The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

Hansard -- Thurs., Apr. 4, 1996

Fourth Session


Res. 111, Health: World Health Day (07/04/96) - Recognize,
Hon. R. Stewart 266
Vote - Affirmative 267
No. 11, Children and Family Services Act, Hon. J. Smith 267
Res. 112, Premier: Partisan Rhetoric - Set Aside, Dr. J. Hamm 267
Res. 113, ERA - C.B.: Unemployment - Action, Mr. R. Chisholm 267
Res. 114, Transport (Canada) - Marine Atlantic:
Digby-Saint John Ferry - Continuation Urge, Mr. J. Casey 268
Vote - Affirmative 268
Res. 115, Fin. - Victims Abuse Compensation: Budgeting -
Delusion Stop, Mr. T. Donahoe 268
Res. 116, Environ. - Stellarton: Strip Mine - Permit Suspend,
Dr. J. Hamm 269
Res. 117, Health - Bicycle Helmet Legislation: Introduction -
Urge, Mr. J. Holm 269
Res. 118, Fin.: Min. - Best, Mr. K. MacAskill 270
Res. 119, Environ. - Progs. Future: Plan Feasible - Create,
Mr. B. Taylor 270
Res. 120, Health - Care System: Privatization Oppose -
Leadership Show, Mr. R. Chisholm 271
Res. 121, Agric. - Young Farmers: Couples (3) - Dedication Commend,
Mr. G. Archibald 271
Vote - Affirmative 272
Res. 122, Sports - Hockey: Windsor Junior "B" Royals -
Dedication Recognize, Mr. R. Russell 272
Vote - Affirmative 272
Res. 123, Sports - Hockey: Dartmouth Whalers -
SEDMHA Int. Tournament Hosts Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 272
Vote - Affirmative 273
Res. 124, ERA - Employment: Numbers Charade - Shame, Mr. A. MacLeod 273
Res. 125, Fin. - Taxation: PST & GST Harmonization - Impact,
Mr. R. Russell 274
Res. 126, Truro-Bible Hill MLA: Col. Co. Disabled Bus Service -
Action, Mr. B. Taylor 274
Res. 127, Nat. Res. (Can.) - Donkin Mine: Opening Commitment -
Fulfil, Mr. A. MacLeod 274
No. 34, Fin.: Taxation - PST & GST - Harmonization, Dr. J. Hamm 275
No. 35, Commun. Serv.: Small Options Homes - Regs., Mr. R. Chisholm 276
No. 36, Fin. - Min.: GST - Abolition, Mr. R. Russell 278
No. 37, Fin.: Business Serv. Tax - Re-Imposition, Dr. J. Hamm 280
No. 38, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Consultations,
Mr. T. Donahoe 281
No. 39, Atlantic Lottery - Tickets: Purchase - Policy, Mr. G. Moody 283
No. 40, Human Res. - Civil Servants: Early Retirement - Targets,
Mr. J. Holm 284
No. 41, Environ.: Resource Recovery Fund - Fin. Impact,
Mr. B. Taylor 285
No. 42, Commun. Serv.: Juniper House (Yarmouth) - Closure,
Dr. J. Hamm 287
No. 43, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: Small Businesses - Effect,
Mr. J. Leefe 288
No. 44, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: Deposits - Plan Table,
Mr. G. Archibald 290
No. 45, Commun. Serv. - Small Options Homes: Eddie Sheppard (Death) -
Inquiry, Mr. R. Chisholm 291
Res. 34, Fin. - Expenditure Add.: Justice
(Victims Abuse Compensation) - Approval, Hon. B. Boudreau 292
Mr. T. Donahoe 292
Mr. J. Leefe 294
Amendment moved 296
Ruled Out of Order 297
Hon. R. Mann 297
Question Be Now Put moved 297
Dr. J. Hamm 297
Mr. G. Archibald 300
Mr. B. Taylor 304
Hon. B. Boudreau 307
[Resolution No. 34]
Question Be Now Put - Carried 309
Vote - Affirmative 309
No. 1, Interprovincial Subpoena Act 310
Hon. W. Gillis 310
Dr. J. Hamm 311
Mr. R. Russell 312
Mr. G. Moody 312
Mr. R. Chisholm 313
Mr. B. Taylor 314
Hon. W. Gillis 314
Vote - Affirmative 316
Mr. R. Hubbard 316
Mr. W. Fraser 320
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Apr. 9th at 2:00 p.m. 322
[Page 265]


Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

11:00 A.M.


Hon. Paul MacEwan


Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will call the House to order at this time and commence the daily agenda.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin, on a point of order, I believe.

MR. GERALD FOGARTY: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to clarify, if you will, the wording of a resolution which I tabled here in the House of Assembly yesterday, April 3rd. In part, the resolution which I tabled read, "Whereas the honourable member for Halifax Citadel . . .", during the previous administration - I am paraphrasing now - but,". . . in his capacity as Attorney General wrote a letter to the then Minister of the Environment supporting a 40 cent container deposit fee;".

In effect, Mr. Speaker, I have two letters which I will table. The first, dated June 1, 1987, was sent to the Attorney General of the time, the honourable member for Halifax Citadel . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Now, that is only of historical interest. It is not relevant to the current Legislature. That House was dissolved.

MR. FOGARTY: Well, this letter, Mr. Speaker, was from the Chief Executive Officer of TIANS at the time and he was urging the Attorney General, at that time, to make mandatory deposits on cans and bottles of the Province of Nova Scotia, thereby encouraging their return to distribution outlets. The Attorney General then responded by saying . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I do not find this to be a point of order. This is a historical dissertation. It is irrelevant. (Interruptions)


[Page 266]

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I think what might be a more interesting point of order is how did all these mysterious letters happen to be found in his hands. Is he going through people's mail, is he going through people's files . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I have no further comment on this except that it is not a point of order. What happened in 1988 or 1989 is history.

MR. ARCHIBALD: His integrity should be questioned. He may be a mail thief. You can't tell.

MR. SPEAKER: This Legislature was elected in May 1993 and what is its property only relates to items since that point in time. Are there any further introductions before we commence the daily routine?






MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.


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

Whereas April 7th is designated as World Health Day; and

Whereas the theme for this year is Healthy Cities for a Better Life with the focus on promoting healthy communities; and

Whereas the establishment of regional and community health boards across the province is providing the opportunity for communities to identify the specific health care services and programs needed by their residents to ensure health care needs are met;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize April 7th as World Health Day and the importance of establishing a community-based health care system in Nova Scotia.

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

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.

[Page 267]

The motion is carried.


Bill No. 11 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 5 of the Acts of 1990. The Children and Family Services Act. (Hon. James Smith)

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


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 Premier accuses the Opposition Parties of destroying the faith and confidence of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Liberals once committed themselves to open and accountable government that could stand up to scrutiny and be receptive to responsible suggestions, two challenges that this side of the House is always ready to meet; and

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier set aside his partisan rhetoric and join with the Opposition Parties, who are only reflecting the concerns of many Nova Scotians, in working together for the future of this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


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 unemployment rate in Cape Breton increased from 19.8 per cent in February to 23 per cent in March; and

Whereas hundreds more Cape Breton workers are facing layoffs from Devco, Sysco, and IMP; and

Whereas Cape Breton MLAs have shown no political will or determination in fighting for much-needed jobs in Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Liberal Government to stop talking about their concern about unemployment in Cape Breton and take the action necessary to fight the massive layoffs and start rebuilding the Cape Breton economy.

[Page 268]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.


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

Whereas Marine Atlantic is presently reviewing the status of the ferry, Princess of Acadia, which sails between Digby and Saint John, New Brunswick; and

Whereas this ferry provides a vital link between southwestern Nova Scotia and the rest of the world; and

Whereas the operation of this ferry is crucial to the economic survival of southwestern Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House strongly urge Marine Atlantic that upon conclusion of its review, it continue the operation of the Princess of Acadia without any reduction in service so that it will continue to be a stimulus to the economy of southwestern Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It seems to be agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.


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

Whereas the Liberal Government has placed its political fortunes ahead of the needs of the victims of institutional abuse by suggesting that compensation cannot be budgeted in the 1996-97 fiscal year; and

Whereas the financial windfall enjoyed by this government in the 1995-96 fiscal year due to huge equalization payments from Ottawa and increased tax revenues is being used by the Liberal Government to shore up its next budget shortfall, a practice to which editorial commentators have referred as a little tricky; and

Whereas this government is in contravention of its election promise to bring such appropriations before the Public Accounts Committee and in violation of the Provincial Finance Act;

[Page 269]

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government stop deluding the victims of institutional abuse and other Nova Scotians into believing their goal is anything than a crass move to establish a political war chest for the next election.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


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 Environment Minister approved Pioneer Coal's surface mine proposal for Stellarton subject to many conditions; and

Whereas the condition regarding the calculation of the purchase price, location and number of properties to be purchased was vague and left open to interpretation and has proven to be unsatisfactory; and

Whereas this has drastically affected the lives, hopes and dreams of 40 families who have resided in the area for many years and who must now either move or suffer the health and environmental effects of living on the edge of a surface mine operation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Environment Minister suspend the permit of Pioneer Coal until such time as the company has lived up to the spirit and intent of all conditions.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.


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

Whereas the Minister of Health promised in October 1994 that bicycle helmet legislation would be introduced in the spring of 1995, just in time for the next bicycle season; and

Whereas it is well established that the use of bicycle helmets can reduce bicycle-related fatalities by 75 per cent and head injuries by 85 per cent; and

Whereas the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia has learned that despite the minister's repeated promises to bring forward this legislation, he does not intend to do so;

Therefore be it resolved that this House regrets the inaction of the Minister of Health and urges him to introduce bicycle helmet legislation as soon as possible in keeping with his government's stated objective of reducing health care costs, both in human suffering and financial terms, to Nova Scotians.

[Page 270]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.


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

Whereas our honourable Minister of Finance is demonstrating that fiscal prudence can be balanced with the compassionate action of allocating monies for Victims of Abuse, health and Public Service worker adjustment; and

Whereas today's editorial in the Chronicle-Herald states, "At last, thank our lucky stars, Nova Scotians have a Finance Minister with enough smarts and enough integrity to err on the side of caution"; and

Whereas both Opposition Parties are attacking the integrity of the honourable Minister of Finance for his compassionate objective;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House simply recognize that the honourable Minister of Finance carries out his duties better than any in the history of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver and passage without debate.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.


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

Whereas on February 5th, the Minister of the Environment said this of his department's thirst tax, "I haven't had this much support on any topic - ever."; and

[11:15 a.m.]

Whereas the Department of the Environment has had to set up several extra phone centres at head office, in order to handle calls from irate thirst-taxpayers; and

Whereas the thirst tax poses a real threat to blue bag municipal recycling plans, like the one operating at a local Halifax facility that our caucus visited on Tuesday, prompting Halifax Regional Councillor Reg Rankin to call the thirst tax a shell game;

[Page 271]

Therefore be it resolved that before embarking on future programs, such as a thirst tax, the Minister of the Environment performed something which is quite foreign to this Savage Government, namely, listen, learn and create a complete, feasible plan so that implementation will be smooth and efficient.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


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

Whereas Health Minister Ronald Stewart announced in May 1994 that health reform in Nova Scotia would include alternative services, such as a dial-a-nurse system, which would provide medical help by phone; and

Whereas two years later and despite widespread closing of hospital beds, Nova Scotians have seen no action by this government on developing this alternative service; and

Whereas an ad encouraging seniors to dial 1-900-ASK A NURSE appeared in today's paper, which would provide seniors health and medical information for $3.99 per minute;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Minister of Health to show some leadership against the privatization of our health care system and explain to Nova Scotians why, because of his inaction and despite his election promises, he is allowing user fees in through the back door.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.


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

Whereas young farmers from across Nova Scotia gathered in Wolfville last weekend; and

Whereas three Nova Scotia couples were recognized for their exceptional agricultural achievements and for their hard work and community contributions; and

Whereas the three couples were recognized as part of Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers Program, which recognizes men and women ages 18 to 39 who have achieved success and leadership in the farming industry;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature commend Harry and Joanne van der Linden of Hants County, Peter and Doreen Stokdijk from Truro, William and Sherma Versteeg of Antigonish, for their dedication and hard work in the Nova Scotia agricultural industry.

[Page 272]

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

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 Hants West.


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

Whereas the Windsor Royals Junior B hockey team advanced to the Mainland Junior B hockey league finals with a thrilling seven game series win over Halifax; and

Whereas in looking to repeat as champions, the Royals begin the league finals in Windsor Saturday evening against the Cape Breton Alpine-Mills; and

Whereas not only are the Windsor Junior B Royals seeking their second consecutive league championship but also their fourth title in five years;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature recognize the dedication and hard work put forth by both players and the executive of the Windsor Junior B Royals in their quest for mainland junior hockey supremacy.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 mined, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.


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

Whereas the Dartmouth Whalers, through the leadership of Wayne MacDonald and his organizing committee, will host the 19th annual SEDMHA Honda International Minor Hockey Tournament; and

[Page 273]

Whereas from April 4 to 7, 1996, more than 3,500 players, representing 222 teams, will play on 15 ice surfaces throughout the Halifax-Dartmouth region; and

Whereas this major partnership between corporate sponsors and volunteers has made the SEDMHA Tournament one of the largest and most respected multi-level minor hockey tournaments in North America;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend our best wishes to the organizing committee, players and parents for a successful and fun-filled weekend at the 19th Annual SEDHMA Honda International Minor Hockey Tournament.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Cape Breton West.


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

Whereas when this government was sworn into office on June 11, 1993, there were 58,000 unemployed Nova Scotians; and

Whereas labour force numbers released today paint a sorry picture of the unemployment situation today as 62,000 Nova Scotians in March 1996 are now unemployed; and

Whereas the saddest tale of all is in Cape Breton where unemployment has climbed to 23 per cent up over February's figures and a far cry from the Premier's rosy numbers in the Throne Speech;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government hang its head in shame for leading Nova Scotians down the garden path in 1993 and attempting to fidget with employment numbers as late as last week and in its continued charade to deceive Nova Scotians that they have done anything whatsoever to ease the unemployment burden of Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

[Page 274]


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

Whereas before being forced to backtrack, the Minister of Finance attempted in 1993 to institute a business services tax upon Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the proposed harmonization of the PST and the GST will enable the minister to execute his business services tax through the back door; and

Whereas the harmonization of the PST and GST would see business services such as architectural, accounting, legal and landscaping once again facing an increased tax load;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance detail to the people of Nova Scotia the complete ramifications of the harmonization of taxes to the Nova Scotia business community as well as the impact any such merger would have on the cost of living to Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.


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

Whereas this Liberal Government is callously intent on cancelling funding for bus service for the disabled in Colchester County; and

Whereas the Mayor of Truro recently accused the province of having a double standard relating to transportation issues; and

Whereas a member of the Disabled Consumers Society of Colchester County is accusing this Liberal Government of taking so many backward steps;

Therefore be it resolved that the member from Truro-Bible Hill convince members of the Savage Cabinet to stop taking backward steps and assist the disabled community of Colchester County with bus service that is so urgently required.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.


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

Whereas Cape Breton coal miners and their families face an uncertain future as a result of the pending loss of 800 permanent jobs at Devco; and

[Page 275]

Whereas former Natural Resources Minister Donald Downe publicly stated that he had a commitment . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Now just a moment. The former Minister of Natural Resources fine, but we are not to refer to members by their first or last names here in the House. The honourable member should know that. The former Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I apologize.

Whereas the former Natural Resources Minister publicly stated that he had a commitment from his federal counterpart to study the feasibility of opening the Donkin Mine; and

Whereas Cape Bretoners have been impatiently and anxiously waiting for almost three months and have still not seen any evidence that the federal minister will fulfil her commitment;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately write to the federal minister and that he demand that she keep her commitment to the former Minister of Natural Resources and to the people of Cape Breton.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

If there are no further Notices of Motion, that would appear to conclude the daily routine. The Oral Question Period today lasts for one hour and we will state that the time now is 11:25 a.m. so as to make it 12:25 p.m. when the time will expire.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The members will be reminded that on Tuesday, I asked the Premier for some details as to where his government is in terms of planning to introduce a harmonized tax in this province. The Premier's answer was and I am quoting now and reading directly from Hansard, " . . . we are still negotiating; we have signed nothing.". In response to another question on the same matter, " . . . we will not discuss the details of this because we have not signed the details.".

Now the Premier was unwilling to provide the House with information, but the following day he was prepared to provide the local media, in which he said there will be a verdict in two weeks and maybe a deal which will be up and running in nine months. My question to the Premier, is the Premier going to continue to implement a harmonized tax in this province without providing any information to this House, let alone any consultation with Nova Scotians?

[Page 276]

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, my answer remains the same. At no time did I indicate to this House that there would be a deal and at no time have I indicated in the newspaper that there will be a deal. What I have said, and I preface it all the time, is that if there is going to be a deal, then it may be in two weeks, that the negotiations are still going on. I repeat what I said, we have signed nothing, there is nothing that has been inked and that fundamentally is the answer to the question.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Premier, the Premier has indicated that there won't be a deal unless certain things happen. Now I would like the Premier to start taking the House into his confidence and my question is, if the other Atlantic Provinces decide that they are not interested in a harmonized tax, is the Premier prepared to go it alone?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition once again declares his ignorance. That will be as much a federal decision as it will be ours and I suggest you get - oh you can't, the House is out - your federal colleagues to ask that question. The issue is that this province will only get a deal if it is a win situation for the people of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the Premier. I asked the Premier what his intention would be in this issue if, in fact, the other Atlantic Provinces decide that they are not interested in harmonizing.

By way of final supplementary, what method will the Premier use to consult with Nova Scotians as he goes about finding out what kind of a harmonization would benefit this province? How will the people of Nova Scotia be included in the Premier's consultation process?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, first of all, we have regularly, in three years, consulted people. We started with 30-60-90 (Laughter) that, despite the Opposition croaking, was successful. It led into the community economic development, and consultation remains part of the mandate of this government. The issue that is before us, however, is an issue of policy which is a government policy. This government will create policy, (Interruption) this government has created more policy in three years than that bunch did in 15 years. (Applause) They used to come to the House - and although they have remarked about my sleeping - and they slept for 15 years in this House; a whole 15 years. You could hear the snores upstairs, downstairs and in the ladies' chamber.

[11:30 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we will decide on policy; there are consultations that we are discussing and which we will talk about next week. Rest assured, if there is a deal in this the people of Nova Scotia will benefit; and if there is no deal in this the people of Nova Scotia will not be involved, because we will not do it unless it is a win situation for the people of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

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


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question, through you, to the Minister of Community Services, and it has to do with the unfortunate and tragic death of Eddie Sheppard in a small options facility. That incident has shed some light on the desperate need in the Province of Nova Scotia for standards, regulations and enforcement for small options facilities. We have seen over the past number of years an increasing switch from the use of institutional care to a move to sending people with mental infirmities, elderly people and others who were receiving institutional care, into the communities, who were receiving care through small options homes.

[Page 277]

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Community Services is, why has he failed to act on his often-stated commitment to, in fact, ensure there are standards, regulations and enforcement procedures for those regulations?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the small options and the community-based options, is a system that has evolved in the municipal system throughout the province over the last many years. They have operated essentially with guidelines and with placements and assessments being made by the municipal units. So there are, within that jurisdiction, controls and guidelines on those particular facilities.

I agree with the honourable member and in taking over government we realized that that was one area, among many others - within the care of disabled persons - that we should address and more formalize the system. We didn't want to over-formalize it and go off on our own, so we did a consultation process throughout this province last year and I attended some of those sessions. They were very well attended; many groups that had concerns brought them before this consultation process.

We are in the process now, Mr. Speaker. We have a plan; we have a timeframe outlined. We are collating the information that we have; it impacts on various legislative rules and regulations and other departments of government. It is a fairly complex issue. We didn't want to over-formalize, but there certainly is a need for registration and licensing and some ongoing standards set for a more clarified role for those involved in the care of the disabled persons and that our programs are delivered within the community-based options.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Long-term Care Review Committee over four years ago recognized and urged that this government move on this matter, that they act urgently on the whole question of standards and regulations; the Report of the Advisory Committee On Services To Children With Mental Handicaps did the same. The very audit that the minister had done through Price Waterhouse, of the Community Services Department called for a full system of licensing and mandatory registration of small options facilities.

Thousands of Nova Scotians are being turned away from institutions into the community. The need is now for those standards and for those regulations. I ask the minister to commit to this House today, to give us an indication once and for all, when he is going to come forward with specific recommendations through regulations for these standards to be enforced?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the honourable member notes four years ago that but this government, I would point out to the honourable member, that this government was not in power at that time. Although the previous government had many representations made to it to act urgently, as the honourable member said, obviously nothing was being done; there certainly wasn't any movement in that direction when I became Minister of Community Services. So it is one of the priorities that we have had. We have been working on it. There is a lot of work to be done and has been done. The honourable member knows, his Party, particularly, calls for community consultation. If we hadn't done that, we

[Page 278]

would have been criticized for that. We have done that and we are acting on that. There is no question that there is a need.

A lot of those people who have been placed, have been placed in facilities, Mr. Speaker, of which there are standards and more formalized guidelines, but I would point out that there is an assessment, there is a placement process in place. The system is not without controls and we do have responsibility, generally, we are the funding and we are funding 100 per cent of the cost of those institutions and we do recognize our responsibility and we are acting on that.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, we heard from the Department of Community Services on March 10, 1994, that they had a consultation going. They expected to have the paper out in the next few months. On November 8, 1994, they told us that it would be out in the next two weeks. We have heard this minister talk about how important this issue is for three years now, that these standards and regulations be put in place, and now the minister's own review committee which tabled their discussion paper in February 1995 said, "The current Homes for Special Care Legislation be repealed and separate legislation be enacted by April 1, 1996 to provide the legislative framework for residential services under the jurisdiction of the Department of Community Services.".

Mr. Speaker, the problem is increasing in its severity. We need action from this minister. I call on him to move immediately to bring in regulations to ensure that these standards are put into place to protect so many Nova Scotians who require these badly needed services.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have a plan and there is a process in place. I have made a commitment to table the results of the consultations within the next couple of weeks. He mentions February 1995 and other dates and I would have to look at that . . .

MR. CHISHOLM: April 1st . . .

DR. SMITH: . . . but I am looking forward to some legislation in the fall. In the meantime, we are not just standing by, we are putting supports in place for these community-based options and it is a much more formalized system. We are not waiting for legislation, Mr. Speaker, we are acting now, as the time goes on. We have a timeframe and we will bring in legislation, but meanwhile there are increased supports going in this very important area of community-based options.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.


MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. I was wondering if the Minister of Finance would go for a little walk with me down memory lane this morning, back to October 5, 1993. I asked the Minister of Finance, on that particular day, if it was the Finance Minister's intention to harmonize the provincial sales tax and the goods and services tax. The minister who was, at that time, the Honourable Bernard Boudreau, said, "Well, Mr. Speaker, I can inform this honourable member that we are not spending any time looking at this issue, since we expect that the Honourable Jean Chrétien to be the next Prime Minister of Canada and he has indicated that he will eliminate the GST.".

AN HON. MEMBER: He will what?

[Page 279]

MR. RUSSELL: Eliminate is the word. Eliminate, to get rid of, abolish.

AN HON. MEMBER: And who said that?

MR. RUSSELL: The Minister of Finance of the day.

Now, I was wondering if the Minister of Finance today, in 1996, is still of the opinion that there is no need to harmonize the PST with any other tax because the honourable Prime Minister of Canada is going to abolish the GST? Is he still of that opinion?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed that trip down memory lane, back as far as October 1993. They are reluctant to go down memory lane, I might add, most times. (Laughter)

AN HON. MEMBER: What happened in October 1993?

MR. BOUDREAU: Let me re-emphasize my position. If the federal government is prepared to eliminate the GST, you will get no argument from this Finance Minister.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, I don't know. If the promises of the provincial Liberal Party are as good as the ones of the federal Liberal Party, I would not be surprised at anything that would occur.

The Premier of the province, Mr. Speaker, has indicated that, within possibly as short a time as two weeks, there will be a linking between the GST and the PST. The Minister of Finance will have received a letter in the past few days from one Mr. Joey O'Brien, who is the owner of Ski Martock. He wrote a letter to the minister on April 2nd. I have my copy so I presume that he has his.

That gentleman has pointed out to the Minister of Finance that the imposition of the PST, combined with the GST, on the operation at Martock would cost something in the order of $140,000. That would be the impact on Ski Martock. He has asked for a meeting with the Minister and the Deputy Minister of Finance to discuss this matter.

Now, is it the intention of the Minister of Finance and his deputy to meet with these people who are going to be severely impacted by the harmonization of the GST and PST before they sign any contractual arrangements with the federal government to harmonize the two taxes?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am not in possession of that particular letter. Perhaps if I had known the matter was going to come up I might have retrieved it from the file. But in any event, I recall the details of it. Before any agreement is implemented, if indeed there ever is one, and before any agreement is detailed, if indeed there ever is one, such consultations will take place. As a matter of fact, I met with that particular individual and that group of individuals who operate ski resorts in the province on any number of occasions, extending back three years in time, and recently as well.

Let me say that I think that sometimes when people are discussing harmonization and looking at it from their own point of view and trying to decide for themselves whether or not it is a good economic measure, in the mix they may overlook the possibility that for a business, for example, full input tax credits could well be available for that type of business. So it is difficult to speculate on these things.

[Page 280]

If we have an agreement, the principles of the agreement will be clear and then we will talk to these people about what impacts there might be. They may be very pleasantly surprised.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that is the problem with this government; they say they are going to talk to people, they are going to consult, they are going to go out and meet with the people to get input but they do that afterwards, after they have inked the deal or whatever it is. In this case, quite obviously they are going to strike a deal. Then they will come back and say to people, this is the deal we have struck. What do you think of it? Well it is too late then to change it.

I would ask the minister, would he agree that before any commitment is made to harmonize the GST and PST, that he will have full and adequate consultation with all Nova Scotians, business and the public generally, as to what the implications will be on the people of Nova Scotia?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, I can indicate to the honourable member and to all Nova Scotians that before any detailed agreement is signed or implemented, such consultation will take place, for those who wish it.

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


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Premier. Again, like my colleague for Hants West, I would like to take a short trip down memory lane to 1993. (Interruptions) In 1993, the Premier's Government imposed a business services tax. The Premier is having trouble with his hearing.

In 1993, the Premier's Government imposed a business services tax. It included such things to businesses as a tax on architectural service, a tax on legal service, a tax on accounting service. That tax was imposed despite protestation that, in fact, it was harmful to Nova Scotia business. After some considerable urging from this Opposition, the government elected to remove that tax.

Now my question to the Premier, is the Premier prepared to sign a harmonization agreement which will reinstate a PST charge, a 15 per cent charge and tax on these Nova Scotia businesses, bearing in mind that the government has already accepted the fact that this type of tax is regressive, in terms of its effect on Nova Scotia business?

[11:45 a.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I guess we have to be very careful here. The issue is not one that we can readily describe without the kind of detail that at the moment we cannot give you and that is because we have signed nothing. We have signed absolutely nothing. The issue of whether people will be taxed more will be one of the fundamental decisions that will drive the decision that we make. If we end up as a province with people who are taxed more, why would we do such a harmonization? We will not. We will do a harmonization deal only if the people of this province win in the end.

[Page 281]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I continue with the Premier. The Premier by way of his answer seems to indicate but I ask him to confirm, to confirm absolutely, that if other provinces do not engage in implementing business services tax, then it will not be part of any agreement that this government may elect to sign with the federal government to harmonize our tax system?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am not prepared to define policy in Question Period. That simply is not on. What I am saying and what I will repeat, just in case it is not getting across, is that there are major opportunities for business in this harmonization with the offsets, major opportunities. The other issue which I raised in the paper on Saturday, just in case you didn't see that little piece, is the potential for job creation. Those are the issues that are important. Those are the issues that we will consider and we will not sign a deal that is not a win-win situation for the people of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: I can assure the Premier that there is nothing wrong with my hearing. By way of final supplementary to the Premier, Mr. Speaker, the Premier in his answer reported major opportunities for the province as he discussed the harmonization. He talks about a win-win situation and he talks about not disadvantaging any sector of Nova Scotian activity by way of any agreement that this government will sign. My question to the Premier, will the Premier table today any cost analysis that has been done by the government, or indicate any cost analysis that is being done by the government, that would allow him to determine that this kind of arrangement will produce major opportunities and, in fact, will be a win-win situation for this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will not table anything today. Have you ever heard of anybody in the middle of a deal tabling for public consumption the information that they are discussing? (Interruptions) What we are talking about, when we have a deal we will table it and the people of Nova Scotia will be better off then.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, it is astounding that the final remarks from the Premier indicate what Nova Scotians are coming to believe by the day, that he is working on a deal with his buddies in government and he is not working on a deal that is in the best interests of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia because if it was, he would talk to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Is this a question?

MR. DONAHOE: It is in that context that I would like to put a question to the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance produced a document. My recollection is that it was called something like Shaping the Future. The Minister of Finance was so proud of that document that he felt it appropriate and desirable - and in his interests and the interests of the government - to do a little provincial tour and talk to business people (Interruptions) Yes, indeed, consultation, and to consult about that document.

Well, I would like to ask the Minister of Finance why it is that he is now not prepared to make a commitment to a province-wide consultation with an information document done in advance that would enable Nova Scotians to address the pros and the cons and the win-wins

[Page 282]

or the lose-loses possibilities of the harmonization of GST and PST? Why will he not undertake such a process?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the discussions which have taken place, and which will continue to take place, on harmonization deal with basically a policy decision in principle on that harmonization. The structure of any agreement, if, indeed, an agreement results, the impact of that agreement, all sorts of issues, will be discussed in the manner that the honourable member suggests, if, indeed, we get to that point. We are not going to do hypothetical consultations.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, let me see if I can make sense of what the minister has just now said. Is the Minister of Finance saying to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia that it is his intention, in concert with the Premier and other relevant colleagues and officials, to deal with the other governments, the Atlantic Governments and the Government of Canada, to assess a whole range of admittedly very complex issues and questions relative to the harmonization of PST and GST? Is he then saying that once he and the government of which he is a member has come to a conclusion that there may be, in the opinion of this government, a way to effect the harmonization which will be to use the Premier's words, win-win for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, is he then saying that this government will produce a document that describes the process of harmonization that the government intends or is considering pursuing, describe the win-win elements of it and then put that to the people of Nova Scotia for their consideration and analysis? Is that what he is saying?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I followed all the turns of the question. What we have said is that in discussions with Nova Scotians over the past months and year, in discussions with various other levels of government we have talked about harmonization. We have sought opinion and as a matter of fact I would be interested to know what the opinion of the Opposition Party is with respect to harmonization. It may be on record but if it isn't, I invite the member to put it on record, whether or not they are in favour of or opposed to harmonization. However, when we get down to the nuts and bolts, if we do, of designing a regime to accommodate harmonization and to deal with the issues, we will lay out in great detail to the public of Nova Scotia why we support the decision if, indeed, we do under certain arrangements and we will discuss with them the details.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, the bottom line then, again if I understand the Minister of Finance correctly, is that it is the intention of this government, relative to the question of harmonization of PST and GST, to come to its conclusion as to whether or not they believe they have a process of harmonization which satisfies them that it is win-win and they will then tell the people of Nova Scotia, this is the deal we have made for you, here is how it works and it is then the Nova Scotia's taxpayers' problem to agree or disagree. There will be no consultation once that decision is made by this government?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the problem with consultation is you go out to seek an opinion, you ask the Opposition what their opinion is on harmonization and they don't give it. Sometimes consultation doesn't always work . . .

MR. DONAHOE: You give us what you have got on the table with John Chrétien and (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order.

[Page 283]

MR. DONAHOE: Give us what you have put on the table with John Chrétien and with Paul Martin and . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He wants to be thrown out again.

MR. DONAHOE: . . . that is what we are after.

MR. SPEAKER: I am going to have to call for order in the House. I will say no more. The honourable Minister of Finance has the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my remarks seem to have upset the honourable member.

MR. DONAHOE: Yes, you have.

MR. BOUDREAU: He's not prepared to advance a view on harmonization. He is not prepared to advance a view on virtually anything these days. But in any event, when and if it comes that this government makes a commitment to harmonization, they will discuss in detail with the people of Nova Scotia why, in principle, we think it is a good deal and indeed how it can be implemented. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Please, be quiet, sir.

The honourable member for Kings West.


MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance or the minister responsible for the Atlantic Lottery. Yesterday I spoke with a real person, a small convenience store owner from Cape Breton, who advised me that for the past number of years, that owner bought 1,500 scratch lottery tickets a week from the Atlantic Lottery representative as he came around. As the minister knows, you put your money upfront, you give the guy the money for the tickets, he keeps a small percentage but he pays for the tickets in advance. So, he puts out close to $1,500 but not quite. The Atlantic Lottery representative advised him this week when he came, early in the week that the policy had changed; no advance warning, just that the policy had changed. He now must buy two weeks' worth of Atlantic Lottery tickets. In other words, he has to keep $1,500 because obviously that is what he is selling to keep his customers happy. He now has to find and write a check to the Atlantic Lottery rep for almost $3,000.

Can the minister advise me why such a policy change has occurred and does he realize this is causing some difficulty with some small convenience store operators?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I will indicate to the member that I will take that question as notice. The management of the system is done, of course, by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation. I will ask them, I will relay the member's questions and attempt to relay their answers to him.

MR. MOODY: Well, thank you very much. I am surprised that the corporation didn't inform the minister of such a policy change because I find that that does affect a lot of small business people.

[Page 284]

The operator also indicated that he is beginning to feel that he is taking it in the teeth from this Savage Government because on Monday of this week he had to pay $500 thirst tax on pop that he bought. Now he has to lay out additional money for lotteries, so he is having to lay out a fairly substantial amount.

The minister has indicated that he will check on this policy. Will the minister also indicate that he will speak up on behalf of the small community business operators and support them and ask the Atlantic Lottery Corporation people to drop this bi-weekly pay for these small convenience store operators?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think I am going to ask them why they have instituted a policy and I will look at their rationale before I decide what representations I should make. I will certainly keep the members advised after I have received that rationale.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the minister if he would not only speak to the Atlantic Lottery Corporation people who may have a rationale because the guy has to stop only once a week at the convenience store. Would he also talk to convenience store operators, so he can understand their side of the cash flow that they have to lay out? Would he give that commitment, that he not only talk to the corporation but he also talk to the small convenience store operators as well, before he proceeds to try to get this policy changed?

MR. BOUDREAU: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I have no problem in giving that undertaking. As a matter of fact, if the honourable member gives me the name and phone number of the particular individual he is referring to, I would be glad to talk to him directly.

MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.


MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you, sir, to the Premier. The Premier's Cabinet of course a little over a week ago passed an Order in Council which set aside an additional $23.4 million for "restructuring costs". That translates, as we all know, into early retirement and early departure incentives.

Civil servants in this province are extremely anxious and very much concerned about how the government plans to downsize even more of them.

My question to the Premier is quite simply this, what are the target figures? How many more, how many additional civil servants does your government intend to eliminate?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to stress one thing that came up, for instance, during the restructuring and the discussion on change in personnel. The measures that we are offering are purely voluntary. We are hoping, for instance, that attrition and early retirement will take care of them. This is an envelope which will be offered to people without a specific number. There is no attempt to get rid of civil servants. It will be entirely voluntary and that will be up to the civil servant, should they opt to take it.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, one wonders if the minister or the Premier then and his government just pulled this figure somewhere mysteriously out of the air, that they have no target. The Premier was quoted as saying there would be no more than 50 to 75 positions he didn't see being eliminated. Well, if you were to divide $23.4 million by 50, that would work out to golden handshakes of about $450,000 per person, even more generous than this government has given to the more senior deputy ministers.

[12:00 p.m.]

I ask the Premier the question directly. How many positions does this government hope will be eliminated as a result of the initiatives and money that the government is bringing forward?

[Page 285]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we cannot give an accurate assessment of those, and we are quite candid about that. It may be - and this is an interesting comment - that enough of our civil servants will opt to retire that we may have to hire more. We don't know that. What we have attempted to do, both in the QE II packet and in the packet as it relates to other workers in the hospital's area, is to provide a compassionate and open approach to providing for those people who will be affected by both, in those cases, voluntary and involuntary retirement.

We have made every effort to be generous and open with our employees, because we value the civil servants in this province and we value the work they do. We will continue to err on the side of generosity, if that can be the charge that is made of us, because we do not want people to be unfairly treated and the amount, the number, is just not possible to predict at this time.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, we know that the government certainly has dealt with generosity towards deputy ministers but, unfortunately, all of those within the Public Service don't believe they have had the same generosity shown to them.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier keeps talking about a volunteer program, and I want to ask the Premier for a guarantee. Will the Premier guarantee that his government will not target any particular group, based on age or other criteria, and that no current civil servant employed within the province is going to be forced to accept any part of this program; in other words, that they will not be laid off as a result of this government's restructuring program; in other words, that the Premier's volunteer words will have some substance in the future?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that there are some sonic difficulties between here and there. This is a voluntary program. I can only repeat, voluntary, v-o-l-u-n-t-a-r-y (Interruption) it is not compulsory, nobody in this day and age can give you the kind of guarantee, particularly in Question Period, because that is just not possible. All I can tell you is that the civil servants of this province have been well treated by this government, in the conditions we have done, whether it is a labour packet or whether it is an early retirement incentive program, and we are proud of the way we offer that to our civil servants. (Applause)

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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of the Environment. The Minister of the Environment might recall not too long ago, that he received a copy of a letter from the Mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality, Mr. Walter Fitzgerald, and Mr. Fitzgerald outlined his displeasure and, in fact, outright non-support for

[Page 286]

the government's thirst tax initiative. In that letter, Mr. Fitzgerald pointed out that the program was running counter to the Blue Bag Program that is supported by the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The minister might also recall that when he sat on Halifax County Council, he was a staunch supporter and an advocate of the county's participation in a Blue Bag Program with Halifax, Dartmouth and Bedford. I am wondering if the Minister of the Environment has a financial (Interruption) Yes, you were on Halifax County Council, too, at the same time . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Please, come to the question.

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the question is this. During a previous session of the Legislature, the minister did table an outdated study relative to the cost implications of a provincial thirst tax program, but that study didn't show specifically any financial impact on existing blue bag and blue box systems in the province. Can the Minister of the Environment tell us if he has done an up-to-date analysis relative to the financial impact on the municipalities in this province, relative to his thirst tax initiative?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the question is a bit irrelevant because he is talking about a thirst tax, which I am not aware of. He mentions a letter from the mayor of the regional municipality in which he refers to a thirst tax. I received no such letter. Maybe he could be more specific and clear with his directions on the question. I do understand he asked me, at the end of the question, whether or not there were any studies or reviews on the impact to municipalities. I can tell him, as I said yesterday afternoon in debate, that there are some extra revenues to be accrued by municipalities who are engaged in the blue bag program in concert with our deposit return system.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, from time to time the Premier gets up and tells us that his government always chooses to err on the side of generosity. I wonder if the Premier is prepared to commit some funds and dedicate some funds so the Halifax Regional Municipality - and I need not tell the Premier this is the largest unit not only in Nova Scotia but in all of eastern Canada - so they can conduct a financial impact study relative to your thirst tax initiative?

MR. SPEAKER: To whom was that question addressed?

MR. TAYLOR: To anybody who will answer it.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I would have to rule that out of order. It has to be addressed to someone specifically.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I directed my question to the Premier and I did ask the Premier, so I would be pleased if the Premier would answer it.

MR. SPEAKER: All right, very well.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what you said was that you did not direct the question to me, however, in your usual style, I guess this is where it ended up.

[Page 287]

The issue of whether we would help any individual municipality to do this is really an irrelevant issue. I am not sure if you can remember how much consultation there was with municipalities before this whole thing started. The minister before that, Mr. Harrison, the member for Kings South, and the current minister, went around this province. There was the most detailed, close, as in keeping with those efforts that we have done in other areas. Never has any government consulted more than the Minister of Health, the Minister of Education and the Minister of Municipal Affairs. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, their difficulty is that they can't spell consultation. They don't understand the word consultation. I understand that because they certainly didn't do it for 15 years. What we are saying is that there was tremendous consultation with municipalities, every municipality was consulted, every municipality supported the initiative because this is the way to clean up Nova Scotia.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the Mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality will be very enlightened by those comments, because he doesn't feel that there was sufficient consultation.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on March 28th, an article states there are no jurisdictions in North America where existing curbside systems remained viable after deposit systems were introduced, so why will Nova Scotia be any different? My question to the Minister of the Environment, will the minister advise what plans are in place for those municipalities who have a blue box or a blue bag system which now will not be receiving the most valuable elements of those programs, namely, aluminum, tin and plastic pop cans?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think I alluded to or highlighted in my content of the debate yesterday that there was no question that we have paid attention to this and we have had excellent cooperation with municipal units, between our staff and DOE and the Resource Recovery Fund members. There will be some extra monies accrued to those people who combine a blue bag collection program with our deposit return system.

Just for the member's information, Mr. Speaker, I will table the details of the actions we have taken, because it is public information and it compares us with other jurisdictions. It is a plus-plus, win-win situation. Again, as I said yesterday, it is a tragedy that we have so much misinformation going out not only from lobbyists but from members of Opposition who do not want to face reality and tell Nova Scotians they are about to do a good thing for their future well-being in this province, so we can have a good environment that will welcome sustainable economic development. We are on the right track. We are proud of that point and we will do all that we can to ensure that Nova Scotians better understand as we go along.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. A few moments ago I had a note passed to me here in the House to call the media in southwestern Nova Scotia to comment on the closure of Juniper House. Would the minister indicate to the House whether or not he is aware that Juniper House has closed? For the

[Page 288]

information of those in the House, Juniper House is the transition house in Yarmouth. What information does the minister have about the closing of Juniper House?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am aware that Juniper House has closed. Our staff have been working closely with the board and the staff there making alternative arrangements for, I believe, five is the number of the residents who would be affected. That is ongoing, as we speak.

DR. HAMM: Would the minister indicate what exactly he is prepared to do to ensure that the service is fully restored as quickly as possible?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is an ongoing relationship with our department and the board at Juniper House. This is a matter of concern because it involves a fairly large geographic area where those services would have to be delivered from another particular base and operation. So that is a matter that we are dealing with. There are other matters that I am not probably free to discuss at this moment as we work with the board to reinstate services in that particular community.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's remarks but I still don't have any indication of any commitment to address the problem with great haste. Would the minister indicate to the House what amounts of money will be required to reopen Juniper House and how quickly is he prepared to do what it takes to make sure that that service is open? The minister made the comment of using nearby facilities. Well, there aren't nearby facilities to Juniper House. So my question to the minister is, what amount of money is required to reopen Juniper House? What form of support can the minister provide to make sure that this service is reinstituted in Yarmouth as soon as possible?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the budget last year, in 1995-96 was over $300,000 in that particular transition home. There have been changes of staff that have been addressed in that area. The other issue, particularly of the low occupancy rate, and other issues, we are working on. It is not only a question of finances involved, we will work with the board and straighten out any matters that may have given difficulties in management and we will support the board in any way that we can.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.


MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. The Resource Recovery Fund, effective April 1st, is up and running and collecting the associated taxes. The minister tells us that this initiative is going to be good for small business. I have a letter, which I will be tabling, which is sent to one of these small businesses. (Interruption) You show me yours, I will show you mine. (Laughter)

This letter, Mr. Speaker, is one that has been sent to small businesses across Nova Scotia. The letter is dated March 18th. They were in such a rush to get these out because the Resource Recovery Fund and the department had squeezed its timeframe to such an extent that they had to fax them, this one being faxed at 26 minutes past midnight on the 19th. It requires this small business and many small businesses in Nova Scotia to comply with quite a lengthy registration program before March 22nd.

[Page 289]

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, if in fact he believes this program to be in support of small business, would he explain to Nova Scotians exactly how providing such a squeezed timeframe for such a significant demand is in the best interests of small business in Nova Scotia?

[12:15 p.m.]

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, let me answer the question by saying that we have a body in place to do the day to day management of the waste management program referred to as the Resource Recovery Fund Board and they are responsible for those day to day details. As minister, I am responsible to make sure they comply with the regulations which set forth from our Environment Act in Nova Scotia. I can say that we all recognize that we had a short time period from the time the regulations were enforced to the time we have the target start-up date, April 1st. I am somewhat satisfied that although there has been a crush of time, there have been some expressions of understanding in that crush of time to do the best they can before the deadline and to carry on to develop the program in the near future.

MR. LEEFE: Interesting that the minister would choose to distance himself. The afternoon advertisement I saw on CBC television last night, his department's logo was all over the advertisement for the Resource Recovery Fund.

My second question also relates to small business. As we all know from what the minister has told us there is a shortfall respecting deposits that are collected with the Resource Recovery Fund effective April 1st and there will be for some time because a number of the containers that will be turned in early on, many of them will not have had the 10 cent deposit on it. Yet, in spite of that, this minister's Resource Recovery Fund is endeavouring to dun small business in Nova Scotia by requiring suppliers of beverage containers to pay a gratuitous tax to make a grant to provide a gift to the Resource Recovery Fund and to this minister, the equivalent of 40 per cent of the February beverage container sales, 10 cents per container, 60 per cent of March's beverage container sales on the basis of 10 cents per container. I want to ask the minister how he believes that dunning small business in this province to this extent is in the best interests of small business in this province?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the honourable member who asked us about the distance from the RRF and the minister that it was he who advised me in writing when we were going through the review process that we should distance ourselves from any body that we set up to administer the program and we have done that. I want to thank him for the advice and I think that he would recognize that the letter he refers to with specific amounts of volunteer donations was retracted by the Resource Recovery Fund in place of a misunderstanding.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the minister at what date this was retracted and was it retracted by him or by the Resource Recovery Fund? If it was retracted by the Resource Recovery fund was it done on their initiative or at his direction?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, the Resource Recovery Fund is accountable to myself as minister and in consultation with each other, the retraction was made.

[Page 290]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.


MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. In the thirst tax system for beverage containers of the 10 cents, 5 cents is returned to the participating consumer, 2.5 cents will be paid to the enviro-depot and the other 2.5 cents is available for the Resource Recovery Fund to run their programming from processing centres to the recycle and marketing place inclusive. Will the minister table the study undertaken by the Department of the Environment, the Resource Recovery Fund or any other agency conducting the studies on behalf, which sets out a financial plan associated with this deposit return system?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I don't think I caught the last part of his question. Perhaps he might want to repeat it just briefly. I caught the first part but not the last part.

MR. ARCHIBALD: To table any study that was done by your department, the RRF, or any agency relating to this 10 cent deposit return tax?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will endeavour to find the information relative to that point, including the projected 40 cent deposit by another administration that we did not accept.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister can laugh and giggle and talk about letters between ministers of a former government. But is that what the minister based this deposit return on? It is not a joking matter.

Now, clearly there will not be 100 per cent return. The minister indicated he didn't do any study, he just drew this number out of the air. Anything less of these returns, when people do not return them and they put them in the landfill or they do something else with them, there will be a windfall. What is the windfall projected to be? Will this windfall be kept by the Resource Recovery Fund or will the Province of Nova Scotia receive the money, through your department?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will endeavour to take all of those points under consideration and report back to the honourable member. I want to clear up a point he asked about, did we base our 10 cent deposit upon his 40 cent projection. The answer is no, because we didn't learn of that until later but we certainly used that 40 cents to base our degree of hypocrisy in terms of their condemnation of our program.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, the scales of hypocrisy are interesting. You know, there is no study, he has no information on what he is going to do with the windfall, he had no idea how much - to the Minister of the Environment, through you, Mr. Speaker - how much does the province project the Resource Recovery Fund will be making available annually to municipalities in promoting curbside recycling? Now do you have any information on that?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to get into the details of dollars and cents but that member knows full well, because he read a copy of the material I just tabled, that there are no definitive, bottom line measurements there but there are certainly indications that there will be sufficient monies to municipalities, in terms of offsetting the projected losses in the Blue Bag Program.

[Page 291]

I think it is fair to say that the honourable member is really being mischievous. He is not adding anything to the debate that would be of positive benefit to the citizens of this province, in terms of a better environment and an opportunity for jobs. (Interruption) I would say, Mr. Speaker, that all the information they are referring to in the question has been answered heretofore and will be answered as time goes on. I will make sure he personally receives a copy of all the literature and material that indicate dollars and cents. The RRF will do their own projections, I won't do their projections for them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party. There are two minutes remaining.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Community Services. The Department of Community Services has confirmed that there is an internal investigation underway into the tragic death of Eddie Sheppard in a small options home. I would like to ask the minister if he would, in fact, provide for this House the terms of reference for that investigation and give us a commitment that when that investigation is completed that a report will be tabled in this House?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, yes, I can provide to the House the terms of reference for the inquiry. The commitment to fully table an inquiry report would have to depend on legal advice as to what confidential information in that report or relative to the police investigation, information relative to the police, would be in that report. So I would not make that commitment to table the full report as received by myself at this time. I would have to seek legal advice on that regarding the issue of confidentiality.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on the same subject, will the minister indicate whether, in fact, regulations dealing with standards for small options homes will be introduced into this House before the end of this session of the Legislature?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as I said, we are involved in a process and although the honourable member's comments were prefaced by the tragic death of a person in a small options home, prior to that we were well on the road to bringing in new regulations and working towards that through a consultative process, as I mentioned earlier.

I doubt, Mr. Speaker, in all fairness, if the exact regulations written in legislation will be available to the spring session. There are changes taking place now and there are support services that are available to the community-based options.

So with the legislative package intact, I have other legislation, Mr. Speaker, at this time. It is all-important when it relates to Family and Children Services and community-based options, but we will make the changes before the legislation and whether we can do some of it by regulations, which do not have to come before the House, or more formal legislation, we will be looking at that in the fall.

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

[Page 292]


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: The debate was adjourned by the honourable member for Halifax Citadel, and he and I have agreed 10 minutes is remaining.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, you are being very generous to suggest that I might have as much as 10 minutes left, and I don't know that I will need that much time to make the few concluding remarks that I do wish to make.

I do want to close my comments in relation to Resolution No. 34 by simply making a couple of these observations. It is tricky, to say the least, (Interruption) No, no, tricky, to say the least, Mr. Speaker, for this government to attempt to create the impression in the minds of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia that by proceeding in the fashion in which they have, relative to the issues we address in Resolution No. 34, that those of us who would question the process employed here are in some way, shape or form, properly to be characterized, or categorized, as persons who are opposed to finding ways and finding resources to compensate the victims of institutional crime.

That is not only tricky, that is a preconceived, intellectual dishonesty on the part of those on the benches opposite who dreamed up that little ploy, because they know and you know and every taxpayer of the Province of Nova Scotia knows, because they have heard us here, in earlier days, demanding that this government get serious and get on with the compensation of victims of institutional crime. That process, Mr. Speaker, has dragged on. The 500-plus men - mostly men - some women very much traumatized and subjected to brutal, vicious, criminal actions perpetrated against them in the School for Girls in Truro, that group of people have been waiting, have been pleading directly, and through counsel, to secure compensation for those heinous crimes which have been perpetrated against them.

The real flaw here and the real reason for the vigour with which those of us on the Opposition benches debate Resolution No. 34 is that we honestly believe - speak for myself - I honestly believe that what the Minister of Finance attempts to do and purports to do here is simply illegal. It is simply a breach of the Provincial Finance Act for the Minister of Finance to attempt this piece of accounting sleight of hand. It is exactly that, because if one reads the Provincial Finance Act, Madam Speaker, you will be aware that in order to establish on the books of account of a fiscal year, any amount to be set aside for expenditure, that amount has to be appropriated for an ordinary or usual service and it also has to be appropriated for that service during that year for which the appropriation has been made or that the sum appropriated by the Legislature to be expended on capital - and, in this case, we are not talking about capital - is to be expended.

[12:30 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, fiscal 1995-96 has expired. As we stand here in the early days of fiscal 1996-97, there is no court order obligating the Minister of Finance or the government as a whole to make this payment [Page 293]

to the victims of institutional crime. As we stand here, there is no Order in Council passed by this government committing itself to make any settlement of any amount to the victims of institutional crime. As we stand here there is no enforceable, contractual agreement as between this government and the victims of institutional crime.

So what we have here is an attempt by this Minister of Finance to roll back retroactively into a year in which he has some fiscal room with which to work, an amount in this case of some $32 million, so that he has a slush fund or a reserve established for the purpose of - in some future day - making some payment, and, as yet, an undetermined payment for compensation to the victims of institutional crime. I thought it was exceedingly noteworthy that in his contribution to the debate the other day, the Minister of Finance acknowledged, yes there is no existing liability. He went so far as to say that it is not even clear that in the fiscal year 1996-97 there will be a liability and, indeed, he went further and said, it may be not even into the next year.

Well, if that is the case, I think it is passing strange to say the least, that there is any rational explanation for what the Minister of Finance purports to do here, except to do, as I have suggested and others have suggested in the past, and that is simply to free himself up to have an easier time to craft a 1996-97 budget for the Province of Nova Scotia, and meanwhile having established this fund back in 1995-96 where it has no place. It offends Section 28 of the Provincial Finance Act to do what the Minister of Finance purports to do here. Nobody on the government benches, including the Minister of Finance, has offered any explanation as to how it is legal, proper, appropriate, how it is anything but politically expedient for this government to roll back into 1995-96 this $32 million - and they know they can't do that, Madam Speaker - because they know that it is not an ordinary or usual service. They know that it is not required in the year of the budget into which they now attempt to put it and they know that it is being done for no other reason than to lighten the load for the crafting of the 1996-97 budget.

If this government proposes to make a $32 million or a $42 million commitment to enable it to have resources to respond to an obligation, a very heavy moral obligation, but as of today, in no sense a legal obligation, because they haven't admitted or committed themselves to a legal obligation, then there is absolutely no problem for the Minister of Finance of the Province of Nova Scotia to come to this House in a couple of weeks' time, read a Budget Speech and say, this government commits that in fiscal 1996-97, we will settle with the victims of institutional crime and we have included some $30 million or $40 million or whatever number of millions of dollars in our budget to ensure that that is done. But that is not what they are doing.

There has been editorial comment in relation to this and I expect that there will be further editorial comment. I note that the editorial comment which certain of the members opposite have already screamed across the divide today, they offer that as an endorsement and a pat on the back to the Minister of Finance. Well, that same editorial comment, Madam Speaker, as I close, I remind you, that editorial writer says, "Yes, Mr. Boudreau is playing

[Page 294]

politics . . .". And he is. That same editorial writer says, "Yes, Mr. Boudreau is guilty of being a little tricky, here . . .". (Interruption) I read all the lines.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. The honourable member's time has expired.

MR. DONAHOE: And those lines defined . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

Honourable member your time has expired.

Honourable members, I just would like to caution that in the future if I caution you that your time has expired, I will have to sit you down if you don't take note of the direction from the Speaker.

The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Madam Speaker, April 1st is a day to remember. Of course, it will be well-known to all as April Fool's Day, it also happens to be the day in which the Resource Recovery Fund and its thirst tax came into operation. It also is the day on which the government had hoped to begin debate on Resolution No. 34. It also ushers in the government's new fiscal year, having left the old fiscal year on March 31st. That is a very important point for each and every one of us to remember as we debate the legitimacy of this resolution which is before us.

This resolution the government has put forward speaks to paying out some $32 million to victims of institutional abuse. Whether advertent or inadvertent, I know not, but it strikes me that irrespective whether advertent or inadvertent the framer of this resolution, the mover of this resolution and those who will support it have, in fact, further abused those very victims by using them, by manipulating them for their own narrow, selfish, political purpose. How callous can a government be if that is advertent, how absolutely thoughtless can a government be if it is inadvertent.

Madam Speaker, I ask, as have others, and I await the response as do others, where is the legal commitment on the part of this government with respect to paying out commitment to those victims of institutional abuse? Where is the court order that requires that that payment be made? Where is the agreement or the agreements between the government and the victims of abuse or their legal counsel? We have seen none. To our knowledge, there are none.

Where, Madam Speaker, is the Order in Council from the past fiscal year which lays out the commitment by government to pay out this $32 million as a contingent liability upon the province? Orders in Council are public documents, anyone who has perused them, including those of us on the Opposition benches know that there is no such Order in Council passed and made a public document.

Madam Speaker, there is no legal basis for this resolution and each and every member in this House who is required to make decision upon it, when the vote is called, must give thought to those very narrow parameters which form the body of law within which any such resolution should be bound.

[Page 295]

Madam Speaker, why is it that the government and this minister have chosen to charge this $32 million to last year's budget rather than to the current year's budget? Why, when there is no legal obligation to pay it out of last year's, is the government not, therefore, budgeting to pay it out of this year's budget? There is no legal right to pay it out of last year's budget, there is not even as yet any legal right to pay it out of this year's budget, with respect to commitments. Those commitments, as we have already seen, while they may have been vaguely discussed in the public, have yet to be met in the fullest sense of obligations under the law.

Why would it be that this $32 million would be nicked from last year's budget instead of this year's? Well, one rationale is that we had money left over in fiscal 1995-96 so we decided to spend it. I find that discomfiting, coming from a Minister of Finance who I think has developed, or has at least worked hard at developing, some level of credibility. That he now, as we move towards the next election, would begin to move away from the kind of moral turpitude upon which he stood in the days early of this government and, instead, now would be moving towards a different soapbox upon which to stand and, in this case, is saying oh well, you know the money was still there, we hadn't spend it, we will have money in the till so we are going to spent it anyway. Isn't that the very criticism that has so often has been made of government?

Just because you budget all that money does it mean that if you don't spend it all that you go on a wild spending spree and empty the Treasury? Would it not have been better for the minister to take any kind of a positive balance with respect to his budget and give it back to the taxpayers? But no, this minister has chosen not to do that. This minister and this government instead have chosen, for their own narrow purposes, to take the money from last year rather than from the year in which it may - not will but may - be spent.

I was in Bridgewater one day last week and I drove down King Street past LaHave Furnishing. There was a sign in the window, "Sale - Buy now, pay later." I think every Nova Scotian understands that; a family wants a washing machine, they see a sign in a store that sells white goods, "Buy now, pay later." Great, that means I don't have to pay until next year. I want to buy a new entertainment centre for the family, I don't have the cash right now but you know that you are going to get a raise next year so we will buy now and we will pay later.

This is the first instance where I have seen a sale, in this case by the Government of Nova Scotia, where they say buy now, pay previously. I have never seen that sign in a window in Nova Scotia and I don't think Nova Scotians would understand it if they did. Nova Scotians are not going to buy that, Madam Speaker, Nova Scotians are far too street smart, far too wise to do that.

Now the minister is confined by the Provincial Finance Act. Section 28(1) of the Provincial Finance Act is very clear. It states that, "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 offer 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.".

[Page 296]

Madam Speaker, the matter which is encompassed within this resolution is neither ordinary nor is it usual; it is extraordinary and it is unusual. By the very definition of the law which each of us, by our oath have sworn to uphold, this resolution is a law breaker put forward by a government and by a minister which the people understand are supposed to be law makers. There is no authority.

[12:45 p.m.]

I believe and I am sure that my constituents believe that in this measure, if it passes this place, those who vote for it will have broken the law and those who speak for it and support it will have broken faith with the very electorate that in 1993 promised they would dare to be different, they promised to do better than this.

Why such prestidigitation on the part of the government and the Minister of Finance? Why move the shells so quickly on the table? The minister and the government are illusionists who intend to account creatively to the narrowest and meanest of political purpose. They are trying to gull Nova Scotians and like a refrigerator that would be advertised, buy now, pay previously and which would not be bought by Nova Scotians, this resolution, if it passes, will not be bought by Nova Scotians as right, proper, appropriate and within the legal competence of the government to hand out.

This government promised transparency and here today we do indeed find transparency. This government is wearing its emperor's clothes and viewing this emperor in its clothes we see the naked truth. That naked truth is that this government has a narrow, ulterior, political motive with respect to shifting the cost of that $32 million for victims of institutional abuse from this fiscal year to last fiscal year.

It is said that the only thing predictable about the weather in Nova Scotia in April, is its unpredictability. I think it too could be said that the only thing predictable about this government is its unpredictability. I think too, that while we look upon April as the month of unpredictable weather, a month when we see slush, that we should also understand that this unpredictable government is providing exactly that commodity through this playing games with the Provincial Finance Act and establishing a slush fund for its own narrow ends.

I believe what the government is purporting to do is wrong. I believe this resolution is wrong. I believe that this resolution because of the way it has been brought to this place is another insult, another injury to the very people that the government would purport to be helping. Because I and thousands of Nova Scotians like me, undoubtedly are exercised with respect to what we believe to be a breach of the law, I find it necessary to move an amendment. The amendment reads as follows:

"I move that Resolution No. 34 be amended by deleting all of the words after the word `resolved' in the last clause and inserting the following words: `That an opinion be sought from the Auditor General of Nova Scotia to determine if the Government has authority under the Provincial Finance Act to charge a sum in fiscal 1995-96 not exceeding $32,037,900 to the Lieutenant Governor to defray expenses in respect of the Department of Justice respecting compensation for victims of institutional abuse.".

Madam Speaker, I so move.

[Page 297]

MADAM SPEAKER: The amendment is being circulated to the members. The Government House Leader on a point of order? Are you speaking to the proposal before I rule on it?

HON. RICHARD MANN: I will wait until there is a ruling on it.

[12:50 p.m. The House recessed.]

[12:53 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable members, I am prepared to give a ruling on the proposed amendment, and it is my opinion that the original resolution calls upon the House to vote for a certain sum. The amendment attempts to negative that motion, so I am ruling the amendment out of order.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, I would like to speak on Resolution No. 34, and in speaking on it I would move that the question be now put.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is that the question be now put; it is a motion that is in order. (Interruptions) Honourable members, just so you understand, this motion still permits debate to continue, according to the Rule Book.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to say a few words about the resolution. There has been a lot of discussion in this place about this resolution, because we are ploughing some new ground; new ground that, unfortunately, is bypassing what this government originally said that it was planning to do.

Look back at what the members of the government were talking about when they visited the doorsteps of the people of Nova Scotia back in the spring of 1993, and when they talked about amending the Provincial Finance Act and talked about requiring the Public Accounts Committee to review all additional appropriations before they are approved by a Governor in Council. That idea didn't die there, because there was some reference to it in Shaping the Future, the document that received widespread circulation last year when it was introduced into the House by the Minister of Finance, and then he took some pains to take this same document around the province and discuss it with some Nova Scotians.

A line from that document: "In the past too many financial decisions were taken outside the open budgetary process, through additional spending approved by cabinet alone.". Well, it is our contention, and it is my contention, Madam Speaker, this is exactly what is being done. This resolution is outside the normal budgetary process. Most peculiar, most curious, because we are facing a new budget perhaps as soon as two weeks from now.

It is very easy, as this government has proven, to be critical of the government of the day and certainly the members of this government we extremely critical of the government of the day when they were in Opposition. Yet, they were prepared to put forward positions which, now that they are in government, they are not prepared to initiate, they are not prepared to stand behind, and they are not prepared to initiate in this Legislature. It is unfortunate.

Isn't it unfortunate that this government is prepared to do something that we can't do as individuals and all Nova Scotians are unable to do? Let's take a simple example of what we can't do as private citizens. Now, all of us here are aware of Revenue Canada and our obligation at this time of each year to look at our income and to look at our expenses. Then you say, well, I have this amount of income and I have this amount [Page 298]

of expense and I take the expense and I subtract it from the income and that is the amount of taxable income that we are responsible to pay our taxes on. That is a very simple concept.

Well, here we have an analogy. We cannot decide, well, look, I didn't have enough expenses this year to put against my income, so what I am going to do is reach ahead to next year and take some of my anticipated expenses for next year and put it towards this year's tax return. That is exactly what this resolution is allowing this government to do. It is taking the income that they have this year and they want to take some projected expenses that they will incur next year and to apply it to the income for the 1995-96 calendar year. No Nova Scotian can understand that kind of accounting. No Nova Scotian. That is not an option that is available to people as we deal with our personal expenses.

That is exactly what is happening here. This government wants an approval through this resolution and it wants the support of its government members to take a projected expense, an expense that is not occurring this year, which will occur next year and to apply it to the immediately preceding year's financial statement. This is not available to individuals, it is not available to corporations, it is not available to small business, why should this option be available to this government? To simply confuse Nova Scotians and to enable this government in 1996-97 year to present a picture which is confusing and inaccurate as to what is happening in that fiscal year.

[1:00 p.m.]

Let's look at the amount of extra appropriations that we saw as recently as two weeks before the opening of the House. We saw $88.6 million of extra appropriations to various government departments, and we also saw a special warrant - we must not forget that - remember the special warrant of $3 million to the innovation fund? Well, if you add all of that up, you are well over $90 million.

I haven't heard, Madam Speaker, the exact number the Minister of Finance would predict that we lose in the CHST transfer in the coming year, nor have I heard from the Minister of Finance the exact amount of extra funding that he expects to receive from Ottawa through equalization payments, because our economy has lagged behind the growth of economies in other provinces. But perhaps it would be fair to estimate that the extra amount to be received by this province could be in the order of $100 million.

Is this the $100 million - this windfall that this province will receive through equalization payments - the same $100 million that the Minister of Finance is so eager to have credited to this past year, and obviously very anxious to have it credited to next year? All of this makes one particularly suspect of what on the surface would appear to be a very simple situation.

Madam Speaker, it is not simple. This financial year, just past, the 1995-96 year, the figures should stand on their own and we should be able to analyze that year on the basis of the liabilities that have been accrued. Now $10 million has been set aside in that budget and not yet been called upon to make restitution to the victims of abuse in various provincial

[Page 299]

institutions over a great number of years. It may well be that the final settlement by the province to these victims will be in the order, perhaps, of $40 million.

I know of no accounting, I know of no liability to this point that this Minister of Finance or this Minister of Justice has accepted. There has been no accepted liability and, therefore, there is no valid reason to accrue that liability to this particular year, 1995-96, and to allow a transfer to the next year of that anticipated liability and the $32 million that the extra appropriation has, in fact, amounted to. So it is very difficult for anyone to understand what it is, exactly, this government is trying to do in its attempts to confuse us all as to what, in fact, happened financially in this past year and what will happen financially once the budgetary process for 1996-97 is made public by the Minister of Finance.

There has been much discussion as to whether or not this particular resolution does, in fact, contravene the Provincial Finance Act. Madam Speaker, I am not a legal person, nor are you, but when I read Section 28(1) of the Provincial Finance Act, it says, "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, . . .".

Well, it is clear to me that the service during the year portion of the clause is not satisfied in this particular situation and in this particular resolution because the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Justice have not accepted any liability on behalf of the victims. There is no order in the court to my understanding. There has been no public acknowledgement. There is a negotiation process under way and that negotiation to my understanding is no more near to conclusion today than it was several months ago. It has been hampered by the inability of the government to come to grips with its liability to the victims of abuse in various government institutions over the last couple of decades.

The unfortunate thing is that this particular situation has not been referred to some impartial, outside jurisdiction for an appropriate legal opinion. The Speaker has already said that he is not in a position to initiate legal opinion and it is my understanding that he is quite correct when he made that pronouncement. It is unfortunate that the government has not stood firm in its commitment to be open and transparent, to do what it said it would do and to make the public finances of the province more open and would allow a proper examination of additional government expenditures by either the Public Accounts Committee or by a full and open debate in this House.

The Minister of Finance may wish to come forward and say, well, the resolution allows open debate but in reality, we are not able to examine what the extra appropriations were for. All we are able to do is debate whether or not we would be voting to allow this extra appropriation or not. The kind of examination that we would wish to have is the kind that we do when we examine the budget, item by item, line by line. Why is this Legislature being denied the opportunity to examine each and every appropriation of the $88.6 million of extra appropriations that this Minister of Finance has chosen to put forward not less than two weeks prior to the opening of the Legislature? I make the comment again, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In closing, let me just comment. So much for transparency, so much for openness in government.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be speaking on this resolution. It is kind of peculiar, to say the very least, that we are having this debate today in this Chamber and it has been going on for the last few days. We heard the New Democratic Party the other day talking about building a freight train and everybody was going to get on it. I think the government built a train but it is off the rails now. The train of the Government of Nova Scotia is off the rails because this minister wants to make [Page 300]

provision to spend money next year from last year's budget but in a couple of weeks he is bringing in a new budget.

Why wouldn't the normal person say, look, I want to put this number in the budget so that I can help look after victims of abuse. For the minister to select this area and this group to say I need the extra appropriation for was very cold and calculating because I know in his heart of hearts he is not a bad fellow but he said, how in the dickens am I going to beat up on these devils because he said, look, who would challenge an appropriation that is going to be helpful to people who have suffered abuse when they were children? All of a sudden you can see their eyes light up and their faces grinning and you can see those guys in the Cabinet Room and they say, this is what we will do. We will tag this extra, extra appropriation and say it is for victims of abuse. Nobody will speak against that.

Well, we are speaking against it, not because there is any ill will that we have towards anybody; we have spoken many times in this Legislature about the need for fair and just treatment of victims of abuse. Madam Speaker, the newspaper editorial today, Bernie the bookkeeper, did you see it? I bet you did.

MADAM SPEAKER: Yes, actually I did.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, I bet you did. It is sort of required reading. (Interruption) Yes, the cartoon poked fun at the Minister of the Environment and his foolishness and the unpreparedness that we have shown in the tax that he has brought in. It is just not the Minister of Finance who is doing taxation, it is every minister including the Minister of the Environment. But I read this this morning and my heart was beating and so on. (Laughter)

Well, they said these nice things about the Minister of Finance and I said, look life is sometimes fairer to some people than it is to others. I have to tell you, our Minister of Finance has come out the last couple of years looking pretty good. People say he looks good but, you know, he has had some good luck, too. I would think he is the first to admit it because interest rates have been down substantially. It was very good luck and good fortune that some of the money that Nova Scotians owed on the debt was able to be transferred. The federal equalization payments for the first time in many years, the first time since about five years, instead of being less than anticipated were more than anticipated to some $450 million. So when we read about our beloved Finance Minister, Bernie the bookkeeper, the great, but then you remember what Bernie the bookkeeper did. Tobacco taxes were increased $3 million to $4 million. Bernie the bookkeeper put 3 per cent on every power bill in Nova Scotia.

I remember when the Honourable William Gillis, who is currently the Minister of Justice and the member for life for Antigonish, used to go to the Public Utilities Board and rail, hail and scream, don't put the rates up. But, you know, the first tax that was introduced by the Minister of Justice and this government was 3 per cent on the power bills. I couldn't believe it. I said, how could the Minister of Justice allow Bernie the bookkeeper to do that? Twenty-two million dollars, an increase in the Gasoline Tax, a 1 per cent increase in sales tax, another $60 million or $70 million. Well, little wonder the Minister of Finance in some

[Page 301]

quarters is being credited as being a great bookkeeper. Anybody who has raised taxes as substantially as he has in the last three years, and he has, any minister who had the good fortune to have interest rates tumble, exchange rates falter, and then the federal government opened the purse strings and pretty near drowned him in dollars. They should be able to balance the budget. They should be fiscally responsible and fiscally successful. (Interruption) Yes, I know. But what is amazing to me and many others is that Bernie has shown and many people say he is so successful, the Minister of Finance, I mean his government bows and scrapes and if I was one of them I might understand why they do that sort of thing but I can't from over here. You know, if he is as clever a bookkeeper as the editorial indicated today, and I know it was required reading for all members of that side of the House, it will probably go out in your Christmas cards next year, if you are still around and we don't have an election in the meantime.

[1:15 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: I did cut it out.

MR. ARCHIBALD: You did cut it out. (Laughter) I suppose you will be doing autographs in the foyer. If the minister, and I mean no disrespect, was even half as clever a bookkeeper as the editorial would suggest, we wouldn't be debating this now. He wouldn't need his extra appropriation from last year for next year. "MLA Terence Donahoe said, this is cooking the books.". Where did he say those other words, though? "This is jiggery-pokery.".

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, would you be tabling the press clipping when you are through quoting a few words from it?

MR. ARCHIBALD: Do you want it?

MADAM SPEAKER: No, I am just asking you to table it. You are reading a few words from it, you might as well table it.

MR. ARCHIBALD: If you send it to the Minister of Finance, he'll frame it in gold. I don't think he is going to get many of them. I will table it when I am through with it.

What I would suggest that the people that have read this editorial and the members of his caucus and the supporters of his Party who are so high and saying what a marvellous job he is doing, when they think of the added taxes, when they think of the benefit of lowered rates and exchange rates and when they think of the good fortune of Ottawa suddenly dumping in $450 million of extra equalization payments because our economy has fallen through the floor, you have to wonder, is it just luck to arrive at being Minister of Finance? Well, by his action on this resolution, it looks as though it was more luck than planning. It is truly, Madam Speaker, not what we expected, after reading an editorial saying what a great skilled bookkeeper, to have to resort to this.

Now, there was a red book that some people in the province saw and some people held it next to their chest when they knocked on doors. If I can read to you from the red book, "Our ultimate goal is to offer taxpayers, financial analysts, and elected representatives a complete assessment of debt and other matters of all arms of the provincial government. Call it `truth in accounting'.". Well, that's nice but is this truth in accounting by trying to hoodwink Nova Scotians into thinking that the budget for next year is going to be better than the one for last year because some of the money from last year is going to be spent on next year? I mean nobody could even follow that. The flimflam people do things like that.

Again, from Accountability, Accessibility in Government, Liberal Policy. "The Auditor General has regularly expressed concern about these significant appropriations, which he points out, do not come before the Legislature for review.". Are you listening? "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.".

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You see we shouldn't really be here debating this because we are just one step ahead of ourselves because the Minister of Finance wasn't going to do this until after the Public Accounts Committee, which meets every Wednesday morning at 8:00 a.m., until they had an opportunity to have a look at it. So I might even suggest that we should adjourn until next Wednesday and see what the Public Accounts Committee has to say about this. That is what the Liberal policy is.

But you see that was policy for convenience. That was the same convenient sort of thing as no new taxes. I mean that was convenient.

AN HON. MEMBER: 63,000 jobs.

MR. ARCHIBALD: We learned today that there are 62,000 unemployed and I think 1,000 have given up, maybe 2,000 have given up. So actually the Liberal policy that I read to you has not been followed and the job prospects.

Now what about this resolution? Why is it necessary? Has the Minister of Finance explained to the Legislature the real reason, the real reason we are in here discussing this matter? The reason that we are so cross I think is because the minister is using victims of abuse for political gain. You know, you should not do that. Those people have been abused by the system in which they grew up and now the Minister of Finance is abusing them in here by claiming it is for them that I am doing this; I didn't want to do it but I have to help those people. That is a lot of you know what, Madam Speaker, because the minister has a budget coming out in two or three weeks, or whenever, and he can put the money in it there properly. That is the way you do things.

Instead, for some unexplained reason, and I am sure the minister is going to explain to us why he had to do it this way. Why was there no choice? The Minister of Finance just a few weeks ago stated that too many financial decisions were being made and too many additional appropriations were made by Cabinet alone. One time he said there were too many and should go to the Public Accounts. Now he is just saying they are just making too many. He didn't suggest what should be rectified regarding too many decisions being made in the Cabinet Room. So we are very interested to have the minister's explanation as to why he is doing this extra appropriation for next year last year. It is sort of like that fellow who made the movie Back to the Future; this is back to the financial future.

You know two days before the Legislature opened, the minutes of Cabinet indicated that there was an additional appropriation of approximately $90 million to be charged against fiscal 1995-96. Why so late? Why just before this Throne Speech? Why just before the Legislature came to sit? You know these are questions that we don't understand. If the Minister of Finance is as clever as everybody in his Party and as clever as our editorial writers are telling us, you would not have thought that somebody as clever as that would have run out of his plans. I mean does the plan last from day to day or week to week? We already decided that the government policy and the government plan and the organization for this Legislature

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sitting, we have been here for less than a week and already we are off the rails. So why so late?

You know there are rules and regulations that governments follow and legislation that gets passed in this Chamber, you can follow them, and it is a good idea to follow them.

If you don't like an Act Respecting the Reduction and Control of Operating and Capital Expenditures of the Province, if you don't like the Act, change it. If you don't like the words in the interpretation of this Act, Section 3(b), where it says, "`net program operating expenditures' means 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.". Well, if you don't like anything in that, bring it in and change it. But you see, what is going on now, this is the Act we are operating under, or supposed to.

In the Provincial Finance Act, "Report of insufficient appropriation", Section 28(1), it has been read to you many times. If you run out of money, it says, ". . . 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 . . .", I guess that is the key word. You see, you are supposed to do these appropriations for the year in which you are spending the money. Now the Minister of Finance is going to make notes and he is going to explain to us so we will understand why we have to make this change so suddenly.

Now that we are into debate on this resolution, and I notice that debate on this resolution is going to be cut as short as possible, because the Government House Leader has indicated there will be no more amendments to the resolution - in effect, he has limited debate - because they want this through so we can get back on the government railway train and get back on the rails. But right now this Legislature session, which was supposed to be short, is off the rails.

It doesn't show good planning there either. If the Minister of Finance and his government are so skilful, you would think they would be able to manage the House for a week and the star performer in the government, you would think he would be able to manage it for longer than a week. Two days into the House and we are off the government agenda. Why? Because the government has chosen to try to make Nova Scotians think it has a big, caring heart.

The only way the victims can be compensated is by using last year's money next year. And the craziest part, perhaps, is that $10 million is set aside in last year's budget; additional funds are being set forth now. The minister does not know how many victims there are, the minister doesn't know how much the compensation will be, but he just needed this much money added to last year's budget so he can try to balance next year's. That is an admirable thing, to balance the budget, but you should do it honestly and openly and not on the backs of people who have already been victimized once.

The $55 million (Interruption) Well, if some of the backbenchers and the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency want to defend this resolution, why don't they stand on their feet and speak? They should perhaps do that.

The minister will probably stand and make some suggestions, perhaps answer some of the questions, but I don't know how he can explain just exactly what it is he plans to do to convince Nova Scotians that there is anything here besides a shallow, callous, political act, to try to make next year's budget come in near where the minister told us a year ago it would arrive.

[1:30 p.m.]

Why is the minister worried about his credibility today? He never worried about it before. He said there will be no taxes and he raised everything, even electricity. Can you believe Nova Scotians have some of the highest electricity rates in Canada, we are in the top half anyway and the Minister of Finance said we will tax it. It is amazing to me. Gasoline, the taxes went up for that and the Minister of Transportation isn't [Page 304]

spending it on highways. So, I don't expect a whole lot of answers from this government. I don't anticipate a better understanding of this resolution because truly, there is not an acceptable explanation for blaming an appropriation for next year's budget and last year's with trying to indicate to Nova Scotians that it is being done for the good of the victims of abuse. I don't buy it and I don't think Nova Scotians will.

Hopefully, the editorial writers for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald will perhaps have another look and get a better understanding of exactly what this minister has done. Perhaps they would look at all the taxes he has put on, all the money from Ottawa and the good fortune, then they come up with the conclusion, the Minister of Finance, it has been more good luck than good management that has brought the books of Nova Scotia into almost a balanced budget.

I do not support the resolution and I trust that others, particularly, on the Government benches, will listen to reason and reasonable explanations and they too will understand that this is a very callous way to use Nova Scotians who need our help. Thank you.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, there has been a lot of discussion on this resolution and I know the minister, when he brought this resolution before the House last Friday when he tabled it, he perhaps felt and I don't think I am casting an aspersion but I believe the Minister of Finance felt that he could sneak this through without the Opposition giving it careful examination. I need not tell you that we have a role and a responsibility here in the Opposition to look at resolutions such as this one and of course, examine legislation and we have a fair amount of work to do.

When we looked at this resolution, it became very obvious to us that the minister was trying to, in a very tricky manner, in a very backhanded way, bring in a resolution where he could play the victims of institutional abuse against the sympathy of the public. I don't think anybody disputes that and I would never ever charge that the Minister of Finance is a novice, an acolyte or a neophyte or anything like that. He is very sagacious and certainly doesn't have any (Interruption) the minister of Finance is very experienced, he crafted and drafted this up and brought it before the House.

I have no difficulty whatsoever in supporting compensation for victims of institutional abuse, nor does my caucus. We believe that any individual who has been victimized by the judicial system or people in charge working in correctional centres or institutions, we believe that those people should certainly be remunerated for the violations and assaults that have taken place in the past. That is not what we are talking about, Madam Speaker. That is certainly not what I am talking about. What I am talking about is a government that possibly

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could be, I am not saying probably, I am saying that possibly could be further victimizing those victims of institutional abuse.

Now, the Finance Minister has created a favourable bottom line, "Therefore be it resolved that a sum not exceeding $32,037,900 be granted to the Lieutenant Governor to defray expenses in respect of the Department of Justice respecting compensation for the Victims of Institutional Abuse.". That $32,037,900 is a large amount of money by anybody's imagination. Nobody is arguing that the victims of institutional abuse should be indemnified, Madam Speaker. Nobody is suggesting otherwise, but what we are trying to say here is that this government violated its Expenditure Control Act and they are trying to make amends, trying to set the bottom line straight for last year's budget and we all know that the fiscal year 1995-96 expired at the end of March just past.

Now why then is the Minister of Finance charging this extra appropriation to the fiscal year 1995-96, why in the name of this world can't the minister charge this expense to the current budget? We are in the fiscal year 1996-97. Nobody is denying that, so I have to be perfectly candid and I have to be perfectly direct and come back to where I was before, Madam Speaker, and that is in suggesting that the Minister of Finance is playing the victims of institutional abuse against a favourable political line. That is reprehensible in itself.

The minister has been charged with committing jiggery-pokery and trickery and perhaps even skulduggery . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Tomfoolery.

MR. TAYLOR: And tomfoolery, I am advised, by the member for Hants East. Why didn't the Minister of Finance do his resolution up to represent the fact that he is setting aside $23 million in buyouts for the civil servants? We know that extra appropriations were made, somewhere in the collective form of $90 million, and the minister could have gone in and picked a different figure for a different reason. But, no, the Minister of Finance chose to choose the $32,037,900 for the victims of institutional abuse.

The difficulties we have with this resolution are many. The Provincial Finance Act, Madam Speaker, I know there are many legal minds in this Chamber and I don't believe that you need a legal mind to understand what Section 28 says, but it is very clear, there is just no authority. As the member for Queens pointed out earlier, there is no implicit authority and there is no explicit authority. So, fundamentally speaking, what we have here is a violation by a lawmaker in this province. This is a place where we should come in and be proud that we are making laws that are based on sound rationale and they are well-reasoned legislation. (Interruption)

But, Madam Speaker, the Minister of Finance, as far as I am concerned, when I examined the Provincial Finance Act, I find that the Minister of Finance of this province is breaking the law and he is breaking faith with the taxpayers of this province.

You know, Madam Speaker, this government doesn't have any difficulty in breaking collective bargaining agreements; they have no trouble violating different provisions in the Civil Service Act. But my goodness, why would they come in with a resolution that essentially is breaking the law. Nobody disagrees that it is violating the Provincial Finance Act.

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This government promised (Interruption) Well, a member said we do but he won't stand up and say it, he will sit down and say it. But, Madam Speaker, the fact is that the Minister of Finance is breaking the law. This is a place where we make laws, we are not supposed to break them.

Now we understand that the Minister of Finance promised to balance the books for the fiscal year 1996-97 and that is excellent, that is admirable. I think some of us would support the minister doing that but we thought the minister would do it in a way that was above board; we could pick up the Public Accounts, we could pick up the Supplements, we could pick up all the information, the projections, the estimates, and clearly determine that, yes, the minister did balance the operating account in this province.

Madam Speaker, I should ask the Minister of Finance, perhaps in his closing remarks he will enlighten the House and tell us how much of the debt - not the deficit - has increased since this government came to power in barely three short years. I understand that it has increased quite significantly.

Now the minister will tell me, well, those are debt charges. But, Madam Speaker, we know full well that the capital account in this province has been increasing at an alarming rate.

So here we have a resolution where $32 million is going to be charged back to the fiscal year 1995-96. Why didn't the minister come in with his extra appropriation relative to the $23 million for the buyout of the civil servants' contract. Why? There were different areas; restructuring, department restructuring funds were extra-appropriated. Oh, Madam Speaker, it is very clear to us and very clear to Nova Scotians that what is done here has been nothing but political skulduggery. We agree that the victims of institutional abuse must be remunerated. Nobody is arguing that.

I wonder if the Minister of Finance could tell us, perhaps the Minister of Justice could enlighten us as to whether or not the time has expired where the victims of institutional abuse can make application for compensation. Has that time elapsed?

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, we are not in Question Period, we are in a debate on a resolution. I am not going to ask you to stick to the subject at hand, which is the resolution. I would ask you to debate it.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Madam Speaker, I always respect and appreciate your rulings. I think it is very important (Interruption) Well, $32 million is what we are talking about here. I think we, in Opposition, have a right to know how that money is going to be dispensed. I don't think we are speaking out of turn in asking if the time has expired. But, nonetheless, we will refrain from doing so.

Madam Speaker, when the minister brought in the Expenditure Control Act it seemed like a very logical piece of legislation. Any individual who served on municipal council knows full well that you have to balance your budgets. We support the Expenditure Control Act. The minister violated it; that we can live with. But why doesn't he come clean and explain to Nova Scotians the reason why this resolution was written up in this way? Why doesn't the minister come clean? Don't tell us that this money is being approved or you are asking this money to be approved for defraying expenses in respect of the Department of Justice. We don't buy into it and I don't believe the individuals who were victimized at those institutions buy into that at all.

The Expenditure Control Act was enacted in 1993 and for the most part I believe that the government has tried to adhere to that Act and has tried to comply with it. Nonetheless, extra appropriations have taken place, too many of them. While the Minister of Finance may have connected a noble cause to a controversial fiscal strategy, he should go back and re-examine just what he is saying here in my very humble estimation.

[1:45 p.m.]

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While the minister tried to obscure and sugar-coat what he was doing, it has become very clear to all Nova Scotians that this is nothing more than political skulduggery. In closing, I would like to say that I can't speak in support of the motion, nonetheless, I want it very clear and on the record that I do support compensation for the victims of institutional abuse. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable minister it will be to close debate.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity that this resolution has given us to debate fiscal management with the Official Opposition and with the New Democratic Party. I am moved to comment initially concerning the Official Opposition's suggestion that we are balancing the books this year because we have had three years of exceptionally good luck. That is a remarkable coincidence, three years in a row of exceptional good luck. But you know what is even more remarkable than that? The fifteen years of exceptional bad luck they had in a row. It is a remarkable streak.

I want to deal with some of the propositions that have been advanced by the Opposition in some kind of logical order. First of all the Opposition says that this appropriation is illegal, we are breaking the law. The last speaker indicated it, other speakers indicated it, we are breaking the law. That is pretty clear, there is no equivocation there, there is no ifs, ands, or maybes. There's not, well, this may be not a good policy, very direct, we are breaking the law. That is pretty serious stuff.

Well, we would say that that this is a political smokescreen, they are blowing political smoke. If they truly believe that we are breaking the law, there is a clear avenue for them. They can appeal to the courts, go to the courts and ask, is this government breaking the law? If this court says, yes, they are, do you know what, we will not only change what we are doing, I will get up and apologize to the House for doing it. If they don't take this matter to the court, if they don't proceed to challenge us for breaking the law, in their view, then perhaps, just perhaps, people will conclude that they have been playing games and blowing political smoke. (Applause)

In that case, perhaps, it may be incumbent on a few of them to make an apology, not to the House particularly, we are well paid to sit here and listen to this but to those other people who are involved in this resolution.

Quite clearly, this is not against the law. This is perfectly legal, that is point number one, perfectly legal. Point number two, it is perfectly in concurrence with generally accepted accounting principles. It is called accrual accounting. Businesses use it all the time, governments use it, it is called accrual accounting. Not only is it perfectly acceptable but it presents a much truer and much fairer picture of the finances of any operation, be it a government, a company or whatever, accrual accounting. There are other examples I could

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use, Public Service awards. We accrue them in a given year although we may not pay them but they are liability and we accrue them. Pension fund liabilities, we accrue them, all sorts of them. You could go through our annual budget and find all sorts of things we accrue. We budget for them before we spend the money.

So, first of all, it is not illegal. Second of all, it is not contrary to generally accepted accounting principles, but thirdly, and this is another issue that was raised, does it depart from past practice? Well, on that one, they have us. They have us, Madam Speaker, it does depart from past practice. Well, unlike past practice, this appropriation, first of all, was made in the open and debated on the House of Assembly floor. That is the first difference. Secondly, it was debated and passed before the money was spent, not after. That is the second difference. The third difference, the appropriation, by the way - and this resolution isn't the appropriation; the appropriation is the OIC - the appropriation was made in the year the item was budgeted. That is another big difference.

I just want to table for the interest of some honourable members a couple of items from the past in terms of past practice. Perhaps a walk down memory lane. Here is an appropriation passed on September 18th, 1990, for over $10 million. Midway through September 1990, over $10 million for the year that had ended last March 31st. I will table this one.

Here is another one. Now you remember in the debate, the concern about retroactivity. You remember that in the debate? Here is another one, dated September 18, 1990. This one was only for $1.2 million or a little more than that. Passed September 18, 1990, for the fiscal year ended March 31st previously. No public debate, by the way, on any of these. (Interruptions) September 18, 1990, for $2.8 million, again for the year ended previously, no debate.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: On a point of order, Madam Speaker, I know I cannot say that the honourable minister is purposely misleading this House but that is what he is doing. Passing appropriations after March 31st for the previous year is perfectly acceptable. It has always been done, simply because accounts do not necessarily come to the government by March 31st when the money has already been expended in that previous year. (Interruptions) You are not doing that with this piece of legislation.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please, order. The honourable member is quite right when he says he cannot accuse the minister of deliberately misleading the House. You are quite right in that rule and I thank you for your point of clarification.

MR. BOUDREAU: The year ended March 31st. This is for an expenditure, presumably, that had been spent up on March 31st. No authority, not even an attempt to justify it until the second day of October. That is April, May, June, July, August, September. There are more of them here. I will table them all but I am not going to bother going into them.

Madam Speaker, simple enough, we set a process in place through the Expenditure Control Act. It didn't say you couldn't have under any circumstances. It didn't say you couldn't have additional appropriations, but it did say something that was very important about appropriations. That is why this is different than it was in the past, because that legislation made it different and the difference was that if you went over a legislated limit, you couldn't come in nine months later and say, whoops, I am going to approve it now. No, no, you had to get it approved, not down in the Cabinet Room, not nine months after the fact,

[Page 309]

but right here on the floor of the Assembly of this province. That is the difference. This debate could not have taken place for any of these. This debate would not have taken place for any of these additional appropriations, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker, let's deal with the fund. So, it isn't illegal, it isn't contrary to generally accepted accounting principles, it is accrual accounting. It is, though, a very serious departure from past practice, we will admit that right off.

But let me deal with the final allegation which is, we are doing this for political reasons. Now, follow the logic. You see, the Opposition has been suggesting we are going to have an election this year and that's why we are fooling with the books. We want to make this year's books look $32 million worse than they really are. Now, follow the logic. Going into an election we want to make this year's books look $32 million worse than they have to be. Now, does that sound like a logical approach? If we were a cynical government do you know what we would have done? We would have left that extra $32 million in this year, our surplus would have been $32 million higher, we needn't have included it at all in this upcoming budget, we could have come back with this after the election. No problem, if we had wanted to deceive the public. But we are trying to deal in an upfront, open way with additional appropriations. That is a very serious departure from past practice.

Ultimately, what we are dealing with here, if they have a legal objection to the process, well, there is an avenue for that. If they are not just blowing political smoke, they know what the avenue is. But the resolution here is not a resolution, do you approve of the process? We are not going to vote on whether or not this is legal, that's not the vote. The place to decide that is in the court. I challenge them to go ahead. I challenge them to go ahead if that is what they have in mind. But that is not what the vote is here.

I want to make it very clear to every member of this House of Assembly and anyone who may be watching, the vote here that is going to come up, is whether or not we approve $32 million for this fund for victims of institutional abuse. That is what the vote is about. Nothing else. If they object to the procedure, let them take their avenue of objection, but that is what the vote is about. I will look to see how those Opposition members will vote on that resolution, Madam Speaker. (Applause)

Madam Speaker, there has been some suggestion as to why this particular item was brought forward. Well, let me tell you two reasons why. Number one, it was the largest of the additional appropriations; and number two, it was the only additional appropriation that was sufficiently large by itself to take us within the Expenditure Control Act through this process, that's another reason. Number three, the money hadn't been spent yet, which is a nice precedent that we get to debate it here before the money is spent. So that is one of the reasons.

Anyway, I think we have had probably much more debate than this deserves, Madam Speaker. So with that, I will take my seat.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion before the honourable members is that the question be now put.

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

The motion is carried unanimously.

The motion that I am now putting is the main motion on Resolution No. 34.

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

The motion is carried unanimously. (Applause)

The honourable Government House Leader.

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


MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 1.

Bill No. 1 - Interprovincial Subpoena Act.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Madam Speaker, I rise on this occasion to speak briefly on Bill No. 1, An Act Respecting the Interprovincial Enforcement of Subpoenas. In so doing, I move that this bill be now read a second time.

As honourable members would know, the bill is designed to allow subpoenas from Nova Scotia to be recognized and enforced in other provinces or territories. Jurisdictions that have adopted the uniform Act on which it is based within their own legislation.

[2:00 p.m.]

As members would know, Madam Speaker, it is a uniform reciprocal Act adopted and recommended by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada in 1974. Since then, starting with Manitoba in 1975, the Interprovincial Subpoena Act has been adopted in every common law province in Canada, with the exception of Nova Scotia. It also has been adopted in the Yukon. All these jurisdictions have had the Act in place since 1981 or earlier, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, which enacted it nine years ago.

Mr. Speaker, the government feels that the enactment of this piece of legislation in Nova Scotia is long overdue. The proposed Act will be of benefit in legal matters, where it is not now possible to subpoena persons from other jurisdictions within Canada, for the purposes of legal matters here. The bill would permit a party to a proceeding to obtain a subpoena in Nova Scotia for a person who is located elsewhere in Canada. That subpoena could then be sent to a court in a reciprocating jurisdiction, with a certificate of the issuing court in Nova Scotia. The order then would be enforceable in the other jurisdiction.

Of course it would be necessary to send the appropriate witness fees and travelling expenses at the same time, in order for the subpoena to be enforced. These fees and expenses would be set by regulations.

Mr. Speaker, the fact that the government has brought forward this legislation has attracted some attention in the context of the Westray Mine public inquiry. Although the bill is designed to deal with all civil litigation matters arising in Nova Scotia, also it may be of assistance to this Commission of Inquiry. As all honourable members would know, in the draft

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bill that we are considering, the definition of a court is broadly drafted to include a board, commission, tribunal or other body that is designated by regulation.

The Commissioner of the Westray Inquiry has written to me urging passage of this bill during this session. Legal counsel to the commission probably will use this legislation in its ongoing efforts to compel attendance of witnesses.

The commission is aware that with reciprocal legislation there may be some uncertainty in doing what it wants, due to different definitions of courts in other jurisdictions. In most provinces the definition of court in their reciprocal legislation does not include designated boards, commissions, tribunals or other bodies. As a result, Madam Speaker, there is a question whether their courts will treat the commission as a court.

The fact that the commissioner has the same authority as a Superior Court Judge, however, may help the courts of other provinces determine that the Westray Inquiry can be considered a court for the purposes of their Act. The foregoing has been canvassed with legal staff for the commission by staff within my department. I am advised that the commission is aware of this issue.

Madam Speaker, it is important that no one be under the impression that this bill has been brought forward simply because we have an extremely important public inquiry underway into the tragic events of the Westray Mine. This is legislation that will have potential application in many legal actions in the province.

As I mentioned, it is in place in all the other common law provinces. As a result, the Government of Nova Scotia feels it is appropriate that our province join this reciprocating legal regime.

Madam Speaker, in drawing my remarks to a close, I want to ask all honourable members to support this legislation on second reading. I would like to have this bill moved through all of the legislative stages as quickly as reasonably possible and, of course, the first step would be once it is approved here to have hearings at the Law Amendments Committee at the next stage. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and provide brief remarks in support for Bill No. 1, An Act Respecting the Interprovincial Enforcement of Subpoenas. I listened with interest to the words of the Minister of Justice describing this particular piece of legislation and its applications and I find nothing with which I disagree.

It is interesting that in this particular piece of legislation, in Clause 2(b), "`subpoena' means a subpoena, summons or other document issued by a court requiring a person within a province other than the province of the issuing court to attend as a witness to produce documents or other things or to testify.". I think if there is a clause in this particular piece of legislation that brings it all together, I think it is perhaps that one. As well, the minister made reference to the fact that within this piece of legislation, it will, by way of its drafting, apply to designated boards, commissions and tribunals and the minister did make reference to the fact that this legislation will not necessarily, in this particular regard, be interpreted that broadly in other jurisdictions. It certainly is a step in the right direction that witnesses residing anywhere in Canada can, in fact, be called upon to be in attendance at certain hearings and proceedings, regardless of which province they are occurring.

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In general, I am pleased to get up and support the Minister of Justice in this particular piece of legislation. As well, I feel it will be most useful to the continuance of the Westray Inquiry and I support that statement. I feel that this piece of legislation which is already in effect in other provinces, is a forward step and enhances and strengthens our system of justice. I will be supporting the legislation.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I too will be supporting the legislation, it is good legislation. As the minister has said, it may be of some assistance with regard to the Westray Inquiry but I think it has ramifications far beyond that in that we are putting in place a piece of legislation that is not just for something of immediate concern but something that is of ongoing concern through the years.

I didn't hear the minister, however, in his opening remarks enumerate what provinces are part of the interprovincial agreement. As I understand, at the present time there is the Province of New Brunswick and Ontario and I think one other western province. (Interruption) I beg your pardon? I appreciate the minister advising that he will do that when he closes his debate.

I was wondering why the Ministers of Justice across Canada in their annual meetings, whether or not there has been a protocol set up for mirror legislation to be adopted by all provinces. I would think that this is something that has import for all provinces, specifically with regard to the custody of children where we have mothers or fathers taking children from one province to another province and then the parent who had the original custody having incredible difficulty regaining possession of that child. It would seem to me, particularly at the present time, that is something of great importance and is something that should be adopted by all provinces.

I appreciate the fact the minister has brought this bill forward. I appreciate that it does have jurisdiction in the Province of Ontario because, as I understand it, that is the province of most interest at the present time with regard to the Westray Inquiry. So I will be voting for this legislation, Madam Speaker, on second reading.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, I too will be supporting this piece of legislation. I listened with interest to the Minister of Justice in indicating he wanted this to be passed as quickly as possible. The minister indicated that this has been approved by all the other provinces except Nova Scotia, that is part of this group, and I guess I am wondering what clicked the switch with the Minister of Justice. I have no difficulty in us doing this bill through the process as quickly as possible, especially in light of Westray. I happen to think that probably that is the reason we are trying to do it quickly although the minister sort of indicated that was or wasn't. I wasn't clear, but I would assume the reason we are doing this quickly is because of the Westray situation.

I cannot imagine why the government didn't bring this forward last fall or some other time if it was as urgent as the minister had indicated. Maybe it was a letter from the Westray Inquiry that prompted the minister to bring it forward, although he hasn't said that is the case, but I guess I want the minister to explain to me what is the urgency. We have had it on the books for a number of years and if there isn't a crisis, if there isn't something that we should be doing, if it is not Westray, what is the urgency that we are all of a sudden putting this through?

Now I agree with the principle of this bill and agree that we should put it through, and agree that we do it as quickly as possible, but in listening to the minister introduce the bill, I wasn't clear as to the rationale of all of a sudden why we are in a hurry and one moment we are or we are not doing it for Westray. Obviously this will affect more than Westray and I understand that. All the news reports I am hearing are that the Westray Inquiry needs this and needs it as quickly as possible, though the minister says [Page 313]

that that is not the case. I would like for him to be upfront with us and say. If it is, I have no difficulty with it. If there is another reason that I am not understanding, then I would like to know that, too.

But I want you to know, Madam Speaker, and all members to know, that I think this is good legislation. It happens to be the number one piece of legislation this session, and probably one of the most important pieces that will pass and probably one of the few where we will all agree that it is the right thing to do for all the right reasons. I will be voting for this bill and look forward to the minister answering my questions in summarizing the bill.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I rise to speak in support of Bill No. 1, An Act Respecting the Interprovincial Enforcement of Subpoenas. I understand that the introduction of this bill is precisely for the purposes of facilitating the Westray Inquiry officials to be able to bring in out-of-province witnesses that they would like to have testify; senior officials with Curragh Resources and Westray in order to provide testimony at the inquiry.

I think Nova Scotians are recognizing every day that that inquiry goes on just how important it is that we go through this process, just how important it is that we as a government, as a province, get to the bottom of what it was that led up to that tragic explosion and the death of those 26 miners and what followed in terms of the response by not only the company involved but also this government and its officials.

Some of the issues that have been raised, I think, are truly terrifying in their implications, and only by having a fully exhaustive process of hearing from witnesses, will we be able to get the true picture of exactly what happened and that will involve hearing from senior officials of the mining company, Madam Speaker, as well, of course, from the politicians and the senior public officials who were involved in making some key decisions which led to the opening and the development of this mine and, in fact, to the way this mine was allowed to operate. Those are important questions, Madam Speaker, that I think it is incumbent upon us to ensure get answered.

[2:15 p.m.]

I am hopeful that, in fact, this bill will do that although I understand from newspaper articles - I didn't hear the minister when he introduced the bill at second reading - that there is some question as to whether this bill will, in fact, have the effect of its stated purpose, that it will be successful as a tool to bring people back from Ontario or any other province. I would certainly like to hear some assurance from the Minister of Justice that, in fact, this Act will go some distance to do that and, failing that, that his officials and perhaps officials of other departments, including the Intergovernmental Affairs, are involved or would be involved in discussions with the Province of Ontario, in one specific example, and maybe

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other provinces, to ensure that whatever is necessary to ensure that whoever we need to come and testify before the inquiry is done so that we can bring those people back and hear from them their story as to what happened, their role in that, and have them answer any questions we may feel appropriate at the time.

So, Madam Speaker, let me just say that I think this is extremely important if, in fact, the bill is allowed to have the impact that has been suggested. I think we need to get to the bottom of this. I wish we had been able to do that a year or two ago. I wish the process had gone quicker. Nonetheless, I am extremely pleased that we are now in the process. Anything we can do to assist the process, be that passing legislation or whatever, certainly the NDP caucus is firmly behind that process. Thank you.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I too would like to speak in support of this Bill No. 1, the Interprovincial Subpoena Act. I would like to commend the Justice Minister for coming forward with this legislation. I don't think any of us in this House forget the mining disaster that happened back in May 1992. I believe that any legislation should be based on rationale, logic and, in fact, be well reasoned. This legislation at least appears to be based on a sound and very justifiable rationale.

Madam Speaker, I understand that legislation like this is perhaps being considered in other jurisdictions. Unless we have other Canadian jurisdictions with mirror legislation, and perhaps the minister can correct me if I am wrong, I don't believe that this legislation can really be fully effected and provide a useful purpose unless it is respected and recognized by other Canadian jurisdictions. I know that perhaps the Minister of Justice can clarify that a little bit for me and I would certainly request that he does.

Now there has been a lot of interest in the Westray Inquiry. I know the minister referenced it and other speakers have certainly spoken about that terrible disaster. It is unfortunate, Madam Speaker, that those who should come and testify and appear before that inquiry really don't have any legal mechanism in place, or there is no legal mechanism in place that requires them to do so.

With the passage of this Act, Bill No. 1, I believe we are taking a step in the right direction. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Justice it will be to close the debate.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Madam Speaker, I will just try to provide a little bit of information that was requested on second reading and I want to thank all honourable members for their support of the bill and their contribution to the debate.

The main reason this legislation is here, aside from the fact it is good legislation in any event, is that late in the last session of the House, we had a contact from the Westray Inquiry asking about the possibility of us bringing it forward. That contact came late November into December when the other session was just about over. We indicated at that time that we had been there for some months and were attempting to conclude our session but it did not seem feasible that we could get the bill through at that time but we would make our best effort to have the bill brought forward as early as possible in the next session. It is Bill No. 1 so I guess we kept that part of the bargain.

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I suppose you can argue that the government of which I am a part and my department and my ministry had two years and 10 months, maybe we should have brought it forward sooner. Well, it didn't come to my attention and maybe that is my fault but when it did come to my attention, my officials and myself worked on it and brought it forward at the first opportunity.

Another point that another honourable member brought up is that in which provinces it applies. There is general reciprocal legislation that applies to courts, basically of civil matters to get people to come from other provinces and the two territories and it applies across the board. The legislation that is before us goes as far as we can because we include not only courts but commissions and tribunals and inquiries. So, it does apply in our case if this bill is passed the way it is. However, we can only be sure that this law will be effective in other provinces is in those provinces where there are similar provisions and that is Alberta, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories. The same provisions do not apply in those provinces, just to conclude but the officials of the Inquiry believe, since the Inquiry is headed by a Superior Court Judge, a Supreme Court Justice and you have the same rules as a court in the Inquiry they think they will be able to argue successfully in other provinces such as Ontario, for example, to get the subpoena rights in the same way as if it were in the bill. That is the approach but there is nothing more we can do. Our bill is covering all of the bases but we can't dictate the legislation in other provinces which exists.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Would the honourable minister permit a question? Basically, I think the minister has answered my question and that was the point I was trying to make was that this is not mirror legislation across Canada, it is only in two or three provinces. I was wondering why the minister couldn't persuade his colleagues across Canada to come forward with mirror legislation? I am sure that it must be to the advantage of all provinces to have that availability to serve subpoenas in that fashion?

MR. GILLIS: Madam Speaker, I will undertake, at the first opportunity I have to raise that but the fact of the matter is we have uniform legislation that applies in all provinces except Quebec in civil matters; Quebec has a different law, different procedures there. So, not including Quebec, all of the other provinces and the territories have the subpoena powers. It is only several that have gone beyond that. I will certainly take that opportunity but remember, we are talking about a law that was based on recommendations that came forward in 1974; the first one of the provinces adopted the recommendation in 1975 and the last province was Prince Edward Island which was in 1987, they were the last of the provinces but Nova Scotia did not do it and we are only now coming forward to join the group. So, whatever the case may be, I can raise the matter of extension and I will do that but I think we have to be realistic, to try to say, well, you know, you might want witnesses from Ontario when you have a government there that has their own agenda for us to contact Premier Harris and say, look, we have a problem down in Nova Scotia, Mr. Premier. We think you should adjust your legislative agenda to do this even a matter as worthwhile as may be. We are doing it and we think you should do it. I will raise it at the opportunity with my colleagues next month at the Ministers of Justice meeting, but those are the facts of the matter and I am just laying it out in that way.

Before I sit down, I just want to say, this is good legislation. I think it is good in general because it will help in many matters, civil matters. Now, in criminal matters, we don't have to worry, because in criminal matters the federal Criminal Code applies and you can, obviously, subpoena from anywhere in the country. If somebody kidnapped a child, for example, somebody mentioned that, well, if it is a criminal offence there isn't a problem. But there are other family related matters on property or something that this law will help us. More than that, it will help us with inquiries in the designated provinces and it also will give the commission an opportunity to argue before the courts. They believe, with their solicitors, they have a reasonable chance.

Like I said, I hope all honourable members will support this and hopefully next week, the Law Amendments Committee can be convened, we will have hearings and we will move this bill on through the stages. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

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MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 1, entitled An Act Respecting the Interprovincial Enforcement of Subpoenas.

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

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, could we revert back to Government Motions.


MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MADAM SPEAKER: I recognize the honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I am not getting to my feet to speak on the Throne Speech at the moment. But the member for Queens had to leave the House on a fairly urgent matter in his own constituency and he adjourned the debate. So he is willing to give up his place.

MADAM SPEAKER: Do we have a speaker on the Address in Reply?

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. RICHARD HUBBARD: Madam Speaker, I am honoured to have the opportunity to reply to Her Majesty's Speech from the Throne. I am very pleased to have this time to raise some concerns and thoughts on the constituency of Yarmouth. I also consider it one of the cornerstones of our British parliamentary democracy, that Her Majesty's loyal citizens have the opportunity to reply to her government's outline for our future as a province.

I believe I can speak for the vast majority of Nova Scotians when I say that we are very happy to see that Canada is still a unified nation from sea to sea to sea.

The constituency of Yarmouth has undergone some very serious crises in this decade. We have lost our mining industry, textile plants and, more recently, we have seen the reduction of the ferry service by the MV Bluenose. The potential of the constituency of

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Yarmouth has not been fully realized. Our transportation infrastructure must be maintained if Yarmouth is to undergo the kind of rebirth necessary to ensure future prosperity.

The federal government is increasing landing fees at the Yarmouth Airport. I believe this is a backward step in a time when the federal government should be easing the transition to local control. The Yarmouth Airport is a key piece in our three-way transportation system. The other is our ferry link to New England. I believe Marine Atlantic must be more willing to accept local solutions put forth by the community. I am pleased to see that the provincial government is actively seeking solutions to the MV Bluenose situation.

New England is our natural market for fish and fish products. If we are to develop new industry we must have an alternative to the Bluenose shutdown. It must be a long-term solution. Band-aid solutions were a part of the past and are not being actively embraced by our government. Only long-term planning can ensure long-term growth.

[2:30 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, the third part of our transportation infrastructure is the one that affects most of us. Highways and roads in Yarmouth are vital to our economic prosperity. Secondary roads are no less important than 100-Series Highways. I urge the government to continue to assess road projects based on needs. Yarmouth has a pressing need for improved secondary roads.

I understand large scale capital projects for 100-Series Highways are restricted because of the wasteful patronage-driven projects on behalf of the former government. We must not let this deter us from pressing for the improvement of the 100-Series Highway system in our part of the province. I urge the government to move forward with an improved highway system in the Yarmouth region when the means become available.

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased that our government has put the economic situation of southwestern Nova Scotia on the government's active agenda. The formation of Team Southwest is an important step in the better coordination of initiatives by the province, local regional development authorities, community groups and municipal governments. It is the strength of our people, however, that will help us rebound from the present economic morass.

Madam Speaker, the fishery is the backbone of our region. It is our bond to the past and our key to the future. Recent fisheries demonstrations brought this issue to the attention of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. I am very happy to have lent my support to the fishers of southwestern Nova Scotia on several occasions, including the line demonstration recently held in Halifax. The subsequent meetings between fishers and DFO led to a resolution of the matter.

I want to commend the men and women of the fishery in my region for moving forward in a spirit of cooperation. I also want to take this opportunity to thank our Premier for his interventions on behalf of Nova Scotia fishers. The Premier is not one to boast and brag, like some other Premiers. I, however, believe the federal government would not have been willing to negotiate without the help of our Premier at the highest levels in Ottawa.

The Premier has strongly influenced a number of areas. Marine services fees, as an issue were not greatly publicized in Yarmouth. The effect of the old proposal for marine services fees would have been devastating to the future prosperity of our port in Yarmouth. The Premier and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works have led the charge in forcing the Coast Guard to modify its fee structure.

Madam Speaker, although there has been a great deal of transition in the fishery, southwestern Nova Scotia is still one of the country's top fishing regions. While some fishers have struggled, others had some of their best seasons. In fact, the value of our fishery has grown over the last few years.

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There are a number of Canadian commentators who refer to the Atlantic Region as a collective. Every time a journalist or a politician in another region of the country claims there are no fish, they are not stating the facts. Madam Speaker, we have a vibrant fishery with a great potential for the future.

Other matters must be addressed over the coming years in Yarmouth. The correctional facility in Yarmouth is perhaps the oldest in the province. I urge the Justice Minister to proceed with a new facility and that there be a continued presence in Yarmouth.

Tourism has great potential in our region. Unfortunately we have not shared in the tourism boom experienced by other regions. Yarmouth had the lowest bed occupancy rate in the province in 1995. There is a great need for tourism promotion. I believe we must do more to attract and keep tourists in the Yarmouth region. (Applause) Yarmouth should be given a higher profile in both public and private tourism promotions.

I have said it in the past and I will restate it here, Nova Scotia is not an island of isolation. The global changes taking place today affect each Nova Scotian. A province that lacks preparation for the forces of global change will be swamped by its negative effects. Thanks to the last government, we have had much catching up to do.

The deficit problem has been talked about for many years. Our Finance Minister not only talked about the deficit, he acted upon it. The control of our deficit means that we can finally deal with our debt. This will mean a much brighter future for our children. Madam Speaker, we will have reduced our deficit from over $600 million when we took office, to zero in three years. Jobs have been created in our province and I am confident that the future holds greater promise. Even with this impressive job creation record, there is still work to be done, especially in southwestern Nova Scotia.

Madam Speaker, health care is one of our greatest concerns. Universal accessible Medicare is a cornerstone of Liberal policy. Part of better health care means better emergency care. Better emergency care means jobs for the people of Yarmouth. Over 50 of the 150 ambulances purchased by the province are in operation. This means better service for every region while bringing business to Tri-Star Industries. The efforts of Tri-Star at home and abroad are paying dividends to the people of Yarmouth.

The creation of regional health boards means the decision-making process is out of the hands of the Halifax bureaucracy and back in the hands of the people where it belongs. The expansion of the regional hospital has been funded in large part by our government. I hope that the planned expansion is underway by the fall of this year.

Madam Speaker, economic development is a priority of our government. I spoke earlier of the need for a greater effort in southwestern Nova Scotia and I believe the government is rising to the challenge. Our Community Business Loan Program has moved forward to create jobs in small and medium-sized business. Since the beginning, our

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Community Business Loan Program has provided loan assistance to 16 Yarmouth County businesses for a total of $276,000. This program has created 23 jobs, maintained 92 jobs and created eight new businesses.

If we are to keep tourists in the Yarmouth area, we must enhance our natural strengths. The Yarmouth waterfront can become a draw for tourists. I am very pleased that our government could provide $200,000 to this important project. The establishment of the industrial mall at the Domtex site was welcome news. Now people are working there again and I hope it will attract new investment by the private sector. The $1.32 million project was launched in cooperation with the federal government.

All infrastructures are important, Madam Speaker. Roads were mentioned earlier, but proper sewer and water is also important. All three levels of government have contributed $2.7 million for the renewal of our town's sewer system. Recreation Facility Development Grants have been awarded throughout Yarmouth County, including $25,000 for a playground at Central School, $27,000 for renovations to the Milo Boat Club, $29,000 for a sports field development at Port Maitland School, $17,500 for the Lake Vaughan Volunteer Fire Department Hall and $19,000 for the Overton Markland Community Field.

Helping our seniors is also a priority of our government in Yarmouth. The development of the $1 million seniors complex on Parade Street in Yarmouth displays innovation in seniors housing. The Community Services Minister opened the Hebron Residential Centre in his department's ongoing service to Yarmouth.

Madam Speaker, education must be strengthened. The Computers in School Program is providing $3 million for computers in schools, including computers for Maple Grove School in the most recent announcement. I look forward to the construction of the Hebron-Milton Elementary School. I hope its construction is in line with some of the high-tech schools being built elsewhere.

There have been good things happening in Yarmouth. It has not all been negative as it has not all been perfect. We must take strength in achievement and have confidence in ourselves. The next two years of government will be defining moments for the Province of Nova Scotia. There is still great change afoot, but these are due in large part to global forces beyond our control. What we can do is prepare for change and do everything in our power to ensure our independence in Nova Scotia. The first way is to break free from the hands of foreign bondholders. Let's stop sending money out of the province so we can start investing in the province. Simultaneously, we must bring together our many sources of strength. We must work together in a common purpose for the betterment of our families, our neighbourhood, our province and our country.

Over 50 years ago, there was a greater challenge before that generation. They faced the greatest threat to our society in known history. Let us consider their challenges and then compare them to problems of today. If we can muster a small percentage of their strength, we will be in a good position to build an even brighter future.

I am therefore happy to support Her Majesty's Speech from the Throne. Thank You. (Applause)

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MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. WAYNE FRASER: Madam Speaker, it is with great honour that I stand before you and members of this Assembly here today to respond to the Speech from the Throne. I would like to thank our Lieutenant Governor, Jim Kinley, for presenting our government's agenda to the people of Nova Scotia.

I would also like to thank the constituents of Pictou East for the support shown to me and our government for the last three years. Because it has been through this government, under the leadership of Premier John Savage, that the future is looking brighter for the people of Nova Scotia and Pictou East.

In health care, late last fall the people of Pictou County welcomed the opening of the west wing of the Aberdeen Hospital. The west wing is the completion of stage two of the three stage project to accommodate patient care, day surgery, chemotherapy, physiotherapy and paediatrics units. Next fall, we are looking forward to the final phase of the north tower.

I am proud to support this government who contributed 80 per cent of the cost of this $21 million phase of the project. However, building a hospital is a team effort and I would like to take this opportunity to give special recognition to the health care professionals, the hospital board members, the Aberdeen Hospital Commission and the many volunteers who contributed to the successful completion of the west wing. Through a period of intense change, they have never wavered in their efforts to address our community's health care needs.

On the economy, I am pleased to report that during the past year, our local economy has been strengthened by both government initiative and through private sector investment. I would have to say that these positive impacts on the economy are ushering in a new era of confidence for both the people of Pictou County and the Province of Nova Scotia.

Companies, with a long history in Nova Scotia have increased their stake in this province as another indicator of a building confidence. In 1995, Michelin invested $38 million in Nova Scotia. Including salaried employees, there are now 4,000 people working at plants in Waterville, Bridgewater and in our home, Granton.

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I hesitate to interrupt you but it is getting more difficult to hear the comments. I would ask for order so that we can hear your speech.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. FRASER: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Michelin North America (Canada) Inc. announced first half profits of $397 million, more than triple last year's profits; year-end profits were expected to climb as high as $778 million. And Michelin reaffirmed their commitment in 1995 by spending $24 million upgrading the three plants, including $13 million at the Granton plant alone.

I would like to say, Madam Speaker, that job security and job creation are a direct result of profitable companies. Less than a year after being bought by Greenbrier of Portland, Oregon, the Trenton Works plant has become profitable. Trenton Works became profitable in January and is expected to produce over 3,000 freight cars this year, double its 1995 output. (Applause)

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The new owners opened the U.S. market for the century old plant, which has previously sold rail cars only in Canada. As a result of their good business sense, employment has soared to 1,100 men and women now working, up 400 per cent in one year, from 250 when they took over. Spinoff benefits are felt in the local machinery and welding shops as they have to employ more people to meet the demand of this revitalized industry.

The retail sector, Madam Speaker, is seeing profits rise, due to the 1,100 families that now have a paycheque each week, a payroll in excess of $700,000 a week, $35 million a year in wages for the people of Pictou East and Pictou County. Further benefits are visible in the county as social assistance cases have dropped dramatically since the plant became a viable operation again.

Stora recently announced a reinvestment of $650 in the Nova Scotia forestry industry. This expansion by Stora Forest Industries Limited at their Point Tupper Plant is one of the biggest capital projects ever undertaken in this province. During the construction there will be approximately 800 people employed; again, many residents of Pictou East and Pictou County.

Madam Speaker, I have been encouraged by this government's firm commitment to improving the situation at Boat Harbour. Earlier this year our government signed an agreement to transfer responsibility of the Boat Harbour effluent treatment facility to Kimberly-Clark, formerly Scott Maritimes Ltd. On January 1st Kimberly-Clark assumed full operating responsibilities and costs, while the province completes system improvements and clean-up activities begun in 1994 under our government.

This agreement will secure the future operations at the plant over the next 10 year period while ensuring the continued viability of a major employer. Most importantly, this is a good arrangement for the natural environment in and around Boat Harbour and for the people of Pictou East and Pictou County. Madam Speaker, I would like to add that it is an arrangement that came about in response to concerns of many residents and members of various organizations in the Pictou County area, working in cooperation with the province and Kimberly-Clark for the benefit of all Pictou County.

Madam Speaker, Kimberly-Clark Corporation also recently announced it is spending $22 million to upgrade equipment at its newly acquired mill in Abercrombie Point. The modernization at the plant is another example of job creation, especially for the local construction industry. But more than that, this commitment by Kimberly-Clark secures jobs in the industry well into the future.

I am confident in the positive leadership this government is taking with the economy of this province and I am proud to represent people who are enthusiastic about being part of that direction.

Why is this new influx of investment coming about? Well, Madam Speaker, I am limited somewhat by time here today but I can identify a few reasons for Nova Scotia's reputation as a good place to do business; the highly skilled, loyal work force with a can-do attitude, all while living in the right climate for business. While today Nova Scotians no longer see government as a job provider, the role and importance of government in creating the right climate for business must not be underestimated.

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It is becoming more and more obvious that the biggest job creator is the private sector when it sees a stable government committed to balanced budgets. A government that partners with private sector to make doing business easier and profitable. Here, Madam Speaker, I would like to mention one outstanding partnership that exists between the Friends of the Nova Scotia Museum of Industry and this government because they know the museum is about the industrial heritage of our community and its contributions over the years to the economy of Nova Scotia.

Finally, the private sector is encouraged to invest in a province where the government backs companies located in Nova Scotia and opens as many doors as possible for them. Such support for the private sector, Madam Speaker, has generated export business for a variety of Nova Scotia companies of all sizes. I am proud to report that the backbone of Pictou East and Pictou County is the private sector. Michelin, spending $13 million to upgrade; Kimberly- Clark, $20 million to upgrade; Greenbrier, 1,100 men and women now employed; Maritime Steel & Foundries; Empire, continued growth and expansion to name just a few.

Madam Speaker, we can see some of the ways our government is working to renew Nova Scotia's economy. I believe we saw a turning point in 1995 in the economy of Nova Scotia and in the constituency of Pictou East and Pictou County. Together with this government, with the people of Pictou East, we can continue to make a difference. The people who live in my riding are hard-working, industrious people who are optimistic about the future of Nova Scotia and Pictou County.

Madam Speaker, I believe through Premier John Savage's leadership of Nova Scotia, together with the people I represent in Pictou East, we will create a more confident government, a stronger economy and a brighter future for all Nova Scotians. I will be voting in support of this motion. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Yes, Madam Speaker, I would like to suggest that that will conclude Government Business for today. We will sit on Tuesday from the hours of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Following Question Period on Tuesday, we will resume the debate on the Speech from the Throne. I would wish everyone a Happy Easter weekend and move that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you. The motion is that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday. We stand adjourned until that time.

[The House rose at 2:53 p.m.]