The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

















HALIFAX, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 1995



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Third Session



4:00 P.M.



SPEAKER



Hon. Paul MacEwan



DEPUTY SPEAKER



Mrs. Francene Cosman





MR. SPEAKER: I would like to call the House to order at this time. The Premier has requested that I call on him first to make a statement to the House.



The honourable Premier.



HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address a tragic event that is on the minds of peaceloving people all over the world and that is the assassination of the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Yitzhak Rabin.



The world is changing, Mr. Speaker, that is very clear. All countries are striving to put in place safeguards and securities to ensure that future generations are able to live in peace and prosperity throughout the next century. There are few places in the world that face the challenges, however, confronting the Middle East and those challenges have been taken on with some measure of success. Centuries of division and conflict are, before our eyes, giving way to an unparalleled peace effort. A leader of that effort, Mr. Speaker, was none other than Prime Minister Rabin.



This past weekend, this voice of reason, this great patriot and solider of peace was struck down by an assassin's bullet.



Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, there are those who - for their own reasons - fear the peacemakers of this world, and will go to any lengths to thwart their efforts. We witnessed the gruesome extent of their commitment to that end with the death of Yitzhak Rabin.









2437

The enemies of peace feel that a major roadblock to the peace effort has been erected with this abhorrent attack. However, they need not take that comfort. Yitzhak Rabin has ignited a spark of reconciliation among the people of Israel and their neighbours. With the help of peaceloving people all over the world, his dream of providing a secure and prosperous future for all of the children of the Middle East will live on.



Mr. Speaker, I would like to suggest that on a behalf of this House and all Nova Scotians, you convey to the family of Prime Minister Rabin and the people of Israel - through the Israeli ambassador to Canada - our deepest sympathies and our belief that the aspirations of this truly great man will be brought to fruition.



I would like to suggest, Mr. Speaker, that we honour the memory of Mr. Rabin with a minute of silence. But I think perhaps it is appropriate for the other Leaders to make their comments first. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, we will remember as one of God's great gifts the wisdom and the leadership of Yitzhak Rabin. His life and his tragic death cry out to humankind to pursue justice through democracy.



We pray for the continuation of the peace process in the Middle East, a process which is a living monument to the men and women of goodwill, who breathe life into it.



Reflecting on Rabin's life, he was militant warrior, then militant peacemaker.



It is written in the Book of Judges, Out of the strong came forth sweetness. So too it may be said of the life of Mr. Rabin.



We mourn his tragic death. We exalt his good works. We, each in our own way, must commit ourselves to peace through democratic change.



Mr. Speaker, I thank the Premier for the opportunity to make these remarks.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to thank the Premier for making his statement in the House this evening and for affording us the opportunity in the Opposition to associate ourselves with the kind words that he said. I certainly would also like to associate myself very much with the words and sentiments expressed by the Leader of the Official Opposition.



Mr. Speaker, I know that we all in this Chamber extend our deepest sympathies to the Prime Minister's family, to all of the people of Israel and to all of those who share his vision for developing a lasting and just peace in the Middle East.



Yitzhak Rabin certainly has shown tremendous courage, tremendous vision and, Mr. Speaker, support for the democratic process in bringing that about. As the Premier has pointed out, there are those who fear the peacemakers and will go to any cowardly and vile approach to thwart their efforts.



I am delighted that we do have the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment, here, to the basic principles and vision that Mr. Rabin has shown, a vision of a lasting and fair peace based on common security for all people in the Middle East. It is a vision that I am sure that not only do we share but it is one that we will help foster throughout the Middle East and all areas where there is turmoil, Mr. Speaker.



Again, I thank the Premier very much for making his statement in the House and for giving us an opportunity to express our sympathies and our support for the message that he has brought forward on this very tragic occasion. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: We will now stand and observe one minute's silence in honour of the memory of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.



[A minute of silence was observed.]



MR. SPEAKER: We will now 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



Bill No. 40 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 156 of the Revised Statues of 1989. The Expropriation Act. (Hon. William Gillis)



Bill No. 41 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Truro Curling Club. (Hon. Eleanor Norrie as a private member.)



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



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



RESOLUTION NO. 505



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



Whereas after three years of budget cuts, the Sutherland-Harris Memorial Hospital will open a new 20 bed veteran's unit; and



Whereas the new veteran's unit will meet an important health need by providing hospital beds for local veterans within their community; and



Whereas this new unit will restore 14 of the 55 jobs lost as a result of previous budget cuts;



Therefore be it resolved that the Board of Directors of the Sutherland-Harris Memorial Hospital and the many volunteers who helped to raise a portion of the unit's capital costs be congratulated for their efforts in making this new and important addition to the hospital a reality.



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



MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver of notice.



Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 506



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



Whereas independent reviews of the Adult Vocational Training Centres (AVTC) have found a high success rate, solid satisfaction among employers and genuine student commitment to improving their education and job prospects; and



Whereas without consultation, the Education Minister has cast aside the Dartmouth AVTC students, without a guarantee of related programs, without an outline of future programs and with no prospect of a similarly successful adult-oriented campus; and



Whereas this creates a new barrier to students who have overcome much to pursue AVTC training;



Therefore be it resolved that the Education Minister should meet Dartmouth AVTC students as soon as possible and address their many concerns and questions, starting with his reasons for shutting down one of his department's success stories.



[4:15 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.



RESOLUTION NO. 507



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



Whereas through the financial support of Tourism Nova Scotia and the Haida Association, a series of five interpretive signs were recently erected in Bedford's, Admiral DeWolf Park; and



Whereas the five panels, overlooking Bedford Basin, depict significant events in the history of the Town of Bedford; and



Whereas these interpretive signs will be of great interest to both residents and tourists alike;



Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the efforts of the Haida Association, Tourism Nova Scotia and the Town of Bedford who have worked together to place these historical plaques in Admiral DeWolf Park.



Mr. Speaker, I 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 Cape Breton West.



RESOLUTION NO. 508



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



Whereas Nova Scotians have spent 1995 reflecting on the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of Canadian 50 years ago in World War II; and



Whereas in this same year, the Chretien Government has callously cut burial allowances and many other hard-won benefits to surviving war veterans; and



Whereas tomorrow Cape Breton veterans will take to the streets in a March of Concern to protest these thoughtless cuts;



Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly support the efforts of Cape Breton veterans by forwarding our concerns to Ottawa regarding benefits to those to whom our country owes a deep debt.



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



MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.



RESOLUTION NO. 509



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



Whereas Megan Porquet of Sackville was awarded the St. John Ambulance's National Life Saving Certificate in Halifax's All Saints Cathedral on Friday; and



Whereas at 5 years of age, Megan is the youngest recipient of this prestigious award; and



Whereas Megan risked her life in rescuing her two year old brother from drowning in a fish pond this past summer;



Therefore be it resolved that this House send its congratulations and best wishes to Megan for the unselfish act of love and caring for a younger brother, and commend her parents for having raised such a wonderful daughter who knows the true meaning of concern for a fellow human being.



Mr. Speaker, I 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 Hants West.



RESOLUTION NO. 510



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I herby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas in its 1993 policy papers the Savage Liberals said Nova Scotians cannot afford to have important public issues lost in a welter of concentrated government activity; and



Whereas this government is attempting to hamstring the Opposition by rushing important and far-reaching legislation through this House in lightening fast speed; and



Whereas it was the Savage Liberals who said to honour the responsibility government has to the people, it must open its activities to scrutiny by the public and the Opposition;



Therefore be it resolved that the Savage Liberals remember the high-minded phrases they repeated during the 1993 election campaign and that they honour their commitment to the people of Nova Scotia by allowing the members of this House, on behalf of all Nova Scotians, reasonable opportunity to scrutinize the implications of such legislation.





MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.



RESOLUTION NO. 511



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



Whereas two weeks ago, the members of the boys and girls soccer teams at Auburn Drive High School won their Capital Region Banners; and



Whereas last week, both the boys and girls soccer teams won their qualifying tournaments to go on to the Provincials; and



Whereas this past weekend, the girls travelled to Sydney to place fourth in the Provincials with the boys travelling to Antigonish and advancing to the championship round to take second place in the Provincial Soccer Championships;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend congratulations to the members of the Auburn Drive High School boys and girls soccer teams, and recognize with appreciation the coaches who are not teachers but dedicated sports-minded people who volunteer their time for the benefit of our youth, Mr. Tim Hall and Ms. Pam Bussey.



Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Kings North.



RESOLUTION NO. 512



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



Whereas beginning today, 4-H communities across Nova Scotia are participating in National 4-H Week; and



Whereas over 4,000 Nova Scotians are presently involved in 4-H community activities; and



Whereas in the past year, two delegates from the Czech and Slovak Republics have spent a week in Nova Scotia learning about this province's very successful 4-H program;



Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government continue to make a strong commitment to the 4-H program and adhere to the Department of Agriculture and Marketing's Strategic Goal of enhancing the advancement and development of rural communities as was put forward in Government By Design for 1995-96.



Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.



RESOLUTION NO. 513



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



Whereas the people of Guysborough County will be part of the province's pilot telemedicine program with local leadership provided by Dr. Mike Hillis of Guysborough; and



Whereas telemedicine will give residents of Guysborough more immediate access to health care services available only from specialists located some distance away; and



Whereas through the state-of-the-art technologies, patients will be able to receive immediate high-level, on-site health care without leaving their community;



Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Honourable Ronald Stewart, Minister of Health, for this innovative initiative which will be of tremendous value to non-urban doctors and health care givers, particularly in Guysborough County.



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



MR. SPEAKER: I hear a No.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 514



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 long delays, lack of vigour and self-imposed limited scope of the Richard Inquiry into the Westray disaster have increased the doubts of families and miners; and



Whereas present and future employers and governments should be given every reason to believe that unsafe or unhealthy working conditions will not be tolerated, and that any lapse will be regarded as a matter of utmost urgency; and



Whereas the course and results of the Richard Inquiry have sent and will send a clear signal about how our province values the lives of working people;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government, as a party to the Richard Inquiry, and the inquiry itself, not to ignore the political decisions that led to the establishment of the Westray Mine or any of the management decisions made during the development and operation of the mine.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



RESOLUTION NO. 515



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



Whereas Montreal's deputy chief of police said last week that organized crime is in Nova Scotia and virtually riddles Eastern Canada; and



Whereas the current president of the Canadian Police Chief's Association and the metropolitan region's new police chief shares the concerns expressed by Montreal's deputy police chief; and



Whereas metro's new police chief has expressed concern about the amount of drugs entering Canada through the Port of Halifax and his concern that if Ports Canada Police are eliminated by the federal government as a cost-cutting measure, then the new metropolitan regional police force will be responsible for policing the Port of Halifax;



Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotia's Minister of Justice make it abundantly and immediately clear to the individuals reviewing ports police operations across Canada of the necessary and important role played by Halifax Ports Canada police officers and of the continued importance of monitoring ship traffic through the Port of Halifax.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.



RESOLUTION NO. 516



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



Whereas community-based policing is a new initiative of the RCMP to pursue cooperation and partnership between the local detachment of the RCMP and the community with a focus on long-term problem solving; and



Whereas the official opening ceremonies of the Beaverbank office took place on Saturday, November 4, 1995, in the presence of many community members; and



Whereas the community-based policing in Beaverbank has received support and funding from the Province of Nova Scotia, the Municipality of the County of Halifax, the Beaverbank-Kinsac Volunteer Fire Department and the Beaverbank Awareness Association;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend best wishes to RCMP Constable John Bickerton and the 60 volunteers who will be assisting him, for every success in the carrying out of their duties as the first community-based police office in the community of Beaverbank.



Mr. Speaker, I 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 Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 517



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



Whereas government ministers and MLAs are advising the Bar Society, certified nurses, dentists, engineers, hairdressers and other self-governing professions that Opposition agreement to speedy approval is the prerequisite to introduction of long-awaited legislation; and



Whereas the Liberal caucus itself has not taken a position on most or all of the professional legislation awaiting introduction and no government-endorsed drafts have been circulated;



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals should state their position instead of playing little games with the professions who have waited years for amendments to their self-governing legislation and to related legislation.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants West.



RESOLUTION NO. 518



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



Whereas Kings-Edgehill captured both Division III Boys and Girls High School Soccer Championships on the weekend; and



Whereas high school athletics is an integral part in the development of students through their high school years; and



Whereas Kings-Edgehill School in Windsor is well recognized across Nova Scotia for its participation in many high school sporting competitions;



Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature commend athletic leaders Darcy and Kim Walsh, the athletic leaders at Kings-Edgehill School in Windsor, for their championship accomplishments.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.



RESOLUTION NO. 519



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



Whereas Mulgrave Memorial High School in a tournament played at Kings-Edgehill in Windsor won the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation's Division IV Men's Soccer Championship; and



Whereas in order to make it to the championship tournament the team had to win the regional qualifying tournament; and



Whereas the team lost only one game all season;



Therefore be it resolved that this House extend sincere congratulations to the coach, Mario Swinkels, and to all members of the Mulgrave Memorial High School Men's Soccer Team on a highly successful season and a resounding 4 - 1 victory over Halifax Grammar School in the final championship.



Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 520



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



Whereas geological tests at the Phalen Mine have been positive about the long-term viability of jobs in the mine; and



Whereas this House and government are on record in support of opening a third Cape Breton coal mine at Donkin, to help ensure desperately needed year-round jobs in Cape Breton; and



Whereas the government has yet to reconcile its commitment to an expanded coal industry, with its promotion of an offshore gas project that depends on supplanting coal in new local markets;



Therefore be it resolved that this House calls upon the Minister of Natural Resources to outline how he will pursue the goal of opening the Donkin Mine, in the context of his support for making local markets the primary objective of offshore natural gas.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants East.



RESOLUTION NO. 521



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



Whereas the Burntcoat Head Park Committee recently won the National Elaine Burke Award for environmental work undertaken at Burntcoat Head Park; and



Whereas the National Elaine Burke Award is given for outstanding leadership in active living and environmental citizenship in memory of the late Elaine Burke, a great Canadian environmentalist who spearheaded the Go For Green Campaign; and



Whereas the Burntcoat Head Park Committee also received first place in the Nova Scotia Rural Beautification Contest and first place in the Provincial Community Facility Competition;



Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the exceptional environmental work undertaken by the Burntcoat Head Park Committee and congratulate the group on receiving these significant environmental awards.



[4:30 p.m.]



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.



Are there further notices of motion? Third and final call for notices of motion. If not, that concludes the daily routine.



We will now advance to Orders of the Day.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



GOVERNMENT BUSINESS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



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



PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 31.



Bill No. 31 - Personal Property Security Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to move this bill for second reading. The provincial government is making major changes in the way personal property is registered and secured throughout Nova Scotia. The Personal Property Security Bill is the first step in this reform. Commonly registered items of personal property including such things as motor vehicles, motor homes and major appliances have to be dealt with under this system. The changes contained in this legislation will bring the process of registering personal property security in line with practices elsewhere in Canada. Many jurisdictions in Canada have abandoned the old personal property registry system and have adopted the modern Personal Property Security Act model.



Nova Scotia, through the Personal Property Security Bill that I am moving second reading on this evening, is joining with its sister provinces and territories and moving to a well-recognized, proven system. We are not reinventing the wheel, Mr. Speaker, but supporting the move to a consistent Canadian personal property security system. This legislation was put through an extensive consultative process prior to its introduction. The draft Personal Property Security Act and proposed administrative regulations were widely circulated to the banking, commercial, legal and academic communities this past July. Comments received were carefully considered and incorporated into the draft bill and proposed regulations where possible. Existing legislation dealing with personal property security is very much outdated. This new Act will improve the environment for commercial activities in this province. This legislation reform process was undertaken jointly with the Department of Justice. There will be one Act and one province-wide system.



Mr. Speaker, allow me to outline some of the reasons for an overhaul of the system. Currently, there are four main personal property security statutes: the Bill of Sales Act, the Conditional Sales Act, the Assignment of Book Debts Act and the Corporation Securities Registration Act. Each Act has its own set of registration and affidavit requirements. Registration is currently on a county basis in a Registry of Deeds office. There is no provision for a central, province-wide registry to ensure the protection of financial interests in a mobile society. The existing registry is paper based and offers no automatic search capability. The net effect is a fragmented, costly and cumbersome system.



For many years, the financial and legal communities have expressed extreme frustration over the existing system. So, Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to say that the government has decided to deal with that frustration and bring in something that will be able to be worked within those confines. They have explained that there has been increasing difficulty in searching documents and it causes individuals and firms in some cases to actually abandon the system. For example, when a consumer buys a used car today, that individual could have to conduct a manual search in 19 registry offices throughout the province to be certain that there are no outstanding debts against that vehicle. Most people take the risk that they are not assuming someone else's debts, rather than attempt to use the existing system. This new legislation will streamline registration processes and enable the use of a virtually paperless personal property registry system.



Mr. Speaker, the benefits of such a system are numerous. These include a significant reduction in paper burden and storage costs for registry operations, self-entry of information by clients, allowing them better control over information transfers into the system. It also allows for a vastly improved search capability, allowing potential purchasers of personal property a far greater degree of assurance of the financial emcumbrances, if any, on the item - they would come to light very quickly - substantially improved security and control over personal property records; and a major increase in the level of service to clients via the institution of electronic registration and search, which is a particularly important feature to the business community.



The long-term goal is for the business community to be able to do searches directly from their offices. Work will begin this fall on the implementation of a new, automated system in registries throughout the province. The Department of Municipal Affairs, which operates the personal property registries, is partnering with the private sector to develop and implement an electronic registry.



The new bill has a delayed proclamation date to allow time to put the new electronic system in place and this is to be expected in late 1996. The regulations will also not come into effect until the bill does. This delayed implementation period has the added benefit of allowing plenty of time for users to educate themselves on the new system and financial and commercial institutions to carry out any necessary staff training.



Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 31, an Act Respecting Security Interests in Personal Property. Thank you.





MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make some remarks relative to Bill No. 31 on second reading. Before I do, and I do not want to be and I hope I will not be considered to be overly offensive to the Minister of Municipal Affairs but, with the greatest respect, what the Minister of Municipal Affairs has just now done is stood in her place and has read the press release which was issued October 30, 1995, and it says if you want more information contact Christine McCulloch at a particular phone number.



It occurs to me that the reading of that press release from October 30th is not terribly different, I suppose, Mr. Speaker, than the situation where you or I might be interested in buying a piece of machinery from this particular minister and by way of explanation of what the machinery is all about, she reads you the warranty document. This minister, with the greatest respect, has not come within a mile of addressing or speaking to the principle of this bill and the complex - some might say confusing - and exceedingly difficult legal principles which are addressed and to a very considerable extent, changed, in this legislation.



I do not know whether the minister knows it or not, but I think it is safe to say, and I think I could suggest to her, that if she checked with 100 lawyers and 100 bankers and 100 men and women running commercial institutions in this province and the men and women who run the Registries of Deeds and so on, she would find, although she gave no indication of it here in her introductory remarks on second reading, that the law relative to the Assignment of Book Debts Act, the Bills of Sale Act, the Bulk Sales Act, the Conditional Sales Act, the Corporations Securities Registration Act, the Installment Payment Contracts Act and the Personal Property Lien Registry Act, all of the law relative to those pieces of legislation constitutes a body of law which anybody even remotely knowledgeable with the principles and concepts involved would acknowledge and indicate are among the most difficult and complex, and yet this minister is introducing a piece of legislation which will repeal all of that legislation . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: With a five minute speech.



MR. DONAHOE: . . . with a five minute speech which really was not a five minute speech; it was a five minute reading of the press release which her publicity director drafted for her and published on October 30th. The difficulty - and I mean this sincerely, and it is a very real difficulty, Mr. Speaker, and I will not belabour this point but I want to be sure that it is made as clearly as I can make it - this is one of the most important pieces of legislation which we will see in this session of the Legislature. (Applause) I see the Minister of Human Resources and I see the Minister of Municipal Affairs saying, and see where it came from and applauding the statement that I just made. Well, if the ministers on the other side agree with me that it is one of the most important pieces of legislation to come before us in this session, then the point I want to make is, that in fairness to all members of this place and in fairness to all of the hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands, I am sure, of men and women who are directly affected by the impact of this legislation, we and they are owed more by this minister and from this minister than a perfunctory reading of a little press release, which her PR person put together for her some days ago.



There are no explanatory notes in this legislation. There is no indication at all, Mr. Speaker, as to what principles are being taken from any or all of the pieces of legislation which are being repealed and are, in turn, being enshrined in this new legislation. There is no indication of that at all. As important, there is no indication as to what important and long-standing principles, which are enshrined in those pieces of legislation which are being repealed, are in fact being done away with. It has been, therefore, exceedingly difficult and I might say, with my inadequate or very questionable abilities, it was not possible for me and it still has not been possible for me, having had this extremely complex piece of legislation about the substance of which the minister hasn't come close to addressing. She hasn't talked anywhere near the principle of this bill. She introduced it on October 30th and on November 6th, with a weekend intervening is now asking us and all members to address what I say are some of the most complex legal principles at play in this province.



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the honourable member's suggestion, I did make very clear and it is well known in the whole province, this draft legislation was sent out in June. So if the Opposition are going to say that they have not seen what the intent of this legislation is and that there hasn't been a fair and open consultation with the people that are directly affected by this legislation, he is quite incorrect. It went out in June, 100 copies of it went out. We have received submissions from many, many people which have been incorporated. So I think for him to suggest that he has only had a very few number of days to look at the intent of this legislation and what it does is quite incorrect because it has been out there for some time.



It is also a piece of legislation that will not be proclaimed until next year. That, as well, gives those people that will be affected by this legislation, as he quite correctly says, it is very complicated and has a lot of issues to be dealt with in it. It gives almost a year, over a year actually, Mr. Speaker, 18 months to be reviewed.



MR. SPEAKER: Very well, the honourable minister has made her point.



MR. DONAHOE: A wonderful point it was. In fact, she stands now and she says that it was circulated in June. She should read her own press release, which she just read because she just a few minutes ago read to us out of the press release that it was circulated in July. But that aside. The 100 copies, if she had read more carefully, she would have found were, by her own department's release, apparently widely circulated to the banking, commercial, legal and academic communities, comments were received and carefully considered and incorporated.



Well, with respect, I have no personal knowledge of a draft being sent to our caucus office, and I don't know from my colleague in the NDP office as to whether or not any courtesy was shown him and his people as to whether or not they got a copy. I hear him saying, no. So, for the minister to say that it was widely circulated, and therefore I and my colleagues should know all about it, is a little bit difficult when, in fact, there wasn't even the common courtesy of this minister extending a copy of the draft to our caucus office.



I would put this in response if I may then since the minister has been so helpful, Mr. Speaker, to explain to me and to all Nova Scotians how widely it was distributed. First of all, I would think that a piece of legislation which has such fundamental change in so many elements of the law of the Province of Nova Scotia, as the Minister of Finance as a distinguished lawyer would know, the legislation which is repealed here is extremely important and complex. For this minister to pat herself on the back by saying, my goodness, we sent out 100 copies, that is, if I may say so, hardly a terribly wide distribution.



[4:45 p.m.]



Let me then, in reaction to her statement a moment ago that she distributed that and indicated that she got a number of replies, I ask this minister if she would be prepared, in the spirit of making it possible for those of us, all of us in this House, her own colleagues, would she be prepared to table here in this place, before we finish second reading of this bill, the responses which she received from those who did respond to the 100 copies sent out? Perhaps I could get an indication as to whether or not she would be prepared to help us all.



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Well, Mr. Speaker, the correspondence between the department and individuals within the community I think is private and confidential. I certainly would be prepared to give a list of those individuals who responded back to us and the Opposition could clearly request the material from those individuals.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, may I take it from that, through you to the minister, that the minister has undertaken then to file that list of those who did respond? We will do the best we can, in what time we have available to us, to make contact.



For the record, Mr. Speaker, the minister is indicating that yes, she will file that list of those to whom she sent it and from whom she received replied.



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, just for clarification, the honourable member asked if I would supply him with a list of the people who responded back and I am prepared to do that.



MR. DONAHOE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the minister for making that undertaking. I take it that the undertaking also carried with it the timeframe that we talked about, that it would be tabled before second reading of the bill is finished, so I will proceed on that assumption.



I said that the law affected by this piece of legislation, the bill we have before us, in and of itself and the provisions of the six or seven pieces of legislation which are being repealed, are among the most complex of our legal system. There are no explanatory notes, there was no indication from this minister as to what the principle of the bill actually is. We are then left to try, in a very short timeframe, to ferret out a little bit about just what impact this bill will have.



I will do my best, and I acknowledge some difficulty in doing it, by reason of timeframe and other constraints, to address some of what I think are the public policy or principles enshrined in this legislation, which I think deserve further and much fuller attention by this minister.



Mr. Speaker, the bill will repeal the Assignment of Book Debts Act, the Bills of Sale Act, the Bulk Sales Act, the Conditional Sales Act, the Corporations Securities Registration Act, the Instalment Payment Contracts Act, the Personal Property Lien Registry Act. Seven Acts are being repealed. I acknowledge what the minister said, that in today's manner of conducting business and commercial affairs, many of the provisions of those Acts, indeed, were and are dated. So I don't take issue with that comment. However, when we look at the bill, we find that there are references and fairly copious and frequent references to such things or a thing or a place or a function or an office which is called a clearing agency.



I have a real difficulty here, Mr. Speaker, because it is impossible to understand one of the principles of this bill as it relates to whatever clearing agencies are, for the simple reason that there is no definition of what a clearing agency is. I know I am obliged not to go through this clause by clause and I will do my utmost to ensure that I do not do that, but the point I make, which I hope you understand and I am sure you do, many of the legal principles which are apparently enshrined in this legislation bear one way or another or have impact one way or the other on the basis of what in the world is a "clearing agency".



Not to get too much into particular references, but among other things, when they are describing and defining security, the bill talks about security meaning, "a writing, whether or not in the form of a security certificate that is . . ." certain things. I am reading from definition Clause 2(ap)(iii)(B), "an entry in the records of a clearing agency, but does not include a writing that provides for . . ." and so on. Well, I don't know what a clearing agency is when I read this legislation.



Later I find that, Clause 2(as), "`security with a clearing agency' means a security . . ." and then there are various definition provisions, "(C) registered in the name of the clearing agency or its nominee or custodian, that is in the custody of the clearing agency . . .". Well, there are legal implications outlined in this legislation relative to security documents which are prepared by or held by or on deposit at a clearing agency and there is no such definition. It is, therefore, impossible for us to make a judgment as to the principles which are or are not being enshrined in this legislation because we do not know a fundamental element of the legislation.



Further in the legislation, Mr. Speaker, and again attempting to remain with the principle of the bill, we find there are references in here to people who are senior employees, "of the body corporate" and, later, Clause 3(1)(d)(ii), "a senior employee of the association with responsibility for matters to which the information relates, . . ." and "senior employees of government.".



With respect again, Mr. Speaker, there is no precision or no clarity as to, just what kind of a man or a woman or role or function or authority or responsibility are we talking about? It is not at all clear. It is going to be exceedingly difficult for anybody to read this legislation and come to anything close to a reasonable understanding of who these people are which the bill purports to identify and reference, because their role function, level of seniority and the like is not described in the legislation or, in my opinion, at least, not described sufficiently and I think we have a very real problem.



The problem, again, is not a draftmanship problem - and maybe we can correct some of this with some change of drafting - but it is an interpretation problem. The principle of the bill is virtually impossible to define or identify or act upon without those who will use this legislation, if, God forbid, it were ever to pass in its present form, having some indication as to who and what and where and what authorities and responsibilities are the senior employees, so-called, actually clothed with. It is not clear and, again I repeat, the principle of the bill is deficient on that account.



Now in this piece of legislation we are going to find some language that, again, addresses a fundamental principle. Pretty basic. I would think you would agree, to have any piece of legislation, be it complex and technical legal principles or be it anything else, it is pretty difficult to understand the principle of the bill if one is not able to determine from a reading of the bill as to what it does apply to or, conversely - and I am going to make that reference now - what it purports not to apply to. This particular piece of legislation is drafted in such a way as to indicate that, except as otherwise provided in the bill, this bill doesn't apply to a lien or charge or other interest given by a Statute or rule of law unless the Statute provides that this bill applies.



I am okay up to the point where I read that it doesn't apply to a lien or another interest which is set out in a Statute unless that Statute says that this bill shall apply. But the minister has produced a principle which says that it doesn't apply to a lien, charge or other interest given by a Statute or rule of law unless the Statute provides that this bill applies. Well the Statute is the Statute. The rule of law is something other than the Statute. There is no degree of precision or clarity there and, frankly, I find myself and I have made some inquiries of colleagues in the legal community who share the view that they too are concerned. They ask the basic question, as I did, when you read that, what does it apply to or, conversely, what does it not apply to? I think we have a very real difficulty there.



Does it apply to a lien, charge or other interest given by a rule of law? Perhaps the minister might make a note and answer the question for me when she closes debate. Does this bill apply to a lien, charge or other interest given by a rule of law? I think I can read the clause in such a way as to conclude that it does apply to a lien, charge or other interest given by a Statute if that Statute provides that this bill will apply. But we have this dangling phrase or rule of law out in the middle of no person's land there and, frankly, I think there would be, and is, great confusion as to whether or not that language impacts or not on the question of the applicability of this particular piece of legislation.



I say with respect that it is essential, it is incumbent upon the minister to provide an explanation, before we leave second reading, of just what is intended by that language, not just specific, if I may say, to that particular clause but, more to the point, it is incumbent upon the minister to address the question more generally as to just what this bill does really apply to and what it does not.



If you read further in this legislation and you come to provisions about which the minister read at some length in her October 30th press release, which she used to introduce the bill here today on second reading. You come to sections and provisions and the statement of legal principles which would affect the establishment of what the legislation refers to as an electronic registry if you will bear with me long enough to find the references.



[5:00 p.m.]



This bill purports to establish that Clause 43(1), "There shall be an electronic registry known as the Personal Property Registry for the purpose of registrations pursuant to this Act and pursuant to any other Act that provides for registration in the Registry.". Then it goes on to talk about registrars being appointed, and, my compliments, the provision is there that, "The Registrar shall be appointed in accordance with the Civil Service Act.". I think that is appropriate and I would have been screaming that those words should be there, were they not there. I sincerely applaud the minister that they are. "(3) One or more deputies can be appointed in accordance with the Civil Service Act.". The registrar has the authority to supervise and administer the operation of the registry and has such powers and duties as are set out in the Act or the regulations or any other Act that provides for registration in the registry or the regulations pursuant to that Act. And, on it goes.



I was doing fine with my reading of the establishment of the registry, the appointment of registrars and so on but I came to a public policy principle, Mr. Speaker, in this bill which causes me great distress and I would ask the minister to take particular note. Again, before she closes debate on second reading, if she would be kind enough to help me and others with whom I have discussed this particular principle, understand better, indeed, even start to understand let alone understand better, what in the world it really means.



We have the bill saying there shall be an electronic registry. There shall be a registrar appointed under the Civil Service Act. There is a power of appointment of deputy registrars under the Civil Service Act and that is all as it should be. It goes on to talk about the supervision and administration, the operation of the registry by the registrar, and the deputies can take over if there is any problem with the registrar and so on. But then we come to this particular problem and I need help understanding what is going on here because it occurs to me and with a few others with whom I discussed it outside of our caucus, it disturbs or confuses them, as well.



There is a principle enshrined in this same section, after we get the registrar up and running that allows that registrar if in the opinion of that registrar, it is not practical to provide access to the registry which has just been set up or to provide one or more registry services, the registrar can refuse access to the registry or otherwise suspend one or more of its services. That, I suggest, Mr. Speaker, through you again to the minister, that runs absolutely counter to what I thought the bill was purporting to do. I thought the bill was purporting to set up an electronic registry that all consumers in Nova Scotia, particularly those who deal with commercial paper, banks, commercial institutions, car dealerships and those selling goods of that kind and so on, on which there would be chattel mortgages and conditional sales agreements and so on, that this was supposed to set up. As a matter of fact, if I can go back to this wonderful press release, this was all such good stuff that through this bill, said the minister, we are joining with our sister provinces and moving to a well-recognized, proven system.



Well, I haven't had an opportunity unfortunately by reason of shortage of time to make a determination or to even make an assessment by way of comparison, but I would have some very serious doubt that other jurisdictions have enshrined in their legislation a principle which says that if in the opinion of the registrar, he or she doesn't think its practical, he can make rules about the provision of access to the registry or to provide one or more registry services. The registrar may refuse access to the registry or otherwise suspend one or more of its services.



Now, I will come later, Mr. Speaker, to a few references to the regulation-making authority which is set out in this legislation - and it is extensive; it is extremely extensive - but it is passing strange, as I read this legislation and struggled hard, and believe me, I struggled hard, I read every line, I went through it to try to find the flow and the linkages and tried to dredge up some misty recollections of some of the provisions of the Conditional Sales Act and the Bulk Sales Act and other legislation and time militated against me having as deep an analysis as I would liked to have had, but I find it very difficult to understand that we are going to set up this - if this bill passes - electronic registry and we are going to have a registrar, and the registrar is given authority and responsibility to administer it.



We have later, which I will come to, provisions in this legislation which afford and clothe the Governor in Council with very wide powers to make regulations about how people who want to file documents in this registry, how they go about doing that the information and the data that they are required to provide, the form in which they are required to provide it, the fee schedule which will prevail, and the impact of the receipt by a consumer from that registry of a computer printout of what is registered and so on.



All of that strikes me as evidence of an understandable, clear, consistent and trustworthy administrative regime. But, lo and behold, in the middle of it all, we get this situation where, "When it is not practical, in the opinion of the Registrar, to provide access to the Registry or to provide one or more Registry services, the Registrar may refuse access to the Registry or otherwise suspend one or more of its services.". I ask the minister to take special note of the remarks I make now about that - I am referring to Clause 43(7) - and when she closes if she would either tell me that I have completely missed the point of what that is supposed to do, or tell me that if she is not sure that I have missed the boat and that she will discuss it with her officials and her colleagues to ensure that we have an opportunity to clearly address that issue at that clause and the impact of that clause.



It is not the clause that is the concern, it is the principle enshrined in the language. If you have a system and it is up and running and it is regulated by regulatory regime established by Governor in Council and then, meanwhile, the Cabinet thinks it is doing a lot of good things and probably would set up a pretty sensible and workable regime, and then meanwhile out, when any of us as consumers of the system want to use it, we walk in one day and the registrar says, well, excuse me, but in my opinion I do not think it is practical to allow you access to the registry or to provide you with one or more of the registry services.



Well, if that authority is going to vest and reside with the registrar - and I have some serious reservations as to whether or not any such authority should reside - surely the only place in which that authority resides and the determination as to the terms and provisions and conditions and circumstances upon which or under which a registrar could make any such order would be as set out in a regulation approved by Order in Council and by the Governor in Council.



I think we have the potential, in that particular clause all by itself, of raining chaos down on this registration system because the men and women running businesses in nova Scotia, to whom the commercial paper which will be registered in this registry is their lifeblood, those are their security documents, Mr. Speaker, those are their collateral mortgages and their chattel mortgages and their conditional sales agreements and so on, and if, for some reason, they walk in some day and want to register certain of those documents which are evidence of security on a particular asset and evidence of their claim against a creditor and the registrar says, well, I don't think I am going to let you register them or have access to the registry or, no, yesterday or this morning I changed some of the registry services. Frankly, we are going to have very real difficulty with the operation of this particular registry.



Therefore, I raise that issue as strongly as I can with the minister, to call upon her to either clearly, precisely and without any fudging at all, tell me, explain to me and all members that I have misapprehended the impact of that section. If I have not, I repeat, I plead with her to address it with her officials and come back before we end second reading, to offer some guidance and guidelines in there.



I read further through the legislation, Mr. Speaker, and I found myself reading down in the area of the clauses that I am in now and I thought that the principles being established were understandable and seem to hang together a little bit, until I ran into that problem with the registrar. I recalled as I was doing that reading that I should go back to the provisions relative to what the application of the Act is supposed to be. I found myself going back to language which says that this Act apparently - the words don't say `apparently' - Clause 4(1), ". . . this Act applies to (a) every transaction that in substance creates a security interest, without regard to its form and without regard to the person who has title to the collateral; and (b) without limiting the generality of clause (a), a chattel mortgage, conditional sale, fixed charge, floating charge, pledge, trust indenture, trust receipt, assignment, consignment, lease, trust or transfer of chattel paper where it secures payment or performance of an obligation.".



Well, that is the crux of what this is all about. It is those transactions and the development of security by way of the execution of that kind of commercial paper and commercial document and legal document which is all being consolidated into this new legislation by virtue of the repeal at the end of the legislation of all the legislation which provides for those kinds of commercial paper, the assignment of books, debts, bills of sale, conditional sales Act and so on. So that was what the purpose of the Act was supposed to be, that it would apply to all those things.



Then it goes further and talks about the Act applying to commercial consignments, a lease for a term of more than a year, transfer of an account, or chattel paper sale of goods without a change of possession that does not secure payment or performance of an obligation. So I thought I had a little bit of an understanding of what the bill was supposed to apply to or to which it was to apply.



But then, as I say, I found myself as my reading continued, I got back down into Clause 43 and the principle which seems to allow the registrar to change the rules in midstream and I became very frightened that we have two competing principles; we have a legal statement as to what is the application of the Act, the nature of the commercial transactions and the commercial paper to which it applies and then we have - and that there is a new, modern, up-to-date, computerized, electronic data-based registry system and then the registrar can change the ground rules in mid-steam. That, if I have apprehended correctly, Mr. Speaker, if I have apprehended correctly the authority that would be available to the Registrar in that clause, then I say to you that the integrity of this legislation is seriously and fundamentally flawed.



[5:15 p.m.]



I read further, of course, in an attempt to understand the legislation and understand the issues which are addressed here in the legislation and I got down into a couple of principles relating to the way in which a person who wished to register commercial paper at this registry can do so and what might happen. I think there may be a simple explanation from the minister, if she can bear with me, relative to the issue which I now want to raise. The language, as I read it, caused me sufficient concern to feel that I wanted to put the question here in second reading because, if I am again misapprehending, it may cause a difficulty in the operation and the legal impact and effect of this legislation.



I am down in Clause 44 and I am finding that a person, undefined, so I presume any legal person, so it is an individual or a corporation or any legal person, ". . . may register a financing statement in the Registry at an office of the Registry in accordance with the regulations.". No real problems with that. Then I read further and I read in Clause 44(2) that, "The Registrar may enter into an agreement with any person to provide access to the Registry on terms and conditions that the Registrar considers advisable and may vary the terms and conditions from time to time as the Registrar considers advisable.".



I say to you quite candidly, I am not sure I understand what that means. If it means what it could possibly mean or might mean, I think we have a potential problem because in the first part of the clause we have a principle established that a person, any person, you or I, or a bank, a corporation of any kind, a trust company, any commercial enterprise, anybody referred to in this legislation who is a "legal person" may register a financing statement in the registry in accordance with the regulations.



Then we find that the registrar can engage in agreements with any person, you or me, a bank, any of those commercial institutions, ". . . to provide access to the Registry on terms and conditions that the Registrar considers advisable and may vary the terms and conditions from time to time as the Registrar considers advisable.". Is it possible, is what bothered me when I read that language, is it possible that the registrar can some how put some kind of constraint or constraints on any persons, be it a corporate entity or a private individual or whomever put some constraints or restrictive parameters on the access that "person" might have to the registry?



I do not know whether that is in fact what that means. If that is the principle enshrined in this particular piece of legislation in that clause then I have very serious concerns about it and I would seriously recommend that the minister, if she would be kind enough to do so, might make a note and either, again, allay my fears and concerns in that regard or, failing that, address it before we finish second reading.



I went further and I hesitate to make the comments which I am now going make knowing that sitting in front of me are our distinguished Clerk and Deputy Clerk, both of whom are well renowned conveyancers and know a great deal about real estate and the law relative to real estate and the registration thereof and priority of claims against real estate and so on. This bill addresses those issues and some of those are difficult legal principles. I ran into this kind of a problem.



When we read this bill, Mr. Speaker, we will find a principle enshrined in Clause 50. Clause 50(1)(a) talks about a "`debtor' includes any person named as a debtor in a notice registered pursuant to this Section;". Then we have secured party defined and that, "(b) . . . includes any person named as a secured party in a notice registered pursuant to this Section.".



Then we get some very interesting provisions. Clause 50(2), "A security interest in a fixture under Section 37 and a security interest in a crop . . .", on land ". . . under Section 38 may be registered in a registry of deeds . . .". Not now in the personal property registry that we were just talking about, but in a registry of deeds, ". . . by submitting a notice in accordance with the regulations to that registry.". Clause 50(3), "On the submission of a notice pursuant to subsection (2) . . .", the notice that such a registration has taken place, ". . . and on the payment of any prescribed fee, the registrar of deeds shall register it in that office.".



Then we get to the issue that I want to raise. Clause 50(4), "On the registration of a notice pursuant to subsection (3), every person dealing with the land to which the notice relates is deemed to have knowledge of the security interest referred to in the notice.". I think that is probably the statement or restatement of the existing law, but I read on.



When I read that, I was prompted to go back to what I had found earlier in Clause 48. When I read Clause 48, I found language to this effect. "Registration of a financing statement in the Registry by itself does not constitute notice or knowledge to any person of the existence or contents of the financing statement or of the existence of the security interest or the contents of any security agreement to which the registration relates.". I frankly find an inconsistency and it may be that I am misunderstanding one of the fundamental principles which I thought was to be enshrined in this legislation.



When you are dealing with the real estate and you register the notice pursuant to the terms provided in Clause 50(4), when you register that notice, ". . . every person dealing with the land to which the notice relates is deemed to have knowledge of the security interest referred to in the notice.". Then you go back, and this is my problem, to registration of a financing agreement or financing statement in the other registry and the language says that that registration, ". . . by itself does not constitute notice or knowledge to any person of the existence or contents of the financing statement or of the existence of the security interest or the contents of any security agreement to which the registration relates.".



My problem is this, and perhaps when the minister closes debate, she will help me understand here. I thought that when we were listening to the minister, Mr. Speaker, read lines such as, "The proposed legislation is based on the New Brunswick Personal Property Security Act . . .", and that the ". . . changes contained in the legislation will bring the process of registering personal property security in line with practices elsewhere in Canada. Many jurisdictions in Canada have abandoned the old personal property registry system and adopted the modern Personal Property Security Act model.".



It was my understanding that the minister was attempting to convey the impression on behalf of government that we were moving to a registration system which was intended, relative to personal property, to provide the same kinds of notice and deemed notice and knowledge relative to personal property registration as has pertained for some time relative to registration of documents and encumbrances on land in the registry of deeds.



Now, if I am wrong - I am a big boy and I don't mind this minister telling me, if she gives me a reasonable explanation as to why I am wrong - then I am wrong. But my understanding is that the whole point of the personal property registry which this bill is supposed to be designing or implementing is to get away from, for instance, the fact, and the minister alluded to it in her opening remarks, that if there is an encumbrance - chattel mortgage, conditional sales agreement, whatever - on a piece of personal property and I am in Digby County and I want to make a purchase in Digby County, how do I know that the person from whom I am buying that chattel or that piece of goods in Digby County does not have an encumbrance registered in Halifax County or in Sydney or in Yarmouth County or wherever? The minister says that her new system and the government's new system is going to make it possible through one-stop shopping for me to be able, electronically, to find out in one stop whether or not the chattel that I want to buy from this fellow in Digby is, in fact, in the electronic registry.



In my example, let us make the assumption that there is indeed a chattel mortgage and it is indeed in the registry. Well, if it was real estate and it was a mortgage and I was dealing with the land, I would be deemed to have notice of that encumbrance. I do not understand why if it is on the personal property, in the one place, in the electronic registry, I am not deemed also to have knowledge of or notice of it when I am dealing with that particular piece of personal property. I thought that was the whole point of establishing this particular personal property registry. I may have missed something in the translation. I hope not.



Mr. Speaker, could you give me an indication of how long I might have?



MR. SPEAKER: I was just composing a note to you to advise you that you have 10 minutes left.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I would very much hope that the minister would be in a position to respond and address what I consider to be an apparent inconsistency relative to deemed notice and knowledge relative on the one hand to real estate and personal property on the other. I am sure she will be able to do that when she closes on second reading.



Now, Mr. Speaker, there is a principle which appears in this legislation which really did cause me some concern, and I am mindful of your caveat that I have limited time available. In this legislation, we have provisions, Clause 48, which indicate that "Registration of a financing statement in the Registry by itself does not constitute notice or knowledge to any person of the existence or contents of the financing statement or of the existence of the security interest or the contents . . .", and the like.



Then we go down to provisions which say, Clause 53(2)(b), "Her Majesty in right of the Province is not liable directly or vicariously for loss or damage suffered by a person because of", among other things, "the failure of the Registry to effect a registration or to effect a registration correctly.".



I say, Mr. Speaker, with all the vigour I can, what is the point? What is the point of having this personal property registry held out to the people of Nova Scotia as being 20th and 21st Century kind of commercial and administrative practice? It is going to be computerized, it is going to be up-to-date, we are going to be on all fours with our sister provinces and so on. Here we have a provision, Clause 53(2)(b), which says that, "Her Majesty in right of the Province is not liable directly or vicariously for loss or damage suffered by a person because of the failure of the Registry to effect a registration or to effect a registration correctly.".



[5:30 p.m.]



So I happen or somebody else happens to be running a commercial business, a car dealership. They take a lot of paper on the cars they sell and they want to register these security documents in the registry and they happen, by chance, to have 10 of them in a package and they send the 10 off to the registry. And lo and behold, somebody at the registry, the registrar or deputy registry or clerk or who knows who, puts them on the in or the out basket or puts them on top of the filing cabinet or the water cooler or who knows where they put them, but they don't effect a registration of any of them or they don't effect the registration correctly.



Mr. Speaker, is this minister going to tell me or, more to the point, going to tell that car dealership that that dealership has no right or recourse back against the Nova Scotia Government which holds this out as a safe, reliable, state-of-the-art registration system? I don't understand that and I don't think too many men and women running businesses where registered commercial paper is involved are going to understand it either. I would ask the minister if she would address that issue before she closes debate here on this bill.



It is interesting to note in the face of that protection to the Crown that you can go further and deeper into the bill and get down to provisions and principles in this bill which say things such as Clause 64(1), "In this Section, `secured party' includes a receiver.". Clause 67(2), "Where a person fails, without reasonable excuse, to discharge any obligations imposed on that person by this Act, the person to whom the obligation is owed has the right to recover any loss or damage that was reasonably foreseeable as liable to result from the failure.".



So if there is an obligation there and the obligation isn't honoured and isn't met and a person suffers loss or damage which was reasonably foreseeable, that is actionable so that the person who suffers the loss or damage can recover the loss or damage. But lo and behold, a few clauses earlier, we have the officials and functionaries in the registry not able, there is a protection for them and, more to the point, a protection for the Crown. This is the Crown's registry. The Crown, the Province of Nova Scotia, the Government of Nova Scotia is holding this out as a safe, reliable, registration system and regime.



So some person who is dealing with a secured party who has an obligation fails to meet the obligation, the secured party suffers loss or damage, the loss or damage was reasonably foreseeable, that secured party has an action. I don't understand why the person who registers the documents in the registry and, God forbid, gets into a situation where the people at the registry have either failed to effect a registration or they effect the registration incorrectly, that that person doesn't have a right of action against either the individual or, more to the point, the Crown who are running the registry. It just simply doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to me.



I would ask the minister if she will address what I consider to be a very serious flaw and inconsistency in the bill.



In the last couple of moments remaining, Mr. Speaker, may I just very quickly make reference to the fact, and I alluded to it earlier, there is very extensive regulation-making authority set out in Clause 72 of this legislation. It gives the Governor in Council, this minister and her colleagues in Cabinet, very wide powers. It gives them powers such as, respecting the Registry and its operation, including the location and the hours of the office, it relates to fees payable, searches, it relates to regulations respecting the data to be entered in the Registry to effect, renew, or discharge or otherwise amend the registration authorized and so on, respecting the data and so on.



The point is that the Governor in Council can make regulations telling everybody else what they have to do, but here, again I go back to the clause which says, however, if the Registry fails to register or registers incorrectly, then there is no recourse back against the Crown. I think that that is foolish and absolutely unfair and it will inject a considerable degree of fear and uncertainty into the business community which would propose in other circumstances to use this Registry.



There are many other things which have caused me concern in relation to this bill but we will save those for another time. I would simply close my remarks here on second reading by moving, if I may, an amendment and I am distributing that to you and to the Clerk at the table and if a Page would take one to the minister please.



I am moving that the words after "That" be deleted and the following be substituted: "Bill No. 31, An Act Respecting Security Interests in Personal Property, be not now read a second time, but that it be read a second time this day six months hence.".



There is considerable work to be done and I believe the amendment has merit. We would have access to all of the materials which the minister referred to in our exchange early here on debate in second reading. I make that motion and await your ruling.



MR. SPEAKER: Very well. I rule the amendment to be in order. However, before another honourable member seeks the floor I wish to advise the House that I will have to - and I trust that any who follow me in the Chair will also be equally vigilant - restrict debate strictly to the amendment.



I wanted to say that the speech that the honourable member just made was one of the best speeches that I have heard on second reading of a bill in a long time because he dealt exclusively with the bill. He didn't skate all over the rink, he spoke to the bill. I am expecting honourable members to speak to the amendment in the same way.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, with those words of endorsement and certainly when I know that when you cast your judgment on how things have gone and the quality of speeches, it is certainly not encouraging to have to be the one to stand and speak afterwards. Actually I find, although I do not always agree with a lot of assessments that you make, this particular one is one that I do happen to agree with.



If I might, just to provide some credence to what else you have just said and I am not going into a long reading, I just want to read for purposes of trying to explain one clause in the bill. I just picked this one at random and I assure you, my comments, this afternoon, are not going to be very lengthy on this particular motion that is before us.



In Clause 7(1) it says, "Subject to Section 8, where the parties to a security agreement that creates a security interest in goods in one jurisdiction understand when the security interest attaches that the goods will be kept in another jurisdiction, the validity, perfection and effect of perfection or non-perfection of the security interest are determined by the law of the other jurisdiction if the goods are removed to the other jurisdiction, for purposes other than transportation through the other jurisdiction, within thirty days after the security interest attaches.".



When I read that and I am going through this bill, and quite honestly as I was listening to the speech of the member for Halifax Citadel, I was saying, thank Heavens sometimes we do have some lawyers in the House because, as I have been going through this legislation and trying to put an understanding to what it is all about, I find that, lacking the legal expertise, it is indeed very difficult to follow. I very much appreciated the lesson that I got from the former Leader of the Opposition.



Mr. Speaker, I don't pretend to know all of the details about security of personal property. I wonder sometimes - and I would like to have some more information about the registry system - I have fundamental problems with a piece of legislation that will set up what I consider to be double standards. I don't know if the bill needs to be delayed for six months, or maybe the minister can stand in her place and be prepared to make commitments that some of the obvious and glaring faults can be corrected. I certainly support the concept of having a central registry. I certainly support making it easier for businesses in this province to be able to register their liens against personal property and I would not like to see that process delayed unnecessarily.



I would also like to see those who are purchasing property be able to know that they can go to - as the saying goes - one-stop shopping and find out that information and be able to be assured that if they are to invest or purchase a piece of property that there are not going to be chattels or liens against it that are going to come back to hit them as a hidden surprise right after they bought it. To turn around and to say that everybody else has the responsibility, to say that everybody else, whether that is a business or an individual, can be liable for their actions and then turn around and say that the government itself, which is setting up this registry, which controls that registry, sets all the terms and conditions, to say that it is above the law, that if a person goes out and purchases a vehicle believing, for example, that it is free and clear of any liens or judgments against it, only to find out that somebody in the minister's registry fouled up and they find themselves stuck with a bill after they have purchased it in good faith.



Now, Mr. Speaker, six months - if it takes the minister that long - would provide plenty of opportunity for the minister to have this bill again revisited by those who are learned in this area of law which I profess, I claim without any hesitation, I acknowledge I have no legal expertise, and I have certainly no knowledge of this kind of law, but there are those who do. When you find such a glaring fault, an obvious, cover-thy-backside intentional clause that the government has put in to protect themselves, as Clause 53(2)(b) states, "the failure of the Registry to effect a registration or to effect a registration correctly.", that is that there is no liability directly or against them for any loss or damage because they foul up. That is cover-thy-backside legislation. They are building into it a provision that if they foul up, there can be no action taken against them. That is no-fault insurance for themselves. That is for darn sure. Certainly, it does not build in any principle of accountability.



[5:45 p.m.]



I would certainly hope that the government and the minister are not planning to set up a slipshod operation. I know that they have gone and they have already awarded a tender, a contract, I understand. They went out to tender back in May where they were looking for a cooperative business solution calling for proposals for the Personal Property Registrar, operated, re definition of the Department of Municipal Affairs. The above request for proposals closed on Tuesday, July 11th and I understand that that has already been awarded.



Maybe this registrar is even going to be a private company that the government is contracting to and they are not only then protecting themselves, but that company to whom they are contracting out the service and shutting down other offices where public sector workers are providing the service and have been employed. Mr. Speaker, that is wrong.



If for no other reason than the blatant attempt by the government to build into this legislation, as I call it, in a very sophisticated way, in my typical eloquent manner, cover-thy-backside clause, if they have done something so blatantly as that, then obviously this bill needs and deserves very careful scrutiny. Unless the minister is prepared to announce that those kinds of provisions in this bill will be amended and will be struck down or revised to ensure that there is accountability of the government, I have every intention of voting in support of the amendment that is before us, because, quite frankly, I have more confidence in the analysis of this legislation that was done by the previous speaker than I do in the minister in the press release that she read out when she introduced the bill.



I think that these kinds of flaws are extremely serious. They have long-lasting impact on all Nova Scotians and, Mr. Speaker, as I say, unless the minister is prepared to address those before this debate finishes, I certainly will be voting in support of this very reasonable and rational amendment that is before us. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I do not pretend either to be a lawyer and to fully understand this piece of legislation, but I think that if there was ever a case that can be made for plain language legislation or plain English legislation, then this piece of legislation certainly fits the bill.



Mr. Speaker, the reason why I am speaking in favour of a six months' hoist on this bill is because, quite obviously, the minister has done, by her own admission, a certain amount of research among those who are affected by this piece of legislation. But, however, unfortunately the Opposition, it appears, was not part of that consultation process.



The minister stated that she has received several responses to the 100 plus packages that she sent out to interested parties, but, however, the Opposition, again, was not privy to the results of that survey of interested parties that she carried out. So thus, Mr. Speaker, those of us in the House who are not of the legal profession, I am afraid, are going to have a great deal of difficulty, not only interpreting this bill, but to see whether or not the principle of the bill is sound and whether or not the impact of the bill is exactly what the minister says. Because if the principle of this bill is indeed to bring together a central registry, then I think, perhaps, we are moving in the right direction.



But, for goodness sakes, surely the minister, when she introduced the bill, could have produced at least some notes for the benefit of the House. She could have done so, not only for the Opposition, but for the members of her own caucus as well, because I am sure from what I heard outside this Chamber that it appears that nobody, even within the government caucus, fully understands the implications and the ramifications of this piece of legislation.



So, Mr. Speaker, in asking for a six months' hoist on this bill, all we are saying in the Opposition is give us the facts, let us analyze those facts, let us get together with the researchers in our individual caucuses, to determine exactly what this bill is going to do and whether or not there are certain parts of this bill that are not going to achieve the purpose that the minister has put forward as being the reason for the introduction of this legislation.



Mr. Speaker, I will be supporting the amendment and would encourage the minister to agree to hold this bill, perhaps just leave it lying on the order paper, if she so desires, until such time as she can make available to the members of the House the information necessary to analyze the bill during second reading and also to have some knowledge of what the bill is about when we go forth into Law Amendments Committee. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, rise in support of the amendment which has just been made and has been spoken on by my colleague from Hants West.



This is, indeed, as any member who has seized the opportunity to review this bill, a very complex piece of legislation - I suppose at first blush any of us might be inclined to look at it and move away from it with an understanding that the bill really is there to assist the business community to conduct its affairs in a more orderly way. But then as one begins to peruse it, one begins to understand that there is the potential for very dramatic impact on the consumer as well.



The minister has made reference to a number of submissions she has received respecting the draft bill that apparently was circulated in July, not in June as she mistakenly pointed out when she was introducing the bill for second reading, but presumably, other than those who were invited to review that draft, the wide body of Nova Scotians have not had the opportunity, if they so choose, to respond to it. I believe this bill is deserving of far greater scrutiny than that which the government would seem to be prepared to provide, not to satisfy the Opposition but, rather, to satisfy Nova Scotians that what the bill is doing is, indeed, in the wide public interest, not in the narrow public interest.



Now, Mr. Speaker, I know you have run a very successful constituency service for your 25 years as a member and, in some small way, I have endeavoured to duplicate that kind of service in my constituency, albeit yours is an urban constituency and mine a rural one. I am sure that you and I have both had many experiences of persons, particularly those who find themselves on various levels of social assistance, being caught up in finance company loans and their goods becoming chattels to finance company loans. They find themselves really in extremis and they turn to people like you and me because they can't afford lawyers, they don't know where else to go for an understanding of how the law can protect them in their difficulty. That is why it is so important that you and I and every member of this House has an opportunity to fully understand the implications of this legislation once passed. That is why it is vitally important that we take the time to go not to some of the people who are invited to play but to all of the people, to determine whether the broad view of Nova Scotians is that this legislation, both in its principle and in its specifics, is appropriate to meet the needs of the populace of this province.



It is essential, for example, and we don't know whether this has been done or not, that the Consumers Association of Nova Scotia be able to play a very active role with respect to this legislation. The minister herself has indicated that it is intended that the bill will not be given Royal Assent for six months and that provides us with a very unusual and, indeed, a perfect opportunity not to proceed with the bill further at this time but rather to hoist it for six months and provide that opportunity for much wider public scrutiny and public debate, an opportunity for the members of this place to understand much more fully what this bill will effect once proclaimed, so that we are sure that we are serving the interests of all Nova Scotians and not the narrow interest of one particular community within Nova Scotia.



So, Mr. Speaker, with those few words I would encourage all members to give support to this motion which does not defeat the purpose of the government but I think expands the purpose of the government, with respect to full and wide consultation. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, in speaking to the bill, An Act Respecting Security Interests in Personal Property and the amendment that the bill not now be read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence, the unfortunate thing, of course, is that this amendment has been made necessary by the way in which the bill has been introduced to the House. Earlier in debate the minister, when she introduced the bill in second reading, made reference to providing 100 copies to various institutions, organizations, to allow them to have input into the legislation.



However, the unfortunate thing is that neither Opposition Party were given the opportunity to peruse the draft legislation, so we received our copy when the bill was tabled on October 30th. While one cannot disagree with a better method, an electronic way, eventually, leading to a standard method of registration of personal property right across this country, it is the duty of the Opposition Party and the duty of the Third Party to examine in this place the legislation and to make sure that the public interest is, in fact, being looked to.



The way in which the legislation was brought forward with, I believe, four working days for the Opposition to establish their position, bearing in mind that this is an extremely complex piece of legislation, I would like to compliment the member for Halifax Citadel who spoke at length on this in second reading and, obviously, has spent a great deal of time over the weekend reviewing this legislation to prepare himself for the debate. However, the length of time did not enable him or enable this caucus to do the kind of consultation that the minister referred in her remarks when she provided 100 copies to banks and other institutions who will be using and be interested in this registry.



We have no idea, for example, since we have not been made privy to the responses, then it would be up to us, if we are to fulfil our responsibilities in this place, to make the same kind of consultation to ensure ourselves that the legislation, in fact, reflects what came as the result of the consultative process. So, there is just so much technical detail and I would be bold enough I think to suggest, other than the member for Halifax Citadel, I would daresay there is not another member of the House who could speak with any degree of clarity and with any degree of detail as to what this bill is all about.



Had the bill been tabled and then perhaps if we had been made privy to the advice of the institutions that were consulted, then it well may be that this particular motion would not be necessary at this time, but it is absolutely impossible for the Opposition Parties, with the exception of those with legal training, to make a suitable appraisal of this bill, in principle, on second reading with the information that has been made available to us by the way of the minister's opening remarks on second reading and, as well, by our inability to garner any information from those who would have input into the bill.



[6:00 p.m.]



I speak very strongly that this approach by the government benches in introducing the legislation which is so technical, so difficult for other than those with a legal background to understand, to introduce this legislation on October 30th and then expect debate on November 6th is inappropriate and a misuse really of the Legislature's time.



Madam Speaker, I am speaking in favour of the amendment and I will be voting for it.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Madam Speaker, I want to speak in favour of the amendment to delay this bill six months so that members of the Chamber would have an opportunity to better understand exactly what the bill is telling us.



This Legislature, Madam Speaker, is for the benefit of the people of Nova Scotia. It is not the personal purview of the government, nor this minister. There are, I am sure, explanatory notes, information. According to the minister, 100 people have corresponded back and forth. Those 100 selected groups or organizations throughout the province said in July they were given this bill to have a look at so they could make comment on. Certainly nobody on this side of the House was given the bill in July. We were given the bill on Friday and expected to speak on the bill this evening.



You have to commend the former Leader of the Opposition because he certainly spent the entire weekend researching, reading and trying to find out. But wouldn't it have been helpful if, with this bill, some explanatory notes had been provided? Would this be a new idea? Certainly not. Bills for years were tabled in this House with notes attached so that it is easier for the non-legal person to understand them and to read them. Isn't that what we are here for? So we can represent the people of this province to the best of our ability.



For the government to deliberately hamstring the Opposition and the people in Nova Scotia by tabling this very detailed and very technical bill on Friday and say, Monday we will do it, without any notes, without any explanation. Now if there were not notes or explanation available, perhaps we could understand. But the minister indicated that those things were available. So what I am suggesting is if we had six months time, the minister, in that period, could make available the information so that we could become educated with regard to the bill and make a better judgment on all of the clauses that are contained in the bill.



One hundred groups and individuals across the province were given the advantage of looking at the bill, but why was the back bench in the government omitted from that four months ago? The caucus of the government have not even been privy to this bill, but yet we are expected to discuss the bill this evening. We would prefer, actually, if this bill could go to a committee of the House for study and review and consultation. Wouldn't that make some stronger legislation? (Interruption)



Well, the Minister of Transportation said, oh yes. It is going to go to the Law Amendments Committee. Well, indeed, it will go the Law Amendments Committee. But when it has gone as far as the Law Amendments Committee, it is coming back here, probably with few, if any, changes at all because this government is not interested in listening to advice or taking advice or listening to the people. They have tabled this bill and they want it through here this evening. They would like to have the bill through immediately, if possible; the sooner the better. If not, why was the government totally and completely uninterested in providing the explanatory notes that go with this bill if they weren't interested in trying to slide something through? There isn't any other reason that could be explained why there was nothing except this bill tabled.



If 100 people replied to the minister, then all the minister could provide us with tonight was the press release that her staff wrote for her last week. Now has the minister even any comprehension of this bill beyond the title and the press release? We don't know that. Nova Scotians, her constituents, they don't know, but with six months I am sure that that minister could study and learn the bill and then explain it to the Legislature. Simply standing and reading a press release is hardly what I would consider to be a very good way for the minister to be introducing a bill in this Legislature. It shows one of two things: either the minister has contempt for this House and the members sitting in it, or that is all she knows.



MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I would like to rein you in. I have given you quite a free rein. I have listened to you quite a few minutes now and I think that I would like you to attempt to restrict your remarks to the amendment to hoist as opposed to meandering around with hypothetical viewpoints about the minister's understanding of the bill that she has introduced.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I really appreciate your information and I will not stray at all. I don't think I was straying very far, but I think it is very important that Nova Scotians understand the way this Legislature is working and the importance of this bill that is going to have the potential to affect each and every Nova Scotian. Every one of us is going to be affected by this bill. I think the people deserve an opportunity to be told and to understand exactly what is in this bill because that is why they elected us. The legislation of this province is one of our responsibilities. Is there anything wrong with the government providing the information? Is there anything wrong with delay for six months so that we could have an opportunity to share with the government in their knowledge of why this bill was written, why it came in Friday afternoon late and why we are into it this evening already?



The minister also indicated that the bill will not be proclaimed for at least six months, so time isn't of the essence. So even with the minister's assistance, I think that six months isn't too long. Sometimes we wonder, too, Madam Speaker, whether this government is interested in gamesmanship or legislation. Are they interested in the people or furthering the cause of their Party and getting in this Chamber and getting out as quickly as possible? It certainly would indicate on the one hand, by deliberately bringing this bill in on such short notice and calling it almost immediately, that they are interested in gamesmanship and one-upmanship with the Opposition. That does not sound very good for this government because the government is supposed to be concerned with the people of this province.



If we had six months to talk and to deliberate about this bill, people would understand it because this bill will have a greater effect on the lives of Nova Scotians than any single individual person understands. I assure you, the people in my constituency don't even know this bill was tabled in the Legislature, but yet it is going to affect each and every one of them. In six months, we could give them information; we could have meetings and we could discuss and allow people to understand what this bill means. It would even give time for the minister to prepare notes so that she could discuss the bill in greater detail than what we saw in the newspaper last week. I am sure that would be refreshing not just for the people in the Legislature, but it would be refreshing for the minister as well if she had a greater understanding of this bill.



Well, I am certainly going to support this amendment of a six months' hoist on the bill and I urge other members on both sides of the House to support a six months' hoist on the bill, so that it can lead to better government for Nova Scotia.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: I rise to speak in support of this amendment. I think there is no question, and I am sure you would agree, Madam Speaker, having read the bill, that this is a very complex piece of legislation. It has to do with areas of Statute and case law that I think are addressed by this legislation, that unless you were maybe from a legal background or banking background or something like that, you may find it more difficult to understand just exactly how this legislation would affect you, as a consumer.



This legislation repeals, I think, seven Acts that have been in place for some time. It obviously has to do with the Personal Property Lien Registry Act, the Instalment Payment Contracts Act, the Securities Act, the Corporations Securities Registration Act. Many of those Acts are now going to be in one Act.



I know what this six months would do; the minister has said she circulated this within the banking community, I think that is what she said in her press release, that the consultation prior to the introduction went to the banking community. I ask you, Madam Speaker, do you think the banking community has a great concern for the average consumer out there? I don't think the . . .



MADAM SPEAKER: It is an interesting question but I am not obligated to answer it, as you know.



MR. MOODY: I know you are not obligated to answer it and I don't mean for you to answer. I guess, Madam Speaker, I would say, do Nova Scotians feel they want legislation that affects them to be consulted through the banking community to see if it is okay for them? I think most consumers feel that the banking community - we all need to use banks - is there to make money. In many cases the poor consumer pays through the nose, day after day. (Interruption) What it has to do with the six months' delay is that we can consult with other people who are going to be affected by this legislation, other than the banking community.



Now, the legal profession, I assume, was consulted on this. I don't know what group of legal professionals were consulted, Madam Speaker. If the minister was prepared to give us some of the reactions she got on the consultation process, then it might be easier for us to understand whether, in fact, this legislation is good for Nova Scotians, what people are actually saying.



So, all a six months' hoist will do, Madam Speaker, is to allow time so that not only we, as MLAs, can understand exactly how this legislation is going to affect the people we represent, because that is why we are here. I would hate to think that any one of us would put through legislation or agree to legislation - it might be good legislation - that we didn't fully understand the impact it is going to have on the people we represent. I think that is a fair question. That is a basic principle that we have in this legislation, that we want some time to fully understand.



I know that our critic has some concerns about parts of this legislation. It happens to be that he grasped it a little quicker, having dealt with some of this stuff in his profession. But for most of us, Madam Speaker, to get legislation like this, a very thick piece of legislation, and to say we are going to pass it quickly in the House without fully understanding the ramifications and how it affects those we represent, I think, is unfair.



I think the minister hasn't shown good faith in bringing this legislation forward. I am sure we will agree with parts of this legislation, but there are parts of it that we have some concerns about. What we are trying to establish, Madam Speaker, with a six months' hoist is that some of our questions will be answered. The minister is not answering them; the minister didn't give us the answers initially. If tradition prevails with this minister, we won't get them in the wrap-up, we will never get them. We will pass the legislation and we still won't know.



[6:15 p.m.]



Madam Speaker, I will be voting in favour of this amendment and hope others will give this kind of legislation the kind of respect that I think it needs, and that is to take the time for us all to fully understand the impact. If that happens or the minister would share some of the information on the consultative process she claims has taken place, that would help us so that we could speed up the process. Until that happens, I have to support the amendment.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Madam Speaker, I want to rise and speak in support of the amendment which was moved here a few moments ago. I will be honest, to me it is a very comprehensive bill and, as some other speakers have said, I know that a lot of members may find it very difficult to understand. I really admit I do not understand at all. For that reason alone, I am suggesting that we hoist the bill for six months. Let it go out, let our caucuses, let other groups that may be interested and our constituents see what this bill is all about.



I know I am not supposed to talk about the bill, Madam Speaker, but there are, as I understand it, seven Acts that are going to be repealed. There is Assignment of Book Debts Act, Bulk Sales Act, Bills of Sale Act, Instalment Payment Contracts Act, Personal Property Lien Registry Act.



I am sure that there are a lot of constituents, I know there are a lot of constituents in my area, who would not understand this bill. If the honourable minister would maybe even leave it on the order paper, let it sit there and let the community, let the people in the province have a look at this bill and see what changes are being made and whether in fact they are to the benefit of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. I thought that is what we are supposed to be doing in here. We are supposed to be bringing in legislation that is helpful to the constituents of Nova Scotia. That is what I thought we, as Opposition, are supposed to do, is to raise concerns and express them in this House, to bring in legislation that is helpful.



The minister has said that she has sent it out to 100 banks and whatever and perhaps she did, I am sure she did. I will be glad to see her table some of those. (Interruption) She has to give us the names, I guess, . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Of the people who responded.



MR. MCINNES: . . . of the people who responded. That is fine, but give us a little time so we can go and talk to those people and we can do it very quickly, but we would like to have the opportunity to talk to those people and to see what changes or what suggestions they would make to this bill. I know what will happen, that the bill will pass in here, the government has majority and that is the way it is and it will go to the Law Amendments Committee. But it will be interesting to see who comes there to make presentations as to what changes should be made.



I do not want to repeat myself too often on this, Madam Speaker, but the fact is, it is a very comprehensive bill. It is long, it is detailed. I tried to read it. I will be honest with you. It is difficult to understand, and I just think it is very important that we take the time, accept the amendment and let it go. Let it sit on the order paper and take it back to some groups, some people and bring it back in the spring session and I am sure, with some amendments, probably, the bill will pass.



At any rate, Madam Speaker, I will be voting for the amendment. Thank you.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I just want to rise and speak for a few moments on the amendment that was introduced by the member for Halifax Citadel. I do so because I have taken a few moments to review this legislation, listen to what our critic has said and what the critic of the Official Opposition has had to say on it. I must say it has raised some concerns with me for two reasons.



One, because I do not understand what they are saying and I read the press release of the minister and the statement that came out that described what the bill does and that supposedly is written in more accessible English and yet, Madam Speaker, it still says very little as to what the implications are of these changes. Then I look at the bill itself, 80-odd pages, I look at the second to last clause which outlines the number of Acts that are going to be consolidated. I think it gives me an indication of how potentially significant the changes are that are being proposed in this piece of legislation. Just very briefly, Assignment of Book Debts Act, the Bills of Sale Act, the Bulk Sales Act, Conditional Sales Act, the Corporations Securities Registration Act, Instalment Payment Contracts Act, Personal Property Lien Registry Act. Those are the seven different pieces of legislation that are being amalgamated into this one that are being changed. The changes are contained within Bill No. 33.



I think you would agree that they have some significant, wide-ranging impacts in terms of the whole question of personal property. As is the case with all legislation when it is tabled in this House, we do not know what is coming ahead of time unless the government has been consulting with us or with people who have notified us. In this case, we did not know about it and so we took the bill and we distributed it to people we thought would be able to give us their reflections and impressions on it. That was done and as someone said, we have had four days since the bill was tabled in the House and we have not received a response to our request. Listening to the minister as she introduced the legislation does not assist me in understanding at all, any more than reading the bill does, exactly what the implications and the potential ramifications of these changes are.



I appreciate the fact that the minister said that she forwarded the draft legislation to 100 people and got feedback from people in a number of relevant industries. It also reminds me that in the matter of the service exchange and the effect it had on municipalities, that minister also told us that she travelled to 66 different municipalities, consulted with those municipalities and, therefore, there were no problems. I think we know that there not only were problems in service exchange as it affected municipalities, but a year later there continues to be problems.



Therefore, I think it is incumbent upon all of us here to at least have some grasp, to have some opportunity to consult with people in the communities affected, in order that we can have a better understanding of what the bill does. It is an old adage in this House that when the government gets up and introduces a piece of legislation by saying this is merely a housekeeping bill and it is just pro forma, it is something that Opposition members should take heed of and should pay very close attention to, what is actually between the pages of that particular bill.



I appreciate the interventions that have been made by other members on this bill and on the subtleties and the intricacies of it and I would ask the minister that she and her caucus colleagues would consider supporting the amendment proposed by the member for Halifax Citadel to put this bill on the shelf for six months, give us an opportunity to consult, to review the representations that she has had on the bill, to discuss this with our constituents and other members of the public, in order to be able to make an informed and constructive contribution to this bill.



The question is the same question that we deal with when any legislation comes before us. What does the bill do, what the are the pros and cons of the legislation, what are the impacts of specific provisions of the bill and how, if there are problems, can we make it better? That is our job here as legislators, to ensure that this government, in passing legislation, passes legislation that doesn't cause problems and that it in fact serves the purpose that they have set out to do.



I think, Madam Speaker, as I rise to support this amendment, that that is in fact what this amendment will allow us to do, to inform ourselves, for people in the province to be informed about the introduction of this bill and to make some contributions to the drafting of the bill, so that when it does go through we all know about it, we all know what the implications are and we make decisions in terms of how we vote on information that we have gained from Nova Scotians. So, in closing, I will just say that I think this is an important piece of legislation in that it affects seven different Statutes. It is 80 pages. It is not something to be treated lightly simply because of that. It deals with the question of personal property and I think all members should inform themselves as to what, in fact, this bill does. The six months' hoist provided for in this amendment will allow us to do that and I urge all members to vote in the affirmative.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West.



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Madam Speaker, I, too, would like to speak in support of the amendment on Bill No. 31, the Personal Property Security Act. I think it is a very complex piece of legislation and it is something that we have not been well versed in and I think it is only right that we take our time and scrutinize this bill. It is a very important bill and it has only been in front of us for four days. We haven't had a chance to go over it, to view the different aspects and the effect it is going to have on the people of our province. I think it is incumbent upon us to make sure that this bill is looked at with - I am lost for words.



AN HON. MEMBER: A fine-tooth comb.



MR. MACLEOD: A fine-tooth comb, thank you. It is a combining of seven (Interruptions)



MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, don't get side-tracked please.



MR. MACLEOD: It is not easy. It is a combination of seven very comprehensive Acts, Madam Speaker, Acts that have been in place for a long time and we are going to take the seven of them and do a wholesale change of all those Acts, and it is important that we take the time to look at these Acts and make sure that the legislation we are putting forward is something that the people of the Province of Nova Scotia can understand. It is not, as I have said before, something that we should be doing just for the sake of change. If this is going to be a valuable change, then we should take the time and take the six months to look at it, to review it, to make sure that people understand it because there are many honourable members in this House, who have spoken before me, who have said that they do not understand this legislation and therefore it is not right for us to be shoving it through in a fast, quick order.



Madam Speaker, it is for those reasons and some of the reasons that have been mentioned here earlier tonight that I am going to vote in favour of this amendment.



MADAM SPEAKER: Are there further speakers on the amendment? Hearing none, are you ready for the question?



Are there members requesting a recorded vote?



We have two requests. Could we agree on 10 minutes?



Would you ring the bells, please.



[6:29 p.m.]



[The Division bells were rung.]



MADAM SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?



[The Clerk calls the roll.]



[6:50 p.m.]



YEAS NAYS



Mr. Donahoe Mr. Barkhouse

Dr. Hamm Mrs. Norrie

Mr. Russell Mr. Downe

Mr. Moody Mr. Boudreau

Mr. Holm Mr. Gillis

Mr. Chisholm Ms. Jolly

Mr. Archibald Mr. MacEachern

Mr. Leefe Mr. Mann

Mr. McInnes Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Taylor Mr. Harrison

Mr. MacLeod Mr. Adams

Mr. Brown

Mr. Lorraine

Mr. M. MacDonald

Mr. MacAskill

Mr. MacArthur

Mr. MacNeil

Mr. Richards

Mr. White

Mr. Mitchell

Mr. Carruthers

Mr. Fogarty

Mr. Hubbard

Mr. W. MacDonald

Mr. Fraser

Mr. Colwell

Mr. Huskilson



THE CLERK: For, 11. Against, 27.



MADAM SPEAKER: I declare that the hoist amendment is carried in the negative. Before we return to debate on the main bill, I would like to recognize the honourable member for Eastern Shore on an introduction, please.



MR. KEITH COLWELL: Madam Speaker, to you and through you, and to the members of this Legislature, I want to introduce the 1st Chezzetcook Scout Troop with their leaders Alan Watson, Keith Mannette, Corey Mannette and Joseph Mannette. I would ask the troop to please stand and receive a warm welcome from this Legislature. (Applause)



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be able to add my remarks on second reading to Bill No. 31, An Act Respecting Security Interests in Personal Property, a bill introduced by the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.



I understand from the minister's early remarks that this bill was drafted in conjunction with the Department of Justice. Reading through the bill, one understands that the majority of, or probably all of, the input has come from that department, as it is a bill that has a tremendous amount of legal implication.



What the bill is attempting to do, of course, is to modernize the way that we register personal property in this province. In order to do that the bill before us, Bill No. 31, repeals actually seven pieces of legislation and in particular, the four main personal property security Statutes in this province, the Bills of Sale Act, the Conditional Sales Act, the Assignment of Book Debts Act and the Corporations Securities Registration Act.



At the present time there are 19 registries in the province and they are not inter-connected, they are not electronic, so therefore if one wishes to register a piece of personal property or in fact, to register a lien against a piece of personal property, then one simply visits that particular registry with the appropriate documentation and that is recorded on paper. The difficulty, of course, is that those 19 registries are essentially functioning independent of each other and it only makes good sense that a bill come forward which would bring the operation of the registries up and running and make use of all of the technology that is available in the 20th Century. One might want to ask, why are we having so much difficulty with the second reading of this bill if, in fact, we are in agreement as to what the bill is attempting to do?



This is a very complex bill and as has been said earlier, it is very difficult to understand by other than those who have a legal background. Therefore, those of us in the House, and we are by and large the majority, have to rely on either explanatory notes or we have to rely on information that we receive from outside organizations who will be utilizing this particular service or who, in fact, have a particular insight as to whether or not this particular piece of legislation is appropriate and really gets the job done.



The minister has made reference that she had consulted commercial, banking, legal and academic communities and provided them with copies of the legislation in July. She made available 100 copies of the legislation. It would be very interesting for those of us in the Opposition benches and I would think even those, perhaps, in the government benches who haven't had much opportunity to look at this particular piece of legislation either, to see what it is that those particular communities had to say about this piece of legislation. It would seem fitting that those responses would be made available, to allow the Opposition benches to come forward with their appreciation of whether or not Bill No. 31 is as effective and as comprehensive and as workable as the minister would have us believe in her press announcement.



One of the surprising things, of course, is why a piece of legislation this technical and by the minister's own admission will not really be up and running until some time in 1996 because it will take that amount of time to develop the hardware and software to allow the electronic registration and the inter-connection of all of the registries to occur. So, there is lots of time to get the information out, there was lots of time to allow the Opposition to look at the information that the minister used as she, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, the two ministries drafted this particular piece of legislation.



I would be very interested, for example, to see how much of the advice that came from those particular communities was actually followed in the legislation and are there, in fact, areas that are markedly different from the advice received from the communities polled. In fact, we would be interested as well in finding out from our own sources whether or not this Bill No. 31 gets a proper registration of personal property up and running. In other words, could it be any better?



[7:00 p.m.]



The minister made reference that eventually we will have a common system of registration right across the country. I think again that is an objective worth working towards and one day perhaps we will actually have a registry that is interconnected right across the country in all the 10 provinces. Certainly, technically, that is now possible.



Another interesting concept in this bill in principle that can be addressed is the fact that those who wish to make a search, will ultimately be able to do the search from their own office, from their armchair at home. So this whole process in the Registry of Deeds will be made much more accessible and simpler to search and access.



Madam Speaker, one cannot but help but remark that the Speaker actually changes here more often than the speakers.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, I don't know if that is our problem or your problem.



DR. HAMM: But we certainly welcome your ascension to the Chair for this part of the debate, Mr. Speaker.



The whole point on this bill is, it is a bill with which, if we can satisfy ourselves as an Opposition, that this bill is as good as it can be, if it addresses all the concerns by the communities which were consulted and if it addresses all the concerns of the communities that we may wish to consult about this bill, then this bill could pass with very little debate. The problem is that it is complex and difficult to understand. The Opposition have not been given ample opportunity to look at such a highly technical bill because for most of us, as we read through this bill, it is very difficult for us to understand if it really gets the job done.



So I hope the minister is listening to what we are saying and I hope all the government benches are listening to what we are saying in that this approach to the Legislature is not going to work for the government, it is going to result in a lot more debate than might otherwise be necessary. It is going to result in the Opposition, in order to fulfil its responsibility, to have to try and slow down the legislation so we can get the input into the legislation so we can fulfil our obligations to the province. Mr. Speaker, we intend to do that.



So with those few remarks on the bill, I would expect that there will be some comment on this bill in the Law Amendments Committee, when it gets down the corridor to the Red Room. As well, we would expect some input directly from those who may have some particular concern about certain clauses in the bill.



So with those few remarks, Mr. Speaker, I will conclude my remarks in Bill No. 31 on second reading.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to acknowledge and welcome you to the Chair, I think this is the first time in this sitting.



MR. SPEAKER: No, no.



MR. HOLM: Maybe not, the first time that I have been here, speaking, anyway, Mr. Speaker. The first time I paid attention and noticed maybe, Mr. Speaker, that you have been in the Chair. No slight intended.



I would like to make a few remarks on the bill, if I may. As I do and as I take a look at a pattern that is obviously developing here with this government, one can't help but wonder if the current government that is occupying the benches is suffering from a sense of lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, Mr. Speaker, because what we are seeing is a pattern from this government where they are introducing legislation and then calling these very complex pieces of legislation before this House for debate before there is an opportunity to have the proper kinds of research and evaluation done in order to be as constructive as is possible. Mr. Speaker, one cannot help but wonder when you see a piece of legislation which is 80 pages long, which is very technical, which is written in the highest of legalese language that this government is a little bit reticent to have the opportunity to have that put out or sent out for scrutiny.



I note that the minister, in her statement earlier when she introduced the bill, and I have a copy of a letter that she sent out, I believe it was on July 26th. The topic of it was discussion draft, Personal Property Security Act and regulations, Mr. Speaker. This was sent out, supposedly, I guess, to this list of 100 that the minister indicated that this bill has been sent to for feedback. In the letter, of course, the minister talks about wanting to have comments back by September 1, 1995. Presumably, that would give her and the government an opportunity to evaluate the legislation and the comments that have come in before it was introduced into the House. (Interruption) The minister of comic relief over there, sometimes called the Minister of Education, is saying that sounds right.



Mr. Speaker, I just have to point out, and I do not dispute the fact that the minister has, based on the letter and obviously there is some indication that it been sent out, one has to wonder if the minister and the government are genuinely interested in facilitating the debate in this House, are interested in having the bills go through this Chamber in the most practical way, in an efficient manner where there can be the proper scrutiny and debate and time not wasted. Why is it when that bill was sent out in July to the 100 selected groups to whom the minister had sent it, why was that bill was not provided to members of the Opposition so that members of the Opposition could also have had an opportunity through that period of time to get the advice on the technical aspects and so on of the bill?



Mr. Speaker, if I might just, and I know that I am not learned in the law and I am sure that those who are reasonable people who have a knowledge of the English language will understand this far better than I, like the members in the gallery. I am sure that they will understand completely what this phrase means, if I were to read this phrase dealing with the principle of the bill. I am dealing with the principles, with the complexities and so on of the legislation; just read one clause and one clause only.



Clause 7(1), "Subject to Section 8, where the parties to a security agreement that creates a security interest in goods in one jurisdiction understand when the security interest attaches that the goods will be kept in another jurisdiction, the validity, perfection and effect of perfection or non-perfection of the security interest are determined by the law of the other jurisdiction if the goods are removed to the other jurisdiction, for purposes other than transportation through the other jurisdiction, within thirty days after the security interest attaches.".



Now, I am sure that everybody who hears that understands it completely, Mr. Speaker, and all of the other like clauses that are contained in this legislation. So, of course, it is unreasonable for members like myself, members of the Opposition who are acknowledging our weaknesses, and I have many and understanding the simple word of the English language, obviously, is one of them. Because when I go through this legislation I need help. I need help from the learned people like yourself who have that legal training, that legal expertise who can put this in common everyday language that citizens can understand.





Mr. Speaker, the legislation that we pass here is affecting what is going to be happening in the lives of the citizens of this province from one end to the other, not just those who make their livelihood and their profession and can somehow understand what that all means. You know, it has to be done in a way that the people of this province can understand.



Mr. Speaker, the kind and the opportunities that have been afforded to review this, I would suggest, have not been provided. I do not mean to be unkind, but I would certainly not accuse the government or the minister of being respectful of other members of this Chamber when she decided only to send that legislation out to her select group and not provide it to members of the Opposition so that they could give it the kind of proper research and analysis that they need in order to be able to make proper judgments here.



I note that one of the items in this legislation has to do with the establishment of a registrar. Earlier, on an amendment that was defeated by the government, I pointed out - and here, of course, was that letter that I referred to, a letter that the minister sent out on July 26, 1995, to her selected group of 100. In May 1995, even before this bill was sent out for review, this draft legislation, the government, presumably through the Minister of Supply and Services office, but it was for the Department of Municipal Affairs, it was competition number 1995-000160 where they are calling for proposals, tenders for, "Cooperative Business Solutions call for proposals for Personal Property Registry Operations Re-Definition for the Department of Municipal Affairs. The above request for proposals closes on Tuesday, July 11, 1995 . . .".



Even before this legislation was sent out - the government has those who they have sent it out to, supposedly we want your feedback - they already sent out calls for proposals. I believe they got two replies to those calls. They sent it out. If you want me to table a copy of that tender call, yes, I will ask that that be photocopied so that can be laid on the Table. Even before they sent this bill out, it sort of sounds like they have a continuation of that disease or that bug that they have. They consult after they have made their decisions. How interesting, it is like the Department of Education. We will get into that later on. It would inappropriate for me to suggest, even though we all know that the legislation and the consultation, of course, in terms of the new Education Act was aimed at verifying what they have already decided. One cannot help but wonder if, in fact, the legislation that we have before us now and that consultation that took place, if they are not suffering from that same weakness here in that they send it out after they have already made their decision. They have already called for their proposals in the establishment of that.



As I understand what the government is trying to do, when it is boiled down in simple terms or language, the concept I have no difficulty with, the basic concept. I see that the minister responsible for comic relief is pleased with that, Mr. Speaker, he says across the floor. As I understand the concept what the government is trying to do is to create one central body and where all of these judgments, liens, or whatever can be registered.



Way back in the beginnings as different types of Acts were developed and different kinds of borrowing procedures, different companies or different creditors proposed different kinds of legislation aimed at securing their own personal types of loans that they were making. I say for all consumers, as well, that it is important that we have a procedure in place to secure personal property for those loans. I believe that does reduce the borrowing cost to the consumer. For example, if the item you purchase, whether it is a home or a new vehicle, or it could be a fridge or a stove or whatever on credit, if that personal property is not secured, then you would have to get a personal loan, and personal loan rates are often higher than those of a loan which has a product or something there to secure the value of that loan. So I acknowledge and I say up front that there are the economic benefits in terms of reduced costs to the consumers if those loans are, in fact, secured. It is important that we have a clear, concise process for that.



[7:15 p.m.]



Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia is one of the few provinces, if not the last province, in the country to revise the system. So we need to have a good central registry. I have no difficulty with that. But, again, in terms of the overall principles and concept of what is trying to be done, I have no hesitation in saying that I intend to support that. But if, in fact, everything is totally above board, and seven acts are being eliminated here, it is crucially important that we on the Opposition benches have an opportunity to assess and ensure ourselves and, more importantly, ensure Nova Scotians that the protections that exist for them under those seven acts are being carried forward in this one new piece of legislation, and that you cannot do on a complicated, complex piece of legislation in a matter of a couple of days.



It could have been done if in July, when the draft bill was sent to those selected by the minister to receive it, if that had been sent to the Opposition Parties as well, we would have had ample time to get the expert legal advice to be able to determine that.



Mr. Speaker, one has to also wonder what, of course, the other implications of this bill are. There are now 19 registries across the province. One should never assume things because you know what happens when you break down that word "assume", what it can make of somebody else, as well as yourself, but one would assume that it is the government's plans to eliminate or shut down those 19 registries and to have one centralized registrar with a computer system.



The minister talks about the need or that it will take about a year to put this new system in place. I would expect that it would take nothing less that because in order to have it there is going to be a need to establish a computer system, a computer program, a computer database. Hopefully, it will be a little bit more successful than the one that the Department of Housing had in place before, for controlling their mortgages and so on, and which I understand is now going to go by the wayside because it did not work out very well, although it was extremely costly.



Presumably the government is going to have to put in place a computer program and a computer system to centralize all of these registries, Mr. Speaker, and to have all that data, all that material which is stored in those 19 registries across the province inputted. There is another part of the problem; if all of that material is to be inputted, there is the potential for error and if there is that potential for error, the province should not leave any ground or avenue unturned as, according to this legislation - as it was pointed out quite correctly by the member for Halifax Citadel - that the government, the way the bill is written, is exempting the registrar from actions being taken against it, and that is wrong.



I would suggest that by this the government is planning, again around rural Nova Scotia, at the time when they talk, or maybe I am wrong, maybe the Minister of Municipal Affairs is planning to set up the central region, and do you know, if they are going to do that, a good spot for it would be Cape Breton. The government has talked about decentralizing and putting jobs in other areas so if they are going to have a centralized service and the need for jobs, maybe Cape Breton would be a good spot to have that. (Interruption) Well, I am even being advised that there are some empty vocational schools or community college campuses very soon which maybe could be used for that purpose as well. Some of those in Hants County or in Cape Breton could be used. Maybe even one in Dartmouth at the Adult Vocational Training Centre but they are obviously making places available for that.



One also has to wonder if the government might not have another objective in mind in part of this and that is to make some money because when a fee is registered or when a claim or a judgment is registered against some personal property, there is going to be a fee charged. The legislation says nothing at all about what the fees will be and given this government how they change fees every time they turn around as another way to increase taxes in hidden form, one would have to, I would suggest, assume on very good grounds that what the government will be doing is charging fees to register not only enough to pay for the cost of the program but also to provide a small tidy profit for the provincial government as well.



I note too, that what we have, of course, before us is the legislation, but in the discussion draft that was sent out, the title of it says, Personal Property Security Act and regulations. One is wondering if when the minister sent the bill out for discussion and feedback, if she not only sent out the bill that is before us but if the minister also sent out the regulations that were planned to go along with this. If the minister did, in fact, send out the regulations that were intended to accompany this bill, as the notice itself implies, then maybe the minister would honour us by providing us, the members of this House, with copies of those draft regulations that are intended to cover the bill. I don't know if members of the Progressive Conservative Party, if any of them have seen the copies of the regulations that go along with the bill. I know that I, personally, haven't but maybe I am the only one who wasn't provided with copies of the regulations. (Interruption) That is true, I am not on the 100-Series list.



People in our constituencies, I am sure that the members over there would say, don't have very good judgment because they returned us rather than the members of the Red Team. (Interruption) Well, I guess that is true, maybe the member for Halifax Bedford Basin received two copies of the regulations because I understand from the Premier, he represents two ridings nowadays, not only his own, but Halifax Fairview. So maybe he has double and maybe he would share a copy of the regulations. I am sure that the members of the government front benches would have provided copies of the regulations to their own trusted followers, members of their own team.



MR. SPEAKER: If the member would just be seated for a moment. I think you have to realize we are discussing the principle of the bill and I don't want to rein you in because it is wide-ranging but you are not on the bill at all, you are on some conjecture as to who sent what to who. I think you must discuss the bill, at least in its general principles. I don't want to rein you in but do aim yourself at the bill.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will try to aim a little bit more directly and quite honestly I was, yes, trespassing a tad and I am not surprised that you did correctly draw me back and rein me in. I couldn't help but get a few shots in there.



However, that having been said and I acknowledge that I was doing that but I say in all sincerity as I am saying this as well, if we are evaluating a bill because you know as well as I do, you know better than I do from your legal training, Mr. Speaker, and my knowledge is based on my times representing constituents in this House, that so much of the legislation is really a skeleton, it is a shell.



Under the bill, Clause 72, the Governor in Council, as you know that is the Cabinet, not even all members of the caucus but of the Government Cabinet, they have the ability to make regulations. They can make regulations prescribing the kind of goods. That means, they also have the ability to leave it out if they don't want something included. They can prescribe duties and powers of a registrar; respecting the registry and its operation, including location and hours it is open. So, Mr. Speaker, if they want, they can put it on a part-time basis, they can shut it down or they can say that it is only accessible through the Internet or through the computer system, from your home or your office. They might decide they don't want to have a store-front because that costs money.



They can decide all of this in Cabinet respecting any matter relating to fees payable. In other words, any time that the Minister of Finance decides that we need another $100,000 or so and decides that there aren't enough people going into the casino to generate the money, if he wants, he can put an increased tax on those who are either registering a lien against personal property - in other words, that means that that is a cost that is going to be passed on to the consumer - or an increased fee for anybody who is going in to check.



"(f), respecting the data to be entered into the registry to effect, renew, discharge, or otherwise amend the registration of interest or notices . . .", and I could go on. Mr. Speaker, I could go on. I am not going to trespass again by going on and reading all of them. (Interruptions) Well, maybe some members of the government benches haven't gone through the bill, they are saying ah, go on, read them. But I can tell you, there are over 20 areas where the Governor in Council, not this Chamber, not the elected representatives of this House, but the Governor in Council in private and secrecy with absolutely no public discussion whatsoever, have the abilities to set the regulations and what the rules are going to be.



Mr. Speaker, they have obviously drafted and prepared some of those. They have sent them out to their 100-Series list but, members of the Opposition, we unfortunately don't make the cut. We aren't members of that select group to whom the government believes that they should share this information. To me, they obviously lack confidence in what they are doing. They are suffering from low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, afraid that in the light of day where somebody can raise questions in a public forum, obviously they are afraid that they can't justify and support what they are doing.



Mr. Speaker, I find that extremely regrettable because, quite honestly, the basic principle of what they are trying to do, to establish a central registry where the information is going to be clear and accessible, makes sense. It should have been done before. I suggest, however, too, one of the things they are thinking about doing because of the way the proposals have gone, is that this is one more public service that the government is actually intending to privatize. So, not only will the government, by increasing the fees, make a profit, but, some company is also going to make a profit from providing this government service. Instead of the workers then receiving the full benefits that are paid, some private company is going to benefit from that, as well.



I am sure that the company that has been awarded the contract - I have no knowledge or no comments on whether they are or whether they are not a very good company, I have no reason to suspect that they are not - but surely, Mr. Speaker, if nothing more than out of common courtesy and respect for Nova Scotians, it would have been appropriate for the minister and this government to have provided the bill and the regulations they provided to others, to members of the Opposition, so we could have done a proper and thorough evaluation of the bill before the debate took place. Of course, that is not the idea of this government because this government's idea is you get it in, you get it on the floor, you get it being debated before there is an opportunity to evaluate it, get it into the Law Amendments Committee before the general public has an opportunity to evaluate it themselves and come before the Law Amendments Committee. So get it in and get it out, it is my way or the highway. That is going to be the legacy of the Savage Liberal Government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



[7:30 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the bill before us for second reading, I think most members of the Legislature would agree in principle with what the minister says the Act is going to do, but, unfortunately, we don't know if what the minister says the Act is going to do is, in reality, the principle of this bill.



First of all, Mr. Speaker, this bill is a consolidation of many other Statutes, as has been mentioned by other speakers before me. When you begin to roll a whole, assorted collection of bills into one, there is always the error of omission that can occur.



The Acts we are looking at, Mr. Speaker, are fairly substantive Acts; the Assignment of Book Debts Act, the Bills of Sale Act, the Bulk Sales Act, the Conditional Sales Act, the Corporations Securities Registration Act, the Instalment Payment Contracts Act and the Personal Property Lien Registry Act. So there are seven bills there being rolled into this one piece of legislation.



I think that is a step in the right direction, Mr. Speaker, because I think there is no doubt again that too many people would quarrel with the fact that we do have a lot of overlapping and conflicting legislation in this province and it is time for a consolidation. This bill does that.



We had an Act before us in the spring session, and I forget which Act it was now, which did something similar, it rolled about five or six Acts in the book into one. I applaud the government for doing that. I think it is something that is, indeed, a step forward.



Insofar as the principle of the bill, as announced by the minister, that is to bring the present registry system that we have for all these different Acts together into one central registry and to automate it, I think that is a good idea, too. It hasn't been possible in the past, Mr. Speaker, because as you are well aware, we have operated on a pencil and paper system and that just has not afforded the luxury of being able to have the system all recorded at one central registry. Today, with the advent of computers and fibre optics and what have you, where you can transfer information very rapidly to any place you want, I think it is the way to go. So if that is indeed the principle of the bill, I have no quarrel with the principle, I think it is a good thing.



What I do object to, Mr. Speaker, and I mean this sincerely, I have never before gone through a piece of this legislation that has been introduced in this House that I haven't at least partially understood. I find that the language in this bill is so legalistic, or perhaps I should say convoluted, that I just can't make head nor tail of whether or not it is doing what the minister says it is supposed to do. I have no idea at all if any essential elements in any one of these seven Acts has been overlooked and not been brought forth into this new piece of legislation. That is my quarrel. That is why I think that this piece of legislation is going to take a lot of time for a person such as yourself, or any other who is trained in the law, to understand what it is about, let alone somebody who is not of the legal profession.



So when we made the amendment calling for a hoist of this legislation, it is with the very best of intent, to simply provide that opportunity for a person such as myself and other members who are interested who I would imagine have almost as much difficulty as I do in interpreting what this bill is all about.



As I understand the bill, when a person registers a piece of property, then that goes on to the central registry system and it can be retrieved. In the bill, as I understand it, the people that are going to be able to retrieve that information are going to be the business community. In fact, the minister in her opening remarks said something to the effect that the long-term goal is for the business community to be able to do searches directly from their offices. I do not know if that is going to help me as a consumer.



Mr. Speaker, if I go out, for instance, and respond to an ad in the newspaper that has a 1957 Chevy for sale, and I go out and look at it in somebody's backyard and I decide to buy it, I am not in the business community so do I have any opportunity to access this information or do I have to go to a person who is of the legal profession or some other business office to get that information? Can I be sure that when I go to buy that 1957 Chevy that I can go somewhere else and fiddle with a computer and bring up the history of that particular automobile and as to whether or not there are any liens against that particular vehicle? The same thing would apply to a grand piano or anything else for that matter because, as I understand it, anything that has a lien on it will be registered under this system.



I would like when the minister wraps up her remarks on this bill if she could assure me that indeed the public themselves will have the opportunity to access that information. I realize there is a certain amount of privacy to some of that information, but I would think that the information that is available to the business community should be also available to the consumer, the person who is actually buying the good.



Mr. Speaker, the minister has said that the proclamation of this bill will be delayed for approximately six months after this session finishes in order to (Interruption) She did not say six months, I am sorry. I put words in the minister's mouth. She said she wants a delayed proclamation date to allow time to put the new electronic system in place, expected in 1996.



I would hope that when this new automated system is put in place that we do not go out and get somebody and ask them to design software to put this particular system in place. Because, Sir, as you know and I know because we serve on the Public Accounts Committee, the government has a great desire sometimes to go out and reinvent the wheel. It would seem that this should be a fairly simple matter in that you enter certain information regarding the particular good that has a lien on it. It goes into the computer. It goes via land line or whatever to the central processor. It goes on the hard drive and is sitting there for retrieval. Without being anything like a genius in computers and electronics, I can tell you that that does not seem like a heck of a problem to solve. I would hope that the minister, when she puts this system in place, is going to be using off-the-shelf technology, something that is proven and something that is relatively inexpensive.



The other thing, Mr. Speaker, that I do not quite understand either is that at the present time, as I understand it, there are 19 registries around the province. There is one in each county. Will there be a central clearing house in each county or will one have to access the system, say, through a major centre such as what is considered now to be regional centres? For instance down my way it would be Kentville, the other way, down the far end of the province, would probably be Yarmouth and on the South Shore it would be Bridgewater, metro would be around Halifax somewhere, et cetera, around the province, or will there still be access to this system in each individual county? I would like the minister to answer that question when she gets to the conclusion of second reading.



While I was speaking a moment ago, Mr. Speaker, about not re-inventing the wheel when we come up with a system, I also do not understand what the Leader of the New Democratic Party was saying with regard to this advertisement that ran in May. Because I, too, read that advertisement and it calls for proposal for personal property registration operations and I am very curious as to what this is. Is this a company that is going to be hired? For instance, is one of the computer software companies around the province going to be hired to set this system up and to run it or is the minister going to hire somebody who is an expert in this kind of operation to be employed as a civil servant to operate it under the direction of the Minister of Municipal Affairs? Just what is this particular activity that we are hiring an individual or a company to do? I am interested in that. Perhaps she could also answer that when she is on second reading.



We are told that this legislation is based on legislation that is presently in place in the Province of New Brunswick. They have a Personal Property Security Act, I believe it is called. We are told that this is very similar to legislation that is in use in other provinces across the country. I have a great deal of respect for New Brunswick, but not all that much, Mr. Speaker. I would think that when this piece of legislation that I cannot understand and cannot read and cannot talk about very much either, for that matter, was not specifically based on something from New Brunswick simply because New Brunswick seems to be doing some things, perhaps right.



I would have hoped that the minister would have gone right across this country and elicited information regarding their particular Statutes related to personal property systems and to have taken the best from each province and amalgamated it into an Act in Nova Scotia, rather then saying, well, since Frank McKenna is just across the border and he is looked upon in some areas of the country as being a person that can do no wrong, that necessarily his legislation is going to be the best that is available.



Now, what else have I got to say about this? I don't think I have got any more to say about it, to be quite honest, Mr. Speaker, except that in closing I want to assure through you sir, to the minister, that I do honestly believe in the principle of the bill. I applaud the fact that we are reducing the number of bills that are congruent and bringing them together. I think that is a step in the right direction.



I am asking the minister, I am imploring the minister to please either give us a very thorough description of what this bill does clause by clause, or else have the bill rewritten in language that perhaps somebody other than a lawyer can understand. In fact, I would be delighted if this government and, sir, perhaps you are a good person to start this, would introduce plain language. I don't know if it is called plain language or plain English. I think it is plain language legislation, because surely to goodness, we should not be standing on our feet in this Legislature talking about a piece of legislation that we do not understand. With all due respect to the minister, I do not think she understands it either. Because I think to understand this bill, you have to be a lawyer. You must be a lawyer to understand exactly what this bill is telling you.



The Minister of Finance and yourself and the member for Halifax Citadel probably do understand what the bill is about. I do not, quite frankly, and I think there are a lot of others in this House that do not.



With those few remarks, I appreciate having the time to make those comments and I will now take my place.



[7:45 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to participate in this evening's debate. This bill countenances significant changes with respect to the security of personal property and moves us significantly away from the very beginning of the life of this legislation once it is proclaimed and then more rapidly thereafter from a process which has been in vogue in this province, probably for as long as registries have existed and for as long as securities have been made available and for as long as liens have been registered in registries around this province. That, of course, is one of the principal reasons why, until very recently, at least. I think, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Supply and Services is trying to send me a message by semaphore over there. No, apparently not.



He better put his short pants on and remember how his cub days went if he is going to send messages.



The statutory law has required that each county have a registry and the reason, of course, was to provide facility of access both to those to whom debts were owed and also, surely to those who are the debtors. There is a certain freedom of access to that information which is essential to the consumer, as well as to the lender with respect to personal protection. I do not think there is anybody in this Chamber or indeed across this province and probably not across this land who would not suggest that in the information age with the modern communications technology available to us that we should not seek a more efficient, more effective way to compile this information and to disseminate it.



I must say that one of the concerns I have is that through the centralization of services which is countenanced in this bill and, indeed, seems to be countenanced by the Department of Justice that the access will, in fact, if not in theory, become more and more restricted to those who have electronic communication devices available to them and become more of a mystery and be farther physically removed. Therefore, become less accessible to the people who are deemed to have financial obligations which are registered in the registry.



It was only, I think, in the early 1970's under the Government of Mr. Regan that debtor's prison was done away with in Nova Scotia. I would think that all of us would applaud that. God knows, some of us might be close to getting free room and board at Her Majesty's expense, were that not done. Mr. Regan may have been a very forward thinking man in that respect as he was in many others.



Surely, this bill should be available not only to protect those who are lenders, but it also must be available to protect those who are consumers, both the consuming public which is purchasing and wants to ensure that it is purchasing a good which is free of liens, but, also protecting the consumers who are borrowers and whose names are registered in the registry and who should understand fully what that registration means and have full access to it on an as-need basis. These changes are, indeed, complex.



The bill is brought forward by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, yet it strikes me that the minister who has the greatest interest in this bill is, in fact, the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs because it is her specific function to ensure that the consumer is properly protected. Now we do not know the degree to which there was interface between the Department of Municipal Affairs and the Department of Housing and Consumer Affairs with respect to the creating and vetting of this bill before it was brought to the House for first reading by the minister. I believe it behooves this minister at least, and I would hope the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs herself might rise to the occasion, to assure the House and, indeed, all Nova Scotians that there was the highest degree of cooperation between those two departments in the conception of this legislation and in the delivery of this legislation into the House for first reading.



I would feel much more assured if I had the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs, that reassurance she and her staff are fully satisfied, completely satisfied, that the consumer is given the highest level of protection appropriate in this bill. Perhaps she may take to her feet later on and provide us with that assurance. I would find that particularly reassuring coming from that minister because of the very important role that ministry plays in that respect.



This is not a bill that only a couple of hundred - only 100 not 200, the minister says 100 - individuals and institutions have an interest in. It is a bill that potentially affects any Nova Scotian who goes out and purchases on credit even the most modest of appliances. A refrigerator, for example, a washer and dryer, a television set, furniture, all these kinds of things that fill our houses and help make them homes, before they are fully paid are likely to appear registered as a debt owing by us, the consumers, to those who have loaned us the money to buy them.



So it is vitally important for each and every one of us, as members of the Legislature, who were sent here not to support the government of the day but to represent our constituents, that each and every one of us thoroughly understands the nature of this legislation so that when we are called upon to vote on it, we completely understand that we are serving our constituents well. It is not enough for those on the government benches to say, oh well, the minister says it is all right so I guess it must be okay, she would not sell us a bill of goods. It is not enough for those of us on the Opposition benches to say well, the minister has assured us that she has representation from 100 people from the commercial sector so I guess the bill must be okay and we will vote for it. That is insufficient because this bill has the very real potential of touching on thousands of Nova Scotians.



I can think of many situations where constituents have come to me who have borrowed money from finance companies, one which has a far more odious record than many of the others in my community, who, because not only can they not read the small print but they don't really grasp the large print either, have chattel mortgages on every stick of furniture in their homes, not just the TV set, we can do without TV, but on the stove, on the beds they sleep in, on the refrigerator that keeps their food from spoiling. These people look to you and to me to ensure that they are protected if they meet their obligations.



I want to know and you must want to know that this legislation will provide appropriate protection for the men and the women in this province who sent us here to look after and manage their affairs when they, themselves, are depending upon us, where they may not feel that they have the capacity to provide that protection for themselves.



Madam Speaker, this will become . . . (Interruption).



MR. SPEAKER: I think the members are referring to your reference to Madam Speaker but this is an equal opportunity seat. (Laughter)



MR. LEEFE: Absolutely, you are better looking than normal, that is all. Mr. Speaker, one should pay attention, I suppose, to those sorts of things but I was so wrapped up in the potential of this legislation to touch on all of these Nova Scotians that that seemed to be, to me, less relevant than the importance of the members of this place representing the interests of their constituents, not the interests of their Party but the interests of their constituents.



Now, this will become the law of the land and it is essential that we understand what the law of the land will be once it has passed. This is difficult and it is complex. It is legislation which defies easy interpretation. It is clearly, by virtue of the language in which it is written, legislation which denies clarity of expression. Therefore it is absolutely essential that we be able to understand the essence of what it says and the particularity of what it says.



The minister tells us that this new bill will improve the environment for commercial activities in the province. I think that is fine and good and a justifiable reason for making changes, but she does not expand on that. She does not lay out for us the three, four, five or the half dozen or the dozen reasons why this is going to improve the environment for commercial activity in the province. It is something that is akin to all of those documents that are housed in this registry, it is an unsecured promise.



We see that the minister refers to this as having important features with respect to the business community and I say again, why is the minister so obsessed with the business community. Why has she failed in her opening remarks to address the legitimate needs of the consuming community? Now I know that she will tell me and she will be right if she tells me this, that a person who buys a car in a centralized security will be able to go and find out if that car has a lien registered against it. That, certainly, is a change that we all would agree is a positive change. That is one of the good things that I have been able to discern within this bill.



I think that we should all take a look at the language of the bill just to get an understanding of how complex it is for the layperson and I will just use two brief examples. One of them is in Clause 13(1)(b) and then Clause 13(4) and I would like any member and especially the minister to tell me just exactly what this means. Clause 13(1)(b) says, "A security interest, including a security interest in the nature of a floating charge, attaches when the debtor has rights in the collateral;". Clause 13(4), "For the purpose of Clause (1)(b) . . .", the clause that I just read, ". . . a debtor has no rights in (a) crops until they become growing crops; (b) the young of animals until they are conceived; (c) minerals until they are extracted; or (d) trees, other crops until they are severed.". Rather arcane language to say the least.



[8:00 p.m.]



Or Clause 87, and this is the only other example that I will use because I do not wish to delay the House. Clause 87, Madam Speaker, now I would think most of us think we know a little something about tourism and this references tourism. Now I would like any member in this House to stand up and explain to me exactly what this means. I can see the two ministers of the Crown showing us their best sides. Clause 87 says, "Section 10 of Chapter 9 of the Acts of 1994-95, the Tourist Accommodations Act, is amended by adding immediately after subsection (1) the following subsection: (1A) A lien on baggage and property arising under subsection (1) as a result of the furnishing of food or accommodation is subordinate to the interest in that baggage and property of any person who has registered before the food or accommodation was furnished, pursuant to the Personal Property Security Act, a financing statement or other notice in relation to that interest.".



Now perhaps the czar who is responsible for the tourist industry these days may wish to address that particular aspect of the legislation.



MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I am not sure if you are just speaking facetiously or if you were referring to one of our members as a czar.



MR. LEEFE: I was certainly referring to the czar, the ruler of all he surveys, the chairman, the minister responsible for the Economic Development portfolio. You read about him in the newspaper this morning, in the editorial page.



MADAM SPEAKER: It is the Economic Renewal Agency.



MR. LEEFE: Yes, of course, that is the one.



At any rate, there is a problem with language in this bill. Now I would suggest, Madam Speaker, to the minister, and indeed to every Minister of the Crown, that whenever a complex bill, such as this, is brought forward, it would be not only in the interests of this place and the depth of debate in this place, but in the public interest, as well, of course - you can't differentiate between those things - that a minister bringing a bill this complex into the House would provide a briefing opportunity by officials in the department, officials who have no political bias, who are apolitical, and provide that briefing, not only to members of the Opposition, but, indeed, to any of those members who support the government but are not members of the Treasury bench.



Through that kind of a briefing session, all of us who have to decide whether we are or are not going to participate in debate on a bill, should be that much the wiser and should be able to make the decision whether or not the bill satisfies us, that it meets the requirement that it be in the best interests of our constituents. It will provide us the opportunity, if we choose to speak, to speak on a much more informed basis, to save the time of the House and to get on with the discussion of the great public subjects of the day. That is one thing that I would recommend to the minister.



I would also suggest to the minister and to other ministers who may be introducing bills which repeal a number of other Acts, that it would be very helpful to have a matrix attached to the bill whereby we can understand what is going to happen with the old Acts being taken out of play and being replaced with a new bill. Are all of the aspects of the old legislation wrapped up in the next legislation? Are some of the aspects of the old, wrapped up in the new? If so, which are in and which are out? Or, indeed, is the change so extensive that the bills that are being repealed have a subject content which is irrelevant with respect to a discussion of the new bill?



Madam Speaker, this bill is a very extensive bill with, let's see how many clauses, 140 clauses. Very difficult to wade through and I contrast the presentation of this bill with the presentation of the Education Act. The Minister of Education has provided us with an index so that we can very quickly find the various aspects in which we have particular interest in the Education Act and find them with facility.





One cannot say the same of the bill that is before us now. It is a bill which is complicated, a bill which is difficult to read, a bill which is in complex language, a bill which eats up a tremendous amount of time to try to find any particular aspect that may fall within the purview of the bill. It would have been so helpful had we only had an index provided to us.



Madam Speaker, I have not yet decided whether I will be voting in favour of this bill or against it. I am waiting for the minister to respond and respond fully. I am hoping that the Minister of Consumer Affairs will address those aspects of the bill which deal with the consumerism and consumer protection and I am hopeful that perhaps the minister who is responsible for tourism will respond to that question which I raised which is one of many involving various ministries that fall under the ambit of this bill.



If the minister is looking for support, she may well be able to win that support by answering all of these questions. Questions which are not raised to be vexatious, but questions which are raised so that we, in voting on the bill, will vote with clear conscience that we are doing the bidding of those who have sent us here to watch over and manage their affairs. Thank you, Madam Speaker.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, I rise in second reading of Bill No. 31, An Act Respecting Security Interests in Personal Property. This bill does in itself take over from seven other Acts which will be repealed, obviously, after this becomes law. I think part of the difficulty that I am having is again I am not sure, and I am sure there are things in this bill that may be very helpful, but there are other areas where we have questions. I guess whether I am for or against the bill at this time, I am not sure. I, obviously, have not had a lot of contact with people that help put this bill together.



I have to say nobody contacted me from the banking community, commercial, legal and academic communities since July that said to me, when this bill comes forward, as a member of the Legislature, that I should support it. Sometimes, Madam Speaker, when pieces of legislation are vetted, as most members know, interest groups will come to MLAs and say, this is what we think it will do to improve the system and we would like for you, as a member, to support it for various reasons.



Here we have a bill that references a clearing agency. I guess this raises some questions of what this agency is, what the function will be and the process, the rules and regulations of this agency, so that records held in custody of the agency are proper and enforceable, and do they have any defect in law? These are, I think, important questions for many people.



When we talk about the Assignment of the Book Debts Act or the Bills of Sale Act, the Bulk Sales Act, the Conditional Sales Act, all of these are now part of this one piece of legislation. I have some interest in the Corporations Securities Registration Act, the Instalment Payment Contract Act, and the Personal Property Lien Registry Act. I guess, Madam Speaker, this legislation may make it simpler for the legal profession from what they had to deal with in these various Acts before. But I guess I am not looking at this from an easier way for the legal profession to deal with these Acts. I am looking at whether the consumer is protected and this legislation will, in fact, actually protect and enhance from where we were in the previous Acts the consumer who is most affected by Bill No. 31.



I think that if some time was given, and we may hear this from the minister in greater detail about how this is going to be better than what we had before. The minister indicated that part of the old legislation is outdated. I guess most legislation on the books for some time, any one of us could indicate that yes, it is outdated and changes are needed. Whether we get into electronic registry or not, we all know that we are moving in an age of electronics. But I think, Madam Speaker, you and I and most people would agree that, yes, move is afoot, but it does not mean automatically that we go electronically and things are going to be better. So I think that this is an area where we have, obviously, some questions. It very well may be when we go through this bill clause by clause, that we will be able to better understand the advantages for the people that we represent and not just for where it is the legal people that have to do with these Acts find it easier to deal with these Statutes that have been on the books for some time.



So I will be waiting to hear, when the minister either sums up or we get this back from the Law Amendments Committee, what comments are being said and we have a chance to have some more time to spend on this piece of legislation to find out whether or not we, in the end, can support this bill as it is. Madam Speaker, not to delay your time and not to get into the clause by clause that we have questions on, but to try and find out whether, in actual fact, this bill is going to do the things the minister says if it is going to help not only the legal profession and the banking profession, but the consumer is going to find out after this becomes law that they, in actual fact, will be better off and not in some way find hardships because of this legislation. So I will await that to determine whether or not I do support this bill at a later reading.



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I don't think there is any question that existing legislation dealing with personal property is outdated. I don't think anybody would argue that. But the language in this bill is certainly convoluted, it is complex, it is complicated and, to be frank, it is quite tangled.



Madam Speaker, I have not seen a blueprint of the Starship Enterprise, but I am sure that it would be much easier to understand. Now the principle of this bill (Interruption) Well, maybe the member for Cape Breton South has seen a blueprint of the Starship Enterprise, I certainly cannot say. I will ask the member for Cape Breton South, perhaps he will explain this clause . . .



[8:15 p.m.]



MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, we are not into clause by clause debate. We are debating the principle of the bill.



MR. TAYLOR: You can take any clause and talk about the principle of this bill. If anybody has any idea where more than one perfected security interest . . .



MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I will just caution you one more time. We are not into clause by clause debate.



MR. TAYLOR: Okay, Madam Speaker. The provincial government is making major changes in the way personal property is registered and secured throughout Nova Scotia. I think if we all listen to that statement we could probably support it. Then it goes on to say that the legislation is based on a New Brunswick model. This legislation is based on, now I don't know if that is a Richard Hatfield model or a Frank McKenna model, but nonetheless it is based on a model out of New Brunswick.



Some of the terminology, not to read a clause, Madam Speaker, but some of the terminology in Clause 40(2) suggests that security interest continues in the same product or mass under Clause (1) and so on and it talks about security interest in separate goods. I think the barristers in the House would agree that the most complicated areas of Statute and case law are addressed in this legislation. But here it is, legislation that was tabled on October 30th and it is being called for debate, today, November 6th, with a total of four working days in between. As has been mentioned before, there are no explanatory notes, there are no cross-references, there is no index, but yet some of the members understand the terminology and understand the principle of the bill.



As I understand the bill, it points out that currently there are four main personal property security Statutes. The Bills of Sale Act, the Conditional Sales Act, the Assignment of Book Debts Act and the Corporations Securities Registration Act. Each Act, of course, has its own set of regulations and affidavit requirements. I understand that the minister is combining and consolidating those Acts and for that, we certainly could give her one or two kudos. Registration is currently on a county basis in the Registry of Deeds office. The minister said the existing registry is paper-based and certainly offers no automated search capability.



I understand what the minister is trying to do, but the fact of the matter is, as Opposition members we have a responsibility and a duty and, in fact, an obligation to discuss and to confer, consider, consult with one another and deliberate legislation before we come into the House. That is a responsibility that we take very seriously.



It surely would not be the intention of this government to bring in legislation and try to hoodwink the Opposition into believing that it is good legislation. Now, should we take the word of the government? We only need to go back in time to think of other legislation that certainly, upon closer perusal, after the ministers introduced the bill and gave an opening statement telling us how glorious the legislation was - every Nova Scotian would be in favour of it - but when we read further we find out that, in fact, every Nova Scotian should not be in favour of it and every Nova Scotian is not in favour of it.



It is extremely difficult to relate the provisions of this bill to those in the other Acts: the Assignment of Book Debts Act, the Bills of Sale Act, the Bulk Sales Act, the Conditional Sales Act, the Corporations Securities Registration Act, the Instalment Payment Contracts Act, and the Personal Property Lien Registry Act. Now those seven Acts, as I understand it, are being repealed, so it is extremely hard for us to determine if the public policy principles are being maintained, if they are being kept in the bill that is before us this evening.



Now in the legislation there is frequent reference to a clearing agency. Now I am not trying to get into the specifics, Madam Speaker, and you know I dare not do that, but I am raising a question. Those who use this legislation have to know what this clearing agency is. Now in the bill there is no definition of senior employee. Of course there is no description either of senior employee.



AN HON. MEMBER: Look around you.



MR. TAYLOR: (Laughter) Now, Madam Speaker, the Government House Leader lacks a lot of credibility. We know some of the shenanigans he was involved in August but . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Try not to get sidetracked honourable member or I will have to call you back to the debate on the principle.



MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, there is some reference in the bill, though, to senior employees of the government. Now I think it is extremely important that we receive some details, some description and certainly there should be some index.



Now I understand that the bill does not apply to a lien, charge or other interest given by a Statute or rule of law unless that Statute provides that this bill applies. So we have to question the whole question of applicability to this Statute. There appears to be certainly considerable uncertainty and there is even contradictory language in this bill. So I think it is essential that the minister provide an explanation of just what is intended by this language. Again, I am talking in general terms about some of the language.



When you talk about establishing an electronic registry, I don't think we have too many problems with that, in fact I think you will find that most members in this House would support an electronic registry. One only needs to look at perhaps the forestry industry, for example, to find out how we are quickly moving into automation. This would seem like a natural step.



I do have a problem, Madam Speaker, which has to do with the registrar. I am not reading from a clause or anything but it says in one of the clauses it provides, and this is speaking to the principle and there is a lot of reference to the registry or the registrar. The registrar provides access to the registry or to provide one or more registry services, the registrar may refuse access to the registry or otherwise suspend one or more of its services.



Now surely to goodness we should be told under what circumstances would access to the registry not be permitted. I think that is a reasonable question and I know the minister will probably enlighten us during her summation but I am having a hard job waiting until she gets to her feet, Madam Speaker. (Interruption)



Well, Madam Speaker, speaking again on the principle of the bill, it is important, I think, that all members who have some concerns with this bill stand up and say so. There seems to be huge discretionary authority being granted, or at least given to the registrar. Now, my gosh, what rules or guidelines are going to be followed for the registrar to say, no access for you, none for you - you will be all right, you can get access to the registry. So there should be guidelines in place looking after that. But really there should not be discretionary power. I don't believe there should be any such discretionary power. It should be clearly laid out, there should be some parameters, guidelines laid down. Again, it should be made very clear who has access to the registry and if necessary, to make rules regarding access. It should be done and I think the members of the Treasury bench would support this, it should be done by the Governor in Council.



There are certainly a lot of questions and this bill is 80-some pages long with over 90 clauses in it. We certainly have reason to be concerned with this legislation. If you don't have the time to closely consider legislation and deliberate and debate the legislation, one might automatically assume that it is a mishmash of disorganization and muddle and confusion. With more time and it is most disappointing that the six months' hoist did not live because it would have given the Official Opposition members and the Third Party time to examine and consider the legislation further.



Getting back to the principle of the bill and the title, the title of that bill certainly merits consideration because it is an Act Respecting Security Interests in Personal Property. When a consumer buys a used car today, that individual could conduct a manual search in 19 registry offices throughout the province. That is if you really wanted to make certain that there were no claims and there were no outstanding debts against the vehicle.



A lot of people will take a risk - and I think maybe I have once or twice taken a risk -and assumed that someone else's debts were not attached to what I was purchasing. The minister tells us that this new legislation will certainly assist some of us who are a little too hasty in that regard. For that I commend the minister for streamlining the registration process.



The minister suggests that the long-term goal is for the business community to be able to do their searches right from the confines of their office or directly from their offices and again, I think that that would certainly merit some support too. But I also note that the regulations will not come into effect until the Act does and the minister points out that the implementation period which has been delayed has the added benefit of allowing plenty of time for users to educate themselves. I think we, in the Opposition, I can't speak for all members but I know I certainly would appreciate some time to educate myself on this particular piece of legislation.



I don't have the ability that the member for Cape Breton South has just to peruse it once and certainly come to a great understanding as to what this legislation means and what the principle is. (Interruption) Perhaps the member for Richmond, I know he is a very busy minister of the front benches and perhaps he hasn't had time to peruse this legislation and clearly come to a conclusion as what the principle is either.



AN HON. MEMBER: I took a speed reading course.



MR. TAYLOR: A speed reading course.



In conclusion, we do have some difficulty with it. We understand that Clause 40(2), ". . . one perfected security interest continues in the same product or mass under subclause (1) and each was a security interest in separate goods, the security interests are entitled to share in the product or mass according to the ratio that the obligation secured by each security interest bears to the sum of the obligations secured by all security interests.". I don't know what that means, it is quite convoluted when you are trying to decipher, Madam Speaker, the principle of this bill. (Interruption) Well, perhaps they did, but it seems as if the government is moving ahead very fast with this piece of legislation and, as Opposition members, we like to scan through the legislation, monitor it, examine it, oversee it.



[8:30 p.m.]



AN HON. MEMBER: How about understand it.



MR. TAYLOR: And understand it. So, again, Madam Speaker, we have some very knowledgable members here, but unfortunately, most of them seem to be in the Official Opposition. We have been very busy and we are taking our time. Now, that is certainly no slight to the member for Hants East, who does have a legal background, I understand, or some understanding of this bill, and while Madam Speaker is certainly very busy, I will read another clause and perhaps the member for Hants East could perhaps tell me what this certainly means. Clause 39(16), "A notice pursuant to subsection 14 shall be given at least fifteen days before removal of the accession and may be given in accordance with Section 70 or by registered mail addressed to the address of the person to be notified that was registered as part . . .". [Clause 40(2)], "Subject to subsections (4) and (6), where more than one perfected security interest continues in the same product or mass under subsection (1), . . .".



So there certainly is reason, Madam Speaker, to get further clarification of this piece of legislation. I am going to wait. I am going to have to try to further internalize this piece of legislation. (Interruption) Salt and pepper goes good with a lot of things and I see a lot of salt and pepper hairdos around here. I think I have one of them, too.



Madam Speaker, we must not get side-tracked. This is a very serious piece of legislation, Bill No. 31.



AN HON. MEMBER: Those certainly would be rabbit tracks, not hare tracks.



MR. TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, you never quip with the honourable member for Queens. Thank you.



MADAM SPEAKER: Are there further speakers on the bill? The question is called for.



The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs to close debate.



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Madam Speaker, I guess I just want to make a few comments. I don't think there is any question that this is a complicated piece of legislation. I think we would all agree with that. But that doesn't mean that it is any less necessary a piece of legislation for us to put into the House of Assembly.



Madam Speaker, when the Opposition members asked what was the principle of this bill or they didn't feel that I had clarified that sufficiently in my opening remarks, I just want to clarify. There are two main principles in this bill. One, it will allow potential purchasers of personal property a greater degree of assurance of financial encumbrance. As I said initially in my opening remarks, the current system which is very much a paper system and a system where you have to go to each and every registry in the province in order to decide whether there is a lien against something, is a very cumbersome system and, in actual fact, a system that is not working because people don't do it.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: A question, Madam Speaker, I am wondering if the minister could just repeat the first principle that she mentioned?



MS. JOLLY: I can, Madam Speaker, but it is in my remarks that I made earlier, when I introduced for second reading, it is in there. It is all in the remarks that I put in earlier this evening. So it is in Hansard and it is in my earlier remarks. But what it does, as I say, the current system strictly was not working because it was such a cumbersome paper system and there had been calls for this system to be changed for many years. In actual fact, this is the type of system that is being used across the country, so this bill was developed in conjunction with the Department of Justice, the Department of Municipal Affairs and the Legislative Counsel. So, there has been a great number of people who have had input into this bill and they have searched across the country to look at legislation that is very similar to this in a number of other provinces.



Certainly we looked at the western system which is very good and the New Brunswick system which is close to home, which is very good. One of the reasons we looked at the New Brunswick system, Madam Speaker, is to try and ensure that our sister provinces have the ability to talk back and forth, that we have a similar system in a number of provinces where it is possible to use our information back and forth and may be able to in actual fact look at a lien in New Brunswick under the same system that you look at a lien in Nova Scotia. We felt that was very important for business. So that is the first principle.



The second major principle is a major increase in the level of services to clients by the institution of electronic registration and search. This is particularly of interest to the business community, of which all of us are trying to assist the business community and how they do business. We have heard consistently that red tape is a problem. Red tape in this government has been a major problem. What this legislation tries to do is to deal with the red tape issue and make a much simpler system.



The third part of this, which I think is very important, is it substantially improves security and control over personal property records. That is equally as important, that there is some security to personal property records.



So, Madam Speaker, the current system is not working.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, on a question, the minister mentioned that this system is geared for access by business, but my question remains, which I put to the minister before, will this system be accessible by the consumer?



MS. JOLLY: Madam Speaker, definitely. I think the one thing that we have to understand about this system, the information that goes into the system is done by clients and people. This system will allow people to input their own information and allow people to take out information. In actual fact, it is important to understand that the registry is just the facilitator of the information. The registry will hold the information in an electronic system and will facilitate the information to come in and out, but a person will be able to go to the registry and extract information on an item that they want to purchase, or they can do it, or the lawyers, on some of the mortgages and those types of things, will be able to do it that way or the bank will be able to. So the registry is a facilitator of the information.



Madam Speaker, this is the type of system that we are seeing across the country. We are trying to bring this system forward and deal with it on that basis. I read an announcement May 3, 1995, that we, in fact, were coming forward with this system. I did a ministerial statement of May 3, 1995, to suggest that this system was coming forward.



We have been contracted by the public, by any number of individuals, that they wanted a copy of the legislation and we sent it out. If I did not directly send it to the Leaders of the two Opposition Parties, I apologize for that. I will check with the staff, to see, in fact. They say they did not receive it, but I will check that out. We had calls from the public, from interested individuals who wanted this bill and it was made available and, as I say, we have sent out 100 copies of the draft legislation. So, I mean, I did announce this May 3rd in a ministerial statement in the House that we were doing this.



So, Madam Speaker, I also understand that in the Law Amendments Committee, which may be a help to the Official Opposition, there are people who support this legislation who will be coming and presenting at the Law Amendments Committee. It may give an opportunity for members to ask directly to actual users of the systems how it might work.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, on a question, I am curious if the minister might, just before we close this evening, indicate whether or not, upon ultimate passage of this legislation and the proclamation and implementation of the system set out in the bill, whether or not that will in fact mean that the 19 places around the province where it is now possible to register chattel mortgages and conditional sales agreements and so on, will those close down and there be one central registry province-wide or could she just give us an explanation as to how that will all work?



MS. JOLLY: Certainly, Madam Speaker, we have, on any number of occasions, when the Department of Municipal Affairs took over the registries from the Department of Justice, stated that it is our intention to have 18 registries, one in each county, so that there would actually be a registry. The registries do a lot more than just this. They handle other items and other issues. So, certainly, as a government, we have made the commitment to house a registry in each one of the counties so that there is the accessibility by the public to the registries. The registries do a number of other things.



So I think I can confirm to the honourable member that it is not intention to close down the registries because of this coming in.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, on a point of clarification. I understand that the registries do a great deal more than this, but in fact, I am talking about this registry, not the Registry of Deeds or not the Registry of Probate. I am talking about the Personal Property Registry which is described in the legislation, in the bill, which this minister has introduced. What I am trying to determine is whether or not, while the Registry of Deeds will exist in each of the counties and a Registrar of Probate will have his or her Probate Registry and Court and so on in each county, what I am really trying to determine is the registry that is set out in this legislation that relates to personal property security registration. Will there be one such registry or will there be a terminal in each of the 18 registries around the province?



So if I put a document on the record in Digby, I can simply punch up or if I want to find the detail on a particular chattel for instance to determine if they are chattel mortgages or bills of sale or conditional sales agreements, can I just punch that in in Digby and it will do, via computer software, a search of all of the other, I guess, it will be 17 registries so that I can be assured from my one search, I have covered all of Nova Scotia and, in fact, other encumbrances are not registered elsewhere? That is what I am trying to determine.



MS. JOLLY: Madam Speaker, that is exactly what this legislation does. It will institute a single registry system in the sense that the information is in one system, but you will be able to access that system from all 18 registries. That is exactly why we are doing this. To get rid of the fact that you have to go to all 18 to get the information. There will be a computerized system that you can input into. You will get the information from Port Hawkesbury to Yarmouth to wherever. That is why it is such a great piece of legislation. That is why there really is an awful lot of support for this legislation. (Applause)



It is a single-tiered system, but accessible and hopefully it is accessible from the registries initially once we develop it, but it will actually be accessible from your law office or your bank. You will not even have to go to the registries. Maybe the public will go to the registries because they do not have that computerized system at home, but the banking institution or the legal institution will, in actual fact, be able to access this information through this one electronic system. That is why the paper will be gone and you will be able to input and output.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Madam Speaker, a question. I understand what the minister has been saying with respect to the banks and the other lending institutions and so on and how useful they will find this. My concern is how useful will the consumers find this process with respect to their protection. What I ask the minister is this, will she have her staff contact those who are the representatives of the Consumers Association of Canada here in Nova Scotia and advise them when this bill will be coming before the Law Amendments Committee in sufficient time which will allow the Nova Scotia Consumers Association, if it so chooses, to make representation before the Law Amendments Committee? I would find it very reassuring if that group were to come before that committee and to commend this bill to the committee and through the committee to the House.



MS. JOLLY: Madam Speaker, I will do the best I can. I am not sure, sometimes I find no matter what I do it is not enough. I will certainly do the best that I can. We have had 100 copies of this out to the public and that does not just include the institutions . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Just a yes would be much simpler and you would have to make a phone call.



MS. JOLLY: Well, in all honesty, the honourable member just wants me to say yes, but I find that I have to clarify what it is I am saying yes to or otherwise what I have done is not what they requested. So as I have said, I will to the best of my ability contact individuals. This has been out there for some time. It has been sitting out there. It has been requested by any number of individuals and certainly I will do the best I can to my ability and I am pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 31.



MADAM SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 31. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



[8:45 p.m.]



HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 32.



Bill No. 32 - Insurance Act & Motor Vehicle Act.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs.



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am pleased to call this bill for second reading. It is a bill to amend the Insurance Act. While there is a lot of legal language used to effect the change, the bill is really not very complicated.



Madam Speaker, this bill is designed to eliminate Judgment Recovery and, as its replacement, have a consumers' own insurance company handle claims that arise when an unknown or an uninsured motorist has an accident with the consumer or with their vehicle.



For clarification, an unknown driver is one who hits you or your car in a parking lot and leaves without being so kind as to leave you a note or informing you in some way that they have done so. An uninsured driver is one who hits you or your car and can be identified but is driving without insurance. I don't have to tell you, Madam Speaker, that if a person is driving without insurance usually they don't have financial wherewithal. So, as a victim, if you will, one has little recourse.



Madam Speaker, in order to replace the current Judgment Recovery provisions with uninsured automobile coverage in the standard auto policy, the following steps are required: provision for the addition of uninsured automobile coverage to all auto policies in the province, provision for dealing with the claims of individuals who do not have an auto policy and termination of the applicability of the Judgment Recovery provisions contained in the Motor Vehicle Act.



This bill provides legislative amendments that will establish a simpler, faster system for the settlement of claims for individuals involved in accidents with uninsured drivers. The existing cumbersome process of going through Judgment Recovery will be replaced by uninsured automobile coverage in each auto insurance policy in the province.



I want to stress, Madam Speaker, that the key thing about this change is that the settlements of claims should be faster and less complicated for the consumer. Insurers want to maintain good consumer relations with their clients. Individuals involved in accidents with uninsured drivers will get their payments from their own insurance companies.



The bill sets out the uninsured auto recovery that is to be included in all auto policies and that the coverage is deemed to be effective as of July 1, 1996. There should be little effect on the cost of insurance to consumers because consumers already pay the cost of Judgment Recovery in their existing car insurance premiums.



In the case of a pedestrian hit by an uninsured motorist, the pedestrian will be able to claim against his or her own car insurance policy. If the pedestrian has no policy, then he or she can make a claim through the Facility Association which will be administering the uninsured automobile fund for that purpose.



The amendments create a system that is consumer friendly. The settlement of claims for individuals involved in accidents with uninsured drivers will be accessible, simpler and faster for the consumer. Madam Speaker, the amendments to the system in Nova Scotia reflect changes that have been made in other Atlantic Provinces and are brought forward following consultation with the industry.



At this point I invite the comments of my colleagues. As I stated, this bill does contain legal language and, because of the highly technical nature of the bill, I may take some concerns that are mentioned this evening under advisement. So I urge the House not to lose sight of the fact of the bill's substance and that it is to make it easier for consumers to make claims and access insurance.



Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to move Bill No. 32 for second reading.





MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to address a few remarks to Bill No. 32. I appreciate the explanatory remarks made by the minister, as she has just now done, upon moving second reading of the bill.



There is no question that my reading and our analysis of the legislation puts me and us on all fours with what the minister has said in regard to a couple of very simple and basic and elemental issues here, and that is that the bill clearly, upon passage, would have the effect of doing away with Judgment Recovery (N.S.) Limited. It would replace Judgment Recovery with a process, as she has described, whereby a claimant is able to claim against his or her own insurance policy, particularly in those cases where that person is dealing with an uninsured or an unknown driver or vehicle. So, on balance, I am of a mind that philosophically it is a desirable state of affairs to move in this direction.



I had some limited experience many years ago with Judgment Recovery from my vantage point as a barrister and she is right, it is and can be very tedious, cumbersome, time-consuming and frustrating for those who are required to avail themselves of the services of Judgment Recovery. But there are a couple of questions though that I really do believe are important and relevant and in regard to which I would hope before we conclude debate on the bill this evening, the minister will be able to help us all come to a little bit of a better understanding.



In the very first clause of the bill we find a fundamental change being made to the Insurance Act. Clause 1 of the bill refers us to Section 104 of the Insurance Act and, again, I am going to do my best to speak to the principle and not in any way do a clause by clause analysis of this. I will take your direction as I attempt to stay within those required parameters.



Clause 1 when it refers us to Section 104 of the Insurance Act gets us into a part of the existing legislation which talks about "Assigned Risk Plan". In fact, Section 104 is a definition of "Assigned Risk Plan" and it says that it is, ". . . the Nova Scotia Automobile Assigned Risk Plan as presently constituted and operated by automobile insurance companies carrying on business in the Province . . .". Then when we get to the amendment it would take out words, ". . . by any other body having similar objects . . .", those words would be expunged and it would go on to read, ". . . in the Province or by the Facility Association and approved for the purposes . . .", and so on.



The problem, again, if I may, Mr. Speaker, is one of understanding the legal principle and the practical effect of that change having been made. I make that observation for the very simple reason that unless I have missed it - and I mean this sincerely, if the minister can find it for me, I would appreciate her help - at no place in all of the Insurance Act, the Act which is the present law, which is 334 sections long and it is a very detailed and complex piece of business, as you know, insurance law - this particular Act is not always easy to get through -so what we have as a matter of public policy now in the proposed amendments offered by this minister is this.



We have her introducing a bill which says that to make the change out of Judgment Recovery (N.S.) Limited and to enable the claimant, the injured party, to make a claim against an unknown or an uninsured rather than previously go to Judgment Recovery, that claimant now has access to his or her own insurance. Then, in circumstances where that person doesn't have insurance, that person can then make application for assistance through what is called, the Facility Association. I see the minister nodding so I haven't completely lost track of the sequence and she is nodding that yes, that is the way this will work.



My difficulty pure and simple is this, who and what is the Facility Association? It isn't defined in the legislation anywhere. There is no reference in the legislation to what the quote, "Facility Association" is, or who it is or what it is or where it is or why it is or how it is or how it works or who controls it.



Now, it is my understanding from a few inquiries that I have been able to make and again, I may be mistaken and if I am the minister will bring me up short. The Facility Association, as I understand it, not because I find it in the legislation but because I made some calls from my office to make some inquiries, that Facility Association happens to be a loose consortium. I don't mean to be disparaging when I use the word, loose, but a loose consortium of seven or eight insurance companies who are pulled together in some kind of relationship. To my knowledge, as yet, an undefined relationship, whereby they, those seven or eight insurance companies calling themselves the Facility Association, pool their resources to respond to the very kind of issue which the minister is describing. Namely, a situation, I repeat, where an injured party, who himself or herself has no insurance coverage, is making claim against the party who has injured them. If they had insurance, they would go to their own insurance company and everything would be tickety-boo. They don't have any insurance coverage so they go to this Facility Association. So I am lost, and frankly, without some dramatic explanation, without some additional clarification or without some very precise additional language, the reference to the Facility Association is, I suggest, absolutely, totally and 100 per cent unhelpful and meaningless because it is not defined in the legislation.



I made some inquiries, as I said, and the Facility Association is apparently this loose affiliation or consortium of seven or eight insurance companies who are up in Toronto I am told. The Facility Association isn't in Halifax, it isn't in Sydney, it isn't in Truro, it isn't anywhere in Nova Scotia, it is in Toronto.



Now, the minister said - and she said with good intent and with some considerable justification for saying so, I think - that a move away from Judgment Recovery (N.S.) Limited and its cumbersome administrivia and processes and all the trappings that go with Judgment Recovery, will take the claimant out of a difficult, time consuming, expensive, frustrating, complex arrangement and I agree with that. The problem is that when the minister then goes on to say as she did and I think I made a note as she spoke, that this bill will lead us and more to the point, lead the injured party who needs access to this Facility Association to a faster and less complicated arrangement, I, frankly, with the greatest respect, see nothing in the legislation which leads me to believe that that is necessarily true. Might be, but there is nothing in the bill that gives me any comfort that that is true, at all.



[9:00 p.m.]



I repeat, who is, what is, the Facility Association? It is not defined anywhere in the legislation, and if, as I know you well know, Mr. Speaker, if you read down a piece of legislation and it says, if circumstance (a) happens and it triggers circumstance (b), those two circumstances result in person x having a claim against person y and somebody isn't insured, so all person y has to do is go to xyz corporation and xyz corporation will look after things and there is no mention of xyz corporation in the bill, how does that Act help the person who is told to go to xyz corporation? It just doesn't help at all.



So, I know I have spent some time talking about a definition and the lack of definition, but I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you have understood the policy issue I am addressing, the principle issue I am addressing or attempting to address and I hope not too inadequately. The principle of this bill purports to be that if you are in this mess and you are in the right kind of circumstances, you go to some place or some thing called the Facility Association. But there ain't no definition of Facility Association. Frankly, in my opinion at least, or in my assessment, that is a nullity. Without telling me in the legislation what the Facility Association is, who it is, how do I go? How do we know, and we don't from this legislation, the ground rules under which, by which, through which, those insurance companies which are apparently, and I repeat apparently, because I had to make a phone call outside of this Legislature to get even a little bit of information, I certainly didn't get it from the minister and I didn't get it from the bill, how do we know what the ground rules and the relationships are as between those companies which apparently, and I underline apparently, the partners in this Facility Association consortium. It just simply isn't defined.



So I suggest with respect, that the principle of the bill which the minister described as being met here tonight, cannot by reason of the language she presents to us in this bill, be met. Therefore there is a fundamental flaw in the legislation in that context and in that regard, the principle which the legislation purports to espouse in that regard, Mr. Speaker, I suggest to you with respect, is an absolute, complete, total and 100 per cent nullity. It just simply doesn't mean anything.



Now, it is not untypical of me to beat a point to death and I perhaps have done so in relation to Facility Association. I knew a few of my friends across the way would agree that that is not untypical of me, but I really do. I was really struck and shocked when I read the legislation and it sends you, depending upon a certain factual situation, to a legislative provision which has no explanation, no background, no clarity, no precision and I suggest has no meaning and therefore the principle which the minister purports to suggest to us here this evening, simply is not met, cannot be met and is a nullity.



The question, assuming we can get some understanding from the minister about the Facility Association, presumably we are going to have to have her explain to us, and I am sure she will, which carrier of that consortium is going to handle or carry the file, who is going to make that decision, how is that done, because I think that is fundamental to determining the way in which and the extent to which one who has a claim, if they ever find out how legally to get to the Facility Association, would be handled.



Who is it to confirm for us that the Facility Association, whatever it is and wherever it is - and I understand, as I say, from my calls, that it is in Toronto - why would I or why would any Nova Scotian have any reason to think that having to deal with an organization that is housed in Toronto is going to be any easier, any more timely and expeditious, any less expensive, any less confusing and frustrating to deal with and to get through, than is dealing with Judgment Recovery, which is down the street from me here in Halifax.



So the minister, I say with respect, has said here tonight that one of the principles and one of the results - if not the principles, but I think she offered it as a principle - is faster and less complicated response to the settlement of insurance claims. I say with respect that from what she has said in her remarks here tonight and from what she says in her legislation, which we now consider, I do not have any confidence without further help and explanation that she can, with any degree of assurance, tell us or Nova Scotians that the system she proposes is necessarily any faster or less complicated.



There is another element and the minister made this comment and it is a fundamental issue, as well, that has the potential to impact upon all of us and all of the thousands and tens of thousands in Nova Scotia who buy insurance. That is this. Why do we know, how do we know what language in the legislation gives me or them or you, Mr. Speaker, any reason to have any assurance that the cost of this insurance, with the new settlement regime, is, as the minister suggests, going to be at no additional cost to the consumer of insurance?



It is a fact, Mr. Speaker, that under the present regime, how it is funded - the present regime being the Judgment Recovery (N.S.) Limited regime - how is it funded? The minister made reference to this. It is funded by way of assessment of insurers writing automobile insurance in Nova Scotia.



What about the uninsured motorist coverage? The new regime, which is described in the legislation we debate tonight, how is that funded? That is funded through premiums paid to the insurer for the coverage. So all of us as individual purchasers of insurance and tens of thousands of Nova Scotians who buy insurance are going to pay for this new regime by way of their premiums to their insurers.



I would like this minister to give the undertaking that since over the years there has already been built into the cost, which the Nova Scotian insurance purchaser is required to meet, a portion of the premium charged by the insurance company to enable that insurance company to meet the assessment levied on it to assist or to look after the funding of Judgment Recovery, that is already built in. So the insurance rates are at a level, let's say x, and part of x that all of us pay and all Nova Scotians pay as insurance premiums is built in and goes to fund Judgment Recovery. Now we have a system where we are going to do away with Judgment Recovery.



I would like the minister, before she closes debate on this bill, to give Nova Scotians this undertaking. Since the new regime is going to require all consumers of insurance in Nova Scotia to pay a premium to their insurer for this new coverage, that she will work out with the insurance industry and give to the insurance purchasers in Nova Scotia a guarantee that there will be no greater premium cost to the insurance purchasers in Nova Scotia than at present exists because after July 1, 1996, the insurance companies, already having built in a factor in their insurance premiums in order to fund Judgment Recovery (N.S.) Ltd., will no longer have to fund Judgment Recovery (N.S.) Ltd. because this bill does away with Judgment Recovery (N.S.) Ltd.



I repeat, it would be appropriate and a tremendous boon to the insurance purchasers of the Province of Nova Scotia and, as the minister well knows, Mr. Speaker, most Nova Scotians are serious, responsible citizens when it comes to insurance coverage. Unfortunately, some are not but the overwhelming majority are. I think it would be unreasonable and unfair and, frankly, it would give the lie to comments made by the minister that the new regime would be cheaper unless we can find a way, more to the point, unless she can find a way, to ensure that the insurance companies will not have the capacity to increase premiums charged to all Nova Scotian insurance purchasers.



AN HON. MEMBER: For any reason?



MR. DONAHOE: Well, now, the Minister of Finance says, for any reason? Well, no, I don't say for any reason. It obviously depends on the nature and extent of coverage and so on as to what happens with premiums. It also happens that premiums change on the basis of performance and accident rating and so on and all those good things.



The point I make is, and again, I don't want to beat it to death, but the point I make is that built into the premium today that all consumers of insurance pay is an amount which the insurance companies then use to meet their assessment to fund Judgment Recovery. As of July 1, 1996, they, the insurance companies, are not going to have to fund Judgment Recovery. Therefore, if they are going to have to fund some arrangement through this Facility Association, I suggest to the minister that what can be worked out and should be worked and, frankly, must be worked out in favour of, or on behalf of, the purchasers of insurance in the Province of Nova Scotia is an arrangement whereby, as of July 1, 1996, when the insurance industry is relieved of the obligation of funding Judgment Recovery, that amount is computed and factored and is shifted without additional premiums to the insurance purchaser, to whatever expense is being met or required to be met by the insurance industry to fund the new, uninsured motorist coverage regime. I believe that the mathematics and the accounting can be done to make that happen.



I was going to say the minister made reference to consultation with the industry, I think she did but I am not sure of the extent of that consultation. The reason I say that is because again, upon reading the legislation and wanting to be sure that I had even a modest understanding of some of the implications, I had occasion to make contact with a number of insurance brokers - not the insurance companies themselves in this instance but a number of insurance brokers. In fact, I was told that to the knowledge of those insurance brokers with whom I was able to make contact, there was no knowledge on their part that their organization, namely the Insurance Brokers Association, were ever consulted relative to this particular legislation and that they indicated to me they had no chance for input.



Now I am not saying that that fact alone is necessarily fatal to the bill by any means but it makes me wonder about the nature and the extent of the consultation which in fact was held. There is a principle, as well, Mr. Speaker, in this legislation, and I wonder if, when she closes, the minister might help a little. Pardon me? (Interruption) She might help me to be sure that this is well and clearly understood. It is my understanding, and if the minister could help me make sure that I am on the right wavelength because I have had a couple of inquiries and I want to respond and I want to speak with people who have already indicated that they may well wish to make representations to the Law Amendments Committee.



[9:15 p.m.]



I refer to a principle which is enshrined in this legislation which is a change from the principles which apply now under the Judgment Recovery (N.S.) Ltd. regime. I think I am right in understanding that under the present regime, Judgment Recovery, that if a plaintiff in a claim for damages under that regime is entitled to compensation from sources other than the insurance compensation, then the amount of that additional compensation is taken into account in determining the payment from Judgment Recovery.



In other words, if the damages are less than $200,000, the amount of other compensation is deducted from the amount that would be paid by Judgment Recovery. If the amount of damages are greater than $200,000, the amount of other compensation is deducted from the $200,000 paid by Judgment Recovery. As an example, such other sources of compensation would include Section B benefits of UI, workers' compensation and similar recoveries. Those deductions are not necessarily available to insurers and in making those deductions Judgment Recovery, of course, relies on certain provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act. It is my understanding that, in very general terms, is the way in which this works when you are dealing with Judgment Recovery.



I think I am reading the principle of the new regime correctly to read essentially to this effect, that only insurance money other than insurance money payable on death is taken into account by the insurer. These monies are deducted from the amount of the insured's damage to arrive at a revised amount of damages. The revised amount of damages are paid by the uninsured automobile coverage insurer subject to the maximum payable. In other words, the amounts are not reduced by such things as UI and workers' compensation and the like. If that is right, and I hope that I am reading the bill correctly, that is a very useful and positive improvement in the system and one which I think we could all applaud. They would not be deducted in the new regime is my understanding.



There is, Mr. Speaker, again by way of matter of the principle of the bill, in the opinion of some with whom I have had contact a little bit of a question as to who is protected. I will try this on the minister and she might, when she closes, help me understand better here. Under the Judgment Recovery (N.S.) Ltd. regime which is in place at present, persons protected under that system are persons ordinarily resident in Nova Scotia and persons ordinarily resident outside Nova Scotia only if Nova Scotia residents would receive substantially the same benefits if injured in the jurisdiction where such persons reside.



Under the new system, the uninsured motorist coverage system which this bill enshrines, I think I am right, but I would appreciate the minister's help and confirmation here before we go to the Law Amendments Committee with this legislation. Insured persons within the definition of the policy would include all occupants of an automobile injured under a Newfoundland policy and persons insured while not an occupant of an insured vehicle if they are named as insured under a policy or if they are the spouse or dependent relative residing in the same household as the named insured. The injury must result from being struck by the uninsured or the unidentified automobile. If she might review that question or concern as she considers the language of her legislation to perhaps respond either when she closes or by way of a note to me over the next little while that would certainly be of help to me.



The principle, however, subject to those few concerns which I have raised is the principle to move away from the judgment recovery system to the system whereby I can, any of us can, if we have insurance, settle the matter through our own insurance is clearly an advance and an improvement over the present arrangement. There is no question and I compliment the minister for coming forward with legislation which does that.



I do and I will just simply make a passing reference to it again and not rehash what I said earlier. I really am very concerned that what purports to be a principle enshrined in this legislation is a nullity, isn't enshrined, is not there by reason of the fact that there is reference to an organization which nowhere in the legislation is defined or otherwise referenced. So, we do not know who it is or what it is and we do not know how it would work and we do not know a lot of things about it and I refer, of course, to the Facility Association.



It is interesting that it is in the legislation. It comes into play in a section which is called Assigned Risk Plan and there is reference to the Nova Scotia Automobile Assigned Risk Plan as presently constituted and operated by automobile insurers and so on. I think we could probably find reference to that, but then when we get into this Facility Association I get into difficulty.



I will not take more time of the House on second reading in relation to Bill No. 32. I offer those comments, both supportive and somewhat critical, because I sincerely mean those which are supportive because I think we are moving in the right direction and making positive change. I do, however, think that there is perhaps even just a drafting flaw, but a flaw nonetheless that the principle, which the minister says is enshrined in this bill, is not enshrined by reason of the failure of the language of the bill which she has presented.



With those remarks, I will certainly support the bill to move on to the Law Amendments Committee. There will undoubtedly be representations there and the matter of the Facility Association issue can be responded to without any question, I am sure. So, without further ado, I would again compliment the minister, I will support the bill and we will see how we fare at the Law Amendments Committee stage. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: My comments will not be as lengthy or as learned, I am sure, as those of the previous speaker. That having been said, there are a few points that I would like to touch on with the minister, some of which really have already been raised but which the minister, I hope, would take note of and my point in interjecting at this point in time are twofold. Firstly, to indicate that yes, indeed, our caucus will be supporting the legislation going forward because I think that it is an improvement and, secondly, to be posing some questions to the minister that maybe the minister would be willing to address when she wraps up.



One of the clauses in the very first part that I do have some concern with has been canvassed quite extensively already. That is the fact that the very first part of the bill that we have before us is making reference to the Facility Association. My understanding of what the Facility Association is, for example, those who have a bad claims record in the eyes of the insurance industry, somebody who may have made a number of claims, would very often be denied insurance by their normal insurance company but that if, in fact, they are to continue to receive insurance, they must go under this Facility Insurance Program.



Previously, it might have cost a person $600 or $700 for their insurance for the year, if they get placed under facility insurance, then, in fact, their premiums could be jumping as high as $2,000, $3,000, maybe even more thousands of dollars a year, in order to maintain the same coverage. So the facility insurance is, indeed, the high risk for which you pay very high premiums. That is not controlled here in Nova Scotia but, as was correctly pointed out, is controlled by the insurance industry in Toronto.



So, if an individual company is unprepared to provide the insurance themselves, they send it to this pool, this Facility Association which, as has been described, is sort of a mushy or not closely defined organization where they share the risk in return for the higher premiums.



Certainly, one has to wonder in looking at the Insurance Act, I know that the insurance companies and so on have to abide by the regulations and the provisions of the Acts that are passed by this Legislature. I am assuming, although I am not 100 per cent certain, that the minister has and this government has the authority to mandate that Facility Association would have to make the payments to those who are filing a claim, if they have been involved in an accident or were injured in an accident by another party who did not have insurance. So, I am seeking the assurance that, in fact, the Government of Nova Scotia does have the legal authority to mandate that the Facility Association, once it becomes defined in the legislation, which it will have to be, I believe, that it does have the legal authority to demand that they will be paying that.



Another question that I have is, for example, if we can put it down to a very personal type of situation, any time a person files a claim with your insurance company, that is recorded. I know that if you go out and your vehicle is damaged in an accident and you file a claim of maybe a few hundred dollars, then you have another one and it might even be something like a stone chip in your windshield and you have that repaired, that is a second claim and all of a sudden because of what has happened, you can be placed in facility insurance, for very minor claims. Even if your car is vandalized because it has been sitting, let's say, in the Legislature parking lot and you have claims because of vandalism that was done to your vehicle and you file a claim for repairs to your vehicle that has been not of your own fault, you can be deemed to be a poor insurance risk. Your premiums will skyrocket and you can, in fact, be placed in facility insurance. One of the assurances that I would like to get from the minister . . .



[9:30 p.m.]



AN HON. MEMBER: Insurance or assurance?



MR. HOLM: Assurance. One of the assurances that I would like to get from the minister, that if this process goes forward which I think is an improvement, certainly ahead of the Judgment Recovery, but let's say that a citizen's car was struck, they were injured by somebody who either was unknown or did not have insurance, so the claim is then made through the Facility Association. Is it possible that the insurance companies then could demand because claims have been made - and I am asking it as a question, I am not saying that that is the way it will be - but I am seeking the assurances from the minister that, in fact, they cannot then have their regular insurance premiums increased because of accidents and so on that were totally beyond their control?



If the minister wants to answer that now, that is fine, or later.



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



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I would prefer to save my comments to the close but I want to make sure there is not a misunderstanding here and that those people who are watching this and hearing this are not misled. The Facility Association is a group of all insurers who pool their money together to cover those people who are hard to insure, those risks. They cover those people who do not have their own insurance. If an individual has their own auto insurance policy, they would be covered under their own policy. They would not go to the Facility Association. That is only there for those people who do not have their own insurance policy. So it is a limited number of people who would have to access that.



Also, the premiums that can be charged through the Facility Association would be controlled by the Utility and Review Board. So they would not be skyrocketing and out of control without anybody having any access or any ability to control the premiums that are charged. So I just wanted to make that point now, before you take your point any further, to reassure those people that are listening that this would be controlled and would not be skyrocketing, as you have suggested.



MR. HOLM: I thank the minister for her intervention and I certainly appreciate that. I am not saying that that is the way things are going to go, I am asking and was seeking some clarification from the minister and I appreciate that. Yes, Mr. Speaker, I do understand that it would be, for example, to personalize this, if I was driving down the road and a vehicle struck my car and the operator of that other vehicle did not have insurance, that it would be my insurance company first of all that would cover my damages or my claims and then they would maybe try to recover it if they so decide. I understand that point.



But I would have, in effect, been making a claim against my insurance company for the repairs to my vehicle and the point that I am trying to get at is that if, for example, there were a couple such accidents or even one in addition to another accident that had occurred for which I had filed a claim, this particular one where I was driving down the road, where I was struck by somebody who had no insurance, my insurance company is now going to have to pay the repairs. Do we have any assurances under this legislation that my insurance company can now not declare that I am a high risk and therefore refuse to provide me with insurance coverage unless I go through the facility insurance which is a much higher premium?



I don't know if the minister understands the difference and what I am trying to explain here. I am seeking the assurance that if, in fact, because of this legislation coming into effect, if mine or somebody else's vehicle was struck and a claim is made against their own insurance, that should not then classify as a strike against them that could mean they would end up having higher insurance rates being imposed upon them for something that is totally and completely beyond their control.



AN HON. MEMBER: The same as if you have an accident caused by somebody else and you claim it under your collision coverage.



MR. HOLM: Yes, indeed, that's one of the things that I am fearful will happen, Mr. Speaker. But, of course, if it goes through the Judgment Recovery system under the present arrangement, that, I don't believe, would be the situation.



Now, Mr. Speaker, just if I might, on a couple of other minor points in terms of trying to get assurances from the minister, the assurance and what kind of understanding and agreements she has with the insurance companies that actually premiums will not increase unreasonably to cover this increased cost. At the present time, as the minister has correctly pointed out, insurance programs or insurance premiums do have a built-in provision, a built-in cost, a premium built-in to help to pay for this type of thing. Now if it is going to be going to the Facilities Association and, also, where the insurance company is going to be required to pay for the costs of damages or repairs by an uninsured or an underinsured driver, I want assurances from the minister that there will be an auditing process to ensure that that amount of money that is currently being paid by consumers as part of their insurance premiums for the current coverage is redirected to the new coverage. Certainly the insurance industry has not provided the assurances that the minister has tonight that the costs for insurance premiums will not go up. So I would like to know what kind of commitments and what kind of documentation she has from the insurance companies to back up her claims.



The final point I will just make very briefly. It is, again, my understanding, but I am seeking assurances from the minister, that under the current legislation as we have it before us it would not permit for the deduction, for example, of UI or Canada Pension disability payments from the amount that the claimant would be eligible to receive as a result of the injury, that that would not be something that would be able to be deducted from that amount. That is my interpretation, but some who have looked at it who have the legal knowledge that I do not have still say that there is some question and so I am seeking assurances from the minister that that interpretation is, in fact, correct.



Mr. Speaker, with those few comments, as I say, I don't claim to be learned in the law and certainly not learned in the insurance law, we will be supporting the legislation going on to the Law Amendments Committee and we will be awaiting the input from those who wish to make presentations at that point in time. It does seem, however, to be a step forward and I would appreciate, in the wrap-up comments, if the minister could address the few comments that I have made and of the previous speaker and any others who may wish to make representation following mine. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak on this particular piece of legislation. Again, it is a piece of legislation that I think can be supported but, however, there are some questions relative to this particular piece of legislation.



Mr. Speaker, I would have hoped that when the minister introduced this bill that perhaps she would have gone a little further than she has with regard to amending the process whereby claims against uninsured drivers are met out of a fund, in the past, the unsatisfied judgment fund and now through the Facility Association. I say that because people who operate vehicles that are not insured are operating in violation of the law. You must have insurance before you can operate a motor vehicle in this province. In fact, that is common in every province across this country and I believe it is also the law in all states of the United States.



It would seem to me that one of the things that perhaps we should be looking at first of all is getting uninsured drivers either to have insurance or else getting them off the road. At one time there was a long discussion, I believe it was in this House, Mr. Speaker, with regard to perhaps putting in place a system whereby when a person went to license their vehicle that one of the documents they must produce in order to license their vehicle is their so-called pink card, which shows that the person carries a set amount of insurance. I don't think that would be a very difficult kind of process to enforce. It is simply a matter of an extra space on the application form where the person puts the name of the insurance company that he has, the number of his policy and the expiry date. So I don't think it would be very difficult to ensure that at the time of registration that every driver in this province carried adequate insurance on their motor vehicle.



Now I know that a number of people would say well, that is fine. People will then take out insurance, get their license and then promptly cancel the insurance. That argument has been made over and over again. I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that if a person is in the habit of taking out insurance in order to get his license renewed and then cancels it a week or two later, that very rapidly the insurance companies are going to latch onto this and that person is going to be refused insurance.



So, Mr. Speaker, I would like to have seen this piece of legislation, perhaps not in this piece of legislation but perhaps in the Motor Vehicle Act, which also covers licensing and insurance for vehicles and makes insurance mandatory, that indeed, some kind of a process similar to that is put in place.



I am sure that most members in this House are aware that, for instance, if you are employed by the federal government and you are parking on federal government property, for instance, if you are in the Armed Forces, before you can get your pass or your sticker or your little plate to gain access to that facility, you must have proof of insurance. At periodic intervals they have a gate check and they stop everybody to check that they have a pink card that is up to date. So perhaps one of the things that the minister, or perhaps the Minister of Transportation, could look at is a review of the current legislation with respect to ensuring that drivers have adequate insurance before they can have a permit to drive.



Now having said that, Mr. Speaker, and knowing that it is probably not going to be enacted anyway with this piece of legislation, I would like to move on to the bill itself and perhaps carry on from where my colleague from Halifax Citadel left off, with regard to the Facility Association. As I understand the insurance regime at the present time, there is a group within the insurance companies which carry assigned risks. I believe that organization is still in place whereby if I have committed several infractions against the Motor Vehicle Act and I am forced to carry an insurance policy that nobody wants to insure, I can go to the insurance company of last resort, which is the assigned risk regime.



If I understand, and I know that the minister is going to answer the question when she wraps up and I respect that so I don't expect to have a question and answer period with her, but I understand that under this particular regime we are setting up that the assigned risk disappears and that in future that insurance will be covered by this association, the Facility Association for Insurance.



What I would like to know is, this Facility Association, is it funded by accepting the assigned risk functions that we presently have or is it funded by the amount of money that is presently paid into the unsatisfied judgment fund, as part of our premiums when we buy insurance at the present time? In other words, the Facility Association, I am sure, is not in the business because they love the insurance business, they are in there for a profit. So they are going to have to obviously be funded from some source. My question is what is that source of funding? Is it from the assigned risk carriers whose insurance they will be taking over or is it from the present part of the premium that I and everybody else pays to fund the unsatisfied judgment?



[9:45 p.m.]



The other questions that I have with regard to accidents caused by those who are driving vehicles that do not carry insurance, Mr. Speaker, relate to, we will say for argument's sake, a young gentleman is out walking the dog or something and he is crossing the street and he gets hit by somebody who is driving an uninsured vehicle. That claim will be paid by the Facility Association but, as I understand it, the maximum that that Facility Association is responsible for is the sum of $200,000; $200,000 might be an adequate compensation perhaps in one particular case, but not in another.



I am thinking, Mr. Speaker, for instance, if this young man that I was describing had a young family and he was a professional man who just got established in business, but was doing well, had a future ahead of him and their lifestyle were predicated on the salary that this person was drawing, $200,000 today is not a lot of money; $200,000 put out in GICs or Canada Savings Bonds at the present time will only bring you in something in the order of $12,000 perhaps a year. That is not going to assist that young wife and her family to exist. I think that the maximum amounts of $200,000 in some circumstances are not adequate.



Secondly, because that person will be dealing with a group that is not resident in this province, it would seem to me that it becomes quite difficult for a person to pursue a claim against that group. As my colleague for Halifax Citadel said earlier, we do not know who these people are. We know that they are a collection of seven or eight, and I presume they are the seven or eight major insurers in Canada, but however, they are a loose amalgam of companies. We do not know what their address is. We do not know what their telephone number is. We know nothing about this group at all. How does a person go about processing a claim through this group? Does the person, first of all, have to go to a court of law, for instance, to establish that there is no claim against this person that created the accident?



I am talking now about a person who is a pedestrian, a person who is uninsured insofar as this act is concerned, that is, is not carrying any motor vehicle insurance. It would seem to me that this process because it is removed outside this province is going to be a fairly long and convoluted process, Mr. Speaker, unless, this body has an office established in Nova Scotia somewhere. Now, perhaps they do. I do not know and certainly there is nothing in what the minister has said that would lead me to believe that that is so.



Essentially, Mr. Speaker, I think that the principle, I still say that the principle is good. I am a little disappointed as I say that we have not gone into some other process that would ensure that more people are carrying insurance. I am a little unsure about the Facility Association, exactly how that organization is going to work, how they are going to be funded and whether or not claims will be dealt with in an expeditious mode when they are submitted. With those few words, I will be supporting this legislation.



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, before I bestow and extend kudos and acclaim this legislation, I would like to make a couple of comments and I am very pleased to have the opportunity tonight.



At present, motor vehicle liability policies do not provide coverage if one is involved in an accident with an uninsured automobile or an unidentified automobile. I think that anything that will service the client better is certainly a move in the right direction. I think something that will enhance the capacity to recover damages when in collision with uninsured drivers should be supported. However, I have a couple of concerns with the process to be used and the cost that the process will represent. Now, as I understand it, you may not claim against an insurer, but may obtain a judgment against the party at fault and make claim against Judgment Recovery Limited, Judgment Recovery (Nova Scotia). The ability to claim against Judgment Recovery will be restricted to those incidents occurring before July 1, 1996.



I had a small accident on Saturday evening on the way home from Hilden. I was over to the beautiful community of Hilden in the wonderful constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley on Saturday night. On the way home, by the Alton ball field, it is down over the bank, so to speak, off to the right, a nice little ball field, a big buck deer, (Interruptions) About 8:30 in the evening . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: How many points?



MR. TAYLOR: I don't know, but it had a lot of points. I do not know if the deer was insured or not (Interruption) He is trying to horn in, Mr. Speaker (Laughter). The deer came up over the bank, nailed the right side of my car, sent me down the highway sideways. The deer catapulted over the top of the hood. That was one savage beast. The deer ended up in the ditch. This is a true story and the proof is in the parking lot. That lovely old 1988 Celebrity with 272,151 kilometres on it suffered quite a lot of damage. That happened before July 1, 1996, so I cannot make application to the Facility Association (Interruptions) It is very upsetting. I am trying to point out that the minister indicated in her press release . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. We cannot carry on the debate if 5 or 10 members want to speak at one time. One member at a time. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the floor.



MR. TAYLOR: It is a very serious issue when one does have an accident. I was quite fortunate that the deer knocked off the antenna, broke the windshield, flattened out the hood, the header that holds your headlights in, the bumper, probably around $2,000 worth of damage. Because this Facility Association obviously is not going to be place until July 1, 1996, I cannot make application to that association.



Now, there are seven or eight companies, as I understand it, who will service the Facility Association. I think the minister must, before we finish second reading table a document which clearly outlines for all members of the House the nature, the jurisdiction, the configuration and the modus operandi of this association. I think it is incumbent upon the minister.



This must be done because this organization, as I understand it, is going to be an integral element and it is going to be extremely important that we understand the composition of the Facility Association.



Now, one potential concern with the new association, Mr. Speaker, is, in fact, the access and what type of response we will get from the association. I think it is important that we all have a clear understanding of the actual mandate of the association, so to speak.



I would like to know, where is the head office going to be? Perhaps maybe, in a move to decentralize, the head office for the Facility Association could be in Middle Musquodoboit. I cannot think of a more beautiful community that certainly could stand a few jobs, especially since the Minister of Natural Resources has stated that he is going to sell the greenhouses and, along with the sale of the greenhouses, of course, goes 14 to 20 jobs. (Interruption) Well, maybe 25 or 30 jobs, I don't know, but quite a few jobs, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps I could lobby the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs to set up an office perhaps in the nursery complex. There seems to be a fair amount of space there that is not being used. We know that greenhouses are not utilized, as perhaps they could be.



So, the question is, where is the head office of the insurance companies (Interruption) In Halifax, in Truro. Mr. Speaker, there is also no legal framework or outline within which member companies of the Facility Association are required to assume liability for a given claim. Now there are going to be several decisions made in terms of which carrier is going to handle the file. So that is a decision that must be made, which carrier will handle the file. Who is going to make the decision? What protection is actually going to be offered to the consumer? We want better protection and I understand that is the intent and I think we all would subscribe to that.



I think the minister clearly should point out, and I am quite confident that she will in her summation, who is going to administer the Facility Association and why would this association provide better service than the present Judgment Recovery system? Again, perhaps the minister will be so kind to outline that and what is going to happen to the staff? The minister is holding up her finger. There is only one staff member in the present Judgment Recovery, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: I would like to interject at this time. There are two minutes remaining before the hour of adjournment.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would move the adjournment of the debate on Bill No. 32.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley moves adjournment of the debate on Bill No. 32. The debate is adjourned.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Thank God for small favours. Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will be sitting from 12:00 noon until 6:00 p.m. and the order of business following Question Period will be Public Bills for Second Reading and we will be going to Bill No. 39, the Education Act. I move that we adjourn until noon tomorrow.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow afternoon at the hour of 12:00 noon.



The motion is carried.



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





NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)



RESOLUTION NO. 522



By: Mr. John Holm (Leader of the New Democratic Party)



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



Whereas Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin served Israel and the world with vision, courage and dedication to a lasting peace based upon common security for all peoples of the Middle East; and



Whereas as democrats and parliamentarians, we share Yitzhak Rabin's commitment to democracy, peace and the rule of law; and



Whereas the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin was a vile, cowardly attack on the basis of democratic government and the peace process;



Therefore be it resolved that this House mourns the untimely death of a great leader, Yitzhak Rabin, affirms our support for the effective peace process he championed and asks Mr. Speaker to convey to the Ambassador of Israel our deepest sympathies to the nation of Israel and to Mr. Rabin's family.