The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., Apr. 16, 1996

Fourth Session

TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 605
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Fire Marshal's Office, Hon. G. Brown 607
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 202, Devco - Future: Premier - Recommendations, Dr. J. Hamm 607
Res. 203, Health - Care System: Destruction - Condemn,
Mr. R. Chisholm 608
Res. 204, Little Dutch Church: Fund-Raising Prog. - Success Wish,
Hon. G. O'Malley 608
Vote - Affirmative 609
Res. 205, ERA - Tourism: Star Dragon Restaurant (Louisbourg) -
Opening Congrats., Mr. A. MacLeod 609
Vote - Affirmative 609
Res. 206, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Hfx. Metro Amalgamation: Costs -
Explain, Mr. J. Holm 610
Res. 207, Educ. - Week (15-21/04/96): Teachers Methodology - Commend,
Mr. A. Surette 610
Vote - Affirmative 610
Res. 208, Fin. - Casinos: Concessions - Limit, Dr. J. Hamm 611
Res. 209, Sports - Skiing: Jonathan English (Enfield) - Congrats.,
Mr. R. Carruthers 611
Vote - Affirmative 611
Res. 210, ERA - IMP Plant (C.B.): Workers - Premier Meet,
Mr. A. MacLeod 612
Res. 211, Hfx. Reg. Mun. - Fleming Park: Retention - Commend,
Mr. G. Fogarty 612
Vote - Affirmative 612
Res. 212, Health - Hospitals (Reg. [C.B.] & N.S. [Dart.]): Suicides -
Disclosure, Mr. R. Chisholm 613
Res. 213, Health - Reg. Boards (Central & Northern): Hants East Members -
Congrats., Mr. R. Carruthers 613
Vote - Affirmative 614
Res. 214, Transport. & Pub. Wks./Educ.: Privatization - Suspend,
Mr. J. Holm 614
Res. 215, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hfx./Dart. Port Dev. Corp.:
Rep. (HoC Fish. Comm.) - Support, Mr. B. Taylor 614
Vote - Affirmative 615
Res. 216, Tech. & Sc. Sec't. - Softworld '96 ([15/09-18/09] Hfx.):
Support - Offer, Hon. G. O'Malley 615
Vote - Affirmative 615
Res. 217, ERA - Tourism: South Shore Ass'n. Conference (35th) -
Congrats., Mrs. L. O'Connor 616
Vote - Affirmative 616
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 91, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Results, Dr. J. Hamm 617
No. 92, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Benefits, Mr. R. Chisholm 618
No. 93, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Models, Mr. R. Russell 619
No. 94, Fin.: Health Services Tax - Heating, Mr. R. Russell 620
No. 95, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Business Serv.,
Mr. T. Donahoe 621
No. 96, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Tax Base - Change,
Mr. B. Taylor 622
No. 97, Health - Home Care: Services - Provision, Mr. R. Chisholm 623
No. 98, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Revenue - Shortfall,
Mr. T. Donahoe 625
No. 99, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: Tire Recycling - Contract,
Mr. B. Taylor 626
No. 100, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: Recycling -
Container Labels, Mr. J. Leefe 627
No. 101, Health - Pharmacare: Shortfall - Recovery, Mr. G. Moody 628
No. 102, Educ. - School Construction (Public/Private): Cost -
Studies, Mr. J. Holm 629
No. 103, Environ. - Agric. Chemicals: Permits - Purpose,
Mr. G. Archibald 631
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 8, Court and Administrative Reform Act 632
Mr. T. Donahoe [debate resumed] 632
Mr. J. Holm 643
Mr. J. Leefe 654
[debate adjourned] 660
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Human Res. Dev. (Can.) - CEC (Gottingen St.): Closure -
Postponement Urge:
Mr. J. Chisholm 661
Hon. G. Brown 663
Mr. T. Donahoe 665
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 17th at 2:00 p.m. 667
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
H.O. 2, ERA - Business Loans (14/06/93-31/03/96), Dr. J. Hamm 668
H.O. 3, Nat. Res.: Forest Land - Ownership, Mr. B. Taylor 668
H.O. 4, Justice: Correctional Facilities - Individuals Permitted,
Mr. T. Donahoe 668
H.O. 5, Justice - Peace Bonds (01/10/95-31/03/96), Mr. T. Donahoe 668
H.O. 6, ERA - Tourism: Schooner Bluenose Fdn. - Contracts,
Mr. J. Leefe 669
[Page 605]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Paul MacEwan

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will call the House to order at this time to commence the daily agenda. We usually open with the introduction of distinguished guests who are in our midst.

I would like to welcome to the House this afternoon the retired former Sergeant-at-Arms of our Assembly, Major Harold Long. I am sure we are all happy to see Harold here with us today. (Applause)

Are there other guests that members would like to introduce? If not, before we commence the daily routine, the honourable Minister of Natural Resources wishes to rise on a point of privilege.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I do rise on a point of privilege. In the Supplement to the Public Accounts tabled in the House here last evening, my constituency expenses were reported as being $34,627.32 for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1995. In today's newspaper, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald and Mail Star, it was reported that this was the highest amount of constituency office expenses for the year among all members of this House.

The point I wish to clarify, Mr. Speaker, is this. The amount noted in the Supplement is actually for a 13 month period. It includes expenses for March 1994 because the claim for that month was received after the close-off of the 1993-94 fiscal year. Therefore, the amount for fiscal 1994-95 was actually $31,200 which makes it comparable to the constituency expenses of most of the other MLAs but certainly not the highest.

605

[Page 606]

There is also an amount of $827 mistakenly posted to my constituency account when it should have been posted for living expenses which still makes me the lowest among my colleagues in that category.

A letter detailing and explaining this discrepancy and showing the true amount of my constituency expenses has been received from Dale Robbins, Director of Administration in the Speaker's Office. I wish to table the letter that I received from Mr. Robbins in order to clarify this matter for the public, most importantly for my constituents - to whom I always remain accountable - and also to the media. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Are there any other submissions to this point of privilege? I noted myself, on examining the statement, that the item Ministers' Travel was not reported at all in the fold-out, the centrepiece spreadsheet, whereas the minister's travel on Page 155, the preceding page, was noted for a number of ministers and, therefore, the information in the spreadsheet is not complete.

I do not know what I can say on this matter, but if there are any apologies in order from my office, I certainly would extend them now and would express regrets that inaccurate information or incomplete information - as appears to be case, both inaccurate and incomplete - has been published.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry I was engaged in conversation with a colleague and I may have missed in the entirety what you said. I think I caught you saying, or heard you saying, that the information disclosed on Pages 156-157 of the Supplements to the Public Accounts is both inaccurate and incomplete.

If that is the case, I wonder if I might impose upon you, since I believe I am right, that your office has a hand in the preparation of the materials which make up that page, if you might undertake, on behalf of all members in concert with the Minister of Finance, to ensure that a correct and complete page is produced in the timeliest of fashion and that that could, when done, when complete, when accurate, then be tabled by the Minister of Finance, hopefully, not later than perhaps the first of next week.

MR. SPEAKER: I am not sure that such time deadlines are realistic. The matter will have to be investigated and certainly will be.

The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Well, Mr. Speaker, my question is that you used the word inaccurate and I think the Minister of Natural Resources indicated she was late in filing, past the deadline, some of her receipts. I would suggest that is not an inaccuracy, that is tardiness on behalf of the member. So, let us not get into the debate that this is inaccurate.

MR. SPEAKER: I have already dealt with this matter and I am not prepared to hear further submissions.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 607]

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I believe with the maximum constituency allowance of $2,300 per month times 12 months, the maximum one could draw would be $31,200 after receiving the $300 per month. If you look at the number of members who are in excess of $31,200, including colleagues of that member, you will see that quite a few members probably filed late.

MR. SPEAKER: The matter is closed.

The daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1995, of the Department of Labour, the Fire Marshal's Office.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 202

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

Whereas Premier John Savage rebuffed any suggestions by this Opposition that he had responsibility to the people of Cape Breton in light of the impact of layoffs at Devco; and

Whereas the Premier went so far as to suggest in January that this was simply a federal responsibility and then waited until the end of March to speak to the Prime Minister on the matter; and

Whereas the Premier refused to supply any information to the Opposition on the representation of the Nova Scotia Liberal Government to the federal government but suggests to the media, there will be a package but it has to have consultation with people;

[Page 608]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier tell Nova Scotians exactly what recommendations he has made to the federal government with respect to Devco and just why he believes consultation is required when he continuously ignores such advice on the provincial level.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 203

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

Whereas the Minister of Health has assured Nova Scotians that his government would not take any actions to destroy the Provincial Health Council until the Health Research Task Force had reported; and

Whereas the offices of the Provincial Health Council are now vacant and the telephone lines have been disconnected but the Health Research Task Force Report has not been made public or the foundation established; and

Whereas the demise of the Provincial Health Council means that there is no independent watchdog to monitor and assess the health care system in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns the actions of the Health Minister who is once again destroying layers of the health care system before ensuring that alternative services are in place.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of the Technology and Science Secretariat.

RESOLUTION NO. 204

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

Whereas today, a second famous church, the Little Dutch Church, under the jurisdiction of the recently restored St. George's Anglican Church, formally initiated a restoration fund project; and

Whereas the Little Dutch Church was constructed in 1756 in Halifax Needham by the then newly arrived German community, the actual name at that time being the Little Deutsch Church, the second oldest church in Canada and the oldest Lutheran Church in North America; and

Whereas there now begins an archaeological examination of crypts located below the church which should tell much about our history;

[Page 609]

Therefore be it resolved that this House unanimously extend its best wishes, congratulations and full success in the fund-raising program for the restoration so that this church will reside in our heritage for at least another 250 years.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable minister requests waiver of notice.

Is it agreeable?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried, unanimously.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 205

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

Whereas the Town of Louisbourg is well recognized as a major tourist attraction in the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas it is known that small business is our best opportunity to help strengthen the Cape Breton economy; and

Whereas Mr. Robin Nam Luu, officially opened the Star Dragon Restaurant and Lounge in Louisbourg on April 9, 1996;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the entrepreneurial spirit of Mr. Robin Nam Luu and wish him years of success at the Star Dragon Restaurant in Louisbourg.

[2:15 p.m.]

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 minded, Nay.

The motion is carried, unanimously.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 610]

RESOLUTION NO. 206

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

Whereas residents and businesses in the new Regional Municipality of Cape Breton are starting to foot the bill for the Liberals' miscalculation on the costs of their amalgamation; and

Whereas on November 21, 1995, the Minister of Municipal Affairs said that her hand picked coordinator and her government were doing well because transition costs in metro were only $3.8 million above their estimates; and

Whereas as more accurate costs of the Liberal shotgun merger are coming to light, residents are learning transition costs will be well over $20 million, more than double the amount predicted by the high pressure Liberal sales team;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and her Liberal colleagues should explain to metro taxpayers, who will be footing the bill for between 5 years to 10 years why they consider their job was a job well-done.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 207

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

Whereas this week has been proclaimed as Education Week across Canada; and

Whereas the theme for Education Week is New Ways to Teach, New Ways to Learn; and

Whereas teachers in Nova Scotia are realizing that the world of education is changing and are adapting their classroom procedures by using new ways to teach;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the teachers of Nova Scotia for continually striving to help their students through the use of new teaching methods thereby instilling new learning techniques in their students.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 611]

RESOLUTION NO. 208

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 casino experiment is not providing provincial revenues as promised by the Minister of Finance; and

Whereas the head of the Gaming Corporation says that free liquor at the tables, free air fare, free accommodation, free food and entertainment is just around the corner; and

Whereas the head of the Gaming Corporation says the Minister of Finance knows exactly what the casinos want and has already made concessions to the casinos including deadlines being extended as the building of a new casino is reconsidered;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance state clearly to the Gaming Corporation and to Nova Scotians that further concessions are not in the cards as was unequivocally stated by the Premier in the Legislature.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 209

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

Whereas 15 year old Jonathan English, a young skier from Enfield has returned from the Canadian Juvenile Alpine Ski championships, where he earned a reputation as an expert in the slalom event; and

Whereas young Jonathan, a skier since the age of 11 months, also received a first place Nova Scotia title in the Atlantic Cup, and received a silver medal, coming in second overall; and

Whereas Jonathan is an up and coming skier and a Nova Scotia hopeful for the 1999 Canadian Winter Games;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Jonathan English in his skiing endeavours and wish him well as he strives towards the 1999 Canadian Winter Games.

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.

The motion is carried.

[Page 612]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 210

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

Whereas in responding to a request that the Premier visit Cape Breton to meet with IMP workers, the honourable Speaker stated: "The honourable Premier and all members are expected to attend the House when it is in session which is five days a week here in Halifax."; and

Whereas the Premier has now excused himself from the House to visit Sweden; and

Whereas the workers at IMP are seeking provincial support for a 60 day delay to put a proposal forward to have their jobs remain in Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that upon his return the Premier immediately make arrangements to meet with the workers at IMP to discuss their concerns.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 211

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

Whereas on this date in 1908, Sir Sandford Fleming donated the lands for Sir Sandford Fleming Park to the City of Halifax; and

Whereas Sir Sandford Fleming Park is located on the shores of the beautiful Northwest Arm; and

Whereas thousands of residents of the Regional Municipality of Halifax use this park for rest and relaxation to get away from the hubbub of daily life in the working world;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the Regional Municipality of Halifax for keeping this park in its natural state for the pleasure and enjoyment of its citizens.

I would request waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

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, unanimously.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 613]

RESOLUTION NO. 212

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 family of Yolanda Cain has been trying for nearly a year to get answers to questions surrounding the death of this young woman; and

Whereas after months of receiving nothing but silence in response to letters to the Minister of Health and the Nova Scotia Hospital, the family of Yolanda Cain received inadequate responses from the hospital and the minister only after they realized that the family was willing to go public with their concerns; and

Whereas the concerns of the Yolanda Cain family are similar to the concerns expressed by the family members of suicide victims in Cape Breton, in that reports into the deaths cannot be accessed by the family members and that serious questions surrounding these tragic deaths are not being answered;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health take action that will ensure full disclosure to the families of Yolanda Cain and the families of the Cape Breton suicide victims in such a way that will answer their concerns and questions and that will instill public confidence in the administration of mental health in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 213

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

Whereas the placement of Hants East within the regional health board system has been a matter of concern for constituents for some time; and

Whereas Hants East has now had cross-representation in both the central and north health regions; and

Whereas the new regional health board representatives from Hants East are: Sara Stewart for central region and Charlene Mary McCulloch for northern region;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the two new regional health board members from Hants East and wish them well in contributing to the advancement of health care in Hants East.

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 614]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 214

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 Liberals have entered into an agreement with Newcourt Credit Group Inc. to finance the Highway No. 104 western alignment with bonds bearing interest up to 3 per cent higher than long-term Province of Nova Scotia bonds; and

Whereas the former Tory Government entered into a long-term lease purchase agreement for the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission distribution centre and head office in Bayers Lake Industrial Park which the Auditor General reports is costing taxpayers an extra $1.3 million a year over an outright purchase by the province; and

Whereas the Liberals have announced that new school construction will be through public/private partnering and entered into the first such agreement even before releasing its discussion paper on public/private partnering which outlined serious concerns about the cost-effectiveness of such ventures;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government suspend the privatization of essential public services such as roads and schools until a long-term cost-benefit analysis of such privatization can be carried out by the Auditor General.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 215

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

Whereas the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Corporation and shippers are against the Coast Guard's port fee plans; and

Whereas eastern ports use fewer navigational aids than inland ports such as Montreal, and port users here should not have to pay fees that would subsidize their competition; and

Whereas Wade Elliott, Marketing Director for the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Corporation said, "Opposition all along is that user pay is the only reasonable way to proceed with this and that cost recovery should not be used in a vehicle to deliver a disguised subsidy to certain users;"

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature commend the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Corporation and support the Atlantic Canada representatives who will appear before the Commons Fisheries Committee on Thursday and wish them every success.

[Page 615]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I am sure the honourable member opposite would like to know that the gentleman he has just commended, Mr. Wade Elliott, was seconded to the Department of Transportation and Public Works about a month and a half ago. He is working for us now.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Technology and Science Secretariat.

RESOLUTION NO. 216

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

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia has joined with the federal government and many private sector partners in bringing Softworld '96 to Halifax, Nova Scotia, from September 15 to 18, 1996; and

Whereas over 600 senior information technology executives, software developers and investors from more than 30 countries are expected to attend; and

Whereas information technology entrepreneurs in Atlantic Canada reflect the traditional Maritime characteristics of tenacity, loyalty, pride, resolution and determination to produce the very best;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its strong support to the Government of Nova Scotia and to all levels of government and the information technology sector in Nova Scotia, towards a successful Software '96.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for passage.

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 Lunenburg.

[Page 616]

RESOLUTION NO. 217

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

Whereas the South Shore Tourism Association is the largest tourist association in Atlantic Canada, covering Shelburne, Queens and Lunenburg Counties; and

Whereas the South Shore Tourism Association also boasts the largest business association along the South Shore, with over 400 business participants; and

Whereas the South Shore Tourism Association celebrates its 35th Anniversary at their annual conference in Bridgewater on April 19 and 20, 1996;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend best wishes for a successful conference and extend congratulations for 35 years promoting this region's natural beauty, cultural heritage and historic significance.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

Are there any further notices of motion? If not, I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 o'clock this afternoon. The winner today is the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid. He has submitted a resolution for debate as follows:

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House urge the Minister of Human Resources Development for Canada to direct his local staff to postpone the closing of the Gottingen Street Canada Employment Centre until a joint community needs assessment can be conducted, as requested by the work group.

We will hear discussion of that topic at 6:00 o'clock this afternoon.

If there is no further business to come up under the daily routine, we will now advance to the order of business, Orders of the Day. The time now being 2:29 p.m., the Oral Question Period today will run until 3:29 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition to begin.

[Page 617]

FIN.: PST & GST HARMONIZATION - RESULTS

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Finance. The minister will recall that on several occasions in the House questions were raised with both the minister and the Premier regarding the status of negotiations between the provincial and the federal governments on the issue or harmonization of the PST and the GST. On each and every occasion the response here has been that no details would be tabled in the House until a deal was signed.

However, the Premier continues to publicly extol the virtues of such a deal when he is speaking with the media. I will table a copy of an article and a quote. The Premier is reported to have said, "It could be the most significant job creator, the most significant tax break in the history of Nova Scotia. This could be the biggest boost . . . to individual taxpayers in the history of this province.".

My question to the Minister of Finance is simply, does the minister agree with these comments of the Premier regarding the results of harmonization?

[2:30 p.m.]

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am not an historian so let me only say this much, that I believe that any agreement that this province would enter on harmonization, would have to result in a substantial tax reduction in this province, it would have to result in substantially less taxes being collected by the Province of Nova Scotia and in that case as a result, it would be a substantial economic stimulant.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Minister of Finance. The minister certainly has provided a very safe answer to the question. The same article - and I just tabled the article and it was the day before yesterday so it hardly qualifies as history but that same article - suggests and reports that, ". . . provincial Finance officials are predicting an unprecedented boost to the economy of as much as one per cent of the gross provincial product . . .", and as well, the creation of 3,500 jobs if, in fact, this harmonization takes place. My question to the minister is, will he indicate if he has evidence to back up the predictions of his officials?

MR. BOUDREAU: The stimulus to the economy will very much depend on the shape of the agreement. No agreement would be contemplated without, as I said, significant tax reductions. Those tax reductions, simply by leaving money in the hands of Nova Scotians to be spent and circulated in the economy, rather than taken out for the purposes of government; that action in itself will obviously result in an economic stimulation and an incremental growth to the Gross Domestic Product, the GDP. Exactly how much that growth is may depend on the shape of an agreement. Certainly, if an agreement in principle is reached, then we will make available any modelling which the Department of Finance has, based on those principles to the Leader of the Opposition and indeed, to the public.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the minister. The minister has indicated then, as I understand his answer, that the evidence on which his department officials are predicting a boost of 1 per cent to the provincial economy and as well, 3,500 jobs, that that evidence is perhaps not hard evidence. Is the minister prepared to commit as to what information is available to his department that would indicate in any way, shape or form, that the prediction provided by his department officials is, in fact, a real possibility if

[Page 618]

harmonization takes place, specifically, 3,500 jobs and an increase in the gross provincial product of 1 per cent? What evidence is available and will the minister make it available?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, if, in fact, there is an agreement in principle reached by the provincial government and the federal government to move ahead on the basis of certain fundamental agreements, then any modelling associated with those principles will be released.

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

FIN.: PST & GST HARMONIZATION - BENEFITS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue along the line of questioning begun by the Leader of the Official Opposition with the Minister of Finance. Our office is hearing from many Nova Scotians who want to find out from the minister and his government just which Nova Scotians are going to benefit from this plan to harmonize the PST and the GST. I would like to ask the Minister of Finance if he would give us and all Nova Scotians an indication, when he talks about coming up with a plan to ensure that Nova Scotians will have more money in their pockets in order to spend in the economy, which Nova Scotians is he talking about? Is he talking about low income Nova Scotians, seniors, people on fixed income, middle income earners or is he talking about the Ken Rowes and other wealthy Nova Scotians who have benefitted considerably since this government has come into power?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, let me repeat that should an agreement in principle be reached, we will be more than happy to outline to the honourable member and to all Nova Scotians who the beneficiaries will be.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, there has been speculation in the news of late that the tabling of the budget is being held up by these negotiations around the PST and the GST, leading Nova Scotians to suspect, in fact, that there will be decisions made relative to their lives that will be tabled in the budget here and they won't have any opportunity to have any input, in other words, to effect any change.

I would like to ask the Minister of Finance if he, in fact, would confirm that his government will not commit itself to any deal on harmonizing the PST and GST until they bring any proposal before Nova Scotians for their full input?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, we are dealing with discussions between two levels of government respecting an arrangement in principle. Before any detailed agreement is executed or implemented, such discussions will take place with the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, excuse me if I appear somewhat sceptical when the minister talks about consultation, but I would like to seek some further clarification on his intentions because we saw him consult, for example, on the Shaping Our Future document by attending a few meetings of the chamber of commerce around the province when, in fact, he indicated that he would be consulting with Nova Scotians. So I would like to ask the Minister of Finance if, in fact, before a deal is committed with respect to the harmonization of the PST and the GST, that he will ensure that an all-Party committee will travel the Province of Nova Scotia and provide every opportunity for all Nova Scotians, big and small, to have input into the effects of the PST and the GST harmonization deal that he is working through with the federal government?

[Page 619]

MR. BOUDREAU: Let me answer the last part of his question first. No, I will not undertake for an all-Party committee to travel the province. On the first part of his question, Mr. Speaker, with reference to the White Paper, the two longest meetings I had were with the representatives of labour in this province. I might say the two longest meetings out of about 50 I had across the province were with labour.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

FIN.: PST & GST HARMONIZATION - MODELS

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. The minister has indicated that this modelling that was carried out within the Department of Finance on certain inputs from the Department of Finance produced a 1 per cent increase in GDP and 3,500 jobs. I was wondering if, in those modelling inputs, indeed the minister has injected the $200 million that he appears to be trying to extract from the federal government as an entrance fee to incorporate harmonization of the GST with the provincial sales tax?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Well, I am sure, as the honourable member recalls when he was in government, we are having discussions, we have had discussions for some considerable period of time on the subject of harmonization. These discussions have probably ranged with the federal government over the last 18 months. During that 18 months we have benefitted from the opinions of many across the province including from those across the floor. When, in fact, there is an agreement in principle, if there is an agreement in principle, then we will indicate what models are appropriate and on what those models are based.

MR. RUSSELL: I guess his answer didn't make much more sense than my question, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Neither does the plan.

MR. RUSSELL: I should never have asked that type of question, I guess. What I am driving at, Mr. Speaker, is that at the present time, in this province, low income Nova Scotians receive a rebate on the GST, the GST Rebate Program and is it the minister's intention, no matter what kind of a model he uses, that the present GST rebate or assistance similar to that will be put in place for low income Nova Scotians who are unjustly treated under any sales tax on purchases?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I have repeated to the honourable member and other honourable members that the substance of any discussions, the details of any discussions we are having with another level of government would be completely inappropriate for me to deal with in the House at this stage.

If there is an agreement in principle reached, then on the basis of those principles we would be more than happy to address all of the issues that the honourable members have raised; otherwise, it is complete speculation.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that is one of the big problems in this province right now, people lack confidence and they are afraid of their financial future. You have 2,000 civil servants sitting out there who don't know if they are going to have a job in a month's time, and now we are going to have low income Nova Scotians who are going to be left in limbo until this government finally makes up its mind as to whether or not they will continue to receive the rebate on their GST payments.

[Page 620]

Will the minister agree today in the House to give an assurance to those people who depend so much on the GST rebate, that indeed that rebate will continue after the imposition of any harmonization?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to see the honourable member's concern about the financial stability and future of our province. As late as it comes, it is worthwhile.

Mr. Speaker, I have indicated already that I am not about to discuss or be drawn into a discussion on details. The Premier stood here in the House of Assembly and made the commitment that all levels of income will benefit from any arrangements we make. We will work hard to ensure that that commitment is met.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West again, on a new question.

FIN.: HEALTH SERVICES TAX - HEATING

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Well, it is nice to have another go.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, in Nova Scotia we have some different arrangements with regard to the imposition of the health services tax on fuel oil. Now everybody in the Province of Nova Scotia has to heat their houses, either by oil or electricity. With electricity we have a special arrangement, only 3 per cent health services tax on electricity. Will the minister give an assurance to this House that, indeed, those kinds of arrangements that help people in this province with their heating bills will continue? In other words, no tax on oil and still that limited tax on electricity?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, until an agreement in principle is reached, until principles are established, the types of questions being asked by the honourable member are hypothetical and, indeed, I would suggest that it is improper for me to discuss them in any detail at this point.

MR. SPEAKER: Now I don't know if a supplementary question arises from that because the question is hypothetical . . .

MR. RUSSELL: Everybody heats their house.

MR. SPEAKER: All right, I will allow the honourable member to ask a supplementary question, but the minister is indicating that he considers it hypothetical and the honourable member knows that Beauchesne . . .

MR. RUSSELL: The minister doesn't make the decision whether or not a question was hypothetical and it is not hypothetical because we have already been told by the Premier of all these great things that are going to flow from harmonization.

As far as the Premier is concerned and the Minister of Finance, it is a done deal and that is not good enough for the people of Nova Scotia. Everybody in this province is going to be affected.

MR. SPEAKER: Is this a question?

[Page 621]

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, I do have a question. I am asking the minister, not as a hypothetical question because he has obviously made up his mind that we are going to have harmonization, will, indeed, those people who heat their house, either by oil or by electricity, be protected?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I think I have said repeatedly, as a matter of fact I think I have said repeatedly in the House today, if there is an agreement in principle - there is no agreement at the moment, we have not signed any agreements - we will disclose what the principles of that agreement are and answer as many questions as we can at that point in time. That point has not been reached at this stage and, indeed, may never be reached.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that is simply not good enough. It is not good enough for the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia to reach an agreement in principle with the federal government on a matter that affects every Nova Scotian financially in the pocket. It is not good enough for the minister to say, well we will tell you all about it after the deal is done.

I ask the minister then, is there any truth to the fact that the present budget delay, the introduction in this House, is related to the deal being worked out between the federal government and the provincial government on harmonization?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the budget will be introduced in this House prior to the end of the month. As a matter of fact, I will probably be announcing the date tomorrow for the budget introduction. I think, compared to previous years, and indeed previous administrations, that will be reasonably timely by comparison.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

FIN.: PST & GST HARMONIZATION - BUSINESS SERV.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My question is for the Minister of Finance. You will recall, Mr. Speaker, as will the minister, in 1994, approximately six months after he and his government introduced a business service tax on legal, accounting, architectural, engineering consulting services and the like, that the government withdrew those taxes. I would ask the minister today if he would confirm that he is still of the mind, as he was at the time he indicated the withdrawal of those, that the reason for withdrawing was because it was determined that the imposition of those taxes was a discouragement to business expansion and job creation in the Province of Nova Scotia?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: The indication that we had from various groups involved at that time in the budget three years ago, the difficulties, as described by them, fell into two categories. One, while there was a tax being imposed at the consumer end, there was no corresponding input tax credit for them. Secondly, the imposition of a tax put them on an uneven or not a level playing field with their competitors in adjoining provinces. We took both of those objections very seriously.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the minister has, in fact, agreed - using more words probably than necessary - to agree with me that in fact he and his government came to the conclusion that the imposition or the attempt to impose those taxes was a discouragement to business expansion and job creation. For the reasons he stated and because they were a discouragement, they were done away with.

By way of supplementary, may I ask the Minister of Finance this, through you, Mr. Speaker. Recently, in response to an inquiry from the member for Hants West, the Minister of Finance's office indicated that removing professional services from the health services tax would help corporate profits and encourage business expansion. They believe that if we have professional services free of a health services tax, that will indeed help corporate profits and encourage business expansion. Can the Minister of Finance [Page 622]

for us today - in light of those comments - assure this House that while I acknowledge he has said about 16 times already this afternoon that no deal has been struck, will he make the commitment that if, as and when a deal is struck with the Government of Canada to harmonize the PST and the GST, he will not put in place a new regressive business service tax that he has just a moment ago acknowledged would be a discouragement to business and commerce and the creation of new wealth? Will he give that undertaking?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, the reason why I used perhaps as many words as I did in answering the first question was simply to point out the nature of the objections that came to us. The nature of the objections were initially - back three years ago - that there was no credit at the input end for those professional services, in fact, that were being taxed at the other end. The second objection was that it made the playing field uneven with neighbouring provinces. I think I can give the assurance to the honourable member that that type of situation will not reoccur.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I guess it is my understanding, by way of final supplementary to the Minister of Finance, that the minister has publicly stated that any agreement which he, as Minister of Finance in this province, would make with the Government of Canada relative to harmonization, a merger of PST and GST, will mean that goods and services that are at present PST exempt will not be exempt under the new tax, that the base will likely be broadened, will, frankly, undoubtedly be broadened. In light of comments that a new harmonized tax will result in a 1 per cent growth in gross provincial product, so called, and 3,500 new jobs, can the minister tell us if this means that business services such as those which I have just mentioned, legal accounting, architectural consulting and so on, will be exempt? If they are not, has that been factored into the job creation equation, as far as the impact this new tax will have on these particular business services?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated previously, I am not going to go into the detailed questions on an agreement in principle which has not yet been concluded with another level of government. Let me say this though, any arrangement in principle that we reach with the federal government will result in substantially less tax being collected in Nova Scotia by the provincial government. You can believe that or you can disregard it but such will be the case. What I would be interested to know is whether or not the Opposition believes that leaving money in the hands of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to reinvest in this economy, rather than collecting it in taxes, wouldn't the Opposition believe that that would stimulate the economy in this province?

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

FIN. - PST & GST HARMONIZATION: TAX BASE - CHANGE

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question also is for the honourable Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance has been quoted saying that the tax base will

[Page 623]

definitely be broadened. The Premier assured Nova Scotians that the Savage Government, should it sign any agreement with the Chretien Government respecting a harmonized PST and GST, he assured us that Nova Scotia would be the benefit of a win-win situation. My question is simply this, will the Minister of Finance commit to Nova Scotia that his government will protect those individuals that the Premier refers to as small people, such as families that have children that buy clothing and footwear that is not, at the present time, subjected to the provincial sales tax?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, we are very cognizant of the commitment that the Premier has made and we will follow through on it.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, so there is no commitment to the small people in Nova Scotia, the families that buy footwear and clothing.

The present provincial legislation exempts the agricultural community from paying the PST on farm implements, farm machinery, tractors, parts for the same, live animals, baler twine, fencing material and things of that nature. Will the Minister of Finance commit to protecting the farm communities from the new merged tax?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, again I am repeating the answer that I have already given on a number of occasions in this Question Period. We are dealing with an agreement in principle which may or may not be reached. The honourable member is interested in detail. If there is an agreement reached, we will be more than happy to supply him with the detail.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is evading the questions, no question about it. I have asked him if he will commit to the farming community, to poor families that have to buy footwear and clothing for their families. He will not commit to those people. Will he commit to people that are physically challenged that presently do not pay provincial sales tax on artificial limbs, orthopaedic appliances, et cetera, will he at least commit to the physically challenged people?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my answer to this question is the same as the answer to the previous one.

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

HEALTH - HOME CARE: SERVICES - PROVISION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Health. Mr. Speaker, you and, unfortunately, all Nova Scotians are aware of the dispute that has been going on for some weeks now between the Victorian Order of Nurses here in Halifax, Halifax County and their nursing staff. I think clearly now we recognize that the reason this dispute has been allowed to build and develop and resulted in the parties not being able to resolve their differences has been the lack of direction, the lack of commitment that this government has made in putting forward how nursing services are going to be tendered, what standards are going to be applied, regulations and so on.

Mr. Speaker, the contract with the VON expired on March 31, 1996. I would like to ask the government given the fact that the situation between the nurses and their employer and between nurses and nurses continues to escalate, when is the government going to make a decision on how it intends to provide for home care nursing services in the Province of Nova Scotia?

[Page 624]

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the honourable member opposite drawing attention to the continuing problem that exists in the area here in Halifax in respect to the VON and the dispute with the nurses, their employees. Certainly, we have committed in every way, this government, to the provision of service, to the creation and the enforcement of standards, to the monitoring of those standards. We will, indeed, continue to do that. We believe that the labour course of action should be given precedence in that there are or should be discussions particularly in respect to some intervention with the Ministry of Labour. We hope, fervently, for an early resolution to the problem.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister again failed to answer the critical question here, about when they are going to provide some answers in terms of how the government will provide home care nursing services. I want the minister, perhaps, to explain to members of this House and to all Nova Scotians how he can stand by all the while you have nurses pitted against nurses here in Halifax and Halifax County, people that are receiving badly needed nursing care not receiving those services and falling through the cracks, all the while and as a result of the lack of direction and the lack of commitment that he and his department have shown in order to try to resolve this dispute. I would like to ask the minister then to explain why it is that his department is still evaluating what to do next at a time when such a serious dispute is allowed to continue and home care nursing services are clearly in jeopardy in many parts of Halifax and Halifax County?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, in contrast to what the honourable Leader of the NDP says, we indeed are committed to provision of service. We have, in fact, been committed from day one to the provision of service, increasing the number of people in home care and watching very closely in terms of the audits that we are doing in respect to the quality of those services that are being provided at the moment. I certainly have stood in my place and made that commitment. We continue, in fact, to work very diligently to monitor and to audit what is happening. We will certainly have our focus on the provision of home nursing services and the continuance thereof.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on my final supplementary, I would like to, first of all, ask the minister if he would then table the standards that he indicated that he, in fact, is providing.

[3:00 p.m.]

I would like to ask the minister to explain why it is that he and his department would not agree to extend the VON contract, as they did in Cape Breton, here in Halifax, in order to ensure that sufficient time is allowed for the negotiation of these standards and regulations that are going to be put in place, to provide for the tendering of nursing services. In other words, can he have that contract extended for the rest of the year, as they did in Cape Breton, so that the VON nurses can get back to work and we can resolve this dispute and so that the people in Halifax and Halifax County can continue to receive the quality, high standards of service they have received from the VON for the past 100 years?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I can only assume that the honourable member is misinformed in respect to his question. We have extended the contract to the VON. We have the contract which we have with the VON in the Province of Nova Scotia. We sign a contract and provide funding with VON Nova Scotia. What they do with that, in turn, is they distribute it through their branches and provide service through their branches. (Interruption) No, we have, in fact, extended the contract and it continues in force at this point.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

FIN. - PST & GST HARMONIZATION: REVENUE - SHORTFALL

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. My understanding from the answers from the Minister of Finance here today and on earlier days, relative to the harmonization of PST and GST, is that he, and particularly the Premier, are talking about it being the most [Page 625]

significant tax break in the history of Nova Scotia and equally foolish comments, are leaving the impression or attempting to leave the impression that this is all win-win and that the Minister of Finance likes to use the expression, that if, and he qualifies it and I understand that, if he, his government, reaches a deal with the feds on this harmonization, the individual Nova Scotia taxpayer will pay less tax to the Province of Nova Scotia. That, by definition, says to me that the coffers of the Province of Nova Scotia will receive less money.

My question to the minister, if that understanding is correct, is where does the Minister of Finance propose to make up the shortfall of resources or revenue in the provincial Treasury?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, again we are dealing with essentially a hypothetical situation until an agreement in principle is reached, if it is reached. But there is a shortfall, of course. There will be less tax collected by the Province of Nova Scotia. I think I have said that any number of times, there will be a shortfall and it will be made up. The amount of the shortfall and the method of making it up very much depends on the nature of the agreement in principle. When it is signed, then we will be in a position to answer that question.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, it is my understanding that part of the discussions between the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada and, indeed, the Premier makes allusions to it, that part of the shortfall, if not all of the shortfall, will be made up and, indeed, a person none other than Finance Minister Bernie Boudreau is reported as saying that the resulting business and consumer boost could have added economic impact if federal compensation covers the province's losses for three or four years. It is clear that this Minister of Finance, Mr. Speaker, is looking to his friend, the Honourable Paul Martin to make up the shortfall.

I guess my question prompted by that information is, whether or not this Minister of Finance has somehow, since becoming Minister of Finance, lost the realization that there is only one taxpayer? If you take $1,000 out of the Nova Scotia taxpayer's pocket today and then you harmonize and you come back to the Nova Scotia taxpayer and say, listen, Mr. or Ms. Taxpayer, we are treating you real well, we are going to take only $800 out of your pocket in tax this year. The provincial coffers are $200 short. It is all made up, though, everything is sweetness and light.

MR. SPEAKER: Time is scarce, that is what Beauchesne says, time is scarce.

MR. DONAHOE: So is the taxpayer's money scarce, Mr. Speaker. This Minister of Finance is saying (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. When the Speaker intervenes - order, please, be seated - when the Speaker intervenes in Question Period to call the attention of an honourable member to a citation in Beauchesne, it is for the purpose of trying to bring matters to a head

[Page 626]

and to expedite the holding of the Oral Question Period. It is not for the provocation of a lengthy tirade to further continue the abuse. I would ask the honourable member to please put his questions succinctly.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, you used the word abuse. On a point of privilege I (Interruptions) Well, I can raise a point of personal privilege. The Speaker has used the word abuse and I ask the Speaker if the word abuse was directed at me? I ask the Speaker if the use of the word abuse . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I am asking the honourable member to please be seated. I will recognize another member. I am not prepared to continue this discussion. This is Question Period, the questions are to be to ministers, not to the Speaker.

MR. DONAHOE: Was the word abuse directed at me, Mr. Speaker, or at some other member?

MR. SPEAKER: Questions to the Speaker are out of order. It is obvious from what I said that it was a general admonition to the whole House and the honourable member ought to accept that in that sense. Please be seated so I can recognize a member to participate in the Question Period.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

ENVIRON. - RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND: TIRE RECYCLING - CONTRACT

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of the Environment. The minister promised me (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, it is very taxing to try to get a question in here today. The Minister of the Environment promised me on April 3rd that he would confirm whether or not the contract given to Mr. Barry Alexander to study the report of the Savage Government's interdepartmental provincial committee on tire recycling was tendered. Is the minister prepared today to provide that information to this House and to all Nova Scotians?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, my response is simply that we are awaiting the report from the Resource Recovery Fund and they will disseminate in that report all the measures they took in terms of acquiring the consultant to determine which was the best viable option to go with in this province. That would include Mr. Alexander.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question was simply whether or not the contract was put out to public tender. Mr. Alexander's company is called, Charter Associates Quality Consulting. Will the minister agree to table the winning proposal and will he table the report and the recommendation that Mr. Alexander has already made to the Resource Recovery Fund relative to the tire recycling plant? That decision has already been made.

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think the member is getting a bit ahead of himself. The decision that was made is that we decided through the Resource Recovery Fund which of the options that we looked at were viable to service Nova Scotia. Negotiations are now under way between that finalist, which is the Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Corporation, and the Resource Recovery Fund negotiating committee. Those talks are now ongoing. That decision has not been reached and we can't talk about it today.

[Page 627]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure whether the Minister of the Environment is trying to play games here but he told this House back on April 3rd, that Mr. Barry Alexander recommended the Nova Scotia company which happens to be based in Manitoba and doesn't have a phone number and isn't registered with the Joint Stock Companies in Nova Scotia. Will the Minister of the Environment table that report and that recommendation that has already been made because you gave the Resource Recovery Fund authority to negotiate with Mr. Barry Alexander? Will you table his report?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, with all due diligence, we will take a look at all the information in the report that we have asked for and if that information is there we will find it and we will table it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

ENVIRON. - RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND: RECYCLING - CONTAINER LABELS

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question too is to the Minister of the Environment and I will be tabling this circular so the minister can see it himself. The flyer is from Karen's Recycling Limited, formerly Lovett & Leavitt Recycling Ltd. in Dartmouth. (Laughter) That's right. You've got it. See, I know how to get your attention. It says, "all labels must read return for refund.". All labels must read return for refund. Now, as the minister knows, not all beverage containers have a label on them which states return for refund. Is it a requirement of the Resource Recovery Fund that in order for a beverage container to be eligible for the 5 cent refund, that it must have printed on it, as this flyer states, that all labels must read return for refund?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, let me take that under advisement and find out for sure whether the rules do stipulate that, but I will say that last night I saw in the supermarket all the containers had labels stuck on them, that they were returnable for refund, where applicable, so I'll confirm the difference between what I saw and what I hear and table it for the House.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I only wish the minister could confirm to us with his voice in here what these policies and requirements are of his department. He seems to have some difficulty from day to day in that respect.

My second question. Again, in the event that it is the policy of the Department of the Environment and the Resource Recovery Fund that every container upon which a 5 cent deposit is paid shall have that 5 cent deposit refunded irrespective of whether those words "return for refund" are on the container, if, in fact, that is the policy of the department and the Resource Recovery Fund, will the minister undertake - and it should be, if it is not - to ensure that his staff, by way of written transmission, contact every licensed recycler in Nova Scotia to ensure that the recyclers understand that whether the words are there or are not there, the 5 cent refund is?

MR. ADAMS: Quite seriously, Mr. Speaker, that is a reasonable request and I can't defer from that because the regulation clearly says that the 5 cent deposit is rebatable and that is pretty clear, but we will undertake to ensure that message is communicated clearly between the RRF and our recycling depots.

MR. LEEFE: I thank the minister, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 628]

My final question. There has been extensive media advertising. We have seen it on television with very sophisticated graphics used to advertise the Resource Recovery Fund - over the Department of the Environment logo - we have seen it in daily newspapers and we have heard it on the radio. I am told that the cost of this advertising is somewhere in the vicinity of $0.25 million. Would the minister please confirm that?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm that today, but I will be getting financial statements as usual to find out where we are with our spending. I know there is a budgeted amount of money for advertising and, as far as I am concerned, at the present time, we are well within that budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - PHARMACARE: SHORTFALL - RECOVERY

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. For some time I have asked the Minister of Health for the details on the Pharmacare Program and the numbers. The minister has made a commitment several times but, as yet, I have not received the numbers. He made that commitment a number of times. It is my understanding that the Pharmacare Program is funded 50/50: 50 per cent by the government under regulation, and 50 per cent by seniors. Looking at the Estimate Book of last year, the Pharmacare Program, the provincial share is $36,443,000, so I assume the program then is $72,886,000 million for the total program.

In looking at the money paid - as near as I can tell - through the Finance Minister, premiums paid thus far were $18 million that he turned over to the Pharmacare Program and $14 million has come in as co-pay, which makes $32 million, which is not half of the program if it is on budget. I ask the minister who will make up the shortfall, if the regulations say it is 50 per cent seniors and 50 per cent the Department of Health, if that is the case, who will make up the $4 million shortfall in the program if the numbers are on target?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, first of all, the honourable suggests I was delinquent in presenting some information. I remember tabling up-to-date numbers not long ago; if that was not the case, I stand corrected and will certainly do that. They were prepared. I thought I had submitted them to the Clerk, I will double-check that.

In respect to any shortfall, this has been a transition year for the board of directors of the Pharmacare Program and any shortfall or any discrepancy certainly would not be assumed by the fund. We in the Department of Health would assume any shortfall. This is a transition year, we had to make sure that every understanding was given to seniors, particularly those who would be late filing or those whom we covered throughout the year who may not have filed until very late. So if there is a discrepancy, we have planned for and budgeted for that.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I will check with the Clerk to see. I have not been given a copy, but I will check and if it is there I would appreciate that, and it is not, then I appreciate the minister's undertaking that I will get it.

[Page 629]

Given the fact that the program started out to be 50/50, I think what the minister is saying now is that the program isn't going to be 50/50. Is the province prepared to go to what percentage? This year the province is going to pick up more than 50 per cent of the Pharmacare Program. Will the minister ensure seniors that in the future they will not be tagged with 50 per cent of the program if they are not tagged this year? In other words, if the province is picking up 60 per cent this year, is that the percentage the province will continue to pick up? I am hearing the program may not cost $72 million this year, it may go as high as $80 million.

DR. STEWART: Well, as I mentioned in my previous answer, Mr. Speaker, the actual funding we had done several things to, including changing the date in which co-pays were applicable and so on, which of course cost the program. We also had a very understanding board which really was very diligent in understanding the concerns of seniors and responded to that. We changed and, in fact, increased the amount for married seniors in terms of qualifying and so on. So this is indeed the transition year. However, it is the agreement that it be a 50/50 split. We will adhere to that. We had anticipated some shortfall on the part of the Ministry of Health and we have budgeted for that and we will continue to watch that very closely. But I would certainly say that the 50/50 agreement would stand.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, given the fact the minister says that the 50/50 split will stand, given the fact that the first year was a transition year, given the fact that we are now into a second year, is the minister telling us that if there is a shortfall this year, in the second year, that the seniors will have to make up their 50 per cent in this coming year? In other words, if the province in 1996-97, that fiscal year, is only going to pick up 50 per cent of the Pharmacare costs?

DR. STEWART: Well in dealing with this, Mr. Speaker, the board is very diligent in attempting to predict what may be in fact the expenses for the coming year. They have set the premium, as has been announced, and will continue to do that. In aspects of all insurance programs there is an attempt at predicting what may come into the future. We certainly see some changes in respect to the number of prescriptions being written, the reform elements that are beginning to make a difference in certain aspects of the program. The board has every expectation that this will allow them to in fact maintain at the current level and they have committed to do that.

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

EDUC. - SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION (PUBLIC/PRIVATE): COST - STUDIES

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question, through you, to the Minister of Education. In preamble to my question, I point out that there have been a number of studies and reports that have been done that show that leasing costs and so on are often more expensive than government providing those services themselves. For example, the ECS Report that was released in 1995 pointed out that it is costing taxpayers in the province approximately $6 million extra a year to lease office spaces. We saw the example where the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission warehouse in the Bayers Lake Industrial Park, according to the Auditor General, is costing us $1.3 million more a year because of the increased cost for the leasing. So my question to the Minister of Education, whose department's responsibility it is to construct new schools in the province, what studies does his department have that show that doing the private partner leasing is going to be less costly for Nova Scotians in the long term? What studies does the minister have and will he table those studies?

[Page 630]

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, there have been no private/public partnering projects, except the ones we have proposed. We have talked to other ministries across the country. They haven't tried this kind of thing, we have no history of this being done. It is our judgment, based on what our staff has concluded in looking at the Auburn school, which is the model that we have used as we compare other schools across the province, over the long haul, our judgment is that we would pay no more than that but get better service for the students who are out there because the private sector not only builds the school and then turns it over to us, which is the old fashioned way of doing it, they maintain the school for the life of the school and that is front-end loaded in the costs that we provide. So, as a result, it covers deferred maintenance, besides providing the building. That is a special add-on. Our judgment, our estimation is that, in fact, it will cost us no more money but provide better service to the building and, therefore, to the students.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, so the government and the minister are going on their judgment rather than any detailed analyses or studies that have been prepared.

I note that the government entered into its first public/private partnering for the construction of, for example, the high-tech school in Sydney, even before the government released its public/private partnering discussion paper, which itself issued a number of cautions about entering into private arrangements as they don't always end up being more cost-efficient. They often end up being more expensive.

My question to the minister is quite simply this, given the fact that the financing charges that the partner is going to be paying will be passed on to the government through leasing costs, what financial leasing arrangements, what rates are to be paid by their partner on the monies that they are borrowing to build the new school yet to be constructed in the Sydney area?

MR. MACEACHERN: First of all, I can tell the honourable member that much of the report we are circulating in terms of private/public partnering was learned by the Department of Education as it explored this idea. The second thing, Mr. Speaker, we were left with a commitment to build $60 million of schools with no money, so we had to explore new ways of building schools and we are in the process of doing it. This is one of our explorations in how we could build schools in new ways.

I can tell the honourable member that what is important to us is the cost to government in doing this. I can assure him that this will cost us no more doing it this way than it would to do it in the traditional way. That is what is important to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, of course the minister said that this process would also lead to schools being constructed more quickly. Some timetables have come and gone and there have been delays already made. Whenever the schools have been built in the past the government has always borrowed that money. The Minister of Finance will know that the long-term borrowing rate for the bonds of Nova Scotia are currently under 9 per cent, I think the last one was at 8.7 per cent.

My question to the Minister of Education, since the Province of Nova Scotia can borrow money at a lower bond rate than the private industry can, normally 2 per cent lower, how is it that by having these companies borrow the money, charging it back to the province in terms of lease costs, are going to result in savings to Nova Scotians over the long term, rather than increased costs?

[Page 631]

MR. MACEACHERN: Well, Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, and I know that he is no businessman and I give him that, I will give you the following analysis if I might. If the honourable member were to go and buy a car and they were to offer him a car for so much per month for a period of time, that totalled let's suppose, $20,000 and somebody else came to him and said, we can give you a similar car with payments of such and such coming to $18,000 and we will add the following things, how they arrange their finances on the other side is not his concern. What is his concern is that he has gotten more for his money and for less money, that is what we are looking for and it is getting done. The honourable member has got some kind of sense that you can take a concept like building a very complex school and separate it into its little components and say, here is a bad component, here is a good component. We will take all of the good components and sacrifice the bad. It will cost us no more, we will get the schools built and they will be better schools.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

ENVIRON. - AGRIC. CHEMICALS: PERMITS - PURPOSE

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment, if I could ask the Minister of the Environment a question, through you. It would be regarding a conversation I had with a farmer in the Annapolis Valley. The farmer has been taking lessons and courses in the careful management and use of sprays for his agricultural crops. He used to pay about $35 and now the cost of that is $100 to take his course. He is very careful about the application of agricultural sprays and he wanted to take the course. What he was talking to me about now though is that there seems to be a new tax that is applied by the Department of the Environment. This farmer now must apply to the Department of the Environment and purchase a permit to apply those chemical sprays to his crops. This permit that he has to buy from the minister costs $50. I am wondering from the minister if he could explain roughly what the farmer is going to get for this $50 because the farmer is at a loss to understand it and I am as well? It seems to me that it is just another tax on the farmers of Nova Scotia by this government.

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, as I understand the question he wants to know what the farmer gets for his money? The farmer will indeed get a permit but he gets the protection of our government and our expertise.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious the Minister of the Environment doesn't have any idea what the $50 is for and what service his department is going to provide because the farmer is already taking safety courses and has a better understanding of agricultural chemicals, perhaps, than indeed the minister. Again, the question is posed, what does the farmer get for this new $50 tax and does he have to purchase this $50 permit every year or is this a lifetime permit for $50?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the farmer he refers to is able to read and can certainly determine what the duration of his license or permit would be.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: You tell us, you are the minister.

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I hear members over there saying for me to tell it because I am the minister. I would remind members opposite who had the opportunity at one point, that the minister does not have all the details of departmental operations. They, in fact, hire staff who are the technocrats who administer those details of the department. That is the way it has been, that is the way it is and that is the way it will be as far as we can see.

[Page 632]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired. (Interruptions) The time has expired. I said it would be over at 3:29 p.m. and it is 3:29:30 p.m.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 8.

Bill No. 8 - Court and Administrative Reform Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel, who adjourned the debate with 60 minutes remaining.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to make some remarks about Bill No. 8 on second reading. Bill No. 8 is an Act Respecting Court and Administrative Reform. The Minister of Justice was, I thought, pretty cursory in his remarks when he moved second reading and didn't provide perhaps as much detail as some in the House might have hoped, certainly myself included.

[3:30 p.m.]

To begin with, Mr. Speaker, there is a very significant policy issue addressed in this particular bill and it is addressed in Clauses 2 and 3. Without going into an entire reading of these clauses, which would probably be abusive or something, I will refrain from doing that. Clause 2(a) in effect sets out that "where an enactment requires the approval of the Governor in Council for the acquisition or disposal of real property or an interest in real property, . . .", then the Cabinet can, by regulation, or by assignation of a minister or to a minister of, ". . . the authority to acquire or dispose of the real property or an interest in the real property . . .", under this enactment.

Then you come down to Clause 3 and you find that notwithstanding the fact that the Cabinet can make a regulation or can simply make an assignment to a particular minister to have this authority to acquire or dispose of the real property or an interest in the real property, you find that there is a little bit, as a former deputy of mine might have said, a little taken off the fast ball there because that member of the Executive Council to whom that authority is referred can only do so if he does so or she does so following, ". . . established policies and procedures governing the acquisition or disposal of real property or an interest in real property and those policies or procedures contain, as a minimum, the following:".

Then Clause 3 goes on through subclauses (a) through to (i) to set out quite a number of conditions or caveats or parameters or constraints upon the minister who will have this authority. Well, let me start by saying that there are very few authorities available to any Cabinet Minister which can be considered to be very much more important than the acquisition or disposal of real property or interest in real property. The [Page 633]

Good Lord isn't making any more real estate and that which is owned by the Crown should be disposed of very judiciously. Decisions taken by the Crown to acquire an interest in property should be taken or undertaken with great and considerable care.

What intrigues me about this and my concern and my comment and, indeed, my criticism of the way in which the legislation suggests that this matter will be handled is simply this. We are left to find out on a future day, once a Cabinet has, according to this legislation, made certain regulations as to what the restraints or constraints on the authorized minister actually might be. For instance, the authority that is able to be exercised may only be undertaken or exercised where the Governor in Council, where the Cabinet has, by regulation, established all of these policies or procedures outlined in the Act.

They start, as but one example, with this one; the minister designated can't dispose of or acquire an interest in property unless he or she meets the provisions of Clause 3(a), which would be a regulated requirement, that there is, "a requirement that the real property acquired or disposed of be less than a certain acreage or value;".

Well, I want to put the proposition to the Minister of Justice and to all colleagues here, if there was ever a place or a situation in which we should, in legislation, rather than in regulation, set out the size of the acreage which a particular minister would have the authority to either acquire or dispose of without having to make further reference back to the Executive Council, where better a place to put that authority and to put that precision than in the legislation itself? I really don't understand why we would leave it to regulation-making authority that there be a requirement which would constrain the authorized minister relative to the size, or the certain acreage, or value of the purchase of, or the disposition of a particular piece of property.

There are many circumstances where the purchase of property and the disposition of real estate via the Executive Council is extremely important. It is a fundamental question in terms of the asset base owned by the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, and for us now to have a situation where the Cabinet of the day, the Cabinet of any day, would simply decide some Thursday to make a regulation that, well, I guess we'll let Minister X have the authority to sell or dispose or acquire a particular piece of property provided that it is less than x number of acres and it is less than y number of dollars, I really think, Mr. Speaker, that this legislation is a far better and stronger piece of legislation and a far better statement to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia who will know what is going on with one of the few assets that they can, honest to God, say they own, namely the ground on which they and all of us live and operate here in this province and which is owned by all the taxpayers. Where better to set out its value than in this piece of legislation, rather than established by regulation?

The bill goes on to say and establishes a further principle that this minister, whoever he or she will be, who is vested with this authority to acquire or dispose of real estate is going to have to do so in the confines or within the constraints of a regulation made which establishes in Clause 3(b), "a requirement that the transaction be based on market value;". Well, why don't we say in the legislation that no minister shall buy or sell real estate either for the account of the Province of Nova Scotia or out of the account of Nova Scotia, namely, out of the taxpayers' account, and why wouldn't we say in the legislation that there be a

[Page 634]

requirement that no piece of real estate that has a market value in excess of - and let us decide on what we believe is an appropriate dollar value - and say so in the legislation?

The legislation could then read and, frankly, if it were more perfect than I believe it is in its present form, the legislation could then read that in the event the minister or the Cabinet wishes to either acquire or dispose of a piece of property in excess of the legislated amount, then, of course, the matter could come back here to the floor of the Legislature. The circumstances and the particulars of the transaction could be outlined and the debate could be held as to whether or not that value is an appropriate level and, in the particulars of a given case, whether or not the sale or the purchase of the particular piece of property is in and of itself an appropriate or proper thing to do in regard to the interests of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

There is a further principle set out in the same clause, Mr. Speaker, whereby this minister, whoever he or she shall be, who is clothed with this authority to buy or sell real estate, is going to have to do so within the confines of a regulation made which will, according to Clause 3(c) set out, "acceptable methods of sale;". Well, what are acceptable methods of sale? Again, I repeat, I really do not understand why here in this situation we would not, if we want to pursue the kind of attitude and approach which is much lauded and touted by the government of the day, that the business and the activity of this government on behalf of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia is going to be as open and transparent as it can possibly be.

Madam Speaker, you will recall how many of your colleagues railed at the previous government. One of the criticisms levelled at the previous government was that the allegation was made that so much of what was done by the previous government, indeed, was not sufficiently transparent and open to easy and clear access and scrutiny by the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. Well, here is a prefect opportunity, I suggest, for the Minister of Justice to say in this particular piece of legislation that the minister, whichever minister is clothed with the authority of buying or selling the real estate on behalf of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, would have to do so following acceptable methods of sale which are set out in the legislation. I just do not see why it is not possible, I do not believe it not to be possible, for us to set out those methods of sale.

Further, you will note that there is another policy principle established in this piece of legislation which says that the minister, whomever he or she shall be, is clothed with the authority of buying real estate on behalf of the taxpayer or selling that already owned by the taxpayers. There should be, Clause 3(d), "a prohibition against selling real property at less than market value without the approval of the Governor in Council;". I find it interesting that there is a little bit of a seeming contradiction between an earlier requirement, which, as I have indicated, I think should be stated in the legislation and not in regulation. If I read part of this principle established by this section, if it were to pass, the minister who would have these responsibilities would have to work within, Clause 3(b), "a requirement that the transaction be based on market value;". Then I only have to go down two lines and I find that the "prohibition against selling real property at less than market value . . .", suddenly is able to be amended, overturned or ignored with the approval of the Governor in Council. It seems to me that we were a little bit contradictory to say the least. We are either going to buy at market value or we are not or sell at market value or we are not and I really do not believe that we need the principle which is set out in Clause 3(d) at all.

[Page 635]

The water and the transparency of the transaction get muddier and muddier the deeper we go into Clause 3. When we read down further in that same clause we find that there is a new principle which adds a new wrinkle and adds more mud to the water as far as this particular property transaction is concerned. We find there that it is proposed that there would be, Clause 3(e), "a prohibition against purchasing real property at more than market value, or a certain percentage above market value, without the approval of the Governor in Council;".

I wonder if it is not in the best interest of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia that if we are going to have a government, this government or any subsequent government, buying property on behalf of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, which by definition means spending the taxpayers' money to buy the property, and we are going to have a situation where that minister is walking into the transaction knowing that he or she is paying "more than market value", then it occurs to me again that there really should be, and with some work there could be, some language injected into this legislation which would establish, if we feel it appropriate, that at any time real estate should be bought on behalf of the taxpayers in excess of market value, I am sure we could build into this piece of legislation language which makes it clear that if there is to be a purchase in excess of market value, it must be limited to a certain percentage in excess of market value.

[3:45 p.m.]

If that proves to be a problem over time, proves not to be an appropriate excess percentage over market value, then the course of action available to the government, of course, is to come back to this place, introduce an amendment, clarify that situation and, in the course of doing that, explain to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia how and why it is that whichever government would want to do that and would want to come back here with such an amendment, it would be incumbent upon that government to make explanation as to why, whatever excess percentage over market value we, as the legislators of the Province of Nova Scotia would settle upon, is, in the opinion of that particular government, not acceptable.

There is a further provision set out in this clause. I think it is a very significant public policy issue, Madam Speaker. I think, frankly, it is wrongly placed. I really don't think it has any place in the legislation where it is found. I refer to the public policy principle established in this Clause 3(f) that the minister designated to be the minister to buy and sell property on behalf of and on account of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, would have to function and do those things within a set of procedures, according to this legislation, passed by the Cabinet as regulations. Those procedures, says this legislation, should be designed in such as way as, ". . . to prohibit a transaction with a party related to the minister or to senior officials in the department;".

Well, it occurs to me, with respect, Madam Speaker, that that prohibition is a vitally important one but it is absolutely wrongly placed. That prohibition, in my opinion, should appear in the conflict of interest legislation and it should set out clearly that any prohibition on a transaction in which the purchase by the province or the sale by the province of real estate involving a party who is in any way related to the minister or to a senior official of the department, should be provided for in the conflict of interest legislation. I think the minister is aware that his officials and our caucus office and, I presume, the caucus office of the Third Party, have shared certain suggestions with him as to how we might, on a future day, make some improvements in that disclosure legislation.

[Page 636]

I suggest very seriously that a regulation which talks about procedures prohibiting the transaction whereby a minister or a senior official could be, in any way, shape or form, connected with the sale of a piece of real estate by a Minister of the Crown, is just not good enough. It is just not good enough to have procedures and prohibitions set out in the regulatory regime of the province. There should be procedures, there should be prohibitions, there should be, in my opinion, absolutely no way in which, in the context of conflict of interest, that ministers and senior officials should be able to realize any personal gain as a result of the purchase or sale of property owned by the taxpayers.

It should be clearly stated, not as a regulation which can be changed any Thursday but it should be clearly stated, as a matter of the law of the land, as a matter of substantive law of the Province of Nova Scotia and hence, it should appear here in this legislation or, in my opinion better said, it should appear in the conflict of interest legislation.

I must say that, after reading down Clause 3, I finally found a requirement with which I do agree but again, I suggest, with respect to the minister that it is a matter which should be set out as a matter of substantive law in the legislation itself and not to be left to the Cabinet and to the regulatory-making capacity of the Cabinet, that is the public policy principle that there be a requirement that the designated minister may only deal in fee simple acquisitions of real property; in other words, not getting into leasehold interests or anything except a complete title and a title in fee simple and I agree with that. Again, I have the problem that it really should not be done by way of regulation. I think that is a very fundamental flaw.

You come then to another issue provided for in this legislation which suggests that there be a set of regulations made in which there be a further prohibition and that prohibition would be against selling real property where wildlife habitat might be jeopardized. Again, if this government really wants to make a statement which will have some import and some long-lasting effect and positive effect, here is an area where it is possible that that can be done. Do we want to leave it to regulations which are changeable any Thursday that any Cabinet, not only the present Cabinet but any future Cabinet, do we want it left to any future Cabinet, any future Thursday, to have a regulation which purports to establish a prohibition against selling real property where wildlife habitat might be jeopardized?

I think this government could make a tremendously positive statement by incorporating into this or another piece of legislation a substantive statement which says, there shall not be a purchase or sale of real estate which in any way jeopardizes a wildlife habitat in the Province of Nova Scotia. God knows, we have, in so many ways, over so many years, allowed so many of our wildlife habitats to become adversely affected, some destroyed, some absolutely obliterated. This government and the government of which I was a member and future governments, I am sure, will engage in activities with any number of conservancy organizations in attempts to protect wildlife habitats and I just simply have a problem and a fundamental argument and dispute with the suggestion that we would have a regulation-making authority which purports to have a prohibition against selling real property where a wildlife habitat might be jeopardized. Who knows how that might read? Who knows what little caveats might exist relative to the sale of a piece of property that might have an impact on a wildlife habitat and we don't know that, the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia won't know that but they certainly would know it if, in fact, it was set out, as I suggest it should be, in this piece of legislation or in other appropriate natural resources legislation.

[Page 637]

Then we have the final public policy issue addressed or described in this particular clause and it talks about there being a regulation which would establish a requirement that public notice be given of each acquisition or disposal of real property. Well, I think I would prefer and I would suggest with respect to the Minister of Justice, that if we are going to provide notice to the public of each acquisition or each disposal of real property, why don't we say rather more specifically how we are going to do that?

It occurs to me that one of the ways in which we say how we will do that is by adding language which would impose an obligation upon the minister responsible to table here in this place a report annually which outlines the acquisitions and the dispositions of real estate with all of the terms and conditions: the size of the real estate, the amount, the market values, all of the relevant detail so that the taxpayers of Nova Scotia truly do have an understanding of just what has gone on.

So that particular piece of business as set out in this Court Reform and Administrative Reform Bill, I was intrigued that the minister described Clauses 2 to 4 and I zeroed in on Clause 3. The minister, when he opened debate on second reading, he described those, according to my notes, as being clauses which were - I think he said - designed to reduce clutter at the Cabinet table. Well, it might reduce clutter at the Cabinet table, but with the greatest respect, I say again, it has the potential to carry with it great uncertainty and, indeed, great grief for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia because it will not be - if we do it by way of a regulatory regime as is suggested here - possible for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to have a full and a clear understanding of what is going on with this or any other government in terms of the government's purchase and sale of their one perhaps most important asset, namely their real estate.

So I say to you, Madam Speaker, and through you, to the Minister of Justice, that I would ask, as we move from this stage to the Law Amendments Committee and on through the various stages of debate relative to Bill No. 8, I would very seriously put the proposition to the Minister of Justice that he confer with his colleagues and with his officials to determine if there are not ways and if we cannot - because I know we can - find language which will set out in legislative form, so there will be some substantive law, so that we will know and the people of Nova Scotia most importantly will know that in regard to the purchase and disposition of real estate in the Province of Nova Scotia, here are the ground rules. They form a part of the legislative framework of the Province of Nova Scotia, they were debated in the Nova Scotia Legislature and they pertain, unless and until a future Legislature revisits the issue and comes forward with amendments which find favour with a majority of the members of a future House.

I say to the minister, through you, Madam Speaker, that he has a far more effective and presentable piece of legislation in the event that he were to proceed in that fashion. I note, too, that there is a further regulation-making authority afforded or accorded or granted to the Executive Council in this legislation, that the Governor in Council is given an authority in this legislation to make regulations, to assign or prescribe or require anything that is required to be assigned, prescribed or required pursuant to Clauses 2, 3, 4 and 5 and Clause 3, the one I just spent most time talking about, and, ". . . respecting any matter deemed necessary or advisable to carry out effectively the intent and purpose of Sections 2 to 5.".

[Page 638]

[4:00 p.m.]

To my eye, that regulation-making provision is really in the context of the concerns I expressed about the authorities available to this minister in Clause 3. Clause 6 is really what bothers me because Clause 6 is the regulation-making authority to the Executive Council which enables the Executive Council, I believe, to sort of do what it wants to do to cut the cloth to fit the situation depending on what the circumstances might happen to be at any given time, relative to the purchase of or the disposition of real estate.

Clause 6 which is this very broadly based regulation-making authority, what if there is a regulation made - and that is the way this thing is designed - what if there is a regulation made that says that this particular designated minister has no right to acquire or dispose of a property larger than, say, 2,000 acres. A proposition is put to the government one day that the government and that minister buy 50,000 acres. Well, I am very much concerned that Clause 6(1)(b) is an authority giving the Executive Council a power to make regulations, "respecting any matter deemed necessary or advisable to carry out effectively the intent and purpose of Sections 2 to 5.". I can see regulations being made relative to any number of those authorities or responsibilities of the minister in question which, frankly, would emasculate and bastardize the form and the intent of those requirements. I do not think that that is desirable at all.

If this minister - being a member of a government which prides itself on saying to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, we want to do our business in an open transparent way; we want it possible for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to know that there are no hidden agendas, there are no subplots, there are no under the table dealings; there are rules and parameters whereby we, this government, conduct the business of the people of the Province of Nova Scotia - well, if that is the case, then I say to the Minister of Justice that this is a perfect opportunity for the Minister of Justice, with help of his colleagues and his officials, to design a process and a set of ground rules which we can enshrine in this legislation so that the people of the Province of Nova Scotia know, without any question, what the ground rules are, what the conditions are, how and under what terms and conditions real estate can be bought by and for the taxpayers, and real estate owned by the taxpayers can, in fact, be sold by the government. It is a golden opportunity for this minister to provide a very clear and precise piece of legislation in that regard.

There are a number of other provisions in this legislation and there are a couple to which I will make brief reference and I know that colleagues want to address. There has been a great deal of discussion in the province and some of it goes back as far as a press statement from the Minister of Justice announcing a restructuring program. What date do we have on this? March 10, 1995 and the announcement suggests that Justice Minister Gillis took steps towards a new era of more effective, efficient service delivery today as he announced a restructuring program of Nova Scotia's courts and Department of Justice offices.

He goes on to say that justice centres for the department will be established. Justice centres are locations where office and staff relating to all courts and Department of Justice offices are situated. Those include clerks serving all levels of courts and probate offices and sheriffs courts and so on. He talks about a three year plan and on it goes. He talks as well about the fact that there would be an anticipated reduction in staff positions as a consequence of the development of these justice centres.

[Page 639]

Well, the difficulty, as I understand it from discussion with a number of people - and I can assure the Minister of Justice that I am referring not only to men and women who are practitioners of the law but I am talking about people who live and work in a number of communities across the Province of Nova Scotia whose lives and work have them in contact with the judicial system and the court system and the probate courts and the Prothonotary's office and the clerks' offices and the like - there is very real concern, Madam Speaker, that when we see in a bill, as we do here, that, Clause 11, Section 26, "The Minister of Justice may establish justice centres in each judicial district referred to in subsection (1) of Section 25.", what we are doing is taking the first step, in many communities at least, particularly in rural Nova Scotia, in removing easy access for thousands of Nova Scotians to the services of the Department of Justice, to the services of the judicial system, to the services of the sheriffs' offices and the clerks' offices and the probate courts and the registries of deeds.

Indeed, we are well down that line because much of this restructuring which is reflected in this legislation has already, in practical terms, been begun and been undertaken. We are, whether the minister will acknowledge it or not, removing the availability for thousands of Nova Scotian taxpayers, we are removing the availability of the justice system from them and making it much more inaccessible for thousands of Nova Scotians.

That is a further blow, if I may say so, to others, which we will have occasion to talk about on other days. That is a blow to rural Nova Scotia, which is reflected in a whole range of other activities of this government. I know I am to stay on the principle of this bill so I won't drift into remarks about the way in which the fabric of rural Nova Scotia is becoming frayed in the area of health care delivery and economic development and in other ways. But it is and many Nova Scotians know it is because many Nova Scotians are living it by the day and are having more and more difficulty accessing the services of government. The result of this particular element, at least of this piece of legislation, Madam Speaker, is but one more example of the way in which this government is so bent on amalgamation and consolidation that thousands, as I say, of taxpayers in the Province of Nova Scotia are having a more and more difficult time attaining access to the services of the Department of Justice and the courthouses and the judicial system and the registries of deeds and the clerks' offices and the sheriffs and the like.

There is a most interesting further principle set out in this particular piece of legislation, Madam Speaker, which deserves a moment's attention, I think. I am most intrigued. For the minister's benefit I am referencing Clause 5 at the top of Page 6. There is a principle established there which says that the Minister of Justice may prescribe the days and hours during which any office related to the administration of the courts in the province shall be open.

I find it intriguing, first of all, that we see the word "may" and not "shall". Clearly, it should be mandatory. It should be an obligation of office for the Minister of Justice of the day to prescribe the days and hours during which any office related to the administration of the courts in the province shall be open. The may bothers me a little bit and I would respectfully suggest to the Minister of Justice that, again, he take counsel from his officials and perhaps discuss with his colleagues the propriety - as we come back and go through this at the Law Amendments Committee and clause by clause - that he take a look at the may and the shall.

I don't want to get into the debate of may and shall, but there is a fundamental difference, as I know you know, Madam Speaker. One, of course, is permissive and the other is mandatory. I simply want to say, as a matter of public policy, the right public policy is to impose a mandatory obligation upon the Minister of Justice that he or she, the minister of the day, shall prescribe the hours and days during which the offices related to the administration of the courts in the province shall be open.

I would go even further if I may, Madam Speaker, in that regard and suggest to the Minister of Justice that because, as he knows - and as officials of his department have acknowledged grudgingly - that by virtue of the development of the justice centres, to which I made reference a moment ago, and in relation to which the Minister of Justice issued a very extensive press release back in March 1995, the Minister of [Page 640]

Justice knows that there will be thousands of Nova Scotians who, again I repeat, particularly in rural Nova Scotia, will be further removed from easy access to the courthouses, to the probate courts, to the sheriffs, to the clerks, to the Registry of Deeds and to all of the accoutrements and services of the justice administration system.

Therefore, in that context, I would say to the Minister of Justice that it occurs to me that if he is good enough to take a look at Clause 5 - and take a look at that may versus shall issue - that he might go further and look at language which, I believe, would impose upon the Minister of Justice an obligation to ensure that the days and hours during which any office related to the administration of the courts of the province shall be open.

MADAM SPEAKER: Would the honourable member allow an introduction?

MR. DONAHOE: Yes, indeed.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: On an introduction, Madam Speaker. I thank the member opposite for allowing me to introduce to you and through you, to the members of the Legislative Assembly, the Warden of the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, Warden Lee Nauss, who is in the Speaker's Gallery. I ask the members to give a formal, warm welcome to him. (Applause)

MR. DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I certainly join the minister and all colleagues in welcoming Warden Nauss to the House this afternoon. I am sure Warden Nauss is as concerned as I am that in Lunenburg County, as in many other counties in the Province of Nova Scotia, the removal from the people of Lunenburg County, and the removal from the people of many counties, of easier access to the services of the system of the administration of justice of the province, the closing of Registries of Deeds and courthouses and the like, it is a very real problem for a great many people, particularly, as we have said in this place many times, as we realize that Nova Scotia is coming increasingly and inexorably to be an older or an aging population, as is a phenomenon right across Canada and right across North America. Increasingly, while admittedly the older Nova Scotian isn't in and out of the courthouse every day, the older Nova Scotian very frequently needs the services of many of the elements of the justice system of the Province of Nova Scotia. To make those less accessible is a real problem for them.

[4:15 p.m.]

So, I say to the Minister of Justice that when he takes a look at Clause 5 of the legislation, that he might think in terms of language which says, not only shall he prescribe the days and hours during which any office related to the administration of the courts of the province shall be open, but that he find language which I am sure is available that would

[Page 641]

address the sense or sentiment that including or ensuring or - I don't have the words worked out yet - ensuring that there be reasonable access to the offices related to the administration of the courts of the province at non-traditional hours, hours which are later than 5:00 p.m. and perhaps earlier than 10:00 p.m., in other words, that there is an evening or two of time that is available across Nova Scotia where these various offices to which we refer would be available to those who need them. I think that that is important.

There is a further very interesting public policy issue addressed and enunciated in this legislation and we see some privatization in this legislation. We see here the privatizing of certain of the duties previously performed by sheriffs in the Province of Nova Scotia. In Clause 28, amending Section 10(1), we find that, ". . . A person appointed pursuant to this Act to perform the duties previously performed by a sheriff is, for services performed . . .", is going to be entitled to be paid fees and allowances which are specified in that regard or in that behalf in the Costs and Fees Act. That, of course, is the privatization of some of the functions which are now the role, function and responsibility of the sheriffs of the Province of Nova Scotia. That, of course, includes the service of documents in the main, the service of documents to originate action, the service of execution documents, particularly, the services of summonses and subpoenas and a whole range of activities which are now the role and the responsibility of the sheriffs.

My predisposition is to move in the direction of privatization and I generally am of a mind that privatization is, philosophically, certainly not a bad thing. In those cases where it can be made to work effectively, it is a desirable thing and something to be sought. There are exceptions to all the rules, however. I would say to you, Madam Speaker, and through you to the Minister of Justice, that I am not really sure that we are doing the right thing or, more to the point, that the Minister of Justice or the Government of Nova Scotia is necessarily doing the right thing to start privatizing and making what will clearly become a commercial business out of the service of legal documents, the service of documents which initiate action, the service of subpoenas, summonses, execution orders, garnishee orders, on and on it goes.

I am not so sure that that is one of those public functions which is best handled by men and women whose role and, by definition, whose interest is, and I don't say this with any disrespect because, on the contrary, I happen to be one of those - and I wish there were more in the province who were the same - who believes that profit is not a dirty word but, in this instance, not unlike the hesitation I have in regard to such things as the privatization of jails and lock-ups, I don't know whether we want to be getting into having activities so fundamental and essential and crucial to the administration of our system of justice, I don't know if we want those integral pieces and bits and parts of that system to be the parts and the bits and the pieces where the people conducting them have, as their principal motivation, the making of money, and that is what we are doing here.

We are saying, okay sheriffs of Nova Scotia, you will not, any longer, have to serve a whole bunch of documents. What we are going to do, is we are going to contract out and we are going let XYZ Corporation or we are going to let Mary Jane X or Peter John Joe, we are going to let them, for a fee, serve these documents. (Interruption)

Well, I have some hesitation, Madam Speaker, I really do, whether as a matter of principle this is a wise course or not. Quite candidly, I think I would prefer, I believe (Interruption) The Cost and Fees Act, at the present time, has schedules in it relative to the service of documents which are, admittedly, very modest. Not too many people are going to get so terribly wealthy serving documents. There is no question about that.

[Page 642]

I will be very candid, my fear is this, that if we say to the sheriffs, all right sheriffs, you no longer have to worry about that. It is mundane, it is tedious, it is tiresome, it is difficult, it is sometimes confrontational. It is not the most pleasant piece of business as far as being sheriff is concerned, and I know all of that to be true. So we will relieve you of that. We will then move over here and we will get XYZ Corporation to do all of that.

Well, I say to the Minister of Justice, through you, Madam Speaker, that if XYZ Corporation is going to do that and is going to handle the service of all these documents and so on, and if XYZ Corporation is going to do it, they are only going to do it for one reason -to make as much money doing it as the possibly can. The schedules today in the Cost and Fees Act are such and are as minimal as they are, that I am frankly very concerned, as a matter of public policy, that the XYZ Corporation, and I name no name or no person or no individual, and talk about no particular region of the province being better or worse than another, but just the principle of having people whose motivation is not the service of documents, but their motivation is making money, having this responsibility, I am not so sure that, as a matter of public policy, we are doing the right thing at all, particularly, as I said, if the Cost and Fees Act schedules remain as I expect in these times of restraint they probably will, or at least I have no indication from the Minister of Justice, nor any other minister, that those schedules are likely to change or to be increased.

So I just simply want to raise with the Minister of Justice the spectre, the concern, dare I say, the fear - I hope I am not accused of fearmongering, it is not my intention - I want to raise the concern, the uncertainty, the fear, that if we have that part of the administration of justice of the Province of Nova Scotia turned over into the hands of people whose motivation is, how do I make money out of this, how do I maximize my return, I believe, frankly, we run the risk of potentially having situations as that system unfolds of having very real difficulties. So it will not be an easy concept for the Minister of Justice and I understand that and respect that.

I would, quite frankly, invite the Minister of Justice to perhaps withdraw that particular provision of the legislation and work with the sheriffs in such a way as to determine whether or not we could - I am not saying this well. I guess what I have in my mind is this, that if, Madam Speaker, we did a little bit of analysis to determine the monies involved in the service of documents and so on, if this is being done by the government as a money saver on the part of the government, I would really love to see those numbers.

I will express the fear - what is the point of me being anything except completely candid - I have the fear and I am here debating this bill and I am going to express the fear, if this Minister of Justice and this government believes that by turning over the service of documents and that element of the sheriff's responsibility to the private sector is "a money saver", then I will make this prediction, that within 24 to 36 months we are going to find a system out there where there are so many corners being cut, I will bet you dollars to donuts, Madam Speaker, we are going to find a bunch of litigation where hundreds of complainants will be in court making allegation that the statements made in certain affidavits of service simply are not true. I will bet you we will have more corners cut and we will have more difficulty. You know what will happen, the men and women who are the staff of the Department of Justice are going to be in and out of the courts, spending humongous amounts of their time and effort and energy to attempt to resolve and straighten those things out.

I hope I am wrong but if this system comes to pass, I think we have the possibility of some very real difficulties.

[Page 643]

The alternative, in my opinion, is the Minister of Justice to reassess, to take a look at the sheriffs' offices, to take a look at the way in which and the number of and the manner in which documents are served now and, frankly, I believe that a careful analysis would disclose that a relatively modest investment in supplement to or in support of the effort and the work of the sheriffs' offices in this regard, in regard to the service of documents, would likely prove to be effective and helpful.

There is another very interesting principle here, Madam Speaker, which there are probably some in this place and probably thousands on the street who really don't particularly care much about it or wouldn't be bothered much about it but I note with interest that there is another principle established that states that the plaintiff in any action or any other party at whose suit or instance any process is issued, and process is . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: You have one minute left.

MR. DONAHOE: I have one minute? My goodness. Well, that being the case, I am halfway through. That being the case I would simply say that I would ask the Minister of Justice to take a look at the principle established in Clause 28(10)(2), "The plaintiff or other party at whose suit or instance any process is issued, and the barrister who issued the process, are severally liable to pay to a sheriff . . .". I am not so sure that we want to ask the Bar of the Province of Nova Scotia, who are providing a service to the litigants, to be severally liable in regard to the service of documents.

I did, Madam Speaker, have other matters which I wanted to address and I honestly didn't expect that I would consume my full time on Bill No. 8. I hope that certain of the remarks I have made have been made in such a way and have addressed such issues that the Minister of Justice would be prepared to consider them and review them and review them with his officials and we will have an opportunity to have a look at the bill further at Law Amendments.

[4:30 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, as I begin to take a look at the bill that is before us, Bill No. 8, An Act Respecting Court Reform and Administrative Reform, I can't help but think that what we actually have before us is a hodgepodge of legislation of the greatest magnitude because, by just going through - and I might have missed one or two, quite honestly, in terms of pieces of legislation that is before us - what we actually have is one bill that is changing about, well, I will read them: the Regulations Act, the Corporations Registration Act, the Court Reporters Act; the Family Court Act; the Judicature Act; the Juries Act; the Land Actions Venue Act; the Overholding Tenants Act; the Probate Act; the Prothonotaries and Clerks of the Crown Act; the Public Offices and Officers Act; the Provincial Court Act; the Rural Fire District Act; the Sheriffs Act; the Small Claims Court Act; the Solemnization of Marriage Act; the Summary Proceedings Act; the Village Service Act; as I say, I may well have missed some.

Part of the problem when dealing with a piece of legislation of this magnitude and given the number of pieces of legislation that it is amending, parts of the bill that are before us are very supportable. Parts of it, Madam Speaker, are very unsupportable and, in addition to that, that then leaves one in a quandary. What does one do? How does one vote on this particular piece of legislation? Because if you vote against the bill, as it is appearing before us, that means that you are voting against some principles and certain amendments and changes that you indeed think are worthwhile. But if you vote for it, it leaves you in the situation where you are, in effect, voting and can be accused of voting in favour or in support of parts of this bill which are, I believe, extremely dangerous and unsupportable.

I can't also help but believe, Madam Speaker, that when I take a look at this, I know I am thinking into the future slightly, but there is some suggestion that the government is going to be introducing another piece of legislation this spring. That piece of legislation is going to be a balanced budget bill that will require [Page 644]

that governments introduce, in future years, budgets that are actually balanced. Well, if anybody has any questions or any doubts that that is anything more than a public relations exercise and meaningless in terms of a true commitment to anything, all one has to do is look at this particular piece of legislation.

What this bill very clearly shows Nova Scotians is that at any time - it doesn't matter what the legislation is before this House - this government or any future government can simply introduce another bill, which includes a whole bunch of other pieces of legislation, and insert a particular clause in it to override the provisions in that bill. So, all they have to do is introduce in any other future bill a clause that would simply state, notwithstanding whatever the bill number is going to be, that the provisions don't apply for this particular year.

So, Madam Speaker, I think that the legislation, the way it is presented before us, is faulty and it is not a good process. If we are, in fact, going to be amending all these particular pieces of legislation, it would be a cleaner - and granted it may not be as time-efficient for the government as they might like because speakers would be able to talk on each individual bill - but it would be better business practice for the government to have introduced separate pieces of legislation, either to deal with each individual Act they are going to amend or, at least, to lump together, join together, those particular pieces of legislation that deal with the same subject matter and to amend those in a separate piece of legislation, rather than lumping everything in together.

Now, the previous speaker touched on many items. I want to, as well, touch on many of those items because I see Clauses 2 and 3, particularly Clause 2(a) to be extremely dangerous and I wonder, in part, not only if this has to do with the restructuring of the court system that the Minister of Justice is talking about, but if it may not also have something to do with the Minister of Finance's we are open for business and privatizing public services agenda as well.

Under Clause 2, what it states in this bill is where an enactment requires the approval of the Governor in Council for the acquisition or disposal of real property or an interest in real property - which can mean almost anything, it does not have to be real estate, but it normally would be - it could be buildings, it could be services in which there is a government direct interest in terms of a property value, the government may, by regulation, assign to a minster the authority to acquire or dispose of the real property or the interest in the real property.

Now there are several policy issues, as the previous speaker referred to, that bind or that are attached to Clause 2(a). For example, under the way this reads at the present time, this means that Cabinet can give to the Minister of Natural Resources the sole responsibility, subject to some minor restrictions that can be, of course, waived at any time by Cabinet, to sell off, for example, Nova Scotia Resources Limited, to dispose of Nova Scotia's interests in our offshore development and the millions of dollars that Nova Scotians have invested through previous governments over the years in those developments. It would give the minister

[Page 645]

responsible for the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission the authority under this to dispose of all of the assets of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission.

I cannot help but believe, given this government's stated objective that they want to sell off and privatize as many of the government services, and also assets, as they can that this is, in effect, giving the ministers an easier time to do that and will not even require as much justification before the Cabinet.

The new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing can also . . .

HON. GUY BROWN: Can we sell you off?

MR. HOLM: The Minister of Labour wants to know if they can sell me off. I thank the minister for his compliment. Whether he realized it or not, he called me real property there, so I must have a value in the eyes of the Minister of Labour. So I thank him for his compliment.

The Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs could now, for example, under this, sell off all of the lands that the Department of Housing owns for future housing developments without even gaining Cabinet approval. If I want to personalize it, there are many within the community of Sackville who are very concerned that, in fact, the Department of Housing plans to sell off its land holdings to large developers in the areas around Second Lake and elsewhere. This provision in this bill will give the Governor in Council the powers to simply delegate that authority, just pass it off to the minister responsible.

Now under Clause 3, which deals with Clause 2(a), the area that I was referring to where the minister can have the authority to acquire or dispose of - and dispose, I think, is a key item here - it does not have to go if there are lands as in the present time, or access vehicles or facilities, right now those are disposed of through the Department of Supply and Services or now the Public Works Department. In fact, just yesterday, I think it was, we received a report from the Department of Supply and Services, signed by the now Minister of the Technology and Science Secretariat, responsible for the new web services and technology here in Nova Scotia, the former Minister of Supply and Services, outlining how many of the surplus assets, whether they be computers or a piece of property or an old building, were disposed of in the last year.

We had a process that appeared to have worked. Now, what we are doing is in effect getting rid of that process and we are saying that the ministers can now be assigned the responsibility by Cabinet, by regulation, down in the bunker to get rid of any real property or interest in a real property that the government may wish to give them the authority to get rid of.

Under this Clause 3, it says that a regulation may be passed, of course, that would place "a requirement that the real property acquired or disposed of be less than a certain acreage or value". Well, if a minister is to be given the powers to acquire or to dispose of property of whatever acreage or value is to be determined, that is supposedly going to be decided by Cabinet and Cabinet documents are confidential. Cabinet discussions are confidential and they can be changed at any time. So if a government wants to make a particular decision and they decide that it is too restrictive or they decide that they wanted to get rid of huge parcels of land, all they have to do, any Thursday or whatever day of the week they may happen to want to meet, normally it is Thursday, is change the regulation to increase that size and that value.

[Page 646]

They say that it must be an acceptable method of sale. What is an acceptable method of sale? It doesn't mention anything in here about tendering, putting it up to public auction, having certain periods of time for advertising. I remember that not too long ago this government was advertising for recycling depots. We have had thousands and thousands of dollars worth of advertising on the television, on the radios, in the newspapers across this province, telling everybody what a wonderful deal they are getting by getting back 5 cents of the 10 cent tax that is being imposed on them every time they buy a beverage container. In the newspapers across this province advertising that people could apply to become a recycling depot, there were two tiny little ads that were published, little tiny ads.

Acceptable method of sale. Well, does that mean that if the government wants to put up and somebody down the road wants to purchase a huge parcel of land, the government can determine whatever method of sale they want or whatever method of advertising they want? That is not acceptable. It should be clearly spelled out. If there is to be the disposal of assets that should be spelled out in the legislation, in the bill, clearly defined, to ensure the proper protections are going to be there.

The bill says, as it is before us, that there is, Clause 3(e), "a prohibition against purchasing real property at more than market value, . . ." and there is also a provision in here that they cannot dispose of it, except at the market value, without the approval of the Governor in Council. There is no provision here at all that stipulates that the proper market value has to be acquired. So if the government decides that they want to get rid of the Liquor Commissions or they decide they want to get out of any business or any service, if they state and make a public policy that they are going to do that, even if they can't get the proper market value for that real property, in order to keep themselves from looking bad all they have to do is say to the minister, you have permission to sell it for whatever you can get, whether that is bottom basement, whether that is in the best interest of Nova Scotians or not.

[4:45 p.m.]

There is nothing at all in here, Madam Speaker, that would say that when these properties or these real assets are going to be disposed of, and I am not saying that every time you are going to sell a used desk or every time you are going to be selling or disposing of a small item that you have to follow strict procedures in terms of receiving appraisals and appraisal reports from accredited appraisers and so on. But surely if the government is going to be disposing of real property, which is what they are talking about here, what the government is aiming at doing is being able to get rid of major items under this, giving the ministers that authority. If, for example, they are to be selling or getting rid of or purchasing a piece of real property, whether that be land, a building or an interest in whether it be the Nova Scotia offshore interests, that they would have to have and provide to the public, accredited appraisals of the value of the asset that they are either acquiring or disposing of.

Right now, according to this bill, it says that there will be a requirement that public notice be given of each acquisition or disposal of real property. You have to tell people. It doesn't say when, it doesn't say how. Possibly, Madam Speaker, that could be in the Supplement to the Public Accounts. Maybe that is what they would classify as notifying the public. We know that those are not always 100 per cent accurate. They could simply say that we are meeting our obligations, we have notified people that we have purchased a piece of property or that we have disposed of a piece of property and that was the value of what we got or that is what we paid for the particular property.

[Page 647]

There is absolutely no requirement whatsoever, none, that the government here would have to provide the public with any verification as to the true market value of the assets that they have either acquired or disposed of. That, I would suggest, leaves it totally open to abuse and is completely unaccountable. That is being very unaccountable, Madam Speaker.

I just have to ask, through you to the Minister of Justice, if he would go back and revisit the bill as it appears before us, dealing with these items, and to see if it is, and surely to Heavens it is not unreasonable, not difficult to craft and to include in the legislation the kinds of protections that are warranted and deserved. After all, members of this Liberal Government ran on the premise that they wanted to be open, they wanted to be honest, they wanted to be accountable. They also ran around and patted themselves on the back that they supposedly followed good business practices.

Now, of course, in all those areas the Liberals have been seen to be very wanting, that they haven't begun to live up to the expectations that they laid down for the people of this province when they were making those kinds of statements and, believe it or not, still do make those kinds of statements.

Here, however, we have a piece of legislation where the government has an opportunity, if they believe in openness, if they believe at all in accountability, if they believe at all in good business practices, if they have nothing to hide, put into the bill clearly stipulations, for example, that any property over a certain value, let's say $50,000, if it is to be disposed of, that in fact they, Madam Speaker, have to receive appraisals as to the true market value of the item that they are getting rid of. The same would go true for acquisition.

Before I leave the first couple of clauses in the bill, I want to just touch on Clause 2(b). Even, actually, before I do that, I note that the minister in his statement when he was introducing the bill, said that that provision, giving ministers the ability to dispose of or to acquire real property, was really being done for the convenience of Cabinet, so that Cabinet would not have to deal with so many minor, little matters, so many trivial matters.

Well, all I can say is that Cabinet must be pretty disorganized - and that is not hard to understand or believe, of course, given some of the kinds of decisions that they make - if small amounts and the small items are preoccupying large amounts of Cabinet time. But decisions affecting the assets of this province deserve to be scrutinized by more than one individual.

If it is getting rid of a small item worth $1,000 or $2,000, or buying a necessary piece of equipment for a few thousand dollars because, in the view of the Minister of Health, it is needed to improve health care in the Province of Nova Scotia, Madam Speaker, that is not the kind of item that is going to be taking much time. So I just cannot believe for one minute that there is any need to speed up the process, if Cabinet, maybe, could get itself a little better organized, that those kind of items would not eat up a disproportionate amount of their time in the first place.

But Clause 2(b) is another area that I wanted to touch on. Because what Clause 2(b) does, it permits, again, "where the Fatality Inquiries Act, except for Section 2, the Notaries and Commissioners Act, the Solemnization of Marriage Act or the Vital Statistics Act requires Governor in Council approval of an appointment, the Governor in Council may, by regulation, assign to a member of the Executive Council the authority to approve the appointment.".

Now, in the minister's statement, he points out that what this does is allow Cabinet to delegate the powers to a minister to make appointments under the Fatality Inquiries Act, except the Chief Medical Officer, which he certainly should not be able to do, the Notaries and Commissioners Act, the Solemnization of Marriage Act or the Vital Statistics Act. This would include appointments. So here, Madam Speaker, the minister can make appointments now for such things as commissioners of oaths, registrars of birth, death, those that issue marriage licenses, et cetera. So the minister can make the appointments on his or her own on those people who are going to hold those positions.

[Page 648]

Now I do not have to scratch too far to go back in history to remember how many of the people who filled those positions and what the primary requirement was for many of those who filled those positions in the past - it was the colour of the political Party to which they happened to belong. This is one way and it is giving the minister the powers to reward political faithful by appointing them on their own to these kinds of positions and I say that is wrong. I believe that is wrong.

While there are some exclusions in that clause that prohibit certain appointments, like the Chief Medical Examiner, I think that is an extremely regressive step to say that a minister now can make those kinds of appointments. That means that now members of the Liberal Party and the Liberal caucus will be going to the ministers and saying, you know there is such and such a person in my community, they have worked very hard for the Party, they have not received any rewards, we do not believe in patronage, so we say, but here is an opportunity to give a small reward to a party faithful member.

Now that does not even have to go through Orders in Council in terms of appointments. There will not even be the public listing of those appointments, it does not have to done. According to this, the minister can make those appointments on his or her own because this says that the Cabinet can delegate the appointment of those people to the minister. That flies in the face of the commitments that were made by this government when it came to power. That flies in the face of it. That kind of information will not now be flowing out along with the Orders in Council which list all of the appointments from the Cabinet Chambers. It is going to be a matter of catch them if you can and that is wrong.

Clause 5 and I certainly would appreciate the minister's comments on Clause 5 because if my interpretation of this clause is correct, it is one that I am very much in support of, if my interpretation of what this clause will, in fact, do. Under Clause 5 it is stating, "Where an enactment authorizes a board, tribunal or commission to make an order disposing of a matter under the enactment and there is no provision in the enactment for the order to be filed and enforced as if it were an order of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, the Governor in Council may, by regulation, provide that an order of that board, tribunal or commission may be filed and enforced as if it were an order of the Supreme Court.".

What I am thinking about here, for example, is the Human Rights Commission. I know that there have been instances where the Human Rights Commission has made rulings and found in favour of individuals, but those against whom they found could not be compelled on the basis of the finding of that commission to actually follow through and to either make the payments or to do the apologies or sensitivity training that they are ordered to do by that commission. Madam Speaker, I am thinking of one example and that would have - it got an awful lot of publicity before - to do with IMP and the President of IMP. If I am reading this correctly, now if this passes, Cabinet will have the authority to make a regulation that would state that the decisions and rulings of the Human Rights Commission will, in fact, or can in fact have the same force and effect as if they were an order of the Supreme Court of Nova

[Page 649]

Scotia. If my interpretation of that is correct, which I hope it is, then I support the intent of what is trying to be done here. However, rather than that being done by regulation, the more appropriate way would have been actually to have introduced legislation, not regulation, that would in fact provide that power to those commissions.

[5:00 p.m.]

That, of course, would always be subject to appeal to the courts so if the commission makes a ruling for or against a particular individual or a company, then, of course, those so affected by the decisions would always have the ability to take those decisions to a higher level of court, Madam Speaker. But, here, there isn't even a commitment that the government will do that. They are only saying we may do it, we may do it by regulation, and I firmly believe that rulings and decisions of bodies like the Human Rights Commission in the Province of Nova Scotia should have the force and effect of law and I believe that the bill should be amended to give that authority.

Clause 7, says in the explanatory notes that this is giving the Governor in Council the power ". . . to designate another province of Canada so that a corporation registered in that province does not need to be registered in Nova Scotia in order to carry on business in Nova Scotia.". Madam Speaker, what that means is that now, and we know we have instances where companies not only are trying to in fact sometimes carry on business in the Province of Nova Scotia but actually doing business with the Government of Nova Scotia, with the elected representatives, and those companies aren't even registered in the Province of Nova Scotia.

We saw an incident where the Minister of the Environment and the Resource Recovery Fund entered into an agreement, chose a western-based company for the recycling of tires, a company that isn't even registered in the Province of Nova Scotia. We have registration requirements for certain reasons, Madam Speaker, and one of them is that if a company in the Province of Nova Scotia is not meeting Nova Scotia's laws and is not acting like a good corporate citizen in this province, if it is in violation of the rules and regulations, (Interruption)

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: Was that order directed at me?

MADAM SPEAKER: No, it wasn't. It was directed at the hum that is occurring in the House as you are trying to speak.

MR. HOLM: Well, thank you, Madam Speaker. Many people might say that my comments were humdrum, but I didn't take your comment directed that way.

Right now, however, we have provisions that a company has to be registered here in order to do business. We are able to shut down certain kinds of operations for companies because of the business practices here in Nova Scotia. It is a way for us to keep track of those who are doing business here. What the government is proposing here is basically deregulating it. They are saying that if a company is registered anywhere in Canada, that that company, if this province has mutual reciprocal agreements with those other provinces, that they then can, in fact, say that there is no need for that company to be registered here in order to do business.

[Page 650]

While it may be an inconvenience, it is a small paper work transaction. It is not a big deal, it is not a major cost. It is not going to detract those corporations, whether they be Newbridge Networks who are coming here for $10 million, it is not going to detract or prevent a CIBC or anybody else coming into Nova Scotia to set up business to do here, Madam Speaker. But it is a protection and it is a way for Nova Scotians to find out some information about who is doing business here, a way to get information on those companies that are doing business here and on who the people are who are running them. Madam Speaker, I would love to hear from the Minister of Justice why that requirement is being considered.

If I might transgress for just a moment, Madam Speaker, and go back to Clause 5 because the Minister of Justice was unable to hear my comments just briefly on that point. On Clause 5, my question, and I hope I am interpreting it correctly, is that this would give the Governor in Council, for example, the authority to make regulations so that bodies like the Human Rights Commission - and the minister will know that we had talked about that on previous occasions - that this would give them the abilities to have their rulings enforced, the same as if they are from the Supreme Court. The minister nods across the floor that my interpretation is correct.

So I support that but I just say again, Madam Speaker, that the way that I believe it would be more appropriate to do that would not be to leave it up to speculation, in not saying that the Governor in Council may make regulations in these areas, I believe that the Governor in Council should be more committed and that it should state that the Governor in Council either will make the regulations that those things will be done and to specify which boards, tribunals and commissions will have the powers of the Supreme Court, in terms of the enforcement of their provisions. I also believe that most appropriately that should have been done by legislation.

The next area, if I may move on to a few more items, hopefully I won't run out of time, Madam Speaker, (Interruptions) I hear some members opposite saying, oh, we hope you use up all of your time, that they are enjoying my remarks and that they are with me. I look forward . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Unfortunately, I am not. I think you should stick to the comments on this bill, as opposed to the chatter that seems to be going on.

MR. HOLM: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Certainly, I would always welcome their input on the bill. I look forward to their helpful comments when they rise to take their place on the floor of the House to address the issues in the particular bill.

One of the other areas that I will touch on briefly, and it was an area that was canvassed earlier by the previous speaker who certainly is, I can say without any hesitation or fear of contradiction, far more learned in the law than I, but has to do with a number of clauses and what is dealt with under a number of clauses. For example, Clauses 15, 16 and so on and the provisions of the courts and the justice centres.

The minister in his statement, when he introduced the bill, said that a lot of the things in the legislation are required as a result of operational changes by the department and that it is a way to centralize, basically centralize certain kinds of services in particular areas and to the establishment of 11 justice centres throughout the province, instead of, as we have at the present time, requirements and so on that courts be established in each county, that you have facilities in each county.

[Page 651]

We have, in fact, over the last number of months and years been seeing not just from the Department of Justice - I don't want to just single out the Minister of Justice in this at all - but a major assault being waged against rural Nova Scotia. We had some excellent speeches from, for example, the member for Yarmouth talking about the wonderful community that he is from, and he is absolutely correct, it is a beautiful community, it is a beautiful place to live, especially if you have a job. It is a very scenic and attractive area of our province.

That area, as well as areas in Cape Breton and all points in between, particularly those rural communities have been seeing a withdrawal of essential, not only infrastructure - and justice systems and so on are parts of the infrastructure just as are the railway systems that had been removed, the other offices, whether they be Sheriff's Departments, the Department of Housing offices and so on, shut down and the jobs removed - communities in rural parts of Nova Scotia have been losing employment and losing many government jobs that provide not only that individual salary, but provide tremendous spinoff, economic benefits and impacts within the community.

The Minister of Finance, earlier in Question Period today, in responding to questions, made the obvious common-sense observation; that is, that Nova Scotians benefit when monies from this province are reinvested, recirculated within this province because then those dollars help to create other employment within this province, that will enable those that receive those jobs, that employment, to spend that money to buy goods and services within this province which creates more employment. It is sort of the wheel approach, the recycling within the province.

What we see happening here is but one small part to that picture. You know the post offices disappeared in most rural communities and the jobs and the economic spinoff and the rotating benefits of the good incomes in those communities disappeared. No, it wasn't this Liberal Government provincially that did it or even federally, although they started it federally, the Liberals did, that was continued on by the Tories. We saw the rail service being decimated by the former federal government in this country and the list goes on and on.

Every time another piece is being removed from our rural communities, as we are concentrating things into different centres, as seems to be the objective here, I can't help but think that it is one more assault. It may not be the cut that kills the community, but those cuts are adding up quickly and our province, as a whole, is being weakened by that, and we are creating weaker communities, economically and socially as a result of it, across the province.

A couple of other things that I will touch on. Clause 39 makes a decision of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia final and not subject to appeal. That, of course, only deals with the section in Clause 39, "Section 32 of Chapter 430, as enacted by Chapter 16 of the Acts of 1992, is amended by adding immediately after subsection (5) the following subsection:", and that section which is being added or is being amended here has to do with the Small Claims Court.

[5:15 p.m.]

I am not trying to leave the impression that the government is trying to appeal this or amend it in such a way as to say that no Supreme Court decisions of Nova Scotia can be appealed. But this clause, which is being amended, of that Act is really saying that, from the advice that I am given by those who are more learned in the law than I, now it means that if a Small Claims Court makes a decision and somebody appeals that to the Supreme Court that that decision is now final and cannot be appealed beyond that stage.

I don't know the rationale behind this. I quite honestly, Madam Speaker, don't how big a problem it is or if it is a problem at all. Because most matters, of course, that go before the Small Claims Court have a very small, very low monetary value and I appreciate that. So my guess would be that very few would ever try to appeal a decision of the Small Claims Court beyond to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

[Page 652]

What the purpose here, obviously, in the amendment is to try to save court time and court money by preventing those matters that deal with very small amounts of money to be able to be appealed beyond that level. So it is a monetary cost-saving cost item, as the government is viewing it. But is a principle that is involved here. It is just simply stating that those matters, while they may seem trivial in terms of the total amount of money that is involved, there could, on occasions, be some pretty substantive principles that are involved in those Small Claims Courts and, actually, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia decisions that are affecting them. So I would like to know why that is here. Is there really a need for this? Is that such a serious problem that has led the government to come in with that absolute closure in terms of ability to appeal beyond that stage?

Another item that I will touch on, again, Madam Speaker, and there are several of them here. One of the things that we often do when we are debating legislation in this House, all we are really looking at is a skeleton. We are looking at a skeleton frame of a bill, of a law, and then the flesh is to be tacked on later on in the fullness of time, maybe, because not all regulations are passed, by Cabinet, by regulation. That has always been a major complaint that I have had about legislation is that so much of the legislation is just a skeleton frame. It is like your tree at this time of the year and you are waiting and counting on the buds to come out and the leaves and the foliage to develop so that the tree will have more meaning.

Mr. Speaker, governments, far too often, try to play it cute by not putting their true substance and not to have the public scrutiny that would be involved in introducing legislation, by saying that all of these add-ons, all of the leaves and all of the flowers and all of the other things, the meat on the skeleton, so to speak, will not have to be done under public scrutiny on the floor of this House where they can be debated and where the public can come forward at our Law Amendments process to have input and to comment.

I am not suggesting that the schedules that were attached to several pieces of legislation, the schedules which outline forms and procedures, may need some revisions to modernize them, to bring them into the end of the 20th Century, Mr. Speaker. They may well need that. But what the Governor in Council is doing is removing the requirements of an Act, the schedules which are attached to and form part of that Act, and giving more powers to themselves to make regulations, to change them at any time they wish.

It is the whole process, it is the secrecy that concerns me here, where the government is increasingly trying to get the authority to make major decisions behind closed doors, down in the Cabinet Room, where there is not that public scrutiny and where they can make changes at the drop of a hat, on a whim, where nobody has a right or an opportunity to ask some questions as to why they are doing it.

Clause 44 of this bill, for example, changes the Summary Proceedings Act. What it does is it is simply stating that those kinds of costs and so on and amounts that will be prescribed are going to be made by regulation. We have all kinds of pieces of legislation on

[Page 653]

our books which state the amount of a penalty, how much that penalty can be, what the fines, what the consequences are. There is an opportunity for the elected representatives of the people to stand up when those bills are debated, to say that those amounts are inadequate or that they are too much or that they are unjust.

What this government is now doing may be a way to raise some money for the province, mind you. They now can say that they will set at any time they want, just the same way as they changed the hunting license fees or the motor vehicle registration fees, any time the Minister of Finance wants some more money. We need to raise some more money without raising taxes, the Minister of Finance says we need some more money. We have to be creative, we have to be innovative and we have to keep the lid on what it looks like we are doing, in terms of taxes, so everybody just go out there and find any fee, any charge that we could crank up. Let's twist that ratchet again, let's nickel and dime Nova Scotians to the nth degree. Might even want to put a sales tax on children's clothes, might even want to put a sales tax on food, home heating fuel, might even want to put it on professional services. They tried that once and then ended up taking it off.

AN HON. MEMBER: They wouldn't dare.

MR. HOLM: Well some might argue that certain professionals maybe could afford to pay that now because they were given certain incorporation tax rights, breaks, as a result of some other generous decisions of this government to a select few. But most of those who would be the small Nova Scotians who can't afford these kinds of costs, Mr. Speaker, don't have that separate incorporation right to protect their incomes.

Any time the Minister of Finance and his colleagues want to raise some money maybe they will just simply say to Cabinet, I think we should crank up the amount of fines that are charged under the Summary Proceedings Act. There is, of course, no public scrutiny, no public debate but it is more twoonies and loonies flowing into the coffers of the red team, the Government of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker.

There are a number of other items that it would be very easy to talk about in the bill. I do say in honesty in looking at the legislation, that a number of the items are just simply housekeeping matters and I have not tried to deal with those. If the minister wants, I will go through my list of the clauses that I consider to be simply really housekeeping items, but I think that is a bit of a waste of time.

I do have overall, some very real concerns about a number of the items, however. Whether that be the disposal and acquisition powers that I talked about at some length at the start that are now going to be given to Cabinet. The abilities that are being provided here for increased, I cannot put it any other way, increased patronage by ministers making certain kinds of appointments. We have seen that in the past where government certainly rewarded individuals by appointing them as a registrar of marriage certificates or a registrar of births and those kinds of things. Now you do not even have to do that by Order in Council, it is simply something that can be delegated to the minister, supposedly because, I guess, it is a trivial small matter that people do not need to be concerned with and supposedly because it eats up the valuable time of our Cabinet Ministers. They cannot be bothered with these mundane duties. It also means that those Orders in Council will not be flowing out showing who has been appointed to these positions.

[Page 654]

The very real possibility exists and the Minister of Justice, and I am not suggesting that is what his purpose is in introducing this, the Minister of Justice, however, has been around this House a lot longer than I have and I think the Minister of Justice will know that in the past those kinds of rewards have been given to party faithful on more than the rare occasion. Concerns, as well, about the fact the companies will no longer have to register in the Province of Nova Scotia to do business here if the Governor in Council, in other words Cabinet, decides that they do not need to do that. Certainly concerned about the fact that what this bill does, in an overall broad way, is give increased regulatory making power to Cabinet and what that simply means is that they are taking things from the public view, public scrutiny on the floor of this House and shifting the decision-making process and the debate down to the secret Cabinet Room where the information is confidential and cannot be discussed outside.

I think that is a backward process and it is something that, quite honestly, I remember members of this Liberal Government, while in Opposition on this side of the House, railing against quite eloquently, far more eloquently than I have done here this afternoon, when they were on this side of the House and still had the views and principles of accountability and openness which they professed to believe in at that time.

I am sure that the Government House Leader who is always interested in getting the House into session and then out of session as quickly as possible and those who are running the government and do not like to be held accountable by being in this Chamber would appreciate the decision-making process being removed from here. Quite honestly, that does not make for good government, it may make for better political management for the government of the day, but it does not equate to good government for the Province of Nova Scotia.

Therefore, as I sit down, I find myself still in the quandary that I was at the start. Parts of the bill are very supportable, parts of it, I believe, are very unsupportable. I think the bill should have been chopped up into several sections so that it would have been possible to deal with it by subject matter. I will say that I will vote for it to go onto Law Amendments Committee, but if there are not major changes made in some of these areas, I do not think I will be able to support it beyond that stage, but I would welcome the opportunity to have members of the public and those who are learned in the law to come forward to the Law Amendments Committee process to have their views heard.

In the final analysis, unless there are some changes made, I do not think the bill in its current form, unless there are increased protections put into the legislation or, unless the minister can explain a lot of the concerns that I have raised are not valid, I don't believe that this bill will be supportable on third reading when it comes time for a vote.

[5:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to Bill No. 8 this afternoon, An Act Respecting Court Reform and Administrative Reform. It is clear that if we care to look at our own society that we find that we are indeed consumed by the law. One need only look at the way in which we find to entertain ourselves, particularly with respect to television, to understand that programs like Law and Order, NYPD Blue, Street Legal, Rumpole of the Bailey, all of these programs catch us up in a certain kind of fascination with

[Page 655]

the law which does not of course always render, with respect to any of us, a greater understanding of the law.

I should also say that we also have been treated, if one does not abuse that term to too great an extent in the context in which I use it, to spectacles such as the O.J. Simpson trial. God forbid that we in Canada should ever turn our justice system into the kind of freak show that the United States has so frequently turned its justice system into. There is an expression that the past is prologue to everything that we do, to everything that we experience, to everything that conditions us in our day to day lives. So, too, are the decisions that we take today with respect to this legislation, as indeed with any legislation, is prologue to the future. That is why it is so absolutely essential that as we look to legislation regarding the law, we must ensure that we look as far into the future as limitation will allow us, to understand just what potential impact of the changes, that we are called upon by government to make in the law, will have on future society.

I think that one of the greatest difficulties I have with this bill - and I will be making more specific reference to this as time goes on - is the imprecision of the Statute as drafted and put before us. While the minister has endeavoured through his remarks in the opening of second reading to define for us what his view is of the impact of this bill, we have absolutely no guarantee that this minister may not change his mind at some later date or, indeed, that some subsequent minister, perhaps in this government or in another of Her Majesty's Governments when this government is sent off to the dustbin, may change. This is a very wide open bill which leaves much more latitude than I believe is in the public interest.

This bill is passed off as a reform bill. I am not at all convinced that it is a bill which evokes reform but rather, it is one which creates a change, not a reform but a change, I believe in some ways changes for the worse. That is not to say that there are not some good aspects to this bill, for indeed there are, for example, the change which would allow Justices of the Peace to perform marriages. That is fine. I think that is a good change. It is not one that probably even the majority of Nova Scotians will - at least in the foreseeable future - want to advantage themselves of, but nonetheless it is one that some will and it is appropriate that that be the case.

However, there are some major flaws in this bill, flaws which I want to address today. I want to address them in the context not of now, but in the context of the prologue to which I referred a few moments ago, to give a better understanding of where I think we are coming from and where I am afraid we might go to with respect to this legislation and with respect to court reform.

For those who are students of British history, students of constitutional history and, I am sure, students of the history of law, I think we probably would all agree that among the greatest performers in British history with respect to the law was Henry II. Henry II came to the throne in 1133. He followed a period of lawlessness, a period of civil war. He understood well the absolute, essential importance to the well-being of the kingdom and its subjects of ensuring that the rule of law was well and truly and firmly established throughout the kingdom; and not only that it was seen to be the King's law, but also that it was seen to be that the King's law was the best law for the people, that it defended the people, not that it oppressed the people, that the people saw that it acted in their best interests on their behalf and, thereby, ensuring that Henry would, in a very practical sense, be supported by his subjects in his endeavours and not have to worry about the crown which rested upon his head.

[Page 656]

One of the very important events, which occurred during Henry's reign, was the assize of Clarendon in 1166. That assize is very important to us today as Canadians because, in fact, it established a better and a regular provision for the administration of justice throughout the Kingdom of England.

AN HON. MEMBER: Order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. LEEFE: Well, you see, Henry understood something which we now all take for granted, and that is that it is not enough that justice be done, it is not even enough that justice be seen to be done, but justice also must be carried out in the communities, in front of the people who are the peers who are subject to justice. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, I may not be exciting those to my right, but I would certainly appreciate it if they would converse a little more quietly.

MR. SPEAKER: It appears that some honourable members, perhaps, are not paying close attention to the debate, I agree. But I also would invite the honourable member to direct his comments directly to the principle of the bill. He was back in the 10th Century, I think, dealing with King Henry II, the last I heard. So I would invite the honourable member, please, if he could come back to the 20th Century, here to Canada, to this bill, Bill No. 8. (Applause)

MR. LEEFE: Well, Mr. Speaker, I should remind you that the fact that justice should be seen to be done is as contemporary as any thought which I can muster with respect to any bill respecting reform and change in the judicial system and the way in which we deliver justice in this country.

We know and you know, sir, and anyone who knows anything of the law in this province knows that precedence is absolutely essential to building a base of law upon which we can govern ourselves through that law. So it is absolutely essential that we reach back into history in order to understand how we got to where we are today.

Mr. Speaker, one of the absolutely essential reforms that was made those many centuries ago, and which has been held to be an absolutely essential process down to our time, is the assurance that the law will not have the people visit it, but rather that the law will visit the people, that the courts will be among the people so that the people in the communities can see that that justice is being carried out, that it is being carried out fairly and it is being carried out in their best interests.

Time and time again we are reminded of things past which condition the way we are today and we must not forget those. For if we forget the past, we have no basis upon which to understand the present, let alone build for the future. For example, if one looks at Clause 17 of the Magna Carta, we are reminded of something which is absolutely essential to us today. The Magna Carta said, and today we still maintain this dictum, that common pleas should not follow the King's court, read be centred in judicial centres, but rather be held in certain places, those certain places being our communities.

Further on, in Clause 440, and this is something for debate at another time, although this bill does touch upon it, to none will we sell justice. When we talk about privatizing certain aspects of the justice system, as is provided for in this legislation, we run the great risk of getting carried away with that privatization and, in fact, selling justice. I think for something now close to 800 years, we have stood by the belief that justice is not to be bought,

[Page 657]

justice is not to be sold. God forbid that, even inadvertently, we should depart from that belief.

Well, justice has been centred in my community since our first European citizens came to live in Queens and that, of course, was in the period from 1759 to 1760. It was not long after those first settlers came that court came to be held in Liverpool. The first courthouse was built in the 1770s, there are references to that construction in Perkins' Diary. That little courthouse in 1854 was converted into a school and the new courthouse, the present courthouse, was built in 1854.

So, we have from the beginning of settlement in Queens, by those of European decent, a central focus of justice and court facilities in our community; they are part and parcel of our community. They are as essential a part of our community as are our churches, as are our schools, as are our other public institutions.

Those who live in large communities may not be aware of that central importance and the visibility which our courts have in our smaller communities, but I can assure you, sir, that there is not a court day that goes by in Liverpool that there are not ordinary citizens who come in off the street to witness justice being done. We believe, I believe, speaking on behalf of my electors, that it is absolutely essential that that opportunity continue to be available to citizens in my community.

Now the minister will say - and he will be right in saying this - that he laid out the framework in his opening remarks that Provincial Court, Family Court and Small Claims Court will sit in every town, but that is not provided for in the bill. If it was provided for in the bill, I would not be so exercised. There is no provision for that in the bill and this minister knows that a future minister may choose, without ever coming back to this Legislature, to move the sitting of any or some or all of those courts out of Queens County at any time. That, I think, is one of the great flaws of this legislation.

The bill ends at decentralization which, I believe - speaking in terms of the law, not in terms of economies, I will come to that later - is a system which has served us well. I have not heard that people complain that the system is decentralized such that registries and courts were located in our community. Quite to the contrary, I have heard people say that they are pleased that those basic institutions continue to function in our community because it is in the best interest of the community.

I find no comfort that the government may not choose to consolidate courts and related functions into fewer and fewer justice centres, when I think what this very government has done with respect to school boards and with respect to health care, both of which have now been centralized into a few, large management regions in the province. There is, in this bill, a provision for judicial centres to be located in each of the judicial districts of Nova Scotia. Now, there are only four judicial districts in all of Nova Scotia: Cape Breton, Central Halifax, and southwest Nova Scotia.

If a future minister were to decide that he was not going to have the 11 judicial centres to which the minister referred in his opening remarks, but that he was only going to have four, he could comply with the law that is proposed and is before us today and have only four judicial centres. Now stop and think about southwestern Nova Scotia. That means that one or fewer or not many more judicial centres would be erected to serve Annapolis, Digby, Kings, Lunenburg, Queens, Shelburne, Yarmouth and the Municipality of West Hants. Now even a person with the keenest sight, Mr. Speaker, could hardly see that justice would be seen to be done in our communities if, in fact, our justice centres are imploded into one or two or even three to serve such a large and diverse geographic area, bearing in mind that not only do we have a fairly large geographic area but we also have an area which has a very substantial French speaking population encompassed within it. So that is an important factor as well.

[5:45 p.m.]

The problem is we do not know, nor can this minister tell us, what the extent of centralization may be because it is not defined in the bill. This minister can resolve my problems by moving, either during [Page 658]

second reading or by having his officials appear before the Law Amendments Committee and having them recommend to the committee, an amendment which will provide a clear definition respecting the number of judicial centres which will be located in the province and have that built into the legislation. Then, when a future minister may want to come back and change that, that minister would have to do it as the right and proper thing to do, and that is to come back into this Chamber and change it in front of the people of Nova Scotia, not by regulation in the Cabinet Room. I have no problems with regulations being changed, but this is a fundamental issue, this is a fundamental principle. This is one which should only be changed here, in this public place.

Mr. Speaker, we understand that it is absolutely essential that those who are tried be tried by juries of their peers. It is then, I think, implicit that those peers should come from the communities in which the persons who are charged appear in court. Yet we have no guarantee, excepting this minister's commitment so long as he is the Minister of Justice, that courts which provide for jury trials will necessarily be held in each county. I think that is more than unfortunate, I think that is very wrong.

There is a practical side to it, too. If, at some future date, some government should decide to reduce the number of courts and have multiple counties sharing a single court and people are called upon to do jury duty, then the imposition of that responsibility on them becomes even greater, as they are required to travel greater distances from their homes. So there is that kind of a smaller but, nonetheless, practical side to this particular issue.

There is also the matter of probate. Queens, by law, is currently a probate district. If you take a look at the Probate Act you will see very quickly which of our communities are probate districts and, therefore, require that probate be conducted within the physical bounds of that county. If a will is being probated and that will involves real property, then the law currently requires that, for example, the family home, that that probate occur in the county in which the real property is to be disposed of.

This bill that the minister has before us changes all of that. This bill makes it possible for probate courts to be established anywhere - or almost nowhere if one would take it down to one which I realize is an extreme and surely would never happen - which will impose significant difficulty for creditors who want to prove claims against estates, to heirs who have to go through the probate process in order to complete it, for executors who are required to perform certain acts within the probate court. Of course, it is going to be more costly for the lawyers. People can say, well, who cares about the lawyers? Well, the lawyers will, of course, pass that fee on to the consumer and the consumer will take it in the neck.

I came across an article entitled, The Nature of Law. It has an interesting statement encompassed within it. "Lawyers are no doubt traditionally conservative because the importance of the issues with which they deal has made them traditionally cautious, but the

[Page 659]

conception and completion of law reform invariably comes from lawyers rather than from laymen.".

Well, I know that my colleague the Minister of Justice is not a lawyer, although I know that he strives to do the very best he can. He is, generally speaking, a wise man and I know that as a layperson he will do his best. However, there is an expression that the cowl does not make a monk. Well, the title Minister of Justice does not either make a lawyer. So he and I in this respect debate this bill as peers. I would be at a clear and distinct disadvantage were the Minister of Justice a member of the Bar.

Nonetheless, I pick out that quotation because I have taken the opportunity to speak to various lawyers in my community. They tell me that whoever it is that has advised this minister of this reform, is a person who has spent precious little time as a practising barrister. There is nothing very amusing about this legislation but I must say that if one were to look for any humour in it, one would have to say that there is not much Abbott but I suspect there is a great deal of Costello in this bill.

I have to say that in my view, this is not a bill which is in the best interests of my constituents because of the very important principles which I believe it sets aside. It centralizes the delivery of justice, thereby further taking it out of our communities and out of our purview and away from the people. It then removes the delivery of justice, in a way, from our communities and it leaves open the door for government to remove that ever more so, simply because there are no restraints on future ministers or future governments respecting this legislation. It moves the law away from the people and therefore makes it much more remote.

Justice must be done, justice must be seen to be done and it must be seen to be done by the people in the communities it serves. Justice will only be seen to be done when it is meted out in our communities. Justice will only be seen to be done when juries are truly made up of the peers of the accused who reside within and share the community with the accused.

Justice is very much a product of the rule of law and justice is too central to our lives, too central to our civilization to be made the handservant, as I fear is the case here, of the Minister of Finance. There is some good in this bill, there is, indeed. But I fear that the evils of this bill far outweigh the good it proposes to do.

In 1968, Mr. Justice Jack Sissons, the first Justice of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories stated that he, as a Justice, would ensure that justice shall be taken to every man's door. I believe that the past, as prologue to the present, should dictate to us that we should ensure that our priority is taking justice to every man's door, taking justice to every man's community, and ensuring that justice is done, that it is seen to be done and that it is seen by our communities and by the people in our communities that it is done.

Mr. Speaker, while there is some good in this bill, I cannot support it in principle because of the tremendous latitude it provides for further centralization of our courts and our justice system, for the further denuding of small town and rural Nova Scotia of institutions which are central to our lives and, therefore, I will not be voting it when we complete second reading of this bill.

[Page 660]

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize another member to participate in the debate, the honourable Minister of Health has given me notice of his intent to rise on a point of order on another matter. So possibly we can consider the debate adjourned by agreement and renew it on a future day.

Is that agreeable?

It is agreed.

The debate is adjourned.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Kings West has reminded me that I was delinquent in tabling some requested figures on Pharmacare. I did check the record. I did table a complete record of the figures on Pharmacare for the honourable member some weeks ago, in fact. I am not sure whether this was up-to-date enough for the honourable member and I will be very happy to update these figures and make them, certainly, more current, if that is agreeable to the honourable member.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, if those were tabled some time ago, what I was trying to get from the minister was how the calculations were done and an update of how much money had come in and so forth. I would appreciate it if the minister would do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: For Opposition Day tomorrow, maybe I could inform members of Opposition Business. After Question Period tomorrow, we will be dealing with Resolution No. 57 and Resolution No. 70.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: I thank the Acting Opposition House Leader for that and I indicate that we will sit from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. tomorrow and move that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

The House stands adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. On the late debate, the winner was the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, but I see the Leader of the New Democratic Party rising in his place.

[Therefore be it resolved that members of this House urge the Minister of Human Resources Development for Canada to direct his local staff to postpone the closing of the Gottingen Street Canada Employment Centre until a joint community needs assessment can be conducted, as requested by the work group.]

[Page 661]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

HUMAN RES. DEV. (CAN.) - CEC (GOTTINGEN ST.):

CLOSURE - POSTPONEMENT URGE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise with some pleasure tonight to speak, unfortunately too briefly, about an issue which is extremely important to me and my colleague, as well as to a number of people in the community of Halifax and surrounding areas and that is the whole issue around the decision by Human Resources Development Canada to close the employment centre on Gottingen Street, known as the Canada Employment Centre.

On March 26, 1996, Mr. Speaker, an occupation of that office began when it was learned that HRD was planning to close it down. The occupation has involved representatives of many parts of the community and they have received support from people, including this Legislature, the regional council of metro Halifax and other people within the community.

The issue here which is so troubling, Madam Speaker, is that in the north end of Halifax there has been established, through the auspices of the Canada Employment Centre, what is called a CEC Black Community Work Group. It is an advisory group which, I understand, has been in operation for the last number of years working in partnership with the Canada Employment Centre people to address the specific needs of the Black community in Halifax with respect to programs and services offered by HRDC in the North End of Halifax.

[6:00 p.m.]

My understanding also is that this work group, because of its commitment and the dedication of its members to the whole model of community development, has been cited as a national model within Human Resources Canada for the community-based work that the department has attempted to carry out. This particular work group was in the process of trying to find a solution to the problem facing the CEC, and that is the location of the centre within the community in some other facility other than where it was at the present time.

The members of the community were concerned with two things. One was the question of a free-standing building. The second was that they wanted to ensure that there was not a reduction in the level of service that was being provided to members of that community. Madam Speaker, you and all members of this House undoubtedly realize the fact that the unemployment level in the Black community in Nova Scotia and in the North End of Halifax is certainly outrageously high and something that requires, as it does in other communities, specific and special attention. That is why the participation of so many different community groups was so effective in dealing with specific programs around the area of Black employment and the employment needs of members of the North End of Halifax.

The fact that in this process CEC or HRDC just unilaterally decided to shut that facility down was wrong. It was wrong and if we are going to deal, for Heavens sake, we should know by now that if we are going to at the real root causes of some of our problems, then we have to deal with the communities in partnership. We have to do more than simply utter the rhetoric, we have to actually participate by taking action, by putting resources behind the rhetoric in order to make the programs work.

Here in this House on March 29, 1996, I introduced the following resolution: "Therefore be it resolved that members of this House urge the federal Minister of Human Resources Development to direct [Page 662]

his local staff to postpone the closing of the Gottingen Street CEC until a joint community needs assessment can be conducted, as requested by the work group.".

I introduced that resolution and it was unanimously accepted here in this House. I think the reason it was unanimously accepted by members of this House was because of the recognition that if we are going to deal with the biggest problem in this country and in this province unemployment, we have to work together, we have to work in the community.

We cannot continue to pull resources out of areas where problems exist and centralize them in a building which is convenient for the bureaucrats or convenient for the policy makers. We have to, in fact, ensure that the resources are in place for people in the community. That was not done in this instance. A unilateral decision was made and I think that we have to do our utmost to ensure that Human Resources Canada reverses that decision.

I commend the literally hundreds of people that have been involved in standing up for this centre, standing up for these programs and services and the need for these services and programs to be delivered into that community. I commend the dedication that those people have shown to the importance of having the community play a role in those decisions because it has not been easy.

I urge any MLA in this House to attend that centre at some point, to go and sit down with the people that are spending their time occupying that facility, occupying it on the basis of an important principle. That is, if we are going to deal with the root cause of our problems, that if we are going to talk about community economic development or if we are going to talk about community development, we are going to talk about a commitment to solving some of our problems, and if we are going to talk about that word that has become so sullied lately, partnership, then we have to actually do something about it. These people, many of them if not most, Madam Speaker, are people who are participating on the ground, in a whole host of fields, whether that be employment services, trade unions, social action groups, church groups, other community groups, sport groups, or recreation groups in those communities. These people understand how important it is that people in that community have access to those services.

We have to listen to those people. We have to take some direction from those people, Madam Speaker, to ensure in fact that we do something to try to solve the problem. I have asked on occasion here in this House for this government to step forward. Yes, it is a federal issue. We have had the government talk about the fact that when things are in the federal sphere they don't want to get involved, but this is about a community in Nova Scotia. These are about Nova Scotians. This is about a question of a problem that we have in this province and in this country, of systemic racism in employment and in our system of providing jobs and of people having access to jobs. This advisory group was one way to tackle that and the service being provided on the ground, in the street, in the community, is a way to do that.

I urge all members that are committed to trying to resolve the problems of employment, the problems of systemic racism in this province and in this country, to stand up and do their utmost, through their offices, through their ministerial responsibilities, to try

[Page 663]

to put pressure on the federal government to listen to the recommendation that I put forward in this resolution, to back off the decision, to work with the community and find a resolution, but, in the final analysis, to ensure that the programs and services provided remain in the community.

Madam Speaker, you have indicated that my time is up. I look forward to hearing other members participate in this debate.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. GUY BROWN: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate this afternoon. I do it as a minister of this government, as Minister of Labour for the Province of Nova Scotia. One can't say, I guess, that they are really pleased to take part in debate of this type because maybe the debate should not have taken place in the first place if the action had been different than it is now. But I want to tell you and I want to make it very clear, as we have done in the past, as the Honourable Gerald O'Malley, a minister of this government, went down there and spent some time on a Sunday afternoon with these individuals who were involved, made a clear statement with regard to this government's support with regard to what is going on there.

I personally believe, and I am not from Halifax, and I am not from the metropolitan area, I am from Springhill, but I want to tell you, I know the North End just as well as any member from outside this city and I have known it for many years, being elected and travelling up there and attending meetings at the community centre, the housing projects, and one could go on and on. The Savage Government supported the resolution, the members of this government, because it is a statement by government that we supported this whole thing. We didn't reject it, we didn't fire it out the window, we stood proud in our places to support continued action in that community. That is a statement by this government, by the Savage Government. It doesn't matter whether people like it or not, it is a fact, Madam Speaker. The main principle is people; that is the principle we are dealing with here, people, families, children, community. That is what we are dealing with.

You know I have been told by some people that the unemployment rate runs as high as 60 per cent in some areas of that community. I want to tell you, if unemployment is running as high as 60 per cent in that community, we had better look at some community action of some type because what governments, municipal, provincial, former governments, federal governments have done has not worked in that area. If we truly have an unemployment rate of 60 per cent, I mean that is even worse than Cape Breton.

So what do we do? I think that the community there needs help. The community needs help and the community needs a community action plan with regard to that area.

Now I have to stand here, Madam Speaker, and I really don't care what door they go in through, if they go in through this door or they go in through three doors down on the left-hand side of the building or they go through five doors down on the right-hand side of the building, what I am saying to you is that we need a service within that community.

Throughout the Province of Nova Scotia this government, since it came to power, has set up offices which I officially opened as minister, one in Kentville, we have one in Yarmouth, we have one in northern Nova Scotia, we have one in Cape Breton. They are community offices where we have the federal government operating out of them, we have the provincial government ERA operating out of them, and we have the municipalities in some cases operating out of them. The one in Yarmouth, I have a Department of Labour representative operating out of that office. We have the industrial commissions and we have whatever label they want to put on it, if it is not an industrial commission, but we get a community of interest to help build the community, all working out of the same door there. The feedback we have been getting over the last year or so is that it is one of the greatest things we have done because now people can go in.

[Page 664]

What we have to look at, in my opinion, with regard to that area, is that we have to look at co-occupying with other government agencies. Nobody is going to make it hanging on their own today. This province is not going to make it if it thinks it can put everybody out of its offices and try to hang on its own. We need, truly, partnerships by all levels of government and by all people.

I am sure the City of Halifax, His Worship Mayor Walter Fitzgerald, would be interested; the municipalities are involved in other areas. What we need is a place where people can go in and find out about their unemployment, maybe get some help filling out their cards, get some direction, like they do in Cumberland County, the same thing. What we need are people, educational programs upgraded, they can all operate out of that same place.

I wonder what leadership was done by Human Resources when we announced that CIBC was coming to Halifax. Were there people from the Department of Human Resources, the federal department, who sat down within that operation they have there and said look, there are 200 or 300 jobs coming to Halifax, what training program can be put in place over the next three to four weeks to see if there are 10 or 20 or 30 or 50 people here who are qualified for those jobs? Was that done?

If it wasn't done, that is the type of leadership we need for those people. You know that is the type of leadership we have to have in this day and age. I believe and I believe very strongly, as my colleagues do, that is why this government, the Savage Government, supported the resolution and we believe very strongly that there has to be a service left in that community. We are all on record, the Tories, the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Government itself are all on record as supporting that concept and we have done that but that is not enough.

[6:15 p.m.]

I believe that people should write letters. I believe there was a resolution passed by this House, I don't know if the letter has left yet or has gone with the resolution but it would be interesting to see what the reply is to that resolution. I think those are the things that we have to do.

I stand here as Minister of Labour on behalf of the Government of Nova Scotia today and my colleagues and it is not that nobody has the interest but it is 6:00 p.m. and people don't have to be here and they make other plans. It is not the small numbers that counts because it was announced today what we were going to debate a lot earlier when the House was full. So we are in a different part of the business of the House now. I think, along with Mr. O'Malley who has supported it, who has been there and has reported to the government, has reported to the Cabinet, that I stand here in support of his actions and in support of that move.

I don't know what will work in that community and I am not a member of the community and I am the last person that should be telling them. But if 60 per cent unemployment is there now, if it is, then there is something that hasn't worked out and we

[Page 665]

have to look at some changes, somehow. I think we should have the provincial government, the federal government, the City of Halifax's Mayor Walter Fitzgerald and we should look at occupational training and look at jobs for people. What leadership was given when the CIBC came to Halifax with 200 or 300 jobs? We need a committee there that is going to take that type of leadership and do those things and sit down. If they need help from us, then I think this government should make that commitment and I have no reason to believe that we won't.

I am pleased the resolution was introduced and I am pleased to take part in it. The government continues to add its support and I look forward to working with the honourable member, Mr. O'Malley, with regard to developing something in the long term with regard to these people. Don't ever let anybody forget it, the principle is people, their children and the families in total. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have a few minutes to address a very important resolution introduced by the member for Sackville-Cobequid. I appreciate, very much, the remarks made by the Leader of the New Democratic Party and I appreciate as well the fact that my good friend, the Minister of Labour, would be the person to rise on behalf of the government to offer remarks indicating the reaction of the Savage Government to the very, very distressing circumstances which do pertain now in the neighbourhood which is addressed in this particular resolution.

I don't mean to be terribly unkind but to be perfectly candid, I frankly think that the debate and indeed the statement of intent of the government might better have been expressed if the member who represents the constituency in which the community affected resides, the Minister of the Technology and Science Secretariat were to have stood and offered his commitment to that community and to his constituency and the residents of his constituency.

I noted with interest, with respect, that the Minister of Labour indicated that . . .

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Madam Speaker, I wonder if the honourable member might entertain a question? I wonder if the honourable member heard correctly when the Minister of Labour, whose responsibility it is, of course, to deal with CEC as he is so well aware, that indeed this MLA was there with the group, worked all through Sunday to do just as he suggested and committed himself to the position of the occupancy and, indeed, I have had many phone calls between myself and members of - but I wonder if the same thing has occurred from other members in the Opposition, if there has been anybody from the Opposition visit that facility and intervene in this activity?

MR. DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, the answer is that one of my colleagues has, in fact, been to the centre and, in fact, efforts have been made in consultation with members of the community to attempt to participate in formulating a process or a plan of attack that would respond to the needs of the community.

I fully realize that this is a CEC, an employment commission, so called, issue. But, quite frankly, I find it distressing that here we are faced with the closure of the Canada Employment Centre, which has been there serving that community and serving it in very large measure successfully for something like 20 years. The provincial government has introduced, in this session of the Legislature, an Act to Encourage and Facilitate Community-based Planning for Economic, Social and Institutional Change.

[Page 666]

I note with interest that among the various purposes of this legislation is "assisting regional communities in developing local planning capability, institutional capability, community entrepreneurship and the essential infrastructure that will promote the creation of business investment, jobs and opportunities for individuals through education, training and participation in locally driven ventures;", and it says, "`development' means economic, social and institutional change brought about by a broadly representative community process aimed at improving the community as a better place to live and work;".

Well, I want to take this opportunity in this debate to secure a commitment from those members of government who remain, that, immediately upon passage of Bill No. 10, the first order of business taken by this government will be to designate the very community in the Gottingen Street area of the City of Halifax as one of those areas which will receive attention under the Act to Encourage and Facilitate Community-based Planning for Economic, Social and Institutional Change, (Interruption) and the Minister of Labour says he agrees. I am going to take his indication that he agrees as a commitment from him that he will at least, I know he cannot call the shot all by himself, but that he will take that proposition to the Cabinet at the earliest possible time after the passage of that bill so that issue is addressed at the Cabinet. (Interruption)

Well, if it is already done, then it is already done.

AN HON. MEMBER: It was done when you were in government.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, if it was done (Interruption) Yes, indeed, but I remember that the office was closed while you guys were in government, pardon me, Madam Speaker, while this government was in place.

MADAM SPEAKER: If you mean you honourable members, then it is probably an acceptable comment.

MR. DONAHOE: Honourable members would probably cover it, I accept that. The difficulty we have here is that the closure of the CEC facility, my learned friend said that it was wrong. Well, I don't agree with him. It was not wrong. It was fundamentally stupid. I mean, it was even worse than wrong. It was just simply stupid, stupid to move a CEC Centre from its site on Gottingen Street to the Halifax Shopping Centre when, by definition, through no fault of their own, the men and women and the families wanting and needing to be served by that particular facility, by definition, do not have the resources, in large measure, to be able even to make the trek to the Halifax Shopping Centre to be served by that facility there.

I think that it is incumbent upon all of us, and I am encouraged if the honourable members opposite, Madam Speaker, are speaking the truth, and I take them at face value, if this matter is already the subject of discussion at the Cabinet table, then I am pleased and it shows the value then of the kind of discussion and debate which we have and can have here at the end of the day. There are only a very few of us here but if we have learned today, as we have, and members of the community who are present in the gallery have learned, that this issue is now on the Cabinet table, then I would expect that we will see the proof of the work at that Cabinet table, more to the point, the decisions emanating from the Cabinet Room which will result in a serious commitment being made to this particular community and in the context of the new bill which calls for community economic development.

[Page 667]

The Minister of Labour said, and he is right, that all members of this House supported the resolution introduced by the Leader of the New Democratic Party and so we did, each and every member of this place. It is in the hands and the capacity of the men and women opposite to now do more than simply say yes, we agree with that resolution. It is incumbent upon them to make good on that undertaking and that commitment.

As I am sure the Minister of Labour knows and the Minister of the Technology and Science Secretariat knows, and you know, Madam Speaker, this office actually worked. It was not unproductive at all. On the contrary, some hundreds and hundreds of people were assisted in securing full-time employment and long-term gainful employment through the work of that office. It is just stupid in the extreme, and wrong-headed, that some federal bureaucrat, probably some federal bureaucrat who never visited Gottingen Street, if I may say so, probably somebody sitting in Ottawa, pulled the plug and said we are closing it down. God knows why that decision would be made.

May I say, and I support the comments made by the Leader of the New Democratic Party, I am cynical enough these days to believe that there probably was some systemic racism built into the decision-making process. This government has done a great many things to attempt to respond to the legitimate needs of the Black community of the Province of Nova Scotia. I think, frankly, that this is as good a test as this government will have in the next little while, for sure, as to whether or not it truly is prepared to do those things which can bring service to the Black community of metro Halifax, indeed the Black community of Nova Scotia as a whole.

So I have no hesitation, Madam Speaker, in supporting the sentiment of the resolution, which, as you know, calls upon the Minister of Human Resource Development to direct his local staff to postpone the closing of the Gottingen Street CEC until a joint community needs assessment can be conducted as requested by the working group. I would hope that the two ministers who are present and who have participated in this debate, each in their way, will in fact ensure not later than tomorrow morning that the working group is contacted and that the closure is put on hold until that needs assessment is able to be undertaken. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The time for the Adjournment debate has now expired and we stand adjourned until 2:00 tomorrow afternoon.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]

[Page 668]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

HOUSE ORDER NO. 2

By: Dr. John Hamm (Pictou Centre)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency:

(1) Number of business loans and name of companies who have secured business loans of more than $500,000 through either the Nova Scotia Business Development Corporation or programs at the Economic Renewal Agency Office between June 14, 1993 and March 31, 1996.

HOUSE ORDER NO. 3

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Department of Natural Resources:

(1) Total hectares of forest land in Nova Scotia;

(2) Total amount of hectares of forest land owned by the Crown;

(3) Total amount of hectares of forest land owned privately; and

(4) A detailed breakdown of all Crown and privately owned forest land in Nova Scotia owned by interests outside of Nova Scotia.

HOUSE ORDER NO. 4

By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Department of Justice:

(1) A breakdown of the maximum number of individuals permitted by the fire marshal's office in each of Nova Scotia's provincially run correctional facilities;

(2) An individual breakdown of the number of individuals presently serving sentences on a full-time basis in Nova Scotia's provincially run correctional facilities; and

(3) A breakdown of the number of individuals serving weekend sentences in each of Nova Scotia's provincially run correctional facilities.

HOUSE ORDER NO. 5

By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Department of Justice:

[Page 669]

(1) Number of peace bonds issued by Nova Scotia courts against spouses between October 1, 1995 and March 31, 1996;

(2) Number of occasions in which the peace bonds have been broken and arrests made between October 1, 1995 and March 31, 1996; and

(3) Present legal status of those individuals who have broken peace bonds between October 1, 1995 and March 31, 1996.

HOUSE ORDER NO. 6

By: Mr. John Leefe (Queens)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Economic Renewal Agency:

(1) A tabling of all contracts including their value that have been awarded by the Schooner Bluenose Foundation since its inception.