The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

Hansard - Mon., Apr. 1, 1996

Fourth Session

MONDAY, APRIL 1, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Housing & Mun. Affs.: Halifax Regional Municipality/Region of
Queens Municipality - Birth Of, Hon. S. Jolly 73
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Highway No. 104: Western Alignment -
Commencement, Hon. R. Mann 75
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 35, Health: Cancer Month (Apr. 1996) - Recognize,
Hon. R. Stewart 80
Vote - Affirmative 80
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 7, Hantsport Memorial Community Centre Grant Act, Mr. R. Russell 81
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 36, NDP - MLAs: Dedication - Congrats., Mr. G. Archibald 81
Vote - Affirmative 81
Res. 37, Justice - RCMP: Mun. Contracts - Downloading Explain,
Mr. T. Donahoe 81
Res. 38, Fin. (Canada): Tax System - Reform, Mr. R. Chisholm 82
Res. 39, DFO - Processing Plants: Fees Increase - Delay,
Mr. J. Casey 82
Vote - Affirmative 83
Res. 40, Commun. Serv. - Debra Stevens: Compensation - Settle,
Mr. A. MacLeod 83
Res. 41, ERA - Tourism: Worldwide Recognition Holiday Inn (Dart.) -
Staff Commend, Mr. D. McInnes 83
Vote - Affirmative 84
Res. 42, Human Res. Dev. (Canada) - CHST: Cancellation - Demand,
Mr. J. Holm 84
Res. 43, Health - VON Strike: Inaction - Result, Mr. G. Moody 85
Res. 44, Health: Dental Month (Apr. 1996) - Recognize,
Mr. D. Richards 85
Vote - Affirmative 86
Res. 45, Gov't. (N.S.) - Patronage: Exceptions - Explain,
Mr. B. Taylor 86
Res. 46, Health - VON Future: Uncertainty - End, Mr. R. Chisholm 86
Res. 47, Environ.: Beverage Container Program - Withdraw,
Mr. R. Russell 87
Res. 48, Justice - Correctional Facilities: Privatization - Reject,
Mr. J. Holm 87
Res. 49, Health - Reform: Effect - Condemn, Mr. G. Moody 88
Res. 50, Fin. - Casinos: Interests (N.S.) - Act, Mr. T. Donahoe 88
Res. 51, ERA - Tourism: Hilton Hotel (Hfx.) - Operators (New) Commend,
Mr. D. McInnes 89
Vote - Affirmative 89
Res. 52, Commun. Serv. - Small Option Homes: Regs. - Priority,
Mr. A. MacLeod 89
Res. 53, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cutbacks: Safety - Maintain,
Mr. B. Taylor 90
Res. 54, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - LaHave Ferry: Continuance -
Commitment, Mr. G. Archibald 90
Res. 55, Fin. - Tax: Definition - Clear, Mr. R. Russell 91
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
The Premier 92
Mr. A. MacLeod 96
Mr. Manning MacDonald 105
Mr. R. White 110
Mr. J. Leefe 115
Adjourned debate 119
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Apr. 2nd at 2:00 p.m. 119
[Page 73]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, APRIL 1, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

7:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Paul MacEwan

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MADAM SPEAKER: Good evening, honourable members. We will proceed to the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Madam Speaker, today is an important day in the evolution of municipal government in two areas of the Province of Nova Scotia. Today marks the birth of two regional municipalities - the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Region of Queens Municipality.

Madam Speaker, local government forms the backbone of this province. It is local government that is the closest to the people. The changes that come into effect today will make for stronger local government in these two parts of the province. The opportunities which arise from having a single municipal council in each region in a position to capitalize on the areas' many positive attributes are limited only by one's imagination. Of course, a necessary ingredient is having a cohesive group of elected officials with strong leadership and expert administrative support.

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As each of us is aware, structural change is difficult. It is particularly difficult when it is being done in a political environment. It is, nevertheless, essential if we are to forge ahead.

Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to commend the former councils of Dartmouth, Halifax, Halifax County, Bedford, Liverpool and the County of Queens for their work over the years to the service of their constituents. I would also like to thank them for the time and effort they gave to bring about a regional government structure in each of their areas.

I am continually reminded through the media and through my personal travels of what a wonderful province we live in. Madam Speaker, it is my belief that we can be better. We can continue to strive for improvement as we meet our challenges head-on. On this day of new beginnings, I wish to extend to Mayor Fitzgerald, Mayor Clarke and the two new councils my best wishes and the continued support of the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs in the helping them break new ground and forge new directions. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The minister's statement took approximately two minutes. Is there a response?

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Madam Speaker, it gives me pleasure to get up to respond to the minister's statement today. I, too, would like to join in thanking the people who have served on the councils in these two areas over the last number of years and on the work that they have done. I, too, would go along with the minister in wishing the new mayors the very best in the job that they are about to undertake because if there is one thing we learned from the Cape Breton experience, it is going to be a rough ride. There have been a lot of things that happened with the Cape Breton experience that certainly were not positive and if these things have not been corrected for this initiative that has been taken today, these people in these areas are in for a long, rough ride.

Although we have put it together, we forced it down their throats, it is not the type of initiative that should be put forward without more consultation with the people and the minister, as usual, has not done that. So, I can only wish that the people have the best of luck because of what has taken place in Cape Breton. If the same thing happens here in the metro region and in Queens, they are in for a very disappointing time.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I too very much welcome the opportunity to join with the minister in extending my appreciation and that of our caucus to the former Councils of Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford and the County of Halifax. Also, we wish the new Council for the Halifax Regional Municipality, all of the best.

It is very interesting to compare how the two new regional municipalities came about. Certainly, in the situation of Queens and Liverpool democracy was at work in that the people of those communities worked together and chose a form of government they wanted. Here in the metropolitan area, quite contrary to what this government promised in the last election, it was imposed. It was inflicted upon them and this government didn't have the confidence in its plans to cost out options to take them to the people and give the residents an opportunity to have a say.

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As has been said before, the residents in Cape Breton are seeing the cost and they will be paying for them for many years to come. We already know that the cost of implementation for the metro regional one are also well above that which has been projected and we also know that this government has reneged on its promises of the service exchange and is off-loading to the residents in this area many millions of dollars of costs.

I wish and all members of this House wish the very best to the mayor and the council of the metropolitan area because they are going to need it due to the problems that this government has imposed upon them in downloading and the shortness of time that they gave to allow for the organization and the structure to be developed.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, it is with both pleasure and pride that I inform the House this evening that the first 500 people are working or preparing to go to work on the construction of Highway No. 104, the western alignment. (Applause)

It has been just about a year since I announced that we would be seeking a partner who would allow us to build this road and achieve the safety benefits more quickly and with only the direct commitment of $55 million available under the Strategic Highways Improvement Program Agreement. On the weekend, we reached agreement in substance with Atlantic Highways Corporation to achieve these goals and signed an interim agreement to let Tidewater Construction and Nova Construction begin work today.

The final agreement will be concluded when the financing has been completed, but I am able to inform members this evening of the major components of the agreement.

The guaranteed maximum price of design and construction will be $112,921,455, including cost of insurance and performance bonds. The direct provincial commitment to this amount is limited to the $55 million available under the Strategic Highways Improvement Agreement. This amount will be paid on the basis of work completed.

I would note, Madam Speaker, that this price is far below the $130 million to $140 million that would be required to design and construct the road using our traditional methods. (Applause) The construction and operation of the road will be through the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Corporation, established under the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Act.

Furthermore, the corporation, not the province, will be responsible for the cost of maintaining the road out of toll revenues. The schedule for construction is 20 months, which will see a completion date of December 1997. Again, the traditional methods of construction would require 6 to 8 or even 10 years if the project were funded out of the department capital budget available year after year.

An independent engineer will supervise the construction to ensure that the road meets the specifications set by the province and contained in the agreement. We are negotiating with a local engineering firm to provide this service.

Initial tolls will be $3.00 per car and $2.00 per axle for trucks. The agreement contains a formula for increasing tolls, linked to inflation. It is significant that these toll levels have been achieved on a four lane expressway, divided by a wide median. (Applause)

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Tolls will be collected through a combined cash and electronic transponder system. The transponder will allow regular users to establish an account with scheduled payments based on use. This will improve the flow of traffic at the toll station. The toll collection will be located at about the middle of the western alignment.

Newcourt Credit Group will underwrite the toll revenue bonds for the private financing by the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Corporation. The province is not guaranteeing to Newcourt or to investors either the traffic flow or the revenue from the road. We did traffic counts and projections, shared them with Newcourt who have done their own investigations and, at this point, are comfortable with the project. The point for Nova Scotians to understand, however, is that their government is not committed to making up any shortfall in revenue as the project proceeds. Given the diligent investigation of the project I am confident there will not be a shortfall.

Madam Speaker, we have achieved our goals: a four lane, wide median highway at a reduced cost, a 20 month construction schedule, a reasonable toll level, and non-recourse financing that limits the financial liability of the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause) In order to achieve those goals, which are critical to safety and to financial responsibility, the province has also made some commitments.

These include the establishment of a continency fund of $4.25 million to be available in certain limited circumstances and to fund the corporation in case of events beyond the control of the contractor, such as unforeseen environmental requirements. The maximum speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour on the existing Highway No. 104 will be accompanied by a lifting of the control of access on all sections of that road to allow development of the very desirable recreational and residential potential throughout the valley.

The enforcement of the local pick-up and delivery only requirements for trucks over a certain weight using the existing road. Highway inspectors will be assigned to this task. The Department of Transportation and Public Works will carry out regular maintenance on the western alignment for an initial fee of $650,000 per year to be paid out of toll revenue, with provision to increase that charge in the first five years, linked to inflation. This work will, of course, be done by Department of Transportation and Public Works employees.

Major maintenance, including the scheduled resurfacing of the western alignment will be the responsibility of the corporation. All maintenance will be funded by the project through the toll revenue.

Madam Speaker, the negotiations have been long and demanding. The representatives of AHC are experienced business people. Fortunately, our province was also represented by top quality professionals from the Departments of Transportation, Justice and Finance, supported by Arthur Andersen and Company and McInnes Cooper and Robertson. I would like to point out that we expect that the consulting and legal fees on this project will be between 1 per cent and 2 per cent of the total project costs.

The final agreements will be signed when the financing has been completed. In order to ensure the 20 month schedule and because we have confidence that the financing will be completed, we have entered an agreement with AHC to allow construction to begin today. Thank you Madam Speaker. (Applause)

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[7:15 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. You will have seven minutes, honourable member.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I welcome the statement by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and I very much appreciate the opportunity to speak to it. There is no question that that highway is desperately needed and hopefully this will curtail and maybe abate some of the death and carnage that has taken place on the existing highway up through Wentworth, and, of course, it will enable Nova Scotia shippers and the trucking industry to more safely move their commodities.

But, Madam Speaker, we must remember that there were different options available to this government to build this highway. The previous administration was committed and had announced that commitment back in 1993 and since 1993, nearly three years ago since this government came to power, the Minister of Transportation and the Savage Government sat on $55 million and did nothing until today. The announcement came forward today and that is morally reprehensible. So while the Minister of Transportation will get up and pat himself on the back for negotiating with a consortium to put a highway in place that will require Nova Scotians and everybody else that uses it to pay tolls, I think he certainly has his priorities misplaced.

Municipal leaders in Cumberland County, in the Town of Oxford, Madam Speaker, in Colchester County and Truro, have spoken out against tolling the Highway No. 104 western alignment. The Coalition for Fairness, the trucking industry, have given the Minister of Transportation a number of other options. Through the Registry of Motor Vehicle receipts, through the motive fuel tax, this government this year will accrue over $38 million more than they are going to spend on the highways in Nova Scotia. That is wrong.

Now, we don't know because this is a public/private partnership, if this government's own procurement policy will have to be adhered to. Back on December 13th of last year, the Minister of Transportation stated that it would probably take until the end of January to negotiate this contract with the consortium, Madam Speaker. That turned out to be just a wild guess. What has taken place, relative to the Highway No. 104 western alignment so far, has been reprehensible. Furthermore, Frank McKenna will be laughing all the way to the bank because economic development in Nova Scotia is going to lessen. There is no question about it.

Absolutely no question about it. Oh, there will be some initial work, 20 months. I question, Madam Speaker, whether or not that highway can be built. Now I don't know what the Minister of Transportation knows about the construction industry, but I can tell you that under the terms and conditions of the negotiated contract, which I haven't seen, if it states that that highway has to be built in 20 months, then I would like to see the performance bonds. I would like to see some of these performance bonds that are in place. (Interruption)

Madam Speaker, the legislation, Bill No. 10, the Western Alignment Corporation, enables that private company to be exempt from the Utility and Review Board. They can raise tolls - and the minister made reference to it here in his statement - pretty much at their own whim and wish. They are exempt from the Utility and Review Board. That, in spite of the fact that we are putting some $55 million into this project, the Western Alignment Corporation is exempt from the provincial auditors. That is absolutely deplorable. The Western Alignment Corporation is exempt from the Planning Act, Madam Speaker, and the

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electrical regulations and things like that. That is reprehensible that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works would enable and grant so many concessions to a private company when, in fact, Nova Scotia is putting $55 million into that project.

Now we have heard on different occasions where the price, the capital cost, of this project has gone from $100 million to $110 million to $120 million. The minister tells us that based on past practice, traditional methods, it probably would have cost $140 million. Only the Minister of Transportation has been quoting those figures.

Maybe the Minister of Transportation would like to go and talk to Uncle Johnny Bragg about how much it is going to cost him in additional funds to transport some of his products from Oxford Frozen Foods, Madam Speaker. Perhaps the Minister of Transportation would like to go to Debert and talk to the businesses that are set up in the Debert Industrial Park and ask them how many of them are concerned about the additional cost that they are going to have to endure because of this outrageous plan to toll our highways. Yes, we are making history in Nova Scotia, we are going to toll our Trans Canada Highway, a province that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and whatever her new handle is, alleges that the province is moving forward.

There are many in Nova Scotia, specifically those out in rural Nova Scotia, who would say that this province is going backwards. They have it all wrong. It is small wonder that New Brunswick is considered the leading province in Atlantic Canada, small wonder. With initiatives like this, New Brunswick will continue to be on the leading edge. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, on a point of order, speaking of reprehensible, the honourable member quoted or has said quite clearly that the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Corporation Act exempts the project from the provincial Auditor General. I will specifically mention that this is subject to the provincial auditor, the Auditor General.

Also, Madam Speaker, some of the other items that he has thrown around are completely false and I would just like to indicate that.

MADAM SPEAKER: I would just note that that is not a point of order but it is a point of clarification.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: I was almost thinking about asking for some add-on time for the minister's rebuttal . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: You have seven minutes.

MR. HOLM: . . . to the former member to be added on to my time.

Madam Speaker, the minister is absolutely correct, though, in his rebuttal in that the Auditor General can now audit the provincial government's involvement within the project. He can't necessarily audit the corporation, the independent business, but can audit the government's involvement and can do that, as a result, Madam Speaker, the Act was amended because of opposition that was raised by members of this House. In fact, the day that the minister introduced the bill and had his statement down the hall in the Red Chamber, I quickly picked out and raised in the House that afternoon that the original Act exempted the Auditor General. Madam Speaker, Nova Scotia is going to be the only province that has a cover charge to get in. Just because the minister says that something is so does not make it so.

Madam Speaker, if you remember, it was the former government, the Conservative Government, that had selected this alignment. This government was critical of that route when they were in Opposition [Page 79]

and they promised to review it. One of the very first decisions they made, a matter of weeks after assuming office, was to announce that that route, which was determined by many who know that area to be the most dangerous, they could not review it because there wasn't time, it would delay the project. According to this bunch, the Premier said that highway was going to be complete by mid-1996. That should have been the very first section of Highway No. 104 that was built, because of the huge casualties that it takes.

Madam Speaker, the minister says that under traditional routes this would have cost between $130 million and $140 million. Well, I say that this minister and this government is insulting, to the extreme, the employees within the Department of Transportation and Public Works. Because, Madam Speaker, if they were allowed to build the road under the same terms and conditions as this private company, they not only could have built it as quickly and efficiently, but they could have built it cheaper because the monies that would be borrowed by the provincial government would be at a preferred rate, approximately 2 per cent below the cost that the private company is going to have to borrow it at, and that means higher tolls.

The government says, $55 million, that is the maximum of their investment. Yet, they add on another $4.25 million as a contingency, should it be needed. So now we could be up to $60 million. The government says that the lawyer and the consulting fees will be between 1 per cent and 2 per cent. Well, Madam Speaker, that is no surprise; they have already reached that figure. Not one scrap of asphalt has been laid and the fees for Andersen consulting and their legal fees are now about $1.3 million and counting, probably much higher than that already.

Madam Speaker, what is happening is a joke. What is happening here is a shell game. The Minister of Finance and his colleagues, in order to look good when they go to the polls, do not want their capital debt to look higher. So what you do is you hide it. You slide that cost off onto some private corporation's books so that you do not have to show them, but Nova Scotians are going to be paying for it through the debt. Whether it is on the provincial side, on the Minister of Finance's books or a private company's, they are going to be paying that cost.

Madam Speaker, what the minister did not say is that if the costs do not eat up all of the tolls collected, is the province going to share in the profit? Is this another secret tax grab? I suggest that it is. All that has to be done in order to get an increase in the tolls anytime this bunch wants to ratchet up their taxes, is have Cabinet approve a rate increase. It does not have any public scrutiny, URB does not look at it. It is all done down in the bunker by the Cabinet. That is what this government is promising.

This is a shell game. It is an attempt to hide the true costs. It is an attempt to give their friends an opportunity to make, thank you very much, a very lucrative profit and, Madam Speaker, it is something that Nova Scotians, whether you drive that road or not, are going to be paying for, for many years to come, in terms of increased costs for the goods that travel down that road. It is something that the residents in those counties are going to be paying extensively for in terms of the toll fees that they are going to have to pay and, certainly, this government is doing everything that it can, possibly, to ensure, through regulations and

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controls, that everybody coming to and from Nova Scotia are going to have to pay that toll. Maybe at the tourist bureau, as you come into Nova Scotia, they should erect a sign saying, tourists beware, you are now entering into the Liberal zone where, of course, there is a cover charge in order to get into our province. Thank you.

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

MR. DENNIS RICHARDS: On an introduction, Madam Speaker. This evening, in our east gallery, there are members of the 2nd Westphal Scout Troop and I would like to ask the House, through you, to give them our usual warm welcome. Their leader, Wayne Mercer, and three of his Scouts are with him this evening to listen to the debate that is going to take place here this evening. I am sure that if it continues in the lively fashion that it has started, they will have a most interesting night. I will know ask the House to recognize these people. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 35

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

Whereas April is designated as Cancer Awareness Month and the Canadian Cancer Society is celebrating 50 years of volunteer service in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas it is estimated that 5,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Nova Scotia this year and funding research, public education and patient services are key objectives for the Canadian Society, Nova Scotia Division; and

Whereas significant progress is being made in preventing some cancers and in developing methods to detect and treat cancers, as well as enhancing the lifestyle of people living with cancer;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize April as Canadian Cancer Month in Nova Scotia and acknowledge and congratulate the commitment of the Canadian Cancer Society, Nova Scotia Division, and its many hard-working volunteers who want to see cancer beaten and who want to help people with cancer live well and in comfort.

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

[7:30 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

Waiver is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 7 - Entitled an Act to Authorize the Town of Hantsport to Make a Grant to the Hantsport Memorial Community Centre. (Mr. Ronald Russell)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 36

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

Whereas for some 17 months the member for Sackville-Cobequid, as interim Leader, has served the New Democratic Party ably and diligently; and

Whereas on March 29, 1996, 260 New Democrats gathered in metro to select a new Leader for their Party; and

Whereas the member for Halifax Atlantic has now succeeded the member for Sackville Cobequid as Leader of the Third Party;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate these two members for their hard work and dedication to their Party and wish them well in the future. (Applause)

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

MADAM SPEAKER: Waiver is requested. Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 37

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

Whereas in an October 30th letter to the Town of Digby, the Minister of Justice said municipalities having direct contracts with the RCMP will begin to pay for services provided by the provincial agreement on April 1st although the mechanism to determine the costs is not yet finalized; and

[Page 82]

Whereas the Minister of Justice also promised in the same October 30th letter to the Town of Digby that all municipalities that use RCMP services would have input into the final mechanism to be used; and

Whereas without any reasonable or meaningful consultation whatsoever, the Minister of Justice imposed new RCMP costs upon 10 towns, effective today, April 1st;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice explain to the taxpayers in the 10 Nova Scotia towns affected by the downloading, why he did not have appropriate consultation with them, as he had promised, and that he commit to proper consultation on RCMP costs before final decisions are taken.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 38

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

Whereas the four Liberal Atlantic Premiers met on the weekend to discuss a deal with the federal government regarding the harmonization of the GST and the PST; and

Whereas sales taxes are a regressive form of taxation as they do not take a person's ability to pay into consideration; and

Whereas Nova Scotians and all Canadians need tax reform which ensures that those who can best afford to pay taxes do;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demands that the federal government give up trying to disguise the GST and instead embark upon a thorough reform of the tax system.

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

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 39

MR. JOSEPH CASEY: Madam Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has notified all federally registered fish processing plants of its intention to establish a fee structure effective this May; and

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Whereas after May, fees will be required for registration of establishments, certification of product for export and for requested product and facility inspections; and

Whereas these fees, which will cause undue hardships for the small fish processors, will be the same for all establishments no matter how many employees they have or how much product they process;

Therefore be it resolved that this House request the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to delay implementation of these fees pending further study of the fee structure, with a view to achieving a configuration that is fair and equitable for all parties involved.

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

MADAM SPEAKER: Waiver of notice is requested.

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. 40

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

Whereas the Liberal Government practices compassion of convenience; and

Whereas while compassion was convenient for Lucy Dobbin, Judge Bremner, Art Battiste and Keith Thompson, the Savage Government slams the door on Debra Stevens and her sons; and

Whereas the Savage Government took malice to new heights when it named Debra Stevens as a co-defendant in her sons' lawsuit for failing to protect her sons from abuse;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government honour its 1994 apology to Debra Stevens and her sons by settling the issue of compensation once and for all, with the same speed and compassion it has demonstrated in dispensing golden handshakes to others.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 41

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

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Whereas the Dartmouth Holiday Inn was the recent recipient of a Holiday Inn Worldwide 1995 Quality Excellence Award; and

Whereas a hotel official flew to Texas and was presented with the award recognizing hotels within the chain that achieved distinction in all aspects of their operations; and

Whereas guests at the Dartmouth hotel gave the staff high marks after evaluating it on product quality and customer service through a Holiday Inn tracking system;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature commend the staff of the Dartmouth Holiday Inn for their dedication and hard work in being recognized as one of the leading Holiday Inns in the world.

Madam Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 42

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

Whereas April 1st marks a sad day for Nova Scotia, the first day of the Canada Health and Social Transfer, or CHST; and

Whereas this federal Liberal-inspired scheme will rip hundreds of millions of dollars in federal support from health, education and social programs in this province; and

Whereas this government has remained spinelessly silent while its federal friends have begun dismantling Canada's and Nova Scotia's social programs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand the federal government end its mean-spirited assault on our cherished social safety net by cancelling the CHST and restoring social program funding to previous levels.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

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RESOLUTION NO. 43

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

Whereas the Blueprint Committee for Health System Reform recommended that all home care service providers, whether for profit or not for profit, should be expected to achieve the same standards of quality, accessibility, affordability to the system, and employment practices; and

Whereas the government has ignored the recommendation of the Blueprint Committee and, almost a full year after it announced its expanded Home Care Program, has still not seen fit to protect the consumer by adopting provincial standards for private home care service providers; and

Whereas the absence of regulations and standards to govern home care practices is forcing the VON to reduce costs, to become competitive with private home care providers, thereby leading to the existing strike action;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health acknowledge that if he had acted on the recommendation of his own Blueprint Committee, this strike action would likely not be necessary and Nova Scotia's home care recipients would remain secure in knowing that they are receiving the same high quality of care practised by the VON over its 100 year history.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 44

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

Whereas April is designated as National Dental Health Month to recognize the importance of dental disease prevention and the link between oral health and overall health; and

Whereas gum disease is the number one cause of adult tooth loss and it is expected that three out of four Nova Scotians will have gum disease in their lifetime; and

Whereas the public's attainment of optimal oral health is a goal of the Nova Scotia Dental Association;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize April as Dental Health Month and support the initiatives of the Nova Scotia Dental Association to encourage Nova Scotians to pursue optimal oral health through diligent personal and professional dental health care.

Madam Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 86]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: On an introduction, Madam Speaker, through you and to all members of the House, I would like to introduce to you, in the east gallery, a former colleague of mine from Halifax County Council days and, of course, more recently, today - and this is no April Fool's joke - a member of the new super-city, Halifax Regional Municipality, Mr. David Hendsbee. I wonder if the House would afford Mr. Hendsbee our usual warm applause. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 45

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

Whereas this Liberal Government swept to power with promises of no patronage; and

Whereas since 1993, a steady stream of Liberal elites have benefitted from the Premier's largesse; and

Whereas Ralph Fiske, Dan Reid, Colleen MacDonald, John Morash, Heather Robertson, Wayne Beaton, Dr. Mike Murphy, George Unsworth, Robert Sampson and other Liberals in high places have found political asylum in high paying positions created by this government;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage Government explain to Nova Scotians why the Liberal no patronage promise of 1993 now reads, no patronage except in cases of influential Grits.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 46

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

Whereas the agreement made between the Victorian Order of Nurses and the Department of Health for the provision of home care services expires today and the department has decided to consider putting the service out to tender; and

[Page 87]

Whereas the VON has decided it must cut the salaries and benefits of its nurses in order to compete against private for-profit companies in the event the service is tendered; and

Whereas 35 VON nurses, who have not had a wage increase since 1991, are striking to protest a retroactive wage roll-back and the elimination of 20 VON cars;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Minister of Health to end the uncertainty facing the VON and make a commitment to not consider private for-profit companies as providers of home care.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 47

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

Whereas today marks the first day of the Minister of the Environment's ill-conceived regulations banning from landfills beverage containers, cardboard, newsprint and lead-acid automotive batteries; and

Whereas just two days ago, retailers got their notification from the Resource Recovery Fund about the tax; and

Whereas because of this poorly planned out process, many retailers have had to have employees work overtime and on Sunday to make changes to their cash registers, with no compensation to the retailers in return;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment withdraw these regulations until a sensible, well-thought-out and planned system has been put in place that will not cause a further burden on the taxpayers of Nova Scotia or cripple store owners who are struggling to even exist.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 48

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

Whereas this government continues to flirt with the ill-conceived idea that it can save money by turning over correctional service facilities to profit-making private corporations; and

Whereas the main ways that profits can be made in the operation of correctional facilities is by driving down wages and benefits of staff, cutting corners, and reducing counselling and rehabilitation services to inmates; and

[Page 88]

Whereas this would destroy the rehabilitative capacity of correctional facilities in this province resulting in higher long-term financial and social costs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House will reject any proposal by this government to shirk or offload its responsibility and accountability for corrections to private profit-making corporations.

[7:45 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 49

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

Whereas the Minister of Health has effectively gutted the Provincial Health Council; and

Whereas both the Royal Commission on Health Care and the current Minister of Health's own Blueprint Committee on Health System Reform supported the Provincial Health Council's original role as an arm's-length volunteer non-partisan watchdog over public policy issues affecting the health and well-being of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas Nova Scotians, extremely worried about the future of health care cuts under the health minister disguised as reforms, have no forum to express their legitimate concerns;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the hypocrisy of the Liberal Government that promises accountability and health care reform, but instead delivers top-down changes that increase waste and bureaucracy, chase our medical professionals out of Nova Scotia and decrease the quality of health care for all Nova Scotians.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 50

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

Whereas the Minister of Finance in introducing casinos to Nova Scotia promised the strictest regulatory regime in North America; and

Whereas Nova Scotians told the Minister of Finance to draw the line on free booze at the gaming tables; and

Whereas the minister's partnership with the casinos may be too close for comfort and too far from the public interest;

[Page 89]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance be reminded his responsibility demands that he act in the best interests of Nova Scotians and not in the best interests of the minister and his business partners.

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 51

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

Whereas Newcastle Hotel Corporation of Connecticut is providing a new life to a Halifax landmark; and

Whereas the Westin Halifax will soon be operating from the former historic Hotel Nova Scotian building; and

Whereas a multimillion dollar facelift is planned for the hotel that will see a second convention centre added to the Halifax skyline and 250 members of Local 662 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Association returning to work;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature commend Newcastle Hotel Corporation of Connecticut for their foresight and confidence in Nova Scotia's tourism and convention business.

I would ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreeable?

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. 52

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

Whereas the goal of returning mental health consumers to the community with an adequate and safe support system is laudable; and

Whereas the Minister of Community Services continues to close and downsize institutions before adequate and regulated small options homes are available; and

[Page 90]

Whereas the Minister of Community Services has been promising regulations governing small options since he was appointed minister, almost 3 years ago;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister make regulating small options homes a priority and that he give the hundreds of Nova Scotians who are looking for a safe and secure community environment in which to live, his assurances that there will be no further delays in establishing appropriate standards for small options housing.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 53

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

Whereas the Minister of Transportation has no difficulty spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on new capital equipment, such as backhoes, half-ton trucks and leasing tandem trailers, while in the process drastically reduces the rate for transportation of salt by truck drivers across the province; and

Whereas policy changes were initiated by the Department of Transportation relating to sanding and salting after two highway fatalities on Shelburne County highways earlier this year, resulting in the Warden from the Municipality of Barrington asking the Department of Transportation to improve safety measures; and

Whereas after losing control of her car because of lack of sand on icy roads and landing upside down on the middle of the Petite River on February 29th, Helena Teal-Facey of Broad Cove asked the following question, "How many lives are going to be lost because of budget cuts concerning highway maintenance by the Savage Government";

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation categorically state today that Nova Scotians need not fear for their safety as a result of cutbacks in the Department of Transportation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 54

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

Whereas the Bridgewater Chamber of Commerce supports the continued operation of the LaHave Ferry; and

[Page 91]

Whereas the Lunenburg Town Council has taken a strong stand against any plans to dismantle the LaHave Ferry service; and

Whereas Don Wilson, a Lunenburg motel owner and Past President of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, recently asked the following question, "If we keep picking off our assets, what will we have to offer? We're destroying ourselves a bit at a time.";

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation today make a commitment to the people of LaHave and Lunenburg County that the LaHave Ferry will continue to operate and not be put on Bernie Boudreau's chopping block. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: I don't know if that resolution is in order. Let me take a look at it.

The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North is not recognized. I recognize the honourable member for Hants West. (Interruptions)

MR. ARCHIBALD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I would like to know what it is that you consider to be out of order in that resolution? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North is out of order. Please be seated.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 55

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

Whereas the Liberal Government's April Fool's Day attempt to fool Nova Scotians into believing the 10 cent deposit on beverage containers is anything but a tax is foolhardy; and

Whereas Nova Scotians today start paying tax on groceries to pay for yet another ill thought out Liberal tax grab; and

Whereas the Liberals, who promised no new taxes, now disguise them as user fees and resource recovery funds as they blithely rifle through the pockets of taxpayers at every opportunity;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government finally get the message that a tax is a tax is a tax and Nova Scotians will have the last laugh on this Liberal Government's April foolery.

[Page 92]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Are there further notices of motion? If not, that would appear to conclude the daily routine.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, I believe, had adjourned the debate. Is that correct? That is what the order paper states.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I completed my remarks.

MR. SPEAKER: Very well.

The honourable Premier. (Applause)

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise in support of the Speech from the Throne.

First of all, I want to bring greetings to the House from the residents of Dartmouth South, the constituency that I have the honour and satisfaction of serving. I want to say that it was nice to see the member for Pictou West referring to the Dartmouth Holiday Inn. In his experienced manner, he got the jump on me, but I congratulate him and I also congratulate the Holiday Inn. (Applause) It is always a pleasure to acknowledge somebody of the calibre of the member for Pictou West.

I want to mention, Mr. Speaker, that Dartmouth South most recently was the worthy recipient of a waterfront development project worth almost $5 million. Located on the waterfront near Alderney Gate, the second phase of the Harbour's Edge project will include a farmer's market, indoor events plaza and other projects. In addition, infrastructure funds cost-shared by the three levels of government will totally renew the area around Lake Banook, the site of the 1997 World Canoe Championships.

These Dartmouth projects, Mr. Speaker, are prime examples of how community life can be improved through the cooperation of several levels of government. The project, with all due respect to those members on the Halifax side of the harbour, will put Dartmouth at the top of the class when it comes to family enjoyment of the waterfront. (Interruption) Oh, there's always a Dartmouth. (Applause) The misunderstanding that lurks in the mind of the recently demoted member for Sackville-Cobequid obviously (Interruption) or maybe it was the recently promoted one, who knows? It really misunderstands the concept of metropolitan government, there always will be a Dartmouth, there always will be a community of Dartmouth, proud and dedicated regardless of the member for Halifax Atlantic or wherever it is that he is from.

[Page 93]

As His Honour wisely pointed out in his Speech last Thursday, much of this government's energy has been spent rescuing Nova Scotia from the incredible financial mess left us by the previous Tory Government. I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, we are delighted we have succeeded. Shortly this government will bring in its 1996-97 budget and for those, particularly on the other side who have never seen this, who have never understood it, this is no ordinary budget, this will be the first fully balanced budget in 25 years in Nova Scotia. (Applause) Now, that surely is a secret and something that the previous government never understood.

What does a balanced budget mean to this province? A balanced budget, Mr. Speaker, means that we will no longer have to borrow money to pay our bills. After years of reckless spending by the previous administration, Nova Scotia will finally be living within its means. It means that a balanced budget will enable Nova Scotia to maximize its potential in terms of economic growth and job creation.

While the frequently vocal members of the other side seem to have missed the significance of what we have done, I am happy to say that the business community, Mr. Speaker, here and abroad, has not. I have met with senior members and executives from many important influential companies here and around the world, as recently as this evening we met with an important company that employs close to 3,500 people in this province. Some of them represent other industries which in the past six months have announced tens of millions of dollars in new investment here in Nova Scotia. (Applause) These business leaders all say the same thing: get your financial house in order and investment will follow. That is exactly what this government is doing. That's what the previous government failed, and failed miserably, to do.

There has been some very interesting criticism, Mr. Speaker, from both Opposition benches, that this budget balancing has been achieved because of increased transfer payments from the federal government. I hope these critics are aware of the significant comments from a highly respected member of the media, that from 1984 to 1991, the province consistently received larger than anticipated transfers from Ottawa. However, unlike the current government, the former government did not use this extra money to reduce the deficit. What was done with that money, was that it was spent arbitrarily without regard to the impact it would have on the province's debt.

I would like to address my next comments to the new Leader of the Opposition, who unfortunately is not here tonight. Let's face it, being Leader of the Tory Party is no more easy than being Leader of the rump Party that exists to the left of them. The Tory Party has very little credibility, especially here in Nova Scotia. Fifteen years of mismanaging this province saw to that. Nova Scotians will soon not forget how bad the previous government was, absolutely.

[8:00 p.m.]

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, Oh!

THE PREMIER: When he was elected Leader, I had great hopes for the member for Pictou Centre. He seemed, unlike some people over there, a reasonable person. He promised a different Tory Party but this promise has been short-lived. Perhaps it is the influence of those former spend your way back into office ministers who still dominate the Tory Caucus, but it appears that the old Tory philosophy of spend, spend, spend, has been adopted by the Leader.

[Page 94]

The evidence is clear. The new Tory Leader has been travelling the province, at public expense, of course, telling Nova Scotians that simply by spending tax dollars, problems will go away. There are no plans, no policies, just spend, spend, spend.

Take the issue of the Yarmouth and Digby ferries, for example. It's a big problem. This government is actively pursuing a long-term solution. We admit there is no easy answer. However, the Leader of the Opposition has an answer. Throw some money at this problem and it'll go away. He made such a promise in this House last week. He suggested that if they form a government, the Nova Scotia taxpayers would pick up the cost of running the ferry service. He failed to mention, and I suggest for those of you who are in the back bench there, that if this expense were to be picked up by the province, we would have to find about $5.5 million a year for at least the four years. We would also at this point have to spend an additional $100 million to replace the MV Bluenose.

Where does this money come from? The same place as the Tories and their colleagues, the New Democratic Party, think, from heaven? It is amazing how borrowing gets into the psyche, both of the newly elected Leader of the New Democratic Party and of the member for Pictou Centre.

Last Thursday, the Leader of that august Party over there, told the House that he was amazed to discover that no one in the provincial government had bothered to talk to Marine Atlantic about the future of the ferry service. We admit that we didn't, because Marine Atlantic has no answers to the future of that service.

It is no secret, except to the Tory Leader and some of his colleagues over there, that the federal government is considering privatizing or commercializing Marine Atlantic. As a Crown Corporation, Marine Atlantic may disappear altogether. The Leader of the Opposition would have us meeting with a Marine Atlantic in an empty small office with no powers.

On a more positive note, I want to remind everybody in this House that this government has been extremely active in our attempts to find a long-term viable solution to the ferry services out of both Yarmouth and Digby. I want to add a word of commendation to the MLAs from those areas who have been very helpful to this particular project. (Applause)

Let me tell you that the Leader of the Opposition is right. We are not discussing the issue of ferry service with officials from Marine Atlantic. We are doing much more than that, we are discussing it with the people who own Marine Atlantic, the federal government.

This government believes that if a solution is to be found, it will occur as the result of negotiations with our federal counterparts, not with officials from Marine Atlantic. There have been meetings, lots of meetings, involving lots of people. There has been considerable discussion on this issue between ministers in this government and two federal ministers. Discussions, Mr. Speaker, are continuing.

I personally have raised this issue on a number of occasions with federal ministers and the Prime Minister. Let me add, Mr. Speaker, as an example of this, that at the same time the Leader of the Opposition was off meeting with Marine Atlantic, I was meeting in my office with the crew of the MV Bluenose.

Mr. Speaker, the ferry issue will not be solved by throwing provincial tax dollars at it, the traditional Tory solution to everything. It is this method of problem solving that drove this province's debt up over $8 billion by the time the Tories left office.

Let those people on the opposite benches understand that the public knows that it was the Tory Government's reckless mismanagement of this province that jeopardized the very existence of our health, education and social programs. They spent borrowed money without a blink, year after year. I guess they had a lot of fun. We can only assume they had a lot of fun, but what they were doing, Mr. Speaker, was [Page 95]

taking our future and our children's future and flushing it down the toilet and they even had the gall to send us the bill for the toilet seats.

Let me turn my attention, Mr. Speaker, for a moment to the Third Party, always the Third Party. I first wish to congratulate the member for Halifax Atlantic on his election over the weekend as Leader of the New Democratic Party. (Applause) As he may discover, being a Party Leader is no easy task. I wish him, personally, the best of luck, but his Party a little less so. As a Party Leader, the member for Halifax Atlantic will be expected to comment on issues in a fair and responsible way.

Last week, Mr. Speaker, we had the wonderful example of a headline in a local paper that said, "Forget deficit plans, help cushion cuts, NDP tells Boudreau.". What this message points out is very interesting. It points out just how out of touch the New Democratic Party is in this province. If we forget the deficit, we will not have any money to pay for important social programs.

Is the NDP suggesting that we continue to pay $1 billion a year on interest payments, $1 billion that should be going to health programs, education programs and social programs? That is the money that we will reclaim when we pay off the debt. Because this government has been willing to make tough decisions, unlike the Third Party who have seldom had to make a decision that mattered, Nova Scotia stands a much better chance of holding on to programs that are so important for all of us.

We met, Mr. Speaker, the tough challenges and we did it in a way that allows us to maintain our social values and the things that we consider important. Let me remind the people on the Opposition benches of some examples. What was the only province that has actually increased social assistance payments in the last three years? Nova Scotia. (Applause)

We have added more than 200 subsidized day care centre spaces and 50 more, I can tell you, are planned this year, 250 subsidized day care centre spaces.

What government in this country has lessened the income tax burden on 155,000 people in this province? The Liberal Party and the Liberal Government of this province, and many of those are seniors.

We have instituted programs to fight family violence, Mr. Speaker. We have a new maintenance enforcement policy which was there for a lot of the time that it could have been put in before.

Mr. Speaker, what we have done is put in place programs and policies that will save the important social programs that this province values and which are important for all of us. Like a lot of Nova Scotians, I am getting tired of the pessimism, the kind of drivel that we hear from the Opposition Parties whose only goal seems to be to discourage Nova Scotians

[Page 96]

from having any faith and pride in their province and themselves. Shame on them, Mr. Speaker, shame on them. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne and the Budget Address to follow mark a turning point for this province. Nova Scotia is on the move; jobs are being created. At the end of January there were 26,000 more Nova Scotians employed than when we took office. These are Statistics Canada figures, 26,000 more.

In June 1993, Mr. Speaker - it is nice to hear that the semi-moribund member for Sackville-Cobequid has come back from his existence. In June 1993, 365 people in Nova Scotia had jobs. At the end of January of this year the number had jumped to 389,000, a difference of 26,000. Now those are not my figures, they are figures from Statistics Canada.

The Speech from the Throne points out a significant number of positive indicators of economic growth, including a 14.5 per cent jump in our foreign exports and an almost 10 per cent gain in the value of manufacturing shipments. To underline the need to increase Nova Scotia exports, this government created a deliberate policy in 1996 of promoting trade missions. The business response to these missions has been phenomenal. As a result of the trade missions, many contracts have been signed and many jobs have been created.

Mr. Speaker, this government has provided the leadership needed to move this province toward a secure and prosperous future, a future that will provide opportunities for our children and their children to live and work right here in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I was privileged today to attend the CIBC opening where 200 Nova Scotians, many of them previously unemployed, are now working at the phone centre at CIBC. They plan to introduce another 300 jobs, good quality jobs, within the next three years. There is optimism that this will increase. These are the opportunities that we will create for our children and for the people in Nova Scotia. Even the most unreasonable people on the opposite side cannot deny that this province is on the move and that there are jobs being created which are important for the children of this province. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

I would just like to submit, Mr. Speaker, the employment situation, January 1996, as I promised I would. Thank you again. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West. (Applause)

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring greetings from the residents of Cape Breton West and I bring greetings to my colleagues here in the House. I welcome back the Pages and the staff of the House and I look forward to an interesting session, to say the least.

[8:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this is my maiden speech in response to the Speech from the Throne and I am honoured to have the privilege to do so. I am mindful that if it weren't for the people of Cape Breton West who put their trust and confidence in me, I wouldn't be here in these historic Chambers today. Every time I take my seat in this Assembly, I am awed by the enormous responsibility that we carry as a result of that trust. I remind myself daily that the trust will easily and quickly be lost the moment I fail to remember that I am here as a servant of the people who sent me here.

[Page 97]

Mr. Speaker, as you know, I come from a small place called Gabarus Lake, which is truly a rural community. We only have 75 people; we have a church. When I stand on my patio deck at night, I see one street light, and that is not a bad thing. While it is only a five hour drive from my home in Gabarus Lake to Halifax, I want to say that the two are light years away. That distance is growing, and it is growing because increasingly we are seeing the erosion of small-town Nova Scotia. It is a trend that is frightening to those of us who value and cherish our communities. What they individually and collectively contribute to our province and what they tell the world about the quality of life we enjoy here in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, Cape Breton West is mostly rural and it is made up of small communities and villages spread over a large geographic area: places like Main-a-Dieu, the lobster capital of Cape Breton; or Big Glace Bay; or Donkin; or Port Morien, the home of the first coal mine in North America - it is also the home of the first Boy Scout troop in North America - places like Catalone; Louisbourg, which we all know so much about; Sydney River; Dutch Brook; Prime Brook; Howie Centre; Sydney Forks; East Bay; Big Pond, famous for its concerts and the home of Rita MacNeil.

AN HON. MEMBER: They drink tea down there, don't they?

MR. MACLEOD: We drink tea there. Irish Cove, Terra Nova, Salmon River - these are only a few of the areas - Baleine and Lorraine are areas in our community that have strength and have added character to the Province of Nova Scotia. Most of the people living here and the people I represent have made their living by working in the traditional industries in our province; coal mining, forestry and fishing have been the mainstays of the Cape Breton economy for centuries.

These industries have also helped support other industries like our steelmaking industry and our small businesses which gave many, albeit not enough, of our young people the opportunity to stay and work in their home town, without having to limit their choice of livelihood to that of their father or their grandfather. The sons of today's coal miner has probably chosen another way of life. He is far more likely to be a teacher in the local school, a small business owner or a clerk in the local store. But while he might not make his living in the mine, Mr. Speaker, it is the coal mines that helped secure his job and that of his family's and his future on the Island of Cape Breton. That is why the crisis facing Cape Breton's coal industry today is so frightening.

I don't need to tell anyone that unless this government acts and acts quickly on the dispute between Sysco and the Chinese railroad, the crisis facing Cape Breton will be unlike anything that the Island has experienced to date. The government must take immediate steps to ensure that the Chinese National Railroad's bogus claims of a substandard product are quickly dismissed before Sysco's international reputation for producing a quality product is damaged beyond repair. The government, specifically the minister responsible for Sysco, must answer the many questions that this dispute raises about the current practices followed by management in securing contracts abroad.

Mr. Speaker, the pending lay-off of 800 workers at Devco will have a tremendous impact, not just on the coal industries and the families of the 800 employees who will lose their jobs, but on the entire economy of Cape Breton Island and, in turn, the economy of the Province of Nova Scotia, an economy, we all know, is already extremely fragile. We are not just talking about 800 jobs, we are talking about thousands of jobs. In 1994, Devco contributed $205 million to the provincial economy. To put things in perspective, every dollar that has been spent by the mining of coal generates $5 in an economic spin-off.

[Page 98]

If you take out even half the amount that Devco now contributes to the local economy, we are facing a crisis. We already have one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country and if we lose another 800 jobs and countless indirect jobs, I am afraid that any opportunity that we had to attract investment to the Island will be severely eroded. That is why, Mr. Speaker, we cannot casually assume that because we survived other crises in the past, that this too will come to pass.

Mr. Speaker, when news broke of the 1,200 temporary and 800 permanent job losses in early January, the Premier was in China. When he returned, I expected an immediate response. I expected some leadership. Instead, I got the same tired refrain that I got from the Acting Premier, who was holding the fort while the Premier was away: it is a federal responsibility. Well, the last time I checked, Cape Breton was still connected to the mainland by the causeway and the people of Cape Breton were Nova Scotians. Some still think that the Island is a vital part of this province. Some, Mr. Speaker, would even say that our jobs, our culture and our way of life are worth fighting for. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: It is a good thing you are here to fight because the others from the Island won't.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, some even think that despite the fact that he is technically correct when he says that Devco is the responsibility of the federal government, there are other things that come into consideration. We have to remember that the lives that are being affected are Nova Scotians? We have to remember that the economy that is being affected is the Nova Scotia economy and we have to remember that the resource that we are mining is a Nova Scotian resource. The Premier might see some value in working together with labour and management and helping the community to try to identify efforts that will help sustain this industry and the jobs that it provides.

Make no mistake, Mr. Speaker, I am not suggesting for a moment that there are any easy answers, but this problem that is plaguing this industry is something that unless we start looking for some kind of an answer, none will be found. Just days after the news broke, John Hamm and I drove to Cape Breton. Not to China, not to Cuba, we went to Cape Breton. We met with as many people as possible to get an appreciation of the issues at hand and the possible solutions. We met with Joe Shannon, Mayor Coady, representatives from labour, members of the business community and we discussed the implications of the Devco lay-offs. Before we were back in Halifax, Mr. Speaker, a letter was sent to the Prime Minister, urging him to look at the suggestions we heard, and we believed would help secure the industry and the jobs that were being lost to our province. It was a modest effort that unfortunately ended with a pert response from the Prime Minister and a letter from the Minister of Natural Resources denying our request that the federal government assume social costs of the operation.

Contrast this to the effort put forth by the Premier, the man with the leverage, the power of government behind him and the political weight and connection to have just about any door open for him at any time. Did the Premier go to Cape Breton? No. The miners had to come to Halifax to talk to the Premier. Did he go to Ottawa? Well, yes he did; some two and one half months later, by the way. Coincidentally, it was the same day that those people who were laid off returned to work. Apparently, sometime during those discussions, Devco did come up; but word has it, he did not go to Ottawa to secure jobs, not for the miners anyway. He was looking for another job, one in the Senate possibly, for himself. What does the Premier have to say when he concludes his meeting with the Prime Minister? Well, he tells

[Page 99]

us he is not prepared to tell us. In other words, it is none of our business. If it is none of our business, Mr. Speaker, I wonder whose business it is.

Mr. Speaker, I want to know what happened to the commitment outlined in the Liberal Party's 1993 policy paper which said, a Liberal Government would "develop and implement short- and long-term strategies in anticipation of rises in primary industries, especially forestry industry closures, coal mine shutdowns and the demise of the steel industry.". Comforting words to a Party seeking victory at the polls; meaningless phrases to the government now in power; and cold comfort to the workers and families at Devco who have been left to find work elsewhere or are in the process of packing up and leaving Cape Breton Island.

Mr. Speaker, as recently as this weekend, another job crisis on the Island of Cape Breton. Thirty-five more people employed at IMP on the Northside were given their notice and told that their work was no longer required. It is a problem that I am sure that the member for Cape Breton North will identify with and understand and it is a problem that we also have to address.

Mr. Speaker, I want to know - and I am sure hundreds of Cape Bretoners are wondering as well - what happened to the request for $70,000 to look at ways to secure the industry and the hundreds of jobs that are on the line? The request is two months old and the unions still have not heard back from the Premier.

I know this government is not flush with disposable cash, but it seems that money can be found for all kinds of other questionable, high-risk things like $140,000 for a part-time job, and yet you cannot find $70,000 for 2,100 jobs. Shame! Shame! Shame!

This government just gave Newbridge Enterprises $10 million on a promise that it would create 50 jobs. That amounts, Mr. Speaker, to $200,000 per job. Divide the $70,000 request by the union into 800 jobs that are on the chopping block and it would be a potential investment of less than $100 per job.

AN HON. MEMBER: And they said no.

MR. MACLEOD: And they said no. This government just spent $25,000 to send a Cabinet Minister to a conference in Switzerland, and that is just the conference fee. This government pays the part-time administrator of emergency health services - who publicly stated that his job is a breeze - $140,000. Not a bad haul for a guy that divides his time between a couple of other jobs.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much is it? He said it, yes he did. Do not shake your head. He said it. He told us in Public Accounts. He did so.

MR. MACLEOD: This government pays members of the Gaming Commission $250 a day to approve bingo licenses and that used to be routinely approved by the clerk of the Lottery Commission.

This government created a new secretariat so a Cabinet Minister would not throw an embarrassing tantrum and would not upset the Premier's political apple-cart. This government just gave another deputy minister $100,000-plus, to voluntarily leave his job, guys that they took in and said we are going to do a better job and so far they had to send them home because they couldn't do squat. This brings the total for paying off these deputies to approximately $0.25 million and that is after spending $2.2 million to replace eight competent deputies. So far, four of the new deputies who were hired during the purge have since been purged themselves and at a considerable cost to you, Mr. Speaker, to me and to all the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: And there is no money for Devco.

[Page 100]

MR. MACLEOD: But there is no money for Devco or the workers there. And this government just put an additional $23 million into a fund to help retire civil servants. Go figure. We have millions to get people out of work but we haven't got any money to get people to work.

[8:30 p.m.]

Despite the Premier's late denials, Cape Bretoners got a sense of just where Cape Breton's coal industry stands as a priority with this government, when word broke about its ill-considered, poorly-timed attempt to jack up Devco's royalties. The industry's future is on the line, hundreds of Cape Breton workers are facing unemployment or welfare and the only thing on the mind of the Premier and his Minister of Finance is how can we suck more money out of the corporation that gives so many people work. These are just a very few examples of the misguided thinking and misplaced priorities of this government.

I want to cite yet another example of this government's misguided and short-sighted thinking. This thinking is aiding and abetting the decay of rural Nova Scotia. This government campaigned on the promise of jobs through C-E-D. Unfortunately, most Nova Scotians assumed that this stood for community economic development but to the members of the government, it stood for continuous economic devastation.

A case in point in this government's decision to pull out of the Two Rivers Wildlife Park. At the same time as it is boasting of the tourists and benefits that the new Fleur-de-Lis Trail will bring to the local economy. It is announcing plans to withdraw its modest support for the park, an important tourist attraction on the beautiful Mira River. Residents of Marion Bridge and the surrounding area were dumbfounded when the Minister of Natural Resources suddenly announced that the community would have to take it over and go it alone.

The member for Cape Breton South took great pride the other day to announce that there was an extension and that the park would stay open for another month and one-half. I would remind that member, had this government not decided to close it, they would not need an extension.

As we are talking about the beautiful Mira River, I wonder how many members know that it is the longest river system in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is a river that has been made famous, world-wide, by Allister MacGillvary, a resident of Hillside Mira, who lives on the beautiful Mira.

There are many communities on the shores of the Mira River. Victoria Bridge, Grand Mira North, Sandfield, Hillside, Hornes Road, Mira Gut - have you ever been there? The Brickyard Road which has a significant place in the history of the Province of Nova Scotia and certainly, in the Fortress of Louisbourg. Or Albert Bridge, or Trout Brook, or Marion Bridge, or Grand Mira South - the home of the longest continuous 4-H Club in Canada, a club that was formed in 1927 and in its great and prestigious history, has only had two general leaders, Father John Bryden and a Mrs. Marion MacKinnon. Mrs. MacKinnon is the mother

[Page 101]

of the former member for Cape Breton West. (Applause) You should clap for Mrs. MacKinnon, she has done a great job for her community. Of course I might add, Mr. Speaker, that Mrs. MacKinnon is also the godmother of a very prestigious minister on the other side of the House. (Interruption)

While I am grateful that the minister saw fit, Mr. Premier - Mr. Speaker - I jumped the gun again.

AN HON. MEMBER: He won't be the Premier yet.

MR. MACLEOD: Well, I have to tell you, Richie got me that time. (Interruptions) While I am grateful, Mr. Speaker, that the minister saw fit to give the committee that was established to save the park a one month reprieve before he abandons the negotiations on a new lease agreement, I want to remind people that the wildlife park is a vital park, not only of Cape Breton West, but it is the only wildlife park in Cape Breton and it is part of a system that attracts people there. It is of value to each and every constituency on our Island, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure you would agree with that.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, you have to wonder. The government has hundreds of thousands of dollars to pour into yet another golf course in the minister's neighbouring constituency of Lunenburg West, but we can't maintain a $100,000 commitment to sustain the jobs and the spinoff of Cape Breton's only wildlife park which brings many people into Cape Breton West.

Mr. Speaker, this government has a single-minded purpose to reduce the deficit and pay down the debt and no matter the costs. Are the deficit and debt important? You bet they are. But let's not fool ourselves. In its haste to achieve a balanced budget, this government is making decisions and implementing policies that will very likely cost us more in the end. Short-term gain but long-term pain.

Consider for a moment what is happening to our health care system. We were promised health reform; we were told that our health care dollars would be redistributed and there would be a gradual transfer of these dollars away from hospitals and other institutions and into home and community-based care. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, the dollars have been taken out of the hospitals and other institutions, they just haven't found their way into home or community-based care.

The Minister of Health will say that progress is being made, the program has been expanded and far more Nova Scotians have access to home care now than they did just a few years ago. You know, he is right but he is also very wrong. He is wrong in believing that his Home Care Program is meeting the needs of Nova Scotians. People, many of whom have no family support, are being prematurely released from hospitals before they are assigned and care is arranged. Many others are being assigned inadequate levels or types of care, only to end up back in the hospital on a stretcher or in the corridors of the emergency room.

I want to give an example of the hardship that places on families. An 82 year old woman without family support was forced to look after her dying husband after his doctor failed to get him admitted to the hospital. There simply were not any beds, Mr. Speaker. Home care workers were arranged but the care was sporadic and the workers were not professionally equipped to tend to his needs. The wife, exhausted from tending to her husband, became bitter and angry towards her husband, to whom she was happily married for 62 years. He died and she was still bitter.

Mr. Speaker, this is not an isolated case. On the contrary, it is becoming far too common a case. If what I am saying and hearing is correct, we can expect a lot more of it in the future as hospitals that are already severely understaffed lose more and more staff and beds. In the drive for a balanced budget, is this what the cost is, human life? I am all for a balanced budget, but let us put things into perspective, when you cannot get a doctor, when you cannot arrange for home care for an aging parent or when your life is put on hold for over a year when you wait for a hip replacement, a balanced budget does not nearly have the same ring to it and it certainly, does not have the same urgency to it.

[Page 102]

Consider for a moment that approximately 8,000 people in Glace Bay and surrounding communities do not have a family doctor. The emergency department at the Glace Bay General is crowded. It is filled with people who would prefer to visit a family doctor, but unfortunately they cannot because he or she is simply no longer there. Why are our doctors leaving? Even the President of the Provincial Medical Society will tell you that many have left because of their frustration with the direction health care has taken under this government. The Minister of Health promised that Glace Bay would be a priority and that help was on the way and, granted, there is an additional medical support in the emergency department. The doctor shortage has not improved and people are still forced to access the more costly alternate route of going to the emergency department for things as routine as getting a prescription refilled. As a matter of fact, the exodus of doctors continues as the number of practising doctors dropped again in February.

Mr. Speaker, Glace Bay is represented by a senior Cabinet Minister who had this to say while he was in Opposition and I quote, "Therefore be it resolved that the government develop a policy that maintains essential programs in Nova Scotia hospitals no matter how small or how rural".

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said that?

MR. MACLEOD: The Minister of Education. This same minister is now strangely silent as his own government moves into its third consecutive year of hospital closures, program cuts and downsizing and they have not spared small or rural hospitals. In fact, the first to go under the knife of the Health Minister, when the government came to power, it was the little hospitals that went first.

I want to read just one more of a half a dozen resolutions that the member of Cape Breton East introduced into the House while progressing his commitment to Nova Scotia's health care system and its workers. Something I am sure that is a cold comfort to them today as they see their jobs disappear and the quality of health care in our region deteriorate at an alarming rate.

I quote, "Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health examine the human impact of the revenue freeze that his government has placed upon the hospitals in Nova Scotia". I do not think I have to say any more, I think the words of the member for Cape Breton East says volumes.

Since we are talking about the member for Cape Breton East, let us talk about the commitment to the people of Nova Scotia in respect to education. Remember his promise that he could cut the Education budget without any effect whatsoever on the classroom. Well, Mr. Speaker, any parent who has a child in school knows that the minister's promise was hollow. From the moment he uttered it there has been no truth. Class sizes grew, programs were cut and even basic education supplies became more scarce as education took a back seat to the

[Page 103]

fiscal plan that no one had heard anything about when the Liberals were campaigning in 1993. What is more incredible still, is that the same minister continues to go about the province making promises that neither the school boards, teachers, parents or students believe.

The minister said that board amalgamation would save $11 million and that every cent of that money would be redirected back into the classroom. Well, Mr. Speaker, I am not from Missouri; I am from Gabarus Lake, but I still can't believe what this man is saying. I want to remind the minister here today that we will be examining his budget closely to see if he will keep his word.

[8:45 p.m.]

Amalgamation is another Liberal campaign promise that Liberals campaigned against, but they enthusiastically embraced amalgamation once they were elected. Industrial Cape Breton, Mr. Speaker, was the first regional government. It was sworn in amidst promises of more effective, less costly government. Three months later, Cape Bretoners woke up to news of a huge cost overrun and fears of increased taxes, service cuts and more layoffs. Some tax increases have already been announced and the effect on the people of the Regional Municipality of Cape Breton is severe. Many people aren't sure that they can handle any more increases. But the Cape Bretoners are bracing for more bad news when the new regional government announces the details of its next budget. Of course, the implications of the budget that is going to be filed by the Minister of Finance of the Province of Nova Scotia scares the pants off anybody in the municipal unit.

It appears that the municipal units here in metro will not be spared either. As reports begin to roll in, the transition costs have once again been severely underestimated and could be double the original estimations. These were all worked out by the province's own amalgamation coordinator.

Mr. Speaker, this government has talked a great deal about decentralizing decision-making. They have talked about its commitment to rural Nova Scotia. But let's examine the record. Services in rural Nova Scotia continue to disappear. Now the Premier is disappearing. Courthouses are gone, registry offices are gone. Wildlife parks are disappearing, depots are disappearing, community colleges are disappearing. (Interruption) I hear the member for Cape Breton South saying that Tories are disappearing. He should check the record of the last two by-elections and see who is disappearing. If you want to see a real disappearing act, convince your caucus to call the next by-election and we will show you a little bit about winning an election there, too. (Interruptions)

This government seems to believe that cutting jobs and infrastructure that helps sustain rural and small town Nova Scotia and replacing them with a kiosk is an improvement. The Premier actually has the audacity to bill his government's latest government reorganization effort - which talks about removing services and jobs from rural Nova Scotia - as a demonstration of his government's efforts to make services more accessible. I don't think the people in Nova Scotia took any comfort in his pledge to make sure they had access to the same services all across the province because they knew from where it came and they knew the track record and it is very hard to believe a track record like that, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the push to amalgamate everything from hospital and school boards to municipal units, leaves rural Nova Scotia vulnerable. The reason for doing this is to save money, to reduce the deficit and to pay down the debt.

[Page 104]

While the Minister of Finance maintains that this will be the Liberal Government's legacy to our children, I wonder, Mr. Speaker, what kind of legacy are we leaving to children if we destroy small town and rural Nova Scotia in the process. Let's face it, Mr. Speaker, if the infrastructure that helps sustain rural Nova Scotia disappears, so do the jobs and when the jobs go, the young people go.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that rural Nova Scotia contributes a tremendous amount to this province. Indeed, despite what the Minister of Finance might think, tourists flock to Nova Scotia, not to gamble, but to see the beauty of the Province of Nova Scotia, to see our incredible history and the unhurried pace and charm of our small towns.

Despite being largely ignored by this government, tourism is approaching $1 billion a year industry in Nova Scotia. Instead of working to promote and enhance local attractions, the government seems intent on doing the opposite. Again, I have already spoken about the Two Rivers Park, but that is a tourist attraction that this government is leaving in the lurch.

You know, this government also fails to realize that a small investment can have a huge payback. The Mira Provincial Park is another perfect example. This is a beautiful piece of property on one of the most beautiful rivers in the country. But this park, Mr. Speaker, lacks the amenities to keep tourists in the area. I had somebody call my constituency office late last year wondering how to find this beautiful park, because when they went to the tourist bureau at the Canso Causeway, nobody knew where it was. But we are here promoting Nova Scotia.

This past summer, Mr. Speaker, historic Louisbourg hosted an incredible summer of events to celebrate its 175th Anniversary. Over 80,000 people from all over the world descended on the town during the encampment. Organizers were overwhelmed by the success of this event and the people of Louisbourg deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the work they put into this program. Everybody in the town got behind the organizers and they pitched in to make this the tremendous success that it was.

I would like to take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, with the help of this House, to congratulate the town and the people of Louisbourg for the incredible enthusiasm and spirit they put into this wonderful event. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: Who paved the road?

The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is wondering who paved the road. Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation says he paved the road and got it ready and for that, he should be congratulated. I must admit that if two years ago you would have told me that last summer when I was in Catalone I would be tied up in traffic jam, I would have found it hard to believe, but that is what happened.

We should talk a little bit about the Fleur-de-lis Trail, Mr. Speaker, that this government brought in. It is incredible how so far the work seems to stop at the constituency line of Cape Breton West, except for the survey stakes between Gabarus and the Town of Louisbourg. (Interruption)

[Page 105]

But, Mr. Speaker, the project is a worthwhile project. It would be a lot more worthwhile if we got to the business of building the road where there is no road, instead of reconstructing the roads that are already in place.

My point in mentioning these things is more than just to extend praise to the people of the Town of Louisbourg, it is to highlight what we have to offer and the benefits that can be derived from aggressively selling and marketing our strengths. When the Premier announced his plans to reorganize government, I think he missed a golden opportunity to capitalize on our tourism potential by appointing a minister who would be responsible for this growth industry rather than appointing a minister for a rather vaguely defined Technology and Science Secretariat.

Mr. Speaker, there are numerous other issues that are of concern to me and to the people of my constituency, and certainly to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia - the headlong rush by this government to impose change that impacts on almost every facet of our daily lives - whether it is changing the nature of local government, changing the way we recycle or changing the way they can access government services, changing who will deliver services and how those services will be delivered, changing the administrative structures for dealing with health and education concerns or changing the names of government departments and agencies; people are screaming for this government to slow down. They believe the government is imposing change for the sake of change rather than developing and implementing solid strategies that make sense. And people are frustrated that all of this is happening without any meaningful input from them. This is just a small caption of some of the concerns, some of the issues that have been brought to light over my short career here in the House.

It gives me great honour to have had this chance to respond to the Speech from the Throne, but I can only hope that the government will seriously think about getting to the business of delivering good government for the Province of Nova Scotia. When the people went to the polls in 1993, they decided that they wanted a leaner government, not a meaner government. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to rise before you and the members of this grand Assembly in reply to the Speech from the Throne.

We were all saddened by the passing of Sergeant-at-Arms Buddy Daye last year and, like other members, I want to take the opportunity to recognize his service to the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, your continued presence in the Chair is welcomed and I believe you do honour to your position. I also wish to acknowledge the staff of the Nova Scotia Legislature; year after year a professional staff of young people attend to our many needs. To them I offer thanks and I would encourage them to seek a career in service to the public. It is not an easy career, but I firmly believe that public service is a privilege that brings many intangible rewards not often found in the private sector. At the end of the day, it is important that you have accomplished something that has aided in the development of our communities, our province and our country.

[Page 106]

Mr. Speaker, I thank the full-time professional staff at Province House, including security and the staff of the Legislative Library. I would venture to say that our Legislative Library is the best of any provincial Legislature in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, the riding of Cape Breton South has a long and interesting history. I have had the honour to serve as MLA in Cape Breton South for close to three years. Previous to that, I served the people of Sydney for 15 years as Mayor. My last 18 years of public life has been a witness to a great deal of change. While our steel industry is still in business, it is not the industrial giant it once was. Sydney Steel was part of Canada's big three steel makers.

Before 1968, Sydney Steel employed over 4,000 workers. The roots of its demise can be traced back to World War II when central planning from Ottawa discouraged industrial production in the Maritimes while providing massive subsidies to companies in Ontario. Mr. Speaker, I bring this small fact to your attention because a growing body of opinion in central Canada and, indeed, western Canada believes that we should be cut adrift and that they should not support us.

The people of Cape Breton don't want handouts, we want to make it on our own and we can compete with any community anywhere in the world. All we ask is our fair share of the national dream. We do not want to be hindered by policies designed to benefit one region at the expense of another. Let us not forget, Mr. Speaker, that money transferred to provinces and people ultimately purchases products made in central Canada and we invest our money in central Canadian financial institutions. We must reverse that trend, and I encourage everyone to buy locally and invest locally.

[9:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I spoke that we must do it on our own and I believe that our provincial government has supported initiatives that will bring us to economic independence. The local development authority in Cape Breton is moving on a more comprehensive, long-term plan to diversify and improve our economy. Made in Cape Breton solutions must break the cycle of dependence and must bring an end to bad decisions made by absentee investors. We cannot bury our heads in the sand either, we must attract investment from all over the world. This does not mean that we should surrender the right to assume positions in all levels of production, including management.

Employment levels in Cape Breton, Mr. Speaker, have improved in 1995 but this is not enough. Government must do its part but so must the private sector. The resources of government are trapped by the reckless course of borrowing over 15 of the last 18 years. Our government is doing everything to get its fiscal house in order. This year will mark the end of deficits in Nova Scotia, thanks to the fiscal measures of our government. Nova Scotia is becoming a better place to do business. Deficit reduction will lead to debt reduction. Debt reduction means we will finally have a chance to stabilize and reduce taxation. We are doing our part and we expect no less from those corporations that have made significant profit over the past years.

We are first reminded of the banks. I do not wish to attack the banks, however, they must begin to loosen up their money supply and take some risk on entrepreneurship. Our province and our nation were built by classical liberal risk-takers, not conservative money managers. If one region of our province is weak then the others are weak; if one part of the nation is weak then our country will not succeed. Banks who ignore economic hardship in Cape Breton risk having the lesson repeated in Halifax, Montreal and, yes, even Toronto.

[Page 107]

This government must do more as well. We can challenge the private sector to provide better service and to re-invest their profits into job creation. Government must not borrow away our future. The Liberal Government of the day is doing much to steer our economic ship. We must continue to do the appropriate things for the appropriate reasons. Deficit reduction is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end. That end is economic stability, job creation and a future for our children. We cannot be misled by those who promise to spend money they do not have. If they had the opportunity to follow through on those promises there will be no future in Nova Scotia. However, we are not cutting and slashing like Ontario and Alberta Conservatives. We are taking a steady approach to deficit reduction that will lead to better government, better health care and, most of all, we will ensure that everyone has equal opportunity to succeed.

Debt reduction will not be accomplished on the backs of the poor, like the Tories advocate in every region of the country. Members opposite cannot be trusted to look after the interests of those in need. The old cliche that Tory times are hard times is not a myth but a reality.

The NDP will spend our children's future and ensure that foreign bond-holders ruin our province. Cape Bretoners know first-hand what it is like to be dominated by absentee landlords. The absentee landlords of the 1990's are the bond-holders of New York, Tokyo and Toronto. I ask the NDP why would they want to dismantle the social safety net? Our Liberal Government will save the social safety net.

Mr. Speaker, despite our serious financial problems, we are creating new day care spaces, bringing 1,000 new cases a month into our Home Care Program. Health care in Cape Breton is being improved for the first time in decades. Thanks to the vision of our Health Minister, we have new and better-equipped ambulances in Cape Breton. The Cape Breton Regional Hospital has new cancer treatments while others are being phased-in. The original promise of a regional hospital was intended to make it easier for Cape Bretoners to receive treatment at home. Our Liberal Government is delivering on that promise.

What did the Tories accomplish during their 15 years in office? They made Nova Scotia the provincial backwater of Canada. Some regions were ignored at the expense of others. Highways were built where no highways were needed. Downtown cores were developed in some towns while other towns were ignored. Some roads were paved on a bi-annual basis while roads in other parts of rural Nova Scotia were allowed to decay. Environmental clean-ups were promised but no money was allocated. Schools that had to be built were delayed. Amusement parks were built while drinking water turned brown. It is almost a crime that the previous government watched this province fall apart at the ends.

The present provincial government along with our federal and municipal counterparts are redressing some of the neglect inflicted upon this province. Basic levels of service taken for granted in other parts of the province were non-existent in industrial Cape Breton.

There are many projects I want to get into but let me start by one of the more recent announcements. The solution to the problem of drinking water in the Floral Heights Subdivision of Cape Breton West. Our government provided a significant portion of the funds to allow for clean drinking water. As a municipal mayor in the past I cannot tell you the frustration incurred over the issue of drinking water in Sydney. It took 15 years to finally get the problem of good drinking water corrected in the City of Sydney. I have to remind the member for Cape Breton West of this because he has selective memory when it comes to the dealings of the last government.

[Page 108]

We were ignored in Sydney because our member was a Liberal. Sydney was punished because of its democratically elected choice. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, was this any way to treat the good people of Cape Breton South? Of course, it wasn't. It was wilful and blatant partisan politics in its worst possible form.

1995 was the year we said goodbye to that kind of politics in Nova Scotia. Our Premier in particular has been dealt a great deal of unfair criticism in this regard. The last three years of Liberal Government have been the best in the history of Nova Scotia.

I can think of no other project that exemplifies this most than the Floral Heights water project. The Floral Heights project means that the needs of everyone will be considered and not just a few well-connected Tory friends. The Floral Heights problem is being solved, not because of politics but because it has to be done and this government realizes that.

Our government is finally accomplishing the things that have to be done. Government reform means that Nova Scotia will enter the year 2000 instead of the year 1900. Outmoded government methods will be replaced by more efficient service delivery and better service for all Nova Scotians.

I spoke of needs and one of the greater needs in my riding has been clean drinking water. Thanks to an infrastructure project of $9 million, Sydney will finally have decent drinking water this summer.

Over $3 million of work has improved our long neglected roads in our riding. Our regional hospital has a better entrance thanks to the $600,000 in road improvements to that facility that will be accomplished and completed this year.

A new, long overdue, state of the art, multimillion dollar junior high school is being built to replace inadequate facilities in Cape Breton South. This project is on the leading (Interruption) if the member for Cape Breton West was up to date he would realize that the bulldozers were there today working on the project so perhaps instead of hanging around this place he should see what is going on in the area down there. This project is on the leading edge of public/private partnerships.

Sydney's waterfront is becoming an economic asset rather than an eyesore thanks to an additional $2 million from this government. These projects give my riding a level of service comparable to areas of similar size in this province and we appreciate that. Other projects have been completed or are well under way.

Mr. Speaker, thanks to my counterpart in Ottawa, the member for Cape Breton-The Sydneys, Russell MacLellan, the Victoria Park militia base is undergoing the first phase of a multimillion dollar expansion. The federal government is also replacing the government wharf in Sydney at a cost of $15 million, which will enhance Sydney's waterfront development and enhance the tourism potential there in the future. Thanks to the quick action of our Member of Parliament, Russell MacLellan, the Sydney Wharf project will allow for docking of the many cruise ships that enter Sydney Harbour each summer.

Mr. Speaker, the private sector has also contributed to new development in Sydney. Sobeys has completed a $2 million commercial development and this represents a high level of confidence in the Cape Breton economy. The new $8 million Cove Guest Home was recently completed and the Cove, I would say to you, is one of the finest facilities of its kind anywhere in Canada.

[Page 109]

Mr. Speaker, I need not tell you the importance of higher education. The University College of Cape Breton must act as a catalyst for new growth on the Island. They are committed to community at UCCB and I am pleased that the $15 million expansion of this facility is well under way.

Mr. Speaker, I do not see the world through rose-coloured glasses. There is much work left to be done. The above-mentioned projects, however, represent over $80 million in investment in my area since the Liberal Government was elected to office. The abandonment of Cape Breton by the Tories and the NDP does not mean abandonment by the Liberals. We are committed to the future of metropolitan Cape Breton, as we are to other areas of this great province. There are challenges to overcome that cannot be solved only by government. Only Cape Bretoners with a dedication to economic development can ensure Cape Breton will become the economic powerhouse it once was.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the staff of the Cape Breton County Economic Development Authority for their ongoing commitment to regional economic development. Mr. Speaker, their strategic economic action plan and the economic summit were ground-breaking achievements in regional development for all of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to take the time to congratulate the Honourable David Dingwall on his recent appointment as Canadian Minister of Health. Mr. Dingwall has achieved great things for all of Nova Scotia and I am sure he will continue to make us proud.

Our government has taken the bold step, Mr. Speaker, of regional government for metropolitan Cape Breton. I believe this was one of the most courageous actions of our government. Regional government will not erase parochial division built up over 100 years, it will, however, give people in metro Cape Breton the opportunity to think on a regional scale.

We must move ahead with one voice or we will perish as members of a house divided. I encourage all regional councillors in the Cape Breton Regional District to move forward as a collective voice for constructive change. In this way, the benefits of regional government will soon become evident.

A recent Cape Breton Post editorial called for the need for a positive response to change. This means confronting hard times as a challenge to excel and not as an excuse to fail. It means finding opportunity in adversity and, on an individual level, it means we must confront every challenge with confidence.

Mr. Speaker, I am of the firm belief that anyone, at any age, can accomplish their dreams if they believe they can do it. If we believe we can understand anything, then we will seek out new skills to master.

Mr. Speaker, this Speech from the Throne is a call for action. It outlines the keys for our future prosperity. It is a call for a unified approach to economic development and social action. I am confident that the people of Cape Breton South want to be part of the solution and we are ready for the journey.

Mr. Speaker, I am, therefore, pleased to support our government's Speech from the Throne. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 110]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House and speak in reply to the Speech from the Throne. I represent riding of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. The people of our area have long been recognized for their hospitality and kindness. This was evident this summer when two visitors from San Francisco, Mr. and Mrs. James Kelly, were in critical need. They received great support from the medical personnel, the hospitality industry, libraries and others in the community. In a recent letter they write, "The hospitality in Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury is second to none anywhere in the world.". I believe this is indeed a tribute to our people.

[9:15 p.m.]

I believe it is important to recognize the heroism and dedication of people throughout rural Nova Scotia. My compliments go to the people of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury who over the last year have shown their heroism as volunteer fire fighters. Many have helped with rescue operations that have saved lives.

Our communities are committed to young people through many sports tournaments and other recreational activities. To give you one example, recently in the town Port Hawkesbury a 10 day hockey tournament sponsored by Stora was just completed. It has been a pleasure to recognize these individuals and groups through the many resolutions that I have tabled in the House.

I want to speak about some dramatic developments in Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury that have happened this year. Stora Forest Industries has a very significant impact upon the riding. This government was not afraid to work with businesses, such as Stora, to develop a secure future for our area. This government has delivered a stable economy in creating the right climate for job creation and business growth. As a result, we are witnessing new optimism in Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

When Stora was in need, this government was there with a loan of $15.4 million, a loan that has been fully repaid. Since that loan, Stora has paid out millions of dollars in salaries to the many employees whose salaries have been spent daily in the region and throughout Nova Scotia. I am sure that Stora's investment of $650 million in the new paper line is welcome news, not only for the Strait area but for all of Nova Scotia. We can look forward to the 800 construction jobs and the several hundred long-term jobs required for the new paper line.

Mr. Speaker, already in the Strait area we can see new growth in businesses, such as McDonald's and Sobeys, the construction of new apartments in the Port Hawkesbury area. This is a sign of confidence in the growth which our government has been involved in. When you think about it, Stora has returned our $15.4 million investment and thousands of Nova Scotians are benefitting from work and from new salaries. The government has always been a strong supporter of successful ventures, not throwing good money after bad, as the previous Tory Governments have done.

I was pleased to be a member of the task force, with the Premier, which led to the granting of the vital loans to Stora. I continue to meet regularly with Stora's management. This year Stora's exports were up $42 million over last year, a wonderful achievement.

[Page 111]

I want to reaffirm what I have often said: the work force at Stora is the finest. Our area enjoys a highly skilled and well-motivated workforce. I wish to congratulate the management of Stora Forest Industries and Stora's many employees, suppliers, woodlot owners, contractors, truckers and the wider community.

We should recognize the important co-operative role that the unions have played in working with management. For their part, the NDP has long grumbled and complained about lending money to large multinational corporations. To follow their leadership would have resulted in devastation and loss of thousands of jobs in the Strait area. We all know that this government made the right decision in supporting Stora.

This past year, Stora received the Millionaire Award for a million accident-free hours as part of its silviculture program. Stora also planted its 100 millionth tree. Mr. Speaker, the growth and promotion of eco-tourism is also important in rural areas.

Last year, there were several exciting new initiatives along the Marine Drive. We have seen a 10 per cent growth in tourism in 1995. This, indeed, is an excellent accomplishment and this did not happen by accident.

Our region has some exciting waterfront developments and other projects that will attract more people to Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury so that they can experience first-hand our unique beauty. My family and I have had the opportunity to attend several summer functions at both of the major waterfront sites. I am referring, of course, Mr. Speaker, to the Canso waterfront and the Port Hawkesbury waterfront, both of which have been sites of concerts, Canada Day celebrations and various sea festivals.

Mr. Speaker, because of the Team Guysborough efforts, the groundwork has been laid for the creation of the Guysborough County Regional Development Authority which is playing a proactive role in the promotion of Guysborough County. We also have an active regional development authority in the highland region, representing the Port Hawkesbury side of my constituency.

Mr. Speaker, I am committed to bringing to the attention of proponents, both the physical and cultural assets that my constituency has to offer. I believe the strength and character of our people are among the greatest strengths Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury has in not only attracting companies such as Sable Gas, but other potential ventures, as well.

Mr. Speaker, the Throne Speech refers to creating a climate for community development. I am convinced that our commitment to Stora and our working relationship with industries such as Seafreez in Canso and ACS in Mulgrave has encouraged these companies to invest and expand in Nova Scotia. I want to compliment both the Premier and the Minister of Fisheries for their proactive role in dealing with issues affecting the fishery and thus encouraging the expansion of companies such as Seafreez in Canso and the location of ACS Trading Incorporated in Mulgrave.

Mr. Speaker, recently a workshop was held in Sherbrooke with the Economic Renewal Agency, the local RDA and the Sherbrooke Restoration Commission. The community entered a process of identifying both short-term and long-term goals which would be of economic benefit to Sherbrooke and to Guysborough County as a whole. This would include expanding the promotion of historic Sherbrooke Village and the St. Mary's River.

When this workshop was originally planned for Saturday, they had hoped for maybe 50 people. So many people showed up at the workshop that they had to use extra classrooms and bring in extra resources. This is an indication that local people want to be involved. I participated in this day-long workshop that included every sector of the community and I was impressed by the energy and desire to have local meaningful input into future development. What person after person said, Mr. Speaker, is, we do not want a plan that has been imposed by Halifax. We want a plan that reflects our area.

[Page 112]

Historic Sherbrooke Village is more than a museum to the people of St. Mary's. It is something very personal and something very special. This is evident by their desire to work as a community to highlight the area's history and beauty. They intend to preserve the uniqueness and the charm through a planned approach to development.

Nova Scotians, in particular people in our area, are particularly proud to call attention to the internationally recognized country and western entertainer, the late Stan Rogers, a native son of the area. He has been recognized as a leader and pioneer in the music revival of Nova Scotia. In recognition of his contribution, the community has struck a committee to seek the development of a Stan Rogers Centre. I believe this has the same potential as the Anne Murray Centre in Springhill. Mr. Speaker, the communities of Canso, Guysborough and the Mulgrave Road Theatre are working together on this project.

Mr. Speaker, not everything is bright and rosy in Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. Our area is suffering from some anxiety - that may be an understatement - and concern of the various federal initiatives, such as the proposed changes to the Unemployment Insurance Act and changes to the Fisheries and Oceans Act. However, I am confident that our provincial government will deal firmly with Ottawa, voicing our concerns in these areas.

The downturn in the fishery has impacted on eastern Nova Scotia. For many it has created real hardships. Despite this reality, those involved in the fishery continue to seek new opportunities, through aquaculture and alternate species, such as sea urchins. On Thursday night of last week a group of fisherpeople completed an aquaculture course. Some of them are looking at these as alternatives to the existing inshore fishery.

Local inshore fishers are also seeking increased access to other species, such as shrimp. Over the last two years experimental shrimp catching has been underway off Canso. This spring there will be a draw for additional shrimp licenses. Many of those involved in the fishery believe this is an area that needs further expansion.

Over the years, Mr. Speaker, local residents have emphasized the need to locally process species or fish that are caught off the shores of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. We are slowly realizing this with the diversification of companies such as Seafreez, the introduction of new firms, such as ACS Trading in Mulgrave, and Fisheries Resources Limited in Whitehead and the expansion of Sonora Clams. For example, Seafreez of Canso will not only produce the traditional species of fish but they will also be producing shrimp, surimi and other products which are traditionally not produced in this area. Despite this, the moratorium and the decrease in lobster landings will continue to challenge everyone in the fishery.

Mr. Speaker, as MLA, I have had the privilege to convene many meetings with company officials and our government. It is my intention to continue to work with all companies in our area and to promote their growth and the development of two-way communication with the province. I would like to point out that the reason that Seafreez

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Limited has moved many of its efforts to Nova Scotia is because they have said our government has created the type of climate that business wants. That has encouraged them to do business in Nova Scotia. That is what we must continue to do.

Recent announcements by the Sable Offshore Energy Project offer Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury great potential benefits from our natural resources. Drilling has been completed in Goldboro to explore the gold reserves. Both of these projects we have to approach very cautiously and look at the impact they will have on our area.

It is also important to note, Mr. Speaker, that I have travelled throughout Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and attended public meetings to promote local involvement in these projects. It is a disgrace in this age of technology that large parts of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury still lack cellular service and direct connection to the Internet. This is a great limitation in our ability to be involved in the latest technology. I believe it should be an obligation, if not a moral obligation, to companies such as MT&T and Cantel, to provide the same service to all Nova Scotians and to the constituents of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

The amalgamation of Strait Campus and the Nautical Institute continues. In a recent interview Peter Dunford, Principal of the Strait Campus, says that he expects more students to take advantage of his school's programs because they have become more varied and efficient.

[9:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the five new courses being offered at these campuses are a result of community input. The Minister of Education listened. The new courses reflect the desires of the community and many residents who I have spoken to have said, this amalgamation should have been done years ago. During a recent visit that I had to both campuses, I was pleased by the positive reaction of both students and staff.

Mr. Speaker, this government is doing much to improve literacy levels. It is a pleasure to serve as special literacy advisor, working with a committee of over 30 peer literacy educators. We have been able to establish 27 literacy networks throughout the province, which has impacted positively on over 3,000 adults. I want to acknowledge the leadership of the Premier and the Minister of Education in this matter. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak on Provincial Affairs and it provided me with an opportunity to thank and recognize the many people involved in literacy throughout Nova Scotia and to congratulate them for their contribution.

Mr. Speaker, there has been a great deal of concern about the proposed marine fees and their impact on my constituency. I am working with members of this government to lobby for more equitable marine fees for the Strait ports. I have actively conveyed the concerns from the Strait and other ports in Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury about the devastating impact of the proposed fees. I want to commend the Honourable Richard Mann, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and the Honourable Robert Harrison, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, for their strong efforts on behalf of Nova Scotia ports.

The Telemedicine Project in Guysborough is proving to be very successful and the number of people in Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury also using the Home Care Program continues to increase and these programs are being well received.

[Page 114]

Mr. Speaker, many federal and provincial infrastructure initiatives have had a positive effect in communities throughout Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. Roadways are vital links for transportation. My riding has over 800 kilometres of highways. I have worked with many communities and the Department of Transportation in supporting their requests to upgrade and maintain our roads. There is still much work to be done and I intend to continue my identifying of projects and working for upgrading and maintenance.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that one of the most important parts of my job as MLA is ongoing communication with members of my constituency. Aware that Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury is one of the largest constituencies in the province, I not only hold regular constituency hours in my office in Guysborough, but I travel to areas such as Sherbrooke, Port Bickerton, Canso, Guysborough, Mulgrave and Port Hawkesbury. This provides an important opportunity for exchange between myself and my constituents.

AN HON. MEMBER: How can you be there and in Canso at the same time?

MR. WHITE: Well, it is possible. Mr. Speaker, the Chinese interpretation of the word crisis is opportunity.

AN. HON. MEMBER: How about the Chinese interpretation of the word guarantee?

MR. WHITE: I think of this phrase when I contrast the difference between the Tory Opposition and this government. This government has dealt with the financial mismanagement of the province. Many Nova Scotians now realize that after 14 years of Tory mismanagement, we were indeed in a financial crisis. Although the members of the Opposition will never acknowledge it, we can directly attribute many of the tough decisions that the Liberal Government has been forced to make in government restructuring, redesign, as a result of the sorry state of the provincial economy after indecision and inaction of successive Tory Governments.

Earlier tonight mention was made about legacies being left and we must continue to remind Nova Scotians of a legacy that not only my children, their children and, possibly, their grandchildren will have, and that is the legacy of the albatross of the $8 billion debt left this province by the Tory Government. Nova Scotians realize that the Liberal Government has not been afraid to make the tough decisions, which will result in long-term benefits for all Nova Scotia. The government is doing something unique. The government is balancing the provincial budget. It is doing so in a socially responsible manner and we are finally gaining control of our fiscal house.

The average Nova Scotian knows what the Tories and the NDP forgot, that uncontrolled spending, like recklessly charging on our Master Card and not paying our bills, they know where this leads. However, the Opposition Parties seem to have forgotten that. This Liberal Government is paying the bills and, like any household that can balance its domestic budget, its credit and reputation are beginning to attract much-needed investment that stimulates the economy and creates jobs.

Mr. Speaker, there is an expression that comes to mind: the more things change, the more they remain the same. This holds true for both Opposition Parties. Although the Conservatives have a new Leader, careful analysis shows statements and actions by the Tory Party, not only the last three years but recently in comments made by their Leader, show that they have not broken away from the Cameron-Buchanan approach to managing this province and we know what that has done to Nova Scotia.

[Page 115]

The New Democratic Party has said that we must continue to incur debt and not worry about balancing the budget. The average Nova Scotian who manages their own finances understands that if they have a personal debt, it will be more and more difficult to pay the bills and secure additional credit. This usually means they cannot purchase the things they need for their families. The province is no different. A balanced budget will enable us to secure additional funding. It will stabilize our social programs and stabilize the economy of Nova Scotia.

Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury will face challenges in 1996 and because of its diversity, its size, the challenges for one area are not necessarily the same as another. As a government, we must recognize that Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury requires a diverse economic strategy, which includes working in partnership with the two RDAs, the municipalities and the various proactive groups throughout the constituency.

One of the encouraging things we have seen happening over the past two years are communities beginning to take responsibility for their own local social and economic development. They are not solely relying on intervention from outside. It is a compliment to their determination and commitment.

Mr. Speaker, the future does look bright because of the fortitude and commitment of the people of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury to continue building a strong region. While major projects are on the horizon, it is essential to remember that projects, such as Sable Gas and the Goldboro mine are important, but they are not the only things that are necessary for diversification in Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

I am very proud to represent this marvellous region of Nova Scotia. My wife and I have travelled extensively in the region meeting many wonderful people. I look forward to continuing to serve in the months and years ahead. I believe it is important to have many government colleagues visit Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury to understand the challenges that it faces. I want to thank the Cabinet Ministers and the members who have taken the time, not only to visit Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, but to understand the challenges that it faces. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens. (Applause)

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank my colleagues for sustaining me late on a Monday evening. My friend and colleague, the Minister of Transportation chides me and says he thought I might be mayor by now. Of course, he is referring to today being a very important day for my constituency, a day of great poignancy in our history, in that this marks the beginning of the new Regional Municipality of Queens whereby the people in my constituency who previously resided in the Town of Liverpool in the Municipality of the County of Queens, by dint of their own effort, by virtue of their own decision, have now become one municipal unit. I commend them and all of those who worked with them to cause that to happen.

As you will recall, Madam Speaker, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and I had the opportunity to work together cooperatively with the two municipal units which are now part of our history and our community in order to make this important and vital change. We believe that this change will be good for our community. We believe it will be good for the young people who look to have the opportunity if they so choose, to build a future for themselves in Queens, as their parents and their grandparents and their other ancestors did before them.

Yes, this was a bumper day for them and, Madam Speaker, there is absolutely no doubt that the reason that this whole measure was greeted with such a tremendously positive response arises out of the fact that it was a voluntary decision taken from within the community and not imposed from outside. So I do for the very first time, in all of the years I have had the honour to stand in this place and represent my constituents, say greetings from the Regional Municipality of Queens. (Applause)

[Page 116]

I must say, too, Madam Speaker, to all of my colleagues in this place whose constituents may be giving consideration to voluntary amalgamation or who may fear that amalgamation will be forced upon them, not to fear the future but rather to grasp it as my constituents did and mould the future to their own use. I believe that this experience that we have had, a very positive experience, is an experience which can be engineered by many communities across this province and I say to them, do not be afraid of the future, band together, make your own decisions, create your own new municipal units and look forward to the future with the same kind of vigour as my constituents do.

Madam Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to thank His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor, and Her Honour for the leadership that they have demonstrated in their capacities during their tenure. Both of them bring a long record of public service to this new office, one of the highest offices that can be offered to a citizen in this province. Both of them have excelled, as we knew they would. They bring with them the rich heritage of Lunenburg and they ensure that that heritage, along with the heritage of all of those who have been part and parcel in creating the warp and woof of Nova Scotia, will be seen by ourselves and by the world that we hope to beat a path to our door, as something rich and something deserving of their inspection and we invite them to join with us in relishing it.

I also, of course, as with all of my other colleagues, regret the passing of a good friend, Buddy Daye. Buddy was best known to most in this Chamber as the Sergeant-at-Arms of this House. Yet I first came to know Buddy in 1968 and 1970 when I taught at Joseph Howe School in the north end of the City of Halifax. Those were very challenging days here in Halifax and Buddy Daye did work in those days which to his credit as all of his work was to his credit, ensured that we here in this capital city of ours, were able to establish a clear path for improving the relationships between majority and minority in this city. Buddy Daye will long be remembered for that unselfish work which he undertook at that time, which was part and parcel of his life work, to improve the lot of all people, irrespective of colour, creed or any other distinction which may arise between us.

[9:45 p.m.]

I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate my colleague, Mr. Chisholm, who on the weekend was elected the Leader of the New Democratic Party. Although he has been in this place only a short time, he has proven himself an able member and we welcome him. We say to him that we wish him the very best of success but that we do not wish him too great success with respect to the polls when all of us are seeking our fortunes there. It also gives me an opportunity to express my personal thanks and extend the understanding of my admiration for John Holm, who, like Terry Donahoe with our own Party during that period between Leaders, provided good, solid leadership for the New Democratic Party. John, as always, has proven himself to be a very effective member in this place.

This also is a time when we can think of the new council, to which I referred just a few moments ago. I should advise the House that Christopher Clarke, who is known to many here in this place, was the person chosen to succeed Mayor Lane, in this case, as the mayor

[Page 117]

of the new regional municipality. I want to wish my personal best to Mayor Clarke as he undertakes his new duties today.

We had just a few short days ago a Speech from the Throne, which it would seem had the capacity for inducing somnolence in this Chamber, or at least inducing on the part of one of us a somnolent posture. I would suggest that that was not a mistake but rather, in fact, was part of the plan, for it is very clear that the intention of this government is to endeavour to sleepwalk their way through this session of the Legislature: to have it quiet, to have it sleepy, to have it lacking in notoriety; as they had stated with all other sessions in which they have been the government in this place, to move through in a number of short weeks and have an uncontroversial session. Well, we have already seen the wheels fall off their wagon. We have already seen them derail their own agenda.

The Speech from the Throne was long on promises but it was very, very short on action. We left this Chamber in January and when we left this Chamber there was a problem in Yarmouth with respect to the MV Bluenose. We were told at that time by the government not to worry, that the government was working assiduously on behalf of the people of southwestern Nova Scotia and indeed all Nova Scotians, endeavouring to find a new operator which would have the MV Bluenose up and running again between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor. I was in Yarmouth last week and the MV Bluenose was up but it wasn't running. It was up and tied fast to the dock on the Yarmouth waterfront and the only activity was putting down new carpeting. So much for that promise to the people of Yarmouth and the people of southwestern Nova Scotia with respect to the MV Bluenose service.

Why was it that this government was so hesitant to criticize the Government of Canada with respect to its decision through Marine Atlantic to withdraw the subsidy from MV Bluenose? Well, we now know why that was: because this government is considering the very same kind of subsidy withdrawal from the Scotia Prince, the other vessel that sails from Yarmouth to Portland. No wonder they were so reluctant to chide the federal government for withdrawing subsidies. We now know that it was because they are preparing to do exactly the same thing with respect to the Scotia Prince; so a second blow to Yarmouth from this Liberal Government, a government which doesn't care.

Madam Speaker, when we left this place we were debating the very difficult times into which the Devco coal miners were moving. We were told not to worry, that this government did not have to worry about the future of those Devco miners. The reason it did not have to worry about the future of those Devco miners wasn't because they weren't going to lose their jobs, it was because Devco was a federal responsibility. Well, when the jobs of men and women in Nova Scotia are in jeopardy, it is everyone's responsibility. It is this government's responsibility. Yet what do we find when this House reconvenes? Do we find those 800 jobs saved? Do we find 400 of them saved? No, we find a new downsizing for Devco and we find that the entire industry would appear to be in jeopardy. So much for this government and its rhetoric and its promises.

Madam Speaker, when we left this place we were used to hearing platitudes from the minister responsible for Sydney Steel, telling us how good things were at Sysco. And what happens? Within 24 hours of this place coming into session again, we find that Sysco is put in jeopardy because of a bad deal engineered by this government with those who have purchased rails in China from this company, a company which is now largely owned and managed by the Chinese. Isn't it interesting how this whole story is unfolding?

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Madam Speaker, the problems that faced Nova Scotians when we left here in January still face Nova Scotians when we come back here at the end of March. I fear - and I am sorry that I have to say this - that those selfsame problems will continue to plague Nova Scotians so long as this government fools itself into thinking that all is right with their world and that their world does not have any kind of relationship to the world which is moulded and created by their friends, the Liberal Government in Ottawa.

Madam Speaker, again southwestern Nova Scotia is to be hit with respect to the imposition of new landing fees at Yarmouth airport. That will have an adverse impact on those people. Again we learned, in the newspaper just last week, that the people of southwestern Nova Scotia, particularly those in Shelburne County and Yarmouth County, cannot look forward to further improvements on Highway No. 103, linking up the two missing components of that highway by creating the by-pass around Barrington. It would seem that this government is absolutely intent on allowing southwestern Nova Scotia to be isolated from the rest of this province. That is simply not good enough.

Madam Speaker, my colleague the member for Cape Breton West, just a few moments ago spoke eloquently of the situation in which rural Nova Scotia finds itself. Rural Nova Scotia is being dismembered. All one need do is go through the small communities throughout this province and see that they are languishing, to see that they fear for their future.

Madam Speaker, this government likes to have photos taken at openings. We don't see them often in rural Nova Scotia because, most frequently, in rural Nova Scotia we are seeing closings, not openings. Rural Nova Scotia is suffering. The social fabric of rural Nova Scotia is bring ripped asunder. Nowhere is that better to be seen than through the health reform regime that this government is, in a very haphazard way, imposing upon the people of this province, and also in the so-called school board reform which will have the impact of disenfranchising the people of rural Nova Scotia in favour of those who live in larger centres.

Is it the intent of this government to cause rural Nova Scotians to have to look to the capital region of Halifax as the only possible source of future economic gain for them? Is it the intent of this government to depopulate rural Nova Scotia so that it can then shut down the last remnant of services that it leaves for us? It is a terrible conclusion, but it is one to which we more frequently find ourselves drawn.

This is further evidenced by the fiscal downloading by the province on the municipal units, a fiscal downloading which has to hurt, particularly rural Nova Scotia. We see that fiscal downloading through the imposition of tolls on Highway No. 104. We see it in justice and in policing costs. We see it in municipal social assistance. We see it and we will see it in harmonization and we, undoubtedly, will see it in other ways when the Minister of Finance brings in his budget, for all this minister is concerned about is the optics of his own bottom line. He has no concern whatsoever with respect to the bottom line of the bottom level of government in this province, that level being municipal government. He will rip and slash and cut at them in order to ensure that he, himself, gets the best press he possibly can.

Madam Speaker, this is a government which is absolutely lacking in compassion. It was no accident that at the Liberal nomination in Halifax Fairview, the object of everyone's affection was the Wizard of Oz. This government, like the Tin Man, has no heart. This government, like the Cowardly Lion, runs in the face of any kind of assault that the Liberal Government of Canada makes in Nova Scotia. When one looks at the way in which this government endeavours to implement reform, one understands that this government is as brainless with respect to its implementation as is, indeed, the Scarecrow.

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Madam Speaker, I must say that this government, which is without compassion, is a government which has presided over the loss of literally thousands of jobs in the Civil Service in this province. They will tell us, as they told us the other day with the additional appropriation, part of the $90 million that the Minister of Finance curiously wants to ensure comes out of last year's budget, not this year's budget, that those people are being looked after because there is going to be early retirement.

But, Madam Speaker, as one constituent of mine said to me just a few days ago, if there is nobody left working, who is going to pay for all of those who have retired? We have reached the point in the cutting and the slashing in our Civil Service where we reached the very dangerous, critical point, where we may have no corporate memory, where there are not enough people who have been around for long enough that they have that long-term memory which should be available to assist any government of the day in making sound decisions on the basis of understanding what has happened before.

We have seen this, not only in the government sector, we have also seen it in the private sector, so it is not peculiar to government. But this government seems so determined to replicate the private sector through downsizings, that it is going to suffer, I believe, the same kind of corporate insomnia, the same kind of lack of corporate memory that we have seen there.

Madam Speaker, we only have a few moments left tonight and I do have a few more remarks to make and it being late, I move adjournment of the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, following Question Period, we will be debating Resolution No. 34. It will be on the order paper tomorrow. That is the resolution introduced on Friday by the Minister of Finance and, depending on the success with that resolution, if we have further business, it will be debate on Bill No. 1, the Interprovincial Subpoena Act.

I move that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. The hours will be 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.

[The House rose at 10:00 p.m.]