The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

















HALIFAX, THURSDAY, MAY 4, 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 believe we can call the House to order at this time and commence this afternoon's business. Are there any introductions of visitors?



The honourable Minister of Government Services.



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, through you and to you, I would like to introduce to all members of the House a person sitting in the east gallery. He is a prominent businessman in Nova Scotia, a very astute political figure. He is a former advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Robert Pace. I would like to ask the House to give him a warm welcome. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: We will commence the daily routine of business.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS







1423



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 261



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 Premier and the Liberal Party proudly announced this past weekend their intention to finally hold a leadership vote, albeit separate from the Party's 1994-95 annual meeting; and



Whereas the Liberals have decided that the vote count is irrelevant, that it makes no difference whether the Premier gets 50.1 per cent or 100 per cent; and



Whereas in response to media questions on this inventive way of interpreting the Party's commitment to accountability, the Premier said the answer will be simple - yes or no -but would offer no further comment;



Therefore be it resolved that this Premier revisit his verbal commitment to the Party on the need for openness - which would be achieved, so they thought, through their constitutional amendment to hold a regular review - because, as was found by the Premier's predecessor, the answer is not as simple as a mere yes or no.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 262



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



Whereas 40 years ago, far-seeing and community-minded individuals founded the Sackville Fire Department as an all-volunteer force; and



Whereas the Sackville Fire Department has developed, just as the community has grown tremendously in size and complexity over the years, so that the department now includes both volunteers and full-time firefighters; and



Whereas Sackville residents have enjoyed the benefits of the fire protection, fire-fighting and rescue work done by the fire department;



Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates and offers best wishes to all past and present members of the Sackville Fire Department for their dedicated service during the first 40 years of the department's existence.



Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice and passage 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 Queens.



RESOLUTION NO. 263



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



Whereas the first recycling and composting plant of its kind in North America officially opens tomorrow at Whynotts Settlement in Lunenburg County; and



Whereas the new facility will be able to sort recyclable paper and containers while turning organics into compost; and



Whereas this new facility will serve the Municipality of Lunenburg as well as the Towns of Bridgewater, Lunenburg and Mahone Bay and is expected to recover up to 75 per cent of garbage from these four municipal units;



Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize the importance of recycling and commend the citizens of Lunenburg County in their recycling initiatives.



Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver of notice.



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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 264



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



Whereas the Minister of Transportation appears intent, for some reason or another, on crippling the Nova Scotia trucking industry; and



Whereas if it is not salt hauling rates, then it is tolls that the Minister of Transportation wants to feed upon as he drives the Nova Scotia trucking industry out of business; and



Whereas Nova Scotia truckers already pay an average of $11,704 in taxes on an annual basis;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation start implementing programs that will assist instead of hinder the Nova Scotia trucking industry.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



RESOLUTION NO. 265



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



Whereas the G-7 Summit, which will last exactly three days, has been the subject of a special letter from the Premier to all public servants, daily news releases and the biggest makeover of downtown Halifax since VE-Day; and



Whereas the federal Liberal decision to cut $385 million from Nova Scotians' health, education and community services has received virtually no attention from this government; and



Whereas the fragmentation of Canadian standards will have an effect for decades to come, long after the G-7 has become a dim memory;



Therefore be it resolved that this House encourages the government to get its priorities in order by devoting at least ten times the attention and energy to fighting the destruction and reduction of key national programs as it is paying to the G-7 Summit.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Kings North.



RESOLUTION NO. 266



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



Whereas this Liberal Government has found one more issue on which to flip-flop, that is the commitment to send some 75 jobs to Amherst; and



Whereas in December, 1994, the Minister of Education and the former Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, who also represents Amherst, made public their firm commitment that 75 jobs would be moved to help ease the devastation of the closure of the School for the Deaf, "We have a plan . . . ," said the Minister of Education; and



Whereas Cumberland North MLA said Tuesday, "It's taking a little longer than we expected and I know some people are going to be sceptical, but those jobs are coming" but the next day indicated that the Savage Government was naive when it made its promise;



Therefore be it resolved that this government offer the people of Amherst, and those whose jobs are affected, details beyond the inference that jobs will get to town someday, eventually in dribs and drabs to match their original promise of 1994 that 75 jobs would move to the area in September.



MR. SPEAKER: Dribs and drabs. All right.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 267



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



Whereas the former Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency now says that he and the Education Minister were naive when, a few months' ago, they held a news conference to announce that 75 government jobs would be relocated to Amherst; and



Whereas Nova Scotians who placed their faith in the promises and announcements made by this Liberal Government are realizing how naive they were; and



Whereas after nearly two years in power, government MLAs should have better excuses for their solid string of broken promises;



Therefore be it resolved that the government should consider introducing a five star rating system for its own announcements to help indicate right from the start which Liberal promises will be declared naive, mistaken, overly optimistic or just plain stunned.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



I want to comment briefly on both that notice and the one by the honourable member for Kings North. They are too verbose and I would ask that honourable members please restrict themselves to a single proposition in advancing these resolutions.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, if you and all members will indulge me, I would like to perhaps make a brief introduction before I present the resolution which I have before me. I would like to introduce to you, and through you to all members of the House, a lady who is seated in your gallery. Her name is Pam Jackson. Pam Jackson is visiting Nova Scotia from her home Province of Alberta and was, as I was, and my colleague for Queens was, a delegate to the national Progressive Conservative meeting held last weekend in Hull. She is here visiting with friends and family in Nova Scotia and has family connections in New Brunswick.



She was anxious to come and watch a little bit of the proceedings here of our Legislature, and, I might say, has asked me, among other things, to help her see if we can find a lobster trap that she will perhaps be able to take back to Alberta with her. So maybe the Minister of Fisheries, who I see is not in his place, and I might chat before the afternoon is out. But I would invite you and all members to extend the usual warm welcome of our Legislature to Pam Jackson from Alberta. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.





RESOLUTION NO. 268



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 Minister of Education has once again laid the responsibility of many insufficiencies without our school system at the feet of our school boards; and



Whereas this same minister has continually said that his government has the interest of our students at heart, in fact, his Premier campaigned to students prior to the election that "money will not be saved by cutting from education because it is not just another spending program"; and



Whereas the latest victims of cutbacks forced on many of our boards are those children who need our help most, those who are quite capable of learning, but who have impediments which must be overcome early so that they can achieve to their fullest ability;



Therefore be it resolved that this government offer assistance to the greatest difficulties now being faced by the children who urgently need resource help in our schools, an area fallen victim to the minister's cuts, and stop laying all the blame at the foot of our school boards who can only work with what they are given.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Pictou West.



RESOLUTION NO. 269



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



Whereas the citizens of Amherst and businesses on the Sunrise Trail wait and wait for this government to address the issue of a proper entrance to the Tourist Bureau at Amherst; and



Whereas the McKenna Government has agreed to cooperate with the Nova Scotia government in an initiative to address the tourist bureau entrance at Amherst; and



Whereas the best the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency can do is talk around the issue and mention tourist destinations such as Yarmouth and North Sydney, while rambling on about twofold initiatives;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency understand the simplicity of such issues and get the ramp constructed before another valuable tourist season is lost.



[12:15 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Minister of Justice.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a brief introduction of some distinguished visitors in the east gallery. Professor Jeffery England is from the University of Lethbridge. He is a visiting professor at Dalhousie University. We also have Professor Rod Wood, from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, also a visiting professor at Dalhousie University. They are accompanied by Ruby Dowling; my niece, Susan Wood; and my brother, Bernie. I want to ask all honourable members to welcome them, if they would please rise.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 270



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



Whereas National Sea Products has been repeatedly rescued from bankruptcy with tax dollars and a free rein to exploit fish stocks so its shareholders and bankers could continue to profit; and



Whereas National Sea Products is now expressing outrage that 27 of its remaining plant workers in Lunenburg chose The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy, TAGS, rather than placing their fate entirely in the company's hands; and



Whereas TAGS reports show that its South Shore participants have the greatest need for educational upgrading;



Therefore be it resolved that this House should confer a dog-in-the-manger award to National Sea Products for attacking a few Lunenburg plant workers who are trying to use the opportunity to retrain and upgrade rather than be kept hanging on a string by National Sea Products.



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



MR. SPEAKER: I hear a No.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Report of the Superintendent of Pensions on the administration of the Pension Benefits Act for the years ended March 31, 1991, 1992 and 1993.



MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Introduction of Bills.



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



Bill No. 18 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 214 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Human Rights Act. (Ms. Alexa McDonough)



MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read a second time on a future day.



I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 o'clock this evening. The winner today is the honourable member for Pictou Centre. He has submitted a motion reading as follows:



Therefore be it resolved that the people of Cumberland County do not deserve to be separated from the rest of Nova Scotia by the Savage toll.



We will hear consideration of that matter at 6:00 o'clock this afternoon.



The time being 12:19 p.m., we will run the Oral Question Period today for one hour; that will be until 1:19 p.m.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



EDUC. - SPEECH THERAPY: SCHOOLS - FUNDING



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education and Culture. I have had numerous concerns brought to my attention in the last couple of weeks with regard to resources, or better said, perhaps, the lack of resources for speech therapy in our school system. We have heard testimony and comment of the difficulties of one child on the radio just this morning.



I know we have gone through this with the minister before and he says, well, talk to the school boards, the same answer he gave to that child's parents. It is the school board's responsibility, says this minister, to set the priorities with what they are able, once their budgets are set.



I do know that the minister and his government are allegedly committed to educational support for all children because in the Liberal education policy it says, "recognizing each child as a whole person with varied needs, abilities, talents and backgrounds, Liberals will establish a policy of inter-departmental co-operation for early intervention and support services (at) the school level.".



My question to the minister is simply whether or not he is still committed to that inter-disciplinary policy, so as to bring service to children in need?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable Leader of the Opposition, and I thank him for the opportunity to say this, yes, we are committed. When we came to government we inherited a situation by which before students come to school, they are subject to the kind of services he describes, through the Department of Health. The moment they enter school they come under the auspices of the school boards.



What we are trying to do - that is the Department of Health, the Department of Education, Community Services as well, Mr. Speaker, because sometimes they are very much involved with this with the school boards - we are trying to find an integrated way of doing it. I can suggest to the honourable Leader of the Opposition, as he probably knows from his days in office, it is not as easy as it sounds but our commitment to do it is, in fact, there.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, I guess the distinguished Minister of Education is coming to the reality that, as he just said, it isn't as easy to do, but the promise was made. The commitment was made and I suggest, Mr. Speaker, the commitment was a reasonable one, a sensible one and one which should be kept.



By way of supplementary, I say again to the Minister of Education that a parent in Middle Musquodoboit has a child who desperately needs speech therapy so that that young child can fully participate in a classroom setting. Instead of being able to assist the child properly last year, that child's parent was told to withhold him from the year as the board could probably only offer 15 minutes per month of speech therapy. This child will be seven in October.



The board now is telling the parent that he is still not prepared, even though the woman has gone to great lengths to travel to the closest speech therapist available to her, and they are saying that he should be kept from the classroom for another year - this is a seven year old boy. For the sake of the whole year of this child's life and the future years of this child's life is the supply of sufficient speech therapy services resources within our province's education system a priority or not a priority with this minister, so that young people like this seven year old can, in fact, be served?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable Leader of the Opposition, I can say that it is reasonable that that commitment be made and we have made it. It is sad that the previous government in their time there did not make it and that is why we are behind. There are not enough services available, and I state that here, nor is there access reasonable.



Not only that but as you travel the province, it varies from board to board. Again, that is something we inherited when we arrived here.



To get the job done, the commitment must be made first and then ways of doing it, between Health, ourselves and Community Services and the boards have to be arrived at. We are committed to do that because as the honourable Leader of the Opposition quite correctly said, that is the reasonable thing to do and we are going to move on with that commitment and put it in place. We are going to do that.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, I am delighted to hear the minister say he is going to do it. The difficulty is that if it isn't done post haste, it will not be of advantage and of value to this seven year old youngster who will not only potentially lose this upcoming year but, who knows, be set back how many years in his overall, longer-term development.



By way of final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, through you, may I say to the Minister of Education that under the regulations of the Education Act, they state, "Every child in the Province of Nova Scotia who has attained the age of six years and has not attained the age of 16 years shall on every day in which school is in session attend school in a school serving the section in which he resides.".



I ask if the minister believes that this particular child to whom I am making reference should be exempted from this regulation because the board can only afford 15 minutes of the specialized therapy required by that child each month? Could the minister respond?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, speech therapy requirements are not new, they haven't happened in the last 20 months. The honourable Leader of the Opposition and former Minister of Education for seven years, stands here and not only were the services not available at the board and backed by the department, but they didn't exist at all. (Interruption) The honourable Leader of the Opposition got up here and told me that in this day and age, there are inadequate services and I have acknowledged that. But they have improved over the last two years significantly and I am saying that because there are more trained people in the field and they are more available.



As we travel from board to board and we can check the regulations, the honourable Leader of the Opposition can do that and he can see that there is no requirement there. I repeat again, there were no changes made, so that when these students entered school that they actually escaped the strong availability of the stronger services that are available. We are committed to fixing that so that that separation, distance, when you enter school, you no longer have available to you the services in the wider community and we are going to do that.



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



TRANSPORT. - HIGHWAY NO. 104: TOLLS - LOCATION



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Transportation and Communications, I will direct my question to the Premier who is, of course, the First Minister and has been involved in the decisions dealing with Highway No. 104 and the by-pass.



MR. SPEAKER: We have a bill on the order paper about the Highway No. 104, right there.



MR. HOLM: Yes, Mr. Speaker. Every day you remind me and every day I assure you that I am going to keep my questions relevant to the minister's statement and to the Andersen Report. My question to the Premier is quite simply this, is it not correct that the Andersen Report, the consultants hired by the Department of Transportation and Communications, said that there was not a net revenue stream that was sufficiently robust if the toll is simply charged on the new section of road to be built and that is why the government has decided to place the tolls on existing roads that taxpayers have already paid for?



HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I would have to tell you in a burst of candour, that I don't know the document that well that I can tell you exactly what that says at that particular time. I will refresh my memory and in the absence of the minister, I will try to present it maybe next week, but I would suspect he will be back. He is only gone to celebrate the opening of the Sarnia Tunnel, which is of great importance to this province because it is CN. (Applause)



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I quoted from a portion of the Andersen Report, so I will table the page out of the Andersen Report to help the Premier refresh his memory. My second question to the Premier is and many motorists don't understand where or how this toll is going to affect them, is it not the case that motorists travelling from Truro to Amherst using the existing Highway No. 104, will have to pay the toll even if they do not place their tires on the new section of road that is to be built?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I took great pleasure in appointing the Minister of Transportation and Communications when I did. I have explained his absence here today for perfectly legitimate reasons and I would be quite happy to refer that to him at the next Question Period, when you will have your chance.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I find it absolutely amazing that the Premier himself, as the First Minister of the Crown, has no knowledge whatsoever, apparently, about what his plans are for Highway No. 104.



MR. SPEAKER: Now that is a gratuitous observation, that is not a question.



MR. HOLM: And a very good observation, if I might judge my own observations. My last question then to the Premier is, had that $26 million not been diverted or in other words, one quarter of the construction costs and one third of the amount of money that was needed to build that - now obviously Mr. Dingwall doesn't have enough clout in Ottawa to get the money for the Fleur-de-lis Trail, so they had to take it from Highway No. 104 - my question to the Premier is quite simply this, is it not the fact, that had that $26 million not been diverted, that there would have been enough revenue generated from the Highway No. 104 portion to be built and you would not then have had to put the tax on the existing road that has already been paid for by the taxpayers in the Province of Nova Scotia?



[12:30 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms clearly states that a hypothetical question is out of order.



MR. HOLM: That is not hypothetical.



MR. SPEAKER: Anything beginning with "if" is hypothetical.



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, let me just reply by saying that my response to that essay is that I will, as I always do, refer it to very competent ministers. The absence of the minister from the House today has been perfectly well-explained. He knows he is away for a very important event for the Port of Halifax, something of which the Acting Leader of the New Democratic Party may not be aware.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



EDUC.: SPECIAL NEEDS - POLICY



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My question is for the Minister of Education and Culture. As the minister will know, in a report to the Dartmouth School Board last month that report stated, "Language is critical for acquisition of most cognitive and academic skills, particularly literacy-reading, writing, and spelling. It is the medium of instruction and evaluation in the classroom. Impaired understanding and use of language in both its oral and written forms seriously affects the student's ability to function in the classroom.".



The Dartmouth District School Board, Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, has only four speech positions left after having been required to reduce one full-time and one part-time position in 1991-92, and the board is looking to have to cut two more in 1995-96. I realize the minister is waiting to send a draft copy of his policy on students with special needs and I ask, will this be in effect in time to address the very serious concerns of which we have evidence here in Halifax County and Dartmouth - two of the largest boards in the province - and which is an issue which the NSTU will be addressing today in a press conference scheduled a little later, will that policy position be in place in time to address this very real and immediate need?



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Let me say to all members of the House through you, Mr. Speaker, that there is no policy in place now for special education, for serving students with special needs across the Province of Nova Scotia. That should embarrass all of us in Nova Scotia, that we have not taken that in hand. We have worked at it for the last two years. We have consulted with all partners so we do it right because it is a very sensitive thing. When the draft policy is done, it will be sent out to make sure it is done correctly and we will do it correctly. To answer the question of the honourable Leader of the Opposition directly, will it be in place in the next two weeks? No.



MR. DONAHOE: By way of supplementary the Dartmouth School Board has already had an increased number of students who need the services of the kind which I am describing and the demand has been on the rise for reasons like the added integrated students who need direct service. The waiting list in that one board, as of February of this year, is 148 young people and Mr. Ray Williams of the NSTU has said some 40 per cent of the cuts are affecting special needs students. My question to the minister is whether or not he feels that this is an acceptable level of children who need help but are waiting to receive it and that, as far as he is concerned, the board will have to muddle along with that situation for the coming school year without any help from him or his ministry?



MR. MACEACHERN: The honourable Leader of the Opposition is basically saying that the minister should step in selectively place by place, make decisions basically where the pressure comes. I want to inform the honourable Leader of the Opposition that in Glace Bay, in Sydney, in Clare-Argyle, in Cumberland County and throughout the Province of Nova Scotia those needs are there and must be addressed and they must be addressed in a province-wide campaign.



Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago, I had a parent who came to me whose children are in Grade 2, the services are not available at the school level although the exist in the community; presently, those communities are not available to them. We have to find ways of getting to them all across the Province of Nova Scotia and not just in the City of Dartmouth. I tell all members of the House that that is a necessity which, as a province, we must address.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding as I put that question to the Minister of Education, the idle and inane rantings from the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency who would probably not know that when the education funding was redesigned previously, there was special provision made for special education needs children. The leadership was there (Interruption) Yes, it was in the classrooms of Nova Scotia and, most importantly, felt in the classrooms of Kings County.



AN HON. MEMBER: Why don't you go to the Royal Bank?



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.



MR. DONAHOE: Yes, you go check it.



MR. SPEAKER: This is getting absolutely terrible.



AN HON. MEMBER: Inane rantings.



MR. SPEAKER: I ask that all inane rantings cease and that the honourable member who has the floor be given the floor.



MR. DONAHOE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. By way of final supplementary I would put my question to the Minister of Education. Since the minister was in such a hurry to include the Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre in the category of a children's training centre closed so that those children could be and would be integrated into the system, I ask the minister just what will happen to those students? Would he describe the plan that is in place now for those students and all others from the CTCs who have been and will be integrated into the school system, what arrangements are being made with the school boards of the province to accommodate those young people and, in some cases, not so young people, who will be integrated into the public school system?



MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all I can inform the honourable Leader of the Opposition and all members of the House that the Department of Community Services and the Department of Education do have a plan to implement them side by side. Any student who enters a particular school board, there is financial assistance and training.



I want to add, Mr. Speaker, and it is important for all members of the House to know, that the whole Education budget for public schools is $722 million, approximately. We are paying $800 million to service the debt that they left us, $800 million. I want to say, if we had 10 per cent of that left, we could basically service all of the students in Nova Scotia and those needs - 10 per cent of the mess that we have to pay each year in the Province of Nova Scotia.



You talk about leadership, all they did was lead us into the hole of debt, to make it more difficult for the teachers and the boards of this province to address the very problems the honourable Leader of the Opposition protests about. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



HALIFAX - G-7 SUMMIT: COST-SHARING - LIST



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, as co-chair of the G-7 Summit. Now we all know how important to Nova Scotia and to the world this G-7 Summit is. At the present time we have firsthand information and firsthand vision, as residents of this area, because there is so much activity going on.



Last week we learned that the Province of Nova Scotia has pledged approximately $4.5 million to do some spruce-up projects around the core of the centre of the City of Halifax. Could the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, as co-chair of the G-7, please indicate whether there is a list of projects that the province is cost-sharing in that could perhaps be tabled in this House?



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, both the federal government, the provincial government and, in fact, the municipalities are doing capital project works. I would be delighted and happy, if you don't already have that information, to make that available to you.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate the forthright answer from the minister. Unfortunately, we do not have that available. I asked for it last week but it was indicated that it was not available, so I really appreciate an indication from the minister that he will table a list of the projects, with the amount of dollars that the province is earmarking for them. (Interruption) Oh yes, today, I am sure that is what he said, he is going to do it today, he will do it right away.



Could the minister indicate, we see many storefront repair projects being developed along Barrington Street, some down towards the waterfront and other areas, (Interruption) could the minister indicate what sort of cost-sharing there is for this $4.5 million of provincial taxpayers' dollars involved in the repairs to the storefronts that we see going on?



MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the City of Halifax is in fact providing some funds, I understand, as he says to spruce up the downtown core. I would be delighted. This is public money and public money spent on behalf of the taxpayers of this province should be fully accounted and, once again, we would be happy to provide a list of any and all expenditures related to G-7 Summit activities by the Province of Nova Scotia. I am sure the City of Halifax and the federal government would be pleased to comply, as well.



MR. ARCHIBALD: I understand we will have that list later this afternoon. My final question to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is, I am wondering on the repairs and the upgrading of some of the buildings that we are seeing going on are fairly extensive and I just wondering what the provincial contribution is to those projects, and are they being cost-shared or is this entirely the responsibility of the taxpayer?



MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it sounds again very similar to the last question. I am not sure if this is final, final supplementary. The fact is that every cent being spent on the G-7 Summit will be accounted for, is already public in some cases. Once again, I appreciate the fact that the member opposite would ask the question while we are here, rather than in absence, so he can get his answers. Whether it will be by this afternoon, tomorrow or the day after, the member opposite will get a full accounting of all expenses related to the G-7 Summit.



I hope that the Opposition in their questioning, is proud of the fact that our city is hosting the world, is proud of the fact that we are doing projects that will provide a lasting legacy to this province, is proud of the fact that Halifax has been selected and that this province will be showcased world-wide. I hope the Opposition is as proud of that as we are over here on these benches, Mr. Speaker, and the people of Nova Scotia. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.









HEALTH MIN.: NURSES' UNION - MEET



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I didn't know that Question Period had gotten into bragging rights. I would like to ask a question though to the Minister of Health. Yesterday, my colleagues and I in caucus met with representatives of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union. They related horror stories about the effects of this government's cut to our health care system. They told us that despite repeated attempts, going back to December 5th of last year, to try to get a meeting with the Minister of Health. I would ask the minister - they have not been successful - will the minister commit today that he will meet with representatives of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union within the next two weeks?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I believe that meeting has been set up. I can check with my secretary, certainly. I had been out of the province when the first meeting was scheduled, however my staff did meet and I gave instructions for that to be reconvened.



MR. MOODY: I thank the minister, and, yes, they did acknowledge that they met with staff but they felt it was very important that they meet with the minister. They will be glad to hear that that meeting has now been rescheduled. I wonder if the minister would provide, not only to the Nurses' Union, but a number of unions that are involved representing health care workers with the merger of the four hospitals, would he give them and us a detailed and comprehensive plan that specifically identifies how the government will address the many complex labour issues that they tell me are happening because of the amalgamation of the four institutions?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question. It gives me the opportunity to indeed reaffirm that the plan and complex issues that are associated with the merger of the four facilities, and it might be said that those issues are not confined entirely to those four facilities, because whatever is done in that merger process will have serious ramifications for the whole of the province in terms of health care workers. So we are being very sensitive and careful and the plan will evolve with the cooperation and certainly with the participation of those labour representatives and the representatives of the four institutions and the Ministry of Health, as well as others.



MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer. I would tell the minister that it is very urgent that it get dealt with because the nurses, yesterday, indicated they are hearing that there could be 200 full-time jobs gone from the system because of the budget cuts but because so many different unions, who has seniority is the big question mark.



[12:45 p.m.]



The minister referred to the joint Labour-Management Council on Transition, I believe, I wonder if he could provide me with some indication of who is on that council and what their mandate is and any progress that they have made to date?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I believe during the estimates a short précis of that information was tabled. I will see that the honourable member opposite gets a copy.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.









COMMUN. SERV. - LUN. FAMILY AND CHILDREN'S SERV.:

COMPENSATION - NEGOTIATIONS



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a question through you to the Minister of Community Services. The minister will know that his lawyer acting on the minister's instructions, declared that negotiations with the victims of the Lunenburg Family and Children's Services Agency would cease as of the end of April. I would like to ask the minister if, in fact, this has happened and that victims who have not submitted their claims prior to that deadline have, in fact, been cut off from any further negotiations?



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the matter to which the honourable member refers is important in that the negotiations, while proceeding in a manner, had become somewhat public on the floor of the House of Assembly and also in the media, with the perception that the Province of Nova Scotia and our department, particularly, were stonewalling, and other such names, in those negotiations.



In an attempt to bring in claims that I would have thought would have been coming for us that had not arrived, I had a meeting with a lawyer from the Department of Justice and our senior staff and the lawyer from the agency, which resulted in a letter being sent to those persons that we would have assumed would have brought forward applications for compensation. The deadline of the end of April was set.



I think there have been some initiatives, not totally complete however, but as minister I would have discretion as to whether that would be a final decision. Certainly, those who have been identified as victims, particularly those having gone to court, I would look at those, if they arrive in a reasonable time, as being open for consideration.



I hope that is a satisfactory answer for the member. I think this an important issue. It is a very sensitive issue. It is one that I don't care to discuss too openly as long as the process is going forward. But there certainly was a perception that we were stonewalling and there was a bit of misinformation in the media to that effect. As I think the member would agree, not all parties that one would have thought had brought information forward and brought applications for compensation.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my problem in this, and the problem that many interested people have who that are watching what is going on here, is that it seems very much like this minister and his staff are engaging in the same kinds of negotiating tactics that were much criticized during the two year-plus-long Marshall Inquiry. You know those tactics that are attempting to obtain the lowest possible settlement . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Please, reflection on tactics is not a question.



MR. CHISHOLM: . . . as a result of these kinds of pressure tactics on the victims.



My question to the minister is very clear, really. Will he, as the minister, agree to stop this victimization strategy and see that negotiations from here on in are guided by common decency and the conscience of society? (Interruption) If members of that back bench don't think this issue is important, maybe they will give the people that are concerned about this the decency of keeping their mouths shut, Mr. Speaker.



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what the question was there but I will try to answer it as well as I can. I simply stated in response to his first question - there was a question in my understanding - that we were, as government, being accused of not acting on applications for compensation that had not been received, it is as simple as that. We cannot act on applications for compensation unless they are received. Now, if lawyers and other parties involved, want to go to the media and give some perception that they have applications before us, that is in fact, not true, well then I am sorry. We will do what we can and treat them in a fair and forthright manner. We can only respond if we receive applications for compensation.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, what is happening in reality is the fact that this minister and his officials are changing the rules of the game . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Here we go again. I want a question.



MR. CHISHOLM: . . . at each and every stage along the process.



MR. SPEAKER: A question.



MR. CHISHOLM: I am asking this minister the question that he avoided that I asked earlier and that was, will he stop this process of victimization, of revictimization of these people and ensure that a process of fair and open negotiation, that with a speedy resolve of these questions be conducted immediately?



MR. SPEAKER: Beauchesne is very clear that a question having once been asked cannot be asked, again.



MR. CHISHOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, if he is not going to answer the question then I get a chance to rephrase it.



MR. SPEAKER: Order please. I don't want to have to name the honourable member.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



WCB: COASTAL WOODLANDS - WORKERS' RATE INCREASE



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Labour. I recently received some correspondence from Coastal Woodlands which is a limited company, that operates along the Eastern Shore. The honourable member for the Eastern Shore also received the correspondence and I believe the Minister of Labour did as well. The company is facing a 2,000 per cent increase in their workers' compensation rate for their consulting division. My question is, the company Manager, Pierre Breton, wrote a letter of appeal to the minister on March 6th and he also telephoned the minister, I understand, on a number of occasions. As of April 20th, he has not heard back from anybody in the Department of Labour relative to his concern. Can the minister confirm today whether this is actually the case, that Coastal Woodlands is facing a 2,000 per cent increase, as they have indicated in their letter?



HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, those levies are laid down by the Workers' Compensation Act. I cannot confirm that, but I will take the honourable member's question as notice. I want to say this, unless while I was out in Winnipeg in the last week, that individual never did contact me by mail or by phone, unless it happened in the last week when I was out of the province.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I can table a copy of the letter and it was carbon copied to the Minister of Labour and carbon copied to the member for Eastern Shore. I am wondering if the minister is aware that many companies in Nova Scotia are facing drastic increases in the compensation rate? Has the minister been approached by a number of companies as I have been led to believe he has been?



MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, we certainly are aware of it in this province and what has been going on for years. It started back in 1985, if you want to look at the books with regard to workers' compensation, where we had deficits year after year, until we have a debt now of an unfunded liability of around $400 million in this small province, with regard to workers' compensation.



That member's caucus has already been invited to a meeting with workers' compensation, so that we can explain out the fee structure that we will be going to, based on experience rating, which the former minister discussed in this House last year, which is coming in January 1st. It is time that those industries that carry out good labour relations and occupational health and safety and a good work place, not pay for the bad ones in this province. They are going to be briefed and all caucuses have been invited by the workers' compensation over the last week. If you don't know where, that may be possible but I am telling you that we are trying to clear this up.



We realize the problem, we have realized it for years and I want to tell you, this government will resolve it, yes, there will be pain for many people but I want to tell you, there is going to be pain for the injured workers and the widows if there is not enough money in the fund to pay the liability. (Applause)



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I noted the minister said he was out in Winnipeg. I am not sure if he were putting in a bid for the Winnipeg Jets or not, but I understand they are going to move. But no company in today's economic environment can absorb a drastic increase in compensation rates such as 2,000 per cent. I am wondering if the minister would undertake today, to sit down with officials from Coastal Woodlands to see if something can be worked out? It certainly is one thing to increase workers' compensation rates but it is quite another thing to raise them and put some of these companies out of business. Will the minister, if he does receive the correspondence, which obviously he hasn't yet obtained, would the minister sit down with Coastal Woodlands and address their concern?



MR. BROWN: I am prepared to meet with anybody. He understood that I was in Winnipeg. That isn't true, I was in B.C. He mentioned there was a copy of the letter that went to the minister's department. If the individual has that much of a problem why didn't he write to me and request a meeting because I would be more than pleased to meet with that individual, his officials or any other company in this province or their officials that are facing a 2,000 per cent increase. There has to be a reason for it and I would love to sit down with them but I need the request for us to do that.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Before I ask my question I would like to introduce in the gallery opposite, members of the New Glasgow High School Grade 12 class, who are accompanied here today by Susan MacDonald, Chris Meadows and Virginia MacLeod. I would ask our guests to rise and receive the greetings of the House. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



COMMUN. SERV. - YOUTH CENTRES: DAWSON REPORT - STATUS



DR. JOHN HAMM: My question today is for the Minister of Community Services. Last fall when the government announced they would investigate the degree of abuse in provincial youth facilities, the minister announced that a Mr. Ross Dawson would carry out an independent audit of the current protocols in place protecting children living in youth facilities under the jurisdiction of the minister's department. My question to the minister, can the minister tell the House if Mr. Dawson has completed the investigation and has filed a report?



HON. JAMES SMITH: I know I have had some information and I think that report is complete.



DR. HAMM: By way of supplementary then to the minister, when will the minister be releasing his report for the viewing of the House?



DR. SMITH: We have received this and it will be incorporated into other policies and protocols that are being developed both through deinstitutionalization and also in the current status of residencies that are under the responsibility of the community, I make no commitment at this juncture but I think it would be in the next while it will be available but it is not immediately available at this time.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



ENVIRON.: BRIDGEWATER SCHOOL - PCB STORAGE



MR. JOHN LEEFE: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. Last week we learned that in the Town of Bridgewater, immediately behind Bridgewater high school, there was a steel shed, which was secured by a lock but not fenced and not signed, in which PCB contaminated materials were stored. I wonder if the minister could advise the House whether this fits in with the policies of the Department of the Environment with respect to the storage of PCB contaminated materials?



HON. WAYNE ADAMS: I understand that the storage of the PCB units which are light ballasts for the most part are complying with regulations and storage procedures.



MR. LEEFE: Neither the principal, Mr. Publicover, the district school board or the Director of Property, Mr. Jerome Tanner were aware of the nature of these stored materials, and I wonder if the minister could advise if it is the policy of the department to ensure that all agencies which are responsible for such storage are fully informed with respect to the contents of those storages.



MR. ADAMS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, from my past experience the answer to that question is, yes. The school boards, the authorities are informed, or have been in the past and I am quite sure they would be the same today, if not, I will find out. As I understand, the school board authorities are the authorities who do know of these locations, what is in them. I would think it is their responsibility to inform the principals.



[1:00 p.m.]



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, what is more alarming, I believe, is the fact that Mr. Robert Corkum, the Fire Chief, also was not made aware of the presence of these PCB contaminated materials stored behind the high school. I would ask the minister if he would please review the policy of the department, to ensure that the lines of communication are kept well open so that in the event of a fire, for example, the fire department will understand very clearly what it is dealing with and not simply be faced with a building with no signs, no warnings on it or anything of that nature?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, as I understand it again, the Fire Chiefs'Association of Nova Scotia is well aware of these sites and installations. I do not see any reason for alarm or to do anything from the ordinary that is acceptable at the present time. As I understand it, everything that is being done is well accepted. I tried to look for those areas of alarm and could find none.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



HEALTH - C.B.: YOUTH CRISIS UNIT - COMMITMENT FULFIL



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Health. In December of last year, the government announced the opening of a six bed in-patient adolescent assessment facility to provide crisis intervention, assessment and treatment for suicidal, aggressive and psychotic youth in the western end of the province. That very same month, after the tragic suicide of two youths in Cape Breton, the Minister of Health promised urgent priority attention and concrete action on a proposal that had actually been before the Department of Health since 1990, for a similar crisis assessment unit for adolescents in Cape Breton. Yet, today, some six months later, there is still not a single dedicated bed for adolescent assessment in all of Cape Breton Island and no meaningful progress towards that happening, according to concerned families and according to mental health professionals in Cape Breton, who are very upset about this. My question to the minister is, when will the commitment be kept to allocate and implement the in-patient crisis assessment unit for youth in Cape Breton, who desperately need it?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question, although narrow in its focus. The honourable member opposite knows full well that the problem of teenage, adolescent, emotional and mental difficulties, the answer does not lie wholly in the provision of in-patient services. She has made that point before and we have taken that very much to heart in our planning in that area. I would suggest that, indeed, progress has been made, with the construction of a group of advisory people on the problems of youth and adolescents in Cape Breton. I would say that there is progress. There will be announcements forthcoming in this regard and I welcome her question in that respect.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, no wonder people in Cape Breton are wondering if the answer for why they don't get any of these basic services is that there are 10 Liberal members in the House from Cape Breton and no minister has to worry about whether there is going to be enough Liberal support so they don't worry about delivering on very specific promises made and very severe gaps in service. The minister has offered a feeble excuse . . .



MR. SPEAKER: These are gratuitous observations; they are not questions. They are out of order. There should be a question.



MS. MCDONOUGH: The question is, instead of offering the excuse that the whole answer does not lie in the dedication of in-patient psychiatric beds, which is a truism, when will the minister announce that the desperately needed in-patient crisis unit for adolescents will actually begin to provide services to the youth in crisis and families in distress in Cape Breton?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I will ignore the gratuitous and reprehensible comments in respect to politicizing this very important issue that she has raised.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame!



DR. STEWART: It is a shame to this House to hear it. What I will say, Mr. Speaker, is that in keeping with the community development model that we have been trying to follow in respect to the changes that we would see coming in Cape Breton in terms of adolescent and mental health services particularly, we have a group in place that has been very useful in planning for these services, from very early prevention in the school, with the Department of Education working with representatives there, the Department of Justice, the Department of Community Services and the Department of Health.



We have not taken the approach, as has been far too commonly taken in the past, that one particular silo in the government, the Department of Health or whatever other department, approaches a problem and focuses in on the problem according to what its particular mandate may be. We have broadened that and there is a community working group, which the honourable member obviously should know about and that group has had a new chair. We are working with these proposals and we will, indeed, have a broadly-based and very effective plan in terms of this particular and very important issue she raises.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I am well aware of the broadly-based working group and planning process that has been very impressive and ongoing for at least five years in Cape Breton. The question is whether this minister is going to have to wait for another tragic suicide to happen before we finally see the dedication of adolescent treatment facilities that have been screamed for, for five straight years and probably longer, by the very planning group and mental health professionals who have put in a very exhaustive, extensive effort to document the need to press for services to be put in place.



DR. STEWART: The honourable member opposite, I will have to assume, is not current with the fact that the group, with representation from Education, Justice, Health and Community Services has been formed over the past eight months and has presented its proposal and we are working very hard, not only on treatment but on detection and prevention. That is the key to this, a multi-faceted, broadly-based approach, to this very important issue and it will be done. I have given attention to this in the last several months that she has alluded to and we will produce the plan which is a very important and broadly-based approach to adolescent mental health services in Cape Breton.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



ERA - BLUENOSE II: REFIT - STATUS



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of the Economic Renewal Agency. Bluenose II has been in Lunenburg having major repairs and a refit done to it. Would the minister tell the members of the House and all Nova Scotians when the Bluenose will be fit and ready to sail our wonderful waters again?



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I understand the work is progressing well. The launch date is set within the next three weeks, I believe, but I can get the exact details for the member opposite as soon as I get back to my office.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister will give us an update at his convenience, and within a reasonable period of time. I understand there is a new director of operations being hired, or going to be hired. I wonder if the minister could tell us who, he or she, is getting that position, who this individual is?



MR. HARRISON: Again, Mr. Speaker, I have indicated that we will be providing the House with information relating to the Bluenose II and hiring procedures are part of that. The sequence of hiring, based on the captain through to various crew members, I would be happy to provide that information to the member opposite.



MR. MCINNES: Well, anyway. Perhaps the minister won't be able to answer this question either. Would the minister please give us an update as to the cost of the repairs of the Bluenose II?



MR. HARRISON: The implication that I am unable to answer the question as if I don't want to answer the question, or there isn't a will to answer the question, I am not particularly happy about, but I have already indicated on many occasions that the kind of information being requested by the Opposition, about the vessel for which Nova Scotians have a great deal of pride and love, will be provided to this House and to the people of the province. I will be happy to provide that information as well.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



ERA: BUSINESS ADVOCACY OFFICE - LOCATION



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: My question, Mr. Speaker, through you of course, is to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. Last fall, the then minister announced assistance for what he said would be a window to help business cut through the red tape and reduce the paper burden of government processes and regulations. At that time, the minister announced the department would be opening an office which he called the business advocate within the Economic Renewal Agency. I am just wondering, could the minister tell us where businesses could find that office located?



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, there was a commitment made then to develop a business advocacy office. That is one of the decisions we are reconsidering; in fact, at this point in time, not because business doesn't need an advocacy but because the department, in terms of some of the reforms underway, will provide every opportunity for a variety of business advocates throughout the province, including any access centres that the honourable gentleman knows full well have been opened actually quite near his home. So the concept of providing services to business, the entire streamlining and regulatory roll-out, the honourable member will see all that happen.



I ask his patience, given the fact that the former Chairman of the Management Board forced Nova Scotians to be quite patient in terms of governance, and there will, in fact, be a relationship with business that is second to none in this province. I encourage the honourable member to stay tuned.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Boy, that was quite an answer, wasn't it, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)



Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: A former Minister of the Environment.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, who has indicated again, Mr. Speaker, another one of these government flip-flops. Six months ago this province could not exist without a place where people could go in and try to talk to somebody, talk to a minister and try to get through the red tape and now, all of a sudden, this minister stands in the House and he is re-looking at this because through the organization and the reorganization that he has done, we don't need it anymore.



Well, this is not exactly what people are telling us. They are telling us that businesses are complaining and they have nowhere to complain to and, in fact, red tape is piling up. How soon will the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency put forth an office where people, with a complaint and a difficulty trying to get through to this government, can receive some assistance?



MR. HARRISON: You know, Mr. Speaker, it is fascinating as we talk about flip-flop, as if a position taken one day, the commitment is to business, the phone number is my phone number, 424-6699, for any business that has a complaint. You tell that to your friends in Kentville. If they have a complaint or a concern, they call my office and we will make sure that the advocacy for business is not just in ERA, . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Who will they get who knows, they want to talk to someone who knows something.



MR. HARRISON: I wondered why the raw nerve on education was touched; I didn't realize the backdrop was students who have been in the system long enough to remember the former Minister of Education.



If I don't know it, Mr. Speaker, that number will get them somebody who does. The fact is that business will enter, I believe, or are already part of the economic renaissance of this province. We will serve them better and better. There will be advocacy, not just in my department but in every department of government. (Applause)



MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, look, I just have to congratulate that member because he indicated a telephone number. He said it so fast that I could not remember it, it was 422-something . . .



MR. SPEAKER: It was 424.



MR. ARCHIBALD: I want to know, what the people want to know, who is going to be answering the telephone when he is not there. I mean it is fine for him to say they can call me, here is my phone number, but from the number of calls I am getting from his constituents on my phone number, he doesn't even answer his constituency phone calls, let alone handle the business phones, so when is the minister going to keep the commitment he made to business and open an office, as was indicated?



MR. HARRISON: It is a great compliment, Mr. Speaker, to get thanks from the former Chairman of the Management Board of Nova Scotia. What a stellar legacy he has left for the people of Nova Scotia. The number is 424-6699. Any constituent who has called my office . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: And who do we get, God?



MR. HARRISON: In fact, he can actually put Call Forwarding on his constituency office to the other number, 542-2099 and he will get an answer as well.



[1:15 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



HFX. - G-7 SUMMIT: PIER 21 SOCIETY - ASSISTANCE



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. In that capacity, I wonder if the minister would be able to tell me and all members of the House whether or not any commitments have been made by the province or by the joint effort of the federal government, the province and the municipal units to make a serious effort to provide service and to advance the cause of the Pier 21 Society, in particular, to use the G-7 Summit as an opportunity to at least start the process whereby Pier 21, which, as I am sure the minister will recall, is the site through which millions and millions of immigrants to Canada first set foot in Canada and have made over the decades such a tremendous contribution to this province and all of Canada?



There has been a society working hard the last couple of years, very anxious to have assistance to establish a world-class centre at Pier 21 as a memorial to the millions of immigrants who have come to this country. Could the minister tell us whether or not any commitment through the G-7 Summit process has been or is going to be made to the Pier 21 initiative?



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am really pleased with this question because one of the most common questions throughout Europe was, why Halifax? We were able, in Green Park, next to Buckingham Palace, to refer to the memorial that is there to two wars and to the maple leaves that are cut in to reflect - on this marble monument that was commemorated last year by the Queen and the Prime Minister - symbolically World War I and World War II. When you walk through the two monuments and after a rain, the water gathers in the edge of the leaves and actually comes out of the stems and there is an appearance of maple leaves weeping. Next to VE-Day, this is a particularly touching monument to Canadian war dead.



When you walk through the two sides of this monument, at the end is a bronze plaque saying, you are standing on the axis to Halifax, Nova Scotia. So, when we were asked, why Halifax, we indicated that places like Pier 21 are extremely precious to us. We have many in Nova Scotia who love two homelands, who are descendants of people from all over the world, joining our First Nations people in this province and we were able to talk about that.



I, to be quite frank, don't know much about the society. I do know about the importance of Pier 21. It seems to me, whether there are specific applications under the G-7 Summit or not, that a Pier 21 Society deserves our attention. It deserves every possibility of turning a project into a legacy that speaks to those people who stepped ashore from Pier 21 on their first experience as new Canadians.



So I welcome the opportunity to do that investigation. The honourable member has my pledge to do everything I can to support that society. There are a number of talks going on about waterfront development now and the future of our port as a strategic provincial resource. All of those concepts, I think, will support the very question that has been asked here today.



MR. SPEAKER: I believe there are 15 seconds left.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I have a reputation of not being able to clear my throat in 15 seconds. But I thank that minister for that response. I happen to believe, having had extensive dealings with the Pier 21 Society over the last couple of years that, taken seriously, it is possible that Pier 21 on our waterfront could conceivably come to be the kind of site to rival Ellis Island. Now that, to some ears, might sound extreme, but I think it has tremendous potential.



I would ask the minister if he would simply make a commitment today, if he will, to make inquiries relative to Pier 21, the potential for assistance from all levels of government and the private sector to move it in that direction and that he would commit that on a future day he would report back to this House with his findings and with his proposals for action?



MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, he not only has my commitment but I thank him very much for including the private sector in the team that would actually, perhaps, accomplish this task.



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



The honourable Minister of Community Services, with an introduction.



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery I would like to introduce to you and to all members of the House, Ms. Jackie Condran, President of the Dartmouth District Council of Home and School. I would ask Jackie to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: Are there any other introductions now before we advance with Government Business?



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Earlier, during Question Period, the Leader of the Third Party quoted from the Andersen report and he did table one page from the report. Would it not be proper and within the Rules of the House that since he did quote from the report that he table the entire report so that all members of this Assembly get the proper context of the report?



MR. SPEAKER: I appreciate the question. It is not necessary to receive submissions on it. Previous Speakers, most notably, Mr. Speaker Arthur Donahoe for whose rulings I have the most eminent respect (Interruption) a very highly esteemed Speaker of this House, ruled that in quoting from a book it was not necessary to table the entire book but only the page quoted from.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I appreciate your ruling on that. Certainly, I would just suggest through you to the government, while it is not appropriate necessarily for me to release the entire report, it would be very appropriate for the government to release the entire report as they have certainly the complete report in their possession. It would clear up any questions that the people might have and it certainly would answer many questions that the public has and give them an opportunity to review the information.



MR. SPEAKER: With respect, I do not find that to be a point of order.



GOVERNMENT BUSINESS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business Government Motions.



GOVERNMENT MOTIONS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into the Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



MR. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I very much welcome the opportunity today to make a few remarks before we go into the Supply debate. I guess I especially welcome it because it will come as no secret to anybody that I feel absolutely, totally frustrated and, frankly, bewildered at the complete inability to get any straight answers from the Minister of Health on the question of what is to be done to address the urgent situation with respect to child and adolescent mental health services in Cape Breton.



I also recognize that the frustration that I feel is absolutely nothing compared to the frustration and concern felt by the many families in Cape Breton who need to see concrete action, need to see solid progress, need to see the severe gaps in services that remain to this day, finally addressed in a concrete way. I know that the frustration I feel is absolutely nothing compared to what is felt by the many professionals and volunteers in the broad human services field but, especially, the mental health field who have been pleading their case for at least five years that I know about, that is documented and that we have brought forward in the House documented evidence to substantiate for why there is a need, not as the whole answer, not as the total solution, of course, no idiot could argue that that could be the case, but that as part of the solution that there is a need for the dedication of some beds. I don't know what the magic number is, in Yarmouth the dedication was six beds, in Cape Breton it is my understanding that the repeated recommendation again and again by every committee that has addressed the subject, at least since 1990, is for five beds. In any case, as part of the solution for the comprehensive child and adolescent mental health services, there is the need for an in-hospital unit.



One of the problems with Question Period is that it is constrained by some pretty tight rules. Those rules exist for a good reason and I accept that that is the case. I also accept that I have more difficulties than most squeezing into that limited framework the kind of question that I think needs to be raised about the whole range of child and adolescent services in this province in general. In this particular instance, the minister knows well that there is great urgency about this matter, because the reality is, that last fall a very tragic incident happened where not one but two youths took their own lives in desperation and it was recognized that there was an absence of the kind of psychiatric support system that needs to exist for children and youth in any community in any part of this province in this day and age. A plea went out and that plea continues to fall on deaf ears, in terms of any concrete results.



The minister talks about, well, we now have a comprehensive planning effort under way, and he applauds that effort and he talks about how important it is not to do it the way the old government did it because it did not produce any results. Mr. Speaker, it is not because the comprehensive planning did not go on that it produced no results. There had been a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, broad-based planning effort going on for a very considerable time. The problem is that this government is treating this matter the same way as the previous government did and that is, not to act urgently to provide what is needed.



As part of the solution - of course not as the total solution, because we all know what is needed is preventive services. We all know that what is needed is a whole strategy for prevention as well as community-based support services, but the minister has not even begun to address the obvious question that Cape Bretoners are asking themselves, why is it that in December 1994, the citizens of this province living on the southwestern end of the province were given a six unit adolescent assessment facility, with considerable self-congratulations and a lot of praise from the mental health community acknowledging what an important development it was to set up such a crisis centre for severe cases?



Let us be clear here. We are talking about psychotic children and youth, we are talking about suicidal adolescents, we are talking about severely behaviourally disturbed and highly aggressive youth who cannot be helped in their state of crisis other than in the kind of unit that this government has put in place in the southwestern end of the province, and put it in place pointing out that this would be a crisis centre that would include a staff of a full-time psychologist, a full-time social worker, three full-time and two part-time youth care attendants and three full-time and three part-time registered nurses. A considerable dedication, not just of six beds, but very significant human resources to deal with this tragedy that must be dealt with. This minister has not even begun to explain, how was that the right thing for this government to do in December 1994 on one end of the province but it still is not the right thing to do on the other end of the province, for the people of Cape Breton, especially for distressed families whose youth are in severe crisis?



When the minister talks about the important multidisciplinary planning process that is going on and says, we are using the good community development model, I have to tell you that I shudder, because my worst fear about this government embracing the so-called community development model, is that it will do what it is doing in this instance and that is, use it as an excuse for perpetual delay and inaction. I think it is reasonable that people in Cape Breton are beginning to say, are we being penalized because there has been a child and adolescent health planning group working on this for a very long time? Are we actually being told, you are not going to get the psychiatric unit that is needed because the planning process is going to be used as the excuse for not doing what is required? The minister knows and he demeans the whole debate when he says, this isn't the total solution. Of course it is not the total solution, nobody is saying it is the total solution.



[1:30 p.m.]



Could I ask the minister to address the question of whether he accepts that it is at least part of the solution? If he doesn't accept that it is part of the solution, it is very important for all those mental health professionals and volunteers in the community, working to support mental health issues and all of those who may be in need of such services to know the truth, if the truth is that the minister does not accept that this is part of the solution.



If it is part of the solution, Mr. Speaker, what is this minister waiting for? For some time the excuse was, well we have the new regional hospital getting up and running and we are not sure we are going to do it. Then, when it became so clear that there was a desperate, urgent need and very broad consensus that this priority needed to be acted upon urgently, it was said yes, it will be done in the new hospital.



Now we have the new hospital, has it been done, Mr. Speaker? Not unless it is the best kept secret in the land and the minister himself is the only one who knows about it. At the very least, I would think that this Minister of Health would feel some accountability to his own constituents who are part of that Cape Breton population, who know that this is a need, who know that other people in other parts of the province have been able to get the government to address this need in their respective parts of the province and who want to understand.



Is it a case that it is a political issue, that it only gets acted upon as a priority if there is some sense that there is going to be a political penalty for not acting? Is the minister so smug and self-satisfied that we have 10 Liberal MLAs representing Cape Breton that we don't need to respond to the sense or urgency that is felt around this issue? I have applauded the minister on many occasions for his expression of concern around the need for comprehensive adolescent and children's mental health services in Cape Breton. I have applauded the minister genuinely for his receptiveness and his responsiveness and his indication that he views favourably the proposal for four different adolescent, community-based, primary care centres for adolescents in all of Cape Breton.



For the minister to keep standing up and saying, don't push for the psychiatric unit, don't push for the dedication of beds for children and youth in crisis because it is not the whole answer, is to completely evade the issue, to completely skirt the question of when will this be done and why is it not being done?



The minister stood in this House and expressed his genuine concern, I believed that then and I believe it now. The minister stood in this House and said that the adolescent mental health services budget for the forthcoming year will be doubled. Will the minister not address the question of whether that budget has, in fact, been doubled and what the services are that will be provided by the doubling of that budget? If it hasn't been doubled, why has that commitment not been kept?



I plead with the minister to use the opportunity that is here today to address this question, not by trying to talk vaguely about ongoing discussions but to address the question of when the psychiatric assessment facilities will be there, whether it is to be five beds or six beds or three beds. The minister knows there was outrage expressed across the community that the only way that adolescents could be accommodated in the psychiatric facilities in all of Cape Breton was to put them into adult treatment beds in adult treatment units. It is not acceptable. It wasn't acceptable then. It is not acceptable to the people of Yarmouth. It wouldn't be acceptable to people in any other community and there is no basis for saying that the need is any different in Cape Breton than it is elsewhere in the province. No, of course, there aren't going to be adolescent assessment facilities in every single community in this province, but unless this minister has decided that Cape Breton no longer exists as a health region, then he surely has to address the question of what is going to be done in regard to this urgent matter.



Now I know that there are some government members who say, well, what difference does it make, she represents a seat here in metro. Nobody knows anything on that side of the House about what the real needs are in Cape Breton, it is only Liberal sitting members who know. Well, if it is Liberal sitting members who know, and most notably the Minister of Health, let him stand on his feet and give an accounting of where we are with the development of these essential services.



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to be able to rise and take the opportunity to further amplify, so to speak, some of the concerns that people have in the forest industry. Yesterday, Opposition Day, we debated Resolution No. 19, and the debate focused on the Nova Scotia forestry, including pulp mills, sawmills, harvesting practices, wildlife, environment and, of course, employees. During my contribution to the debate, the member for Hants East and I engaged in a very friendly Question Period, so to speak. As a result of the Question Period, we seemed to chew up quite a bit of time so I would like to further convey some of the concerns that I have relative to the forestry industry.



I believe some of the concerns that I have, Mr. Speaker, in fact I know, are concerns that many Nova Scotians have. In fact, school children are concerned about the forestry and just where it is going. For example, up in Wentworth, Wentworth Elementary School, very recently a class in that school noticed a logging operation taking place outside their window. The children were very concerned because the practice that was employed at that particular site, at that particular harvesting operation, appeared to be clear-cutting. I would never speak against clear-cutting without some sound factual information to speak against it, but the children through their teacher contacted a member of Natural Resources and the member agreed to talk to the class. I think that is important, that communication is involved and children do hear what is taking place with their forestry today.



The children also contacted the contractor, the harvester, who has also agreed to come in and talk to the class. The contractor is very busy - as we all can appreciate he would be - but, nonetheless, he agreed to go in and speak to the class at a later date, so I think that is important. Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, we were talking about forestry employees. Forestry employees are proud, hardworking individuals and they deserve to know what the Minister of Natural Resources and this Liberal Government has in store for them.



To date, Mr. Speaker - and it is not a nice thing to say - but I feel that the Minister of Natural Resources has turned his back on the forestry of this province. The individuals deserve more. There has been an explosive demand for wood to date in 1995. Nobody can argue that there has not been, but we simply have to ensure that the red spruce does not go the way of the northern cod. Now some people think that is a little bit humorous, but it is not. The forestry has got to sustain. There have to be programs in place; I cannot stress that enough. We have to have something to ensure that we do have a forestry for many years. Our children and our children's children are looking to us, are looking to this government to provide some leadership, some programs.



Now there are a very large number of concerned individuals in the Nova Scotia forest industry and they are concerned, as I have stated, as to where the industry will be, not only today, but where it will be five years from now. Nova Scotians deserve and they want to know what is going to happen. They expect some answers from the Minister of Natural Resources, they expect some leadership from the Minister of Natural Resources. Approximately 22,000 direct and indirect jobs here in Nova Scotia, are attributable to the forest industry and 22,000 jobs are no small potatoes, Mr. Speaker.



The Federal-Provincial Forestry Agreement expired at the end of March. Woodlot owners want to know just when, or if they will have to start laying off people. The reason they will, or at least they may lay off people, is because the forestry deal did expire.



Now, different members in the House, I guess on an informal basis I have spoken to different members, they feel that the forestry agreement was nothing more than a subsidy or a grant. That is a bunch of rubbish, Mr. Speaker, because for every dollar invested in the forestry, government has received $1.36 in taxes in the first year, so it is a wise investment. It is not as if you were putting good money out after bad, it is a wise investment. If they are sustainable practices that the government is investing in, it is money that will ensure we have a future.



Now, there is considerable concern over the actual amount of wood that is, in fact, being harvested. We have been told that Nova Scotia exports are up almost 5 per cent because the industry is being over-harvested. Mr. Speaker, people in the forestry circle, people with much more experience than I and probably a lot more experience than most people in this House, suggest that something must be done and done now.



Now, the minister disputes the figure that I have just indicated, the 5 per cent. But this could conceivably be a prime indicator as to just how little the minister really knows about what is taking place around him. In earlier debate, he has suggested that if I have any ideas that I bring them forward and introduce legislation - that I, in Opposition, bring forth legislation to ensure that our forestry sustains.



Well, the minister should keep in mind that he is the Minister of Natural Resources, not me. Nova Scotians have entrusted him with that responsibility. However, Mr. Speaker, since the minister is looking for ideas, I am going to offer a few ideas to the Minister of Natural Resources.



Now, one can go back, Mr. Speaker, and I know you are a bit of an historian, one can go back to 1906, when the then Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier, was demanding an end to the destruction of our forests. Mr. Laurier suggested that something had to be done, he wanted a replanting policy put in place - back in 1906 - Sir Wilfred Laurier.



Now, today, Mr. Speaker, in the United States, for example, nearly all 50 states have tabled legislation requiring a minimum proportion of recycled fibres go into newsprint. That is just an idea, just a suggestion for the honourable Minister of Natural Resources.



Now already, at least 15 American states have passed regulations requiring a minimum recycled fibre content be in newspapers and magazines in the United States. A further 16 states have set goals for recycled fibre content, varying from some 16 per cent to 20 per cent by the year 2000. Mr. Speaker, they have done this with guidelines, not regulations. Thirty-seven states account for nearly 80 per cent of total American consumption of newsprint.



Now, I would be extremely interested in knowing what the minister's ideas are towards legislation concerning recycled fibre. I think it merits some consideration, Mr. Speaker. Just last week, a newspaper story in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, written by Brian Rau of Truro, pointed out the amount of wood being harvested in Nova Scotia should be more closely monitored. For the forestry again, he suggested, and different people are suggesting this, the forestry could go the way of the fishery. It is something we all should be concerned with. I cannot emphasize it enough. We have a responsibility to our children and our children's children, to ensure that that industry and that resource sustain.



Mr. Rau's article said, "Woodlot owners, silviculture contractors, forest technicians and provincial foresters all agree new ways are needed to regulate and calculate how much wood is being cut and exported.". There is no mechanism in place to closely monitor how many cords, how many thousands of logs are being cut. Surely to goodness nobody could speak against or criticize the minister if he set up some mechanism to monitor the amount of wood that is being cut and the amount of wood that is being shipped.



[1:45 p.m.]



Now the minister's own department's director of silviculture, and he is also the director of reforestation, recently said, "There's no question there has been a lot of cutting lately, but it is difficult to compile figures because not all cuts are reported.". There is concern over the amount of clear-cutting in the province. I indicated that the children at Wentworth Elementary School are even concerned about the clear-cutting which is taking place right outside their window. There is a harvest operation taking place right there. The department and the contractor have agreed to come in and talk to the school. The President of the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners & Operators Association is suggesting alternative and more labour intensive methods of harvesting, such as selective cutting. Many of the 18 different group ventures across this province practise selective cutting. They practise good, sound forest practices, regardless of what critics say. The group ventures are very good stewards to this industry.



The President of Nova Scotia Forest Technicians Association also stressed that the true amount of wood being cut and shipped out of the province is unknown. Has the minister considered legislation concerning wasteful cutting practices? Mr. Speaker, the Province of New Brunswick - I need not tell you, has a Liberal Government, they have had for several years - did consider legislation and they introduced legislation prohibiting wasteful cutting practices. Surely the Minister of Natural Resources for this province should look, perhaps, to New Brunswick. There is no shame in looking to another province for a little bit of guidance, nothing wrong with it at all. In Alberta, for example, a mill or a plant operator shall maintain, in the form and manner prescribed by the minister, accurate and complete records of all the timber he processes. Upon request, he has to produce his books, in the Province of Alberta. That is a Progressive Conservative Government, in the Province of Alberta. (Interruption) I thought I should mention that because I was fair to New Brunswick; I thought it would only be fair to be of the same mind to Alberta. I think the Minister of Health indicated it is the most popular government in Canada.



AN HON. MEMBER: This is the least popular.



MR. TAYLOR: And this is the least. Is that what you said? Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that harvesters do have records. I do not think we are asking too much to have an inspector go in and check the records. Perhaps Nova Scotia's minister can point out similar regulations that do exist. Perhaps he can point out to us, at a future date, that regulations actually do exist here in Nova Scotia to monitor accurately. It is very important.



Nova Scotia's Crown Land Act, Section 32(1), stipulates that, "The Minister, with the approval of the Governor in Council, may enter into a forest - utilization licence agreement for the purpose of ensuring the best possible utilization of the forests of the Province . . .". So, I think there is, perhaps, an Act in place now, Mr. Speaker, that could be enlarged upon, could be, perhaps, amended a little bit, but I think we do have something in place through legislation that needs to be updated. The minister has to take - and I, like the Leader of our Party, hate to use this word, but I really believe the Minister of Natural Resources must take -a proactive role to ensure Nova Scotia's forest industry does not go the way of the northern cod. When the minister comes forward with some positive legislation that is fair, we, in the Official Opposition, will support that minister. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise and respond in part to some of the comments that have been made, particularly in this House this afternoon by the honourable member for Halifax Fairview. In her usual way, she has attempted to cast aspersion on the efforts of the local community in Cape Breton to plan for child and adolescent mental health services and worse than that, to politicize an issue that is certainly not appropriate in that regard.



The member for Halifax Fairview has, as is her wont, distilled the most complex questions down into a most simplistic and even base approach to the problems that are so serious in Cape Breton and around this province in terms of child and adolescent mental health services and their emotional well-being.



She has, for example, suggested that this is politics pure and simple, that, in fact, this is politics because there is no pressure from the 10 Liberal members as she puts it and she can't have it both ways. I would far prefer her, I suppose, to suggest that I would be more likely to approach this in a generous and a spirit of largesse because I happen to be from that riding. I can't understand her logic in that way. But that aside, that is so base and reprehensible I won't get into that nor approach that in any way.



I wanted to talk more specifically about some of the comments, particularly in relationship to the planning that has gone on there and that is now pretty well successful in its goal which was to produce a planned approach to the issues of child and adolescent mental health. Therein lies the problem.



We can focus on any aspect of health services, we can focus on in-patient beds which the Opposition, particularly her Majesty's Loyal Opposition Leader and the former Health Minister, focus in on frequently, the number of beds, the percentage, the ratios and so on, or we could focus in on, as the honourable member has chosen to do, an important element of the overall approach to the problem that is in-patient beds for adolescents in the regional hospital in Cape Breton. I fully intend to do that and that working group has made comment and supported aspects of the proposal that has indeed been lying in the department since 1990 or 1992 at least, with respect to these very vital services.



We have a broader responsibility than to concentrate on that issue, the issue of in-patient management, of psychosis in children because for the first time we have taken four departments, Justice, Health, Community Services and Education and we have said, this is the broad approach that you must take to child and adolescent problems in any part of the province but particularly in that region that has been so struck with the tragedies that occurred some eight months ago.



With the initiatives that were currently on the ground in Cape Breton, we have formed a partnership with that group and they have been very helpful in delineating the direction in which we should go. I would give undertaking to this honourable Assembly and also to the honourable members on the opposite benches that the fruits of those discussions will be forthcoming and soon. The fact is that we have had a new budget year to deal with and now that that budget has been done and now that we are working in transition teams with some of the hospitals in that area, we will be able to put into practice what the honourable members have brought to our attention and more than that, the people who live in the area and know the problems there, have made us aware of.



We have a major thrust that we must make in this province, whether it be in Yarmouth or Cape Breton, or in the northern or central region, to provide for services that cover the broad range of detection of problems, identification of problems early on in life particularly with child intervention, whether it be through the school system or through the very reasonable outreach youth clinics or youth centres as they will be called in that particular area and in the province. We need then to make sure that treatment services will be provided.



There is a question and it has been raised by all of us in this place, I am sure at one time or another a question of accessibility to services in the health care system of the province. Accessibility particularly in the management of mental health services and we have that problem, there is no question. Appointments, consultations and opinions of specialists here in the central region are much more readily available than in Yarmouth or in Cape Breton and we must, first of all, recognize this and then go on to take corrective measures but the corrective measures will not be knee-jerk in their reaction to focusing in on one element of a program.



We have in place now a working group that has advised us very wisely, they continue to function and we will, in the next few months have in place the services and the program as it unfolds over the next year, in the new budget year. That has been, as the honourable members, I am sure, opposite have noticed, that has been provided for in the budget and we want to get on now and do the job.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if you could advise me as to how much time is left.



MR. SPEAKER: Actually, it is quite close to 15 minutes, I will have to work out a detailed calculation but you certainly have 10.



MR. CARRUTHERS: Oh, thank you, that is all I will need. I would like to rise to speak on the issue that my friend from Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has raised, that being the question of sustainable forestry. I think it is a very interesting issue. It is an issue that is important, it is one that concerns myself and the residents of my constituency and I know that the member rose yesterday to speak on the subject, perhaps he has had a night to think about it and would like to try again. He is making excellent points today.



MR. SPEAKER: Excuse me, you have exactly 10 minutes.



MR. CARRUTHERS: Thank you. I thought his points today were very well put and I support the member in many of his points. I wish to point out a couple of issues that should be emphasized. The member discusses the importance of replenishing the wood fibre that we are taking out of the forests so that our children and our grandchildren will always have forestry product to deal with in this province and that the industry does not follow out of the fishery. I think he should point out, instead of criticizing the minister and criticizing the department, that it is inherent in all our programs of silviculture, all our agreements of silviculture, it is inherent in the program, it is probably the most singularly important causation of having the silviculture agreement, that there is replanting, there is reforestation done through these contracts, that is the whole purpose of them. I can tell you that in my district, I have many woodlot owners that take advantage of these silviculture agreements.



It was most unfortunate when the federal government removed their contribution to the subsidy program, that was most unfortunate. But we still have programs in the department. The Department of Natural Resources still have their employees out there in the forest making up their mapping, helping the woodlot owners with their planning, they are still there. The employees are still there, I spoke with one not more than two or three days ago. They are assisting in advising, encouraging and showing how woodlot owners may manage their lots, that hasn't been removed because the federal government has removed their subsidization to the program, that is still there. It is very important and I must compliment this minister because you know, it is tough to stand alone.



Normally, you are in a partnership between the federal and the provincial level and to be frank we got left without the other partner and that is pretty tough. I appreciate the member encouraging the minister.



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the honourable member for Hants East would entertain a very brief question? I wonder if the honourable member is aware - he mentioned that the Canada-Nova Scotia Forestry Agreement has expired - that many of the 18 group ventures who participate in the sound forest management practices are facing laying off many of their employees and, in fact, silviculture is hardly being practised at all in the forests across Nova Scotia?



[2:00 p.m.]



MR. CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, I see the honourable member's question effectively in two parts. One, am I aware that the federal government's contribution to the joint venture has been cancelled? Yes, I am. He points out that the 18 group programs are facing serious difficulties as a result of that. Yes. That is what I tried to point out earlier in my comments, that this minister and this government must be complimented for trying to proceed with maintaining proper silviculture education when they are left without the major partner, the Big Brother, the one with the big bucks, that's the feds.



AN HON. MEMBER: Isn't that a Liberal Government?



MR. CARRUTHERS: I support the member when he encourages the federal members to seek a new program of assistance. I encourage him. I do the same thing myself; I speak with the federal members of this province on a regular basis on these matters. But I can't agree with the comments that my friend has made implying that there is no silviculture going on in this province, that there is no reforestation going on in this province. I must tell you, Mr. Speaker, that that is not accurate. I know woodlot owners in my communities and they have a conscious obligation in their minds to ensure that their woodlots are properly managed. It is good business for one thing. Anyone who runs a business, whether it is in the primary industry is or whether it is in the service industries, you just cannot run your business so that your stock is gone within a foreseeable period of time; you will have no business left.



These members of the community are very conscientious. I think it was the provincial award that went to a member of my community from Hants East Mr. Tanner, and you should see his woodlot. The minister was saying that some of the people that he knows can name every tree in their woodlot. Well I can tell you, Mr. Tanner can. He knows them extremely well. I believe the people that are involved in the forestry industry are conscientious people. I encourage this minister and I compliment him and his department to continue education programs. Staff of the Natural Resources Department are assisting and continue to assist, even though we were hit with this bad blow of losing money from the federal government, we continue - and it is hard to do it by yourself - but this government has a conscious, serious dedication to ensuring that the forest industry does not go the way of the fishery.



I am glad that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has raised this. I am glad he is onside with us. I am glad he is supportive of the minister and I think he should say it more often. Certainly we have cards available that we still can send out at any time, and I encourage the member to look at that. He mentioned yesterday in his first attempt at getting the points across here, that the boundary between his riding and mine is a river . . .



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: I just have one more brief question, Mr. Speaker. Will the member entertain the question? I wonder if the member could tell me if I would be eligible to vote in June or not? (Laughter)



MR. CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, he says he would be eligible to vote in June. Is he suggesting that his Party is going to hold their leadership convention in June and he wants to vote? I understand they are having difficulty finding anybody to run for the position. No wonder they are not going to have it in June.



I have to tell you, as I understand the rules - at least as proposed, they aren't fixed, and of course that will come at a later date - but I understand that since this member of the House of Assembly held a Liberal card in the last three years, yes, Mr. Speaker, I think he can come and vote. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: Now I take it that the honourable member has finished his speech? Is there any other member who wishes to address the House for 90 seconds? No one wants to have a short snapper? All right.



The motion is carried.



[2:06 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]



[6:07 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Paul MacEwan, resumed the Chair.]



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Supply reports:



THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress and begs leave to sit again.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



Now, by consent and by the motion of the committee, we are now going to hold the Adjournment debate for half an hour and then we will go into the order of business, Government Business. The time now being I will say 6:08 p.m, the Adjournment debate will run until 6:38 p.m.



The winner of the draw today was the honourable member for Pictou Centre, who wanted to talk about a tollbooth, I believe. The debate tonight is on:



Therefore be it resolved that the people of Cumberland County do not deserve to be separated from the rest of Nova Scotia by the Savage toll.



ADJOURNMENT MOTION



MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



TRANSPORT. - CUMB. CO.: HIGHWAY NO. 104 - TOLL UNDESERVED



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have the opportunity to speak on the very exciting resolution to me. So if you will, I will read the operative clause:



Therefore be it resolved that the people of Cumberland County do not deserve to be separated from the rest of Nova Scotia by the Savage toll.



Well, I believe the member for Pictou County gave me the opportunity to speak tonight because last night I answered in a positive way the opportunity to meet with the Municipality of the County of Cumberland, together with the mayors, the wardens and many councillors from that district and several people from the neighbouring area.



I think it was an excellent meeting, I was disappointed that the members of the Government Party were not there for one reason or another; one member was out of town and the other member didn't want to go and the members from Cumberland, you know there just wasn't anybody from the government. They would have been welcomed, had they been there, because it was not a meeting where you were bashing the government in a particular way. It was not the sort of a meeting that any politician would have felt uncomfortable being there, regardless of the Party he was representing.



However, at the end of the meeting they did bring forth a position on Highway No. 104, and I will read that to you, Mr. Speaker, with your permission:



"We, the Municipal Governments of the County of Cumberland are very upset with the proposed 'toll' highway between Thompson Station and Masstown. We also are extremely disappointed with our MLA's response to our concerns.



1) We want the return of the $26 million earmarked for Route #104. This funding was to upgrade the Trans Canada, not a tourism highway. We will work with our local M.P. Dianne Brushett and other government representatives in this regard.



2) Cumberland residents should not be singled out to pay for new highway construction through tolls.



3) As an alternative to the Western alignment, we urge the government to take a second look at the original proposal, that is, twinning the existing highway through the Wentworth Valley. We believe this route will be financially feasible without charging tolls and would satisfactorily alleviate the dangerous situation we now have.



4) We will be seeking the support of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities through our regional meeting in Parrsboro, on May 17th.".



Now, if there are any members of this Assembly, Mr. Speaker, that would like a copy of the resolution that was agreed to, I will give them to a Page and the Page will see that they are distributed to all those who wish to have them.



I think, Mr. Speaker, that the position that was adopted unanimously by the Cumberland Municipal Council, those duly elected representatives of the people, can not and should not be dismissed as merely something that this government does not want to bother with. Right from the start, this $26 million diversion by this government, with full support of the Premier and his Minister of Transportation, the record must be set straight that for the first time, a Minister of Transportation took it upon himself to divert money from a 100-Series Highway. That was never done in the past. The only time money was diverted was when a section of road in the same category was not ready for work and it was transferred from one to the other.



Now, Mr. Speaker, the SHIP agreement, which is the funding agreement that allocated $100 million from the federal government and $100 million from the provincial government for 100-Series Highway construction, should have stuck with 100-Series Highways. No person at that meeting last evening, or no person in this Legislature has ever indicated that they did not support the construction of the Fleur-de-lis Trail.



In 1995, the capital account for the Department of Transportation construction is $112 million. The fuel taxes this year will bring in $197 million. Motor vehicle registrations will bring in an additional $58 million. This comes to the grand total of $255 million that the motoring public are contributing towards highway construction. This year the Department of Transportation is spending a total of $220,853 on both capital and current expenditures. This neither includes fines, nor the federal contribution that they will be making to the construction of roads in Nova Scotia.



The SHIP agreement was for 100-Series Highway construction. The Auditor General was doing his job when he said the minister changed the agreement on May 11, 1994, under Section 22.33 of the Auditor General's Report, on Page 185. He clearly states that projects under the SHIP agreement were identified as part of the national highway system. This government has made a mistake and they should return the money.



Now, we have seen examples of this government making a mistake and realizing that they made a mistake and did the right thing. Now, why can the government not realize that they could make a mistake and own up to it? Now, we have seen an example of the Honourable Mr. Dingwall, the federal ACOA czar, decided to return the money that he shifted from the Cornwallis peacekeeping base. That was a $30 million project and he cut it to $20 million. Then he put the money back. So he realized then, under pressure from his colleagues in Ottawa, that they should not be doing that shifting around. But where is the pressure from the members of this Legislature? Where is the pressure from Colchester and Cumberland and all the Nova Scotia MLAs putting pressure on our MLA, the Minister of Transportation, to go to Ottawa and say, put the money back, Dave? We have made an error. Where is the pressure? Because you can see from the example that the federal government, when a mistake is made, point it out and we will make a correction.



Cumberland County should not be singled out. Cumberland County has been singled out because the tourist bureau does not have a decent entrance, the School for the Deaf was closed, 75 jobs were promised and none are materializing and yesterday we were told that the government was a bit naive in suggesting that would happen. Now they have the tolls. What is this government trying to say? What does this Liberal Government have against the good people of Cumberland County? What do they have against them?



[6:15 p.m.]



The people at the meeting last night said that if the government wanted to fix up a trail, what about the Glooscap Trail right in Cumberland County? If the government is interested in promoting tourism, we need some money spent here in our neighbourhood. People in Cumberland County are feeling neglected and rejected and their out-put and opportunity is now looking better if they drive to Moncton rather than Truro when they need to make the big purchases that you would need to buy.



This toll road is totally unfair. The western alignment, they are so determined that this government has made a mistake they even suggested twinning the existing road even though they know how dangerous that is. The Union of Municipalities is going to be asked to intervene on their behalf, but I think that is wishful thinking because the Minister of Municipal Affairs does not even listen to the union when they tell her amalgamation is not correct.



Let us hear from the truckers association. They are hardworking, the backbone of Nova Scotia's economy. The Cumberland County Truckers Association put forth a brief last night that was both clear and concise. They are indicating that the province is collecting about $5,852 annually from each trucker to pay for the roads through gas tax and registration and the Province of Nova Scotia has collected $59 million from the truckers association in gas tax in the last four years.



Where is the justification for a toll road? Believe me, the truckers know when they tell you they are going to bear the brunt of the tolls. The toll for a truck at $12 or $15 or $20 per trip. That is exorbitant and it is going to mean that a businessman in Truro, a businessman in Oxford is not going to be able to sell his goods and produce to the people of Amherst because they are going to buy them from Moncton because that $20 or $25 return trip is going to be just added on to the price. It is going to hurt businesses in that area.



I cannot speak strongly enough, I wish I had more time because this is one of the most despicable decisions that a government could make to the people of Cumberland County. They do not deserve it and I look forward to a government response.



MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Now before I call on another member I would like to make an introduction of two constituents of mine that are here in the gallery, Mr. Eddie Parris and Mr. Gary Borden. (Applause) I can speak at length about both of them, but it would cut into the time for the debate.



The honourable Minister of Labour.



HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to take part in this debate for a number of reasons and there are some points I would like to clarify after listening to the honourable member, who was a former Minister of Transportation for this province.



I am always amazed how people who were former ministers running departments, that less than two years later they have all these plans and everything to move forward. I am pleased because this is a very emotional debate for now and it will be on the short term, on the long term; I believe that more people will understand what is really going on here.



I am also pleased to point out and to make it very clear that Cumberland County is not being divided, that Cumberland County is a part of Nova Scotia and, surely, are we at the time in this province that I stand up here some day and talk about all the municipal assistance, all the water and sewer, talk about all the other expenditures that go into Cumberland County, talk about our highway budget in Cumberland County over the last two years, is the Opposition clearly stating here with their debate, hey, you have spent enough during the last couple of years and let's not spend any more in Cumberland County because we spent far more there than was spent in other areas of the province over the past two years to three years. Is that what they are really saying?



I am sorry that I was not at the meeting last night. I can assure you that if I had been around, I would have been at the meeting last night and they know that. I wrote them a letter. I had booked a flight two or three months ago. My son was being married in British Columbia and maybe some people thought, and maybe some people at the local level thought that I should cancel that, that I should do away with my ticket.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. There was not a mention of the honourable member's absence. All people in the, look, I want you to understand, it was a very friendly, congenial meeting and no councillor or no person in the audience criticized that member for not being there due to the attendance of his son's wedding. I want to make it clear, and I did not criticize that member or the other member that did not go. I want it clear that nobody was criticizing that man because he went to his son's wedding and missed that meeting. There was no mention of that. Nobody suggested it and for him to suggest that that was out there, is not right. It is not fair, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: All right. We understand your point. Thank you.



MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I never said the honourable member said it. With regard to that, the honourable member when he was speaking before he closed off his debate, he felt bad because the other members were not there. I am telling you why I was not there and I have already contacted them. I have already told them if they want to set up a meeting that I would be prepared to attend a meeting with them.



What is happening here is that we are seeing a split, you know. We hear the honourable member get up there and talk about the gasoline budget, well yes, we can talk about that when the former government, and I will table this, Mr. Speaker, item, the forecast, Page 31.17, the forecast where it showed the chargeable to Transportation, $33,750,000 in 1991-92 and was deleted. It was then transferred to the general account of the province where that money went into where it is going today.



There has been no change into Education, into health care, and into all those things that diesel fuel tax is going, into general revenue of the province. The honourable member states that that separate fund is there. I want to tell you under the agreement that was signed by the former Minister of Transportation, it is very clear there was $55 million with regard to that section from Thomson Station to Masstown or to the corner there, $55 million.



Mr. Speaker, if we had taken that money over the next five years, we would have been down that road at a dead end about 20 kilometres with a balance of 20 or 25 kilometres left and then we would negotiate another agreement or borrow to finish the highway, and that would be maybe 1998, the year 2000 or 2001 depending on the Province of Nova Scotia and the financial obligation that this province would have. (Interruption) The honourable member disagrees and that is fine. When he was speaking, I never got up and down or disagreed with what he said. This is about a debate and those are the facts. It is very clear in the agreement that the honourable member signed. We can list off all the different areas with regard to that.



Cumberland County, for people to be fusing that idea that we are second class citizens, let me tell you, we are not second class citizens. The people of my constituency are not and I stand here proud representing them and to fight with regard to their concerns when they are up-front with regard to this whole debate, Mr. Speaker, on this highway.



The truth of the matter is that the Cumberland County residents - and how people can say that Cumberland County is paying for the total costs is beyond me - we are dealing with a highway there that all traffic out of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick will deal with that and then people are nagging us and saying it is going to hurt business. How is it going to hurt the business there? I am proud and I want to congratulate the Truro Chamber of Commerce that has an article in the paper this week supporting the concept. I have got it, it is quoted in the paper, I wish I could find it, I had it here at one time.



AN HON. MEMBER: I read it.



MR. BROWN: You read it? Okay. The article that was given to me was supporting it, where they said the decision. Now that chamber there and the business people there are aggressive and trying to claim and trying to get some of the business that this highway is going to create, while the people in Cumberland County that I represent, which I feel very sad about, are not being aggressive and going out there to try and get some of the new business that this highway is going to create.



It is like this past week, I was in British Columbia. I drove on toll highways, $10 for a car each way, $50 for a big truck each way. I was there and paid it this week in British Columbia. There are going to be business opportunities. Traffic will move faster, safer. When I look at the highway deaths and what is going to happen now under this new agreement how they are going to be cut, I want to tell you, I stand here in this Assembly and I stand here very proud. When I can look at that highway, hopefully, in two years when it is completed and maybe we end up with 2 or 3 deaths a year instead of 8, 10, 12 or 15, then I want to tell you that Guy Brown is going to be very proud of the stand and how they got that highway built in two years and the number of lives that we saved, this government, by moving forward which was the only possible way that we could move in the way that we did.



I know people are opposed to it. I can remember the debate about the causeway going to Cape Breton. I can remember, that is not really that long ago, how people in that area were opposed. I know the debate that breaks out every once in a while in this metropolitan area with regard to the tolls on the bridges for people to go shopping or visiting the hospital or anything. I am concerned about those people that live locally and have talked to the minister with regard to it. I know they have another alternate route and that is my project now and I hope that we can arrange something for local residents which will be a little bit more reasonable but we won't know that until we get the proposals back. There is nobody in this House that knows what those proposals are going to be. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to talk for a few moments about the resolution. It talks about Cumberland County being cut off, as a result of these tolls, from the rest of Nova Scotia. Let me just say that I think a good part of this debate is around the satisfaction of not only the residents of Cumberland County but also the residents of all of Nova Scotia in the way that politics is played with road construction and road repairs in the Province of Nova Scotia. It has been done that way since time immemorial and it continues to be done to this day.



I think part of the problem is that you go back to 1993 when the new Premier, John Savage, told the residents of Cumberland County and the people that were affected by the new western alignment, he said to them then, he made a very clear commitment and he said, we have to continue with the western alignment choice. I have no options because the only way I could change that is if I renegotiated the SHIP agreement on that highway between the federal and provincial governments. He also continued on and said, we need to get this done and we will have it done in three years time. That is what the Premier said to the people of Cumberland County back in 1993.



He didn't renegotiate the SHIP agreement to deal with the question of the western alignment. Come to find out they renegotiated the SHIP agreement to take $26 million and shovel it off to another highway that had absolutely nothing to do with the national transportation network known as the Trans Canada Highway. It was completely outside the terms of reference and the terms and conditions of that agreement but while the Premier said to the residents of Cumberland, I cannot change the western alignment because we would have to renegotiate the SHIP agreement. Come to find out, two years later, that in fact, he did or his minister did or somebody in the Cabinet did renegotiate that deal in order to ensure that $26 million got siphoned off into Dave Dingwall's and the Minister of Transportation's riding.



[6:30 p.m.]



You know, it is kind of ironic, it almost seems that this was a case where the federal Minister of Public Works and Government Services was unable to come up with federal funding from some other source in order to fix the Fleur-de-lis Trail and the only way he could do it was to siphon off some money, to get agreement from the province to take money, from another pot that was under their control in order to bring that into his riding. It also raises questions of what happened to the $11 million that the provincial government under the Tories had allocated for the Fleur-de-lis Trail back in 1992. Whatever happened to that money? Well, I think some of those questions and some of those answers need to be provided to the people not only of Cumberland County but also to the people of Nova Scotia.



The issue here is plain and simple. This question of twinning the Trans Canada Highway through the Wentworth Valley, through the area from Amherst to Truro, has been a matter under discussion for many years now. As each and every year goes by and the deaths on that highway continue to mount, governments talk about it with more and more and greater insistence that it needs to be a priority and yet, here we are in 1995 and they still haven't done the important section of that particular road. If one were to be cynical about this whole thing, it is like, the road has been twinned in all those areas where there are more people living but in terms of the most critical area, the most difficult area in terms of hazards and safety that part has been left to this point and now who knows when it is going to be done. They talk about it being done in two years but then again, the Premier said back in 1993 that it was going to be done in three years.



Now, the residents of Cumberland are saying, what happened to the priorities of this government when it comes to dealing with, and not only this government but also the federal government, when it comes to dealing with questions of highway safety, when it comes to constructing highways to have a more effective and efficient and more safe flow of goods and of people in and out of this province?



They took $26 million, that information is very clear and they put it into a highway in a different part of the province. Now, the people of Cumberland who are going to be using that highway on a daily basis, now the truckers in that area and anybody who moves goods, moves people in and out of the Province of Nova Scotia is going to have to pay for the fact that this government has been unable to get its priorities straight whether that be in terms of a question of what highway is going to be constructed or reconstructed or maintained or whether it is a question of whether they are going to provide a tax break or tax breaks for major hotel and convention chains in the Province of Nova Scotia instead of investing money in improving the Trans Canada Highway from Amherst to Truro which is what that SHIP agreement, let's not forget, was set out to do in the first place.



I can appreciate residents of Cumberland County being upset with the member for Cumberland North. His decision not to go is his decision.



I know if I was asked by the County of Halifax or the City of Halifax Councils to attend a meeting to discuss a difficult issue and I did not go, they would have every reason to be upset with their elected MLA, their provincial representative, that he was unable or unwilling - perhaps unwilling is the most important part of that - to come and face the questions and the concerns of other elected officials and residents of that particular community, Mr. Speaker.



So let me just say in conclusion that I think there are many issues relative to this whole construction of this part of Highway No. 104, the western alignment that needs to come to light, that there are questions about how much the private sector builders are actually going to end up getting; there is some question as to whether everybody who travels along that highway is going to be captive to these tolls, regardless of whether any rubber from their cars or trucks actually even runs over that new pavement.



There are questions still remaining that have to be answered. This government has to be held accountable for the decision made to divert $26 million from that agreement from that section of highway into the Fleur-de-lis Trail. For this Minister of Transportation and for the minister who spoke just previously on this issue, to get up and say that diverting $26 million did not have any effect on the eventual construction of this highway, I think is pressing the whole definition of incredulity (Interruption) to a new level. I hope I didn't butcher that too bad, Mr. Speaker, but obviously people got my point.



It is fantasy in the extreme to suggest to Nova Scotians that by diverting $26 million away from that contract, it hasn't, in fact, meant that all Nova Scotians, in particular people in Cumberland County, truckers and others, are going to end up paying tolls for the next 30 years, directly as a consequence of that decision. I think Cumberland County residents and all residents of Nova Scotia deserve to be upset about this deal and they deserve some accountability from this government on these important decisions. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



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



Bill No. 4 - Utility and Review Board Act.



and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.



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



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: As well, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:



Bill No. 7 - Financial Measures (1995) Act.



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



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



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.



PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 10.



Bill No. 10 - Highway 104 Western Alignment Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance, for second reading.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I just want to rise to object to the fact that this bill would be called for debate at this time, in the absence of the sponsor of the bill, the Minister of Transportation and Communications.



As you know, this bill is one of the most important and contentious pieces of legislation which has been proposed here in this session of the Legislature. I think it is offensive in the extreme that this government would adopt an attitude that it could call for debate on second reading a piece of legislation which, as you know, has the potential to fundamentally change the fabric of our highway system and the imposition of toll roads here in the province and all that goes with it. I think it is the height not only of offensiveness that it would be done, but it is arrogance in the extreme.



Mr. Speaker, I am going to suggest to you that you take a look, as perhaps you are now, at Beauchesne and I would refer you, with respect, to Clause 659 of Beauchesne.



MR. SPEAKER: It is just what I have my book open to.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, as they say, we are singing off the same song sheet then. The point I want to make, Mr. Speaker, is that Beauchesne clearly says that, "The second reading is the most important stage through which the bill is required to pass; for its whole principle is then at issue and is affirmed or denied by a vote of the House. It is not regular on this occasion, however, to discuss in detail the clauses of the bill.".



I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to pause a moment or two and give some serious thought, as I am sure you will, to the words of that clause in Beauchesne. "The second reading is the most important stage through which the bill is required to pass.". If it is the most important stage through which the bill is required to pass, I suggest to you, that in fairness to all members of this House, that carries with it, particularly in the case of a piece of legislation of the kind we are now confronted with, that it carries with it that common sense, common decency, fairness to all members, indicates and compels that the sponsoring minister be present to describe the principle of this bill and the rationale which prompts the government to come forward with it and so on.



I might refer you to Erskine May, Mr. Speaker, which, on Page 528, under the heading Proceedings in Passing Public Bills, under the Clause entitled Second Reading, it says, "The day having been appointed for the second reading, the bill stands upon the notice paper amongst the other orders of the day, and when the day arrives, is called in its proper turn. The second reading is the most important stage through which the bill is required to pass; for its whole principle is then at issue, and is affirmed or denied by a vote of the House; though it is not regular on this occasion to discuss, in detail, its several clauses.".



I simply want to express to you, Mr. Speaker, if I can, on behalf of all members of my caucus certainly, on behalf of all members of this Legislature and, if I may be so presumptuous, on behalf of all Nova Scotians who are going to be very directly and, on a daily basis and in a financial way, going to be affected by the impact of this bill, if and when it passes, that it is offensive in the extreme and it is arrogance in the extreme to have this bill called for second reading debate in the absence of the sponsoring minister.



MR. SPEAKER: All right. I get the point.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, I am intrigued that certain members on the government benches like to laugh when you say, Mr. Speaker, that you get the point. I am delighted that you have gotten the point and I mean that sincerely. I want to make the point. I think the point is a very significant one and if it is a matter of jest and joke to members of the government, then that is for them to worry about and that is for them to answer to the people of Nova Scotia.



AN HON. MEMBER: We're not worried about it.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, this particular member over there says, we are not worried about it. He does not worry about anything. That is the problem. This government does not seem to worry about a whole lot. The point I am trying to make is that the authorities say that this stage of the proceedings of debate of a bill is the most important part of the proceeding.



MR. SPEAKER: I fully agree.



MR. DONAHOE: I think it is inappropriate in the extreme, that this House should be called upon to debate this bill in the absence of the sponsoring minister and I would, therefore, ask that you rule that the bill not be called at this time. We can proceed with other matters of business on the order paper, which all members, I am sure, are able and prepared to address at this point.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, I am sure there will be other honourable members wanting to address the point. I will rule that there will be one per Party.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I guess that is me. Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the position presented by the Leader of the Official Opposition. I, too, believe that as is clearly pointed out in Beauchesne under the definitions, the explanation of second reading, on how it is to proceed and how important it is, that this is a particularly important section, which determines the whole nature of the debate as we go from this section on.



As we move into the clause by clause debate, you will recall that we sometimes get called to order because questions of principle have already been dealt with at second reading. It is an extremely important stage and I am sure you agree. Whether, in fact, it is determined that it is, in fact, in order or out of order that the sponsoring minister is not present in order to deal with submissions on this bill, I think, Mr. Speaker, and I would beseech you that it is clearly improper.



[6:45 p.m.]



This is a piece of legislation which has a major implication on the people of Nova Scotia, on policy setting in the Province of Nova Scotia. For the sponsoring minister not to be here to introduce and explain the legislation, for him to be here out of respect for other members who have points to raise about that legislation and about the concerns that Nova Scotians have with respect to that legislation, I believe is truly and clearly improper and should not be allowed to proceed in this fashion. If anything, we have to maintain the importance and the sanctity in many ways of legislation and of the importance of legislation and of the importance of the rules that we have for this House in order to carry out debate, in order to make sure.



If we let this go through, the next thing we are going to have is ministers are going to walk by these Chambers, they are going to chuck the legislation in the door and say, have at it and then call me back when you are through. It is that level . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I get the point. I hear honourable members . . .



MR. CHISHOLM: . . . of disrespect that we have to make sure we stop.



MR. SPEAKER: I hear honourable members calling for order and I think it is high time for order too. The point has been adequately made, canvassed and recanvassed.



The honourable Minister of Finance.



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I want to address the question of the point of order. I will try and do so very briefly. What we have here is not a point of order, we have political theatre. It is quite common, especially in these days of two sessions a year, long sessions I might add, that from time to time a Minister of the Crown has to absent himself from the House and, indeed, from the province, as has been the case with the Minister of Transportation and Communications on this occasion.



Prior to absenting himself from the province, the minister indicated to the Opposition the very important business on behalf of the province that he would attend.



AN HON. MEMBER: He did not.



AN HON. MEMBER: On a point of order.



MR. SPEAKER: We are already discussing a point of order.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, Oh!



AN HON. MEMBER: . . . approach me and tell me that he intended for this bill to called.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance has the floor.



MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, as has been the custom for years ever since this House sat, from time to time a Minister of the Crown has to absent himself, particularly during long sessions. At that point in time it is a well established practice for that minister to appoint someone to act on his behalf. (Interruption) In fact, that is the case in this situation. The honourable Minister of Transportation and Communications has asked me, as minister, to act on his behalf and I do so, not to suggest for a moment that I could fill his shoes, or indeed, any other part of his wardrobe.



That request has been made. I have accepted prior to his departure.



MR. SPEAKER: He is out of the province?



MR. BOUDREAU: He is not in the province at the moment and I act in all matters, not only in this matter but in all matters, as Minister of Transportation and Communications of the Province of Nova Scotia.



MR. SPEAKER: I think that the honourable Minister of Finance has satisfied the issue. He is acting as the Acting Minister of Transportation, the Minister of Transportation being out of the province.



The honourable member for Queens on a new point of order.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, it is the custom in this place, as I understand it and a long-standing custom, that when there is going to be any departure from the normal run of things, that the Government House Leader with respect to government legislation, the calling of Government Business, will ensure that the Opposition House Leaders are fully informed of the intention of the government.



I assure you, Sir, that at no time in my capacity this week (Interruption) the person one speaks to is the Opposition House Leader. I have been around here a few more years than you, young fellow, and I know that.



MR. SPEAKER: That is out of order, that is out of order.



MR. LEEFE: Now, Mr. Speaker, (Interruption) in one day more than you have. Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, at no time did the Government House Leader, with whom I have been dealing all week with respect to legislation, ask me if it would be agreeable to our Party, I can't speak for the other Party, if it would be agreeable to our Party to deal with this legislation in his absence. I did know that he was going to be away from the House. He did, however, at no time broach that subject to me with respect to another minister dealing with this bill in second reading.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: The obligation of the Government House Leader is to indicate what legislation would come forward. I think we did that. As to his absence, my understanding, and correct me if I am wrong, my understanding is that the Minister of Transportation informed the Transportation Critics of both caucuses, including the Transportation Critic of the government caucus of his absence during this bill. Now, he did it very specifically and one would have assumed that if it was so important to the Opposition, then the Critic for Transportation would have mentioned it to the Opposition House Leader. I think that to suggest that that did not happen is simply not accurate.



MR. SPEAKER: I am quite prepared to recognize the Acting Minister of Transportation to move the bill. The Clerk and I have consulted on this matter. We know of no prohibition contained in either Erskine May or Beauchesne to prevent one honourable member in any event from moving a bill on behalf of another member and it is very common practice here in the House.



I was checking through Hansard to try to find some time that it happened during the current session. I could not find it but it is very frequent and we all know that a member could move, the honourable Minister of Supply and Services in the absence of the Minister of Municipal Affairs could move third reading of the bill. It happens all the time.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Relative to this, what I think is a fairly important precedent that may be set, I may be wrong, that, in fact, a piece of legislation is introduced at second reading by a minister other than the sponsoring minister, I think that it would, given the point of order that has been raised, be appropriate if, in fact, we could see for ourselves examples of where in fact that has happened in the past. As far as I am concerned, it is not good enough to just say that it has happened before. I think we have to cite, Mr. Speaker, examples of where, in fact, that change has happened.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance followed by the Minister of Supply and Services. I want to move on with this, I do.



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I naively believed that the only person we had to satisfy on this matter was the Speaker. Apparently, there are others who hold a different view. This is clearly within the power of an acting minister. . .



MR. SPEAKER: I agree, I fully agree.



MR. BOUDREAU: . . . and that has been your ruling.



MR. SPEAKER: That is my ruling.



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, on the point. I think it is perfectly within the rules of order of this House and within the conventions of this House that when a bill is tabled in this House that it, in fact, belongs to the whole of the House. The bill is now the responsibility of this House in its entirety. Whether or not the minister who sponsored the bill initially and tabled the bill initially speaks to the bill or wishes to speak to the bill or even if he is in the House is a matter of absolute choice. When the bill has been called by the Government House Leader, who has the responsibility to call the business of the House, with all due respect, sir, the orders as laid down in the precedents of this House, give you no option but to entertain the bill.



MR. SPEAKER: I fully agree. The honourable Minister of Finance has the floor, the Acting Minister of Transportation.



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: I might add, Mr. Speaker, as I introduce this bill that I certainly give the undertaking to members of the Opposition to follow their comments closely, to make notes on any of their interventions and perhaps either myself or when the minister returns if it doesn't pass second reading tonight, when the minister returns he will be fully informed. I might say that the minister has also taken the extra measure of having a staff member attend with us this evening as a backup, so that all of the information will go to him directly.



This is an important bill. It does a number of very innovative and imaginative things. One of the things it will do that I think everyone can appreciate and understand is it will see a highway built in Nova Scotia within two years. This bill will enable that highway to be done in a public/private partnership. That partnership will leave a number of things in a very interesting position and very different from some of the methods of the past government. Number one - let me say something that is going to be the same - the highway will be owned by the people of Nova Scotia. Let me tell you that there will be something different about it, the capital required for the construction of that highway will not be a charge on the financial statements of this province, nor on the taxpayers of this province. The cost for maintenance of this highway will not be a charge on the general revenue of the province.







This bill will enable the province to contract with the corporation established by the legislation for the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the western alignment and, indeed, for the setting of tolls. The tolls will be used for the repayment of debt and for the operation and maintenance of the road, including repair. When the debt has been discharged and all commitments met, the toll will cease to be collected.



I would like to repeat that, Mr. Speaker, when the debt has been discharged, the tolls will cease. The other thing that is important to note about this bill, it deals with tolling this particular section of road. It does not impose tolls on any existing road and it deals specifically with this western alignment. Under the legislation, the corporation that is established will not be subject to provincial tax. This provides the consortium with the same tax status as the province would have if the road were to be built in the traditional manner. The corporation does not fall within the Public Utilities Act. The tolls will be set by the corporation, but with approval by Order in Council. Increases in tolls will be tied to inflation only as provided by the contract and approved by the Governor in Council.



The details of this bill and the details of the project which this bill has covered have been outlined in great measure by the Minister of Transportation in a public way. They have been a matter of some considerable interest by people all over the province. The corporation will provide us with a new approach to constructing major capital projects in Nova Scotia. Hopefully, it will not be the last because, realistically, the choice with many of these capital projects, and specifically with this capital project, is: either we find an innovative way to approach these construction projects, number one; or number two, they don't get done at all; and number three, we bury and bankrupt the province in the type of debt that was left to us by the former government.



We recommend this for consideration of the House as an innovative and positive development in this province and, with those few comments, I would move second reading.



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: It is extremely unfortunate that the Minister of Transportation is not in the Chamber. The Nova Scotia . . .



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The side opposite seems to be very quick to jump to its feet to quote protocol of the House, and Beauchesne and all of the authorities and I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to admonish the honourable member for indicating, as Beauchesne does, that to identify the fact that a member is or is not in this Chamber is out of order.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Supply and Services is entirely correct. Beauchesne does, indeed, state that.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, somebody pointed out to us and, in fact, it was the Minister of Transportation, he very informally said that he would not be present, he was going to Ontario to be present when a tunnel was opened in Sarnia, between Sarnia and Port Huron, Michigan.









Mr. Speaker, we are debating a bill before us tonight, Bill No. 10, which is forever going to change the landscape of Nova Scotia both literally and figuratively, no question about it. The minister introduced the bill to allow the establishment of a public/private partnership and the project also allows for the collection of tolls to support this project. This project is going to be part of the Trans Canada Highway System, part of our national highway system. Nowhere else in Canada, nowhere else in this nation is there tolls on the Trans Canada Highway.



[7:00 p.m.]



I have read the legislation, Mr. Speaker, and I have read it very thoroughly. The only public partnership appears to be the taxpayers of this province providing some $30 million or what is estimated to be 30 per cent of the project, $30 million without any public accountability.



The minister has indicated that the legislation creates a tax exempt Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation to facilitate the financing, construction and management of the project. So you see, Mr. Speaker, what I am indicating, it would be very beneficial to have the Minister of Transportation here this evening.



Many times when we discuss bills in this House, we engage (Interruption)



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Again, I would ask that the Chair admonish the member for indicating whether or not there are members present or not present in this House. As has been pointed out earlier by another Speaker, ministers from time to time, and not only ministers, all members of this House from time to time are called away for matters of business. It is clearly out of order by all protocol, all precedents, all authorities for any member to stand and indicate, for whatever reason, the presence or absence of any member of this House. I would ask that the Speaker rule that and have that remark struck from the record.



MR. SPEAKER: The minister raises a valid point of order. I rule in favour of that point of order. I would ask the member to do two things: first of all not specifically to name members who may be away from the House for whatever reason; second, this Chair has made a clear ruling on the issue of whether the minister is present while the bill is being tendered or not. That ruling has been made, not to be debated again, it has been ruled on.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I always appreciate and respect the ruling from the Chair. The point I want to make without mentioning names is that a lot of times when bills are in the House, it is very beneficial to have the minister present. I realize the minister is not here. The minister came over and told me that he would not be, so I just want to point out, different times we encourage the minister to engage in debate and answer questions and he does.



MR. SPEAKER: The member will understand that I have already ruled that the previous Speaker has ruled on that issue. Now we are here to debate the principle of the bill under second reading. I would ask the member to direct his comments to this bill, the wide-ranging approach that is allowed to the principle of the bill not to the minister, not to the Premier, to the principle of Bill No. 10.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the principle of Bill No. 10. The corporation will not be a Crown Corporation. Its debts will not be the responsibility of the province or constitute a lien on the the highway. This would seem to mean that the corporation will have to go out and borrow the rest of the monies required to finance the project. There is no mention of loan guarantees, et cetera.



It will be interesting, Mr. Speaker, to know if it is the intention of the government to provide these. The government does not intend to provide any loan guarantees, absolutely not. This road is intended to be an alternative to an existing highway that winds up through the beautiful Wentworth Valley. Many of us in this House know that stretch of highway. It has a heavy volume of traffic, almost on a daily basis. It is a very scenic drive but, unfortunately, due to the high number of deaths, many people refer to it as being death valley. Many lives have been lost on that stretch of highway, there is no question about it. We do need an option, we do need an alternative.



Mr. Speaker, it should be pointed out that the previous provincial Tory Government announced that that road would be completed, no question about it, there is documentation announcing that the road would be completed, would be open by now. (Interruptions) There were different options. Before $26 million was ripped away, reappropriated, before it was wrongfully confiscated from the Strategic Highway Improvement Program, there was $55 million dedicated to the twinning of Highway No. 104 . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order in this House. The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the floor. We will have order in the House, please.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the point I am trying to make, and it does relate and it is relative and it is on topic when we are talking about this Bill No. 10, the Liberal Government of this province, in cooperation with the federal Minister of Public Works, Honourable David Dingwall, and the federal Minister of Transport, Honourable Doug Young, and apparently in cooperation with the member for Truro-Bible Hill and the member for Cumberland North and the member for Cumberland South, and I am led to believe that the member for Colchester North didn't even know about it until the Auditor General confirmed it in this House on April 6th . . .



MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I think you have strayed well off the principle of the bill. I would like you to get back to the principle of the bill. Thank you.



MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I always appreciate and respect your rulings. But I must say that while you can restrict my speech, you cannot restrict my thought.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh.



MADAM SPEAKER: That is quite correct.



MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I find it a bit unusual that under various sections of this bill, only the Minister of Transportation and Communications is involved with the corporation, the Western Alignment Corporation.



Do members of the House realize that according to this bill, only the Minister of Transportation is involved with the corporation? I am telling you, Madam Speaker, we have some very (Interruptions)



MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please, the honourable member has the floor.



MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, how will continuity be maintained? Is not every member in this House concerned about continuity and how is continuity going to be maintained with the corporation without the involvement from the department staff, from the deputy minister and possibly two senior engineers. How is continuity of this very important project going to be guaranteed? Who has more experience with design, operation and maintenance of a highway than the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation? There must be a provision for continuity.



We all know that through Cabinet shuffles and recently we had a Cabinet fiddled with a little bit, a Cabinet shuffle and through the people of Nova Scotia exercising their right, ministers do change and governments do change, no question about it. Also, a provision has to be incorporated into this bill to ensure continuity. This provision must be made for some department persons to be involved in the project.



While the bill is quite specific and states the sole objectives of the corporation and the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the western alignments, there is an interesting addendum to this person located elsewhere in the bill. There is a provision in this bill for charging other fees. Many times it is referenced in different clauses throughout the bill so it does pertain to the principle of the bill. The charging of other fees for the services relating to the operation of the western alignment. The statement implies that the corporation could take agreements for other services such as service stations, motels, restaurants and even advertising structures for multi-national firms.



I wonder if the local community realizes this. I wonder if the communities in the Counties of Colchester and Cumberland are aware that that provision, that those clauses are in Bill No. 10? If this is so, it should be spelled out very clearly to Nova Scotians and it should not be dropped on Nova Scotians as a surprise after the highway is completed. Nova Scotians have a right to know. The good people of Colchester and the good people of Cumberland County have a right to know. Nova Scotians naturally assume that this will be similar to other 100-Series Highways which are designated as controlled access highways, constructed with interchanges which provide access to local services. I must ask, what is to happen to many of the local services?



If the Western Alignment Corporation is permitted to enter into different agreements at their whim and wish, what will happen to many of the local services that have been providing employment for years and years? The business community has a right to know and they are very concerned. What about the local service stations? What about the local motels? What about the restaurants?



There is a section that deals with liability and the section states that the corporation is not liable for any damages whatsoever. So, if by design there is a defect or an insufficiency, the corporation is not liable for anything, no liability whatsoever. In effect, this section of the bill is quite a concession to the Western Alignment Corporation. It could prove to be quite expensive to Nova Scotia taxpayers. Nova Scotia taxpayers from one end of this province will most likely be affected by this legislation. Also, it certainly does not convey to Nova Scotians any feeling of confidence in the corporation's ability to fulfil their mandate as stated in the bill.



How can a Nova Scotian jump on this new four lane highway, pay $3 or $14, depending what your vehicle happens to be and have any confidence that if something happens at least somebody will be held accountable? How can the Nova Scotia travelling public or a tourist for that matter, feel confident in the corporation's ability?



There are several points I wish to touch on. The bill's principle lacks a lot of integrity from clause in and out, no question about it. I know, Mr. Speaker, we are not permitted in second reading to discuss the bill clause by clause, and I don't intend to but I have read the bill, gone through the bill and the bill lacks a lot of integrity, it lacks a lot of character. It is a bill that will forever change the landscape of this province. It will affect us for years. We have the dubious distinction of being the only province in Canada with a toll on the Trans Canada Highway.



There were other options. Madam Speaker, I will submit that the genesis for this bill was the ripping away of the $26 million from the Strategic Highway Improvement Program, because shortly after the Auditor General confirmed that. On April 6th, we all know what happened, I don't need to go into it.



[7:15 p.m.]



MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member, I don't want to have to remind you again to keep to the principle of the bill and you are quite right when you say you don't need to go into that other element that you are now introducing.



MR. TAYLOR: Residents in Cumberland and Colchester Counties are upset that tolls will be erected on the new highway. Residents feel isolated. Last night there was a meeting in the community of Amherst and the residents expressed their concern about what this government was trying to do. The local members were not present for the meeting, for different reasons, but I will submit that they were notified in ample time. There is no question about it. Residents feel isolated, they feel that they are being singled out. They feel that they are going to have to pay for a highway. There is no question about it.



Madam Speaker, the bill states also that, Clause 17(b), "no building permit is required for the construction of, addition to, renovation of or repair of the Western Alignment.". The Western Alignment Corporation is going to be exempted from a building permit, so the bill seems to indicate or, at least, maybe even confirms that some sort of building or buildings could be involved with this project. It reminds us a little bit of the casino legislation.



Since safety is mentioned as a key factor, many times the Minister of Transportation and Communications espoused how concerned he is about the safety on our highways, well, I have a little bit of concern as the key factor in the construction of this road design is for a speed of some 110 kilometres an hour. Any distractions such as advertising and service outlets that are not normally on a 100-Series Highway could prove to be a distraction and could prove to be very dangerous.



For the life of me, Madam Speaker, I would like to know how you are going to save one-half an hour, 30 minutes, by taking this highway. It has been in the newspaper, it has been on the television, it has been on the radio, many, many people will say their cars will have to travel some 300 kilometres an hour to save 30 minutes by travelling that route.



Another concern, Madam Speaker, the truckers of this province have a lot of concern with this bill. Anywhere in North America that there is a toll road, there is another option, there is another alternative, but there is not going to be an alternative here, there is going to be no alternative. You are going to be forced to travel this four lane highway if you drive a commercial vehicle. You are going to be forced to travel that road and pay a great price to travel on it, whether you are empty or whether you are loaded. The minister has talked about a maximum number of axles, but nowhere in the legislation does it indicate what that maximum will be. Nowhere does it indicate if after, for example, six axles that you will be prorated, whether there will be a flat rate. That is extremely important.



AN HON. MEMBER: What about trains?



MR. TAYLOR: The Super B-train has some eight axles on it. Madam Speaker, that is $16 one way or it could cost you $32 for a return trip. If you were hauling, for example, aggregate into Truro from Amherst, you can run that three or four trips a day easily, the costs will rip away at your profit, what little bit of profit is there. I can't believe for the life of me that members of this government, Cabinet Ministers of this government, sit idly by while this legislation went through and while a diversion took place. It is very hard to understand. (Interruption) Another question here. He is not in the right seat.



MADAM SPEAKER: I am thankful that all the honourable members are reminding me of what I know. You are quite right. It is not appropriate to make a point of order unless you are in your own seat.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. I think we have to get this issue dealt with. We have Bill No. 10 in front of us. It deals with the corporation. It has specific clauses in it. There is nothing in this bill that deals with the federal government or a contract of an agreement between the federal government and the province. There is nothing in this bill. Therefore, every time this member speaks about diversions of funds or anything else connected with that, it is not relevant to this bill. It has been raised two or three times and there have been rulings that it is out of order. He keeps doing it over and over again.



We are going to decide whether it is second reading, Committee of the Whole House, third reading. We might as well get the matter settled in here now. I move that it is out of order.



MR. SPEAKER: I would state to that point of order . . .



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order. I would argue that in fact the discussion of the role of the federal government with respect to SHIP funding, and SHIP funding with respect to Highway No. 104, and Highway No. 104 with respect to this bill and the provision of tolls, can very well be spoken of in one context. I do agree that the context would have to be narrow and focused with respect to the very specific role of the Government of Canada in contributing towards SHIP funding but, nonetheless, this is an important part of the principle of the bill. Were it not for the fact that SHIP funding had been altered, it might well not be necessary to install tolls and that is what this bill is all about.



So, Sir, I would say, yes, the focus must be relatively sharp but, nonetheless, contextually there is a place for it in the discussion of the principle of this bill.



MR. SPEAKER: I think the honourable member for Queens has expressed my own sentiments in this matter, although perhaps somewhat more eloquently than I might be capable of. In my 25 years here in the House, I have found that debate on second reading is normally considered to be quite wide-ranging, indeed the widest ranging of any level of debate that a bill faces. In the third reading stage, debate is by definition much more sharp and focused.



If an honourable member feels that something is the cause of the action, I suppose that that would be a legitimate factor to bring into the equation, although I would not want members to get diverted. We do not want them to get off the track or off the road, detoured as it were. So I would urge the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley not to become detoured but to stay on the highway, stay on the straight and narrow.



MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and it is a very dangerous road. The Minister of Transportation and Communications provided us with a copy of selected North American toll rates. It is interesting to note that the information provided pertains to countries and states such as California, Mexico City, Ontario, and then we see Nova Scotia on the Atlantic coast. We are comparing Nova Scotia, can you believe this, to California, Mexico City and Toronto. I cannot see the comparison . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: No, me either. We are a lot better.



MR. TAYLOR: . . . and I do not think Nova Scotians, yes and we are, well, no I better not.



AN HON. MEMBER: Is Sarnia in Ontario?



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the minister shows a comparison of toll costs in his backgrounder. But I put to you that showing the toll costs is really only a very small facet of the overall picture. When looking at the tolls, you must also look at the frequency of use.



In California, Mexico City and Toronto, surely the volume of traffic would be much higher than on the present two laned highway and the anticipated traffic that is going to be on the four laned highway up through Wentworth Valley.



Mr. Speaker, what it does not tell us is whether the highway that is being constructed in Nova Scotia is at all comparable to the highways in these other areas. I must say, with no hesitation or reservation, that the selected North American toll rates that have been provided by the Minister of Transportation are of absolutely no use whatsoever. You cannot compare California, Mexico City and Toronto to Cumberland and Colchester Counties. My soul, this is Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia.



AN HON. MEMBER: They talk apples and oranges all the time.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the front pages, and I hope you afford me the latitude and the leeway, the front pages of today's Truro Daily News, "Residents feel isolated, Cumberland County upset with toll road plans", and there is not much wonder.



Mr. Speaker, the highway out in British Columbia is also three times the length of the one proposed for Nova Scotia, but yet in Nova Scotia we are expected to pay more to travel less, so we are going to get more for less, can you believe that? (Interruption) Of course, we are going to get less for more. You have got that right.



With regard to the cost of building these two highways, I would suggest that a comparison should also be done here. The highway in British Columbia, I would suggest, is higher above sea level than the one here in Nova Scotia. The one out in British Columbia and perhaps some members of the House have been out to beautiful British Columbia and travelled that highway. The one out in British Columbia goes through mountains. There is no question about it.



This route has steep grades, but we have to compare British Columbia, California, this is the information the minister provided us, and Toronto, with us here in Nova Scotia. Some of the conditions because we are travelling the western route, the conditions will be certainly a lot different than they are in California and a lot different than they are in British Columbia.



That brings me to the Public Utilities Act. The bill provides that, "The Corporation is not a public utility within the meaning of the Public Utilities Act,". Why wouldn't the corporation, why do you suppose and I know I cannot ask you a question, but I wonder, why wouldn't the corporation be willing to fall under the Act? Why is this corporation getting preferential treatment? Why wouldn't the government want the corporation to have to adhere, to comply with the Public Utilities Act? That Act, as you well know, provides for an independent review of the accounts of the utility applying for a rate increase and the ongoing opportunity for consumers to make representations either for or against. If the corporation wants to raise the tolls at their whim or wish, there is nobody that they are going to have to account to - nobody. When we come up to the tollbooth it could be $3.00 on Thursday and $5.00 on Friday, no question about it.



I would say that there are always expenses associated with the operation of highways and there must be some vehicle, there has to be some mechanism in place to act as a watchdog and there has to be some mechanism in place to watch this corporation. The Public Utilities Act must be made applicable to this legislation. No question about it. How about the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, once again, why shouldn't this corporation have to adhere and comply to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act? Can anybody, maybe the Minister of Supply and Services, he seems to like to rise on his feet once in a while. Why couldn't that minister engage in a little bit of debate and inform the House why in the goodness shouldn't the corporation . . .



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, would the honourable member entertain a question? I might ask the honourable member, in my term here that the precedent of waiving Acts in any bill was started by that government some two years ago. I wonder if he subscribed to that position of waiving Acts throughout a bill.



MR. TAYLOR: I think I indicated and that member knows fully well that I do not subscribe to waiving Acts from a bill. That minister asked me a question and the answer is no, an emphatic no, especially the Public Utilities Act relative to this bill, especially the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Relative to this bill I will try to tone down, Mr. Speaker. I do want to commend the Minister of Supply and Services for at least getting to his feet, but it was a very feeble question. The question begs to be asked, will the Minister of Transportation make the agreements at least public? My goodness, with a $30 million investment, of Nova Scotia taxpayers dollars . . .



[7:30 p.m.]



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: The question was, will the government make the contract public? The government will contract through the Department of Transportation and the Department of Transportation is obviously subject to all the rules of disclosure any other department is.



MR. SPEAKER: I take it that was a point of order.



MR. TAYLOR: I am sure the Minister of Finance and Acting Minister of Transportation and Communications will inform me if I am wrong, but I understand that by-laws of the corporation are not required to be published. Could the minister indicate if that is a fair assessment, if that statement is true, that the bylaws of this corporation, the Western Alignment Corporation, do not have to be published.



MR. SPEAKER: Now, this is a little irregular in procedure. If it is agreeable to the House (Interruption) The honourable minister indicates that when he sums up he will respond to the questions.



MR. TAYLOR: Where is the minister?



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, with the greatest respect, I say to you that you just a moment ago indicated the fact that the honourable member on the Opposition benches rising in debate of a bill would in the course of that debate ask if he could put a question to, I was going to say the sponsoring minister but in this case the acting sponsoring minister of the bill. With the greatest respect, Mr. Speaker, I heard you say just a moment ago that that is highly irregular, with respect, you know perfectly well that that is not highly irregular, that it is done constantly, that it has been done all of my almost 18 years in this House.



MR. SPEAKER: It is exactly my own sentiments, so there is no need to lecture me, I am in agreement (Interruption)



MR. DONAHOE: I am not challenging anything, . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I am in agreement, I was quite prepared to allow it but the minister indicated he would rather respond when he sums up.



MR. TAYLOR: There are no provisions for registration of borrowing resolutions. There is no provision in this Act or even the financing arrangements, even Mom and Pop's grocery store must adhere to the Public Utilities Act and they must adhere to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act yet this corporation is exempted that they don't even have to publish the by-laws that they have. Again it reminds us of a similar bill that went through this House, a very controversial bill that went through this House some time ago. I ask on behalf of Nova Scotians why the secrecy. Perhaps the member for Cape Breton South (Interruptions) There is quite a din in here, Mr. Speaker. Nova Scotians do have a lot of concern, they want to know why the secrecy when some $30 million of taxpayers' money is going into this project. What about the Auditor General? The Auditor General cannot even look into this matter.



He has been left out of the legislation, how many pieces of legislation? Mr. Speaker, I admit to being only a new member in this House, in fact the newest member of the oldest establishment of democracy, but I haven't seen too many bills go through where the Auditor General has been left out of the legislation.



The people of Nova Scotia are putting up 30 per cent of the project. They are funding $30 million for this project. Where is the accountability? Shouldn't it at least be subject to the review of the Auditor General? I think it is a very valid, legitimate, justifiable question. Again, I encourage the acting minister who is sponsoring this bill to engage in some debate and tell us why, for Pete's sake, wouldn't the Auditor General at least have the authority to review this particular arrangement, Mr. Speaker?



There are many concerns. Mr. Speaker, with your approval, and I am trying to be on topic because I do sincerely feel that this bill was precipitated because the Minister of Transportation, in cooperation and understanding, apparently with members and Cabinet Ministers from areas that are going to be greatly affected in a negative way, how are we going to bring business into some of the industrial parks when they look at the toll they have to pay? How, in the name of the world, can we do this?



Mr. Speaker, it is a private/public partnership, a private partnership. This bill will affect the trucking industry negatively, there is no question about it. Many truckers run six axle configurations, tractor-trailers, or tri-dem. I know the member for Cumberland North and the member for Cumberland South know people in their communities who are truckers and who are going to have to pay. That profit line, the line between profit and loss, sometimes in the trucking industry you need a magnifying glass to see the profit line. This is going to rip away at it further.



Mr. Speaker, the Cumberland County Truckers Association spoke out against this bill and against this project. A typical tractor-trailer that travels some 100,000 miles per year, if it averaged six miles a gallon, and six miles a gallon is a little bit generous, when I was trucking the old rig I had got about five miles a gallon, but if we said that a typical tractor-trailer that travels 100,000 miles per year and averages six miles a gallon, they would consume approximately 76,000 litres of fuel annually. This tax that is applied to that fuel by the Nova Scotia Government translates into almost $12,000 in taxes from one truck each year. But, because of this legislation, when that highway, that project is open, truckers are going to be affected financially in a most negative way, no question about it. Each vehicle in Nova Scotia contributes some $6,000 annually, so we do have some great concern with this project.



There is no question about it, Mr. Speaker, it is a bill that is extremely hard to support, it is a bill that I believe has some 20 clauses in it, it is a bill that we have gone through very closely, it is a bill that I cannot support. There is absolutely no way, there is not a clause in that bill that is worth supporting. I find it extremely difficult to even try to work up some amendments to make it more doable.



I realize, perhaps as much as anybody in this House, that we do need an option, we do need an alternative to the treacherous death valley, there is no question about it, but I do have a lot of difficulty with the fact that the Minister of Transportation ripped away, illegally, as far as I am concerned, confiscated $26 million, the Auditor General found (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, I will rephrase, I will withdraw that statement.



MR. SPEAKER: I think, yes.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, may I rephrase that and say that the Minister of Transportation wrongfully confiscated . . .



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Out of order. You're out of order.



MR. TAYLOR: Well, we have lots of Mr. Speakers, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, I don't know if that is any better really, but I think perhaps you could express this thought without using objectionable terms.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, some people have used the verb diverted, some people have said misappropriation . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Now that is wrong. I don't like that term.



MR. TAYLOR: I didn't, Mr. Speaker, some people, I am relating to use, but reappropriated . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: What has this got to do with the bill?



MR. SPEAKER: I think perhaps we could move on to some other aspect without trying to find proper terms to cover this.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I will move on at your ruling, which I always respect, no question about it. The Cumberland County Warden and his Council is extremely upset with the decision made by this government. They are also extremely upset and I will read a couple of lines - I don't intend to go into any great length - and this headline in the Truro Daily News, "Residents feel isolated". Continuing, "The sense of isolation Cumberland residents feel about being singled out for a pay highway was evident throughout the one-sided meeting." - they held a meeting last night - "Federal and provincial Progressive Conservatives, including former Cumberland-Colchester MP Bill Casey and MLAs George Moody and George Archibald attended the meeting. Liberal decision makers like Transportation Minister Richie Mann and county MLAs Ross Bragg and Guy Brown were absent.". Nowhere to be found.



Cumberland County is upset. Here is a bill, Bill No. 10, that is going to forever change the very fabric of this province. Nowhere else in Canada is there a toll on the Trans Canada Highway. We have comparisons and I don't want to get into repetition, but we are talking about Mexico City. This is what the Minister of Transportation gave us, a toll road in Mexico City, and in Toronto. My goodness, no comparison whatsoever.



Mr. Speaker, I don't know if you have been involved in the commercial trucking industry or not, but unless you are making a local delivery, say you are coming up from Truro and you have a load of . . .



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, on a question. I thought earlier I heard in some conversations on rulings that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is the Transportation Critic for the Progressive Conservative Party, I understood that. I am wondering why he is being critical of members of the Liberal Party not attending a meeting while the House was in, in Amherst, instead of sending two members of the Progressive Conservative Party from Kings County that are not Transportation Critics to this meeting, I wonder why the member who is the Transportation Critic wasn't up there, instead of sending two members for Kings County to cause mischief?



MR. SPEAKER: Well, I don't know that the question relates to the bill. The honourable member in responding, please try to stay on the bill if possible. I see another member, is this on the point of order, or a point of order?



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I do resent the inferences made by the honourable member for Hants East to suggest that I, as a member of this House, would go to any public meeting for the sole purpose of raising mischief. I was asked . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I am sure there is unanimous agreement in the House that the honourable member would do no such thing.



MR. ARCHIBALD: That is right, I wouldn't do that. I was invited to go to the meeting to furnish information. I was part of the government and I was Minister of Transportation when the SHIP agreement was signed and they wanted information and I gave them information in a completely non-partisan manner. That is exactly what they wanted and that is what they received. I resent that minister and I think that you should rule him out of order because I would not go there to make mischief.



MR. SPEAKER: With deference, I believe that I already have. I believe that I already observed that the question did not relate to the bill and I would ask the honourable member, please, to speak to the bill and not be diverted, not be detoured.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, as you can appreciate, I am learning procedure and things of that nature. The honourable member for Hants East did ask me if I would entertain a question and I agreed so, with your approbation, I would be very pleased to answer the question because it does relate to the bill and I can explain why the transportation critic . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Well, please try to make that connection if you can.



[7:45 p.m.]



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. If the question I asked is not on the bill, then I do not understand how the answer thereto could be on the bill. (Laughter)



MR. JOHN LEEFE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, my honourable friend for Hants East it seems to me is asking you to, in advance of the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley saying anything, rule on what he might say. You are far too wise in your decision, sir, to be caught in a trap like that.



MR. SPEAKER: I have no intention of being caught in that trap.



MR. LEEFE: I know you will allow the member to say his piece in advance of your making any ruling.



MR. SPEAKER: I have already ruled on the point of order.



MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, my point is quite simply this and that is, certainly the member for Hants East would not be suggesting as he said that the member for Kings North was trying to raise mischief nor would he in the debate by standing to ask a question on the floor of the House.



My point of order is that maybe if the member is not interested in really creating mischief, he will stand in his place on the floor of this House to debate the bill and to give the rationale in support of why he is . . .



MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.



MR. TAYLOR: The residents of Colchester South have a problem, too with this bill and I want to tell you and I think it is important and it is on topic that the South Colchester Truckers Association has a big problem with this bill, too. I want to also tell you, Mr. Speaker and through you, perhaps to all members of the House, but specifically to the member for Hants East that the Transportation Critic of the Official Opposition was invited to that meeting last night in Amherst and it was an information session. It was a meeting that was very friendly, it was meeting where the government was not castigated, if you believe the reports that come back in the news media, we have them here.



The government was not criticized. A couple of members, the member for Cumberland North and the member for Cumberland South were criticized, I understand, a little bit, but not a lot for not being present. They are very busy members.



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, it is becoming very obvious that members of the Opposition have little or no respect for the Chair. The Chair rules on a point of order and has ruled this very line of discussion out of order on numerous occasions. Over and over again they are ignored as lines that are out of order, lines of debate that are out of order and I would ask the Chair to inform the honourable member if he cannot adhere to the rules of the Chair that he be ordered to take his seat.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, with deference to all honourable members, I feel that we have sufficient points of order, questions and interruptions. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has one hour to make his speech and he will never be able to get through with it at this rate.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley on the bill, not on any question that is irrelevant, on the bill.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, just to you, I appreciate your ruling. I always appreciate your ruling and respect it, but in reference to the point you just made that there has been such a large number of points of order and since there has been so many questions, do you think you could afford me an additional five minutes or six minutes? Is that a reasonable request? I am asking you, Mr. Speaker. There has been so many questions.



MR. SPEAKER: So long as your remarks are germane to the bill, I will give you an hour which is of ice time, not bench time.



MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Being on topic and certainly want to be germane and relevant to the bill, the Colchester South Truckers Association had a very important meeting last night concerning the tolls and the establishment of this road and just what it would mean for them. As you know, Mr. Speaker, truckers in Nova Scotia travel great distances. Sometimes they go to Yarmouth, sometimes they go to Sydney and many times they go to Pugwash to bring back road salt.



Today the Minister of Natural Resources was talking about the salt mine in Pugwash and certainly talking about all the virtues that that operation has. Mr. Speaker, most of the product coming out of Pugwash is moved by truck.



Now, Mr. Speaker, I am a little bit concerned where the tolls are going to be erected on this new highway. As I understand it, there are going to be five interchanges on Highway No. 104. Now on most toll roads where there is an interchange the rate is prorated, so to speak; if you travel a short distance, you pay less than if you travel further on up the road. I don't think anybody will dispute that. But what we hear from the Minister of Transportation and Communications is that you will have to pay a flat rate of $3.00. This is the figure being put forward by the Minister of Transportation.



If you drive a commercial vehicle, a transport truck, you have to pay based on the configuration and the number of your axles. Mr. Speaker, the point I am trying to make is it is important for people who have to use that highway on a frequent basis to, at the very least, and I requested the Minister of Transportation that he at least afford some sort of a discount, maybe an exemption, that would make the bill more doable.



Now the minister tells us there are some 6,600 vehicles, both commercial and passenger, that move up and down that stretch of highway on a daily basis. Now one has to ask the question, did the minister project the estimated revenue that would be received, that the Western Alignment Corporation would accumulate? Is it based on all the traffic? Surely to goodness if there are 6,600 vehicles travelling the present highway, they are not all going to run to the toll road. So I am just wondering how the Minister of Transportation and Communications calculated his figures, where he came up with a figure, of I think it was $11 million, on an annual basis?



Now, Mr. Speaker, I believe that calculation is based on his belief, on the Minister of Transportation's belief, that 6,600 vehicles will travel the toll road. Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no way that all the traffic is going to run out and start paying tolls. At first there will be a little bit of excitement, a little bit of enthusiasm. Perhaps the member for Cape Breton South will even drive down from Cape Breton, pay his toll and travel up the highway. That is the type of thing, just as an example, and being on topic, I want to stay on topic, and different members - perhaps I will, I have never said that I won't travel this highway, but I will reluctantly put my toll in, if I am driving a commercial vehicle. I will try to get off that highway, the same as I do when you are travelling down through the State of Maine.



AN HON. MEMBER: You can't.



MR. TAYLOR: No, you can't, not in Nova Scotia. But in the State of Maine . . .



MR. SPEAKER: U.S. No. 95.



MR. TAYLOR: Yes, exactly, you can get off Highway No. 495, the Maine Turnpike, and take Highway No. 95, drive down to Portland in a very safe manner. The road is perfect, it is in good shape. But if I want to reach in my back pocket, and our financial situation I would say is a little bit different from individual to individual, Mr. Speaker, but there is always that alternative, always that option.



In New Hampshire, the same thing. In Massachusetts, the Mass-Turnpike, as you well know, you can always circumvent a toll road. But this minister has what I would call the audacity to force every commercial vehicle on to this Highway No. 104 to pay for it. But the commercial traveller is already paying an exorbitant amount of fuel tax, no question about it, and he is paying a lot of tax to register his vehicle.



Mr. Speaker, a tractor-trailer unit, you go to the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Nova Scotia and if your tractor-trailer unit is registered for 50,000 kilograms, you have to pay almost $1,600. So that money is, I would suggest, direct revenue to this province.



Then you go to fuel up that tractor-trailer and I believe there is a 1.54 cent per litre. That doesn't sound too bad because as you remember, not too long ago, it doesn't seem too long ago but actually it is quite a few years ago, we reverted to the metric system. At that time we went from the gallon, quite conveniently, to the litre. That threw some of us off a little bit and it threw me off for a little while, but I certainly understand how I was being hit in the back pocket.



I cannot make the point and it bears repetition - I think even the Minister of Supply and Services would agree - that the line in many businesses, particularly the trucking business, between a profit and a loss is extremely thin. It is even thinner than a string in some cases or thinner than very fine thread. No question about it, but here we are in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, we are forced, we do not have a privilege. It is important that there be some option, some discount, some type of an exemption for the commercial vehicle. There has to be something in this bill. No question about it.



I understand and I appreciate that we are going to have an alternative to this very dangerous highway. It is a dangerous highway. I have travelled that road, Mr. Speaker, many times. I have hauled lumber from Upper Musquodoboit to Springfield, Massachusetts. I have travelled up through that highway. I have had to stop more than once because there has been an accident. It is not a very nice scene to come upon an accident.



Mr. Speaker, recently I have had discussion with a member of the Truro Fire Department. From time to time because of the magnitude of some of the accidents the Truro Fire Department is called out and they have to use the jaws of life to extricate people from these very serious accidents. It is important that an alternative to the present system be put in place, but it should be brought to mind and members of this House should bear in mind that the previous Tory Government was committed, the previous Minister of Transportation, the most honourable member for Kings North was committed, has stated, it is in documentation, $55 million was secured for the cost of that project.



Mr. Speaker, the Atlantic Region Freight Assistance is going to be stopped as a result of the federal budget. We are going to, and I know the Minister of Finance is aware of this and perhaps he will enlighten us, but he most likely will not be doing the summary of this bill. The Minister of Transportation when he comes back from his very important engagement will most likely make final comment relative to this bill. (Interruption) Well, it is a very important engagement, but it is not as important as this bill. This is more important than the opening of the - I will not get into it. I would suggest that Nova Scotia is more important than Ontario right now to me and Nova Scotia should be more important to members of this government, all members of this government.



MR. SPEAKER: Possibly on that thought, the honourable member might see fit to move adjournment of the debate with perhaps 10 minutes remaining tomorrow.



MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that and I will move adjournment of this debate on Bill No. 10.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the debate be adjourned.



Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform all members of the House that tomorrow we will meet between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. In the Chamber, following the daily routine, we will go to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply with the Minister of Natural Resources followed by Public Bills for Second Reading. At approximately 8:30 a.m. in the Red Room we will begin with the Law Amendments Committee and at approximately 1:00 p.m. we will go to the subcommittee in the Red Room with the Minister of Municipal Affairs.



I move that we adjourn until 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.



[The House rose at 7:59 p.m.]



NOTICE OF QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS

Given on May 3, 1995

(Pursuant to Rule 30)



QUESTION NO. 18



By: Mr. John Leefe (Queens)

To: Hon. James Barkhouse (Minister of Fisheries)



(1) I want to know, as does Mr. D. Page of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, what are the criteria under which employees were hired to administer the TAGS program? Can the minister explain why fishermen and women previously involved in the industry were not hired and used to administer the TAGS program?



QUESTION NO. 19



By: Mr. Donald McInnes (Pictou West)

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



(1) I want to know, as does Ms. D. Hirtle of Truro, Nova Scotia, what rationale is used to determine the regulation disallowing the housing of pets in senior citizens' complexes in the province?



QUESTION NO. 20



By: Mr. John Leefe (Queens)

To: Hon. James Barkhouse (Minister of Fisheries)



(1) I want to know, as does Mr. M. Mosher of Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, why the minister has suddenly taken away the privileges that seniors have enjoyed over the past 20 years with regard to the increase in the licenses for general sports fishing and hunting licenses? How much revenue does he hope to accrue in order to justify his action on the issue?