The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Thur., Dec. 19, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Environ./Transport. & Pub. Wks. - A Strategy To Clean Up PCB
Contaminated Sediments in Five Island Lake, Hon. D. Downe
4050
STATEMENTS BY MINISTER:
Environ.: Five Island Lake - Clean Up, Hon. D. Downe4060
NOTICE OF MOTION:
Res. 1233, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Westville: Subsidence - Address,
Dr. J. Hamm
4062
Res. 1234, Health - Medicare Serv.: Billing Extra - Ban,
Mr. R. Chisholm
4062
Res. 1235, Justice - Anchor Towing: TOWED Campaign - Congrats.,
Mr. D. McInnes
4063
Vote - Affirmative4063
Res. 1236, ERA - Just Us Coffee Roasters Co-op: Initiative -
Commend, Mr. G. Archibald
4063
Vote - Affirmative4064
Res. 1237, Exco: Priorities - Review, Mr. J. Holm4064
Res. 1238, Peace and Goodwill - Greetings: World-Wide - Extend,
Mr. J. Casey
4065
Vote - Affirmative4065
Res. 1239, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Dictatorial Imposition -
Election Consequences, Mr. T. Donahoe
4065
Res. 1240, Speaker (Hon. Wayne Gaudet): Performance - Commend,
Mr. B. Taylor
4066
Res. 1241, Educ. - Strait Reg. School Bd.: Reorganization - Delay,
Ms. E. O'Connell
4066
Res. 1242, Justice - C.B. Reg. Hosp.: Public Inquiry -
NDP (N.S.) Leader Support, Mr. A. MacLeod
4067
Res. 1243, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Adopt-A-Highway Prog.:
Vol. Groups - Commend, Mr. D. McInnes
4068
Vote - Affirmative4068
Res. 1244, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization:
Advice (Senior Citizens Federation) - Take, Mr. J. Holm
4068
Res. 1245, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Hfx. Reg. Mun.: Creation -
Thanks Imaginary, Mr. A. MacLeod
4069
Res. 1246, Educ. - School Bds. Amalgamation: Concerns - Recognize,
Mr. T. Donahoe
4069
Res. 1247, House of Assembly - Incident (Queens MLA-Nat. Res. Min.):
Leader of the Official Opposition - Action Advise, Hon. S. Jolly
4070
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 481, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. Infrastructure:
Funding (Gov't. [Can.]) - Inadequate, Dr. J. Hamm
4071
No. 482, Nat. Res. - Natural Gas Pipeline: Benefits - Specify,
Mr. R. Chisholm
4072
No. 483, HRDC - EI: Outreach Clinics - Update, Dr. J. Hamm4074
No. 484, Health - Reg. Bd. (Western): Kings Co. - Reps. Increase,
Mr. G. Archibald
4075
No. 485, Nat. Res. - Forest Products Assoc.: Workers' Comp. -
Proposal Status, Mr. B. Taylor
4075
No. 486, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Gasoline Prices: Competition -
Beneficial, Mr. J. Holm
4077
No. 487, Aboriginal Affs. - Fuel Tax: First Nations - Share,
Dr. J. Hamm
4078
No. 488, Fish. - Groundfish: Stocks Moratorium - Remove,
Mr. D. McInnes
4079
No. 489, Educ. - Reform: Admin. Savings - Classrooms Benefit,
Mr. J. Leefe
4081
No. 490, Commun. Serv. - EI: Negotiations (Gov't. [Can.]-Gov't. [N.S.]) -
Secrecy Reason, Ms. E. O'Connell
4082
No. 491, ERA - Airlines Review: Coordinator (Mr. Dan Brennan) -
Secondment, Mr. T. Donahoe
4083
No. 492, Health - Hants Commun. Hosp.: Funding - Adequacy,
Mr. R. Russell
4085
No. 493, Environ. - Leachate Ponds (Hfx. Airport): Cumb. Co. - Use,
Mr. J. Leefe
4087
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
ERA: Shelburne Marine - Reopened, Hon. R. Mann4091
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 9:44 A.M.4094
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:06 P.M.4094
CWH REPORTS4094
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Lbr. - AVRSB: Bargaining Unit Structure - Oppose, Mr. G. Archibald4095
Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Oppose, Mr. B. Taylor4095
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
CBC - Funding: Gov't. (Can.) - Commitment Honour:
Ms. E. O'Connell
4096
Hon. G. Brown4099
Mr. T. Donahoe4101
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Dec. 20th at 8:00 a.m.4104

[Page 4059]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

8:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will now begin with the daily proceedings of the House.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in conjunction with my colleague, the honourable Minister of the Environment, I beg leave to table a report entitled A Strategy To Clean Up PCB Contaminated Sediments in Five Island Lake.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

4059

[Page 4060]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, for the information of the House, this report is the result of cooperative efforts by the Five Island Lake Citizens Liaison Committee, residents of the Five Island Lake area, the Department of Transportation and Public Works and the Department of the Environment. The Citizens Liaison Committee was formed two years ago to plan a clean-up strategy for PCB oils that had been released into the residential community. This committee has met 28 times and informed the community through public meetings, newsletters and smaller group discussions.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the efforts of the community liaison committee and all involved in the process. It has been a model of how public consultation works. The people who live around Five Island Lake brought together people from all circles to look at the broad scope of this serious environmental problem. They have taken a strong leadership role in moving this proces s forward and it is our job in government to see that the voice of this community is heard.

My colleague and I shall review in detail this plan outlining the committee's preferred strategy for clean-up of the PCB contaminated sediments in the North Bay of Five Island Lake. I am pleased to be able to say today that we can act on their recommendation to build a control weir to help block off the contaminated North Bay from flowing into Five Island Lake. My department will also endeavour to provide temporary water access to Five Island Lake in the form of a boat launch. Residents around North Bay asked for this so they can derive some pleasure from the natural resource in their own backyards.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, I commend the efforts of this community and look forward to working with them in the future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the announcement made today by my two colleagues. This has been, as all members will know, a matter of longstanding concern. It is one which came to light when I was Minister of the Environment many years ago and it demonstrates just how long it takes to clean up an area which has been highly polluted, how much money is required to cause such a clean-up to be able to be done but it also points out the absolute and vital importance of making information available to the public and then making the public part of the solution rather than the recipient of government solutions. I commend the two ministers for the process that they have put in place and I wish all of those who are involved with this process well and we must hope that it works and works well and although it may be a model for the future, we must hope that we do not have to look to it again.

[Page 4061]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the minister's announcement today and I certainly want to agree with the comments that were made by the previous speaker. This has indeed been a very longstanding problem, something that has taken a very long time to resolve. It was over five years ago when I first raised this issue on the floor of this House with the previous speaker in his capacity as minister at the time. It is regrettable that in the initial stages it appeared to be as if there were some resistance or reluctance on parts of governments to acknowledge the full degree of the difficulties and the problems that were being experienced by the residents in the area and also the potential contamination going into Five Island Lake. I think particularly about the initial denials of concern about the contaminants actually entering into the lake when it was very obvious that the flow from the junkyard - known as Junky Jim's at the time - would be following down in that high levels of contamination were found in the silt in the brook running into the lake.

Mr. Speaker, I not only want to certainly express my thanks and appreciation to the ministers who are bringing this program to us today, but I would also want to commend the citizens in the community, those representatives who have worked so very hard, not only in the development of this plan but bringing to the fore, the concerns about the contamination in the first place, and their continuing efforts to make sure that this very serious difficulty was addressed. My sincere hope is that we will not find other sites.

I would assume that the minister and the Minister of the Environment are ensuring that all other junkyards and sites similar to that, which could have potential for difficulties, in that many of the junkyards and sites in years past were sites for the storage of, for example, the old transformers that were used and which often contained PCBs, hopefully, that all of those sites have now been examined and tested to ensure that we do not have other time bombs waiting to be discovered.

So, with those few brief comments, Mr. Speaker, again, I want to thank the minister for having brought the announcement here to us today, and I look forward to going through the strategy that has been presented by the minister.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 4062]

RESOLUTION NO. 1233

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

Whereas three homeowners on Diamond Street in Westville, as well as homeowners in Glace Bay, have become extremely discouraged with the present government's lack of assistance in helping them find suitable housing; and

Whereas the necessity for housing arose after mine subsidence heavily damaged homes in Westville and Glace Bay; and

Whereas the damage inflicted by the subsidence means these homeowners are facing many potential dangers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs immediately address the ongoing concerns faced by homeowners, and come forth with an alternative housing plan instead of making these families go through a cold hard winter while awaiting an interdepartmental committee report on subsidence.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1234

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 professes support for a one-tiered system of health care, but fails to take any concrete action to prevent the erosion of that system through user fees and extra billing; and

Whereas the Minister of Health has accused members of this House of offering criticism without bringing forward any solutions to the problems of extra billing; and

Whereas some progressive jurisdictions in this country have found solutions to the problem of extra billing by banning it;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Minister of Health to stop fiddling while our universal Medicare system crumbles and instead bring in legislation to ban user fees and extra billing for Medicare services.

[Page 4063]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1235

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

Whereas while the holiday season is a happy time for so many, the combination of drinking and driving can destroy that happiness in an instant; and

Whereas Anchor Towing is offering another alternative to buses, taxis and designated drivers this year for those who go out to celebrate the holidays; and

Whereas the towing company, as part of an international campaign called TOWED, Towing Operators Working to Eliminate Drunk Driving, will tow cars home for free between December 24th to December 26th and December 29th to January 1st in the Halifax and Timberlea-Lakeside areas;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Anchor Towing and all others involved in this worthwhile project for donating their time to try to make our roads a little safer.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1236

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

Whereas last year, Jeff and Debbie Moore wanted to find enjoyable work that would also give a fair income to people in underdeveloped countries; and

[Page 4064]

Whereas the Moores helped form the Just Us Coffee Roasters Co-op in New Minas, which purchases a sizable portion of its coffee from a co-op of 1,200 farmers in southern Mexico; and

[8:15 p.m.]

Whereas Just Us Coffee Roasters Co-op, whose coffee is now available in Co-op Atlantic grocery stores, is the only one of its kind in Canada and one of the few in North America;

Therefore be it resolved that the House commend Jeff and Debbie Moore for expressing their initiative, creativity and concern for the world around them through the successful establishment of Just Us Coffee Roasters Co-op.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1237

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

Whereas in its pursuit of a balanced budget this government has seen fit to impose a devastating $3 million cut to the Children's Dental Program; and

Whereas this same government has dragged its feet for a year in carrying out a much-needed review of its inflated office leasing costs; and

Whereas this is a clear demonstration that this government would rather pick on children than take on the big landlords;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Liberal Government for a set of priorities that puts the profits of landlords ahead of the dental health of children.

[Page 4065]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1238

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

Whereas in one week Christmas will be upon us; and

Whereas on this day we recall the birth of the Christ Child almost 2,000 years ago; and

Whereas the birth of Christ is a symbol of peace and goodwill throughout the world;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend a greeting of peace and goodwill to all nations of the world with a sincere wish that 1997 will bring about lasting peace to all who are troubled and at war with each other.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 1239

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

Whereas John McKay, who appeared at Law Amendments Committee hearings respecting the BS Tax, summed up the Liberal approach, stating, "The whole operation is very cynical"; and

Whereas within five minutes of concluding a whirlwind marathon of weekend hearings, the Liberals voted to accept the BS Tax without recommending any changes; and

[Page 4066]

Whereas the Liberal Government's refusal to respond to the concerns of Nova Scotians is leaving even its own supporters, such as the Mayor of Shelburne, to state, "As a card-carrying Liberal, the temptation to tear up this card is getting stronger every day";

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government recognize that its dictatorial methods to impose the BS Tax will give Nova Scotians an even stronger temptation to tear up the current government come election day.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1240

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 current Speaker of the House ruled wisely on a point of order respecting the use of the blended sales tax; and

Whereas through leading by personal example, the current Speaker of the House has restored civility, respect and decorum to the House proceedings to date; and

Whereas the current Speaker's balanced approach to enforcing House rules and procedures is like a breath of fresh air;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend the member for Clare for the calm, steady and fair manner now brought to the Speaker's Chair.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice. (Applause)

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

No, I hear several Noes. (Laughter)

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1241

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

[Page 4067]

Whereas a fundamental role of our public education system is to teach students the importance of citizenship and democracy; and

Whereas it would be clearly undemocratic for the Strait Regional School Board to impose a massive school reorganization program for which it has no mandate; and

Whereas students, parents and others from the Strait community have, with justification, asked that the reorganization be postponed until after the school board elections next fall;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Minister of Education to use his authority under the Education Act to ensure that the reorganization process in the Strait area be delayed until after the school board elections.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1242

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 federal NDP Leader refused to assist the families of suicide victims in Cape Breton in their call for a public inquiry, thus contradicting her provincial counterpart and aligning herself with the Savage Liberals, who also have a habit of passing off issues to another level of government; and

Whereas these families have undergone the nightmare of inaction with respect to the cause of death for their loved ones; and

Whereas these families deserve answers through a public inquiry into psychiatric services at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, not double-talk from the Liberals and silence from the Leader of the federal NDP;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of Nova Scotia's NDP tell his federal counterpart loudly and clearly to stop dismissing the valid wishes of these families in Cape Breton as a provincial responsibility.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

[Page 4068]

RESOLUTION NO. 1243

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

Whereas a variety of volunteer organizations across Nova Scotia will participate in the Adopt-A-Highway Program designed to keep our highways clean; and

Whereas the Adopt-A-Highway Program encourages volunteer groups to get involved in a litter clean-up program along roadsides other than the 100-Series controlled access highways; and

Whereas this program over the past three years has been managed by the Women's Institutes of Nova Scotia, Lions Clubs of Nova Scotia and the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation in Pictou, Kings, Annapolis, Halifax and Hants Counties;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature commend the more than 100 volunteer groups across Nova Scotia for their special interest in the Adopt-A-Highway Program and wish them every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1244

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 Liberal Government and most Nova Scotians agree that it is best for seniors to live independently in their own homes; and

Whereas the BST, by increasing electric bills, heating oil, firewood and propane costs by up to 8 per cent, will make it more difficult for seniors to live in their own homes; and

[Page 4069]

Whereas the BST will also make it harder for seniors to retain their independence by increasing property taxes and the cost of professional services and some forms of home care;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to take the wise advice of the Federation of Senior Citizens of Nova Scotia and rethink its disastrous BST.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1245

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

Whereas rural and urban municipal tax rates in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality are higher than the average provincial rates, according to the municipality's interim report on its five year operational plan; and

Whereas industrial Cape Breton taxpayers were promised savings when the Liberal Government imposed municipal amalgamation without consultation or reasonable transition time; and

Whereas the former Minister of Municipal Affairs stated this spring that industrial Cape Breton residents were approaching her to express their thanks to the Liberals for municipal amalgamation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier confirm to this House that the imaginary people who are thankful for municipal amalgamation are the same imaginary people who support the BS Tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 1246

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

Whereas the government's track record on amalgamations of all sorts has, to date, been completely ineffectual; and

[Page 4070]

Whereas in a letter to the editor in the Bridgewater Bulletin, three concerned parents from Hubbards outlined why the Liberal Government's school board amalgamation needed immediate attention; and

Whereas the Hubbards residents said not only are members resigning because they feel ineffectual, but a cut in 1997 of the board size from 49 to 17 members will result "in even less proportional representation than we have now";

Therefore be it resolved that the minister recognize the serious and immediate concerns of the effects of the government's school board amalgamation, not only within the southwest board, but province-wide.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1247

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

Whereas yesterday in this House the member for Queens crossed the floor of the House and physically intimidated the member, the Minister of Natural Resources; and

Whereas such behaviour is totally unacceptable in a society which supports zero tolerance; and

Whereas such unacceptable behaviour must be treated seriously and without delay;

Therefore be it resolved that this House request the Leader of the Opposition to advise what action he is prepared to take to deal with this serious matter.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The time now being 8:26 a.m., the Oral Question Period will run for one hour, until 9:26 a.m.

[Page 4071]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWY. INFRASTRUCTURE:

FUNDING (GOV'T. [CAN.]) - INADEQUATE

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Premier's Minister of Transportation and Public Works recently said that the federal government was short-changing Nova Scotia in terms of the amount it returned to our province for highway infrastructure. I think the Premier will agree - did you wish me to start again, Mr. Premier? You can hear? - I think the Premier will agree that our road infrastructure here in the province is, in fact, deteriorating. My question is simply, would he indicate whether or not he agrees with his Minister of Transportation and Public Works, that we are presently not getting adequate funding from Ottawa to maintain our highway infrastructure?

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Yes, Mr. Speaker.

DR. HAMM: Thank you, Mr. Premier. The province receives at present motive fuel tax of some $200 million and then, if memory serves me correctly, the licencing income is in excess of another $50 million. Now the blended sales tax, come April 1st, in its present form, will provide additional taxation to the province on gasoline of $54 million. Would the Premier indicate whether or not that $54 million will be designated for a rebuild of our road structure here in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Designated for what? I'm sorry.

DR. HAMM: Dedicated to rebuilding our road structure here in Nova Scotia.

THE PREMIER: No, Mr. Speaker.

DR. HAMM: To continue with the Premier. So the Premier has indicated clearly that this will not be a dedicated or a designated tax and not a kind of user-pay tax that the government is becoming more enthralled with. Would the Premier then indicate if the funding from the taxation of gasoline will not be designated to our road structure, what long-term plan does the government have, then, to restore our highway structure here in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have been very brief in my answers because, fundamentally, the reason we are unable to put the money into the road structures we would like is because of the enormous $9 billion debt that we were left by the previous government and our inability, except to provide services by borrowing, which is a tradition that started

[Page 4072]

there, is not one that this government is prepared to do. We have put increased money, to some extent, as the Minister of Transportation may indicate, but it is true that both the federal government and ourselves have cut back on these services simply because we are in the process of trying to live within our means. But as we pay down and as we have a balanced budget this year, and as we move into paying down the debt, then much more money will be available for those services, instead of going to the friends of the Tories opposite who are in Toronto and everywhere else, where they ran up that massive debt that has crippled this province. (Applause)

[8:30 a.m.]

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

NAT. RES. - NATURAL GAS PIPELINE: BENEFITS - SPECIFY

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. We have heard, over the last number of months, from the Premier and the Minister of Natural Resources and others, some very grandiose claims about the benefits that are going to flow to Nova Scotia from the development of offshore natural gas. It has been described as a $3 billion project, twice or three times the link to P.E.I., that the wealth will be flowing throughout the province and, yet, we have not seen the royalty agreement. We have not seen any specifics on what kind of commitments this government has gotten from either the offshore developers or from the pipeline group.

I would like to ask this Premier if he would come clean with Nova Scotians here today and give us some specifics on exactly what commitments he and his government have been able to obtain about the kind of benefits that are going to accrue to the people of Nova Scotia as a result of offshore natural gas?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have already indicated that at the end of January we will be releasing the framework, because there is, obviously, a complete lack of understanding of how this leads into a framework. We have been meeting with Mobil regularly, as recently as yesterday. We will continue to meet and when we are ready to announce this for the benefit of the people of this province, we will do it, which is the end of January.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, once again, the people of Nova Scotia, I guess, are not smart enough or not privileged enough to be able to find out exactly what is behind these grandiose claims from the Premier. It has been said by this Premier in the past that if we do not get the maximum benefit from Sable gas, then the gas might as well stay in the ground. That same statement is found in the Premier's Dartmouth South constituency update, where he says to his constituents that Nova Scotia's position is that this province receives the maximum benefits. If we don't, then the gas might as well stay in the ground.

[Page 4073]

I would like to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that once the expiration leases have been granted and abided by, once the environmental and regulatory approvals have been given by the NEB, the project goes ahead, regardless of what the province might say. I would like to know what authority the Premier has to be able, either now or then or at some point in this process, to make this kind of a claim to Nova Scotians, that if the deal does not bring maximum benefits to Nova Scotia, he is going to say that the gas will stay in the ground? What kind of authority does he have to make those claims?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would assume that my colleague across the floor has seen this release from the Sable Offshore Energy Project. I will submit it to the House because it was put out on November 25th, which is virtually a month ago. It talks about the management design construction of the estimated $2 billion project. This is not our energy project, this is their project with Paul Bennett, the SOEP Venture Manager. I will submit that because, in effect, what it outlines is what we have been talking about, a framework. But it is absolutely true that if, indeed, the best deal is not obtained, Nova Scotia has the ultimate right to say no to any project at the end. If we do not get that resource benefit, we will not sign. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, well, you see, it all has to do with what are the maximum benefits. The Minister of Education may not have a question on this, but I think this is an important question for Nova Scotians to hear answered.

The question here is not what the offshore Sable gas group has to say about the benefits, it is what do the Premier and his colleagues have to back up their claims about the wealth that is going to accrue to Nova Scotia and the question is, who is going to decide what are the maximum benefits? Is it going to be he and his colleagues, or are Nova Scotians going to have an opportunity to determine what the maximum benefits are going to be? I want to ask the Premier, what is Nova Scotia and this Premier's position relative to the determination of maximum benefits? Is it the Treasury bench or are Nova Scotians going to have any say at all in the maximum benefits accruing to Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: I am tempted to suggest, should I ask him? Should he come and sit while the Cabinet makes decisions? (Interruptions) No. We will get it at the end of January as we have stated. The ultimate decision - and there should be no misunderstanding about this, whatever flows across from the other side of the floor - as to whether that gas flows out of the bottom of the ocean is the responsibility of Nova Scotia. (Interruptions) No. It is the responsibility of this province. We have that clearly indicated. This is clearly indicated from all reports we have the National Energy Board and we know that our rights are those of the ultimate decision.

[Page 4074]

It is highly likely, Mr. Speaker, given the very good relationship that we have with Mobil that everything will turn out well. We are not talking about turning it off. What we are saying is that the ultimate responsibility rests with us and we will only do what is best for the people of this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HRDC - EI: OUTREACH CLINICS - UPDATE

DR. JOHN HAMM: Again, a question for the Premier. I would hope that the Premier will not yield to the temptation on each and every question, especially when they are questions simply looking for information, that he will not always resort to a history lesson and perhaps would try to inform the House as to exactly what it is the government is doing about anything.

My question for the Premier (Interruptions) The Premier has received some correspondence and I have received a copy. It was concerned about the federal government initiative that will result in a loss of outreach clinics associated with the Employment Insurance Agency, outreach clinics that assist Nova Scotians with disabilities to find employment.

THE PREMIER: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, I get a lot of mail. I have not seen that. If it arrived lately, I will try to find it, but I have no information at this point.

DR. HAMM: Pass it across the floor, perhaps to the Premier. I understand the last few weeks have been busy for the Premier. What is happening is that federal funding cuts will mean that outreach clinics in Nova Scotia will be forced to close. Outreach clinics are those that are connected with CNIB and other organizations that are effectively working with Nova Scotians with disabilities. The outreach workers will not be available to go out and discuss employment opportunities with those with disabilities. This is looked upon as being an impediment to Nova Scotians with disabilities discussing employment opportunities. I wonder if the Premier is prepared to look into this matter and discuss with or arrange to be discussed with his federal counterparts the elimination of funding for those outreach clinics.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there are usually two kinds of questions that come to me, one is the question that is designed to deceive and the other one is the question seeking information. I see the difference between the two and always have. In this case, this is the first time I have seen this and I will take it up.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 4075]

HEALTH - REG. BD. (WESTERN): KINGS CO. - REPS. INCREASE

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: My question is for the Minister of Health. The regional health board for western Nova Scotia has two members from Kings County. Recently the board members were reappointed and new ones added and other changes were made. Would the minister undertake today to commit to a review of the appointments to the regional health board, with the thought in mind of making a change so that the population base in Kings County could be more equitably represented on that board?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. There has been a recent review and, in fact, appointments made this past month to the board. I believe, I think, there were at least two, possibly three people added from Kings . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Four in total.

MR. BOUDREAU: Four in total now from Kings County on that board. Off the top of my head, I think there were at least two new ones added, so I think maybe some of the concerns have already been addressed on that point.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer. There has been a great deal of talk in recent days about the breast screening unit and headquarters for the breast screening unit for western Nova Scotia being located in Yarmouth. I was wondering, could the minister explain the criteria that would be used to choose the location for the women's breast screening unit?

MR. BOUDREAU: The mobile breast screening unit is centred out of Yarmouth. That is the home base, if you will. That decision was made by the regional health board.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Would the minister undertake to provide me with a copy of the criteria that was used to locate the screening unit in Yarmouth?

MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will ask the board to provide that to me and I will relay it to the member.

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

NAT. RES. - FOREST PRODUCTS ASSOC.:

WORKERS' COMP. - PROPOSAL STATUS

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Natural Resources. I have it on good source and authority that the Minister of Natural Resources has received a proposal from Forest Products Association requesting that a 3 per

[Page 4076]

cent levy on the workers' compensation rates be paid by forestry companies to establish an alleged forestry safety association. The proposal document very clearly indicates that administration, salaries, rent, computers, printers, clerical support, et cetera, will be paid for by a forestry company. So, clearly, in my view, the proposal has more to do with providing operation funds for the Forest Products Association than, so to speak, for safety issues.

The minister may not realize it, but forestry companies pay an exorbitant workers' compensation rate at present. I also understand that several small forestry contractors have not heard of this plan and the proposal states that the Forest Products Association contact Christmas tree growers, Christmas tree farmers, logging, silviculture, pulp wood, log trucking industry, box, mills, sawmills and so on and so forth, and I have it on good source and authority that many and most of these stakeholders have not been contacted about this proposal.

My question is simply this. Will the minister tell this House and, I guess, more importantly, the forestry industry, what is the status of this report and proposal?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member opposite if he would mind tabling the document that he has there. I would ask him the date of the document, and I would also ask the member opposite if he thinks I should respond to my mail, proposals put to my ministry, in the House of Assembly or should I respond to the people who write to me first and then look at proposals in-depth and ask my department officials to look at it as well?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I will table the proposal. In fact, I will table the covering page of the document that I have. (Interruptions) Unbelievably, pulp and paper companies have been exempted from this - what I believe to be an asinine plan - pulp and paper companies are not going to be required to pay the 3 per cent levy. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I held the document up, I have the proposal. I didn't read from the proposal but I will table the covering sheet. Will the minister at least give this House and the forest industry this commitment, that before any proposal - and I repeat, any proposal - is adopted all forestry companies that are to be involved will be consulted with?

[8:45 a.m.]

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that when any member reads from any document they table the document in the House. The member opposite has two or three pieces of information there he has read from. I would ask him to table them so I can read what he is speaking about before I respond to his question.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will ask the honourable member to table his documents, please, that he is referring to.

[Page 4077]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I have several documents. In fact, we have a proposal for a special moose hunt draw down in Cape Breton. Do you want me to table that document, too? I know you have that document, for example.

Now I am sure and positive that the minister has a copy of that document because the Forest Products Association has been talking about this thing for three years. Surely the Minister of Natural Resources would have a copy of the proposal.

I am sure that the minister would agree that with the expiry of our cooperative federal-provincial forestry agreements and our other arrangements that we had with the federal government, the additional costs to our small forest companies will be too great to bear. My question to the Minister of Natural Resources is simply this. Is the minister saying in this House that she is not aware of the Nova Scotia forestry proposal relative to a 3 per cent levy on workers' compensation rates? Is she not aware of that proposal?

MRS. NORRIE: This is an industry issue. If there is a document or a question or letter written to me by industry, they will receive a response from me, as it has been addressed to me.

I ask again. The member opposite has read extensively from a piece of paper, he has a proposal on his desk that he is referring to. I asked the member to table both documents that he is reading from here in the House of Assembly. That is the decorum of the House of Assembly. (Interruptions)

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

BUS. & CONS. SERV. - GASOLINE PRICES:

COMPETITION - BENEFICIAL

MR. JOHN HOLM: Speaker, I just wanted to make sure that members opposite could hear my question before I started. My question is to the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. Is it the government's view that the entrance of independent retailers into the gasoline business has been good for consumers in this province, by helping to increase the level of competition?

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. HOLM: I appreciate that answer and we are in agreement on that point then. The minister will know that she and I and all Nova Scotians saw the major oil companies last year involved in predatory pricing in which they were driving down the prices of gasoline that they were selling through their flag stations, at the same time that they were providing or selling it to the independents at a price that was higher than they were actually selling it at their own stations. The pure purpose of that was surely to drive those small independents out of

[Page 4078]

business so that those larger companies can increase their market share and their ability in future, then, to crank up their prices and destroy the competition.

My question to the minister is quite simply this. What action is the government prepared to take to ensure that the predatory practices employed by those major oil companies, aimed at destroying the viability of the independents, is stopped?

MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I have had numerous conversations with the federal minister on the Competition Act, which is an Act in place under the federal government to deal with predatory pricing. I have had discussions with the oil companies and with the independents themselves to discuss the concerns they have brought forward. I think we have had fruitful discussions on looking to certain directions we can go. At this point in time we have not made any final decisions.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows and we all know, let's be honest, the federal Competition Act is useless. In fact, the federal minister has indicated that it really falls within the provincial jurisdiction. In 21 of the U.S. states, for example, if what those oil companies were doing here was done there, those companies would find themselves in court facing huge fines and possibly even imprisonment. My question to the minister, talk is fine but is the government prepared to commit to Nova Scotians and to the independents that action will be taken and that either legislation or regulatory changes will be made to ensure that those oil companies sell their product to the independents at a price no greater than that which they provided to their own independent flag stations because unless that is done then those predatory practices can and will continue and the consumers will lose the benefits that those independents have provided? Will you make that commitment?

MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, we have very clearly made a commitment to the consumers of the Province of Nova Scotia, that is why we are looking at the ramifications of doing any number of things. It certainly is the consumer and the jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia that we have made a commitment to and we will continue to make a commitment to.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ABORIGINAL AFFS. - FUEL TAX: FIRST NATIONS - SHARE

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again I have a question for the Premier. The Premier is well aware of the great problem that we have with unemployment and poverty around the province. The recent employment statistics certainly confirm what we see when we travel around the province. It has been indicated first, I believe, by a Minister of the Crown that there is a plan that a certain portion of fuel tax will be provided to First Nations people to be used for community economic development. I wonder if the Premier would tell the House whether or not that is an indication that that funding will be taken from the current mode of fuel tax which amounts to about $200 million or whether or not that will be taken from the

[Page 4079]

$54 million of increased taxes on motor fuel that will result from the blended sales tax arrangement after April 1st?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I said outside the House yesterday that this was one of several options that the government was looking at. As the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, I have been discussing this for some time, I have discussed it with the former Finance Minister, the current Finance Minister and it is one of several options that we are looking at. We have not yet made any decision.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Premier. The Premier has said that there are a number of options on the table to address the problem of poverty and unemployment among First Nations peoples. I wonder if the Premier would indicate whether or not those discussions are including representatives from the First Nations and if so, would he indicate on what dates those meetings occurred?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, my officials are in constant communication with those who lead the bands and also those who are involved with the offers of people so I can't give you any particular dates. I can tell you that - no I can't remember the date, I think it was in October that we met with the Chiefs but conversations and discussion are ongoing all of the time between Allan Clark and people who are representing the First Nations.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, so the Premier has confirmed then that the discussions have taken place with representatives from the First Nations and that in fact on the agenda was the issue of the transfer of some provincial funding dealing specifically with community economic development and dealing with employment issues and poverty issues among the people of the First Nations community. I wonder if the Premier is prepared to table a list of the meetings that have occurred and as well the agendas that were followed at those meetings indicating clearly the nature of the discussions and the options that are being discussed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is customary for governments to meet with representatives of the aboriginal people. It is customary for us to meet with all kinds of people but we do not discuss some of the projects. Some of the projects may be rejected even at the senior staff level, some even at the lower staff level and some then go to P & P. I don't think is appropriate for us to get into discussing those issues until they have evolved into anything near a policy position.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

FISH. - GROUNDFISH: STOCKS MORATORIUM - REMOVE

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries. The moratorium on the issuing of new fish plant licences and fish buyers' licences has been in effect now for over seven years. In fact, it was March 30, 1989. With this moratorium came

[Page 4080]

the establishment of new rules and conditions for the issuance of provincial licences. My question to the minister is this, are you and your department looking at removing this moratorium now that the groundfish stocks have started to return?

HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, I believe, recalls very vividly the situation, as the declining groundfish stocks took place in Atlantic Canada, a federal moratorium with agreement from the provinces was invoked through the cooperation of the Atlantic fishing provinces, and the Province of Nova Scotia is still committed to that moratorium. But I have asked my senior staff to initiate a review of this process with the federal government, with a view towards easing up on the moratorium on groundfish plant licences.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for the answer. The other evening I had a call from a gentleman who was interested in obtaining a licence to package salt cod into fish cakes. The gentleman told me that he had a number of stores that were willing to purchase his fish cakes. In fact, he had quite a number of stores. This is a value-added product and would the minister not agree that perhaps some consideration should be given to people who are going to process fish that has already been processed by a licenced plant, to give someone who is going to do value added, would it not be reasonable to give those people a licence?

MR. BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, due to the fact that there is a moratorium in place, that prohibits any groundfish product from being processed in a new plant. That moratorium was on issuance of new plant licences. As the Speaker knows as well, there are people in southwestern Nova Scotia who had requested similar activities but there is an opportunity utilizing existing plants for a proponent to actually sublet part of an existing groundfish plant to actually do that value-added processing.

I do agree with the proposal brought forth by the member and that is partially why I have requested senior staff to initiate a review with the federal government because I believe there is an opportunity now as the groundfish stocks recover in parts of the coastal waters of Nova Scotia - not all our regions have the groundfish stocks recovered but certainly there have been significant increases in the groundfish stocks in the 4X region of Nova Scotia - and I would hope that in the very near future we will be able to remove that moratorium.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, again I say to the minister, I think it is important that he get on with it and have his staff, with the federal Fisheries Department, review the matter because the fact is that if we can do value added to fish that is already processed, that will create jobs. I think it is important. I know why the moratorium was put on, I think it was very important at the time, but things have changed. It is now seven years and especially with the value added, if we can process fish that is already salted, this chap is talking about packaged salt cod and I don't understand why he can't go ahead and make his fish cakes. So I ask the minister again, would he please look into this and have it looked after?

[Page 4081]

[9:00 a.m.]

MR. BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member opposite, I will certainly take his advice and I will be discussing this with the federal minister at the earliest opportunity. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

EDUC. - REFORM: ADMIN. SAVINGS - CLASSROOMS BENEFIT

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. I will be referring to two documents; I will table one copy and I would ask that the Page give the minister the other copy.

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that one of the underpinnings of the government's decision to move towards school board reform was to cut costs of administration and to provide more dollars to the classroom. The Southwest Regional School Board on December 9th met with the Formula Review Committee work group and presented its concerns respecting increased costs that it believes it will face in the next year. Those increased costs are something in the order of $1-plus million, including $200,000 or more to pay for the blended sales tax.

My question to the minister is, is it still the government's position that one of the principal underpinnings of educational reform is to reduce administrative expenditure in order to put more dollars into the classroom?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. LEEFE: I thank the minister. There has been some active discussion in the Southwest Regional School Board, and throughout the community, respecting the siting of a school board sub-office. There have been a number of bids made from various areas within the Queens-Lunenburg area for that opportunity. My question to the minister is, is it the government's policy to leave such decisions to the school board or is it the government's policy to dictate to the school board where such office spaces will be located?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite will know, the tender call specified a certain geographic area, which was compatible with the consultant's report that was delivered to the board, as a result of the amalgamation effort.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my honourable friend makes reference to Mr. Laurie's - that is the Coordinator for the Southwest Region - coordination report. It is my understanding that as of this morning Mr. Laurie has not yet signed off on his report and that it has not yet been delivered to the school board. Will the minister confirm that, in fact, that is the case, that the school board has not been provided a copy of Mr. Laurie's signed-off report?

[Page 4082]

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm or deny that. What I can confirm is that the board tendered for the satellite office in the Bridgewater area, which was compatible with the information they received from Mr. Laurie and the understanding that has been communicated very clearly to that board on a number of occasions.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

COMMUN. SERV. - EI:

NEGOTIATIONS (GOV'T. [CAN.]-GOV'T. [N.S.]) - SECRECY REASON

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. The minister knows that the federal government is in the process of transferring to the provinces the responsibilities traditionally carried out by Manpower and then Employment Canada. We have several concerns about that. The first concern that we have is the shift in responsibility from federal to provincial jurisdiction and the clear sense we have that the federal government is absolving itself of responsibility for funding job-training programs.

The second concern we have, Mr. Speaker, is that it is being done in secret without representation from those either giving or receiving the job training. So, I want to ask the Minister of Community Services - I understand he is the one in negotiations - why is the government doing this behind closed doors?

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. There are discussions going on. There was an offer made quite publicly by the federal government some time ago, that the province might be interested in taking over what they call the six tools for providing support for people on EI. That offer was made. That offer has not been taken up. It is a public offer. If the honourable member would like a copy of it, I will be pleased to send it to her.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I think I heard the minister say that this offer has not been taken up. It is our understanding, however, that there are discussions going on and I would like to ask the minister to give us some details. He may say the offer has not been taken up, but that does not mean that there is not talking going on. I would like to know who is talking. I want to know what the details are; who is involved; what has gone on and why the people most concerned have not been consulted?

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, the federal government has made an offer which has been publicly stated on the table. It is not a very complicated thing. As I said, I will provide the honourable member with the offer. I have done it already. What the province is doing - and I have been designated by the Premier to lead that - is looking to see if that is in the best interest of the province. We are exploring that. We are seeing if it is possible to do

[Page 4083]

that. Up to this point, there has been no possibility, but it is to discuss the offer that was made about one year ago.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister this then. I want to ask him, can he assure this House and the people of Nova Scotia that in whatever discussions go on, that the people most involved, the recipients of the training and the people who give the training, will be consulted and that the process will be open and public and available for scrutiny?

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, again, the offer made by the federal government was made publicly. Presently, we have Alberta and we have New Brunswick taking up the offer. The offer has been publicly made. We have not taken up the offer, but if the honourable member wants a copy of the details of it, for the third time, I would be pleased to send it to her.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

ERA - AIRLINES REVIEW:

COORDINATOR (MR. DAN BRENNAN) - SECONDMENT

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. It is my understanding that the minister is in possession of a communication from a delegation representing the hotel operators of the Province of Nova Scotia in regard to Mr. Dan Brennan. I further understand that Mr. Dan Brennan, who has been a career civil servant and, in the opinion of many, if not most, an extremely effective public servant in the tourism and tourism development and tourism promotion field, Mr. Brennan, for reasons unknown to me - perhaps it has been made public, but I am not sure of it - is being moved from ERA to, I think, Education.

The hotel operators have communicated, I understand, with the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, inviting him, the minister, to consider a three or four year secondment arrangement whereby Mr. Brennan, on a public-private partnership arrangement, with the hotel operators as the private side of that arrangement, that Mr. Brennan be established as the coordinator, liaison, director - call it what you will - of a review of airline accords to ensure that we, as a province, address, in an effective way, the existing and potential airline linkages between Nova Scotia and the rest of the world. I would be curious to have the minister share with us as to whether or not he has received that communication and, if so, is he prepared to take seriously and engage in discussion with the hotel operators of the province, the possibility that that kind of an arrangement could be put in place with Mr. Brennan on secondment for that purpose?

[Page 4084]

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, there are personnel changes taking place within the Economic Renewal Agency. Those changes have not been finalized, all of them, yet. It is my understanding that Mr. Brennan has accepted the position with the Department of Education.

MR. DONAHOE: I thank the minister for that response. Mr. Speaker, through you, perhaps then to the Minister of Education. I wonder if the Minister of Education would be prepared to indicate whether or not he is, perhaps, in possession of the correspondence to which I made reference, namely the correspondence from the hotel operators and if he, the Minister of Education, would be prepared to consider the substance of their request - that Mr. Brennan be made available upon secondment to the hotel industry of the province to co-ordinate a review of existing and potential future airline accords which are vital to the long term, not only tourism, but economic development initiatives of the province generally. Would the Minister of Education be prepared to indicate today that he would take a serious look at effecting such a relationship with the hotel operators of the Province of Nova Scotia?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: I think the fundamental question here is whether or not an opportunity for enhancing tourism would be pursued by this government. Clearly, that would be a decision of the Economic Renewal Agency. The marketing position that is available in the Department of Education is one that assures that Nova Scotia education and training opportunities are marketed worldwide. The fundamental answer to the question whether we would consider any proposal to enhance tourism belongs properly on the desk of the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.

MR. DONAHOE: I do not want to suggest for a minute that a man like Dan Brennan who has demonstrated an expertise in the area of marketing could not by definition transfer those talents from tourism marketing to education marketing. The fact of the matter is, as I am sure most members of this government will be aware, Mr. Brennan has some considerable international reputation in the area of tourism marketing. I simply find it strange that we now have the Minister for Economic Renewal saying, well, the man you are talking about, Mr. Donahoe, has been shifted over to Education. He is going to market education. Then when I ask the Minister of Education, he says if there is an opportunity for tourism marketing, that is really the responsibility of ERA, but the personality and the person with the expertise we are talking about is sort of on the pendulum here, swinging back and forth.

I will go back, if I may, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister for the ERA. In light of the communication which the minister has received from the hotel operators organization of the province, and in light of the fact I think the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency would acknowledge that Mr. Brennan has 18 to 20 years at least of experience in tourism marketing, and in light of the fact that the maintenance and growth of airline linkages for Nova Scotia with the rest of the world are fundamental as the Minister of Education has just confirmed for us for tourism opportunities, would the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency be prepared, in concert with his colleague the Minister of Education, to review the

[Page 4085]

secondment of Mr. Brennan over to Education with a possibility that rather than second him in that direction, he second Mr. Brennan in the direction of a public-private partnership arrangement with the hotel operators to really make a serious assault on the airline linkages, present and potential, for the Province of Nova Scotia. Would the Minister for the ERA be prepared to reconsider and review along those lines?

HON. RICHARD MANN: The request from the hotel association of Nova Scotia was not in fact addressed to me but to the deputy minister of the department. I have seen copies of several of the letters that have come in from that organization. I think the request was to second Mr. Brennan and other staff. I want to point out that this association that we are referring to are the 26 largest hotels in the Province of Nova Scotia. This does not represent all the hotels in Nova Scotia. For the most part, they are hotels in the metropolitan area. I guess one of the concerns I would have is taking a program that is in ERA that would represent a very small component of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia and if you dedicate the funding that will come from the Economic Diversification Agreement to that small sector and that small sector only, then I wonder where the funds or the staff will come from to represent all the others in the Tourism Industry Association? I do not want to discuss personalities in here. Mr. Brennan has given long and good service to this province but I don't think we want to get into the personnel issues here.

[9:15 a.m.]

We will look at the request and we will respond to the hotel association. Again, I have no hesitation in saying that I have a concern about chopping off a significant portion of funding on air accords and agreements for a sector that represents 26 of the biggest hotels. It makes you wonder what is going to be left to represent and deal with all the other industries in the Tourism Association of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

HEALTH - HANTS COMMUN. HOSP.: FUNDING - ADEQUACY

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. I was wondering if the Minister of Health, on this perhaps the last Question Period we have before the new year, can give me some definitive statements with regard to the future of the Hants Community Hospital. For 1996-97, the hospital faced a deficit of $600,000 in its operating budget. The minister, through the goodness of his heart, has decided to loan the hospital $300,000 and to raid the trust fund that the hospital has for $300,000 and says that that has solved the problem.

Well, Mr. Speaker, that may have solved the problem temporarily but what I would like to know from the minister is, what action does he intend to take with regard to funding for the Hants Community Hospital in fiscal 1997-98 that will ensure that not only can they pay

[Page 4086]

back that $300,000 that they borrowed from the Department of Health and the $300,000 back to the trust fund and still maintain the current operations at the hospital? Will they have adequate funding to do that?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, as that honourable member well knows, the hospital in Windsor went through quite a significant challenge over the last number of years in, if you will, right-sizing the facility so that it would correspond with other facilities serving the same population and with the same health care responsibilities. They have done so very successfully and I have publicly, in this place and in Windsor, commended the board, the administration, the staff, the workers, all for having met successfully a major challenge. Having said that, I have also assured them that that facility will continue to play a very important part in the health care system of Nova Scotia for that area.

I am sure that the honourable member doesn't want me to reveal at this stage what the budget items will be specifically for each facility in Nova Scotia next year; that is what we will be doing, probably sooner than any of us would like at the moment, when we consider the budget. There will be sufficient funding for that facility to continue its very important role, yes, I can give that assurance.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with the minister when he says that the staff out there have cooperated, they have put on a fantastic effort to maintain, to continue to provide the service to the people of Hants County. The problem is that the minister is still talking about, yes, the facility to maintain a standard of health care, et cetera. He doesn't come out and say definitively that we will maintain the Hants Community Hospital as a hospital, with the same services that are being provided now, in 1997-98. Will he make that commitment that he will maintain the Hants Community Hospital as a hospital, providing the same services next fiscal year as they are providing at the present time? Will he make that commitment?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, in our discussions with the administration of that hospital, with staff and with others, they made it clear to us that they had successfully met the challenge that had been given to them. In fact, they were left with a $600,000 problem, having done that.

In telling us about that problem, they also told us that this is a one-time problem. We now are at a level where we can continue to budget for that facility indefinitely into the future at an appropriate level. We congratulated them on that and we said okay, let's help you with this one-time problem. We met with the board, we met with the administration, Department of Health officials had discussions back and forth and do you know what, they came up with a solution that was acceptable to the board, acceptable to the department to deal with this one-time problem.

[Page 4087]

The honourable member says, can you give assurance that exactly what is happening there now will always happen? Well, that is a hospital, it is not a museum. Who knows what the facility will look like in 5 years time, 10 years time or whenever? It will serve the community, it will continue to play a central role in the delivery of health care in that area.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am not very reassured. I am not asking the minister to guarantee funding from now until eternity because the government is going to change anyway in the next 12 to 18 months. What I am asking him to do is to provide to the citizens of Hants County from that hospital the same services that are presently being provided. There is no use for the minister to say well, we will continue to provide at a level that we think is adequate because that isn't good enough. What I want to know from the minister is that the present services offered by the hospital at the present time will be maintained in fiscal 1997-98.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member takes issue with the government for not being specific enough. We haven't said right to the penny and right to the activity what is going to happen next year. I would ask him to look to his own Party in terms of health policy for specifics when he has the Health Critic one day saying that they support the Blueprint Committee Report in totality, his words, his Leader gets up the same day and says, "By my earlier remarks, I believe that you will understand that I am not totally in accord with what the Blueprint Committee has said.", the same day, the Health Critic and the Leader. Was that the only time? No, it wasn't the only time.

On another occasion, the Health Critic gets up here in the House and he says, I just wish the minister would take the Blueprint Committee and tell us that he is going to implement exactly what is there. The Health Critic, we would all applaud and then his Leader gets up and says he is going to scrap regional health boards, the central recommendation of the Blueprint Committee.

I would say to the honourable member who looks for specificity, we made a commitment to that institution and we will honour that commitment. I would ask him to work within his own caucus to try to develop a health care policy that isn't a peekaboo, multiple-choice type of policy. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

ENVIRON. - LEACHATE PONDS (HFX. AIRPORT): CUMB. CO. - USE

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. I understand that the Halifax International Airport area leachate holding ponds are overflowing as a consequence of hydraulic overload resulting from the very wet fall we have had. It is also my understanding that these leachate ponds are intended to be used by Cumberland County as the dump site for the leachate which will come from the proposed new landfill in Cumberland County. Can the minister confirm this is the case?

[Page 4088]

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I can confirm that there is some exploratory work that is being done in that regard, yes.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear the minister say there is some exploratory work being done. Will the minister confirm that no permits will be issued respecting dumping of leachates from other sites into the Halifax International Airport site until it is determined that the Halifax site is fully capable of absorbing any additional discharge dumped into it?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that the concern of leachates being dumped anywhere is of extreme concern. That is a very fragile area in terms of what can or cannot go on or in the ground and any leachate containment would be done with extreme care and caution and all the measurements that we can find in the environment throughout North America.

This is not being taken lightly. It is a study situation, one of serious concern to see how we can best manage leachate, whether it is from Halifax or any other part of Nova Scotia.

MR. LEEFE: I thank the minister for his direct response, it is very helpful. I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if the minister could advise whether his department, in conjunction with the Cumberland municipality is looking at alternative sites in the view that the Halifax International site proves not capable of sustaining the Cumberland leachate as well?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that a whole variety of options are being looked at in regard to where leachates can be safely harnessed.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allocated for the Oral Question Period has expired. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. During Question Period, I was questioned by the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley regarding a document that he was reading from and a couple of other pieces of paper. I ask that that be tabled in the House, as is customary in the House, and I would ask for the original document - I stress original.

MR. SPEAKER: The practice in this House has been that any time an honourable member reads from any document, the document is tabled. I would ask the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley to continue with the tradition in this House and table any documents that he read from.

[Page 4089]

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on the Minister of Natural Resources' point of order, I am of the understanding that when you read from a handwritten document that it is not necessary to table it in this House. I understand that is past practice. I also held up the document and I think Hansard will very clearly verify that I did not lift the document and read from the document. I merely used it as an exhibit and I did offer to the minister that I would table the number one page of the document. I did not open the document and read through the document.

AN HON. MEMBER: What did you cut?

MR. TAYLOR: What did I cut? Mr. Speaker, my goodness. How personal are we going to get in here? What did you cut?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please, again.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, could you tell this House, perhaps for my information, if you have to table a handwritten document?

AN HON. MEMBER: And the scissors. Table the scissors, Brooke.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Again, the practice in this House, honourable members, any time an honourable member reads from any document, the document is tabled. So I would ask the honourable member to certainly continue with our tradition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It seems that the Minister of Health bears constant reminder of certain facts. The fact of the matter is that I, and members of my caucus, attended a very early meeting of the Blueprint Committee - that meeting was held in Dartmouth - in the early weeks of the initial convening of that committee. I had reservations at that time about the regional board concept that already was being discussed at those Blueprint Committee meetings. I addressed the chairman and said, I have great reservations about the regional health board concept because I feel it will not work and it will simply add to bureaucracy. The chairman of the Blueprint Committee said, we were given that by the Minister of Health and we have no choice but to include the regional concept as part of our recommendations. So this is not core to the decisions and the report of the Blueprint Committee, that was simply a given, to them, by the Minister of Health and they were, on direction, forced to include that in their recommendations.

So when the now Minister of Health suggests that this is something that was generated around the table by the Blueprint Committee, he is totally incorrect.

[Page 4090]

[9:30 a.m.]

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order. The Blueprint Report is a public document, people can read it and see that regional health boards are a central recommendation of that committee.

Now I didn't say at any time that the Leader of the Opposition's position had been inconsistent; as a matter of fact, he has been consistently wrong through the whole piece. What I said, and I cited the quotes, those were direct quotes from Hansard, that the Leader of the Opposition had one position, his Health Critic had the diametrically opposed position, on more than one occasion. I am prepared to stand by that statement and I will produce page, quotes directly from debate here in the House of Assembly.

I think what the Leader of the Opposition should do is decide that his Party should have one position on health, not two. If I were to recommend one to him, it would be the position that his Health Critic has, because I think his Health Critic is right and he has been wrong all along. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again on a point of order with the Minister of Health. The minister continues to suggest that the concept of regionalization was a result of a committee coming together and formulating a position. The committee simply responded to a direction given to them by the Minister of Health and they had no opportunity, they had no latitude to suggest other than what came out. I know that the minister understands that and I would simply ask him to phrase his remarks reflecting that understanding.

MR. BOUDREAU: This is a point of order again, Mr. Speaker. The report is the report. We are not going to go in and question who said what to who on what occasion, the report is the report. The report, as a central part of that blueprint is the regionalization process and establishment of regional health boards. For anyone to get up and say that that is not a central part of the Blueprint Committee demonstrates once again a fundamental misunderstanding of the entire health reform process. I think this Leader of the Opposition should spend a little more time with his Health Critic, who understands it quite well and, in fact, supports it.

MR. SPEAKER: The point is noted.

DR. HAMM: Well, the Minister of Health should understand that my original position on this, my instincts told me initially that this was the wrong direction in which the province should move. My instincts have proven to be correct because, as this government moves along with health care reform, it clearly isn't working and has been a source of continuing embarrassment to this government. It has only perhaps received less attention this session than normally it would have because the blended sales tax, in fact, has proven to be an even greater embarrassment.

[Page 4091]

I would simply suggest through my point, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Health start looking at what is happening and start doing what really has to be done, that is starting a health reform in this province that is going to work and provide the kind of level of care that Nova Scotians have come to accept and to expect from the delivery of health care in the past.

MR. SPEAKER: I will recognize the honourable Minister of Health to close the debate on this point of order.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition's position on health care reform is only slightly more confused than his position on harmonization. If he doesn't feel any obligation to get a position straight for the people of Nova Scotia, surely he feels an obligation to get his position straight in his own caucus.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, on a further point of order, my original request was to ask the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, who was reading from a document during Question Period in a question to me. I would ask that the member stand in the House and present that paper and table it in his place right now, the original document, unedited.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on that point, I am sure that the honourable member's hearing is not as bad as she would have us believe. I never ever stated that I read from an original document but, in order to be helpful, as I promised you, I will table the original document that I read from. I will table that document now. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: I wonder when they started making that size paper.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Statements by Ministers.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in this House today, so close to Christmas, with a good news announcement.

As the honourable members are aware, Shelburne Marine was on the brink of collapse 10 months ago. The provincial government was forced to appoint a receiver and provide direct assistance so the shipyard could complete a couple of major contracts. We also had to find a new operator, somebody to take over the plant and to put people back to work.

[Page 4092]

Mr. Speaker, we have succeeded. The province has just made a deal with Steel and Engine Products Limited - STENPRO - an Irving company up the coast in Liverpool. STENPRO will reopen the yard as a ship repair/fabrication operation, an operation that will employ local workers. (Applause)

STENPRO will lease Shelburne Marine for five years. The lease is renewable and the company has the option to buy at any time. Steel and Engine will be responsible for all operating costs. They will start looking for orders as soon as the plant is ready.

We have been very concerned that Shelburne Marine reopen on a solid footing, that it become a viable business and a continuing source of employment for that area. The province is investing $500,000 in the property for capital improvements and environmental clean-up. This capital and clean-up work will begin soon, probably within a few weeks. That will mean immediate jobs for local workers. The shipyard should be ready for its first orders this spring.

We think this deal is good for everyone - good for the community, good for the workers, and good for the new operator. Shelburne Marine is a complement to STENPRO's existing operation. Shelburne has a much larger capacity with its haul-out and giant wharves. It can handle ships that are twice the size of the largest vessels that fit the Liverpool facility.

The Economic Renewal Agency talked to a number of interested people and looked at several proposals, Mr. Speaker. There is no question that the long-term interests of Shelburne Marine and the jobs that go with it are better served by this arrangement than by any other. Steel Engine and Products Limited know the ship repair and fabrication business. The Irvings have the management experience and the business acumen to give this shipyard a very good chance for success.

We want to see this shipyard reopen and stay open. We want to see it become a competitive, profitable business. We are convinced that this deal is the most direct, the most certain path to success. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: We in our caucus and I particularly, as a next door neighbour to Shelburne and as one who knows STENPRO very well, very much welcome this announcement made today by the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. This is good news not only for Shelburne but indeed for the entire South Shore and, dare I say, all of Nova Scotia.

By STENPRO undertaking the five year lease which, as the minister has made clear, is renewable and by also securing an option to purchase the yard at any time, it means that STENPRO, both through its Liverpool and its Shelburne facilities, will be able to compete on a much more effective basis with respect to attracting new business into Nova Scotia. Any

[Page 4093]

of us who have spent any time in our shipyards around the province - my friend and colleague the member for Pictou West in the Pictou yard, which was in the news today having work done there, or in the case of my yard, STENPRO in Liverpool, or the Shelburne yard - understand that these yards attract not solely domestic business from Nova Scotia, but indeed attract business from a far wider area than that. So there is a tremendous benefit which accrues in Nova Scotia as a consequence of this. STENPRO has very fine, very thoughtful, very aggressive and very innovative management. I know all of the people who are associated with management in the Liverpool yard. I have known for some time that they have been in discussion with the government on this and I am very pleased that the government and STENPRO have been able to arrive at this agreement.

This is particularly critical for Shelburne when one considers the negative impact of the downturn in the groundfish fishery on the economy in Shelburne County and, also, the tremendously negative impact of the closure of CFS Shelburne and the loss of literally millions of dollars annually to that community's economy. This is, indeed, a good news announcement. I welcome it. I welcome it on behalf of our caucus; I welcome it as the member who probably knows STENPRO best and I welcome it on behalf of my good friend, the member for Shelburne who, I understand, today is with the people in Shelburne as this announcement is being read. This is, indeed, a good news announcement for Nova Scotia and I commend the minister and STENPRO for the agreement that they have reached in this respect. (Applause)

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, rise today to indicate that, on behalf of our caucus, we welcome the announcement today. As the previous speaker has indicated quite well, the whole South Shore and, certainly, the area around Shelburne has been severely, adversely affected because of the downturn in the fishery and the downturn in the economy in that area. Unemployment rates are running very, very high, and anything that is going to be done to try to alleviate many of those problems is extremely welcome. Certainly, when one takes a look at Shelburne Marine, they have, in the past, had a very proud history and they have an excellent workforce in that area, and that would be in addition to the wharves and the other things that the minister talked about, one of the greatest assets to help to make that yard successful.

I would, Mr. Speaker, say to the minister that I certainly would also welcome learning a few more details regarding the lease. I would like to find out more information on the commitments, those types of things. The minister indicated it is a five year lease term. I would not be adverse to finding out some more details about that lease arrangement, the commitments that are being contained within that. I certainly also would welcome learning information on the level of employment that is anticipated in the area and what kind of commitments - I know that they cannot be absolute - the kinds of projections that the company has for hiring local people. Certainly, from the reports that I have heard, many of

[Page 4094]

those who are currently on unemployment are either about to or already have had those unemployment benefits run out. I know that the workers in that area are very anxious to be able to get back to work and to be able to work in their community and not be forced to leave the area.

Certainly, also, Mr. Speaker, when we take a look at the province, it is vitally important that we have strong economic activity going on in all regions, not only in the metropolitan area, but in all of our various parts and communities around this province. We have seen the rural areas being devastated by a whole host of things. So, on behalf of our caucus, I say to the minister that we certainly welcome the announcement and we look forward to receiving additional details in terms of a few of the points that I have raised here this morning and some other questions that we may have later on but, certainly, on the face of it, it seems like an extremely positive announcement for the community and for the province as a whole. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[9:44 a.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

[4:06 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Wayne Gaudet, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 48 - Sales Tax Act.

Bill No. 50 - Registered Nurses Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

[Page 4095]

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I have had a request to revert to the order of business, Presenting and Reading Petitions, and I would request that you please revert to that order of business.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Deputy Government House Leader for allowing us to revert to this order of business. I have a petition here that is signed by George Moody, George Archibald and Ronald Russell. We previously met with this organization and we would like to present a petition.

"We, the undersigned, wish to make it known by our signatures:

a) that we object to the decision made by the Nova Scotia Labour Relations Board regarding the bargaining unit structure for Annapolis Valley Regional School Board non-union support staff employees; and

b) that we support the appeal being filed by the AVRSB".

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of citizens who are, ". . . the undersigned are opposed to the Liberal Government's decision to blend the GST and PST.". They say that, "The BST will be applied at a higher rate (15%) on a much broader base of goods and services, including home heating oil, gasoline, electricity, children's clothes, legal and other professional fees. It will also mean higher residential rents and property taxes. We demand that the government not proceed with this tax. We urge you to scrap plans to introduce this new tax.".

Mr. Speaker, this petition is signed by 250 people and I have certainly affixed my name to the petition and wholeheartedly support it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West on an introduction.

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, through you and to the rest of the members of this House, I would like to introduce four people who are sitting in the west gallery. These are people who are concerned and I have had the privilege to meet. Their concerns are

[Page 4096]

because of the recent announcement about the 3 per cent cutbacks by Community Services to community groups. The people who are here today are: Nancy Hunter, Sister Joan O'Keefe, Chris Fyles and Deborah Dostal. I would ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, that concludes Government Business for today. I wish to advise the House that we will be meeting tomorrow at the hour of 8:00 a.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Third Reading, being Bill No. 48 and Bill No. 50. The hours for tomorrow will be from 8:00 a.m. until the conclusion of Government Business. I wish to remind the House that it is anticipated that the Lieutenant Governor will be arriving at approximately 2:00 p.m. I move that we adjourn until 8:00 a.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: We have arrived at the moment of interruption. The Adjournment debate has been chosen and won by the honourable member for Halifax Fairview who will debate the following motion:

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the federal government to honour their red book commitment to stable, multi-year funding to the CBC.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

CBC - FUNDING: GOV'T. (CAN.) - COMMITMENT HONOUR

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I particularly appreciate the opportunity to talk about the dire straits of the CBC today. Our Party as well as the Official Opposition, both Parties, have struggled to have this matter debated, certainly before this House rises for the Christmas season. I am very happy to have the opportunity to do that here today.

Mr. Speaker, I have a sign in my window at home which says, the CBC promise, keep it, and I was very proud to put it in my window along with many other people from Halifax and from other areas of the country who have put their signs on their lawns or in their windows. I was proud to do it on behalf of a cultural institution that is part of our country's heritage and tradition, and is a living, breathing organism today in spite of the inroads on its funding over the last few years.

[Page 4097]

Mr. Speaker, some of us are old enough to remember when there was no television in this country and when I started thinking about the CBC, I immediately went back to the days of radio when I was a child. I know there are many thousands of Canadians in this country who can remember programs that they listened to as a small child; I can remember programs like Cuckoo Clock House and Kindergarten of the Air - which I was allowed to listen to when I was at home from school - and Our Miss Brooks and other radio plays that we listened to in our house.

Mr. Speaker, I remember vividly the day I became interested in politics. I was at home sick with the flu and I was listening to the radio, and I want to thank the member for Cape Breton Nova for confirming the date for me. I was lying on the sofa listening to the federal Conservative Convention in December 1956 and I think that was the day that I became fascinated and intrigued by the political life of our country. I remember debating with a friend later on which was more important in our lives, at the age of 10: politics or major league baseball. I remember having a vigorous argument about that.

Mr. Speaker, the CBC is under siege; recent events in the last two weeks have once again reminded us of that. Two events happened: one was unequivocally bad, and the other one - you might say - was equivocal. I just want to remind the House of what happened in recent weeks with the CBC. Here in Nova Scotia, ". . . 22 CBC-TV employees and 18 radio staffers in Nova Scotia . . . were told Wednesday that, effective the end of next March, their jobs are redundant. Nationwide, 996 CBC employees were told Wednesday their jobs are going to vanish. The positions are being cut from all services - English and French, radio and TV.". This is on top of, ". . . 700 jobs have been lost through buyouts and attrition, 700 were eliminated over the last year and 800 more are expected to be cut next year, for a total of about 3,200.", jobs in our national broadcasting corporation. CBC officials have conceded that this will have a devastating effect over the next year on our cultural institution and they have pared themselves to the bone now and they have very little room left.

The CBC, in this region, is telling us that there will be more repeat programs over the coming year and that radio listeners and television viewers in our province will have to accept this because there is simply no money anymore to do the job that the CBC was mandated 60 years ago to do. Mr. Speaker, it truly has been radio and television to call our own. The motto for CBC Radio this year is CBC Radio 60 Years: Radio To Call Our Own and indeed it has been that for hundreds of thousands of Canadians at any one time all across this country.

[4:15 p.m.]

What does the CBC do for this country, Mr. Speaker? I can tell you the first moment as an adult when I felt like I was linked coast to coast with a whole network of homes, families and a spirited public debate. In 1971 or 1972 when I wrote my first letter to what was then called This Country in the Morning with Peter Gzowski, and there was a firey debate

[Page 4098]

being engaged in on this radio program about the value of and need for child care all across the country. I remember when I think back on it, writing a letter and trying to be so careful not to identify myself on the airwaves, asking Peter Gzowski not to say my name on the air, which he didn't, and then for the next two weeks everywhere I went having people say to me, well, I heard your letter on the radio. So it just showed me that I felt comfortable talking to other Canadians coast to coast about a very important public issue.

Mr. Speaker, this has gone on all across this country for many years. It is a dialogue, it is a discussion, it is a debate, it is a cultural richness. It is a kind of ongoing argument for this country going from east to west instead of being absorbed by a powerful nation to the south which tends to culturally - and particularly in the electronic age - gobble us up and swallow us whole.

The federal government has not behaved well in recent weeks around this. The federal Heritage Minister allegedly said, well, there were only 19 jobs being cut across the country and I understand that in the Globe and Mail today she now blames this on the media, or at least one media outlet, which she says misconstrued her remarks. I think it is a very sad day in this country, Mr. Speaker, when we have a Heritage Minister who does not stand up on hind legs and do everything, fight tooth and nail, to save this valuable institution.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that in this age of globalization, in this age of invaluable need for a national identity, with a need for preserving our national identity and making it grow, that we must fight tooth and nail to preserve the CBC.

Mr. Speaker, the other thing that happened last week that I referred to as an equivocal event was this, for the second year in a row, Radio Canada International has come under the gun. Last year it was rescued for one year through various funding mechanisms, including some funding from the CBC, and we hear that this year it may well be funded by the Department of External Affairs rather than the CBC. While there is not a person among us who is not grateful to have our voice heard around the world, in seven languages, it is equivocal because we have to wonder, as Canadians, whether our national voice will become the voice of government rather than the voice of the Canadians.

So, Mr. Speaker, I have to say how delighted I am to finally get on the record. I think that we must all fight and we must pressure the federal government and I plead with this provincial government to do that very thing in order to save a national institution that we have grown with, grown to love and want to preserve on into the future. Thank you.

[Page 4099]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part for a few minutes in this debate today. In fact, I stood up on a point of order when the honourable member requested the debate to take place, which is not normal hours and I supported that debate for the honourable member at that time in this House.

We all understand, surely, I believe, the role of the CBC in Canada. Let me tell you, it has got hundreds of avenues that it should be serving the Canadian people. But we also have to understand that the financial obligation of the average person in this nation with regard to costs. I don't support just turning around and doing away with the CBC. The CBC has a role in Canada in bringing this nation together, in my opinion. I believe that the worst thing that can happen today is if we weaken that role in any way. We should be increasing the role of the CBC to encourage understanding from B.C. to Newfoundland. It is no good waiting, Mr. Speaker, until a referendum is called and then we spend millions upon millions of dollars trying to unite Canada. I believe the CBC has a role to play in making this happen on a regular basis.

I believe with the difference in our cultures that we have within our society today; I believe with the difference in our heritage that we have in our society, Mr. Speaker, I believe with the difference in Nova Scotia or Atlantic Canada or central Canada or western Canada, I believe the CBC has an important role there. There is nobody in the private sector in radio or TV that is operating from Ontario or from the West that is going to promote Atlantic Canada. There is nobody in the private sector in Atlantic Canada that is going to promote central Canada and western Canada and talk about the important role they have in this nation building and that we are all part of it. There is only one group that I think can do that in a fair and just way and that is the CBC.

So I think they have a major role here and all of us as Canadians should be speaking out. Maybe the role should change a little bit. There is nothing wrong with looking at their responsibilities and maybe it is time they have new responsibilities, maybe it is time that we look at in western Canada or in central Canada a program everyday from Atlantic Canada on CBC or at least so many days a week. Maybe it is time we looked at in Atlantic Canada where we have so many programs a week or so much time everyday with a program from western Canada, from B.C., from central Canada, from Quebec that carries out the needs of those areas and those provinces and tell Nova Scotians and tell Atlantic Canada the importance of those provinces and those areas and the role they have to play.

So as a Nova Scotian and as a Canadian, I strongly support the concept of the CBC taking a more active role with regard to the nation-building issues that we can all talk about, and they can go, depending where you sit and where you are coming from on this issue.

[Page 4100]

The Maritimes, to me, is so important; Atlantic Canada is so important. If somebody could bring forward to me and say, hey, we will give a guarantee in western Canada, central Canada or Quebec that we are going to promote, Guy, your region, that we are going to promote Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, P.E.I. and New Brunswick and tell all the rest of Canada what it is all about, that's one thing. But tell me in the last hundred years what private sector ever came forward and did that in the best interests of this country? I am not aware of one.

I served with the United Nations before I came to this House. I served in the Middle East and spent some time in England, in Egypt, in Athens and in Italy. I want to tell you, if there was anything the Canadian troops looked forward to it was when they could hear CBC Canada through Radio Canada International, which operates not far from where I live on the Tantramar marshes where their towers are, and where a lot of work goes on with CBC and Radio Canada International. That played such a major role.

Today, when we talk about promoting our exports, how do people around the world learn about Canada? They learn through immigration. They learn through trade delegations. But let met tell you what has made it all happen, Radio Canada International I believe has played a major role, Mr. Speaker, in developing all these potential markets, talking about immigration, coming into this country, that has seen business people come here and settle, and I happen to believe that Radio Canada International planted some seeds in many of those businesses and in many minds of those individuals throughout the whole world.

Today, some people do not seem to accept the importance of that. I believe that is important. I believe if we are to survive as a strong leading nation, let us not forget about those little things that have made it all possible over the past number of years.

Where can you find a program, through the private sector, that covers all of Canada like Information Morning? Well, let us be honest. Where could you find a program like the late Barbara Frum brought to this country for so many years, that people enjoyed? Or how about a program like Donald Connolly? I could go on and on with regard to the type of programs.

When I drive in my car, and let me tell you I am in my car too much, boy, do I like to put 90.5 on my dial and listen to CBC. I will tell you, I can listen to CBC from Halifax on 90.5 right up until I get almost to Springhill and then I have to transfer to CBC-PEI or CBC-Moncton. I learned more on that program about what is going on in this province, and in this nation, than any other program. I do not consider my time wasted. I hate to see as much time as I spend in my car, but let me tell you, turn on your radio in the car, push the button to 90.5 and you listen to CBC, or it is 90.5 on my car radio, anyway. So, those are things that sometimes maybe even younger people today do not appreciate.

[Page 4101]

What has made hockey such a great sport in this country? I want to tell you, I am not altogether a strong hockey fan; baseball fan, let me tell you, am I a baseball fan. What about Hockey Night in Canada? What has Hockey Night in Canada done for our culture and done for this nation, and what has it done for our young people? I do not believe that dividends can be measured. I think it has had such a major impact.

What about the arts? Mr. Speaker, we were all here yesterday and we had a happy day, and 6,000 or 8,000 people last night went to the Metro Centre and had such a lovely evening through Anne Murray. Now, we cannot give the full support to CBC, but let me tell you, where would all these people be like the Anne Murrays of the world, and you could go on with another list of them, without CBC many years ago that helped to develop their manners, their abilities and people to work with them? Let us not forget about those things. What about the National? What about the MacIsaacs? What about Rita? What about all these people that really had their start through CBC-Sydney or through CBC-Halifax?

Mr. Speaker, I realize my time is up. I believe that CBC must stay, and I totally support CBC, but believe that we have to look at it and review the total package.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, in the very few minutes that I have available to me to address this very interesting and very important resolution, I hope to offer a few comments which may be relevant to the resolution and the issue itself.

[4:30 p.m.]

I will start, Mr. Speaker, by reading, if I may, a couple of lines from the infamous Liberal red book and on Page 88 one will find, "Funding cuts to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canada Council, the National Film Board, Telefilm Canada, and other institutions illustrate the Tories' failure to appreciate the importance of cultural and industrial development. The recent attempt to consolidate the Canada Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council is but one more example of this disregard for the promotion of artistic endeavours.".

It goes on, the Liberal red book, "In Canada, over 400,000 people are employed in all aspects of the cultural economy. Arts and cultural activities have become the ninth-largest industry in the country, with direct revenues of $11.5 billion.". Listen to this line, Mr. Speaker, "Liberals recognize not only that the promotion of cultural industries contributes to enhancing Canadian identity, but also that cultural products create jobs at home and bring in revenues from abroad. A Liberal government will help . . .", and on and on and, "Finally, a Liberal government will be committed to stable multiyear financing for national cultural institutions such as the Canada Council and the CBC. This will allow national cultural

[Page 4102]

institutions to plan effectively.". What a sick, sad joke those words are in the face of current activities by the Government of Canada.

Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, I can characterize the importance of the CBC this way. A man well known to me and known to many in this place once said, well, when I was a young guy on the farm, the CBC was all we had. Now the CBC is more important because we have so much. I think that line and that sentiment speaks volumes.

Offensive comments recently by Deputy Prime Minister Copps, she seemed to suggest, Mr. Speaker, that maybe CBC Radio took rather deep cuts but seemed to leave it open for us to consider that she really didn't mind so much if CBC Television took some deep hits or might even expire. Well, I say to you, in response to those comments from Deputy Prime Minister Copps that CBC Radio, in my opinion, is at risk of becoming accidental and incidental if CBC is eviscerated as Ms. Copps seems to suggest would be okay by her.

Mr. Speaker, if cuts to the CBC are deeply made, the decisions about CBC, what will be left then of CBC, will be made by those who brought us the 9:00 o'clock news and drove 1 million people to CTV. The cuts will deepen the rift between a central and a regional view of the country and the biggest lie of all, even larger than those perpetrated recently from the Prime Minister and Ms. Copps, is that when CBC is out of it the private sector will do it.

Mr. Speaker, you know as well as I do, and any right-thinking Canadian knows, that that simply will not happen. It doesn't happen now. If it was going to happen, if the CBC was eviscerated and emasculated, why is it the private sector doesn't do it now? It doesn't do it now because they don't have the same role and function and motivation and, if I may be so bold as to suggest, they don't have the same importance to the country and to radio and television as does the CBC. They have a role and they have a function and they have a bottom line, and they produce and they put items on radio and television which are directly referable to the impact on the bottom line and not referable to the culture and the identity and the lives and the futures of all of us as Canadians.

I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that the further you are from Toronto, the more important the CBC becomes and the regional commitment to CBC is that much more important.

The role, perhaps, of the CBC, might be characterized, I think, Mr. Speaker, this way. The real role of the CBC is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. I have been afflicted a few times, I may say, and perhaps many members in this place have, but I ask you to consider whether or not taking a look at all of private radio and television across this country, whether there is a legitimate and serious and thoughtful attempt by private radio and television in this country to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The CBC finds as many voices and as many views as it can on, I might say - as I know you know - the most eclectic range of topics and issues imaginable and that will not happen or continue to be the

[Page 4103]

case if CBC dies. It will happen less and less effectively if CBC is financially strangled, as the current government seems to be intent on doing.

Radio Canada International, as my colleague from Cumberland County said a moment ago, is so vital to what we are as a country. It is our voice to the world and it is their window through which they have a look at us, one of the most blessed nations on the earth. Any attempt, in my opinion, to again rip apart the RCI, Radio Canada International, which I think, Mr. Speaker, until the pressure and heat became too intense, I really think was Ms. Copps' intention and she then shifted the thing over to Minister Axworthy and he now has produced the $16 million to make sure that RCI has one more year of life. I listened on the CBC, interestingly enough, the other day to Mr. Axworthy when queried, well, why is it that it is only a one year commitment? His answer was something to the effect that well, we haven't worked out our long-range strategy just yet. Well, I am from Missouri, I am pretty doubtful. I am very, very fearful that unless there is intense pressure brought on every single member of the Parliament of Canada and as many Canadians are mobilized as possible to have Canadians understand the fundamental role and vital importance of the CBC that that strangulation will continue.

I said a moment ago that RCI is the window through which the rest of the world sees us, one of the most blessed nations on the face of the earth. We are blessed, Mr. Speaker, I believe, because we are Canadian. We are Canadian in very large measure because of the CBC and because the CBC reflects and it exposes and it clarifies and it examines and it illuminates what we are as Canadians, our history, our culture, both of our official languages and it binds us together as a nation and as a people. It is simply wrong to have it strangled at the hands of those who have a narrow vision of the country and who, in regard to their considerations of the CBC radio and television, look at it, unfortunately, as those in private radio and television look at their operations, namely on the basis of the bottom line.

The bottom line, in my opinion, of the CBC is the history and the culture and the language and the fibre and the fabric of what it is that makes you and me and all of us Canadians. That is what the CBC has been reflecting for 60 years. I listened with great interest in the weeks on the run up to the 60th Anniversary of the CBC and aside altogether from the various anecdotal references made by hundreds and hundreds of callers to the CBC about experiences that they recall about particular programs or particular occurrences or presentations on the CBC, these recollections and the comments all spoke to me of the fact that the existence and the role and the function of the CBC being the cement that binds us together as a people whether we live in Newfoundland or British Columbia or whether we speak French or we speak English, all of that came through in all of those anecdotal references.

I support wholeheartedly the resolution before your House tonight, Mr. Speaker, and invite all Canadians to speak up loudly on behalf of the CBC. Thank you.

[Page 4104]

MR. SPEAKER: I want to thank all the honourable members for having taken part in this afternoon's late debate.

The motion for adjournment has been made.

The House will rise to sit again tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.

[The House rose at 4:40 p.m.]