The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Mon., Nov. 16, 1998

First Session

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1829, Nat. Res. - Lawlor Island/McNabs Island (Part):
Preservation - Applaud, Hon. K. MacAskill 3753
Vote - Affirmative 3754
Res. 1830, Health: Drug Awareness Week - Recognize, Hon. J. Smith 3754
Vote - Affirmative 3755
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Private and Local Bills Committee, Mr. P. MacEwan 3755
Private and Local Bills Committee, Mr. P. MacEwan 3756
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 73, Preston Area Housing Act, Ms. Y. Atwell 3756
No. 74, The Halifax Insurance Company Capacity and Powers Act,
Mr. P. Delefes 3756
No. 75, King's College Act, Mr. P. Delefes 3756
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1831, Educ. - Judique-Creignish/East Pictou Schools:
Commun. Wishes - Respect, Ms. E. O'Connell 3757
Res. 1832, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101: Twinning -
Begin, Mr. G. Archibald 3757
Res. 1833, Health - John McNeil (Pharmacist-Sydney):
Honours/Award - Congrats., Hon. Manning MacDonald 3758
Vote - Affirmative 3758
Res. 1834, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Economy (C.B.): Difficulties -
Cause Learn, Ms. Helen MacDonald 3759
Res. 1835, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101: Construction -
Techniques Modern Use, Mr. B. Taylor 3759
Res. 1836, Educ. - Mark Lumsden (Canso): Fellowship
(Oak Ridge Natl. Lab. [U.S.]) - Congrats., Mr. R. White 3760
Vote - Affirmative 3760
Res. 1837, Educ. - Lake Echo Lions Club Peace Poster Contest:
Helen Kauch (Winner) - Congrats., Mr. Kevin Deveaux 3760
Vote - Affirmative 3761
Res. 1838, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Lun. Co.: Hwy. Priorities
(1999-2000) - List Provide, Mr. M. Baker 3761
Res. 1839, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - W Valley RDA:
Promotion Success - Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 3762
Vote - Affirmative 3763
Res. 1840, Health - Nursing Home Workers: Commitments - Fulfil,
Ms. Y. Atwell 3763
Res. 1841, GG (Can.) Caring Award: Mr. G. Bowser &
Ms. L. F. Riley (Hfx.) - Congrats., Dr. J. Hamm 3763
Vote - Affirmative 3764,
Res. 1842, Nat. Res. - Lawlor & McNabs Islands: Friends of
McNabs Island Soc. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. G. Fogarty 3764
Vote - Affirmative 3765
Res. 1843, Sports - Football (AUAAC): Acadia Axemen Champs. -
Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 3765
Vote - Affirmative 3766
Res. 1844, Environ. - Sydney Tar Ponds: Pollutants (Frederick St.) -
Address, Mr. J. DeWolfe 3766
Res. 1845, Educ. - St. F.X. Univ.: MacLean's Mag. Ranking - Congrats.,
Mr. H. Fraser 3767
Vote - Affirmative 3767
Res. 1846, Devco - Coal Imports: Whitney Pier Residents - Respect,
Mr. F. Corbett 3767
Res. 1847, Gov't. (N.S.) - Disneyland: Pinocchio (Fin. Min.) - Appoint,
Mr. G. Balser 3768
Res. 1848, Environ. - Awareness Prog. (Back Country Watch):
Organizers - Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 3769
Vote - Affirmative 3769
Res. 1849, Nat. Res. - Weasel Harvest: Increase - Await, Mr. H. Epstein 3769
Res. 1850, Commun. Serv. - Maggie's Place (Truro & Amherst):
Efforts - Recognize, Mr. J. Muir 3770
Res. 1851, Hfx. Chebucto MLA - Tax Increase: Plan - Outline,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 3771
Res. 1852, NDP (N.S.) - Progressives Join: Gov't. (N.S.[Lib.]) -
Solution Provide, Mr. D. Dexter 3771
Res. 1853, Justice - Youth Crime: Promises Gov't. [Can.] -
Fulfilment Urge, Mr. M. Scott 3772
Res. 1854, Lib. Party (N.S.) - Fund-Raising Dinner Cancellation:
Food Donation Policy - Return Urge, Mr. J. Pye 3773
Res. 1855, Chernobyl Victims - Relief (Cdn.): Families (N.S.) -
Role Recognize, Mr. B. Taylor 3774
Vote - Affirmative 3775
Res. 1856, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Amer. Bus Assoc.: Events
(Hfx. [250]/Louisbourg [Fr.250]) - Recognition Congrats.,
Mr. G. Fogarty 3775
Vote - Affirmative 3776
Res. 1857, Health - Indian Brook: Drug & Alcohol Addiction -
Awareness Efforts Recognize, Mr. John MacDonell 3776
Vote - Affirmative 3776
Res. 1858, Hurricane Mitch - Central Kings RHS: Compassion/
Generosity - Recognize, Mr. G. Moody 3776
Vote - Affirmative 3777
Res. 1859, Educ. - Strait Reg. School Bd.: Marie Campbell (Chair) -
Congrats., Mr. Charles MacDonald 3777
Vote - Affirmative 3778
Res. 1860, Health - QE II Health Sc. Ctr.: Camp Hill Hosp. Workers
(Environ. Illness) - Comp. Decision Reconsider, Ms. R. Godin 3778
Res. 1861, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Job Creation: Cos. Large -
Assist. Addtl. Explain, Mr. G. Balser 3779
Res. 1862, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Amer. Bus Assoc.: Events
(Louisbourg) - Congrats., Hon. R. MacKinnon 3779
Vote - Affirmative 3780
Res. 1863, Gov't. (N.S.) - Inflammation Perceived: Reality - Cure,
Mr. P. Delefes 3780
Res. 1864, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Kentville & Berwick Area BoT:
Kings Co. Business Awards - Winners Congrats., Mr. G. Archibald 3781
Vote - Affirmative 3781
Res. 1865, NDP (N.S.) - Health Care: Sask. Gov't. (NDP)
Ill-Preparedness - Beware, Mr. P. MacEwan 3781
Res. 1866, Educ. - Ret'd. Teachers' Newsletter: Dorothy Lawrence
(Editor) - Congrats., Ms. Helen MacDonald 3782
Vote - Affirmative 3783
Res. 1867, Culture - RADA (London [U.K.]): Meredith MacNeil
(Amherst) - Acceptance Congrats., Mr. E. Fage 3783
Vote - Affirmative 3783
Res. 1868, NDP (N.S.) Leader - NDP (N.S.): Bankrupt
Philosophically - Admit, Mr. M. Samson 3784
Res. 1869, Culture - Music (Gospel): Jeremiah Sparks (Cherry Brook) -
Success Congrats., Ms. Y. Atwell 3784
Vote - Affirmative 3785
Res. 1870, Environ. - Enviro-Connect, Nature's Bond: Publication -
Applaud, Mr. J. Muir 3785
Vote - Affirmative 3785
Res. 1871, Exco - Lbr. Day Ads: Workers Unfair Treatment -
Unresolved, Mr. F. Corbett 3786
Res. 1872, Educ. - Yar. Co. Museum: Achievement (No. 1-N.S.) -
Congrats., Mr. N. LeBlanc 3786
Vote - Affirmative 3787
Res. 1873, PC (N.S.) Leader - Support (Gov't. (N.S.) 2 Yr.):
Budget Unseen - Question, Mr. H. Epstein 3787
Res. 1874, Sports - Basketball: Promotion (Dal. Univ. Women v
Lun. HS Sr. Boys) - Congrats., Mr. M. Baker 3787
Vote - Affirmative 3788
Res. 1875, Hurricane Mitch - Bay Islands Relief Fund: Mike Watson
(La Have) et al. - Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 3788
Vote - Affirmative 3789
Res. 1876, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - C.B. Island: Conde Nast
Traveler Mag. - Recognition Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 3789
Vote - Affirmative 3789
Res. 1877, Educ. - P3 Schools: Construction Guarantee (Sept. 1999) -
Unwise Explain, Ms. R. Godin 3790
Res. 1878, Educ. - Dal. Univ. (Rosemary Gill Award): Judy Dunn -
Congrats., Mr. E. Fage 3790
Vote - Affirmative 3791
Res. 1879, Sports - Soccer (Ladies): Advocate Coyote - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Scott 3791
Vote - Affirmative 3791
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 71, Intercountry Adoption Act 3792
Hon. F. Cosman 3792
Mr. J. Pye 3793
Mr. J. Muir 3794
Mr. J. Leefe 3796
Hon. F. Cosman 3797
Vote - Affirmative 3797
No. 52, Business Efficiency (1998) Act 3798
Hon. K. Colwell 3798
Ms. Y. Atwell 3799
Mr. B. Taylor 3800
Mr. J. Holm 3804
Mr. J. Muir 3806
Hon. K. Colwell 3808
Vote - Affirmative 3809
No. 64, Condominium Act 3809
Hon. K. Colwell 3809
Ms. Y. Atwell 3811
Mr. B. Taylor 3816
Ms. R. Godin 3819
Mr. J. Muir 3821
Dr. J. Hamm 3823
Hon. K. Colwell 3825
Vote - Affirmative 3826
No. 72, Juries Act 3826
Hon. J. Smith 3826
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 3827
Mr. M. Scott 3829
Mr. J. Muir 3829
Mr. J. Holm 3831
Dr. J. Hamm 3832
Hon. J. Smith 3834
Vote - Affirmative 3834
No. 24, Wilderness Areas Protection Act 3834
Hon. D. Downe 3834
Mr. D. Chard 3836
Adjourned debate 3839
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. Manning MacDonald 3839
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Nov. 17th at 2:00 p.m. 3840

[Page 3753]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

6:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

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

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 Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1829

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

3753

[Page 3754]

Whereas this past Friday morning at Citadel Hill, new plans were announced for the future of McNabs and Lawlor Islands, which include Parks Canada transferring all of Lawlor Island and approximately one-third of McNabs Island to the province for use as a provincial park; and

Whereas a joint federal-provincial land use strategy to protect and preserve McNabs and Lawlor Islands as parkland was also signed at this ceremony; and

Whereas this land use strategy, which encourages public and private sector partnerships in the future development and management of McNabs and Lawlor Islands, was spearheaded by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Parks Canada in consultation with the public;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the leadership being taken by this government in preserving these lands as protected for future eco-tourism or outdoor education use, as they will be used to learn more about our history, our natural environment and ourselves.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1830

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

Whereas November 15th to November 21st is designated as Drug Awareness Week to create awareness of both the prevention and the treatment of drug dependency through its theme, Keep Your Dreams Alive; and

[Page 3755]

Whereas Nova Scotia Drug Dependency Services provided treatment services to more than 7,000 individuals and their families in 1997-98, as well as fostering a broad range of prevention and community initiatives through the regional health boards; and

Whereas today the Department of Health released the 1998 Nova Scotia Student Drug Use Survey, which provides information and direction for community-based prevention and intervention programs for youth;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take the opportunity to recognize November 15th to November 21st as Drug Awareness Week and encourage Nova Scotians to work with their communities to educate and prevent drug abuse.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, before we get into Notices of Motion, would you please revert to Presenting Reports of Committees. It is a report that came in on Private and Local Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

[Page 3756]

Bill No. 10 - Queens Regional Municipality Act.

Bill No. 41 - Centennial Arena Commission Act.

Bill No. 51 - Queens Regional Municipality Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 45 - Pictou Regional Development Commission Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

I am further directed to report that the committee will be meeting at 8:30 p.m. this evening to resume its deliberations on Bill No. 63 in the Uniacke Room.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 73 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 353 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Preston Area Housing Act. (Ms. Yvonne Atwell)

Bill No. 74 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Halifax Insurance Company. (Mr. Peter Delefes)

Bill No. 75 - Entitled an Act to Continue the Board of Governors of the University of King's College. (Mr. Peter Delefes)

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

[Page 3757]

NOTICES OF MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1831

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 schools are the heart and soul of Nova Scotia's small rural communities; and

Whereas Judique and Creignish have a high-quality community school with a consistently high achievement rate and a very low drop-out rate; and

Whereas these two communities have formed a coalition with concerned citizens of East Pictou to stop the closure, amalgamation and private leasing of community schools;

Therefore be it resolved that the Education Minister respect the community process and community wishes in Judique, Creignish and East Pictou instead of using his unwarranted powers to impose school construction and closure plans.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1832

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

Whereas to date, this Liberal Government has made no commitment whatsoever for the twinning of Highway No. 101; and

Whereas up to 15,000 vehicles travel this stretch of highway every day; and

Whereas not only is Highway No. 101 not being twinned but, once again, it is suffering from a lack of salt which can quickly lead to motor vehicle accidents;

Therefore be it resolved that since another very serious accident on this stretch of highway near St. Croix happened this morning and resulted in the highway being closed for several hours, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works announce the construction schedule to begin the twinning of Highway No. 101.

[Page 3758]

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 1833

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

Whereas Sydney pharmacist, John MacNeil, has been honoured by his peers for outstanding service to the community; and

Whereas Mr. MacNeil, manager of Pharmasave, Charlotte Street, Sydney, was honoured by the Nova Scotia Pharmaceutical Society; and

Whereas Mr. John MacNeil was this year's recipient of the Whitehall-Robins Bowl of Hygeia Award, the most prestigious award presented to pharmacists in North America;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate John MacNeil on the receipt of this prestigious award and applaud his outstanding service to his community.

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 Cape Breton The Lakes.

[Page 3759]

RESOLUTION NO. 1834

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

Whereas the economy of Cape Breton continues to decline as unemployment levels hover in excess of 17 per cent; and

Whereas the province called together community and business leaders, but not labour leaders, for a summit on the state of the Cape Breton economy; and

Whereas this Liberal Government has neglected to invite the NDP MPs and the NDP MLAs;

Therefore be it resolved that this government learn that partisan politics is not what solves the economic difficulties in Cape Breton, it is in fact what caused them.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1835

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

Whereas the twinning of Highway No. 101 remains a no-go with this Liberal Government; and

[6:15 p.m.]

Whereas 14.2 kilometres of the 33 kilometre stretch of highway between Mount Uniacke and Windsor is already three lanes; and

Whereas the three lanes already in place should make work at twinning this particular section considerably easier;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government look at more modern construction techniques and begin implementing them in order to hasten up the twinning of Highway No. 101.

[Page 3760]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member Guysborough-Port Hawksbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1836

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

Whereas Mark Lumsden, a native of Canso and Honours Physics graduate of St. Francis Xavier University has received the Eugene P. Winger fellowship at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee; and

Whereas the fellowship is the national lab's highest award for post-doctoral fellowships; and

Whereas the fellowship was established in 1975 to honour the Nobel Laureate and first director of research and development at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend well-deserved congratulations to Mark Lumsden on his accomplishments in the field of physics and wish him success as he pursues his post-doctoral fellowship.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1837

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

[Page 3761]

Whereas this is the seventh year that students at Gaetz Brook Junior High School have entered posters in the Lions International Peace Poster Contest; and

Whereas Grade 7 student, Helen Krauch, has won a local competition sponsored by the Lake Echo Lions Club; and

Whereas Gaetz Brooks students have placed high in the competitions in previous years;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Helen Krauch and all participating students at Gaetz Brook Junior High School for their entrance in a competition that draws attention to the goal of world peace.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 1838

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

Whereas there are a large number of roads in Lunenburg County which require upgrading and improvements; and

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia has failed to provide a priority list of roads which require work; and

Whereas in order to provide accountability and public input, the Department of Transportation and Public Works should provide a list of road priorities;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly direct the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to provide a list of all highway priorities for the 1999-2000 fiscal year in Lunenburg County.

[Page 3762]

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, on an introduction.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, through you, to the House, I want to introduce four representatives from a very dynamic and growing community in the Strait area. Some of those members I will be introducing are no strangers to this House. I would ask them to stand and once I introduce the four, I know the House will give them the usual warm welcome.

First of all is His Honour Mayor Billy Joe MacLean; Councillor Steve MacDougall, Town of Port Hawkesbury; Chief Administrative Officer, Colin MacDonald; and Jim Davis, Director of Finance. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1839

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 Western Valley Regional Development Authority recently won a national marketing award for promoting business opportunities in Annapolis and Digby Counties; and

Whereas the award honoured the advertising campaign called "The Secret of our Success"; and

Whereas the western Valley region is made up of several municipalities, the development authority was competing in a category against larger centres like Montreal and Toronto;

Therefore be it resolved that the Western Valley Regional Development Authority be congratulated by this Legislature for the successful promotion of rural Nova Scotia businesses and praised for its strong showing against cities in other parts of Canada.

[Page 3763]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 1840

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

Whereas this Liberal Government was re-elected after the Premier promised that there would not be a two-tiered wage structure in the health care system; and

Whereas Cape Breton nursing home workers, both those on the job and on strike, have made it clear to the Premier that they expect him to keep that promise; and

Whereas women hold most nursing home jobs, and it is these women who have been asked to carry an additional burden by accepting second-tier wages instead of the Liberals' promised equal wages;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Liberal Government to spend less money on their ads trying to justify another Liberal broken promise and more time honestly fulfilling the commitment made to dedicated women and men who care for nursing home residents.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1841

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

[Page 3764]

Whereas Graham Bowser and Lucy F. Riley, of Halifax, recently received the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award presented to Canadians whose voluntary contributions provide extraordinary help or care to families or groups in the community; and

Whereas Mr. Bowser volunteered his time and talents to many charitable and humanitarian organizations over a 35 year span, raising funds for his church, local hospital, providing transportation for persons with disabilities, and offering care and comfort to the sick; and

Whereas Ms. Riley donated many years of her life helping seniors, serving as Chair of the Board of Directors of Spencer House Senior Centre, facilitator for the centre's Memory Development Program, and as an active member of several seniors' associations;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Bowser and Ms. Riley and acknowledge their outstanding contributions to their communities, and service as goodwill ambassadors of the spirit of voluntarism.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1842

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

Whereas on Friday most of McNabs Island and Lawlor Island was turned over to the Nova Scotia Government in a land transfer arrangement with Parks Canada; and

Whereas this arrangement is another step in the process of establishing a natural environment park on the islands, as well as continued protection from unsuitable development; and

[Page 3765]

Whereas this came as a result of public consultations and public awareness campaigns initiated by the Friends of McNabs Island Society;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the efforts of the Friends of McNabs Island Society, whose work is helping to preserve the unique, natural, and historic integrity of these two islands.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1843

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

Whereas the Acadia Axemen defeated the Mount Allison Mounties on Saturday, November 14th, in the Atlantic University Football Championship game in Sackville, New Brunswick; and

Whereas all four teams in this highly competitive football conference, including the St. Mary's Huskies and the St. Francis Xavier X-Men, provided fans with a great season; and

Whereas Acadia now advances to the Atlantic Bowl this Saturday, November 21st, at Huskies Stadium;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to Coach Sonny Wolfe and the members of the Acadia Axemen, with the best of luck at the Atlantic Bowl as they represent our region on the way to a national championship at the Vanier Cup in Toronto.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 3766]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1844

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

Whereas time and time again, the Premier and his Minister of the Environment have failed to hear the pleas for help from the residents of Frederick Street living in close proximity to North America's worst toxic site; and

Whereas study upon study has revealed hazardous levels of PCBs and toxins flowing through the watershed around the coke ovens and Sysco; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has been highlighted in the news across Canada as being the home to this environmental nightmare, drawing small groups of tourists to view the famous coke oven site and tar ponds;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier commit to seeking a solution to fully address this human health hazard, so that tourists can marvel at Nova Scotia's commitment to its people and environment rather than its toxic waste site.

Mr. Speaker, I request for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

[Page 3767]

RESOLUTION NO. 1845

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

Whereas, once again, Nova Scotia universities fared very well in the annual ranking of Canadian universities released by Maclean's Magazine; and

Whereas St. Francis Xavier University entered the "Top 3" this year, just behind Acadia which maintained its position at Number 2; and

Whereas St. F.X. is noted for its strong showing in student awards, classes taught by tenured faculty, library acquisitions and class size;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate St. F.X. for its impressive showing in the Maclean's ranking and recognize the significant social, cultural, educational and economic contribution made by all Nova Scotia universities.

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 Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1846

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

Whereas the United Steel Workers and the United Mine Workers have joined to urge that the Devco piers be used to land the coal that is being imported due to the unfortunate Devco shutdown; and

Whereas Whitney Pier residents are prepared to support this, so long as 25 jobs are restored and dust control is effective;

[Page 3768]

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to respect Whitney Pier residents and honour the Premier's pro-Devco declaration by supporting coal imports at the Devco international piers on a basis acceptable to the residents and the United Mine Workers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1847

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

Whereas Walt Disney envisioned and created Disneyland, a wonderful kingdom of make believe and fantasy where adults and children of all ages could enjoy a brief escape from reality; and

Whereas many of the political decisions of the current Liberal Government bear a closer resemblance to decisions made in a land of make-believe and fantasy than in day-to-day reality; and

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia expect government ministers to be honest and forthright when providing them with information;

Therefore be it resolved that if the Premier of Nova Scotia wishes to govern as if it were Disneyland, that he make Pinocchio Minister of Finance so that Nova Scotians would have some faith in the financial information they are given.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

[Page 3769]

RESOLUTION NO. 1848

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 Municipality of Annapolis is sponsoring an environmental awareness program called Back Country Watch; and

Whereas the program hopes to promote ecotourism while raising awareness of the damage that can be caused by travellers in the forests; and

Whereas this fall Back Country Watch distributed information and a litter bag to every hunter who bought a license in Annapolis County;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Debra Ryan and Shauna O'Handley, organizers of Back Country Watch, for their unique approach to protecting wild areas and encourage all forest travellers to leave these areas as undisturbed as possible.

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 Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1849

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

Whereas the latest issue of the Nova Scotia Trappers Newsletter published by the Department of Natural Resources reports that "weasel harvest declined by 42 per cent" last year; and

Whereas members of the New Democratic Party caucus pay close attention to the details of this and all other aspects of matters of concern to rural areas of the province; and

[Page 3770]

Whereas the decline in the weasel harvest ought not to be allowed to continue and ought to be reversed;

Therefore be it resolved that this House look forward to the next election and the sharp increase in the weasel harvest that will no doubt accompany it.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 1850

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

Whereas Maggie's Place, a family resource centre with sites in Truro and Amherst, whose purpose is to provide support for parenting, held a Community Awareness Day on November 16th; and

Whereas Maggie's Place partners with many other community groups and agencies to present programs; and

Whereas among the groups using Maggie's Place are those who deal with topics such as bereavement, children with autism, community kitchens, parenting, multiple births, public health, family violence and time for tots;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize Maggie's Place, its staff and volunteers for their outstanding efforts in promoting the health and development of priority children and to help parents of priority children to reduce the effects of poverty.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

[Page 3771]

RESOLUTION NO. 1851

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 Acting NDP Leader, the member for Halifax Chebucto, has said he favours a tax hike for some residents of the HRM; and

[6:30 p.m.]

Whereas the member for Halifax Chebucto said during the election campaign that the NDP would have to raise taxes to pay for their expensive platform; and

Whereas the NDP Finance Critic says he will axe the HST, but the only suggestion he has for replacing the revenue is to increase taxes;

Therefore be it resolved that since the member for Halifax Chebucto is the official spokesman for the NDP caucus, he should outline his plan for raising taxes immediately or consider resigning from either his critic's duties or his caucus seat.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1852

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

Whereas Conservatives are fixated on a united alternative and are meeting to pursue this goal; and

Whereas these Conservative machinations leave the Progressives out in the cold; and

Whereas the alternative to the united alternative is the solution;

[Page 3772]

Therefore be it resolved that all Progressives join the New Democrats to provide a political solution to the problem of a Liberal Government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1853

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

Whereas three weeks ago Justice Minister Anne McLellan reneged on a promise to review a draft youth crime law with provincial and territorial Justice Ministers at their annual meeting; and

Whereas the federal minister also went back on a statement made in the House of Commons last May to introduce a replacement to the Young Offenders Act this fall; and

Whereas reversing promises and backtracking on commitments serves to compromise the interests of the very people Minister McLellan is privileged to serve;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and Nova Scotia's Minister of Justice use their influence with the federal Liberals, as minute as it seems to be, and urge the Minister of Justice to do the right thing and fulfil the promises made.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

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

[Page 3773]

Whereas a letter to the editor from Brendon MacIntyre, board member for the United Mine Workers of America, District 26, appeared in the Cape Breton Post on November 12th; and

Whereas in his letter Mr. MacIntyre states that for the past 10 years the United Mine Workers of America have applied for representation on the board of directors of the Workers' Compensation Board; and

Whereas it is the New Democratic Party which stands in the way of Mr. MacIntyre's appointment to this board, inasmuch as the NDP does not recognize the need for coal miners to be represented there and prefers instead defeated NDP candidates who are major financial contributors to their Party;

Therefore be it resolved that this House affirm the need for coal miners to be represented on the Workers' Compensation Board over those who empty their pocketbooks or purses into the coffers of the NDP and that after 10 years it is high time this request from the United Mine Workers was listened to.

MR. SPEAKER: I believe that the honourable member is imputing motives. I would like to take a look at that resolution before it is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1854

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

Whereas Cape Bretoners and Nova Scotians were told to expect a less arrogant and more open and friendly style of leadership; and

Whereas under John Savage's leadership, public protest forced the Liberals to cancel a Cape Breton fund-raising dinner and the food was donated to the soup kitchen and the food banks; and

Whereas under this present leadership, after cancelling a Cape Breton dinner in the face of public protest, the Liberals invited their guests to sneak back that night through the back yard and have dinner;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Liberal Party to return to its policy of donating all food to soup kitchens or food banks when people force the cancellation of Liberal fund-raising dinners.

[Page 3774]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1855

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

Whereas the Canadian Relief Fund for Chernobyl Victims in Belarus focuses on the most vulnerable portion of the Belarus population - an estimated 800,000 children living in this region of the Soviet Union; and

Whereas the Canadian Relief Fund for Chernobyl Victims was formed in 1989, three years after the early morning explosion of April 26, 1986, that contaminated large regions of the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia; and

Whereas the fund consists of several hundred volunteers who assist in bringing children to Canada from the contaminated areas to allow them a healthy respite from their dangerous environment;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize the role being played by families here in Nova Scotia towards this cause and assist in whatever way is possible to make their jobs easier.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear a No.

[Page 3775]

The notice is tabled.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: He is not in his seat.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, that member who said no is not in his seat.

MR. SPEAKER: In that case, the intervention by the Minister of Labour was not in order and that was the only Nay that I heard.

Therefore, the notice of motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1856

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 celebration planned for the 250th Anniversary of the founding of Halifax has been recognized by the American Bus Association as one of the top 100 events in North America for 1999; and

Whereas this major event will include a re-creation of the landing of Edward Cornwallis, encampments of soldiers and Mi'kmaq on the Halifax Commons, parades and a Governor's Ball; and

Whereas also making the prestigious top 100 list is Encampment '99, planned to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of the return to French control of the fortress Town of Louisbourg;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the organizers of these two exciting events and congratulate their recognition in the top 100 attractions in North America.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3776]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1857

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

Whereas our native communities are communities that identify the tragedies created by drug problems; and

Whereas identification of problems is the first step in solving them; and

Whereas the community of Indian Brook Reserve drew attention to drug problems today as part of Drug Awareness Week;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of communities like Indian Brook in bringing awareness to the problems of drug and alcohol addiction.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1858

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

[Page 3777]

Whereas a group of global geography students at Central Kings Rural High School responded to the disaster caused by Hurricane Mitch in Central America with Operation Gator Aid; and

Whereas the students, compelled to help the estimated 3 million people left homeless by the storm, issued a school-wide call for food, clothing and footwear that yielded approximately 500 kilograms of donations; and

Whereas Canadian Airlines has offered to fly the emergency supplies to Ottawa, where the Red Cross will ship them to Central America next week;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the compassion and generosity displayed by the students and faculty of Central Kings Rural High School and applaud their resolve to help those who continue to suffer in the aftermath of this devastating hurricane.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

Before I recognize the honourable member for Inverness, I have had an opportunity to examine the notice of motion submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova and I am ruling it out of order.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1859

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

Whereas Marie Campbell, who represents Central Inverness County on the Strait Regional School Board, was recently returned as Chair of the board; and

Whereas Ms. Campbell is serving in her second term as Chair of the board; and

[Page 3778]

Whereas the Strait Regional School Board, which is dealing with providing quality education to a widespread rural population, is encouraged by the potential of information technology in rural schools;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Marie Campbell as she begins another term as Chair of the Strait Regional School Board, and wish the board luck as they explore the benefits of computers for education and community growth.

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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1860

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

Whereas Nova Scotians have learned that the $92 million increased debt and deficit at the QE II hospital exceeds the $82 million provincial deficit; and

Whereas it would be reprehensible to attack the Liberals renewed deficit woes on the backs of the poor and the sick; and

Whereas the QE II is suddenly cutting off Camp Hill Hospital workers who were disabled by the environmental illness that was caused at the hospital site by poor design;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to reconsider its decision to impoverish hospital workers disabled by workplace-caused environmental illness by targeting these loyal employees and unilaterally slashing their compensation.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 3779]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1861

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

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism in an article in the Daily News on June 7th of this year said the days of controversial multimillion dollar hand-outs to big business are over; and

Whereas these comments came forth while the minister was speaking about the $28 million reduction in his department's 1998-99 budget; and

Whereas the minister also said in the June 7th article that recent government contributions to Stora and Michelin have assured the presence of these companies in Nova Scotia while creating new jobs;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development explain to Nova Scotians why on September 22nd he announced another $20 million was being made available to a company which he said on June 7th would not require any more funding and why his department is presently $18.5 million over budget for the fiscal year 1998-99.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1862

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 American Bus Association has included the Louisbourg Encampment '99 as one of two Nova Scotia events highlighted for the 1999 tourism season; and

[Page 3780]

Whereas the Louisbourg Encampment '99 is listed in the top 100 events recommended by the American Bus Association; and

Whereas the Louisbourg Encampment '99 is expected to attract over 2,000 history enthusiasts from North America, Great Britain, France and Belgium, in addition to the more than 130,000 annual visitors;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate community leaders, the town businesses and the people of Louisbourg and surrounding area for their dedication to and promotion and preservation of their historic community.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 1863

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

Whereas the Premier and Health Minister have entertained this House and the press gallery with conspiracy theories, attributing the Northwood strike to a mysterious NDP "inflammation"; and

Whereas according to media reports, when confronted on Saturday and Sunday by Cape Breton nursing home workers, the Premier did not bring forth his conspiracy theories or tell those workers to their face that they were infected with an NDP "inflammation";

Therefore be it resolved that a good dose of reality is the best cure for cases of perceived "inflammation".

[Page 3781]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1864

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

Whereas the Kentville and Berwick area boards of trade recently announced the winners of the Fourth Annual Kings County Business Awards; and

Whereas Lifeline Oxygen was recognized for the largest gain in employment among businesses with 15 or fewer employees and Cameron Seafoods won the award for the largest growth among businesses with more than 15 employees; and

Whereas this year's most outstanding new business was Annapolis Valley Outdoors and the Outstanding Business Person Award went to Trinda Ernst of Waterbury Newton;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate each winner for their achievement and applaud their contribution to the Kentville and Berwick areas as well as their contributions to the business community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1865

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

[Page 3782]

[6:45 p.m.]

Whereas the Regina Leader-Post reported, on Saturday past, the story of a woman forced to drive her mother to a rural Saskatchewan hospital because no ambulances were available; and

Whereas, to add insult to injury, this woman was then required to drive a further 55 kilometres to Regina to fetch the blood her mother needed for a transfusion; and

Whereas this disturbing story came as a result of the same NDP Government policies that saw one-third of Saskatchewan hospitals closed;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP have proven to be shamefully ill-prepared to deal with health care issues in Saskatchewan, and that NDP polices would create an equally disastrous situation were they to be implemented here in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1866

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

Whereas Dorothy Lawrence has dedicated years of service teaching children; and

Whereas she has worked tirelessly as editor of the Retired Teachers' Newsletter and editor of Tales Told Out of School; and

Whereas Dorothy Lawrence has received the Lilla Stirling Memorial Award for her children's book, Matthew's Quest.

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature extend congratulations to Dorothy Lawrence and wish her continued success as she prepares to edit another collection of stories by retired teachers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3783]

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. 1867

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

Whereas this summer, Amherst actor, Meredith MacNeil, found out that she is the first Atlantic Canadian woman ever accepted into England's prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art; and

Whereas Ms. MacNeil is the first Canadian woman in 30 years to be accepted into the famous central London school, considered by many to be one of the most prestigious English-speaking theatre schools in the world; and

Whereas the esteemed three year program has produced celebrities such as Sir Anthony Hopkins and Ralph Fiennes;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Meredith MacNeil on her acceptance into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and wish her great success.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

[Page 3784]

RESOLUTION NO. 1868

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

Whereas this weekend past, at the annual convention of the Saskatchewan NDP, delegates voted against a resolution that would ban donations from large corporations; and

Whereas this move has angered some Party members, who view it as a demonstration of the hollow and sanctimonious values of the NDP policy; and

Whereas this follows a similar move by the NDP in Prince Edward Island, who abandoned their principles and are now accepting corporate donations;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the Opposition, who dreams of creating a Saskatchewan-like socialist state in Nova Scotia, admit his Party is philosophically bankrupt and that the NDP policy is shallow and out of touch with political reality.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 1869

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

Whereas Cherry Brook native, Jeremiah Sparks, stands front and centre as an entertainment force in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Mr. Sparks' achievements flow from the wellspring of gospel music that infuses his community; and

Whereas his first CD launch occurred on October 14th, and he will be showcased on the upcoming East Coast Music Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates Jeremiah Sparks on his sterling accomplishments and wish him every success in his career and in highlighting Nova Scotia's rich and varied musical traditions.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 3785]

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 Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 1870

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

Whereas a new environmental publication is scheduled to be launched in Truro tomorrow; and

Whereas the publication, The Enviro-Connect, Nature's Bond, is to be published quarterly, with the goal of educating the public and promoting environmental awareness; and

Whereas the publication will be free of charge, aiming to share information and provincial success stories;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the efforts of The Enviro-Connect, Nature's Bond, its editor, Margaret Traverse, and its contributors, for their ambition to promote environmental awareness.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 3786]

RESOLUTION NO. 1871

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

Whereas the Labour Minister and his Cabinet colleagues have used Labour Day and other possible occasions to proclaim that the Liberal Government is a true friend of working men and women; and

Whereas nursing home staff, miners, steelworkers, came out to the KOC Hall in Sydney Mines Saturday night to celebrate the meaning of this friendship; and

Whereas after so many promises, including specific promises of equal wage deals across the health care sector, Cape Breton workers are looking to see if they have any true friends in this government;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to recognize full-page newspaper ads are not going to solve nine years of unfair treatment and one year of misleading promises, and hard-working nursing home staff aren't going to put up with it.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 1872

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 Yarmouth County Museum has been chosen as the number one community museum in Nova Scotia by a three member evaluation team established by the Nova Scotia Museum; and

Whereas the evaluation included the whole museum experience including the building, the surrounding grounds, collections, access to information, marketing, presentation and exhibits, community involvement, human resource management and administration;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend its congratulations to the curator, Mr. Eric Ruff of Yarmouth, and the museum's many volunteers for their achievement and wish them further success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 3787]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1873

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: 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 Third Party has said that he is prepared to support the government for up to two years; and

Whereas at the same time the member has criticized the government for its many failings and disasters, most recently the enormous deficit at the QE II Health Sciences Centre; and

Whereas support for the government indicates quite a leap of faith;

Therefore be it resolved that this House asks the member, "What, without seeing the Budget first?!".

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 1874

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

Whereas on November 15th, an exhibition basketball game was held between the Dalhousie University Women's Basketball Team and the Lunenburg High School Boys Senior Basketball Team in order to promote basketball in Lunenburg; and

[Page 3788]

Whereas the Dalhousie Tigers were coached by Dr. Carolyn Savoy and the Lunenburg Mariners were coached by Mr. Bruce Sarty; and

Whereas the Dalhousie Tigers won on the scoreboard but all the players won by the experience;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Dalhousie University Women's Basketball Team and the Lunenburg High School Senior Boy's Basketball Team and their coaches for the promotion of basketball.

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 Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1875

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

Whereas Hurricane Mitch ravaged Honduras in its deadly swing through the Caribbean; and

Whereas LaHave businessman, Mike Watson, who was in Honduras aboard his floating bakery pressed his boat into service, ferrying supplies from the Cayman Islands to the Bay Islands, an area of Honduras particularly hard hit by the hurricane; and

Whereas this tragedy inspired a group of Nova Scotians, including Mr. Watson and the musician and sailor, Tom Gallant, to form the Bay Islands Relief Fund to provide relief to the desperate survivors;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mike Watson and all those who established the Bay Islands Relief Fund and wish them well in their efforts to provide relief for the troubled residents of Honduras.

[Page 3789]

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1876

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

Whereas a reader's poll recently conducted by American magazine Conde Nast Traveler identified Cape Breton Island as the most beautiful site in the world; and

Whereas the survey also recognized Cape Bretoners as among the friendliest people in the world; and

Whereas Cape Breton and its people were selected over a number of popular tourist destinations including Hawaii and Bermuda;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the American magazine Conde Nast Traveler for recognizing and highlighting the truly beautiful Cape Breton Island and its people.

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.

[Page 3790]

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1877

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 representative of the Armoyan Group said November 16th on CBC Radio that it would be unwise to guarantee school construction by September 1999; and

Whereas Armoyan are partners in the Armoyan municipal consortium that was picked by this Liberal Government to build urgently needed and long-delayed schools by September 1999; and

Whereas Armoyan Group is among the many strong Liberal supporters and contributors who have been awarded P3 contracts;

Therefore be it resolved that the Education Minister, who has shouted for months that only his P3 scheme guarantees school construction, should explain to parents, teachers and students why the hand-picked Liberal Armoyan consortium now claims that the Liberal guarantee is unwise.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1878

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 School of Library and Information studies at Dalhousie University recently presented the 1998 Rosemary Gill Award to Graduate Coordinator, Judy Dunn; and

Whereas this award has been presented annually since it was established in 1995, in memory of Dr. Rosemary Gill, Director of University Health Services; and

Whereas the award is given to a member of the faculty or staff who has provided outstanding service to students other than through teaching;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Ms. Judy Dunn, a former M.L.S. graduate and staff member since 1988 on this prestigious award.

[Page 3791]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1879

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

Whereas the Advocate Coyote Girls Soccer Team recently won the Cumberland County soccer league for their area; and

Whereas Peter Spicer, Pat Spicer and Dave Field have dedicated many hours to lead the Coyotes in yet another successful year; and

Whereas the Coyotes participated in the provincial playoffs last weekend, making a strong showing on behalf of the Advocate High School, once again making the community proud;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate the Advocate Ladies Coyote Soccer Team and wish them all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 3792]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 71.

Bill No. 71 - Intercountry Adoption Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to this bill, An Act to Implement the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. Simply put, this bill will protect the best interests of children involved in international adoption. This legislation will offer that protection when an international adoption takes place between Nova Scotia and another country that has also signed the Hague Convention.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to provide some background on the Hague Convention. Under the auspices of the Hague Conference on private international law, the Convention on International Adoption was finalized on May 29, 1993. This came into force on May 1, 1995. The convention seeks to establish a cooperative framework between states of origin of children in need of adoption and receiving states of such children. This cooperation will ensure that the interests of children are safeguarded when they are provided with an adoptive family capable of caring for them.

[7:00 p.m.]

Canada was the lead country in negotiating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Hague Convention on International Adoption is another step to protect and promote the rights of children. At least 33 countries have signed The Hague Convention so far and the Canadian government ratified the convention in April 1997. In Canada adoption falls within the jurisdiction of the provinces and the territories which must pass legislation to apply the convention. To date, the Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta,

[Page 3793]

Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have implemented the convention, six provinces and one territory.

Mr. Speaker, every year there are about 100 applications for international adoptions in Nova Scotia and there are about 2,000 international adoptions in Canada and 20,000 international adoptions around the world. The Hague Convention requires that participating jurisdictions ensure proper consents for adoptions have been obtained and that potential adoptive parents are eligible and suitable to adopt. It also defines a system of cooperation and information sharing between countries. One of the goals is to prevent illegal activities related to adoption, such as the abduction or the sale of children. Once passed, the legislation will mean that international adoptions follow the same procedures as domestic adoptions in Nova Scotia. A home study will be used to assess the suitability of adoptive parents and every effort will be made to record medical and family information about the birth family.

It gives me pleasure to move second reading. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, the minister is absolutely correct. She has a right to be commended for bringing Bill No. 71 forward, an Act to Implement The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect to Intercountry Adoption. I just want to make a few comments if I may.

I just want to say what The Hague guidelines establish as to adoption for foreign countries and in a nutshell it includes: To ensure that the international adoptions are made in the best interests of children; to protect against the abduction, the sale or traffic of children; to ensure that the adoptions are made only when a suitable family cannot be found in the state of origin; to ensure that the adoptions will be negotiated by non-profit authorities and accredited bodies; to ensure that the birth mother gives her consent to the adoption after the birth and is not coerced with money, threats or otherwise; to ensure that the child, if of age, if appropriate, gives her or his consent to the adoption; and to ensure that the fees paid to the bodies involved in negotiating an international adoption are not too high; to ensure that the adoption situation is monitored and that children are taken into protective care, to return to the country of origin, if the situation warrants and with the child's consent, where appropriate.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that in fact there are now 21 countries out of the 33 countries who have ratified this agreement and, without echoing the comments of the minister, she is absolutely correct that many of the provinces in Canada, along with the territories, have in fact adopted The Hague Convention as a priority. I am very pleased to see that in Nova Scotia this is being adopted. Remember that it came to Canada on April 1, 1997, when Canada was one of the countries that in fact agreed to ratify The Hague Convention.

[Page 3794]

If there were one recommendation that I would make, that would be a recommendation in the direction of a clause amendment. A clause amendment should be added to Nova Scotia and it should read: If the law of Nova Scotia conflicts with the convention . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member that he is presently speaking on the principle of the bill. Your amendment may be well in order, and I am not prepared to rule on whether it is or not, but it is not in order to bring it forward at this time.

MR. PYE: No, I can recommend, though, can I not, Mr. Speaker, through this Legislative Assembly?

MR. SPEAKER: Well, you can very, very generally, but you cannot suggest any amendment to the actual . . .

MR. PYE: I can suggest a recommendation and that the recommendation then goes before the Law Amendments Committee to be approved and then come back to this House and that is exactly what I am doing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member has the floor.

MR. PYE: That is exactly what I am doing and I want to make it clear that this is a recommendation and I am recommending to the Law Amendments Committee through this Legislative Assembly an amendment to Bill No. 71. The amendment should read, if the laws of Nova Scotia conflict with the convention, then the convention should prevail.

Mr. Speaker, I want that on record here now so that when it goes before the Law Amendments Committee that, in fact, the Law Amendments Committee can pick that up and see it and then make the recommendation, rather that is to be added to the bill as an amendment.

I want to say that the protection of children throughout the world is of primary importance and it is, indeed, a pleasure to stand here with the minister in support of this convention. I want to tell you that it is a pleasant day when all members of the Legislative Assembly can stand up and speak in support of a bill. This one is a very important one to me, Mr. Speaker, and, I am sure, to most members of this Legislative Assembly. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to congratulate the minister for bringing forth this piece of legislation. It is nice to see some positive steps being taken by her department in the issue of adoption here in Nova Scotia. As the Speaker knows, I have not

[Page 3795]

been quite so kind on other types of adoption, some of the action or lack of action in the department. So it is nice to see this happening.

International adoption, Mr. Speaker, is becoming more widely practised. Indeed, I can speak in my own home community, in the past two or three years, I probably know of one-half dozen people who have gone, as I use the word, offshore, because adoptive children were not available here in Nova Scotia or in neighbouring provinces. So there is, indeed, a greater interest among childless couples or, indeed, some people who do have other children, in adopting children who are not Canadian citizens or are not natives of Nova Scotia.

We only have to think, Mr. Speaker, to some of the crises that have occurred, over there in Bosnia, for example. There were some Bosnian children adopted. We have also seen the case of Russia, where the Cherynobyl example and some of the children did come over here from there. I think there were one or two adopted. Nova Scotians are people of great love and compassion. They, also, are great family people and are interested in families and having children. They, indeed, would like to have children and if they can't have their own and if adoptive children are not available here, then, quite often, they will really tend to look elsewhere if it means that they can add to their family and have their own family.

As I said before, Nova Scotians are also compassionate and there has been a number of occasions where Nova Scotia people have adopted children because of crisis in the country of origin, quite often orphans, as opposed to children whose parents choose to give them up for adoption because they cannot support them in the way they would like to have them supported or that they would like to give children an opportunity which they feel is denied to them.

Mr. Speaker, the Hague Convention is, as I read it, the major selling point of it, and I think, for those who adopted it, is the fact that it does provide for the protection of the rights of the children. For example, if it is a child who may be of age, I note that this convention, that the child has to be informed of the affects of the adoption if the child is of such an age where they could understand what was going to happen. Indeed, as well, it does provide, not only for the protection of the child, but it provides for the protection of the parent, because in this bill, the consent of the mother can be obtained only after the child has been born. What this does is, of course, some people, women here I suppose as well as in other countries, they do become pregnant and they feel that they cannot raise a child or do not want a child. Before, they could sign to give the child up for adoption before the child was born and I think most people understand that sometimes when a child is born that there is some sort of magic that occurs between the mother and the child and the mother might change her mind and it does protect against that eventuality.

It also protects against what was, unfortunately, a practice of having babies to sell them. I think that was a fact that happened in some countries and it was done by people over there as a way of raising money. I think, to be quite frank, there would be people on this side of the

[Page 3796]

water if we are looking at offshore, who were not above - if they wish to have a baby and they wanted one - of paying someone to have a child, acting actually as a surrogate mother for them.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see this bring Nova Scotia into line with, I believe, six other provinces and one of the territories in adopting this Hague Convention. It certainly strengthens the adoption process in this province and safeguards the rights of the children. Therefore, I am pleased to endorse this bill at this stage. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, am pleased to rise in support of this legislation. We see, as a consequence of being citizens who have grown up in a technological age where every night we can turn on the television and see actual people, their faces, their families and the terrible situations in which they find themselves, as a consequence, we are much more poignantly aware of the urgent need for the adoption of children who are homeless, who live in countries where there is no future for them. We are much more aware that we, in the more affluent countries, can provide these children with loving homes and a future that is not available to them in the country of their birth.

Certainly, there are indeed many thousands of Canadians who would welcome the opportunity to bring a new child into their home, nurture that child and provide the child with more than simply food, clothing and shelter but provide the child with all of the love that one would deem to be only too appropriate in the bringing up of any little boy or little girl so that that person can grow to full adulthood and take their place in the world.

I often think how vitally important it is for any adoptive parent of a child from another culture to endeavour, however difficult or however challenging it might be, to ensure that that child grows up with some knowledge of the culture from which they came so that they don't simply grow up as a North American child, or specifically a Canadian child, who seems not to have the past of the country from whence they came. I don't know whether that is one of the things that is encouraged of adoptive parents. The minister certainly would know that and I would be interested in having her advise the House whether, in fact, parents are given that kind of encouragement not only in terms of these children understanding the culture of the country from which they came, but there also is the question of religion.

Many children come from countries where Christianity is a minority religion and I wonder what strictures, if any, are placed on adoptive parents with respect to observing the religious considerations of a child who comes from a family that is from a religion that is not well known or may not be known at all by the adoptive family. Does that play a role? We do live in a very pluralistic society and it strikes me that that is an area that might be taken for consideration.

[Page 3797]

[7:15 p.m.]

I think, too, when the minister was up speaking she said that potential adoptive parents are interviewed to determine their suitability. One of the things we hear a great deal about today in the news, all kinds of debate, is the matter of the appropriate discipline for a child growing up in a family. Many of us grew up in an age where we knew that if we didn't behave ourselves we might get a little tap on the backside to remind us that whatever we were doing that was wrong we shouldn't do again. (Interruptions) Yes, frequently. I was a slow learner in that respect, at least. I wonder if this kind of question is put to potential adoptive parents and, if so, what kind of criteria does the minister's department have in this respect? She, certainly, would again know this and I would be inquisitive to know just how this is handled by her department.

Again, we should be doing everything that we can to make it possible for persons who wish to be adoptive parents to take advantage of bringing a child into their home and nurturing that child, taking them through to adulthood and giving them every opportunity to become fully productive human beings, albeit in their adoptive country if not in the country of their birth.

So, I certainly support this bill and I know that my constituents would want me to. In fact, many of my constituents have taken children from outside Canada into their homes and it has always been, in my experience, a very wonderful experience for both those children and for the adoptive parents. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the Minister of Community Services, it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the members opposite and I look forward to the continuing debate in committee and look forward to Law Amendments. It gives me pleasure to move this for second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 71. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

[Page 3798]

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 52.

Bill No. 52 - Business Efficiency (1998) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, this government has taken major steps to reduce red tape for business in Nova Scotia. We are committed to action that will lighten the load on business to make room for continued growth. Small business in this province is the backbone of our economy and we are dedicated to creating an environment of continued growth for the benefit of all Nova Scotians.

The Business Efficiency (1998) Bill is part of a much larger government commitment to reduce and cut red tape. It is a necessary and logical next step in implementing the recommendations of the LPA Task Force approved last April. The Business Efficiency (1998) Bill is the second bill related to the LPA Task Force Report and a further example of our promise to cut red tape. Bill No. 7, entitled an Act Respecting Licenses, Permits, Regulations and Certifications was passed in December 1997.

The LPA report consists of 36 general policies to achieve a consistent, uniform base for LPRCs and 96 recommendations concerning individual LPRCs. Of these policies and recommendations, 80 per cent can be implemented without changes to legislation. The Business Efficiency (1998) Bill is designed to take care of a portion of the remaining 20 per cent.

If the bill appears to be much to do about nothing, that is certainly not the case. The bill takes us one step closer to achieving the recommendations of the LPA Task Force and implementing the report for existing licenses, permits, approvals and certifications. Other steps involve changes to regulations and administrative process. The bill eliminates duplication between levels of government, giving businesses one less step to take in order to run their operations. For example, the federal government now licenses tax discounters. Why should we continue to require tax discounters to be licensed provincially? It is duplication and a waste of effort.

The small-business community has been instrumental in forming this legislation. Their input is the basis for the LPA Task Force Report. They have told us that instead of there being one huge weight government can take off their shoulders, there are a number of smaller burdens that we can remove for them. For instance, extending the expiry dates of LPRCs to three years eliminates business and individuals from having to deal with the process of renewing licenses every year.

[Page 3799]

Other moves that will help business are changes in the Companies Act which will make filing requirements much simpler; housekeeping changes to the Insurance Act, which are supported by industry; and changes to the Insurance Premiums Tax Act to allow more flexibility with quarterly payments. The Business Efficiency (1998) Bill is not about revenue, it is about cutting red tape and helping to create an environment where business can thrive. I can tell you though, eliminating five LPRCs will not have any significant impact on revenues for the province.

In no way do any of these changes lessen our ability to protect consumers. In fact, there are a number of protectory measures already built into the Consumer Protection Act. The LPA report recommended a number of changes that would resolve or ease restrictions on businesses while retaining government's responsibility and authority to protect the public's interest. That has not changed. We said that we would act on the LPA Task Force and we are doing it.

In addition to the Business Efficiency (1998) Bill, a team is working to ensure that all LPA report's, policies and recommendations are implemented today. This is a win-win situation for business and government. We are taking some of the burdens off the backs of business and at the same time this government is becoming more efficient as a result. It is our intention to continue this momentum of red-tape cutting by introducing future Business Efficiency Bills until all the legislation changes are that that were recommended in the LPA Task Force Report are met.

With those few comments, I would like to move second reading of the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to stand and speak on an Act to Promote Efficiency in the Delivery of Government Services. This is a good bill that addresses the commitment in making it easier to do business with government in Nova Scotia. I think the task force on licences, permits, approvals, registrations and certification has done a good job. This piece of legislation will provide business with less red tape and will do away with unnecessary regulations and will allow the system to work better for businesses and in doing so, better for the consumer.

This bill, as I have seen it through the task force recommendations, takes in more than 300 recommendations that come from the review of 288 licences, permits, approvals and certifications, administered by 14 departments. It has been stated that the first goal of this bill is to improve the relationship between business and government, and in turn improving delivery service to the public. This bill clearly identifies and builds on those areas and provides practical steps that will improve the system.

[Page 3800]

It is also important that during the process of compiling this report, the committee consulted with persons working on the front line in government. It was a good thing as front-line workers experienced some of the difficulties that consumers endure. Throughout this bill as well, there is a great deal of discussion with respect to changing the wording licence to permit, in existing Acts and vice versa.

I am happy to see the standardization of terms and that it is understood that licences are permission granted by government such as hunting licences and that sort of thing, while permits are where people engage in a private sector activity that is otherwise illegal; for example, things like collection agencies. So with fewer definitions, it truly makes it easier for everyone.

Mr. Speaker, all areas of this bill, indeed, needed to be cleaned up and aired out, so to speak. I especially like Clause 24, where a customer may rescind a contract by delivering written notice of to an operator within five days after the contract is signed. These clauses give protection to the consumer and provide for some openness and flexibility in the process.

We know that the province has a fundamental responsibility to ensure good government and to promote the good for all. Government's responsibility, in general terms, must seek to ensure public safety, such as consumer protection, resource protection and, of course, economic necessity.

Mr. Speaker, I believe, as those who work with the task force as well, that all of these, the registration and the certification, take place in a very broad context. I believe that this bill will provide for some of that. Basically, these amendments cleaned up the Act so there is less red tape, less headaches for businesses, governments and the consumer. It is more consistent in terms, and less overlap. I think these amendments are the first step in allowing for the more efficient and effective government departments. On behalf of my caucus, I would like to say that we do support Bill No. 52. Thank you.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening and speak on Bill No. 52, Business Efficiency (1998) Act. The Minister of Labour introduced this legislation on behalf of the Minister of Business and Consumer Services back on October 29th. At that time, I had an opportunity to take in the bill briefing that was provided by this Liberal Government and quite frankly, this legislation is much ado about nothing.

The Minister of Business and Consumer Services said earlier on, Mr. Speaker, that it is wrong for people to say that this appears to be much ado about nothing. The minister said that just a few moments ago, but when you give this legislation careful examination, you quickly discern that instead of cutting red tape like they should be doing, in fact, they are changing the names in a few places. In several provisions, the name will change from a licence

[Page 3801]

to a permit, or vice-versa. In order to have real, meaningful reduction relative to red tape, the Minister of Business and Consumer Services should, for example, go out and talk to the retailers, the business people that are selling motorhomes and travel trailers, truck campers, fifth wheels, et cetera, if the minister wants to cut red tape.

I was speaking with a proprietor on the weekend and he told me that he has to comply with 32 pieces of legislation permits, et cetera, just to operate his business. Can you believe that? Now, surely, everybody, all MLAs in this House probably have one or two, maybe more, retailers in their constituency that sell motorhomes, travel trailers, truck campers, et cetera. Go talk to those individuals that are trying to provide job opportunities and supply this province with economic benefits, if you want to talk to somebody.

Now there are several other businesses out there - small business and big business - where this government could take a step forward and help them reduce red tape. For example, big business this time, Mr. Speaker. Scotia Mines out in Gays River, Colchester County, a subsidiary of Savage Resources, are trying to redevelop a lead-zinc mine. From talking to the former mine manager, a Mr. Fisher, he indicated that he was some three months behind in developing that mine. He said one month is attributable to poor weather, and two months is a direct consequence of this Liberal Government and the previous Savage Government holding up the process.

He said that you go to the Department of Labour and you can't get answers, and they ship you off to the Department of Natural Resources and you can't get answers and they, in turn, send you to the Department of the Environment. They are just bandied about from pillar to post and that is wrong. If this government wants to get serious about cutting red tape, go out and talk to the small businesses and the big businesses in this province that are providing job opportunities and economic benefits to the Province of Nova Scotia.

[7:30 p.m.]

Now to come in with legislation, obviously it is hard to speak against this legislation and most likely we support the small step and the principle here, but when you look at the legislation it eliminates five licenses or permits relative to margarine manufacturing license, Mr. Speaker. How many MLAs in this province have been approached by somebody who wants to develop and manufacture margarine? How many? Could we have a show of hands? There is nary a hand, so you have to question, where is this government coming from.

They also are repealing three Acts. Let's have a look at the legislation. They are repealing three Acts, but the task force, the Report of the Task Force on Licenses, Permits and Approvals made recommendations concerning 96 licenses, permits, legislation and approvals. They are going to repeal three Acts. A small step, yes, and the Progressive Conservatives support this legislation, but I would encourage the Minister of Business and Consumer Services to go further, to perhaps even assign an employee to look at this on a full-

[Page 3802]

time basis, for example. I believe that there is merit in cutting red tape. We do not mean cutting the red tape horizontally, we mean cut the red tape vertically. Get right to the heart of the matter.

This legislation re-labels six licenses, permits, et cetera, that are currently called, as the minister pointed out in a bill briefing release, licenses and it changes them to permits. It makes them consistent with definition but that is not really going to help the small business person out there. It is not really going to assist the big business. So again I comment that it is difficult to speak against the actual legislation, but surely to goodness this government can make a better effort and, as a result and an aftermath, come in with some real meaningful legislation that is going to help business in Nova Scotia. This government, when they came in back in 1993 - some members are still with the present MacLellan Government - they talked the talk about reducing red tape, cutting bureaucratic policy, duplication, triplication, whatever the case may be. When is this government going to walk the walk? They have to do it pretty soon.

I appreciate the fact that the government makes the statement that they are committed to making it easier for businesses to do business with government. This legislation just doesn't - no pun intended - cut it. It doesn't cut a lot of red tape. It is only a small step, but if the minister would like to go talk to small business people, such as the retailers who are selling tent trailers, campers, I use that as an example, there are many out there.

One of the owners of a small business in my constituency told me that one of the permits that he was required to obtain, and I am not sure of the department, it might have been from the Department of Transportation, but he said in order to operate a travel trailer sales and service business he was required to have a grease gun. Guess what? There is not a grease fitting, not one grease fitting, on the motorhomes and travel trailers that he sells. Nonetheless, he is required and he was advised by the appropriate personnel representing the appropriate department, that unless he had a grease gun hanging on the wall they could shut him down.

That is absolutely ridiculous, but that is what the owner told me. So perhaps one of the ministers who would be responsible for that area could go and destroy, reduce or eliminate that type of legislation. That is one. I could go on at great length and name a number of areas where the Minister of Business and Consumer Services could cut red tape and not hurt a thing.

I do want the Minister of Labour to know that when I mentioned earlier on that Scotia Mines was trying to redevelop the lead-zinc mine out in Gays River that we in the Progressive Conservative caucus firmly support his government's efforts to ensure that safety in the workplace is always adhered to, occupational health and safety measures. In no way, shape or form would we ever suggest that things of that nature should be impaired or compromised. But we do believe that when a developer, an entrepreneur comes to the Province of Nova

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Scotia, surely somebody from government should go and try to facilitate the development instead of saying, well, developer or proprietor, fill out this application. We will lay it up on a shelf and if you do not call us back for 30 or 60 days, we will not call you. That is what is happening and that is wrong.

A lot of people come to Nova Scotia and they want to invest in this province. They have confidence in this province but the red tape is suffocating them. It is choking them, Mr. Speaker, and legislation like this just does not go far enough. It just simply does not cut it. So, as I indicated earlier, we will certainly be supporting this legislation going to the Law Amendments Committee. (Interruption)

Good question, it depends on what comes out of the Law Amendments Committee but in principle we do support this legislation. It is a small step but it is, quite frankly, much ado about nothing. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, I would like to go back to the minister, if I may, for an introduction.

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, seated in your gallery are members of local fire departments in my area. I would like to introduce them to the Legislature. Earlier this evening we honoured them with a presentation from the Department of Health. They are the group that put together the first responder's program from the fire departments in the province and actually the work they have done is going to be used all over the province and probably throughout Canada. So I think it is very special that they could come this evening.

First of all, I would like to introduce Mr. Murray Houghton. He is the Chief of the Lawrencetown Beach Fire and Emergency Services. With him, there are a couple of his first responders that have come along this evening as well. (Applause)

Next I would like to introduce Chief Tom Hubley from the Musquodoboit Harbour Fire Department and his wife, who is also a first responder. As I say, Mr. Hubley's wife is the first responder in the fire department. There are several ladies in that department who have done an excellent job. (Applause)

Next I would like to introduce Chief Leonard Sullivan from the Chezzetcook Fire Department. (Applause)

There are a few other officials there from the Department of Health. There is Tony Eden, Karen Ursel and Steve Lenihan from the QE II. Thank you very much. (Applause)

[Page 3804]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, too, I must take the opportunity to extend our welcome to our guests. The work that you do is extremely important and that which you do, and your colleagues across the province do, we are all certainly very grateful to you for the efforts that you put forward and the protections that you provide to us all.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I differ slightly from the previous speaker because I happen to feel that this bill is a little bit more than much ado about nothing because I think that this legislation is an important step forward. Let's face it, Nova Scotia must be open to business and we in our caucus believe that Nova Scotia should be open to business and that we should be doing all that is reasonable and possible to make it easier and more efficient for business, particularly small business, to be operating within this province.

One of the obstacles that has been standing in the way on many occasions for businesses has been the amount of red tape and the difficulties that they have had to go through either to establish, to develop their business here, or to expand or continue the business. Anything that we can do to assist in that, that is going to be a reasonable thing that is going to still be providing the protection for the consumers and the general public, I think is a reasonable thing to be considering.

Mr. Speaker, the previous speaker when he was wrapping up, he was talking about a number of conditions and he was pointing out difficulties with certain permits and licenses and so on. He was saying how under the Savage and MacLellan Governments that really little very little has changed in that regard. I would suggest that he might also have carried that back and put the same label on the obsolete licences and permits that have been in place under the former Progressive Conservative Regime because the difficulties that exist are not difficulties that existed only - not wanting to sound too friendly to the government but I can't even blame this government for creating all of the problems. They were problems that developed over years and years when there wasn't the proper process in place to review, to re-evaluate and to find out whether or not those conditions were still suitable. For example, the previous speaker was talking about the grease gun and how you have to have a grease gun hanging on the wall.

Well, one of the things that I noticed going through this bill in a quick referral that no, I don't see any mention of a grease gun hanging on the wall. I do see provisions in here that enable under the Licences, Permits, Registrations and Certifications Act, a review of licences and permits to find out if the criteria are still suitable and appropriate. If that grease gun is no longer appropriate for the modern day recreational home or so on, this bill is providing the authority to remove that requirement. You cannot, unfortunately, in a particular piece of legislation itemize and list every single criterion that is in every licence, every permit across this province, you cannot list everything in here and say that each and every one of them shall be removed or shall be modernized. What you do is you put in place a process where you can

[Page 3805]

have a fair and proper evaluation in 1999 and also a process that will allow that evaluation to go on in years to come so that we will make sure that we will stay current.

I want to extend my appreciation to the business community that worked over many years with this government to look at ways to streamline the system, to find ways to improve, not just in a way that is going to benefit them at the expense of the consumers but a way to modernize, a way to make this province more attractive and more suitable for the development and the expansion of business. Let's face it, there are only 52 people who are going to get a job at a time in the Legislature. We have many tens of thousands of Nova Scotians who have to find employment elsewhere. The vast majority of those Nova Scotians work in small business from the far tip of Cape Breton to the southernmost end of our province. In all of those communities and all of those small businesses, we have to try to ensure that they are going to be able to compete with their neighbours but also compete in the global market. If we are going to be putting in front of them a lot of roadblocks, a lot of obstacles that are going to make it impossible for them to compete, obstacles that serve little or no value.

There was a time where if you wanted to take your horse and go for a ride around the Parade Ground up by City Hall, you were entitled to have two RCMP mounted officers ride to accompany you. That was not all that many years ago that that was on the books as a by-law, as a rule. Of course, you could take your cattle up and graze them on the Commons. Well, that is not appropriate for today and we have in our regulations, permits and our licences other things that may not be quite as archaic but, in fact, are no longer relevant for this day and age.

This bill makes a lot of amendments to a lot of various pieces of legislation. This bill amends the Business Electronic Filing Act, the Collection Agencies Act. It makes amendments under the Companies Act, it makes amendments under the Consumer Protection Act, it makes amendments under the Direct Sellers' Licensing and Regulation Act. It goes on and on, the Mortgage Brokers' and Lenders' Registration Act, the Vital Statistics Act and yes, the previous speaker spoke about the Margarine Act. That is only one very tiny section of one page. You don't ignore any one particular business or industry if there are needs to make amendments or changes that are going to make that industry grow and that are going to be beneficial to the people of this province.

[7:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I want to indicate that I have every intention of supporting this bill to go on to the Law Amendments Committee. I am not professing or suggesting for a minute that I am knowledgeable about all aspects of all of the various legislations that are covered by this bill. So I look forward to receiving input and comments at the Law Amendments Committee. Because, undoubtedly, because no one is perfect, there are ways that this legislation can be

[Page 3806]

made better. But I am certainly not going to stand here and suggest that I am not going to be supporting it because it doesn't correct each and every ill that exists out there.

I think, Mr. Speaker, we owe a debt of gratitude to those in the business community and in the consumer groups that worked with governments over the years to bring this legislation to this stage. Our children and our constituents' children are going to depend, to a very large extent, upon the ability of the small business community in this province to be able to create and to maintain employment. If we can do things that will enable those within that business community to expand, to create more jobs, jobs in our communities, rather than exporting those jobs, we should do that so long as it is not going to be harmful to their employees, so long as it is not going to be harmful to the consumers. Unless I find areas where the general interest of the public good is being harmed by this legislation, I certainly would be intending to support it and only be suggesting that we would be making amendments that would correct those problems to provide the maximum amount of protection.

Overall, Mr. Speaker, I think that this appears to be a good piece of legislation and I certainly want to indicate to the Premier and to his ministers that we, in our caucus, as we usually do, or in fact, we always do, try to cooperate on good legislation. So we will be supporting this legislation to go on to the Law Amendments Committee. (Applause)

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to rise for a minute and speak to Bill No. 52, An Act to Promote Efficiency in Delivery of Government Services. I am pleased to see the bill introduced, but I do say that I share the feelings of my colleague, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, beautiful Musquodoboit Valley, that it probably is a lot of rhetoric and not a tremendous amount of action. However, anything that will reduce red tape and make it easier to do business in Nova Scotia is a positive step.

I think that the government, once this is in, and it will likely be adopted, passed, perhaps with some amendments, I don't have any specific ones to suggest, but once it gets to the Law Amendments Committee and comes back, it will be passed. I hope that the government will view this as simply a first step to try and clean up so many of these rules and regulations that are lying around that make it difficult, particularly for small business, to come and operate comfortably. One of the things that happens, Mr. Speaker, when a person is starting a small business, and particularly the first-time business person, and they want to start a business and they have a reasonable idea and they are a pretty good person. They start the process of doing the business and they find out that, perhaps, as my colleague for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley said, a business has to have 32 licences. Now 32 to me seems like a large number for commercial business and relatively, I suspect, small business that sells mobile homes and tent trailers and things like this. But to have to deal with 32 licences, if a person was coming into a business and that was facing them, a good many people just say, hey, forget about it.

[Page 3807]

The other thing is, when you are starting a business, you are conducting a business and there are some of these people in the Legislature. Every licence, to me, it adds dollars to a lawyer's bill. You know, the start-up costs of that or the costs of running a business, if we can simplify it, the legal people, things are quite often so complicated that the layperson cannot understand it and you just don't feel comfortable. You know, when you are going to do it, you want to do it correctly. So you consult a learned colleague, somebody who has been called to the Bar, including some of those, perhaps, who are in this Legislature, Mr. Speaker. But it is a bit discouraging when you have to go through this.

In looking at this legislation, Mr. Speaker, it repeals four Acts. One of them happens to be the Margarine Act and the other is the Imitation Dairy Act. (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: No more Cool Whip?

MR. MUIR: No more Cool Whip, you are right, and no more processed cheese food. It is just real cheese, I guess, we are going to get here in Nova Scotia. Some of these things are really a matter of language. It also repeals the Future Services Act and it repeals a Loan Companies Inspection Act. I guess the minister explained it, in that these companies are regulated federally, therefore, to still have them in the Nova Scotia Statutes or a requirement there really is just simply more red tape.

The minister spoke of the LPA Task Force and its 96 recommendations. In other words, the license, permits and approvals task force. I would like the minister, perhaps, not today, obviously, but on a future day, if he could let the members of this House know of the 96 recommendations or 96 policies that were suggested by this LPA Task Force. How many of those are addressed in this legislation? I expect there is probably not a whole lot of them. So what I am suggesting, Mr. Speaker, is that if these 96 general policies or recommendations from the LPA Task Force are good ones, and the minister has indicated that they are and they are intended to make Nova Scotia an easier place to do business, then I would hope that the minister would take additional steps, as soon as it is at all practical, to deal with these things.

I know one less step in the process of running a business is sort of in your income tax, filling it out. If they can take one step out of that form, it makes it an awful lot easier for you. The standardization of terms, I think, is a pretty good thing. It will help considerably. It also not only helps in running the business, but I go back to this, to the sort of kiss principle, as people have described it. It is when we are writing things, the keep it simple stupid so people can understand it. So much of the rules and regulations that we have to follow are beyond the understanding of the typical citizen. I am not sure really why they are. It is writing in terms that everybody can understand that makes rules and regulations and laws and all of these things enforceable and acceptable.

[Page 3808]

I can also think, Mr. Speaker, in terms of efficiency. I can remember, not that many years ago, when I was forced to renew my vehicle permit every year and I had to get my own personal driver's permit renewed every year. Before I stood up to speak, I pulled out my driver's permit and I only have to do that once every five years. I think that is a marvellous thing. Unless I get myself into some degree of difficulty, then my license is valid for five years and the department is going to send me a notice saying it is time to renew it and, similarly, the license on my car, I think, is good for two years. It is a positive thing.

These types of things, I see we are talking about business efficiencies, Mr. Speaker. Not tremendously expensive but common sense things that make it easier for people to do business or to understand business.

I support the principle of this bill and will be endorsing it through second reading. I do not know what will happen to it when it goes to the Law Amendments Committee, but again I would like to say that I hope the minister will take this as a starting point and continue to work on removing the red tape and making Nova Scotia a better and an easier place to do business for those businesses which we would call small businesses, also for those businesses we would call medium-sized businesses and those businesses that we would call large businesses. I know, and I think we are all aware, that the bigger the business the bigger the bang it has when it is getting regulations changed. It is not so much the big business that is upset because they quite often have the resources to get things changed when they think that they could be changed, as the medium and the small businesses. I hope, as I say, that the minister will continue on this direction and hopefully it will contribute to making Nova Scotia an easier and a better place to do business. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the honourable members for their comments and their support for the bill. It is a very important bill for Nova Scotians and Nova Scotia businesses. We have been working very diligently in the department. We have had several full-time staff working on this project and as a business owner myself, I can assure you that any change to the regulations that the government has that cut red tape is excellent. I would like to get a list of the 32 licences and regulations that the travel trailer company has to see exactly what they are. I cannot imagine what they would be or what they are for, but I would really appreciate receiving those. I will give an undertaking that we will look at them and see what we can do to help reduce them, if, indeed, they are all in my department.

We have had very serious and extensive consultation in this process. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents more than 4,500 businesses, has been very actively involved and is still involved in our task force and is moving forward with these

[Page 3809]

changes and other changes that we hope to introduce in the spring sitting of the Legislature to wrap up these changes as recommended in the LPA task force. I would like to thank the Official Opposition for recognizing the importance of red-tape cutting for businesses and how important it is for business to be competitive in a global market. As this is so important, one change that can be made to a business, although it may seem small, may make a tremendous change when it comes to competing in other countries outside Canada or even just within Canada. Anything we can do in that regard is definitely positive.

This is a second step. We already passed one law in this regard. There are a tremendous amount of work from our staff to ensure that consumers are protected as well as businesses being protected, employees are being protected. We go through the process, it takes a long time to indeed make a change and ensure that if there is protection needed that is in another Act or if it still maintains in that licence or approval. This is just another step and we have to take one step at a time. Hopefully, over the next several years we will take more and more steps that will make Nova Scotia business the most competitive in the world. We have a long way to go but I think this is a very important step.

I look forward to the comments from the Law Amendments Committee and other members in the third reading. With that, I would like to move second reading of the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 52. Would all those in favour please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 64.

Bill No. 64 - Condominium Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, the Condominium Act was first passed in 1970 and established as a registration Statute for condominium corporations in the province. Since that time it has become apparent that a full and comprehensive strategic review of the Condominium Act was to be undertaken in order to address the changes needed for individuals, condominium owners, developers, and the corporation itself. With help from stakeholders, the department did just that. The Condominium Advisory Committee was established and provided a first perspective on the Act. Representatives consisted of unit owners, corporations, lawyers respecting the interests of condominium developers as well as

[Page 3810]

the Canadian Condominium Institute. A discussion paper was released to more than 750 stakeholders, including 250 condominium corporations throughout Nova Scotia. Amendments to the Condominium Act are a direct result of this extensive consultation.

[8:00 p.m.]

The amendments include three major reforms: new condominium board selection criteria; an improved dispute resolution process; and a requirement for reserve fund studies to be undertaken by condominium corporations. At the time the Condominium Act was originally passed, a condominium as a dwelling choice and the governing legislation was in its infancy in Canada; today that is not the case. Today there are more than 17,000 Nova Scotians living in condominiums, primarily in the metro area. The amendments are designed to give the condominium owners added protection and make it easier for condominium developers to conduct business.

For example, the legislation introduced a new dispute resolution process. Currently the arbitration is voluntary and if one party does not agree to arbitration, the only alternative left is to go to court. This new dispute resolution process introduces binding arbitration and will prevent, in many cases, the necessity of court action.

Another important change is that condominium corporations will be required to undertake reserve fund studies. This clause creates a professional and informed approach to planning for major expenditures. The new legislation also gives the registrar authority to correct mistakes in documentations; right now, to make a simple typographical change, the registrar requires a 100 per cent vote of unit owners and all mortgage companies, often an impossible task.

Amendments to the Condominium Act not only brings us more in line with other jurisdictions, it, in some cases, puts Nova Scotia ahead. Nova Scotia will be the only province in Canada whose legislation includes proportionate board representation. This is a huge step forward and will likely be precedent-setting as other provinces renew and review their condominium legislation. The input of the Condominium Advisory Committee and responses to the discussion paper were key in the development of this new legislation that addresses the needs of all stakeholders. These amendments give Nova Scotia a Statute that addresses condominium corporations as they evolve under registration, adding protection for individual owners and facilitating the operation of condominium operations.

With those words, Mr. Speaker, I would like to move second reading of Bill No. 64. (Applause)

[Page 3811]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, just before we get started, I would like to introduce some members from Granbury Place, who are present with us here tonight. Maybe the House could welcome them? (Applause)

As I look through and discuss the various changes proposed to the legislation by Bill No. 64, the discussions that I have had with others have turned my thoughts to the original proposal and intent of the Condominium Act. I believe it was meant to regulate the joint ownership of property by parties, where it was envisioned that people who purchased condominiums would have individual ownership as well as some areas owned in common. I believe that the main purpose of this piece of legislation would and should be to allow people to know the terms and conditions of just how this type of joint ownership works. In doing so, they would not fear that the rules would constantly change; therefore, changes to this Act must have a large percentage of consumers consenting to any changes. So it is my pleasure to speak in favour of the principle of Bill No. 64.

There are many things in this bill that need to be changed and, hopefully through the Law Amendments Committee, that will happen. This bill gives on one hand and takes on the other, and I hope to talk a little bit about how I see that working. I just want to start with Clause 2(3) of the bill. I believe that this is a good provision. It changes Section 6 of the existing Act to provide that the declarant or the developer must provide: a plan of survey of the condominium property; a set of proposed by-laws; and any other information the registrar thinks necessary. I think this is a good move.

This clause provides prospective condominium purchasers with the opportunity to be duly diligent. This allows them the chance to find out as much as they possibly can about a condominium property before putting their money down. Clause 2(3), is good consumer protection.

Moving on to Clause 2(4), we see the requirements that the form requires for the appointment of a recognized agent will be prescribed by a registrar. With this clause and subclause 2(3), there seems to be a move towards to placing more power in the hands of the registrar. With these greater responsibilities it becomes even more important that the registrar is aware of his or her obligations to the public-at-large, the consumer. In Clause 4 and 5, I am not sure I understand why the government is proposing that the condominium by-law not be filed with the Registry of Deeds. Searches are generally conducted at the Registry of Deeds and it would be less convenient to also have to attend at the condo registration to search this document, to have two different - it just seems out of proportion. It would also probably increase the costs associated with the search of condominiums. So I am not sure why that was done.

[Page 3812]

It seems to be that the less restrictions placed upon an individual's access to documents of this nature, the better. Once again, the problem with condominium legislation is that it has always been viewed as a registration vehicle and not as legislation requiring consumer protection. So we are looking at this legislation in terms of consumer protection. While Bill No. 64 gives consumer protection with one hand, it takes it away with the other. Clause 6(2)(b) requires that only 80 per cent agreement is needed in order to amend a condominium corporation declaration. This is a reduction from the current 100 per cent.

I recognize the unfairness involved in allowing one person to hold up an amendment that 99 per cent of the unit holders within a condominium corporation consent to. I can understand that. I think we need to look at this clause for a moment. I am sure the honourable minister is aware of the fact that condominium development in this province for several years has exceeded the demand. Who do you blame for this? I really do not know who you would blame but the problem here is that because of this situation of supply outweighing demand, developers continue to own several units within a condominium complex.

In certain cases they own 50 per cent; in certain cases, 90 per cent. Therefore, there is the potential for situations to be created where the developer will be able to amend the declaration unilaterally because they own 80 per cent of the units. Is this fair? I do not think so. It is certainly not fair that unit holders should be subject to the whims of an oppressive developer. Therefore, I just want to say that I think this clause needs to be revisited, taking with one hand and giving with the other.

I think that Clause 10, which amends the current Section 14 and gives new powers to the condominium corporation, is not without merit. However, the issue is not with the principle behind the clause, allowing condominium corporations to operate with few restrictions, but the manner the minister has chosen to place these principles in action.

I want to go back to the point that I made earlier, supply outweighs demand with respect to the condominium market place, therefore, there is a danger in creating consent provision which require only 51 per cent of the owners of the common elements to agree on a decision that will affect all condominium owners. The fact that 51 per cent of condominium corporation owners can be allowed to mortgage, pledge, borrow, acquire on behalf of a possible non-consenting 49 per cent is not something I can support, especially when you consider that sometimes that 51 per cent is owned by the developer. It is also a broad provision and if the assessment is special or extraordinary, it seems the higher percentage of owners should be approving such assessments.

Consumer protection is the domain of the government. The developer cannot be expected to mind the store with respect to consumer protection. That is not their responsibility. This 51 per cent provision has the potential to leave the condominium owner at the mercy of a developer's self-interest. Clause 12, with respect to the number of directors that can be appointed to a board be declarant is in possession of unsold units is a good

[Page 3813]

provision. It represents the giving, so to speak, however, it is too cumbersome. I have to believe that there is a better way of limiting the amount of power the developer can exert over a condominium board. I believe if there is a simple way of saying something, then you should say it that way. This clause only serves to complicate. Perhaps, during the Law Amendments Committee, a better, simpler way could be found where the declarant could have influence over the board. This is just, really, too cumbersome.

It was really hard to get a handle on Clause 12. It seems that a better way for this to be dealt with is to take out that clause that is extremely complex in terms of trying to figure out the numbers and find something that is a lot easier.

Clause 13 is another giving clause. With Clause 13, directors who find themselves in a conflict of interest, that is in a position where they have an indirect or direct material interest in a contract being negotiated between the condominium corporation and a third party, are required to disclose the nature and extent of this interest. This is important. If the director discloses, he or she is not accountable to the condominium corporation for any gains or profit realized. The requirement that contracts, where a material interest has been disclosed, be approved by two-thirds of the owners is a good extra protection. This is good, these types of clauses that we should see more of in government legislation that Clause 13 represents, because it represents a balance between commercial realities and consumer concerns.

Clause 13, Section 15B, where it says members, doesn't appear to be a definition of this. I guess this is probably a good provision to have in place. It should not be allowed to be diluted, though, or miscontructed. It doesn't define a member and I think that may be good for this legislation. Clause 17 is another example of a taking clause, one where the realities of the present condominium market place are not taken into consideration by the government in drafting their legislation. (Interruption) Well, theoretically, yes, it is a good thing that condominium corporations should be able to conduct themselves more like for-profit corporations. The practical realities of the market place does not allow for that presently. There, again, it doesn't allow for it because the market place is not all that open for condominiums. The market place is too large, there are too many units out there.

[8:15 p.m.]

The practical realities of the present market place, as I said, do not allow for that. Presently, Clause 17, Section 23(1) of the Condominium Act requires an affirmative vote of 66.67, or whatever greater percentage is specified in the declaration in order to make a bylaw. Clause 17(1) reduces this percentage to 51 per cent. Once again, majority rules.

I realize that the government will argue consistency, but I would caution the government that, in their pursuit for consistency, it is important that we do not sacrifice the consumer and, at the end of the day, this is what condominium owners are, consumers. In Clause 17(1), again, I have to ask the question, why is this percentage lowered? Why is it so

[Page 3814]

low, 51 per cent? I don't feel that a bare-bones majority is in the best interest of the public or in the best interest of the unit holders.

In order for me to support this change in the legislation, the government would have to explain the rationale for lowering the percentage of voter approval required. I don't understand why, by reading this bill, it was lowered to 51 per cent.

I just want to jump ahead a bit to Clause 21, which states that only 51 percent of owners have to agree to additions, alterations, improvements or renovations to the common element of the corporation. This is a decrease from the current 80 per cent required. It went from 80 per cent required, as a vote on these common elements, to 51 per cent. Once again, I understand the need for consistency throughout the bill but, given the condominium market place, this clause is very problematic.

If the government can prove that the present condominium market is not one where the supply outweighs the demand, maybe I could be convinced but, right now, there is just too much potential for minority unit holders to be exploited by the majority unit holders if these percentages are lowered to 51 per cent. Until today, the government could hide behind the excuse that condominium legislation was meant to be registration; however, with the situation at Granbury Place, we all know that condominium legislation must provide consumer protection.

The minister is aware of this situation and has been aware of this situation for some time; however, it seems clear to me that the residents of Granbury Place and their plight was not taken into consideration when this legislation was drafted. I was also told that this is a very unusual situation at Granbury Place, that it would probably never happen again in Canada but it happened. It has already happened which means that it can happen again. Perhaps at some point the minister will provide an explanation that is more than doublespeak about the consistency and ease of conducting business.

Clauses 18 and 20 revolve around the financial concerns of the condominium corporation. Clause 18 is a good clause. However, I would suggest that these financial statements be audited by an arm's length individual. A requirement such as that would be a simple step towards removing the control a developer may have with respect to the management of the condominium corporation.

Clause 20, which deals with reserve funds, appeared to be an unconventional provision. However, I think there should be some clarification with respect to who conducts the study. Is this person required to be arm's length? Are they supposed to be chartered accountants? These are questions that are not answered. These are important issues that should be addressed within the legislation and not by regulation.

[Page 3815]

In Clause 10, there again I have to talk about the bare-bones majority having the power to borrow money and to get mortgages or to make capital expenditures. These are extremely serious matters, Mr. Speaker, that should only be undertaken with broad support. I would think that, again, a higher percentage would be more appropriate, maybe a percentage of 66 per cent or 75 per cent or even higher.

Perhaps the most telling example of how this new legislation gives and takes are the clauses concerning the new arbitration process to settle disputes between parties. This process replaces the minimal protections which are currently set out in Section 32 of the Act. This section talks about the common element or assets. While the introduction of this binding arbitration mechanism is a good thing, especially given that the minister has removed Section 32(4), which allows unit holders to avail an arbitration process in order to determine the fair market value of their unit, where a dispute arose over common element expenses. However, I do not think it is a process that will ultimately work. I think this process will only serve to foster animosity among those persons making use of it.

Since the government seems intent on treating condominium corporations like for-profit corporations, I believe the dispute resolution process engaged for condominium corporations should more closely resemble that contained in Schedule 3 of the companies legislation. The companies legislation sets out an entire response for those persons who feel that majority shareholders are acting in their own best interests.

If the majority of shareholders are acting in their own best interests as opposed to the interests of the corporation, implicit in this, of course, is the good faith duty that is owed to the corporation by the shareholders. I believe an alternative dispute resolution of this nature should be employed as opposed to an arbitration process, certainly not the arbitration process that is outlined in this bill. There, again, it is quite cumbersome.

What I see is a fairly detailed process that I believe should be set out within the bill. Unlike the Schedule 3 process, the courts are not involved. I think this would be too slow and might add to an already backlogged system. The idea of having a list of persons who would hear these types of procedures may be a good idea. However, instead of referring to these persons as arbitrators, we may want to call them officers or committees. They would be individual condominium owners who would be able to apply to these offices for a hearing. The offices, in turn, would review the statements submitted by the minority unit holders and then make a decision as to whether the behaviour of the minority unit holders meets a threshold test. This would prevent frivolous applications from taking up the officer's time, once an initial determination has been made with respect to whether or not the threshold test is met. This is just to allow for tiny disputes where people who own condominiums or neighbours or whatever, who may be able to work out difficulties without going through the whole process of going to an arbitration.

[Page 3816]

The officer would contact the majority unit holders and a hearing could be set. This process that I am proposing would be a high-bred version of the Schedule 3 process in arbitration. The decisions of the officers would be binding and the officers would be paid a stipend, maybe, by the department. My main problem with the way the provision is now is that it is unclear who pays and what the threshold is for getting into arbitration. It is not laid out. There is nothing to indicate how that would happen.

Dare I say this, but Clause 22 seemed extremely broad. Parties to a dispute on any matter to which this bill applies. This should definitely be threshold criteria here. It should be laid out so everybody knows what the rules are. The lack of clarity within this provision will only serve to heighten the tension, majority and minority unit holders. Because every time a decision is made that someone doesn't like, they will be able to use this process. There is no mechanism here to say, okay, so you don't agree. It is a way of sitting down and talking among yourselves about the process, the outcomes. It is just an easier way, instead of going through arbitration on every little small issue. As I am sure the minister knows, arbitration is not intended for those small matters.

Mr. Speaker, there are many other parts of this bill that need to come to the Law Amendments Committee. There are other ideas, other views, around some of the clauses within this bill. I, certainly, am thankful for the opportunity to speak to this in respect to Bill No. 64. I look forward to having the opportunity of addressing my concerns and the concerns of this Party at the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand this evening and make a few comments on An Act to Amend Chapter 85 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Condominium Act.

Mr. Speaker, the changes to improve the administration and operation of condominiums were introduced by the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. I did have an opportunity, again, to attend that bill briefing and I want to commend the minister and his government for, again, taking some steps, which are basically in the right direction, to address concerns that not only condominium owners have, but concerns that condominium corporations also might have. I think the minister was attempting to provide a balance between the corporation and the owners regarding condominiums. There are, in fact, a number of improvements that address a number of gaps in existing legislation. They, perhaps, were made to give the condominium owner added protection and, also, make it easier for condominium corporations to conduct their business. Now there was a full review of the legislation and the reforms and the resulting, if you will, amendments to the Condominium Act were supported by the condominium advisory committee. Again, there was consultation and we pointed out a week or so ago, relative to the Municipal Act, and I know we are not talking about that this evening, that in fact that legislation also is a consequence of essentially

[Page 3817]

the government holding consultation. It is very important that all legislation be derived by such measures.

[8:30 p.m.]

As the minister pointed out, amendments to this Act include three major reforms. There is a new condominium board selection criteria, an improved dispute mechanism or resolution process, and there is also the requirement for the reserve fund studies to be undertaken by condominium corporations. I am not sure if the minister pointed it out or not, but in Nova Scotia approximately 17,000 people, individuals, live in condominiums. A good number, the majority of those people, live in the Halifax Regional Municipality, not that far, perhaps, from where we are this evening, here in the Nova Scotia Legislature.

A lot of people purchase condominiums, a lot of seniors. They spend, if you will, their retirement, their nest egg to serve out or live out their so-called golden years in peace and tranquillity. Our seniors, especially our seniors, have been subjected to a lot of trials and tribulations through their lives and the last thing they want to worry about is a corporation coming in, pulling the rug out from under them, and attempting to de-register their condominium. As I pointed out, a condominium is a joint ownership. It is a partnership between the corporation and the condo owner. I know there was a story that appeared in the local media, relative to one condominium and the difficulties that the owners were subjected to. The corporation, of course, said there is another side to this story, and they were doing everything within the letter of the law. I do not dispute that, Mr. Speaker, but the legislation, I believe, that we have before us is not a direct result of that particular concern, although this legislation will go some way to resolve that situation.

There is an old saying, buyer beware. I found, myself, from purchasing some property several years ago that it was advantageous to go to the Registry of Deeds and do a search and I obtained, of course, legal counsel to take on that project. Now, if this legislation passes, any bylaws that are put in place, drafted up, will not have to be filed with the Registry of Deeds. I am not just sure, in fact, why that is part of this legislation, although I am sure the minister has a way of reconciling why that has been put into the legislation. There has to be a consumer protection built in to any legislation that will impact our people. I am not just sure that removing the requirement to register is a step in the right direction, although I am going to serve notice to the minister that I am going to give him an opportunity to explain to this House why that provision is in the legislation.

I understand from the previous speaker's comments that her Party will be at least supporting the legislation going to the Law Amendments Committee. She raises concerns and I would suggest, if I might, that the Business and Consumer Services Critic for the NDP did her homework on this legislation. I think she went through the legislation clause by clause and she raised a number of concerns with the legislation and, with your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, I would prefer to talk more in general terms about this legislation, as to how it not only

[Page 3818]

impacts present condominium owners but how it also will impact the corporations and future owners, be they corporations or individual condominium owners.

This bill does include three major reforms. The changes are a blend of consumer and developer viewpoints. The minister tells us this brings us in line with other jurisdictions; in fact the minister has gone so far as to say that in many cases this legislation will put us ahead of provinces that have come this far. I am not quite sure if the minister is talking about the consumer, the condominium owner, or is he talking about the condominium corporation. I guess it depends on who you are speaking to.

Under the current Act, owners vote for condominium board members based on the percentage vote allocated to them as specified in the corporation's declaration. In other words, the corporation makes a declaration and, as I understand it, under the existing legislation, that declaration is registered and it essentially lays out the proportion relative to the vote and the percentages, et cetera. Under the new legislation, in the case where the developer continues to own units, the change will allow for, the minister tells us, a more fair board membership by assigning the maximum representation the developer may have on the board or the declarant, based on proportion of ownership. I think that is fair, just taking that statement at face value. I think what the minister is trying to do is provide for a board that has a composition that basically is made up more fairly than is provided for under the existing legislation.

The new dispute resolution process introduces arbitration to resolve the disputes. I am not sure and, again, I pose a question to the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. If the arbitrator is not successful, is the finding or the conclusion that the arbitrator makes binding? I am not sure if the alternative still is the court process? I know at present, I think it is optional or voluntary, the arbitration. So, currently, arbitration is voluntary, and if one side or the other refuses to agree to arbitration, then, of course, you go the court. Now I am wondering, if subsequent to arbitration, the sides are still at odds and, again, I apologize because I am not as informed as I should be on the arbitration, as to whether or not it would go to court - it won't go to court, the minister is shaking his head - so again, the arbitration then must be binding. I think the minister told us, in a previous statement, that there is a registrar of condominiums and the arbitrator is selected from the list that was submitted. So, again, I think that is a fair process and a step in the right direction.

However, Mr. Speaker, other proposed changes to the Act make decision making easier. I think the boards have to have an opportunity to simplify the voting procedures and, again, the minister is giving the condominium corporation power to borrow money and levy special assessments on owners and, of course, buy and sell property.

One of the concerns I heard from a condominium owner, not to be confused with the corporation, is that in a situation, again, that was highlighted through the media, the condominium corporation wanted to de-register the condominium. That was making life, and

[Page 3819]

I think, at present, is making life very difficult for the owners. However, Mr. Speaker, I was told that the corporation, in an attempt to purchase units, was making offers that perhaps were not all that unreasonable, but if the corporation chose or would choose to play hardball, if you will, with the owners, there was very little that the owners could do, because if you were unwilling to sell your condominium, then, in fact, the corporation might raise the price that they charge you for common services like mowing the grass, the lounge area, laundry, common services. So if they didn't get you, perhaps, by hook, they would get you by crook.

So this legislation, I think, does propose recommendations, Mr. Speaker, and does provide a balance between the two, the corporation and the owners. So for that, and on that principle, again I find favour with the legislation. So the government has introduced changes. They have brought forward legislation here tonight. I am extremely interested in what will transpire at the Law Amendments Committee. So, with those few comments, I thank you for your indulgence.

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

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, while housing is a basic need and, ideally, we should be comfortable and secure in our surroundings, life is certainly stressful enough. We know that. In fact, that is the very reason that so many people choose to live in condominiums, because a good condominium structure, including a board or a corporation and its members, should reduce the unwanted stresses of home ownership, if that is what is required and wanted.

The minister, earlier this evening, mentioned that the original legislation was enacted in 1970. I am not sure if this was mentioned, but it is just a little trivia for the House. Actually, a little trivia is not so unusual here. Major revisions were not made to the bill until 1996. So that is 26 years that that bill lasted, but, obviously, by 1996, it was becoming a preferred housing choice and, in fact, today, as the minister mentioned earlier, and previous speakers, 17,000 Nova Scotians live in condominiums today and they must be protected.

So of course a good bill is essential to providing the infrastructure for a condominium corporation that works in the best interests of its individual unit owners. We have a bill now, the Condominium Act, and we are discussing enacting amendments to that bill. Any amendments must, above all, address the aspect of consumer protection. When the minister first introduced these amendments earlier this month, he said, these are improvements that address a number of gaps in the existing legislation. Well, Mr. Speaker, there are problems and we saw this recently with what was happening at a Halifax-area condominium. I believe it is the same one that was mentioned earlier.

[Page 3820]

[8:45 p.m.]

A lot of seniors choose to live in condominiums. They want to spend their leisure years in just such a housing style. A lot of single people choose condominiums, young couples just starting out. It is, in effect, joint ownership of property. These amendments, however, do not adequately address the problems that might arise if a building owner wishes to deregulate a condominium and turn it into an apartment building. It is not just seniors who want security in their living arrangements. We all need that, but seniors are often in a more vulnerable position when faced with pressures to sell their units. Amendments to the Condominium Act, such as Clause 27 in this bill, appear to address the issue, but the strength afforded unit owners also appears to be diminished through other clauses that actually decrease the percentages needed at other decision-making levels. I will not go into that right now because my colleague, the member for Preston, very adequately referred to all those percentage changes. I know that if this bill is passed to the Law Amendments Committee, this exact concern will be addressed.

I am uncomfortable with the new arbitration amendment that is included in the bill. Apparently the intention is to have arbitrators selected from a list maintained by the registrar of condominiums. You know, every time I hear about lists of names that are somehow associated with the government, it really raises questions in my mind that I would like answers to. Far be it from me to hint at any suspicion on my part of partisanship by this present government. I would like to know where are the names of the arbitrators and the registrars going to come from. Although no provision is made in the bill to have appointments, if that is what they are going to be, made at a fair and unbiased committee level, I would hope that the public and/or some kind of balanced fair procedure will be used to make these appointments.

Finally, the minister was made aware recently of one glaring gap in our provincial legislation pertaining to condominiums. I believe that a constituent of my colleague, the member for Dartmouth South, wrote to the minister about the lack of accessibility within a condominium owned by his mother who recently became disabled. The woman, who lived in the building since 1989, as a matter of fact, was turned down by her condo corporation when she asked for alterations to the building to provide for a ramp for her scooter that she now needs. In a letter to my Dartmouth South colleague, the Minister of Business and Consumer Services indicated that such things do not fall under this legislation, either as it exists now or even after it is amended. Even though it is a building in the Province of Nova Scotia, it appears that any condominium can remain inaccessible if it is the wish of the members of the corporation.

The minister did suggest in his letter to my colleague that perhaps this family has some recourse through the Human Rights Commission. I would like to point out to the minister that Clause 17(2) of the proposed amendments, Bill No. 64, "requires that the by-laws of a condominium corporation not conflict with the Human Rights Act.". So either it does or it

[Page 3821]

does not. I see this as a great weakness in the legislation and again, I hope that it can be addressed at the Law Amendments Committee. Perhaps this particular issue or this particular clause can be given some kind of teeth.

When it returns to this House from the Law Amendments Committee, I will be happy to vote in favour of Bill No. 64, if condominium owners have more protection through it and condominium corporations will find it easier to conduct business in a fair and equitable manner. Thank you.

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise just for a very brief few minutes to speak on Bill No. 64, an Act to Amend Chapter 85 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Condominium Act.

I think the key thing in this legislation, Mr. Speaker, is that there are more than 17,000 Nova Scotians living in condominiums today, and many of them are living in the Halifax Regional Municipality. In my community there are one or two of them as well and I expect with the population increasing in age - or in other words the numbers of seniors increasing - the demand and the opportunity for condominium living will increase.

I think it is important, Mr. Speaker, to try and improve the protection for those who are living in condominiums. The member for Preston spoke eloquently a few minutes ago and she talked about the fact, on at least two occasions, the supply of condos currently exceeds the demands and, therefore, it does put the developers in a position of not being able to sell what they intended to sell and, therefore, like most business people, they tend to think more of their interests than those of the people who had purchased the condominiums. Thus, I think, some of the changes in legislation were made. There was at least one example here and I believe she did refer to it, Granbury Place, where a developer and the residents were at odds over how the particular condominium was to be handled.

The provisions here do provide I think a little bit more protection for owners and they also provide some encouragement for condominium developers. I would hate to see legislation, Mr. Speaker, that was so restrictive that it would discourage business people, or builders, from getting into the condominium business and those who are in it, like every other good business person, should have the opportunity for a fair return on their investment.

I was pleased, Mr. Speaker, to see that this legislation - or to hear from the minister - was the product of the recommendations of a Condominium Advisory Committee which, in the course of making the recommendations, consulted with over 250 stakeholders, condominium owners, developers, builders, lawyers and finance companies, and they all had the opportunity to provide input into the amendments to this legislation and the amended legislation.

[Page 3822]

There are two or three things in here, Mr. Speaker, that I would like to speak to. Looking at Clause 6(4), which is basically a discrimination clause and is updating it to change to read the Human Rights Act, I think is a very positive and progressive step. This particular clause prohibits, is against discrimination and it is now according to the Human Rights Act, which is only fitting and proper.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, the bill does talk mainly about 51 per cent, with the exception of Clause 6(2)(3B) which talks about 80 per cent of the owners, of at least 80 per cent of the common elements. The numbers have to be carefully looked at and I hope that in the Law Amendments Committee process they will be carefully examined, and perhaps re-examined, simply because there are, in some cases, a number of condominium buildings where the majority of units perhaps are not sold and they are still in the hands of the developers.

Therefore, if this is the case, I hope that the Law Amendments Committee will examine these things because the intent of this bill was to provide more protection for the owners and if buildings, or condominium corporations, the majority of the units, or a large majority of the units are unsold, it probably would perhaps give the developer maybe an unfair weighting. What happens is that people go into these buildings or buy these things with certain expectations and, for one reason or another, the developer cannot fulfil those things.

I think, too, Mr. Speaker, in looking at Clause 10 of the bill which talks about it takes only 51 per cent of the owners of the common elements to acquire by purchase, gift, bequest or any other means, real or personal property and sell, mortgage, convey or otherwise deal with a property or borrow money or mortgage and all of that type of thing. Fifty-one per cent, again, seems like it may be unrealistic, although it is 50 per cent plus 1 per cent, I guess, depending on who owns the majority of the building. Now, if it is all owned privately or owned by different owners, or the majority is, then it is no problem. However, if a large portion of that building or development does remain unsold to individuals, then the weight that a person has or one person or one group has may be too much. So I hope that the Law Amendments Committee will take a look at that.

I think, as well, Mr. Speaker, this legislation probably came about because, in the past two or three years, some of the earlier developments that took place, particularly here in the City of Halifax that I know about, have experienced structural problems. In one case, I know of a building that had to have the walls entirely rebuilt. I know of another case in Halifax where part of a condominium, in this case it was a townhouse set of condominiums, was built on land which was not properly excavated. It was sort of a dump, sink hole and what-not. After so many years, the building began to sink and it created problems with roof lines and all of these things.

I think, Mr. Speaker, that as the minister continues to examine the issues of condominium ownership and protection, granted it was some period of time after these things were initially established, but, still, it may have been a case of what caused this was whether

[Page 3823]

it was just purely by accident or it was by negligence or deliberate or accidental, the fact of the matter is that it did happen. I guess we could say that if you bought a house outright, as opposed to a condominium, and the thing sunk, well that was your problem. But, nevertheless, I think that as the government continues to talk about ownership of properties and condominiums, then it is probably a good thing to look at certain elements which protect the construction and for those who may come along, the stability of the building may come along later.

Along with that, Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to see one clause in here changed. What it did was, Clause 14 requires people who, it would be the developers, I guess, in essence, when ceasing to own a majority of units, to turn over to the condominium corporation the plans, the architectural, structural, engineering, mechanical, electrical, plumbing plans and all of these things. It used to be that they were required only to turn them over if the plans and specifications were available. Well, of course, what could happen is that these things could be lost in a period of time and it could, conceivably, although I hope it wouldn't be, that they would be lost for a very good reason. But now that these plans must be made available, it does seem to protect the owners a bit in the future and I am very pleased to see that.

I think, although I haven't examined the bill with the detail that the member for Preston has, it does seem to me to be one that is worthy of approval and passed on to the Law Amendments Committee. I hope that at the Law Amendments Committee those particular clauses will be re-examined, particularly the percentages required for decision making. Because I think those things would be best interpreted in light of how many owners there actually were.

So, Mr. Speaker, I recommend that this be passed on to second reading and, hopefully, pass through second reading and that there will be some constructive criticism of it during the Law Amendments Committee process. (Applause)

[9:00 p.m.]

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much and I welcome the opportunity to say a few words about Bill No. 64, the Condominium Act, an amendment to a 26 year old Act. The minister has indicated that his department has ascertained there are some 17,000 Nova Scotians now living in condominiums; most of those live in Halifax, although the condominium concept really goes beyond metro and is starting to become an increasingly popular approach to providing a more protected kind of living accommodation, particularly for older people but also for very busy professional people who are looking for something a little different but they are looking for ownership. So it gives you, how I like to think about it, owning your apartment. Perhaps that is a simple approach but I believe it puts the thing into perspective.

[Page 3824]

The difficulty of being an apartment owner, of course, is that you never really have equity in your dwelling. This gives the opportunity to have some of those protections, some of those conveniences, some of that protection that you have in an apartment and yet, enables you to make an investment and to build up equity in your living place.

The Act is 26 years old and it has resulted in a relatively modest interest in condominiums in this province but you can't look at a project that provides a dwelling for some 17,000 Nova Scotians and say it is insignificant so certainly, it is significant. What are we trying to do? Why do we find it necessary to go and look at that? Obviously, it is a matter of balancing the rights of the developer with the rights of those who buy the condominium. Needless to say, the individual condominium owner by themselves does not have available the same kind of resources as the condominium owner.

So what we must be trying to do is to put some balance into the Condominium Act and to provide protection for condominium owners without discouraging developers from building condominiums. We have to achieve a balance because if, in fact, there isn't some balance there, then when condominiums again become in short supply - which they are not today and that is part of the problem, there is a surplus of condominiums available - that, in fact, we don't discourage that kind of approach to building residences of Nova Scotians.

The bill looks at new board selection criteria, an improved dispute resolution process and as well, to look at the reserve funds. One of the important things is that when people buy condominiums that they have assurance within the Act that the cost of being maintained in that condominium will not be inflated excessively over the next decade or two, that the condominium is set up in such a way that maintenance costs are adequately looked after not only in the immediate future but in the intermediate and far future.

So what we are trying to do is come up with a balance because condominium owners, as individuals, need the protection of the Condominium Act. That is why this particular piece of legislation has been introduced by government. To their credit, government, I understand, sent out some 750 notices to interested parties to get some feedback both from developers and from condominium owners. I understand about one-third of those were responded to, if I interpreted the minister correctly.

When this bill goes to the Law Amendments Committee, we are going to find out if, in fact, the consultation process that was undertaken by the Advisory Committee on Condominiums, did they do their job right? Is what they are telling us now, by way of legislation, is that what the responders told government or are we going to hear another story in the Law Amendments Committee? What has to come out of this is, first of all, we don't discourage condominiums in the future and secondly, that we provide the individual condominium owner with the kind of protection they are looking for when they go into condominiums, that their investment has a reasonable protection built into the Condominium Act. While it is difficult to say that when supply exceeds demand that always the value will

[Page 3825]

be there. On the other hand, a developer that gets involved in condominiums takes on a certain responsibility to those who buy those condominiums, whether they sell 10 per cent, 20 per cent, or 100 per cent of the condominiums.

I look forward to this bill going forward. It, I believe, has the potential to protect condominium owners and, as well, to not discourage condominium construction in the future although, with the current state of the industry, it is hard to conceive that at least in certain parts of metro that there is going to be a lot of interest in building condominiums, certainly in the short term. I do compliment the government when they did make a legitimate attempt to contact the stakeholders, there was a response, and the bill, I believe, was generated from that response. We will send it on to the Law Amendments Committee and then we will see what kind of a job you have done. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate the comments the members opposite have made and, just before I start, I would like to recognize the residents from Granbury Place who have so graciously come this evening to hear the debate and also Patsy Ernst from the Canadian Condominium Institute and an Atlantic board member and executive on the national board as well as other things. Welcome. (Applause)

It has been a long process getting the Condominium Act this far. There were so many things that had to be addressed in that process. I think the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party said it very well. I think there has to be a balance. It really has to be a balance to protect the consumers, the condominium owners, the developers and the people in general who are associated with condominiums. It is difficult to achieve that balance. In a perfect world, we would not even need legislation but, unfortunately, there are situations that arise that are not acceptable by our standards today, or acceptable for individuals when they run into problems.

I think the arbitration process is going to help eliminate a lot of the problems that we have seen in the past, especially the binding arbitration that can be turned actually into a court order if it is necessary to do that. It will save the people a lot of money and also enable them to go forward with an arbitration that they probably would not bother with if they had to go to court, and all the problems and the costs of doing that.

The other thing that is very important and I think we really have to look at - and we are very keenly interested in this bill - is consumer protection all the way through. There have been some problems in the past where probably things were not disclosed as well as they should have been and it has caused problems for people; hopefully, this bill will take some of this problem away.

[Page 3826]

I believe it is a good piece of legislation. I am sure that we are going to have some amendments as we go through the Law Amendments Committee process, and I feel that is very important. With those few words, I would like to move second reading of the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 64. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 72.

Bill No. 72 - Juries Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present the Juries Act for second reading. This legislation will allow more Nova Scotians to sit as jurors and will provide a fairer approach to jury selection.

Our communities have changed, Mr. Speaker, and it is important that our juries reflect these communities. In June 1994, the Nova Scotia Law Reform Commission issued a report entitled Juries in Nova Scotia. The commission put forward several recommendations that were designed to make juries as representative as possible. This legislation will ensure broader representation in our courtrooms. Potential jurors are currently selected from the province's list of voters. This bill will give the Department of Justice greater access to other government lists and we can then draw from a wider database that will include more of the population.

It is important to remember that while we will have greater access to government lists, no personal information will be shared and individual privacy will be respected. We are interested only in obtaining names and addresses for the purpose of jury composition. No other personal information will be provided. The lists will be handled by employees or agents of the provincial government so proper security can be maintained. There will be no unauthorized access to these lists other than for the purpose of jury selection.

More Nova Scotians will be able to serve with the removal of automatic disqualifications for several occupations. Doctors, dentists and clergy will all be eligible to serve. Although these disqualifications have been removed, an individual may still be excused from service on the basis of hardship, illness or inconvenience. They may also be deferred to a later panel. We are striving for a balance between increasing eligibility and ensuring

[Page 3827]

flexibility and fairness in the selection process. Canadian Forces personnel who are already exempt by the National Defence Act have been removed from the Act. New disqualifications have been introduced for employees of the Department of Justice and Public Prosecutions Service and Law Courts officials. Again, this is to ensure a fairer approach to jury selection and will safeguard against undue influence on the part of one person.

The administrative process of jury selection will also be improved. Jury co-ordinators will replace the existing jury committees. The jury co-ordinator will randomly select the names of a jury panel, some of the potential jurors and remove those who are disqualified. The jury co-ordinator or judge may excuse people on the basis of hardship, illness or inconvenience. The co-ordinator may also defer people to a later panel. Our objective is to remove any administrative discretion that could be used unfairly. This legislation is about fairness and we can be proud that our juries reflect the diverse nature of our communities. This allows us to put an administrative process in place that is fair and is equitable. The Juries Act helps us to ensure fairness in our justice system.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I stand in support of the Juries Act as introduced, Bill No. 72, on behalf of the government. I do, though, think there is an opportunity here to make a few comments on specific clauses and an opportunity through the Law Amendments Committee process to, hopefully, make some changes that will make this better law.

I want to start by saying that this is an opportunity, a golden opportunity, for this government to modernize the jury selection process. I do applaud them on the changes that were put forward in Bill No. 72. The Minister of Justice has just identified many of the positive changes with regard to the legislation, but being the Opposition critic, I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity to comment on some of the points that maybe need to be addressed, the negative ones.

Let me start by saying that it is nice to see the government produce legislation that is changing the Nova Scotia justice system in a way that will result in public discussion, the Law Amendments Committee process where people can come forward and make their opinions known. As the Minister of Justice just stated, Mr. Speaker, this is an opportunity to make the system fairer and when the government is interested in making the system fairer, they are more than willing to bring forward the legislation to have open debate. Let's not forget that not that long ago, I believe it was only six weeks ago, maybe seven, that court fees were increased in this province and, in particular, as it relates to the Juries Act, new court fees around selection of juries and the use of juries at trial which could drastically impact the use of a jury during a civil proceeding. In particular, whatever changes are made to modernize the

[Page 3828]

jury system through this Juries Bill could easily be wiped out by court fees that are so onerous on potential litigants that it could result in not being able to use that system at all. What benefit is there to having a modernized system that is, as the Minister of Justice said, a fairer representation of our communities as jury members if, in fact, juries are priced out of the way of the regular litigant who can't afford to even have one.

[9:15 p.m.]

I want to talk for a second, Mr. Speaker, on a few specific clauses. Clause 4(a) of Bill No. 72 discusses the issue of certain people who are not able to sit on juries and I note that includes the Lieutenant Governor, which I think is a fairly admirable selection. I don't think most of us would like to see the Lieutenant Governor sitting on a jury. It also includes members of the House of Assembly, members of the Senate, Members of Parliament. I ask this question, not knowing the answer, maybe the Minister of Justice may be able to answer it. Why not municipal politicians? Why would we say the members of the House of Assembly or members of the House of Commons are people who should not be sitting on it, but our municipal politicians, who are also lawmakers, are not in a position where they should also be excluded from being able to sit on juries. Maybe it is for the benefit of the members, maybe it is because they have a particular interest, potentially, in any jury trial. But I would think those same rules would apply to municipal politicians, as well as provincial or federal.

I also note in Clause 17, and this is sort of something that has been discussed on and off within different communities, the famous use of where there aren't enough juries in the courtroom, the court officers will go out to the street and pull people into the court because they need jurors. That is my reading of Clause 17. Again, if I am wrong, please let the Minister of Justice correct me. It seems a little archaic and maybe it isn't and maybe there is a rationale for this that cannot be fixed by any other means. But do we need a system, Mr. Speaker, that is still based on the need to go out, as some have said, to a local establishment, whether it be a coffee shop or bar or tavern outside the courts on Water Street in Halifax and pull people in for a jury when we run out of people in the jury pool. I would hope that there are other means, particularly with regard to civil trials, that we would be able to find alternatives, whether that be having smaller juries, more flexible systems or having other means of finding alternatives. That that is a bit of an archaic means that has been around for centuries, I would presume and I hope it is something we might be able to address.

Finally, I just want to talk about Clause 27 of the bill, which is the regulatory authority under the bill. In particular, I think it is the first subclause of Clause 27 which talks about the government setting fees or pay for jurors while they are sitting on juries. It is fairly well known that it is a fairly paltry sum. I don't have the specific amount before me, but it is a very paltry sum that is paid to jurors who do sit on a jury for a day. I would hope that the government would take this opportunity, while passing this new Juries Bill, to also consider making it a more reasonable sum, so that people have some reflection of the services rendered and the pay lost when they are compelled to actually attend for jury.

[Page 3829]

Those are some of the comments I will make now, Mr. Speaker, and I will save the rest for the Law Amendments Committee, with an opportunity for more changes, if necessary, and, indeed, I do support this bill in principle and look forward to discussing it further in the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today and speak in agreement, in principle, in regard to the Juries Bill. I guess we are all aware that the justice system here in Nova Scotia, over the last number of years, has certainly come under the microscope. I believe that if we create a system that all Nova Scotians would be proud of, that those tasks of jurors would not be so hard to fill, being a fact that we are hoping Nova Scotians will have confidence in the system and we won't have to out and gather them off the street and force them into performing this duty that . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: That is your job.

MR. SCOTT: That is my job. That is right. I note, Mr. Speaker, it talks about people who are disqualified and I will relate to my own experience. It talks about people who are disqualified and I agree with all those and it talks about police officers, but I will also raise the issue of the possibility of police officers' spouses, because, inadvertently, a spouse of a police officer could become aware of something through a case that could jeopardize that case in court. So that would be something I would note that I would like to see raised at the Law Amendments Committee which could possibly be amended to include spouses of police officers, as well.

Mr. Speaker, it talks about the coordinator randomly selecting names, with the possibility of excusing persons on the basis of hardship or illness. I am not sure if the minister has taken into consideration but there are people in this province who are on EI, and I personally would like to see those people considered here. A lot of those people are placed in situations where they are not able to find employment and I believe serving on a jury should not disqualify them from those EI benefits. As the previous speaker mentioned, the small amounts of fees that are paid to jurors certainly does not make up for what these people require to raise families and to pay for the necessities of life.

We agree, in principle, with this bill and look forward as well to it being passed on to the Law Amendments Committee for further discussion. I thank you for the opportunity tonight to speak on Bill No. 72. (Applause)

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, thank you. I would like to just say a few words about Bill No. 72, an Act Respecting Juries.

[Page 3830]

I think one of the areas of the provincial government that has come under scrutiny as my colleague, the member for Cumberland South, said, is the justice system. Indeed, I think the justice system of Nova Scotia is a section of government that people tell me needs a major overhaul. The comments that I have heard about the justice system in the past year or so is one of the reasons that I think it is unfortunate that we have a minister who is a part-time Minister of Justice. I think the deficiencies in the justice system are so great at this time, it needs the attention of a full-time Minister of Justice to basically straighten it out. It may not be that person, but may be a different person. Anyway, that is the case.

I am pleased to see the Juries Bill perhaps as a reflection that the government is beginning to take the deficiencies in the justice system here in Nova Scotia a little bit more seriously. They don't seem to have really dealt with them in a serious vein and there are a lot of deficiencies that do need to be addressed. My colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, talked about increasing the court fees and that clearly is the message I have gotten from my constituents. It is a hindrance to people being treated fairly and having fairer access to the laws and the justice system.

There are two other things I would like to mention about this bill, which to me make a lot of sense. One is that the jury coordinator is now able to excuse people from a jury in advance of a jury being called, as I understand it. One of the excuses that is now acceptable is inconvenience. This seems to me to be a very good one, and I can cite for the House a specific example.

In a former life, I used to be an educational administrator and, getting into the final exam period, all of a sudden we have two people called for jury duty, so they have to absent themselves from the class and absent themselves from the evaluation process. Now it happened in education and I am sure that there are other occupations where it has happened too, but there was no recourse and you had to go sit in that courtroom day after day, waiting to see if your name was going to be called, and then if you were going to be able to serve on a jury.

Along with that I notice that in this bill - and again, I think it is a good thing - even if the jury coordinator does find that you are acceptable or ought to serve, you now have the right to appeal to a judge. Again, this is in advance of spending days in the courtroom. For anybody who has had the privilege of sitting in a courtroom and waiting for your name to be called, I want to tell you that if there is a pressing need, what I am saying is that I think there is some common sense now being set in here as opposed to . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: It can't be a Liberal ideal.

MR. MUIR: Well perhaps not a Liberal idea. I notice that it came from the 1994 Nova Scotia Law Reform Commission, the recommendations from that, so perhaps you are right, honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 3831]

Anyway, this does seem to me to be a common-sense thing. Another thing which seems to be good now is lowering the legal age for serving on a jury, I believe, from 21 to 18, according to legislation, which lines up with other aspects of legality here in Nova Scotia. The last thing, Mr. Speaker, which I would just like to briefly mention is one of the real problems, as my colleague, the honourable member for Cumberland South, mentioned was the fee structure for people who serve on juries. The fact that a person might be disqualified from something else because of being called to a jury, and I think there is provision now in that bill for these people to be excused. But I think it is a good step. It is a start in cleaning up what appears to be a series of messes in the justice system here in Nova Scotia and I pass it on to the Law Amendments Committee.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am going to be very brief. I just really want to take part, not to go over the ground that has been covered by the other speakers, but just pose a couple of questions, if I may, through you, as my way of an intervention to the Minister of Justice. Certainly, I agree with previous speakers and we will be supporting the legislation going forward.

My question has to do with the whole issue of people being eligible for jury duty and I am thinking of those who are drawing - now they call it employment insurance, I think of it as - unemployment insurance. I wonder if the minister could indicate, and it is something I probably should know, but are there any provisions, for example, for a person who is drawing unemployment insurance? If they are on jury duty, they, of course, are not gainfully seeking employment and that could compromise, potentially, their ability to continue to receive their employment benefits.

The other aspect, Mr. Speaker, and some jury duties can actually continue on for a considerable period of time, if a person is unemployed and is tied up for a number of weeks on jury duty, that means that during those weekly periods they, of course, are unable to be out seeking employment and they may actually miss employment opportunities that could have arisen during that period of time. I am wondering if their EI benefits would be extended by the amount of time that they actually serve on a jury duty. For example, if somebody is tied up for five or six weeks or so on, on jury duty - and it is my understanding that they don't have those benefits extended - that could be creating potentially considerable hardship for them and the benefits could run out and they are unable to be seeking employment during that period of time. I am just wondering if the minister could indicate how he would address that matter, how the legislation would address it for those individuals, because, certainly, I am sure, that those who are unemployed every bit as much as those who are employed at the particular time would be anxious to fulfil their responsibilities to society. But it can create a problem for them in that regard.

[Page 3832]

I just stood in my place this evening, Mr. Speaker, to bring those concerns to the floor and maybe the minister could indicate how those matters would be addressed and if they are not covered in the bill, maybe he could indicate what he would hope to do in the Law Amendments Committee to address the concerns of, unfortunately, the many thousands of Nova Scotians who are still unable to find the level of employment they need. The minister is suggesting (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, I think that the answer came from above and so the minister doesn't need me to keep talking any longer. Therefore, I will take my place and await the answer from the minister when he wraps up, and I am sure he will say more than, it is a federal responsibility.

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to make a few remarks about the Juries Bill. It is my understanding that the Law Reform Commission, which reported back in 1994, resulted in this particular piece of legislation and it reflects some of the information that is contained in that report.

[9:30 p.m.]

I notice with some considerable interest that the minister, in fact, may be in a bit of a conflict, when the bill actually makes provision that doctors, dentists and clergy may now actually, but I am referring primarily to doctors who may be called for jury duty. I would only ask the minister to think about his responsibilities in providing physicians for many Nova Scotians who do not have physicians.

It is a good bill because what it does, it allows us to start thinking about a topic that needs a lot of discussion here in this place and that is the justice system here in Nova Scotia. If there was ever an issue that is going to be easy for this minister, it is this bill because each and every challenge that is before our Department of Justice will be far more weighty, far more difficult, far more complicated and far more difficult to resolve than getting this particular bill through the House.

My colleague, the member for Truro-Bible Hill, made a point but it is a point that should be made over and over with this government, that Justice is a very important portfolio and we are really just scratching the surface with this bill. I would again direct my comment to the Premier that we need a full-time Minister of Justice in this province, the same as we need a full-time Minister of Health.

This is a good bill. I think it will generate a little bit of comment in the Law Amendments Committee but not a great deal. All of us have a responsibility to be partakers in the justice system of this province. It is unfortunate that those who are called to serve on juries, particularly when it is a situation where they may be required to sit in a trial that may

[Page 3833]

last three weeks, or four weeks, or five weeks, those citizens make a tremendous financial sacrifice to serve on that particular jury and to fulfil their duty as a citizen. I think it is unfortunate that we are not better able to compensate those who serve in this very important capacity for what often is a very prolonged period of time and with great personal financial sacrifice.

I would also like to point out and echo what the member for Truro-Bible Hill said, and I believe, the member for Cumberland South, and the member for Sackville-Cobequid. Those who are on EI in this province, if, in fact, there will be no recognition by that program that this is a necessary service and if, in fact, that continues to interrupt their EI payments, then we are doing those citizens a very grave disservice. We cannot isolate the fact that those who are suffering financial hardship of an extreme nature and who would have this source of income withdrawn from them by reason of participating for a protracted period of time on a jury, then we have to look at that. It may require some consultation with federal counterparts but I am sure that the Minister of Justice might want to address this when he wraps up the second reading.

Jury selection is an important and interesting phenomenon. I can think of many occasions when I was practising medicine, and I am sure that the Minister of Justice could relate similar experiences, when those who had been notified they were being selected for jury duty would, in fact, come and would look for some kind of a medical dispensation so, in fact, they would not serve. Very often they had a medical condition that would make them unsuitable for jury duty and, of course, there is provision for them to be excused.

One would hope that this selection process wouldn't result in that phenomenon we used to see of or hear of often in the Shire Town of Pictou, which is where the County Court was held in Pictou. When they ran out of the list of notified jurors, of course, the sheriff would be ordered to go out on the street and pick up any citizen, bring them to the courthouse and have them sworn in for jury duty if, in fact, they passed the muster of the prosecutor and the defence attorney. I understand that here in the city the favourite place to go was the ferry terminal when the sheriff was looking for prospective jurors. He would wait until the ferry unloaded and he would just direct them all up to the courthouse and in fact, he would have his jurors corralled in short order.

Being a member of a jury is not, for many citizens, a responsibility that they view with relish. They take it very seriously and have a responsibility thrust upon them that many really are not looking for, as I say. But it is an integral part of the justice system of this country and all of us have the right to be tried by a panel of our peers.

I look forward to this going to the Law Amendments Committee to listen to some of the comments that are delivered there and I look forward to the bill coming back to third reading, amended, if the Law Amendments Committee deem that that is appropriate. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 3834]

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable members for their comments and their interest. On EI, if I could address that at this juncture, that is a federal program, obviously, (Interruptions) but seriously, those people could fill in a form or ask for an exemption and it could fall under a hardship issue but it does not automatically exempt them, the fact that they are receiving a federal program. I think some of the others we may just wait until later to address. The exemptions have been the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission.

I would like to take a brief moment to thank the honourable members for their interest in my health and well-being. I have never had a normal job that had normal hours and I do believe that just looking across there, there are lots of days that I could do twice the work in half the time that those members over there could. I would just like to point out that a lot of this legislation that is coming here today has been in the works for quite a period of time. I am very pleased to be the Minister of Justice who can finally bring them to the House of Assembly. I would move second reading of Bill No. 72.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 72. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 24.

Bill No. 24 - Wilderness Areas Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Environment.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce for second reading the Wilderness Areas Protection Act, Bill No. 24. I am both pleased and proud to be before the House today to introduce the Wilderness Areas Protection Act for second reading. It was over four years ago I first presented a proposed systems plan for parks and protected areas in Nova Scotia, a plan that ensured significant examples of the natural landscapes and ecosystems which define the character and the image of Nova Scotia are maintained and protected in their natural states.

[Page 3835]

From that framework and through much study and consultation we have developed this important legislation. Its purpose is to maintain and restore ecological integrity and biodiversity, to protect examples of natural landscapes and ecosystems that are representative of Nova Scotia, to protect features that are rare and vulnerable and valuable to us all and to provide an ecological benchmark to help us determine the effect of human activity on our environment. Protected areas provide opportunities for environmental education and scientific research within the boundaries of the 31 designated areas. The Wilderness Areas Protection Act reinforces in law this government's pledge to protect our beautiful and natural surroundings. For centuries Nova Scotians have had a special connection with the land. In fact, in some areas those traditional relationships have been at the root of concern about the intention of this Act and the impact it may have on those traditions. The people who live near these wilderness areas will have a say in the management and the use of their important lands. We will develop management plans in close consultation with the people who live near and use the space.

Traditional activities, such as hunting, fishing and trapping will continue to be permitted, but to further instil confidence in some who may doubt our intentions, we are proposing some additions to the bill. First, a good neighbour clause to provide a mechanism in law for boundary adjustments to accommodate specific concerns. We want to encourage good relationships with adjacent landowners and communities close to the wilderness area. We also want to make sure certain private lands are not misused and citizens not inconvenienced on their own land because of this Act. This, again, is in the interest of fostering a good relationship with those living closest to the 31 sites.

We also do not want to prevent access for landowners who have property within the protected areas. In cases where land is completely surrounded by wilderness area property we are proposing limited access under certain conditions. It is a priority to ensure unsuitable development is avoided so criteria have been added that will limit the use of this access provision. The bottom line is that any access must be consistent with an applicable management plan. Understand that the 31 areas are vital to the environmental framework of the province. They provide environmental services to us. They house rare plant life and protect our biodiversity and our scenery. They are fundamental to the quality of life of every Nova Scotian and they attract people from around the world to behold our beauty.

Through this Act we can ensure that some 700,000 acres or almost 20 per cent of all Crown land in Nova Scotia is preserved. It is a commitment to protect unlike any other across this country. This is more than a promise, this is an obligation, an obligation we have made to generations of people who will walk this land long into the next millennium. Join with me in this commitment for your children and your children's children. Thank you.

[Page 3836]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to start out by congratulating the government on finally bringing this measure forward to this stage so that we can begin debate on it. It has certainly been a work in the making for some time. I believe public consultation on protection of wilderness areas started around 1990 and that was a very lengthy process in itself, extending until 1995, when the report of the public review committee for the proposed systems plan was completed and was made available to the public. I will be commenting on some of the points made in that as I speak on this bill that is before us today.

The process completed in 1995 still did not lead to very rapid introduction of legislation. I think it has been almost three years since we were promised legislation and former Minister of Natural Resources Eleanor Norrie had promised passage of legislation in the fall of 1997. It has certainly taken a lengthy period of time to pull this measure together and get it in front of the House. There is a saying, of course, that the mills of the gods grind slowly but grind effectively, so perhaps we will see very good legislation by virtue of the length of time it has taken to bring it to this point.

[9:45 p.m.]

Indeed, I think there are many good things to say about any legislation that will set aside and protect wilderness areas in this province, and there are a lot of reasons why we should protect such areas. There are some pretty compelling economic reasons for protecting wilderness areas. I would draw the attention of the House to some information that comes from a survey conducted in 1996 on the importance of nature to Canadians. That survey indicated that nearly 20 million people, or approximately 85 per cent of our population aged 15 and over, participated in one or more nature-related activities. About one-third of these individuals, some 6.7 million people, visited a provincial or national park or other protected area. The economic benefit of this interest in nature and parks in this country is immense; an estimated $11 billion was spent by members of the public on nature-related activities for an average of $550 each.

So there is certainly tremendous economic benefit from preserving wilderness areas, from setting aside parks and other landscapes of significance in this province and elsewhere in this country. Certainly, throughout our history, there has been considerable interest, Mr. Speaker, in the subject of our natural beauties in this province. I would like to quote Joseph Howe - I know the Minister of Education has already quoted Howe in the context of an Act dealing with our public archives - I would like to draw the honourable members' attention to some comments Joseph Howe had when he was conducting his western and eastern rambles in the province, and he made this comment on the value and the significance of our natural resources.

[Page 3837]

"But, give me the man who will go rambling over his own country, and find in its features a fund of interest - who will clamour over its rocks, and plunge into its forests; who will dip his digits in its streams, and tear his breeches with its brambles; and, from some mountain height, survey the landscape of cultivation spread in beautiful luxuriance before him, and feeling the warm current of life flowing more freely through his veins, and bubbling up to his heart, and mantling upon his cheek, and the tear of joy and pride trembling in his eye, will thank his God for the fertility and beauty before him, and break the head of any man who attempts to affirm that there ever was, or will be, such another Country on the face of the earth.".

Now, Mr. Speaker, there are, of course, other protected areas in this province. We have a number of provincial parks and we have two national parks in our province. Indeed, those places are very valuable for their contribution to the protection of special areas in this province, but there still is a need, given the conflict between use and preservation in our national parks, to set aside other areas which, as the minister has noted, will be available for research and education, and which will preserve wilderness values so important to the people of this province and, indeed, of this country generally.

I would like to say that there are, certainly, values in this province, and our wilderness areas that are outstanding. I have had the privilege, prior to being elected a member of this House, to work for an agency of the federal government, with responsibility for national parks and historic sites and, in that capacity, I have been able to visit many of our national parks and historic sites, not just in Nova Scotia, but throughout Atlantic Canada and in other parts of this country.

I have also had the privilege of visiting national parks in the United States and, indeed, at one point, in my student days of working in a national park in the western United States, in Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park, and I must say that although I have seen a large number of very beautiful and significant parks in other parts of this country and in other countries, I still feel very strongly that we must not pass up an opportunity to protect those places in this province that have special values and special ecological significance.

It is with great pleasure that I would say that I would support this measure and I would expect it will receive support from both sides of the House and all Parties. Now, notwithstanding the principles of the bill and the fact that I believe it deserves support overall, I think there are some things that need to be said about the bill and attention needs to be drawn to what might well be regarded as weaknesses in the bill.

I would point out, for example, that there has been a concern about the nature of consultation. I did indicate that there was a lengthy consultation process carried out between 1990 and 1995 and a great many Nova Scotians made presentations in the course of those consultations to express their views on our wilderness areas and in many cases they called for protection of wilderness areas. I would submit, however, that there have been some

[Page 3838]

weaknesses in the consultation process and I would mention specifically a problem that some residents of Dartmouth have drawn to my attention.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour may speak at greater length on this but I would like to mention that these individuals who own property in the Polletts Cove area were, in fact, never notified of the proposal to set aside the Polletts Cove/Aspy Fault area. The excuse, when they contacted on their own initiative, provincial authorities and drew attention to the fact that they were never notified of the government's proposals, was that it is difficult to contact residents who do not live in the area. They have, however, had this land in the family's possession since 1867 or thereabouts and have been, through the family, paying taxes on it for well over 100 years, so it is a bit puzzling that they could not have been properly notified and given an opportunity to make input into this process.

I would also like to draw attention to the fact that the bill before us, although it is very worthy, has in some areas clauses that represent a watering-down of the recommendations of the public review committee, that committee that the government has drawn attention to over time in dealing with this measure and has held up as a model for public consultation. The fact is that the government has watered down certain recommendations made in that report, recommendations that were well supported, and I think that it would be remiss of us not to draw attention to what has happened there and to suggest that the government in the Law Amendments Committee might wish to look and revisit those areas where the legislation has watered down the recommendations of the public review committee.

There are several areas of that nature that I would like to draw the House's attention to. For example, the bill would allow access by motorized vehicles in wilderness areas and this is directly contrary to the recommendations of the public review committee, recommendations which the province accepted in 1995. For example, it was stated in that document, travel within protected areas for the purpose of hunting shall be by non-motorized means. Further, the recreational use of all terrain vehicles not be permitted in protected areas.

Mr. Speaker, I am not suggesting that there isn't a place in our province for the operation of ATVs and of snowmobiles. They have their place in our community and many citizens of this province value the access which they can get to remote areas . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member accept a question?

MR. CHARD: Yes, certainly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the member has quoted Mr. Joseph Howe so eloquently. Perhaps he may remind himself of the famous quote by Joseph Howe when he once said, I know the value of education by the lack of it. I am wondering if the

[Page 3839]

honourable member would attach such a comment to the fact that he is trying to lead the people of Nova Scotia to the fact that there was very little consultation when, in fact, by his own admission, this consultation process has taken place for four years, very extensively.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that there was a question there, but I welcome the comment from the honourable member and, indeed, I have indicated that there was extensive consultation, but consultation can be extensive and still be flawed. That was my point.

Given the hour, Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to move adjournment.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 24. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 68 - Provincial Court Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 3840]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will sit from the hours of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Question Period, it is our intention to proceed with third readings on Bill No. 4, Bill No. 34, Bill No. 35 and, if time permits, Committee of the Whole House on Bills, Bill No. 68.

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

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 9:58 p.m.]