The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Mon., Oct. 19, 1998

First Session

MONDAY, OCTOBER 19, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann (MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's) -
Independent Member, Mr. Speaker 2161
Alfred Charles MacDonell: Death of - Sympathy Extend, Mr. R. Chisholm 2161
Mrs. Eleanor Smith: Death of - Condolences Extend, Hon. D. Downe 2162
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Pictou West: West River East Side Road -
Pave, Mr. C. Parker 2163
Health - Specialists (Cancer Care): Shortage - Address, Mr. J. DeWolfe 2163
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Environ. - Acid Rain: Strategy (Can.-N.S.) - Signed, Hon. D. Downe 2164
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 31, Gaming Control Act, Ms. Helen MacDonald 2166
No. 32, Gaming Control Act, Ms. Helen MacDonald 2167
No. 33, Lobbyists' Registration Act, Ms. Helen MacDonald 2167
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1073, Fin. - Budget (1998-89): Balanced - Plan Table,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2167
No. 1074, Health - Breast Cancer: Run (18/10/98) - Efforts Applaud,
Dr. J. Hamm 2167
Vote - Affirmative 2168
Res. 1075, Educ.. - Post-Secondary: Tuition Fees Stabilize -
Commitment Fulfil, Ms. E. O'Connell 2168
Res. 1076, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Truckers Rates Low (Pt. Tupper) -
Action, Mr. B. Taylor 2169
Res. 1077, Nat. Res. - Coal Industry (C.B.): Plan - Facilitate,
Mr. R. Matheson 2170
Res. 1078, Fin. - Casino (Hfx.): Concessions - Reconsider,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 2170
Res. 1079, Lbr. - Westray Employees (Former): Severance - Pay,
Dr. J. Hamm 2171
Res. 1080, Educ.: School Bus Drivers - Recognize, Mr. H. Fraser 2172
Vote - Affirmative 2172
Res. 1081, Justice - Dartmouth: Police Limited - Info. Disclose,
Mr. M. Scott 2173
Res. 1082, Justice - Gay Beatings: Victims - Sorrow Express,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 2174
Vote - Affirmative 2174
Res. 1083, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Access (N.S.) Denial - Effect,
Mr. J. Leefe 2174
Res. 1084, Women (Can./N.S.): Contributions - Recognize,
Ms. Y. Atwell 2175
Vote - Affirmative 2176
Res. 1085, NDP (N.S.) - Transport.: Policy - Re-Evaluate,
Mr. Charlie MacDonald 2176
Res. 1086, Health - Lun. Commun. Health Watch Comm.:
Physician Female Recruitment - Action, Mr. M. Baker 2176
Vote - Affirmative 2177
Res. 1087, Coast Guard: Cuts - Condemn, Mr. John Deveau 2177
Res. 1088, Econ. Dev. - Volvo Closure: Incompetence - Condemn,
Mr. G. Balser 2178
Res. 1089, Nat. Res. - Coal Industry (C.B.): NSP Commitment -
Ensure, Mr. R. Matheson 2178
Res. 1090, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Ethane Extraction - Commit,
Mr. G. Archibald 2179
Res. 1091, Bus. & Cons. Serv.: Atl. Can. Vehicle Extraction Comp. -
Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 2179
Vote - Affirmative 2180
Res. 1092, Environ. - Sydney Tar Ponds: Pollutants (Frederick St.)
Burial - Insoluble, Mr. J. Muir 2180
Res. 1093, Health - Mental Health Assoc. (Can.-Hfx.): Resources -
Ensure, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2181
Res. 1094, Educ. - Chignecto-Central Reg. School Bd.:
Needs Assessment Rept. - Assist, Mr. J. DeWolfe 2182
Res. 1095, Environ. - Waste Reduction: MLAs - Commit,
Mr. H. Epstein, 2182
Vote - Affirmative 2183
Res. 1096, Health - Mental Health Progs.: Funding - Commit,
Mr. G. Moody 2183
Res. 1097, Solicitor Gen. (Can.) - APEC Complainants:
Legal Rep. Funding - Premier Request, Mr. D. Dexter 2184
Res. 1098, Justice - Police Officers (Can.): Killed (On Duty) -
Remember, Mr. M. Scott 2184
Vote - Affirmative 2185
Res. 1099, Justice - HRM: Drugs/Prostitution - Combating Assist.,
Mr. J. Pye 2185
Res. 1100, Bus. & Cons. Affs. - Wedgeport Credit Union/
Caisse Populaire: Anniv. 60th - Congrats., Mr. N. LeBlanc 2186
Vote - Affirmative 2187
Res. 1101, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Shipyards: Support - Equal Access,
Mr. C. Parker 2187
Res. 1102, Educ. - Dal. Univ.: Women's Health & Environ.
(Elizabeth May Chair) - Ms. May Appointed-Congrats.,
Mr. G. Moody 2187
Res. 1103, Housing - Public (Inverness): Tenants - Service Best Ensure,
Ms. R. Godin 2188
Res. 1104, Fish. - Davis Strait Fish. Ltd. (Hfx.): Export Award (Can.) -
Congrats., Mr. N. LeBlanc 2189
Vote - Affirmative 2189
Res. 1105, Tech. & Sc. Sec't. - InNOVAcorp: Funding - Increase,
Mr. P. Delefes 2189
Res. 1106, Battle of Britain - Amherst Ceremony (13/09/98):
Courage - Recognize, Mr. E. Fage 2190
Vote - Affirmative 2191
Res. 1107, Fin. - VLTs: Plebiscites (Communities) - Permit,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 2191
Res. 1108, Econ. Dev. - Italian Cos. (3): Announcement Premature -
Acknowledge, Mr. G. Balser 2191
Res. 1109, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MLA - "Unite the Right"
Conf. (Ottawa-02/99): Absence - Encourage, Mr. Kevin Deveaux 2192
Res. 1110, Justice - Court Costs: Increase - Review, Mr. J. DeWolfe 2193
Res. 1111, Justice - Cole Hbr. RCMP: Barbara Simmonds
(Liaison Officer) - Congrats., Ms. Y. Atwell 2194
Vote - Affirmative 2194
Res. 1112, Agric.: Awareness Month (Oct.) - Recognize,
Mr. G. Archibald 2194
Vote - Affirmative 2195
Res. 1113, Educ. - Driver Educ.: Funding - Reconsider,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2195
Res. 1114, Environ. - Sydney Tar Ponds: Funding Commitment
(Gov. [Can.]) - Ensure, Mr. J. Muir 2195
Res. 1115, Commun. Serv. - Foster Families: Dedication - Recognize,
Mr. J. Pye 2196
Vote - Affirmative 2197
Res. 1116, Seniors - Internat. Year of Older Persons (1989):
Contributions - Celebrate, Mr. J. Leefe 2197
Vote - Affirmative 2197
Res. 1117, Presbyterian Church (Can.-Atl. Prov.): West River
Seminary Founding 150th Anniv. - Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 2198
Vote - Affirmative 2198
Res. 1118, Agric. - Pumpkin Festival (Windsor): Mr. R. Wentzell &
Mr. D. Hebb (Lun. Co.) - Success Applaud, Mr. M. Baker 2198
Vote - Affirmative 2199
Res. 1119, Educ. - St. F.X. Univ.: X-Project (Literacy) -
Canada Post Award Congrats., Mr. E. Fage 2199
Vote - Affirmative 2200
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 13, Financial Measures (1998) Act 2200
Mr. P. Delefes 2200
Mr. M. Baker 2203
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2208
Ms. Y. Atwell 2211
Mr. J. Muir 2213
Mr. John Deveau 2218
Ms. Helen MacDonald 2219
Mr. J. DeWolfe 2224
Ms. R. Godin 2225
Mr. J. Pye 2228
Mr. G. Moody 2237
Adjourned debate 2241
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Oct. 20th at 2:00 p.m. 2242

[Page 2161]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, OCTOBER 19, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

6:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we commence the daily routine, I would advise members that the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's has written me a letter and wishes to sit as an independent in the House. Arrangements will be made to relocate his desk tomorrow.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to have an opportunity to rise in my place. Unfortunately, it doesn't give me much pleasure, given the reason that I do so. I do so to offer condolences to a member of this House, the MLA for Hants East, whose father passed away Friday evening after a very difficult battle with cancer. Alfred Charles MacDonell lived on and worked the family farm all of his life. Like so many farmers increasingly today, he also held a second job to help ensure a steady income, in this case a job at the Halifax International Airport. Alfred MacDonell passed away just as he had lived, surrounded by his family. Our colleague also farms a portion of that land in the Enfield area on the shores of Grand Lake, land that has been in the family for generations.

2161

[Page 2162]

At a funeral mass this morning, it was clear that the legacy of Alfred Charles MacDonell carries on. It is evident in his community and in his family, love of the land and public spirit and pride in our Nova Scotian heritage are all part of that enduring legacy. Mr. Speaker, the death of a parent is never easy. I know that members join with me in expressing our deepest sympathies to our colleague, to his mother and to the rest of the MacDonell family. Thank you.

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to add the condolences of our Party to the member for Hants East and that family. It had only been brought to my attention as the Leader of the Official Opposition spoke and all of us are saddened by the tragedy of the loss of a parent of one of our members.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of this side of the House, we, too, would like to bring condolences to John MacDonell's family, for the passing of his father. I understand the comments about growing up in rural Nova Scotia and a farmer but the loss of a loved one is always hard and never easy to understand.

With that in mind, I also would like to bring to the attention of the members of the House, the honourable Minister of Health's mother passed away last evening, as well. For that, I believe I would appreciate the members of the House presenting our condolences not only to John for the loss of his father but also to Dr. Smith for the loss of his mother. I ask the members of the House that we would unanimously give our condolences to their families.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Let me just say briefly, if I may, on behalf of the New Democratic Party caucus, Mr. Speaker, that we certainly do ask the Minister of Finance, the Deputy Premier, to please pass our condolences, very seriously, on to Dr. Jim Smith. I understand that his mother had a very difficult battle and we certainly do pass on our condolences to Dr. Smith and the rest of his family.

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would ask, as well, that the Minister of Finance would forward to the family the condolences of the members of the Third Party. I practised medicine for 30 years and I never really understood what a family goes through when a parent is lost until I lost my own parents. Thank you.

[Page 2163]

MR. SPEAKER: We will commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition here on behalf of the residents of West River East Side Road in Pictou County. It reads as follows:

"We the residents and frequent travelers of the West River East Side Road would like those in favor of having this road paved to please sign this petition. There will be some paving done in Pictou West in the future and we feel this road is long overdue. Many people live and travel on this road daily. It is one of the last roads off the Trans Canada Highway that has not been paved.".

It is signed by 123 residents and frequent travellers of the West River East Side Road and I have affixed my own name to it as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the following petition that was signed by 2,182 cancer patients and their families. It reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, urge the Government to take immediate and concrete steps to address the critical shortage of cancer care specialists so that all Nova Scotians have timely access to quality care.".

I have affixed my name to that as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Environment.

[Page 2164]

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, today in Nova Scotia we have the pleasure of welcoming ministers and delegates from across the country who have come to Halifax for the Joint Meeting of Energy and Environment Ministers. The agenda for this session which began earlier today and will end tomorrow afternoon is one which deals with a number of issues that are very important to all of us in Nova Scotia, most notably, the issue of acid rain.

Mr. Speaker, discussions, this afternoon, focused on a Canada-wide strategy for acid rain. I am very happy this evening to inform the House that as part of efforts to reduce harmful air emissions, federal, provincial and territorial Energy Ministers and Ministers of the Environment, today marked a significant milestone in the signing of a Canada-wide acid rain strategy for post-2000. This major achievement allows us to set a course of action with other partners and other partner provinces in setting timelines to achieve our objectives, and we can now work effectively and efficiently with industry to establish appropriate emission reductions.

Ministers, this afternoon, also discussed air quality issues including ozone and mercury levels. I am especially encouraged by indications the thinking on mercury, nationally, is consistent with the position Nova Scotia has already taken with respect to mercury management as part of a New England Governors - Eastern Canadian Premiers Action Plan signed by our Premier earlier this year.

Tomorrow, we will focus on Canada's response to the Kyoto Protocol, how we will reduce greenhouse gases. Climate change is a very important issue for all Canadians. We all have a part to play and Nova Scotia is actively engaged in this process at this time.

I am especially encouraged by the creation of the Climate Change Action Fund which emphasizes climate change as a priority. It indicates Canada's commitment to action. The fund, announced in Halifax today by federal Minister Christine Stewart, Minister of the Environment, and the federal Minister of Natural Resources, Ralph Goodale, consists of a number of components, each of which will be important to Nova Scotia in our action to climate change.

Nova Scotia is particularly susceptible to potential changes in climate, Mr. Speaker. As a coastal province, any significant changes to sea levels will impact on our economy and our communities. Today's announcement supports the basic educational requirements in schools and for the public, so that they can understand climate change and realize the role they play. It challenges communities to get involved, to participate, thinking globally, and acting locally. Nova Scotia will continue to support community-based awareness-building activities which lead to real actions in support of environmental goals.

[Page 2165]

Mr. Speaker, today's news strengthens our commitment to climate change and complements the work of the National Climate Change Program, and I am pleased that we, in Nova Scotia, have the opportunity to host such a timely and proactive meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers in making this decision. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to respond briefly on behalf of the New Democratic Party caucus.

Mr. Speaker, today's announcement by the minister is indeed an extremely important announcement. When one considers the atmosphere, there are not many things that are more important than our atmosphere and the impacts that it can have. We can talk about acid rain, we can talk about the ozone layer, we can talk about climatic changes, and what we are doing, of course, has major impacts upon the atmosphere and on all of those different features. So, it is an extremely important matter.

Certainly, nobody knows better than Nova Scotians that the energy sector is in transformation. As we are about to embark upon our first major episode with natural gas as that will shortly be coming onshore.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we also know, of course, that things like the Kyoto Conference also have very significant impacts upon provinces such as this, and that it causes many challenges for a province of our size and a province which has, for a very long period of time, depended upon a keystone industry and that, of course, is the coal industry.

One of the things that we have to be doing is to be getting ready for those challenges, and I suggest to the minister that one of the things that we must be doing as we are getting ready, as a province, is to develop an energy policy. There was a draft policy made back in 1991 and that policy that was as a draft policy by the Department of Natural Resources at the time was, of course, abandoned with the privatization of Nova Scotia Power and we have yet to get back to develop a provincial energy policy. That, of course, is a very important challenge for this province, because a keystone industry, the coal industry, has the potential of being impacted very significantly by any of these changes. Many communities and thousands of families in this province are currently very much dependent on the coal industry.

[6:15 p.m.]

So I say to the minister, as he has made this announcement today, I look forward, and I expect that the province will very shortly announce that it is getting on with the development of an energy policy, and along with programs that will assist the province to adjust for the transformation that is taking place, so that those communities and those individuals who have provided so much service to this province and assisted in meeting our

[Page 2166]

energy needs are not going to be left out, as we move forward in addressing the kind of climatic issues and atmospheric conditions that the minister and the other ministers are meeting to talk about. We owe it to the people of Cape Breton, and others who are involved in the coal mining industry to get on with an energy policy that will meet both our needs and their needs. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I view this as a very soft approach to a very severe problem. I hope the honourable member picks the brains of his colleagues regarding the problems in Sydney. It is sort of predominant on all our minds here in Nova Scotia to date, and certainly as you travel in southwestern Nova Scotia, if you are a fisherman, like I used to have time to be, the lakes are all but dead as far as fish go, they are dumping lime in some lakes, trying to bring them back. It is a very severe problem down there.

Also, I agree with the previous speaker, I hope that this becomes part of our energy policy that has yet to come. I certainly hope that something constructive comes out of this, because Nova Scotians deserve no less. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour on an introduction.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and through you, to all members of the House, two gentlemen in the east gallery. One, Mr. James Neville, who is President of the Cape Breton Injured Workers' Association. Mr. Neville has been a long-serving member of this association, has made a very significant contribution to injured workers, not only in Cape Breton, but across Nova Scotia.

As well, with him is Mr. Gary Penny, who is the representative on the Workers' Compensation Board. Mr. Penny and Mr. Neville are in Halifax participating in the Select Committee hearings on Workers' Compensation. I would ask if all members would give the warm welcome of the House to these two gentlemen as they rise and receive their approbation. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 31 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1994-95, the Gaming Control Act, to Require the Publication of Directions and Guidelines to the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation. (Ms. Helen MacDonald)

[Page 2167]

Bill No 32 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1994-95, the Gaming Control Act, to Prohibit the Extension of Casino Hours or the Provision of Free Drinks and of Credit to Casino Gamblers. (Ms. Helen MacDonald)

Bill No. 33 - Entitled an Act to Require the Registration of Lobbyists in Nova Scotia. (Ms. Helen MacDonald)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1073

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

Whereas the Premier of Nova Scotia stood in this House last spring and told Nova Scotians that his government had balanced the budget; and

Whereas the confidence of Nova Scotians in this government has been weakened by the fact that the budget has never been balanced, as the Premier has now admitted; and

Whereas Nova Scotians have no reason to believe the Premier's vague promises that the budget might be balanced by the end of the year;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier table for this House of Assembly a comprehensive plan for balancing the budget, which indicates at least whether he will rely on spending cuts or revenue increases.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1074

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

Whereas the annual CIBC Run for the Cure is a national event dedicated to support breast cancer research, treatment and education; and

[Page 2168]

Whereas on Sunday, October 18, 1998, in Halifax 3,600 people ran, walked and jogged from Saint Mary's University to Point Pleasant Park and back again in an effort to join the fight against the disease; and

Whereas more than $237,000 has been raised by Nova Scotians as a result of Sunday's event;

Therefore be it resolved the members of this House applaud the efforts of the organizers, the participants, volunteers and sponsors who gave of their time, energy and resources so that a cure for this disease may be found.

Mr. Speaker, I request a waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1075

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 on Thursday, February 19th, the Premier said, "we're going to be giving further assistance for post-secondary education and it's on the basis that the universities will hold the tuition at the levels they are now"; and

Whereas on October 15th, the Premier told this House, "I never said I would freeze tuition fees. I cannot freeze tuition fees"; and

Whereas this example of the well known Liberal familiarity with the truth would be laughable if so many young people did not have their future blocked by enormous financial barriers;

[Page 2169]

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government resort to truth serum or any other means necessary to live up to the Premier's specific election commitment to halt the climb in tuition fees that have made post-secondary education inaccessible for many.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1076

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

Whereas work at the Sable Offshore Energy Project's fractionation plant at Point Tupper was shut down today because of the inadequate funding being provided to members of the Inverness and Richmond County Truckers' Association to do work at the site; and

Whereas the Provinces of New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta are all paying the National Oil Field Pipeline Trucking Rate; and

Whereas the present Liberal Government continues to ignore issues facing truckers across Nova Scotia, including Inverness and Richmond Counties;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier, as Minister responsible for Nova Scotia's Petroleum Directorate, take immediate action to ensure that truckers working at the fractionation plant site are treated fairly and are being paid in an equitable fashion, so that work will not be held up at the Point Tupper fractionation site any more than it already has.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

[Page 2170]

RESOLUTION NO. 1077

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

Whereas the Premier stated in this House on Thursday, October 15, 1998 in an emergency debate on the Cape Breton coal industry that the economy of industrial Cape Breton was close to collapse; and

Whereas such a statement from the Premier sends a clear message that drastic action must be taken to secure the future of the coal mining industry in Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that this government immediately facilitate meetings among representatives of the federal and provincial governments, as well as industry and labour leaders, with a view to putting in place a plan for the long-term survival of the coal industry on Cape Breton Island.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1078

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 Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation reported last week that casino revenues were lower in spring 1998 than they were the previous year; and

Whereas this is the latest evidence of how the many concessions given to the casino operator have failed to produce the promised pot of gold; and

Whereas Nova Scotians know that the casinos depend for these stagnant revenues on luring in as many local residents as possible, despite the known problems with gambling addiction;

[Page 2171]

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to reconsider its policy of never-ending concessions to the casino operators, in a hopeful search for some pot of gold at the end of the Las Vegas rainbow.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1079

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

Whereas almost six and one-half years have now passed since the tragic explosion at the Westray Mine and still this government continues to drag its feet on assisting former unionized and non-unionized employees through severance payments owed to them; and

Whereas many of those employees have suffered severe financial hardship since that time, not to mention the added emotional strain of continuing their fight for a severance for so long has on those individuals and their families; and

Whereas in June and then in August, the Labour Minister made overtures to the former workers which made it appear the situation was in hand, overtures which have merely translated into more months of delays;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government and its Labour Minister confirm tonight that the former employees of Westray will receive their severance from government now and not force the workers to continue to worry about their severance being dependent on the sale of assets.

[6:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

[Page 2172]

RESOLUTION NO. 1080

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

Whereas October 18th to 24th is School Bus Safety Awareness Week; and

Whereas school bus safety for our children is the responsibility of government, but it is also a partnership among parents, students, teachers, school boards, motorists and the Nova Scotia Safety Council; and

Whereas perhaps the most important link in the safety chain are the bus drivers who perform daily inspections of their vehicles, undergo in-service training and are entrusted with the care of our children;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and salute all school bus drivers in Nova Scotia and wish them luck for a successful and educational School Bus Safety Week.

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

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

Whereas Premier MacLellan is off to Alberta to have dinner tonight at the Calgary Petroleum Club and breakfast tomorrow morning with the Petroleum Society; and

Whereas the major offshore partners are about to feast very well from the benefits they are to receive courtesy of the very generous menu offered by the Liberal Government of Nova Scotia; and

[Page 2173]

Whereas if the Liberal trend of largesse to their friends on our oil patches continues, Nova Scotians will be left with slim pickings;

Therefore be it resolved that the Speaker be asked to contact the Premier to request, on behalf of members of the House of Assembly and all Nova Scotians, that he agree not to give away any more of Nova Scotia's scarce resources until he can obtain a fairer deal for the people he is supposed to represent.

MR. SPEAKER: That notice of motion is out of order.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I didn't instruct the Speaker, I asked the Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: It is also improper also to ask the Speaker. (Interruptions)

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

Order, please. The honourable member for Cumberland South has the floor.

RESOLUTION NO. 1081

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 residents of north end Dartmouth have expressed serious concerns regarding the crime rates in their neighbourhoods; and

Whereas a number of officers policing north end Dartmouth have been reduced since the Liberal Government forced its failed merger on residents from Hubbards to Ecum Secum; and

Whereas adequate police presence is an absolute necessity in an area plagued by drug peddling and prostitution;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice fully disclose any and all information concerning the limited police presence in Dartmouth and act now to improve community based police initiatives to ensure the safety of all metro citizens.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2174]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1082

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

Whereas last evening Halifax's Parade Square saw a candlelight vigil to honour the memory of American Matthew Shepard, a victim of gay bashing in Wyoming; and

Whereas it is all too easy to dismiss such horrific acts as events that happen elsewhere; and

Whereas earlier this month this "elsewhere" event visited us when a brutal beating occurred in Halifax outside a Sackville Street gay bar;

Therefore be it resolved that this House express its profound sorrow and grief for the families affected and its outrage that human beings continue to be beaten and murdered because of their sexual orientation.

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1083

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

[Page 2175]

Whereas the Sable gas resource should hold tremendous economic opportunity for Nova Scotians; and

Whereas this Liberal Government has botched the Sable gas royalty agreement and thrown away its bargaining position with respect to the pipeline; and (Interruption) It is true, Madam Minister, it is very true.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. LEEFE: Whereas the Liberal Government does not seem to have any idea whether Nova Scotians in all parts of the province will gain access to natural gas or not;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government understand that to deny any part of Nova Scotia access to natural gas is to deny those Nova Scotians real opportunity and real employment in what should be a job-rich economy.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 1084

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

Whereas Nova Scotia and Canada celebrated Persons Day October 18th, marking the 59th Anniversary of the full political participation of women in Canada; and

Whereas Persons Day is a key celebration within Women's History Month in October;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognizes the considerable political and other contributions of women in Canada and that Nova Scotia strives to foster an environment and culture of equality between women and men.

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.

[Page 2176]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1085

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 Minister of Transportation and Public Works has demonstrated his commitment to rural Nova Scotia by personally touring rural roads and listening to the concerns of residents; and

Whereas NDP policy documents indicate a New Democratic Government would finance work on rural roads by diverting money from major highways; and

Whereas NDP plans for rural roads would make impossible the type of work now going through the riding of Timberlea-Prospect on Highway No. 103 and prevent any possible future twinning of Highway No. 101;

Therefore be it resolved that before introducing any further legislation regarding road improvements, the Opposition re-evaluate their confusion and contradictory policies and try to get their facts straight.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 1086

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

Whereas the Town of Lunenburg and surrounding communities have been without the services of a female physician for a lengthy period of time; and

Whereas the citizens and physicians of the community have identified a significant demand for the services of a female physician; and

Whereas the Lunenburg Community Health Watch Committee has been attempting to recruit a female physician without any success;

[Page 2177]

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly request the Minister of Health direct the officials in his department to take immediate action to assist the Lunenburg Community Health Watch Committee in recruiting a much needed female physician.

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 Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 1087

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

Whereas since the federal government merged the Coast Guard with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans several years ago and, since that time, tens of millions have been cut from the Coast Guard budget, severely limiting Canada's search and rescue capabilities; and

Whereas, in spite of these cuts, the men and women of the Coast Guard performed outstandingly in the aftermath of the Swissair disaster, thus proving that the Coast Guard requires adequate funding; and

Whereas future cuts of $55 million will be made to the Coast Guard budget by April 1999, creating the terrible scenario that the Coast Guard simply won't be able to do its job;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns its federal counterparts for these cuts that will endanger the lives of Nova Scotians and many others who ply our waters and call upon the Premier to denounce them as mean-spirited and dangerous.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 2178]

RESOLUTION NO. 1088

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

Whereas despite long-standing concerns that Volvo would close its Halifax plant, this Liberal Government was caught asleep at the switch with news the plant would shut down one week before Christmas; and

Whereas this decision and the government's failure to act proactively means Nova Scotia will lose over 200 highly-skilled and well-paid jobs; and

Whereas statements by the fiscally irresponsible Minister of Economic Development that it was useless to think his government could do anything is proof of his incompetent and lackadaisical attitude;

Therefore be it resolved that this government and its fiscally irresponsible Minister of Economic Development be condemned for their indifference, their incompetence and their total disregard for the welfare of the employees of Volvo and the economy of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to take a look at that notice of motion before it is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1089

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

Whereas any plan for the survival of coal mining in Cape Breton will depend on assurances of a continued market for coal produced from Cape Breton's coal fields; and

Whereas Nova Scotia Power is the sole market for coal produced in Cape Breton Island;

Therefore be it resolved that this government, in the development of any plan for the future of coal production in Cape Breton, work to ensure that Nova Scotia Power shall commit to a long-term strategy for the use of Cape Breton coal in the production of power at Lingan and Point Aconi power generating stations.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 2179]

The notice of motion of the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis is okay.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1090

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 development of a petrochemical industry in Nova Scotia has the potential to create hundreds of full-time well-paying jobs, and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic spin-off; and

Whereas despite the fact that a number of parties have expressed an interest in extracting ethane to develop a local petrochemical industry, the province has not made any efforts to ensure the gas plant is built to allow for ethane extraction; and

Whereas this is yet another example of the government's failure to take full advantage of the economic potential of Sable gas;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately commit to having the ethane extracted in Nova Scotia, and further that he immediately advise the SOEP partners, the gas plant is to be designed to allow for ethane extraction now.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1091

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

[Page 2180]

Whereas volunteer fire departments from across this province participated in the Atlantic Canada Vehicle Extrication Competition during the first week of the Atlantic Winter Fair; and

Whereas all who participated gained valuable experience that they will benefit from during that first golden hour at the scene of an accident; and

Whereas this competition should become an annual event;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to the firefighters who participated and, in particular, offer its congratulations to the coordinator of the event, Chris Mayne, of the Bay Road Fire Department, this member's local fire department, in Lewis Lake.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 1092

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

Whereas it was recently announced that a 30 metre stretch of black goo near the Frederick Street neighbourhood was buried; and

Whereas the residents of that area have continuously requested help from this government, only to be given the brush-off; and

Whereas the Liberal Government's out of sight, out of mind response to this serious environmental issue is grossly inadequate;

[Page 2181]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Ministers of the Environment, Health, and Transportation and Public Works recognize that throwing dirt on top of the toxins that contributed to North America's worst environmental waste site is not a solution.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1093

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

Whereas one in five Canadians, at some time in their lives, will need access to mental health services; and

Whereas the integration of mental health consumers into the community was the intention of deinstitutionalization; and

Whereas the Halifax branch of the Canada Mental Health Association has had to reduce, by 20 per cent, the working hours of their staff, due to the Department of Health's failure to adequately plan for implementation of its own mental health policy;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health personally intervene to ensure this organization receives the resources required in order to perform its needed role as advocate, service provider, information clearing house and referral source.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 2182]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1094

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

Whereas the Needs Assessment Report of the Chignecto Central Regional School Board, which has stirred numerous communities falling under the wide umbrella of an oversized, merged board will soon be reported on without a proper time-frame for submissions; and

[6:45 p.m.]

Whereas the Minister of Education, while having sought a very minimal extension to the deadline for Pictou County to allow more discussion, has not been able to assist community members also frustrated by the lack of openness by the board; and

Whereas there is a deep sentiment that the combination of the summer release of the report, the short time-frame for public consultation, the threats that the money would be gone if the board did not report soon, as well as the lack of forthrightness on administration numbers were a recipe for disaster if any real, community based solutions are going to be found;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister show leadership and immediately assist the communities within the board who feel they have neither been heard, nor well informed, on a report whose recommendations will affect generations of students from Pictou County to Colchester County.

Mr. Speaker, I move 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 Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 2183]

RESOLUTION NO. 1095

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 dates October 16th to October 23rd are Waste Reduction Week; and

Whereas recycling, as useful as it is, is not as beneficial as re-use, and re-use, as good as it is, is not as beneficial as reduction, and composting is always to be practised; and

Whereas the Environment Act commits Nova Scotians to achieving a 50 per cent reduction in solid waste by the year 2000;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commit themselves to taking active steps to promote reduction, re-use, recycling and composting at every opportunity.

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 Kings West. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Kings West has the floor.

RESOLUTION NO. 1096

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

Whereas mental health consumers in Nova Scotia are slipping through the cracks of an inefficient, top-heavy health care system that fails to allocate funding to areas where it best services those in need of mental health services; and

Whereas mental health dollars continue to be distributed to hospitals and psychiatric wards that are continuously being downsized; and

[Page 2184]

Whereas regional health boards are not providing any funding for community-based mental health care programs and initiatives;

Therefore be it resolved that this House call on the Nova Scotia Liberal Government to immediately commit funding to the areas that provide direct, front-line service to Nova Scotians and, specifically, that mental health programs and initiatives be provided at the community level to prevent even one more Nova Scotian from slipping through the cracks.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1097

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

Whereas Ottawa Liberals have said they believe in a fair process to get at the truth about the Spray-PEC incident, despite Solicitor General Andy Scott's Dash 8 Declarations; and

Whereas the inquiry commissioners urged the federal government to grant separate funded legal representation for the APEC complainants, saying the credibility of the process may be affected if the legal support was denied; and

Whereas the Ottawa Liberals announced on October 16th they would not cover the costs of complainants, while they increased the number of high-paid government lawyers at the hearings;

Therefore be it resolved this House request that the Premier ask his federal friend, Andy Scott, to reconsider his decision to deny funded legal representation to the APEC complainants.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1098

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

[Page 2185]

Whereas on October 18th, a memorial service was held at Saint Mary's Basilica in Halifax to honour Canadian police officers killed in the line of duty; and

Whereas dozens of RCMP and Halifax Regional Police Officers attended the service; and

Whereas the service was both in remembrance of those whose lives had been lost, and gratitude to those who continue to police our communities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House remember those Canadian police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty and express our sincere wish for the safety of the men and women who continue to serve and protect.

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 member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1099

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

Whereas drugs and prostitution have become a serious problem in parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas the municipal police services budget is unable to cope with the kind of expenditures needed to address this serious problem adequately; and

Whereas other municipalities in Canada are able to extract funds from a provincial government account called Proceeds for Crime;

[Page 2186]

Therefore be it resolved that this government call upon the provincial Department of Justice to assist the Halifax Regional Municipality in combating these illegal activities by providing funding from the Proceeds of Crime account.

Mr. Speaker, I 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 Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 1100

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

Whereas the Wedgeport Credit Union/Caisse Populaire, is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year; and

Whereas the credit union movement has shown itself to be innovative with the introduction of services such as daily interest checking accounts, automatic banking machines, and weekly/bi-weekly mortgage payments; and

Whereas this credit union has grown consistently due to the leadership of its Board of Directors and its Manager, Mr. Philip Atkinson, and is now managing assets of almost $30 million;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the staff members and many volunteers of the Wedgeport Credit Union/Caisse Populaire, for their efforts and wish them well in the years ahead.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2187]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1101

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

Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia has several shipyards that need employment including Pictou Shipyards; and

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia has recently instituted a loan guarantee for Irving Shipyards; and

Whereas the economic health and vitality of the private sector is dependent on a level playing field;

Therefore be it resolved that all shipyards in Nova Scotia be given fair and equal access to provincial loan guarantee programs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1102

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

Whereas an anonymous donor has given Dalhousie University $1.6 million to establish the prestigious Elizabeth May Chair in Women's Health and Environment; and

[Page 2188]

Whereas Ms. May, the current Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada, will be the first person to hold the position of Chair; and

Whereas Ms. May has been involved in environmental issues since the 1970's and in recent months has been a strong and pervasive advocate for the residents of Frederick Street;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ms. May on this well-deserved honour and applaud her numerous contributions to women's health and environmental concerns and further, that we acknowledge the generous contribution of the anonymous donor.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Sackville-Beaverbank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1103

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

Whereas public housing in this province is necessary to provide people with affordable and adequate housing; and

Whereas the Premier of this province has assured the people of Inverness that their regional housing authority will not close; and

Whereas the government has moved the program manager from Inverness to Sydney;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier follow through on his word and ensure that the tenants receive the best service possible from what amounts to an absentee landlord.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

[Page 2189]

RESOLUTION NO. 1104

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

Whereas on October 5, 1998, Davis Strait Fisheries Limited of Halifax, was one of 10 Canadian companies out of 233 which were eligible to receive a Canadian Export Award, honouring businesses that have excelled in exporting products and services abroad; and

Whereas Davis Strait Fisheries Limited, operating since 1991, now has recorded sales exceeding $44 million annually and currently employs 82 people; and

Whereas this company expanded its services to remain at the forefront of the dynamic international fish market by importing crab, scallops and frozen-at-sea shrimp for reprocessing;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Davis Strait Fishing Limited for their recent honour and their success in confronting the challenges that exist in and about this rapidly evolving industry.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver and the question be put 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. 1105

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 week of October 19th to October 25th is recognized as Science and Technology Week in the Province of Nova Scotia; and

[Page 2190]

Whereas on October 1, 1998, InNOVAcorp, the province's Crown Corporation which helps Nova Scotia technology-based companies to become globally competitive, held an innovation showcase spotlighting the many diverse technology-based businesses that make their home at InNOVAcorp's business incubator facility located in the Woodside Industrial Park; and

Whereas in recognition of the important contribution of InNOVAcorp to technology commercialization in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government provide increased funding for science and technology research and development in this province and for InNOVAcorp to create an environment which will move technology out of the laboratory and into the real world, producing markets and jobs for Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1106

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

Whereas a ceremony was held on Sunday, September 13th at the Amherst Cenotaph to remember those who participated in the Battle of Britain 58 years ago; and

Whereas the sacrifice of the men and women who fought to restore peace and order to the world must never be forgotten; and

Whereas a tribute provides an opportunity for friends, family and community members to honour the survivors and to pay their respects to those whose lives were lost;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize the courageous individuals who fought for freedom and offer gratitude to the Amherst community event organizers for their heartfelt tribute.

[Page 2191]

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 Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1107

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

Whereas currently video lottery terminals, or VLTs, exist in communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Nova Scotian communities do not currently have the legislative right to vote on the removal of VLTs within their own communities; and

Whereas today Albertans exercised their democratic right to participate in a plebiscite on VLTs within their own communities;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotia should follow the example of Alberta and introduce legislation which allows communities to hold plebiscites on whether VLTs are to be allowed or removed from their communities.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1108

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

[Page 2192]

Whereas in July 1997 in a news release, the Premier stated that three Italian companies had reached agreements with the provincial government to set up branch plants that would employ hundreds of Nova Scotians in the years ahead; and

Whereas the former Premier said these ventures would include the construction of about $60 million in facilities and create about 300 jobs; and

Whereas not $1.00 was invested by these companies, despite the government's categorically stating agreements had been reached, nor one Nova Scotian employed, despite the political boasting of the Premier;

Therefore be it resolved that the government acknowledge the government's premature announcement was a politically motivated sham.

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

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

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1109

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

Whereas the Leader of the federal Reform Party was recently in Nova Scotia recruiting new members for his faltering Opposition Party and offering such enticements as free car rides to Ottawa in February; and

[7:00 p.m.]

Whereas some members of the Tory caucus are considering his invitation to join a united alternative and spend three beautiful nights in downtown Ottawa in the middle of winter; and

Whereas other Tory caucus members have no desire to join the crew of a sinking ship, even with such luxurious gifts as car rides in blizzard conditions;

[Page 2193]

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley be encouraged to not go to the Unite the Right conference in Ottawa in February until Mr. Manning can offer better gifts, such as a week in Siberia or a car ride across the Sahara Desert.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1110

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

Whereas effective last Thursday, fees at Nova Scotia's Supreme Court and Court of Appeal increased dramatically; and

Whereas some fees have increased by more than 100 per cent and new fees have been introduced which have increased the cost of justice to Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the increase in these fees is merely another hidden tax being imposed upon Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice immediately review his department's decision to hike court costs and learn how to distribute revenue equally within his department instead of attacking those people most in need of a service, they have nowhere else to turn.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

[Page 2194]

RESOLUTION NO. 1111

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

Whereas Ms. Barbara Ann Simmonds of North Preston was officially sworn in on Friday, October 16th, as the Cole Harbour detachment full-time liaison officer; and

Whereas Ms. Simmonds is the first RCMP community relations consultant in the country; and

Whereas Ms. Simmonds' position is to bridge the gap between the Black community and the Cole Harbour detachment;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ms. Simmonds and the RCMP Cole Harbour detachment for their proactive approach to community policing.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1112

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 month of October is Agricultural Awareness Month; and

Whereas 16,000 persons are employed both directly and indirectly in Nova Scotia throughout the agricultural industry; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's agriculture and agri-food industry is worth over $1 billion to the provincial economy;

[Page 2195]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize that October is Agricultural Awareness Month and applaud the contribution put forth by all Nova Scotians employed in this very vital industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1113

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 government and its Minister of Education no longer supports an important and vital course such as Driver Education; and

Whereas young people throughout the province should have equal access to Driver Education; and

Whereas the training of young people for their driving careers should be a priority for schools in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education immediately reconsider funding supplements to assist Driver Education in the schools of this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 1114

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

[Page 2196]

Whereas federal and provincial Energy and Environment Ministers will meet in Halifax today and tomorrow; and

Whereas the Cape Breton tar ponds remain the leading environmental concern in this country; and

Whereas this government has failed to address this toxic nightmare and obviously needs all the support, encouragement and financial resources of the federal government;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment have this matter placed on the agenda and return to this House with a clear plan with precise deadlines and a real dollar commitment from Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1115

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

Whereas foster families in Nova Scotia have contributed immeasurably to the health and well-being of foster children; and

Whereas these special persons take on the difficult task with open hearts, arms and homes, especially for those children with special needs; and

Whereas foster families do not receive the recognition they so justly deserve;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join Nova Scotians in recognizing and honouring the dedication of Nova Scotia's foster families this Foster Family Week, October 18th to October 24th.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 2197]

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1116

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

Whereas there are numerous issues facing Nova Scotia's seniors which are special and unique; and

Whereas those issues are being focused upon with the designation of 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons; and

Whereas there was a special ceremony on October 5th to launch this year-long celebration;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House continue to partake in events which honour and celebrate the contributions made by seniors and never lose sight of the special contribution seniors make to their families, their communities, to our province and to our country.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 2198]

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1117

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

Whereas this year marks the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the West River Seminary and Theological Hall at Durham, Pictou County; and

Whereas many fine ministers, scholars and community leaders were trained at these institutions from 1848 to 1858 under the leadership of the Reverend James Ross; and

Whereas these institutions set high standards and later became important components of institutions of higher learning, including the present day Atlantic School of Theology and Dalhousie University;

Therefore be it resolved that sincere congratulations be extended to the Synod of the Atlantic Provinces of the Presbyterian Church in Canada for recognizing the vision and foresight shown by our forefathers in establishing the West River Seminary and Theological Hall and for planning special events and services around the occasion.

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 Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 1118

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

[Page 2199]

Whereas Mr. Roger Wentzell and Mr. David Hebb, both of Lunenburg County, were awarded the top prize in their respective divisions at the 14th Windsor Pumpkin Festival held on October 3rd in the Speaker's riding, I believe; and

Whereas Mr. Wentzell displayed a record setting 411.3 kilogram pumpkin and Mr. Hebb a record setting 404 kilogram squash; and

Whereas each of these impressive world-class entries by Mr. Wentzell and Mr. Hebb ranked second over all at the 22 weigh-in sites around the world;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House applaud the efforts of Mr. Wentzell and Mr. Hebb and all the contestants and organizers who contributed to the success of this competition.

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 North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1119

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

Whereas St. Francis Xavier University's X-Project recently received the Canada Post's Flight for Freedom Award for Canadians who support literacy; and

Whereas X-Project was initiated in 1965 by 13 St. Francis Xavier University students with the assistance of Dr. A. A. MacDonald, a member of the university's Extension Department; and

Whereas the organization has been dedicated to increasing literacy and reducing inequities within rural communities surrounding Antigonish for the past 33 years;

[Page 2200]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly applaud the efforts of the X-Project, its past and its current members and congratulate the entire organization of this well-deserved event.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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. 13.

Bill No. 13 - Financial Measures (1998) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: It was adjourned by the honourable member for Halifax Citadel and I believe he just adjourned the debate. There was no debate taking place. You have a full hour if you wish.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, I pointed out on Friday that this bill, Bill No. 13, is a omnibus bill. It proposes amendments to a number of Acts, eight in fact, and it is a money bill; it does involve the expenditure of public monies.

[Page 2201]

The increased tax on tobacco alone would qualify this as a money bill, since any bill increasing a tax is deemed to be a money bill. In addition, annual grants to municipalities for farm property exempted from taxation are also provided for and there is also an increased tax credit to the film industry, along with money for the Nova Scotia Child Benefit Program, so it is a serious bill, Mr. Speaker, and deserve careful scrutiny in this House.

As I also indicated, an appropriations bill was passed in this House during the spring session and the Financial Measures Act implements part of the budget. Of course, it was the budget which our Party rejected. On Friday, I pointed out the main reason we rejected the budget was that we believed - and we stated it at the time - that it wasn't balanced, and this certainly has proven to be the case. In a four month period, from June until September 1998, we went from a $1.2 million surplus to an $82 million deficit. People in the province are still shaking their heads in shock and disbelief on learning of the magnitude of the deficit, since we were assured before, during, and after, the election that we would have a balanced budget.

Despite our rejection of the budget in June, we believe several proposed changes in this bill, the Financial Measures Act, have merit. Some need re-working and improvement, and some are questionable. Several previous speakers from our Party and from the Third Party have highlighted the good parts of the bill as well as those which could be improved upon. I am not going to reiterate all the details raised by members, as they are a part of the record of the Assembly, however, I would like to comment on certain aspects of the bill.

I would like to start by looking at proposed changes to the Assessment Act. There is a property tax relief measure for those who farm land in Nova Scotia. The Liberal Government had removed the relief to farm property and, in this bill, has re-instated the exemption to farmland. Why did they remove the exemption? They removed it because they wanted municipalities to pick up the cost. That is why the Halifax Regional Municipality councillors voted against picking up the tax relief measure which the province had abandoned. The Halifax Regional Municipality councillors were not against support to farmers, they opposed the measure because it is a provincial, not a municipal, responsibility. This was another example of the provincial efforts to download onto municipalities.

This bill brings the farm property tax credit measure back to the provincial domain where it belongs. It is a good proposal; we would support it. We do have a problem with Clause 5, however. It allows the Governor in Council, the Cabinet, to unilaterally change the amount of the grant per acre of farmland; there is no assurance the tax relief measure will continue. Its continuance is left to the whim of the government. Any proposed changes should have to be brought to the Legislature for consideration and debate, so we have to take a look at this measure in the Law Amendments Committee.

With reference to the proposed changes to the Income Tax Act, an increase is proposed to the film tax credit for the film industry. It increases the labour tax credit from 30 per cent to 32.5 per cent. We have a burgeoning film industry in Nova Scotia and the tax credit is an

[Page 2202]

incentive to the industry. The credit actually covers about 15 per cent of a film's total budget, a considerable assistance. In Nova Scotia, the credit has helped small local film companies become established and achieve remarkable success, nationally and internationally.

[7:15 p.m.]

One tangible sign of the growth of the film industry is the opening of the new Electropolis Sound Studio, just a few blocks south of this location, on the waterfront. The provincial tax credit is a big deal to film-makers. The value of film production in Nova Scotia in 1997 was equal to the combined film production of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. We support the raise in the film tax credit. It is a good measure.

Mr. Speaker, Clause 7 of Bill No. 13, amending the Income Tax Act (Nova Scotia), if I read it correctly, seems to be a regressive measure. Clause 7(1) and 7(2) of the bill make changes to the corporate capital tax provisions. There would appear to be a lower rate of taxation payable under the provision by corporations having a higher amount of corporate capital. That is, those having a lower amount of capital pay more than those having a higher amount of capital. This lack of progressivity in a tax measure poses a problem. We believe that an important principle regarding income tax is that those making more should pay more tax. This measure does not appear to adhere to that principle and should be scrutinized in the Law Amendments Committee to make sure it is consistent with a progressive income tax system.

If I could turn to the Public Service Superannuation Act, changes to this Act constitute a very significant part of this bill. The changes propose a contribution holiday for employer and employees to contribute to the pension fund. We agree with concerns raised by several previous speakers on this bill, all of whom referred to the need to be cautious about taking money out of a pension fund. Money does belong to the employer and the employees who should be entitled to a part of the surplus. However, we must ensure there is a healthy surplus, as a hedge against the vagaries of the market place. We know that the international financial markets are volatile, and there is always the possibility of a global recession. We have to ensure there are safeguards built around the pension fund.

Clause 17, amending Section 9B of the Public Service Superannuation Act, gives Cabinet sole right to decide when there is a surplus in the fund, and when there can be draws on the fund. As the Leader of the Third Party has stated, this is unconscionable. Cabinet shouldn't be making that determination by itself. The decision of withholding contributions should be a joint one, negotiated with the union representing current employees as well as those retired from the Public Service. The Superintendent of Pensions should also be given some kind of role in the process of protecting the fund, for the many current and retired employees whose money is in the fund.

[Page 2203]

A third safeguard should centre on the need for an arm's length actuary to look at arrangements and decide how great the surplus is, when it should be taken out and how much should be taken out. This process should be part of the budgetary process, reported to the House of Assembly.

Clause 19 makes improvements to benefits of surviving spouses of Civil Service workers. This is a commendable feature of the bill, Mr. Speaker. Further amendments to this section would provide opportunities to broaden the definition of spouse to include same-sex partners. Such a definition is in accord with the Charter of Rights, as interpreted by the courts. Consideration should be given to this in the Law Amendments process.

The final measure I wish to comment on is the change proposed to the Revenue Act to increase the tax on tobacco. I think this is a good measure. A sin tax increase on tobacco is going to have some impact on adolescent smokers, in particular, although it is no panacea to the problem of smoking. As you will appreciate, adolescents sometimes try to scrape together money to buy cigarettes and this will make it a little more difficult for them to purchase a package of cigarettes.

We know there is a high incidence of smoking among youth and it is very worrisome to note that there is an increase in smoking among adolescent girls, in particular. When I was in the school system a couple of years ago, pilot projects were being undertaken in the school in which I worked, to deal with smoking and adolescent girls. It was aimed at destroying the myths associated with weight loss and peer relationships. More support is needed for such initiatives and we must continue to invest in tobacco information and smoking cessation programs as necessary and raise the taxes on products to make them less accessible to teen smokers.

I conclude my remarks by stating that clearly amendments are needed to several of the clauses of this bill. Let us send the bill to the Committee on Law Amendments in the hope that the agreed upon positive aspects of the bill will be retained and others modified and improved. Measures are also needed to clarify a process whereby the budget will be balanced.

There has been a great concern by Nova Scotians over the deteriorating state of the province's finances. This bill does nothing to allay those anxieties. The government needs to propose amendments to this bill to provide assurances that financial health will be restored to the province. This is what Nova Scotians want and expect from their government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise with respect to this particular piece of legislation. As previous speakers have indicated, this is an omnibus bill and obviously deals with a number of matters arising out of the budget, some of which would

[Page 2204]

seem to be a matter of undoing what previous Liberal Administrations have done. In particular, I would draw attention to the Agricultural Farm Tax Credit.

Agriculture in Nova Scotia is in a state of serious decline brought on by the lack of any conviction with respect to the government on behalf of the importance of this industry to Nova Scotians. The government has failed to recognize that to Nova Scotians, agriculture counts. It is the backbone of a rural way of life that Nova Scotians have treasured for years. This tax on farmland contributed to part of the erosion in our agricultural industry. The shame is that this bill is not going far enough. We must do more for Nova Scotians and for agriculture to assist this important industry.

Those in our Party certainly would favour all the assistance that government can give to the agricultural industry in Nova Scotia and in fact, the only thing that we would find that the budget did was not enough for agriculture in Nova Scotia. The failure of this government to introduce any meaningful assistance to farmers stricken by drought, to the beef industry, to the poultry industry, to the pork industry in this province, is a disgrace. While we support this change it is interesting to note that the Minister of Agriculture himself never supported the change which eliminated this. It is awfully odd that it took the government so long to discover what Nova Scotian farmers, in fact, all Nova Scotians generally knew, which was this was a bad idea. Not the first of bad ideas that this government has had but nevertheless a very bad idea.

Another issue which was raised earlier today was because of the omnibus nature of this bill and the budget to which it is connected is the issue of shipyards and financing for shipyards. In this province we have a serious problem with small shipyards not the mega-shipyards owned by the Irvings but the small shipyards in communities like Lunenburg, Pictou and other communities in this province that have been suffering for a long time.

The difficulty with an omnibus bill like this is that many times it fails to address many of the pressing needs in this province. One of the pressing needs in this province is to have a policy with respect to subsidies and assistance for Nova Scotian industry, not for large foreign companies, but for small Nova Scotian companies that are struggling to survive. These are the people who need the assistance.

Mr. Speaker, I think Nova Scotians generally support the small business community in our province. They recognize the contribution of those people to our province and to our economy. Unfortunately, it appears that this government does not. While this bill does not directly deal with shipyards, I think it is a matter of shame that this government has failed to consider this important industry in looking at what needs to be subsidized in Nova Scotia.

Another issue, Mr. Speaker, that I noticed upon reading this bill was the issue of the Public Service Superannuation Fund. The vast majority of people in this province who paid into the Public Service Superannuation Fund are retired. These are public servants who put

[Page 2205]

years of service into this province and who, in many ways, are those being neglected. The present system does not give a meaningful voice to our retired public servants. These people have been pressing the government for a long time for the extension of benefits, for dental benefits and other benefits that would assist them and their families to recognize their contribution to the fund.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to recognize that when we are talking about this bill that there was so much more that should have been done with respect to this fund. There should have been consultation with retired public servants to ensure that their concerns were dealt with. There should have been a meaningful effort on the part of government to ensure that this fund is fully funded. I have serious concerns and I think the government members opposite should have serious concerns that this fund may end up being underfunded, that we may end up with another fiasco in this province like Workers' Compensation, where we have an unfunded liability and hardship is placed on ordinary Nova Scotians because of government mismanagement of a public resource.

Mr. Speaker, much has been said about the downturn in the economy, particularly internationally. One wonders how this is going to impact on that fund and how this fund is going to go from being, perhaps, over-funded to underfunded. The holiday that is being placed on contributions to the fund, while I certainly am glad to see that there is a benefit to working public servants, I think we have to be very mindful of making sure that we do not create an economic disaster in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the teachers superannuation fund is a classic example of what we don't want to happen - a fund where, after teachers have retired, benefits had to be cut as a result of the fact that it was determined that the fund was underfunded. On top of that, the teachers plan, the Government of Nova Scotia had to put money into the fund in order to make that fund solvent. We must never forget that we cannot allow that to happen in the future. I think that one of the things that I am most interested in hearing when this matter goes further is to look at how these changes are going to affect the viability of the superannuation fund.

Mr. Speaker, another issue, which has been alluded to by another speaker, is the issue of the cigarette tax. I am the father of young children. I hope that, in this province, we do everything we can to discourage smoking among our young people. Unfortunately, we haven't done enough. We still have, in this province, a situation where young people, while it is illegal for them to purchase cigarettes, can smoke cigarettes with impunity. Young people have come to me and told me this, that they cannot understand the logic of a law that makes the sale of cigarettes illegal, but, on the other hand, makes the possession and smoking of the cigarettes completely lawful. It makes hypocrites of young people. If purchasing cigarettes is illegal, then smoking cigarettes should be equally illegal for young people.

[Page 2206]

Mr. Speaker, this particular tax measure, which increases the tax on cigarettes, while laudable in my opinion, is insufficient to truly assist in stamping out the evil of smoking, which is costing Nova Scotian taxpayers far more than they reap in the limited amount of tax revenue. Smoking is one of the major causes of health care costs in this province. Much has been said about the evils of gambling, perhaps of excessive drinking and drug use. But I have heard it said by family physicians that if they could eliminate one vice from the public and that would be smoking because smoking is what is killing Nova Scotians and is crippling our health care system.

[7:30 p.m.]

Further, Mr. Speaker, when we look at this particular bill, there are a number of other concerns that I have. One of them is the delegation by the Minister of Finance of the ability with respect to travel costs. We have a government in this province which has absolutely no control over its expenditures. Every day we hear new tales of unaccounted expenditures and, frankly, I am mystified by the statement which indicates that the Premier of Nova Scotia and the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism did not account for the expenditure of the Stora money.

What is interesting, Mr. Speaker, is that we have heard in this House how the Stora money was not being indicated because they were expecting to receive offsetting funds from the federal government. I understood that basic accounting is that you show both your expenditures and your revenue. If they were anticipating revenue from the federal government, where in the Public Accounts does it show the offsetting revenue? It is not there, Mr. Speaker. It makes you really wonder how much thought the government gave to this particular bill when it was tabled. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, you know, in this province we have paid the price for overexpenditure by government departments and there is no government department in this province that has more consistently been mismanaged, overspent and generally poorly run than the Department of Economic Development and Tourism. I think that when we look at Bill No. 13, the Financial Measures Act, we should realize that it is part of a broader picture and that broader picture is the funds, the expenditures by this province.

Mr. Speaker, I guess I am a bit sceptical when I look at this bill because of all of the past deficiencies on the part of this government with respect to the finances of this province. I must tell you that it makes me very concerned when I hear the Premier of this province waffle constantly on whether or not we have a budget deficit. I am going to quote my Leader and ask, it is 7:33 p.m., and I am not sure if we have a budget deficit at 7:33 p.m., Mr. Speaker, or whether it has been eliminated or not but it would not matter because if the Premier were here in his place and could respond to that, at 7:34 p.m. we possibly would hear another answer.

[Page 2207]

Mr. Speaker, the difficulty we have to face is that Nova Scotians have lost faith in government. They have lost faith in a Liberal Party that going into the 1993 provincial election promised no new taxes and we had lots of new taxes. We had a Liberal administration in this province who going into the 1993 election promised that all our problems would be over in 30-60-90 and, of course, there was nothing came of that. Then, we see this bill and this bill comes from a long line of budgets. It is a long line of budgets which fundamentally have misled Nova Scotians. I certainly hope that when the Minister of Finance of the day, whoever he might be, has an opportunity to stand up in this House, that he is able to indicate to Nova Scotians that we have balanced our budget and put our fiscal House in order.

Mr. Speaker, I also note that one of the many Acts that this bill would amend is the Income Tax Act. I am certainly in favour of film industry tax credits. I have the benefit of representing a riding of this province which is most benefited by the film industry. In the Town of Lunenburg we have the good fortune to have a national historic site, as well as an UNESCO World Heritage site, which has been recognized by the film industry as a perfect location for film. In Lunenburg, we have had an opportunity to provide meaningful, well paying jobs to Nova Scotians in their own province, an industry which does not do any environmental damage, which is only a positive for Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I have had occasion to see my friends, my neighbours, people I know, be employed and go from jobs where they were being paid but a few dollars an hour to very high paying jobs. Some of those people today are still working in the film and entertainment industry in this province.

Mr. Speaker, shows like Black Harbour, movies like Dolores Claiborne and others have shown that Nova Scotians can make world-class film and television, which will be of long-term benefit to this province. If the result of this and other measures that government can introduce is to make Nova Scotia the Hollywood of the north, that would be a wonderful thing. Because there is nothing that we could do for our posterity that would be better than to bring film dollars here.

Mr. Speaker, if there is a good thing that has come as a result in the fall of the Canadian dollar, it has to be our attractiveness in the film industry. A film production company can produce films in Nova Scotia at a fraction of the cost of doing that in the northeastern United States. Nova Scotia provides the same vistas as New England, except they are unspoiled. We have to encourage this industry and I would certainly support any provisions in any bill that would assist in doing that.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the Income Tax Act, as well, I see there are a number of changes in there and technical changes to the Income Tax Act and there are references to the fact that there are corrections to the Income Tax Act. All I can say is that with respect to the Income Tax Act, it is the most awfully complicated, convoluted, difficult

[Page 2208]

to follow, difficult to interpret, confusing and generally misunderstood piece of legislation in the province. It makes Nova Scotians completely frustrated. I would suggest that if you ask the members present in the House what one paragraph of the Income Tax Act meant, most members would not understand it because it has been written in such technical mumbo-jumbo. I might suggest that perhaps lawyers bear some fault for that. What also lays fault for that is the fact that there has never been a coherent effort on the part of government to simplify the Act, to make it understandable and coherent.

Mr. Speaker, I would indicate to you that we should look at all changes to the Income Tax Act to make sure that they are comprehensible, so that we don't look at further amendments to the Income Tax Act, which are simply corrections of misprints from previous examples of the Income Tax Act. No wonder Nova Scotians are confused.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I am frustrated by the Financial Measures Act. I am frustrated by not only what is in it, but what is not in it. I think we all have to give very serious thought to what we are going to do with respect to the Financial Measures Act. I know that Nova Scotians are frustrated with government. They are looking for leadership and if leadership isn't going to come from the government side of the House, it will have to come from our side. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, it is so interesting to hear the comments of the members of the Third Party. On Friday, I listened to the member for Queens with his political science lesson and his lines in the sand and those tough-talking Tories were making their decision.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have got the wrong day Bill. (Laughter)

MR. ESTABROOKS: But I have the right speaker. My concern always comes down to the fact that I have heard all these tough-talking Tories talking about responsible spending, expenditures under control and I recall well going to university, playing football with the past Minister of Finance from the Third Party, although I believe he was in government at the time. On one occasion, I happened to meet the member from Annapolis - I think he was from Digby-Annapolis, close enough, my geography may be off there - but I want you to know that I used to say to that member, you are the Minister of Finance, you must have played this game a long time with your helmet off. Proof positive that now we have Tories talking so tough about control of expenditures, making sure that we are all to be held accountable for all the various earlier expenditures by the very government that put us in this position of poverty, that we now have to try and solve. I say we, because I don't know if there is any answers over there at all.

[Page 2209]

I want you to know that as a member of the Law Amendments Committee, I am interested in the process. It seems to me that when the vote came that eventful day in June, I knew what my vote was going to be, and I had made my mind up. No. I had made my mind up on the basis of the fact that I was aware that there were some expenditures that were just uncalled for. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Expenditures that were uncalled for in my view. Some matters of concern that I look back upon, as an educator, that were not included in that budget, and other items that I considered to be completely frivolous. Yet I made my decision, and now I am again prepared, along with the members of my caucus, to look at the nuts and bolts of this bill, to debate the various clauses involved, and to listen to members on all sides. For example, I want to particularly congratulate the member for Argyle. It is nice to see that a member can stand in his place, make his points, have our attention, and when we discuss it later in caucus, the member from Argyle receives the compliment for the fact he was talking to the bill, he has some good amendments which, we, hopefully will hear more when we move on to the next stage.

Then I move from the member for Argyle to the member for Lunenburg this evening. I wondered for awhile whether he was out looking for a bit part, perhaps as one of the bad actors in Black Harbour, because it seemed to me that if it came time for the members of the Third Party, they talk about caucus democracy, they talk about the issues that they are going to discuss, and they are going to get tough, I think you missed the call to get tough in June, and now you have to live with the bed-mates that you have.

More importantly, there are some parts of the bill that I feel very comfortable supporting. I had the enjoyment of attending the opening of the Atlantic Winter Fair with the Minister of Agriculture and the MLA for Colchester North. It seems to me that that particular minister knows a bit more about agriculture than I do, and it seems that obviously he has had some influence with the Minister of Finance and persuaded him that the reinstatement of this previous provision would be a positive step. I congratulate the Minister of Agriculture on that matter, but as I said to him that day, at the opening of the Atlantic Winter Fair - which happens to be in the beautiful riding of Timberlea-Prospect, incidentally - the farming community is always asking, why was this ever removed in the first place? Yet, in their wisdom, and I am sure with the advice of the Minister of Agriculture, the farming community will certainly support this particular part of the bill.

The film industry of course is an important part of selling this province. I don't think anyone in this House in any way could dispute the fact that there are not just the people in front of the camera, there are the people on the other side of the camera, and those are the people with the good-paying jobs who stay and continue to live in our province, and have pride in the fact that they just don't have a bit part in the back scene at Black Harbour, they

[Page 2210]

now have a career in the film industry which, hopefully, this tax credit will continue to increase. I congratulate the government on this matter.

[7:45 p.m.]

The tax on tobacco, of course it has been well said by a number of previous speakers, it seems to me that if there is any of the sin taxes, so-called, that deserve our full and utmost support it is a tax on these cancer sticks, one habit I would like to remind the member for Truro-Bible Hill that I have not picked up on. However, this sort of tax should of course be followed up with other supportive legislation and I encourage the government to get a lot tougher with some of these store owners who bootleg, if that is the correct term, these cancer sticks to other younger people and in some cases that term, bootleg, it is just as important for us to get control over these store owners that are continuing to really affect the health of young people.

I can tell you that having been put in the situation of dealing with some of these young people - especially, it is unfortunate to say, young women, who for various reasons think that it is appropriate to either be cool or to have a cigarette in their hand - on certain occasions you should know that it is the parents, in some situations, who will question and say I cannot believe you are so upset about my daughter smoking, I allow her to smoke at home with me. What I am saying is that it takes more than this tax increase. It will take follow-up education and follow-up, hopefully, that we can work together on. So on those matters I give credit to this particular government.

However, there are some concerns. There is always a but you know when you are in the Opposition. It seems to me that my concerns would have to particularly be concerned with the Public Service Superannuation Fund. As I look at this bill, if I interpret it correctly, the bill authorizes withdrawal of the surplus from the fund for 1997-98 and for 1998-99 but then it goes too far. The bill, in setting up a permanent mechanism to allow withdrawals in future years, that goes beyond the bounds of anything that I can support. As a member of the Law Amendments Committee, I am going to make my views strongly expressed, in terms that I do not think there should be an open-ended, permanent mechanism on allowing these withdrawals.

There should also be on this topic more safeguards. There is no required negotiation with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union. That must be an oversight in the drafting of this bill. It seems to me only obvious that the stakeholders, so-called, would have more say in determining the ongoing allocation of these funds. There is no role for the Superintendent of Pensions. Again, I assume that is an oversight and it must be corrected as soon as possible. There is no role for the representatives of the retired employees and, again, I assume in something as obvious as including input from this particular group, it is another oversight on behalf of the legislation.

[Page 2211]

I am sure that we will be hearing from some of these groups when the bill is moved on to the next stage of the Committee on Law Amendments. I hope they come forth with some real good suggestions.

Finally and most importantly, in my view, the actuarial report is not specified to be at arm's length from the Department of Finance. We must have these types of controls and amendments introduced or I guess it will be our stage to then be drawing the line in the sand, calling blind man's bluff and doing the various other things which, of course, we have been accused of in the past.

There are expenditures in the budget that concerned me earlier and we were told that we would be paying the price for earlier governments. My concern is that we do not continue to pay this price forever and that my children do not have to continually bear up to the various, obvious oversight that some of the things are included in this bill. In particular, I would hope that when we listen to each other speak in this place, that we pay attention to the particular points of view expressed, that amendments are considered and that at the next step in the legislation we are aware that we can come out of this debate, whether at the second reading or the third reading, and look at the issue at hand.

The grandstanding at times is for the political cameras, I am aware, but in many cases I think drawing that line, that black and white, that definitive line where we must oppose and oppose everything, that does not seem to be the process that I taught my political science students about, which brings me back to the member for Queens. I might have had the time wrong, but I would like to remind him that his lesson plan was flawed. He had no wrap-up. No one was interested enough to ask questions. Lastly, but most importantly, when I gave him his grade I would advise him to go back to student teaching because he could be in line for a job when the election writ is dropped. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, let me begin by saying that Bill No. 13 is a good news bill and also a bad news bill. This spawn of the Liberal Government has earned the scepticism of the people of Nova Scotia as a result of its budget mess. Bill No. 13 is surprisingly not all bad news. There is some good in this bill. For example, Bill No. 13 would implement a small increase in the tobacco tax. Given current statistics with respect to the cancer rate in this province and given the increase in the number of smokers among our youth, especially young women, this is good news indeed.

Too bad that we have a Liberal Government whose specialty is reactive instead of pro-active. We need proactive change for the people of Nova Scotia. Frankly, Mr. Speaker, I am waiting for this government to display some teeth in its efforts to improve the overall health care of Nova Scotians.

[Page 2212]

Also, the fact that young people, particularly young children, are increasingly becoming smokers. This is a very serious concern for people of my community where we see young kids ages 10, 11 and 12 after school lighting up. It is very serious. The tax may not be able to assist with that very much, but at least it is a start. The all-over health care of young people in Nova Scotia in particular needs to be taught at the school level.

It is also good to see that the government recognizes the contributions that farmers make to the whole of Nova Scotia. Also in reference to the increase in the film tax credit. As we know, the film and television industry in Nova Scotia and nationally as well has proven itself to be an incredible source of revenue and employment for the people of the province and in Canada as a whole. An increase in the existing tax credit serves only to encourage and support the production of film and television projects in Nova Scotia. The effects of this amendment can only serve to promote the artistic community.

All this is good news. I was almost convinced that maybe the deficit mess had knocked some sense into the Liberals, almost. So let's look at the Liberals' decision not to include same sex couples in their definition of a spouse. Why is it that Nova Scotians are constantly being forced into a position where they have to go before the courts before their human rights are recognized? In practice the government has recognized that same-sex relationships should be included in the definition of spouse. However, when this government has a chance to enact real change, change that will lessen the confusion surrounding this issue, they refuse. This refusal displays a real lack of respect on behalf of the Liberals for the contribution gays and lesbians have made to all aspects of this province.

On the issue of women and children, and I am talking a little bit about the child tax credit, women and children will suffer, of course, as a result of the Liberal deficit. Of course, we always hear that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This saying is especially true when a government is faced with the issue of deficit reduction. What do they say? We can't stop the government handouts. It prevents economic growth. We cannot tax large multinationals. It is a disincentive to big business. Then what can government do? What this government says is that we can take back our promise to cut taxes, for example, the Premier's promise to abolish the HST. This government also says we can cut social programs to enact weak programs such as the Child Benefit Program. This is inadequate.

This government can jeopardize our rural areas by cutting back on essential programs such as buses, et cetera. There are many areas in which this government has cut in order to make it appear, at least, as if the deficit is not ongoing. At the end of the day, those who suffer the most under the deficit are the poor, the majority of which are women and children. Rather than focusing on the implementation of poverty measures, this government focuses on low income families through taxing them, of course, giving them a child tax benefit in one hand and being taken away on the other. Poverty is poverty, regardless of what you call it.

[Page 2213]

If this government is interested in the future of Nova Scotians, the Liberals should be investing in children first, not shiny new buildings. However, perhaps the most dangerous news is that bad news is often disguised to look like good news or, in other words, a wolf in sheep's clothing. The withdrawal of the surplus from the Public Service Superannuation Fund, Civil Service pension plan, for 1997-98 and 1998-99 is to be split with the employees. No clause of this Bill No. 13 provides a greater example of this bill's good news-bad news quality than Clause 17, amending Section 9B. This is not a one-time only withdrawal. The Liberals are creating a mechanism that will allow surplus withdrawals in the future.

While this may appear well and good, if you are looking at it on the surface, at the core this clause is rotten. The Liberals believe that if they dazzle contributors to the Civil Service pension plan with enough dollar signs, they will buy a pair of rose coloured glasses, instead of looking for the truth. The truth is that this clause is just another example of this government's refusal to provide an open process for Nova Scotians.

I urge contributors to this pension plan not to buy what the Liberals are selling. There are not safeguards here. As it stands, Bill No. 13 does not require the government to negotiate with the NSGEU prior to declaring a pension surplus. As it stands, Bill No. 13 does not provide a role for the Superintendent of Pensions. As it stands, Bill No. 13 does not recognize the role played by retired employees in creating this surplus. As it stands, Bill No. 13 does not specify that the actuarial report used in determining whether a pension surplus exists will be an arm's length document free from government influence. As it stands, Clause 17, Section 9B is just another example of this government's secretive, autocratic, behind-closed-doors way of dealing with the people of Nova Scotia. The Liberals, with Clause 17, amending Section 9B of the Public Service Superannuation Act, are putting the people of Nova Scotia on notice. If you dreamed you were living in a democracy, wake up, just wake up. Thank you. (Applause)

[8:00 p.m.]

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to rise this evening and make a few comments about Bill No. 13, the Financial Measures Act. It was interesting that the interest in this bill goes beyond the House and one of the tasks that I had to do this morning was drop a copy of this bill off to a retired civil servant who was most interested in learning the details of the proposed changes in the Civil Service pension.

Mr. Speaker, this bill, like many pieces of legislation, contains some good things which I think will generally get the support of all Parties but in its totality, to be effective and to be a good piece of legislation, certain changes must be effected. Indeed, I believe that our Party will take the lead in suggesting some changes to this legislation in the third stage at Law Amendments. The Party, the Official Opposition, I just heard the member for Timberlea-

[Page 2214]

Prospect indicate that that was something that I gathered was perhaps going to be considered by them as well.

Let me address now, Mr. Speaker, some of the specific items in there and to perhaps suggest some of the areas where modification is necessary to give the legislation the strength that would be needed to be most effective for Nova Scotians. First of all, the clause relating to the restoration of the grants to the municipality so that a farm tax credit can be re-established. My colleague from Lunenburg pointed out earlier this evening the rather dire straits that the agriculture industry has gone through in the past couple of years in Nova Scotia. One of the things that they have mentioned that has made it more difficult for them to accommodate Mother Nature - or person nature, or father nature, or however we are allowed to describe it these days - in other words, the droughts, the floods and all of these things over which we have absolutely no control, is that restoring this tax exemption on active farmland is a good thing and it would help them.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I think, as I said, we would all agree that the restoration of this money is a good thing for the farming community in Nova Scotia and, if it is good for the farming community, it is good for all Nova Scotians because farming is still a very major part of the economics of this province. However, I cannot really accept the part of the legislation which indicates that this farm tax credit, or money allowed for it, can be changed by Order in Council or it can be changed by the Governor in Council. I do believe to make this acceptable, that legislation, or that clause would have to be amended to make any of those changes accountable to the House and the proposed changes should be debated here.

I hope, Mr. Speaker, that in the next stage this type of change can be incorporated and I have heard other people mention this as well. I think we have learned from the last three month's statements by the government that we cannot really trust them to do things that are all that wise financially and economically. (Interruptions)

Madam Speaker, I would like now to talk very briefly about the pension changes, the Public Service Superannuation Fund. I noted that somebody in the Opposition Party got up and spoke from a rather personal point of view saying they were involved in that, therefore they were interested in it. I was astounded to hear that because what it implied to me was that this person was saying that if it did not affect him personally, he would not be interested in it. I really did not think that was an appropriate statement to look at this from a particularly personal point of view and I was taken aback.

The increase of the survivor benefit from 60 per cent to 66.66 per cent, if death occurs before retirement, I think is a good one and should be instituted. I also think that extending the benefit over a five year period before the normal survivor benefit kicks in, this 66 per cent over a five year period instead of where we go back to 50 per cent, I guess, initially is a good thing. When people are in need there is an adjustment period and if this helps people through a difficult period of adjustment which involves the loss of a partner, then it is a good thing.

[Page 2215]

I am alarmed though that this legislation has been proposed without any provision for input from those people who are receiving the pension; the seniors, the people who have contributed the bulk of the money in that fund like, I assume, they came to us in the spring and said that they wanted to be consulted. Some of these things, although they are all good, with the input from those persons who are receiving those pensions might be altered. For example, it has been suggested that maybe rather than a pension holiday or returning the pension, such things as a dental plan or increased medical benefits or may an increase in the survivor's pension, if the fund was that flush that that might be incorporated in it. Yet this whole group of people who contributed the bulk of that money to that plan are having absolutely no provision for any input into how it was to be distributed and I do not think that is a good thing. I think this legislation to be effective, to be more effective, or to be most effective, must allow for those people who have contributed to be consulted formally.

I have been approached on a couple of occasions by people who suffered in the Nova Scotia Savings and Loan pension debacle, where they contributed yet were cut out. I know this is not really along the same line but I am afraid that if this legislation is not tightened up, the same type of thing might happen. I am also concerned that the way this is written at the present time it provides the government through Order in Council to make changes. Again, let me say, given the financial record that we have seen laid on the table the last three or six months, would you want this group making those decisions by Order in Council. I think the answer is no. There has to be some change.

I am also concerned about the data that will be used to determine whether this pension fund has a surplus. I would like very much to know what the value of that fund is today and indeed if we are in a surplus position - and I can say this, that from what I have heard from friends and colleagues on all of these things over the past two or three months of financial turbulence - if this thing still has a surplus that it had in June, I would have liked the managers of that fund to be handling the financial affairs of most of the people I know who are involved in the RRSP business.

Madam Speaker, I think that one of the things we must do is to establish somewhere what data is going to be used before that is really distributed now. It is desirable, that thing. If that fund is not really in a healthy surplus position now and I know this is legislation that says if you are up over 110 per cent you have to get rid of it. How can we get rid of it the wisest and also are we in that position now?

As my colleague for Lunenburg said and for those of us who were teachers and I don't draw from the Teachers' Pension Fund so it is not something to me, but what a mess that was in a few years ago. You know, Madam Speaker, and you well know because you were involved in the teaching profession, that the government and the union both knew what a sad shape that fund was in and the union in particular, I think, at that time and obviously with the help of the government refused to take the measures that were needed to bring that fund back into something that was reasonable. It was a real mess. I do not want that to happen again

[Page 2216]

with the Public Service Superannuation Fund. I do not want that to happen and I think there have to be measures in there which will prevent that from happening.

A couple of other things, Madam Speaker, that I would like to mention. Obviously the Home Ownership Savings Plan, the continuation of it for another year, I think is a thing that most Nova Scotians would think is a good thing for this province. The Home Ownership Savings Plan is not only that it enables people to get a home but it means money is saved to put back into the economy and it creates jobs. Every time we build a house we have a whole lot of jobs created and more money goes into the economy. It is a good thing.

The film industry tax credit which is being increased by 6.67 per cent does not sound like much, but as people have pointed out it is an industry that is really putting a lot of money into the Nova Scotian economy these days. In general, it does not pollute the atmosphere or the water. More Nova Scotians are getting employment in the film industry and if this extra going from 30 per cent to 32.5 per cent, an effective increase of 6.67 per cent in this tax credit, it will grow that industry. People tell me if you have a greater tax credit it is going to grow that industry, then I think that is something that probably most of it I can support. Now, ideally it would be nice to see that increased maybe from 30 per cent to 40 per cent, but I don't think that is possible or practical at this period of time.

The regulations to implement the Nova Scotia Child Benefit Program are very interesting. One of the things, Madam Speaker, like other members of caucus have been travelling around the province on this Community Services Committee and one of the things we have been smucked with in all locations except one has been the clawback. People are not happy with that.

One of the reasons they are not happy with the clawback is that when this program was announced in this House by that minister, she said that she was going to have programs in place that would help those people from whom that money was being clawed back and that has not happened yet. That has not happened yet and from what I understand there is nothing. And furthermore when that program was implemented the communication between her department and the people who did not get the cheques was not that great. I do not think there is an MLA in here who can say they did not get phone calls about that.

All I am saying is that the regulations to implement the Nova Scotia Child Benefit Program, I would like very much to know what that program is. I am the Community Services Critic for the Progressive Conservative Party, and I don't know. Even worse is that I can't find out. The reason that one can't find out is that it doesn't exist. (Interruption) It must be in the mail, I don't know.

[Page 2217]

[8:15 p.m.]

Anyway, the regulation to implement this Nova Scotia Child Benefit Program, I am a little reluctant about that, and I would like a little bit more clarity in that. I think when this legislation goes to Law Amendments, that it could be significantly improved by telling people just what it is supposed to mean.

Increasing the tax on cigarettes, as I make the numbers in the legislation, the tax on cigarettes is being increased by 136 per cent, and the tax on cigars or these other tobacco sticks or whatever they were called in the legislation has been increased by 100 per cent. The reason, I think, for increasing these taxes is to act as a deterrent for young people and smoking. Indeed, I was in receipt, as I expect other people and all Parties were, from a gentleman in Stellarton, who raised the issue of, is a publicly funded teen house there providing money to teenagers to buy cigarettes.

Now, I wrote back and I said, I didn't think this minister would allow her department to give out money to provide cigarettes for teenagers. But on the other hand, as my colleague for Lunenburg pointed out, smoking is not an offence by teenagers. It is an offence to sell, it is an offence to buy, but it is not an offence to smoke, as I understand the regulations. It may be that the minister, along with her colleague, the Minister of Health, may wish to consider additional measures to deal with this problem of teen smoking.

Increasing the tax on cigarettes, it will bring more money into the provincial coffers and I just really wonder if that is not the main objective of this tax on cigarettes. It is not a Health issue or it is not a Community Services issue, but it may be an issue that the Minister of Finance is more concerned about than those other two departments, increasing that is to increase the tax on cigarettes.

One of the things that goes along with that, we went through a major tax increase in tobacco products, I don't know, three or four years ago, and one of the things that happened to go along with that major increase in tobacco products was that a fairly elaborate scheme of black market tobacco evolved in this province, as well as in other provinces. I would hope that as the government increases this tax on cigarettes, it recognizes that it unfortunately, and I wish I could say that I didn't think it would be so, that if there are not corresponding increases all the way across, that people will be bringing in, we will get back into that sort of black market tobacco business. I hope that the government is concerned enough so that there will be additional measures put in place so that this problem cannot occur.

Lastly, I would like to mention something that is omitted from the enabling legislation that has been implemented, I am told, in the court system, and this is the tax on access to court documents that is now in place in this province.

[Page 2218]

I would hope that the Minister of Justice, when he returns to this House, will be good enough to explain to Nova Scotians, politicians and those in the media why this information that should be readily accessed by the public, they are now charging an exorbitant fee for and that there is no question in my mind it is one of these user taxes that the Minister of Finance talked about that is hidden, that that will be explained and, if they are going to do that, why it is not in here. It is another example, I think, of the government, perhaps, not telling the whole truth.

Madam Speaker, as I have indicated, there are some good things in this bill. I think those good things can be supported by all Parties. On the other hand, there are certain things in that bill that I will not be, and I expect my colleagues will not be, interested in supporting without significant change. So I look forward to this bill going to the Law Amendments Committee and trust that some of this legislation can be changed for the betterment of all Nova Scotians. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, let's be honest and sincere right off the bat. This Bill No. 13 is an endorsement of the budget and I personally have many problems with it. Unlike my Third Party colleagues, who blindly in June, endorsed it, the vote on this bill is a vote of confidence for that Liberal Government, who knowingly drafted a budget, bragged surplus knowing it wasn't and that Party over there supported it, knowing, as well, that the numbers did not add up, but did so anyway. Now with an important vote coming on this bill, my Third Party colleagues are talking tough. Shame. They had their opportunity in June and, basically, voted against their own platform to prop up that Liberal Government.

Mr. Speaker, a budget, money bills, are confidence issues. I have no confidence in that Liberal Government. If one is to be honest and open with the people of Nova Scotia, this budget, which carries over to Bill No. 13, as we found out after, was never balanced and neither was last year's budget balanced. What Bill No. 13 comes down to is an issue of credibility of that Liberal Government. Need I say more?

When the Premier talked and made promises for HST relief and, sadly, some Nova Scotians bought into it, how disappointed and disillusioned they must have been with that Premier, with that government. Again, Mr. Speaker, knowing that Bill No. 13 is a continuance of the budget, and I will be brief, where was the implementation of much needed health measures such as hepatitis C, the Medical Research Foundation. That budget failed. That government failed. They failed Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I would like, at this time, to talk about schools. I would like to talk about P3 schools. The leasing of our children's education, public education, not-for-profit education should be a right for all Nova Scotians. Corporations and private sectors should not have the right to make huge amounts of money at the expense of our children's education. The P3

[Page 2219]

financing of schools in our province is not to the benefit of our children. It is not to the benefit of the taxpayers of this province, but is to the benefit of that government to give the mirage, the illusion of balanced books, a balanced budget, while the private sector P3 partner laughs with his profits all the way to the bank. Mr. Speaker, I am not laughing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please for a moment.

The second reading is on the principle of a bill.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Yes, sir, and it falls into . . .

MR. SPEAKER: So are you coming back, very well.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I have two small children in the education system. I am very concerned with P3 financing. I am opposed to the privatization and selling of my children's education to the friends of that Liberal Government.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 13 and the budget does not address the plight, the anguish, the concerns of rural Nova Scotians. The services for rural areas are inadequate, underfunded and are an embarrassment. One needs only to drive on the rural roads of this province to know how serious this government, that government is. It is shameful.

Mr. Speaker, there are numerous other issues I could point out pertaining to Bill No. 13 and the budget, but if one is to address the negative, one must also endorse whenever possible the positive. An increase in the tobacco tax in my opinion is a positive. I personally wish that if cigarettes were a bit more expensive when I started smoking, then maybe that would have been a deterrent.

Mr. Speaker, the restoration of the property tax relief for active farms I think is fantastic but these two issues that I have spoken of, my Party would have implemented. I believe if necessary amendments are made to Bill No. 13, then one could consider endorsing, supporting. One can only hope that that Liberal Government and that Third Party are listening. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to have the opportunity to rise and to make a few comments on Bill No. 13, an Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures.

If I may, Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by just reflecting a bit back on the whole issue for which this bill is intended and that is the enactment of the budget. During the past number of months it has been quite disturbing to watch this government so willingly promote

[Page 2220]

the agenda of big business and large corporations while average Nova Scotians, struggling to make a living, seem to be ignored. The Minister of Finance in his address on June 4th said, and I quote, "I am a Liberal . . . That means I want a government that offers care to those who are sick and protection for those in need.". (Interruption) It is too bad, Mr. Speaker, they had not been listening when I began, they would understand the context.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: "I want a government that shows compassion and concern. I want a government that looks to the future and invests in children, families, and communities.".

Well, Mr. Speaker, what I want to know is when will this begin. By the September 30th quarterly report the same minister said, our government made the decision to invest in successful businesses. What happened to the compassion, the concern, the protection for those in need, the investment in our children, our communities and our families? The people in Cape Breton The Lakes have not felt the benefit of this $82 million deficit this government is sporting but without a doubt they will feel the squeeze when these financial wizards begin to design their next attempt to bring the budget back into balance and, again, buffoon the trusting Third Party.

Mr. Speaker, when this budget was introduced in June, I did not support the budget and for very valid reasons, some of which I would like to highlight since they impact on this bill.

[8:30 p.m.]

Firstly, it was evident to anyone who looked and to anyone who saw that this budget was not balanced. Now it cannot be clearer, the budget was not balanced then and it will not be balanced. The Minister of Finance in his June 4th Budget Address said that the people of Nova Scotia delivered a clear message. He said, "Balancing the budget - making sure we do not spend more than we have - is no longer a goal; it is a minimum requirement . . .". If that is what this government heard they did not listen and they are not listening now.

Throughout Nova Scotia people were anxiously awaiting the Premier to fulfil his HST promise, the promise he made over and over again, to bring relief from the hardship imposed on them by the HST. What did they receive? A meagre 5 per cent on electricity purchased between November and March. That was not good enough. That is not what seniors, or single parents, or low income families in Nova Scotia were hoping for so as to provide the much needed necessities Nova Scotians are finding even harder to reach.

[Page 2221]

This government went to the people last spring promising to restore confidence in health care. Did the budget do that? It failed to implement much needed health measures. Right across this province we have schools that are in terrible condition, sick schools, schools that have been neglected, schools that no longer meet the needs of our children; all a result of a decrease in education funding to school boards and a decrease in capital dollars to boards over the last number of years.

The answer put forth by this government is the P3 approach, one we have heard much discussion and much debate about. People across this province are asking why, what is it that this government is trying to do? Why do we insist on allowing corporations to make a profit off the education of our children? In addition to this, this government struts around talking about the money they have put in education while at the same time they have downloaded costs to the municipalities, something this Premier said he would not do without municipalities having the opportunity to build it into their budget. It was quite interesting in the last number of weeks to listen as one minister of this government announced the funding, in millions of dollars, to Michelin and the Premier was in Sydney to tell the municipality that he did not have any money to give to education.

Many of our colleagues have talked about the Child Benefit Program and certainly, it is not one that meets the needs or expectations of people we should be concerned about, children and their families. Low income families with children do not seem to be on the agenda of this government. They seem to lack the understanding and comprehension about what it is really like out there in the real world, about the struggles that these people who are on income assistance are suffering. Families are struggling. They need to struggle in order to have a basic survival. I think, in Nova Scotia, that is a disgrace.

In 1998 to have children in this province live in poverty is a disgrace and we, as legislators, should be ashamed to say that that is a condition in our province. What is it that we are doing to support our children, our tomorrow? These, Mr. Speaker, are some of the reasons why I voted against the budget. The bill does contain some other measures, measures, although meagre that do offer some assistance to some Nova Scotians.

The modest increase in the tax credit for television and the film production industry in Nova Scotia allows producers to lower their labour costs by using Nova Scotian workers. The rate will move from 30 per cent to 32.5 per cent. In the past year, we have known, we have heard other speakers indicate that the film industry has generated approximately $65 million in Nova Scotia, over 12,000 jobs were created and, probably, approximately 3,000 spin-off jobs. Tax credits are driving this industry.

One of my favourite stories, Pit Pony by Joyce Barkhouse, is an example of something this industry is about doing now. The film industry has been a resounding success over the past number of years, but we must realize that there is competition in this industry. There is competition because provinces like New Brunswick, with a 40 per cent tax credit, are

[Page 2222]

aggressively soliciting business in this province. So our government must be diligent. This area is very crucial to the province.

The amendment to the Revenue Act to increase the tax on tobacco products is certainly welcomed. The clause, I believe, gives formal approval to increases that actually took place last February. We are all too well aware that tobacco is the number one public health issue and the leading cause of preventable death and disease in this province. Unfortunately, Nova Scotia has a history of being at or near the top when it comes to smoking prevalence. We have not yet come close to adequately addressing this issue in this province. We need a comprehensive strategy which will include cessation programs, public education programs and prevention programs for youth. Hopefully, this tax increase has affected some smokers. Unfortunately, what we have seen in the past is that tax increases, done in isolation without a comprehensive strategy, amounts to little more than increasing the provincial coffers.

The property tax exemption for farmers, a tax relief for active farms, is not an entirely new measure, as we know. This property tax measure was one that was in place before in this province and, in fact, I believe was discontinued by this government. Under the previous arrangement though, I believe under the provisions that farmers were afforded a more secure arrangement. With this regulation, there is no firm commitment that exemptions will remain in place, or even that the grant per acre will not be reduced.

Recently, myself and a group of our caucus met with farmers in Cape Breton and we, again, heard some of the difficulties that farmers in Cape Breton are encountering. A majority of rural communities have been built on natural resources and on the primary sector, agriculture being one of them. What we are hearing over and over again in constituencies like mine is that it is increasingly becoming more difficult for farmers to survive. We know about the competition from growers across the country. When anything that arrives in Cape Breton within 24 hours is deemed local, it doesn't give the local farmers much of an advantage, nor does it give consumers adequate information when they think they are buying local products.

The cost of farm equipment is another area that farmers talked about, and the skyrocketing costs compared to the returns they get on their farm products doesn't even nearly begin to match the increases that they would need. Farmers in Cape Breton have complained over and over again that when they have losses due to unfavourable weather conditions, like in 1996, they did not receive any relief from this government. If farming is to survive in Cape Breton, the next generation must have the means of taking over the farm but, again, this is another area that is becoming increasingly difficult.

The talked about the perpetual mortgage idea but, again, in this area, we see this government doing patchwork. What is the plan for the agriculture industry in our province? If we want the industry to survive, we must go beyond farmland assessments and begin addressing the issues that farmers in Cape Breton and, indeed, in the province, face.

[Page 2223]

The final measure that I will address is the Public Service Superannuation Act. Increasing the benefits that are to be paid to the spouses of the civil service workers is certainly appropriate, being negotiated, I believe, through a process with the NSGEU. The only issue here, of course, as many of my colleagues have already referred to, is the definition of spouse. The definition of spouse, as we understand it, by law now should take into account the same-sex arrangements, and the Wilson Hodder case is a recent example of the progressive measure that has emerged in many negotiated settlements. This legislation should reflect that right. Significant numbers of people in our province are in such stable relationships, and their rights should be clearly defined, and this would be an opportunity for the government to do that.

The bill authorizes the withdrawal of surplus dollars from the Public Service Superannuation Fund, and that this money be divided between, of course, the government and the employees. The difficulty here centres around the issue of the mechanism, and the mechanism being a permanent one without the necessary safeguards. I think we have heard many speakers talk about the safeguards and the fact that, in the future, it will not necessarily be negotiated with the NSGEU, that this money - in fact any surplus money in the fund - can be determined and given out by the government.

I guess my position would be that as contributors to the plan, and as negotiators in the process up until this point, the NSGEU and indeed some of their retired members, should have an opportunity to be involved in this decision making. I guess not only in that area but as well, it has been suggested that with such an unprecedented and generous arrangement, it would be appropriate to request that the Superintendent of Pensions play a direct role. Her role in administering the Pension Benefits Act is to safeguard employee entitlements. Although this may be outside that jurisdiction, I think it would qualify because of the extraordinary circumstances.

[8:45 p.m.]

Finally, the determination of the amount of money, the determination of any further surplus, must not be the responsibility solely of the Minister of Finance. This is a role that must be carried out by a formal actuarial process, an independent assessment with an actuarial report being prepared and filed with both parties concerned, the NSGEU and the government. Such a defined arm's length process would bring the much needed confidence to this clause.

There are many weaknesses contained in this bill. It requires amendments before it will, in any way, meet the test. The Law Amendments Committee has the capacity to do just that and I hope that when we see the bill back here it will reflect the amendments as suggested. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 2224]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased to have the opportunity to say a few words about Bill No. 13. The Financial Measures Bill deals with eight separate Acts and I will not go through all of them because it has all been said tonight. Part I deals with the Assessment Act and we do have to deal with this amendment because the Liberals forgot about rural Nova Scotia some years ago and they changed how they were going to treat farmers.

They took away the Farm Tax Credit that was there to assist farmers. There are concerns that there is a clause that says the Governor In Council may, by regulation, change the amount of the grant per acre set. This type of change should not be done by regulation, the changes should be brought forward and debated in this House. The government should not be able to change the amount of the rebate through an Order in Council.

We all know that farmers are facing difficult times and we talked about the drought situations in southwestern Nova Scotia but we must not forget the hardships of those in other areas, resource based industries in Pictou County that are so prevalent and so important to our local economy and, indeed, in other areas of the province, the resource based industries. They are big revenue generators in this province. Certainly, cuts to silviculture, which was part of our long-range planning was disastrous because cuts in funding have long, far-reaching effects on our resource based industries.

The reinstatement of the Farm Tax Credit was part of our platform and it is interesting that the NDP are now talking about rural Nova Scotia. They have discovered rural Nova Scotia and maybe they have seen the light and we welcome them aboard.

AN HON. MEMBER: Anything in there for gun registration?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DEWOLFE: There are many clauses in the Act that I would like to talk about, but this one in particular, the Public Service Superannuation Fund which I was part of. I paid into that fund for almost 30 years as a government employee. I cannot stress how important it is to consult with the affected parties before making changes. Survivor benefits are something that we were pushing for for many years in the government service. I actually served on the pensions committee, and that was one of the most important parts of the work that we used to promote; I am glad to see something coming through on that.

Mr. Speaker, we live in a fragile world economy. I cannot stress how volatile and changeable things are right now in this, our financial world. Being a junior MLA, I was faced with a mortgage very recently and just in the couple of weeks it took to arrange for that mortgage the interest rate went down three times. My friendly banker helped me out, and on

[Page 2225]

the signing date I was able to get the lower rate. That is how things can change so quickly in this world.

As my colleague, the member for Argyle, mentioned, there are certain concerns about the draining of this fund that are bothering me. Actuarial studies should be done to find out the current status of the superannuation plan, because we don't know where it is today. The member for Argyle asked in his remarks if the Minister of Finance could provide some details on the funding situation for the superannuation fund, and I would hope that the minister would be able to provide this update at the earliest possible moment.

Another point that must be made, once again, this section provides for a big decision to be made by an Order in Council rather than on the floor of the Legislature. All those affected must be consulted before action is taken. Current employees, the union and the retired employees must be well informed and consulted on this issue. I received many calls from the retired government employees and I am sure every member in this room has, so I cannot stress the importance of this consultation. By making it necessary to come to the floor of the Legislature to make the recommendations, then all Parties have the opportunity to come to the Law Amendments Committee to make their concerns or their approvals known.

I want to thank you and the members for your co-operation and I will close my remarks now, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

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

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to rise in the House and speak about a couple of sections of the proposed Financial Measures Bill. I can relate to issues that are going on in my constituency. I know that several previous speakers have talked about certain portions of it and I would like to talk about something that has not been brought up before, I don't think.

Part of this bill is concerned with the Municipal Grants Act. Part IV of the bill, Clause 10, continues the scheduled reductions in the residual capital grant that was begun under the Expenditure Control Act, so what that is talking about is less money for municipalities in the form of grants. In fact it is 5 per cent less and I was told today that that translates this year into about $250,000 less for the Halifax Regional Municipality, for example. You know, we throw figures around rather glibly when we talk about things like budgets and money bills, so maybe $250,000 doesn't sound like a lot to some people. I tend to think that maybe a deficit of $82 million might sound like peanuts to some people, but it is not.

Let me put this into perspective and not the perspective of those of us here in the House, but the perspective of people living without services that I imagine every member of this House and the majority of Nova Scotians take for granted, those hundreds of thousands

[Page 2226]

of dollars that are no longer available to the municipalities because of provincial restraint could be improving the quality of life for so many people.

I want to take a minute to tell you about Upper Hammonds Plains. That is in my constituency. It is a beautiful place at any time of the year but, at this time of year, it is absolutely spectacular. It is situated at the upper end of Pockwock Road. It is a community of fine, friendly people who take care of each other. If the name Pockwock sounds familiar to you, it is also Pockwock Lake that provides water for Halifax, Bedford and Sackville. But like many historic black communities in this province, there is also a high rate of unemployment or seasonal employment. Years ago, this wasn't so. Communities such as this were very self-reliant. I believe Upper Hammonds Plains had a very healthy basketry industry and was one of the last in this province to do so until, of course, the market disappeared.

Up until about 1974, the community had a wonderful natural resource. That was Pockwock Lake. But in the late 1960's, Halifax was running out of drinking water and there sat the beautiful and pristine Pockwock Lake, just waiting for the taking and I mean that word - taking.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member that we are debating the principle of Bill No. 13.

MS. GODIN: If you will indulge me here.

MR. SPEAKER: Very well. A long bow.

MS. GODIN: I am coming back to it, yes. The community was given $100,000 for that recreational land and the lake. I think that works out to about $3.00 an acre. An expropriation was done without any public process, because at the time, there was such a need for the water, there wasn't time to do that. So, today, every time that hundreds of thousands of people turn on their water taps in metro, we owe that basic service to the people of Upper Hammonds Plains.

How this relates to the erosion of municipal grants. In 1974, the Municipality of Halifax provided itself and Bedford with drinking water, but it bypassed the very community the water came from in the first place. I don't know why. Who knows. All I can say, with certainty, is that it wouldn't happen today in this way. But 25 years ago an injustice was done to that community and today, as the residents get their water trucked in, that injustice continues. Three levels of government took part in this deal and three levels of government contributed to shutting this community out. Yet, when approached for infrastructure funds, government has shirked its duty to these residents, although each level has come through with money, through the Municipal Grants Act, the Municipal Assessment Act but, basically, it is not enough.

[Page 2227]

The money for infrastructure, provincially and municipally is dwindling. It is going elsewhere is what is happening. Who is left to suffer in a province where only the rich and powerful get favours from the government?

I suspect, in view of the pitiful showing of this government's admitted $82 million debt, it is now too much to ask that the government right the wrong that was done in 1974. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. GODIN: Part and parcel of that need in that area, where the people tell me that they don't get anything . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am going to have to ask the member to come back to the bill. You can draw a pretty long bow.

MS. GODIN: As I said, I am concerned with Part IV of the bill, Clause 10, that continues the scheduled reductions in the residual capital grant begun under the Expenditure Control Act.

[9:00 p.m.]

I guess if I can bring it around, Mr. Speaker, it is to say that this Clause 10 just continues to dwindle, to erode, the money that is available to give in the municipal infrastructure program and I feel that it does relate to this bill. Part and parcel of that need in that area is also roads and that is not dealt with because the money is not there for infrastructure in that particular section.

I also note that this bill will allow the province to implement the Nova Scotia Child Benefit Program. This government should not be too quick to pat itself on the back over this particular program. From the calls that I am getting in my office, it is doing nothing to better the disgusting conditions that many children in this province live in and I think one of my colleagues referred to the situations that she knows of as heartbreaking and that is not something that was overstated. I imagine you cannot know what it is like to raise kids on the totally inadequate sum that this province expects those on social assistance to live on unless you are living it.

Earlier this year a Toronto study found that 27 per cent of mothers using food banks were experiencing severe food deprivation and I doubt that moms in Toronto are any different from moms here in Nova Scotia. That study narrowed its focus to women with children because in families living in poverty mothers are regarded as most likely to deprive themselves so their children can eat and are, therefore, most vulnerable to household food shortages.

[Page 2228]

Let's not forget that while, yes, food banks are a fact of life in Nova Scotia and they help, they do not prevent families from going hungry.

I just want to say also about that particular program that for people who will not be taking advantage of it, I want them to understand, I want them to realize that whatever is given through the Nova Scotia Child Benefit Program on the one hand is taken away on the other hand by the government. So it is a no-win situation for the people who really need a break - our children.

This bill, Mr. Speaker, does have its good points and previous speakers have pointed these out. I guess that is why I dealt with the Municipal Grants Act because I did not want to rehash what has already been said. The erosion of that really does affect people in my constituency and people who are waiting for infrastructure services that we all take for granted and they cannot get them. As far as the good points, I just want to speak in particular of reinstating the tax exemption for farmers, increasing the cost of cigarettes, and that very encouraging news for the film industry in Nova Scotia, it is very exciting, but this bill is not perfect. It does not do enough. It does not go far enough.

Mr. Speaker, I will end my comments by saying that I hope this government will entertain suggestions for amendments from this side of the House. It will be interesting to see how open they are to changes for the better when this Financial Measures Bill is discussed in the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the Financial Measures Act, Bill No. 13. It is interesting that this bill is being debated now when, in fact, the appropriate time of debating this bill should have been during the budget deliberations.

Mr. Speaker, the reason why I say this is simply because there are major expenditures that have an impact on the budget of the Province of Nova Scotia. Those expenditures already made through the Public Service Act is a prime example; also, the monies taken from the National Child Benefit Program, in order to be expended through the budget of this municipality. There is also the reinstatement of cultivated farmland grant in lieu of, all of which have a significant impact on the budget that was brought forward with the support of the Third Party, the Tory Party, on June 30, 1998.

I just want to make some brief comments with respect to that, and I want to say that I refute the Tory claim that they are the only political Party that understands the issues and concerns of rural Nova Scotians. Allow me to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I have worked on a farm. I worked on the farm, in fact, in Hillaton, Nova Scotia, just outside of Kentville. I have worked on the farms in Lower Canard, just outside of Kentville, as well. Most of those people will know where those generally defined areas are.

[Page 2229]

I do know the hardships of farmers. I worked, back in 1964, when farmers, in fact, had the devastating crisis within the pork industry. That in fact removed x number of farmers from the pork producing industry in the Annapolis Valley at that particular time, and some which I knew had 3,000 hogs, if you don't mind my making that kind of a comment, although that kind of a comment is in fact different than what it is now considered. I believe it is called the Pork Producers Association of Nova Scotia, if in fact the Minister of Agriculture can correct me on that.

So I do understand. I also worked on the farm where, in fact, the dairy industry with 400 cattle, in order to get up at 4:00 a.m. to milk those particular cows, and have the farmers produce those products and send them forward. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. PYE: It is important to let the members of this Legislature know that there are New Democrats who fully understand rural Nova Scotia and the issues and concerns of rural Nova Scotia. (Applause) It is not simply a right of the Progressive Conservative Party to think that it has the mandate to speak for all rural Nova Scotians. Allow me to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that in fact, you know, it reminds me of the time that I was out spreading manure over the fields. (Laughter)

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell it like it is, Jerry.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, if you don't mind, it reminds me of the Third Party, with its intent to spread all over Nova Scotians, its intent of what it believes Nova Scotians ought to hear and believe. For approximately 20 to 30 years, there has been no assessment on cultivated farms in Nova Scotia, except for the actual property on which the homestead existed. Many people who were in the farming industry are very much aware of that.

In 1995-1996, the Liberal Government cancelled the exemption of assessment on farm properties. This caused farm properties to be assessed as part of the assessment roll of the municipality and as such, were subject to the tax rate. Can you imagine what shock that had on the farmers who in fact worked in that farming industry? Also that change had a dramatic effect on the municipalities, because now it increased the tax base and forced the municipality to tax farmland. This money was now money that was not in lieu of, so what the municipality had to do was, in fact, decide whether it had the right to tax farmland, knowing full well the hardships of farmers, knowing full well that now the municipality recognized that as a tax assessment property, and therefore was a property on which to extract tax revenue from.

[Page 2230]

As a result of that, that caused the municipality to have to pay an increased share of its mandatory contribution to education, along with others. This created a confusion with the municipalities, because of the loss of grant. It challenged the local municipalities as to whether they could charge the farm owners or not, as I have stated. The significant impact on the farming community was in fact incredible. I believe that it was so incredible that, in fact, two municipalities recognized the impact it would have on those farmers. Those two municipalities, as a matter of fact and I can be corrected if I am wrong, were Kings and Hants East. They came to mind that this was such a significant impact that they would provide relief to the farmers in those particular areas. (Interruption) That is what I said, they provided relief, they did not bother to tax the farmers.

When Guy Brown was the minister (Interruptions) Okay, thank you very much. All I wanted to know was that it does not take long to get your facts straight here because if your facts are incorrect, surely, we have the experts who are going to provide us with the accurate information. So I am really not concerned about that. I want to go back to when Guy Brown was the Minister of Agriculture. He and his staff met with several groups of the farming community. The farming community told them what effects these changes had with respect to farming in Nova Scotia. I would like to know and it would be interesting for us all to know, as legislators here in this Legislative Assembly, what in fact the results of those meetings were.

I want to say that I support the UNSM and the provincial government's decision to reinstate the grant in lieu of taxes. However, I do want to say that this grant in lieu of taxes also has to come with some conditions and I have some concerns. If you will note that I spoke about the dairy industry and my involvement on the cattle farm and in the dairy industry. I have to say that if we are going to provide grants in lieu of then I think it is important that Nova Scotians who, in fact, put these dollars into the grants in lieu of to assist the farming community, I think it is very important that we recognize that Nova Scotians should benefit from this as well. When I say this I want to come to the Milk Marketing Board.

I have a significant concern. I have no problem with there being a set rate for farmers in the dairy industry to receive a guaranteed rate on their milk at the gate. However, I have deep concerns with respect to the minimum retail rate that is set by the Milk Marketing Board. The minimum retail rate has a significant impact upon the (Interruptions) Now I am only going by what I am told and I checked this out, from my understanding there is a Milk Marketing Board or there is a Milk Marketing Association. (Interruption) The Nova Scotia Dairy Commission, okay, that is fine. The Nova Scotia Dairy Commission does set the rate with respect to the minimum retail rate of milk, we all acknowledge that and it is fair. What I am saying to you is that if we are prepared to provide a grant in lieu of, then surely we are prepared to allow this organization to drop the minimum retail rate. The reason why I suggest the minimum retail rate be dropped is because it has a significant impact on those families, particularly those poor families, who can purchase two litres and four litres of milk at a reduced rate.

[Page 2231]

Nova Scotia in the Atlantic Provinces happens to be the highest rate paid for two litres of milk and also four litres of milk. We have done comparisons with respect to Northern Ontario, Southern Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Atlantic Canada. What I am saying is that I support the grant in lieu of but I would hope that the Law Amendments Committee looks at this particular section with respect to having that reviewed. I am sure that that is not their role, but I do know, Mr. Speaker, that there is opportunity to, at least, pass that through to the appropriate channels to deal with it.

[9:15 p.m.]

The Home Ownership Savings Plan for the first-time homeowner. While I support the concept of this plan, I am disappointed that this plan is only extended for an additional year. What I would like to know is how many Nova Scotians take advantage of this plan and what their income level is. I don't know, Mr. Speaker, if this would come from the Finance Minister's department, but it would be important for all the legislators here to know because the effectiveness of this home ownership plan is very important. It is very important to me. It is very important to Nova Scotians who take advantage of it. I would like to say to the Minister of Finance that, if there is an opportunity to provide us with how many Nova Scotians do take advantage of this plan and what their income levels are, it would be truly noted.

I would also like to go one step further and consider allowing the homeowners, through the Income Tax Act, to deduct the annual interest rate charged on their mortgage; also, deduct the annual interest rate over the life of their mortgage. This practice is presently carried out in the United States. The advantage of allowing the annual interest rate to be deducted is that it allows the homeowner to build a larger home or purchase a larger home, and it has the potential of stimulating the economy by creating business and allowing the construction industry to flourish.

There is a significant factor here, Mr. Speaker, in that it has that very potential. In the United States they have recognized, by allowing the interest rate, not the principle, but the interest rate, to be deducted, it allowed significant dollars in the hands of those homeowners for home improvements, for extensions, for building of larger homes, et cetera, and it has a great impact. So I would hope that when we review this bill, the Financial Measures Act, Bill No. 13, that we take some serious consideration into looking at this, and I offer that as a cooperative move by this side of the House, particularly by myself, to encourage the Liberal Government, to encourage Nova Scotians to have an opportunity to, in fact, take advantage of such a program.

The film industry, as a New Democrat and displaying the sense of cooperation, I am speaking in favour of this tax credit. Aside from the fact that the beautiful scenery of Nova Scotia lends itself to the natural backdrops of movies and documentaries such as The Pit Pony from Cape Breton, the Scarlet Letter from Shelburne, the Titanic, partly shot in Halifax,

[Page 2232]

Margaret's Museum in Cape Breton, Dolores Claiborne, Two If By Sea in Chester, it must be duly noted that thousands of Nova Scotians are employed in the film industry and have become experts in a world-class industry. (Applause)

I do applaud the government for that, Mr. Speaker. I think it is appropriate and I think it is recognition of a great contribution to a great industry. As a matter of fact, there are some Nova Scotians who are now travelling with the film industry because they have become such experts. They are now travelling with the film industry outside of this province, into other provinces, and into the world. I do know one particular individual who, in fact, has become an expert in that industry.

There is another very important aspect of the industry that should be considered and that is the potential increase to tourism. As a former member of the Dartmouth Tourism and Convention Bureau, it has been a known fact that tourism is, in fact, a thriving industry in the Province of Nova Scotia. The government's investment in tourism has, in fact, a significant return because, for every dollar invested in the tourism industry, there is a $7 return. With the fact of the film industry now getting the tax credit to depict backdrops and sceneries of Nova Scotia history, ethnic background and culture throughout Canada and the world, we have the opportunity for an infusion of the number of tourists into Nova Scotia. As a matter of fact I think that we have recognized and we have seen the tremendous impact that that film industry has provided to the Nova Scotia economy by way of tourism.

AN HON. MEMBER: And that means jobs.

MR. PYE: It certainly means jobs and it would be a social democratic approach to the economy of developing jobs.

The Nova Scotia Child Tax Benefit, Clause 9. There needs to be a consideration on the clawback of the National Child Benefit Program. If there has ever been a crying need and I can tell you there is not a member of this Legislative Assembly who has not had the call through his or her constituency office with respect to the clawback of the National Child Benefit Program. I can tell you that it is incredible and I know that the Standing Committee on Community Services is made up of an equal number of representatives from all political Parties in this Legislature. I know that you and I have heard those particular heartbreaking, gut-wrenching concerns with respect to the clawback of this National Child Benefit Program to in fact where families do not even have beds to sleep on. They are sleeping on mattresses on the floor. Can you imagine what that National Child Benefit Program could have provided to those people?

The unfairness of this clawback as we have heard could have provided for the purchase of essential items. The clawback by this Minister of Community Services is nothing short of actually stealing from the poorest of the poor and putting in the pockets of the poor, pitting one segment of the poor against another segment of the poor. A minister who stands there

[Page 2233]

during the Speech from the Throne and made comments about understanding how compassionate, how understanding that individual was of the issues and concerns of the disadvantaged and the less fortunate people in Nova Scotia. The very fact that this minister decided that in this Province of Nova Scotia that was hardest hit by the Liberal federal cuts with respect to this province was the very province that turned around and took the clawback and not only took the clawback but is now using it even though this bill has not been approved, Mr. Speaker. This Financial Measures Act, Bill No. 13, has not been approved. Tomorrow there will be cheques going out from the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. PYE: The minister doesn't mind. I guess obviously I hit a nerve, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member will ignore the chitchat from across the floor.

Order, please.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I guess it is obvious I hit a nerve here because allow me to tell you that, in fact, I have no concern with that money going out. I have concern with the improper use and the expenditure of those dollars without the approval of this Financial Measures (1998) Act to carry it out. That is the concern I have. I have the concern of government doing things right, not in a haphazard way. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact I have to tell you that I have some concerns of whether in fact the National Child Benefit Program is in fact legally entitled to be clawed back or not. When I look at the Social Assistance Employment and Support Policy Manual and I see Chapter One, Basic Needs, and I see Section 6, Income, and I see, subject to non-chargeable income. I look at the federal child benefit and the Goods and Services Tax and it says the federal child benefit and Goods and Services Tax are not to be included as income when calculating benefits. Now this may not directly be the federal child benefit program, but in fact it comes cap in hand. It is the National Child Benefit Program. In my opinion this is an absolute violation of the policy that stands here before this Department of Community Services.

I want to go on a bit farther, and if in fact we go to Chapter 2, the Family Benefits Regulations. We go to Section 9, Income. We go to the subject, No. 2 Regulations, and we go down to Regulation 44, Clause 7. Income from the Federal Child Tax Benefit Program, the refundable Child Tax Credit and the Goods and Services Child Tax shall not be considered as income for the purposes of these regulations.

[Page 2234]

Now, you tell me, what is going on, when in fact, we look at this particular section of the bill, Clause 9, and we look at the government who wants to carry this practice out, and is carrying this practice out, without even the approval of this bill, the Financial Measures Act, Bill No. 13 before us. I certainly hope that when this particular section goes to the Law Amendments Committee, that in fact, it is looked at, it is reviewed, and it is assessed very carefully as to the legitimacy of this, particularly I want the defining of, just one moment Mr. Speaker, if I can grab this section here, (Interruptions)

If I go to Clause 9, defining the National Child Benefit Program. I hope every member of that Law Amendments Committee makes sure that there is a definition to this Nova Scotia Child Benefit Program, and one that is to the benefit of all those disadvantaged Nova Scotians, when in fact they make the approval of this bill. Also, prescribing the eligibility and criteria of payments for Nova Scotia Child Benefit Program. I want to make sure that each and every Nova Scotian is not only aware of their eligibilities, that in fact, it is written out in simple language, so that everyone can understand that within the particular Act. I want to make sure that Nova Scotians have a clear understanding of this.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to Part VIII, the Revenue Act, Clause 20, the increase in tobacco products. There is general acceptance that in fact the increase in the price of tobacco has led to a decrease in the number of smokers. There has been that in fact when the tobacco became extraordinarily high, that the Anti-Smoking Coalition were able to document that there was a decrease in the number of young smokers and smokers overall in Canada, whom in fact did not smoke as a result of the increase.

I want to applaud the government. I don't believe education is enough. Education is never enough. Education simply is a pamphlet, and we can hope that people will read and understand. But what we have to do is sometimes we have to tax things out of the limits and out of the reach of individuals in order for their own best interests, and that is particularly to health. Think about the significant impact and the cost to health. Think of the number of people who are in the palliative care units of hospitals as a result of smoking. Just think of the number of individuals who are there.

I want to thank this government, because this government is in fact on the right move to increase the taxation on tobacco and tobacco products. I think the government should go one step further, and I think the government should penalize, in fact, it should, if I can make a recommendation, create legislation that it is an offence for young persons to be caught with tobacco products in their possession, much the same as it is an offence for young persons to be caught with the use of alcohol, or alcohol in their possession. It is very important that if we are going to go that one step further, that we do that. I think that these are the kinds of things that Nova Scotians expect of us as legislators. There is absolutely no question, that these are the kinds of things that we should be looking at.

[Page 2235]

[9:30 p.m.]

If I can just step back to the increase in tobacco once again, I think there is a significant advertisement, and I know that most of us have seen it, where in fact the young child's mother did not live to see that young child get married and have a grandchild and so on. So the young child was without a mother and it was due to lung cancer as a result of smoking. I think that if the government provides an increase in taxes on tobacco products, that it ought not to just simply put that money into the revenue account but the government ought to set aside some of those dollars and make it within the bill to set aside some of those dollars so that it does a comprehensive ad program with respect to cigarette smoking and the potential dangers of smoking, particularly with the young people and, as well as, those adults who, in fact, should know better.

Mr. Speaker, Part VIII of Bill No. 13, the Public Service Superannuation Act, I want to make a comment with respect to the Public Service Superannuation Act. I have to say that I served on the pension committee for a brief period of time as a councillor in the City of Dartmouth. (Interruption) Yes, no longer the City of Dartmouth, a part of the HRM, the community of Dartmouth, thanks to the Liberal Government opposite.

AN HON. MEMBER: There is another topic.

MR. PYE: However, Mr. Speaker, what I want to say is in 1989 and 1990 during the actuarial's report there was, in fact, a comment that was related to spouses and the definition of spousal. At that time it was not necessarily considered appropriate to talk about the inclusions of partners, gays and lesbians, as a matter of fact, of same sex relationships but I did bring the issue before the city council. I did request the inclusion of the same sex relationships of gays and lesbians within the Pension Act.

Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you that there were some concerns at that particular time. However, our society has become more open. It has become more tolerant. It has become more accepting of the fact that everyone has a right to live in a partnership in which they deem appropriate to live in this community of Nova Scotia and in this country of Canada. I certainly do not want to see us take a backward step with respect to that. I support the 66.67 per cent increase from the 60 per cent increase, although I do believe it could go farther. I do support that at the present time.

I have to tell you that it never ceased to amaze me that, in fact, every time an actuarial was hired to look into the pension plans that, in fact, the actuarial, I think with the exception of the Teachers' Pension Plan which, in fact, was totally devastated, but the actuarial always looked at the pension plan with respect to the components of how many people will live, how many people will die, how many people will retire and the actual payout over a projected five year period of the pension plan. Then any additional monies over and above that was, in fact, considered surplus. It gave the hand of both the employer and the employees the opportunity

[Page 2236]

to take advantage of pension surpluses. In my opinion, the day has come when we have to look at and we have to review pension surpluses with respect to dealing, in an appropriate manner, with how we address pension surpluses.

As we know, governments have the opportunity to downsize, employers have the opportunity to downsize and I know that I am now talking about the Public Service Superannuation Act and not the Pension Benefits Act of the Province of Nova Scotia but I do think there are ample opportunities, particularly in government, to enhance the quality of life and give individuals the opportunity to retire on full pensions at an earlier age, thus creating the opportunity for government to downsize without having a significant impact on the economy. I also believe that it is significantly important to look at this with respect to the overall picture of allowing people to retire earlier and take advantage of full pension plans.

I do know that there has to be requirements by the federal government's Income Tax Act to deal with this but I think this particular Liberal Government, on the side of the Liberal Government of Canada can, in fact, articulate those particular issues of concern in such a manner that there is approval for changes in the federal Income Tax Act that would allow such changes. I think that the NSGEU employees, as well as the government and there are no facts since this has been a surplus and that it has in fact exceeded the federal government's pension requirement of 110 per cent to 121 per cent of the actual money in there, that the employees are entitled to that money. Every single employee within government is entitled to that money and there is absolutely no question. What I do have a problem with is that it is not at arm's length with the Finance Minister and he has to recognize that there are entities who are interested and concerned with the future well-being of this particular pension plan.

It is important to make sure that all those entities are represented at the table and, as a matter of fact, be a joint entity so that they are a part of the benefit programs on how this particular benefit is dispensed to the betterment of those employees. Remember that the pension surplus is not actually the pension surplus money of the government but it is the pension surplus money of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. As the pension surplus money of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotians have every right to know how that money is being spent.

I believe if we look at the total amount of the reduced pension plan surplus it is $247 million. Think about it, $247 million of surplus money in the pension plan. Think about that total package and think that this government wants to have the opportunity and the ability to go back in, hire the actuarial and do another review possibly to collect if, in fact, there is a surplus. I believe that the avenue is already here for an additional $75 million for the government to get its hands on, $30 million of which would slip back to the employees, another $30 million which would flow back to the government. Remember, it is Nova Scotian taxpayers' dollars that we are dealing with and that is what we have to remember and that is what we have to fully understand, as well as the employees' future.

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If there is some consideration that should be given with respect to the Committee on Law Amendments, I would say that they look at the role of the Superintendent of Pensions, the role to represent the retired employees. The bill must be at arm's length from the Finance Minister. The actuarial reports must be a part of a comprehensive group of entities that, in fact, are going to be the benefactors of that program. The government should not be the only Party to review this pension plan.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, and I must say that I was hoping that I could continue a little further, but I am running out, I hope that the Law Amendments Committee will give careful scrutiny to the suggested amendments, not only suggested by myself, but suggested by all members of this Legislative Assembly and, as a collective body, give it serious consideration with respect to what we are going to do with the superannuation Act and the child benefits and all others.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleagues for the opportunity to speak on behalf of Bill No. 13, The Financial Measures Act, and I certainly hope that they give serious consideration to what I have brought forward this evening. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in second reading, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. I was kind of inspired by the member for Dartmouth North. I guess I was inspired from the fact that when he got into talking about agriculture and the NDP's position on agriculture. I worked on a farm, as well, when I was a young man, but I am not an expert. I was never a farmer. I think you have to understand that being a farmer and working on a farm for a period of time are quite different.

When the honourable member for Dartmouth North said that the answer to some of our problems are the lowering of the milk prices, I wonder if he really has insight or if that is the NDP policy in correcting what is happening in the farming community today. That is the NDP's answer - simply to reduce milk prices. Farmers have been going through a tough time with the drought, high grain prices and I know the member knows that the dairies in this province are full up.

MR. JERRY PYE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am wondering if, in fact, the honourable member will entertain a question?

MR. SPEAKER: Will the honourable member entertain a question?

MR. MOODY: Sure.

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MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, is the honourable member indicating that simply because of my comments with respect to the reduction of the retail rate of milk that, in fact, I am causing a hardship on the farmer because that, in fact, is not true. I had already said it was at the gate receipt that, in fact, the farmer will continue.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I am hearing two versions, because I think the damage has been done and the member is trying to backtrack. When he said there are farmers milking 400 cows in this province, it is not true. I have one of the largest dairy farmers milking cows in this province. If you can get up to 200 to 240, one of the largest dairy producers in this province, not 400. So I don't know where these numbers come from. I am concerned that the member is calling the Dairy Commission a marketing board.

AN HON. MEMBER: He borrowed Don Downe's calculator.

MR. MOODY: To simplify a policy in agriculture in saying that by lowering the price of dairy at the retail outlets will not reduce the price to the farmers at the farm gate, I can't believe anyone would say that. I can't believe that he doesn't understand that our dairies in this province are co-ops, owned by the farmers. He doesn't seem to understand that unless we have stability in this industry, we are going to have bad times. You talk about hard times, when you start lowering the milk price in the stores, you are talking about affecting the beef industry. You are talking about having a great impact, because many dairy farmers that I know are into mixed farming. Mr. Speaker, to stand up here tonight and say at the beginning that the NDP now, all of a sudden, understand the woes of the agriculture sector in this province, and simplify how we deal with the problems in the agriculture sector is astounding; it is really astounding.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: You tell us what the truth is, George.

[9:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if that comment is that I never tell the truth; I am not just sure what that means, but I think we all have a responsibility to stand up and support the agricultural sector, but make sure, when we support it, we understand it, and we don't make comments that could simplify things that are not so simple. We have an industry that is in dire need of help. When the present government did away with the exemption on the property taxation a few years ago, at that time, I said to this government that for a few million dollars you are going to have a lot of grief at the polls; you are going to take a lot of grief over something that the farming community is going to be very upset about.

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I don't think that anyone, from any side of the House, would argue the point that it did have an effect on the 1998 general election. It had an effect on how this House is made up today. We said it at the time, but what is different now, what is totally different in the Legislature is that as we go along with any piece of legislation, including this one, it is incumbent upon us all to make it the best kind of legislation possible, because, if we don't do that, we can't go out anymore and blame it on the government ramming something through because there weren't the numbers in the Legislature to make it better.

We now have an opportunity to ensure that next time some government doesn't come along and think, all of a sudden, they have a new idea, to again tax the farmers. We have to make sure that that can't be easily done, that government will give the farming community and others an opportunity to have input and not ignore them like they did the last time. We have to make sure, Mr. Speaker, as we move along this legislation, because as I hear everybody speaking, there are clauses that probably all of us support, but there are many clauses that I have heard that can be improved upon. There has never been a piece of legislation that any government in the 20 years I have been here has put in that can't have a second thought, and can't be improved upon. So, we have to take responsibility as we move along with this piece of legislation.

I was interested in the member for Dartmouth North when he talked about the Home Ownership Savings Plan, when he talked about people's income. It seems like every time the NDP talk, they want to talk about a means test of some kind. When we are talking about first-time homeowners, we are talking about people starting out in life. It is important to all those people to have some incentive. I can remember - and I think everybody can remember - the biggest investment that we used to make in life was buying a home. Today, the biggest investment is getting an education. It costs more today to get an education than it ever cost me or many people I know to buy a home, but it is a very important decision that people have to make.

I hope the ownership program is extended. Governments traditionally have tied them into budgets, and maybe we should look at extending that. I am not convinced that tying it to the budget, and the times can make a difference, but I don't think there would ever be a time that there shouldn't be some incentive for new homeowners. What does it do? It creates employment, it has a spin-off effect, and it gives those first-time homeowners an incentive. I know that when they get that rebate, it means a lot to them because to build a home today you are talking $100,000-plus. You are not talking the $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 or $40,000 that it cost some of us not that many years ago. I think that that is a positive thing.

When we talk about the film industry, there is no question that this industry is important. It has become one of the most important industries that I see a growth in that we can expand upon and one that has a spin-off effect. I think many communities in this province have been affected by this industry, in Shelburne, Cape Breton and even in the Valley, the South Shore, many parts of the province, and why we are so attractive is because of our

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heritage, what we have to offer. I think if you talk to anybody in the industry, they will tell you a great place to come to find people to take part and to treat them in such a way is the film industry. We had a film done this year in Berwick. We had locals take part and there was a spin-off effect. So I applaud the government in giving the tax credit. I think we have to reassess where the future is and if the future is there, then that is what we have to encourage.

I want to talk about the Child Tax Benefit. One of the things that bothered me when we bought into the Child Tax Benefit Program, one government gives on one hand and the other government takes away on the other. The people that I dealt with who thought that this was good news found out that it was not great news. Mr. Speaker, you, like myself, know many of these people in our constituencies who are struggling on family benefits, who are struggling to provide for their children. I do not know how some of these people manage. They are great managers. We sometimes say, boy, I wonder how they provide so well for their children and provide the kind of food and shelter they do on the small amounts that they get from government. I am thinking to myself, you know, why couldn't we just say that the Child Tax Credit Program, why did we have to claw back from those people because there is not one of us in this Legislature, not one of us, could live on the amounts that these people are living on, not one of us.

If we truly care for the downtrodden and those who have been affected in some way, through a disability or a situation that is uncontrollable, I feel so bad for these people, Mr. Speaker, and I am hoping in some way along the way that we take great pride in making great announcements and take great pride in announcing millions of dollars for whatever reason and governments are up there, and the photo ops are there, and we are all so happy, but not one of us understands the plight of these people that this has affected.

AN HON. MEMBER: I do.

MR. MOODY: Well, I do too and I have been to many of their homes and admire many of those people. Somehow we have got to make that better. We have got to make that better and somehow through this process we cannot stand up and say that we are adequately providing for these people when down deep in our hearts there is not one of us, if we really told the truth, would not say that these people are hard done by. Somehow we have to, Mr. Speaker, make some sort of change so that if, in fact, there is some money to go around, that we give it to those most in need. Doesn't that make sense? Doesn't make sense that we try to look after those that need the most.

I, for one, Mr. Speaker, will be trying in some way to give those people some hope because that is really what it is all about because when they heard about it they had hope. In actual fact when they were given it with one hand and had it taken it away with the other hand, they lost that hope. Somehow we have to bring that back and it does not matter what Party we represent. We have to think about people and their needs not their wants, their needs.

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I want to move on to the Municipal Grants Act. I look at what is happening in the Town of Berwick and the hardship that they have had as a small town and we have downloaded (Interruption) Yes, the federal government. I do not blame it totally on the provincial government, the federal government has had the big hand that started all of this. As they came down they crushed the provincial government who in turn crushed the municipal governments. Somehow we have got to start recognizing that taxpayers are taxpayers and recognizing the fact that we somehow have to figure out what is fair. Let us not try because it is good for us provincially to make those people squirm down in the municipal governments. Let us try to be fair and reasonable because we want this province to flourish. If we want this province to flourish there is only one way to do it and that is not to keep hitting the taxpayer in the pocketbook time and time again. Somehow we have to try to find a way to be more fair.

When we talk about the superannuation, I actually support the moving of the death benefits from 60 per cent to 66.66 per cent. I would not be hard-pressed to vote for 70 per cent. I might even go as high as 75 per cent and I say that because you know we have a superannuation fund and we are talking about giving back money. What is the retirement fund for? It is to look after these people and their needs down the road. When the breadwinner dies and the person who survives - you know they say two live cheaper than one but that is not true - the widow or the widower or whoever the survivor is has to maintain the home, has to pay the light bill, buy the fuel, buy the groceries. There are a lot of constants in there.

If there is money in there, instead of rebating large amounts, maybe we should look at looking after those that end up on small pensions. Somebody mentioned about same-sex relationships. I would support that, I have been a proponent of that. You have to recognize the world is changing and we have to change with it.

I guess my time is up and if you so wish, Mr. Speaker, I will adjourn the debate and come back to it another day. I move to adjourn the debate on Bill No. 13.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn the debate on Bill No. 13.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the hours of sitting will be from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and the Oral Question Period we will continue with the debate on Bill No. 13.

I move that we now adjourn.

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MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: I was just going to ask the minister if we conclude with Bill No. 13, what would be the intended order for the other bills?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Probably Bill No. 4 for tomorrow and depending on the availability of ministers - Minister Smith is out tomorrow so we cannot go with his bill - and Bill No. 24 if it is ready.

MR. SPEAKER: Again, 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 9:59 p.m.]