchy.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, one nursing home administrator told us today that they want mediation, that they look forward to it, but he wants the Premier and the government to know that he has given workers everything he has, he has not held anything back.

My question to the Premier, in order for mediation to work he must keep his promise, will the Premier keep his word to the people in the long-term-care sector in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will certainly keep my word that the negotiations will be fair and the workers will be treated fairly. The interesting feature is, is the NDP going to be able to keep their word when they have gone up and exacerbated the situation by promising the workers that they would get more if they disregarded their own union.

[Page 3292]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS:

GOLDBORO/PT. TUPPER - ENGINEERING WORK

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I want to table a document called Sable Offshore Energy Project, employment snapshots - September 30, 1998. My question is to the Premier. Would the Premier indicate where the engineering and design work for the separation plant at Goldboro and the fractionation liquid plant at Point Tupper, where is that engineering and design work being done?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, some of it is being done in Nova Scotia. I cannot say where all of it is being done.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the minister responsible for the offshore that is being done in Alberta, it is being done in Texas and it is being done in the United Kingdom. By way of a supplementary to the minister responsible for the offshore, the Premier, would he indicate where the drilling fluids and the cement for the Sable offshore is being purchased and supplied from?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell him, but I am sure he has the answer.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will continue with the minister responsible for the Sable offshore, who is responsible for protecting the rights of Nova Scotians in this Sable project, I will continue with that minister. Will the Premier confirm that when SOEP claims that half the jobs that are now being preformed for the offshore are here in Nova Scotia, that he is using Sable figures that embellish the employment figures here in Nova Scotia and that he is simply a mouthpiece for Sable and has not done any research to determine that their position is, in fact, accurate?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable Leader of the Conservative Party talks about the fractionation plant and the gas plant where the vast majority of jobs are being held by Nova Scotians. If he wants to talk about the purchasing agent, there are supplies coming from all businesses to Nova Scotia from outside the province. Where we can, we will encourage purchasing to be done inside the Province of Nova Scotia but this is a private-sector decision as to where they go. We will gradually work this down, but it is going to take a little time.

[Page 3293]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE WORKERS:

STRIKE - WAGE PARITY

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Premier said there was no need to meet with striking workers in Cape Breton, because his government knows the issues. That is the point: the Premier has known the issues for months. He has received letters from the frustrated workers telling him that they would make more money on social assistance, he has received petitions from workers who cannot afford medical or dental care for their families, so he has known for months that the issue is wage parity. My question for the Premier is, will the Premier prove that he not only knows the reasons why the workers are striking, but he will do something about it? Will he make wage parity possible?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member for Halifax Needham talks about letters and petitions. I would want to ask her who these letters are from and to provide me copies of them so that I can see them for myself.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, a hospital in rural Cape Breton might have only six long-term care clients to care for, where the nursing home down the road might have 100, yet the workers at the nursing home earn much less for the same work. Will the Premier explain how this example fits into his government's promise to be fair with continuing care workers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there are fair negotiations, there will be fair negotiations and if the ones who are striking now will go back to the table, then the negotiations can resume. No negotiations can take place as long as there is a strike in process.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Premier says he knows the issues, and he says he is committed to being fair. My question to the Premier. Will you prove that to continuing care workers, by giving them wage parity with the acute care sector?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the workers are in a collective bargaining position. They will be treated fairly. They have the option of going back to the bargaining table or not; the residents in those facilities do not have any choice. Start thinking about the welfare of the residents for a change.

[Page 3294]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: SUPPLIES - SOURCE

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister in charge of energy, the Premier. Could the Premier indicate please where the casing for the drilling program and for the subsea pipeline are coming from?

[3:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am sure he has the answer. I am sure he is as well versed as the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, in fact they are being manufactured in Mexico. Now could the Premier indicate where the subsea pipe and the pipe for the slug catcher are coming from?

THE PREMIER: I am waiting in eager anticipation to find out.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker, who are interested in jobs are anxiously awaiting as well. Kawasaki Steel and Nippon Steel have been making those.

Mr. Speaker, last week, the minister in charge of the offshore, with a press release, indicated how many Nova Scotians were, in fact, working. All of the vendors . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. You are on your final supplementary. Question, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, Mr. Speaker. All of the vendors were eliminated from that list. Could the Premier tell me, please, what the number would be if the vendors had been included so that Nova Scotians could get a true picture of the employment caused by the offshore?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there are 1,700 jobs in Nova Scotia at the present time, of which more than 50 per cent are being filled by Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE WORKERS:

WAGE PARITY - COMMITMENT HONOUR

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question again, through you, is for the Premier. Continuing care workers are the working poor. They change linens, they prepare meals, they provide companionship and comfort to the aged but they do this work for

[Page 3295]

extremely low wages with no benefits or pension plans. They care for others for a living yet they can barely afford to care for their own families.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please. Question.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: These working conditions are making it harder.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please!

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question for the Premier is, will the government continue to force qualified workers away from the long-term care sector by refusing to honour its commitment to wage parity?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am well aware of the benefits of the long-term care workers. I just don't think the honourable member is. If she was concerned about them, then she would value them for what they are contributing and not for a piece of propaganda on behalf of the NDP.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, most of these workers are women. A personal care worker with 15 years experience might make $10 an hour. A cook in a home in Cape Breton with three years training earns less than the poverty line, no medical plan, no pension.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question for the Premier is, when over 16,000 . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: . . . elderly women in this province already live in poverty, why is this government doing nothing to prevent long-term care workers from joining the ranks of the poor?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we want to do something but we can't as long as the NDP is advising them to stay on the picket line. All we are asking is a chance to have collective bargaining. We have appointed a mediator. We want a chance to help them. We want a chance for a fair settlement.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, these workers didn't choose this work for the money. They do it because they care and if this government cared, they wouldn't have to be on strike right now. My question is, how long does this government intend to wait and

[Page 3296]

let workers, residents and families suffer before it does the right thing and helps employers to make wage parity possible?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the workers have the choice, themselves, whether they want to negotiate, take advantage of the mediation or not, but I will tell you, the residents of these facilities don't have that choice and we are going to have to look at their welfare.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - SHEARWATER DEV. CORP.:

PRINCIPALS - IDENTIFY

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. My question to the Premier is, is the Premier aware who the principal participants are in the Shearwater Development Corporation and is he aware that the province is negotiating to take over the Shearwater Development Corporation?

THE PREMIER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am well aware of that. In fact, it is something that could play a long-term role in the future of the Port of Halifax but, the fact of the matter is, we are not going to take it over just for the sake of taking it over, we want to make a very appropriate deal with the federal government.

DR. HAMM: I want to table a document from the Registry of Joint Stock Companies that indicates the principal participants, including Charles Keating, Wyman Benjamin, Don Valardo, Eugene Deveaux, Carolyn Scott, et cetera. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. HAMM: My question, to continue with the Premier. In addition to negotiating a takeover of the Shearwater Development Corporation, is the province negotiating to purchase excess land in the Shearwater area, which was part of the original Shearwater Naval Air Base?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there are discussions regarding Shearwater. There has been no arrangement, nothing agreed on yet, but the negotiations are continuing. We feel that if the federal government is going to cease owning Shearwater, then the province should be the organization that takes over ownership.

DR. HAMM: I would like to table a document which is our equivalent of a Freedom of Information, from the Department of National Defence, called an Inquiry of Ministry. My supplementary to the Premier. Would the Premier indicate why it is that, as this document indicates is happening, the province is negotiating a price for the lands at Shearwater, that are

[Page 3297]

very substantial and yet other air bases, when closed, the land was transferred over to those provinces for $1.00?

THE PREMIER: That is a good point and I would agree with the Leader of the Conservative Party, except for one thing. We are not negotiating a price for Shearwater, the federal government is negotiating a price. We do not want to pay a price for Shearwater, but the discussions are going on and they will continue and we will do what we can to get a good deal for the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE WORKERS:

WAGE INCREASE - SUFFICIENCY

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Long-term care workers at Shoreham Village in Chester are in a legal strike position. These workers earn little more than minimum wage and are often the sole breadwinners in their community, yet the government would have us believe that a 1.9 per cent increase for these workers is fair. Mr. Speaker, 1.9 per cent of minimum wage would be about 10 cents per day. That would be about the price of a candy bar.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: My question to the Minister of Health. Will you explain to long-term care workers in rural Nova Scotia why, after working for eight years with no pay increase, it is fair to offer them only a 10 cent an hour increase?

MR. SPEAKER: Order. I would advise honourable members that if the racket continues and I cannot hear the question, we are not going to extend Question Period, but I am going to call for the question again.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the honourable member for the question. He mentions long-term care workers in rural communities, and certainly the talks and discussions have been held with those in urban communities and rural, so I don't think we are making a differentiation there. The discussions were held and what we thought and what the owners of the facilities thought were fair and just arrangements were made and agreed to through negotiations. This was rejected by the workers, obviously, as we know now in day three of the strike. In our opinion that has been a fair and just offer and the fact that it was received by the union side of the negotiating table was a very positive sign for us.

[Page 3298]

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, the government has said the proposed increases may be as much as 19 per cent but many workers in rural Nova Scotia fear that the government may come up with different agreements for different regions. My question to you, Mr. Minister, is will you confirm or deny that your government's idea of fairness includes offering less money to rural workers than to workers in metro?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, some workers will receive up to 19 per cent but there is no question that the long-term goal of this government, and hopefully on an even shorter term, is that there will be parity within the sector. That would involve an $84 million expenditure over four years to achieve parity within the sector. That is the immediate goal and we have to go step by step. This has been a long-term neglected sector, I agree with that. We have grave concerns for the workers and the good job that they do in looking after residents.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, my final question is to the Premier. The Premier said yesterday that he believes the issue is fairness, not wage parity. He just recently said a few minutes ago that the concerns of Shoreham Village workers are NDP propaganda. Will the Premier apologize to the rural long-term care workers in rural Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will apologize after he does.

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

FIN. - GAMING CORP. (PAC): DISCLOSURE - FAILURE

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Today we learned from the Public Accounts Committee that despite the involvement of two Premiers in a contract to build a $100 million casino, this Premier claims that there is not a single shred of paper on the topic in his office. Would the Premier try to explain why there is not a single document in his possession despite the meetings, the lawyer's bills, the Fiske briefing notes and the whole controversy around this casino?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know it is difficult for the NDP to understand why a government would not be playing footsies with casinos but some Parties work this way.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I know who has difficulty understanding. Bob MacKay, Premier Savage's Deputy Minister, is reported for being notorious for his detailed notes. My question is, will the Premier commit to this House that he will ask Dr. Savage if any files were removed from Priorities and Planning or from the Premier's Office?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the committee has been meeting since the end of the Korean War. Surely they could take the initiative to ask Dr. Savage whatever they want to know.

[Page 3299]

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to table a letter from David Thompson in response to a freedom of information request to Priorities and Planning in which we asked for all the background documents and records relating to the casino. We got nothing in response. My question is, why is it the Premier's former Deputy Minister of Priorities and Planning is stonewalling the freedom of information process around the government's casino interference? What are they trying to hide?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the committee had Mr. Thompson and Mr. MacKay before them, questioning them. They were quite able to ask those questions themselves. I think, frankly, it is a little underhanded to make that insinuation about good citizens of the Province of Nova Scotia when they are not able to answer for themselves.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: HFX. PORT AUTHORITY - APPTS.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The process to appoint individuals to the Halifax Port Advisory Committee and Port Authority has been hijacked by a pack of unelected, unaccountable Liberal hacks. The process has turned into a self-serving pork barrel that will have negative consequences for the Port of Halifax. My question is this, whereas there have been and continue to be several allegations of political interference, will the Premier call off his Liberal cronies and advise the Prime Minister in Ottawa that cheap politics won't be allowed to take precedence over sound economics?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer this question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. This has been undertaken by the federal government, and we, as a province, support the Port of Halifax very much. It brings in over $1 billion a year in revenue for Halifax. What you are talking about is being handled by the federal government.

MR. TAYLOR: My colleague, the member for Kings North, suggested that wasn't a very good answer, and I certainly agree with him. The Premier of this province sent an undated letter to the Prime Minister and he failed to note that federal Transport Minister David Collenette abused his veto powers by rejecting names put forward by the Halifax Longshoremen's Association, names put forward by the Halifax Shipping Association and the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. My question is simply this, in light of the fact that the development of the Halifax port is the single most important economic issue facing the Province of Nova Scotia today, will the Premier advise the Prime Minister today that the Port of Halifax is not for sale and it won't be further extorted by Liberal hacks?

[Page 3300]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the honourable member that the Port of Halifax is up with the amount of revenues and that that are coming in, and I would say that these cronies that he is talking about are doing a good job.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, under the Marine Act, the Port of Halifax will come under local authority, on January 1st, just barely a couple of months away. My question is to the Premier, will the Premier answer this instead of the Minister for Transportation and Public Works, why is the Premier writing the letters to the Prime Minister - and we can table the letter - and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for the province is answering the questions? What goes on over there?

THE PREMIER: I would like to refer this question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the honourable member that the Port of Halifax is doing very well, and we will continue to see that it does well. Thank you.

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

EDUC. - P3: BEECHVILLE-LAKESIDE-TIMBERLEA -

SITE SELECTION COMM. RESIGNATION

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Mr. Minister, (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Minister, I am sad to report in this House to you today that the communities of Beechville, Lakeside and Timberlea are being torn asunder due to the interference of Municipal Armoyan in the site selection process for that badly needed school. Here is a copy of a letter of resignation from Mr. Tom McLean, the committee chair, and I will ask a Page to pick that up please. It begins, "I write this letter to express my disgust with the . . . P3 process as it is today.". Mr. Minister, I would ask what will your response to Mr. McLean be?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, first of all Mr. MacLean is a valued volunteer in the community. He has served his community well through the site selection committee and has taken a position on the SST, or team planning committee for the school, a position I regret, because Mr. McLean offered a great deal to the process.

[Page 3301]

As it turns out, the community was split long before the addition or consideration of a fourth site over location, as often happens in school site selection. I have confidence in the process, Mr. Speaker, not only of P3 but of this community working with its board to resolve this situation in the interest of the children of Timberlea-Beechville-Lakeville.

MR. ESTABROOKS: As Mr. Minister so well knows the community, it is Lakeside. The site selection process has been badly flawed, Mr. Speaker. Municipal Armoyan has put their private agenda as a profit-motivated developer ahead of the needs of the community. Mr. Minister, is that fair?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, as we have said so many times in this House, the NDP rhetoric would pit private sector versus public sector. The P word, the so-called profit word, is something out of their book. I have two requests from honourable members of that caucus for new schools under the P3 process, just arrived today. We will work through a process to deliver the finest schools in the country to the children of this province.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Frustrating isn't it, ex-student? The communities are frustrated. They are distrustful with the process, Mr. Speaker. We have a site selection committee in shambles. Two members have resigned. Mr. Minister, as an educational leader with the reputation you previously had before becoming involved in politics, will you finally demonstrate some leadership and intervene in this process? (Interruptions)

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education has the final say, so I am already involved in the process. To the student who is in the gallery, let me remind that student that this government invested over $80 million in public education. This government invested dollars to rebuild and renovate schools from one end of this province to the other and this government involves students in the design process to ensure that those schools were not only right for them but right for future generations.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

COAST GUARD: CUTBACKS - PROTEST (PREMIER)

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. The Premier has got to be concerned about Coast Guard cuts, the retiring of three vessels of the six, the laying off of radio operators who play such a great role in marine rescue. The Coast Guard is important here in Nova Scotia in terms of controlling the illegal drug trade, illegal fishing, and certainly in coordinating marine rescue. I would ask the Premier, what have you done to protest, in Ottawa, cuts to our Coast Guard services that are so important here in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are in the process now of negotiating this very question with the federal government.

[Page 3302]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will continue with the Premier. The Premier has indicated there is a process. What I am asking the Premier specifically is, what process is being followed and what personal intervention has this Premier made to protect the rights of Nova Scotians that are being infringed by the federal government once again as they cut the funding for the Coast Guard? This does not affect Ontario. It does not affect Manitoba.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. HAMM: It does affect Nova Scotia.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party is right. The reduction in Coast Guard services would be an absolute mistake. Certainly here in Nova Scotia these facilities and these services are extremely important for Nova Scotia. Transport Canada has expressed a willingness to try to work this out and we have said that we would work with them, but we cannot wait indefinitely for a better response.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I do thank the Premier for his interest in the question but what I am really looking for, will this Premier commit to personally intervene and to make the position of this Nova Scotia Government clear to those in Ottawa that we will not tolerate further cuts here that affect Nova Scotians when we do not see comparable cuts affecting other provinces in this country?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I completely agree. With 3 per cent of the population, already we have received 16 per cent of the federal government cuts and this is another case where there were cuts pending for Nova Scotia. It is unacceptable. The federal government wants to discuss it. We are prepared to do that without going public into an argument with the federal government. But I can assure the honourable member and the whole House that if this doesn't pay dividends, then we are prepared to get very vocal publicly about this issue.

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

EDUC. - HAMMONDS PLAINS: SCHOOL - CONSTRUCT

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Education. In October 1997, the Minister of Education promised parents in Hammonds Plains that their community was on the top of the list of areas needing schools. That same week the Premier told the parents that a new school would be built in the area by the end of 1998. My question to the minister is, when can Hammonds Plains' parents expect to have a new school open in their community?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, once again it is an example of the NDP criticizing a process yet demanding to know how quickly new schools can be brought onstream, some 31 new schools. (Interruption) They want me to answer the question. Even

[Page 3303]

trying to answer the question elicits more demand for more schools, more quickly and at the same time they criticize the process from one end to the other.

The answer is that community is working with that board on a timetable that meets the needs of those children, Mr. Speaker.

MS. GODIN: Mr. Speaker, that wasn't a criticism that was a question and the parents are owed an answer to that.

In May 1998, the operations director of the Halifax Regional School Board told the board meeting that new Halifax schools likely won't be ready until September 2000. My question is, does the board know something that the parents don't, or when is the minister going to be able to deliver on his promise of having a Hammonds Plains school open by September 1999?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the community is working actively with the board on completing the tasks necessary to get that school open as soon as possible for their children. There is no faster or better way to ensure quality schools on time for those parents. They are involved in the design process, in the site selection process and, ultimately, in the critical path to get those schools open on time.

MS. GODIN: I would like to talk about quality schools. It is now November 1998, and I want to remind the minister that everyone wants children in safe schools. We are building schools not warehouses. There is a lot of pressure to have these schools constructed in a short period of time.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. GODIN: Yes, Mr. Speaker. My question is, who is going to be responsible for any flaws in workmanship which result from such hasty construction?

MR. HARRISON: Undoubtedly, the minister and the private sector would be the answer if she were answering her own question. Does she not know that we have some of the finest construction firms in the country here in Nova Scotia. (Laughter) You see, the members opposite deride that comment. We have a construction industry second to none. We have workers second to none. We have architects and engineers second to none and the NDP don't have the class to recognize that, Mr. Speaker. What kind of an answer do they want to this question.

[Page 3304]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

ABORIGINAL AFFS. - SABLE GAS: LAND DISPUTES - PREVENT

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. We have seen and heard a great deal of news lately concerning Sable gas and the problems that may occur as a result of land claims and treaty rights. Could the Premier inform the members of this House where the government stands in relation to preventing disputes from escalating to the point where there are temporary shutdowns that will affect Maritimes & Northeast Pipelines in their operation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, first, before I turn this over to the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, I want to make a correction. In error, I mentioned to the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that we were talking to the Department of Transport Canada; it is actually Fisheries and Oceans.

I would like to refer the question to the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the issue, we have had a number of meetings with the aboriginal community, the First Nations, the Mi'kmaq, and we have indicated to them that we have been prepared to work with them inside or outside a framework of a Memorandum of Understanding that we have established. We also met with the federal minister responsible but clearly the issue of aboriginal title is one that has to be clarified. What we are also looking at is that there is a process for which the aboriginal communities can work through and that is land settlement claims. That has to be a federal jurisdiction and they have to go through that process to start the exercise.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I will direct my second question to the Premier and ultimately, probably, to the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs. In any event, what I would like to know is does the Premier have a plan to address the problem if and when a shutdown occurs? What is the contingency plan?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the point right now is that there are negotiations continuing in good faith as far as the province is concerned. We expect that to continue.

MR. BALSER: Again, small consolation to the people who are concerned. Obviously there have been negotiations between the province and Nova Scotia's aboriginal leaders. Have those negotiations included discussions about royalties and any form of compensation between the province and the Mi'kmaq community and if these plans have been made . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. This is your final supplementary.

[Page 3305]

MR. BALSER: . . . what do they include?

THE PREMIER: I would like to refer this question to the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the issue before us is that the aboriginal community had been working with the proponents of the project, Maritimes & Northeast, the Sable project individuals. In fact, there are contracts allowing for First Nations to be able to have compliance building and that compliance building is related to forestry harvesting for treeing programs working within the overall project. In fact, Mr. Fontaine, who is Leader of the First Nations of Canada, has indicated that cooperation is the way to go and that is exactly what the private sector and First Nations have been doing, is working in cooperation.

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

NAT. RES. - NEB: SOCIO-ECONOMIC STUDY (N.S.) - POSITION

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you, sir, I would like to direct a question to the Premier. Yesterday, I asked the Premier about the socio-economic impact study being done on Cape Breton and the effects of natural gas. The Premier told me, among other things, that they are anxious to get the study because you want to push the results in our submission to the National Energy Board.

Today I received a letter from the lawyer, a copy of the letter sent to the National Energy Board, from the lawyer representing the Petroleum Directorate which the Premier heads, and the lawyer from that directorate said that they consider that study to be irrelevant to the application and goes on to say, as the owner of the study, the province is not prepared to agree in advance of the study being made public, that it be filed in this or any other proceeding. Mr. Speaker, that contradicts the Premier's answer yesterday.

So my question to the Premier is simply this, was your answer, which was very misleading yesterday, done on purpose or was it as a result of you being unaware of the position being taken by the very department that you head?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have initiated the socio-economic impact study to determine the position and the opinions of the people in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. These opinions are very important to us. We are using what we learned from that study as a means of proceeding further.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to send across to the Premier a copy of the letter from his Calgary-based lawyer who is representing the Nova Scotia Petroleum Directorate so he would know what his department is saying. My question to the Premier is very simple. Will the Premier guarantee that the results of that socio-economic impact study

[Page 3306]

will be filed with the NEB hearings that are being held later on this month and be part of the decision and that they will not be buried as your lawyer is saying to the National Energy Board your government intends to do with them?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the results of the study certainly will not be buried but as the honourable member mentioned yesterday when he said that the study may not be finished before the hearings begin, we will get a reply from the socio-economic impact study as to what their findings are to date to use in our intervention before the National Energy Board.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the Premier has read this letter from Mr. Hugh Williamson or not. Well, he should have. He is indicating he has. This is a letter being written by the lawyer representing the department that the minister represents. In it they said that their study was not done for those purposes and it's completely . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Please put your question.

MR. HOLM: ...contradicting the minister. My question through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier. Will the Premier tell us, or start to tell us the same thing in public that he is having the staff, representing his department, saying in private? Will you start saying publicly the same thing you are having staff say privately?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, all I can do is continue to say publicly what I have been saying publicly. The story is the same, it will be a factor and it will be an influence and part of our intervention before the National Energy Board.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Kings North.

AGRIC. - PORK INDUSTRY: SURVIVAL - ANNOUNCEMENT

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Agriculture. I would like to know what the Minister of Agriculture plans to do to help our agricultural industry, with the thought in mind that it is worth over $300 million a year and there are over 15,000 people employed. This year, through drought, as you well know, Mr. Speaker, farmers in Nova Scotia had a net loss of over $50 million. They have been meeting with the minister for several months and I wonder, what is the minister going to announce to help alleviate the problem faced by the farmers of Nova Scotia?

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Kings North for that question, because it is a question that is very important to the agricultural industry in the province. We had the report of the committee that was studying it delivered

[Page 3307]

to us, that was yesterday, and we did have some discussions on it today and we will try to work to implement that report as quickly as possible.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the hog producers in Nova Scotia have a special Hog Industry Risk Management Program. That program is a result of the hog producers putting in funds, the department and the processor. That fund will be out of money early in the new year. What is the minister planning to do to ensure that we have a hog industry in Nova Scotia?

MR. LORRAINE: I thank you again. Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the member yesterday when he introduced a resolution in the House of Assembly concerning the pork industry in the Province of Nova Scotia, I met with the Pork Producers Association yesterday. We resolved the case, I think to their satisfaction.

MR. ARCHIBALD: To the minister. The minister indicated he has had a lot of meetings. We all know there have been a lot of meetings, and there have been a lot of discussions. When will this government and when will this minister make an announcement so the farmers will know exactly where they stand?

MR. LORRAINE: I am not going to fix us down to a date because there are an awful lot of things to be done. The report is an excellent report in my view and I am not going to say it is going to happen next week, but I hope it will happen very soon so the farmers will know exactly what support there will be coming out of the recommendations made by the joint committee of the Department of Agriculture staff and the federation staff.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

NAT. RES. - COAL (STRIP MINING): ROYALTIES - INSUFFICIENT

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you, is to the Premier. Mr. Premier, as you know, your government has a huge deficit at this time and money is badly needed for education and health care and other public services. In Pictou County, we have a number of strip mines operating that are making a good profit, $45 a ton to the operator, and yet only a small, paltry amount of about 25 cents per ton is a royalty. Over the past three years there have been 460,000 tons of coal mined with a profit of $20 million to the operator. My question to you, with the government's current $80 million deficit, is this give-away of Nova Scotia's resources fair to the people of this province?

THE PREMIER: I would like to refer this question, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for the question to the Premier and I want to thank the Premier, too, for directing the question to me.

[Page 3308]

The province has a basic figure that they received for resources and that is common. Whether it is through strip mining or any other mining there is a base price for resources and we are receiving that from the company doing the strip mining.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, again I will ask the Premier, as he may be aware that the strip mines are in Pictou County, previously in Westville and now in the Towns of Stellarton and Thorburn with the profits all going to Pioneer Coal. There is absolutely very little or nothing for the municipalities and we do not think that is fair. I would like to ask the Premier, when are you going to stop giving our coal resources away to one private individual and start using this public resource for the benefit of both the province and the municipalities?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have met with representatives of the communities that the honourable member mentions. I have met with the member for Pictou Centre. This is a concern among these municipalities, he is absolutely right. However, those leases have been granted, as the honourable minister has said, on the basis of what is returned for these leases. If he has somebody else who is interested in bidding, then please bring it before the House.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, last evening, Mr. Premier, Stellarton Town Council had a meeting to deal with the strip mine issue. They are certainly very concerned about the fair royalty issue, dust, noise and truck damage to their streets. I would like to ask the Premier, the mine is operating at the whim of the province, what can you tell the people that are here today in our gallery, the Mayor of Stellarton and his councillors, what can you do for the citizens of Stellarton?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, I have met with those groups but I would like to refer the question to the Minister of Natural Resources whose responsibility this is.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to inform the honourable member that it is a concern and I appreciate him bringing the concern to the floor of the Legislature. I want to assure the honourable member that that is a problem between the contractor and the municipality. The province does not want to get involved in discussions between the municipality and the contractor. They are living up to their obligations and regulations set down by the province to mine coal and if the municipality cannot come to terms with the contractor through negotiations, our department feels helpless to be involved in the issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West on a new question.

ENVIRON. - THORBURN MINING:

RESIDENTS CONCERNS - ADDRESS

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct this question to the Minister of the Environment. In 1995, Thorburn Mining Limited was released from an environmental

[Page 3309]

assessment for that project there in Thorburn but there were requirements for groundwater monitoring and provisions for a central back-up of drinking water. Some residents feel they have real problems and they have no redress, certainly not through the Community Liaison Committee which is stacked with supporters or employees and actually chaired by the mine manager. So the community feels intimidated, their problems are not resolved. So my question to the minister is what is he willing to do to ensure that these residents will have their concerns dealt with in a timely manner?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the concerns and questions of the member opposite. With regard to the issue of the water concern that was brought forward and I believe Ms. Boutilier had brought forward a concern about the water aspect, we already have private hydrogeologists on site. The private sector firm has hired their own individual professional people to assess the situation and that is being monitored by the Department of the Environment. With regard to the issue of dust, we have never issued (Interruption) Something wrong? The issue of non-compliance with the air quality, in fact, we monitor it two or three times a week and we have found nothing to show that there has been anything other than absolute compliance to the full environmental rigours of those particular sites.

MR. PARKER: Yes, there is something wrong, Mr. Minister. The original industrial approval for the Thorburn Mine indicated that extensions or modifications to the surface mine may be subject to environmental impact regulations, but yet in April of this year . . .

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. PARKER: . . . an approval was granted. My question, Mr. Speaker, why would this approval have been granted in April when there are so many adverse environmental effects, especially on ground drinking water from the existing strip mine?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, just for the information of the member opposite, I would be prepared to table letters that we received, where individuals had concerns that were addressed by the proponent that is working that particular operation, complimenting the process, complimenting the work that has been done by the company, complimenting the integrity of the individuals that are involved in this. I would ask that member if he would read these letters and realize how professional this private sector company is, in dealing with their requirements under the Act.

MR. PARKER: On September 15th of this year, Cabinet approved an issuance of a lease by the Minister of Natural Resources for a four acre parcel of Crown land to Thorburn Mining Limited for the purpose of strip mining an extension to their original.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please. Your final supplementary.

[Page 3310]

MR. PARKER: My question, given the track record of this mine, why would you permit the approval of a leasing of Crown land to Thorburn Mining Limited, even though the mine has already affected many homeowners?

MR. DOWNE: I get a kick out of the NDP. They are opposed to everybody in the private sector. The member just a few minutes ago ridiculed, criticized, chastised and made fun of the private sector construction industry in the Province of Nova Scotia. Now they turn around and are talking about and criticizing the company, Nova Construction. It has a track record second to none in this province. I have letters here from individuals that have indicated the tremendous support that company has been to them. I think that member is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Next question.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: TOLL HIGHWAY (N.B.) - IMPACT

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Nova Scotia now has its infamous toll highway, the Cobequid Pass, and it is costing business money, thanks to this Liberal Government. Now New Brunswick, also thanks to a Liberal Government, has a $321 million toll highway. My question for the Premier is this, have you raised any concerns with the Prime Minister of Canada or the federal Minister of Transport as to the economic impact the New Brunswick toll highway will have upon business and consumers in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer this question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question, and I would like to advise him that I have been in touch with the minister in New Brunswick, and I am looking for information on the toll highway. I continue to (Interruptions) No. And I will continue to look into this and find out what is going on.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier. The situation is now even more critical for Nova Scotian businesses and consumers travelling through New Brunswick. Has the Premier had his officials investigate the increased cost upon Nova Scotia business and the resulting impact New Brunswick toll highway will have on consumers here in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer this question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

[Page 3311]

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, my understanding of this new highway, the truckers and the consumers that are using it, they will be able to use it much faster, it will be a lot faster highway, and that it will be in a sense shorter and better for most consumers.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, the Newfoundland Premier who is a Liberal, Brian Tobin, and the Prince Edward Island Premier, Conservative Pat Binns, are not passing the buck to their Transportation Ministers. They are answering the questions and standing up for their people. They are speaking out against the highway. Will the Premier admit today that he said nothing about it, and if he has said anything about it, will you table that correspondence here today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the remarks of Premier Tobin and Premier Binns are absolutely correct.

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

LBR. - SAFETY REGS.: ADVISORY COMM. - STATUS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Minister of Labour. The Minister of Labour said in the House yesterday the co-chairs of province's advisory committee have slowed implementation of the new general safety regulations.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am having difficulty hearing the question.

MR. CORBETT: Both co-chairs are concerned by the minister's allegations.

MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry, would the honourable member repeat the question?

MR. CORBETT: Will do, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. The Minister of Labour said in the House the co-chairs of the province's advisory committee have slowed implementation of the new general safety regulations. Both co-chairs are incensed by this minister's allegation. I will table, today, minutes of a board meeting from July 15th in which the council speaks of these needs to speed approval.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CORBETT: My question, Mr. Speaker, is to the minister. Don't these minutes, along with the comments by the co-chairs, make it clear that they are not standing in the way of these regulations coming forward?

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that is not what I said yesterday. I did not indicate anyone was slowing the process in terms of the co-chairs but the reality of the situation is, with regard to the July 15th meeting - and I advised

[Page 3312]

the member a little earlier that the issue that he raised yesterday was simply a miscommunication between myself, the director and the co-chairs - there is no problem. The general safety regulations, as I indicated to the member earlier, should be completed within a month for final draft for Cabinet.

Besides that, Mr. Speaker, and very importantly, a consolidated draft of that was sent back to the advisory council in May of this year, not three years ago as was suggested by one of the co-chairs.

MR. CORBETT: I have here the minutes. That very minister said in the minutes that these will be ready by the end of September. I know they cannot add, according to their budget, but they should be able to tell the time and date and this is now November.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. CORBETT: The question to the minister is, obviously, he says now he is not blaming the co-chairs, now he is blaming his staff.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CORBETT: Where is this sitting, Mr. Minister?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the priority that was itemized, and I received a list of the priorities from my director subsequent to the meeting. As the honourable member should well be advised by one or both of the co-chairs, I was there for part of the meeting. I asked for a list of the priorities. Subsequent to that meeting I received a list of the priorities. The number one priority that was advised was the general mining regulations. The general safety regulations were already in the mix. They were sent back to the advisory council. Where the member is coming with this, I do not understand. There does not seem to be a problem.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Minister, today in this newspaper, he blames the co-chairs for something that has nothing to do with these regulations. You see a young lady here who is a widow before her time, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CORBETT: The question is, who is he going to blame it on now? He has got nobody to hide behind. Come forward with them.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I value the advice coming from the advisory council and I would suggest if the honourable member is really concerned about the issue, he should stop relying on hearsay and innuendo and miscommunicated information before the media.

[Page 3313]

If that is the best source of information he has, I cannot help the member other than to just simply write the question for him. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - CARE: NURSES - WAGE PARITY

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. During the election the Premier indicated that in fairness to nurses, whether you nursed in Yarmouth, or whether you nursed in Waterville, or Musquodoboit, or Sydney, or Halifax, that a nurse is a nurse and they should be paid fairly. I would ask the Minister of Health whether he agrees with that statement and does he agree, no matter where you live in this province, doing the same duty as a nurse, an RN, does he feel, as the Premier felt at that time, that they should receive equal pay?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the member brings forward a very good question. This, no question, is a long-term goal. Hopefully, it will be shorter term. I think we have to look at the various sectors. We are working toward within the long-term care sector now, some parity there. Equality has been achieved, parity has been achieved in the acute care. So I think we are doing things. We inherited quite a situation in 1993 in the health care system, Mr. Speaker. We have made major strides. We have made major commitments.

MR. MOODY: I assume that that is a yes, and I think the people of Nova Scotia acknowledged in 1988 that the health care system wasn't as good as it was in 1993. I would ask the minister, since he agrees that over time the government's objective is for wage parity or fairness for nurses in all sectors, I would ask if the same objective applies to PCWs and LPNs across the board as well in the two sectors he talked about? Does he feel the same principle should apply to those workers as it does to nurses?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, again, I think the question is a valid one. These are goals that we have work towards and we are doing it with openness and fairness. If I could, our attitude is different than on September 10, 1986, in The Chronicle-Herald when it said, George Moody said the provincial government has little sympathy and no money left for Nova Scotia's 8,000 civil servants, who announced Tuesday that they have overwhelming rejected the 3 year contract offer. I will table that for that honourable member. That was the attitude at those time.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, those caring PCWs and LPNs who care about the people and are compassionate across the province doesn't understand that he is blaming somebody in 1986 for the problems we have today. I would ask the minister if he would stop going in

[Page 3314]

the past, deal with the present and treat those workers fairly and stop denying them their rights?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is important that we know our past and it is important that we know where we come from. If not, we might make the same mistakes that that honourable member made when he was Minister of Health. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we are committed. These workers throughout, whether it is acute care, long-term care or home care, we are committed to equality and parity and whatever terms you might use.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

TECH. & SC. SEC'T. - YEAR 2000:

FUNDING (GOV'T. [CAN.] - COMMITMENT

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat. It is funny that information this minister wouldn't give to the House last week he gave to a reporter yesterday. (Interruptions) In today's Halifax Chronicle-Herald, the minister reveals that the Year 2000 costs for the Health Department alone are between $60 million and $70 million. Now, the minister says he hopes to get some of the money in next spring's federal budget. My question for the minister, does he have any funding commitment from the federal government or is this just another example of wishful thinking on the part of a provincial government which appears to be bungling the Year 2000 problem?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: I am sure we are going to hear a lot of sky is falling, Chicken Little comments about why Y2K, we have 400 days to go, I am sure we will hear a lot about that.

The bottom line is, Mr. Speaker, that the Health Department is committed to full compliance on essential services by next summer. So that they can test track literally every item within their field. The expenditure has already begun. Is the member opposite asking whether or not the federal government has made a commitment to health care? He need only listen to his radio, day after day after day, to this Minister of Finance or that Minister of Health, to the Prime Minister of the country, it will be the top priority of the next federal budget.

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, the last thing, I can assure the minister that what I want to do is preach doom and gloom. Just genuine concern here for the citizens of Nova Scotia. The same article I made reference to quotes the minister as saying that, "Departments are now

[Page 3315]

preparing estimates for the Year 2000 work over the next 18 months,". Mr. Speaker, if that is true, it is a scandal. It is now November 1998.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DELEFES: We are far past the time when estimates should have been prepared.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. DELEFES: My question for the minister is, if the Year 2000 is going to cost the Health Department $60 million to $70 million, what is the projected cost for the rest of government?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is suggesting that 12 month planning or 18 month planning is scandalous. One of the problems we have with a Party that chooses to go behind closed doors and say they are going to raise taxes and then call the member of the Third Party a liar is that they don't do long-term planning. We are planning four years out. Government By Design is a four year budgeting process for the first time in the history of the province.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, the same article says that regular progress will be issued. I can't help thinking that the Freedom of Information request filed by my office on October 2nd and the Auditor General's ongoing investigation has something to do with the minister's new-found desire to share information.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question please.

MR. DELEFES: My question. Will the minister guarantee that the first Year 2000 Progress Report will be released while this House is still sitting?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, regular updates on progress will be filed before this House concludes its business. It will be filed on our website so that the member opposite, regardless of where he is, can access information, so that we can reassure Nova Scotians that essential service compliance will be carried out by this government and with many sectors of the Nova Scotia society.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

[Page 3316]

FISH. - SHRIMP: MULGRAVE PLANT - FUTURE

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question today is directed to the Minister of Fisheries. In the Town of Mulgrave there is a company called ACS Trading, which is a fishing company whose business is based on shrimp. They have 75 employees and they have 50 part-time employees when the vessels are in. They find themselves unable to source shrimp to operate their plant. Can the minister inform the House today what he, in his capacity as Minister of Fisheries, is doing to ensure the future of this plant?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for this important question. It is a problem we have been working on ever since I first became minister. It is unfortunate in the past that they haven't been able to get quota and the quota that they have had has kept them going for quite a while, but it is difficult, especially when we don't have members in Ottawa in the government caucus office that are fighting for this. It is difficult to get results out of Ottawa if you do not have someone sitting on the government benches.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, this plant is currently operating at a 40 per cent capacity and as it tries to source product it is having difficulty doing so, because a lot of the plant's local boats are selling their shrimp to Seafreez, which is exporting it to Newfoundland for processing. We have boats from New Brunswick who are selling it to New Brunswick because they are forced to do so under their loan agreement with the New Brunswick Loan Board, and we have a federal government that has given over 30,000 tonnes last year, with no quota to this company. I ask the minister, again, will he intercede to ensure that some of this quota which is not being used in Newfoundland is given to this company?

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to again thank the member for that question; it is a very good question. We have been working very closely with the company to try to ensure that they are going to stay in Mulgrave and be able to process to full capacity. It has been a difficult problem and I will stress, again, we have no federal members in government caucus that can help with this problem.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I will direct my last question toward the Premier. This company has indicated that by the end of the year they will either have a decision as to whether they can access more shrimp or whether they will move to Newfoundland because that is the only place they can find the quota. I ask the Premier, today, in light of the comments from the Minister of Fisheries that we have no representation in Ottawa - and I guess fairness does not count - will you stand up and be the representative for the people of Mulgrave because, obviously, if you are not a Liberal it does not count? Well, I do not agree with that, what will you do to ensure that these people get fair representation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer this question to the Minister of Fisheries.

[Page 3317]

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, in all honesty we have done everything we possibly can to help the community of Mulgrave. We met with the community; I personally went to the community on more than one occasion. I met with the people in the company and we have tried everything we possibly can to get quota for Mulgrave. Unfortunately, we do not make the decisions and, unfortunately, the people who do make decisions are not sitting on the government benches.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - CAREER ACADEMY OF AVIATION:

STUDENTS - BOND REFUND

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. In spite of the introduction of Bill No. 38, there is still unfinished business for the students of the former Career Academy of Aviation. Weeks ago the minister assured me and, more importantly, the students, that they will receive their small portion of the surety bond posted by the school. My question to the minister is, will the minister tell this House exactly when the students will see that money?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, there are some legal aspects to making sure that that bond of $50,000 is cleared financially and legally and we are working as quickly as we can to ensure that each of those students receives their prorated amount of that $50,000.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, well, I certainly didn't hear an answer and neither did the students. They have other problems, too. They had their costs assessed much higher than the loans awarded to them, because the program time has been condensed. As one student said, an hour flying time costs the same whether the program is spread over a month or a year.

Will the minister intervene with Student Aid, given that they haven't even seen the light of that $500, on behalf of the students to ensure that they get enough money to finish their program?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it gives me an opportunity to thank the Nova Scotia Community College once again for coming to the support of these students in their situation. They were planning to begin an aviation school one year hence and brought all that planning up to serve these students and it is serving them extremely well. In fact, the costs for these students were reduced substantially from the original tuition targets and we are doing everything we can with HRD Canada, with our own student loan portfolios and with the community college to make sure that they train out as guaranteed to the certification that they originally intended to get.

[Page 3318]

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I have heard the minister talk about this before. The minister seems to confuse cash flow with indebtedness. The students do not have enough money here and now. My question to the minister is, why is he so stubborn that he will only go halfway towards accommodating the needs of the students and then leaving them hanging, quite literally, in mid-air?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, when the aviation school went bankrupt, many students who had invested or committed to invest some $43,000 for their flight training were guaranteed that they would train out to the level that they originally enrolled to achieve and that it would cost them not one penny more. In fact, many of those students to which she refers that are having cash flow and indebtedness difficulties, have had savings in the amount of $10,000 and $12,000 from the original targeted $43,000 amount. I think the Nova Scotia Community College and this government has done a great deal to serve those students.

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

HEALTH - COLCHESTER REG. HOSP.: PHYSICIANS - RECRUIT

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The minister has extolled the physician recruitment program in Nova Scotia on a number of occasions in this House since I have been a member. Last Friday at the Colchester Regional Hospital, an elderly person was brought into emergency at 3:30 p.m. They didn't see a specialist until 9:30 p.m. My question for the minister is, what plans has he or his department to assist in the recruitment in an adequate number of cardiologists to the Colchester Regional Hospital?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Colchester hospital is a fine regional hospital with lots of programs and services. I don't know the specifics of the matter of which the honourable member speaks. If I did, I wouldn't be free, really, to discuss a particular situation before the House. But if he wants to make some specifics available to me, then I will respond. I can only say, in my experience around this province, we have one of the top cardiovascular surgeries and one of the top cardiologist programs across this country.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I know that there is a good training program, but the question which I was interested in, of course, was recruitment. There is no sense having these programs - or I guess I shouldn't say that, there is sense having them - but if people can't access physicians then, clearly, there isn't enough.

This person had the privilege of spending all night in the Truro hospital. She had to spend it in the emergency. Now the fortunate thing about it was that she wasn't alone. There were 10 other people stacked in emergency all night, last Friday night, because there were no available beds in the hospital. There were some beds, but there was no staff to operate them.

[Page 3319]

Mr. Speaker, to the minister, what are his plans to ensure that the Northern Regional Health Board has enough staff to operate beds so that people won't be stuck in emergency wards all night?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the issue of access to the health care system is a major issue that I take very seriously. It is often a primary care issue, and the issue is often one of administration rather than the numbers of beds, it is how they are used. I can only say to that honourable member and for that person's concerns he brings, and I believe he is genuinely bringing them here for a logical answer today, that I can only hope, and I would believe to be the true, that that person was treated at the optimum site available in that hospital for that person. That is all that we can ask that hospital to do.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, yes, and I would agree that that person was treated at the optimum way the hospital could treat them, and that is the problem. My question for the minister is this, medical people have suggested to me that these small seniors' homes have indeed been an integral part of the continuing health care system, the extended health care service in this province. Has the Minister of Health discussed with his colleague, the Minister of Community Services the crisis that is now in Nova Scotia concerning the future of these small seniors' homes?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the matter that the honourable member brings is important and one that I take very seriously. The access to the health care system is blocked at two areas that I see. One is the primary care we have just spoken of, the other he has identified as well is moving into the long-term care and that continuum. The Minister of Community Services and I have met with people involved in that program throughout the province. I don't believe that it is in crisis, but it is certainly a pressure point within the health care system right across this country. It is a priority. That is why we put $21 million into the long-term care sector this year.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

BUS. & CONS. SERV. - GRANBURY PLACE: RESIDENTS - PROTEST

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. I recently met with the residents of Granbury Place, a condominium corporation, where a determined group of residents may lose their homes because of the current Condominium Act. It provides no consumer protection. The sight of this group, mostly seniors, determined to hold on to their homes was inspiring, however, the fear and mental anguish of these people who are going to be left, left me feeling truly disturbed. My question for the minister is, what are you doing to address the situation for the residents of Granbury today?

[Page 3320]

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the question. The answer is very complex. Unfortunately under the present legislation that we have to work with today, there are only some minor things that can be done to really help the situation there. There are some clarifications in the new bill I introduced yesterday that hopefully will address those concerns.

MS. ATWELL: In a letter dated September 9th to one of the residents of Granbury Place, and I would like to table this document. It is from the honourable minister to a Mr. Crosby, where you stated that your department was diligently pursuing definitive responses to the residents' concerns, within two weeks. It has been almost four weeks, that was four weeks ago. My question to the minister is, please share with this House what definitive responses you have come up with to address the concerns of this Granbury resident?

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, to address the concerns of the people in Granbury Place, I personally visited with them at Granbury Place, discussed the problem first-hand, and have moved forward with legislation that was tabled yesterday to address these concerns.

MS. ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, the Premier, when asked about Sable, he wrings his hands, we are conducting a study. The Minister of Health says he doesn't know what to do about long-term care, during this process. Mr. Speaker, now this minister today in today's paper talked about new legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. ATWELL: He talked about new legislation that could protect Granbury residents. My question to the minister is, when will you see the end of these, don't show, don't tell Liberal tactics, and see some action for Granbury residents, what are you going to do about it?

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, this is unbelievable. I have met with the people in the community. We have enforced the law to the full extent of the law and we cannot do any more than that and even to the point that we brought a bill forward faster than we were originally going to do, to address these concerns. This is the first time in the history of Canada that this kind of problem has arisen and it is the first time . . .

[4:15 p.m.]

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

HUMAN RTS. COMM'N. - EXEC. DIRECTOR: VACANCY - FILL

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Justice and also the Minister responsible for the Human Rights Act. During Question Period

[Page 3321]

on June 16, 1998, the Minister of Justice stated that there was a search for a new executive director which would be fair and transparent and that it would be done appropriately. Prior to Mr. Wayne MacKay's appointment as executive director we had an acting executive director of that commission for almost 19 months. My question to the Minister of Justice is, will we have to wait another 19 months before we have a replacement for Mr. MacKay?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we have had a process in place and the process is functioning and we will have an appointment before 19 months, in answer to the honourable member's question.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: In June the Minister of Justice praised Mr. MacKay's job performance, saying he had done a very good job. I think he has brought order and function to the Human Rights Commission. Prior to his dismissal, Wayne MacKay offered to continue in his position for another year. My question, Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Justice, is quite simple, why did the Minister of Justice refuse the offer to extend Mr. MacKay for another year when we could be waiting 12 months for another executive director?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable member will not be waiting for another 12 months, if that is what he said. Maybe I heard him wrong. Mr. MacKay's term had been extended on one occasion. There were commitments that he needed to know due to his workload as a professor at Dalhousie University Faculty of Law and we were not able to comply with that at that particular time and that was the reason. I thought we had a very amicable cessation to his work.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, through you again to the Minister of Justice. Currently the commission has set five boards of inquiry, including racial discrimination in cases against your own government. So my question is, why has the Minister of Justice left the Human Rights Commission with a void at the top during such a crucial time in its existence?

DR. SMITH: I will take that question under advisement. I think that is really quite an insult to the woman who is there at the head. I have visited there, I have met with the person, and in no way do I consider her to be a void at the top. I would resent the comment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - COBEQUID PASS:

TOLLS REMOVAL - ASSISTANCE (GOV'T. [CAN.])

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier. Mr. Premier, I wish to address an issue of vital interprovincial commerce concern and that issue goes back to the toll highway being discussed in the Province of New Brunswick. That highway, if we extrapolate it to what has been the experience of Nova Scotia and we know the numbers. The

[Page 3322]

toll highway in Nova Scotia in the locale of Cumberland County is $175 million. We know that it will cost over the next 20 years hundreds of millions to the Nova Scotia economy.

MR. SPEAKER: Put the question, please.

MR. FAGE: Are you prepared to go to Ottawa and make sure that that toll highway does not occur and impede commerce in Nova Scotia and the citizens of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, Premier Tobin has stated that he felt that toll highways in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia affect the commerce in Newfoundland and he is absolutely correct. Toll highways in New Brunswick affect the commerce in Nova Scotia. We are opposed to them and if we can work out a deal with the federal government to remove the toll highways, then we certainly will.

MR. FAGE: That is a pretty weak statement for a government which in their opening preamble of the spring session said there will be no more toll roads in Nova Scotia, and to a Premier in Public Accounts who said today that during the leadership campaign that toll highways were a concern to him. Mr. Premier, will you assure this House today that you will take a written undertaking and also an undertaking with the other Premiers in this Maritime Region that the toll highway in New Brunswick will be stopped?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if we want to stop the one in New Brunswick, then we also want to stop the one in Nova Scotia. (Applause) If there is funding to remove the toll highway in New Brunswick, then there should be funding to remove the toll highway in Nova Scotia.

MR. FAGE: I commend the Premier on his answer. The only problem is he has not been able to deliver on that and that is what the citizens of Nova Scotia want. Will the Premier assure us today that everything possible will be done as an undertaking that that toll in New Brunswick does not cripple the economy of Nova Scotia for the next 20 years?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we do not want toll highways in Nova Scotia. We do not want them in New Brunswick. We have done everything we can within our financial means to reduce the burden of a toll highway in Nova Scotia. We would like to see toll highways in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick removed. We have worked with the federal government. We have told them we want these toll highways removed. We will continue to do everything we can to make sure toll highways in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for Oral Question Period has expired. Before we go on to Opposition Members' Business, I will recognize the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs for an introduction.

[Page 3323]

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and to all members of the House, sitting in our east gallery is Mr. Dave Darrow. He is our Executive Director of Municipal Affairs. Today he is accompanied by his son, Andrew, who has joined him today at work. I would ask the House to provide them with our usual welcome and ask both gentlemen to stand. (Applause)

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise on a point of order relative to Question Period. It is a very small point but the member for Sackville-Cobequid, the Opposition House Leader, was quoting from a letter. I do not believe that he tabled that letter and perhaps he would table the letter now so we can . . .

MR. SPEAKER: It is the member for Sackville-Cobequid you are referring to?

MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, the same one.

MR. JOHN HOLM: To the distinguished gentleman from Kings North, what I said, Mr. Speaker, was that I would provide a copy of the letter to the Premier but I want to assure him that I would want to share that information so that the Progressive Conservative caucus has their research done as well. So I will table that letter as soon as I finish my remarks.

MR. SPEAKER: That matter is being resolved.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have distributed to House Leaders of the other two Parties a listing of the bills and the times allocated for them.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call for debate Bill No. 39.

Bill No. 39 - Gas Distribution Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

[Page 3324]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the bill is entitled, an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1997, the Gas Distribution Act, to Ensure Distribution of Natural Gas Throughout Nova Scotia and to Make Municipalities Full Participants in Gas Distribution.

Mr. Speaker, as I rise today to speak on the legislation, I was heartened by the fact that the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, today, read into the record a resolution calling upon us, and in particular me, as the Energy Critic for our caucus, to provide a coherent position on natural gas and natural gas distribution. I take those kinds of comments to mean that, obviously, there has been some discussion by the government members and support for the kind of legislation that we are bringing forward here for discussion today because, in fact, we are trying to do just that very thing and that is to put in place coherent pieces of legislation that will ensure that there is an orderly fashion for the distribution of natural gas throughout the province.

Mr. Speaker, the bill that is before us is not a lengthy bill. It is not a complicated piece of legislation. It is a piece of legislation, however, that would leave some parameters for the Utility and Review Board in terms of things that they have to consider when a distribution franchise is going to be awarded.

Mr. Speaker, I have looked at the full Act in itself. This is an Act that was passed in 1997 by this government. I am sure it was an oversight when certain things were omitted because under Section 8 of that Act, the Act stipulates that the board - and this is the Utility and Review Board - can grant a franchise but, before they do that, before granting a franchise, it shall be satisfied with a number of items. But among those items that the board has to be concerned with, one of them has nothing to do with a plan.

The bill that I am proposing here today for consideration - and I sincerely hope, I say this to the Premier - I hope the Premier will be supportive of this legislation and have it go forward to the Law Amendments Committee, because what this would do, and it is not binding the hand, it is not committing somebody if there aren't the economics and so on to be doing it, it would say that the board would not grant a franchise, pursuant to the section above the things that they are supposed to consider, unless the application has in place a plan for delivering gas. That is reasonable. I think it is very reasonable that those who are applying to distribute the natural resources, our gas across the area that they would be awarded a distribution license, that they actually have a plan to do that within the period of time specified by the board.

I am not going to stand here today, Mr. Speaker, and say exactly how soon it can be done. There are economics involved, there is engineering work that has to be done, but the board, with their expertise, can come up with reasonable time plans, and I think that it is reasonable for the board to say that it has to be done within a specific period of time, to all parts of the franchise area, that is not saying the whole province, unless it is the government's plan that their regulations, which they have yet to release, state that one distributor will be

[Page 3325]

providing or distributing gas to the entire province, and I certainly hope that is not what the government's intention is going to be.

So it would require them to have a plan to, within a reasonable period of time, explain how they are going to get natural gas to the area that they are to distribute it amongst and that, I believe, is common sense, but that is a power that the board currently does not have and it is something that I think they should have to take into consideration, along with ensuring that there is actually enough gas to be distributed.

Mr. Speaker, it doesn't apply - and it specifies this clearly - where the board, in its opinion, says that the public interest of ensuring equal distribution of gas in the province is seriously outweighed by the expenses of distributing gas to any part of a franchise area. So in other words, the board would have the authority to require that those who were applying to distribute natural gas will have to do it within a reasonable time-frame and that they have a plan, but if it is not economically viable, if it is not going to be cost-efficient, then the board can wave some of those kinds of provisions. So, in other words, it is empowering them to do their proper kind of job. Hopefully, the member for Guysborough would be supportive of giving the board the ability to say that you must have a plan, and I know that the government doesn't always have their own, but they can at least insist that somebody else does.

We have also heard a great deal, Mr. Speaker, from members of this government about their support for municipalities. We had, for example, and we still have on the floor for debate in this House, the new Municipal Government Act. We talk about, and the government talks about how they value the municipalities as a responsible level of government. Well, one of the other amendments that we are proposing in this legislation is to say that municipalities and, also, cooperatives - if the government members have done their homework, they will see the natural gas in many areas across this country is distributed by owner-operated cooperatives, and we have a long history in this province of cooperative movements and how we can do things - what this is saying is that cooperatives that have been formed for natural distribution, which are owner-operated and, therefore, not profit-motivated, and municipalities should have a right to appear before the Utility and Review Board on hearings discussing natural gas distribution within that district.

We are not saying everywhere. We are not suggesting that, for example, Guysborough would have a right to sit in on public hearings dealing with an application for natural gas distribution affecting Yarmouth or Halifax, it is for their area.

[4:30 p.m.]

If we respect municipalities as being a responsible level of government, we should insist that they have the right, if they wish to be interveners in those hearings, to defend the best interests of their citizens. In order to do that, of course, they will have to have some expert advice. The Premier knows, and anybody who is on a municipal council knows, that the

[Page 3326]

economics are such that you cannot have on staff all of the expertise for all of the areas. That is what money is for and that is why you hire professionals.

What we are suggesting here is that the Utility and Review Board may authorize intervener funding and that would be intervener funding undoubtedly being paid for by the proponent, the one who is seeking that application. That funding would be enough money to provide for them to have the applications, and so on, being reviewed and considered to see if, in fact, they are going to be meeting the needs and I think that is reasonable and I hope the Premier agrees.

The Premier has also said that he wants done away with the $50,000 application fee of municipalities and cooperatives to make an application. I have seen cooperatives in Alberta which have around 800-some odd members in an area that is larger than the Province of Prince Edward Island and they are able to distribute natural gas. If you can have cooperatives distributing natural gas in Alberta, Saskatchewan or the other places, we can do it here as well. Municipalities deliver it in some places and if they can do it, we can do it here. It does not depend simply on the size of them.

Mr. Speaker, you are telling me my time is just about up. The point is for small municipalities, for small cooperatives, $50,000 is a prohibitive fee; that on top of the other costs that would be involved.

I say to the Premier, I urge you to give this bill support. It is going to put some flesh on commitments that you have been making publicly. We are not saying that there cannot be some minor changes or whatever in this legislation. Let's move it forward to the Law Amendments Committee. If there needs to be improvements, we can do it there so that we are, in fact, going to be strengthening the natural gas distribution and better enhancing the opportunities for citizens, from one end of the province to the other, to actually receive the benefits of our natural resource.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great privilege to rise today and speak on this very important issue. I have not had a look at the bill and having seen who was putting this forward, immediately, I said there is a major flaw in this legislation. When one thinks that this is coming forward from the member for Sackville-Cobequid and the NDPs, one has to say right away what is wrong with this legislation. This issue is about Sable gas. It is an issue about probably the largest development that will ever take place in Nova Scotia's history.

[Page 3327]

The major flaw is that this is coming from that Party, because this is good news. That is foreign to that Party and it is foreign to them to be able to talk to Nova Scotians about good news, about prosperity, about a future for our children, about good times ahead. They just do not understand that, they understand doom and gloom, they understand problems, they understand everything that is wrong with the world.

When I stood for election in Richmond County, I said during that election that Richmond County and the Strait area is on the verge of a boom. We are on a boom here that we have never seen in our history and that is going to last for years. It is a time of economic change, economic prosperity and with the end of the TAGS program, the fall of the fishery . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the honourable member would permit a question? As amusing as I find the comments of the member who represents the good people of Richmond, and they are amusing, I wonder what relevance any of his comments have to do actually with the piece of legislation that is before us for consideration?

MR. SPEAKER: Since the member has raised the question, I would submit to the member for Richmond that he might make a little greater effort to demonstrate the relevance of his comments to the bill.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, clearly this bill is dealing with Sable gas and the distribution of Sable gas and for your information, Richmond County itself is one of the counties here that stands to gain some of the biggest gains from this. To say that this is not relevant, I take great offence to that ruling by yourself and by that so-called honourable member over there.

Right now, in Richmond County, we have seen the start of construction with the fractionation plant. That is one of the first major steps toward establishing a distribution system throughout this province. Today we see again in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, in reference to the Goldboro site, the Business section, one article, "Project seen as positive for area.". The other article, "A natural for gas - Rural Goldboro site prepares for Sable to be piped ashore.".

Mr. Speaker, it is essential that we have gas distributed to all Nova Scotians and that is something that this government is committed to, this honourable Premier is committed to, and that we are working on. I have to ask, when I look at this legislation, where does that honourable member get his information, all this information on gas? He talks every day about gas and this 16 inch pipe, eight inch pipe, where is he getting this information? (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, we know that member was in Calgary wining and dining with the executives out in Calgary and getting his information out there. He doesn't disclose who gave him that information. I wonder (Interruptions)

[Page 3328]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. SAMSON: I wonder, Mr. Speaker, I am not sure how he got to Calgary, if it was with his little red sports car that he drove out there or how he went or if it is at the taxpayers' expense. He doesn't tell us that. That Party doesn't make anything clear of what this legislation is based on.

One of the things that I want to talk about that upsets me the most, and on dealing with the whole question of distribution, is the recent agreement signed by Stora and CGC from Point Tupper with Mobil. This is something that every member of this House should be applauding. It should be praising, it should be standing up and saying, this is a commitment by two of our largest industrial bases in Nova Scotia, who are committed to using Sable gas, and who are saying, we are going to sign deals that make Sable gas our means of power and our means of energy for the future.

Mr. Speaker, one of the main issues here with bringing Sable gas is confidence. It is consumer confidence. Before we talk about distribution, we have to make sure we have consumer confidence, that Nova Scotians say, yes, we are prepared for gas, we want gas, and it is going to be our future source of energy. This was a start by Stora and CGC stating, we are committed with Mobil to signing this deal for gas. That was a commitment to the future of Nova Scotia, to the children of this province, to the businesses of this province, and to the economy of this province.

Yet, Mr. Speaker, what do we hear from the NDP and from the member for Sackville-Cobequid and his Leader next to him, they accuse Stora, they criticize Stora, that is all they do. They criticize Stora. (Interruptions) Now the member for Sackville-Cobequid is making some childish sounds over there, but anyway that is in his nature. (Interruptions) What is this? This is just taking our time. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid requests if the member would entertain a question.

MR. SAMSON: No. (Interruptions)

MR. JOHN HOLM: So you haven't read the bill.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the people of Strait-Richmond area, this is just one more example of their disregard for the people of the Strait area of Nova Scotia. They just don't care about the Strait area. (Interruptions) There is an example. During the election, the Leader of the NDP was actually in Richmond, but it was night-time. I think he was sleeping in the car and they woke him up and said, look, wake up, we are in Richmond, get out and wave to people. He spent five minutes in Richmond County because that is about

[Page 3329]

as much time as the people of Richmond County had for that Leader. Thank God he didn't waste his time.

Anyway, back to Stora, Stora was one of the first industrial leaders to say that we are going to invest in Sable gas and we are going to show confidence. Besides the criticisms of that Party, I would point your attention to the front page of the Reporter, Friday edition, Warden Defends Local Gas Deals. Deals to sell gas to two local companies provided only good news for the area, says Richmond Warden Richie Cotton. He goes on to say that to me, the fact that Stora is coming onside is fantastic, that gives us in Richmond and Port Hawkesbury and the surrounding areas a chance to obtain natural gas. As far as I am concerned, it is great that industrial users in Point Tupper are offering to buy gas. That is the confidence that exists in the Strait area. That is the confidence that is out there. They don't know about that because they don't come to the Strait area because it is all good things going on in the Strait area.

We were devastated by the closure of the fishery, Mr. Speaker, but we have picked ourselves up. I look in Richmond, I look at the success stories. That is good news. That is what the members of this House should be telling the people of Nova Scotia. There is a boom going on here and Sable gas is going to be one of the major components of that boom, but we cannot hear that from that side. We don't hear that, it's good news. That is no good. Let's talk about gloom and doom. That is all we hear from that side.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things, when I hear the member for Sackville-Cobequid talk about protecting Cape Breton, well, I have to have my Tums close to me because it turns my stomach to hear that member talk about Cape Breton. They don't have an idea what is going on in Cape Breton, especially in the Strait area.

One of the other things I have to highlight is, as you know yourself, Stora just underwent the largest industrial expansion in Nova Scotia history. As you probably know, Mr. Speaker, Stora had a great gala here in Halifax, another gala down in the Strait. That honourable Leader of the NDP attended the gala in Halifax, wined and dined with Stora, and then he came down to the Strait - someone must have shown him how to get there - he sat there and he ate. You know, he ate the lobster and he ate the filet mignon with Stora. He had the fork in one hand that he brought with him and a knife. He ate the lobster and the sirloin and once he was done, when he walked away, he stabbed Stora in the back and said to hell with Stora and to hell with the Strait area because we are going to criticize Stora. Stora is bad. CGC is bad. What are they doing? They are expanding. They are showing confidence in Nova Scotia. They are showing confidence in the Strait area.

I stand here, Mr. Speaker, as a first term member, to say that I am proud of this government's effort with Sable gas. We are on the verge of an economic breakthrough. (Applause) When I think of legislation coming from that honourable member about Sable gas, it is just beyond belief because they just cannot accept that there is a boom going on in this

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province. That member for Sackville-Cobequid and his Leader cannot accept there is a boom. They cannot talk about positive things, but let me tell you, that on behalf of Richmond County and on behalf of all Nova Scotians, that I am proud of being a member of this House at this time and that we are undergoing an economic boom that is going to benefit our children, it is going to benefit the residents of Nova Scotia. I am proud to say that I am a member of this government that is going to see this happen and see that gas gets to every home in Nova Scotia and not by listening to the doom and gloom that is coming from the other side. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. SAMSON: I have no idea where they are getting their facts or what they are talking about. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome an opportunity to join debate on the Gas Distribution Bill. I am amazed. We have the member for Richmond up defending the government's position and saying it is going to be all right in Richmond. Of course it is going to be all right in Richmond. You are right next door to the gas. What this bill is about is getting gas to the rest of Nova Scotia and you did not address that with one single word.

It is very seldom that I have an opportunity to speak on behalf and in favour of something the member for Sackville-Cobequid has done. This is a good bill and that member failed to recognize that this is a good bill. This is a good bill because this bill plugs two holes in the leaky plan that this Liberal Government has to get gas to the rest of Nova Scotia. That is what is wrong. The member for Richmond would have us believe and have us give credit for putting the gas under the sea to this Liberal Government, but what he fails to say is that unless the good Lord is also going to get the gas to Yarmouth and to the rest of our communities, that it is not going to happen because this Liberal Government is not making the provisions to get that gas to the rest of the province.

The bill accomplishes two good things that the Liberal plan has not addressed. It makes a provision that other Nova Scotians can benefit. The Strait area is going to be okay and I am glad for the people of Richmond County and the rest of those in the Strait area, but the member for Richmond and others must realize that other communities are not so fortunate. They are some distance from the gas and they will not have the kind of advantages that you are going to have in Richmond or they are going to have in Guysborough County, unless we have a policy that will get gas to those other communities. (Applause)

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[4:45 p.m.]

The cherry-picking that this government has allowed to occur makes gas distribution to other communities in this province more problematic. The member on the government benches failed to understand that those communities that won't get gas by way of a distribution system that guarantees gas to those communities, will wither on the vine. The Liberals don't seem interested in the rest of Nova Scotia. They don't seem to understand that unless communities like Yarmouth, my community and industrial Cape Breton get gas, then, in fact, much of this is for naught.

This government has got it backwards. How can we plan laterals? We talk about the eight inch lateral across the Strait of Canso and the Premier talks about doing a study to find out how big that lateral should be, and Maritimes & Northeast pulled the rug out from under the Premier and put out a request for proposal to say that it is going to be an eight inch pipe. Here it is right here. That is what they are saying. Despite what our Premier says, it is going to be an eight inch pipe. How can the National Energy Board determine how much gas we are going to need in Nova Scotia if, in fact, the proponents who want to distribute natural gas have not had an opportunity before the URB to tell the URB how much gas they are going to need, therefore, allowing the URB to make a decision on how big the laterals are going to be. We have it backwards. The cart is before the horse.

The Premier has not said anything about the fact that the Natural Energy Board should not have anything to do with our laterals in the first place; the only energy project of this type in the entire country that is allowing the intraprovincial distribution of gas to be controlled by the National Energy Board and not by the local URB. It is unbelievable that all of these gaffes are being made by the Liberal Government in terms of getting a reasonable distribution policy in place in this province.

This particular piece of legislation, all it says, Mr. Speaker, is look, let's make sure that we require those that are going to do the distribution of gas, that it has to go to the Nova Scotia communities; not in the 10 years or so that the Premier seems comfortable with, but quickly. Can you imagine what is going to happen to those communities that don't have gas? Development will be at a standstill until such time as gas arrives in those communities.

The Premier has indicated, on a number of occasions, that he will not see any municipality or any RDA or any local interest be kept out of the URB hearings because of the very high entrance fee that is required to make a presentation. He continues to say it but, nevertheless, nothing has happened to indicate to those who wish to make those applications that, in fact, the $25,000 requirement has been waived. It is a simple thing. The Premier should just simply pick up the phone and say, look, I have made a decision; this is my decision. You tell those communities they won't be charged if, in fact, they want to make an application to do local distribution.

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When the regulations come out - and I am certainly hoping they will come out within the lifetime of at least some of us here in this Legislature - I would hope that the Premier would see to it that these regulations start addressing some of the concerns that we have been bringing up, that others who are interested in this province in natural gas are bringing up. Certainly, the government has had ample time to provide us with those regulations, so much time, in fact, the URB is going to be having its hearings after the National Energy Board has determined the size of the laterals, because those laterals have to be in place.

Nova Scotia Power wants gas in Tufts Cove and they don't want it sometime into the next century. They want it in November 1999. The size of that lateral will have to be determined and if we don't know the amount of gas that the distributor wants to take to southwestern Nova Scotia, that the distributor wants to have here for other industries and residents here in metro, then how can they make a determination as to the proper size for that lateral any more than they can make a determination as to what is the right size for the lateral under the Strait of Canso?

This is, Mr. Speaker, a good piece of legislation and it is one that we would be prepared to support. I believe it is a good piece of legislation because it starts to address the weaknesses in our approach to natural gas development and distribution here in this province, a weakness that in some part comes from inexperience, a weakness that comes perhaps in larger part from a failure to access the proper information by a province that is not experienced in dealing with natural gas or dealing with major players like Mobil and others who are big players.

Mobil and those in Sable are not the enemies of this province. Mobil and partners in Sable, and partners in Maritimes & Northeast will do all that is required of them to be major participants in the economy of this province for years to come but if we do not require enough of them, if we do not put the needs of Nova Scotians and the benefits that should come to Nova Scotians first, then why should we leave it up to them to decide what benefits it is that we achieve here in this province as a result of developing a natural gas industry here in this province. Of course, they are going to put their shareholders first but this government should be putting Nova Scotia and the taxpayers first and that, to this point, has not occurred.

I rise to speak in favour of this particular piece of legislation. It brings strength to a government plan that is filled with weakness. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 3333]

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Bill No. 39. Bill No. 39 is a bill which would implement fairness, accessibility and full participation of municipalities in gas distribution. This bill would ensure a distribution within reason throughout Nova Scotia and would insist that franchise owners will need to have long-term vision - that is very important and I will be mentioning that a couple of times throughout my presentation - for the areas that it services because, meeting the minimum needs of a municipality or a region would not ensure growth and expansion for that area. What I am saying is meeting the needs of an area's domestic and industrial use that exist in the franchise area is not enough. They will need to have long-term vision that will ensure that they will be able to meet the needs of growing towns and communities that they service, things such as new homes being built, things such as putting communities in a favourable position to encourage and solicit new industry to come.

If they do not have access to gas, or if the franchise owner does not have long-term vision, especially when it comes to new industry and community growth, it is not going to happen, Mr. Speaker. Timing is so important. Nova Scotians will need access to gas within a reasonable amount of time. The franchise applicant will need to have a plan in place for delivering this product. The franchise applicant will have to have a plan ensuring its capability of delivering the product to the area that it services, as determined by the board.

What I find, Mr. Speaker, very appealing about Bill No. 39 will be the involvement or right to be involved, the right to participate that municipalities, or cooperatives, will have and rightfully so. Their involvement will make decisions made more informed and have more of a community flavour of the needs and expectations on that community or cooperative. Not imposing an application fee is a positive; it is very important. This will ensure the municipalities participate, or not hinder their participation.

Mr. Speaker, rural Nova Scotia, towns, counties, coastal communities need access to natural gas, if for nothing else, for their very survival. What happens to a town, such as where I am from, Yarmouth, if it doesn't have access to gas? Well, it will lose its competitive edge. It will be placed in a position of not being able to encourage industry to relocate or new industry to start up. Jobs and families will go elsewhere.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where?

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Where? Where they will have accessibility to natural gas.

Rural Nova Scotia, Yarmouth, cannot afford to be ignored. It is bad enough that rural Nova Scotia's basic services, such as doctor shortages and roads, are not being addressed, but the meat-and-potatoes issue of accessibility to gas cannot be ignored. The good people of Yarmouth, the good people of Nova Scotia are looking and pleading with this government saying, let's be fair. It is all our resource. Let's be fair. We, as legislators, are obligated to represent all Nova Scotians.

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Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 39 supports all Nova Scotians. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it also gives me pleasure today to rise in the House and speak on Bill No. 39. I would like to thank the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party for being such a stalwart supporter of this bill. This bill, make no mistake about it - people get tied up with just the present - is about gas distribution. This bill is about all the gas reserves that are off this province, including those off the Laurentian Shelf. We know, somewhat, what can be done to help our energy sector in industrial Cape Breton, so we cannot be so blind as to say, gas is Sable and that is it. If that is as forward-thinking as we are, then we are in true trouble. We have to look at all of our resources as they pertain to this province, and not one little sector. We have to look at the whole picture.

This plan would call for people to come before the board and tell the board what their specific plans are and the time-frame in which they are going to do it and move forward. We look at these groups coming forward and you see the rural areas of Cape Breton, Victoria County, Inverness County, Richmond County, other rural areas of Cape Breton County, and it is important that all those people share in the future that will include gas. We think this is very important and, by doing that, one thing that I think is so important is that we give those municipalities and those co-ops that want to participate in this, the right to do so without an onerous fee.

The Liberals have talked about that, and what we are saying is, look, we agree with you, here is the legislation, support it; go on, help us build a healthy and vibrant industrial sector. We have got to look at industrial Cape Breton and say that there has to be a broad-based energy policy and Cape Breton can very well be that energy centre for the energy needs of this province.

There is no reason other than stubborn, silly, political partisanship, and what I am saying, Mr. Speaker, is that this is a good bill, this is a bill that gives these people this right. We are debating, also, the whole idea of a huge municipal bill. Well, if they are that worried about municipalities, let's go ahead and do it.

[5:00 p.m.]

I stand here in support of this bill and as the Premier has told the Third Party and us, that if you bring forward good legislation we will support it. Now I will be taking my seat and asking for a vote on this bill. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

[Page 3335]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have a few moments to speak on this bill. I just want to take a few (Interruptions) We have given the undertaking that all parts of Nova Scotia will have access to natural gas, we have stated that. We have specified the importance of natural gas to the people of Nova Scotia. I have said on numerous occasions that natural gas belongs to the people of Nova Scotia and that is absolutely correct.

The Opposition has raised objection to the direct selling by Mobil to Stora and to Canadian Gypsum but as the member for Richmond has stated, this is a great opportunity to assure that two very important industries in the Strait area remain in the Strait area, their competitiveness is now going to be enhanced. We have said, too, that we want business to share in the cost of the distribution of natural gas with the individual homeowners and that is the case. Also, we want to attract new industry to Nova Scotia, new industry that will be able to take advantage of the preferential price in Nova Scotia that will make our jurisdiction more attractive than any other jurisdiction that is serviced by this natural gas.

I have stated on many occasions that where natural gas goes after it leaves Nova Scotia is really of no concern. The fact of the matter is that we have to maximize the utility of the natural gas in Nova Scotia for Nova Scotians, that is first and foremost. We want to be able to help municipalities and cooperatives that do make application. I have said that there would not be a roadblock thrown in the way of municipalities or cooperatives if they want to intervene. The question is fairness.

The honourable member does make a statement . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for debate on Bill No. 39 has expired.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the government calling this bill on another day so that we will have more time.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 42.

Bill No. 42 - Municipal Amalgamation Review (1998) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak for a few moments on Bill No. 42, an Act to Review the Recent Municipal Amalgamations in the Counties of Cape Breton and Halifax. Mr. Speaker, I do not need to tell you or other members of this House what an impact the forced amalgamation has had on the Regional Municipality of Cape Breton and here in metro, the Halifax Regional Municipality.

[Page 3336]

The promises that were made, the suggestions throughout that whole process of a system that was imposed on those municipal units, was that this process was going to save money and that once the amalgamation happened the savings would be rolling in year after year. Well, you know what happened? It cost money, it has cost the municipalities money. The Halifax Regional Municipality is looking at a debt in the range of $380 million-plus. They are trying to wrestle with their deficit right now; you may know that they had meetings last night. (Interruption) The Minister of Education says, well they can raise taxes. That is exactly the problem you see, actions of this government have resulted in the taxpayers in these regional municipalities being asked to pay more, being presented with the situation where they have had conflicting levels of service throughout the municipality, they have conflict between regions, they have had a continual problem with trying to deal with the burgeoning deficit problem, the cost of running that large municipality, and in both cases, in both the Halifax Regional Municipality and with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, the mayors have said that they look forward to this opportunity, to the opportunity provided in this bill.

What this bill provides is an opportunity for residents to have input into a process. We believe that they deserve to be involved, finally, in decisions with respect to how their municipalities will be constructed and will be run. They deserve to be a part of the decision this time around. They deserve to have reliable facts and figures. They deserve to be involved in an objective review. They deserve to have an opportunity to make a decision on what the outcome will be.

We have proposed in this bill, a fair and impartial process through the Utility and Review Board to identify options, to obtain information and financial projections, to have adequate participation on behalf of the residents of these municipalities, and to give an opportunity for their preferred option the regional municipality put forward, and for residents to have an opportunity to vote on that option.

This has been characterized by some, in particular, members of this government, it would be interesting to hear what they have to say now, this bill has been characterized as an attempt to roll the clock back. This doesn't say anything about rolling the clock back, it just simply says, let's take an opportunity now, the process has been underway now for two to three years, let's take an opportunity to evaluate with a fair, impartial and independent body what has happened, to assess the pros and the cons of amalgamation and present that information in a logical, in a reasonable way (Interruption) a respectful way to the people of those municipalities. And then to consider what the costs have been and what the costs might be, and to have some discussions about where we go from here. Is it good enough, what we have at the present time? What do we need to do in order to make improvements?

Mr. Speaker, the Halifax Regional Municipality Halifax is wrestling with those kinds of issues independently, right now, trying to deal, basically, it is an imperative that has been determined by the finances, they are trying to figure out exactly what to do now. What we are saying is, here is a process, it lays it out quite clearly. It is a fairly simple piece of legislation

[Page 3337]

that lays out quite clearly what the board would do, study the social and economic effects of the amalgamation resulting in the formation of the regional municipality, hold public hearings and receive written submissions respecting these two amalgamations, develop options for the area of each regional municipality.

Then those options would include the social and economic effects of each option, effect on property tax rates of each option, and the effect on the delivery and quality of municipal services. It is an attempt to lay it all out, to give people an opportunity to examine the facts and to make some decisions based on those facts.

I think that we owe that to the citizens of Halifax Regional Municipality and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

There continues, as a result of the process that we followed, to be this rift, there continues to be conflict and mistrust within those municipal governments on behalf of the taxpayers, the people who are receiving services, and people in urban Halifax think that their services are being reduced, that the people in rural parts of the municipality are getting more services, that people are not all paying their fair share, that there is not a proper accommodation of the growth in the suburban areas. I think it is too much, given the energy and the time it is taking for that council to deal with the day-to-day operation of that municipality, to expect them to have to try to pull all of that together.

What we have done is listen to what the people in these regions have had to say in these two municipalities. We have presented a process that we think is reasonable, Mr. Speaker, and we suggested in the final submission here that, in Clause 5, "After submitting the report to the Minister . . .", that we would, "(a) select, from the options developed by it pursuant to this Act, the options that the Board considers to be the most reasonable; and (b) direct the regional municipality to include on the ballot at the next election held in the regional municipality a question as to which of the options selected by the Board pursuant to clause (a) is favoured by the residents of the regional municipality.".

Mr. Speaker, the Premier said before we came into this House this fall, he said if the Opposition presents good ideas, we will accept them and we will move on them. This is a good idea. It has been accepted by the mayors of those two municipalities. It is something that is being called for by many residents of these municipalities. We think that the Third Party will be prepared to support this. We hope they will and we would like to see this bill in the interests of the residents of these regions having an opportunity to participate so we can move on from here in some logical and rational way.

Let's vote in favour of this piece of legislation, move it on to the Law Amendments Committee, have the municipalities come in and discuss it with us, and let's see that we move from this session with a piece of legislation that provides us with an opportunity to examine

[Page 3338]

that forced amalgamation and the ways that we can best move from here on that issue in the best interests of the taxpayers, of the residents of both of those municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to hearing from other presenters on this piece of legislation. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my speaking time on this bill with my colleague, the member for Cape Breton West, the Minister of Labour.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on Bill No. 42. The Municipal Government Act was recently tabled in the Legislature following several years of development and consultations by the municipalities. The Municipal Government Act is based on a number of fundamental principles, one of which is greater autonomy for municipalities. Bill No. 42 would have the provincial government effectively override the authority of municipalities and is strictly opposite to the principle of greater municipal autonomy. It is largely for that reason that I will not be supporting this piece of legislation.

Over the course of the past couple of years the people of Nova Scotia have said that they do not want the provincial government meddling with municipal boundaries. Elected municipal representatives, including many from the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, have said that they do not want the provincial government meddling with their boundaries. Both the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality are governed by a group of duly elected individuals. If a review boundary for amalgamation is warranted, these councils have both the capability and the capacity to see that this is done. If residents of a particular area of either municipality wish to have a boundary change, there is a process in place involving the Utility and Review Board for doing so.

[5:15 p.m.]

So notwithstanding what people have said about not wanting the provincial government to do any more meddling with municipal boundaries, Mr. Speaker, I believe a comprehensive review of amalgamation, in either Cape Breton or Halifax, is premature at this time. These mergers were massive undertakings and, in many respects, they are still in the transition stages.

Mergers of this magnitude are not very often undertaken in the private sector in order to capitalize on short-term savings, they are generally undertaken in order to capitalize on benefits which do not fully materialize until several years after the merger takes place. Likewise, the benefits of the Halifax an Cape Breton mergers will not be fully realized for a number of years and doing a review at the present time will only tell a part of the story, Mr.

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Speaker. Making decisions with long-term implications on the basis of such studies would be short-sighted and fiscally irresponsible.

Mr. Speaker, over the course of the past year or so, we have heard a lot about the cost of the amalgamation. I would like to remind you and the members of this House that the amalgamations in Halifax and Cape Breton were undertaken for a variety of reasons, and not simply for the purpose of saving municipal administration costs. In Cape Breton, five of the eight municipal units in existence prior to amalgamation were on the verge of bankruptcy. Dealing with this fiscal crises and addressing the need for a strong focal point for economic development and promotion were the major driving forces behind amalgamation in Cape Breton.

I believe the record will show that the Halifax amalgamation was motivated primarily by the need for a strong, local government, focal point for economic development and promotion, and, Mr. Speaker, the need to address a number of pressing regional issues; and just to name a few: solid waste management, and the harbour clean-up. They had been the subject of long-standing wrangling and disagreement among the former municipal units.

Contrary to popular opinion, not all of the news about amalgamation in Cape Breton and in Halifax is bad. For example, the former Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor, John Coady, reported at last year's Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Conference that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality was spending, on an annual basis, $3.3 million less than the eight municipal units were prior to amalgamation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Interesting.

MR. GAUDET: Very interesting. Today, in Halifax, the economic development and promotion effort is much more focused than before amalgamation, when destructive and costly competition among the four municipal units was rampant. The Halifax region is in a much better position to compete in the global market place today than it was prior to amalgamation, and this will pay big dividends in coming years and for coming generations.

Mr. Speaker, I will take my place and allow my colleague, the member for Cape Breton West, to continue. Thank you. (Applause)

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

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable Leader of the Opposition for bringing this legislation forward, but perhaps not for the reason that he would like to think. The fact of the matter is, and I believe the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs has made the point very succinctly and clearly, and that is giving the opportunity for the process to work.

[Page 3340]

Mr. Speaker, I am going to speak primarily as it relates to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. As I have said on a previous day, the fact of the matter is, all eight municipalities in Cape Breton, in consultation over a two year period, supported regional government; that is a documented fact. Yet, when the legislation came before this House, the member for Halifax Atlantic rose in this House and, essentially, confirmed what I have been saying for quite some time, that he talks about things without knowing the facts. It is in Hansard. If he had done his research at the time that particular piece of legislation was before the House, he would have offered, I am sure, totally different interventions than what he did.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member at that point was suggesting holding hearings across the Island in Cape Breton to talk to people and have representations so that this entire piece of legislation meets the needs and desires of Cape Breton. At face value that sounds quite appropriate, but the fact of the matter is that process already took place over a two year period. The fact of the matter is, this honourable member wanted to be on both sides of the issue. He wanted to be on the side of the angels, as if he knew what he was talking about. The fact of the matter is, the consultation took place. The people spoke. They came before the Law Amendments Committee. These honourable members of the NDP caucus sat there and said absolutely nothing. I know because I sat there simultaneously. The records in the archives will support what I am saying.

The fact of the matter is, this honourable member likes to think that perhaps it might be a populist move to try to put this before the House of Assembly and the people of Nova Scotia to marry it in with some of the areas of concern that have been raised by the Halifax Regional Municipality or certain individuals. The suggestion about the cost factors that are related is a totally different situation, Mr. Speaker. Obviously, the Leader of the Opposition does not and has not the capacity to differentiate between regional government and exchange of services. If he had, he would have pointed that out.

The fact of the matter is, regional government in Cape Breton - and it was well documented, and still to this very day - would save the taxpayers in those municipalities combined, $6.3 million. That was not a liability, but this honourable member, because he feels that most people have not delved into the mechanics of it, let's take the populist view and condemn everything and everybody that is has been involved in the articulation of this particular process. I think this is cheap theatrical politics. I would suggest that the honourable member, the Leader of the Opposition, read the new Municipal Government Bill that is now before the House that shows that we appreciate the maturity.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon and speak on an Act to Review the Recent Municipal Amalgamations in the Counties of Cape Breton and Halifax. The fact of the matter is, the Liberal Government has failed the citizens in the Halifax Regional Municipality and they most likely have failed the citizens in the counties of

[Page 3341]

Cape Breton, also. One of the consequences of the disease that the government has, and that disease should be labelled, Bigger is Better. The Halifax Regional Municipality has a debt of $360 million. They are running a deficit of $19 million and that is a direct consequence and result and aftermath of amalgamation and the Premier, if he had the guts to stand on his feet would admit it. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. TAYLOR: The Premier would admit, if he had the guts, and if those people over there were not cowards, they would stand up and say, we did say that if good legislation comes into the House this fall, we will support it. Well, where are you now? Where is your wherewithal now? They are a bunch of cowards, Mr. Speaker. That is what they are. They are a bunch of cowards. How can they sit there (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. TAYLOR: Here is what Halifax Regional Municipality had to do, so why wouldn't you support this legislation, last night, fighting the deficit. Bigger is better. Bigger is always better. A 10 cent bus fare increase, cut some routes. What about the people on fixed income? What about the poor seniors who rely on the buses? One hundred jobs are going to stay vacant. What kind of jobs are those? This is a direct result of amalgamation. They are going to reduce departmental spending. Does that mean that services will decrease? They are going to axe the Dartmouth Heritage Museum. Dartmouth has already lost one police station. They are going to close the Lady Hammond Road Fire Station, an essential service, firefighting. This is a result of that disease, bigger is better. That is what it is, no question about it.

They are going to cut hours at the Centennial Pool. Council, and we commend the councillors and Mayor Fitzgerald and staff for working hard, but look what you did to the Halifax Regional Municipality. Look what they did. They are now going to charge a user fee to drop garbage off at the transfer station. Garbage now comes out of the general rates, so there are going to be two fees for moving garbage. That is what that government has done to the Halifax Regional Municipality.

It is rather ironic that the last speaker voted against the Cape Breton Regional Municipality Act and then got up and defended what this government has done to Cape Breton and Halifax citizens. They are going to cut certain recreation programs. Look what this government has done. Look what they have done to the biggest municipal unit. Look what they have done to the old Halifax County, Halifax, Dartmouth and Bedford, and then they won't support this legislation.

The debt and the deficit. Let's look at it. The government has clearly failed, they have clearly failed Nova Scotians. They have clearly failed the citizens in Cape Breton and the Halifax Regional Municipality. In the rural parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality, a part

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of the country where I live, and the member for Eastern Shore, I see him taking his place. Doesn't this government think that a social and economic impact study relative to the effect of amalgamation is warranted?

Mr. Speaker, he says, you are beginning to sound like (Interruptions) That is the type of rhetorical comeback we get from the Minister of Finance. He doesn't understand anything about deficits and debts, we have seen that. The social and economic effects of amalgamation resulting from the forced regional municipality would be a good idea if we knew what the effects where. How can you argue with that? They are afraid of the truth.

Hold public hearings, go to the people. It was forced upon us. It was shoved down our throats, literally. That is wrong. What we are asking and what this bill asks is that the board, which is the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, go to the people, something that is absolutely strange and alien to that government, but how can you argue against that? How can you vote against it? We have to know what options might be out there for citizens who are concerned about the impacts of amalgamation. What are their options out there? Can you perhaps secede to another unit? Can you form a new unit, perhaps?

The tax base would have to be studied, for example, if you wanted to form a new Eastern Halifax County Unit, just as one example. Citizens in the Musquodoboit Valley and Eastern Shore might want to join Colchester County for example or East Hants, residents in Dutch Settlement, Lantz and some of those areas, but surely to goodness, here is an opportunity and that government should realize it, there is an opportunity before them today to support legislation, Bill No. 42. Just because the NDP or the Progressive Conservatives introduced the bill doesn't mean you have to vote against it. You guys said over there, the Premier said, and I trust the Premier speaks for the Liberal Party - I am not so sure, he sent a letter to the Prime Minister, but yet during Question Period, he had the Minister of Transport answer the questions regarding the port of Halifax, which is a very important issue.

Doesn't that government have any courage? They forced amalgamation down the throats of residents in Halifax and Cape Breton, legislation comes before them, and they can't support it. When the board goes out and holds hearings, and I hope that the Utility and Review Board finds its way into the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley, because I know citizens would like to come out and express some of the concerns they have, one of the concerns they might express is that the residential rate has gone, since amalgamation, from 89 cents per $100 of assessment to $1.06. That is just the residential rate, plus assessments have climbed anywhere between 20 to 30 per cent, depending on where you live and depending on what your property is. Reduced services and you are paying more. How can any government in good conscience support such a dictatorial move. Amalgamation has hurt the citizens in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

[Page 3343]

[5:30 p.m.]

One concern we have with this legislation is that after the Utility and Review Board submits its report to the minister the, ". . . Board shall (a) select from the options developed . . . options that the Board considers to be the most reasonable;", and that is appreciated. But they are expected to, "(b) direct the regional municipality to include on the ballot at the next election held in the regional municipality a question as to which of the options selected by the Board . . .", . . .

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member indicated that I voted against amalgamation. That simply was not the case, I voted against the exchange of services.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member cleared that up because as he knows he is trying to flip-flop a little bit but nonetheless, he is trying his best.

One of the concerns that we have with this legislation is that the urban areas of the Halifax Regional Municipality, and I cannot speak for Cape Breton, but the urban areas of the Halifax Regional Municipality could still dictate to the rural areas regarding this plebiscite that the NDP is representing in their legislation. So I would like to see an amendment when this is approved unanimously for second reading and passage. We would like to see it go to the Law Amendments Committee and perhaps bring in an amendment where districts that are going to be impacted, have been impacted by the economic and social consequences of the forced amalgamation have the opportunity to perhaps secede, form a new unit.

Let's have the rural areas speak in support of options they find favour with and let us let the urban areas speak relative to options that they might support. Let's have the Premier, now he is in his place, let's have the Premier show a little bit of courage and stand behind what he said earlier, that if Opposition Parties bring in good legislation, which this is, to the House, the Progressive Conservatives support it, the NDP support it, the majority of the MLAs in this House support this legislation, so don't be a coward, stand behind the legislation. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. GERALD PYE: Mr. Speaker, indeed it is an honour to stand here and speak about Bill No. 42, an Act to Review the Recent Municipal Amalgamation in the Counties of Cape Breton and Halifax. I want this Legislative Assembly to be aware that, in fact, this bill allows for two key elements. One is that there will be study, a review of options, with respect to this municipal amalgamation. Forgive me for the quote by the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs that said that under the Municipal Act there is an allowance for boundary review.

[Page 3344]

There is absolutely no question. The allowance for boundary reviews has continued to exist within the Municipal Act. However, in this particular circumstance it is almost virtually impossible to allow that boundary review to take place, simply because the municipality is an amalgamated municipality and would not reduce its jurisdiction over that particular boundary.

I want this minister to also be aware that it is my opinion and I do believe that, this is the second largest municipal boundary in Canada. In fact, this covers a jurisdiction from one end of Halifax County to the very other.

The problem with that too is that there were, in fact, options that were going to be studied, there were, in fact, options that were going to be reviewed. I recall sitting on municipal council when there was the option to review the eastern region. In fact, there was not going to be a city that would take over the eastern region, with the Halifax Harbour being the boundary and Halifax being the western boundary for the western region. There was no cost study, there were no cost-analysis done with respect to that and here lies the other particular problem with respect to the forced municipal amalgamation, it was a dictatorial approach by the Liberal Government back in 1994, to bring about municipal amalgamation.

As a matter of fact, the citizens had no say, they had no input into the direction in which their municipality would go. As a matter of fact, we had made requests that, in fact, there be citizen input into the municipality of Dartmouth. The cost would have been $25,000 to allow the citizens to have a say on the historical changes that would have taken place to a regional municipality. The citizens were denied the opportunity by one of the very candidates who ran for the Liberal Party in the 1998 March election. That candidate happened to be the mayor of a municipality who denied, and whose council denied, the opportunity of citizens to have a right in the historical changes that took place with respect to a changing structure of a municipality. The citizens were incensed. They wanted the opportunity to speak about this particular issue. They did, indeed, want the opportunity.

With respect to the harbour clean-up, as the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs states, and remember that it was his government, the federal Government of Canada and the local two municipalities that, in fact, are going to cost share. Now it is left at the burden of the regional municipality to pay the total cost for this particular development. With respect to economic development and with respect to industrial parks in the surrounding area and becoming competitive, Mr. Speaker, allow me to tell you that there is no foundation, there is no argument that says, under this present scheme, that, in fact, it is working and working appropriately. There is no way to measure. There is absolutely no way to gauge that.

Mr. Speaker, all I am saying is that I want to look at what this allows. This allows us to have a study. It allows the citizens to have a vote, if I can speak in summary. It allows the Utility and Review Board to have a review. It allows us to have a number of options presented to the public and singly, most importantly, it allows it to be on a ballot for the citizens to have the right to decide, rather there is an option which they endorse.

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Mr. Speaker, I want to say in closing that I am open and receptive to the Third Party's notion of an idea of an amendment. We are open and receptive to amendments to this bill at any given time. We think that it is a very good amendment. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would also like to rise and give a perspective of this bill and why I will be supporting this bill. Number one, we have heard from members from Cape Breton and, in particular, the member for Cape Breton West, about all the consultation that took place and how all this is documented and supported. Well, I guess the experience I have been having, because I have been holding constituency meetings right across Cape Breton in the last number of months, and what I have been hearing from my constituents is that it wasn't an open and transparent process that took place, and that if there were people who brought forth opinions, if they didn't agree with the government's stand on amalgamation, that those opinions were not recognized.

I don't know how we can say that the amalgamation that we have in Cape Breton is what Cape Bretoners want. If it is so great and so wonderful, I can't imagine why Victoria County is not trying to become a part of this great amalgamated unit, if everything is so wonderful. Well the facts are, as I have been told, is a number of things have happened since we have been amalgamated. Number one, many communities have lost their sense of identity and many communities feel that this is critical. They have lost their sense of who they are, because there has been no effort with this amalgamation to do anything to enhance the idea of community. Number one, and what they think is a big point.

Another point, job losses. I wonder if there has been an inventory of the number of people who have lost jobs, who are no longer employed on that Island because of amalgamation. Many areas of the amalgamation are suffering because of the amalgamation. In particular, particular parts of our community will say to me, what have been the benefits of amalgamation? They come to talk about this at community meetings. People in Leitches Creek say the only thing they have for the tax dollars that they pay is garbage collection. They don't have sewer; they don't have water; they don't have roads; they cannot get their roads cleaned; and they cannot get the snow removed. So what are the benefits of amalgamation? I would like this government to answer that for the people in Leitches Creek, the people who have to come down over the Barrachois Mountain, the people who have asked time and time again to have the Quarry Road fixed. Where are the benefits of amalgamation there? They believe they were better off before. (Applause)

At one of my last community meetings, a gentleman talked to me about owning an old trailer in the woods in Boisdale; he goes there to hunt. At one time he used to pay $46 to $50 in taxes a year on that old trailer that is up in the woods in Boisdale. Now, because he goes there for any time at all during the year, there is a base tax rate. He has to pay $400 a year now, because that is the base rate, and what he wants to know from this government and from

[Page 3346]

the people supporting this amalgamation is, is this legal? We always thought the taxes were based on assessment, but it doesn't matter what the value of the land is, what the value of the property is, they will pay the $400.

The other issue, and then I will close, Mr. Speaker, is community halls like the community hall in Point Edward that they have been scraping to keep open. That is done through volunteers. They get their tax bill and they have a tax bill that is in excess of $3,000 for the year. I mean, this is a community group trying to have an identity in this amalgamation. So for all of those reasons - I think now that the government has been enlightened about some of the issues around this bill - we should vote and take it to the Law Amendments Committee, and I so move. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Antigonish and you have about six seconds.

MR. HYLAND FRASER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me so much time.

MR. SPEAKER: Your time has expired.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Hopefully, this bill also will be called later, because I would like to hear the member for Antigonish on another day.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 46.

Bill No. 46 - Toll Highway Prohibition Act.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I rise this afternoon in my place on Bill No. 46, Entitled an Act to Prohibit New Tolls on Public Highways in Nova Scotia. The passage of this bill would mean no more, ever again in this province new tolls on any public highway anywhere in this province. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing more un-Canadian than a toll road. To charge for the use of public highways at any place in our country is an infringement on the rights of all Canadians. Nova Scotians must show the lead to other provincial jurisdictions and prohibit the introduction of future tolls on highways, and I am not alone with these opinions. In fact, the Premier of this very province agrees with me, amazingly so, since in a July report in the Chronicle-Herald by transportation reporter, Tom Peters, our Premier is quoted as saying that he has talked extensively with federal Transport Minister David Collenette regarding Nova Scotia's highway needs. He goes on to say that Nova Scotia will have no more toll highways.

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What an excellent endorsement of a fine NDP bill, and I look forward to hearing from the Minister of Transportation or whoever is going to speak on behalf of the government on this bill.

[5:45 p.m.]

We all agree there should be no more toll roads in Nova Scotia. Those of us operating motor vehicles pay our fair share of the gasoline tax. Surely, in return we should expect well-maintained public roads throughout the province. Existing road tolls are misconceived. The Cobequid Pass experiment and the one currently under construction in New Brunswick are becoming barriers to interprovincial trade in our region. Our national highway system must no longer be tampered with by any government in this country and Nova Scotia can show the way by prohibiting any future toll roads. (Applause)

The Cobequid Pass toll highway has been a bad experience. It has been a nightmare in the wintertime. Questions continue to be raised about the profits, about the volume. Questions revolve around the rate that American tourists were charged this summer on their exchange. There continue to be concerns about the winter that we are going to face ahead. Are the snow fences going to be in place before the white stuff hits the ground? Hopefully, we have all learned from this road toll faux pas. We do not need a repeat of this experiment. Instead we need and deserve a highway system open and accessible to all. Highways that are well designed, highways that are safe, highways that are paid for from the very taxes that we all pay on each gallon of gas that we buy. The people of Nova Scotia deserve nothing less. We do not need, we do not want tolls on any future roads anywhere in this province. Tolls have no future in this province. The highwaymen of this province must not be toll collectors. Highway robbery in the form of tolls must never be allowed again. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a privilege for me to speak on this bill this evening. I want to start off by saying that I certainly am not a fan of a toll road. I don't like tool roads and I certainly support the Premier on what the Premier has stated. I respect his leadership and I support his position on this.

The real problem here is the national highway program. This summer I had the opportunity to go to Ottawa to speak with Honourable David Collenette. I spoke with him on two occasions. I spoke first in Ottawa and then I had the opportunity to be at Regina and I spoke to him at the Transportation Ministers' Convention. I brought his attention to the national highway program that we need right across Canada. We need it here in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is the reason why in the past we have had to go to a toll road system because we do not have adequate funding in place for our highways.

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This year we had three agreements. We had the SHIP agreement, we had the HIP agreement and AFTA and that only brought an additional $40 million of federal money here to the Province of Nova Scotia to build our highways and build our infrastructure. That is certainly not enough.

However, I am going to speak a bit on the Cobequid Pass and what I would like to say is the Cobequid Pass is a safe highway. That is number one in transportation. You want a safe highway. The Cobequid Pass will soon celebrate its first anniversary. There have been many benefits from this highway. There has not been one fatal accident on this highway or on Trunk 4. The accidents on Trunk 4 have fallen from more than 50 per year to just seven in this past year. That is about a 90 per cent decrease. Those are good results as far as we are concerned. The traffic volume on the Cobequid Pass has averaged over 6,800 vehicles a day.

I would like to talk about a few economic benefits of the Cobequid Pass. The Cobequid Pass is 9 kilometres shorter and is 16 minutes faster to go through this route than the old route. The quality of this highway is outstanding. The pavement is some 50 per cent thicker than the provincial standards. The asphalt mix was specifically designed to meet the local weather conditions. The highway will cost less to maintain.

Now let's just examine a few of the environmental factors also on this highway. From an environmental perspective, the Cobequid Pass is the leading edge. There were over 50 streams that crossed this and they were all protected during the construction of this highway. All phases of the design and construction and comprehensive environmental assessment reviews were done.

Decisions to build toll highways do not come lightly, they have to be taken very seriously and there are tough decisions to make. It was a decision, as I have said before, to safeguard lives and this work had to be done and done quickly and the government acted to prevent more tragedies in the Wentworth Valley.

I want to speak about Bill No. 46 and its effect on future governments and how future governments might have to deal with this. This legislation will tie the hands of future governments. The bill will limit future public access to needed transportation infrastructure. This bill will limit future ability to address serious safety problems quickly and affordably. The bill puts future decision makers at a disadvantage. This removes options for infrastructure financing. It is possible that Bill No. 46 will raise taxes and create more public debt. This bill will prevent future generations from their right to consider all options in financing future highway systems.

I have spoken briefly about this bill this evening and I want to pass it on now to my colleague (Interruptions) Time's up?

MR. SPEAKER: There are only 10 seconds left, so.

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The honourable member for Cumberland South.

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak about this bill as well. As everyone knows, this Liberal Government was gracious enough to pass on a toll road to the only constituency in this province where people have to travel for service, to my people. Although this Liberal Government has been quick to state how proud they are of that highway, I think the voters on March 24th showed them how proud they are for what they have done to them.

The Premier stated on several occasions during the campaign and as recently as this morning that he would do something about tolls, particularly in Cumberland County. What has he done? He has done nothing. What has he done about New Brunswick tolls? Nothing.

I have had people approach me who have to travel to Halifax for medical reasons, some of them for cancer treatments and the stress on their families for the travel costs and added on top of that a significant cost for tolls, may seem like a small cost to members of this House but to those families and those people it is significant. I have been approached by young people, students, who are involved in sports in this province. As a result of a lot of provincial rules, whether it is baseball, hockey or whatever, they have to remain and play within this province and indeed they also have to travel through these tolls. There is an added cost to the volunteers, to the parents who are trying to keep their kids involved in sports and another cost is added on to those people.

I am in support of this bill as my caucus is and we will be looking for this to be passed to the Law Amendments Committee where it can be reviewed and we will be indeed looking for amendments there.

Mr. Speaker, I have raised issues in the past, with this Premier and with the Minister of Transportation, with regards to the toll highway that is in Cumberland County now, issues that were identified to this government before they placed that highway there. People have lived there all their lives and indicated that it was the wrong place for that road, weather conditions that have caused people to have grave concern.

We have raised issue, Mr. Speaker, with regards to emergency lights. It wasn't until this caucus brought this to the attention of this government that something was done about. Indeed, in fact, there was an accident as a result of that. In the last two weeks, I raised a concern with the minister in regards to a lady who had cried out for help at the toll booths. She had her grandchild with her, who was seriously sick and could have indeed died and no one offered help to that lady at those tolls. That highway has no place for transfers and for motorists to pull off, for rest areas. There are no emergency phones on that highway.

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I question, Mr. Speaker, the profits being made on this highway on the backs of a lot of constituents of mine where those profits are going. I asked the minister last week about those profits and he told me they are going here and going there. Well, that is great, because they certainly are not going into the roads of Cumberland South. The roads of Cumberland South are deteriorating daily. What has been done about them? Nothing. The people in my area are fed up with that. They are tired of paying the tolls and they are looking for some leadership and they are not getting it from this government.

Mr. Speaker, I do have to say that I find it quite ironic that the NDP has identified the tolls as a problem. Where were the NDP and where were the Liberals when people in my constituency were crying out for help with regard to tolls. They were nowhere to be found, either Party. I am pleased to see that they have realized that there is a rural Nova Scotia and there are people in these areas, such as mine, who do need the help of all members. (Interruption)

Thank you, Minister of Education. I am glad the minister who would not support rural Nova Scotia in regard to gun registration is concerned about safety in my area. That is great. I appreciate that. Mr. Speaker, safety is a great issue with us. I will go back, again, to weather conditions on that road. It is terrible. That road was put in the wrong place.

Mr. Speaker, as I close, this Liberal Party and this government has been quick to state that they are supporting the fact that there will be no more toll highways. The NDP have supported that notion, as well, no more toll highways. Here is the opportunity for you people, everyone in this House, to speak up on behalf of rural Nova Scotians. I will call for a vote now to pass this on to the Law Amendments Committee. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for Bill No. 48 has expired. Does that complete Opposition Members' Business?

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the hours of sitting will be from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., and following the daily routine and Question Period, we will continue with Bill No. 47, the Municipal Government Act, for adjourned debate. If we happen to finish that bill tomorrow, we will be calling Bill No. 13, the Financial Measures Act, for Committee of the Whole House on Bills. I move we adjourn.

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.

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The late debate this evening, as I announced previously, was put forward by the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

[6:00 p.m.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

NDP (CAN.) LEADER - HEALTH POLICY (PQ):

ENDORSEMENT - CONDEMN

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, the resolution before the House this evening reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that the pro-separatist interventions of NDP Federal Leader, Alexa McDonough, and her endorsement of Lucien Bouchard's health policy, in the midst of the Quebec election campaign, be condemned and censured by this House.".

Mr. Speaker, I was prompted to raise this topic by spotting an item in this morning's Globe and Mail headed, "McDonough sets fur flying with kind words for Bouchard". The copy reads, "New Democratic Party Leader Alexa McDonough set off a political storm in the Commons yesterday by saying that Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard seems to care more about the future of medicare than does the federal government.

Her remarks in the House yesterday immediately drew fire from Health Minister Allan Rock and other Liberals, who said the NDP Leader is giving aid and comfort to the separatist government of Quebec in the provincial election campaign.

'It is astonishing and, indeed, it is appalling how little this member and her party knows about which political figures and which parties in this country stand for Canada,' Mr. Rock said.

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe watched the dustup between the two federalist politicians with glee. He said later that Ms. McDonough was 'simply telling the truth.'

What prompted the exchange was Mr. Bouchard's campaign promise Monday to inject $2.1-billion into the Quebec health-care system after years of unpopular cuts and hospital closings.

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Ms. McDonough wanted to know when the federal government would follow this same example and put money back into health care. 'It seems that Lucien Bouchard cares more about medicare than this [federal] government.'

This ignited a steady stream of howls from the Liberals as Speaker Gilbert Parent tried to restore order.

'Mr. Speaker, it appears that the truth hurts,' Ms. McDonough said when she was allowed to resume her question.".

Well, this raises some interesting aspects. Certainly it is a very sudden conversion to health care by Lucien Bouchard, after being hammered by Jean Charest, after facing the spectre of defeat on his abominable record in the field of health care. I would like to outline to the House, something of the accomplishments of the Liberal Party in the years it has formed the Government of Canada by way of trying to set this matter in some perspective.

Now in 1927, the Old Age Pension Act was passed by the Parliament of Canada under the government of Prime Minister Mackenzie King. In 1957, 30 years later, the prototype for universal health care in North America, the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Act was introduced by the honourable Paul Martin, Senior, establishing a comprehensive universal plan covering acute hospital care and diagnostic services, the foundation of Medicare in Canada. In 1984, just touching some highlights over the years, the future of Canada's health care system was solidified with the Canada Health Act. This protective measure ensured the universality of our health care system by putting an end to user-pay policies and extra billing practices in some provinces.

Mr. Speaker, if further time permitted, I could outline at length how, through Liberal Governments in Ottawa, access to Medicare hospital insurance and health care for all Canadians has been first of all provided and secondly enhanced. Through Liberal Party Governments we have obtained a country that boast the most progressive social infrastructure anywhere in the world. We have achieved the exclusive reputation of being three times named by the United Nations as the best country in the world in which to live. Through sheer willpower in government, the Liberal Party has created stability in our health care system and opportunity for all Canadians to access it.

Mr. Speaker, I don't wish to try to fight the Quebec Provincial election on the floor of this House. I think it would be very counter-productive, but I do believe that at this crucial time in Canadian history we need men and women who will stand up for their country. I believe that we need one Canada, one country for all, united, strong and free, and I say without hesitation, sir, that that is the Liberal vision of Canada.

[Page 3353]

Now what is the NDP vision of Canada. The old CCF Party believed in a strong central government, however, it did not make much inroads in Quebec. When the NDP was set up in 1961 to replace the CCF, it was felt that a more attractive policy for Quebec had to be created. The result of this was to water down the emphasis of the CCF on a strong central government in Ottawa and to replace this with a new interest in the two nations theory, encouragement for those who called for autodétermination and so forth. This led to a number of veteran CCFers quitting the new Party, most notably Eugene Forsey, long-time research director for the Canadian Labour Congress and later, Liberal Senator. A man I knew personally for some number of years before he died.

Mr. Speaker, by the time of the FLQ crisis in Quebec in 1970, the NDP was openly opposed to the proclamation of the War Measures Act. The majority of the federal NDP contingent stood up in the House of Commons and voted against that measure, notwithstanding that Pierre Laporte, the Quebec Minister of Labour had been murdered, James Cross, the leading foreign diplomat kidnapped and clear evidence given of a national emergency. Only the New Democratic Party opposed the action taken. The NDP not only voted against the measure, but afterwards crowed that this was their finest hour.

Six years later, in 1976, the Parti Québécois, under René Levesque won power for the first time in Quebec. There was no question that the PQ was a separatist Party set up for the sole purpose of trying to take Quebec out of Canada and setting it up as an independent state. However, a number of its members were left wing radicals, some calling themselves socialists. The PQ called itself a social democratic party which is what the NDP also calls itself. Many within the New Democratic Party were quite excited by this development and sought to find ways to build links with the Parti Québécois. It was noted that the NDP did not contest elections in Quebec provincially, only federally, so social democratic voters might feel free to vote PQ provincially and NDP federally.

Some felt that matters should go even further, among them British Columbia Premier of the time David Barrett. A number of feelers were put out to see if some sort of an NDP-PQ alliance could not formally be struck up. This was the NDPQ proposal, so-called. René Levesque disdainfully turned these overtures away, but for a long time the NDP encouraged the viewpoint in Quebec that it was more sympathetic to the separatists than any other federal Party was. The NDP stressed to Quebec voters its willingness to sit down and negotiate Quebec sovereignty with a separatist government in Quebec City and an NDP government in Ottawa, if elected. While the NDP played these games in Quebec, they kept very quiet about such activities in the rest of Canada. The results of this strategy were unimpressive. The NDP on one occasion only elected a Quebec MP, one Phil Edmonston, and on another occasion attracted a defector from another Party, but after a decade or so of such posturing very lean results were produced at the polls.

[Page 3354]

Once Lucien Bouchard broke with Brian Mulroney and set up the Bloc Québécois as a federal separatist Party, the jig was up on the NDP in any event. Yet to this day the New Democratic Party, while it lays emphasis on jobs, housing, day care and such, will almost never support any statements speaking out strongly for Canada, almost never. They would fear antagonized their fragile following in Quebec where disaffected separatists remain the main group that they pander to. Compare this, Mr. Speaker, with the example set by Prime Minister Jean Chretien, a Quebecer representing an overwhelmingly francophone community and yet 100 per cent for Canada and proudly so. I believe that Jean Chretien will go down in history as one of our greatest Prime Ministers because of his raw courage in facing directly the threats that this country has been challenged by and these stand, in my view, in very stark contrast with the opportunistic games some others have played.

Approximately a year ago the NDP issued a single press release stating that it was time for them to get off the sidelines on the national unity and establish a policy about the future of Canada. But after that one press release, nothing more was heard from them on the most important subject in this country. In this context, Alexa McDonough's outburst of yesterday was nothing new. It was simply a repetition of a very old and familiar theme. In my view the voters have a right to know the truth. In order to cast an intelligent vote, the voters have the right to know who stands for Canada and who does not. I think I can rest my case at that point.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to stand tonight and to speak to the resolution, "Therefore be it resolved that the pro-separatist interventions of the NDP Federal Leader Alexa McDonough, and her endorsement of Lucien Bouchard's health policy, in the midst of the Quebec election campaign, be condemned and censured by this House.".

I welcome the chance to stand as a representative of the Third Party and speak to this issue. Canada is a country that is 131 years old. It is a country that was forged by putting aside different views. It is a country that Sir John A. Macdonald viewed as stretching from sea to sea and that was made possible because people put aside individual agendas and worked together. It resulted because we accepted with open arms immigrants from around the world who worked together and put aside, as I say, differences, to make sure that that would happen.

One hundred and thirty-one years ago the people of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Upper and Lower Canada met and they were willing to put aside their problems and what they saw as personal agendas because they believed that Canada could only become great if they worked together. In fact, Joseph Howe who has a long history with this very House, in spite of his own personal reservations about what the long-term effect of Confederation would be to this province, signed and worked towards ensuring that that

[Page 3355]

would happen. In fact, I think if we look back, he was, perhaps, wise beyond his years because he saw some of the pitfalls that would come to fruition as time went on.

It is somewhat unfortunate that an issue as significant as the separation of Quebec has been reduced to such cavalier resolutions and discussions, an issue that has deep roots, roots that go into personal views that have been passed from generation to generation, views that people, who have conflicting opinions, cannot really fully appreciate because of the enormity of the emotion that is involved in talking about it. These issues have to be addressed, and Canadians deserve more than what they are getting. They deserve more than having politicians posture and speak in platitudes about an issue that will affect Canada and could, ultimately in fact, destroy Canada. That is something that deserves much more than rhetoric.

It is unfortunate that these frictions in Canada have reached a point where the Government of Quebec feels that the only option for their future is to remove themselves from the union that is Canada. That hasn't always been the case. Throughout Canada's history, there have been many times when provinces and individuals have set aside personal agendas because they viewed that what was good for Canada was good for them. On every occasion, the people of Canada have risen to the occasion. Let us hope that when the opportunity arises again, and should it arise again - we can always hope that there will not be a call for another referendum - let us hope that the people of Quebec will, once again, look within themselves and look at what Canada offers and vote for what is good for Canada and, ultimately, good for them.

It is interesting to note that many of the soldiers who have had the opportunity or the need to serve in some of the war-torn, strife-ridden places around the world, when they return home to Canada, one of the messages they convey is that it is a shame that more Canadians don't go and see first-hand what is happening in other countries around the world because, then, they would have a greater appreciation for what we do have here within our country.

Next week, each and every one of us will have the opportunity to take part in activities that will recognize our veterans. We will recognize the veterans who served because they believed in Canada; veterans who were willing to sacrifice everything to ensure that Canada could continue as a free and democratic nation; veterans who came from every province, from every territory, from every nationality, from every race, every creed, every religion, and put aside their differences because they believed Canada was worth saving; veterans who recognized that the greater good of the country came before their individual agendas, or even their provincial agendas. They were willing to set aside those day-to-day problems that pale in comparison to the greater need, and that is what we are facing here now, that Canada has a greater need.

We are recognized by the United Nations as being the greatest place in the world to live, and we do not appreciate that fact. I think the veterans who served recognize that and they have a message for us. Winston Churchill said that that time was England's finest hour,

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and I believe that is true for every country in the world. Perhaps if we look back, those times were our finest hour. Since then, because we have become, I guess, more affluent and less appreciative of what goes on around us, we have tended to look more towards our more personal needs and personal agendas and we've set aside the common and greater good.

It is tragic that in this current state of affairs in this country and in this provincial Legislature and every provincial Legislature, in our federal government, we see people get up and stand, like I am doing tonight, and say things that perhaps don't always have the ring of truth because they are generated not because of a true belief or conviction but because it is expedient or because it will make a humorous jab at another Party and that is belittling what is a major issue. I think it would be appropriate for the people who speak on issues to speak with true conviction because this is a very grave and serious time.

[6:15 p.m.]

I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said, a house divided will not stand, and that is exactly what we face today. We can make light of it and we can pretend and we can hope that problems will go away but unless we open dialogue and discuss and truly try to understand the differences that exist, then this will go on indefinitely. I think if we look back in history of the provinces across Canada where people have had problems similar to those faced by Quebec, the Louis Riel rebellion, the fact that the Metis in Manitoba were poised to break away and yet they were able to see their way clear to remain a part of Canada. What is happening to Canada as a result of this problem is that we are becoming fractionalized. The West looks to the West and cares not about the East.

I remember not long ago there was a time when there was a gas crisis in Canada and there was a bumper sticker that said, Let Those Eastern [. . .] freeze in the Dark, and then a responding bumper sticker that said, Those Eastern [. . .] in the Dark are my Brothers, or my cousins. Once again, we saw people who were willing to put aside personal agendas and try to solve a problem and that is what we need and that is what is happening. I do believe that some of the problem that is being experienced in Quebec is being driven by personal agenda, rather than by the true belief that Quebec would be better off if it were to leave Canada. It is unfortunate to see that the federal government, the Prime Minister of Canada, has kind of forced the Leader of the provincial Liberal Party into a position where he must bear a cross for all of Canada and that is a heavy cross to bear.

When one looks back to the agonizing decision that John Charest had to make, he had to weigh his belief in Canada or his faith in the federal political system against the issues that were near and dear to his heart as a Québécois and I think he did the right thing. I think it is time that we did the right thing and when we get up to speak about an issue such as this, that we speak truth and try to really understand the opposing views. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 3357]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have to say to the member for Digby-Annapolis that that was one of the best speeches, some of the most enjoyable remarks, that I have sat in this House and listened to. I congratulate you as a new member about how thoughtful and how well you presented what are coherent, logical arguments. I want to publicly salute you for your excellent delivery tonight. Mr. Speaker, as you know in this House that is not something that I often do. The previous speaker, I believe, captured so much of what is the essence of this country.

Mr. Speaker, I believe you went to the Montreal rally when the referendum was on. I know I was there and I believe you were there as well. I sat on the Unity Committee of this House, the Select Committee that went around this province about the Calgary Accord. If there is one thing that breeds contempt, it will be to try to make a political issue for very narrow partisan gains and cheap shots at the expense of this country. I heard the mover of the motion speak, I had not actually intended to stay because what we got was what I expected to get.

I love this country, I love it more than I love my political Party, more than any political allegiances and what we in this House must not do for the narrowest of partisan gains, or to satisfy some personal agenda, is to be saying and doing things that are going to be inflaming passions and that will result in any kind of a backlash that would lead the people of Quebec to the misbelief, because it would be an error, that Nova Scotians are not very much concerned about this country and that we very much want them part of our country.

Mr. Speaker, there are all kinds of things that one can say and I confess that I am feeling now very inarticulate, especially following the excellent remarks, I say it again, from the member for Digby-Annapolis who spoke very much from the heart, and from the head and from the brain. That is where I am coming from when I am saying the heart.

Mr. Speaker, we have a job to do ahead of us. One of the things, if you think back about what binds our country together that makes us so strong, that makes us unique, is that we have had in this country common beliefs, common goals, and common objectives for strong social programs, strong health care, strong education systems, strong economies that look at and recognize that if one part of the country has the economic ability will help out other parts of the country.

Let's think of what our country - Canada - stands for. Canada, which means community and a community works together, a community sticks together and tries to enhance the programs that will be benefiting us all. I like to think of Canada as a community of communities and as any community has different parts, different cultures, different ethnic groups, that all makes us richer and makes us stronger. What we should be working and striving to do is to be finding ways to strengthen those bonds that bind us together and many

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of those bonds are not just our history but also our common belief in programs and services that serve our citizens.

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to use up the rest of my time. I believe that what has been said by the member for Digby-Annapolis really does encapsulate what is important to be saying in this debate. I just want to let you know that we in this caucus are very committed to not by our actions be doing anything that would be sending an incorrect message and we are very much in support of and, in fact, desirous of a strong united country from sea to sea to sea. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: There is still time left in the Adjournment debate if any member wishes to take the floor. If not, we stand adjourned until tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 6:23 p.m.]

[Page 3359]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1617

By: Mr. Robert Chisholm (Leader of the Opposition)

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

Whereas in the March 7th Leaders' debate the Premier said, "It's not important if we own the schools or not. The fact is that we need access to the schools for our children,"; and

Whereas in that debate the Premier promised a spring start on construction of four urgently needed schools, only one of which began in the spring; and

Whereas parents in Timberlea, Lakeside and Beechville know that who owns the schools is very important and that this Liberal Government has sold access to those schools to the best-connected Liberal cronies;

Therefore be it resolved that school design and construction must be driven by legitimate educational and community needs, not the private profit of chosen Liberal chums who can override and short-circuit the vaunted community process.

RESOLUTION NO. 1618

By: Mr. Frank Corbett (Cape Breton Centre)

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

Whereas during the election campaign, the Liberals were careful to treat nurses and other support staff on an equal basis in negotiating wage increases; and

Whereas the Premier even boasted that meeting the wage expectations in health care would not make a dent in his promised better health care; and

Whereas the Premier went so far as to say, "If we needed more to look after that we'd do it,";

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals should look at their own promises before blaming workers, family members or the NDP for the dispute over second-class wages for long-term care workers.

[Page 3360]

HOUSE ORDER NO. 5

By: Mr. James Muir (Truro-Bible Hill)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Minister responsible for the administration of the Liquor Control Act:

(1) All documented correspondence between the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission and potential leaseholders during the search for a new location for the main Liquor Commission outlet in Truro which will change locations April 1, 1999.