The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard - Tue., Apr. 2, 1996

Fourth Session

TUESDAY, APRIL 2, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 8, Court and Administrative Reform Act, Hon. W. Gillis 121
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 56, Women - Recognition Dinner: YWCA Award Winners (1996) -
Recognize, Hon. E. Norrie 122
Vote - Affirmative 122
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 9, Meat Inspection Act, Hon. W. Gaudet 122
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 57, Environ. - Stellarton: Strip Mine - Permit Hold, Dr. J. Hamm 123
Res. 58, Health - Home Care Prog.: Private Profit - Reject,
Mr. R. Chisholm 123
Res. 59, North Dartmouth - Community Centre (Highland Park): Opening -
Congrats., Dr. J. Hamm 124
Vote - Affirmative 124
Res. 60, Gov't. (Canada) - Cutbacks: Premier - Representation Failure,
Mr. G. Moody 124
Res. 61, NDP - Leadership: Process - Open, Mr. Manning MacDonald 125
Res. 62, Justice - Crown Prosecutors: Conditions - Enhance,
Mr. T. Donahoe 125
Res. 63, Gov't. (N.S.) - Commitments: Broken - View, Mr. J. Holm 126
Res. 64, Human Res. - Public Service: Rollback Exemption -
Commitment Honour, Mr. G. Archibald 126
Res. 65, Health - C.B. Reg. Hosp.: Suicide Victims - Review Release,
Mr. A. MacLeod 127
Res. 66, Sports - Softball (Nfld. Hall of Fame): Fred Jackson (Sydney) -
Induction Congrats., Mr. Manning MacDonald 127
Vote - Affirmative 128
Res. 67, Queens Reg. Mun. - Responsibilities: Assumption -
Best Wishes Extend, Mr. J. Leefe 128
Vote - Affirmative 128
Res. 68, ERA - IMP Plant (C.B.): Abscond - Revolt Lead, Mr. R. Chisholm 128
Res. 69, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Policy: Prosperity - Support,
Mr. B. Taylor 129
Res. 70, Fin. - Taxation: PST & GST Harmonization - Proposals Reveal,
Mr. R. Russell 129
Res. 71, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 104 Extension: Debt Costs -
Transfer, Mr. J. Holm 130
Res. 72, Educ. - Pictou Co.: Yvonne MacKenzie (School Bus Driver) -
Driving Skills Appreciated, Mr. D. McInnes 130
Vote - Affirmative 131
Res. 73, Fin. - Inverness: Taxation Downloading - Explain,
Mr. G. Archibald 131
Res. 74, Gov't. (N.S.) - Patronage: Special - Cease, Mr. J. Leefe 132
Res. 75, Fin. - Mun.: Taxation Downloading - Services Eroded,
Mr. G. Moody 132
Res. 76, Devco - Coal Study: Funding Lacking - Explain,
Mr. A. MacLeod 132
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1, Sysco - Chinese Rails: Contract - Safeguards, Dr. J. Hamm 133
No. 2, Health: VON - Strike, Mr. R. Chisholm 135
No. 3, Fin. - Taxation: PST & GST - Harmonization, Dr. J. Hamm 136
No. 4, Health - Home Care: Privatization - Tenders, Mr. G. Moody 137
No. 5, Environ.: Resource Recovery Fund - Costs, Mr. J. Leefe 139
No. 6, Environ.: Resource Recovery Fund - Mini-sip Deposit,
Mr. R. Russell 141
No. 7, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 104 Western Align. Corp.:
Director (Mr. L. Rankin) - Remuneration, Mr. J. Holm 142
No. 8, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: Returns - Accounting,
Mr. T. Donahoe 143
No. 9, Environ.: Resource Recovery Fund - Recycling Contract,
Mr. B. Taylor 145
No. 10, ERA - IMP Plant (C.B.): Closure - Employees Meet,
Mr. A. MacLeod 146
No. 11, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: Bags - Cost, Mr. J. Leefe 147
No. 12, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: Recycling - Details,
Mr. G. Archibald 149
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 34, Fin. - Expenditure Add.: Justice (Victims Abuse
Compensation) - Approval, Hon. B. Boudreau 151
Hon. B. Boudreau 157
Mr. R. Russell 160
Mr. J. Holm 166
Mr. T. Donahoe 170
Adjourned debate 181
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Highway No. 104 Extension - Disclosure:
Mr. J. Holm 181
Hon. G. Brown 183
Mr. G. Archibald 186
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 3rd at 2:00 p.m. 187
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 77, Educ. - Schools: Hfx. (Mainland North) -
Overcrowding Facilitator (Hfx. Bedford Basin MLA), Mr. G. Fogarty 188

[Page 121]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 2, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Paul MacEwan

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will call the House to order at this time to commence the daily agenda. Before we begin, are there any introductions of guests? If not, we will commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 8 - Entitled an Act Respecting Court Reform and Administrative Reform. (Hon. William Gillis)

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

Before we have further introductions of bills, the Honourable Minister of Natural Resources has quite correctly drawn to my attention the fact that I neglected to call out Government Notices of Motion.

121

[Page 122]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources. (Applause)

RESOLUTION NO. 56

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, as Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, I have a notice here.

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

Whereas on April 1st, the YWCA held its annual Women's Recognition Dinner to honour the outstanding contributions of women in volunteer organizations in our community; and

Whereas without the great contributions of personal time and efforts by these women and countless other volunteers, all over our province, our community life would greatly suffer;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the outstanding contributions of the 14 winners of the 1996 Women's Recognition Awards. I have the list here: Elizabeth Butt, Barbara Henderson and Patricia Pitt put forward by the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre; Jean Dick and Bernice McLaughlin, put forward by the Beechville Baptist Church Ladies' Auxiliary; and the Young Woman of Distinction Award that was sponsored by the CIBC is Mylene DiPenta; Cassandra Dorrington, from Veith House; Marjorie Hickey, from HMCS Scotian; Debra Larter, from the Canadian Liver Foundation; Sheila Lucas-Cole, the Black Educators' Association of Nova Scotia; Carol MacLennan-Young, from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia; Frances Mills-Clements, Women's Institute of African United Baptist Association; Kimberly Mundle, the Red Cross Society; and Ginny Phillips, the Abilities Foundation of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request that notice be waived and the motion be carried without debate.

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 9 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Inspection and Sale of Meat and Meat Products. (Hon. Wayne Gaudet)

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

[Page 123]

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 57

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

Whereas the Minister of the Environment has given the go-ahead for the Stellarton pit mine and over 40 homes in the immediate vicinity have been impacted by the presence of the mine; and

Whereas just by the presence of the mine, the worth of all Stellarton homes has been devalued and the tax base of the Town of Stellarton seriously eroded by the loss of the municipal taxes received on these homes; and

Whereas this is not like an expropriation to build a road but rather a private company, Pioneer Coal, is benefitting from the forced sale of people's homes;

Therefore be it resolved that the permit for the mine be put on hold until Pioneer Coal compensates the Town of Stellarton for the loss of the tax base when the homes come down and properly compensates homeowners on Foster Avenue and in Evansville who are severely impacted by this private enterprise.

MR. SPEAKER: Do I hear a request that noticed be waived?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 58

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

Whereas the Minister of Health has stated on numerous occasions that he does not support the proliferation of private health care clinics in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas a request for proposals for the provision of non-professional home support services required by Home Care Nova Scotia closed on March 20, 1996, and of the nine companies who have submitted a proposal for the provision of these services, only one is a not-for-profit company; and

Whereas ads are running in Nova Scotia newspapers urging Nova Scotians to enter the rapidly expanding private health care market by purchasing franchises in this new business sector;

[Page 124]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health show some consistency in rejecting the proliferation of private for-profit health care by making a commitment that there is no room in the Home Care Nova Scotia program for private profit.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 59

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

Whereas the community of North Dartmouth has finally realized a dream of some 10 years in the making; and

Whereas the opening of the new multi-purpose centre in Highfield Park offers not only the immediate community but all residents a chance to access the centre's library, computer training room, senior area, activity rooms and a range of services; and

Whereas while the project was made possible through funding from the three government levels, the real impetus came from the drive of the community, wishing to enhance their area and to bring these essential services closer to their families and their neighbours;

Therefore be it resolved that the community of North Dartmouth be congratulated for its perseverance in achieving the goal of its own community centre.

I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 60

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

Whereas as of April 1st funding for health care, post-secondary education and welfare will have to be paid for by the province from one single fund of money which will shrink each year, under the Canada Health and Social Transfer scheme; and

Whereas Nova Scotia will now decide what services to cover under Medicare and if private for-profit companies can provide these services; and

[Page 125]

Whereas a university education will become impossible for the poor and unemployed;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier explain to Nova Scotians why he failed to make forceful representation to Ottawa on the EH-101 helicopters, the Cornwallis Base, the MV Bluenose, Devco, UI reform and now the Canada Health and Social Transfer and the devastating impact these measures will have and will continue to have on Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 61

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

Whereas a paltry 250 delegates attended the NDP leadership contest this weekend in Dartmouth as part of a one-sided contest, marred by charges from one candidate that the NDP is full of racist, sexist and elitist attitudes; and

Whereas the NDP's delegate selection process was an exercise in elitism because most rank and file members were denied the opportunity to directly cast a vote for the leadership candidate of their choice; and

Whereas the anti-democratic nature of the NDP leadership process sharply contrasts with the open system of leadership selection adopted by the Liberal Party in the choice of our current Premier;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP open up its leadership selection process with the promise that all members, regardless of income or location, may participate so they may generate a little more interest and perhaps cling to Party status after the next general election.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 62

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

Whereas courtrooms across Nova Scotia are facing the prospect of being shut down as a result of a walkout by Crown Prosecutors; and

Whereas a 1994 report submitted to the Minister of Justice concluded that the heavy workload, coupled with difficult working conditions and the lack of staff, together with low salaries, have demoralized the Public Prosecutions service; and

[Page 126]

Whereas the President of the Nova Scotia Provincial Government Lawyers' Association said over the weekend that people with an important and crucial role in justice cannot even get basic justice for themselves;

Therefore be it resolved that before the delivery of justice in Nova Scotia is paralyzed this spring, the Minister of Justice take recommendations to Cabinet which will see working conditions greatly enhanced for Nova Scotia's Crown Prosecutors.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 63

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

Whereas our sleeping giant awoke last evening to huff and puff against his government's critics during his Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, in a desperate attempt to deflect attention away from his government's failed and broken promises; and

Whereas the Premier said he has no plans to go to the polls this year which is, given his record, a sure indication that is their hope; and

Whereas the Premier's new-found energy has a lot to do with Liberal Party polls and electioneering, in an attempt to gloss over their failed job creation strategy, decimation of our health and education systems and assault upon the workers of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges Nova Scotians to view this Liberal Government's self back-slapping and huffing and puffing, in the context of its broken commitments and lack of intestinal fortitude to stand up for Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 64

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 province applied its wage roll-back to many Nova Scotian public servants earning less than $25,000 annually; and

[2:15 p.m.]

Whereas this breaks the commitment and a promise to exempt those public servants earning less than $25,000 from the wage roll-back; and

Whereas the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia ruled this action violated the Public Service Compensation Act;

[Page 127]

Therefore be it resolved that the government honour its commitment to exempt public servants earning less than $25,000 from the wage roll-back.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 65

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 families of suicide victims Ronnie White and Marion Godin have experienced tremendous hardships since the loss of their loved ones; and

Whereas these families have yet to receive full answers to their questions on the role played by the Cape Breton Regional Hospital; and

Whereas the Cape Breton Regional Council has passed a resolution calling for the release of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital's internal review of these suicides;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health direct the Cape Breton Regional Hospital to immediately release its internal review to the families, giving them the answers that they need to begin their healing process.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear some Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 66

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

Whereas Sydney resident and Cape Breton Post Managing Editor, Fred Jackson. will be inducted into the Newfoundland Softball Hall of Fame, during induction ceremonies scheduled this May in Saint John's; and

Whereas Mr. Jackson has made an outstanding contribution to coaching in every minor and junior softball category, both men's and women's, from squirt to junior; and

Jackson's accolades include 23 Newfoundland provincial championships, nine Canadian championships, as well as being named Softball Canada's Coach of the Year, for all levels of softball in the country;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Fred Jackson on his induction to the Newfoundland Softball Hall of Fame.

[Page 128]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 67

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

Whereas yesterday marked the beginning of a new municipal relationship in Queens; and

Whereas this partnership involves the merging of the Town of Liverpool and the Municipality of Queens into a single regional municipal unit, namely the Regional Municipality of Queens; and

Whereas Mayor Christopher Clarke and the nine members of Council were officially sworn into their new roles in an impressive ceremony at Liverpool yesterday, on April 1, 1996;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature extend best wishes to all members of the new Queens Regional Municipality as they undertake to provide responsible regional government to the residents of Queens.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 68

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

Whereas IMP is once again thumbing its nose at Cape Bretoners, its loyal workers and its government patrons, by announcing plans to move its manufacturing facility out of the North Sydney-Sydney Mines Industrial Park; and

[Page 129]

Whereas the provincial government helped IMP take over the plant in 1992 and continues to be a major shareholder in IMP; and

Whereas in the Speech from the Throne, this government promised to place special emphasis on the economic development of high unemployment areas like Cape Breton.

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to lead a shareholder revolt on behalf of all Nova Scotians against IMP's high-handed management and its plans to abscond with heavily subsidized manufacturing equipment that was intended to benefit Cape Breton workers.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to waive notice on that.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable that the notice be waived?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 69

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 in responding to the Chrétien Government's initial, yet ill-received proposal on marine user fees said, "the Province of Nova Scotia would run the risk of losing every advantage we have to make Halifax the gateway to North America."; and

Whereas the Minister of Transportation is blind to his own inconsistency when he speaks against user fees at the Port of Halifax, but in turn supports them on Highway No. 104; and

Whereas the tolling of Highway No. 104 will, like the original port fee proposal, chase away prospective businesses and jobs from Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation recognize his hypocrisy and demonstrate some consistency by establishing a transportation policy that supports, rather than impedes, Nova Scotia's economic prosperity.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 70

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

[Page 130]

Whereas the Premier continues to perform enthusiastically as the federal Liberal Government's lead cheerleader; and

Whereas the Premier is always last to defend the interests of Nova Scotians in Ottawa, but the first in line to help their federal Liberal friends when they are in a bind; and

Whereas without any consultation or public scrutiny, the harmonization of the PST and the GST is a done deal as far as the Premier is concerned;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government stop wheeling and dealing behind closed doors on a new blended sales tax with their pals in Ottawa, and share with all Nova Scotians the proposals that are on the table.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 71

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

Whereas since the Minister of Transportation and Public Works said the Highway No. 104 extension would cost between $130 million and $140 million if built by government instead of the $112 million if built by private for profit partners, Nova Scotians are expected to believe him; and

Whereas the minister and his Premier have made numerous statements about the Highway No. 104 extension which have almost all been shown to be inaccurate; and

Whereas the reality is, this section of highway could be constructed at a lower cost by the minister's own experienced department if it were permitted to proceed on the same terms and time-frames as their private partners, who will be guaranteed handsome profits as was done when Nova Scotia Power was sold by the Tories and due to higher borrowing costs their private partners will have to pay;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges Nova Scotians to see this proposal for what it is, a sinister attempt to hide, at increased, long-term costs to all Nova Scotians, the debt costs for the Highway No. 104 extension on to the books of someone else instead of their own in a phony attempt to show a balanced budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 72

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

[Page 131]

Whereas Yvonne MacKenzie, a bus driver at the West Pictou District High School, a Pictou County driver with 17 years of experience, brought every moment of that experience to bear last month when a truckload of logs came loose and rocketed like spears toward her and the students riding on her school bus; and

Whereas her good driving instinct to immediately brake and pull to the side of the road as quickly as possible may have prevented a major tragedy; and

Whereas we wish speedy recovery to the one student on the bus who was injured and give thanks the other students on the bus were not hurt;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend our appreciation and heartfelt thanks to Pictou County school bus driver, Yvonne MacKenzie, for her dedication, good sense and excellent driving skills.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 73

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 Warden for the Municipality of Inverness recently expressed concern over an additional $330,000 in extra costs being imposed upon the municipality; and

Whereas the warden also said that if the municipal building was closed and all employees laid off, they would still be unable to meet the financial commitments being imposed upon them by this provincial government; and

Whereas the Warden of Inverness said businesses are having trouble paying their taxes at the present time and any increases will only force them to close;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Minister of Finance, who say they are committed to job creation and no new taxes, explain to the Warden of Inverness how additional downloading will improve the prospects for attracting jobs and businesses to their municipality.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

[Page 132]

RESOLUTION NO. 74

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

Whereas thousands of Nova Scotians desperately look each day for the jobs promised by the Liberals in 1993; and

Whereas the job search ended quickly for Colleen MacDonald, Ralph Fiske, Elwin MacNeil, John Morash, Dan Reid, Heather Robertson, Dr. Mike Murphy and other prominent Liberals of influence; and

Whereas jobless Nova Scotians look to the Liberal policy of good jobs for good Liberals with derision, contempt and deepening cynicism;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage Liberals cease rewarding its special friends and instead focus on the needs of the tens of thousands of Nova Scotians whom it has abandoned.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 75

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

Whereas Middleton Town Council was recently informed by their finance committee the town was headed towards at least a $30,000 deficit this year; and

Whereas Councillor Brian Neville said the deficit is the result of both the federal and provincial governments pushing additional responsibility onto the shoulders of municipal units; and

Whereas concern has even been expressed by Middleton Town Council that they will not be able to carry the debt if it should double to $60,000;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government recognize that additional downloading onto the municipalities just transfers the tax burden from the provincial to the municipal taxpayer, resulting in fewer jobs, the erosion of services and higher property taxes.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 76

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

[Page 133]

Whereas this government spent $2.2 million to remove and then replace eight deputy ministers; and

Whereas even though their combined service with the province amounted to less than four years, our cash-strapped government had no problem or hesitation in coming up with another $250,000 to buy them off or let them retire in comfort; and

Whereas Cape Breton coal miners have been waiting almost two months for the Premier to respond to their request for $70,000 to examine ways to help secure Cape Breton's coal industry;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government immediately explain why it has hundreds of thousands of dollars to fire, replace and retire deputy ministers but it can't seem to come up with $70,000 to help secure the thousands of Cape Breton direct and indirect jobs dependent on the Cape Breton coal industry.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

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

I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 o'clock this afternoon. The winner today is the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, who has submitted a motion for debate:

Therefore be it resolved that the government stop playing shell games with the Highway No. 104 extension project and come clean with Nova Scotians instead.

So, we will hear discussion of that matter at 6:00 o'clock this afternoon.

Now, the Oral Question Period today lasts for an hour. The time now being, we will say, 2:29 p.m., we will run it until 3:29 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

SYSCO - CHINESE RAILS: CONTRACT - SAFEGUARDS

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Premier is well aware that in my former capacity as critic for Sysco, I had opportunity to become familiar with that company. I did learn that Sysco can provide rails for CN, which I understand is the most demanding purchaser of rails, certainly in the country and perhaps in the world. In other words, Sysco can supply rails satisfactorily for any railway in the world. When Sysco signs contracts, obviously, it puts in safeguards to protect itself from the kind of unsubstantiated allegations that are now being made by the Chinese railway in their attempts to win back the performance bond.

[Page 134]

My question to the Premier, is the Premier perfectly satisfied that the contract that Sysco signed with the Chinese railroad had all the appropriate safeguards present in that contract to protect Sysco?

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that our lawyers went over it thoroughly. The issue was examined by our lawyers, their lawyers for over a week, in fact held up the signing of it. We were reasonably satisfied that all of the conditions that we sought were met.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has indicated that he is reasonably satisfied with the contract. I have learned through some questions that normally when Sysco is producing a large rail order, there is provision within the contract under which those rails are being manufactured, that the purchaser provides on-site inspection, both during the production of the rail and there will be a stamp of approval by the purchaser before the rails are shipped.

[2:30 p.m.]

My question to the Premier, why was this procedure not followed and not a part of the contract that Sysco signed with the Chinese railroad, allowing rails to be shipped from Sydney, which were not approved by a Chinese inspector?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the detail required of this is going to be obtained from the minister, an excellent minister who is in charge of Sysco. I give you the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Bernard Boudreau.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Thank you, Mr. Premier. I think the commercial transactions, as I am sure the honourable Leader of the Opposition is aware, are handled by the senior management of Sysco. They have done an effective job over the years and we ask them to continue to do that effective job.

Specifically with respect to inspections, there are some rail companies that do inspect on-site before rails go out of the plant and there are others that do not. CN is one of them that does but there are many rail orders that do not.

In point of fact, any obligations which may arise under the type of contention that the Chinese are making, would continue and exist whether or not an inspection had been done at the plant - that would have nothing to do with any potential liability - and, in fact, routine inspections of the type conducted even by CN would not have revealed the alleged complaint of our customer.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I hope the minister will shortly be able to table some of the allegations being made because they are certainly not readily available to the public and certainly not to this Opposition.

Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier, it is the normal procedure for a company shipping offshore to insist that the performance bond hearing will occur either in the country of origin or in a neutral country. Why in this contract did Sysco sign a contract agreeing to an arbitration process on the performance bond which will be held in Beijing, a process that will almost be destined to be disadvantageous to Sysco?

[Page 135]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, once again obviously this question is better answered by the Minister in charge of Sysco.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, judgments on the appropriateness of contracts are made by senior management at Sysco and we have confidence that they do a good job at that. Arbitration provisions can exist in various contracts and differ from contract to contract. Quite often, I might suggest, and I am guessing at this to some extent, but quite often a potential purchaser is in a reasonably strong position to indicate where arbitration will take place with respect to any given order.

In any event, this commercial dispute which has arisen between Sysco and one of its customers is an important dispute and it is one of great concern to us but it is not one, I think, that can usefully be debated in the House of Assembly.

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

HEALTH: VON - STRIKE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Health. You and many Nova Scotians are undoubtedly aware that 38 nurses employed by the Victorian Order of Nurses here in Halifax are currently out on strike, primarily as a result of the negotiations having broken down but primarily as a result of pressures faced by the VON as a result of the uncertainty, because of the failure of the Minister of Health and his department to clearly outline how in-home nursing services are going to be provided once the VON contract expired on March 31st. That pressure, clearly, is as a result of VON being forced to position themselves to compete with for-profit American style agencies. They are doing so because the province has clearly indicated that they are planning to tender out these services. My question to the Minister of Health is could he, in fact, explain to Nova Scotians, and in particular those in Halifax and Halifax County, why this obvious disruption in in-home nursing services could in any way be called maintaining, ". . . the tried and proven service deliverers in the . . .", Province of Nova Scotia, as he is reported to have said in the newspaper this morning?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, we - and I represent my ministry as well as the government - are distressed by this labour dispute that has erupted here in terms of home care. Both those who are on strike and the agency itself have been long-time partners in the reform process and have done yeoman service for the good of the citizens not only in Halifax but across the province.

For me, as minister, to inject myself into a labour dispute as is suggested by the honourable member's question is not warranted and is not proper. I would suffice to say that we have been having, I believe, productive ongoing discussions with VON to an extension of contract. We certainly would anticipate that and I would again say that it is most untoward that I would make comment on a labour action which really should be between the agency and their workers.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let's not forget here that we are talking about maintaining that seamless continuum of care that the minister promised to Nova Scotians back last year.

[Page 136]

As the minister stands here and tells us that he cannot intervene in a labour dispute, we had confirmed this morning from his department that the government extended the contract with the VON through a letter of understanding on March 29th, after the dispute had begun, after negotiations had broken down, where they were able to have those services provided by another company. I would like to ask the minister if he could explain to members of this House why, instead of facilitating a resolve of the dispute between the VON and their nurses, he and his department would have made matters worse by allowing them to contract out services to another service provider, a service provider that has not the same staff that can provide services at the same level?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the department has had ongoing discussions with the VON agency for some time. We were assured that they would continue, that the contract could be renewed in a very proper way. We agreed with this and we are, of course, hoping that things will be resolved and we can continue in that light.

I would say that it is most untoward that a minister of government would facilitate, as the honourable member opposite puts it, which is really interfere, would facilitate or interfere in contract negotiations or any issue that would in any way disturb the workers or their agency.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let's not forget that this government interfered in labour negotiations and labour contracts, has done so ever since they formed government back in the spring of 1993. This government, this minister has been responsible, in fact, for ensuring that that seamless continuum of care would be in place. We all knew that that contract ended on March 31, 1993. The VON has a reputation developed over a hundred years of providing a high-quality, dependable service. Instead, now, as a result of a low wage, cheap labour strategy being followed by this government, that service is in jeopardy. I would ask the minister if he would not agree here in this House today to stop moving forward on that strategy and to guarantee that profits will not be made on the backs of Nova Scotians requiring in-home nursing services in the Province of Nova Scotia?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the honourable gentleman opposite pays proper tribute to the Victorian Order of Nurses which for over 100 years has provided service to the province and elsewhere in the world, in fact. We certainly would support that in a real sense. For him to tie this to his rhetoric, in terms of interference and the proposals that are on the table with respect to the provision of home care, is not only unfair, but entirely inaccurate. I would repeat that, no, no one would ever suggest for a minute that costs, and costs alone, would in any way influence totally the provision of service in health care. It will be quality that we must focus on and standards, and I would agree with that and have, I think, been supportive of that from day one.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - TAXATION: PST & GST - HARMONIZATION

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again, a question for the Premier. In recent days the Premier and his Minister of Education have spoken with great enthusiasm, embracing the harmonization of the collection of the PST and the GST and have spoken, again with enthusiasm, about perhaps being the first province to engage in a contract with the federal government. My question to the Premier, would the Premier indicate the state of those negotiations and how close the Premier is in signing an agreement with Ottawa to initiate harmonized tax collection here in Nova Scotia?

[Page 137]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would point out gently and without any aside that I discuss matters of finance with the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Education would not be my favourite advisor on money at times. I wish he were here to hear it.

How close are we? (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, would you like to ask them if they want the answer? The answer is that we are still negotiating; we have signed nothing. I need hardly tell you that this province will not sign anything that is not a win-win situation for the people of this province. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the Premier for a slip of the tongue, but the Premier was quick to pick up on my mistake and I acknowledge his correction.

The Premier has, indeed, spoken with great enthusiasm about harmonizing tax collection in this province, as has his Minister of Finance. My question to the Premier, specifically, is when the Premier speaks with such great enthusiasm, bearing in mind we have no idea how broad the base will be when the tax is harmonized, is the Premier including such things as an additional tax on furnace oil, an additional tax on children's clothing, an additional tax on clothing items of less than $100 when he speaks with enthusiasm about a harmonized tax collection in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the question from the Leader of the Opposition focuses in on details that we have not yet signed or agreed on, so the issue of what we do is not arrived at. I repeat that the people of this province want us to get a win-win situation, a situation that will reduce the tax burden for the people in Nova Scotia and will also generate new jobs. That is what we are at and we are delighted to say that we will continue these negotiations until we get that.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I take it from the Premier's answer, then, that he speaks with enthusiasm on a subject with which he still does not have full understanding. My question, by way of final supplementary to the Premier, when the Premier speaks with enthusiasm for a harmonized tax collection in Nova Scotia, is he speaking in favour of taxing business services, legal and accounting and other, the very taxes which were tried in this province and abandoned one year ago after a trial of approximately one year? Is that the kind of taxes we are talking about when you are talking about a harmonized tax collection in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have said twice now that we will not discuss the details of this because we have not signed any details. There is a lot of discussion to take place. There are a lot of interests that have to be protected, particularly those of low income Nova Scotians, and I can assure you that we will protect those and we will not sign unless we have a win-win situation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - HOME CARE: PRIVATIZATION - TENDERS

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister of Health. When the Minister of Health announced a couple of years ago that we were having a reduction in hospital beds, he talked about expanded home care. He said that the service would be of excellent quality, second to none across the country, and the example he used was the kind of quality of service provided by the VON. We all know that the VON have excellent standards. We know that they keep their employees' training up-to-date. Now, my question for the Minister of Health is, is it the intention of the minister to put the nursing component of home care out for privatization and will tenders be put out by his department or by the regional health boards?

[2:45 p.m.]

[Page 138]

HON. RONALD STEWART: Again, Mr. Speaker, as following the Blueprint's comments, the home care and home nursing services would be tendered and an RFP has gone out in that regard and we will continue along the path that had been recommended and, in fact, suggested by the Blueprint.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I don't think that they recommended profit groups. I would ask in my first supplementary, if we end up with tenders by the regional health board for home care, will this be limited to non-profit groups or will companies for profit be eligible to bid, like in the United States? Is it going to be restricted to non-profit groups or are we going to have companies for profit - like in the U.S. - bid on these tenders and be awarded these tenders?

DR. STEWART: Again, Mr. Speaker, the actual provisions of the contracts and so on are being worked on at the moment but I would suggest that if we put out a tender, there could be requirements of any nature as long as they focus particularly and centrally on quality of service. That is what we are speaking of. When we talk about issues such as home care, indeed the honourable gentleman opposite pays proper tribute to the VON standards. That is why we had, in inheriting the VON contracts from the previous administration, been very pleased to continue those. We, in fact, made no change in the provision of nursing services in that regard or, in fact, for home support services. So any number of permutations could be included in the requirements for contract and contract bidding and we are in the developmental phase of those.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is, the VON strike that we have in metro seems to be caused by the spectre of privatization. In other words, the VON have been locked out because of policies by this minister's department and by himself. We have no other area in the province where the VON or anybody else is rolling back salaries. The minister indicates that, yes, he agrees that the VON have excellent standards. We all agree. Nova Scotians have learned to trust and respect the VON. This has been done for over 100 years.

I would ask the minister, if that is the case, why is he jeopardizing the kind of quality of home care we are having by now allowing profit groups to get involved in providing home care to Nova Scotians? Will the minister assure all Nova Scotians that the VON will continue -as they have done in the past 100 years - to provide that quality home care that they have been used to and can be assured of and guaranteed, to know that when they call for home care that they will be getting the kind of service that the VON has given them in the past. Will he give that assurance?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see the honourable member opposite giving due regard and due testimony to the value of the standards of the VON. Absolutely, and we would hope and we would know that the Victorian Order of Nurses would be extremely competitive in any bidding because they have a central core of quality to which we have, in fact, pledged ourselves. The fact is, as the honourable gentleman opposite knows, that the privatization, as he calls it, occurs in long-term care. This honourable member opposite was in charge of health services in Nova Scotia not so long ago and the private sector is

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involved in almost every aspect of our health care system. Did he remove that? (Interruption) Did he remove that? No. Did he remove the privatization . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Please, honourable member for Kings West. Let the minister give his answer.

DR. STEWART: Did he remove the private nursing that was being done around the province under his tenure or the private services that were provided in home support? No, he did not. We are saying that we need, however, standards and standards were not a factor and they did not occur to the honourable gentleman opposite when he was in charge, to provide standards across the province for in-home support services or, in fact, for nursing services. It so happens we depend very largely on the VON, as the structure is now put in place, and we will continue to hope for their participation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

ENVIRON.: RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND - COSTS

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of the Environment. The Resource Recovery Fund is up and stumbling. The Resource Recovery Fund guarantees a 5 cent return to any consumer who can get to an enviro-depot. The Resource Recovery Fund guarantees a 2.5 cent return to the enviro-depot. All other costs for operating the system must therefore come out of the final 2.5 cents. My question to the minister is this. If costs exceed the Resource Recovery Fund's 2.5 cents, how will the shortfall be made up?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: The correct answer to the question, Mr. Speaker, is very obvious, that it is a hypothetical question and I don't think we should be trying to give a hypothetical answer, because he is asking, what if. In the case that we are dealing with, we are dealing with what really is.

MR. LEEFE: Clearly, Mr. Speaker, this is a minister who doesn't understand that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Clearly, the Resource Recovery Fund and the government are assuming something less than a 100 per cent return. Everything less than a 100 per cent return becomes a windfall for the Resource Recovery Fund. Can the minister advise the House how many dollars the Resource Recovery Fund projects it will realize annually through non-returns by consumers?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the Resource Recovery Fund has made a couple of projections in terms of what they do expect to realize and it is going anywhere from $3 million to $10 million on the moderate side of the estimates.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, rural Nova Scotians are required to drive significant distances to enviro-depots in order to get their five cent return per container, 30 miles from Caledonia in my constituency, some 40 miles for people living in Ecum Secum, 50 or 55 miles for people living in Moose River Gold Mines.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is this. Is the imposition of this hardship on rural Nova Scotians, most particularly seniors and handicapped persons living in rural Nova Scotia, the sleight of hand that this government is employing to ensure a windfall profit to the Resource Recovery Fund through non-returns?

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MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the question is rather mysterious. I think there is no doubt in anybody's mind in this House and perhaps in the public at large that what this program brings about is a brand new change in lifestyle and a rather dramatic lifestyle change to Nova Scotians. But the result will be definitely a better lifestyle and a cleaner environment and an energized economy.

I hear the question coming, Mr. Speaker, from a former Minister of the Environment and I will answer the question but I have to clarify some of the rhetoric in between the question and the answer. The former government denied Nova Scotians this opportunity to a cleaner environment and a better economy and a sustained economy with the environment. They conceived the idea, and I give them credit for that, the idea was conceived but that is as far as they went. Nova Scotians were denied the opportunity because they did not have the opportunity or the courage to implement the conception that they put forward.

Mysteriously, going through some records, Mr. Speaker, we find the plan. The plan that they couldn't implement because they didn't have the courage nor the will. Dating as far back as 1987, the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia asked the Government of Nova Scotia, through both the Attorney General and the Department of Tourism, to implement (Interruption) I hear someone over there talking about a thirst tax. I am going to whet your appetite in just a few minutes.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I must point out that Beauchesne states that answers to questions should be as brief as possible. So I hope the minister will bear that in mind.

MR. ADAMS: I will be brief, Mr. Speaker, but I have to correct some little work along the way, that TIANS had asked for the implementation of a deposit return system as a measure to clean up the countryside, the roadsides of Nova Scotia, to make Nova Scotia more beautiful. The honourable Attorney General of the day wrote back to TIANS and acknowledged receipt of the letter and acknowledged his complete support for a program . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Who was that?

MR. ADAMS: That was the honourable Terence Donahoe. (Applause) His complete support for the public awareness to ". . . assist in keeping our countryside and city streets up to a level of cleanliness expected by our visitors.".

The beat goes on. There is a letter, a submission from the County of Queens.

MR. SPEAKER: I cannot allow this to continue. Please. The correspondence can be tabled but not extensive readings.

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will comply with your wish to be very short with the answer. Let me just say that the Resource Recovery Fund is indeed working with the various enviro-depots to look at terms for how they can be more accessible and more accommodating to the senior population of Nova Scotia, and that includes some polling with senior citizens. I am satisfied, after talking to members of the Resource Recovery Fund, that we will have amenable means to have our seniors accommodated.

[Page 141]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

ENVIRON.: RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND - MINI-SIP DEPOSIT

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment as well. It also deals with the Resource Recovery Fund. There is a product sold in Nova Scotia which is called mini-sips. They are like a sausage, really, in a plastic bag.

MR. SPEAKER: That is out of order, too, the tabling of exhibits, as the honourable member should full well know.

MR. RUSSELL: That is a package of 10, Mr. Speaker.

Now about a week ago the Minister of the Environment sent out a directive to all corner stores and other places that sell this product. I would just like to read a paragraph from that letter, Mr. Speaker, from the Department of the Environment. "In the case of drink pouches, . . ." - which are mini-sips - ". . . where the deposit is 50% or more of the normal retail selling price of the individual unit of product, the deposit will apply to the package as a whole, and not to the individual units within the package. In order for this interpretation to apply, no more than 10 individual units may be packaged together . . . It is important to note that the deposit on the package on mini-sips must be submitted,. . .", et cetera, when you return it.

I would like to ask the minister, in view of that directive and in view of the fact that mini-sips are sold in packages of 100, how much tax will the purchaser have to pay on that $4.50 purchase?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Well, Mr. Speaker, I do suggest that it would be less than 40 cents per bottle, or less than 25 per cent per bottle as proposed in 1992 by a former government. It is 10 cents on the bag of 10. I think that was the directive that was issued and I think mathematics by retailers is quite well done.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, obviously the minister hasn't read his own directive because what the directive says is that in packages of more than 10, you pay the full tax on each individual unit. In other words, on a $4.50 purchase of mini-sips, the poor beleaguered taxpayer is going to pay $10 on a box of mini-sips. Will the minister confirm that that is exactly what his directive says and that is the way it is being interpreted?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, we have talked to a lot of retailers and a lot of wholesalers and a lot of people in the business. That is the first explanation or understanding that I have heard in that direction. I have heard no one understand it that way but I will take it and review it. I am sure that we are not charging any kind of ridiculous figures like those in a program that we are doing to clean up our environment and to sustain our economy in the environment.

MR. RUSSELL: The minister obviously doesn't understand what he has done. In the case of these particular packages, Mr. Speaker, once you have paid your $10 deposit on the box, you have to take back each individual piece of plastic, plus the original container, plus the checkout slip showing the deposit, back to the enviro-centre where they are then going to count all these little bits of plastic and refund you 5 cents on each one. Is that the process? Would the minister reply?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, let me help the minister out by telling him that yesterday I talked to one of the depot operators. He understood that if someone brought back the empty bag, they got the refund.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWY. NO. 104 WESTERN ALIGN. CORP.:

DIRECTOR (MR. L. RANKIN) - REMUNERATION

[Page 142]

MR. JOHN HOLM: MR. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you, sir, to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I guess that is the new handle for that department.

On March 25th this government announced the firing and the golden handshake for one deputy minister and they also announced the retirement of two others. What the government and the minister didn't announce on March 25th was that on that very same day the Minister of Transportation, and then Communications, was recommending his own retiring deputy minister, Mr. Lee Rankin, for appointment by Order in Council as the sole director of the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Corporation. Because of the way that corporation was structured, of course Mr. Rankin will be able to double-dip, collecting whatever reimbursements he receives, plus pension.

My question to the minister is quite simply this, why didn't the government announce on March 25th that it was, in fact, appointing the minster's retiring deputy to be the sole director and what will the remuneration for Mr. Rankin be, as the sole director?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, if you want to check the Order in Council you will find it was made on March 28th, not March 25th. As of this date, there is no remuneration for Mr. Rankin.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister uses his words very carefully. In fact, what that Order in Council, which I have checked, says is that on the recommendation made as of March 25th, and from checking with the minister's own department, we understand that there are to be remunerations awarded in the future. My second question therefore to the minister is quite simply, was this position publicly advertised? I didn't see it; my office hasn't found it, and if there was no public competition for this position, why not?

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, the position was not publicly advertised.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, we don't know why. Well, the minister's department is laying off many workaday highway workers because of service exchange and metro amalgamation. My question to the minister is quite simply, will he ensure that those workaday highway workers, that he and his department have laid off, will also receive government jobs, just as he has done for his retiring deputy minister? In other words, those workaday Nova Scotians who were given pink slip retirements, will they get the same consideration and be provided a job courtesy of this government?

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, it is amazing that people can be associated with an issue for so long and understand so little about it. When we introduced the Western Alignment Corporation Act, we explained that it was a vehicle that would enable the agreement between

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the province and the consortium to use this vehicle, this corporation in order to get things done that had to be done set out in those agreements. Mr. Rankin has no authority other than to do what is set out in the agreements between the Province of Nova Scotia and the consortium that will build, design, maintain and operate this road. That is what this is, it is a vehicle.

I have just said that Mr. Rankin is not receiving any remuneration for this because we are not sure yet exactly how much time he would have to spend on this. We think it may mean coming into an office perhaps once a month and signing off on some documents; there may be a little more than that upfront.

It is amazing, they talk about double dipping. The member opposite who is asking the question can leave here today, go home - he almost did as a matter of fact - and draw a pension from the Nova Scotia House of Assembly and from the school board that he used to work with, but he would say that is not double dipping because the school board is not the province, it is a school board. Well this corporation is non-recourse to the Province of Nova Scotia so I guess, technically, that wouldn't be double dipping either, would it? Or as the previous administration used to do to retiring Deputy Ministers of Transportation, when Mr. Bev Hamm retired, they gave him a job, $83,000 a year.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, before I put my question, I wonder if you and colleagues would indulge me the opportunity to make an introduction of a school group that is here to view part of our proceedings this afternoon?

I am very pleased to have the opportunity to introduce to all members, seated in the west gallery, the Grade 9 class from Oxford School. They are accompanied today by Madame Arsenault, their teacher; and Emily Fougere and Sheila McDougall, parents of children in the class. I would ask them to rise and receive the usual warm welcome of all of the members of the Legislature. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

ENVIRON. - RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND: RETURNS - ACCOUNTING

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment and it has to do with the returnable drink container program undertaken as of yesterday. I wonder if the Minister of the Environment would tell this House just how it is that the returnables, which I as a private citizen, or any other private citizen, would take to these enviro-depots, are to be counted and handled? Since they can't be crushed at the enviro-depots, I wonder if the minister will tell us whether the containers are to be counted individually, by counting each individual item, so that I, as a consumer, know that I am getting the right amount of money back; or are they to be done by a weight system where they will all be weighed and some formula worked out on x number of cents per weight; or are they, perhaps, going to be determined by scanning the bar codes which are on the items being returned? Will the minister tell us what system is to be employed at the enviro-depots?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, quite simply, people take in two cans to the enviro-depot and are paid for two cans so they are counted individually and paid in the same number which had been received by the enviro-depot.

[Page 144]

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I take it, then, if that is what we do with two, that when I - as Elwood Dillman, the Chair of the Resource Recovery Fund, indicated to me the other day is going to be possible - take in my 18-wheeler full of returnables, on or about May 1st - and he told me that would be possible - that on the basis of the minister's answer, I will, as the operator of the 18-wheeler, probably have to take a sleeping bag and wait some many hours, if not overnight, while the enviro-depot counts that container-load, item can by item by can by item by can. Is that exactly the way it is going to work?

It makes eminently good sense if I bring in one or two, but it makes no sense if I bring in the container-load, which Elwood Dillman tells me I am allowed to do, and I want to know the process when the container-load is delivered?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to pretend to be the practitioner involved at the Resource Recovery Fund, but I do contend that the consumer will be reimbursed for the number of containers returned to the enviro-depot. As opposed to the 18-wheeler tractor-trailer, I am not sure that there are mechanisms in place for that at this date; in fact, I would be surprised if there was. I think there was a communication by the Resource Recovery Fund rather clearly that small amounts would be accepted in the early days, and I would challenge the reference that there is room now for 18-wheelers with hundreds of thousands of containers.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable minister can challenge all he likes, but the honourable minister is responsible for this program. The logo of the Department of the Environment appears on the PR communication documentation sent out by Resource Recovery Fund; it is the Department of the Environment's program as much as it is the Resource Recovery Fund program.

I ask the minister to tell the taxpayers of Nova Scotia today, if he can't tell me the container number, then I ask him to tell me, what is the count process and the financial transaction process when I as a consumer, or any Nova Scotian consumer, goes in with some many hundreds, as opposed to a container-load, of these returnables? What is the process to be used there to make the count and to make the financial transaction to ensure that the consumer returning these items is paid the proper amount? What is the process to be employed?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, this part of the program is no different than the proposal that his former colleagues made when they were ready to implement the program. Very simply, consumers will be paid a deposit, or the return of the deposit when they take it back to the depot.

I can't expand much more than that. If you have a nickel coming back to you on one can, I am sure you can do the multiplication or the addition if you have a dozen or two dozen cans. Mr. Speaker, I don't see the complexity in that question.

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . four or five cans would be more complex than one or two, is that what you are telling the taxpayers?

MR. ADAMS: No, I think what we are seeing, Mr. Speaker, probably to a supplementary, I think basically what we are having is the effect of a government that had the opportunity and within three years has delivered, as opposed to those who had the opportunity for 15 years and blew it.

[Page 145]

MR. SPEAKER: Please, please. All right, is there a new question?

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

ENVIRON.: RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND - RECYCLING CONTRACT

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the honourable Minister of the Environment. The minister will know that back in 1994, I believe it was in November, his department called for expressions of interest relative to setting up a tire recycling plant in this province. That list of 54 was subsequently reduced to two final proponents: a Manitoba proposal run by a Mennonite committee, and the other a Truro-based company, a local company called Atlantic Rubber Recycling.

I wonder if the minister would please describe how the Savage Government reached its decision to award the Mennonite-based, or at least the Manitoba-based Mennonite proposal, the tire recycling plant for the Province of Nova Scotia?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that we use the facts to give the public the right impression or the right understanding. We have not awarded any contract at this point in time. We have engaged the Resource Recovery Fund to negotiate with the final or the final proponents in pursuit of this resolution to the waste tire problem.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation told us that his department was going to negotiate with the Atlantic Highway Corporation too. In fact, we know full well that the Minister of the Environment announced last week that he had directed, or at least authorized, the Resource Recovery Fund the ability to negotiate with a Manitoba-based company to set up a tire recycling plant in this province. Will the minister confirm for me that a provincial inter-departmental committee made up of the Economic Renewal Agency, the Department of the Environment and the Department of Transportation reported and recommended that the Nova Scotia company be named the successful company relative to a tire recycling plant in this province?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, both companies that came down to the final strokes are Nova Scotia companies.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I believe the minister told us that both departments recommended the Nova Scotia company? Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: They were both Nova Scotia companies.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, they are not both Nova Scotia companies; one is a Manitoba-based company and the other is a Nova Scotia company.

Will the minister tell me if the provincial committee, the inter-departmental committee made up of Jerry O'Neill, Nancy Ives, Fred Terrio, Ms. Frances Martin, Mike LeBlanc, Bob Langdon and Paul Arsenault from the Department of Transportation, will the minister confirm that that committee recommended the Truro-based company, Atlantic Rubber Recycling, as the recycling company for the Province of Nova Scotia?

[Page 146]

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, again to clarify the record, both companies are Nova Scotia companies. One is called the Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Corporation and the other is the Truro-based company. The answer is yes, there was a recommendation that contained both of those companies.

MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Cape Breton West.

ERA - IMP PLANT (C.B.): CLOSURE - EMPLOYEES MEET

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. As we are all aware, as we sat in this House last November, there was a problem in the IMP plant on the Northside. I would like to ask the Premier if he will make a commitment to this House today that he will, indeed, travel to the Northside or, more specifically, the Northside Industrial Park, and meet with the employees of the IMP plant and discuss the options that are available to those employees?

[3:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will take the suggestion under advisement.

MR. MACLEOD: It always amazes me, in the Throne Speech, we had, special emphasis will be placed on areas of the province with high unemployment, but we can't get the guy to go down to Cape Breton. Maybe we should have done it by way of Cuba.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is not a guy.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, that reference is disrespectful. The honourable Premier and all members are expected to attend the House when it is in session which is five days a week here in Halifax. In any event, . . .

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my second question is to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. Could the minister tell me, and tell this House, how much of the taxpayers' dollars are currently invested in the IMP plant on the Northside?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the government, at one point, loaned IMP some funds to purchase equipment from a previous operation. That loan, those funds, have been fully repaid and so, to the best of my information, we have no funds whatsoever in the Northside operation.

MR. MACLEOD: Thank you for that answer, Mr. Speaker. My question again is to the minister. I wonder if this minister would outline to the House, to the employees of the IMP plant and to the people of Cape Breton, just exactly what is the plan to find some meaningful jobs for the people of Cape Breton? When you consider the losses that we have had there, with Devco, in the fisheries, with health care cuts, with what has gone on at IMP, and the seriousness of the problem that is now going on in Sysco and the fact that we may not even have a steel plant, would this minister stand up and tell this House what the plan is that was outlined in the Throne Speech?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I realize - and there are students behind us - that this arena is meant for . . .

MR. SPEAKER: No, they have gone now. (Interruptions)

[Page 147]

Order, please.

MR. HARRISON: Well, then to those who are in attendance and to those on the opposite side, that this adversarial arena is designed to sharpen debate and to make sure that there is substantive discussion about issues. There is no one in this House and there is no one in this province that can take any pride or any satisfaction in what is happening in Cape Breton. There are difficulties being encountered by the people of Cape Breton that are perhaps unprecedented. IMP is but one story, that is a negative story on the impact on the lives of the people of Cape Breton.

I don't want for one minute for the member opposite to attempt to engage in parliamentary debate that in any way suggests that there is any opposition in this Chamber to trying to find a solution to the problems that the people of Cape Breton face, or, for that matter, all Nova Scotians, who are in difficult situations based on employment in particular, but many other factors of human life in today's world. (Interruption)

If the gentleman opposite was aware, he would know that in Cape Breton there are plans, plans built by people, plans of economic growth, plans that are working, that continue to work, but are having a difficult time stemming the tide of the announcements about Devco which are difficult announcements, to say the least. But the gentleman opposite will know that the economic summit in Cape Breton on the industrial side and on the west side of Cape Breton, there are plans for economic growth. They are being developed by community development agencies in that area. There are attempts being made by all government and private sector entities to try and come up with job growth in the area of Cape Breton.

But I am not going to stand here for one minute and suggest that those plans, in and of themselves, are adequate to deal with the problems because the problems are significant. I can only say (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: Come on, Mr. Speaker, tell him to answer the question.

MR. HARRISON: I can only suggest to the member opposite who would like me to shorten this answer, that he begin to take some time from his seat to perhaps a few distant seats from Cape Breton to read the economic strategies that exist in Cape Breton, but be assured that the efforts of this government and the efforts of this caucus and any attempts from the Opposition side to offer constructive suggestions would be welcome. We will do everything in our power to try and create economic prosperity in Cape Breton, to try and overcome some of the difficulties that people are encountering there at every turn.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

ENVIRON. - RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND: BAGS - COST

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of the Environment. I wonder if the minister could advise the House how much more it will cost the Resource Recovery Fund to fill one of the standard sized bags that it has designed for the collection of beverage containers with whole containers, as opposed to filling that same sized bag with crushed containers. What is the additional cost associated with that?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware that there is a cost differential but it is one question that I could take under advisement and endeavour to find out for the member.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the minister that the information which is given to me by one of the more prominent recyclers in this province is that it is $16 per bag. My second question to the minister is this, a crushed can takes up approximately one-fifth of the space of an uncrushed can. That means that it is going to take five times the trucking in order to move the uncrushed cans as it would take to move the crushed cans. That means additional (Interruption).

[Page 148]

It is true! Don't you tell me it is not true, it is true! You go out and step on one of those cans and it will be 10 to 1. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. LEEFE: I want to know why this minister thinks that by allowing those cans to be returned whole he is protecting the environment when, in fact, five times the trucking will increase the traffic on the highway and also will increase air pollution significantly in this province?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the question is a bit confounding because we are talking about the extra cost for more space to package a bag of uncrushed cans versus crushed cans. When I look at the proposed depository of 40 cents per container that he proposed in his time, when I look at the proposal to truck the cans to the New Brunswick border as opposed to trucking it to your local community enviro-depot, I think we are doing a very cost-effective measure.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, the uncrushed cans must be returned by the enviro-depots to the central processing unit, (Interruption) The minister responsible for grants to golf courses wants to say something a little later. My question to the minister is this. Understanding that the enviro-depots must ship the beverage containers whole, not crushed, to the central processing facilities, how many central processing facilities are there in Nova Scotia and where are they located?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, we are in the beginning stages of this whole program . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: We are already started.

MR. ADAMS: Exactly, the program has started, something they couldn't do in 15 years we did in three. (Applause) If they want to call it a tax, it pales in comparison to theirs. Quite frankly, to get to the point of . . .

MR. LEEFE: Pails get taxed too. They are containers.

MR. ADAMS: If they contain beverage other than milk, yes. The various central depositories, if you will, for cans and the central establishments will all be announced over the next 30 days for sure in terms of the permanent locations. Enviro-depots, for example, are being unveiled daily.

We started with a variety of 60 or 70 and there are more being added. In fact, there will be a recount tomorrow and more notification of those permanent enviro-depots across the province. We are going to make this program accessible to all Nova Scotians, including our young people and our seniors. This morning we have had four suggestions in terms of how to make them accessible to communities. I am sure that kind of public participation will

[Page 149]

continue. That is the kind of spirit that we want to foster in Nova Scotia, participatory, not that of denial that we went through in the past.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

ENVIRON. - RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND: RECYCLING - DETAILS

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. The Minister of the Environment a few minutes ago indicated that, indeed, the cans as they are returned for refund will be counted one by one. If that is the case, could the minister please indicate why the consumers cannot crush these cans before they take them in if they are going to be counted one at a time?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, that is a question that I will take under advisement and ask the Resource Recovery Fund as to what the mechanism is. It seems to me it has something to do with the end market use but I will confirm that.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, the reason I am interested in having them crushed is senior citizens have been calling me for the last week or 10 days and they are all very concerned about keeping all these cans around their apartments. Many are living in (Interruption) Look, Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Transportation has something to say he should say it. He shouldn't sit . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Time is running out. I would ask you to please come to the question.

MR. ARCHIBALD: That is what I am thinking too, Mr. Speaker. Now to the Minister of the Environment, room is at a premium in senior citizens' houses in many instances. The senior citizens are concerned about the storage of all these containers because if you have only a few you are going to have to keep them for a considerable length of time.

I would like the minister to indicate when he is going to be sending instructions to seniors on what, in the name of time, they are supposed to be doing with all this recycling. Many seniors in the past have been using the blue bags in Kings County and they have been getting along very well with it. Now they are informed there is a new program and it is detrimental to the blue bag program.

So when will the minister indicate to the seniors who have been calling me, so they will know how to follow his program and know exactly why they can or they can't crush their cans and squeeze down the things that they are putting in for recycling, so they will take up less room in their cramped quarters?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, as I outlined a minute ago, this program is beginning, is now newly underway. I do want to say that I received a note just a few minutes ago, and I will read it into the record, that if you want to know the jeopardy of blue bag programs, the Municipality of Chester has just announced that they are going to start a curbside blue bag collection program because the value of the materials in the blue bags, the contractor has offered to operate the program at no charge to the taxpayers of Chester.

This will coincide with our deposit and return system, truth evident that we have a comprehensive program in Nova Scotia, one that I might add when I talked to my western Canadian counterparts last week, are going to look at with the idea of borrowing some of our program for their program. So we are leading again in the area of the environment. We are pleased to do that.

Before I finish, Mr. Speaker, I do want to say that I will table those materials that I referenced from this afternoon.

MR. SPEAKER: Very well.

[Page 150]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of the Environment, I want to know why he is masquerading as a Minister of the Crown in this business. He has absolutely no handle on this recycling program. If the minister would spend five minutes at the Department of the Environment he would know why you can't crush your blessed cans. We went this morning, as a caucus, to go to the recycling facilities. Why don't you go and find out what the real story is. The cans cannot be crushed because they have to count the bar code, on your instructions.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if the minister is instructing people how they have to handle the recycling goods, why doesn't he find out himself so that he can understand? Answer that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member knows quite well what the real truth is. In the beginning of anything you start, you learn as you go along. The environment depots also are learning as this process unveils. We met the deadline that we committed ourselves to. In that process we are teaching people, people are learning. This time next week the program will be better than it is today. Again, I have to remind the former member of the former government that we delivered.

MR. SPEAKER: All right, the time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired. Now we can move on to Government Business. Pardon me?

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, during Question Period, the Minister of the Environment informed me that a committee had recommended that the two proponents relative to a tire recycling plant in this province were Nova Scotians. I have the press release that I suppose came from the minister's department. It says, "Adams Announces Plans for Tire Recycling Jobs in Nova Scotia". So for the minister's benefit, I will table this press release that states that, "Environment Minister Wayne Adams has given the Resource Recovery Fund Board Inc. authority to negotiate with . . .", the Mennonite Central Committee and Tire Recycling Canada, which has operated in Winkler, Manitoba for six years. So if two Nova Scotia companies were recommended, who is the other Nova Scotia company besides the Truro-based company?

MR. SPEAKER: All right. That is one side of the story. I suppose we can hear the other side and then I will consider the matter a draw.

[3:30 p.m.]

The honourable Minister of the Environment to respond briefly.

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. He is quite right. He read the article properly and now he knows that we haven't made a deal and are still negotiating. But the Mennonite Central Committee is a Manitoba based operation, which is part of the

[Page 151]

financial arm of a Nova Scotia company, based in Nova Scotia, called Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Corporation. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: All right. Now as we both well know, a dispute between honourable members is as to facts does not constitute a point of order. However both honourable members have made their point.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 34.

Res. No. 34, re Fin. - Expenditure Add.: Justice (Victims Abuse Compensation) - Approval - notice given Mar. 29/96 - (Hon. B. Boudreau)

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, relative to the resolution which is just now being called. I would ask that you rule as to whether or not Resolution No. 34 is in order and debatable. It is my contention that it is not.

This resolution comes forward because of OIC 96-182, for expenditures which exceeded the limitation of the Expenditure Control Act. It is my contention, Mr. Speaker, that the government has exceeded the authority available under Section 28(1) and 28(2) under the Provincial Finance Act, Chapter 365 of the Revised Statutes of Nova Scotia, by attempting to make an additional appropriation for a purpose other than an "ordinary or usual service" and by reason of the fact that the government is attempting to make an additional appropriation in the 1996-97 fiscal year allegedly to meet requirements during the previous fiscal year.

Mr. Speaker, I herewith quote Section 28(1) and (2) of the Provincial Finance Act. Section 28(1) reads, "When it appears to the Minister or principal officer having charge of a service that the sum appropriated by the Legislature for an ordinary or usual service is insufficient to meet the requirements of that service during the year for which the appropriation has been made or that the sum appropriated by the Legislature to be expended on capital account is insufficient for the service for which it was appropriated, the Minister or principal officer shall make a report of that fact to the Minister of Finance and shall in such report estimate the additional sum required to carry out the service.".

Section 28(2), "Upon the receipt of such report, the Minister of Finance may make a report to the Governor in Council showing the need of additional appropriation and thereupon the Governor in Council may order that such additional sums as are deemed necessary for the said service be appropriated accordingly, provided that the additional sums appropriated to be expended on capital account shall not exceed twenty-five per cent of the amount appropriated by the Legislature for the service.".

[Page 152]

Mr. Speaker, the attempt by the government to appropriate an additional $32,037,900 for expenditure by the Department of Justice is contrary to the authority of Section 28 of the Provincial Finance Act in that, first of all, it is not intended for "an ordinary or usual" service and, secondly, it is not intended to meet the requirements of a service during the year 1995-96 for which the appropriation purports to be made.

I would request, Mr. Speaker, that you take this matter under advisement and respectfully request you to conclude, that debate not be permitted on this resolution by reason of contravention of the Provincial Finance Act.

Mr. Speaker, I have a copy of the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Now, I will entertain submissions but, first of all, I would like to see this. I have been given no prior notice of this point of order and the motion was duly moved on two sitting days, I believe, past. It has appeared on the order paper. It is part of the property of the House, (Interruption) If I may, please, be seated.

I would like to, first of all, take a look at this matter and allow the Clerk to possibly study it, as well, maybe get a couple of copies of that made for the two Clerks to mull over and maybe a copy for each of the Official Parties in the House. That would be five, six copies.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid wishes to speak without first studying the point of order, so go ahead.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would just point out, as I begin my remarks in support of the point of order made by the member for Hants West, that, too, this resolution had not even been introduced into this House until last Friday.

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear when you take a look at the Expenditure Control Act, that it makes absolutely no reference whatsoever to the kinds of expenditures that are covered under the Order in Council that was passed by this government. As the previous speaker, the member for Hants West has pointed out, it is very clear in the province's Finance Act that expropriations of this type are to meet requirements for that service during the year. The current fiscal year ended on March 31st, just a matter of a few days after the introduction of that Order in Council. There is absolutely no way that this government is going to have completed the negotiations with the victims who are deserving compensation prior to the end of that fiscal year or within a two week to a month period. It is normal practice to leave the books open so the bills which are still coming in from a previous fiscal year can be paid within a two week to a one month period following the conclusion of that fiscal year.

These are expenditures that will be made throughout the 1996-97 year and probably through 1997-98. What this is, is unheard of. I have never seen a situation in my years and even looking back through the Tory expropriations, I have never ever seen a situation where the government was setting aside additional monies from one fiscal year to be held over to be spent in future years. Proper budgeting and accountability would require that that item be included in the fiscal year projection coming up so that it is properly scrutinized. It has absolutely nothing to do with support of or being opposed to the compensation. What we have opposition to, to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, is a phoney bookkeeping exercise, which is what this is aimed at.

[Page 153]

I urge you, if the Finance Act is to have any credibility whatsoever, to rule the resolution that is before us out of order and to have this matter dealt with properly, as it should be, through the budget that will be introduced in a matter of a couple of weeks.

MR. SPEAKER: Are there any further submissions on the point of order?

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I will attempt to keep my remarks brief, but I just cannot resist the opportunity to make a few comments.

As you, Mr. Speaker, I did not receive notice of this point of order, so it comes as somewhat of a surprise to me. Let me be clear to the honourable member that the rules do not require that notice be given to me. Courtesy might, but the rules do not. (Interruption) I wonder whether that courtesy was extended to the former Leader of the Third Party in making his remarks. Or did he just happen to be ready with them?

In any event, the fastidiousness, the budgetary fastidiousness of the first speaker in moving this point of order just brings me to a full stop. It is just unbelievable that this particular individual would adopt this measure of fastidiousness. The former Leader of the Third Party says, I have never seen the former government do anything like this. You bet your life you didn't. What we are looking for, and we will debate this in the substance, is approval before we spend the money, not telling people about it three weeks, three months or three years after the fact. (Applause)

The fact of the matter is, on the point of order directly, this expenditure, the liability existed and was brought to the Cabinet in that last fiscal year. The Order in Council authorizing the reserve was passed in that fiscal year. The only reason we bring it to the House now is specifically because of the provisions in the expenditure control legislation, which we will address in the debate. This is an expenditure that government is entitled to make; this is an expenditure, the liability for which arose in 1995-96; this is an expenditure which was authorized by Order in Council in 1995-96. The fact that it may or may not be expended in that fiscal year and, in fact, will be expended in the next fiscal year, that is a matter we bring to you, because we believe that when you go over legislated limits, contrary to the practice in the past, you get authorization before you spend the money, not a year and one-half after. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I am really quite astounded by some of the comments made just now by the Minister of Finance in regard to this matter. The Order in Council which purports to provide legal authority for the expenditure of $32 million additional for the Department of Justice, are prefaced in Order in Council 96-182, with the words that the amount budgeted of $70.926 million is, ". . . insufficient to meet the requirements of such services . . .", and I urge you, Mr. Speaker, to take great care to underscore and underline these words, ". . . in the 1995-96 fiscal year . . .". That is, in fact, not true at all.

You will recall, Mr. Speaker, there is $10 million in the Department of Justice estimate of $70.926 million, which was specifically set aside and debated in this place as being needed by the Department of Justice to enable the Department of Justice to respond to those (Interruption)

[Page 154]

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I don't know. This member is on a point of order now, but I am quite willing to list you next.

The honourable Minister for the Technology and Science Secretariat.

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: . . . the original point of order made by the honourable member for Hants West was whether or not this whole matter was debatable. The Speaker hasn't ruled on whether or not it is a debatable matter and we now have this member debating the matter, debating it intensely, when in point of fact it hasn't been ruled on as to whether or not it is a point of order. I would like the ruling of the Chair as to whether or not this is a debatable question.

MR. SPEAKER: I am awaiting the outcome of the photocopying process so that I can examine the text of what was raised, that is where I am at.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, perhaps if that is the case, Mr. Speaker, if you would permit me to resume remarks in relation to this once you receive the documentation. I will take my place until you have received the documents you await?

MR. SPEAKER: Carry on.

MR. DONAHOE: So you want me to speak?

MR. SPEAKER: If you wish.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, Mr. Speaker, with respect, it is not if I wish.

MR. SPEAKER: If you wish to speak, you may; if you don't, yield and another member will take the floor.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, Mr. Speaker, you simply indicated to the House a moment ago that you are at some difficulty because you are awaiting receipt of documents which you have sent out to be photocopied. Is that correct?

MR. SPEAKER: That is correct, yes.

MR. DONAHOE: And I take it, Mr. Speaker, if I may, that you would be in a better position to be able to understand and follow the debate on both sides of the House on this issue if you did, in fact, have that documentation in front of you. Is that fair?

MR. SPEAKER: If I may . . .

MR. DONAHOE: Is that a fair assumption?

MR. SPEAKER: Just let me respond; you have asked me some questions, let me respond. When the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid began making an intervention or submission to the claimed point of order, I pointed out to him, then, that I had not yet received the text of the claimed point of order and had had no opportunity to study it. But he wanted to speak anyway, so I gave him leave to speak and other speakers followed, the latest of which is the honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

[Page 155]

I now, for the first time, have the text for the point of order in my hand, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet. It is a request that I rule as to whether or not Resolution No. 34 is in order and is debatable. That is what is it, a request that I rule now whether or not this resolution is in order and is debatable. Then the honourable member for Hants West goes on to submit a contention that it is not in order and is not debatable, and submitting that the government has exceeded the authority available under the law, and then goes on to make extensive references to the Provincial Finance Act and goes on to reason that point.

[3:45 p.m.]

I have asked the Clerk for some general guidelines as to how to address this point and he has brought to me some points in Beauchesne that I wish to read. I am not going to make a final judgment, I will allow honourable members to make their submission. But these are the Rules of the House by which I or any Speaker would be bound in this type of situation.

First of all, the Speaker is not expected to give a ruling on a point of law. Beauchesne, under the heading of Points of Order in Sittings of the House, Chapter Eight states at Section 324, "The Speaker will not give a decision upon a constitutional question nor decide a question of law, though the same may be raised on a point of order or privilege.". So, it may be raised but the Speaker is not expected to decide it.

Secondly, with respect to the matter of notice, Beauchesne states that, "Any Member is entitled, even bound, to bring to the Speaker's immediate notice any instance of a breach of order. The Member may interrupt and lay the point in question concisely before the Speaker. This should be done as soon as an irregularity is perceived in the proceedings which are engaging the attention of the House. The Speaker's attention must be directed to a breach of order at the proper moment, namely the moment it occurred.".

This particular resolution was introduced on Friday, March 29th. It was published in Hansard and was available to all members on Monday, April 1st, even those members that were not here when the resolution was introduced. Today is Tuesday, April 2nd. The bind that I am in on this point of order is, first of all, that the rules say that the Speaker does not have to make a ruling on it because it is a submission based on a point of law, that the government exceeded its lawful authority and, secondly, that it has not been raised as is required by Beauchesne at the time that it took place.

Now, if any honourable member can convince me that those barriers don't prevent me from going any further with this matter, I am prepared to hear them.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, the genesis of the issue, as I indicated a few moments ago, takes us back to Order in Council 96-182. In that Order in Council, the Minister of Finance signed and presented to his Cabinet colleagues a report and recommendation which he dated on March 20th. I note interestingly that that was eight days before he knew this House would be sitting and a matter of only a couple of weeks before he knew that he would have the opportunity to introduce his publicized budget.

In that document and in that Order in Council, the Minister of Finance indicated to his colleagues, and they supported him in his contention, that the amounts that were set out as available to be expended by the Department of Justice, namely $70,926,000, were insufficient to meet the requirements of such services in the 1995-96 fiscal year.

[Page 156]

The difficulty which we have here is, when one reads Section 28 of the Provincial Finance Act, that that is, in fact, absolutely not true. As I said a moment ago, in the $70,926,000 available to the Department of Finance, there was $10 million set aside, specifically earmarked to be dedicated and used, if necessary and if agreements were made and if settlements were made, in 1995-96, to compensate victims of crime.

It is a fact that there are no court orders, there are no Orders in Council, there are no legally binding agreements obligating the Government of Nova Scotia to make any payments to any of those victims of crime in 1995-96. In fact, if victims of crime in this province are to be compensated, God willing they will be and the hope is that they will be compensated, not in 1995-96 but in the upcoming fiscal year, 1996-97.

The Provincial Finance Act which you have now had an opportunity to have reference to, says that it is possible, "When it appears to the Minister . . .", in this case the Minister of Finance, ". . . that a sum appropriated by the Legislature for an ordinary or usual service is insufficient to meet the requirements of that service during the year for which the appropriation has been made . . .", and in this case 1995-96, then he or she can go to his or her colleagues and seek an additional appropriation.

The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, that this Minister of Finance, this government do not require additional monies for a service to be met during the year for which the appropriation had been made.

The reason it is here, as the Minister of Justice has rightly pointed out, is that there is a requirement in the Expenditure Control Act which requires the matter to come here before us because the expenditure of this amount would run afoul of the Provincial Finance Act.

Well you said a moment ago, Mr. Speaker, that it is not for you to rule on points of law.

MR. SPEAKER: No, it is not.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, with respect, you are being asked to rule on a point of law if, in fact, you are being asked by the Minister of Finance to rule that the presentation and the debate and the passage of this resolution meets the test of the law in the legislation relating to restraint on expenditures. That is as much a request or a demand of you, Mr. Speaker, to make a legal ruling or rule on the propriety and the efficacy of a procedure relative to the existing provincial law as is the argument we make.

Our argument, Mr. Speaker, is pure and simple: that the process employed here by the Minister of Finance runs completely counter to the Provincial Finance Act; that it exceeds the jurisdiction available to the Minister of Finance and to the Executive Council, as set out in the Provincial Finance Act; it is, in fact, therefore a nullity and it does not have the status entitling it to be debated and resolved one way or the other here.

MR. SPEAKER: I believe that I catch the essence of the claimed point of order.

Now I want to appear as even-handed and judicious as is possible in matters of this type. Therefore, I propose to leave the Chair briefly and to retire with the Clerks into the adjoining ante-room.

[Page 157]

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, if I might just speak very briefly on the point of order, I have listened to the debate and I am somewhat confused by it. It seems to me that the point of order really goes to the substance of whether the proposed motion is in order: was proper notice given, does it violate some rule of the House? All of the arguments I have heard are arguments to the substance of the motion, which should be debated later.

If Your Honour should rule that this point of order is not made, we are going to hear all these same arguments once again, as to why the motion should be defeated. I suggest that is the only question before the House.

MR. SPEAKER: All right. I think that I have heard enough. I am leaving the Chair.

[3:53 p.m. The House recessed.]

[3:56 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerks, the Deputy Speaker and myself have conferred privately on this matter. The advice that the Clerk had given me earlier was that the Speaker is not required to make a decision on a point of law. I do not intend to outline any great reasons why that should be so, except that those are the Rules of the House and Beauchesne makes that quite clear.

I am not going to comment any further than I have on the matter of notice, but I will say that I do not feel that it is within my competence to pass judgment on the claimed point of law.

I therefore rule that the resolution is in order and the debate may proceed.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: I certainly do not intend to dwell on the ruling you have already made. On the substance of this debate, the irony of it is that the Opposition gets up and says, presumably, the books are really $32 million better than you are saying they are in 1995-96. That is the essence of what they are saying. It certainly is a change from the past. (Applause)

You know, Mr. Speaker, on the resolution, in the last 10 years of the former government, I do not have the exact figures, but let me take a guess and I won't be far off the mark. In the last 10 years of the former government, additional appropriations were passed by them, probably amounting to over $800 million, probably somewhere between $800 million and $900 million. A lot of them and I can recall them when I was in Opposition, of course, we only found out about a year or more after the fact, some of them, by the way, were only passed. I can remember one in particular, only passed more than a year after the money had been spent.

This is not a good practice. We recognize that; as a matter of fact, we raised it during the campaign. We talked about it and we said that is not a fiscally responsible way to operate and we indicated that we would not operate that way. When we came into office, we put through legislation, it was the Expenditure Control Act, which placed a very clear limit on the authority of government to spend.

[Page 158]

No one would suggest, I do not think in all of the debates we have ever had since I have been in this House, no one ever suggests that you cannot or should not under certain circumstances have additional appropriations. I do not think anyone is ever going to suggest that under no circumstances should you ever have additional appropriations. That is money that is basically spent due to unforeseen circumstances or conditions. You are always going to have that. Every government in every year they operate in this province will come upon that situation.

Fortunately in 1993-94, we kept those additional appropriations to a very small amount and we repeated that again in 1994-95, I might say in some contrast to what had gone on for about 10 years previous. This year our additional appropriations are larger. I am sorry, but that is the way it is.

The difference, however, is a very clear principle and I would ask people to recognize this principle. We have said that when you go beyond an authorized spending limit, whether that authorized spending limit is contained in the Expenditure Control Act or whether it is contained in some future legislation we may bring to this House. When you go beyond that prescribed limit, and you are into an additional appropriation situation, presumably it is something that has come up that, first of all, was not entirely anticipated at the beginning of the budget year. That is one element of it. And secondly, that it is an expenditure that you think is worthwhile.

[4:00 p.m.]

The difference again, I repeat here, is that we are coming to the House with that expenditure, with that additional appropriation. We are asking for the approval of the House. (Interruptions) Why? Because quite clearly, . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Order.

MR. BOUDREAU: . . . in the Expenditure Control Act, the limits are set out. The conditions are set out when you come here with additional appropriations. In fact, we are here to talk about that. It never happened in the past. Talk to anybody in the history of this Legislature, for 15 years when those members opposite were in charge and ran up additional appropriations in huge amounts every year, never once did what we are doing here today. This debate did not happen, would never have happened - that I am aware of - and it is happening today.

MR. JOHN HOLM: A question for the honourable minister, Madam Speaker. Thank you to the minister for accepting the question. My question is a quite simple one. We are going to be seeing a budget introduced into this Chamber within a matter of two or three weeks at which time the government will be seeking the approval of this House for expenditures that it is about to make. As those expenditures that he is referencing here with this resolution, as also the $23 million that they have in the Order in Council for restructuring of government, which really means early retirement packages and buy-outs in large part for public sector workers, and those monies have not been expended, why could that money not, and wouldn't it have been the proper place to have that included in the budget that we will be debating rather than using this process which, quite clearly, seems to be in violation of the Provincial Finance Act?

MR. BOUDREAU: Madam Speaker, I would be happy to address that. As a matter of fact, I have exactly that issue in my remarks but I would beg the members' indulgence to address it as I move through my remarks.

What we have here - and I want to re-emphasize once again, Madam Speaker - is a request for an additional appropriation of $32 million to compensate the victims of institutional abuse in the province. Now you will recall, I said, with additional appropriations, it is usually something that you don't anticipate at budget time. In fact, there was no budget appropriation that I am aware of at budget time. As a matter of fact, the report on which this whole process began . . .

[Page 159]

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . end of June.

MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, Judge Strattan's report came out at the end of June, after the budget process. So this whole situation developed - and I might add, covering the sins of the last 40 years in this particular case - from a budget point of view through the fiscal year. Now it is an additional appropriation but it is one that we think is a valuable and necessary one. When the additional appropriation was authorized by OIC, as they always are, by the Cabinet, they always have been historically, that liability existed and that appropriation was duly passed by the Cabinet in allowing that there is no reason why a Cabinet should not make that reserve. The liability existed, the Cabinet made that decision, they passed the Order in Council.

Now we come here, before the money is expended, to get approval under the legislation which I think and I hope is a habit and a practice that will occur in this Legislature as we move forward and plan long-term fiscal planning because it makes sense. Now, why did we do it? Why now? Why did we do it? Well, there are two reasons. First of all, let me put it very bluntly. The fiscal capacity exists in 1995-96. We have the capacity - there is no magic to this - to put together the appropriate reserve and, indeed, we have the capacity to pay it because we could have paid out the whole amount, the day after, had the settlements been there. Now that hasn't happened, but in fact we had the capacity to do that.

In 1995-96, we are able to put a reserve in place to take care of this very serious situation and still meet our stated goal of balancing the current account. We will balance the current account as we said we would and still allow for the creation of this reserve. Now that makes sense, it is good sense. I can't believe the Opposition, under these circumstance, are arguing that you should take that expenditure out of 1995-96 so we would create an additional $32 million of surplus. This is the group that came back year after year with hugely expanded deficits. In their last year in office, they estimated a deficit at $165 million, came in with a deficit of $471 million. That is current account only. These are the people who are making these arguments now.

These Official Opposition Parties have absolutely zero credibility on any fiscal issue and that is what they deserve, zero credibility. They yell and complain now but when they were on the Treasury Benches we know what the results were. The numbers don't lie. So why did we do it? We did it because the liability existed then, we had the capacity and the authority to make that reserve then and because we had the money, that is why we did it at that particular time. (Interruption) A slush fund he says. Here is the honourable member accusing us of creating a slush fund. Well, he knows a lot about slush funds. They created their share of them over the years. This is not a slush fund, this is a fund for compensating victims of abuse, many of whom may have been abused under the watch of that former government and going back 40 years. Is that what you would call a slush fund, Madam

[Page 160]

Speaker? That is not what I would call it and I say shame to the honourable member for using that phrase.

We are putting in new practices and principles into budgeting in this province. We are going to make sure that if future governments require additional appropriations - and they will from time to time; believe me, they will - they will have to do it upfront, here in the House of Assembly. As I have said, you would never have heard this debate when they were in government. They are going to have to do it upfront, in the open and they are going to have to justify the additional appropriation. I don't have any problem at all justifying the additional expenditure of a reserve of $32 million to handle the compensation for the victims of institutional abuse.

Our performance as a government fiscally has been reviewed. It has been reviewed by the investment community, reviewed by bond rating agencies, it has been reviewed by the Auditor General and will be again, I am sure it will. The height of hypocrisy; it just staggers me that they would object, first of all, to an additional appropriation setting up this fund and, secondly, object to the process. We are here, we are in the open, we will take responsibility for it. I will stand up before any group in this province and say, yes we did that, yes we set up a reserve in 1995-96, and do you know what? We did it and still met our targets. I don't think that is anything that I or this government have to be ashamed of.

We hope that perhaps even in this current session we will bring legislation which will enshrine the principle that when additional appropriations are required beyond a certain limit, those additional appropriations will have to be debated here. Surely, that is what we mean by accountability. That is really the protection, that we are accountable because we are telling people right upfront what we are doing and why we are doing it. They will judge, the accountants and the bond rating agencies and the investors, all these people will judge us. We have not hidden, we have put everything right square out front and said that we challenge the people to judge that.

Well, Madam Speaker, I would just ask the House, in closing my few remarks, to not be put off by what I would call the chicanery that we are likely to hear. Keep your eye on the ball. The principles are this: that we are going through with an additional appropriation; we are doing it publicly; we are doing it for a good cause. We are doing it upfront and we are going to get the approval of the House to do it. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I am glad that the remainder of his Party is giving him applause because what this minister is doing is illegal. It is not within the jurisdiction of what the Provincial Finance Act states. The only reason (Interruptions) Madam Speaker -I will speak as loud as I want because I want them to listen - the only reason that this particular resolution is in this House at the present time is because the minister got caught, he got caught.

I think you have to ask yourself, Madam Speaker, what is this resolution all about, why is it necessary and why isn't the minister telling us the exact facts about this particular resolution?

[Page 161]

The Minister of Finance, just a very few weeks ago, was talking to some group - I forget which group it was - about the day when financial decisions in this province are made down in the bunker, in the Cabinet room, outside of the vision and the eyes of the citizens of this province. This is the same minister who just a few short days before the end of the fiscal year, I think it was on March 22nd, came before Cabinet with a wish list of extra appropriations.

Now some of these are quite explainable, they are genuine extra appropriations that are required to run governments and to pay the bills in fiscal 1995-96. I think that is important for fiscal payments to be paid in fiscal 1995-96, but when you go through this list of extra appropriations - it is Order in Council 96-182 - Madam Speaker, we find that the Department of Justice is requesting an additional appropriation of $32,037,900 for fiscal 1995-96, we are told in the heading to this particular Order in Council. I would just like to read that into the record, Madam Speaker.

"The Minister of Finance in his report and recommendation dated March 20th, 1996, states that the sums appropriated by the Legislature to defray expenditures for the services named below and in the amounts listed in Column I, are insufficient to meet the requirements of such services in the 1995-96 fiscal year . . ." - that is important, in the 1995-96 fiscal year, the Minister of Finance speaking, speaking to Cabinet through an Order in Council - ". . . and that additional appropriations in the amounts of, and for the services, listed in Column II below, are required in addition to the sums heretofore authorized, according to the accompanying reports of the various Ministers.".

There are two particular items in that list that are of great interest. One is the Minister of Justice requesting an extra appropriation, as I said before, of $32-odd million, and another one which is called restructuring costs - remember that one because we will come back to it shortly - that amount is $23,411,160. So, in total, those two particular requests for an extra appropriation amount to something in the order of $55 million. It is interesting, Madam Speaker, that the total of this, by the way, is something in order of $90 million of extra appropriation that the minister is removing from the system.

[4:15 p.m.]

Now, the question must be asked, I suppose, why was this done so late in the fiscal year and why was the resolution requesting this extra appropriation introduced into this House, not even at the beginning of Friday when I am sure the minister had it in his pocket, but it was introduced approximately 30 seconds before the House rose on Friday. I think that tells you something, Madam Speaker, about the openness and the willingness of the minister to share all the fiscal secrets of the province with the people and the media of this province.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: On a point of order, Madam Speaker, I know the honourable member perhaps either does not remember this, or certainly would not want to. I, unfortunately, was not in the House at that point in the order of business where it was required. So my first opportunity to ask the honourable House Leader to return to that order of business to introduce the resolution was when it was introduced.

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

MR. RUSSELL: The minister is an honourable person and I believe what he has told me. However, I would suggest to him that it is not uncommon to interrupt the order of business that is being proceeded with in the House to have the Government House Leader ask

[Page 162]

Madam Speaker to return to the order of business so that a document may be tabled, a resolution or a Government Notice of Motion may be introduced. That is common practice, as I know the minister is aware, in this House. I just find it passing strange that it was left until everybody had vanished from the House and then we have this resolution, which is a rather remarkable document, introduced just as people were leaving.

Madam Speaker, we have a piece of legislation. It is called An Act Respecting the Reduction and Control of Operating and Capital Expenditures of the Province. This was a piece of legislation which this government introduced in 1994. As a matter of fact, I can remember standing in my place and applauding the minister for bringing that piece of legislation in because I think it is a step along the way to making the financial decisions that government make more available and more transparent.

Now, in this Act, Madam Speaker, we are talking about program operating expenditures. We are not talking about what we would normally call operating expenditures, we are talking about net program operating expenditures. The definition for net program operating expenditures, means ". . . the total expenditures on the current account less gross debt charges, election expenses incurred pursuant to the Elections Act, Government restructuring costs and any recoveries in respect of those expenditures.".

Further on in this piece of legislation, Madam Speaker, it deals with what the government is required to do when it is budgeting the operating expenditures for the subsequent year for a four year term of this piece of legislation.

Now, for the operating expenses in 1994-95 and 1995-96, 1995-96 is the year that just passed, Section 5(1), "In each of the 1994-95 and 1995-96 fiscal years of the Province the amount appropriated by the Legislature for net program operating expenditures . . .", and that was the definition I read just a moment ago, ". . . shall be at least three per cent less than the amount appropriated . . ." for those expenditures in the previous fiscal year.

In fact, Madam Speaker, it changes next year in 1996-97 and 1997-98, it is a different amount. However, we are dealing with 1995-96 and the minister, if indeed he appropriated all that list of extra appropriations, he would have exceeded that limit that was struck by his government to reduce expenditures in that fiscal year by 3 per cent. So it became, I would suggest, necessary for him to come forward with this piece of work that we are debating today.

One of the things I also find passing strange is why we picked this particular appropriation. Now, the minister didn't say that the amount was $30 million, he didn't say it was $20 million, he didn't say it was $10 million, he didn't tell us how much he would have exceeded the spending limit for 1995-96, so we don't know what that amount is and it is actually virtually impossible, I would suggest, for anybody outside the Department of Finance - either the minister or the deputy minister - to actually figure out what that figure is. Unless you know, Madam Speaker, what in the current year, for instance, we are spending on gross debt charges - if, indeed, you don't know exactly the number that is being spent on restructuring costs - you cannot possibly derive that figure. So the minister and his deputy minister, I would suggest, are the only ones who would know what that number is.

However, he has chosen to bring forward a resolution which is $30 million and I don't believe, in point of fact, that he had to take an appropriation of that large amount forward in his resolution to accommodate the requirements of the Expenditure Control Act. He is nodding his head, so I presume he is agreeing with me. So, therefore, why didn't he take $20 million, the restructuring costs.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order, just perhaps to be of some assistance to the honourable member who misinterpreted my nod. The reason that we used that particular item was (a) it was the single largest item of additional appropriation - you are familiar with that - and (b) yes, it was the only single one that was sufficiently large to take us back within the limits.

MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you for that point of clarification.

[Page 163]

MR. RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I am going to have to take the minister at his word, because I have no way of disproving it and I believe what he is saying. So, okay, he had to take that particular one, but the thing you have to remember is that there are other extra appropriations which he could have taken which would have added up to more than $30 million and lumped the whole lot together, but he chose to take just the one. I would suggest that there is a very good reason why he took that, because who can argue - and we do not - that the compensation for the victims of institutional abuse is not important.

Madam Speaker, we don't know the scenario that went along with the events of March 20th, but I would like to suggest to you that the Cabinet is sitting down in their Cabinet Room on March 20th, and the Premier looks around and says, well, how are things going fellows, and they all say, pretty good - and ladies. And the Minister of Finance says, Mr. Premier, I have a problem, and the Premier said, what's the problem? The Minister of Finance says, I have a problem because they are bringing money in by the truckload; I have bags of money across in the Department of Finance and it is coming in so fast that I am going to end up with a whopping great surplus. (Laughter) Don't laugh, that's true. He has all this money coming into the Department of Finance and it is knocking his projections for a surplus in 1995-96 all to heck.

So the Premier says to his Minister of Finance, he says, well, that's good news, isn't it? But the Minister of Finance is pretty astute - he is pretty political - and he says, this would have been great next year; just think, next fiscal year is an election year and if I had all of this money to spend in 1996-97, boy, we could pave roads, we could build bridges, we could do all kinds of things, we could hire people - wonderful news.

So the Premier says to the Minister of Finance, well, solve it, do something about it. The Minister of Finance says, well, you know, Premier, next year we are going to have these cases, the victims of abuse, proceeding through the courts and we are probably going to have some claims. We don't know how many claims we are going to have, we don't know how much we are going to pay out, but we are going to have some. So why don't we take, say, oh, $30 million of it and throw it into a fund and that way our surplus in 1995-96 will come down, and just think, Premier, in 1996-97, we have already got a fund set up, we don't know if it is too big or too small or what it is, but we have a fund of money set up to look after the victims of abuse and who can quarrel with that, says the Minister of Finance.

He says, while I am thinking about it, we are going to fire a couple of thousand civil servants in 1996-97 and we are going to have to buy them out, we are going to have to pay them severance, and it is going to cost a lot of bucks, Mr. Premier. So, why don't we fire another $20-odd million into another fund and this fund will take care of those expenditures in 1996-97 to turf out a couple of thousand civil servants? The Premier says, Bernie, you're a genius, that's wonderful; that is what we will do. By the way the Minister of Health comes

[Page 164]

along, he says he needs a few bucks extra too and the Minister of Community Services says, he needs a few bucks, et cetera, so they add it all up and they got about . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: And roads.

MR. RUSSELL: Roads, yes, the Minister of Transportation had his foot in the pot of money as well. So he says, okay, fellows, we will add it all up to see where we are, and he says, well, it is about $90 million. So they make up the Order in Council and it goes through.

The Minister of Finance goes back to his department and he is telling them what he has done, because I guess his department should know about where all this money is going to go. His deputy minister says, that's fine but you can't do that because the Expenditure Control Act says you can't do it. Bernie says, my God, is that right? So he gets into the book and he checks and sure enough, he can't do it.

So, he says, I know there is an out in this piece of legislation. It says, "Operating expense exception for. . . 1995-96" - and I am reading from the Act, Madam Speaker - Section 7(1), "Notwithstanding subsection (1) of Section 5, an amount may be expended for net program operating expenditures that is more than two per cent less than the amount appropriated by the Legislature in the preceding fiscal year, . . .". But he has to come back to the Legislature. He says, well, the Legislature is going to be sitting, let me see, on March 28th, and he says, yes, I can do it.

So, the Order in Council goes through Cabinet and goes down to the Lieutenant Governor and the Lieutenant Governor obliges by signing it, and the Minister of Finance comes in with a resolution and he brings it into this House, as I said before, just before the House closes on Friday. Just as the bell was starting to go for us to go home, we got this resolution, with the idea that on Monday night, when there is no media around, not too many people looking on their TV sets, we are going to debate this. But then they find they got another little roadblock along the way. It hasn't got 48 hours, so they have to wait until today and today we finally got it.

Now, I know we are debating this resolution and I know in my own mind that no matter what I say, what I do, (Interruption) Well, I've got news for you, buster, that wouldn't happen. Madam Speaker, the Minister of Finance expects me to be the next Minister of Finance, obviously, and I will accept that.

[4:30 p.m.]

It is a sad day that we can do that and I will tell you why. The Minister of Transportation in the middle of July needs a bridge up in Richmond County somewhere and he goes to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Finance says, we haven't any money. The Minister of Finance says, but you had lots of money left in the last fiscal year, why can't I borrow some of that?

So what happens, no problem, because if we pass this piece of paper today we have given carte blanche to the government of the day to charge in one fiscal year something that they are going to do in that fiscal year back to a preceding year. If anybody in here can tell me that is right, I will walk out of here and stop right now. It is not right, you cannot do that and I think the Minister of Finance is sensible enough to realize he cannot, but he knows he is going to get away with it this time.

[Page 165]

I would suggest that somewhere along the way there is going to be an accounting. Certainly, the Auditor General is going to have an opportunity, I would think, to have a look at this whenever he gets his report out. Of course, by then it will be too late because this bunch will be out of power and there will be another crew sitting over there from this side of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't hold your breath.

MR. RUSSELL: I am not going to hold my breath. It is not necessary.

Getting back to where we are. What this government has done by chicanery, it has taken a surplus from one year and moved it forward to the next fiscal year because the next fiscal year is very important to this government. We should never forget that this minister has been very fortunate, talk about horseshoes, it is almost beyond belief. As I say, the money is going into the Department of Finance by the truckload and it is being dumped in there and he has nothing to do with it. He has picked up something in the order of around about an additional $400 million in revenues that were completely unexpected over the past three years.

In fact, I think it is probably more like $500 million, somewhere in that region, in equalization payments, in the fortunate drop in the interest rate on the debt because the economy is picking up a little bit in the Province of Nova Scotia and it was picking up in 1993, but the trouble was corporations could write off their tax losses for 1990 to 1993 in those years. Now that has gone and now they are paying corporate taxes into the government. The government has also picked up some colossal amount and it is very hard to determine, but I think it is something in the order of $75 million to $100 million per year on additional taxes, additional permit costs, etc.

There is no magic whatsoever to balancing the budget. He has almost wiped out the Department of Health. He, tomorrow, could come up with $1 billion surplus simply by wiping out the Department of Health. That is what the minister could do, of course, he is not going to do it, but he has done it by slow death to the Department of Health and he has done it to other departments, as well; a thousand small cuts, hoping that nobody will notice.

AN HON. MEMBER: Revisionist history.

MR. RUSSELL: This is not revisionist history, this is history as it is occurring right today. It is occurring today and I am telling you it is wrong. If the Minister of the Environment will get to his feet and tell me how it is right in this fiscal year to make an expenditure for a service that is going to be done in this fiscal year and charge it to a previous year, I would like him to get to his feet and tell me the rationale for that. What kind of budgeting system is that?

AN HON. MEMBER: There is no magic to balancing the budget.

MR. RUSSELL: There is no magic to balancing the budget. You can balance the budget in good times and if you are prepared to cut, cut, cut and destroy the essential services that the public of Nova Scotia want. (Interruptions) Oh, you fellows love to talk about the past. Madam Speaker, if I may, let me just set the record straight here. (Interruptions)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member has the floor.

[Page 166]

MR. RUSSELL: Let me just point out, Madam Speaker, if I may, when we came to power in 1978 the debt of the province was approaching $1 billion. That's right, check the record. When we left it was $6.7 billion, check the record. So we actually indebted the province by approximately $5.7 billion. Now you look at the debt today and it is $8.7 billion. In a period of two-plus years you have increased the debt by $2 billion. So, Madam Speaker, don't let them fool you by telling you what their record is like because it is no hell.

Madam Speaker, I am going to close simply by saying that I would suggest that the minister rethink what he is doing and be a Finance Minister who is prepared to say, I made a mistake, and include those extra appropriations for restructuring and for the Victims of Institutional Abuse Fund, put them in his 1996-97 budget and do the right thing. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, as I begin my remarks I want to make it absolutely clear, I want it underlined, I want it in bold, I want it in any way that I can possibly put it. I want to assure you and members of this House, including the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, who makes it a point never to listen, I want to assure, most importantly, the victims who suffered unacceptable abuse over the years, that they deserve compensation.

Madam Speaker, I was not critical of this government and I say the same thing here on the floor of the House as I have said to the media in the past, that the amount of compensation must be expanded to fit the need, not the need contracted to fit the budgetary predeterminations by the government.

Now, Madam Speaker, I know that the number of those who have filed claims has increased dramatically, probably about four times from the number that the government anticipated would be seeking compensation when they first talked about a $10 million program. So I know that there is a need and that there is going to be a need for additional funds to meet that deserved need. I don't object to that.

HON. RICHARD MANN: How do you know all that, John?

MR. HOLM: The Minister of etiquette in this House, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, who sets the example for his caucus colleagues as to how we should behave in this House, says, how do I know that? Well, Madam Speaker, maybe I am giving a little bit too much credit to the government when I say that I know that need is going to be increased. The government has identified and is talking about putting aside additional monies to meet those needs and I am giving them a little bit of credit that they have some compassion and that they have, through the negotiation process, determined that there are going to be additional monies needed.

So, Madam Speaker, I am not challenging that. I am in no way, in my comments that I am making here this afternoon, endorsing the irresponsible fiscal policies followed by the previous government, the Progressive Conservative Government, throughout the 1980's and the early 1990's, I am not doing that. But it would be very interesting if we could go through a future time warp to take a look at what the Auditor General will be saying in his future report looking at what this government is doing in this particular piece of legislation.

[Page 167]

The former Minister of Supply and Services, I know I am his critic again but I can't remember what the new department, technology something, is called, is suggesting that I should use a crystal ball. Well, I intend to use a little bit of that crystal ball and I also intend to try to point out what this government is actually doing here and why it is illegal and to suggest that why I believe very strongly the resolution that is before us must be defeated.

It is interesting when you take a look at the Order in Council that was passed. The Order in Council is talking about Community Services, departmental support in the Department of Health, ensured program management in the Department of Health and so on, down through the Department of Justice, which is having $32 million more set aside. There is no mention in the resolution of $32 million that is going to be set aside on top of the $10 million that was already pre-approved and budgeted. Is the government talking about a $42 million fund for compensation or is it talking $32 million? We also have under here restructuring costs. It is interesting that we haven't even had a bill before this House yet. We haven't seen anything at all in terms of what kind of packages, how many employees, public sector workers this government is planning - to use their lingo - to downsize, how many workaday Nova Scotians that this government congratulates in its Throne Speech it is planning to eliminate. But they are setting aside $23 million for some future thing and this Order in Council passed just days before the fiscal calendar year for the province came to an end.

We are now in fiscal 1996-97, we are in that fiscal year now. The budget for 1996-97 has yet to be presented and you know, in the budgetary process, members of this House and members of the public get an opportunity to scrutinize government expenditures. I have no hesitation in saying, if brought in properly I have no hesitation whatsoever in supporting putting additional funds in the Department of Justice budget for 1996-97 to cover the anticipated costs of compensation during fiscal 1996-97.

We are, as has been said by a previous speaker, starting an extremely dangerous process. If this or any future government is going to be permitted to state that expenditures to be made in the future will be billed back to previous years' budgets.

[4:45 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, the Provincial Finance Act is very clear. The Provincial Finance Act states, and this deals with any extra appropriation. It does not just deal with providing compensation for those who deserve compensation because of the abuse that they had received. The Provincial Finance Act deals with how appropriations, expenditures and so on are to be done. It clearly states, Section 28(1), that yes, indeed, extra appropriations can be approved by Order in Council if those costs, ". . . appropriated by the Legislature for an ordinary or usual service is insufficient to meet the requirements of that service . . .", and here are the key words, ". . . during the year for which the appropriation has been made or that the sum appropriated by the Legislature to be expended on capital account is insufficient for the service for which it was appropriated, . . .".

So, Madam Speaker, if an unseen event happens, if, for example, to use an example that the Minister of Transportation used, I think it was the Minister of Transportation - maybe I will withdraw that in attributing the remark to him because it may not have been made by that minister - but if there was an emergency and a bridge collapsed and that bridge or a safety concern developed, or if it was found that there was a building in which school children or somebody are attending has a very serious, crucial air quality problem that must be addressed, yes, indeed, Cabinet has the legal authority under the Provincial Finance Act to say that extra appropriations are needed and, therefore, pass Orders in Council to do that.

[Page 168]

But, Madam Speaker, they do not have the right, under that Act, they do not have the legal authority under that Act, to pass approvals for expenditures that are going to occur some time in the future and bill them back to previous years. If they can do that, what do we have budgets for? This government likes to run around and talk to the businesses. The Minister of Finance runs around the province talking to chambers of commerce, talking to business organizations and likes to portray themselves as the good financial managers, as a good business government.

Madam Speaker, I suggest in the strongest possible terms that the practices that are being followed here by this government are anything but acceptable, good business practices. We have seen situations in the past where there are ongoing compensations, where there are ongoing inquiries, where additional costs are going to be incurred in subsequent years. We saw that, for example, with the Marshall Inquiry, that monies were allocated each and every year to meet the requirements of the inquiry and compensation.

But, Madam Speaker, what we have here is a government playing, and I hate to put it so bluntly but I must, political games. This resolution, and not only the resolution but the Order in Council that was passed, is largely a political game to try to pretend that their upcoming budget is more balanced and creating a phoney impression for the people of this province for what the government hopes will be their electoral rewards when they call the election.

There is no question. It has been identified by others in this House, by a number of us outside this House, that the province, yes, indeed, has received windfall incomes this year. No question whatsoever. Nova Scotians, whether you are a senior citizen now paying increased Pharmacare costs, whether you are a senior citizen who is going to be denied the property tax rebate, whether you are a senior citizen or a regular individual who is not a senior citizen who is going to be paying increased driver's license fees, birth certificate fees, $25 for your health care card and on and on, Madam Speaker, this province has been socking it to people in increased taxes. Only they don't call them that.

In addition, Madam Speaker, and the minister was correct before, when they are talking about part of the reason why the debt in the province has increased, is because they have assumed and registered or added to the debt what were truly Nova Scotian debts instead of hiding them elsewhere, like the debt of Nova Scotia Resources and workers' compensation. That is correct. But, this government is taking a leaf out of John Buchanan's book by doing exactly the same thing because it is also now trying to hide the debt costs, the capital costs for the Highway No. 104 western alignment. They are trying to hide the capital costs for schools and any other project that they can, on some public/private for profit partners' books. In other words, they are doing exactly the same thing that the Buchanan Government did, of which they are so critical. That is some record to be proud of, some wonderful record.

Maybe the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Justice, who was a Finance Critic for the Liberal Party before the current Minister of Finance was, look at some of their comments made when they were over here in criticizing the Buchanan Government for the manner in which they handled the finances of this province. Madam Speaker, what the government did in those days, they intentionally underestimated their expenditures so that it would look rosy. That is what the Conservatives did, so it would look rosy when they introduced their budget. They intentionally, I would suggest, underestimated what the actual expenditures were going to be. They intentionally overestimated - or if they weren't intentionally overestimating, they were dreaming in Technicolor in terms of what the revenues were going to be to make their budget look good, to get a good headline in the paper

[Page 169]

for political reasons. We all saw that rosy picture, especially in years like 1981, 1984, 1988 and they tried the same in 1993 because those years just happened to coincide with an election. No question about that.

What this government is doing is trying to hide the fact that it had these increased revenues, $65 million, or was it $67 million in unbudgeted and unplanned equalization payments from Ottawa, in part, not because of Nova Scotia doing so well but because back in 1994 and so on, Madam Speaker, the economy in places like Ontario and British Columbia recovered while we were lagging, while we were pulling up the tail-end of the pack, that we did so poorly compared to those other provinces that our equalization payments went way up.

So another major windfall because of our dismal performance, because of the lack of leadership of this government which pats itself on the back for supposedly creating new jobs, almost like the Minister of Finance's own statement from January points out, yes, 11,000 new part-time jobs and 3,000 less full-time jobs, January to January, 1995 to 1996. Those are not my figures, those are the figures from the Department of Finance. So if you take those 3,000 full-time jobs and you hive them up into 15 hour-a-week jobs, Madam Speaker, that would create your 11,000 part-time jobs, except the part-time jobs don't have the benefits and so on and they are normally at a lower wage.

The Minister of Finance, and I would suggest that this was creative bookkeeping last year when they introduced the budget, they were projecting that the interest rates, the debt servicing cost for the Province of Nova Scotia would be $47 million higher than in the previous year. They were predicting that at a time when they knew that there would be a number of bond issues coming due during this fiscal year where the interest rate was much higher than it was during this past year.

So they had to win on that. Also at a time when people were predicting that the interest rates were actually dropping; that was what the market was saying. But they built in this bony cushion, trying to give the most pessimistic view. You might say that they pulled a Buchanan-style budget in reverse. Instead of trying to look good when they issued the budget, they wanted to look good when the budget results came in. Now, Madam Speaker, what they are trying to is make next year's projections of expenditures look even better by hiding the additional incomes that have come in from last year, to make next year's expenditures look much lower.

Madam Speaker, I think, quite frankly, that this government would get a lot more accolades for being upfront and honest. What is the big deal? Why can't the government obey the law? I am not a lawyer, but I would question whether or not, if this resolution passes and was challenged in the courts, if this could not be overturned as being ultra vires, as it violates the Provincial Finance Act. But we do not have the legal authority, by means of resolution, to override a proper Act of the provincial government.

What this government is doing is a shell game. It is playing games; it is politics. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever why the government, whether it is in two weeks time or three weeks time, when the Minister of Finance tables in this House, he could not be showing an accurate projection, an accurate estimate on how much was spent last year. If that shows a surplus of not $30 million, but maybe of $100 million, I say Madam Speaker, the Minister of Finance may get pats on the back.

But you know what? He does not want to do that and the government does not want to do that because they know that they are decimating the health care system across this province, they know that they are decimating the education system and it will not look like their callous, cold treatment of the workers of this province and all others will be justified if, in fact, they came in with that kind of surplus. It would also show the magnitude of the tax grab that they have been involved in. Of course, they are now looking at even more major tax grabs by talking about harmonization and expanding the provincial sales tax to municipalities, school boards, hospital boards, you name it.

[5:00 p.m.]

[Page 170]

My closing comments are quite simply this, I invite the Minister of Finance to go out and get independent legal advice as to whether or not this resolution is, in fact, in accordance with the law - point one. Point two, I challenge the Minister of Finance and his colleagues to put on the table of this House an accurate reflection of the finances of this province. If there is an increased surplus, then show it in last year's fiscal projections. Give an honest projection of the cost of running government for the 1996-97 fiscal year. Let us stop playing games here with the people of Nova Scotia and that is what we have been seeing increasingly from this government. Nova Scotians are getting sick and tired of games from politicians from any side of this House. They want the honest truth presented to them, they do not expect miracles, but they do expect to be treated with respect. They do expect to be treated as if they have a grain of common sense.

I suggest to the minister and to his colleagues, including the minister responsible for etiquette in this House that, in fact, by providing that honest accounting they will gain far more respect from the people in this province than they are by these phony budget balancing acts, the phony show games that they are so intent on proceeding with for their own political agenda.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I would like to offer a few comments, if I could, in connection with the resolution which is before us.

I, too, find the resolution somewhat offensive because I really do honestly believe at root cause what we are dealing with is some sleight of hand and some deception. I think it is important as we assess what we are really dealing with today to take a look as others have asked us to do at the Provincial Finance Act. You will be aware that the Provincial Finance Act indicates as set out in Section 28(1), "When it appears to the Minister . . .", in this case the Minister of Finance, ". . . or principal officer having charge of a service that the sum appropriated by the Legislature for an ordinary or usual service is insufficient to meet the requirements of that service during the year for which the appropriation has been made or that the sum appropriated by the Legislature to be expended on capital account . . .", in this case we are not really dealing with capital account, ". . . is insufficient for the service for which it was appropriated, the Minister or principal officer shall make a report of that fact to the Minister of Finance and shall in such report estimate the additional sum required to carry out the service.".

When the Minister of Finance, as set out in Clause 28(2), receives that report, the Minister of Finance is then empowered to make a report to the Governor in Council outlining the need of additional appropriation and thereupon the Executive Council is given the authority, it is a permissive authority, it, ". . . may order that such additional sums as are

[Page 171]

deemed necessary for the said service be appropriated accordingly, provided that the additional sums appropriated to be expended on capital account shall not exceed twenty-five per cent of the amount appropriated by the Legislature for the service.".

Now, I cannot help, Madam Speaker, but be struck by some of the language in that legislation. The language enables additional appropriations to be made in circumstances where they are intended to add expenditure capacity for what the Act itself calls "ordinary or usual service". Well, let's just take a look at the particular item which, for his own ulterior motives, the Minister of Finance and his colleagues with him have decided to select as the one which is highlighted here. Of course, that is an amount of $32,037,900 and it is to be added to the expenditure capacity in the Department of Justice.

Well, why was that one chosen? First of all, it was chosen because it is possible for the government now to say, we are setting aside $32 million so that we can have a fund and a reserve available back in the 1995-96 books of accounts of the Province of Nova Scotia to respond to the needs of compensating victims of crime.

Well, I don't know whether they honestly believe that anybody in the province would expect that any member of the Opposition would stand up and take issue with establishing making a commitment that victims of crime be compensated, but the language of the Provincial Finance Act goes on to say ". . . is insufficient to meet the requirements of that service.". So here we are talking about, by the government's own statement, the service here is the compensation of victims of crime during the year for which the appropriation has been made.

Well, it is deceitful in the extreme, Madam Speaker, for this government to come to this House and come to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia and say, we need, as a government, $32 million in fiscal 1995-96 because we needed, in the words of the Provincial Finance Act, during the year for which we want to appropriate it, so that we can compensate victims of crime. The truth of the matter is that relative to the victims of crime to whom we refer, the government has played jiggery-pokery with the whole process for months and the victims of crime have not been compensated. They simply have not been compensated.

The fiscal year in which the Minister of Finance comes to us and says, we need the money to compensate those victims, has come and gone. The compensation has not been paid. So we are playing, Madam Speaker, if I may, with a fiction. We are playing with an innovative and an interesting but, if I may so, a disappointingly deceitful accounting practice here by virtue of what is set out in this particular resolution.

There is no order from any court which imposes a legal obligation today on the Minister of Justice to pay compensation to the victims of crime. There is no Order in Council of which I am aware which outlines a commitment and an undertaking by the Government of Nova Scotia that they have settled on a particular mode, method or amount of payment of compensation for victims of crime and there is, to my knowledge, no legally enforceable contractual obligation undertaken, signed or executed by this government in fiscal 1995-96 obligating this government to pay on behalf of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia any money in compensation of the victims of crime. So, with respect, Madam Speaker, it is simply not true. It is untrue totally that it is necessary for this government to have $32,037,900 in the books of account of the Province of Nova Scotia for fiscal 1995-96 to pay compensation to the victims of crime.

[Page 172]

There are discussions, there are negotiations. I called, within recent days, a couple of people who are engaged in representation of many of those who are seeking compensation from the provincial government. Those meetings are ongoing. No resolution has been reached. For all we know, God forbid, we could go through fiscal 1996-97 and not have those victims of crime compensated. We have been asking, pleading, hoping, cajoling and doing everything we possibly can to encourage the Minister of Justice, the Premier and other ministers, all of the Cabinet, to come to a conclusion and reach settlement by way of compensation of those victims of crime. But that hasn't happened.

So what are we really doing when we read the language of the Provincial Finance Act? What are we really doing? Are we setting aside money in a budget year for an ordinary or usual service? My answer is no. This is not an ordinary or usual service. This is an extraordinary situation for which no current existing liability confronts this provincial government. They are under no legal liability or obligation as of today nor were they, as of a few hours ago, when the last fiscal year finished, to make payments. They are under a moral obligation and they keep talking about the moral obligation and they keep assuring or attempting to reassure that compensation will be paid, but they are not under any legal obligation.

I suggest therefore, Madam Speaker, that when the Auditor General has a look at this, the Auditor General will, I am speculating, because I don't know this for a fact, is going to have very real difficulty with the establishment of a $32 million expenditure when there is no existing liability against which the reserve could or should in fiscal 1995-96 properly be established.

What do we do when we debate this resolution? Do we just simply ignore the other words in Section 28(1) of the Provincial Finance Act, to meet the requirements of that service during the year for which the appropriation has been made? The appropriation that we are being asked to make is an appropriation for 1995-96. That fiscal year, Madam Speaker, is over, done, history, functus, gone, never to be seen again, for the service during the year for which the appropriation has been made.

If the Minister of Finance stood up and said, at the eleventh hour, in the dying days of fiscal 1995-96, we were able through the efforts and diligence of the Minister of Justice and others to come to a conclusion relative to the compensation of the victims of crime and we have a court order, we have signed agreements, we have Orders in Council committing and undertaking to pay certain amounts as requested of us by those representing the Victims of Crime and therefore, in fiscal 1995-96, we require $32 million to meet that obligation, then I wouldn't be here at all making any comment about this because the government would be doing the right thing. The government here isn't doing the right thing at all, Madam Speaker, and I know you know it.

[5:15 p.m.]

The Minister of Finance attempts to make it sound as if he is really very proud that he is able to stand up and say to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia that there is surplus money available in the books of account, 1995-96, and I am really pleased and proud, says the Minister of Finance, to be able to set up this reserve account and what a good boy am I and isn't it great that we are in a position that he, the Minister of Finance, has that capacity.

[Page 173]

I don't know that I would go too far afield if I were the Minister of Finance, patting himself on the back that he has the capacity to do this, well, I guess I would change that slightly. I guess there is some merit and the Minister of Finance can take some satisfaction in being able to say that the results of the fiscal performance of the Province of Nova Scotia in fiscal 1995-96 were somewhat better than anticipated, to his credit and I give him credit. That is worth talking about. He knows, as I know and as those who are reasonably keen and astute observers of the provincial finances in this province, that the bulk of the reason that he is in that position and the government is in that position is that some tremendously sizeable windfall payments have been received by the provincial government and, hence, the Minister of Finance has these resources available to him.

Is it in the context of listening to a Minister of Finance who likes to remind us that here we are, unlike previous administrations, coming to the Legislature and being upfront and straight and honest, and expenditure-control legislation calls upon the government under section - if I could ever find that particular piece of that legislation - the Expenditure Control Act calls upon the government to come forward and pursuant to Section 9 indicates that, "A program operating expenditure or capital expenditure that exceeds the amounts authorized to be spent pursuant to this Act may only be made after a resolution has been passed by the House of Assembly authorizing the expenditure.".

The minister offers that as evidence of the fact that, boy, a new age had dawned, a new age of openness, a new age of accountability, a new age of honesty, a new age of transparency of government operation. Well, this is transparent all right. It is so transparent that what the Minister of Finance is really telling the people of Nova Scotia, and telling all of us as his colleagues, that he is setting himself up by way of some innovative and creative accounting, setting himself up to look not so bad as he closes the books on 1995-96, but to provide himself with something like $90 million of leeway in fiscal 1996-97 which he otherwise would not have had. In 1996-97, some in this province believe this is likely to be an election year and it is most interesting and most helpful to the Minister of Finance (Interruption) Well, my friend, the good Minister of Labour says maybe 1997-98. Well, that may be the case.

It may also be the case - as I said a moment ago and the Minister of Labour may not have heard me say it and I think it is worthy of repetition - that the amount of money which the Minister of Finance is asking us to roll back into 1995-96 may not even be used through 1996-97. It may not be, and I think the Minister of Labour is agreeing with me.

If that is possible, how really honest, how really straight, how really upfront with the taxpayers of Nova Scotia is this particular bit of sleight of hand with the books of account of the Province of Nova Scotia?

All of this is being done, Madam Speaker, and we are being asked to roll money back retroactively, as one of our former colleagues many years ago used to like to say, we are rolling this back radioactively into a previous physical year. Well, you know that is exactly what we are doing. (Interruption)

Well, the Minister of Science and Technology can look up that radioactivity stuff on his spider's web when he gets that all up and running. But that is really what we are doing, we are rolling back retroactively into an earlier fiscal year monies which we have no reason to believe, well, first of all, monies which are not a legitimate, I suggest, when one applies any generally accepted accounting principle to the situation, I do not believe that with the possible exception of a few of his cohorts in the Department of Finance who may have discussed this

[Page 174]

with him and probably in consultation with some of his cohorts in the Cabinet, I will bet you that this Minister of Finance would find great difficulty or have great difficulty in finding very many chartered accountants and others who know something about generally accepted accounting principles, buying it all that the rolling back of this particular amount for this alleged purpose into 1995-96 comes within light years of meeting any generally accepted accounting principle.

Where is the liability? The expenditure is not going to be made in 1995-96. It is a physical impossibility because 1995-96 is gone, it is history. So the expenditure isn't going to be made in the year in which the books of account will show it or into which this minister attempts to move it by way of this resolution.

Add to that that we have seen absolutely no evidence that there is a legal liability. There is no legal liability which was incurred in 1995-96 which justifies the moving of any money back into 1995-96 to respond to this alleged expenditure.

I ask, Mr. Speaker, where that liability is? All we have had from this government is some speeches along the way saying yes, we are going to deal with the victims of crime and at some point we are going to work out some kind of a compensation arrangement. It took months and months for the initial meetings to even get underway; 1995-96 is over and gone and no compensation has been paid. It is impossible to write a cheque with a 1995-96 fiscal year date on it to compensate anybody.

Therefore, I ask, what is the generally accepted accounting principle that supports the transportation back in time into 1995-96 of any money which is intended to pay compensation to the victims of crime? All of this, interestingly enough, Mr. Speaker, is being done on the eve of this distinguished and effective Minister of Finance coming to the people of Nova Scotia with a new budget. He has already told the public that he is coming to this place with a new budget sometime around the middle of April.

Well, why is it that if, in fact, it is intended as a policy position of the Government of Nova Scotia, that the victims of these heinous crimes will be compensated, some of them at least if not all in the coming fiscal year, in 1996-97. I would like to understand, and fail thus far to understand, why it is that this government would not include in the estimates of the Minister of Justice, or indeed in any other budget line which it considers appropriate, monies sufficient to enable those compensation payments to be made.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Would the honourable member permit a question?

I have been sitting there listening very carefully to his comments and I came to the conclusion that, indeed, he is now suggesting that it should have been included in this upcoming budget rather than in last year's budget. Now mind you, the authority to spend the OIC was passed in 1995-96, but as he pointed out, quite clearly, there was no legal liability and that presumably is the basis of this objection.

There was no legal liability. Why is it going to be any different when the budget comes out in the middle of April when, in fact, there may be no legal liability then, just as there was no legal liability when the OIC was passed? Why should we include it then? That's my question to the member. If that is the basis for his rationale, that there was no legal liability, there may be no legal liability when this year's budget is passed, as there was no legal liability when the OIC was passed. What is the difference?

[Page 175]

MR. DONAHOE: I find it really interesting and, quite frankly, I am sure the victims of crime who are pleading for compensation are going to find it very interesting, too, to realize that the Minister of Finance has stood here today and has indicated that there is a possibility that there will be no legal liability.

MR. BOUDREAU: You said that.

MR. DONAHOE: We will look at Hansard tomorrow and we will find that the Minister of Finance just this moment stood in his place and said (Interruption) He is now saying back-pedalling. Well, we will back-pedal a few paragraphs to what he just said. When we back-pedal to his comments, we will find that this Minister of Finance stood and said that it is completely possible that we will find that in fiscal 1996-97 there will be no legal liability to compensate the victims of crime. I wonder, does that mean that this government has no intention of undertaking a legal liability of compensating those victims of crime in 1996-97? That will not, in my opinion, be very warm encouragement or welcome information for the victims of crime who seek compensation.

There is no question that what we are dealing with here is nothing more than a ploy. It is a ploy to unload into an earlier fiscal year, where it does not belong, an expenditure which this government knows at some point it will have to face. It is going to by definition enable the development of a 1996-97 election year budget that much easier for this government knowing that they have sitting back in a set of accounts from a previous year a slush fund to which they can revert to enable them to respond to the legitimate needs and the long overdue rights of some of the victims of crime.

The Minister of Finance when he spoke earlier was really patting himself on the back when he talked about the Act respecting the reduction and control of operating and capital expenditures of the province. He said that this is the first time that these extra appropriations are being debated on the floor of the Legislature, and that is so.

[5:30 p.m.]

This is the same Minister of Finance, Madam Speaker, who has indicated to us that he is going to come forward with other legislation, he says, to make further changes in the Provincial Finance Act or other legislation relative to the finances of the Province of Nova Scotia. As the saying goes, I am from Missouri.

I know, Madam Speaker, that you will recall well a document, a portion of which I have in my hand, and it is called Accountability and Accessibility in Government-Liberal Policy. This is what you and all of your colleagues campaigned on in the 1993 election campaign. The ink is relatively dry. It is a little less than three years old. You will recall that you and the Minister of Finance and all of the members of the Liberal Party campaigned on a document which said, among other things, that a Liberal Government will, through amending the Provincial Finance Act, require the Public Accounts Committee to review all additional appropriations before they are approved by the Governor in Council.

That is a step, I think, that got missed along the way here. That is a promise that was broken. It was a promise that was forgotten, or it was a promise which was made in relation to which none of them who made it had any intention of keeping. I don't know what it was, but it was a promise to the people of Nova Scotia. They ranted and they railed about the previous government and about additional appropriations and there was some of that here today.

[Page 176]

So to say to the people of Nova Scotia in the election campaign of 1993, we are going to be open, accessible, transparent. If we are going to spend more money than we actually debate and have approved on the floor of the House of Assembly in Estimates Debate, if we get into that situation, boy have we got an answer that makes it completely open and accessible to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia, the taxpayers, to know what is going on.

Because they produced a campaign document in which they promised that a Liberal Government will, through amending the Provincial Finance Act, require the Public Accounts Committee to review all additional appropriations before they are approved by the Governor in Council.

Madam Speaker, you are, if memory serves me correctly, the Vice-Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of this Legislature. My guess is, and it is but a guess as I am not a regular member, although on occasion I have had the opportunity to fill in for colleagues and function at meetings of the Public Accounts Committee of this Legislature, but I know perfectly well, and so do you, as Vice-Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, and so does the Minister of Finance and so does everybody in this place, that this is a promise that was never kept, this is an amendment to the Provincial Finance Act promised by the Liberal Government in the election campaign of 1993 never kept. The Provincial Finance Act was never amended to impose that obligation and the extra appropriations totalling some $90 million, which were passed by the Cabinet down in the Cabinet Room on the basis of a report and recommendation from the Minister of Finance dated March 20, 1996, were never ever shown to or discussed at the Public Accounts Committee.

I don't know, Madam Speaker. Maybe the ministers are just so busy; those international trips and other things take a lot of time and maybe it was just oversight. Maybe it is just oversight over the last three years that the promise to amend the Provincial Finance Act was unfortunately overlooked, but it has, in fact, been overlooked.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a question, Madam Speaker. I know that it is not appropriate to ask and the Speaker cannot give a legal opinion on whether or not the particular resolution that is before us is in violation of the Provincial Finance Act and I am not asking the current Speaker to provide a legal opinion either, even though I would trust his legal judgment better than I would my own.

However, Madam Speaker, I believe there is a process we could use to determine if, in fact, this resolution before us is contrary to the Provincial Finance Act - I would like the member's view on that - that would be to refer this matter to a justice of the Supreme Court to get a declaratory judgment as to whether or not this resolution is in violation of the terms of the Provincial Finance Act and whether or not the member would be in agreement that it would be, at the very least, a positive thing to do, and that is to have this resolution held - because, of course the monies are not going to be needed in the short term in any event - until such a declaratory statement could be received from the Supreme Court Justice. I am quite sure that the government would have absolutely no time in having a Supreme Court Justice address it in very brief time. I wonder if the member would give his learned opinion on the suggestion I have just raised?

MADAM SPEAKER: It is a very interesting supposition that the honourable member has just posed but I am not very certain that the member for Halifax Citadel would want to put himself in the position of giving legal advice on the floor of this House.

I recognize the honourable member for Halifax Citadel. (Interruption) I just answered your question and I would now recognize the member for Halifax Citadel. (Interruptions) Order, please, order.

MR. DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, you and many members of this House know the old adage that free advice is worth exactly what you pay for it. (Interruption) Yes, well, as they say of me, do your best, Terry, it is little enough.

MADAM SPEAKER: I am glad that the member said that and not somebody else.

[Page 177]

MR. DONAHOE: Oh well, some others have said it, too, so I don't mind that, Madam Speaker. The skin is pretty thick after 18 years in here and I don't mind the barbs. But 18 years in here does, if I may, in a way come to the observations made by my learned colleague from Sackville. I really don't know, because of commitments over the weekend, I did not have the opportunity to do as much research as I would have liked. But I have a very serious reservation here as to whether or not we are violating and running afoul of Section 28 of the Provincial Finance Act.

I really believe that if we were to subject the language of Section 28 of the Provincial Finance Act to judicial scrutiny in the context of what the Minister of Finance attempts to do here or asks this Legislature to do here, that a court of competent jurisdiction would come to at least two conclusions. They would come to a conclusion that the item which the minister purports to fold back into fiscal 1995-96 is, firstly, not an ordinary or usual service; and, secondly, I believe that a court of competent jurisdiction would find that the resolution should fail by reason of the fact that it does not meet or is not being put back in 1995-96 to meet requirements of that service, whichever service, during the year for which the appropriation has been made.

Those are fundamental elements of the Provincial Finance Act. They are there for a purpose. I believe the purpose is, Madam Speaker, to avoid doing exactly what we are now trying to do or, more to the point, to avoid what the Minister of Finance is now trying to do. You don't play around radioactively, as my friend used to say, you don't play around retroactively with the Provincial Finance Act of the Province of Nova Scotia, you don't just blow $32 million worth of taxpayers' money back into a budget or a set of estimates into a fiscal year, which, interestingly enough, has come and gone.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is history.

MR. DONAHOE: It is history. If it was intended, Madam Speaker, for us as legislators to have a legal authority to roll money back into fiscal years which have terminated, I can't help but believe that those who preceded us in this place, when developing and crafting and, over the years, amending the Provincial Finance Act, would have developed language for the Provincial Finance Act which would have permitted a retroactive transfer back into an earlier and since completed or ended fiscal year. Those provisions don't exist. Those provisions are not in the Provincial Finance Act and I don't believe it was intended.

Why is it, as an example, just to come at it from another vantage point, Madam Speaker, that we are dealing with an item that the Minister of Finance indicated earlier that he needed something - and I don't want to misquote him - and if he would perhaps hear what I have to say and if I do, I know he will disabuse me of my error, I think I recall earlier this afternoon the Minister of Finance indicating that a number something like $32 million was

[Page 178]

about the kind of number or is in the range of number that he needed relative to the Expenditure Control Act provisions to roll back into 1995-96?

Well, I guess I would wonder, if that is so, why wouldn't there have been - if it is really $32 million - then I find that real interesting. I wonder if perhaps it is closer to - if I add up - $16.1 million, $10.5 million, $4.8 million, I get $31 million and something. It is curious, isn't it, that the Minister of Finance would come to us with the Department of Justice number and he wouldn't come to us with the combination of the Community Services number of $4.8 million, the Insured Programs Management Department of Health number of $10.5 million and the Regional Programs Department of Health number of $16.1 million. Those total $31 million, almost $32 million. That is the amount which the Minister of Finance tells the taxpayers of Nova Scotia he wants to roll back into 1995-96. Curious, I think. Curious, but frankly upon analysis, reasonably transparent. I think that the reason he picked on the $32 million Department of Justice number is because he could then clothe that in language which would enable him and his colleagues to talk about compensation of victims of crime.

To talk about compensation of victims of crime from a government which for the last couple of years has steadfastly refused to compensate those victims of crime, and they have stonewalled that whole matter for many months, I think, in excess of a year or more. Curious in the extreme. Curious, too, I find that there is no legal liability. There is no Order in Council having committed the government to make the compensation. There is no court order. There are no agreements signed. The Minister of Finance is able to come up with a number like $32,037,900. Very interesting that he could find that the compensation for victims of crime is going to require $32,037,900. No cents. He rounded it to 00 in the cents column.

So what are we really dealing with, Madam Speaker? We are dealing with a situation where, as the Minister of Finance stands up unabashedly and says, I got some money left over in 1995-96 and I am going to roll back into 1995-96 after the fact, after the year is done, and if the Minister of Finance wants to say, as he did earlier, no, no, we didn't do it after the year was done, I did it on the basis of a report and recommendation dated March 20th and that report and recommendation was passed by Cabinet on March 26th, if memory serves me correctly. So the member for Halifax Citadel shouldn't get carried away that I didn't do all this that I should have in the fiscal year.

[5:45 p.m.]

Well, my answer to that, and I suggest the definitive answer is that if this were truly to be done in a way that would enable me and some others to have even a modicum of sense that this is other than cooking the books and some chicanery here, it is possible that this House could have opened a couple of days prior to the end of the last fiscal year and the matters could have been resolved in a more timely fashion, and that could have happened and it didn't happen.

So what have we got? We have this government using, I think, inappropriately, the language of the Public Finance Act and using, I think, inappropriately, the language of the Expenditure Control Act in an effort to set up what they will call a reserve and I will call a slush fund. There is only one purpose in this being done and there is only one purpose alone in this being done, and it is to make it easier for the Minister of Finance when he comes to craft his 1996-97 budget. That is the only reason this is being done.

[Page 179]

I am going to vote against it. I think it is from a government which has travelled far and wide across this province telling people that we are here to be open and accountable and do things above board and make sure that everybody understands what is really going on, and we are going to tell you about the finances of the province and we are not going to be like those so-and-sos who were in government before us and so on. (Interruption)

I wonder if the cackles from the members opposite here to my right are saying no question about that. I would like them some day to tell their constituents and to tell me here on the floor of the House, where they are in terms of amending the Provincial Finance Act to require the Public Accounts Committee to review all additional appropriations before they are approved by the Governor in Council. These additional appropriations didn't go anywhere near the Public Accounts Committee.

What is that? That is just another broken Liberal-Savage promise, that is all that is and yet I get the cackles. What else can it be other than idle chatter and cackles from people who went to the polls, knocked on doors in their constituencies and said, you know, that government that we are trying to unseat, they are not as open with the finances of the province as they should be, so here, mister or madam voter, I want to tell you to take this piece of paper and read right here because when you elect us, a Liberal Government, we are going to go and clean this all up.

There is this thing about extra appropriations, and governments produce estimates in the House, there is a big debate, and a budget is settled. That is supposed to be what a government should spend, but, you know, governments traditionally spend more. They are allowed to by law, but they shouldn't do it and if they do it, they should do it in the open and we, the Liberals, said - all of those of you who knocked on the doors in May of 1993 - vote for us because we are going to do it in the open. Well, where is the amendment to the Provincial Finance Act, where the Liberal Government promised to amend the Provincial Finance Act and send to the Public Accounts Committee, for review, all additional appropriations before they are approved by the Governor in Council? That didn't happen.

This is the open - oh sure it is the open - this is the Nova Scotia Legislature open retroactive move back to fiscal 1995-96 is what this is open. This is opening a very dangerous fiscal and financial planning precedent. This is very bad stuff. This Minister of Finance, who enjoys, and I share some of it, enjoys to his credit, and rightly so, some status and stature and credibility in the business community of this province, this isn't up to his standard. This is tomfoolery, this is jiggery-pokery, this is deceitful, this is cooking the books, this is setting up a slush fund in last year's books of account so that his budget for 1996-97 will be that much easier and he will have that much more flexibility. That is what this is and that is not up to the standard of what some have come to believe is typical of this particular Minister of Finance.

Madam Speaker, I really believe that if we were going to be open and going to really be sure that we were doing and are, as legislators, responsible for this $90 million of taxpayers' money and all of the billions of dollars of taxpayers' money which we consider here in this place, if we really were going to take the steps which would jibe with all the Liberal talk about openness and accountability and accessibility to information, I really believe that what we would do and what we should do and what the Minister of Finance would recommend that we do here is that we ask the Auditor General to have a look at the particular process which we are asked to consider here, as legislators. The Auditor General is the watchdog of all of us, the watchdog of what we do and don't do, relative to the finances of

[Page 180]

the Province of Nova Scotia and how we conduct ourselves, as legislators, in relation to those finances.

I would encourage those, and I am sure there will be many from all corners of the House, who will want to make a contribution to the discussion and debate on this resolution, who would be prepared to support that suggestion. What better assurance could the taxpayers of Nova Scotia have, Madam Speaker, than to have the imprimatur of the Auditor General of the Province of Nova Scotia on this process. That Auditor General would say to us, if, indeed, it was his view, upon a full and complete analysis of what is going on here, I think this is the right thing to do, I think this is an acceptable course of action. I think this action is consistent with generally accepted accounting principles. I believe that it meets all of the appropriate accounting and auditing tests.

I am not an accountant, I am not an auditor and I am certainly not the Auditor General. I don't know if the Auditor General would say any of those things but it occurs to me that if we really want to be open and clear and have some sense of assurance that we are not establishing a frighteningly dangerous precedent, and I think we may be, I think reference to the Auditor General would help allay many of those fears.

Madam Speaker, I doubt that you know, and I certainly don't know, of too many situations where we can, in our personal finances, find ways to play around with our accounts and roll back amounts into a previous fiscal year.

If you made a charitable donation today, it would perhaps be very much to your advantage to be able to put that in the package of materials you use when you do last year's tax return and that might help you greatly. It might save you a little tax. It might result in a little bit of a refund or a little bit of an increased refund. But you cannot do that. You cannot roll it back retroactively into your accounts of the year previous. That is tantamount to what we are doing here and I suggest to you that there is no authority in the Provincial Finance Act, Madam Speaker, for what we are doing here.

I would simply ask the rhetorical question, Madam Speaker, if it was intended by those of us and those who preceded us and passed the Provincial Finance Act and amended it periodically, to contemplate a situation where we should, using the taxpayers of Nova Scotia's dollars, be able to roll money back retroactively into previous fiscal years, I would pose the question, why would you not think that the legislation would set that authority out? Of course, it does not.

When you look at the legislation and the authority under which the Minister of Finance purports to do what he is doing here and he cites it in the report and recommendation which he presented to his Cabinet colleagues and it is repeated and enshrined in the Order in Council which was the result of that Cabinet decision, he says that he therefore recommends, pursuant to Section 28 of the Provincial Finance Act.

Well, how can we go anywhere except to Section 28 of the Provincial Finance Act to find out what authority he has got under that Act? He has got an authority to charge an additional sum not appropriated by the Legislature for an ordinary or usual service. He tells us that this money is to compensate Victims of Crime. That is not an ordinary or usual service. That is a special response to a moral obligation which I trust and hope, on behalf of the victims of those crimes, will be transformed soon into a legal obligation, and it is not yet, at which point it will then be appropriate for this government to make an expenditure.

This is not an ordinary and usual service as described and defined in Section 28 of the Provincial Finance Act and it is the Provincial Finance Act, Section 28, which the Minister of Finance asked his Cabinet colleagues to use to give him the authority to take this matter forward to the Legislature.

Madam Speaker, if the legislation, the Provincial Finance Act, were to contemplate a situation where we could start moving money back and forth between fiscal years and, more to the point, retroactively back into a previous fiscal year, why, if the Provincial Finance Act would allow that, would it not say it? In fact, the very section to which the Minister of Finance turns for his authority to do what he purports to do here says just the opposite.

[Page 181]

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I wonder if you would care to adjourn debate, since we are almost at the moment of interruption, and announce the Opposition Day business.

MR. DONAHOE: I would be pleased to adjourn the debate. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The debate is adjourned.

I will call on the Acting House Leader.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: The hours of sitting tomorrow will be from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The order of business is Opposition Day, so perhaps the honourable Opposition House Leader could inform us.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, the order of business after Question Period tomorrow will be Resolution No. 2 and Resolution No. 55. I am not sure in which order, but those will be the two resolutions that will be debated tomorrow.

[6:00 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: We have reached the hour of interruption and we have a resolution this evening for debate. The resolution proposed by the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid was:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government stop playing shell games with the Highway No. 104 extension project and come clean with Nova Scotians instead.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: HIGHWAY NO. 104 EXTENSION - DISCLOSURE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, as I begin my remarks, I will address a comment or question across the floor from the Minister of Transportation and Public Works who said, what is the Highway No. 104 extension, pointing out the fact that in the resolution I did not refer to it by the correct and proper name. The minister, of course, and all members of this

[Page 182]

House know that I talking about the Highway No. 104 western alignment route that this government has chosen to privatize and turn into a situation where, although the province says that the road is to be owned by the people of Nova Scotia, the province, of course, has no responsibility for.

Interesting concept and those who are in charge of paying for the costs, the individuals, those who use the road, the people of the Province of Nova Scotia are going to have absolutely no way and no opportunity, given the way that this government has set up that corporation, to hold that corporation or the government accountable, so the government hopes; also, to have no opportunity, unfortunately, to this government's shame for any input into it.

The Highway No. 104 western alignment route has a long history and the history for Highway No. 104, of course, does even predate this current government. It was first announced back in March 1993, when the former Cameron Government announced it was going to be doing that. It is interesting to take a look at where this current government picked up from what the previous government announced and promised it was going to do. The SHIP agreement had been signed by the former government. Back in February and March 1993, while still in Opposition, the Liberals confirmed that they would, first of all, reject the western alignment and choose a route which had better economic impact and less environmental concerns. There were also concerns at that time and subsequently as to the suitability of this route, given safety concerns, given the fact that route would see the elevation at its highest point - 250 feet higher than the current highest point on the Wentworth Valley route. That will, of course, make it more subject, as it is closer to the Bay of Fundy, to white-out and severe winter conditions.

That was, I believe the very first or maybe it was the second commitment that was broken by this government because the government, of course, right up through the end of May had said that they would be continuing ahead with projects, but that they would be re-evaluating the route. Come June, after the election, the Liberal Government, the announcement made by the Premier himself said that the government was going to stick to that route, stick to that choice because too much money had already been spent. Although, later freedom of information requests that we received showed that only $50,000 had been spent by that point in time; does not even begin to pay the legal costs for a couple of months for one of the lawyers, Liberal friends of this government that they have contracted for the legal advice.

Then they went on to say that this section of highway was too crucial and that it had to be done quickly. Any delays to look at a new route or to look at the environmental concerns would delay the completion of that project which was to be mid-1996. We are already in the fourth month of the year so according to the Liberal fast-track process, that highway was to be opened for motorists' use in two months' time, two months from now.

Well, Mr. Speaker, we all know the history - and I am not going to go into it - about the changes to the SHIP agreement and the redirection of many millions of dollars, initially to the Fleur-de-lis Trail in the minister's riding and Mr. Dingwall's riding. (Interruption) I understand that the member for Kings North may want to talk about that. Then, of course, after the public outcry, the money came back when the government's true agenda was revealed.

[Page 183]

However, Mr. Speaker, the government is still unfortunately playing shell games with the people of this province and political games obviously aimed at their own future. We know that the government is running around and saying that the private sector can build this highway for $20 million to $30 million less than the public sector. I suggest that that assertion, I am not allowed to use the word that begins with an "l", but I would suggest that anybody who says that the private sector can build that road for less cost than the public sector is telling an untruth because the Department of Transportation has been involved in public/private partnerships for years. The Department of Transportation has been building highways through contracts with private builders who actually do the work. That is what is happening here. The difference is that the government is trying to hide the costs of that road construction onto the books of those private developers, that private for-profit company that is going to be putting up the money or borrowing the money.

We also know, Mr. Speaker, that governments borrow money at a lower interest rate than you or I or businesses can. They get normally about a 2 per cent preference and so if about $70 million has to be borrowed to build that road, because, of course, we know the province is putting in a minimum of $55 million, plus they have already built in according to the minister's announcement, an additional $4.25 million to address environmental concerns yet the province says they are not taking any risk. They are not going to assume any liability. I call $60 million a pretty big liability personally and I don't think that the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia look at $60 million as small change.

But, Mr. Speaker, this government is trying to hide those. They are also shifting the location of the toll to capture more. Today we hear that Mr. Rankin, as I brought up in this House, the former deputy minister of the department, who took a retirement, is to be appointed as a sole director of this corporation that is supposed to be overseeing it. I also heard that, in fact, supposedly the minister outside this House, not in the House, has said that Mr. Rankin probably will only have to work one day a week or one day a month and may not even receive any pay. Well, if that is the case, then that whole corporation is a total charade. It is a farce set up to try to protect this government from any accountability and that corporation has no public accountability either. We know that the directions and decisions are being directed directly by the Minister of Transportation and this government themselves and that that corporation is yet one more shell game, one more farce, that this government is trying to hoodwink and pull over the people of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, my time has just about expired, with about five seconds left. Obviously there is a lot more to be said and will be said in the days and weeks ahead. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, although there are not many in the House - but there doesn't have to be at this time of the day as we are doing the late show - but I want to tell you, that this is a great, historical day in this province, April 2nd; April 2, 1974, was when I was first elected. (Applause) I think I am the only member . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: And you still have a fine sense of humour for 22 years.

MR. BROWN: Yes, and I want to tell you that I think I am the only one left from the 1974 class. Bill Gillis is from 1970 and Paul, but I think I am the only one left in the House from the 1974 class.

Anyway, the other thing, Mr. Speaker, I started out right there in that seat that the Honourable Jay Abbass has now. I was over there for quite a few years and now I am not far from where I started.

AN HON. MEMBER: They were your best years, over here, Guy.

MR. BROWN: They are always the best on the opposite, especially when it comes to bills.

[Page 184]

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate tonight because I believe it is an important debate, important to all of Cumberland County and to the Province of Nova Scotia. You know I also believe very strongly - and I have watched this whole debate since we started talking the Trans Canada in the late 1970's and have followed through the 1980's and into the 1990's, and I am not really going to get into a political speech tonight - that Nova Scotians and all members of this House should be asking themselves some very important questions; why did the governments of this province do the Trans Canada to Amherst and down to the Springhill Connector, and then did part of Colchester County, part of Antigonish County and other areas in this province, and all that time everybody ignored the most important section of all, the one that was going to cost the most? Nobody has dealt with that.

Now it wasn't through politics, because that was not my constituency then, so I don't want anybody to read the wrong thing into this. I have just represented that area since the boundaries changed in 1993, so nobody should leave here with that. In fact, the area was represented, I think it is fair to say, by a former government member pretty well except for maybe one term, I believe they had Mr. Henley there, who was a great member of the House of Assembly, and Mr. Hurley (Interruption) Yes, except that I am from the old school, so I guess I still have loyalty to the older people, like George Henley, who helped me a lot when I came in here.

Anyway, we should ask ourselves some very serious questions. Why did all this happen and the worst part of the highway was left out completely? It definitely wasn't done because of politics because the former government had a member, two different members representing that area, but over the 15 years that whole section was ignored.

I want to talk about safety, because to me safety is important. There is nobody in this House who has really used that road any more than I have, unless it would be George Henley or Roger Bacon. Ross Bragg didn't because was here for only a couple of terms, so it would be myself and the George Henley and the Honourable Roger Bacon.

Somehow decisions were made with regard to not touching that section. Then there are others - and I am not saying the Opposition here - who put a lot of pressure on trying to get us to increase the gas tax, which I have always been opposed to. If the Finance Minister comes down with a gas tax in his budget this year, which I hope he doesn't, but I tell you, it would bother me, although I would support the government as all members do when their government is in power, but I have always been opposed to the gas tax. My philosophy, when I sat on that side of the House, when I sat on this side, I was always opposed and I remain opposed today to an increase in gas tax, be it federal or provincial.

We all know what happened to Joe Clark when he decided to increase the gas tax, which really defeated him as Prime Minister. If he had not done that he likely would have been a good Prime Minister for this country and would have served for two or three terms.

[Page 185]

I could have lived with that, but I would not have voted for him because he was a little bit to the left or at centre and I appreciate that in somebody.

[6:15 p.m.]

Anyway, safety has to be an important part. I know on the new Trans Canada and I know the former government (Interruption) No, he has got enough left there that I thought he was a pretty good guy, but I could not vote for him. He could have been a little bit farther, as far as I am concerned. But anyway, safety is the important issue here in dealing with that highway. We should always remember that.

Some people want to criticize Cumberland. I want to tell you, if there is any media listening, that I get very cheesed off when they say we are going to deliberately hurt the economy of Cumberland. Because if anybody in their right mind thinks that this government is going to do something that is going to hurt the economic growth of that part of the province, Cape Breton, the Valley, the South Shore, anywhere, they are totally wrong.

We spent a lot of time, we analyzed this whole thing. Now, for those people who very correctly said, oh, it is the cost of moving goods, that is not the important issue; the important issue is speed and direct contact to the transportation. Let me give you a fine example, P.E.I. Look what happened when they started the causeway. P.E.I. has expanded their manufacturing, Cavendish Foods, McCain Foods are all expanding. Big employers are going to be over there in a year or two. Why? Because the causeway is going to be in there. They can then load their trucks. The cost is not a factor, which will be five times higher than travel in Nova Scotia. They are expanding now. Why? When you talk to them, because they have quick access to market, New Brunswick roads, I would not say just as good, P.E.I. might not like it, but New Brunswick has got a lot of acres of potatoes and they do a good job and they have for the last 100 years in that province. So don't say it is because they grow potatoes over there.

Some people would like to continue to run down Cumberland with regards to this whole issue and that is not right and it is not proper. I heard the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley say they are going to get to the border and they are not going to come any farther. Well, you know that is not true. I was out to B.C. when my son got married this year and had to pay $10 to go on a toll highway each way. If that was not bad enough, when he took us to the airport, my wife and I had to spend another $10 each just to get into the airport. They wanted the last kick at us in Vancouver. They are doing it in other places and they are adding more and more all the time.

Anyway, this will not hurt tourism. People will drive safely. People say it has hurt us in tourism because people do not feel comfortable if they do not have a highway. Now they are going to have the option where there is not going to be a toll or they can take the option and go the toll. Now, for those critics that run around and say, oh, we are going to hurt tourism, well, I want to tell you, if that was true, then Pugwash, Pictou County and those areas are going to be very busy as they go down the Sunrise Trail and they are going to be very busy with regards to the Parrsboro area. But as much as I like to see Parrsboro in our bi-roads, Mr. Speaker, you get that over-access.

I am telling you right now, according to all the information that I have seen and people I have talked to, that is not going to happen. They are going to continue, most of them, although I wish they would leave the main drags and go to Parrsboro, Advocate, Apple River, River Hebert, Joggins and so on.

I realize my time is basically up, except for trucks. Now this is not Andersen or it is nobody else, not government. According to the data from the Asphalt Institute that sells the things, a fully loaded triaxle is equivalent to 351,000 cars on the highway. That is what they said. A fully loaded tandem is equivalent to 165,000 cars on the highway.

[Page 186]

Mr. Speaker, I know my time is up and I just want to end with this, back in Cumberland County I hope we get back on the track now and I hope we talk about creating jobs, commercial development on this highway and I hope it takes place in Cumberland, although Colchester can have a little bit. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, after a member has been re-elected and supported by his constituents for 22 years I guess he should be given liberties. If he wants to stand in this House and give us fairy tales, then by golly, I think he is entitled to. He is the most senior member of Cabinet and if he wants to talk Alice in Wonderland to us, go ahead.

A government must be judged, not by its words because you know as well as I that the words of this government are so shallow and hollow but it should be judged by its actions. If you look at the actions of this government towards Cumberland County, towards Yarmouth and towards Cape Breton, it is easy for us to see why the government is held in such great disdain and such disfavour in those regions.

Cumberland County is going to be hard done by. The former President of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party and one of the main fund raisers and one of Nova Scotia's finest entrepreneurs, Mr. John Bragg, uncle of the member for Cumberland North, indicated that this foolhardy experiment with tolls, this unnecessary foolhardy experiment with tolls will cost him $100,000 per year. I will say it again, $100,000 per year, after the end of 10 years, $1 million. He is not the only one.

As a caucus, we have been visiting businesses throughout Nova Scotia and we did not stay away from Cumberland County. We went to Debert, we went to Amherst, Springhill, Joggins, and every single person indicated at least some way this despicable toll would have an adverse effect on their lifestyle or their family's lifestyle. Nobody indicated it was a good thing. We have met with municipal councils. We weren't afraid to go to the municipal council and meet with them, eyeball to eyeball and hear what they had to say. We didn't stay away when they had their public meetings, we were there.

There is a lot of talk that the route that was chosen is the wrong route. Well, I didn't choose it. The taxpayers of Nova Scotia paid good money to have it chosen by an independent selection committee of engineers. This government looked at the engineers report after the election and they also indicated that was the route that the road should take. Now, why the tolls? The Minister of Transportation said because I, when I was minister, didn't get enough money from Ottawa. Well, my goodness sakes alive.

I am holding in front of me and it has been tabled so I am sure you don't want to table it again, the Atlantic Freight Transportation Program, the SHIP agreement they call it. This SHIP agreement was signed when I was Minister of Transportation, in April 1993 but the important part of it, the thing that you have got to realize is that the division of the money that was negotiated between Ottawa and Nova Scotia was signed off on October 12th by the current government and that current Minister of Transportation says, there was nothing I could do, they didn't get enough money. He could have put the entire SHIP agreement into

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that one section of highway, if he chose to, but he did not choose to do that, he spread it around. That is fine, he was minister and he had the opportunity to do so, but he had another kick at the can when the federal Liberal Government decided that they would no longer assist shippers in Nova Scotia the way they assist shippers in Quebec and in Ontario, they subsidize the seaway, they subsidize the ice-breaking. We are not going to do that for Atlantic Canada, so we are going to bring in some transition money. We are going to give you money to help build some infrastructure so that the people who used to get a subsidy from Ottawa for transportation, they will have better infrastructure and perhaps that will make up for the lost revenue.

What did this Minister of Transportation - I cannot describe the contempt Nova Scotians should have for this man - do with $161 million that Ottawa sent here? Did he spend it on the Highway No. 104, so he would not have tolls? He certainly did not. He spent it on roads in rural Nova Scotia in areas of sitting MLAs of the Liberal persuasion - $161 million should have been spent, if you read the agreement from Ottawa and it is all here. The purpose alleviates, ". . . specific cases of shipper difficulty . . . investing in highways or other freight transportation infrastructure to enhance system efficiency for the benefit of all users, . . .". That is not what the Minister of Transportation decided he wanted to do. He got his greedy little mittens on this money and he said I am going spend it where the voters live. He said the heck with the voters in Cumberland County, they are not going to vote for us anyway, but maybe they will down in Richmond. We are going build three more bridges for myself and that is what he is doing. He is spending some in Hants County, in your riding, Mr. [Acting Deputy] Speaker.

This minister had an opportunity to make a difference. He had an opportunity to make things better for Nova Scotians, but rather he chose to try to make things better for this government; this government whose Leader sleeps through the Speech from the Throne. It is going to take more than money spent on rural paving projects to make Nova Scotians respect and admire this government. They had a chance and they blew it.

The federal government on more than one occasion spoke of Micronav, the company that did not operate very long in Cape Breton because the Micronav technology was replaced by other more modern landing assistance. Micronav had $100 million, that $100 million was available by the Government of Nova Scotia to spend for highways strengthening. The Minister of Transportation knew and knows that, the Premier knows it, Mr. Dingwall knows but rather than do highway work and highway construction with the Micronav money, $20 million immediately went into a make work project for Cape Breton and it was much needed and much appreciated. Where is the other $80 million? Why aren't we spending that on roads?

This is a terrible legacy for any government and any Minister of Transportation to force on a province. Forever and a day, we will have tolls in Cumberland County and I hope the people in Cumberland County never forget the government that dislikes and despises that area of the province so bad that they put them under an economic hardship with absolutely no concern for the economic growth or the well-being of northern Nova Scotia. It is despicable, Mr. Speaker, and I hope that in two years, one year or a month's time that those voters up there remember who put the tolls on their roads. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, members. That concludes the late debate this evening. The House will adjourn until tomorrow afternoon.

[The House rose at 6:31 p.m.]

[Page 188]

NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 77

By: Mr. Gerald Fogarty (Halifax Bedford Basin)

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

Whereas public schools in Mainland North in the City of Halifax are seriously overcrowded to the extent that busing of students out of their community is an option under consideration; and

Whereas busing is an unacceptable solution in the minds of many of the parents of school-age children in Mainland North; and

Whereas as MLA for Halifax Bedford Basin I sympathize with the parents and feel busing is not in the best interest of the children of the community;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLA for Halifax Bedford Basin pledges to act as a facilitator to the appropriate Mainland North residents' umbrella action group with the objective that an acceptable solution be found to this escalating crisis.