The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.
























HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 25, 1995



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Third Session



12:00 P.M.



SPEAKER



Hon. Paul MacEwan



DEPUTY SPEAKER



Mrs. Francene Cosman






MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will call the House to order at this time. There are, apparently, no
visitors to be introduced.



The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River, on a point of privilege.



MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege. Yesterday in the House,
a former Speaker, the honourable member for Hants West, attempted to table a resolution stating that I, as
Deputy Speaker, was engaged in a clandestine attempt to duck the fall-out from voting the Party line.



Mr. Speaker, the first recorded vote of this session came in the vote on the Throne Speech and my
name was passed over. After that, I sought advice on whether or not the deputy voted and was of the
understanding that the Deputy Speaker need not vote, particularly to emphasize the impartiality, which is a
fundamental requirement, when in the Chair.



The second recorded vote occurred when I was attending the Volunteer Awards ceremony at the
World Trade and Convention Centre with the Volunteer of the Year from my area, and was certainly not
clandestine. The press report to which the honourable member referred as a source of information, did not
say that I stayed away on the hoist amendment, nor did it say I was at the volunteer event.



Mr. Speaker, as a new Deputy Speaker, I have much to learn and I am the first to admit that. Not
only am I attempting to learn the Rule Books and to review the past 10 years of Speakers’ Rulings, I am
looking to former Speakers - such as the honourable member for Hants West, who made such an unmerited
attempt at attack yesterday - for sage and helpful advice.



953

 

Mr. Speaker, I am attempting also to research the past records and looking to see when former
Speakers or Deputy Speakers voted. What I have found so far is a very inconsistent pattern of voting and non-voting, with no sense of how a decision is reached whether or not Deputy Speakers or Speakers would
participate. What I have found out to this point is very interesting, as I say. It has been an inconsistent pattern
and, certainly, when I reviewed the record of the former administration when the numbers of Opposition
members and government members were closely matched, it certainly necessitated the requirement for the
vote of the Deputy Speaker and, on occasion, the Speaker, as well.



I have pledged to fairness and reasonableness in my decision-making when conducting my duties
in the Chair. It is a standard that I have demanded of myself all my life and I will continue to demand it.



When a former Speaker of the House alleges that I have improper motives, it casts a dark shadow
over the future conduct of the business of the House and it affects all members. I would like to hope that the
resolution attempted yesterday by the former Speaker was a brief moment of frustration and thoughtlessness
on the part of the member and not an attempt to say that the Deputy Speaker is unable to be fair in her
judgments. That is my point of privilege which I submit to you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I certainly did attempt to introduce a motion yesterday
which you subsequently ruled out of order that did indeed state that the Deputy Speaker had, at least on one
occasion, not had her named called during a roll call vote. I was suggesting in my resolution that that was
improper and that on no occasion that I knew of, had the Deputy Speaker, being in the House and present for
voting, not indeed voted.



It is quite permissible for a person who occupies a chair within this House to abstain, to either vote
in favour or to vote against, but I know of no occasions when the Deputy Speaker has asked that her name be
removed from the roll call vote.



MR. SPEAKER: I would just clarify that one aspect. I have checked into this matter. The Deputy
Speaker did not ask that her name be deleted from the list of names called out for the recorded vote. The Clerk
in error neglected to call her name out. It was not her fault.



MR. RUSSELL: That could well be, Mr. Speaker, but, however, on an occasion in this House, her
name, indeed, was not called. I would have thought that the member then would have advised the Clerk or
the Speaker that her name or his name, as the case may be, was not called for that particular vote.



Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge that yesterday, the Deputy Speaker did indeed vote on that particular
amendment in second reading and I accept the explanation put forward by the honourable member that indeed
after research, she has found that she is either to absent herself from a vote or else, if she is present in her seat,
to actually vote on any matter that comes before this House for a recorded vote.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, hopefully the matter has been sufficiently canvassed.



The honourable Minister of Supply and Services.



HON. GERALD O’MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I would just address one moment to that point of order,
Mr. Speaker. I am sure if you research Beauchesne on this matter, Beauchesne indicates that there has been,
over the history of time, a variety of positions taken by various Deputy Speakers, pro and con. But if you go
a little further and you research Sir Erskine May, Sir Erskine May gives three-quarters of a page, a half page
on one side and one-quarter of a page on another side where he admonishes Deputy Speakers not to vote on
any vote in the Chamber. The Deputy Speaker holds the same responsibility to impartiality as, indeed, does
the Speaker. Therefore, Sir Erskine May indicates very strongly that the Deputy Speaker’s position shall not
be a biased political position while in the House. So, Mr. Speaker, it depends on the authority, I would
suppose.



MR. SPEAKER: The observations are, indeed, correct but they do not necessarily apply to the Nova
Scotia House.



The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Well, Mr. Speaker, I was quite prepared to let the matter go but since the
Minister of Supply and Services has chosen to intervene, I, too, have read Beauchesne and I notice on Page
93, Paragraph 300, that it states unequivocally that names can only be added or deleted from a division list
with the consent of the House. That is certainly very plain. It also says on Page 91, Paragraph 293(3) “. . .
members . . . rise separately and a Table Clerk, standing, calls out their names. The Clerk records their votes
on a printed list, repeating each name and placing a mark against it. The Members should sit down after they
have heard their names . . . “.



I think that Beauchesne very definitely states that a member who is present in their seat shall vote,
whether they are the Deputy Speaker or any other member of this House.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, I consider this matter to be closed. The Clerk neglected to call out the name
purely in error, with no intent of any devious nature. We are dealing here with a new Deputy Speaker who
did not know that she had the right to vote and presumed that she did not because the Clerk did not call out
her name.



The matter is closed, it is over with and I propose that we move on to the orders of the day.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.



MR. EARLE RAYFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by the residents of Vault
Road. It reads: “We the undersigned tax payers who reside on the Upper portion of Vault road, Annapolis
County, request that something be done to up-grade this road. As this road is in desperate need of repair.”.



I made a point to drive over that road on the weekend and, as it says here, the upper part of it is very
bad. There are a number of new houses being built on it. So I table the petition and I have signed it myself.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants East.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I rise to bring a petition to the
House signed by 621 individuals. They are protesting that 10 middle school students in the Mount Uniacke
area, ages 11 through to 14, have lost the privilege of riding home on the bus, due to Mount Uniacke losing
a school bus this year.



I realize this is directed mainly to the school board but I wish to bring this to the attention of all
members of the House. It is a very serious matter. I am forwarding it to the Minister of Education and I have
signed this matter as I endorse it fully.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Supply and Services.



HON. GERALD O’MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave of the House to table this photographic album
in response to requests made in the House yesterday.



MR. SPEAKER: The photographic album is tabled.



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 180



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



Whereas Nova Scotia lost a scholar, educator and a true champion of the people with the passing of
Dr. Harry Smith, Nova Scotia’s first Ombudsman; and



Whereas Dr. Smith served his country and his province with great distinction and will be long
remembered as an outstanding Nova Scotian who transformed high ideals into concrete action; and



Whereas the thousands of Nova Scotians he has touched throughout his career in the military, in the
academic community and in the Public Service are saddened by his death;



Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its sincere condolences to the family of the late Dr.
Harry Smith, noting his outstanding service to his country and to the people of this province and that Mr.
Speaker convey these sentiments to Dr. Smith’s widow on behalf of all members of the Legislature.



[12:15 p.m.]



Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the matter be put now without debate.



MR. SPEAKER: 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 Atlantic.



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



Whereas Beauchesne states in Citation 670 that, “It is also competent for a Member, who desires to
place on record any special reasons for not agreeing to the second reading of a bill, to move what is known
as a `reasoned amendment’.”; and



Whereas Beauchesne states that a reasoned amendment may fall into one of several categories
including: “(1) It must be declaratory of some principle adverse to, or differing from, the principles, policy
or provisions of the bill.”; and



Whereas on April 24, 1995 Mr. Speaker ruled an NDP reasoned amendment to Bill No. 3 out of
order because it didn’t meet all of the stated categories; . . .



MR. SPEAKER: No because it didn’t meet category one, it must be declaratory. It was not
declaratory.



MR. CHISHOLM: Therefore be it resolved that this House urges Mr. Speaker to cease making
rulings that interfere with the member’s well-established freedom to place before the House a reasoned
amendment and to reconsider his ruling of April 24, 1995.



MR. SPEAKER: I find that resolution to be out of order because it directs the Speaker not to carry
out the duties which the Rules of the House prescribes his job to be.



MR. CHISHOLM: It asks the Speaker to stop interfering . . .



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is out of order.



The honourable member for Hants East.



RESOLUTION NO. 181



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



Whereas Nova Scotia mourns the sudden loss of a dynamic individual, in the person of long time
Hants East resident, Joan McLellan; and



Whereas Joan, who is the mother of the federal Minister of Natural Resources, was Deputy Warden
of the Municipality of Hants East and a municipal councillor for 18 years; and



Whereas Joan represented East Hants on the Regional Medical Board, was past president of the
Colchester-East Hants Mental Health Association and an active community volunteer;



Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its condolences to the family members for the great
loss they have incurred and acknowledge the passing of a committed and energetic Nova Scotian.



Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice on this motion.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



RESOLUTION NO. 182



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



Whereas depression is the result of a number of causes from career and family stresses to genetics;
and



Whereas in a recent study conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association, it was identified
that 670,000 Canadians or 5 per cent of the work force experience some form of depression leading to
disability insurance claims; and



Whereas it is estimated that this long-term disability costs employers across this country up to $300
million annually;



Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature truly understand the disability and offer support to the
Nova Scotia Mental Health Association and the work they do on behalf of Nova Scotians afflicted with this
disability.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 183



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



Whereas the members of the parents and citizens committees submitted a proposal to the Richmond
District School Board with respect to the repair of the 63 section of the Isle Madame elementary school; and



Whereas the proposal looks enterprisingly to alternate sources of labour and coordination, since the
capital funds of the Department of Education necessary are limited and not available for some time; and



Whereas these citizen groups were offered the support of the Minister of Education if they were given
approval from the board;



Therefore be it resolved that since the committees have been given approval in principle from the
Richmond District School Board, that the minister offer these parents and citizens, who have come up with
an innovative approach with government limitations in mind, to see that their children are returned post-haste
to a healthy learning environment within their own community.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 184



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



Whereas the Lake District Recreation Association will hold its 16th Annual Volunteer Appreciation
Evening on April 25, 1995; and



Whereas the community of Sackville has benefited greatly from the hundreds of dedicated volunteers
who gave so generously of their time, energies, skills and resources to the betterment of their community; and



Whereas the quality of life of all Sackville residents has been enhanced by the unselfish and
community-minded efforts of these volunteers;



Therefore be it resolved that this House thank all those residents who have and continue to volunteer
so generously for the betterment of their community and the lives of those who live in Sackville and wish them
well in their future endeavours.



Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.



RESOLUTION NO. 185



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



Whereas the Canadian Armed Forces Base at CFB Shearwater, in Eastern Passage, plays a strategic
role in the security of the people of this country and soon people from around the world; and



Whereas a military aircraft crash-landed yesterday, without its wing flaps or right wheel, resulting
in four Ottawa-based crew members being treated for bruises and smoke inhalation; and



Whereas this military aircraft is one of four Challengers used by Ottawa’s 412 Squadron to fly VIPs,
including the Prime Minister of Canada;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly commend crew members,
Captain Rick Abbott, co-pilot; flight engineer, Master-Cpl. Marc Pronovost; James Kenny, a civilian with the
federal Department of Transportation; and Captain Ken Fitzsimmons, for their courageous landing of this
military aircraft with no loss of life or serious injury.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Eastern Shore.



RESOLUTION NO. 186



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



Whereas the Eastern Shore Wildlife Association received funding from the Nova Scotia Department
of Fisheries to complete a liming project in the East River, Sheet Harbour; and



Whereas the liming of the East River will restore the pH balance of the river to ensure a healthy
aqua-environment for salmon stocks and other river life; and



Whereas for many years, the sport fishing of salmon has been an important resource for tourists and
local residents alike;



Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the work of the Eastern Shore Wildlife Association
in helping restore the environment of the East River and protect valuable salmon stocks, while promoting eco-tourism along the Eastern Shore.



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



Is it agreed that notice be waived?



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. 187



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



Whereas one of the major planks of the 1993 Liberal election campaign was community economic
development; and



Whereas two years later all Nova Scotians are being told is that the construction of homes and the
alleged enhanced procurement policy is community economic development; and



Whereas a recent Daily News business story said, “the smell remains desperate in rural Nova Scotia,
where the recovery is only a rumour”;



Therefore be it resolved that the government stop stripping away the fabric of rural Nova Scotia,
schools, hospitals, court-houses and immediately begin showing us the vision now that the Premier promised
in Lunenburg in 1993, and keep in the forefront what he said that evening - Where there is no vision, the
people perish.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Minister of Health.



RESOLUTION NO. 188



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



Whereas a sense of caring and a desire to share have motivated hundreds of men and women and
boys and girls to volunteer their time and services; and



Whereas volunteer action is a powerful force serving the needs of the community, whether it be by
helping those in need or by enriching the lives of all through the arts, recreation and cultural activities; and



Whereas volunteers are carrying on a grand tradition in Nova Scotia;



Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize National Volunteer Week, April 23rd
to April 29th and commend and thank the volunteers in Nova Scotia for their spirit, dedication and effort
throughout the year.



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



Is it agreed that notice be waived?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.



RESOLUTION NO. 189



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



Whereas Mr. Philip Hall, Assistant Superintendent of Schools for the Guysborough County District
School Board, has been awarded the Telesat Education Telecommunications Award; and



Whereas this award is presented for outstanding success in ending the isolation and curriculum
limitations that often characterize small rural schools in Nova Scotia; and



Whereas Mr. Hall has been a leader in initiating Distance Education Learning, using technology,
to assist in the delivery of the Public School Program to students in some of the rural high schools across the
province;



Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mr. Philip Hall for the outstanding contribution
he has made to Distance Education Learning in this province, as recognized in the prestigious Telesat
Education Telecommunications Award.



Mr. Speaker, I would request of waiver.



MR. SPEAKER: A request is 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 Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 190



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



Whereas in November 1994, Premier Savage was quoted as saying, “we may not always be right, but
we will always hold to our fundamental philosophy of looking after those people who don’t have the same
benefits as others.”; and



Whereas the Liberal Government continues to refuse to offer same sex spousal benefits to employees
of the provincial government; and



Whereas research prepared by the Department of Human Resources shows that there is no valid
excuse to continue to deny employment benefits to gay and lesbian employees including the fact that the cost
of doing so would be negligible;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Liberal Government to end its blatant discrimination
and extend basic employment benefits to gay and lesbian employees.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



Are there further notices of motion? If not, I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted
a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 o’clock. The winner this afternoon is the honourable member for
Pictou Centre - I wait for the applause to die down - he has submitted a resolution reading:



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government recognize that Nova Scotians expect and
deserve that their Liberal MLAs will be accountable and represent the concerns of their constituents.



So, we will hear discussion on that topic at 6:00 o’clock this evening.



The time now being, I’ll say, 12:28 p.m. the Oral Question Period today will run for one hour, that
is until 1:28 p.m.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



EDUC.: KINGSTEC - PROG. SUSPENSIONS



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Last week
over 30 teachers and 7 programs were suspended from Kingstec Community College, located in Kentville.
Two of the seven programs that are no longer going to be available are Food Science and Quality Control of
Foods. I wish to know, how did you come about making the decisions at a time when the federal government
will be requiring additional technology because they intend to add research facilities in Kentville for added
value food services and they are undertaking this at the research station, why have these two programs been
eliminated from Kingstec?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that the analysis was
done looking at the labour market statistics. It was done looking at the province-wide community college that
we have. The reduction of programs there, the ones he described, were based on that evidence and
replacements were provided for.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary is for the Minister of Education. There is
considerable food processing, as you know, in the Annapolis Valley. There is going to be increased emphasis
placed. Did your government hold any discussions with individuals involved with food processing prior to
your elimination of these programs?



MR. MACEACHERN: Yes, Mr. Speaker.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Education, considering the
importance of value added to the food of Nova Scotia’s agricultural industry, did you discuss with the Minister
of Agriculture or the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency that you were going to be closing the food
service courses at Kingstec, particularly when you realize that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency
is placing added emphasis on further processing throughout Nova Scotia and was this a case of the
Department of Education not communicating with other parts of government? I know that they have not
communicated clearly with the industry, but also did you neglect to discuss with the Minister of Agriculture
and the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency?



[12:30 p.m.]



MR. MACEACHERN: First of all, I can tell the honourable member, through you, Mr. Speaker, that
the decisions that were made at the community college were with constant discussion with the industry and
the decisions were made based on what is best for the industry in Nova Scotia. The honourable member knows
that the community college for the last 10 or 12 years has sat stagnant and the changes that took place were
to strengthen the community college. The applause that is coming from the industries that change is taking
place is something that speaks for itself.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



TRANSPORT.: HIGHWAY 104 WESTERN ALIGNMENT CORP. - AUDITS



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you, sir, to the Premier.
I have in my hands the statement that, of course, was made by the Minister of Transportation and
Communications on April 20, 1995, in which the minister announced that the Highway 104 Western
Alignment Corporation was to be established. My question to the Premier is quite simply this. Is it the
Premier’s intent that that corporation will be audited - or maybe put it a better way - that the Auditor General
will have the full power to do complete audits of the corporation on a regular basis and to report back on his
findings to this House?



HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, given the complexity of that, I think it is best
answered by the Minister of Transportation and Communications.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, as all members of the Legislature know, this government
has embarked in a new direction, the public/private partnering concept. We have heard members opposite,
for example, and people of Nova Scotia through those members opposite continue to ask for highways to be
built and highways to be upgraded and new paving to take place. As long as people continue to ask, we have
to try and find ways to do that. Obviously, the conventional methods of building highways in Nova Scotia will
not keep us apace with the requests that are out there and in an effort to do that, in an effort to keep pace, we
have embarked on trying to find new ways, new methods of building highways. There certainly has been no
attempt whatsoever on the part of this minister or this government to circumvent the Auditor General in any
of our dealings.



MR. HOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, we hear that there is no intent to try to circumvent the Auditor
General but that the government is going in a new direction. I am going back to the Premier. Of course, it is
the Premier who is the First Minister, therefore, the minister responsible for the actions of his colleagues and
Cabinet. My question to the Premier is quite simply this. I cannot ask it about the bill, but my question has
to do with the government policy. My question to the Premier, is it the government’s model that you are
proposing to take forward to the meeting that is going on starting today with the chamber of commerce on
public/private partnerships, is the model that this government is proposing like that which it is proposing for
Highway No. 104? In other words, a model in which the government will deny the Auditor General the full
powers to examine and audit to ensure that the best interests of Nova Scotians are being protected on an
ongoing basis, is that the model you are proposing?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am a little confused about what model we are talking about here.
We have a model that we have that the Minister of Transportation and Communications has referred to. We
have other options that we have exercised; for instance, in the high electronics school in Sydney. We have
other areas. There is no one model. We are a flexible government and we will work with the private sector
to produce whatever we can.



MR. HOLM: The real question is accountability. There are public funds both directly and indirectly
going into the project. I am going to ask the Premier one last time, will the Premier guarantee that the Auditor
General will have the full powers to audit the corporation to ensure that the public’s best interests are
protected, will the Premier give that assurance that the Auditor General can audit it on a regular ongoing
basis?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister of Transportation might have an answer to this
and I will defer to him.



MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, as we embark on new processes in this province, it is going to require
a new way of thinking by all of us. We cannot apply 1960’s or 1970’s thinking to modern day concepts. No
one has had an outcry about the wide area network that is going to be built with public/private partnering
across this province because very few understand it. Everyone believes they are an expert on building roads
and they have difficulty adjusting their thinking to believe that the old traditional methods of building
highways can be changed and can be replaced by a public/private partner concept.



The Auditor General was written to on April 7, 1995 by the staff in my department. In that letter we
asked the Auditor General, come on in, take a look at the process we are using, judge our accountability, not
just today but right through until the process to evaluate the proposals that we are seeking and voice any
concerns. The Auditor General responded to us through his deputy - and I have no difficult with this, this is
his department and he can run it the way he wants, but he came back to us - and said no. It is within his
mandate, but he feels it would be inappropriate at this time - I will table the letter - because he may have to
audit this when it is complete at a later date and he has other priorities that have to be addressed at this time.



I would once again open the door for the Auditor General to come in and talk to our department now
and talk to our government now and if there are concerns, to raise those concerns now. We will work with
the Auditor General, in fact, I will give an undertaking to this House to write another letter to the Auditor
General and invite the Auditor General to consider this once again. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.






ENVIRON. - MCBEAN MINE (THORBURN): COMMUN. COMM. - CHAIR



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. Within 24
hours of the minister assuming his responsibilities, he approved the application for the McBean Surface Coal
Mine in Thorburn. He laid out eight requirements to be met by the company and I will table the
correspondence the minister and I have had respecting this. Those requirements, among other things, called
for a community liaison committee to be established. The community liaison committee’s role is very clear;
the general purpose of it is to make sure that the community has ample opportunity to express concerns and
views to the proponent in a balanced way, so that the proponent hears not what he or she may necessarily want
to hear but rather what, in the committee’s view, the proponent should hear.



It is essential in the view of all people who have an interest in these matters that the department’s
guidelines be followed to ensure fairness and equity to the community involved, in this case, the community
of Thorburn. My question to the minister is to ask him if he could advise the House on how the proponent who
worked at his direction identified who to invite to the organizational meeting and whether or not it is the
minister’s view, as indicated in the minutes of the first meeting, that it is appropriate for the proponent himself
to serve as chairman of the committee? I will table the minutes of the meeting as well.



HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I was trying very hard to hear the question. I think he was
asking if I thought it was appropriate for the chairperson or for, I am sorry.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens on a clarification.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, the minutes very clearly indicate that the first meeting was chaired by
the proponent himself. Is it the minister’s view that it is appropriate for the proponent to chair the citizens
liaison committee?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will undertake to take that into consideration and take a look at it and
respond to the question directly.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, on the assumption that balance and variety of opinion within the
community are to be achieved with the liaison committee, I ask the minister if, in his view, it is appropriate
that as many as 5 of the 10 committee members are people who are either working for the company or who
appear to have a pecuniary interest with respect to that company?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, in terms of the connection with individuals who are members of the
committee, it is my understanding they are people who have expressed interest in liaising between the
community proponent and the government. So I would look further to make sure that is the case.



MR. LEEFE: I will give the minister a specific target to address in this respect, Mr. Speaker. I will
ask the minister if he will undertake to review the composition of the citizen liaison committee, to ensure that,
other than the person representing the owner, no one will serve on the committee who has a pecuniary interest
in the project and ask him further if he will table his report, consequent to review here in the House?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the answer is absolutely yes.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



HEALTH - PHARMACARE: SENIORS - PRIVATE PLANS



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Our offices have
been inundated with a lot of calls from seniors. They have been outraged that the government is forcing them
to pay into a new Pharmacare Program. Many of these seniors have private plans that are better plans than
the one that the government is presently providing; in other words, the plan they have gives them better
coverage.



Can the minister indicate if his department is intent on forcing these people who have these other
plans to pay into the provincial Pharmacare Program as well?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Again, Mr. Speaker, I might say that in terms of the Pharmacare
Program that has been designed, we have been answering many of these questions that have arisen on the part
of seniors. We are examining each of them individually and have, in almost every case that I am aware of,
indeed looked at the programs that many have submitted and have found there is no private plan that we are
aware of that could approach the coverage that we offer with the Pharmacare Program as it is now outlined
in the proposal.



MR. MOODY: Well, Mr. Speaker, I had a call even as late as Sunday evening from a retired federal
civil servant and I think you will find that all of those plans - the federal Civil Service, the Armed Forces, all
those people - that those seniors plans are better than the plan that the minister is talking about.



I guess what I would ask the minister, if the seniors think it is a better plan - they are happy with the
plan on the drug aspect, as I think after $40 the plan pays 80 per cent of the drugs and they get other things
with the program - would he consider, if these people want to keep their present plan, in other words they
would never come back on the provincial plan as long as they had this other plan, would those seniors be
allowed to keep their plan?



DR. STEWART: If I understand the honourable gentleman, he is suggesting that we allow seniors
in this province to go totally uncovered for costs as high as $50,000 a year, which no plan covers. We have
looked at this, senior bureaucratic plans, plans from the federal government. They have no yearly maximum,
in terms of co-pay; they are completely vulnerable to costs of drugs that might go as high as $20,000, $30,000,
$50,000, in one case we have mentioned in my illustration, $105,000. Seniors would not be covered for this.



We are saying that with everyone participating in the program, we will have this coverage for them.
They deserve it.



MR. MOODY: Well, again, the minister is taking the attitude that seniors don’t know what they are
talking about. I think a lot of them do know what they are talking about.



I would ask the minister, he indicated in the House the other day during his estimates that veterans
under the Pharmacare Program would be exempt. Is he referring to those who are on DVA pensions, or is he
talking about anyone who is retired from the Armed Forces?



DR. STEWART: As the honourable gentleman opposite may know, I am sure he is familiar with the
fact that veterans who have a complete drug coverage, they are veterans with injuries, they are covered under
federal Statute, as well as Status Indians and other categories. They are the complete responsibility of the
federal government and they would not be included under this plan.



[12:45 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



HEALTH - PHARMACARE: SENIORS - PRIVATE PLANS



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Health. It
tailgates on the previous question. I have had a number of complaints from seniors, and I am have sure every
member in this House has had complaints from seniors, who, indeed, do have a private plan at the present
time. They do not exercise any privilege at all under the provincial program. They get all their benefits
through private insurance or some other alternate government insurance.



Many of these persons who have heard that they are going to be charged a premium of $215 per
annum, Mr. Speaker, have phoned - and I hope the minister is listening - the minister’s office on the 1-800
number to determine whether or not they are going to have to pay that premium. Unfortunately, what has
happened is that some of those people have been told no, you don’t have to, and some have been told yes, you
do have to. I have itemized cases if the minister is interested. I was wondering if the minister could explain
why they are getting two different answers to the same question?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Again, Mr. Speaker, I can’t be aware of each call but I would be very
happy to peruse any specifics that the honourable gentleman opposite may have and correct any
misimpressions that may have been given. We have had many calls, as I am sure he has, and honourable
members, regarding this plan. I want to assure him that if there are specifics in terms of a plan that we could
examine, we would be certainly happy to do that as promptly as possible.



MR. RUSSELL: I will ask the minister a very short question. Perhaps it will clear it up completely
from the point of view of members of this House anyway. Is it only the aboriginal peoples and those who have
a wartime injury which puts them on the DVA list, who have attained the age of 65, who are exempt from
the payment of $215?



DR. STEWART: The exemption would be, Mr. Speaker, to those with full pension who have
coverage that is complete under federal Statute. Those are Status Indians and also veterans who are so
qualified.



MR. RUSSELL: Okay, that has got that one squared away. The last question, and the final
supplementary, Mr. Speaker, is simply this. People who have presently got private plans are in essence paying
for a full plan. Is it the minister’s advice to those people who have that kind of a plan to change their present
coverage under the Pharmacare provisions within their own private plan?



DR. STEWART: Let us look, in response to that as completely as I can, we are happy to look at
individual cases. That is, of course, the decision of the senior. But let me emphasize that no private coverage
provides the coverage that this plan will provide. For example, the coverage that any private plan would give,
no private plan covers seniors exclusive of what we now give. In other words, if we withdraw that program
from a given senior, their costs, their premiums, would change. They would skyrocket because no private plan
that we have been able to uncover would guarantee coverage regardless of the cost. In other words, the private
coverage that we are speaking of, the premiums are set in relationship to the Pharmacare Program of Nova
Scotia. So if we are to remove that, the private coverage would go sky high. Let us not be mistaken here.



We have endeavoured in this program to protect seniors and the program for seniors in terms of the
variabilities and the vagaries of the private plans that may change at any given time depending on the
environment of the health care sector. We are saying if a senior withdraws from this program, if that could
be possible, their private plans would immediately change in terms of scope and would immediately change
in terms of their premiums. Their premiums, we have one estimate, might quadruple.



So we are saying this is a plan that protects low incomes, 75 per cent or 73 per cent of people will
benefit in terms of paying less or, in fact, getting some rebate, and we have protected the plan in perpetuity
for seniors in this province who will benefit from this and will be covered to no maximum. Show me a plan
that does that and I will happily sit down with that senior, my staff and say, well, we will have to work
something out. We are confident, and we have checked with private providers and they have assured us, if
we were to withdraw this plan from a senior, or a senior withdraw from this plan, their premiums would
change instantly.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



FIN.: INNOVATION FUND - ACCOUNTABILITY



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of
Finance. In the Budget Address just a few weeks ago, the Minister of Finance talked about a $3 million
innovation fund for the government. I looked through the Estimates Book for 1995-96 and don’t see any line
item for the innovation fund, the $3 million. I’ve gone back and found an OIC, dated March 7th, that indicates
a sudden expenditure in the amount of $3 million is urgently and immediately required to establish an
innovation fund. In other words, the $3 million is not part of the 1994-95 budget year; it doesn’t appear to be
part of the 1995-96 year and I want to ask the Minister of Finance, could he explain for me who is
accountable, where that money is, and so on?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: I thank the honourable member for the question. It is a question
I have anticipated would arise in estimates but I am certainly happy to address it here. That particular fund,
the $3 million, was a decision made by government in the process of our budget considerations this year.
There was a surplus in some of the budget for the 1994-95 fiscal year, so a special warrant was passed to
provide funding for that particular innovation fund. It does not appear in the 1995-96 estimates because it was
passed as a special warrant at the end of 1994-95.



MR. CHISHOLM: I wonder if the minister could give this House some indication, the announcement
was that this fund would finance new projects within and across departments, the innovations will improve
systems, enhance service delivery and I assume that when they went for a warrant to get $3 million they had
some specific idea what the fund was going to be used for, so I would like to ask the minister, could he table
in this House the terms of reference for the innovations fund and an indication of whether there has been any
draw down on that $3 million?



MR. BOUDREAU: First of all, I would be happy to table the terms of reference. They are still in the
process of some development because, as I say, this initiative was put in place virtually at the end of the last
fiscal year, however, it is clearly designed to encourage departments - and indeed not just single departments
but groups of departments - across departmental lines to engage in new and innovative ways to deliver
government service so that there is better service to the people and a savings for government. One of the
reasons we think this fund is necessary is that in a lot of these very innovative projects there is a cost attached,
an up-front cost and if a government is operating on a very tight budget - as all of the government departments
are these days - they are reluctant to take that up-front cost out of their normal line budget. So that is why this
fund was put in place, to allow them to access money without having to go into their own line budget and also,
to encourage cross-departmental initiatives.



The initiatives, to answer the last part of your question, are being brought forward by individual
departments and groups of departments to the BTAC Committee, which is a committee of deputy ministers -
and I wish I could tell exactly what the initials meant but the honourable member is familiar with them - and
they, I think, have a number of applications already before them; no money has been committed to date. One
of the principles involved is that there must be resulting savings so we can replenish the fund and indeed build
on the fund, so that it will be available next year and the year after that indefinitely.



MR. CHISHOLM: The concern and one of the reasons why this matter has been raised, I have been
seeking clarification from the minister and I appreciate the information he has provided, one of the concerns
is the fact that a fund like this and a project like this within government, if it is not indicated in the budget
somewhere, will go unaccounted for. I would like to ask the minister if he will commit to us here in this House
to provide at least an annual report to this Legislature on the activities of the innovation fund by the end of
the fiscal year, 1995-96?



MR. BOUDREAU: Certainly, that item and the expenditure of that money will be contained in all
subsequent budget documentation. As a matter of fact, it will be accounted for, the money, in a budget. It is
in the 1994-95 budget, because the decision was made at the end of the year and it was funded by a special
warrant.



One of the reasons I mentioned it in the Budget Speech was not only to make the public aware of this
initiative because it occurred after the last Budget Speech but also to make honourable members aware,
because if we hadn’t mentioned it you wouldn’t have seen it in last year’s estimates, you wouldn’t have seen
it in this year’s estimates and it would be next year before you were aware that it was in place. So we didn’t
want that to happen. (Laughter) So, Mr. Speaker, we did mention it in the Budget Speech. Certainly, it will
be accounted for fully.



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



TRANSPORT. - HIGHWAY NO. 104: TOLLS - EXEMPTIONS



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister
of Transportation and Communications. Irrespective of what the Minister of Transportation and
Communications says, his plan to ban trucking companies from using the existing two lane highway up
through Wentworth is not being well received by the trucking industry, specifically Colchester County and
Cumberland County trucking companies. I think of Casey Concrete and Folly Lake Aggregates. I am
wondering if the minister would consider possibly giving an exemption to Colchester County and Cumberland
County based trucking companies who will be forced to travel this new highway, this new toll road, probably
more than most?



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, probably the simplest and quickest way to do away with any
opportunity to construct the Highway No. 104 western alignment is to start exempting people from paying
tolls. If that happens, I doubt very much if the private sector would become involved. So while it may be
possible through the contract that is signed at a later date, for the operation of the highway, to look at some
special considerations, I would indicate at this point that there would be a great reluctance to start providing
exemptions in any large way.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Transportation and Communications, I am not
sure as to whether the minister is aware that anywhere in North America that there is a toll road, there is an
alternate route. Depending on your financial situation, you have the option, of course, to choose which route
you want to take. I am not suggesting the minister do that. But Colchester County and Cumberland County
trucking companies will be forced to use this new toll road more than any other company in the province.



Mr. Speaker, I guess my question is, will the minister at least sit down with Colchester County and
Cumberland County trucking companies and discuss some possible type of discount or reduction, because they
are going to be at a profound financial disadvantage based on the information the minister has given us in this
House?



MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, the whole concept of toll roads is user pay. I don’t think it is to suggest
a disadvantage if you are using something more than someone else, you would pay more than someone else.
But I think it is also fair to note and it is a well-established fact in this province of ours, that the damage to
our highway system is, by and large, caused by commercial vehicles carrying heavy loads. In fact, in studies
done leading up to the decision to go to a toll system, to pay for the western alignment of Highway No. 104,
indicates that even with the tolls that are proposed, it is unlikely we will recover funding in sufficient amounts
to cover the damage done to roads.



So, I sit down with the Truckers Association of Nova Scotia, who represent trucking associations
from Cumberland, Colchester and all counties in Nova Scotia. I have no reluctance to do that, but I state,
categorically, so that it will not be misread at a later date, I am extremely reluctant to indicate to anyone that
there will be any significant exemptions on this highway.



[1:00 p.m.]



MR. TAYLOR: My final question is also for the Minister of Transportation and Communications.
The minister made a statement in the House last week and he suggested, I believe, that the new Highway No.
104 would cut travelling time down by up to one-half hour. I am quite interested in finding out just how the
minister came up with that figure because one would have to travel . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: You were a trucker once.



MR. TAYLOR: Yes, I was a trucker in my former employ. But my calculations indicate that one
would have to travel at nearly 300 kilometres an hour or a little more and I am just wondering if 8 to 10
minutes sounds more realistic?



MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, I don’t think that member opposite should be giving anyone ideas about
the speeds we use on the highway. I am told that the route will be approximately 12 kilometres shorter. At
110 kilometres per hour or thereabouts, the saving on the direct difference between the existing road and
shortening it by the western alignment could be as much as 16, 17 minutes. What I said last week was the
time saving from the toll station at Oxford to Truro, so, if you factor in the additional saving, say, by not using
Highway No. 204 - and he can check what I said last week - I believe it comes out to approximately 30
minutes, maybe a little more.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley on a new question.



NAT. RES.: FORESTRY AGREEMENT (CAN.-N.S.) - COMMITMENT



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a new question. I would like to direct my question to the
honourable Minister of Natural Resources. Last week a Member of Parliament from northern New Brunswick
spoke to a North Shore forestry co-op which was in her region and at that time she said that a new agreement
on forestry should be in place by the end of May and that it would be run through ACOA. My question is
simply this. What dollars does Nova Scotia have ready to commit to a similar type agreement?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would first like to know what Member of Parliament made
that statement and I would also like to know what specifics in regard to an agreement that has been stated as
fact is really on the table. It is certainly not to my attention that an agreement is that far down the line. I
indicated to the House before that we are negotiating with the federal government to find additional dollars.
We do not have the information you have and I would ask the member if he would bring it forward.



MR. TAYLOR: I shall try to provide the Minister of Natural Resources of this province with some
information respecting the Province of New Brunswick on a very important subject. My first supplementary
is simply this, it has been told to me that the federal Minister of Public Works has said he is ready to come
forward with money if the province is ready to come forth with its share. I am just wondering if that is correct
or is somebody misleading me and, in fact, misleading the forest industry?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that there are people very anxious to mislead the member
opposite. Sometimes it is not that hard a challenge. But with all due respect, I would have to say that we are
in negotiations now, we have been discussing with the federal government in regard to trying to find what
we call a soft landing or transitional point in regard to forestry and the efforts are ongoing. I will be the first
one to stand up in this House when we have been able to secure that, to explain to members of the House
whether we were successful or not. Rest assured, I know the member is concerned about the forestry sector
and I applaud him for that, as are we, the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia, and we are
endeavouring to do all we can to secure additional funding allocations for the forestry sector of this province.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister can tell the House if funding will be in place
for Nova Scotia forest co-ops by the end of May and will the Nova Scotia Government be part of this
agreement? Or are you saying, I guess based on the information that I am hearing here this afternoon, that
you are unaware of any of these most recent developments?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, we are fully aware of what process is going forward on behalf of the
Province of Nova Scotia. The member opposite alluded to some MP from I don’t know what Party, speaking
in New Brunswick, indicating that there will be an agreement, the specifics of the agreement I am not aware
of. I am making it very clear that what I am doing is that we are negotiating with the federal government for
a program that in our view will be fair and equitable across the board to all those people in the forestry sector.
We are endeavouring to do that and will continue to do that until we have been able to secure a package that
will be reasonable for the Province of Nova Scotia.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



TRANSPORT. - AMHERST: TOURIST BUREAU - ACCESS



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question was for the Minister for the Economic
Renewal Agency, as the Minister responsible for Tourism but I know the Minister of Transportation is quite
capable of answering the question.



To the Minister of Transportation, through you, Mr. Speaker, you will remember that I raised the
question numerous times in our last session about the entrance to Nova Scotia at Amherst, which is the largest
entry point to Nova Scotia for the tourists who visit our great province.



My question is, I know they have been negotiating with the Province of New Brunswick to make
changes so we can get to the tourist bureau, the tourists coming in could drive right in. Could the minister
bring me up-to-date as to where we are in the negotiations and when that job will be done?



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, regrettably I don’t believe I am able to do that. First of all,
the Department of Transportation of the Province of Nova Scotia has no authority whatsoever to design,
construct, maintain or do any work whatsoever outside of the Province of Nova Scotia. Therefore, it is not the
Department of Transportation that entered into negotiations with the Province of New Brunswick. In fact, if
that has developed further, I am not aware of it and I conveyed these thoughts to Mayor Gouchie of Amherst
just this week.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



TRANSPORT.: HWY 104 WESTERN ALIGNMENT CORP. - AUDITOR GEN.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to return to the same minister on a different question.
I reviewed the letters that the minister tabled in this House earlier, as a result of a question I asked. In one of
the letters the his department said they had asked for an audit of the department’s procedure up to the
conclusion of the evaluations for the submission to the requests for qualifications.



I want to go back to the minister, will the minister advise us if he is prepared to ask the Auditor
General to continue and, in fact, to be responsible for auditing, on an on-going basis, the corporation that the
minister is going to establish?



MR. SPEAKER: I don’t know if that question is in order. I think we have a bill before the House that
deals with this matter but . . .



MR. HOLM: There is no mention in the bill whatsoever of the Auditor General.



MR. SPEAKER: All right.



HON. RICHARD MANN: I have been saying that all along, Mr. Speaker, despite his questions last
week to the contrary that suggested that the Auditor General was specifically exempted by the legislation.
Finally he stands up today and admits the error of his ways.



Mr. Speaker, let’s put this in perspective. I have been following what the honourable member
opposite has been saying through the media about the Auditor General and the ability to audit the books.
Personally, I have no difficulty whatsoever, if that is the case.



What I will not do, and let’s make this clear, if this is prohibited through the Auditor General Act
in some way, I am not sure, I am not that familiar with that Act, but let me say this, what I will not do, I will
not change the corporation that is being established, the entity being established, into a Crown Corporation
so that an additional tens of millions of dollars will be borne on the books of the Province of Nova Scotia. We
will not do that.



MR. HOLM: Thank you very much, I appreciate the very capable minister’s evasive answer, Mr.
Speaker.



My next question to the minister then is quite simply this because I am concerned about the public
interest, I am concerned about accountability; I would like to know from the minister who he expects will be
doing the auditing of the corporation and who will be reporting back to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, through
this House, on the financial state and so on of the corporation? Who is going to be doing that, if not the
Auditor General?



MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, let me say to preface my remarks, that I am concerned with public safety
and I am concerned with having a road built. That is the concern here.



We could revert to the old ways of doing this, and our options would be clear. Do it through the
public/private partner or don’t do it. We have made a decision in this government, a policy decision, to
construct this road through public/private partnering and we will stick to that policy decision.



Mr. Speaker, specifically who allotted it? I don’t know. Perhaps, as the Auditor General suggests in
his letter to us, we should retain the services of an independent audit company, or an independent consultant
company. That is the suggestion to us from the Auditor General toward the invitation to have them involved
in the process. Let me assure you that these books will be audited, this government has no intention of hiding
anything here. Our concern is to get this road built, to get it built quickly and to do it without adding tens of
millions of dollars of debt to the provincial books in the Province of Nova Scotia.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister is very adept at not answering questions. We, too, are
concerned about public safety. We, too, are concerned about accountability and, if the minister reads a letter
that he tabled in this House, he will see that the Auditor General was not suggesting that you hire somebody
else to do the ongoing audit. The Auditor General was pointing out that he thought it might be a conflict
because he might be required to do the audit in the future.



My question to the minister is quite simply, is it the decision of this government not to have the
Auditor General auditing the corporation on an ongoing basis because this government does not want the
Auditor General, on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia, to be scrutinizing the agreements that this
government is going to be entering into with their private partners? Is that the reason why you will not clearly
state that the Auditor General will be the auditor of record to make public reporting on this project?



MR. MANN: No, Mr. Speaker, that is not it at all. There is a new way of doing business in the
Province of Nova Scotia, but we have the Opposition stuck with the old way of thinking. They are stuck with
the old way of thinking. This government will be accountable and we will ultimately be accountable to the
people of Nova Scotia.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



HEALTH - CASINO GAMBLING: PROVINCES (6) - REPORTS



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, if I could have the help of a Page, I would send over -
one to table and one to the Minister of Health - copies of letters which the Minister of Health wrote to two
different Nova Scotians in regard to casino gambling. In the minister’s response to both of those taxpayers,
the minister said, “We have looked closely at the experience of other provinces. All six provinces that permit
casino gaming report positive economic impact and sound financial return with little negative social
consequences.”.



My question, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Health is to ask him if he will, please, name the six
provinces which have reported to him and to the Nova Scotia Government to that effect?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, again I would preface my remarks in saying that we
were, in advance of the development of this policy, in contact, both formally and informally, with the Health
Departments of the various provinces that permitted casino gambling. We also had discussed at the national
level, at the Health Ministers’ meetings, informally, with particularly the Ontario Government, Manitoba
Government, in respect to what they were doing. We put together a suggested plan and we were very gratified
for their help. We were also gratified to learn of some of their experience in terms of what has been called the
negative health consequences of this program.



They, for example, particularly in Manitoba, in that government, made particular reference to the
ability to now identify the problems that were heretofore unidentifiable, if you would, in this particular activity
that people do participate in.



MR. DONAHOE: With respect, if I may say so, Mr. Speaker, that answer hardly meets the language
that the minister sent to these Nova Scotia taxpayers - “We have looked closely at the experience of other
provinces. All six provinces that permit casino gaming report positive economic . . .”, and so on and so on -
what the minister has described is some casual anecdotal conversations with other ministers at federal-provincial ministerial meetings.



The minister, by way of supplementary, Mr. Speaker, in regard to the same issue, said to these Nova
Scotians, in the letters which I have tabled and sent across to him, the following, “We have looked closely at
the experience of other provinces.”, and that, I suggest is an attempt by this minister to clearly indicate to
those Nova Scotia taxpayers that a serious examination of the experience in those other provinces was
available to him, was indeed assessed carefully by him. I ask by way of supplementary, will the minister agree
today to table the reports, documents or the analysis which he has told these Nova Scotian taxpayers were so
closely looked at?






[1:15 p.m.]



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, keep in mind that we were in touch with these provinces and the
experience of these provinces in a very real way. The honourable gentleman opposite knows that in addition
to formal reports that one looks at from all jurisdictions around the world, in fact, and does a literature search
and all of the formal things that one does, there are many sources which come from various jurisdictions. It
is not based on one specific report, I can’t table one specific report. There are ministerial advice statements
given to me which I certainly have predicated our program which is going to be put into place in this
province. We are still, in fact, formulating some of the elements of that program. To say I closely looked at
this is an understatement, in fact. We not only looked closely, we looked closely at those provinces, we looked
closely at the experiences of other jurisdictions both in North America and beyond those shores.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, it stretches credulity to hear the minister say, we looked closely and we
looked at all over the world and so on and yet when I ask him, with this minister having written to Nova
Scotia taxpayers who have concerns and he writes leaving them with the impression that we have looked
closely at experiences all over the place and I ask him to table, I would be happy if he tabled one or two but
the minister apparently isn’t able or prepared to table even one or two reports which he suggests were made
available and that he reviewed.



MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.



MR. DONAHOE: By way of final supplementary may I put this question to the Minister of Health
through you, Mr. Speaker, again in letters written to Nova Scotians who wrote to this minister in regard to
casino gaming, the minister responded to those taxpayers and I have tabled the letters which have these words,
responded in part, “A review of the relevant literature provides no evidence of severe problems as a result of
controlling gambling in Canada.”. My question by way of final supplementary to the Minister of Health is to
ask him if he will tell us today or if he is unable to do so from memory today, will he undertake to table in this
House tomorrow a bibliography of the relevant literature to which he referred and which he has presumably
studied before responding as he did to the taxpayers in the letters which I have tabled?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the honourable gentleman opposite knows very well that the
experience in Canada very much has to be obtained in conversations and debate with other jurisdictions and
other Health Ministers because this is a relatively recent introduction in terms of this activity, particularly the
casinos. What he does not say, is prior to this Act we have had no idea what was going on in terms of the
health, of video terminals in corner stores, for example. What kind of study was that? I will tell you, the type
of study was well-known to this House and it was laughable to say the least.



We have taken it to heart in our department to look at every evidence that we can uncover both by
conversations, by debate and by national conferences and people who are in the field of compulsive gambling.
We will continue to do that and we now have a structure upon which to build that. We did not have that
structure under the previous administration, I might remind the House.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition on a new question.






JUSTICE - CASINO GAMING: POLICING SERVICES - REPORT



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice and it bears on
the same issue. I have in my possession and I will copy and table a letter from Vincent J. MacDonald, Chief
of Police, Halifax Police Department. In this letter Chief MacDonald says that in anticipation of casino
gambling coming to Halifax, a request was sent to his department on April 27th by the Department of Justice,
Policing Services. The request was for advice as to the additional resources that would be required for
associated policing concerns when casino gaming was up and away. My question to the Minister of Justice
is, if he will indicate to this House whether he is prepared to table the report which was received back from
the Chief of Police, indicating his assessment of the need for additional policing services, once the casino
gaming got underway?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I don’t have those materials at my fingertips. I would first
want to check the correspondence and once I do that, I will do what is appropriate.



MR. DONAHOE: Will the Minister of Justice, by way of supplementary through you, Mr. Speaker,
confirm that there was indeed communication between his department and the Chief of Police of the City of
Halifax, raising questions as to whether or not the City of Halifax Police Department would do studies to
determine whether additional policing would be necessary? In fact, would he confirm today that, in fact, the
City of Halifax has indeed communicated to his department, acknowledging and confirming that there will
be a need for additional policing here in the capital city, once casino gaming is up and running?



MR. GILLIS: I certainly will confirm that there have been discussions and there has been some
correspondence, but I would like to have the opportunity to check the file. I don’t have the material with me,
but I will do that at the earliest opportunity and have the information as to the exact details.



MR. DONAHOE: By way of final supplementary, I ask the Minister of Justice, if once he makes the
assessment of the materials in his office to which he has just now referred, if he is, in fact, in receipt of a
report from the Chief of Police of the City of Halifax, relative to the need for additional policing services once
casino gaming starts here in the metro area, will the Minister of Justice commit to this House today, that he
will table the report from the Chief of Police? So, that all Nova Scotians, all Haligonians and people in metro
and all Nova Scotians, will know the need for additional policing services occasioned by the commencement
of casino gaming?



MR. GILLIS: I will certainly check it and I will look at the report to see if it is appropriate and it
might be that I might want to talk to the Chief of Police or my senior officials, to talk to the Chief, because
we do receive some reports and some correspondence that are, in fact, not a matter for public information.
There are about a variety of matters that are in the department, although certainly as I said earlier, I will
undertake to check and see what is in the file and if it is appropriate, I will make the material available.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



HEALTH - SCHOOL MILK PROG.: CHOCOLATE MILK - INCLUDE



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you my question will be to the Minister of
Health. In estimates yesterday, we learned that the Department of Agriculture School Milk Program, which
has had about $300,000 or $400,000 removed from it this year. One of the priorities that they have, is to
expand the School Milk Program to include chocolate milk. At the present time, the Department of Health
is putting the brakes on putting chocolate milk into schools. I am just wondering if that does not seem a little
bit inconsistent, where the Minister of Health can hold up school milk programs of chocolate milk, but yet
on the other hand, he allows casino gambling and said there is no problem at all and I find that rather
inconsistent. Would the Minister of Health indicate when he is going to allow chocolate milk to be served in
the schools and stop holding up the school program?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I didn’t pick up the last of the question. I would
appreciate the honourable gentleman would repeat it, perhaps?



MR. ARCHIBALD: I found it very inconsistent, whereby the Department and the Minister of Health,
had no problems with the casino gambling, but he has some problem with chocolate milk, as it is being evil
or something and I am wondering when will the Minister of Health allow the School Milk Program to include
chocolate milk? The Department of Agriculture has requested that and I am wondering when the minister will
allow it?



DR. STEWART: Suffice to say, that the issue of nutrition and school programs, particularly milk,
are under discussion currently with the Minister of Agriculture and with myself and others involved and that
is a welcome change from previous.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, the statistics have shown the harm that is going to be caused to Nova
Scotians with casino gambling. There are no statistics anywhere that show the harm from chocolate milk.
Would the minister please indicate what the hold up is and why it is taking him such a long time? It took just
a matter of seconds for him to agree to casino gambling yet it is taking weeks for him to decide to allow
chocolate milk in the schools. Is there any consistency within the Department of Health and is there any
consistency with the minister on what he views as a serious topic and something that should be allowed to go
very quickly? I think you have your priorities confused.



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I am trying to find the consistency in the logic of the honourable
member to ask this. Suffice to say that I have frequently sought that and it has been at a loss or a lack. I am
trying to understand the question. The honourable gentleman opposite appears to be asking me whether or
not chocolate milk should be part and parcel of a milk program in casinos. I am not sure whether that is the
tenor.



Suffice to say, we are in the process, in terms of school programs, in providing milk in schools and
not casinos, that we are in discussions with the Minister of Agriculture.



MR. ARCHIBALD: I can understand now why so many people in the health field and so many
people who are not feeling well are not feeling any better with the words of the minister. It is a very simple
question . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Final question, please, time is running out.



MR. ARCHIBALD: . . . and, Mr. Speaker, the harm that will be done to people in Nova Scotia
through the introduction of casinos in Halifax and Sydney is going to far outweigh any harm from a child
drinking chocolate milk.



However, the Minister of Health sees fit to hold up for an undue length of time the introduction of
chocolate milk, yet he didn’t hold up for one second the introduction of casinos. So would the minister please
indicate what his table is that allows him to hold up chocolate milk and, on the other hand, saying casinos
are fine.



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I would have hoped that the honourable gentleman in his former years
would have given as much thought to the introduction of video lottery terminals in corner stores readily
accessible to school children as he does to his questioning of me in terms of chocolate milk and the School
Milk Program. (Applause)



The fact is that the children are getting milk in the schools. Is that the question? Yes, they are getting
milk in the schools. Are they getting chocolate milk in the schools? Are they getting white milk or skim milk?
That is the question raised. For example, the honourable member opposite has not asked whether we should
perhaps provide only skim milk in the schools, whether it should be 1 per cent or 2 per cent or chocolate milk.
Those are issues that we have raised in this government. We are studying it, in order to make the best
decision.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, could we revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports,
Regulations and Other Papers.



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a response to some questioning by
honourable members opposite regarding the management of labour issues in transition in the health care
system.



MR. SPEAKER: The response is tabled.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government
Business.



GOVERNMENT BUSINESS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: 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. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 3.






Bill No. 3 - Halifax Regional Municipality Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The adjourned debate on second reading. The honourable member for Queens, who
has half an hour and a bit left, 35 minutes.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I don’t intend to take all that time at all.
I know there are other members who wish to address this very important topic. I know they are anxious to get
to their feet to do so. I had ample opportunity last evening to lay before the House, and particularly the
minister, many of the concerns I have with respect to the bill. She and I had the opportunity after the House
rose at 10:00 p.m. last evening to have a brief chat which I think may have been helpful to both of us, with
respect to one of the issues in particular that I highlighted last night. That reinforced for me, and I hope for
the minister, the importance of ensuring that we have the wording in this bill absolutely clear, so there is no
question as to the interpretation of the 214 or 215 clauses that are in the bill. I know she wants that and
certainly I want that very much as, indeed, do all the people who will be subject to this bill when it is
proclaimed and when the new council is in place.



[1:30 p.m.]



One of the great concerns I have with respect to this legislation is the failure to ensure through it that
there is parity in Nova Scotia with respect to the way in which social assistance is provided. We passed in this
House last year a bill which created a new super-municipality in Cape Breton and that bill provided for there
to be a single tier of municipal social assistance in that municipality. Such that it is provided by the province,
the municipal unit no longer has a role to play with respect to the provision of municipal assistance. That is
something that the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities has been looking for. We had hopes that the example
set in Sydney would be the example which would apply to the entire province. Unfortunately, here we have
the first opportunity after it was applied in Cape Breton missed because the government, for some reason
unknown to me and I would think certainly unknown to the ratepayers in the four municipalities that will
comprise the new amalgamated city - why it should be that the new City of Halifax or Municipality of Halifax
will not have exactly the same provision made available to it as has been made available to Cape Breton.



I know that this is a very great concern to my own community, which is in the final throes of coming
to grips with the question of amalgamation as a result of initiatives taken within the community and I know
that both of those councils, the new Municipality of the County of Queens and the Town of Liverpool, are very
anxious that should they move forward with amalgamation, that the province demonstrate its good faith by
extending to those municipal ratepayers in the west part of Nova Scotia, in Queens County, the same
opportunity as has been provided to the ratepayers in the greater Sydney area.



So, I would ask the minister firstly to keep her mind open and possibly during the Law Amendments
Committee to make amendments to the bill which would allow for a single tier of social assistance in the new
Halifax municipality in the same way as it is being made available in Cape Breton and for her to apply that
evenly to all other municipal units which choose, of their own volition, to amalgamate. Certainly that is
something that I will be looking for at any time that legislation would be coming before this House with
respect to the Municipality of the County of Queens and the Town of Liverpool.



I think, too, that it is vitally important that we as legislators not lose sight of the fact that the only
way that we can, in the final analysis, ensure that this legislation has the support of the people, is if they
clearly understand that they will have no lesser level of services or perhaps even an improved level of services
through amalgamation, while at the same time being assured that there will be genuine tax savings which will
be reflected in the rates which are struck both for residential housing and in respect to the commercial tax
rate. That really is the bottom line. Canadians generally speaking feel that they are taxed to the hilt. In fact,
they believe they are overtaxed. I suppose there are not many of us as individual citizens who would not share
that same observation with them. We are taxed at the municipal level, we are taxed at the provincial level,
we are taxed at the federal level. We are indeed an overtaxed society.



If one wishes to pay any attention to the press, and I know that we all do because it is an important
part of our lives with respect to gathering information and also getting a good feel for public opinion, it is very
clear that the citizens of the new amalgamated city will expect there to be some significant, measurable degree
of tax relief made available to them as a result of the implementation of this legislation. If we are not
successful in achieving that through this bill and through other such bills which provide for amalgamation,
then we are going to face a continuing alienation and an even more serious alienation between those of us who
are chosen to govern and those who have chosen us to govern, between the governed and the governors. That
can lead to a further alienation between the people and their democratic institutions.



We should be absolutely aware of the great dangers with respect to that. We must make sure that
people have faith in their institutions and in their democratic institutions such as this Parliament of ours here
in Nova Scotia. The only way we can do that is to ensure that we are open, honest and fair and provide our
best judgment with respect to the legislation we create and pass, and to make sure that that legislation, once
implemented, will not only be but will be seen to be in the best interests of all the people whom it is designed
to assist. In this case, most specifically, or in this case entirely specifically, the people of the now Town of
Bedford, the Municipality of the County of Halifax, the City of Dartmouth and the City of Halifax. If we don’t
achieve that, then we run the very great risk, the very real risk, of further alienation of the people. That is not
in the best interests of anybody in this House. It is not in the best interests of this institution and it certainly
is not in the best interests of the whole concept of democratic government.



I would have to say, Mr. Speaker, that I have the same very serious reservations with respect to the
approach of government to this legislation as I had when the government introduced its legislation respecting
the new super-municipality in Cape Breton. We had then and have now a government offering legislation
which does not reflect the philosophical and policy position that the government, when it was in Opposition,
stated so vehemently here in the House and on the hustings, up to and including the May 25, 1993 general
election. At that time the Premier was of the view that amalgamation was the worst of all worlds. Now we
have his government bringing legislation in which provides that very same world. I think the Premier, during
debate on this bill, some time has to stand in his place and explain just precisely what the Epiphany is which
caused him to change his views so dramatically, so dramatically that he was prepared to have his Minister
of Municipal Affairs bring this legislation to this place.



At that time, the then Leader of the Opposition, and now Leader of the Liberal Party, now Premier
of this province, said there was no need for boundary change, that everything could be done within the context
of service exchange. Well, certainly this bill goes very far beyond service exchange, as did the bill which
changes the relationship between the municipal units in industrial Cape Breton. One wonders again what
major Epiphany the Premier experienced to cause him to make such a very substantial change in policy with
respect to his Party and now his government.



Again, I think he owes it to the House but most particularly to the people of the metropolitan region
to explain precisely what it is that has caused him to change his mind and what advantages he now sees in
following essentially what was the course of the Cameron Government with respect to amalgamation. We
believe, those of us who still sit in this place and were part of that government, that we were chastised at least
in part because of the very aggressive stance we took with respect to amalgamation. We are more than
passingly curious to know why it is that the then Opposition, now government, was so adamant in its berating
of us with respect to the approach that we intended to take to amalgamation and is now in fact implementing
exactly the same kind of approach.



We are somewhat chastened and I anticipate that as a result of the dramatic reversal in the
government’s policy that at least some of the members who now sit on the government side of the House will
be chastened in like manner when the next time comes for them to seek the approbation of their constituents
at the polls.



Finally, I want to say with respect to the whole concept of amalgamation and this is something that
I know the minister may be interested in, that we have to make sure that we provide a consistency as we move
forward with amalgamations across the province. It is absolutely essential that wherever possible, the province
respond positively to amalgamation initiatives which are undertaken by the communities, in contrast to
amalgamation initiatives which are forced upon the communities, as in the case with this legislation before
the House and was the case with the Cape Breton legislation.



With respect to legislation that may be forthcoming respecting amalgamation of the two municipal
units in my own community, I know that I will have no difficulty in supporting the concept in principle but
in order for me to be able to support any legislation of that nature when it comes before this House, I will have
to be given every assurance in the legislation itself that our two communities, in taking the courageous step
to move toward amalgamation on their own volition and not as a result of being forced to by the province, are
being dealt with in a fair and equitable manner.



Madam Speaker, that brings me to a close on my remarks on this bill, a bill which will dramatically
affect the whole face of municipal government in Nova Scotia which will dramatically impact on close to 40
per cent of the people who live in this province, an Act which will have ramifications, undoubtedly, that we
never dreamed of, an Act which is absolutely essential that it be clear and unequivocal in each and every
section so that the stated purpose of the Act is clearly understood and can be implemented with the least
degree of difficulty possible. This will be difficult, there will never be an easy way to move from the system
to which we have been used to for many generations to the new system but we must make sure that however
difficult the transition is, we do not make it more difficult by having legislation with cloudy language and
inappropriate clauses. Thank you.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Madam Speaker, I rise to take part in the second reading of Bill No. 3.
I have had the opportunity to debate the first amendment that deferred a hoist of the bill for six months which
I thought was perhaps the right thing to do. Then we had another amendment eventually to refer the bill to
the Public Accounts Committee to review and I thought that was the right thing to do.



I will admit that I agree with the bill in principle and that when the time comes I will probably be
voting to send the bill to the Law Amendments Committee so that we will have an opportunity to hear the
input from the various municipal units and people that will come forward and make presentations at that very
important committee. I know there will be many groups that will come forward.



The minister has said it has been 40 years since we have talked about studies in regard to
amalgamation of municipal units. Things do have to change and I believe in change. Our former Premier
Donald Cameron had suggested that we appoint the commissioners for both Halifax County and Cape Breton
County to proceed on that. I would be very much remiss if I could not in some way be supportive of the
initiative taken by the government.



Mr. Hayward was appointed as commissioner to review Halifax County. At first he came in and said
it was a $20 million saving. That number changed over a period of time. I guess that report came in to our
government and, subsequently, the new minister or the Minister of Municipal Affairs of the Liberal
Government announced on October 27th at a press conference that they were going to do an amalgamation
plan. The minister at the time said she was going to meet with all the mayors and give them an opportunity
to have input, and what have you, as to how they would proceed.



[1:45 p.m.]



Then we got into the fiasco of appointing an individual who, by the way, I have great respect for, Mr.
Morash. I have known him for many years and I know that he would have done an excellent job. It was not
the individual that we are talking about, but the manner in which that gentleman got selected, that there were
no tenders. He was supposedly given the job for $225,000 and that kind of got everybody in an uproar.
Anyway, the government, in their wisdom, decided to back off that and came back and gave Mr. Hayward the
job. He has worked very diligently and has brought in his report, saying that he wanted 20 seats in 1993, 20
councillors to sit on the board, now, after his consultation out across the County of Halifax, he is
recommending 24.



Then we have the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and the districts, and the municipal units had
UMA/Doane Raymond do a study, which they did and they brought in a report saying that there should be
22. That is why we were saying to hoist the bill for six months, let’s go out and talk some more, let’s give them
an opportunity to make a case as to what should be and what shouldn’t be. Quite frankly, I think the idea of
putting it before the Public Accounts Committee was also a good idea; however, the government, in their
wisdom, rejected this.



One of the major concerns too, of course, was we had said we would be covering the social services
end of the cost, as is the case in the Cape Breton bill, social services are being paid for by the province. I have
no problem with that, but they, in their wisdom, are not going to do that under this bill. We do know that the
bill will pass, in due course, if that is the wish of the government, it will happen.



This bill, as I understand it, will set up four different types of councils. This was not the set-up in
Cape Breton. Now I understand that it is important that we do maybe have local committees set up,
community committees set up, that can advise the members. I mean we all have committees in our own local
constituency, I am sure you do. If you don’t, you had better get them because you won’t get back. It is as simple
as that. I think it is important that those committees should be set up, not maybe mandatory that they be set
up but through their councillor and through their community, if they wish to do it, that they do take the
opportunity to do it. I think this is a good thing but I say I don’t think it should be forced on them to do so.



The landfill issue is a problem. Again, Halifax County is responsible for this but it doesn’t have any
say where or what other area will have input and I think that is a concern.



There is a concern in the Town of Bedford. My understanding is that they are paying $10,000 this
week on April 27th and 28th to have a plebiscite. I think that must show that they have some concerns and
they are doing a telephone poll, as I understand, the 27th and 28th and we will know momentarily after - I
think it is 12 o’clock, I am not too sure of that time but the poll will close on Friday, April 28th. It will be
interesting to see what that poll will bring down. I believe it is today that the City of Dartmouth is looking
at considering doing a poll as well, a plebiscite and we will be interested again to see where they are going
with that.



I believe in the principle of this bill. I think we have a lot of government members other than the
minister - who has stood up and answered questions from time to time, as maybe we got off the track or she
felt that she had input to make to the bill - but we have had many councillors, former members of this
Legislature, who were former municipal councillors, that I have not heard one peep from. I know that they
have a lot of wisdom and I think they could add a lot to the debate of this session, this particular bill, Bill No.
3.



Apparently, they are not allowed to have it, but anyway that is the way it is, I guess. Policing service,
there are all kinds of issues and I am not going to delay it any longer. All members have had an opportunity,
I have had my opportunity to say that I think it is right, I just think we should go a little slower with it. I think
there are some things we have to change in it and I will look forward to seeing this bill going to the Law
Amendments Committee and to hear the input and I hope there are many groups that come forward and tell
us what they think. So, I am going to vote in favour of this bill to go to Law Amendments and I will reserve
my decision what will happen after that, when it comes back from the Law Amendments Committee.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Madam Speaker, what a pleasure it is to address you in the Chair and
I do want to commend you on the fair and impartial way that you do rule upon items. I think you are very
conscientious in the job that you are performing and I commend you and I wish you every success as the
Speaker.



This bill is very controversial, I guess and of great interest, Bill No. 3, the amalgamation bill to form
the super-city in Atlantic Canada, one of the largest cities in probably all of North America by the time we
get through. I don’t know where the ranking will be, but by golly, she is going to be a big one. It is going to
cover from up the Eastern Shore over to the Head of St. Margaret’s Bay, it is going to have industries, the
harbour, port, train yards, it is going to be without question, a super-city with all of the headaches and all of
the rewards that go with having such a very large city.



At the present time, we do have some concerns with regard to the bill. We have to sort of, I guess,
speak our minds as it were and so on. I was looking at the newspapers, as we all do I guess from time to time
and no, I just look at the pictures, Ed. One of the pictures I saw was for the honourable member for Colchester
North, I know he likes to look at the pictures better than he likes to read as well. Anyway, it is a picture of
Bedford Mayor Peter Kelly, discussing the report with Dartmouth Mayor Gloria McCluskey. You can tell by
the expression on their faces, you don’t need to read a word, you can simply tell by the expressions they have
on their faces that they are not happy at all. They have reason to be.



One of the things they are indicating is that they, as municipal leaders, felt strongly enough that they
hired the UMA group and Doane Raymond to do an amalgamation study for them. The Doane Raymond
amalgamation study said they would save $10 million annually but they said that would be only a temporary
thing and it would very quickly disappear.



Halifax homeowners, who have the lowest tax rate at the present time, would see an increase of 17
per cent. That should be of great concern to all members of the House. Even though they may live in Hants
East, they should still be concerned for their fellow Nova Scotians in the tax bite. If Hants East was looking
at a 17 per cent increase in taxes, I am sure the member would be very concerned.



AN HON. MEMBER: The member for Timberlea-Prospect. He was the councillor.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Oh, I am sorry, I thought it was the member for Hants East who was being
helpful but apparently it is the member for Timberlea-Prospect who is being helpful. He should be helpful and
should be concerned because he has people in his constituency who want to know what he has to say about
this, particularly when you think that Halifax County’s tax rate, according to this study that was done, they
have indicated their increase in taxes will be 22.93 per cent. (Interruption) Now look, the honourable member
has hollered, oh that is just Tory propaganda. Well, I don’t think I have ever seen the Mayor of Halifax or the
Mayor of Dartmouth at a Tory meeting, nor have I seen the Halifax County Mayor at a Conservative meeting,
but I think you have probably seen them at your kind of meetings. That is fine. (Interruption) Well, at the last
Tory meeting we had over 1,200 registered, paid delegates, which is about twice as many as showed up at the
Liberal meeting.



MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like the honourable member to try to debate the motion
on the floor and not get so seriously sidetracked by the other comments.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you. I hope those people were listening to you because I was and I will
not be sidetracked again. (Interruptions) What are you going to go with those guys? Oh, gee whiz, Madam
Speaker. Do you have to write a test or anything to become a candidate for that Party or what? Do you have
to audition? (Interruptions) It is not even Friday.



The benefits of the super-city are not so super, the study says. Halifax tax hikes are predicted. Well,
now look, this is very serious and I think the debate so far has given the honourable Minister of Municipal
Affairs and her Cabinet and her caucus an opportunity, I think, to sit back and, with sober second thought,
rethink the haste with which this bill is being adopted. For your information, the consultants’ report offered
only lukewarm support for amalgamation and indicated that all businesses will pay higher taxes in unified
metro.



Well, why in the goodness of all that is good and holy, would we be rushing headlong, lickety-split,
as fast as we can, into driving up people’s taxes? This is not what anybody in government was elected to do.
In fact, this government was elected because they made a solemn oath and a promise; they made a contract
with the constituents and the voters of Halifax that they would not raise taxes. So here we go again, this same
bunch that were not going to raise provincial taxes are causing the business taxes in the unified metro to be
higher.



Now I am not telling you this, this is coming from an impartial study. The results of this study
indicate there is no overall financial benefit for maintaining the status quo or amalgamating the four units
into one municipality, the UMA/Doane Raymond Report concluded. Well the gain of $10 million would be
wiped out by the costs of harmonizing policies and services. A 22-seat council with 13 urban councillors, 5
representing the urban fringe - whatever that terminology may be - I don’t know that I would want to be a
resident of the urban fringe but, anyway, that is where 13 of these councillors are going to come from and 4
of them will be in the urban area.



[2:00 p.m.]



One of the things that the study indicates is, are people in Sackville and are people in Cole Harbour
going to be demanding or do they want, or are they even expecting, the same level of police service that we
have come to recognize in downtown Halifax or Dartmouth? That is the question and it should be thought out
reasonably and carefully and it should be answered. All four mayors of Halifax-Dartmouth, Bedford and the
County of Halifax, good mayors, said the report is an indication the government rushed into amalgamation
without knowing the full ramifications. Now, how many times and how many different people have to tell this
government that very thing before the government says I heard you? How often does it take? That is the
question.



You know there was a very nice article about the Minister of Municipal Affairs and I think we are
all agreed that most of the authors for the newspapers are pretty nice people and they write nice things when
they can. One of the other writers for the Chronicle-Herald indicated that the UMA/Doane Raymond Report
does an excellent job of critiquing the potential two-tiered system that could develop because of overpowered
community councils, oh, that is a new avenue, and this is one of the things that has people up in the air.



The other day when I spoke briefly, I discussed the importance of village commissions. I guess out
of these community councils, maybe a village commission only with more power. If a group of citizens say
we want a community council, they are going to have one and the role and the definition of the community
council is not quite as firm as it should be perhaps, so there is a question about that as well.



The capital cost of construction for a new water system in Dartmouth, even though the tenders have
been called for proposals. One of the things about an amalgamated city and when you have one unit together,
they will be able to make savings, I think they will be able to work together on a water system and what a
great idea but do you need total amalgamation to get cooperation? As an example, the Mayor of Wolfville,
in council, has written to the Minister of Municipal Affairs because the Mayor of Wolfville, the Mayor of
Kentville, the Warden of Kings County and the Mayor of Berwick have all gotten together and said that they
want to look at joint policing, would you send an official down from your office to give us a hand and be kind
of an impartial chairman and help us through the ropes? You see, we didn’t need amalgamation in Kings
County to get that level of cooperation.






I hope the minister has sent the person down there and I hope that the Minister for the Economic
Renewal Agency didn’t protest too much about it because he said that wouldn’t happen without his permission,
but I hope that minister will do as the Mayor of Wolfville has requested.



Also, another example of cooperation without amalgamation is the Town of Kentville and the Village
of New Minas, they have entered into talks and now they are going to have a common recreation commission
with one person in charge. What a great idea. This is what can be done through cooperation; it is not forced.



A couple of years ago when New Minas ran out of water when we had a dry summer, they hooked
up the Kentville water system through to New Minas and the people of New Minas were drinking Kentville
water and it didn’t hurt them a bit, even though there was fluoride in Kentville and they don’t have it in New
Minas. They didn’t even notice and their teeth are stronger, so cooperation can be achieved. Savings in tax
dollars can be achieved and you do not need to lose the identify of the villages, towns and the communities
that we presently have.



This government, with its strong-arm tactics of using brute force in sheer numbers to make things
happen, is perhaps not the very best way that we can go because Nova Scotians, whether we like it or not, do
have pretty good sense and pretty good judgment. In fact, they will draw the conclusions that should be drawn
without the government coming in and forcing it upon them. To my mind, Madam Speaker, I believe that they
will make better decisions on their own, without big brother government interfering because the leaders that
we have in the metro region at the present time were put there to represent the thoughts and the wishes of the
people of the metro region. They are telling us clearly, as indicated by Alderman Bruce Hetherington, the
indication is coming back very strongly from the constituents that I represent and the people that I talk to that
they want a say in it. What they want a say in is this amalgamation and they do not feel that they are being
adequately represented nor do they feel that their thoughts, wishes and their desires are being heard nor are
they being presented in this Chamber.



Dartmouth Council blasted the two-tiered government. (Interruption) I am doing my best to present
the views of metro people. Dartmouth Council blasted the two-tiered government. That is another shot at these
councils that they are talking about. Community councils. When you don’t have all the information, your
conclusions may not be 100 per cent and at the present time there are more questions with regard to
amalgamation than there are answers. The answers that we do have clearly state that amalgamation is being
rushed and for what reason? What is the reason? Why are we running headlong into amalgamation? If we
were going to save big buckets of money, if we were in emergency financing. But the thing is, the studies have
shown that they are not going to save any money and, in fact, amalgamation is going to raise taxes for each
and every person in the metro region and each and every industry in particular. Now this is what the study
shows.



AN HON. MEMBER: Are you a soothsayer?



MR. ARCHIBALD: No, I am just reporting what the study said. I wish to thank the honourable
members for their interjections. No, I am not a soothsayer, I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t read tea leaves
and I don’t believe in flying saucers, but I can read and I did read the report from UMA/Doane Raymond and
they indicated that. I didn’t do the study. You see, if I could do the study, I would have gotten paid the
$230,000 the study cost, but they didn’t feel that just standing in here that I could give them the right
information so they hired that company and they went out and they did the study and found that this
government (Interruption). My gracious, look, when you get an MLA representing one of the areas, asking
me what they based their figures on, it is that sort of question . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: It is rhetorical, it is a rhetorical question.



MR. ARCHIBALD: . . . it is that sort of question from the member for Timberlea-Prospect that
makes it so apparent and so real, exactly what we are discussing in here that this caucus and this government
is rushing headlong without all the information because he is asking me, a member of the Opposition, when
he should be asking the minister, and he should be saying slow down a little bit and let’s make sure that
everybody knows the information because he is asking me, he obviously is seeking the information. Really
and truly I think that we are duty bound to make sure he gets . . .



MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. My interjection was purely rhetorical
in nature. The honourable member knows that I am fully aware of the UMA/Doane Raymond Report and I
am just wondering if he would like to tell the public what that report was based on? We all know that it was
based on some assumptions that will never come to be. Thank you, Madam Speaker.



MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you. You have made a point of order that is not really a point of order.
It is a clarifying reaction to the member’s comments. I would now recognize the member for Kings North.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Look, I really appreciate the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, for
speaking. I really and truly appreciate his interjection and now that he is used to getting on his feet, I trust
we will see more of it.



Now, one of the things that the Mayor of Dartmouth indicated, was the regional advisory bodies
made up of three or more councillors, that will report to the larger council. Her conclusion is that these
community councillors are bringing us back to all the things that the Minister of Municipal Affairs said we
are trying to escape from. So, are we sort of going around in circles like the dog chasing his tail? That is
exactly what the Mayor of Dartmouth said these community councils are going to do. So, where is the
foresight and where is the thought that went into this bill, prior to it being introduced? And where is the input
from the local representatives of this region?



One of the councillors, Stephen Oickle, and Deputy Mayor of Bedford Peter Christie, both are
concerned, but they have suggested that they are going to make their concerns known to the Premier or to the
Law Amendments Committee. So, one or the other, they are going to make their views known and I trust it
will be at the Law Amendments Committee because that is the next stop for this bill on its way through this
Chamber. They feel the merger bill tabled in the Legislature is neither acceptable nor workable. Councillor
Marvin Silver said the whole process seemed to be sloppy and not well thought out. You know, there are all
kinds of people working for the Department of Municipal Affairs, there are all kinds of talent within the
caucus of the Liberal Government, there are half a dozen MLAs who were former councillors in this region,
two even former mayors. With all that talent that we have in this government, why on earth would Mr. Silver
indicate that this bill is sloppy and not well thought out? You see, we are not taking advantage, as a
government, of the talent that is available and sitting in this Legislature. The former councillors in Halifax
County and Halifax and Dartmouth and metro region, were they consulted when this bill was being drawn
up? Was their input considered? You know, why pay the MLAs $40,000 a year and then not listen, and then
not let them take part in decision-making of the government, that will affect them more directly than most
people?



Now, the biggest concerns were over the wide powers to be wielded by the community councils and
education funding. You see, I keep reading these little pieces in the paper that refer to community councils.
This is something, that for all of us, should turn on the light bulb and say, there is something wrong. Why
is everybody, why is every elected official so concerned about community councils? Many of these people who
are concerned about it, are elected people and they will be running again for the new super-council in this new
super-city, but they say their biggest concerns were over the wide powers to be wielded by the community
councils and education funding. Now, there is no question in my mind that they said that, because it is in
quotation marks.



What we are setting up here is two-tiered government and it will pose problems. Don Smeltzer said
that. Mr. Smeltzer is an alderman, elected by the people, in touch with the people and that is what he is
saying. How come Mr. Smeltzer knows what the people in Nova Scotia are thinking and this government
doesn’t? That is what I want to know and that is what he wants to know. I don’t know how, in the name of
time, some of you birds got in here, if you want to know the truth. Some days I am not sure how I got here
but I will tell you, I know how I got here, I knocked on people’s doors and they kept saying you’re Kate’s
husband aren’t you and I said, yes, that is how I got here. (Interruption) I know they keep telling me that.



[2:15 p.m.]



MADAM SPEAKER: While the honourable member’s discourse about Kate is quite intriguing, I
think you should stick to the debate on second reading.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am having such input from your caucus
colleagues. Any group of 500 residents can ask the new regional council for a community council made up
of three local councillors. They are going to determine the spending, tax rates, planning, development; what
we could have is kind of a mishmash. In this area, you can have a plan that says if you want to build a house,
you need 200 feet of road frontage and you should have a proper sewer system and maybe you should drill a
well. In this section over here, you are on municipal sewer, municipal water and you need about 50 feet in the
front of your property. Maybe this one you can have apartment buildings but in another region you can’t have
apartment buildings.



The regions are all going to be treated very differently because these community councils will be able
to decide exactly what they want and what they do not want. Really and truly this is not progress because I
know from watching the developments in Kings County, there is nothing worse than when there is a double
standard applied within the county; one area is treated differently than the other. They are telling me that the
community councils are going to foster the development of different regions one against the other and this
isn’t fair. This is not what municipal reform is supposed to be all about.



I think even on community councils, as they call them, that we have to have a second look, you need
a second opinion. You are having opinions from all the elected officials, you are having opinions from the
UMA study, listen to the people. The Premier and the Minister of Municipal Affairs said many times we are
going to listen to the people and give the people an opportunity to be heard. However, the people in metro
have been short-changed because nobody is listening. It doesn’t cost money to listen, it is not wasting money
if you listen to what the people are saying.



County Mayor Randy Ball is concerned over the two-tiered education system in the new super-city.
What he is referring to is the fact that Halifax and Dartmouth taxpayers both contribute extra funding to the
school system, the county does not, so now in this super-city of metro we are going to have metro schools that
are of different standards. Where is the fairness in education in the metro region when one group of ratepayers
is paying and another group is not but yet by the same token the people that live in Timberlea-Prospect will
be able to bring their children into - and go to a school in - the peninsula and receive a better-funded
education than they would if they left them home in Timberlea-Prospect.



AN HON. MEMBER: Who says it is better on the peninsula?



MR. ARCHIBALD: I said it was better funded, Buster. He should listen.



MADAM SPEAKER: Would the honourable member please not refer to other members as, Busters,
I think it is inappropriate. I know you are getting a little side-tracked here but I would like you to use
appropriate language.



MR. ARCHIBALD: All right (Interruption) Bingo. They are better funded because the taxpayers in
the peninsula of Halifax and the City of Dartmouth are both contributing, $12 million from Halifax and $6
million extra in Dartmouth. Is this going to continue and what does that tell you about the children going to
schools in other areas of this super-city? You see the inconsistencies and the lack of planning because the
backbencher over here didn’t even realize that was going on. So we have a real duty in this Chamber to
educate. I think the caucus of the government should be better informed about this municipal bill because he
didn’t realize the implication to education.



Now, Mr. Hayward has been working very rigorously throughout the metro region. He has met in
many communities; some he didn’t meet in and some he did. He had meeting after meeting and some people
liked what he was saying and others didn’t, but they all went away with more questions than they had answers.
They want more information and the information is not forthcoming.



The chamber of commerce in the metro region has formed an amalgamation. They are showing the
leadership of community involvement. It is the same leadership I spoke about that we are seeing in Kings
County and other areas through the province. It is voluntary and it is evolving because they know it will work
and they are doing the planning. Everyone is involved; everybody wants to do it.



Can you imagine if the government told the chamber of commerce in metro that you are going to
amalgamate? They wouldn’t do it. But, you know, let them go on their own and they are doing it, they have
seen the way. Just like the metro police forces. They were meeting and making some real, concrete plans for
an amalgamation and all the meetings they had went out the window because this bill came in and we are no
further ahead now with regard to policing than we were then. We don’t know who is going to represent the
police forces, we don’t know which union is going to be in. These are very serious, fundamental questions that,
sure to us in this safe Chamber in this House it is one thing, to the people on the street it is something very
different.



When you start speaking of the employees in the police department, you start thinking of other
employees; 175 of them are going to be out of work with absolutely no protection, particularly those in Halifax
County who do not have a union. Now last week, I know the Minister of Municipal Affairs referred to a clause
in the bill, which I won’t refer to, and indicated this gives successor rights and this gives protection. Well it
does and it doesn’t. It gives no protection to all the employees who live in the county because they don’t have
any successor rights; they are not members of any union. Metro has a union, they do not. So the unfairness
for the 175 breadwinners who are wondering, is it going to be me, is it going to be you? There will be some
management, there will be some labour, there will be some technical, there will be people from all walks of
the municipal system who will be unemployed this time next year.



You see the independence of the fire departments. Now I know how proud the volunteer fire services
are of the work they do, and I know how grateful the residents are in the different areas around the province
when they find the services of the volunteer fire departments. The oldest incorporated volunteer fire
department is going to disappear, that is the Hammonds Plains Fire Department. They are concerned. They
purchased equipment through bake sales and bingos and all the other things that volunteer fire departments
do to raise money. But now, under this amalgamation, their equipment comes under the ownership of the
municipality and it could be taken from Hammonds Plains and put down on Morris Street, or it could be taken
from the Head of the Bay and put out in Musquodoboit. That is not fair and that can’t happen and I hope it
doesn’t happen.



The minister shook her head and said that is not true. Well, I will send a note to Mr. Hayward and
tell him it is not true. That will make it go away and that will make it all better. Well you see the thing is, I
talked to the man who wrote the bill and he indicates that the fire department equipment can be shifted from
one area of the province to the other. With all due respect to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the bill makes
the volunteer fire services very frightened. I am sure that by the time amalgamation takes place and the
minister has her way with the people of metro, that they will not force the volunteer fire services to lose their
equipment. But still, that is a fear of the volunteer fire service and it shouldn’t be there.



[2:30 p.m.]



Three-quarters of Halifax, Dartmouth, Halifax County residents complained they were kept in the
dark about amalgamation, according to a poll released recently. The poll indicated 88 per cent were satisfied
with existing services, but yet the Minister of Municipal Affairs is not listening to the 88 per cent and not
giving the people in Bedford their opportunity to have their plebiscite and then pay attention to what is said
in the plebiscite, because as the Deputy Speaker knows, there will be a plebiscite held in Bedford.



Now we have met with a lot of people to discuss the issues concerning municipal reform but you
know who we haven’t met with? We haven’t met with any group or individuals who said, by golly what a great
idea, hurry this along. Not one group or individual has come to me and said, this is a good idea. You see, they
are not impressed. There are people that say amalgamation but not forced amalgamation pushing us into the
dark the way this government is doing. There is nobody that indicated that they were interested . . .
(Interruption) Well, if the honourable government House Leader has something to say, why doesn’t he stand
up some time and say it? He sits back heckling by the hour, setting a good example for the more junior
backbenchers following in his footsteps and if they work rigorously, they will be hecklers as good as he
sometime but it is going to take a long time.



Two-thirds of the residents believe they are adequately or well represented at the present time. Half
of the residents indicate the existing tax level is about right at the present time. Seventy per cent of the
residents believe more consultation is needed prior to a decision being made on amalgamation. Now 70 per
cent is a lot of people. Why will this government not listen? Can anybody tell me why the government won’t
listen? Eighty-eight per cent of the residents are indicating they are not happy with this decision. Seventy per
cent say they are happy with the situation the way it is. They are saying we want information and they are not
getting it, but what they are getting is more forced government.



The most important issue facing constituents is taxes. Eighty per cent of the residents believe taxes
will remain the same or increase. There is not one person out there saying taxes are going to go down. If we
aren’t going to have better services, if we are not going to have lower taxes, then why is the Minister of
Municipal Affairs so anxious to bring in amalgamation? What is the reason? The quality of service will not
be as great, the representation that they have with the municipal councillors will not be as great because the
municipal councillors will have a greater number of people to represent.



We had a lot of discussion over the last 40 years about amalgamation. I remember the Graham Report
of 25 years ago or so, I remember people talking about that but nothing was done about it. Then we had a
study done a little while ago, about 1990 or 1991, the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities did a study and
they wanted to talk about amalgamation. They said we have too many municipal units around the province.



Well, I remember the day we met with the union in the Red Chamber and the Premier was then the
Mayor of Dartmouth, President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. They brought in the report,
talking about amalgamation, and the government said all right, we accept your report, let’s get on with it. The
shock from the then mayor and president was unbelievable. He said I will fight you tooth and nail. You are
not going to do this unilaterally. We are going to have discussions. We are going to do this, we are going to
do that. But do you know something? This guy, when he became Premier, has had less discussion than we
were planning to have. He has had more forceful behaviour with municipal reform than anybody in any
previous government would have even dreamed possible. (Interruption) What happened to the man between
1993 and now? He said people were going to have an opportunity to have their say. That’s what they voted
for. (Interruption) That and no taxes. But he changed his mind and look at the result. We have a Minister of
Municipal Affairs who jumped on this thing and said we are going to have it. After it was leaked to the
newspapers and you all remember the terrible meeting down in the basement when the Premier ran into the
light pole with his car and everything else, I mean what a night that was.



MADAM SPEAKER: I think the honourable member is a tad off the bill once more and I would
caution you. Please restrict your comments, not to light bulbs and running into things but to the principle of
the second reading.



AN HON. MEMBER: Whatever turns you on. (Laughter)



MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, one of the things that people were looking forward to with this government
was openness. This bill is not what you would call an example of openness in government. This government
campaigned on openness and frequency of meetings of the Legislature and we are going to talk to you and
we are going to listen to you and all those things, but what do the people say? What are the mayors saying?
They are saying consultation was zilch. They are saying consultation didn’t take place. This is not what the
government stood for and this is not the platform this government ran on. Do you know that when a
government breaks its word so many times, it gives politicians a bad name. It is not nice. (Interruptions)



Polls show that people are satisfied with current services. Citizens have less representation and they
are going to get less services under this bill. The appointment of the CAO for metro is different than from
Cape Breton. In Cape Breton, you had to be a Cape Bretoner to apply. Here you can come from Kalamazoo
or anywhere. Is that fair? (Interruptions) What is a rural area? In here, we are talking about fringe areas and
so on. There are a lot of definitions that are a bit of a problem.



One of the things that bothers people is what they feel is the betrayal because they were promised
consultation and they were promised that they would be part of the system and they are not. It doesn’t make
any difference whether you talk to somebody in Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford or the county. They all will tell
you the same thing. They were not consulted, they didn’t ask for this and, in fact, by the look of the electoral
distribution in this region, you will very quickly learn that they asked not to have amalgamation because the
Party that said no amalgamation was the one that got elected. Doesn’t that tell you anything? Don’t you ever
want to listen to the people? You have a majority because of the things you said. You said you would listen,
you would consult and you wouldn’t force amalgamation but yet, you are forcing amalgamation upon people
and it is not fair.



There is no end to the questions that need answers before you rush headlong. The road costs, $3,500
a kilometre. In Halifax City now, it costs them $6,000 per kilometre to keep the roads maintained with snow
removal, sand and salt, patching and everything else they do. They are paying $6,000 now. The Department
of Transportation said we will do it for $3,500. This year. What is it going to be next year, $3,800, $5,000,
$4,500? There is no guarantee on the cost of roads in the future. The municipalities would like to know and
it is not unreasonable. They are sort of buying a pig in a poke, as they used to call it. That is what this is.



Halifax County does not feel confident that the $3,500 is a firm price. Then they get into all these
other things about elected politicians, the 22 of them, full-time, part-time, executive assistants, you know, all
those things. How is that going to evolve and where is that going to save money?



School buses, are they going to have school buses out in the country? Are they going to have school
buses in the city as well and are the school bus drivers (Interruption) Well, you know one of the things that
is very frustrating about this Chamber sometimes is that the backbencher who lives in an area that is going
to be amalgamated will sit in the back row and holler and chant and heckle but not once has he stood up and
said what his people are telling me. Now that may be fair ball for the members of the Chamber but you know,
people elect us to represent them and I think part of the representation is to stand up and talk about
amalgamation when it affects so many of us and when it affects the whole future of Nova Scotia.



MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I would just like to make a little clarification here. I
think every one of the honourable members, not just called backbenchers and all the other names that seem
to be thrown around on occasion, all have an opportunity, when they choose, to get up and speak. It probably
is less than appropriate for speakers who have the floor to be admonishing them to stand on their feet and
speak. Each person in this Chamber has the right to do so, . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Or encouraging.



MADAM SPEAKER: . . . or encouraging, whatever adjective one uses. I think you should try to keep
from being sidetracked. You are into the running down time on the clock and there may be some important
things that you would like to include in your concluding remarks. So I recognize the member for Kings North.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you very much. Look, since I am running down in time, let me just
summarize very quickly, in about two minutes, exactly what I feel is the problem with this bill. It is the lack
of consultation; taxes are going to go up for every single taxpayer in this region; they are going to have less
representation in council than they have at the present time; there is no money for the service exchange in this
region; human resources; and the 175 employees for the municipality who are presently there are going to be
gone. The bill doesn’t define a mayor or a CEO properly, it has given the mayor and the CEO exactly the same
power. There is not one sou saved in this amalgamation. Those are really the crux of the matter and they have
not been addressed by this government, this minister nor any other honourable member of this Chamber.



If I was a little offensive or a little hard on some of the honourable members in the House for their
heckling, look, I do apologize because, Madam Speaker, I don’t want to get you after me. So I do hope that
other members will stand in their place now and I encourage them to stand and explain where my ideas are
wrong about amalgamation, tell me where I am wrong, tell me where the municipalities are not feeling that
they have been properly canvassed, tell me how I have made the mistake, tell Mr. Fitzgerald, Ms. McCluskey,
Mr. Ball and the Mayor of Bedford where they have gone wrong and why they don’t understand this process.
That is all we are asking for, we are encouraging the members of the Chamber to speak and defend this bill
which I feel is indefensible. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: Are there further speakers to the second reading? The question is being called.



If I recognize the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs it will be to close the debate. (Applause)



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to make just a few closing comments with
regard to second reading of Bill No. 3. On many occasions as honourable members were speaking, I did try
to clarify a number of points on which there seemed to be some confusion and really I guess a lack of
information on, although I pointed out on many occasions where these things were actually found in the bill.
So I want to clarify a number of points that came forward.



Certainly the member for Pictou Centre who opened the discussion had a number of questions and
concerns and other members of his Party, from the Progressive Conservative Party, echoed a number of those
as well.



I want to deal with first, Mr. Speaker, the taxation issue. On the amalgamation as Mr. Hayward put
forward his report there was a $10 million saving. That amount of money is approximately 3 per cent of the
overall tax rate here. That $10 million savings is echoed and reflected in the UMA/Doane Raymond Report.
Just for clarification, the UMA/Doane Raymond Report was a $230,000 report that was commissioned by the
four municipalities to deal with a number of concerns that they had. They came back with the report and I
think outlined quite well a number of avenues, options and certainly supported a number of the points that
had been put forward by Mr. Hayward, a report that had been commissioned and released in June 1993.



Both of these reports recognize that there is a $10 million saving because of amalgamation. The
UMA/Doane Raymond Report says that is not a significant saving but, in actual fact, Mr. Speaker, I think $10
million each year on an ongoing basis, if you took that in 10 years that is a billion dollars. I would have to
suggest that is a fairly significant saving over time and that was agreed to by both the UMA. . .



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: On a point of order, would you check your math again please? The
$10 million by 10 is $100 million over 10 years. One of the things that is unclear with what the minister has
been telling us is that the study of $10 million in savings, her indication is only that it is only half of it because
the study clearly indicated that within three years there would be no savings, in fact, it would cost more. So,
when you are reporting a survey, please report the whole survey.



MR. SPEAKER: I fail to find a point of order. If the mathematics are inadvertent, that is not a point
of order.



MS. JOLLY: Well, I think if the honourable member will look through the UMA/Doane Raymond
Report, in actual fact, deals with the harmonization, they deal with the harmonization of services and still
shows savings. They very clearly, as well, have a $10 million saving because of amalgamation. They clearly
put that in there and, Mr. Speaker, it is a number that follows throughout each year thereafter.



The second point I think is important is when we talk about whether the amalgamation was the right
way to go or the single level of government was in actual fact the right process to take. The UMA/Doane
Raymond Report went through and looked at six or seven different alternatives and of the alternatives it
looked at, and in its summary it very clearly states three times in the summary of the UMA/Doane Raymond
Report that the preferred governance model for the region is a single municipality. It says three various times
and in the executive summary at the very end, “In our opinion, the preferred governance model for the region
should be a single municipality. The boundary of this municipality should be the current boundary of Halifax
County.”. Again, there was agreement between the two reports on these particular issues.



When we look at a number of other things that came up from the honourable member for Halifax
Citadel, he talked about the public meetings that were held and there were 50 public meetings held by Mr.
Hayward and 30 by the UMA people. Part of what he talked about when he talked about one of the
amendments was hoisting the bill for six months. We have a 12 month time period between now and the
actual amalgamation where there will be ongoing discussion and development of what the new regional
municipality in actual fact will look like and how it will be dealt with.



There was also some discussion by the Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for
Queens on the 175 people that has been estimated would no longer be required in the new regional
municipality. In actual fact, as we have done in Cape Breton, there is an opportunity for early retirement to
be provided for by the new regional municipality. There will be an opportunity for those individuals, some
of them may be laid off and on a call back order and other individuals may no longer be working for the
regional municipality, but a commitment has been made to provide some assistance and some training and
the new regional municipality will be able to look after that.



There was other discussion by honourable members on successor rights, that there would be some
protection of the union individuals. I also want to suggest that in the legislation there is also protection there
for non-union individuals. We have set up with the successor rights under the new regional municipality such
that non-union individuals who will be available for jobs that may be in another municipality and were on a
unionized basis will have the same rights and privileges to move into and have an opportunity to apply for
and be in receipt of those jobs.



[2:45 p.m.]



There was discussion on the volunteer fire departments and I want to very clearly state the member
for Kings North was talking about the Hammonds Plains Fire Department and a number of people have talked
about it. It is the one single volunteer fire department that actually has been set up under its own commission,
its own board of directors. Their equipment, in actual fact, is owned by the Hammonds Plains board. We put
in the legislation availability for those individuals to keep title to their equipment. All other volunteer fire
equipment is generally owned by the regional municipality of which they are governed and that generally is
Halifax County. So the volunteer fire departments will have an opportunity to keep that equipment in their
area and, in actual fact, volunteer fire departments will operate very similar to what they are now. There is
no great change to be made in volunteer fire departments because I think as we all recognize, we wouldn’t be
able to provide the services in those outlying areas without volunteer fire departments.



We also had some concerns expressed by the member for Queens and the member for Halifax
Atlantic with regard to school board funding. We very clearly have covered off not only a way to ensure that
the new municipality would not be able to just do away with school board funding for Halifax-Dartmouth, in
actual fact, they do have an opportunity, if they want to provide additional supplementary funding, to set that
up and have it come forward. So, the school board funding is still available and is possible to be developed
and to continue.



Another concern was policing services. Policing services, we believe, will be very similar to what
they are now. When we did the amalgamation of the police people, there was a $1.2 million savings of which
the councils elected to look at 14 more police people so they took the savings to provide better services. This
is something that we have said all along, that there are savings available. They can be used to either reduce
taxes or they can be used to improve services. This is something that the new council will have to decide.



We also looked at a number of issues when we talk about payments to councillors. The honourable
member for Queens was concerned that we identify very specifically what councillors can be paid for. One
of the things that we have done in this legislation, the same as what we have done in Cape Breton, is that
councils will receive a stipend. They will not receive any payment for meetings, they will not receive any
payments for any boards or commissions that they are on, and those are boards or commissions that they are
appointed to by their council, but they could be boards or commissions that are set up by their council or in
actual fact, are set up by other levels of government. If they are appointed to that board to sit as a member of
the council of their municipality they will receive no remuneration for going to those meetings. That is a
significant change but the same as what we have done in Cape Breton.



Two final points, the members for both Queens and Kings North talked about the CAO, that we have
done something different here. The member for Halifax Citadel also suggested that we had done something
different with the CAO. In actual fact, we have not. The CAO in Cape Breton was an open competition, the
same as the CAO will be in the Halifax area. That is the only job that we have looked at on an open
competition basis. We will be interviewing those individuals who are already currently employed with the
municipality, to see if there is somebody of the capability and the qualifications to do that job first and
foremost. There will be some new jobs, I am sure, created because this government, I hope and as has been
suggested by other people, will be formulated in a number of different ways as we move along. The CAO in
Cape Breton and in Halifax have been treated exactly the same.



I had a question from the member for Queens on community councils and I think the member for
Halifax Citadel as well. In Cape Breton you need 100 people in order to establish a community council and
in Halifax that number is 500. So, the community councils are established in the same way. There is a
different level of the number of people who must request a community council, but in actual fact they are
established on the same basis and they have the same right of appeal. So in Cape Breton you require 100
citizens to come forward, in Halifax it is 500 citizens to come forward. That was the question that had been
asked.



I guess finally, Mr. Speaker, we have today, I understand, at 1:00 o’clock the Metro Halifax Chamber
of Commerce has come forward and suggested, in their press conference I believe and from some material
I got, that they as well support the amalgamation, that they support a single tier government for this area. In
order to develop economically, in order to have an opportunity for this area to put forward its best foot, in
order for us to compete in the Atlantic region and I think on the Atlantic Rim, they recognized the importance
of a single regional municipality in this area.



So, Mr. Speaker, when the honourable members across the way say that this is not something that
people want or that this is not a direction the government should be going, I have to tell them we have had
a lot of representation that it is an appropriate way to go, it is a way to ensure that this area will be able to
fulfil itself to its full potential. The elections will be happening December 2, 1995, with the takeover of
January 9, 1996. There will be ongoing consultation going on. Certainly Mr. Hayward, the Co-ordinator, is
doing that. I know that some of the municipalities as well are having public meetings and there is more and
more information getting out all the time.



The report by the UMA and the Doane Raymond people very clearly identified and agreed with a
number of the issues that Mr. Hayward had put forward in his report. So I think we have struck an opportunity
for where there is general agreement on a number of issues. Certainly there will always be sections or areas
that people think should be done differently, but much of what we put in the legislation is to allow the new
regional government to come forward and develop a number of its own priorities, a number of its own by-laws, a way of how they want to structure this government. I think that flexibility is very important not only
to the Halifax Regional Municipality and the new council but, as well, to the citizens, in order that they can
have an opportunity to have input into the structure.



So, Mr. Speaker, I guess the final point I would make is the taxation question which comes up all
the time. We see that in the amalgamation, in the number of reports that there is a $10 million saving that
can be utilized. I would just clarify as well that the service exchange that happened April 1, 1995, produced
an additional $11 million savings. So we have in this area approximately $20 million savings from two very
tough decisions that this government has made, which in the City of Dartmouth has already resulted in a 5
per cent tax reduction that they have been able to bring forward. I think you will find that will carry forward.



The one thing that the UMA Report did say and has outlined is a list of additional work or projects
that will have to be taken on in this area, regardless of whether there is an amalgamation or not.
Amalgamation does not generate this, in actual fact. There are issues such as $25 million in transportation,
road widening, road development in the area that needs to be done. They have identified $16 million for
libraries; they have identified $200 million for Halifax Harbour clean-up. These are all projects that the new
regional municipality will have to decide whether they can afford to do them and when they can afford to do
them.



Mr. Speaker, the suggestion that honourable members across the way would make, that the Doane
Raymond Report that said day one, 1996, all of these things are going to be approved, happen and have to be
paid for on a tax basis, is absolutely incorrect. The Doane Raymond Report very clearly identifies that as well.
They identify that if these services were completed, and based on the assumptions that they had, these could
be the resulting implications. But certainly on April 1, 1996, I know we are not going to spend $200 million
on Halifax Harbour clean-up, $25 million on transportation on roads in this area and $16 million on library
services.



So, Mr. Speaker, I would move this bill on to Law Amendments Committee and I look forward to
the representations from the public at Law Amendments Committee. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 3.



Several members are asking for a recorded vote.



Ring the bells, call in the members.



[2:55 p.m.]



[The Division bells were rung.]



[3:14 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?



The motion before the House is that Bill No. 3 now be given second reading. The Clerk will conduct
a recorded vote.



[The Clerk calls the roll.]



YEAS NAYS



Mr. Barkhouse Mr. Holm

 

Mrs. Norrie Mr. Chisholm

 

Mr. Downe

 

Dr. Smith

 

Mr. Boudreau

 

Dr. Savage

 

Mr. Gillis

 

Dr. Stewart

 

Ms. Jolly

 

Mr. MacEachern

 

Mr. Mann

 

Mr. Gaudet

 

Mr. Abbass

 

Mr. Adams

 

Mr. Lorraine

 

Mr. M. MacDonald

 

Mrs. Cosman

 

Mr. MacAskill

 

Mr. MacArthur

 

Mr. MacNeil

 

Mr. Rayfuse

 

Mr. Richards

 

Mr. Surrette

 

Mr. White

 

Mr. Holland

 

Mrs. O’Connor

 

Mr. Mitchell

 

Mr. Donahoe

 

Mr. Russell

 

Mr. Leefe

 

Mr. Archibald

 

Mr. Taylor

 

Mr. McInnes

 

Dr. Hamm

 

Mr. Carruthers

 

Mr. Fogarty

 

Mr. Hubbard

 

Mr. W. MacDonald

 

Mr. Fraser

 

Mr. Colwell

 

Mr. Huskilson



THE CLERK: For 41, Against, 2.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 5.



Bill No. 5 - School Boards Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 5, is An Act to Amend Chapter 6 of the Acts
of 1991, the School Boards Act, before I move second reading, I think a few words are in order. I think most
members of the House know that we have spent the last year travelling the province, consulting with the
people of Nova Scotia about amalgamation of school boards.



Now, we have two very definite problems, Mr. Speaker, that are time sensitive. The two problems
have to do with addressing the Acadian francophone governance question. No matter what the specifics of
the decisions that we have on Acadian francophone governance, we have to move forward with a decision.
Now, the details of that decision were not ready for us to prepare a bill that would address all of the details,
so we have to have a transition period and that transition period is between now and the school board elections
of 1997. So, to address the Acadian francophone governance, we are requesting the House approve a bill
which will allow the Governor in Council under the recommendation of the Minister of Education and
Culture, to amalgamate boards or amalgamate parts of boards.



If you know about the francophone question, there is a small school up in Antigonish County, for
example, by the name of Pomquet, and in order to allow there to be an Acadian francophone board, we have
to find a way of taking Pomquet and including it in the board. Likewise, Cheticamp, Isle Madame,
Greenwood. Clare-Argyle is fine, Carrefour is fine, so that no matter what adjustments, they can be allowed
for. But for those parts of boards, this allows those parts to be added to form the Acadian Francophone Board.



Likewise, Mr. Speaker, the other problem we have, is that we have several small boards that are
about to approach bankruptcy. Now, as all members know, boards are not allowed to be bankrupt, so what they
have to do is that they will be forced to lay off teachers and cut programs below the core program level and
we can’t allow that to happen. I have listened to several members of the House stand and in addressing the
idea, asking us to delay. But if we delay, this will force some boards to reduce services below a level that is
allowed. I will give you the most immediate case and that is the case of Guysborough. They have asked us very
deliberately to do something so that they don’t have to cut programs beyond that level. This is not a question
of mismanagement on behalf of the board. In fact, if the previous government had managed the economy like
the boards of the Province of Nova Scotia have done, we would not be in the mess we are in today. What they
have done at the board level and I mentioned Guysborough has been amazing when you consider the small
dollars that they have had to work with. They have protected programs while facing declining enrolment in
a geography that would overwhelm most of us.



This government will not allow the boards to suffer. We will not allow the students to suffer so we
are moving this transition proposal forward so that we can address those two very particular concerns. If you
will notice what it does, it allows that the elected members of the board that presently exist, if there is an
amalgamation they form the members of the board. That gives, for example, the opportunity no matter what
we do with Guysborough, for example, that we can proceed, make decisions based on the fact that we have
a board in place. If we don’t do that, then, in fact, there is no way that we can proceed and protect programs
for those students.



One of the proposals we are considering was brought forward at a public meeting and it will show
the context of the few clauses of this bill. It was suggested at a public meeting in Antigonish that if there were
an amalgamation of the four Strait boards that there be formed an executive committee of the four boards and
it would act on behalf of the board in terms of making executive decisions. If, in fact, we don’t have a bill like
this that allows us to work then nobody can speak on behalf of the four amalgamated boards.



This allows us that opportunity to do that and it also gives a clear direction that this is a transition
proposal because it indicates that within nine months of the next board elections, we will ask the Utility and
Review Board to step forward to give us recommendations on the number of members of a school board and
the number and boundaries of the electoral districts in the school district for the school board. So if any
amalgamations take place, this allows us the opportunity to have the Utility and Review Board, have the
hearings that are required and after we have the next selection we move into the normal phase.



Again, this just gives us the authority in the short run for the transition period so that we can move
forward to make these decisions. It is not a very complicated bill. It speaks very clearly to the needs of both
the Acadian francophone board question and also to the question of protecting students in small boards. I will
move that and I look forward to hearing the discussions from members of the House and I move that this move
forward to Law Amendments. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I am pleased to have an opportunity to address this particular piece
of legislation. I don’t know if I am really pleased to have an opportunity to address it because, quite frankly,
I am not really very impressed that the legislation reads as it does. The honourable minister in introducing
the bill on second reading suggests that one of the principal motivations for it being here before us is that he
has to do something about the governance of Acadian and francophone schools in the Province of Nova Scotia
and I understand that. I understand that there is some reasonable urgency in that regard.



I can’t help but be struck by the fact that as recently as last evening, I had occasion in estimates
debate with our colleague, the Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs, and I took the time and trouble during
that discourse with that minister to ask him about the nature of the relationship between himself and the
Minister of Education and those officials who work for him, the Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs,
relative to the plans and the activities and the initiatives of the Minister of Education relative to this bill and
relative to the consolidation of school boards.



I came away from that discussion with the Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs with the very
distinct impression that there were many, many months of discussions ahead to result in agreements and
conclusions being reached which would enable him to his satisfaction as Minister responsible for Acadian
Affairs, to reach an accommodation with the Minister of Education relative to Acadian francophone school
governance.



Having said that, therefore, I wonder, as a matter of principle and public policy, why it is that we
have this particular bill before us at the present time being as wide open and as carte blanche as it actually
is. The minister said, in his introductory remarks, you will recall, that he has spent as much as the last year
consulting and, in the course of that consultation, in his remarks today, he says, he determined that there were
really two issues which prompted and support the principle of this bill; one was the Acadian francophone
governance and the other was the need to do something about what he refers to as small schools or small
school board jurisdictions, some of which are in very serious and difficult financial circumstances.



Well, I note with interest, by the way, that he didn’t go the third step and he didn’t go to the point
where he suggested that one of the reasons we need this legislation is to enable him to have an authority to
do what many in the Halifax-Dartmouth metro area are concerned he is about to do, that is to join together,
as he would have the authority to do under this legislation, the district school boards which handle school
board affairs here in the metropolitan district.



This legislation is, I think, a very dangerous piece of legislation. It is very dangerous because it
simply gives the Minister of Education an absolute carte blanche as he - or depending on Cabinet shuffle, she -
may decide, admittedly and I acknowledge, subject to a review at the Cabinet table.



Now the minister just said that we are in a transition period and we are in a transition period between
now and we need to have all these things done by 1997. Well, 1997 is about three more sessions of the
Legislature away. I say, with respect, Mr. Speaker, that the legislation is premature for the very simple reason
that there isn’t any precision, there isn’t any detail, there isn’t any precise documentation that describes the
way in which school boards in this province may or may not be amalgamated.



I am very much concerned, as offensive as Bill No. 3 is, the bill that we just voted to send to the Law
Amendments Committee, at least that had some provisions whereby there was to be a report from a
commissioner and the commissioner had been provided with certain authorities and there were to be
references to the Utility and Review Board and so on. Here I am just very concerned that as a matter of public
policy, we are establishing a public policy principle, in this case relative to school boards, where, Clause 1
Section 8A(1) “Notwithstanding Sections 7 and 8 of this Act . . .” and I will refer to those in a moment, “. .
. the Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister, may, by order, (a) amalgamate a school
board with any other school board; (b) annex the whole or any part of a school district to another school
district.”.



Now that, to me, is a very extreme authority to grant unto any Minister of Education, with or without
Cabinet approval, indeed, a very extreme authority to be granting to a Cabinet. Whether it was right or wrong,
whether the number was right or wrong, whether it has to be changed or not, you will recall, Mr. Speaker,
that the last time that we had school board amalgamation in the province, at least at that time legislation came
forward which described the amalgamations which would take place. Not only did they describe them, but
they were accompanied by a tremendously detailed document which outlined the financial circumstances and
implications of those amalgamations.



[3:30 p.m.]



Here we have the Minister of Education, who, on the basis of whatever view he wants, can come into
Cabinet any Thursday he wants, and simply say, Mr. Premier, Cabinet colleagues, I hereby propose that we
amalgamate this board with that board or these two or three boards with these two or three boards and who
knows where we are.



Now, the minister produced a so-called White Paper. The White Paper provided a couple of options.
It provided an option for five school boards on the one hand and seven on the other. There is no mention in
this legislation that either of those options is to be taken. So it is conceivable - and I will put it in the extreme
to make the point - that if we allow this legislation to pass, the Minister of Education can come into Cabinet
any given Thursday, make a recommendation to Cabinet that says, there shall be one school board in the
Province of Nova Scotia. In fact . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: The charter wouldn’t allow it.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, the minister says the charter wouldn’t allow it. I don’t know that that is
necessarily so. Well, all right, I will grant him that and suggest that he could come in some day and say that
there will be two school boards. (Interruption) That’s possible. You see, the minister says, that’s possible. Sure
it is possible. The reason, I guess, and I had forgotten that perhaps there might be a charter problem is that
we would have to address the Acadian francophone issue and that is one board and then we would,
presumably, have to address the issue of the non-Acadian/non-francophone school board administration.
(Interruption)



AN HON. MEMBER: Remember what Option 3 says.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, the minister is telling me across the way, Mr. Speaker, remember what
Option 3 says. This bill doesn’t say anything about Option 3. This bill simply says that the Minister of
Education can walk into the Cabinet Room, any day he feels like it and say to the Cabinet, there shall be two
school boards in the Province of Nova Scotia. If the Cabinet of the day is so inclined and so disposed, they
will say that’s wonderful, Mr. Minister, slam bam, here’s the rubber stamp and now we have two school
boards. That can happen.



I say, as a matter of public policy and the principle of this bill allows that, that stinks in terms of
being appropriate, reasonable, rational, fair, open, accessible public policy making. It simply doesn’t give the
men and women and the thousands and thousands of parents in this province who have a very real concern
about what is happening to their children in the public school system, an opportunity to have their say.



How could we, why should we, what is the public policy principle that makes it reasonable or
rational, for us, particularly in the field of education but in any field, to allow a minister of the day to come
in and say that? It is interesting that we didn’t have legislation come forward, Mr. Speaker, that said relative
to municipal amalgamation, the minister of the day shall decide how many municipal units there shall be in
the Province of Nova Scotia, she will come in and if the Cabinet says okay, then that is how many we have.
(Interruption) Would you do that? They didn’t do that, but yet they are doing that here in connection with the
public school enterprise.



With the possible exemption of the delivery of health care, there is nothing as important and as
fundamental to the present and future life of the Province of Nova Scotia as what goes on in the public school
system. Here we have a minister, a minister who, in my opinion, has demonstrated, by his performance at the
public meetings which I have seen and heard reported, has simply adopted an attitude, a don’t confuse me with
the facts, my mind is made up, kind of an approach to this whole issue. He is going to walk into the Cabinet
Room, Mr. Speaker, at the principle of this bill is such as to enable him to walk into the Cabinet Room and
simply recommend that he is going to amalgamate a school board with any other, or annex a whole or any
part of the school district to another school district.



Now this is the same minister, Mr. Speaker, as we stand here today debating this legislation, who
has said publicly all over the province that he has been prepared and is prepared to listen to any reasonable,
rational alternative.



AN HON. MEMBER: He always has.



MR. DONAHOE: Always has. I notice my friend from Hants East is helping me again.



AN HON. MEMBER: You need all the help you can get.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, we have more rabbit tracks from across the way.



If it is the case, Mr. Speaker, that this minister meant what he said publicly, I will consider any
rational alternatives to those set out in the White Paper. I want to put the proposition, and I do, as it relates
to the principle of this bill, that the minister should hear each and every one of those representations and
should then say publicly to the people of Nova Scotia that this is my reaction or my response as minister to
those proposals. Then, subsequent to that, the minister comes to the floor of this place and offers legislation
which would have the effect or propose to put into effect, the decisions taken by that minister relative to those
proposals and be indicative of the changes that the minister has agreed upon, or considers are appropriate,
in light of an assessment of all the proposals he has heard.



Mr. Speaker, it is possible now if this legislation passes, and I say probably likely, that those in the
province, not only those in the public school enterprise, but those in the province who have an interest in the
public school system and situation of our young people in the public schools may never ever hear the rationale
for whatever decisions are taken by Cabinet because it is not necessary. There is nothing in this legislation
which says that it is incumbent upon this minister to provide any explanation, any rationale, any financial
statement, any indication as to what the financial circumstances might be or will be of any amalgamation he
makes or proposes and is ultimately approved by the Executive Council. Frankly, I just simply say, Mr.
Speaker, that the authorities afforded to the Minister of Education in this legislation are absolutely extreme
and simply should be resisted by every member of this Legislative Assembly.



So it is on the recommendation of the minister that we would have an amalgamation of school
boards, one with another, or the annexation of a whole part of one district school board with another. There
is nothing here which sets out the criteria that are required to be observed; there is nothing that talks about
community of interest; there is nothing here which talks about financial circumstances; there is nothing here
which talks about quality and depth and breadth of program offerings; there is no educational criteria
established. There is no financial criteria established.



Quite frankly, it is possible that on the whim, and I say that intentionally, the whim of the Minister
of Education, that the Minister of Education can walk in, upon passage of this legislation, to the Cabinet one
day and say that the Colchester-East Hants District School Board is to be amalgamated with the Cumberland
District School Board and with the Pictou District School Board and, let’s say, with one of the Hants District
School Boards. The minister can do that and the Cabinet can approve it. That can be done without any of the
taxpayers and the parents and students and faculty and staff and the administration of those areas affected
being given so much as a how do you do in the whole process.



That simply can happen. I frankly say, Mr. Speaker, and my real concern with this legislation, it is
just simply far too extreme an authority or a power to vest in this minister and in the Executive Council. I
repeat, whether it was done well or poorly, and I was a part of it and if anybody here or other observers want
to say it was done poorly, then I take the blame. But I was here, and I was here as Minister of Education, the
last time the school boards of this province were amalgamated. When I got to be Minister of Education, there
were about 88 school boards in the Province of Nova Scotia. I did not come to the Legislature (Interruption) -
nor did the government of which I was a member, nor did I talk to the people - we talked to the people by way
of a commission which travelled this province and came back to the government with a detailed and a precise
document which set out the number of school boards which were recommended, provided a rationale as to
why that be done, provided the financial circumstances that would pertain in every single municipal unit that
was affected.



AN HON. MEMBER: Bribed every one of them.



ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: Gave them money to do it.



MR. DONAHOE: It was bribery. Well, the minister says it was bribery. Well, what do we have here?
We have no consultation here. We have a piece of paper which says that this Minister of Education, on
whatever whim strikes his fancy on any given Thursday, can go to the Cabinet Room and say, ladies and
gentlemen, we are going to have two school boards in Nova Scotia. That is what we have in this bill.



Is that what we want? (Interruption) Oh, he remembers, the minister says he remembers. Yeah, he
remembers because at that time he was just a disgruntled, malcontent teacher in the public school system is
what he remembers. That is what he remembers.



AN HON. MEMBER: And a lousy one at that.



MR. DONAHOE: When we amalgamated . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I think that I hear personal references, I am not speaking about the Opposition
Leader, but from behind him, that are inappropriate in the Chamber.



MR. DONAHOE: I want to ask, and ask very seriously, why it is necessary if, as the minister said
in his introductory remarks here today, Mr. Speaker, that we have to be in place by 1997, why it is and we
have got this transition period. If we have got that time until 1997, I want to ask again why it is that the
minister cannot, having received representation upon representation, he breaks his arm patting himself on
the back about the public consultation which he has held, and why is it that he will not come back to the
people of the Province of Nova Scotia and say, this is what I have learned in the consultation?



In my White Paper, I said five or seven school boards (Interruption) or consensus, the minister says.
Why do I listen to him? (Laughter) That is the same question you are asking yourself, Mr. Speaker, perhaps.
I guess I listen to him because the very words which the Minister of Education uses from his place make the
point that I am trying to make, or the consensus.



Does this represent a consensus? This does not represent anything except an adoption or an
assumption unto himself by the Minister of Education aided and abetted by a Cabinet, of total, absolute and
100 per cent dictatorial power as to what the school board configuration in the Province of Nova Scotia is
going to be if, as and when this passes.



The minister says consensus. Well, if the minister is serious as he sits in his place and catcalls across
the way, or consensus, I repeat my question. Why, prior to the passage of this particular piece of legislation,
does this Minister of Education not adopt what any responsible legislator, in my opinion, should adopt? It is
this. He should stand in his place and he should produce a document which says to the people of Nova Scotia,
you had a chance to review the White Paper. I toured the province, says the minister and I heard reaction,
upon reaction. Might I say, Mr. Speaker, as I am sure you know having heard, I am sure, from probably many
hundreds of your constituents much of the reaction the minister received was very negative. Much of it was
to the effect that we do not know what, in the name of all that is good and holy, this document really says.
What does it mean? It is full of so much gobbledegook it is beyond description and that is the problem here.



[3:45 p.m.]



If the minister wants to sit here and catcall over at me and talk about consensus, well let him prove
his commitment to consensus and he can do it by producing a document which says to the people of Nova
Scotia, here are my conclusions on the basis of everything which I have heard as a result of the dissemination,
the analysis, the review and the reaction to the White Paper which I gathered across the public meetings
around this province.



If the minister says by consensus or that there is a consensus opinion, which is possible, which is
divergent from the five board or seven board proposition set out in the White Paper document, if he really
meant that then why doesn’t that appear in this document? Why doesn’t it appear? Why is there not a clause
in this document, a principle in this document, which imposes upon the Minister of Education an obligation
to say to the people of Nova Scotia prior to going to the Cabinet with God knows what, in terms of what the
school board configuration will be, that it is the obligation of the Minister of Education to produce a document
which sets out for further consideration and review by the taxpayers of Nova Scotia the consensus position
as determined by the Minister of Education?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Now first of all I wish the
honourable Leader of the Opposition would not shout so loudly. I might answer his question and I am going
to try to do this as carefully as I can and for the record, there are three options. One is five boards and told
all of the meetings and all of the boards across the province that it be five boards or seven boards with this
configuration or if a consensus is reached around a third option we would accept that. I gave that very clearly.



That is what we will lead to here and those are the only three things we would be moving forward
on. Number one, let me repeat, that it would be five boards as configured, seven boards as configured or
another configuration around which there is consensus. We already, contrary to what the Leader of the
Opposition did when he was Minister of Education when he basically force-fed amalgamation of boards across
this province. He did that and I was not a malcontent teacher, but I was an observant one who watched it
happen. In fact, there was a significant amount of money that would be held back for anybody who would not
amalgamate. There was no consultation of the minister talking to the people involved. He stayed clear of it
as it was being discussed.



If I might, Mr. Speaker, if we were to accept - and he asks about the time sensitive nature - if he is
recommending that, in fact, what we do is allow Guysborough to cut out programs that cannot be recovered
in a short time while we arrive at something that pleases him, I am suggesting that he is asking for nothing
but trouble. If he is recommending that we allow them to go bankrupt and cut programming, let him say that.
Never mind this running around in circles.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, more absolute inanity out of the Minister of Education. (Interruption) The
Minister of Education is off the mark. I know I am not allowed to say he lied and so I won’t say he lied. I will
say that the minister’s remarks were as far from the truth as it is possible for remarks to be. When he
suggested that during the time that I was engaged in the amalgamation process a few years ago that I “. . .
stayed clear of it as it was being discussed.”. I do not have a tally, but I will match my commitment and my
contact with Nova Scotians at all levels during the time that that amalgamation was going through with that
which this minister has had relative to the contacts he said that have led to this piece of legislation. That is
not the point. I don’t particularly care whether this minister had 48,000 times more meetings than I had when
I had responsibilities for the amalgamation with which I was a part. What I care about is the piece of garbage
represented by this piece of legislation.



MR. SPEAKER: I think that the term piece of garbage is a little heavy, please. Let’s keep it as
parliamentary as we can. (Interruptions)



MR. DONAHOE: My apologies if that word is heavy. I am very distressed that this bill comes
forward in the form that it does. The minister stands up and he thinks he is responding to me and he says, I
am going around in circles and he says, Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, he doesn’t seem to
understand. The White Paper says there are going to be five boards or seven boards or a consensus. Well, the
people of Nova Scotia have seen five boards and the description thereof and some few of the implications
thereof. The people of Nova Scotia have seen the seven board configuration and a few of the implications
thereof.



The point I make, Mr. Speaker, and was making earlier, the people haven’t got the foggiest idea
except to wonder what aberrant thought might be in the minister’s mind as to what the “consensus” position
is. That is the point I make. If the Minister of Education has a so-called consensus position, let’s put it on the
table. Let’s tell the people in Colchester County that the Colchester-East Hants board is going to be
amalgamated with three boards or four other boards. Or, let’s tell the people of Halifax- Dartmouth metro that
rather than have the one board that is contemplated in the proposal, that there will be two boards or maybe
three boards. Let’s put (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.



I ask the honourable Leader of the Opposition to please ignore the rabbit tracks.



MR. DONAHOE: I know, I should know better than to (Interruption). Yes I should know better than
a lot of things.



You get yourself elected five times and come back and participate.



AN HON. MEMBER: Give it to him, Terry. (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: The House seems to be degenerating. I ask that one member at a time speak to the
bill.



MR. DONAHOE: The minister here, under this legislation, has the potential to make an absolute
power grab. Notwithstanding all of the rhetoric in this White Paper, the minister has been touring the
province talking about site-based managed schools and talking about power to the people and so on. The truth
of the matter is, if you read this White Paper and you listen to this minister and now, baby, you read - not you,
Mr. Speaker, - this particular piece of legislation, and boy oh boy, do you see the culmination of the power
grab.



This is proof positive of what hundreds and hundreds of people have said in the public meetings
attended by this minister in his attempt to defend the substance and the detail of this White Paper document.
I was present at a number and other members were, as well. There are thousands of people in this province
who are very concerned about the concentration of power relative to the delivery of public education in this
province in the office of the Minister of Education. This really guarantees that this is one of the final pieces
in guaranteeing that consolidation of power. It is consolidation in the minister’s hands, in the extreme.



The White Paper, which was produced earlier and which the minister would have us believe is really
the genesis of this particular legislation, didn’t say, nor did the Minister of Education at any point, at all of
his public meetings say, I am going to go to the Legislature and introduce a piece of legislation which says
we are going to have whatever school board configuration I recommend to the Executive Council. He never
once said that to the public of Nova Scotia. I have had contact since this piece of legislation was introduced,
from a considerable number of people across the province, Madam Speaker, and they are concerned and they
are very distressed that the minister has assumed unto himself the authorities that he has here.



This legislation talks, as I have said, about the minister being able to come into Cabinet any Thursday
and tell his colleagues in Cabinet that the amalgamation and the annexations or whatever are going to take
place as he recommends and you note with interest that - and I don’t propose to get into clause by clause but
it is not in the bill, it is there by inference - you notice that the bill provides that the minister can do that
notwithstanding what Sections 7 and 8 of the legislation already in place, in the Act, not in the bill that we
debate at the moment, those are already there and you will note that Section 7 of the existing School Boards
Act says, the municipal board “. . . has jurisdiction over the boundaries of school districts and may upon
application (a) order a school board to amalgamate with any other school board; or (b) annex . . . part of a
school district to another school district.”. Isn’t that interesting?



The language is identical. The only thing that has happened is we have taken out and away from the
Municipal Board the possibility to look at the proprieties of amalgamations and annexations and we have
produced a piece of legislation which says the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the minister
may by order. What have we done? As a matter of public policy, as a matter of principle, we have said we no
longer want a Municipal Board or Utility and Review Board to look at the proprieties of the amalgamation
of school boards. That legislation was there before, that legislation was in place earlier and required to be
acted upon previously, why not now? Because it is a power grab by the Minister of Education.



The Minister of Education wants, and will have if this legislation passes in this form, virtually total
dictatorial control. I am dismayed and I hope that there are those who through legislative television will have
seen the minister get up a moment ago and say that there are three options. Well, the Minister of Justice is
frowning, maybe he is hoping that there isn’t anybody out there watching the legislative television, I don’t
know. What I am saying, and I have the floor, I am saying that I hope there are lots of people who are out
there watching the Minister of Education today on legislative television, stand up and say, (Interruption) Well,
they will on delayed telecast. I am sure the member for Cape Breton South will go home and tell the people
in Cape Breton South what the Minister of Education had to say today, because I know that member for Cape
Breton South is home on a regular basis informing his constituents carefully and in detail and precisely and
I am sure he will be down telling them as all Liberal members will, yourself included, Madam Speaker, unless
there is a rule or a precedent that says you are not supposed to do that, I don’t know.



What the minister has done is produce a document and the document is called Education Horizons,
White Paper on Restructuring the Education System. It goes through: Framework for Renewal, and it goes
through Perspectives of Education Partners, and it goes through Transition to a More Effective Education
System, and it goes through Agenda for Change, and so on. It gets down to Consultation, Introducing
Changes, and Conclusion.



If you go over into the document you find Implementing Changes, Action Plan for Restructuring;
Plans to Set Stage for School Councils and Site-Based Management; Site-Based Community Development;
Site-Based Professional Development; Site-Based Financial Accountability; Site-Based Partnerships; Local
Strategic Planning; Information Technologies; Quality Commitment; and Conclusion, “Education Horizons
sets out a new future for education in Nova Scotia . . . “, and so on.



In all the public meetings which the Minister of Education attended, he said there what he said here
today, he said (Interruption) Consistent. Yes, consistent. He said that there will be five boards because that
is what my document says, or, on the other hand, maybe there will be seven boards because that is what my
document says. But then later, not right off the bat but later, as he got pounded around in meeting after
meeting, as he got pounded by a lot of people in a lot of communities across this province who are very upset
about much of what this document purports and says and would purport to do to the public school system, then
the minister started talking about, well, well, now hold it, hold it, maybe there will be this consensus a middle-ground position, maybe there will be some other configuration other than the five or the seven.



[4:00 p.m.]



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. With all due respect to the
honourable Leader of the Opposition, we circulated the document widely and it speaks very clearly to the third
option, and him suggesting that after I got pounded around that I made up the third option. It was in the
document circulated weeks before the first meeting. I would suggest that the presentation that the honourable
member is presenting is somewhat stretching the truth a bit.



MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you. Is there further intervention on the point of order?



MR. MACEACHERN: No.



MADAM SPEAKER: I think it is a point of opinion, but not a point of order. I have heard words of
pounded around and actually my ear drums are being a tad pounded around. We are electronically magnified,
there is a high degree of passion in this debate, there are conversations going on in the Chamber that are
making it difficult to concentrate, so I would ask for some decorum in the topic of this debate and I thank you.



MR. DONAHOE: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. The White Paper which purports to be
the genesis of this legislation, not true.



AN HON. MEMBER: There is more to the White Paper than just this.



MR. DONAHOE: Oh, there is more than one part, okay.



AN HON. MEMBER: . . . more legislation coming down the tubes.



MR. DONAHOE: So where does the legislation come from if it doesn’t come out of -we have just
been having, oh, my, I want to be reasonable, rational and believe me, Madam Speaker, as hard as you and
my colleagues may find this to believe, I want to be reasonably constrained. I just find that, I mean this is the
next best thing to cyberspace.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition
is wandering all over the place. The bill speaks very clearly and very calmly to the amalgamation of school
boards, that is all it does. The honourable Leader of the Opposition is wandering through a very wide-ranging
document. It covers a lot of things, including this. This is a very small part of the discussions that happened
but the legislation is required to initiate that small part of it, and that is the amalgamation of the boards and
that is all it does.



MR. DONAHOE: I just can’t believe it, the Minister of Education, when a moment ago I said that
the genesis of this legislation is the White Paper (Interruption) Oh, it is only part of the White Paper.
(Interruptions) Well, I guess what the Minister of Education is really saying, Madam Speaker, is that those
pages in this White Paper document that talk about restructuring school boards and amalgamating, that is the
genesis of this bill.



AN HON. MEMBER: Right.



MR. DONAHOE: Yes, look, he is delighted that I have it. Well what else do you think I had?
Obviously if I can’t stand up and truthfully say that the White Paper is the genesis of the legislation and this
minister - keep it down, Madam Speaker, indeed, I would be pleased to keep it down - well I mean I just get
so frustrated.



This document, Madam Speaker . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Can I help?



MR. DONAHOE: No, believe me, you can’t help. I have tried before and you can’t help. This
document, the minister’s White Paper, this is where the restructuring comes from. That is the genesis of this
document, this Bill No. 5, An Act to Amend Chapter 6 of the Acts of 1991, the School Boards Act. The
rhetoric in here about how we are going to restructure the school boards of Nova Scotia is where this bill
comes from.



So the point I make and the flaw here is that at no point in the document, which was the statement
to the people of Nova Scotia on how school board structuring would take place, is there a statement which says
that when all of the foolishness and all of the rhetoric and all of the public meetings and all of the travel and
all the consultations are all done, at no point does the document say that at that stage the Minister of
Education will come forward to the Legislature and introduce a piece of legislation which says that he can
go to the Cabinet Room any Thursday and decide on any number of school boards that he likes and that will
be approved by the Executive Council. That is the point I am trying to make. That is the public policy flaw
in this document, in this piece of legislation.



If this document had come within light-years of saying that the minister is going to attempt to use
his best efforts to gain a consensus or a judgment as to what the feelings of the people of Nova Scotia were
about school board structuring and reconfiguration, and that he would then come forward with a piece of
legislation which gave him the authorities which Bill No. 5 gave him, then I would not have the concern that
I have today, because he at least would have told the people of the Province of Nova Scotia that that was his
intention.



This gives this minister and this government unreasonable and I say, in having concern for the
children of Nova Scotia, I believe it gives unreasonable and frightening powers and authorities to the Minister
of Education of the day. Any Minister of Education of the day, not only this minister. This minister will not
be Minister of Education forever, there will be other Ministers of Education. If we have a School Boards Act,
if we have a piece of legislation on the books of our province which says - and we will if this passes - this does
not just mean that this bill applies when it comes time to do whatever this minister wants to do relative to this
White Paper document, the restructuring sections of this White Paper document, this piece of legislation
would be the authority whereby any future Minister of Education could walk into the Cabinet Room on any
future day and rearrange the school board configuration of the Province of Nova Scotia, in complicity with
his or her Cabinet, in any way he or she would wish to do. I don’t believe that that is good public policy at all.
Frankly, I believe it is very scary and I believe it is and will be proven, in the long term, to be in the worst
interests, rather then the best, of the young people of the Province of Nova Scotia.



The minister, and we have already seen evidence of it here today, Madam Speaker, prides himself
on the time as minister that he has invested in public consultation and he prides himself on the public
meetings on the White Paper and the meetings which led to the preparation of the White Paper. He prides
himself on the visits to all the school boards. Well, I ask, and I ask very sincerely because I believe it is an
important question in the context of what we address right now, why is it, if he is so proud of all those visits
and all that consultation, that he throws that investment of his time and his effort and his energy and the
public money and the public involvement in wanting to discuss these issues, why does he throw them down
the drain with the introduction of Bill No. 5 in its present form? Because what he has effectively done,
particularly if he goes to something other than a five or a seven board configuration, particularly if he does
that, he has, in my humble opinion, thrown that investment of time and effort and energy absolutely down
the drain.



The Minister of Education, Madam Speaker, said in this House during Question Period earlier, April
19th, I think it was, that to do this to wait so that things are done properly, would sentence - and he said it
again today - areas like Guysborough - and that is the example that he has used in public before, I have heard
him use it and he used it here today -that would be sentencing them to bankruptcy and he challenges me, that
is what the Leader of the Opposition wants, let him stand up and say so. Well, that is an absolutely foolish
comment from the Minister of Education. It would be as foolish as me standing up and saying that I think the
minister wants to bankrupt Guysborough. I know he does not and nor do I.



Without Bill No. 5, says the minister, Guysborough would be bankrupt. Quite frankly, I do not
believe that to be the case at all. I honestly believe that there are options available (Interruptions) to the
minister by way of assisting cooperative agreements as between neighbouring boards without the necessity
of this legislation. Madam Speaker, I am having a little difficulty hearing.



MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. Yes, I am too.



MR. DONAHOE: You know, I was at a public meeting when I heard the minister talk about, isn’t
it ridiculous, he said. Isn’t it ridiculous that we have situations where we have school board A here and we
have school board B here and because of the artificial boundary between the two school boards we have
children bused from school board A right across the boundary? Isn’t that right, Mr. Minister? Not across the
boundary? (Interruptions) Well, if he would let me finish. Right across the boundary into school board B and
around the corner to the point where the other school board, school board A, has the school and they go to
that school. So they have to drive right by another school in another school board, so isn’t that stupid?



There are examples in this province where arrangements have been made and can be made by
consultation. Well, I hear him whispering, very few, but very few means that it has been done and it can be
done again. I just do not believe that the answer to difficulties of that kind is the absolute steamroller and
bulldozer result that we have represented by Bill No. 5.



I think, and I ask again, why is it that the legislation says, Clause 1 Section 8A(1), “Notwithstanding
Sections 7 and 8 of this Act . . .”? We have a process whereby the Municipal Board, the Utility and Review
Board, has the right under the present legislation of this province to address the question of school board
amalgamation. Well, frankly, I would rather that quasi-judicial independent board make those judgments,
Madam Speaker, than I would the Cabinet on the recommendation of the Minister of Education. I really
believe it is a public policy flaw that that is not going to happen.



This minister has uttered a tremendous amount of rhetoric, Madam Speaker, about just how
concerned he is for children in the classroom, for the learning environment of our children. Well, if that is
the case, I wonder if the difficulty, and I mean difficulty, which he potentially will establish for boards in this
province, depending on decisions he takes - that is our difficulty, we don’t know what decisions he is even
contemplating let alone what decisions he may take - may cause very real difficulty for many children in this
province.



[4:15 p.m.]



I am not so sure about the delivery of fire service and police service and so on over large geographic
areas. I may be wrong but I have the sense and I am going to say it, that the delivery of a quality education
system over too large a geographic area is potentially very difficult and dangerous. If, as may well happen,
we have one school board in the Halifax-Dartmouth, Bedford, Halifax County metropolitan region, I think
we are asking for some very real difficulties. I really do not believe that from a pedagogical and from an
administrative deployment point of view and so on, we are going to have the kind and the nature and the
quality of the educational opportunity which our young people have been experiencing in that board
jurisdiction or those board jurisdictions to this point. The minister may dispute that and that is his right but
I have that concern.



I happen to know that hundreds and hundreds of people who have contacted me and who have
attended public meetings and who have communicated with the minister and copied me and communicated
with caucus members and so on, share that same view. So is that the result we are going to have? We don’t
know. Why don’t we know? Well, we don’t know because we are being asked to pass a piece of legislation
which says that the minister doesn’t have to tell us what the school board configuration is going to be until
that day that he walks out of the Cabinet Room and faces the cameras and says, well, today ladies and
gentlemen I have had an Order in Council passed which establishes the following school board configuration.
Frankly, I think that is wrong. I don’t think that is appropriate, reasonable, fair, open, even-handed,
consultative public policy development at all.



The minister has said, Madam Speaker, and you perhaps have been present at public meetings when
he said it, I certainly have, the minister has said that his ethic and his view and his attitude about the delivery
of a public school education to our young people is based on an attitude that it should be given back to the
people, power to the people, let’s empower the community. Well, this legislation rips the power out of the
hands of the community and vests it entirely in the hands of the Minister of Education. It runs absolutely and
diametrically opposite the direction and the rhetoric and the rant that has come from this Minister of
Education as to what he says on the public platform that he purports to believe about involvement of the
community in the process. It simply runs counter to the attitude that the community be a part of the process.



This document, which is the only document which the public of the Province of Nova Scotia has seen
relative to the size and configuration of school boards in Nova Scotia, says on the basis of very paltry
background information might I say, this document says there shall be, on the one hand five boards and on
the other hand there shall be seven. And then there shall be maybe something other than that because there
might be a consensus position. I think it is incumbent upon the Minister of Education, I think it is only good
public policy to introduce a piece of legislation which says, there shall be x number of school boards in the
Province of Nova Scotia. Those school boards shall be the following. They shall comprise the following
geography. They shall join together, if indeed there is a joining together of existing school boards as
undoubtedly there would be, they will join together certain school boards.



I don’t believe it is right or fair or safe to have this or any other minister walk into the Cabinet Room
some Thursday, with a report and recommendation in his brief-case that says there shall be whatever number
of school boards, have the discussion at the Cabinet table without any consultation with the public at large
and then come out the other end and go the cameras and say to the people of Nova Scotia, aha, you now have
five boards, seven boards, nine boards, 13 boards, who knows how many boards. Who knows what
implications those changes have for the lives of the young people in the public school system and the families,
the parents and the families of those children?



I just think in my final comment, Madam Speaker, I just think that this document is reflective of
absolutely the opposite of what the minister has been saying and absolutely right on the money of what I have
always believed has been the attitude of this minister. I say it here because I believe it. I believe this Minister
of Education is a centralist and this Minister of Education wants to assume unto himself and the Ministry of
Education as much power and authority and control as he possibly can over the public school enterprise in
this province. The proof is in Bill No. 5.



How many other ministers have pieces of legislation which enable them to walk into the Cabinet
Room any given Thursday and say, boys and girls, here I have got a recommendation that we are going to
have six municipal units in the Province of Nova Scotia and I have a piece of legislation that says on my
recommendation as Municipal Affairs we are going to have six municipal units. (Interruption) I am very
distressed as you can tell by this piece of legislation. I think it is ill-conceived, I think it is dangerous and I
will certainly relish voting against Bill No. 5. Thank you, Madam Speaker.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: In rising to speak on Bill No. 5, I would like to first of all point out to
the minister that I think, indeed, we are going to have to move to the amalgamation of certain school boards
in this province. I don’t think any right-thinking person would have any argument with that particular
principle of the bill. Unfortunately, it is the methodology that this bill introduces to enable those changes to
be made that I think is going to create the difficulty.



There is an old story about the farmer who was approached by a fellow and he says, I am from the
government, I am here to help you. Well, I would like to suggest to the minister that the Opposition is here
and they are here to help you because this whole government, it seems to me, is going hell bent for leather
to make reform in the way in which government operates and doing it simply for the sake of doing something,
something that they dreamed should be done in their own minds. The bill itself, I think, parallels several other
bills that we have had in this House over the past several months. All of them, whether it is the reform of
health care, whether it is the service exchange or, in fact, the bill that we just passed earlier this afternoon,
the metro amalgamation bill, all of these things have been done with a great rush.



The minister in every case has gotten to his feet and said we must move, we must do this and there
is a certain timeframe and if it is not done by the end of that timeframe then the whole system that we are
speaking of is going to collapse. I don’t believe that, I don’t believe that for one minute. In fact, the
amalgamation of school boards is not new. People have been talking about amalgamating school boards in
this province going back to . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: The Walker Commission.



MR. RUSSELL: The Walker Commission, right on. They have all come forward with relatively
reasonable proposals as to how government should react and how government should change the boundaries
to accommodate amalgamation.



I don’t think any report that has come forward regarding school board amalgamation has suggested
that the Cabinet Minister representing the Department of Education should have the power to unilaterally
walk into the Cabinet Room at any time of the day or night or any day of the week and simply change the
number of school boards that we have in this province, change the boundaries for those school boards and
simply do so without any consultation whatsoever. As you probably know, it only takes five members of
Cabinet to pass an order. The minister could simply telephone perhaps five members of the Cabinet and say
look, today I think I want to have three school boards across this province. He could get three of his colleagues
to sign the order and they are in business.



My colleague to my right, who was just speaking, was speaking about the fact that the White Paper
that the minister put out, Education Horizons, deals with a whole host of recommendations that the
Department of Education is putting forward to the public and the stakeholders is in the education system as
to how the education system in this province can be changed for the betterment. Now, when we speak of for
the betterment, I would hope that we are speaking for the betterment of the children in the system because,
without doubt, they are the most important elements of any education system. The minister assures us that
we have to do this because the quality of our education depends on the dollars that we have available. Dollars
are short these days and he has assured us that amalgamation of school boards is going to save dollars and
make more dollars available for classroom instruction.



As I said previously, I think there is nothing wrong with that argument whatsoever. The thing is, why
indeed does this bill have to be done, I think the minister said, within the next 27 days or else we are going
to have school boards going bankrupt? If indeed that is the case, well, I am sure that the government can find
the money to keep those school boards going until the end of this school year, which is June 20th or something
and, then introduce legislation to put in place the necessary mechanism to reduce to whatever number the
stakeholders within the system consider to be the right number of school boards for the province.



My riding, as you well know, is Hants West and we are right at the beginning of the Valley area. If
this school board amalgamation takes place and indeed there are, as the minister has suggested in the White
Paper, a total of five school boards, the Hants West area will be amalgamated with the whole southwestern
area of Nova Scotia. I wonder, really, if there is a commonality of interest within that wide a geographic area?
I somehow do not think so. In fact, I would suggest that is very similar to the amalgamation which the
Minister of Health has brought forward with regard to regional hospital boards.



The local communities have lost control of their medical facilities within their area, the immediate
control. The Minister of Justice is moving to regionalization of justice services in the area. The local
communities are losing control over the justice system within their area. There are other things that have
come along through the municipal service exchange, which is also doing like things to the communities.



The people in my riding, Madam Speaker, want to have a say in the education of the youngsters
within their own area. A school board that encompasses the whole of southwestern Nova Scotia, I would
suggest to you, is very far removed from the present centre, which is the Town of Windsor. So I don’t think
that the people in my area are too keen on amalgamation.



[4:30 p.m.]



However, Madam Speaker, I would suggest that if they have had a chance to digest this, if they have
had a chance to make their views known to the Minister of Education and he has given a reasonable amount
of time to consideration of their demands, as well as the demands of all other localities across this province,
then indeed, if he came forward and said within his piece of legislation - rather than giving the power to
himself, through the Governor in Council, to arbitrarily make changes - that he was going to amalgamate
school board A with school board B and school board C, et cetera, around the province, then I would suggest
that this legislation would be completely acceptable.



I can’t understand why such a Draconian piece of legislation is necessary. In fact, the minister has
not explained, I don’t think, to this House why he is really ignoring what he has said he was doing when he
went around the province. Now I am not arguing that the minister has not met with hundreds of people around
this province. Well, he says thousands and thousands. Well, perhaps he has met with thousands and
thousands, he has certainly met with a lot of people. However, I don’t think from those meetings, Madam
Speaker, that the minister has taken anything back with him to the department to say that I think we should
be moving in this direction. I think he has been there and he has made his presence known there but he hasn’t
listened. What is the good of simply being present if you don’t pay attention to what is being suggested to you
from those who are attending?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: A question, Madam Speaker. The question I ask the honourable
member is that he is suggesting for a moment I have not listened. Would he agree that his board, with Kings
County and Annapolis, have suggested an alternative to our proposals and that alternative basically would
be a Valley Board and that there is general consensus that if there are any amalgamations of any kind, that
would be acceptable to his board?



Also, is he aware that his particular board has done considerable consultation within the board area
to find out what the people thought of it and they were representing their concerns, that in fact the concerns
as expressed to the board, and they expressed to me, was that people would rather that things stay the same
but they know that if change is coming, they want a say in the change and that is the recommended change
they would have?



MR. RUSSELL: I truly appreciate the intervention of the minister and I was aware of that and I have
no difficulty with that. That is something that was generated within the local area. What I am saying to the
minister is, if indeed he has listened and he has accepted that kind of regionalization in the Valley, and I do
know that the board in my area is not entirely happy with it but they are willing to go along with it, well then
why, indeed, does he have to bring forward a piece of legislation that is arbitrarily giving to himself the ability
to take any number of school boards from any geographical location and merge them together?



I have a case in my own riding again, Madam Speaker, where the Town of Hantsport some
considerable time ago, when the first amalgamation took place, were not happy even though the town itself
is in West Hants and most of the students were from the Municipality of West Hants, were not happy with the
fact that they were going to be amalgamated with the rest of West Hants. As a matter of fact, when we first
amended the School Boards Act - no, I am sorry, it was the Education Act - Hantsport was set up as a separate
district and it actually became a part of the Kings County School Board, even though they were in Hants West.
That was done by consensus. People said, yes, that is a reasonable idea; it is a good idea. The government of
the day listened to the people and decided to do it. So there is nothing unusual, for instance, with Hants West
being amalgamated with the Valley; we have done it for a variety of services.



As I said when I first started, Madam Speaker, I don’t think that people really are against
amalgamation, providing they have had the opportunity at the local area to make the suggestions to the
minister and minister is going to accept them and then the minister will translate it into legislation. So, as
I say, I welcome his intervention.



At the present time, I believe, we have 22 school boards in the Province of Nova Scotia. I am not just
too sure of the number, but I am wondering what is so sacred about the 5 or the 4 or the 6 or the 7 school
boards. The minister has said that, perhaps, he is going to look at a regional board that would encompass the
Valley, so I presume that he would be looking at a regional board that would, perhaps, take in the South Shore
area, et cetera. Why can’t the minister give us some indication, at least before we get through this legislation -
because, obviously, the government has the power to pass this piece of legislation - as to what those
geographical areas are and what school boards are involved? For instance, in the legislation he has the ability
to cross present boundaries; in other words, a portion, for instance, of Kings County could be amalgamated
with the South Shore.



People, I think, would like to know those kinds of things before giving the minister, carte blanche,
the right to do these things in Cabinet. I know that when the members in the present government were
previously in the Opposition they always used to complain about things being done in the secrecy of the
Cabinet Room, down in the bunker and all those kinds of statements that they used to make about things being
done down there without consultation, without the public being aware, but I don’t think we ever did anything
that even approached the intent of this legislation, Madam Speaker, which, as I said, gives complete
dictatorial power, in essence, to the minister, to make all kinds of decisions that are not only going to affect
tax rates in areas, but are also going to affect, I would suggest, the quality of education across this province.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. If I might, and it might be
helpful to the honourable member, Cabinet and the White Paper that has been passed as a Cabinet declaration
has given me three things that I can do. The three things are: five boards, those particular five; seven boards;
or one around which there is consensus.



In other words, for example, I will give you the options that would be available to me at the present
time relative to your own board, the honourable member’s board. It would be the southern board, the one split
in half; the seven; or the three. Those are the options available to me; I do not have a fourth option for the
particular board he mentions. In fact, that is what Cabinet has given to me and what I am working under. I
have to go back to Cabinet with my recommendation on one of those three, because that is all I have. I have
gone through, by the way, all of the submissions that have come from the honourable member’s area, and there
have been significant submissions, and those are the only three options I presently have and they have all been
published.



The agreement that exists, for example, between Digby, Yarmouth and Shelburne is relatively well-known. The Acadian francophone is relatively well-known, as is the Strait area one in which they have
spoken, three aggressively and one hesitantly, about those four. So my options, very clearly, in those cases,
are known to all the public because, again, the White Paper is, in fact, a White Paper with directions to me.
I can go back with one, two or an option that is agreed upon. So that is what is available to me and if that is
helpful to the honourable member, I will provide it for his consideration.



MADAM SPEAKER: I think that is a point of clarification.



MR. RUSSELL: Again, I appreciate what the minister is telling me because I heard him previously
when he was speaking to the Leader of the Opposition regarding exactly the same process. But, for Heaven’s
sake, Madam Speaker, why, indeed, if he has his three or perhaps even a fourth option, why can’t he make
those options public and then go out to the various school boards, the parent-teacher associations, the Nova
Scotia Teachers Union, et cetera and say to them, look, this is what I am suggesting as options for you to
accept?



Let them make the decision which the minister then brings back to this House as legislation which
identifies, clearly, what those boards are and where they are going. That is the only thing that I am asking.
I am just asking that the minister surely does not mean that he is going to have the ability himself, because
that is what this legislation is suggesting. He does under this legislation, Madam Speaker, he does have that
ability. Well, the Cabinet is the minister. If the minister goes to Cabinet with a document and he is going to
have documentary support from his department, he is going to make his argument in Cabinet and, all things
going well, the minister will have his way.



AN HON. MEMBER: If he is right.



MR. RUSSELL: If he is right? I would suggest if he is right or if he is wrong because this piece of
legislation that we have did not just arrive in this House without Cabinet seeing it. Cabinet has seen this. If
Cabinet gave any thought to it, they would have said, well, this is a death wish. This is the kind of legislation
that is going to destroy this government’s credibility come election time next time, because people are simply
going to say that these are powers that we do not give to ministers of government, and rightfully so.



There is, as my colleague to my right mentioned in his remarks, Madam Chairman, presently, under
the School Boards Act, this present legislation, in the opening paragraph of the legislation it talks about,
“Notwithstanding Sections 7 and 8 of this Act and subsection 22(1) of the Utility and Review Board Act, . .
.”, it talks about powers that are presently in place under the legislation to do what the minister wants to do,
but it is done through an entirely different process. It originates at the school board level, the local level and
it goes to the Department of Education, as I understand it, then the matter is referred to the Utility and Review
Board and the Utility and Review Board then makes a decision. It is not an arbitrary decision of the Minister
of Health who feels that something would be nice to do and just goes ahead and does it. It is bottom up instead
of top down.



This government, since they have been in power, have, unfortunately, for themselves, been trying
to do what they think is the right thing and in many cases perhaps what they are trying to do is the right thing.
But they always seem to work in reverse to the way they should be working. In other words, instead of
working from the people who are stakeholders within the system, taking their ideas and their proposals
forward and moving it up through the chain, we have a different system in place now, Madam Speaker, where
the Cabinet and the ministers decide on what they want for an end result. Then they go out and do their
consultation and they say, well, we have met with 7,324 people or something. We have had 421 meetings and
have covered 370 kilometres around this province and all those statistics, but it is all for nought because they
have not been listening. They have not been prepared to take what has been told to them at the grassroots level
and bring it up the chain to finally end up as legislation.



I think that that is a shame, Madam Speaker, because there is no doubt, as I said before, that
amalgamation is something whose time as come. (Interruption)



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education on a question. Is the honourable
member agreed?



MR. RUSSELL: Yes.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: My question refers basically to the fact that we have listened. The
school boards’ association, the Teachers Union and the home and school association have not always agreed
with me, but after the White Paper came out, after spending about half a year listening and preparing, they
basically had a press conference and I asked the honourable member if he is aware of that, that the three of
them came together at a press conference and announced publicly that despite the fact they don’t totally agree
with me, they acknowledge that I was listening to them and that the original proposals that went out were
tempered very much by what we heard during the discussions.



[4:45 p.m.]



This is something that was available, Madam Speaker, in a public forum. They called a press
conference to announce that and although we still don’t totally agree, they have acknowledged that we have
listened very carefully in the Department of Education to what the different stakeholders have said as we
toured through the first time.



So I would ask him to consider that for me to now step outside that process I think would contradict
the confidence even they placed in me listening.



MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you. I guess there is a question in there somewhere for the honourable
member for Hants West.



MR. RUSSELL: I didn’t quite get the question but I certainly got the intent of the minister’s remarks.
(Interruptions)



I am not arguing the point, Madam Speaker, that he went out and met with a lot of people.
(Interruption) They said you listened, all right, you listened. If you listened, then why are you bringing forth
this legislation? Surely to goodness, with this piece of legislation you must have in mind what you are going
to do with regard to the various school boards, with regard to the various areas around this province.
(Interruption)



Madam Speaker, I am not going to offend you by speaking across the floor so I won’t but the minister
just doesn’t get the point that he doesn’t need this legislation, he doesn’t need the power of this legislation. If
he has listened and he has to make a decision in the very near future, as he tells us, to save certain boards from
bankruptcy, which is absolute nonsense, incidentally, but nevertheless he makes those remarks. If he knows
now what he is going to do, why doesn’t he put that in the bill? Simply say that this particular piece of
legislation, as a principle, will realign school boards, amalgamate school boards and will set out the
geographical areas for the school boards.



In fact I would suggest at this time he could even come forward and say what the composition of
those board members is going to be, the numbers in other words. So if, indeed, Madam Speaker, as I say, he
has to do this in a hurry, he knows what the answers are, he knows what geographic areas he is going to be
dealing with, he knows what school boards he is going to be dealing with and that is what should be in the
bill.



What I am going to ask the minister to do is to think very carefully about what the final disposition
will be of this piece of legislation, with these powers he has and what kind of message he is putting out to
those stakeholders to whom he passed out his White Paper.



So, Madam Speaker, what I am recommending is that the minister have some time to think about
the matters in this bill and I would move an amendment to Bill No. 5.



I am moving that the words after “That” be deleted and the following substituted: Bill No. 5, An Act
to Amend Chapter 6 of the Acts of 1991, the School Boards Act, be not now read a second time, but that it
be read a second time this day six months hence.



MADAM SPEAKER: The amendment is being circulated.



The amendment being circulated reads; “Bill No. 5, An Act to Amend Chapter 6 of the Acts of 1991,
the School Boards Act, be not now read a second time, but that it be read a second time this day six months
hence.”. That is normally known as a hoist amendment. It is one of three that Beauchesne recognizes and it
is an allowable amendment. (Interruption)



The honourable Minister of Education, on an intervention.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Madam Speaker, in speaking on the amendment, I want to - and I
am not sure if the honourable member is aware - but, for example, the Guysborough board, if this were to go
through, I am suggesting to the honourable member that within two weeks they are going to have to lay off
20 staff members and announce the cutting of programs within two weeks. That is the amount of time that
we have. A signal has to be given and there is no way that there is money available in the budget to provide
for this and that is what it is signalling. Likewise, I would suggest that Queens County and Digby County are
going to be faced with this problem.



So, if this proceeds, I want the honourable member and all honourable members, through you,
Madam Speaker, to know the implications to those three particular boards. I put that on the floor for
discussion.



MADAM SPEAKER: We have a number of members jumping up to their feet.



The Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: He was speaking on the amendment, so it wasn’t a point of order, or whatever,
that one would be responding to which, I think, some members thought that it might be.



Madam Speaker, I want to rise to speak on the amendment before us. I also want to touch on a couple
of the comments that the Minister of Education, himself, just made. I have also travelled around the province
to as many of the public hearings that the Minister of Education had on education as I possibly could. I went
to five of them; I was in Sydney, I was in Yarmouth and I attended three of the public meetings to hear what
was being said. I heard over and over again that the so-called education reform was not about saving money,
it was about improving the quality of education and that what was trying to drive the education reform or
restructuring was improving the quality of education for our young people across the province.



Now we have the Minister of Education saying that we have to go ahead with this amalgamation
because if we don’t, certain small boards are going to face sure financial ruin and bankruptcy. Yes, indeed,
the minister did make those observations. But, you know, the financial crises that those boards are facing are
a direct consequence, in large part, because of what this government did last year with the early retirement
package for teachers.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes, yes.



MR. HOLM: So, in other words, what this government is trying to do - and supposedly the
government had done the financial analysis and, of course, the government does not provide to members of
the Opposition, just as it doesn’t provide to the school boards, to the parents, to the home and school
associations, to the citizens of this province, the details of their current proposal, they didn’t provide us the
details pointing out where the winners were, where the losers were and what the consequences of their actions
were going to be last year. That information was not made clear. And it was in Yarmouth.



Mr. Speaker, I am paraphrasing - these are not the exact words, but the minister can go and check
his tapes and he will have the exact words - one of the presenters in Yarmouth who said to the minister, that
the problems of the small boards are a direct result of the early retirement package. The minister’s response
was, and here the words are not 100 per cent exact, but the member for Argyle was there as well and he, I am
sure, will remember the minister saying, I can accept that. The minister said I can accept that.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable Leader of the NDP
is presenting an idea that the government has done this early retirement. This early retirement was an
agreement of, in order: the Teachers Union, the Nova Scotia School Boards Association and the Department
of Education and all the information was available to all partners. In fact, it was not hidden from anybody,
it was done after active discussion with an actuarial and province-wide it can be supported and all partners
agreed that this summer there would be an analysis. There was an acknowledgement up front that some small
boards would have difficulty, but province-wide it was self-sustaining.



The suggestion being presented that we did this is, in fact, not correct. In fact, what is correct is that
it was an agreement amongst all partners with the evidence in front of them and what the honourable Leader
of the NDP is presenting here is not factual.



MR. SPEAKER: I have difficultly with this entire line of discussion because it is not germane to the
bill. The bill does not deal with the Teachers’ Pension Act and further it is not germane to the amendment
because the amendment is that the bill be not now read, but be read this time six months hence. The only
topics that are in order on such an amendment would be reasoned arguments cogently and concisely put as
to why the bill ought not now to be read, but should be read this time six months hence.



Debate on an amendment is much more narrow than on the bill itself for second reading where the
principle of the bill can be examined with considerable latitude. On an amendment all authorities agree that
the debate is to be narrowly focused on the specific provisions of the amendment which certainly do not
include the matters that have just been alluded to.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will try then, given your counselling and advice, I will try to make my
comments cogent or relevant, even if I cannot talk properly any more, relevant to the topic that is before us
for consideration and why that is relevant to the six months.



My point is that it was this government, because of actions that it has taken, that created, in large
part, the problems for those boards. It is also this government which is amalgamating metropolitan areas,
which is a second reason why this minister and this government says that the school boards have to be
amalgamated. In six months time maybe we will know if the metro amalgamation bill has gone through.
Surely to Heavens it is responsible and reasonable to expect that the government that is creating the problems
should be looking for concrete solutions to be solving those problems that are not going to be impacting
negatively upon the quality of the education that our young people, that our children are receiving.



I suggest to you that education and education funding should not be looked at as this government
does, as an expense. It is, in fact, an investment. It is, one could say, an investment in economic development.
We are investing in our economic prospects 10 years down the road. This government has surely shown by
its actions, by what it is trying to do here that, in fact, it is looking upon education in the narrowest of senses.
What it is trying to do is quite clearly aimed at the Minister of Finance’s bottom line. The children of this
province are going to be paying the high price for that, yet again as a result of another error or mistake in
judgment made by this government.



When one takes a look at the amendment, six months hence, everywhere that I went following the
Minister of Education, the minister said that there are things that are doable, he said that there are things that
are doable now, that is, that there are things that are going to be doable in the future and there are things that
are not going to be doable, that we cannot do, period. That is what the Minister of Education said and I
challenge him to look at his own tapes and to prove that I am wrong.



[5:00 p.m.]



The minister said that he is going around to consult, to listen to people, so that they could develop,
by consensus, an approach in terms of what can be done. The minister said that he listened and I tried to listen
too and what I heard from the vast majority of participants speaking at the microphones, whether that be close
to your community in Sydney Mines, Mr. Speaker, in Yarmouth, in Kentville or in Halifax, what I heard
people saying was, slow down. They said it very clearly, slow down. They said, give us an opportunity to
evaluate what the proposals are and they said, give us specifics.



The government is running around saying, oh no, that the primary objective is not to save money but
as a coincidence, it just so happens that we are going to save $11 million. What they didn’t tell people up
front, until people themselves pointed it out, is that that so-called $11 million, was based on projections of
expenditures from 1993. Since that time, board after board across this province, as a result of this government
already subtracting millions of dollars out of the education budget, have made many of the kinds of cuts to
administration, that now this government is saying they can make in the future to save money. Well, if they
have already been made trying to protect programs and services for the children in our province - our future -
you can’t make them twice, you can’t save that same dollar twice.



I would suggest that it is only respectful of the parents, of the children, of the communities of this
province, that this government put on the table the facts, the figures, the data, the specifics to back up the
claims that the Minister of Education and the government members are making with regard to the cost of
education. We are dealing with six months, how much time did the government give for consultation? We
are told that these consultations have been going on since last summer. Yet, people who have taken part in
those so-called consultations, say that those consultations were not real consultations at all. Those people
pointed out how the minister and the government did not try to develop any sense of consensus, how they tried
to divide and conquer by meeting with one group on one occasion, some parents, they would meet with some
school board officials on another occasion, meet with community people on another, with teachers on another,
rather than trying to bring people together to work in a consensus building process, as to how we can improve
the quality of education.



One of the presenters and the Minister of Transportation says, what a joke and I agree, what a joke
that you call that consultation.



MR. SPEAKER: These remarks are certainly very out of order. Please address your comments to the
amendment in moderate and measured terms.



MR. HOLM: I am trying to do that and I thought that my comments were, at least for myself, Mr.
Speaker, relatively moderate and tempered terms.



Six months will give the government an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to compile the facts, the figures,
the information that they need. You know, the Minister of Education said, and here we are, this is what, April
25th, that he is going to be providing, he told us time and time again, to his front bench colleagues, the
members of the Executive Council, the Cabinet, his recommendations to Cabinet by the end of April. That
is less then a week away. In fact, it hits this weekend. Maybe he has already done it. The Minister of
Education said that he will be announcing his plans in the very first part of May and, in fact, on a couple of
occasions used the date of May 5th.



Mr. Speaker, wouldn’t it be respectful, wouldn’t it be proper, wouldn’t it be honest in a broad sense,
to put that information on the table first and then to give the parents, the home and schools associations, the
students, the community, the businesses and the educators an opportunity to respond to what the minister’s
actual plans are? That will take some time.



We have an opportunity here, if we wish, to steamroll ahead at lightning speed, Mr. Speaker, which
is the course that the government would like to follow. Down the torpedoes and full speed ahead and disregard
the consequences. Or we can take part in a thoughtful, a reasoned and a meaningful evaluation of education
reform involving the partners in that system. Members opposite are saying, hurry up, slow down is what we
are implying.



Mr. Speaker, I have not heard at any forum that I have attended, not one, the participants standing
up and saying that the education system is perfect. I have not heard one person at one forum saying that there
are not ways that we can make the education system better. I agree with the minister when he says that the
majority of participants and those who spoke are, as we are in our caucus. In fact, it is long-standing Party
policy for the New Democratic Party for greater involvement of the parents and the communities in the
schools.



Mr. Speaker, we all support that. But the reality is what the government is proposing to do here will
make that possibility less likely. That we have heard from many presenters across the province. Surely to
Heavens we do not want to just race ahead and to destroy a structure before we know and have worked out
the details of a new structure that is to be put in place and before we know and can be assured that that new
structure is going to be effective and efficient.



You know, we were told several years ago that special education needs were a top priority for this
government and that they were going to, in an aggressive way, Mr. Speaker, be addressing those special
education needs of children. (Interruption) I am concerned that unless we take the time to actually devise the
systems that will ensure that those kind of programs are in place and are able to be developed and delivered
in an effective local level, that those kinds of services are to be lost. We haven’t got a White Paper on that yet
anyway, even though several years ago that was supposed to be debated.



MR. SPEAKER: The amendment does not deal with White Papers.



MR. HOLM: No, it doesn’t. I am not disputing your ruling, because you are absolutely right. The Act,
of course, is very closely tied in with the White Paper on Education that the minister released, but we are
dealing with the hoist or the six month referral and so I will try to restrict my comments, at your proper
request, to that.



We have before us an opportunity with this bill, and with this amendment more particularly, Mr.
Speaker, as I noticed your eyes rose when I mentioned the word bill. I meant to say amendment. That was a
slip of the tongue. We have an opportunity here for the government, quite honestly, to try to redeem itself
somewhat. (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.



MR. HOLM: I thought I might be getting some helpful tips. I didn’t want the Government House
Leader to miss my words when I was going to resume speaking, so I therefore had to slow down for a moment.
(Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: If there are no further remarks, the question is called.



MR. HOLM: Oh, no, Mr. Speaker. I am quite prepared to continue on but I was just waiting for some
members of the government benches to respect your request for order and to cease their interventions. Six
months time will give the government an opportunity to say what they intend to do with the francophone
board and how that is going to be governed. There is no question that Acadians in the Province of Nova Scotia
- and I agree totally with the minister on this, I agree that the Charter of Rights does give to the Acadian
population the right to be able to have control over and to have an education that is appropriate for them. The
Charter of Rights does not say, to the best of my knowledge, that that means one system.



MR. SPEAKER: I hesitate to intervene again. A dissertation on the provisions of the Charter of
Rights is irrelevant to the amendment. The amendment reads, that the bill be not now read at this time but
will be read six months hence. That is the only matter before the House, nothing else, not the Charter of
Rights, not any of this irrelevance. This is one of the reasons why we are having difficulty maintaining order.
The provisions of the rules state that a member is not to persist in irrelevance or repetition of the same
argument over and over again, which is what we are hearing now, and that tends to lead to a breakdown of
order. I think if the honourable member is putting his case that the bill shouldn’t be read now but should be
read six months hence, that is fine, but I don’t want to hear anything else.



MR. HOLM: Thank you, I am going to put my six month phrase in front of my clause. I will try to
repeat as often as I can the importance of that six months. My point is that in six months time this government
will have an opportunity to develop and to present to the public a structure or structures in an open way that
will provide for the protections and rights that those Acadian students deserve and are entitled to under the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms and six months time will give this government an opportunity to recognize
that there are differences in communities from one part of the province to another part of the province. Six
months should give this minister and this government an opportunity to devise a system and to put it before
the public that will give that public an opportunity to respond in a knowing and intelligent and reasoned
fashion to what the government is actually proposing because now there is nothing to respond to.



[5:15 p.m.]



They were give seven short weeks to respond, and a March Break thrown in, to obtain, to read and
then to supposedly come up with a reasoned alternative to the ideas that the government was floating out
there.



Mr. Speaker, seven weeks for something as fundamental and vitally important to every single Nova
Scotian is not adequate. Six months is a little bit more appropriate. Fifty seven thousand students in 140
schools could be lumped into one board - 57,000 into one board. Six months will give the Minister of
Education the opportunity to explain to those parents, those children and those boards how it is that they are
going to be able to deliver the kind of programs and services that those children need.



Mr. Speaker, this minister can move ahead with all kinds of education reforms right now, can do that
right now and does it all the time. They have those kinds of abilities. You don’t need the kinds of powers that
he is asking for here.



Mr. Speaker, obviously this government is more interested in fast-tracking, it is more interested in
saving money than it is to have meaningful input into the restructuring. If that is not the case, then I would
suggest six months, our children, our future and present, deserve no less than that. I urge all government
members, to heed one of the most common comments that was made across the province, as the President of
the Nova Scotia Home and School Association said as well, slow down. The home and school president said,
smell the coffee, give it a break, give six months so that we can have some reasonable consideration about
what is going to be best for the future direction of education in the Province of Nova Scotia.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome a brief opportunity to speak to the amendment to hoist
Bill No. 5 for six months.



Mr. Speaker, in speaking to the bill I think I will begin by making the observation that this is a good
amendment to a bad bill. The reform of our education system, I know, is near and dear to the heart of the
minister and is one to which he has true commitment. However, the bill that he puts before us does not
provide the time nor the information that is required for members in this place to make a proper analysis of
the bill. The hoist would give us the time and would give the minister the time to do those things that would
allow members, who come to this place to represent their various constituencies, the opportunity to become
participants in the process.



There are many things that could happen during the six months that the bill is hoisted. For example,
the minister, in an intervention earlier, said that the Guysborough board is two weeks from insolvency.



AN HON. MEMBER: Where have we seen that before?



DR. HAMM: Well, the minister is suggesting that within two weeks the financial situation in
Guysborough would require that teachers be laid off. The amendment gives the minister six months to work
on the problem. I would suggest that in the first two weeks he would bring forward to this place his plan to
rescue the Guysborough board. This House is sitting. What better time to test his ideas, in the light of the
public’s eye, his plan to rescue the Guysborough board? That board that he says will be in fact bankrupt in two
weeks and he will have to lay off teachers.



If the minister is to have a plan in two weeks, then I would suggest that he probably must have done
some preliminary work by this time and, rather than bringing forward a bill which gives him absolute power
to do whatever he likes in the next months and years ahead, that he would be bringing us legislation on which
we could comment and legislation that obviously would benefit from the full scrutiny of this place. So in the
first two weeks of the six months of the hoist, let the minister devote his energy to the problems in
Guysborough and in Queens and in Digby. That, to me, would be a worthwhile expenditure of his time and
energy.



There are many facets to the bill and to education, the reform of the educational system in this
province which would benefit by holding this bill up and discussing the changes each and every step of the
way. Each of us is interested in how we are going to, over the next couple of decades, educate young people
in this province in our elementary and high school systems. It is not for lack of interest that the minister can
suggest that an abbreviated bill of one page which will fundamentally change the way we educate our
children, the minister should not be suggesting that it is for lack of interest that his bill is so short and so
devoid of any detail. A hoist is an ideal situation. It is an ideal solution to the problems that I perceive that
the kind of bill that the minister is suggesting to us in this place will create.



There are so many things that we could debate in this place if a proper piece of legislation were
before us. There are so many things that we could debate if in fact we are given the six months opportunity
to look at educational reform in its broadest context. I am sure that even the minister and his department
would benefit from those observations and that debate.



The school board association is extremely interested in educational reform. The home and school
association is extremely interested in educational reform. The Teachers Union is extremely interested in the
reform of our education system. Why not give them the opportunity over the next six months to comment on
how they feel educational reform should progress? Are these organizations to be shut out of the debate the
same way that this legislation shuts out debate in this Legislature?



MR. SPEAKER: That almost sounds like an attack on the House itself. I hesitate to encourage the
member to continue in that vein.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, if my words are subject to misinterpretation, then I would apologize to
the House. What I am suggesting, in the strongest terms, is that the organizations that I mentioned and this
House would benefit and would look to the opportunity, if given that opportunity by the minister, to debate
educational reform extensively. I would submit that that statement should not be an offence to this House.



Mr. Speaker, this is an extremely important piece of legislation. Already in this House we are
debating the metro merger bill, 99 Pages, some 200-plus clauses, to deal with a simplification and a reduction
of the government process for some 330,000 persons in metro. Here we are dealing with a piece of legislation
that deals with a merger of school boards from one end of this province to the other and this minister has
chosen to bring in a piece of legislation with one page of clauses and not one of those clauses has any
specificity.



Mr. Speaker, I speak very strongly in favour of this amendment to hoist. There are many productive
things that could happen to this educational reform during that six months and the hoist could, in fact, result,
perhaps, in the minister coming back in the fall with a piece of legislation that is specific and outlines in clear
detail what it is he has in mind for educational reform in this province. Mr. Speaker, I will be voting in favour
of the amendment.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak ever so briefly on
this amendment. The amendment, of course, as you so carefully pointed out, is simply that this is a six
months’ hoist or a six month opportunity for the minister to study the bill, because truly this is a bill and this
is a topic which is deserving of some study from this minister. He has received many submissions from boards,
from the Teachers Union, from the home and school association, from parents, from concerned citizens since
he has put out his Education Horizons booklet. So he should have the six months to study and provide some
of the answers to the questions that they have put forward as a result of the Education Horizons booklet.



The minister, as you know, Mr. Speaker, from sitting in this Chamber as a dedicated educator,
because I think I recall about the first speech he made, he stood in the House and told of the pleasure and the
satisfaction he got from teaching youngsters and seeing their eyes brighten up when they suddenly grasped
one of the difficult topics he was trying to teach them. So he is a dedicated teacher. We know his heart and
his mind are in the right place.



The minister speaks of urgency. I have no faith, Mr. Speaker, when the minister speaks of urgency.
When this government says something is urgent, I have no faith. I do not believe that to be the truth. Because
if we only recall two months ago during the debate on workers’ compensation, it was urgent. We must do it.
It is costing billions a day. All the caucus colleagues of the minister were sitting on this side of the House
beating up on everybody for taking too long in debate and here, the bill passed this Chamber but the minister
and the government have not proclaimed it and that was urgent.



Well, the minister said this is urgent, the people in Guysborough are going to be bankrupt, there are
going to be teachers laid off. Since when did this government give two hoots when people are laid off? That
to me, looks as though it is a primary concern of the government, to see how many people they can lay off in
a week. Weekly, we see people who have been working for the government laid off. On Friday, it was the 30
teachers at the Kingstec Community College in Kentville. What is it going to be this week?



[5:30 p.m.]



All of a sudden, the minister says they are going to lay teachers off in Guysborough and that is a
concern to the minister? I don’t even think he follows that because (Interruption). The Government House
Leader puts forth a legacy that no Government House Leader before or since will ever be able to live up to,
as being the most obnoxious person ever to sit in the Chamber of this House. He harps and he harps and never
. . .



MR. SPEAKER: Those words are clearly out of order and must be withdrawn.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, never do you ever ask him to be quiet.



MR. SPEAKER: Those words must be withdrawn, they are extremely unparliamentary.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I will withdraw my remarks briefly, if you once would call that
member to order when he is heckling people. Others in the Chamber are called to order time and again, but
never the Government House Leader. Mr. Speaker, this is a serious bill that we are discussing and the minister
said it was urgent.



MR. SPEAKER: We are not discussing the bill, we are discussing the amendment to the bill.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, it is a serious amendment to a serious bill. The minister says how urgent
it is that we save the jobs in Guysborough. Well, where was the minister last Friday when they laid off 33
people in Kentville, at his order? Where was he that day? Did he show the same concern then? Did he show
the concern that he says is so urgent to save the people of Guysborough? Well, the people in Guysborough
have nothing to do with the bill. The minister stood in his place and spoke about the people in Guysborough
and the urgency. So, if it had nothing to do with the bill, why did the minister bring it up, that is the question?



This bill is not good and six months would give the minister an opportunity. The minister shouldn’t
be embarrassed by the wait, I know it would be a little embarrassing even for him to have a bill that was held
in abeyance for six months in the House. I think he could stand the embarrassment if he brought back a bill
that this House could vote on with some unanimity and support. I think all people in Nova Scotia are prepared
and ready for some reform in education. I do not think and I do not feel that people are ready for this
minister’s plan and I think waiting six months would give him time to bring in a bill. Perhaps, he could even
bring in two or three pages longer in the bill. Nobody is going to criticize him if he did that either. It is to his
credit that he brought in a bill of only a couple of pages and easy to study, easy to learn and I think . . .



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. This speaker and I think some
other previous members have raised this issue. They have prefaced their comments by saying the bill is a bad
bill and by hoisting the bill for six months, perhaps the minister could bring in another bill. That is not the
amendment that is before us. The amendment is not to hoist this bill for six months so that it can be scrapped
and a new bill brought forward. The amendment is to hoist this bill for six months.



Continually, these members are speaking, criticizing the bill and saying, I am in favour of the
amendment to hoist it, so he can bring in a new bill. Now, that has got nothing to do with the amendment.
If they think a new bill should be brought in, then they should vote to defeat the bill, not to put it off six
months. If they think they want the same bill brought forward six months hence, that is the amendment we
are speaking to.



All of this conversation is completely out or order, they are asking for a new bill and all of the Rules
of the House state, if they wish to speak to the pluses or minuses of the bill itself and they feel it is a bad bill,
they should vote to defeat it and not waste this House’s time debating an irrelevancy on the motion to hoist
for six months.



MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member for his observations which are very close to my
heart.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would just ask for your opinion in that
it is my understanding that the six months’ hoist manoeuvre is a manoeuvre that does indeed destroy the bill
and does give direction to the minister who has brought the bill forward, that he is going to have to bring
forward another piece of legislation.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, I would be pleased to enter this although I do so with trepidation, but I would
say that my own experience in the House has been that, for example, when the Private and Local Bills
Committee reported a bill back to the House recommending that the bill be not now read a third time, but be
read this day six months hence, the affect of that motion was indeed to destroy the bill. The bill was not
revived six months thereafter, that was simply a procedural device by which the bill was not recommended
for third reading by the Private and Local Bills Committee.



I believe that the current Chair of the Private and Local Bills Committee might be familiar with that
particular procedure with reference to Private and Local Bills.



MR. CARRUTHERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I am. But as I understand it, if the effect of this
motion is to defeat the bill, then the motion is out of order and there should be a vote on the bill, whether it
survives or whether it does not. That is the way I understand the rules, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: With deference, we are governed here by the precedents and usages of the House
and the . . .



MR. CARRUTHERS: I am just going by Beauchesne.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, we all go by Beauchesne’s book but there are different interpretations, I
suppose. It is up to the Chair to interpret the book at the time he or she is in the Chair. I have ruled that the
motion, or my colleague, the Deputy Speaker as Speaker, has ruled the motion to be in order and we are now
discussing the motion to read the bill six months hence. I would agree with the interpretation that if this
motion were to carry, the effect of it would be to destroy the bill. I agree with that.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for Hants East who spoke.
I don’t know how the House survived for 175 years without his great ability to interpret the rules and to be
such a great watch-dog on all members to make sure that everything in the House is going well.
(Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Let us address our remarks to the amendment, one speaker at a time.
The honourable member for Kings North has the floor.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, you are truly remarkable at maintaining order in this
Chamber. It is not easy at all times, I can see that.



MR. SPEAKER: I will agree with the second half of those remarks.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, this bill, the amendment to the bill, will give the minister
an opportunity to bring forth the bill and to meet with and discuss with the schools and the organizations, the
district school boards throughout the province so that they can have some of their concerns addressed. They
truly have concerns with regard to some of the things in the bill, as well as some of the suggestions from
Education Horizons. He needs the six months time before the bill comes in, so that he can address some
questions.



Now one of the fundamental things he has suggested is the cost-savings. Well, I believe there is some
question and the data for those cost-savings, I think it is $11 million, has not yet been furnished. I think it
would be useful to all concerned if the minister had the six months to drum up the research. Because if you
are going to be able to save $11 million, as he indicated, he should be given the opportunity to prove it. I think
it would take him six months to find the facts and figures. So he obviously wants to do that because the whole
bill and this whole amendment hinges on the fact that the minister indicated he could save $11 million.



Over 10 years, if we listened to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, that $11 million saving per year,
in 10 years is $1 billion. That is the new math that we are teaching in this Chamber today. So I think that that
would certainly be worth the minister taking his time. (Interruptions)



Well I think, too, we could give the Minister of Finance the opportunity to talk to us about the virtues
of borrowing money in Japan, which, Mr. Speaker, has nothing to do with this amendment . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Quite so.



MR. ARCHIBALD: . . . but neither do the catcalls from the Government House Leader, who sets a
terrible example to members of this House. (Interruption)



Mr. Speaker, to have the undivided attention of such a great person as the Government House Leader
is, indeed, flattering and it is quite worthwhile. I hope that he would give some of his skills at communications
to his seatmate, the Minister of Education, because we are sadly lacking in communications, in an
understandable and meaningful way, from that minister. He came out and he said we would have three boards
or four boards or five boards or perhaps one board. This would give him six months to decide what on earth
he really wants, is it four or five or any number that they can agree on. I think he said he had three options.
What does he mean?



This is the minister, this is education, it affects the very future of Nova Scotia. Surely, to goodness
if the minister had six months to study I think he would come up with some kind of a recommendation that
we could sell. I know the minister jokes five, seven, who cares. That is the whole problem with this minister,
he doesn’t seem to be serious about the reform in education. The students are, the teachers are, the parents are
but. . .



MR. SPEAKER: With deference, the subjective attributes of the minister as a minister are quite
irrelevant to the amendment. The amendment is that the bill be read this day six months hence, that is what
the discussion has to be addressed to.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Absolutely, on the point because I think the minister needs the six months so
he can formulate some kind of an idea and bring it forth and tell the people of the province and the members
of this Legislature exactly what it is he has in his mind. I know what the people in the Annapolis Valley say
and he has told us what the people in Guysborough are telling him today, that is all well and good but, I think
it is going to take him more than just a few minutes to come forward and tell us what he has for the rest of
the province. Six months is not an outrageous time period for this man to come forth and this honourable
minister to come forth and tell us what he has and what parts of the Education Horizons are really relevant
to this bill.



The Minister of Education and Culture has indicated that reform will be implemented in stages. That
is a pretty vague term when you are dealing with the children who are the future of this province,
implemented in stages. Maybe three boards, maybe five, maybe something we can all agree on. This is the,
well, I dare not say it, I said it before and it wasn’t very polite, I guess, but I think before Cabinet brings in
legislation like this the minister should be given time to bring forth a real plan. This business of details to
follow, urgency, these are catchwords and catch-phrases that don’t mean very much but this bill means a great
deal and will affect each and every person in this Chamber and each and every Nova Scotian one way or
another, either through taxes or through your children at school and your activities in the home and school
committee and the school board association and all those functions.



There is not a bill that touches everybody the way this one will and the minister obviously needs six
months to bring forth a bill that this House could be in favour of and that this minister can take somewhere
and say, look, I have done my homework, this is what we are going to do. This bill is just a mere outline and
it is not even on the topic and I am certainly amazed that the minister could bring it in because most people
would be embarrassed to bring in a bill like this but in six months time perhaps we could have a bill that we
could understand and we could say this is what this bill means. Right now there is nothing in this bill that is
any indication of what the minister has planned for reform and education.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



MR. DONALD MCINNES: I am very pleased to have the opportunity to get up to speak to the
amendment to Bill No. 5, An Act to Amend Chapter 6 of the Acts of 1991, the School Boards Act. I don’t
believe the minister would introduce this bill, I don’t believe it, I don’t understand it. They are downstairs, they
are going to make all the decisions down in the little bunker. Where is the White Paper? (Interruption) I am
serious about this, to the Minister of Transportation, I am dead serious about this. I think this bill is wrong
and I think it is right that we table the bill for six months.



AN HON. MEMBER: Okay, let’s table it. We are doing it on the amendment here.



MR. MCINNES: Well, okay. We are suggesting that it be tabled for a six months’ hoist.
(Interruption) Thank you, destroy. We should destroy it because it is wrong. We will be voting that way.



[5:45 p.m.]



I had the opportunity many years ago to sit on a school board and it was a pleasure to sit on the
school board. I enjoyed the opportunity to work with the young people, with the teachers and the communities
that were involved. According to this White Paper, which I believe that the bill basically refers to, there would
be five or maybe six boards or seven in this province.



AN HON. MEMBER: Or any number.



MR. MCINNES: Or any number. We do not know what number, it is whatever number the minister
may decide on in his wisdom and he has the right to do that. In his wisdom he has the right to do that and
he probably will.



Are we going to have school board members sit on these seven boards or six boards or five boards?
Are we? Well, if we are and somebody is in Pictou, how in the world are they going to have any idea what
is going on in Parrsboro, any idea in the world? Absolutely none. That is why this bill should be hoisted for
six months. Well, you could take any other example you like. I should not be bothered with rabbit tracks, but
the bill is very dictatorial. It gives the Cabinet, it gives the Minister of Education, as I read it, Clause 1 Section
8A(1) “(a) amalgamate a school board with any other school board; (b) annex the whole or any part of a
school district to another school district.”.



I do not know, I think the minister should take it back to the people, listen to the people. He is saying
that we can save $6 million. My gosh, there must be some other way that we can save $6 million in the
Department of Education other than taking the rights of the people that sit on school boards. We just got them
basically elected the last few years, school board members.



I really do not understand why this bill is before this House. I think there must be a better way. There
must be a better way and I am serious about this.



AN HON. MEMBER: What is it?



MR. MCINNES: Well, I do not really know, but I am saying let’s hoist her for six months and see
if we can come up with a better plan. I have congratulated this government for trying to save dollars. I have
been fair to you and I continue to say that. But I do not think this is a good plan, I really don’t. I said I agree
with your metro bill, I think it is right. I voted for it, sent it in. But I think this is wrong and I have a right
to have that opinion.



I think the minister should go back. I know he met with some of the school boards (Interruption)
Twice. I wonder how long he met with them and whether he listened to them. That is the minister’s privilege
and I appreciate that he did meet with them, but I know there is more than meeting with them. You have to
listen to what they have to say.



This bill is wrong and I think we should give the people of this province, the educators of this
province, the children of this province, the school boards themselves - we have a lot of people, everybody is
interested in education. It is the most important thing in the world that we have our children, our
grandchildren educated properly and have the opportunities to get ahead in this world. I feel so bad about this
bill. I think it is for seven boards. I don’t know if the minister will answer me or not, but on this Acadian
provincial board, aren’t these schools located all across the province, some of the French schools? How is that
going to work without a big cost to bring these people together? Perhaps the minister might address that for
me. I don’t know if he wants to or not, Mr. Speaker.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, so that we will not end the debate,
but I can suggest to the honourable member, first of all, on the Acadian board proposal, there is general
consensus across the province from every community and we have visited them all. To the honourable member
through you, how it would be done would be the similar way that we do the Collège de l’Acadie and that is
by using the distance interactive television system to have general meetings. But I can suggest to him that of
all the things in the board amalgamations that have been proposed, there is consensus province-wide on that
particular proposal as we have travelled.



I can suggest to him that the solution to the details will be done with the communities. In fact, if that
decision is approved by Cabinet then, in fact, we are going to bring together representatives of all of those
communities to work through the very details. What the honourable member is asking for in terms of the
community involvement, in fact, the structures that will address Acadian concerns will be the decisions of the
Acadian communities and, Mr. Speaker, that is what the charter demands and we are going to go through it.
That is going to be, logistically, one of the most difficult things to do, but it is something that the Acadian
communities have stepped forth and volunteered to work our way through. That is not something we have
discovered problems with because they are supporting that and we are going to have the Acadians in this
province get their voice.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that answer. That is a reasonable answer and
I appreciate him coming forth and participating in the bill. However, I don’t want to delay the debate on the
amendment to hoist the bill for six months. I feel very strongly that we should support the amendment. I feel
very strongly that this bill is wrong. I just think it is too big a board. We lose the hands-on connection with
the teachers, with the staff of the schools. We are talking about community schools, on one hand, and all this
stuff. I just think it is wrong and I will definitely be voting for the amendment.



MR. SPEAKER: Very well. Are there are further speakers to the amendment? If not, the question
is called.



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



In my view, the Nays have it.



I declare the amendment defeated.



We are back now to the main motion, that is that Bill No. 5 be now read a second time.

 

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party. You have seven minutes before the moment
of interruption.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it may come as a great shock to yourself and the Minister of
Education and other members of this House, being a person of few words that I tend to be, but I doubt that
I will be able to conclude my comments in the seven minutes before the Adjournment debate.



As I stand today and take a look at the legislation that is before us and the principles that are
contained in the bill, I have to say that, in all honesty, the approach that is being used by this bill and the
tactics that the government is following have got to be some of the most heavy-handed, totally unaccountable,
unresponsive reactions that I have seen in most pieces of legislation. What we have before us is a shell. What
this bill does is give all dictatorial powers without there being any opportunity provided for in the legislation
for any kind of input or consultation once this government has made its decision.



Mr. Speaker, some would ask who would expect anybody to believe that? Well, I would suggest that
anybody who reads the legislation would believe that, because what this bill does is say, notwithstanding
anything else and I cannot get into the bill clause by clause obviously at this stage of the game, what this bill
says, is that the Governor in Council down in the Red Room, the bunker or the Cabinet Room downstairs
where members assure me I will never be, down in the Cabinet Room they can decide on their own without
making it public whatsoever what the new structures are going to be.



We have seen a sample, Mr. Speaker. We have seen for example the Minister of Education’s White
Paper called the New Horizons. If those new horizons represent a new direction for this government then we
are very much and very rapidly going back to the future, because this legislation does exactly the kinds of
things that this government was very critical of, the former government about.



Time and time again - welcome to the Chair, Madam Speaker - I heard members of the Liberal Party
in Opposition criticizing the former government for bringing forward pieces of legislation that gave all powers
to Cabinet to make decisions. At the present time, under the legislation, under the Education Act and the
School Boards Act, Cabinet does not have all that dictatorial power.



What this bill says is, forget about the Utility and Review Board in terms of setting up the boards.
Later on, Madam Speaker, the boards will make application to the Utility and Review Board which can have
public hearings and can receive public presentations. The Utility and Review Board will be permitted to set
the electoral boundaries within school boards, but in terms of setting up the boundaries for new school boards
and deciding how many new school boards there are going to be, in other words the amalgamation and
restructuring of the boards across the province, that right is being removed.



It is sort of ironic that the very bill before this one on the order paper, Bill No. 4 is an Act to amend
the Utility and Review Board, to give them more members so that they can actually do their job effectively
and timely, Madam Speaker. Now we have the very next bill on the order paper, this bill that we are now
debating, saying that the Utility and Review Board will not be asked or given an opportunity to do their job.



This is giving the government the decision, the power in the Cabinet to decide are there going to be
five school boards? Are there going to be seven school boards? Are there going to be three school boards or
is something supposedly to be decided by consensus. (Interruption) Five, seven or consensus as the minister
across the floor points out, Madam Speaker. Quite honestly boards have indicated - I know I have heard them
say it in public meetings, I have read presentations that they have sent to the ministers who have said - that
they are willing and prepared to work with the minister, with the department to reform education.



I see you are indicating that the moment of interruption has arrived, Madam Speaker, so I will
adjourn the debate at this point in time and resume at 6:30 p.m.



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



The motion is carried.



We have now reached the moment of interruption, the time being 6:00 p.m. The resolution to be
debated this evening was presented by the member for Hants West:



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government recognize that Nova Scotians expect and
deserve that their Liberal MLAs will be accountable and represent the concerns of their constituents.



[6:00 p.m.]



ADJOURNMENT



MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



GOV’T. (N.S.) - LIBERAL MLAS: ACCOUNTABILITY - RECOGNIZE



DR. JOHN HAMM: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I welcome the opportunity to speak to the
resolution brought to the House tonight by the member for Hants West. I think it gives an opportunity, by way
of discussion and debate of this resolution, for each of us to look at our responsibilities that we have to
represent those who sent us here.



This particular Chamber, which has been since 1819 the seat of government in this province, has
seen remarkable change since it was built back in those early days. I make reference to the change that
occurred in this place in 1848, when this House became no longer a seat of representative government but a
seat of responsible government, that assumes that every member who comes to this place comes to represent
and to legislate according to the views that one takes from those who elect us.



Clearly, Madam Speaker, all of us acknowledge that the job we are entrusted to do and the
responsibilities that we have as an MLA frequently put us in the position of making very difficult decisions.
After all, our constituents have very diverse views but it is our duty and responsibility to represent those
diverse views in this House as best we can.



This is true both for the members of the government and for those of us who are in Opposition. This
late show debate is about accountability, about making decisions and then taking responsibility for those
decisions. It is about living up to our responsibilities that we have to the people we serve. It is about standing
up and being accountable for the decisions and actions we take on behalf of all Nova Scotians who, as I have
said, have entrusted us to represent their interests in this Legislature.



Madam Speaker, granted, when compared to the time other members have spent in this House, you
and I are still greenhorns. But, Madam Speaker, I am daily receiving complaints from average Nova Scotians
who are so upset by the way they are being governed. They all feel they have been shut out of the process since
May 25, 1993. The Executive Council, by the very nature of the process in which we are involved in this
province is not fulfilling the expectations of those who sent us here.



The Executive Council should be obliged to consider the positions of all elected representatives in
this place. Too many members seem to be silently resigned to the fact that they have a government that is
intent on ignoring the wishes and the will of the people, no matter how loudly our people call out to be heard.
We don’t have to look too far for examples, Madam Speaker. Perhaps the most contentious and most obvious
example I can cite is the government’s decision to move ahead full speed with casino gambling, despite the
huge and persistent protests by Nova Scotians from Yarmouth to Cape North and all points in between.



Of course, we remember the members on the government side of the House refusing to table petitions
signed by thousands of Nova Scotians opposed to casinos. We remember them voting en masse to support the
legislation that will surely change the fundamental character of this province. How many members in this
place had a local mandate to introduce casinos into this province? I would suspect not many, if any.



I would like to point out, Madam Speaker, that the casino regulations that were adopted by
government, following 14 days of public examination, and extremely limited examination as they were only
available in regional public libraries, demonstrates very clearly the extent to which this government is
committed to consultation and public accountability.



The Minister responsible for the Gaming Control Commission refused to table the written
submissions received in response to the government’s call for public input on the pretence that it would invade
the privacy of those who made a submission to government. I don’t know of too many individuals who write
to government in response to a call for public input who expect that only the minister would see their
submission.



I have yet to hear how this government can possibly reconcile its decision to allow casino gambling
and at the same time, forbid Sunday shopping. As a matter of fact, I recently read a newspaper article about
a store owner who was charged with violating the Sunday shopping law. He was charged even though he
made a legitimate, albeit a futile attempt, to get information from the government on square footage. How the
government can reconcile this kind of Draconian action against the small store owner and at the same time,
throw open the door to casino gambling when it is abundantly clear that Nova Scotians are opposed to such
a move. That is difficult to fathom.



The debate that has ensued in this House over the last number of days over the metro merger bill is
a clear example of the government’s failure to be accountable to the people. The Premier, who during his
election campaign, ridiculed the notion of metro amalgamation, who said bigger isn’t necessarily better has
obviously accompanied Saul on the road to Damascus. As far as the Premier and the government are
concerned, metro amalgamation isn’t just necessary, it is now urgently required. The government can’t even
wait six months. Remember the motion to hoist, to give six months for proper consultation, that amendment
did not receive the support of government members.



Even though 80 per cent of the public said they are satisfied with their level of municipal service,
even though over 70 per cent have said they need more information before deciding on whether or not it is
the desired course of action, the government is saying, too bad, we have a timetable and we are proceeding
no matter what you think.



These are just some of any number of examples I could cite that demonstrate this government’s
failure to stand up and be accountable for its actions. To uncover more you just have to visit the Liberal Party’s
policy papers and match what this government said it was going to do some 23 months ago.



In 1993, this caucus proposed more free votes in the House. We recommended that the government
open up the opportunities for members to vote their conscience. I am confident that if the government had
accepted our proposal for more free votes, we would not only not have casinos foisted upon us, we would not
be looking at the kind of rush and premature shotgun wedding of our four metro municipalities that the
Premier and the Minister of Municipal Affairs have said will take place this coming spring.



Finally, I want to close by saying that this resolution was prompted by the many phone calls and
conversations that members of our caucus have had with average Nova Scotians who say never before have
they felt so far removed from their government. Never before has it been so hard to get answers from
government members, many of whom appear personally uncomfortable with the decisions that their
government is making. All of this just adds to the cynicism about politicians and the political process.



As I inferred at the outset, Nova Scotians recognize that their elected MLAs can’t possibly please all
of the people all of the time. Nevertheless, they expect and deserve that their members will, at the very least,
stand up and be accountable for the decisions that are made. Nova Scotians are looking for representatives
who are unencumbered by stifling Party discipline which prevents effective local representation in this House.
It is time for this government to represent Nova Scotians and not the Liberal Party. Thank you.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Madam Speaker, I have looked forward all day to taking part in this
particular debate because the resolution interests me. Basically, the active clause of the resolution is that the
Liberal Government recognize that Nova Scotians expect and deserve their Liberal MLAs will be accountable
and represent the concerns of their constituents.



My friend, the member for Pictou Centre, indicated, at least in the first 75 per cent of his comments
on this matter, that he spoke of all members of the House of Assembly and their duties to represent their
constituents. That is not what the resolution states. The resolution states that their Liberal MLAs will be
accountable. I find that very interesting. I found it interesting ever since I have been elected to this House to
hear the comments from the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party to instruct us exactly how the
people of Nova Scotia tell them about their Liberal MLAs. Well, that is amazing, I find that very strange why
the Liberals of Nova Scotia contact the Tories of Nova Scotia. It is not something that is common in my
knowledge.



I think basically what we are taking about is people who wish to speak out of both sides of their
mouth. What we have seen here is an Opposition that through 15 years to 17 years of their term spoke
continually, unitedly. I have never seen this Party drag people out of hospital beds to come and vote. Now they
did not do that so they could come and have a free vote. I have checked the records and I do not see any record
of the previous Conservative Government in 15 years or any other government before that instituting a free
vote. Yet, on the road to Damascus they instruct us that we should have more free votes.



Well, they were down to one member last time and yet just coincidentally not once did any of their
members ever vote contrary to any bill that they ever put forward. I am sure that is by accident. It is just
coincidental.



AN HON. MEMBER: Not likely.



MR. CARRUTHERS: Well, I suspect not. I took special interest in the comments, for instance, why
did not the Liberal MLAs present the petitions from the people that were presented to them on the issue of
casinos? The record of this House will show that many MLAs presented petitions and they were not always
on the same side as their vote on particular bills. I know I have.



If constituents bring me a petition and give it to me and it is an accurate, valid petition I will present
that petition in this House of Assembly every time. I do not care whether I am going to support what is behind
that petition or not. I may vote against the basis of that petition on a bill, but I will present it and I will bring
here and I will ensure every member House knows it is here. What I will not do, is I won’t go passing through
the hall out there and get photocopies of various petitions handed out to me by a bunch of Tories in the hall
and expect to come here and put my credibility on the line and tender it when there are signatures like Elvis
Presley on it. It is hard for me to kind of identify with that being representative and accountable to your
constituents. Backing this logically in their comments, as they are here tonight to listen to the response.



We have had enough of this foolishness. I can tell you the MLAs in this government are solidly
behind, we are a team. That is what makes it work. We are a team. (Applause) We are not here just to impress
the press. We are here to make this government work and it doesn’t work, you can’t play baseball with three
guys on the outfield deciding to leave and take a break in the middle of the long stretch of the seventh inning.
You just cannot win that way. If the ball is hitting the outfield there is no one to pick it up and throw it back
in. As a matter of fact, I doubt if they hit a ball, that it will ever land without us catching it. It cannot happen.
This is a team.



I notice the NDP, they are interested. That is an interesting bunch, their team. Well, the only team
I know that has three, it is sort of like a skipping rope, there is one guy holding one end of the rope, there is
one guy holding the other end of the rope and they are twirling the rope and there is somebody in the middle
jumping up and down. I am not really sure which one of the NDPs is the guy jumping up and down, but that
is the kind of team they have. Two people seeking leadership, well, let us not pick on one particular Party.
Back to the Conservatives.



[6:15 p.m.]



Madam Speaker, there is nothing new to us, the 40 members of the Liberal Party here, when we see
the efforts of the Opposition to attempt to divide and conquer, to say things in this House of Assembly about
other members. Well, I know the member for such and such does not back this; I can just tell. It’s like a little
earlier when the member for Kings North said he had a picture and he could look in the faces of the people
in the picture and he could tell what they were thinking. Then he spent five minutes telling us what they were
thinking because he had a picture of the paper. This is an amazing individual.



You know, Johnny Carson. Here is what the five people are thinking. Can you believe this? He looks
over and he tells what the Liberal MLAs are thinking; why doesn’t the member for such and such get up and
say this because I know he is thinking that way. I have got to tell you, if these people knew how we thought,
there would be 40 of them and 8 of us. They don’t know how we think. We think as a team. We are solid. We
are united. It is never going to break.



Madam Speaker, I feel very comfortable in my role as the member for Hants East. I represent the
people of Hants East. I bring the concerns of the people from Hants East to this House. I bring the concerns
of the people of Hants East to each of the ministers when they bring them to me. But I expect that to be
brought to me by the people of Hants East, not by some czar that is sitting up there who, to be frank, I really
don’t have true trust in the motive. Methinks he protests too much.



So I don’t react to that. I react to what I think is best for the people of Hants East and I am going to
continue doing just that. I know that the majority of the members in this House of Assembly, including the
Opposition, have the best interests of their constituents at heart. I believe that. But I tell you what else I
believe, and I learned this in municipal government. Perhaps provincial government could learn from
municipal government, 175 years or not. Municipal government is made up of people who represent districts
and they are not there by Party line. You wonder, how can 10 or 12 municipal representatives in a big rural
municipality, for instance like mine, sit around a table and work things out when, if according to this
resolution, you must be concerned with only your own area.



Well, let me tell you, Madam Speaker, and you being a mayor, you would know, it cannot work that
way. You have got to look at the overall good. One must consider the overall good. I am quoting now from
the member for Pictou Centre who spoke earlier of all Nova Scotians, the overall good. One must weigh
certain disadvantages on occasion to one spot for the advantages to another. The overall good, that is what
makes a team work. Sometimes everybody cannot get up to bat. Sometimes you have got to sit on the bench.
Some other times you are going to be a pinch hitter. Everybody has got a part to play. It is for the overall good
and that is how this team works and that is how this government works.



We do not apologize or take one step back. We are proud of it. I know I am and I know most of the
members of this House are very proud to be a member of this team. Madam Speaker, the best way I can think
to be put it is that great philosopher, Mr. Spock. Remember Mr. Spock? He is from Star Trek and he always
said, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.



Now, I think that is a good line because that is what is important here, what is good for us all.
Sometimes we have to grit our teeth on things that may not be singularly popular in the short term, so in the
long term this government will accomplish what it is supposed to do, to balance its budget, to retain respect
and credibility to the government politicians of this province and to live to reign again four years hence. I
thank you. (Applause)



MADAM SPEAKER: Are there any further speakers on the debate?



The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.



MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today just to speak for a few
moments on this resolution and I am going to try not to break the Rules of the House, so to speak. I know you
are not supposed to talk about who is in the House and who is not but I hope that the legislative television will
take the opportunity to scan the House to see exactly how many members are in the House and who they are.



MADAM SPEAKER: You are quite right, honourable member, you are not supposed to call attention
to who is in the House and who isn’t in the House.



MR. HOLLAND: Which I don’t think I have done. I am sure the voting public would be interested
to see who is interested in this particular resolution and who is not.



Madam Speaker, the resolution talks about Liberal MLAs being accountable and representing the
concerns of their constituents. Opposition members would have the general public believe that the only public
out there believes in what they are spouting off in this place. That is just not the case, there are many people
out there who call their MLAs and tell them that there are many things that the government is doing that are
very good. They understand the situation that this province is in, that this country is in. They know that things
have to be done to make it right.



It is not always easy and I am not contending that it is easy, Madam Speaker. It is not easy for the
ministers to have to do some of the things that they do and it is not easy for us to support it, in some cases.
But when you know at the end of the day that something has to be done to try and get us out of this situation,
then you do what has to be done.



That is not to say that we don’t listen to the concerns of our constituents. Madam Speaker, I spent
an hour with a particular constituent this morning. We talked about the changes in health care, about the G-7,
about Highway No. 104, about gas tax, amalgamation for a whole hour. It was a very interesting and enjoyable
thing to do. She didn’t agree, this particular resident, with everything we are doing but she didn’t disagree
with everything either. In many instances she said I am glad to see a government that is finally willing to try
and do something for Nova Scotia, as opposed to just spend and spend.



So in relation to this resolution, I think we are all accountable. When they call, when I call and I
speak to hundreds of people. You can go to my constituency office and see the phone calls that come in on
a monthly basis, hundreds of phone calls. I make every attempt to talk to every one of those people and try
to explain to them. It is not easy. I would like to be out there more, doing this kind of thing, spending an hour
with a constituent but that is not easy for MLAs to do, Madam Speaker, given the timeframes that we have
to be in here, given the timeframes that we have to be in meetings.



I hope that the voting public understands that and I am sure the majority do because they tell you that
they do. They know when they call you to come to a meeting that your time is limited and you can only do
so much. This resolution is so vague, I am not sure how they can justify saying that we are not accountable,
and to say Liberal only, I mean how do they justify not supporting a bill that they know their constituents
support? They do it all the time for political purposes, just to gain political favour for some reason.



So, Madam Speaker, I am not going to go on too long. (Interruption) One of my honourable
colleagues says ask the Opposition how they justify, how they make themselves accountable to the public of
Nova Scotia for the debt that this province has. I don’t think they can account for that. I have not seen them
account for it to date, in this House, although I must say it was pleasing to see the Leader of the Opposition
today take responsibility for some of the mess that he put us in when he was up talking about the education
bill. That is something we have not seen much of and I was quite surprised to see it today.



When we receive concerns from our constituents, and I can say this from experience, from being in
caucus without giving up caucus confidentiality, you see members come in all the time expressing their
concerns to ministers about different programs, different legislation that goes on every week during caucus
and you see it happen here in the legislation. When people see a member here talking to a minister over in
the corner, or at his desk, they are not just talking about the weather outside, I am positive and I know for a
fact that they are talking about concerns of constituents.



Madam Speaker, having said that, I am pleased to enter this debate today and I am pleased that
ministers in many instances respond to those concerns. There are things, you can’t expect them to do
everything, but in many instances they do help out as much as they can, given the financial circumstances that
we have been left with.



The one other point that I wanted to touch on is the Opposition constantly saying, take more time,
take another 6 months, take another 12 months, slow down. Well, you have a four-year mandate to work with,
we have taken two years to develop some of these programs, some of this legislation. Ministers have gone out
and consulted on the education bill that we see before the House in this session. We see that the Minister of
Education has gone out far and wide to talk to school boards, to talk to teachers unions, to talk to all the
people involved, to talk to parents, talk to students. It is an ongoing process and it will be an ongoing process;
it has to be, the world is constantly developing.



The way we have seen it in the past is that it has been written in stone and that stone is cast and that
is it. The Opposition didn’t want to change that stone for fear of making someone angry or making somebody
irate over here and fearing that it would cost them some votes so they didn’t do anything.



I am pleased. I know that when I went door-to-door campaigning and when I talked to people, what
did they say? Government is too big; this is wrong; there needs to be changes to the Education Act. There
needs to be changes to this Act and that is all we are doing, meeting the wishes of our constituents. I take a
great deal of offence to someone putting in a resolution that says we are not accountable and that we don’t
represent the concerns of our constituents. I, for one, hope that the general public realize - and I am sure that
they do - that we, any one of the members of the Liberal caucus, will be willing to meet with them, listen to
them at any point in time and then bring their concerns to the ministers.



We have seen that, I have seen it personally happen where I have had many people call about various
legislation that is going on and some changes did occur. Not exactly what the constituent wanted but many
of the changes, amendments to bills and that is part of the process. It is interesting. That is a prime example
of how the Opposition tend to cherry-pick things out of the air and try to make the government into that thing.



One of the members mentions the casinos. Right from the very start the Minister of Finance set apart
a separate committee to develop the casino legislation. One of the things that he said, right from the very start,
was we will let them develop the regulations, they are not going to be cast in stone but someone apart from
the government, so that we are not seen to be manipulating this, we will let them do it and they did do it and
the minister, to his word, made them public and then said to the public, tell us the changes that you want to
see in those regulations and that is what happened and there were changes.



I see that you are telling me that my time is up, Madam Speaker. I thank you for this opportunity and
I take my place. (Applause)



MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. The House has reached the time when the Adjournment debate
has concluded. We will now resume debate on Bill No. 5, the School Boards Act.



[6:30 p.m.]



GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

 

 

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING



Bill No. 5 - School Boards Act.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, it is difficult to follow such an uplifting and inspirational
speech as we just heard. But, I will attempt, in my own modest way, to try to bring forward some additional
thoughts, expressions and concerns about the legislation that is before us.



One of the documents that I was looking at, Madam Speaker, sort of sums up, I guess, what I see in
part, really the arrogance of the legislation that is before us. You know, a quote from this discussion paper
or from the document that I am looking at says, students are my first priority. This is our plan to fix a system
so the needs of students are put back on the front burner. As a former basketball coach, I know firsthand how
it motivates young people to have their parents and communities cheering them on.



Madam Speaker, those are wonderful words from the Minister of Education. The Minister of
Education and this government, seem to think that they have all the answers, know all and therefore, there
is no need to have full range, broad consultation. (Interruption)



MADAM SPEAKER: Order please.



MR. HOLM: I am glad for the intervention there, Madam Speaker, because it gave me a chance also
to rethink and maybe to rephrase a sentence that I just made. Because it is not only a matter of going through
the motions of having consultations, it is also a matter of having meaningful consultation. Meaningful
consultation is actually two-way.



Two-way consultation, that is true dialogue. True dialogue does not mean that you stand on a stage
or that you have documents coming forward to you and then you say that you are listening to the concerns that
are brought forward and then, Madam Speaker, say that we, meaning government, meaning Minister of
Education and Cabinet, we are going to decide unilaterally, on our own, what the so-called consensus, that
has developed through this process, really is.



Madam Speaker, we have had, supposedly, consultations going on in the Province of Nova Scotia.
Supposedly, going on for 14-16 months. Well, as the Chair of the Yarmouth District School Board said in her
submission to the minister and in her preamble, the remarks that she gave in Yarmouth at the public forum,
the consultations held last summer in which separate groups of parents, teachers, school administrators, the
business community and school boards were invited to meet the departmental officials to discuss focus
questions in isolation from each other, was not the way to foster cooperation and understanding, rather a
strategy known as divide and conquer. Those, Madam Speaker are not my words, but you know almost the
same thing was said in Cape Breton by the chair of the board in that community. Both of whom, by the way,
indicated their willingness to cooperate and to work for reform in the education system.



Talking about the consultations that supposedly have gone on, which leads to this bill she said, and
talking as the minister had, about supposedly there were these consultations, these sessions that are going on
for so many months. She said that when she spoke with people who participated in those particular sessions,
she is amazed that every single person remembers not the questions, nor the answers, they remember that no
record appeared to be made of the proceedings. That, in fact, the notetakers for every session rarely picked
up a pen or pencil to write. That is not John Holm, MLA, Sackville-Cobequid for the NDP speaking. I am
quoting word for word from the chairperson’s preamble to the Yarmouth District School Board’s submission
to the Minister of Education on Education Horizons.



Now, Madam Speaker, the government will have people believe that it has, through these kinds of
consultations supposedly going on for so many months, which of course many people questioned as to how
meaningful that was. (Interruption)



MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.



MR. HOLM: The Minister of Education says the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the school boards
association do not count, Madam Speaker, across the floor. Well, I think that all partners in education count.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. The honourable member has
just, in this House, misquoted me deliberately. What I said, he got up and quoted one person. I said, in
response to that, that, in fact, the Teachers Union and the school boards association and the home and school
association got up publicly at a press conference and said that they thought we had listened through the whole
process. I said that he does not seem to think that they matter. His response to that is that the honourable
minister has said that they do not matter. In fact, that is not the truth and, for the record, that should be
cleared up.



MR. HOLM: For the record and on the minister’s point of order, the minister may stand up now and
say what he is saying. But the minister is putting his interpretation on what he said across the floor. I recited
back what I heard and if the minister does not want to be misquoted across the floor, then I would suggest to
the minister, as the saying goes, buttons up. Buttons up when somebody else is speaking on the floor of this
House and that he make his comments into the record, into the microphone, like other members of this House
do who are taking part in the debate.



AN HON. MEMBER: Right on.



MADAM SPEAKER: I would like to rule on the point of order, though, if you would permit me to
do so. I think that the dispute of opinions rising here between two members is not a point of order. I would
caution you to stop conversing back and forth on the floor. Try to stick to the debate at hand.



MR. HOLM: Madam Speaker, I concur and I certainly will try my very best to adhere to the ruling
that you have given because it is good advice for all members of this House.



Madam Speaker, we have no idea, quite honestly, nor does anybody else have any idea whether the
minister has listened one iota or not. We have no idea from this legislation that is before us whether or not
the government is going to be bringing forward amendments or changes to the school boards that are in any
way reflective of what it has heard or not.



Certainly not based on this bill, because this bill does not require and this bill is, according to the
government agenda, intended to be passed, go through this House on second reading, go through the Law
Amendments Committee, where the public would have an opportunity to come forward and make some
comments and of course they can only comment on the bill anyway, Madam Speaker. But to go through this
House before the minister is going to bless us or to grace us by giving us an outline as to what his plan actually
is going to be.



This bill says that the Governor in Council, that is the Cabinet and the Cabinet alone, even the - I
can’t say backbenchers - the other honourable members who are not members of the Executive Council. I
almost got myself into trouble, Madam Speaker. I know I am not allowed to use that term any more in this
House. But the other honourable members of the Liberal caucus who are not members of the first bench or
the front benches also are not going to be involved, they don’t have to be because here, according to this bill,
the Governor in Council, notwithstanding anything else in any other Act, the Governor in Council in the
Cabinet Room can, on the recommendation of the minister, . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Under cover of darkness.



MR. HOLM: Well, it may or may not be under the cover of darkness, as the Leader of the Opposition
says. The minister can decide to amalgamate a board with any other board that the minister so chooses. The
minister can annex all or part of a board with any other board that the minister so chooses. The Governor in
Council doesn’t have to submit those new boards, those new boundaries, those proposals to any kind of public
process or examination or evaluation and they certainly don’t have to submit it to the Utility and Review Board
who have the responsibility, under legislation currently, to look at matters of annexation, amalgamation,
Madam Speaker.



That might be too cumbersome, it might take a few weeks for that to be done, it might provide an
opportunity for the public to respond to the boundaries that the minister is proposing and the Cabinet is
proposing to impose. That would be too much to ask or expect, that the public who might be affected should
be given an opportunity to reflect and to comment not on speculations but on the actual proposals of this
government.



Madam Speaker, the government may think that is too much but, quite honestly, I think it is very
minimal, in terms of the kinds of respect that should be shown to the students, to the families, to the people
who are concerned about the quality of education that our children will receive next year or the year after and
into the foreseeable future, that certainly, the slight inconvenience to this government of having the Utility
and Review Board, some independent body, have the authority to examine, to scrutinize and to have what you
might say a second look at what the government is proposing. (Interruption) A second, sober thought, yes.
I am looking forward to some other members, who are going to speak and who will not be as tongue-tied. I
sound like, as I am listening to myself on a couple of occasions, as if I am trying to break in a new tongue as
this one seems to be getting stuck from time to time.



Anyhow, I shall try to plow on. Now, Madam Speaker, the Governor in Council, the Cabinet, without
any consultation with the Utility and Review Board, without anybody having an opportunity to review what
it is they are planning to do, they can determine that the members of amalgamated school boards are now
supposedly members of a new board. So a person who ran for elected office in one area can now find
themselves representing or serving on a totally different school board.



If, in fact, Madam Speaker, the borders that the minister in his White Paper proposed go through
under some of the options, that would mean that people from Guysborough would be sitting on the board
making decisions about schools in Cape Breton, in the Sydney area and, quite possibly, vice versa. We have
no idea what the boards are going to look like because the members of the amalgamation board are members
of the new board pending the next election. The Governor in Council will decide who those people are going
to be. I am sure (Interruption)



[6:45 p.m.]



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: A question, Madam Speaker. The question basically comes from my
original consultations with all school boards. Every school board we spoke to asked if they could stay in place
in any amalgamation and be part of the new board. That was a request they made of us and the honourable
member has been saying that we haven’t listened, but it was a request made by almost every board in this
province and we responded to it. Is he suggesting we shouldn’t have listened to it and, many of them being
elected short months ago, that we should dump them? Is that what he is suggesting and ignore their requests?



MR. HOLM: Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for his question. Of course, the minister is raising
a question about an entirely different point from that which I was raising. The minister is asking whether or
not I think that those school board members who were just elected a few scant months ago should be basically
shown the door when the amalgamation goes through. I wasn’t suggesting that or saying that for one minute.



What I was saying and what this bill does say, is that when the Governor in Council on the advice
of the Minister of Education, amalgamates his school boards, those people who were elected, for example, if
they go ahead with the one mega-board for the Halifax County area which would include Halifax City,
Dartmouth, Bedford and the County of Halifax into one board with 57,000 students, those members who stood
for election in Halifax County are going to be part of that one mega-board and that they will be all across the
province.



What I am trying to get across to the minister is that people who are going to be serving on that
mega-board are in many cases, not because they aren’t concerned about education, not because they aren’t
going to do their darnedest to make sure that the education system operates as effectively as it possibly can,
but because of the size. They ran on the basis of their community and their concern for the education in their
community and now they are going to be asked to be making decisions on a vast board in areas that quite
honestly they may know very little about, simply because of the vast geography that is going to be involved
in some situations.



Here we have this legislation that gives the minister and the Cabinet the ability to amalgamate all
these boards together into these huge geographic and/or population areas as his options that he himself
brought forward with his White Paper suggest. We will find out when and if the minister does put his actual
agenda on the table, how closely he does and has listened to the suggested realignments of the boards that
have been brought forward by those communities. We will know some time down the road. Of course, we
should know as part of this bill.



We should not be passing this bill, it is wrong. It is top-heavy, it is dictatorial. I would go so far as
to say that it is undemocratic if it is not unparliamentary to be so blunt as to say that. This is undemocratic,
to bring forward a piece of legislation which says that a group in the Cabinet can unilaterally, on their own
without any recourse, without any appeal, decide to holus bolus lump all of these boards together.



There is no question that yes, indeed we can have some amalgamations. That is undoubtedly quite
possible and that yes, indeed, we can restructure. If this minister and this government has confidence that they
have a proper plan to do that, if they have the vision because in this bill I do not see any vision. The only
vision in this bill has nothing to do with improving the quality of education or even maintaining it. It is a
sensualist view, as I received a helpful word that I overheard which I think very much what it is. It is
sensualist view and this bill’s vision is to somehow to try to save money, supposedly for education and the
government is operating under the pretense or the delusions, quite possibly as some would suggest, that this
bill is actually going to save money and improve the quality of education or maintain the quality of education
at the same time.



The boards are concerned that local representation will suffer under large geographic units. They are
also worried that access to board policy, development and service delivery will not be as feasible a reality for
some citizens. The cost of running a campaign in a larger area coupled with the time commitment for
extensive travel to attend board and committee meetings may lead to limited interest in school board service.
Furthermore, travel distance may reduce community attendance at board meetings. That is not a quote from
myself, that is a quote taken out of a presentation, again made to the Minister of Education, by the President
of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association. That is not me talking.



Here we are being told that somehow this is all going to be saving money, $11 million is the figure;
$11 million has been plucked out of the air and that $11 million is going to be poured back into education.
Supposedly, that $11 million is going to be enough to maintain the quality of education. We were told last
year, more importantly, parents and children were told that the quality of eduction in Nova Scotia would not
suffer as a result of the reduction in funding for public school education.



Last year and this year we are seeing consequences of it, we have had resources cut back for
specialists, teachers and children in need of special programs, we have seen Primary classes and many boards
cut in half, we have seen class sizes increase and to me that is affecting the classroom.



MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. We have a number of conversations going on simultaneously,
it is creating quite a hubbub. I would suggest if people find they have to have those conversations perhaps they
would exit the Chamber.



MR. HOLM: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I was trying to ignore those conversations that were
directed my way as well. We were told that it wasn’t going to be hurt. We are told, supposedly, that this
amalgamation, the rationale, is that $11 million is somehow going to be saved. That is one of the rationales
for this bill and the need to amalgamate so that that money can then be redistributed around, for example. The
minister quite clearly said in a couple of the meetings that the small boards are going to be helped as a result
of amalgamation, for example, in the metro area and that a lot of money can be saved in the metropolitan area
and that the monies that are saved here will then go back into the system and then through the formula review
process can be distributed around and help boards in other areas.



Supposedly this money is going to be saved. However, $11 million even if that figure is there, is not
going to offset the amount of money that has been taken out and is being taken out again this year. Also, if
you are going to be creating these huge geographic boards, obviously there is going to be a need to have
subdivision regional offices where those services can be disbursed throughout the school system. That is if the
government intends and I am not so sure they do because we are not debating the White Paper here, but it has
implications. The White Paper is suggesting other things as well as the amalgamations. It is talking about site-based management, advisory councils and so on. There has to be some kind of support for those schools
whether they are site-based managed or whether they are operating with advisory councils or whether it is
going to be shared responsibilities between the advisory council just being simply an advisory and also having
some powers. There has to be support from a board.



Even the pile of projects that are underway right now in site-based management which by the way
are in the first year and haven’t had the opportunity yet to be evaluated, even those boards had the support of
a school board trying to help and guide them; not something where you have to drive for four or five hours
or make long distance phone calls at great expense when there are times when you are being told that there
isn’t enough money to provide paper for the photocopiers, or textbooks for the children or a resource teacher
or a teachers’ aide to help a child. We are talking about creating boards that are very large that you can only
communicate one end to the other by very expensive long distance phone calls.



It was said in the Lighthouse paper in Bridgewater that Education Minister John MacEachern should
slow down and smell the coffee before reforming the education system, that he is going too fast and doing too
many things at once. Maybe the President of the Nova Scotia Home and School Association and also the
National Home and School Association their views should bear no weight with this government, but quite
honestly, they do with me because the home and school association which goes back slightly over 100 years
has served Nova Scotians and Nova Scotian children and Nova Scotia communities and schools very well
throughout that period of time.



You can’t tell me that those who are prepared to give their time and to serve their school and their
community on home and school associations aren’t concerned for the quality of education because they sure
are. They are concerned about our children and our children’s future. What is the hurry? Let’s make that we
are doing it right because it will be a lot harder to do it again if we are wrong. In other words, suggesting and
we don’t even know what the government is going to suggest, we don’t know if what they are going to do is
right or wrong because quite honestly, so far, they won’t even tell us because the Act of course, says that we
don’t need to tell you. We know that we are right, we know that we have the vision, we know that we have
the answers therefore all we have to do is say that we are going to make some decisions, we need to get out
of the way of this little messy thing called legislation.



We have an inconvenience, we have to go to the House of Assembly in a public forum and we have
to get a piece of legislation through that gives us absolute power to do whatever it is we want. That is what
they have to do. It is an inconvenience, Madam Speaker. That is what this government has obviously chosen.



[7:00 p.m.]



One of the first times I had an opportunity to debate the now Premier, I also had the opportunity to
debate the Leader of the Opposition. It was at a forum at Mount Saint Vincent University and it was a
fraternity, I cannot remember the name of it, Madam Speaker.



AN HON. MEMBER: It was all Greek to him.



MR. HOLM: Anyway, it was while the Premier was in Opposition and, although the Leader of the
Opposition was not the Minister of Education for the government of the day, he certainly had been a Minister
of Education and he was there representing the minister.



The now Premier talked about the need to have a vision. He is consistent in a couple of things,
Madam Speaker. Because I remember very clearly, I do not know if the Leader of the Opposition has the same
recollection or not, but I seem to remember our caucus, and honestly, the Conservative caucus brought forward
some views as to what they thought the education system should be like.



The now Premier said that they are developing a vision, that they have developed a vision, but,
Madam Speaker, he would not tell us the vision that night because an election was coming up and he was
afraid somebody else might steal his vision.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I think it is called tunnel vision.



MR. HOLM: I do not know and I cannot ask the Leader of the Opposition if he recollects the same
as I do, what the Premier said that day, but I clearly remember that. What I say is consistent, the same thing
is here.



They have maybe a vision and maybe that vision is something that is supposed to open and evolve
as crisis after crisis develops. Maybe their vision is crisis management because, Madam Speaker, this bill says
absolutely nothing about what they plan to do, other than that they plan to give to themselves absolute,
autocratic, dictatorial power to make whatever decisions they should so choose. That is what this bill does.



Now maybe, it is quite possible, anything is possible. I may be absolutely amazed. I may be, quite
honestly, very much humbled and be walking around and ducking and wishing I had not remembered any of
the words or had not made any comments in this House about the government and criticizing the government
for their approach. I may be so humbled because the minister and his colleagues may actually have the vision.
They may have the wisdom and that wisdom may be unveiled within a couple of weeks. (Interruption)



We do not know, Madam Speaker, because the minister has said that by May 5th, he will have
reported to Cabinet and then Cabinet will be either accepting or rejecting. So we expect to see that vision
unfold. (Interruption) Yes, indeed, that is what Cabinet does, that is what government does, but you know,
there are different kinds of governments and one of them is participatory. One of them has the courage of their
convictions and is prepared to put their plan actually out there for Nova Scotians to see it, so that they can
actually consult on what their plans are, Madam Speaker. (Interruption)



What is it, Mutt and Jeff, Madam Speaker? What is the term you use - a lot of mutton, anyway?



MADAM SPEAKER: I have been asked if it is Mutt and Jeff. I think it is disorder and perhaps we
could have a little more order in the Chamber. The Leader of the New Democratic Party has the floor.



MR. HOLM: Madam Speaker, I appreciate that, but they do bounce one to the other rather well and
they do feed off each other rather well. I am glad to see that the House Leader is setting a high example for
us all.



Now, if we take a look at the proposals and possible suggestions for the boards, Madam Speaker, two
options were being put forward. You know, when one takes a look at this bill, the only things that you can
actually look at, to find out what the government is planning to do, is the White Paper.



Now, Madam Speaker, I keep hearing an echo, five, seven or consensus. I am quite happy with the
idea of consensus. I like that sound. I like that term. I have seen, of course, how consensus is sometimes
defined by this government. I saw that when they were looking at the amalgamation of the police forces,
before they decided to go whole hog with the metro amalgamation. But now you know, the government
decides what consensus is. Sometimes consensus means a majority of one.



We, also, Madam Speaker, if we are going to have consensus . . .



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: A question, Madam Speaker. Would the honourable member agree
that when Hants West, Kings and Annapolis agree that that is a reasonable amalgamation amongst
themselves, the three of them, at meetings amongst themselves and publicly say that, would he agree that that
is consensus, because that is my idea of what consensus is? So, if we disagree on that, I would be interested
in how he views consensus.



MR. HOLM: Here we have an opportunity for the Minister of Education and myself to agree on
something. That, Madam Speaker, I am sure is going to give the minister some restless nights, to think that
he and I actually agree on something. He is going to be a little bit shaken by that reality, maybe that we can
actually agree on something.



But you know, Madam Speaker, I take a look at this bill and this legislation that is before us does
not say in fact, what the minister has just said in terms of what boards will be amalgamated or will not be
amalgamated are here, or that it is going to be done that way. There is absolutely nothing in this legislation
that says that, nothing.



Madam Speaker, it was not I who brought that up, it was the minister when he stood to ask a
question. (Interruption) Sometimes even I have to laugh at some of the helpful suggestions from the Minister
of Transportation, who is wondering about the Minister of Education and myself being able to bond because
we had agreed on something. Well, even in these kinds of debates, sometimes it is healthy to have a little
laugh. But what I want to see happen is not, quite honestly, a bonding between myself and the Minister of
Education. What I want to see is a bonding of the education system and structure, with the needs and the
wants of the people who that education system is supposed to serve. What I want to see is a bill that is written
that actually does contain within it the consensus and the assurance that, in fact, the best interests of our
children are going to be taken care of. This bill, as much as you want to make light of it on the other side and
the points that I am making, this bill does not do that, it doesn’t cut it. It is a wrong approach.



The Minister of Education, the Minister of Transportation and all members of the government might
be rather shocked at our reaction in terms of whether we would or would not support a piece of legislation if
they came forward and outlined the specifics of what they did actually plan to do because if the government
does have a clear agenda that it is able to support and which is certainly one that is supportable spelled out
in the legislation then, in fact, we would be happy to do it. You know, as I read this bill, this doesn’t even only
apply to now. This bill is for now and any time into the future until the bills themselves are changed again.
The bill authorizes the Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Education, to
amalgamate school boards. So we could have round one this spring; for next school year we could have round
two; and a couple years down the road or at anytime this government or any other government should so
choose, can turn around and amalgamate.



Boards are concerned. Halifax City and Dartmouth boards have both expressed concern about the
establishment of a school board where that board is going to be responsible for 57,000-plus students and over
140 schools. Madam Speaker, it is a fair barb across the floor, what does the Halifax County school board say?
That is a fair question across the board. Quite honestly, we don’t have consensus among the three boards
because Halifax County is prepared to agree with the recommendation that is being put forward by the
minister. I, expressing my own personal opinion, do not agree with the decision taken by the Halifax County
board and I don’t hesitate in saying that. I, for one, feel that a board, and I am concerned about the educational
opportunities for the students in my schools in my community because if you are going to have one board
administering that large an area over 21,000 square miles, I believe it is, over 5,376 square kilometres, that
is a pretty huge area. I am concerned about the education that children receive whether they are going to
school in Hillside Park, whether they are going to Centennial, whether they are going to Gertrude Parker,
Smokey Drive, Cavalier Drive, Leslie Thomas, the high school or any of them, I am concerned that the school
board that in fact, represents those children will have an opportunity and that those who are in charge of
administering that board will have an opportunity to be hands on and knowledgeable about what the special
needs and concerns are in those individual schools.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Madam Speaker, would the honourable member permit a question?
I am a bit puzzled here. He is talking about democracy, the board in Halifax County, in Bedford who was
elected by the people to represent their interest has expressed interest in a very strongly argued paper in which
they suggest that the quality of education will be enhanced because already the geography that will be a
problem to amalgamate a board, they already have, they argue. In fact, they have a growing population, huge
geography and so they have all of the problems and they argued after a debate which was about four weeks
that in fact that is the case.



Isn’t is true that he should respect the decision of that board that was elected by the people to
represent their educational interests? But he is discarding them because of his personal interest. I would
suggest that if he is going to talk about democracy and anti-democracy, he may have escaped into a new
realm.



[7:15 p.m.]



MR. HOLM: Madam Speaker, as I listened to the minister’s little response there, I am reminded of
the expression that we heard earlier this afternoon from his seatmate, how we are entering into a new era. The
new era dealt with another topic but was dealing with the lack of accountability.



I did not say that I do not respect the Halifax County-Bedford District School Board members,
Madam Speaker, I very much respect them as individuals and I very much respect that they are trying to come
up with what they believe is the best decision in the circumstances for the children. I am not challenging or
questioning that at all. What I am saying is that I question whether or not the decisions and the structures that
the minister is talking about are, in fact, the best ones.



I am saying, Madam Speaker, and it is my view and I don’t apologize for that and I will agree with
the minister that yes, indeed, they did make an excellent paper and an excellent presentation and I have read
it. But I also have the ability and the right to disagree with the position that they have taken, in terms of
creating the one large board.



Madam Speaker, if this government is saying that they only believe in representing their constituents
and that they only think of their constituents’ concerns, as a few constituents, as some have expressed them -
then we would not be having a casino being built down on the waterfront if they didn’t express their own
views, that the constituents’ concerns in that situation didn’t count. So let the minister turn his arguments back
upon himself.



The Minister of Education may say that he was a basketball coach and he knows how to motivate and
he has all the answers, Madam Speaker, but I would suggest that things go a little deeper than that. If you are
going to have but one large board, whether we are talking geographically or in terms of huge populations, the
ability of the board, no matter how excellent those members are - and remember too that those board members
will most likely represent an area at least as large, and quite often larger, by the minister’s own
acknowledgement to members of this House. They will represent large geographic and population areas.



So, Madam Speaker, I am saying that what we need to have is that information and the minister’s
plan put on the table. If the minister does have a plan that he is prepared to put on the table, in terms of what
his structure is going to be and to have that then examined, and if that makes sense, then quite honestly I
would be only too happy to stand up and speak in support of the bill. But that certainly has not happened to
date.



Now I would like to therefore make a suggestion in the way of an amendment to the bill, Madam
Speaker. I would like to move that the words after “that” be deleted and the following substituted; that the
subject matter of Bill No. 5 be referred to the Human Resources Committee for consideration and to hold
public hearings after the minister has released his detailed plans for school board restructuring.



Madam Speaker, I so move.



MADAM SPEAKER: I will just take a few moments to circulate the amendment to the members.



Are there any intervenors on the amendment?



I would say that we have finished our side bar. I am going to rule this amendment out of order on
the grounds that you have tied a condition on to that, namely the release of detailed plans by the minister on
the school board restructuring.



The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Madam Speaker, roughly a year ago, the Minister of Education spoke in this
House of his intention to amalgamate school boards, and he certainly left me with the impression that it was
his intention to put forward a comprehensive, cohesive, cogent plant for the amalgamation of school boards
across the province, the net result of which would be, at first blush, a saving of dollars on administration but,
more importantly, a net increase in the number of dollars available to drive education in the classroom and,
therefore, to ensure an even higher degree of quality of education in the classrooms of the public schools of
Nova Scotia. I believed that minister at that time but when I look at the bill which is before the House this
evening, I find that the stock I had put in his trade apparently was misplaced.



I think the public would be deeply shocked if they were to have available to them the bill which the
minister intends to use to amalgamate school boards in Nova Scotia. The bill, if they should pick it up at the
Government Book Store, they would find consists of three pages: a title page; a page with one section, giving
the minister the full power to amalgamate as many school boards or as few school boards as he would wish
into any configuration that he determines appropriate; and then a blank page with a back cover.



I think that the blank page on the back says far more about this bill than the few words which one
finds in the very thin one page which provides the one clause of this bill. It tells us that this minister has taken
it upon himself to write for himself and for his Cabinet colleagues and for his government a blank cheque.
This House is being asked to honour that blank cheque so that this minister without further reference to this
place, without further reference to the public of Nova Scotia, without further reference to any of those of
thousands, tens of thousands, say, hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotians who have a direct interest in the
public school system in this province to participate in defining in the final analysis what school board
amalgamation will look like when it is completed.



There is nothing in this bill that suggests or that even hints to suggest that organizations like the
Nova Scotia Teachers Union, the Nova Scotia parent-teacher association, the Nova Scotia School Boards
Association will have any role to play other than that already played out with respect to the amalgamation of
school boards in this province.



I have from time to time found myself supporting this minister in endeavours that he has undertaken
as I believe that it is important to pass out accolades when accolades are due. However, I must say to this
minister with respect to this bill that I am deeply disappointed that he should bring such a meagre piece of
legislation into this House to effect such major changes in this province. This bill, I think, does not only the
people of this province and the young people of this province for whom schools are created a disservice, but
I think he has, in fact, done himself a disservice as well.



I know that the minister will say, well, I have created a White Paper. A White Paper by any definition
that I have ever seen, is suppose to be a specific document which lays out the policy which government intends
to follow. It is a blueprint, it is not a discussion document, it is not a reference point, it is a blueprint for
construction. This document very clearly, is not a blueprint, not by any measure. The minister, in effect, after
having been abused and, unfortunately, I have to say so often, rightly so, by the general public with whom he
met in his travels around Nova Scotia that this document has turned out to be nothing more than a discussion
document. It is a document which is full of rhetoric and entirely lacking in specifics. It is a document which
seems to say everything and yet which, in fact upon close scrutiny, says nothing or very little of anything at
least. It is a document which in meetings in Antigonish, Sydney Mines, Halifax, Truro, Bridgewater, New
Minas, Springhill and in Yarmouth people question.



People in Nova Scotia, generally speaking, do not become alarmed. They take change is a matter of
course and they sit back and wait until they have the opportunity to see what is being put forward by their
governments and then respond in a thoughtful way. What I have seen reported in the newspapers and reported
to me personally by many of those who attended these meetings is that Nova Scotians have looked at this
White Paper, they have listened to the minister, they have tried to understand precisely what it is that he
intends to do, they have gone away at first scratching their heads asking themselves what does he want to do
with the public school system in Nova Scotian, then upon reading the White Paper and upon reviewing the
remarks of the minister that inquisitiveness has increasingly turned to anger and that anger has turned to
mistrust. Mistrust of this minister with respect to this initiative and mistrust of this government with respect
to the way it is approaching this matter of school board amalgamation.



We have spent a great deal of time in this House over the past two years talking about amalgamation,
regionalization, centralization of various kinds of services. I, like all members of the House, had the
opportunity, and I, like some, chose to exercise the opportunity to speak to boards which amalgamate various
health services, hospital boards in the province, a bill put forward by the Minister of Health, a bill which was
relatively extensive, had 11 pretty comprehensive sections in it, a bill which was relatively easy to debate
because, at least, there was some substance there with which one could agree or disagree.



[7:30 p.m.]



If one seeks to see a bill which however much there may be wrong with various sections of it,
nonetheless lays out in full force, with relative precision, what it is the minister intends to do, one need only
look at the bill which was passed here this afternoon through second reading, that is the bill to amalgamate
the City of Halifax, or indeed to reflect on the bill to amalgamate the various units in industrial Cape Breton
into a single municipality. The bill this afternoon had 215 sections. I do not remember how many the one on
Cape Breton had, but I suspect it was probably roughly the same, a very comprehensive piece of legislation.



Yet, by contrast, this House and the 51 members in it - if I discount the minister because of course
we know that he already supports it - are asked to provide the same level of scrutiny, the same level of debate
and, in the final analysis, the same level of support of a bill that is one single page in length and which
provides the minister with nothing more and nothing less than a clean slate, tabula rasa, to do whatever he
should wish with it.



The minister speaks of the need to make changes in the school system, of the need to get down into
the school system and fine-tune it so that we assure that what goes on in the classroom will be to the benefit
immediately of the young men and the young women who are students in Nova Scotia’s classrooms, and, of
course, also to their families and generally to the people of this province.



Yet, it seems to me that in this bill, this minister who talks about the importance and the requisite
need of engaging in microsurgery is asking us to give him a chainsaw to undertake that. I do not think that
is a bad analogy, Mr. Speaker, not a bad analogy at all.



I look at what the minister proposes in one of the two models for school board amalgamation that
are included in the White Paper which we now know, according to him - and I do not think I do him a
disservice - it is essentially a discussion paper. I ask myself, are either or both of those possible with respect
to this legislation? I have to answer, not only are either or both of them possible, but so is any other
arrangement of schools and school boards throughout Nova Scotia.



We could have anything from the current 22 boards up through to a single board if the minister so
chooses, if this bill is passed as it currently stands before the House. That is too broad a sweep for any minister
to ask, of any members, of this legislation. The power is too extensive, the concept is too all-encompassing
and it fully fails to provide the people of Nova Scotia the opportunity to understand what choices this minister
has made, what choices he has been able to convince his Cabinet colleagues are the right choices and then
to put those choices, with the specifics, into the legislation that should be before this House.



I look at, for example, western Nova Scotia, the area that I know best, my constituency falling in the
middle of the South Shore and there are two potential scenarios for western Nova Scotia. One of those
scenarios would incorporate, oh, I think if we take a look at the map we can find out pretty quickly, all of
western Nova Scotia into one single board. That would mean that there would be something in the order of,
let me see, nine boards disappear in the favour of one board.



I ask myself, how could that possibly be more efficient? I know how hard the school board members
work in our relatively small school district of Queens. I have no doubt that school board members who have
been duly elected work as diligently throughout the province on behalf of their respective electorates.



I ask myself, how can a relatively small community like our community of Queens expect to have
any influence on a school board which is regional in nature, which swallows up nine existing boards and
which includes, within its geographic region, the entire western half of Nova Scotia? The answer shouts back
at me loud and clear. Our voice will be so small, so slight, the likelihood is that it will never be heard and
when upon the odd occasion it is heard, the great likelihood is that it will never be acted upon. It will never
be responded to positively.



Mr. Speaker, this bill is a bad piece of business. This is a bill which should be hoisted, at the very
least. That denied, it is a bill which the government, of its own volition, should hold up in the Law
Amendments Committee for as long as it takes for as many Nova Scotians as have an interest in it to make
presentations; then, at the very least, wait until next fall when we know by law that we are required to sit
again to bring the bill back to the House for Committee of the Whole House consideration and for third
reading.



It is not as though the government cannot look forward to speedy passage in the fall if that should
be done. For, in fact, we know that the rules were unilaterally changed by the government in order to reduce
the capacity for the Opposition to debate bills in Committee of the Whole House to 20 hours. So they know
that all they have to do is to fill in those 20 hours and they know that the clock is ticking when they come into
third reading and that they can very easily get this bill passed when we come back in the fall, before
Christmastime falls upon us.



One must ask oneself then, what is the great urgency which has caused this minister, at this time,
to bring this thin gruel into this Chamber and ask us to feast upon it? This bill does not provide food for
thought. This bill does nothing more than offer intellectual starvation.



Mr. Speaker, where does decision-making reside if this bill is passed? We do not know, nor do those
who may wish to appear before the Law Amendments Committee know where decision making will reside.
Will it reside in five boards? Will it reside in seven boards? Will it reside in fewer than five? Will it reside
in more than seven? What will the configuration of those boards be? Where will the seats of those boards be
located? Will the boards be fully elected? Will those boards be sufficient in number to be able to provide ample
opportunity for citizens to participate in the activities of those boards? These are all questions which should
be answered in the legislation and not have to be asked here in this Chamber on second reading.



I very often find myself, as I did this afternoon, objecting to clauses of a bill, but understanding that
the principle of the bill is correct. That, of course, this afternoon would be with respect to the bill which will
result in the amalgamation of the four municipal units in metro into one unit. So I voted in principle in favour
of that bill to move it to the Law Amendments Committee. I cannot, in conscience, vote for this bill at the end
of second reading because there is no principle espoused within it. All we know in this bill is that the minister
may be given the right to amalgamate as many boards as possible. We do not know the purpose, we do not
know how it will be effected, we do not know what the final configuration will be and most of all and most
importantly of all, we have absolutely no idea whatsoever how this bill, once effected, will affect the children
in the classroom. If that is not what our school system is all about then the 18 years that I spent teaching in
schools in Nova Scotia and the Province of New Brunswick, certainly fooled me about the essence of
education.



The White Paper that the minister produces and one must refer to it continuously because one must
assume that the White Paper is what this very thin piece of legislation is supposed to be all about but we don’t
know that for sure. If you buy a car don’t you want to have, in writing, all of the details about the loan that
you are signing to buy it with?



There is a reference in the White Paper of $6 million plus $5 million for a total of $11 million that
will be saved by this plan of school board amalgamation, a plan which has been reviled by many people in
Nova Scotia, cutting across many interest groups. I will be looking forward to the minister dealing with this
very large question when he closes his second reading. An $11 million which we are told by many is based
on a formula and figures and financial situations which were extant two years ago but no longer are extant
and therefore the savings are something substantially less than the $11 million, perhaps substantially less than
the $6 million.



For the school board members in Queens District to go to their monthly meeting or for the board
members to go to committee meetings of the board, the farthest anyone has to drive would take about 40
minutes. Yet, if we have a school board which encompasses all of western Nova Scotia that is located let’s say
in Kentville, many of the regional services in western Nova Scotia now seem to be located in Kentville, then
the people who live in Liverpool, for example, if they are elected to that board will have under the best of
weather conditions a two hour drive to Kentville. I would anticipate that probably the drive from Yarmouth
to Kentville would be about two hours. So, if you have a board member from the Shelburne County area, they
are going to have spend even more time driving to the board meeting irrespective of whether they decide to
go up around to Yarmouth and up the Valley or come up the South Shore and across to New Ross.



That should tell all of us that it is going to be very difficult to find as many people who have enough
time available to them to offer, let alone serve on, if successfully elected, school boards in this province. So
instead of having the community obligation to education which school boards traditionally have had in Nova
Scotia, we are going to end up with a very few people whose circumstances allow them the privilege of
offering for school boards where so many others won’t be able to anymore, making decisions on behalf of a
very wide region of the province. I am sure that my friends in this House who represent rural constituencies
like perhaps Inverness or perhaps some of the Cumberland seats or Guysborough will find themselves in the
very same situation.



If the school board is going to have meaning in the community, it must be part of the community.
I do not believe that it is possible to define, for example, all of western Nova Scotia as a community or even
more broadly, a single community of interest.



[7:45 p.m.]



I say that for all kinds of reasons but one of the reasons in particular that I say that is this, I believe
the community of interest between the Argyle and the Clare school boards and the rest of western Nova Scotia
are two very different communities of interest. I would venture to say, and Statistics Canada information
would bear me out on this, that the percentage of the population in my own county and perhaps roughly the
same could be said for Lunenburg County and perhaps Shelburne County as well, is something less than 1
per cent.



I ask myself, how can people, no matter how well intentioned, who have so little experience with
respect to francophone issues, francophone schools, educational issues in particular, provide the kind of
insightful advice that a board needs if, in fact, the francophone school boards are caught up somehow in this
larger arrangement. Or, in fact, are the boards in Argyle and Clare going to be split along language lines? I
don’t know. I would like to know and I am sure that the people of western Nova Scotia would like to know
the answer to that question as well.



So we have no way of . . .



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Both proposals, both option one and option two, pose very clearly
that there be a provincial Acadian board and the francophone population of Clare-Argyle will be represented
by that province-wide board. Both options that the honourable member refers to would have only the English
speaking population of the Clare-Argyle region under any reconfigured board along the South Shore.



I might also mention to the honourable member that the Digby, Yarmouth and Shelburne boards have
come forth and suggested that there be a board in that area that would have Digby and the English speaking
residents of the Clare-Argyle area, Yarmouth and Shelburne, constitute one board. That is a recommendation
that has come from two of the boards very aggressively and the other one is supportive, if amalgamations have
to take place.



MR. LEEFE: Well, I appreciate what the minister is saying to us but I think what he says only serves
to underscore the concern that I have expressed and others have expressed that this bill does not tell us that.
This bill is absolutely silent with respect to any decisions, other than the decision to amalgamate some boards,
or perhaps all boards.



That is why I say to this minister, with whom I have had a good working relationship, perhaps in
part because both of us, before coming to public life served as educators, in spite of the good relationship we
have had, I have to say to him that I don’t think he has even managed a base hit on this one. In fact, Mr.
Speaker, I think he is striking out on this. The unfortunate thing is that when he strikes out, the whole team
of Nova Scotia will go down with him.



Mr. Speaker, I ask myself what is there in this bill that can convince the people of Nova Scotia that
the quality of education is going to be improved. There is not one thing in this bill which gives us any
indication that this bill, once passed, will cause that to happen.



We have three major spenders in Nova Scotia; Health, Community Services and Education. Nova
Scotians do not flinch at providing hundreds of millions, in fact I think probably $1 billion a year on
education. A significant portion of that money goes into the public school system, which will be governed by
whatever organization of boards is created through this legislation.



I think Nova Scotians want to know, within reason, to whom they are going to entrust those dollars
as they are shared out of the provincial Treasury into the school board or school boards of this province. Is
that too much for Nova Scotians to ask? I think not. The Minister of Health, after all is able to define for us
the regions into which he was breaking the province and how he intended to create various councils to govern
those regions. The Minister of Municipal Affairs has no difficulty in describing to us how she anticipates, how
she knows, once her legislation is passed, this metro area will be organized including the provision of what
the Minister of Education might call site-based management, school councils, to community councils. We
don’t find any of that in this bill.



Mr. Speaker, as an educator, as a person serving in public life for now some considerable time in this
province, as a citizen of Nova Scotia, a citizen of our community, I have often asked myself and, in fact, I
have been asked and I have heard others ask themselves and in fact, respond to the rhetorical question, what
do parents want out of the school system? I have never heard a parent come to me and say, I want five school
boards in Nova Scotia, or I want six school boards in Nova Scotia or I want site-based management, or I want
school councils, or I want this kind of physical arrangement or that kind of physical arrangement. I have had
parents say to me and of course, firstly to themselves before they share the thought with me, I want an
education for my child which will fit my child out to be able to have a useful, productive and a happy life,
hopefully, working here in this Province of Nova Scotia and contributing not only to their own health, and
wealth and happiness but to that of the general well-being of the province. That is what education is all about
and that is what education must be all about.



Of course, it is only if we can have our schools provide that kind of opportunity to our young people
that we will be able to generate the kind of wealth we need in order to sustain public school education and
post-secondary school education in Nova Scotia. None of that insofar as I can determine and I am a fair
reader, is to be found in the White Paper, Education Horizons, nor certainly in this bill, An Act to Amend
Chapter 6 of the Acts of 1991, the School Boards Act. I would invite any member in this House to compare
the legislation which we have before us today, with the legislation which created the 22 school districts which
we currently enjoy, which in itself was the result of the amalgamation of dozens of school boards around Nova
Scotia into school boards covering larger areas.



I would invite the members of this House to compare the detail provided in that legislation with the
lack of detail provided in this legislation. I would ask all members to answer this question to themselves, are
they satisfied that so little detail can support such massive dramatic and radical change in the way in which
Nova Scotians choose to govern our educational system through school boards in this province?



This bill, to say the very least, is a bill which requires so much more work that I don’t see how it
possibly can be provided with sufficient amendments without completely changing the bill in the Committee
on Law Amendments. I would hope that the minister may listen to the words of those of us who speak on this
matter in the House but more importantly, because it is outside the political forum, to the moms and the dads
and yes, the students, the men and the women who serve on school boards and the parent-teacher associations,
the men and women who provide such fine front-line services, teachers in this province who also say this bill
is not only not enough, it is not nearly enough.



Give us an opportunity even over the short period of time between the spring and the fall of this year
to draft a new bill, which will provide us with the kind of detail. However much I may have objected to the
bill, at least there is an example of detail that the Minister of Finance provided, with some of the casino bill.
Are we to believe that the definition of the governance we provide casino gambling in Nova Scotia is of much
greater importance and warrants much more detail than the legislation that governs the way in which we
provide education in this province? I think not, Mr. Speaker. Yet, this bill, which purports to be a tremendous
cure for so many of the problems and so many of the difficulties and so many of the challenges facing Nova
Scotia’s public school system today is, in fact, at very best on the best of days nothing more than a placebo.



Mr. Speaker, the hour is getting on and I have a few more remarks I would like to make. With the
permission of the House, I move that we adjourn debate on Bill No. 5.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn the debate on Bill No. 5.



The motion is carried.



The honourable acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Tomorrow the order of business following
Question Period will be debate on Bill No. 1 and that will be followed by debate on Resolution No. 3 and any
remaining time we will devote to House Orders. The time between the resolution and the bill will be evenly
split.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, we will sit tomorrow from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.



I move that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow afternoon at the
hour of 2:00 p.m.



The motion is carried.



[The House rose at 7:57 p.m.]






NOTICE OF QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS

 

Given on April 24, 1995

 

(Pursuant to Rule 30)



QUESTION NO. 4



By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Leader of the Opposition)

 

To: Hon. William Gillis (Minister of Justice)



(1) There has been considerable debate nationally over gender issues in Canadian society,
particularly with regard to same sex spousal legislation. I want to know, as does Mr. Chris Aucoin, of Halifax,
Nova Scotia, if this Liberal Government is going to enact legislation to remove what Mr. Aucoin refers to as,
the discriminatory definition of spouse as “opposite sex” from all gender related legislation, Statutes and
guidelines?



QUESTION NO. 5



By: Mr. Donald McInnes (Pictou West)

 

To: Hon. Eleanor Norrie (Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs)



(1) Given the individual Canadian citizen’s right to receive adequate housing, nutrition and
safety under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I want to know, as does Mrs. Dorothy Boudreau of
Chezzetcook, Nova Scotia, how the guidelines for privately licensed boarding homes are enforced by the
province? Are regular inspections carried out to see that national standards are being adhered to?