The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Thur., Apr. 10, 1997

Fifth Session

THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
ARRIVAL OF THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR 1
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE 2
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Ross Bragg (MLA 1988-1996): Death of - Tribute, The Premier 10
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
An Act Respecting Oaths of Office, Hon. A. Mitchell 12
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE:
Moved - Mr. Raymond White 13
Seconded - Mr. Richard Hubbard 17
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Dr. J. Hamm 20
Adjourned Debate 26
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Apr. 11th at 10:00 a.m. 26

[Page 1]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

[The Fifth Session of the 56th General Assembly was opened with historic ceremony on a cold, cloudy day with snow flurries.

The Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable John James Kinley, preceded by his escort and aides and by Mr. Douglas Giles, Acting Sergeant-at-Arms, bearing the Mace, entered the House of Assembly Chamber. The Lieutenant Governor then took his seat on the Throne.

The Sergeant-at-Arms then departed and re-entered the Chamber followed by the Speaker, the Honourable Wayne Gaudet; the Chief Clerk of the House, Roderick MacArthur, Q.C.; and the Acting Assistant Clerk, Arthur Fordham, Q.C.

The Speaker, with the Sergeant-at-Arms on his right and the Clerks on either side, took up his position at the foot of the Speaker's Table.]

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: It is the wish of His Honour that the ladies and gentlemen be seated.

1

[Page 2]

SPEECH FROM THE THRONE

THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: In the name of our Sovereign, I welcome you today to this, the opening of the Fifth Session of the Fifty-sixth General Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Since our last meeting, death has removed a number of distinguished Nova Scotians from our midst. My Government wishes to gratefully acknowledge their lives of service and mention here by name:

Clarence Gosse, a former Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia.

D.L. George Henley, a former Minister of Lands and Forests and MLA for Cumberland West.

James Vaughan, a former MLA who represented Halifax North, Halifax Chebucto and Halifax Needham.

Ross Bragg, a former Minister of the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency and MLA for Cumberland West and Cumberland North.

Ian Palmeter, Associate Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

Martin Haley, a former Judge of the Provincial Court.

Dominic Melanson, a twice decorated veteran of two world conflicts, and the last surviving member of the Royal Canadian Regiment to have fought in the Great War.

Archie Neil Chisholm, a celebrated Cape Breton broadcaster, educator, storyteller and fiddler who enlivened and promoted his Island culture.

Jessie Morrison and Tena Emiline Morrison, Victoria County residents who made important contributions to the preservation of Gaelic culture.

Jim Pittman, a founder of the Folk Harbour Festival in Lunenburg.

Also since we last met, there have been a number of Nova Scotians who have honoured their province by their achievements. Notable among them are Donald Mills of Eastern Passage, The Honourable Alan Abraham of Halifax, John Bragg of Oxford, and Marilyn Peers of Halifax who were inducted into the Order of Canada. Mary Ona Bjornson of Antigonish and Master Corporal Robert Fisher, of Dartmouth were made recipients of the Star of Courage; and Darren Meery of Scotchtown was awarded the Medal of Bravery. As well, Dr.

[Page 3]

John O'Connor of Dartmouth was named Family Physician of the Year by the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

In Nova Scotia the tide has turned. My Government's biggest challenge in the coming months will be preparing Nova Scotians to take advantage of the economic opportunities that lie ahead. Four difficult years of tough decisions and rapid change are starting to pay off.

The trends speak for themselves. Our economic growth is expected to improve again this year, then accelerate. A recent Bank of Montreal outlook put it this way: "we expect economic activity in Nova Scotia to rev up in 1997, then shift into higher gear in 1998.".

Furthermore Statistics Canada reports Nova Scotia will lead the country in new investment this year. Only Alberta is expected to come close to Nova Scotia's gain which is projected to reach 18.1 per cent. This compares with an anticipated national increase of 5.2 per cent.

Nova Scotia's construction industry will be in the vanguard. Chief among the capital projects under way this year is a $750-million expansion at Stora Port Hawkesbury Ltd., and the $112.9-million construction of the Highway 104 western alignment. These two undertakings alone will put more than 1,000 construction workers on the job.

More growth will follow this sector, next year, when anticipated construction begins on a pipeline to transport offshore Sable gas to market. Under the Benefits Plan for the Sable Offshore Energy Project, an estimated 3,900 short-term jobs could materialize in the development phase. Another 260 permanent jobs will open up during the production period.

The good news is not confined to the construction industry or Sable gas. Nova Scotia, with 25,500 net new jobs to its credit since May 1993, is the undisputed leader in job growth in Atlantic Canada. Nova Scotia now has the lowest unemployment rate in the region. Moreover, this province has emerged from the last 12 months with the best job creation rate in the country. Based on current trends, Nova Scotia is expected to achieve record employment levels in 1997.

In step with this new reality, My Government's focus will shift. The bulk of its reform measures is now complete. This means public services will stabilize, and in some areas, such as health and education, they will even expand.

Buttressing this significant achievement will be a second consecutive balanced budget. This accomplishment, unmatched in this province for more than 20 years, assures the long-term survival of government-funded health care, education, and help to the disadvantaged. What was financially untenable is now secure.

[Page 4]

Government activities will now concentrate, more fully, on promoting economic growth and self-reliance. At the same time My Government will use its financial resources to improve and protect Nova Scotians' quality of life. That term embraces such things as good health care and education, respect for our natural environment and its resources, and responsible management of the province's finances.

[2:15 p.m.]

These new directions are apparent in government activities connected with Sable gas; improvements to the business climate; youth, training and jobs; research and development; marketing; investment in our economy; roads and highways; and health, education and children.

One of the most important developments My Government must prepare for is the advent of offshore Sable gas. New legislation to regulate transportation and marketing of future gas supplies will be introduced shortly. The proposed Nova Scotia Gas Distribution Act will give this province one of the most progressive regulatory regimes in North America.

My government will protect Nova Scotians' interests at regulatory proceedings on the Sable Offshore Energy Project and during hearings on the associated pipeline application.

Meanwhile the Offshore Energy Office is working closely with business, industry, and the project proponents to optimize Nova Scotia's gains from this $3-billion gas and pipeline development.

Many more opportunities are on the horizon for Nova Scotia besides Sable gas. To help bring them forward more steps will be taken to improve the climate for investment and job creation.

July 1st, Nova Scotians will experience the first across-the-board income tax cut in the province's history. The personal income tax rate, payable to the provincial government, will drop 3.4 per cent. This will give consumers more disposable income and stimulate spending.

An expanded Procurement Outreach program will help more interested Nova Scotian firms compete for government business.

The Department of Business and Consumer Services will continue to eliminate, consolidate and re-package many of the nearly 300 government licenses and permits needed by business. A simplified fee structure will also be proposed this year.

Three new multi-service centres for business and the general public are scheduled to open in Halifax, Dartmouth and Kentville.

[Page 5]

Fair and equitable terms will be sought to transfer the federal Halifax International Airport to a locally-controlled authority. Strong advocacy will also continue in the interests of improving the Port of Halifax's competitive position.

Aquaculture, which last year doubled its Nova Scotia production to $13-million, will benefit from recent changes made by the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department.

At the Environment Department, a one site, one inspector, one approval process will be instituted. This will end the expensive and time-consuming practice of sending several government inspectors, charged with different inspection tasks, to the same site.

Concerning youth, training, and jobs, major strides have already been made to adapt our education system to the shifting needs of the economy. The Nova Scotia Community College will continue the march this year by introducing 11 new programs, ranging from business geographics to digital animation. The selections are based on job market demand. This responsiveness, including programs tailored to specific employer requests, has made the college increasingly popular with students. Enrolment is expected to exceed 8,000 full-time registrants in the new academic year.

Action to help students leap the job barrier posed by inexperience is high on My Government's agenda. Well-paid work experience will be offered once again to college and university students through Nova Scotia Links. The federal-provincial program helps students pay their tuition, gain career-related work experience and find jobs after graduation.

My Government will offer high school students more in the realm of co-operative and entrepreneurship education, and in school-to-work programs. New investment will be made to increase the number of job placements for co-operative education students in university and community colleges. Incentives will also be developed to sustain the placements.

As well, students will be given more opportunity to catch the entrepreneurial spirit. Once again students will be helped to start summer businesses through the Youth Entrepreneurial Skills program. Of the 1,300 students who have been part of the program, 500 have parlayed their summer experience into full-time self-employment.

On another front, the 4-H and Rural Organizations Section will join with two provincial departments and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to hold the first youth entrepreneurship camp for 12 to 16 year-olds.

The importance of research and development to our future economic growth has not escaped My Government's attention. The amalgamation of the Technical University of Nova Scotia with Dalhousie University, this month, is expected to attract substantial new investment from business and industry. The attendant economic activity could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Nova Scotia.

[Page 6]

The province's reputation as a place to do research has already obtained a huge boost this year with the announced $6-million heart study by Merck Frosst Canada Inc.

Aware of these and other investment prospects, the Nova Scotia Technology and Science Secretariat, in partnership with post-secondary institutions and the private sector, is laying the groundwork for development of the province's first research and development policy.

The Agri-Tech Park in Bible Hill has been designated the province's centre for commercialized agricultural biotechnology. This facility will make the province a leader in the field with the help of InNOVAcorp, biotechnology companies and the Nova Scotia Agricultural College.

Not to be forgotten either is the ongoing impact of Nova Scotia's research and development tax credit, which remains very competitive world-wide.

This year My Government will continue to aggressively market Nova Scotia's products, skills and services abroad.

The province's exports have climbed by 27.5 per cent since 1993. Building on that momentum, a strategic initiative will be undertaken, in partnership with the private sector, to further boost export sales.

Our top export commodity last year was seafood which posted record values of $799.4-million. New sources of foreign sales are also being sought in this industrial sector. The province's Fisheries and Aquaculture Department is working with the boat building industry to tap into foreign markets for increased boat sales and technology transfers.

Impressive inroads are also being made in drawing international attention to our new exports in education. The Nova Scotia high school curriculum, for instance, is being used by high school students in Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. More foreign students are discovering the excellence of our educational institutions.

These initiatives are in keeping with My Government's plan, in partnership with the province's universities and community colleges, to attract 1,000 new international students to Nova Scotia by the end of the century. Attainment of that goal will give our education system cosmopolitan sophistication and a new source of revenue.

Overseas sales in the new area of environmental industries, will be aggressively pursued this year. Trade missions to the Caribbean have already yielded contracts worth $12-million as well as jobs for Nova Scotians. More partnerships will be announced soon.

[Page 7]

Tourism will gain from our marketing efforts too. During two Years of Music which started this year, My Government will encourage foreign and domestic visitors to experience the rhythms of Nova Scotia. The theme will publicize our cultural achievements. In addition, visitors will be drawn to Cape Breton to take part in Cabot Meeting '97, marking the 500th Anniversary of John Cabot's arrival in North America. Ecotourism another tourism growth area along with culture, is also expected to increase again this year.

My Government will continue to capture new business investment and put public money into key programs and activities that strengthen our economy. In partnership with the federal government, we have put together an investment program for economic diversification. The $240-million Canada/Nova Scotia COOPERATION Agreement has already invested in more than 150 projects in targeted growth areas. These include education and research, transportation, oceans and the environment.

Leads will be aggressively tracked down and pursued to bring new businesses to this province. Recent successes from this endeavour in the form of Cisco Systems, Newbridge Networks, Mentor Networks, Keane Inc., Phonettix (Fonix) Intelecom and OSP Consultants Inc. show My Government is on the right track.

Extensive planning by regional development authorities is reviving local confidence and enterprise.

In partnership with the federal government and municipalities, My Government will support a one-year extension of the Infrastructure Works Program.

Home repair assistance will be offered this year to eliminate health and safety hazards. Homeowners, people with disabilities, renters and rooming house occupants will benefit.

The Shipper Assistance Program will help Nova Scotian companies stay competitive this year. To date 26 companies have taken advantage of the program which offsets the loss of the federal freight subsidy.

The film industry will get a lift from My Government's support of three privately operated sound stages. The Film Development Tax Credit and the Film Development Corporation are also providing help to this industry which is expected to put $100-million into the provincial economy this year.

Maintenance and expansion of our highway network have long-term significance for My Government.

In recognition of how important these undertakings are for safe travel and commercial progress about $12-million has been committed to linking Highway 103 at Barrington. Another $54-million will be spent on twinning the corridor for Highway 104 from Salt

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Springs to Alma. Before Christmas, the four-lane western alignment of Highway 104 will be open to traffic. More announcements will be forthcoming, of particular interest to Halifax and Sydney area commuters.

Underpinning all these attempts to further economic growth is the determination to give Nova Scotians the means to attain greater financial security and self-fulfilment. Critically important to that pursuit is the provision of reliable, first-class health care and education for our people. Additionally it requires a sensitive approach to the needs of our children and the disadvantaged.

[2:30 p.m.]

After four years of extensive restructuring in health care and education, the size and pace of change will diminish. Gains will be consolidated and some services will be bolstered.

Efforts to remedy chronic doctor shortages in affected communities will continue this year. In this connection there will be further consideration of a major change in the way doctors' services are paid for and organized, as outlined in the discussion paper, Good Medicine: Securing Doctors' Services for Nova Scotians. These matters are being pursued in consultation with the Medical Society of Nova Scotia and the general public.

Nova Scotia's home care will continue to grow faster than any other government program. Already 18,000 people have been served by its operations. This year Home Care Nova Scotia will stabilize its basic offerings in home hospital and chronic home care and begin to selectively phase-in new services. These will include such things as home oxygen, palliative care, occupational therapy, social work, mental health services and orthopaedics for children.

Regional health boards will re-deploy millions of dollars, once spent on administration, to patient care this year. Hospital funding will stabilize.

In keeping with the new emphasis placed on promoting good health and preventing disease the Health Department will launch a healthy communities initiative in four locations.

More improvements in Emergency Medical Health Services are on the way. The emergency health system has already been redesigned and re-equipped. Medical care, impossible to provide at the scene of an accident or injury only two years ago, now routinely saves lives.

In a related move, Enhanced-911 service will become available province-wide when the entire Halifax Regional Municipality joins the grid this summer. The three-digit phone number will summon emergency help anywhere in Nova Scotia. Our province will be the first in the country to enjoy complete coverage.

[Page 9]

The wisdom of My Government's actions to modernize our education system is becoming apparent. Administrative streamlining has meant more education dollars are reaching students in the classroom.

As an example, a four-year plan to reduce class sizes will be unveiled this year.

Attentive to other aspects of the learning environment, My Government will work to ensure our schools are safe places where students and teachers follow high quality curricula and maximize their scholastic achievements.

The Education and Culture Department, in co-operation with its education partners, will work to support overall school improvement including special education services at the elementary level, re-organization at the junior high level, and programming that supports the future career and educational choices of all senior high school students.

My Government is also responding to the needs of minorities. The Department of Education and Culture is working with the Council on African Canadian Education to develop a proposal for an Afrocentric Learning Institute. And for the first time, the Mi'kmaq community will have a representative on each regional school board.

There is more meaningful parental involvement than ever before in our schools. School Advisory Councils have mushroomed from 50 last year to 225 this year.

The success of public-private partnerships in producing new high-tech schools will speed the pace of construction. More schools will be built more quickly. Seven of these schools are now in various stages of construction. Sherwood Park Education Centre in Sydney, the first school completed under the program, has captured national and international attention for its design and technological sophistication.

Children with serious emotional and behaviour problems as well as their families will receive new help through more timely intervention and specialized child placements. In addition, a new secure treatment facility will be set up in Truro that will keep children in Nova Scotia who would otherwise be sent out of province.

My Government is also committed to participating in the National Child Tax Benefit program. It aims to reduce child poverty and encourage families on social assistance to attain financial independence.

The Ministers of Education and Culture, Community Services, Health and Justice, together with the Minister responsible for Youth, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding. It commits My Government to an integrated approach to child and youth services. A Children and Youth Action Committee, staffed by representatives from the four departments and the Youth Secretariat, is working to bring this about.

[Page 10]

No more eloquent testament to the importance My Government places on helping the disadvantaged exists, than the budget record. There have been no cuts to the Department of Community Services' global budget since 1993. In fact the allocation actually increased within the last three years. Few governments in Canada, in similar financial circumstances, can make that claim.

My Government is proud of the principled way it deals with public affairs. It has steadfastly followed a four-track strategy in simultaneous pursuit of economic growth, financial stability, social responsibility and governmental renewal. This course has not resulted in the massive layoffs experienced in some other jurisdictions, nor has it placed social programs in jeopardy. Instead it has put our finances in order, saved programs and services, and laid the groundwork for the new optimism and confidence our economy points to today.

God Save The Queen;

God Bless Nova Scotia;

God Bless Canada.

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.

The Lieutenant Governor left the Chamber preceded by his escort and the Sergeant-at-Arms.

Mr. Speaker took the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I crave your indulgence for a ministerial statement. I have acquainted the other two Parties with the statement that I am making.

This is in memory of a great colleague of ours, Mr. Ross Bragg. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a man who, for members on both sides of this House, was a respected colleague and perhaps more importantly, a valued friend. On March 31st, Ross Bragg, the former MLA for Cumberland North and former Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, lost a valiant five and one-half year battle with leukemia.

[Page 11]

Ross was first elected to this Chamber in September 1988. After serving his constituents for a total of eight years, Ross resigned last fall to spend more time with the family that he loved. Although we supported his decision, Mr. Speaker, it was difficult to see him retire from public life for he brought so much to the people of this province. Here in this very Chamber, Ross was an eloquent speaker, a great debater and proved himself to be a man of passion. Whether as a member of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, a member of Cabinet, Ross always fought the good fight and most often came out the winner; but win or lose, he always managed to retain the respect and the admiration of his political opponents.

It is difficult to measure the impact of such a man. We will miss his humour, his charm, his ability to cheer us when he sensed that we might be feeling down and we are not alone, Mr. Speaker, as evidenced by the outpouring of grief from right across this province and particularly in his own community of Collingwood and from his former constituency of Cumberland North.

Ross left behind a family to which he was devoted. I trust that you, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of this House will extend to his wife, Cathy, and four children: Peter, Joshua, Meghan and Courtney, our heartfelt condolences on the loss of their dear husband and father.

Following the remarks of the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Leader of the Third Party, Mr. Speaker, I would respectfully request that the House honour the memory of our good friend, Ross, with a moment of silence.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I join with the Premier today in recognition of the life and the achievements of Ross Bragg. As I said last week, Ross was easily one of the most liked members of this House, regardless of which Party you were a member. While he was serious about the work of the Legislature and his constituency, he could lighten any situation with a joke and a smile. To him, politics was not as important as doing the right thing for people. This place will be a far less cheery one without him.

I am glad that Ross decided to step down from his political post last year. The time that he was then able to devote to his wife, Cathy, sons Peter and Josh, daughters Meghan and Courtney, as well as the rest of his family was, I have no doubt, invaluable to him. I join with the members of this House in celebrating the all too brief yet full life of a hard-working, fine Nova Scotian whose legacy will be remembered. My sincere sympathies go out to his wife and children and I join the Premier in requesting a minute of silence for Ross.

[Page 12]

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, am pleased to rise on behalf of my colleagues and myself to pay tribute to Ross Bragg. We all know that Ross took his job in this House and his job as a servant of the Crown in the Province of Nova Scotia very seriously but he certainly didn't take himself too seriously and that is one of the things, I think, that many people admired about Ross.

I had the opportunity, as did many other members of this House, to attend the services in Collingwood last week and you could see from the service and from the people who were there, just the kind of commitment that that man obviously made to his family, to his community and to his province. He was a curious person, always curious about what was going on and certainly operated with a lot of compassion.

I remember standing in this House, Mr. Speaker, and asking questions of the member for Cumberland North when he was the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and sitting in my place and kind of waiting for what was going to come. He would stand up in his place and he would cock his head in, or his chin in his shoulder, and he would let you have it. You always knew that you were going to get the best from Ross Bragg and I think his constituents felt the same way, certainly his community did. I want to join with the Premier, the Leader of the Official Opposition and all members, and certainly my colleagues in the NDP caucus, to send my deepest sympathies to Ross Bragg's family and friends.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that the House pause for a minute of silence in remembering the late Ross Bragg?

It is agreed.

All rise, please.

[A minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: We have a procedure under which the Attorney General introduces a pro forma bill.

The honourable Attorney General.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a bill entitled An Act Respecting Oaths of Office.

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

[Page 13]

His Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to make a speech to the members of the House this afternoon, of which Speech, for greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy which the Clerk will now read.

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I move that the speech be taken as read and that the Speaker put the motion.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the speech be taken as read.

Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. (Applause)

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, I stand before the honourable members of this House of Assembly with great respect and humility. It is an honour for me to address this revered Assembly as I move adoption of the Speech from the Throne just presented by this government.

Speaking for all members of this House, I want to thank His Honour the Lieutenant Governor who presented the agenda of our government to the Assembly and to the people of Nova Scotia. For all the citizens of this great province, I extend to Their Honours, the Lieutenant Governor and Mrs. Kinley, our warmest greetings and our pledge of support. This is also my first opportunity, since your appointment last November, Mr. Speaker, to congratulate you on your accession to this important office. I know that you will continue to serve this House with the same dignity and sense of purpose you exhibited during the last session.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to recognize the presence of numerous visitors in the gallery. Many are friends and relatives of the members of this House of Assembly, without whose support many of us would not be sitting here today.

As I reflect on the contributions and sacrifices made by our families, I cannot help but think of the recent passing of a very special Nova Scotian and a very special valued friend. At the opening of the Fifth Session of the Fifty-Sixth General Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, I wish to recall with great respect the memory of the late Ross Bragg who so ably served his constituency as a Member of the Legislative Assembly and the Province of Nova Scotia as the Minister for the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency.

[Page 14]

I was fortunate enough, Mr. Speaker, to learn many things from Ross Bragg over the years but, as I look around the gallery today, one lesson stands above the rest. I learned from Ross how important it is to remember the needs of your family, especially in those times when it is easiest to forget. I also learned that politics takes a great toll on your family and it takes strong and understanding people to stand by you each step of the way. With this in mind, I wish to take this opportunity to thank my wife, Judy, our children, Michael, Stacey, Tammy and Jacqueline for their love and support. It is also incumbent upon me to recognize the contributions and sacrifices made by the families of all members of this House. It is only with their help that we can represent our constituents and provide good government to the people of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege and the honour to represent the constituency of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. I want to thank my constituents for the confidence and trust that they have placed in me since I was first elected in May 1993. Through the Lieutenant Governor, this government has set forth a legislative agenda that, in many ways, represents four years of much needed reform in this province. Throughout this time, we promised Nova Scotians there would be a reward for making the difficult decisions. We promised that making the responsible choices would bring about a day, after being on our knees for a long time, the province would get back on its feet. That day has arrived. (Applause)

It was not too many years ago that New Brunswick was laying claim to the best job creation record in Atlantic Canada. Today, Nova Scotia is not only the undisputed leader in job growth in Atlantic Canada but, over the past 12 months, this province has the best job creation rate in the entire country. (Applause)

With Nova Scotia expected to lead the country in economic investment this year, the rate of job creation will pick up in 1997 and 1998. With most of our governments reform agenda completed, Mr. Speaker, and with the provinces future looking brighter than it has for decades, it is time to gradually build on the policies of the past four years. Public services will be stabilized in some areas and improved in others. New investment will be made in trading, research development, roads and highways, health and education and, most important, in our children and our youth.

When the Minister of Finance rises to table his budget next week, Mr. Speaker, he will balance the books for the second year in a row. (Applause) This budget will symbolize our commitment to fiscal responsibility and sound fiscal management. Even as we maintain to improve our public services over the next few years, even as we make new investment in all the key areas listed above, our commitment will never be forgotten.

Mr. Speaker, I represent a constituency that contains some of the most beautiful seacoast scenery in the entire province. Our forests and rivers are a sportsmans dream. When I think of the riding of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, I always think first of the people. I think of their warmth, their kindness and hospitality, and their dedication to hard work. That

[Page 15]

is why nothing pleases me more than to see the people of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury benefiting from the economic renaissance that is working its way through our province.

Like other Nova Scotians, my constituents are growing more optimistic about their economic futures by the day, and with good reason. Over the past year, Mr. Speaker, Stora Forest Industries has continued with their investment of $650 million in the Port Hawkesbury plant, one of the largest capital expansions ever to take place in Nova Scotia. That expansion will enable Stora to produce high quality paper used for magazines, calendars and catalogues. You may remember when Stora was in need a few years ago, this government was there to help with a loan of $15.4 million. This loan has been fully repaid. That initiative probably ranks up with some of the best investment decisions made by this government. (Applause) About 800 people are employed during the construction phase and many long-term jobs will be created when the new paper line starts production.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, Stora has been a good corporate citizen for a very long time. This fall the company received the prestigious environmental award from the federal government for its contribution in reducing greenhouse emissions, improving energy efficiency and promoting reforestation.

The good news does not end with Stora. In recent years the fishing industry has been hard hit in Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, as it has in many areas of the province, but there are signs that the industry is rebounding. The Seafreez plant in Canso has undergone a major expansion and is thriving because of its superior workforce and creative approach to the development of new markets. The ACL Shrimp Plant in Mulgrave is using sophisticated technology and an aggressive marketing approach to increasing sales. Our many pristine inlets, bays and harbours offer unlimited potential for aquaculture along with a growing sea urchin industry.

There is more, Mr. Speaker. We know that tourism in Nova Scotia has always played a large role in our economy. We know that under the leadership of the Premier and the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism the industry has an even brighter future but nowhere is the potential for tourism more evident than on the Eastern Shore. For two consecutive years, the Eastern Shore has led the province in tourism growth and with the tourism infrastructure investment at Port Bickerton, the Dover trails, the Goshen Game Park and Sherbrooke Village, this government is committed to ensuring that this growth will continue. Added to this are new waterfront developments in Canso, Mulgrave and Port Hawkesbury and soon Guysborough and you can understand why the people of my constituency are upbeat about the long-term future of tourism in our area.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism is calling 1997 the Year of Music. As in previous years, musical events such as the Festival of the Green in Port Hawkesbury and the Hootenany in the Park in Guysborough will continue. But what promises to be the biggest event, however, is the first ever Stan Rogers Music

[Page 16]

Festival in Canso; 26 bands have already signed up and Stan Rogers fans from all over the world will meet in Canso in the first week of July to celebrate the singer who means so much to many Nova Scotians. (Applause)

Of course, Mr. Speaker, the big economic wildcard for our area is the Sable Island gas project. Once approved, the $3 billion project will create 3,000 jobs in the construction phase. But for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, there are also significant long-term benefits including the many full-time jobs that will be created at the gas plant in Goldboro and the liquid handling facility in Point Tupper.

Over the last two years, I have met with many constituents, groups and individuals throughout the constituency to gauge the public reaction to this project. All the players in the area, industry, government and development agencies, have demonstrated their support for the Sable project and their desire to be key players in its development. As the MLA, I will continue to work with the community to ensure that we derive maximum benefits from this project in the years ahead.

[3:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, there are still challenges to be faced in my constituency, although, as I noted earlier, there have been signs of recovery in the fishing industry, the general downturn still hurts many of the people in my area and will for some time to come. There is more infrastructure and road work to be done. Over the past year I have met with my constituents on many important issues including health care, education and the Sable Island gas project and I commit myself to continue to work with them again as we face new challenges. (Applause)

I would be remiss, Mr. Speaker, if I did not take the opportunity to extend special thanks to the Premier for the contribution that he has made to our Party and to our province. (Applause) He has led this province through some of its most trying times in recent memory and has brought Nova Scotia to a turning point. As a result of his leadership, our province has indeed gotten off its knees and back onto its feet.

I want to read to the House, Mr. Speaker, a letter brought to my attention by Mr. John Wesley Chisholm of Dartmouth. The letter was written in 1872 to a friend by Joe Howe, a great Liberal and a great Nova Scotian. Howe wrote, "The time is rapidly approaching when my voice will no more be heard in council or debate, but I have an abiding faith that long after I have passed, the rising generation, full of generous impulses and not distracted by the cross-lights which flash around us now, will recognize the earnestness and sincerity with which I strove to elevate and improve Nova Scotia.".

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the Premier of our province can proudly say the same. (Applause)

[Page 17]

I am proud, Mr. Speaker, to be part of a government that has turned this province around. I am proud to be part of a government that has never shied away from making difficult decisions. I am proud to be part of a government that has done so much to ensure that our children and grandchildren will inherit a more prosperous and self-reliant Nova Scotia. (Applause)

I move that the following address be presented to the Lieutenant Governor in reply to the speech which His Honour has delivered to this session of the Legislature and I move that this address do pass.

To His Honour, J. James Kinley, Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Nova Scotia, may it please Your Honour that we, Her Majesty's cheerful and loyal subjects, the House of Assembly and the Province of Nova Scotia in session assembled, beg leave to thank Your Honour for a most gracious speech which opens this, the Fifth Session of the Fifty-Sixth General Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia. We assure Your Honour of our loyal support and affection. May God bless you and keep you well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there are many special guests here today but there are guests of mine in the east gallery that I would like to use this opportunity to introduce to the House and those gathered. Working toward their Chief Scouts and here today as part of their Gold Citizenship Award, in the east gallery are Donald Hynes and Scott Hutcheson. I would ask them to stand. They are accompanied by Don and Mary MacMillan who have devoted many years to community life in Dartmouth and are accompanying them here today.

It was no accident on Saturday morning as I was walking through Shubie Park with our dog, I came across some of these scouts accompanied by Mary and Don, having a mug-up there among the sunshine and the snow in Shubie Park. That is the type of dedication that those people are giving to their community. So I would like to ask them all to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. RICHARD HUBBARD: Mr. Speaker, it is with great honour I stand before you, the honourable members of this House and all guests in the gallery today, to second the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. May I also add my thanks to our Lieutenant Governor, James Kinley, for presenting our government's agenda to the people of Nova Scotia and for reminding us of the importance of this tradition. Mr. Speaker, may I also congratulate you on your appointment to the position of Speaker. I am delighted my

[Page 18]

honourable neighbour from Clare continues to serve this House so ably. Félicitations! (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, may I begin by remembering Mr. Fenton Page, who recently passed away at the age of 101. Fenton was the last surviving Yarmouth veteran of Vimy Ridge. Yesterday in France there were ceremonies to mark the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which gave the Allies their biggest victory of 1917. Canada's incredible contribution to this battle turned the tide of the war and helped us forge our sense of nationhood. As the proud son of another veteran of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, I know all too well the contribution of these veterans. We will always be grateful for the efforts of veterans like Fenton Page. (Applause)

Last night my honourable colleague from Argyle, Allister Surette, was in Yarmouth to make a presentation to the RH Davis Company Ltd., who are celebrating 100 years of serving the people of Yarmouth and Nova Scotia this year. May I add my congratulations to them as they exemplify commitment to community.

It is my great pleasure to follow my honourable friend from Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury as we together demonstrate the breadth of support this government has across our great province. And both of us have a great many things in common, the least of which is having as constituents former members of this House who were once very involved in tourism.

It continues to be my privilege to represent the fine constituents of the riding of Yarmouth, who have worked so hard to support me, our government and our Premier.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Premier who has worked so hard for all of us. It truly has been an honour to serve alongside of him, and his efforts on behalf of our province will be of benefit for years to come. (Applause) I would also like to pay tribute to the Premier's wife, Margaret, for her many contributions to our province. (Applause) All of us who are in public life chose this path; our spouses chose to support us and for that support we are all grateful. Mrs. Savage's support to her husband and to all of us here will not soon be forgotten. Premier and Mrs. Savage, the province is in your debt.

At this time, perhaps, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge my good wife, Barbara, who is seated in the gallery as well, and to thank her for her support. (Applause)

As I look back on the past year, I can reflect with pride on the accomplishments of both this government and the people of Yarmouth County. I can state with conviction that I have always worked to further the potential of Yarmouth and so has this government. Now, with the first back-to-back balanced budget in more than 20 years, we have provided an atmosphere for real growth and security for all Nova Scotians.

[Page 19]

Recently, the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency changed its name to reflect the emphasis this government has put on tourism. Now, with the Department of Economic Development and Tourism leading the way, both Nova Scotians and those we fondly refer to as come-from-aways can experience our cultural contributions, our natural beauty and our small town friendliness.

This government has been assisted in our tourism marketing efforts by the many volunteers, organizations and festivals throughout the province who are considered key supporters of tourism development. One such example from my riding would be the work done to develop the waterfront area. This enhancement of the beauty of Yarmouth has been greatly appreciated not only by her citizens but by visitors as well. The resulting increased attraction for tourists has helped spur business growth, with the latest new business to open in May.

Tourism growth, as well as economic development, is being provided to residents of southwestern Nova Scotia through the $12 million road construction project connecting one of the last missing sections of Highway No. 103. Besides making access easier for all, the project will provide a safer route for both residents and tourists. This project also shows the people of Nova Scotia that this government stands behind its commitments.

Another effort by our government that I am extremely proud of is our purchase of the former Dominion Textile Plant. With investment involvement and partnerships involving the municipal and the federal governments, we saved 35 jobs. Naysayers may question the effort but as far as I am concerned, those jobs and the 60 new jobs that have been created since are well worth the effort. (Applause) With our job creation rate running so high and the added advantage of Yarmouth being rated by an ACOA study as the least expensive place to do business in Atlantic Canada, Yarmouth's future is indeed bright. We look forward to the creation of more jobs in Yarmouth to help replace many hundreds lost some seven years ago.

Mr. Speaker, my constituency was pleased to learn of this government's commitment to education in the riding of Yarmouth with the announcement of the new Meadowfield Community School. This school, replacing the Hebron and Milton School, will house 590 students from Grade Primary to Grade 6. The school will be technologically advanced, with technology shared with other schools in the region, through distance education, networking and the sharing of computers that are replaced at Meadowfield. The school will also serve as a lifelong learning centre offering adult education and welcoming community members into the school. We waited a long time for this school and it is great to see things moving forward.

Mr. Speaker, this government's commitment to the arts has been of great benefit to my riding with the creation of the satellite location of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in the former Royal Bank Building in Yarmouth. This has been assisted through generous donations by the Royal Bank and by the people of Yarmouth, allowing greater access and appreciation for our artists.

[Page 20]

Because of the economic stability that this government has been able to provide, we can now look forward to a brighter future for our children and grandchildren. Our job creation rate is the best in the country, as is our rate of investment. As the result of our reform measures, we can now look forward to an expansion in the area of health. For Yarmouth, this means that the Western Regional Hospital has received a commitment of $32 million toward an expansion with an $8 million contribution from the community of Yarmouth, of which I am very proud. (Applause)

We also see optimism elsewhere in Yarmouth with the active fundraising for the new arena located in Yarmouth and serving all of Yarmouth County. I am always in favour of encouraging physical fitness as a way of life and it is good we are able to offer recreational venues to encourage both our young and old to stay fit. This has been encouraged by this government's acquisition of abandoned CN rail lines, which provide many recreational possibilities for rural Nova Scotia. With the passing of the Occupiers of Land Liability Act and the acquisition of these trails, Nova Scotia is in the position to become a leader in trail development.

[3:15 p.m.]

Yarmouth has also benefited from the support of this government with over $180,000 in Recreational Facility Capital Grants last year. As someone whose earlier career had a little to do with recreation, it is indeed heartening to see such support.

Mr. Speaker, it continues to be my pleasure to serve as a member of this House and watch our initiatives continue the positive effect on the people of Nova Scotia. It is with this sense of pride in our accomplishments that I second the motion for the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to recognize the honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery, I would like to introduce Beverly Peters, recently nominated Liberal candidate for the federal riding of Sackville-Eastern Shore. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition. (Applause)

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to reply to this government's fifth Speech from the Throne. I wish to lend the acknowledgement of those of us on the Opposition benches to the celebration of the lives of those exemplary Nova Scotians whom His Honour mentioned in the early part of his Speech.

[Page 21]

It is not my intention today to pay my total respects to the Premier for his commitment to public life to the province. I am beginning to learn full well the personal and family sacrifice that one makes when one makes a provincial commitment to politics in this province. On a future day I will have more to say on the subject of the Premier leaving politics.

I also wish to take a moment to acknowledge the former Minister of Justice, the member for Halifax Chebucto. My caucus colleagues and I would like to offer our sincere best wishes as the member pursues new private interests. We also extend our congratulations to the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, the new successor, and we wish him well in his challenges as Minister of Justice. (Applause)

After four years and five Throne Speeches, we are opening another session of our Legislature under this Liberal Government. This is, perhaps, the last Throne Speech before a general election and a good time to think back to 1993 and to what has happened in the intervening years.

In the 1993 election, the Liberal Party campaigned on the slogan, Leadership Starts With Listening, a slogan that quickly lost its appeal once the government became elected. Policy papers had been peppered with pre-election rhetoric, phrases such as, A true measure of government is its accessibility to the people it serves. Phrases such as, Liberal Government initiatives will be built on a foundation of honesty, openness, integrity and accountability that will permeate all government dealings. And there were promises galore: jobs, jobs, jobs; no new taxes; (Interruptions) more money for school boards and student aid; a reformed health care system that will be planned, coordinated and integrated and that will place the health care consumer in the centre. In 1993, there were notable omissions: no references to casinos, no references to tollroads, no references to wage roll-backs, no references to super-cities or mega-school boards, for just a few examples.

Four years after failed commitments and some real nasty surprises, we have a pre-election Throne Speech peppered, once again, with wonderful sounding rhetoric and promises of better things to come. It is going to be a tough selling job because, quite frankly, the government has a huge credibility problem. Nova Scotians will largely be indifferent to the words, promises and rosy picture that is proposed in the Throne Speech here today.

Mr. Speaker, this is the government that said it was going to listen. Nova Scotians understand the chaos of bungled health, education and municipal reform. They are reminded daily of the promise of no new taxes when they clothe their children, heat their homes, turn on their stoves, gas up the car or even when they buy a stamp. (Applause) Nova Scotians are reminded daily of the promise of a new better health system when they hear of yet another doctor pulling out of the province to escape the mess of the governments so-called health reform. (Applause) Or perhaps they are reminded when they contact Home Care Nova Scotia only to be told, "Sorry, your needs just dont fit the program.".

[Page 22]

Nova Scotians are reminded daily of the promise to invest in education as they see money being sucked out of the classroom. School board budgets have been cut by $52 million since this Liberal Government took office. Think of the 57,700 unemployed Nova Scotians who cannot find a job, or those who have left to find work elsewhere. They are reminded daily of the 30-60-90 and of jobs, jobs, jobs. The economy is a problem throughout this province, nowhere more so than in Cape Breton which holds the sad distinction of having the highest unemployment rate in the country.

Now, this government has repeatedly said that it had to carry out some unpopular measures in order to reduce the deficit. The fact is, Liberals knew the deficit numbers when they were campaigning in 1993, but that did not stop them from telling Nova Scotians that they would improve health care and put more money into education. It did not stop them from saying there would be no new taxes and that they would be paying the full shot for social services. It did not stop the government of the day from promising to invest in infrastructure and job creation.

The trouble is, that is not exactly what has happened. In fact, in a good number of cases the exact opposite has occurred. Liberals made their 1993 campaign promises with the full knowledge of the fiscal challenge that faced this province and they did so knowing full well that theirs were pie-in-the-sky promises that would never see the light of day. (Applause) That is why this government has such a huge credibility problem, a credibility problem that will not go away either with this Throne Speech or, for that matter, with a change of Leaders.

This government says, we did what we had to do to secure vital services. Well, Mr. Speaker, you don't secure programs and services for tomorrow by driving them into the ground today. Now, perhaps, the single biggest issue of concern to Nova Scotians today, the issue (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. HAMM: The single biggest issue of concern to Nova Scotians, the issue that sparks the most negative and angry reaction to government, is the issue of health care. Health care in this province is a mess. The government closed and downsized hospitals without providing alternative services to fill the void. It did things backwards. The end result is Nova Scotians are falling through the cracks. We hear, on a daily basis, of Nova Scotians being denied hospital care because no bed is available. We hear of premature discharges where patients, many of them elderly without any family support, are sent home to fend for themselves because home care was not arranged or is simply not available; sent home early, often to become gravely ill, to a point where more costly medical interventions were again needed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame.

[Page 23]

DR. HAMM: Indeed. What is truly frightening is, despite all the evidence, the government continues to deny there is a problem. Nova Scotians are coming to the conclusion that they can't count on this government to fix a problem if the government won't even admit that the problem exists. Home care providers have told me that people are being discharged over the phone without the benefit of reassessment, without adequate notice to arrange alternative services. One day you could be getting the service; the next day you simply are not.

A freeze on nursing home beds and inadequate home care has created a bottleneck in the system that means approximately 10 per cent of existing hospital beds are occupied by people who would otherwise be in a nursing home. This, on top of a 30 per cent cut in beds in four years, means that people who should be admitted to hospital are being sent home. Mr. Speaker, the health care system is failing.

The government boasted that we would have a new state-of-the-art Emergency Health Services system with better equipment and better trained staff. We have brand new taxpayer-funded ambulances but ambulance operators are warned that if they exceed their kilometre quota, they will be charged $10,000 and our ambulance attendants who upgraded their skills to provide more advanced life-saving techniques are quitting or striking because of deplorable working conditions and grossly inadequate wages. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

DR. HAMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thousands of Nova Scotians are without a family doctor. Government efforts to stem the flow of doctors from the province have failed and they have failed because the government hasn't addressed the crux of the problem. Doctors are leaving because they believe they can no longer provide quality care to their patients; they are leaving because they are burned-out; they are leaving because they don't know if the hospital in their community will be around next year, next month or next week and, if it is, whether it will have an emergency department or sufficient beds to meet patient needs.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is so bad that even Dr. Savage is leaving. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[3:30 p.m.]

DR. HAMM: Because they are sick and tired of being accused of fear-mongering and trying to feather their own nests when they raise issues of real concern. Our health care providers are demoralized because there are too few of them to care for patients with heavier and heavier care needs.

[Page 24]

Liberal health reform in this province is a disaster. And is it any wonder it is a disaster? There was never any plan. That's not my opinion. That the opinion of the Auditor General. It is even the opinion of senior officials of the Department of Health. They admit there was no plan, bits and pieces of a plan, but no overall plan. Unfortunately for Nova Scotians, or consumers and providers who should have been a part of the planning process but who were instead shut out and cast aside, casualties of an ill-conceived and bull-headed Liberal reform. This is a cost that can be measured in terms of lost credibility for those opposite who promised to improve health care, not run it into the ground. This is a cost generated by a focus on administrative change and accounting and no focus on care, no focus on providers and no focus on communities.

Mr. Speaker, I will briefly address another issue. On April 1st, the blended sales tax took effect. Nova Scotians began digging deeper to pay for heat, for gas, electricity, they pay more for haircuts and dry-cleaning and clothing under $100, private home care, postage, that's up; diapers, toothpaste, school supplies, membership fees, lawyers, plumbers, carpenters, accountants, real estate transactions, funerals, air travel, taxis, well-drilling, even a cup of coffee. (Interruptions) At least $84 million more in increased taxes.

Let me briefly talk about what this tax does. It saddles lower and middle-income Nova Scotians with the heaviest burden as they use what little disposable income they have left, if any, to pay for the increased tax on the basic necessities of life. Who pays? Seniors, students, people with disabilities, those on fixed incomes, these are the Nova Scotians who will be hit the hardest.

This tax deal surrenders Nova Scotia's traditional taxing authority to Ottawa and other provinces and in so doing, threatens the future of many programs and services. It makes it tougher to attract new doctors or to keep the ones we have. It makes it harder for parents already struggling to feed and clothe their children to pursue their maintenance orders. It means municipal governments, school boards, hospitals and universities will have to make additional cuts to stay within budget. It threatens existing services and jobs. It threatens legitimate businesses that pay taxes to support essential programs and services as the underground economy expands and expands. It makes it harder for seniors who need private home care services to stay in their own homes.

When you think about what is going up by 8 per cent and compare it to those items where the tax is going down 3.8 per cent, you can't help but wonder, what has happened to common sense? The blended sales tax means it will be cheaper to buy champagne but more expensive to buy diapers. The blended sales tax means - and this is a tricky one - postage under $5.00 will cost more but over $5.00 will cost less. To make the matter worse, it will cost Nova Scotians more to send a letter to Alberta than it will for the Albertan to send the reply back. It means that it will be cheaper to buy a fur coat but more expensive to buy winter boots for a child. It means a piece of jewellery will cost less. Private home care will cost more.

[Page 25]

I recently met with some private home care providers who supplied me with some startling figures of the increased cost of their service to Nova Scotians, many of them seniors. In one case, the blended sales tax will mean an elderly senior in this province who wishes to stay in her own home will be forced to pay an additional $3,000 each year in taxes to do so. The home care providers that I spoke with pointed out that the increased cost of the blended sales tax will mean many seniors will be forced to do one of three things: they can go to a nursing home; they can cut back on the amount of service that they have been getting and, believe me, they are not paying for any more than they really need; or they can find a cheaper alternative, such as hiring somebody without the necessary qualifications to do the job. The blended sales tax on private home care amounts to an additional tax on those individuals who are saving the tax system money, saving this government money.

The government said that business would pass on an average of 50 per cent of their savings to the consumer. Well, my office is already getting calls from angry Nova Scotians who are saying that not only are they not seeing any decline in prices, they are seeing the price of items that were supposed to come down in price go up. I had an interesting call this morning, and a business person visited his banker, and the banker reports - and they have a way of tracing these things because on a daily basis they receive the deposits of many businesses - and there is already, in this bankers experience, a decline in the economic activity in the retail trade in that area since April 1st. (Interruptions)

This Ottawa-designed tax is wrong. The necessities of life, those things you buy every day, every week, or every month, are more than doubling in price while discretionary items, those that you purchase every 4 or 5 years or even 10 or 15 years, are being reduced by 3.8 per cent. To the vast majority of Nova Scotians, this is ludicrous. It is an unfair tax. It hits lower and middle income Nova Scotians the hardest.

It is interesting, Mr. Speaker, how perspectives change. I want to give you a little example. There were many in the House today, on the government side, who sat in Opposition prior to 1993. When the previous administration froze wages, an unpopular measure of the day intended to help reduce the deficit, the members who now sit on the government side cried foul. They were on their feet saying, this is fundamentally wrong, it is lazy, it is deceitful, that it would do irreparable harm to the collective bargaining process.

In fact, I will quote what one Liberal member said at the time. He said, "There is no fairness to it. We are putting the heaviest burden on the people who can least afford to pay it and that is simply not fair and it is not something that the Liberal Party and the Liberal philosophy will ever agree with. We will not tolerate it and that is why we are opposed to this bill.". The Liberal members in Opposition could not agree with or tolerate the unfairness of the wage freeze, but they could tolerate a 3 per cent wage roll-back and they could tolerate the blended sales tax.

[Page 26]

So much for Liberal fairness and consistency. So much for the so-called principles of the Liberal Party and so much for the credibility of this government.

Mr. Speaker, I have given the members opposite something to think about overnight. I will close for today and seek adjournment and request the privilege to continue tomorrow. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried. The debate stands adjourned.

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, at the conclusion of the session this afternoon, on your behalf, sir, I would like to invite all members of the House and their guests in the gallery to the Hollis Street foyer for a reception.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: For the information of all members, I would like to indicate that it is the government's intention not to sit longer than eight hours on any day this session. That is for information purposes.

With that, I move that the House rise to meet again tomorrow from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to sit again tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

The House is adjourned.

[The House rose at 3:41 p.m.]