The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., Apr. 11, 1997

Fifth Session

FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. - Hants West: Sangsters Bridge - Replace, Mr. R. Russell 27
Fin.: HST - Oppose, Mr. R. Chisholm 28
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1, Agric. - Beef Marketing: Anna. Valley (W) Cattlemen's Assoc. -
Initiative Congrats., Hon. G. Brown 28
Vote - Affirmative 29
Res. 2, Nat. Res.: Wildlife Week (Natl.) - Endorse, Hon. E. Norrie 29
Vote - Affirmative 30
Res. 3, Agric. - 4-H Prog. (75th Anniv.): Excellence - Congrats.,
Hon. G. Brown 30
Vote - Affirmative 30
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 1, Residential Tenancies Act, Hon. S. Jolly 31
No. 2, Motor Vehicle Act, Hon. S. Jolly 31
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Job Creation: Failure - Condemn,
Dr. J. Hamm 31
Res. 5, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Unemployment (C.B.): Approach Cynical -
Condemn, Mr. R. Chisholm 31
Res. 6, Matthew O'Neil (New Minas): Rescue Commendation
(Lifesaving Soc.) - Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 32
Vote - Affirmative 33
Res. 7, Fin. - HST: Agreement (Clause 70) - Invoke, Mr. T. Donahoe 33
Res. 8, Health - Hants Commun. Hosp.: Funding Adequate - Ensure,
Mr. R. Russell 33
Res. 9, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Unemployment (C.B.): Seriousness -
Understand, Mr. A. MacLeod 34
Res. 10, Throne Speech (1997): View (Compost) - Urge, Mr. J. Holm 35
Res. 11, Fin. - HST: Effects - Logistics Explain, Mr. R. Russell 36
Res. 12, Health - Reform: Results Destructive - Recognize, Mr. G. Moody 36
Res. 13, Whitney Pier Historical Soc.: Activities - Commend,
Mr. P. MacEwan 37
Vote - Affirmative 38
Res. 14, Environ.- Min.: Leadership (Lib. [N.S.]) - Support Explain,
Mr. G. Archibald 38
Res. 15, Health - Min.: Leadership (Lib. [N.S.]) Candidate -
Vision New Endorse, Mr. G. Moody 38
Res. 16, Educ. - Funding Reduction: Commitment Fulfilment - Effect,
Mr. T. Donahoe 39
Res. 17, Health - Home Care: Compassion - Show, Mr. R. Chisholm 39
Res. 18, Econ. Dev. & Tourism/Commun. Serv. - Mins.:
Leadership (Lib. [N.S.]) - Undemocratic Spirit Represented,
Mr. G. Archibald 40
Res. 19, Health - Glace Bay: Ambulance Serv. - Concentration Focus,
Mr. A. MacLeod 41
Res. 20, Exco - Protected Areas: Barren (Jim Campbell) Delisting -
Consequences Action, Mr. B. Taylor 41
Res. 21, Education - Underfunding: Harm - Recognize, Mr. J. Holm 42
Res. 22, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Interests (N.S.) - Sell-out Condemn,
Mr. J. Leefe 42
Res. 23, Health - Cancer Soc. (Cdn.): Efforts - Support, Mr. D. McInnes 43
Vote - Affirmative 44
Res. 24, Sports - Hockey: Pictou Co. Weeks AAA Midget Team
(Air Canada Cup) - Best Wishes Extend, Dr. J. Hamm 44
Vote - Affirmative 44
Res. 25, Health - QE II Health Sciences Centre: Treatment Determination -
Needs Basis, Mr. B. Taylor 44
Res. 26, Nat. Res. - Wildlife: Groups - Activities Acknowledge,
Mr. D. McInnes 45
Vote - Affirmative 46
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Dr. J. Hamm 46
Amendment moved ~ 54 ~
Mr. R. Chisholm 54
Subamendment moved 67
Mr. P. MacEwan 67
Mrs. F. Cosman 79
Mr. T. Donahoe 85
Mr. R. Carruthers 100
Mr. D. McInnes 106
Adjourned debate 113
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Apr. 14th at 2:00 p.m. 114

[Page 27]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Session

10:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will begin with the daily proceedings at this time.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition that is signed by, I haven't counted the exact numbers but I know that it is well over 1,000 persons from the area towards the head of the Avon River. There is a bridge across that river that is called the Sangsters Bridge and the petition is with regard to that bridge.

"The bridge in question is a single lane bridge which is approaching 100 years in age. Numerous motor vehicle accidents have occurred on or near this bridge in recent years causing considerable damage to persons and property. This bridge has been deemed unsafe for motor vehicle traffic from time to time but to date no action has been taken other than to reinforce some parts of the structure.

27

[Page 28]

A new two lane bridge was promised some few years ago, but no action has been taken, and it is feared that if immediate action is not taken to correct this hazardous structure that more serious mishaps may occur. A school bus loaded with small children crosses this bridge twice a day, as well as other heavy traffic.".

The plea of the petition is that the Minister of Transportation take this matter under immediate advisement.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition that deals with our friendly BST. You may recall that prior to the April 1st deadline, there were petitions out and many thousands of Nova Scotians had already signed them. We have been receiving these daily in our office. I have about 143 pages of petitions that ask Premier Savage and Liberal MLAs to scrap the BST and live up to their commitment to bring in fair tax reform. Approximately 2,000 names are affixed and I have signed it and would therefore be pleased to table it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1

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

Whereas producer groups in Nova Scotia associated with the beef sector are an essential source of leadership to their industry within the province; and

Whereas their promotional efforts have helped the industry to develop new markets for their fine products; and

[Page 29]

Whereas Nova Scotia beef is a high quality product that is competitive with beef produced anywhere in the world;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate the Western Annapolis Valley Cattlemens Association for their recent initiative of partnering with the retail sector to promote Nova Scotia beef in the local grocery stores in that area.

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

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 Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 2

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

Whereas wildlife species make a significant contribution to the quality of life enjoyed by all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas wildlife plays a vital role in the health and conservation of ecosystems in our environment; and

Whereas the Canadian Wildlife Federation has declared April 6th to April 12th, National Wildlife Week; and

Whereas National Wildlife Week promotes awareness of the importance of wildlife and wildlife conservation; and

Whereas 1997 marks the 50th Anniversary of National Wildlife Week in Canada, and events and activities are being held in communities all across the country;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House endorse National Wildlife Week in Nova Scotia and applaud the good work of the Canadian Wildlife Federation and its members.

[Page 30]

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 3

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

Whereas the 4-H program has been a cornerstone of rural Nova Scotia life since 1922; and

Whereas the program has provided valuable learning experience for young people who developed entrepreneurial skills, leadership skills, responsibility, teamwork and self-confidence; and

Whereas the upcoming 4-H Weekend on May 9th and May 10th is a fine example of how the program is teaching our young people important skills in communications;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate the members and friends of 4-H on 75 years of excellence in the development of young Nova Scotians.

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

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.

[Page 31]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 1 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 401 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Residential Tenancies Act. (Hon. Sandra Jolly)

Bill No. 2 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Hon. Sandra Jolly)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 4

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

Whereas the Liberal platform in 1993 stated, "The goal of a Liberal Government is to provide Nova Scotians with the opportunity to get back to work . . ."; and

Whereas the Liberal Government's 30-60-90 job creation strategy promised that it would get the economy moving and start putting people back to work; and

Whereas the Department of Finance's own Labour Force Development document of March 1997 states, "On a monthly basis, the three-month moving average unemployment rate moved higher in all regions";

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government, which has consistently failed to provide real, meaningful, full-time, long-term, stable, decently paying jobs that it promised in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and now 1997, be condemned for its abject failure to provide employment opportunities desperately needed by Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 5

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

[Page 32]

Whereas unemployment in Cape Breton was 19.8 per cent when the government introduced the Speech from the Throne to open the spring 1996 session of the Legislature; and

Whereas this unacceptably high rate of unemployment caused the government to make reference in its 1996 Speech from the Throne to the need for special attention for areas like Cape Breton; and

Whereas yesterday's Speech from the Throne, opening the 1997 spring session, contained no special reference to the unemployment problem in Cape Breton, despite a rate of 27.4 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Liberal Government for the most cynical approach yet to joblessness in Cape Breton, ignoring it.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 6

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

Whereas in July 1996, seven year old Santana Higgins was swimming with friends near Rawdon, Hants County, when she was overcome by deep water and began to drown; and

Whereas Matthew O'Neil, standing nearby on the shore, dove fully clothed into the water and rescued the panicking girl, bringing her safely to shore, thus saving her life; and

Whereas today, in a ceremony in Government House, Mr. Matthew O'Neil is being honoured by the Lifesaving Society with a Rescue Commendation for his quick, responsible and selfless action in saving the life of this little girl;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly add its voice to the Lifesaving Society and others in commending the courageous action of Mr. Matthew O'Neil of New Minas, Kings County, by extending to him our respect and our thanks for his lifesaving of Santana Higgins.

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

[Page 33]

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. 7

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 first day of April this year did not signal any images of spring for Nova Scotians but, instead, the onslaught of the effects of the federal and provincial Liberal BS Tax scheme; and

[10:15 a.m.]

Whereas while the Liberal Government has touted the BS Tax as a way to create jobs, most Nova Scotians simply recognize it for what it really is, an $84 million-plus tax grab; and

Whereas while the BS Tax offers those buying a new car a cheaper rate, those worrying about the cost of legal fees to fight for custody of their child or trying to clothe that child will be faced with even greater costs;

Therefore be it resolved that this government rectify the harm that this tax will have on the consumers of this province, in the one example I have provided and in the too-numerous-to-mention examples our caucus and the people of this province raised while the bill was being debated, and immediately invoke Clause 70 of the agreement.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 8

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

[Page 34]

Whereas this Liberal Government, led by the former Minister of Finance, present Minister of Health and now leadership hopeful, has immeasurably eroded the delivery of health care at the Hants Community Hospital in Windsor to a level that is completely unacceptable; and

Whereas on CBC Radio, the morning of April 3rd, the Minister of Health and Premier wannabe told interviewer Don Connelly that he had met seven times with the Hants Community Hospital SOS Committee and that his department had given the hospital $600,000 to cover their funding shortfall last year; and

Whereas the minister is being untruthful in that he did not give one red cent to the hospital last fall, and what he did do was become Mr. Household Finance and provide a $300,000 loan to be repaid from this year's operating budget, and strong-armed another $300,000 from the Hants Community Hospital trust fund;

Therefore be it resolved that since this Minister of Health has callously removed $3 million from the operating budget of the Hants Community Hospital over the past three years, he immediately undertake to ensure adequate funding is provided in this year's budget to ensure around-the-clock, reliable, effective delivery of health care to the residents of Hants County.

I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice, which requires unanimous consent.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 9

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 unemployment rate in Cape Breton increased another 0.3 percentage points last Friday to climb to 27.4 per cent, the highest in Canada; and

[Page 35]

Whereas this clear and very troubling statistic was completely ignored in the news release on employment stats issued by Nova Scotia's Deputy Premier last Friday afternoon; and

Whereas 3,500 additional Cape Bretoners are now seeking employment, compared to just one year ago;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government attempt to understand the seriousness of the deplorable situation and begin developing a long-range economic strategy for Cape Breton, instead of just hoping that the unemployment picture will somehow go away.

I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice, which requires unanimous consent.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 10

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 self-serving praise the Liberals heaped upon themselves in the Throne Speech would have been enough to make Pinocchio blush; and

Whereas Nova Scotians will not be persuaded there is no crisis in our education and health systems or a serious problem with unemployment and an unfair taxation system just because the Liberal Government says it isn't so; and

Whereas instead of burying their heads in the sand, Nova Scotians expect and deserve a government that has a vision and a plan to correct those very problems it created through failed policies;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge Nova Scotians to view yesterday's Throne Speech for what it was, largely fanciful compost.

[Page 36]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 11

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

Whereas on April 1st, the BS Tax took effect and Nova Scotians had to dig deeper to pay a 15 per cent tax on heat, gas, electricity, clothing under $100, postage, diapers, toothpaste, school supplies, membership fees, private training, real estate transactions, haircuts, dry cleaning, lawyers, plumbers, accountants, carpenters, funerals, air travel, sewing supplies, private home care, taxis, well-drilling, among other things; and

Whereas this tax gouges lower and middle-income Nova Scotians and places the heaviest burden on those who can least afford to pay; and

Whereas Nova Scotians who are already struggling to make ends meet will have little or nothing left over after paying more than double the tax on the necessities of life to purchase the discretionary items that are coming down in price;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance explain to lower and middle-income Nova Scotians the Liberal logic in reducing the tax on a fur coat, bottle of champagne and a Mercedes Benz, and increasing the tax on home heating fuel, electricity and clothing under $100.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 12

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

Whereas in 1993 this Liberal Government promised to improve the health care system by putting the consumer at the centre, involving providers and giving communities greater say in the decision-making process; and

Whereas it has instead ignored the consumer, shut out the providers, abandoned communities and carried out ill-conceived and backward policies without the benefit of a plan; and

[Page 37]

Whereas this governments irresponsible health care reforms have chased away doctors, demoralized health care providers and resulted in thousands of Nova Scotians being denied adequate health care;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government recognize the destructive results of its backward and bull-headed approach to health reform and immediately set out a long- term, comprehensive plan that involves communities and providers and addresses the gross deficiencies resulting from four years of Liberal bungling.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 13

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

Whereas the Whitney Pier Historical Society has been operating a successful community museum at Whitney Pier for some considerable number of years, without any assistance by the provincial government although 50 other community museums in Nova Scotia were receiving aid; and

Whereas the Department of Education and Culture, Nova Scotia Museum Division, recently approved the Whitney Pier Historical Museum as one of six additional community museums to be granted financial assistance, subject to the passage of the budget to be introduced by the Minister of Finance to this Legislature; and

Whereas the approval of the Whitney Pier Historical Museum by this government for financial assistance marks a major step forward in obtaining due and proper recognition of the volunteer efforts by which the Whitney Pier Historical Museum has been developed to date;

Therefore be it resolved that this House salutes and commends the members of the Whitney Pier Historical Society for their diligence and commitment in performing the vital function of maintaining and preserving the historical records and archives of the Whitney Pier community.

I would like to ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 38]

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. 14

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

Whereas nobody has ever been able to accomplish the feat of riding two horses at the same time; and

Whereas the Guinness Book of World Records clearly shows that no world record exists for accomplishing such a feat; and

Whereas despite such astronomical odds, the Minister of the Environment has attempted to ride two horses by throwing his saddles and support behind two leadership contenders, in which the minister is hoping his attempted record-breaking feat will result in a smooth ride with whomever is elected leader of the Liberal Party;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment explain to Liberals across Nova Scotia, if a third horse enters the Liberal leadership race, how he plans to ride three horses until a winner is announced.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 15

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

Whereas the Health Minister, turned candidate for Premier, has said he will look at hiring in the province on the basis of fairness; and

Whereas he has promised, if he becomes the next Premier, not to create jobs and deals to the benefit of Party faithful; and

[Page 39]

Whereas the Health Minister must have forgotten then the lucrative appointments of two very faithful members and constituency workers, that is, George Unsworth and Elwin MacNeil;

Therefore be it resolved that this House endorse the part-time Health Minister and Liberal leadership hopefuls new vision of not creating jobs just for friends and perhaps concentrate more on what should be his focus, fixing the mess his government has created in health care.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 16

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 Liberals rose to power on the promise of building a more effective, more responsive, more accountable system of education; and

Whereas they also promised that, in so doing, we will be able to collectively invest in Nova Scotia's future; and

Whereas they also say in their 1993 platform that Liberals identify education as the one area where increased investment may well be necessary to achieve our goals;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education please explain to the students, teachers and parents of this province how the removal of some $52 million from education in the last four years has helped Nova Scotia realize the written commitment of the Liberal Party to our education system and to our children.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 17

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

Whereas yesterday's Speech from the Throne continues to hide deep cuts to health care behind a rhetorical smoke screen about rapid growth in home care; and

[Page 40]

Whereas this growth is more apparent than real, composed of inflated numbers and apples and oranges comparisons; and

Whereas the real deficiencies in home care are demonstrated by the hundreds of people who have been cut off home care service and the growing number of gravely ill individuals who are being forced to cope at home with little or no care at all;

Therefore be it resolved that this government stop hiding behind its exaggerated numbers and begin to show compassion and support for those Nova Scotians and their families who are falling through the cracks of a badly flawed and inadequate home care system.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 18

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

Whereas the Economic Development and Tourism Minister has said publicly (CKEC Radio, April 9, 1997) that the Health Minister is the only viable choice for succession to the Premier's chair; and

Whereas both he and the Community Services Minister have stated that there is no room in the Liberal leadership race for an MP who has not sat in the provincial Cabinet for the last four years; and

Whereas these comments from two of the Cabinet's inner-circle are certainly deterrents for any other Cabinet Minister, MP or any Liberal member for that matter, to run in the so-called race;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize these two ministers for representing, at this crucial moment for both their Party and the people of this province, the truly undemocratic spirit that has permeated the decisions of their government for the past four years, whether regarding the choice for a new leader and Premier and applicants to agencies, boards and commissions, choices on tenders for school board amalgamation coordinators, or decisions on casinos and major taxation policies.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 41]

RESOLUTION NO. 19

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

Whereas this Liberal Government led Nova Scotians down the garden path in the spring of 1994 with legislation entitled, An Act respecting Emergency Health Services; and

Whereas the government led Nova Scotians to believe that emergency health care would become a state of the art fashion; and

Whereas despite all of this hoopla, ambulance workers in Glace Bay, until striking, were working for less than minimum wage and forced at times to work 100 hours a week;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health instead of reducing the number of ambulances across Nova Scotia and increasing the time that it takes for Nova Scotians to reach the hospital, begin concentrating on situations that exist such as the one in Glace Bay and come up with a solution that benefits all those people concerned.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 20

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

Whereas more than 300,000 shares of Regal Goldfields Limited exchanged hands on the Toronto Stock Exchange on November 22, 1996; and

Whereas this brisk trading of Regal shares transpired one day after the Nova Scotia Cabinet de-listed the Jim Campbells Barren as a protected wilderness site, yet 10 days before the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources issued a public release informing Nova Scotians of the decision taken by Cabinet on November 21st; and

[10:30 a.m.]

Whereas trading reached such a feverish peak on November 22nd that it resulted in trading volumes 22 times greater than the daily average;

[Page 42]

Therefore be it resolved that in the public interest of all Nova Scotians, the President of the Executive Council immediately move to ensure no members of Cabinet were involved in the breaking of any Cabinet oaths, instead of merely having a spin doctor in his office refute any wrongdoings before they are thoroughly investigated.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 21

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

Whereas years of Liberal cutting and slashing of education budgets that followed years of Tory underfunding has placed our education system in a state of crisis; and

Whereas with an election fast approaching, the Liberals have miraculously rediscovered the importance of having a strong education system; and

Whereas this rediscovered vision has caused them to promise they will unveil a four year plan to reduce the very class sizes their cuts created;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognizes the harm done to our children's future by years of Tory and Liberal underfunding by ensuring that the commitment to undo the harm is more than cheap pre-election rhetoric.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 22

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

Whereas Sable gas has been touted by the Savage/Boudreau Liberals as the answer to their dismal job creation record; and

Whereas the New Brunswick Government, at the Sable gas hearings, has established that the resource may already be oversold; and

[Page 43]

Whereas this means Nova Scotians will not benefit first from Sable gas, but will have to stand in line behind New Brunswick and United States customers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage/Boudreau Liberals be condemned for selling out Nova Scotia's interests respecting Sable gas.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 23

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

Whereas daffodils have come to not only signify the advent of spring, but are now also a very visible symbol of the fund-raising efforts of the Canadian Cancer Society; and

Whereas the society utilizes the daffodil sales and door-to-door canvasses during the month of April to help further their research efforts into the disease; and

Whereas having just lost a very valuable, energetic and congenial member of this House to a five year battle with leukemia - a form of cancer - all members would acknowledge the need to support vigorously the attempts of the Canadian Cancer Society to find a cure;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House continue to support the Canadian Cancer Society's efforts during the month of April and year-round in their work to find a cure for this devastating and, very often, life-threatening disease.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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.

[Page 44]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 24

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

Whereas the Pictou County Weeks AAA Midget Hockey Team captured the Atlantic Air Canada Cup in Moncton last weekend; and

Whereas the team won the Atlantic Air Canada Cup in resounding fashion, defeating the Charlottetown Abbies 4-1; and

Whereas the Weeks AAA Team is now focusing on their next mission, the Air Canada national midget hockey championships scheduled for the New Glasgow Stadium April 22nd to April 27th;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature extend their best wishes to team members, coaching staff and head coach, Kevin Rogers, and management for their hard-fought Atlantic championship and wish them every success in the Air Canada Cup nationals in two weeks' time.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 25

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

Whereas Nova Scotians should have reasonable access to medical and health care services; and

[Page 45]

Whereas as a result of Liberal health reforms, Nova Scotians have been forced to contact their MLAs to access home care; and

Whereas it has been reported today that in order to avoid long waits for surgery and other medical treatments, employees are improperly jumping the queue ahead of Nova Scotians whose health continues to suffer while they are bumped further down the list;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately advise the QE II Health Sciences Centre that medical services must be determined on the basis of medical need and not on connections that allow for preferential treatment.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 26

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

Whereas April 6th to April 12th is National Wildlife Week across Canada; and

Whereas the theme for National Wildlife Week this year is, simply, "Wild Things Need a Place to Grow"; and

Whereas it is a well-known fact that forests provide a number of functions essential to life on this planet, including the supply of food and habitat for wildlife;

Therefore be it resolved that since Nova Scotians spend in excess of $100 million annually on wildlife related pursuits, members of this Legislature acknowledge the strong work undertaken by such groups as the Nova Scotia Wildlife Federation and their new President, Grace Burtt of Mount Uniacke, to ensure a continued and healthy environment to Nova Scotia's wildlife.

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

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 46]

The motion is carried.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to continue my remarks which I began yesterday. I fully expected last night to spend the entire evening poring over the Speech from the Throne so I could respond to it in detailed fashion today. However, I was able to do so and still get to bed relatively early. It simply presents itself as a compilation of recycled press releases and a list of good intentions. However, I don't want to be totally negative.

One initiative that stood out in my mind as being a very positive one, and one which I certainly personally endorse, is the endeavour of the government towards the elimination, the re-packaging, the consolidation of many of the 300 government licenses and permits needed by business. This will be accompanied by a simplified fee structure and I do compliment the government. That is a very worthwhile initiative and it is one that I have heard commented upon around this province by many business people.

The Speech from the Throne, if it is notable for anything, it is notable for its omissions: no commitment to a long-term economic strategy; no commitment to a recognizable job creation strategy; no commitment to a long-term workable health strategy, addressing the deplorable state of health care; no solution to our education crisis; no mention of rural Nova Scotia or of the importance of our traditional resource-based industries. Many Nova Scotians are now simply wondering, has this government totally written off rural Nova Scotia? The only time that it appears to be front and centre in the minds of this government is when cuts are being made. In short, a spoonful of pap when Nova Scotians are looking for a full meal deal.

[Page 47]

Mr. Speaker, since becoming Leader of the Official Opposition, I have had the good fortune to travel around the province and talk with Nova Scotians, people who are genuinely interested and concerned about their future and the future of our province. Nova Scotians, by and large, share a common vision. They believe that hard work and ingenuity should be recognized and rewarded. Nova Scotians believe in self-reliance where everyone who is capable of working should have the opportunity to do so. They also believe in generosity, compassion and in assisting those who, through no fault of their own, cannot independently provide for their full needs.

Nova Scotians are looking for a place where communities support one another in taking risks and in sharing success, a place where we develop a vibrant and a growing economy by investing in people and the ideas of people. They want to know that their children will have a good education that will provide them with real opportunities for success right here in Nova Scotia.

They want to know that when a family member gets sick, that they will have the care that they need to allow them to live and, when required, to allow them to die with dignity. That Nova Scotia is a place where good health care is available to all and where it is delivered in an atmosphere of cooperation with communities and health care providers.

People want to be assured that our laws offer protection against those whose indifference, greed or violence threatens the peace in their homes or in their communities. Nova Scotians want to live in peaceful communities where their children can get a good education, where they know they can access decent levels of health care and where there will be opportunities for them to utilize their talents and their skills.

Mr. Speaker, the Throne Speech offers little reason to conclude that this government understands that these are the priorities of Nova Scotians and does little to develop their common vision.

Communities, particularly those in rural Nova Scotia, are under attack. Everything is being centralized. The community school is vanishing. The community doctor is going elsewhere. The local hospital is losing services, government agencies are amalgamating and jobs are disappearing from small communities. Centralization is the calling card of the day. In effect, the vision that Nova Scotians share of their province, their community and their future appears lost in this government's agenda for the future. And this speaks volumes about this government's failure to listen or to make contact with the people whose interests they are here to serve.

Mr. Speaker, one of the bright things that is happening here in Nova Scotia is the Sable Offshore Energy Project. The government makes frequent reference to the great potential that this project has. But there are a great number of questions that occurred to me and to Nova Scotians, questions that weren't answered in the Speech from the Throne, questions that are

[Page 48]

so obvious, for example, why did this government not negotiate a preferential rate for Nova Scotia? What safeguards are in the contract to ensure Nova Scotia content in the construction and production phases is guaranteed? How much gas will be available to Nova Scotia, an unlimited amount or 5 per cent and at what price? This is our future, we must not give it away, short term or long term.

Questions like, of the 260 jobs during production, how many will be performed by Nova Scotians who will spend their paycheques here in Nova Scotia? How many of the 3,900 short-term jobs in this development phase will be filled by Nova Scotians who will spend their paycheques here in Nova Scotia? Is there a plan to value add to the natural gas liquids or are we again to become hewers of wood and carriers of water?

[10:45 a.m.]

Governments of the 1980's went out on a limb to initiate our offshore gas and oil industry. Governments of the 1990's must take full advantage of the project for Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians.

I want to take a few minutes, Mr. Speaker, to speak of my own constituency and say a few words about Pictou Centre. I have had the privilege in the last four years to represent the people of Pictou Centre and I feel honoured to do so.

The government is aware and has indicated it will participate in the extension of the infrastructure program. The three towns that I represent - New Glasgow, Stellarton and Trenton - have projects and will be making submissions to have their projects looked at and to be assessed. In New Glasgow, a water treatment plant. We need a sanitary sewer separation downtown. We need water main rehabilitation, cleaning and cement lining.

In Stellarton, we need residential sidewalk upgrade. We need a ball field upgrade. We need work done on the Albion Trail and we need repaving on Bridge Street and other town Streets.

In the Town of Trenton, they need storm sewer upgrading and storm drainage, paving, curb and gutter on 14th Street. This is not exciting stuff, Mr. Speaker, but it is important that the infrastructure of our towns have their requirements addressed when the minister is looking at the approval of projects.

We also, locally, have a need to address the transit needs of persons with disabilities. With the collapse of the public transit system in Pictou County, a casualty of service exchange, the Central Highland Association for the Disabled, popularly called CHAD, purchased the almost new vehicle from the Pictou County Transit Authority and have been providing, since then, a key service, as there are no accessible taxis or other accessible public transportation in our community. Last year the Access-A-Bus in our community travelled

[Page 49]

60,000 kilometres on a five day schedule serving 94 registered persons with disabilities, as well as providing transportation to the residents of 15 institutions with approximately 200 regular riders and as well provided daily transport for Summer Street Industries workers and students. Many of our seniors require it to get out to do their shopping. This service is, as well, an integral part of a complete Home Care Program.

Recently the service was expanded to six days a week and a new vehicle is now required to augment the older, 1994 vehicle purchased from the Transit Authority and $85,000 is required for the new vehicle. The operation budget is funded by the municipalities, ridership and fund-raising but CHAD will require assistance in purchasing the new vehicle and discussions are underway with the provincial and federal officials for funding and those discussions will go on with Community Services and Municipal Affairs. I ask the ministers to give careful consideration to these petitions.

On previous occasions I mentioned our sheltered workshop, Summer Street Industries, one of the, I feel, very successful workshops in Nova Scotia. They are attempting to enlarge their facility so that their life skills program will be able to be included under the same roof as their workshop program. They will be looking, as well, at the infrastructure program for consideration of this project.

I wish to draw the government's and the Minister of Education's attention to an important tourism and educational opportunity in my constituency that I believe is not being utilized to its maximum potential. Most of the members here are familiar with the Museum of Industry in Stellarton. The Museum opened in 1995, thanks to the involvement of the Society of Friends of the Museum. It has been 11 months since the Friends of the Museum of Industry turned control of the facility back over to the Department of Education and Culture, Museum Division.

An economic impact study in 1993 reported that the museum could, if properly promoted, attract 100,000 visitors annually with 30,000 coming from outside the province. Again, this was on the assumption that this was to be a living museum, aggressively promoted with a discovery centre, an eco-structure perspective and a walking study of the East River Valley. It would serve not only as a repository for artifacts; the museum would fill an educational role and be an economic engine through tourism.

The direct community involvement and activity has slowed over the past year and a renewed energy and commitment is required to allow the full potential to be realized. I urge the minister to visit the facility this spring to determine if these objectives are being aggressively pursued.

I would like, at this time, to remind members that the 1997 Air Canada Cup will be held in New Glasgow beginning on April 22nd. By resolution, I reminded the members that our AAA Midget hockey team has won the Atlantic Air Canada Cup and is a legitimate contender

[Page 50]

for the overall championship. Holding the tournament locally will result in $1 million in economic activity to northern Nova Scotia. The success of the week's hockey program is the result of a program supported by a committed team of Pictonians. The team promotes strong off and on ice development in the careers of its young players and many graduates of this program have gone on to success in many endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have remaining?

MR. SPEAKER: You have approximately 20 minutes.

DR. HAMM: I want to mention a few other institutions of local importance. I want to remind the Minister of Health of the very real service that our social drop-in centre is providing for a number of Pictonians with mental illness. This is a rather unique facility and not one that is available in every community. I would expect that the minister, when he is going over his budget items, will give ample consideration to adequate funding to allow this centre to continue. It has been a remarkable resource and one that has been utilized by many Pictonians who have found no other comparable solution or institution available to them.

Our Women's Centre is also an important part of our community fabric. They are, among other things, doing a federal study on the effects of smoking on women. I urge the Minister of Community Services to look at their application for funding with favour.

I also want to mention an important institution; while though it is not in my constituency, in fact not even in my county, I feel it is a very important provider of service to northern and eastern Nova Scotia. I am talking about Recovery House in Antigonish. The Minister of Finance is very familiar with it because it is actually in his constituency. For 25 years, Recovery House has provided treatment facilities of literally hundreds of Nova Scotians with alcohol and drug addiction and laterally with gambling addiction problems. It enjoys excellent community and business community support.

Last year, the government grant which augments the funds that Recovery House is able to raise on its own, the grant was $184,000 and they have been served notice that that grant will be down 21 per cent this year to $147,000. They have cut staff to the bone. They are down to four full-time counsellors. Even the secretary is part time. The difficulty, because this is a health resource, but because it deals with patients or residents who come from more than one health region, no regional health board feels directly involved to provide the funding and this is something that the minister must turn his attention to, to adjudicate a proper approach to funding of Recovery House and to ensure that this very valuable resource is not lost. In another life, Mr. Speaker, I had many occasions to see the good work that was done in the rehabilitation of those with alcohol and drug addiction and more recently with gambling addiction.

[Page 51]

I wish to remind the Minister of the Environment of a subject on which we had some discussion as recently as a week ago. That was the understanding that Pioneer Coal would negotiate a compensation package to the Town of Stellarton as a result (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, I have been asked to yield the floor for an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise to my feet today to introduce a very special group of Nova Scotia high school students who are in our gallery. I have to tell you right off the bat, I take a great deal of pleasure in doing it because my daughter is one of the members of this group. (Interruption) She is the good looking one who takes after her mother, that is right.

These students are the Nova Scotia participants in the Forum for Young Canadians. The Forum for Young Canadians is a program of the foundation for the study of progress of government in Canada. The foundation is a Canada-wide, non-profit organization with representatives from each province. Our Nova Scotia trustees are Bill Mingo of Halifax, Anne Jones of Yarmouth and George Cooper of Halifax. Again, the aim of this program is to bring high school students from across Canada to Ottawa to show these students how government works. A major sponsor for this program is Systemhouse and they are very strong in their support of the Forum for Young Canadians. Andrea Lake, the Vice President of Atlantic Region for Systemhouse is a participating member for the sponsors.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the members of this House acknowledge the future leaders of our province and ask our guests to rise to be acknowledged. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, before the introduction I was speaking about the understanding that was in place when Pioneer Coal received its license to mine surface coal within the Town of Stellarton. We all realize that the inclusion of a surface mine within the borders of a town is not a usual event and it is certainly something of great consequence. The Environmental Review Committee, which held hearings prior to the licensing, made a recommendation based on the understanding that this does have serious impact on the Town of Stellarton, made a recommendation that there would be an award to the Town of Stellarton based on a per tonnage mined and that this would not be negotiated, but would be a requirement.

[11:00 a.m.]

When the licensing requirements were brought forward by the department that was not made a written requirement, but it was my understanding - and I believe it was the understanding of the minister and of all of those involved - that there was to be a negotiation of a compensation package between the Town of Stellarton and Pioneer Coal. The town has now opened the door to Pioneer to begin that negotiation process. To date, that door has not

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been allowed to be opened. I urge the minister to become involved in the process to the extent that he reminds those that are involved that there was a clear understanding at the time that there would be a negotiated agreement, based on a per tonnage mined, between Pioneer Coal and the Town of Stellarton.

Mr. Speaker, on previous occasions in replying to the Speech from the Throne, I took the opportunity to provide the members with some overview of our history in Pictou Centre. I feel it is important that we all have an understanding of each other's responsibilities. In past speeches I spoke about the political history of Pictou County, I talked about the coalfields of Pictou County and I talked about Trenton Works. Today, I want to focus on another major employer in my community. I want to provide an overview of Maritime Steel and Foundries, a successful and key player in the industrial mosaic of Pictou County.

This company developed from a merger of a specialist foundry machine shop which made sawmills and a specialist forging shop which made colliery tools. A craftsman from Oxford, one Alexander MacPherson, began to make sawmills in New Glasgow in 1898 in a building that was later to be occupied by the New Glasgow Foundry. He did not just assemble sawmills; he made them, every part less the saw. He made it all in his own shop with 18 employees. They cast and they forged and they machined and they assembled the complete mill to order; they even made the boilers and the engines for portable and stationary mills.

Four years later, a colliery blacksmith by the name of John W. Cumming, from Thorburn, opened on Glasgow Street, next to the East River, in the south end of New Glasgow - on the site that is now occupied by Maritime Steel and Foundries - a forging shop with four workers, a furnace, one trip-hammer and hand tools to make coal mine drills, draw bars, and associated mining accessories. Cumming's built their own machine shop, and when MacPherson's foundry was absorbed by the Cumming firm, it supplemented its forgings with grey iron and brass castings. This company incorporated in 1911 as the J. W. Cumming Manufacturing Company. An early employee, H. Scott Cameron, a blacksmith of Lochaber, was appointed plant superintendent and the Cameron family eventually became and remain principal owners.

In the First War, the Cumming's company machined more 4.5 inch shells than any other plant in Nova Scotia, in a period when every machine shop in the province was finishing forged shells up to the explosive filling stage. Some may recall that, in 1995, I reported that 14.5 million artillery shells were produced for World War I in Trenton by the then Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Company.

In 1921, the Cumming's company installed an electric furnace and I think that has relevance because there is an electric arc furnace today at Sysco. This furnace was installed to make the first and only steel castings made in the Maritimes, a project that soon eclipsed the declining demand for their forgings.

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A structural steel department was added in 1928 for fabrication and erection of bridge superstructures and building frames. The company assembled snowplows for the Nova Scotia Government in the 1930s and added culvert pipe, with a branch plant in Prince Edward Island supplementing the pipe making in New Glasgow. Castings were made for assembly of railway cars in Trenton and locomotives in Moncton.

In 1929, a new foundry was built, four times the size of its successor, and an engineering department was established. Until coal mining declined, the firm produced quantities of mine car wheel and axle assemblies for local and Ontario use.

During World War II, the plant again machined artillery shells. After the war, the plant started assembling power shovels, first Bucyrus Erie and later P & H shovels.

In 1939, the J.W. Cumming Manufacturing Company was reorganized and renamed the Maritime Steel and Foundries Limited, with H. Scott Cameron as General Manager. He later became President, to be succeeded by his sons, first Clyde and later R.B. Cameron, then by Bill Wilson, Doug Brown and now by grandson R.B. Cameron, Junior.

In 1956, I worked for the summer in the forge of Maritime Steel and Foundries Limited. I was grinding picks for the mines of Cape Breton. I was grinding teeth for the power shovels. I was doing hole punching and spray painting highway guard rails. This was the first time in my life I ever made over $1.00 an hour.

Mr. Speaker, 1997 marks the companys 95th year in business. In 1996, a new foundry was completed, which is more environmentally friendly and is the only Canadian-owned railroad steel foundry in Canada. This company, an old company, has found a way to adapt to the reality of today. The company has developed into the leading structural steel fabricator and erector in Atlantic Canada. Now 75 per cent of the sales of the company are outside of Nova Scotia.

The company supplies product to the United States and is proud to have, among other major projects, supplied and erected the largest single-span bridge in the Canadian National Railway system. It exports railway castings to the U.S. and Mexico and in that regard has developed its own patents. The company also has a pre-stressed concrete division and supplies concrete bridge girders from its Dartmouth branch. At any one time, 200 Nova Scotians work for the company.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to close my remarks by repeating something that we heard in this Legislature from His Honour Lieutenant Governor Lloyd Crouse, words delivered to us here in this place in February 1994, during his dialogue with Jacob during the celebration of the 175th Anniversary of Province House.

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For those with short memories, you will recall the skit that involved the professional actor Jacob interacting with the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition, the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor. These were the words of the Lieutenant Governor. They were words of advice and from time to time I think it is important that we remember the message. "First, do what in your faithful and disinterested judgement you believe right and necessary for the honour and safety of our beloved country. You cannot legislate patriotism, it is a feeling which must come from the heart. Your second duty is to your constituents, you are their representative but not their delegate. It is only in the third place that your duty to the Party, organization or program takes rank. There can be no doubt of the rank of these duties in a healthy democracy. Every MLA must use this Legislature as a place where true statements can be brought before the people.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I move that the resolution before this House be amended by deleting on Page 2 all of the words after, "College of Family Physicians of Canada", and substituting thereafter the following words: This House regrets that His Honour's speech proposed no new government action to address the deterioration in our health, education and social services, nor did it offer any concrete solutions to alleviate high levels of unemployment, especially in rural Nova Scotia. It also failed to adequately address Nova Scotia's natural resource sectors, or to ease the increasing sense of frustration about the misguided direction of this government. (Applause)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to respond to the fifth and, hopefully, final, Speech from the Throne of this Liberal Government. As I begin, I would like to join with other members of the House in extending my condolences and those of the New Democratic Party to the family and friends of the distinguished Nova Scotians whose passing was noted in the Speech from the Throne. They all served their communities with distinction and they will be sorely missed.

I would also like to extend my condolences and those of my colleagues to all who have lost loved ones this past year. In particular, I would mention Larry Lamont of Halifax and Sarah Wilson of Country Harbour, two long-time activists in their communities and in the New Democratic Party.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to mention Mr. Steve Scarfe of Bald Rock, Halifax County, a young man who lost his life recently in a tragic accident and who has left a wonderful wife and children behind. The tragedy of this event has deeply affected and moved the community of Sambro and Pennant and those people will certainly miss Steve, and I wish to pay my respects once again here today.

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I would also like to take this opportunity to say welcome back to the staff, the Pages, the messengers, to Mike Laffin and Peter, the staff of the Legislative Library and the Clerk's Office. Of course, our friend and colleague, Doug Giles, the interim Sergeant-at-Arms and, of course, the Hansard Office and the Legislative Television crew. I know, Mr. Speaker, they will continue to serve members of this House and the citizens of Nova Scotia extremely well.

Before I begin my comments on the Speech from the Throne, I will first make a few remarks about my constituency, Halifax Atlantic. Mr. Speaker, I am honoured that for the sixth time, I have the opportunity on behalf of the residents and the communities in Halifax Atlantic to bring greetings and best wishes to you and to all members of the House.

Halifax Atlantic, Mr. Speaker, from Spryfield through Harriestfield, Williamswood, Sambro, the Pennants, Ketch Harbour, Duncans Cove, Herring Cove, Purcells Cove and the communities in between is a cross-section, I believe, in many ways, of Nova Scotia. It contains urban development and fishing communities. The residents of Halifax Atlantic come from all walks of life, all income and most occupational groups. As goes Nova Scotia, so goes Halifax Atlantic and what this Liberal Government does has a direct impact on the people of Halifax Atlantic.

Like residents in other regions of the province, the people of Halifax Atlantic live with anxiety about their future and the future of their children. They have concerns about the lack of well-paid employment and concerns about what is happening to our health and education systems. Many also share our sense of betrayal and disillusionment with this Liberal Government. I will come back later in my speech to speak in some more detail about Halifax Atlantic.

Mr. Speaker, at this time, I want to deal with the speech delivered yesterday by His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor. What was in that speech, and more importantly what was not in that speech, is of great importance to the people of Halifax Atlantic and to all Nova Scotians. The adjectives that jumped immediately to mind to describe yesterday's speech were words like: thin; flat; disappointing; and, yes, even dull. Expressions like: sleep-inducing; out of touch; a waste of paper, also come to mind.

[11:15 a.m.]

In previous years we have criticized this government for failing to deliver on promises in its Throne Speech; well, we won't be able to do that with this speech. That is because there were no promises in it, at least no new ones. Worse, there was no vision. This government's fifth Throne Speech was a combination of warmed-over announcements and revisionist history, consisting of recycled press releases and a view of the past four years seen through the proverbial rose-coloured glass. When it comes to recycling old promises and old announcements, reading this speech was like déjà-vu. In some cases it was like Yogi Berra said, déjà-vu all over again.

[Page 56]

Once again this year we had the Highway No. 104 project as a great job creator. Mr. Speaker, that is three years in a row that we have heard about the Highway No. 104 project. Then there is the healthy communities initiative. You know, it certainly is welcome. Healthy communities are what health reform is supposed to be about; but let's stop talking about it and let's get on with it. This government has been promising healthy community initiatives in its Throne Speeches since 1993, so I say déjà-vu all over again, and again, and again.

Another hardy perennial trotted out to bulk up this thin document is the Emergency Health Services. This government has been promising improvements in emergency medical health since 1993. So far, all we have seen is some fancy new vehicles. The wages of ambulance workers remain unacceptably low and their hours of work ridiculously high. This government's failure to deal with the working conditions faced by ambulance workers does, in fact, endanger the lives and health of those workers and the public they serve. It has now forced the workers in Glace Bay to take the ultimate step and withdraw their labour to try to bring about changes in those conditions. I say to this government, stop patting yourselves on the back and get on with the job.

Last on my far from exhaustive list is the issue of jobs. Again, it is déjà-vu. The speech talks about 25,500 net new jobs that have come to Nova Scotia since May 1993. Now where have we seen a number like this before? Perhaps it was in last year's Throne Speech. If we look here on Page 7, we see it. Since the Liberals took office in June 1993, ". . . 26,000 more Nova Scotians have found work.". Again, déjà-vu. Are we making progress here? No, we are not. We are spinning our wheels or, even worse, going backwards on job creation compared with a year ago.

On unemployment there is no movement either. There were nearly 58,000 officially unemployed Nova Scotians according to the Statistics Canada figures that came out last Friday. That is the same number who were unemployed when this Liberal Government was running for office in April 1993, yes, on a platform of job creation. There were 58,000 then; 58,000 now. More déjà-vu.

Back on the subject of employment, there was one big difference between this year's Throne Speech and last year's. Last year the government said, "Special emphasis will be placed on areas of the province with high unemployment, including Cape Breton and South Western Nova Scotia.". This year not a word about Cape Breton or southwestern Nova Scotia. Has the problem been solved? In Cape Breton there is an unemployment rate of 27.4 per cent; southwestern Nova Scotia, devastated by the decline in scallops and the ground fishery, hit by the closure and broken promises around CFB Cornwallis. Attention in the Throne Speech to those hard-hit areas of the province: zip, zero, nothing.

Fishers and other seasonal workers who have been hurt by UI cuts and changes in fishing regulations, Mr. Speaker, are fighting for their industry, fighting for their lives, fighting for their communities. They are fighting to defend the very fabric of rural Nova Scotia, but

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there is no mention of their issues, fundamental to the survival of coastal communities, in this Throne Speech.

Maybe, as the headline in the Throne Speech says, the tide has turned. Maybe though, as far as the government is concerned, the tide has indeed turned. It has turned and carried less advantaged parts of the province like Cape Breton, southwest Nova Scotia and other coastal communities right out to sea, Mr. Speaker.

The way the Throne Speech deals with unemployment in Cape Breton and southwest Nova Scotia and other parts of the province is just one example of how this government wants to gaze fondly back over the past four years wearing those rose-coloured glasses. They look at health care through those glasses and they see something quite different from what we see and what most Nova Scotians see. They see reliable first-class health care. We see a health care system that has been thrown into chaos by a combination of cutbacks and ill-considered reforms.

They peer through their rose-coloured glasses and they see gains for the health care system, but in the real world you see one personal horror story after the other. In the real world you hear from seniors who have had their home care cut back during the program review. You hear from people who have lost loved ones waiting for an ambulance to arrive. You hear from people who have been sent home from emergency wards with broken bones because an orthopaedic surgeon is not available. You hear about communities facing the loss of emergency services and family physicians. You hear about a heart patient who died at home after his family was told there was not a bed for him at the Infirmary.

The Throne Speech talks about a Home Care Program that is growing and stabilizing. In the real world you hear about a home care system, Mr. Speaker, that is in a mess, a system that provides inadequate service when it is not cutting off hundreds of people altogether. The Throne Speech talks about selectively phasing in new services like palliative care. Again, in the real world selective phasing in is not good enough. In the real world there are families who must struggle to come up with $10,000 a month for 24-hour care for a loved one who is terminally ill and has been sent home to die.

Again, when you look back over the last four years through the government's eyes, health care reform did not happen. It has been written right out of the Throne Speech. The new Minister of Health would like to write it out of history entirely. You know, that is unfortunate because we needed health reform when this government took office and we still need it today. What we need is real health reform, not health deform as has been practised by the Liberals.

If we are going to preserve and enhance our health care system in a sustainable way, we need real health reform, Mr. Speaker, not cutting and slashing disguised as health reform. Health reform is supposed to be about reorienting the system from one focused on disease

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and acute care to a system focused on prevention and good health. That is what we have been told time and time again. The 1989 Royal Commission report told us that. That is what the Blueprint Report told us in 1993. Those reports told us that health reform is supposed to be about community-based decision making and about emphasizing primary health care. They told us health reform was about attacking the poverty, poor housing and environmental degradation that are often the causes of poor health.

Instead of health reform, over the past four years we have had budget cuts leading to a 30 per cent reduction in hospital beds before alternatives are in place. We have seen growing concern in communities across the province about access to primary and acute care. We have seen recommendations for decentralization and community-based decision making distorted into top heavy, top down regionalisation. We have seen little movement in primary health reform. Our system, Mr. Speaker, has not opened up to enhance roles for nurse practitioners and other allied health professionals.

Some of the changes that have taken place are the wrong changes. We have seen increased user fees for medical procedures, the de-insurance of more procedures, premiums for Pharmacare coverage and a move towards privatization led by this government and the new Minister of Health. All of these developments, Mr. Speaker, undermine the goal of comprehensive, universal health care for Nova Scotians. This government would know that if its members would merely take off their rose-coloured glasses for just a few minutes.

When the authors of this Throne Speech - Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I have been asked by a member opposite if I would allow him to make an introduction. I would certainly relinquish the floor for that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour on an introduction.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Leader of the New Democratic Party for graciously allowing me time to do an introduction this morning.

In the gallery, Mr. Speaker, is a group of boys and girls from St. Anthony Daniel Elementary School in my area in Sydney. I would like to welcome them to Halifax. They are up here playing some basketball in the local area, as well as touring some points of interest in the Halifax area. They have with them today a number of people accompanying them. I would just like to mention who they are: Maureen Pickup, Lorne MacDougall, Philip Martin, John MacNeil, Blair McSween, Paul Pickup, Art Westbury, Earl Reid, Sharon Jobe, Norma Kooko, Eleanor Joe, Beatrice Jackson and Janet MacEachern. I would ask that the House give the usual welcome to this fine group of young people from Sydney today. (Applause)

[Page 59]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, when the authors of this Throne Speech look at education, they see something that is far removed from reality. The speech indulges in fantasy after fantasy. The speech states that administrative streamlining has meant more education dollars are reaching students in the classrooms. What can that mean?

Do those people over there ever read the newspapers? Don't they know that school boards across this province are facing deficits; that more teacher layoffs are in the offing; that school closures are being considered from one end of this province to the other? Mr. Speaker, don't they know that instead of helping the classroom, the modernization that they talk about in the speech has simply created distant and expensive administrative bureaucracies at the board level?

I just wish whoever is responsible for the kind of nonsense that is in the Throne Speech would come out to my constituency some day, drop in at J.L. Ilsley High School where they are being forced to get along with six fewer teachers this year and are looking at another eight fewer next year. Come on out to J.L. Ilsley and try to convince anyone there that administrative streamlining has meant more education dollars are reaching students in the classroom.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians have not seen one cent of the promised savings from the forced amalgamation of school boards. Throughout this province, our children are still in classes that are too large and growing, and classes without textbooks. Our children with special needs are not receiving the services they deserve and they require. We know there is worse to come.

Scarce resources are being further reduced as the province starves the school boards of needed funding but this government does not worry about such petty details. Instead, it creates another fantasy world, this one built around the public-private partnering and high- tech schools.

You know, it was June 1994 that Premier Savage announced a world-class, high-tech junior high would be built in Sydney through private sector partnering. The target date to finish construction of the school was September 1996. It was finally opened in January 1997. It was originally estimated to cost $5.7 million. The Sydney high-tech public-private junior high ended up costing almost three times that amount, not on time and not on budget.

Never mind, because for this government it has been a great success. So much so that we are going to get seven more such schools. I say that only a government that is seriously deluded would continue on such a course.

As my colleagues, the member for Sackville-Cobequid and the member for Halifax Fairview, have said on a number of occasions in this House, the public-private development of schools is a shell game that will result in higher future costs.

[Page 60]

[11:30 a.m.]

To make it look like they have balanced their budget, the government has decided to hide the capital costs in the books of their private partners. They will then enter long-term lease arrangements to rent the facilities. I say that this will result in the higher long-term costs to pay their partners profits, and higher borrowing costs. This government is trading higher long-term costs in favour of its own short-term political interests. Future Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker, will pay a higher price because of this foolishness.

The foolishness will continue, for awhile at least, but what else can you expect from a government that lowers taxes on booze by $8 million while school boards are busy shutting down community schools? What else can you expect from a bunch that has no money for a modest increase in home care for a family in dire need, but can find $10 million to help Terry Matthews become the richest man in Wales? Mr. Speaker, government is about priorities. From our perspective, this government's priorities are all distorted.

As we listened to the Speech from the Throne yesterday, we knew we were in for a trip to Fantasy Island almost from the start. The tide, according to the government, has turned. They said the biggest challenge in the coming months will be preparing Nova Scotians to take advantage of the economic opportunities that lie ahead, and I have already talked about how ridiculous that must sound in Cape Breton or down in Digby County. I dare any member of this government to go to those places and say that line in public. People are going to get upset and who would blame them.

When you see a statement like that in the Speech from the Throne - the biggest challenge is preparing Nova Scotians for the economic opportunities that lie ahead - you have to wonder, Mr. Speaker, what planet this government lives on. Because, on this planet, in this province, they will find unemployment is close to the same record numbers that existed when they took office. On this planet, in this province, they discover that wage growth is lagging behind the rest of Canada. On this planet, in this province, they would find that, under this government, Nova Scotia has gone from having the fourth lowest rate of child poverty in the country to the third highest. On this planet, in this province - in fact in their own monthly trends report put out by the Department of Finance - they would find that the recession the Tories started in 1990 has been continued by the Liberals throughout the decade. In the real world of Nova Scotia, not the fantasy one inhabited by the author of the Speech from the Throne, they would find that real incomes for Nova Scotians declined by 7 per cent between 1990 and 1995.

Perhaps government members are so giddy about prospects for the future because they have been sniffing gas, Mr. Speaker, offshore gas. I couldn't help but notice in yesterday's paper that the Premier saw fit to come after this Party for a stand on the Sable project. I got the impression that he doesn't think we are gung-ho enough for the project because someone

[Page 61]

who happens to be a member of the NDP questioned the impartiality of the Sable Regulatory Panel.

The Premier expressed curiosity about our position on the Sable gas project. I am quite happy to enlighten the Premier and all members of this House on this Party's position on Sable gas, Mr. Speaker. It is not very different from the position that the Premier himself put forward last year, before he allowed himself to get carried away with visions of sugarplums from the Sable project.

On a number of occasions, the Premier has said that if the development of Sable gas does not produce significant benefits for Nova Scotians, the gas might as well stay in the ground. We agree with that position; that is why we have intervened in the hearings now being carried on by the Joint Public Review. That is why we are going to try as much as we can to sort out whether the project will, in fact, bring significant benefits to Nova Scotians. Once we have looked at all of the evidence and arrived at a position, we will make our views known through final argument before the panel. We are not going to rush to judgment on this issue. It is too complex and it is too important.

For a time it looked as if that was the position held by the Premier on behalf of Nova Scotians. You get all the facts, you make a balanced judgment based on those facts, whether the project at this time was in the best interests of Nova Scotians; sounds reasonable. It used to be the Premier's position, and if I recall correctly, he stated it in a brochure which was distributed throughout his riding just last fall. Now the Premier's position seems to have changed. I have not seen him retract that position in writing but his actions, both when he challenged me the other day and when he fronted that Mobil-Shell-Rowan announcement last month, suggests that he has changed. He seems to have moved from the role of skeptic to that of advocate; from impartial judge to cheerleader. I am not sure why such a transformation has taken place, Mr. Speaker.

The royalty scheme that finally was released was even less favourable than most Nova Scotians expected it would be. Now it looks like the impact on the Cape Breton coal industry will be such that the long-term employment benefits will actually be negative. The project also poses a risk to the environment and the fishery, no matter what safeguards are put in place.

It now looks, Mr. Speaker, like we are faced with a sellout of a multi-billion dollar natural resources to a couple of energy giants in return for some short-term construction jobs. Those jobs are clearly needed. Any job is needed and welcomed in this province, but all members of this House must remember that we need to clearly understand what price we are going to be paying for these jobs. We would certainly have hoped that the Premier of Nova Scotia and his government with all of the expertise of the energy secretariat would be dealing with those questions on behalf of Nova Scotians. Unfortunately the Premier, like his predecessors in office for the last 20 years, has slipped into the role of booster.

[Page 62]

Mr. Speaker, in a document that is full of distortions, it is a mug's game to pick the worst of the lot. Our caucus kicked it around and we have come up with a winner. The statement on Page 13 saying the government ". . . is proud of the principled way it deals with public affairs". How anyone can look back over this government's record and say that it has been principled is simply mind-boggling. I doubt that Orwell's Ministry of Truth even tried to get away with one that big.

The reality is, Mr. Speaker, that this Liberal Government's record is one of betrayal and deceit. The strategists may hope that by changing Leaders and spouting fantastic nonsense that they can make Nova Scotians forget the last four years but I say it is not going to work. When we talk with Nova Scotians they blame the Liberal Government not just the outgoing Premier for betraying their trust. It was the Liberals, both provincial and federal, who ran on a platform of creating jobs and then forced the layoff of teachers, health care workers and public servants when they got into office.

It was the Liberal Party, not the Premier alone, who promised health reform, but once in office embarked on slash and burn campaign against our health care system. It was the Liberals, like the Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance, who were against harmonized sales taxes while in Opposition but promoters of the unfair and regressive tax scheme once they were in government.

It was the Liberals, not only the Premier, who flip-flopped on casinos and refused to listen as Nova Scotians expressed their opposition in large numbers. It was the Liberals, not the Premier alone, who promised injured workers they would improve WCB benefits, then they turned around and they gutted them, Mr. Speaker. Let's not forget what this government, all of its members, did to the construction trades with the Steen Bill.

Despite what some of the backroom boys might be saying, it was not the Premier who cost this government so much public support, it was the fact that the Liberals misled Nova Scotians before and during the 1993 election campaign about their intentions. The Liberals told Nova Scotians that they would do one thing and they turned around and they did the opposite. That is why Nova Scotians are rejecting the Liberals and that rejection is taking place both federally and provincially. That is something that those Liberal Members of Parliament, who are said to be interested in leading this province, should keep in mind. Betrayal of the voters of Nova Scotia by Liberals is not something unique to the members opposite. Yes, they pioneered it and then their federal cousins took the cue.

This government continues to sit quietly while the cuts forced by the Canada Health and Social Transfer work their devastating way through our health care, education and social welfare system. Some $200 million has been removed from the system in the past two years by the Honourable Paul Martin. Despite its serious implications to the people in the province this government hasn't taken a single action to protest the federal downloading, nor to the knowledge of this caucus have the federal Liberal MPs from this province, including those

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two who would now presume to come back and take on the Minister of Health for the big prize. They might as well come back because they aren't doing us any good where they are.

As I have said, reading and listening to yesterday's Speech from the Throne makes one wonder what world this government is living in. In case they haven't heard, Nova Scotians are very worried about the federal cut-backs, they are worried about a health care and education system already straining under the effects of misguided and chaotic reform. They are also worried about a post-secondary education system that is already becoming inaccessible to many students.

This is the province where thousands and thousands live with uncertainty about whether they will have a job to support themselves and their families tomorrow. This is the province where businesses struggle to survive, due to the loss of consumer confidence and spending power. Promises about stabilizing hospital funding and bolstering educational services, pipedreams about offshore wealth and hocus pocus about private partnering schemes won't change the reality and make these problems vanish.

I indicated earlier that I was going to return to the subject of my Halifax Atlantic constituency and I will do so now. The people in my constituency have shown me that despite all this government dishes out, they are resilient, they are strong. Imagine, if you will, a community that no matter what indignities are thrust upon it, no matter what downloading, off-loading, cutting of programs occur, people continue to work together to make a difference. Halifax Atlantic is that kind of community.

It has been my privilege to witness the coming together of individuals, groups and agencies, to collectively battle all levels of government. Let me give you some examples; the Doula project of the Single Parent Centre was successful in having a 50 per cent federal funding cut reinstated; the Captain William Spry Community Centre and its board were partners in the fight against cuts to community-based agencies which saw provincial funding for 1997-98 remain intact; currently St. Paul's Family Resource Centre has co-sponsored a proposal to reinstate funding to the Spryfield Continuing Education Program. The community continues to build on that feisty spirit.

In Sambro and area, at the height of the crisis in the ground fishery, the fishers there were the first in the province to set up a community quota system for cod and haddock, a full year before anywhere else. That community under good solid leadership came together and came up with a solution that fit their needs.

It has not been just adults fighting for a voice. The students of Holly Drive School, along with their teachers, parents, grandparents and many concerned residents, have rallied against the school closure. Amalgamations of municipalities and school boards have created a terrible mess, a massive tangle of twisted fiscal realities that are being ironed out through short-sighted, quick fixes that are tearing out the heart of education, the community schools.

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[11:45 a.m.]

The students at J.L. Ilsley High School are active participants in the management of the Teen Health Centre. This centre, as a result of the work of those students and members of the community over the past five years, has become a model of community health delivery across this country, a model of community health delivery to adolescents that is being modelled in other parts of this province as well as this country. Yet, after all of the evidence of how successful this program is, again this year the young people at the Teen Health Centre are fighting for funding.

The energy of the community is not only present in the ongoing battles to keep resources in Halifax Atlantic. The vision of the community is evident in new initiatives. The SEARCH project, funded by Health Canada and sponsored by the Captain William Spry Community Centre, is focused on health and social issues. Through community development approaches, it has encouraged previously marginalized groups to participate in decisions affecting their well-being, such as the formation of the community health board in our community. Working with the Halifax Regional Municipality, members of the community in Harrietsfield have been working towards the opening of their new community centre. In the Ketch Harbour and Sambro area, residents are in the planning stages of creating a recreation centre that can also be used by the elementary school, which has no gymnasium. The Mainland South Community Partnership is a community economic development initiative that got under way in January. The Chebucto Boys and Girls Club will open its doors in Spryfield this summer, again a community dream coming true. The CRABapple Mapping Project is encouraging neighbourhoods in Halifax Atlantic to identify what it values through asset mapping. The Mainland South Heritage Society is actively working towards the creation of a heritage farm.

Mr. Speaker, the list goes on, and it goes on because of the leadership and because of the commitment and because of the skills and the compassion of so many outstanding individuals in Halifax Atlantic in all of those communities. I say to all of these people, to all of the hard-working women and men, to all of the small business people providing goods and services, thank you for your commitment to your community. I look forward to continuing to work with you, constituents of Halifax Atlantic, to make our community the best it can be.

Mr. Speaker, the work of so many people in my constituency is an example of what a community can accomplish despite a government like the one opposite that appears openly hostile to the idea of community. A Throne Speech from a New Democratic Party government would be much different from the one that was presented to this House yesterday. A Throne Speech from the New Democratic Party would stress the values of community; it would emphasize the importance of government as a tool for ordinary Nova Scotians to accomplish things collectively, like my constituents in Halifax Atlantic have been able to do despite this Liberal Government. A Throne Speech from the New Democratic Party would make it clear that jobs, not job cuts, would be the priority. If governments can

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set deficit targets and work towards them, Mr. Speaker, I tell you that they can also set job creation targets and work towards those.

There is a shortage of jobs in our society, but there is no shortage of work to be done. We need more health care workers, Mr. Speaker, not fewer; we need more teachers and specialists, not fewer; we need more day care workers, not fewer. We need to fix our roads and our sewers, our water treatment facilities. We need to build up our social infrastructure, not tear it down.

A Speech from the Throne by a New Democratic Party Government would make it clear to the cutters and slashers in the Liberal Government in Ottawa that we won't sit still while our public services are relegated to second class status. We would also ensure that the people of this province get maximum benefit from the exploitation of our resources. A New Democratic Party Government would not force the people of this province into a Hobson's choice, short-term construction job gains on the Sable project against permanent job losses in the Cape Breton coal industry.

Unlike the disgraceful silence in the Speech from the Throne before us, the New Democratic Party would move boldly to deal with chronic unemployment in Cape Breton. A round table on jobs, which we held in February, gave us something that this government has failed to come up with in four years - the beginnings of a plan that grew out of community involvement. That plan says that, as a minimum, we should work to stabilize in the keystone industries. Begin the process of decentralizing a fair percentage of public sector jobs and ensure that the Island gets its fair share. Cape Bretoners are proud and they are self-reliant. They can help themselves, but they need more from government than stony silence.

A NDP Government Speech from the Throne would also contain measures for forest management that would assist Cape Breton and all of rural Nova Scotia. This government seems prepared to leave management of our forests up to the multinational pulp and paper companies. This government seems incapable of devising a forest management policy that optimizes jobs and sustainable development. Our forests, Mr. Speaker, could be going the way of the cod fishery and this government does nothing.

A New Democratic Party Speech from the Throne would contain measures to restore and enhance the quality of our health care. We would have recognized that we need legislation to guarantee the viability of our public health care system. We cannot rely on Ottawa to enforce the Canada Health Act, Mr. Speaker, so we are obliged to proceed as a province to ensure that our health care system is universal, is accessible, comprehensive, affordable and publicly administered.

A Speech from the Throne from this Party would also have promised legislation to amend the Regional Health Boards Act to ensure that health reform will work the way it can and must. That is, from the bottom up. That is a strong recommendation that came from a

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round table on health care this week and a Speech from the Throne from us would have highlighted that recommendation.

Mr. Speaker, an NDP Government would have recognized, finally, that the men and women who work as emergency medical technicians are as vital to emergency health as new vehicles. In 1997 we would have said that the time has surely come for ambulance workers to be covered by basic labour standards. Instead of crowing about the across the board cut that will benefit mainly the rich an NDP Speech from the Throne would have talked about fair tax reform. Tax relief would be targeted at low income earners and we would bring in legislation to scrap the BST and set up a fair tax commission, to finally bring forward recommendations for a thorough tax reform.

On education, a Speech from the Throne from the New Democratic Party would recommit to equality of educational opportunity in this province. That, Mr. Speaker, means stopping the cuts in the public-private partnering scams. It means expanding the core curriculum and working quickly towards 100 per cent provincial funding for education. It means developing a small schools policy. It means controlling university tuition fees and improving student aid programs. It means recognizing that our young people, not our Wall Street credit rating, hold the key to our future in this province.

On the environment, a Speech from the Throne from the New Democratic Party would do something this government is mysteriously unwilling to do. We would enshrine Nova Scotia's protected areas in legislation, right at this session, right now. We would restore Jim Campbells Barren to the protected list and set up full, open, public consultation on whether it ought to be removed.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, our Throne Speech also would have included commitments to implement the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Without these changes the government will continue to use this legislation as the exclusion from information Act.

A Throne Speech from our Party would not try to deceive Nova Scotians into believing that we can solve all the problems all at once. Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker, are reasonable people and will give any government time to carry out its program but Nova Scotians expect their government and elected representatives to be forthright with them; they expect their politicians to put the best interests of this province and people ahead of their own partisan considerations. Yes, they expect politicians to keep their word.

A Throne Speech from our Party would have offered the people of this province a ray of hope, realistic hope, based on the belief that if we work together and respect and support one another, we can do good things, yes, even great things, as a community. I know that this is the kind of hope that Nova Scotians want, not the kind of pipe-dream, pie-in-the-sky hope offered to the favoured few by this Liberal Government.

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Mr. Speaker, this Throne Speech is sadly lacking in all areas; it is not worthy of support. Therefore, I would move that the resolution before the House be further amended. I move that the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition be amended by adding the following words: that this House lacks confidence in this government because:

1. The Speech from the Throne completely fails to deal with the real problems of Nova Scotians who must endure the worsening health, education and social services and continued economic insecurity because of this government's failed policies;

2. The Speech from the Throne fails to make jobs the priority and completely ignores jobs in rural Nova Scotia and in Cape Breton, where unemployment is a natural disgrace.

Mr. Speaker, I would so move.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege and an honour to participate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. Let me begin first of all, sir, by complimenting you in the excellent way in which you are discharging your duties. Having had some experience in that line of work myself, I can testify that the position of Speaker is a most difficult one to exercise. It is a challenging task even for the most skilled and diplomatic of personages. I find you are doing an excellent job in carrying on the worthy traditions set by your predecessors.

I might also compliment His Honour the Lieutenant Governor on the very excellent way in which he discharged his duty of reading the speech, the presentation and the content. I think that it was appropriately lengthy. I realize that had the speech lasted perhaps an entire hour, some might have criticized that by saying it was too padded, it was too long. I believe a Speech from the Throne should be concise and should summarize, in reasonable briefness, the policy direction of a government, the achievements and the events that it wishes to note. I think that the length of His Honour's speech was most appropriate considering the matters that it dealt with and the context of Speeches from the Throne.

[12:00 p.m.]

I would like to share with His Honour the bereavement that we all feel on the passing of various notable Nova Scotians who have died since the last Speech from the Throne. I knew many of those who are listed in this year's speech. I knew Jimmy Vaughan very well. I certainly knew George Henley very well. I certainly knew the former Lieutenant Governor, Dr. Clarence Gosse, and of course we all knew and very much miss our colleague, Ross Bragg. Ross was one of the most dedicated politicians that I have ever known. He was faced with a problem created by a redistribution of electoral boundaries prior to the last election

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that resulted in the area where he had lived and which he had represented, being merged into another constituency.

Now that, in itself, would have floored most politicians, I should think, but Ross Bragg, after a few days consideration, decided to move to another community, some 60 miles distant from where he lived, purchase a home, set up shop and run for office. And he did. And he got elected. That showed to me perhaps more guts, more pluck - call it what you will - than any other politician who I have ever known faced with similar circumstances. I know that some have had to face electoral boundary changes that were quite radical. I believe that John Diefenbaker found himself wiped off the map twice in his political career and still continued to carry on notwithstanding. But Ross Bragg, of those that I have know and that I have worked with, faced with that particular difficulty, a very grave difficulty which would threaten to take you out of business completely, overcame and was able to carry on his political career as member for a new constituency, the riding of Cumberland North.

Ross was a very enthusiastic minister, when he served as a minister. I know he did a great deal to try and help my constituency, which I very much appreciated. I regretted his decision to leave the Executive Council but I certainly admired him a great deal for his courageous battle against leukemia which lasted for five years, I believe, and we certainly would want to express our deepest condolences to his wife and family at this time.

Moving on to the matters contained in the Speech from the Throne, Mr. Speaker, I think that the first subheading is a very appropriate one that, "The Tide Has Turned". The tide has turned from what? The tide has turned, very obviously, from the mess that this government inherited in 1993. That is what has turned. As we hear all the criticism and the cat-calling and the observation that the world is not perfect - and I agree that the world is not perfect, Mr. Speaker - very seldom is there any recognition given to what the present condition is in relation to what it would have been had the other Party won the election of 1993 and continued in the policy direction that they were embarked on at that time.

Very little recognition has been given, for example, to the very acute financial problem that this government faced. When it was elected to power, the outgoing government had not presented a budget, although they had prepared one, but they had not presented it. They had spent money that, therefore, had never been legally authorized. Indeed they had spent it to the extent, in many cases, of 60 per cent, 70 per cent, 80 per cent, 90 per cent of the allocation for the upcoming year. So this government came to power and found that the cupboard was absolutely bare in many key areas such as in highway pavement and in many other important things.

The government was faced with an almost impossible financial predicament, a very serious one, indeed. We have learned there were other Canadian provinces that faced even graver financial problems, particularly in the case of the Province of Saskatchewan, where an NDP Government - I thought they had all the answers but I see they have now left the

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Chamber - got into such deep trouble that they required a federal bailout, even although at the time it was not publicized. A second NDP Government in Ontario encountered similar problems, perhaps not as grave or as acute as those faced in Saskatchewan, but they too required federal assistance to avoid bankruptcy.

Mr. Speaker, in this Province of Nova Scotia there was no federal aid or assistance required or ever requested to prevent this government from going into bankruptcy because the course that had been set by the Tories was changed; there was a change of direction. There was the courage and the leadership to make that change possible. Yes, indeed, the tide has turned. We should be thankful to God that the tide did turn because, had it not turned, Lord knows where this province might be today, although I have some specifics that I may refer to later on that my research has indicated would have taken place had the Liberal Party not won the election of 1993.

Yes, I know that there have been reductions of certain services. There have had to be in certain areas the cutback of public expenditure in some departments and that is a matter of regret to me. I do not take any joy or comfort, and I am sure no member of this government took any joy or comfort in doing what had to be done. Those perhaps with a medical background, maybe in the field of surgery, will be aware of the need on occasion for a surgical operation to save a patient's life and no one takes any joy in a surgical operation. It is a very traumatic experience but, if through that surgery a life can be saved, you go ahead and you do it. This government had to adopt a similar approach.

Yes, I agree with those who say that was not the election platform when they came to power in 1993, because this government, this Party, when not in government had no idea of how bad things were. Had no idea in the world how bad things were, all the evidence that would indicate the true picture was diligently shredded in the days between election day and the assumption of power by the new government 13 days later, or at least as much of it as could be shredded, because the shredding machines were working day and night.

So certainly if anyone were to criticize this government, saying you did not quite do what you set out to do, they would probably be justified in making that criticism when you realize the context in which things took place. The picture that had been painted of how Nova Scotia was doing by Donald Cameron and company was simply not accurate. It was not truthful; the public were deceived.

AN HON. MEMBER: Something like B.C. What happened in B.C., Paul?

MR. MACEWAN: You want to hear about B.C.? Well, Nova Scotia is right here. B.C. is away over on the West Coast. I think we had better stay in Nova Scotia for the time being and move out to the West Coast when the jolly three get back.

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Now, the tide has turned, thanks to the efforts of this government and I think it would be appropriate at this time to make due recognition of Premier John Savage. Premier Savage came into this Chamber as a rookie member who had never sat in this House for a day prior to the first day he came in here as Premier.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Its pretty obvious he was a rookie. You got that right.

MR. MACEWAN: We have all been guilty of being a rookie on occasion, Brooke. In any event he came in here, taking over as Premier of Nova Scotia and head of the government having had no previous experience as a member of this House. He performed valiantly. I think valiant is the best word to use to describe his approach to government over the past four years.

Premier Savage came in here with some very clear ideas of what he wanted to achieve during his time in government and I think by and large he did achieve them. He did achieve them; he got the province back on the right track. He got the province back on the right track on a number of fronts that you can identify and examine separately, one by another, one after another, and he was able to turn things around. He was able to improve the climate. He was able to regain the respect of the broader community within Canada by seeing Nova Scotians standard of government, the standard of conduct in government, the standard of financial management in government, all of these things improved.

In other words, it is as if a student in school had his grades improved in successive report cards. In the first term, the marks were very poor and the next mid-term examinations the marks were up somewhat and, finally, on grading day at the end of the year, A in all subjects. That is the kind of turnaround that Premier Savage was able to make happen here in Nova Scotia.

I think the fact that there is now investment in the provincial economy taking place or pending is in very direct ratio to the leadership of the present government and Premier Savage in particular. I think that the last heading in the Speech from the Throne, "A Principled Approach to Public Affairs", perhaps best sums up the approach that John Patrick Savage has taken to the leadership of government in Nova Scotia. He delivered a principled approach to public affairs and as he advances down the road of life towards retirement, certainly he has nothing to be ashamed of in his stewardship in the Office of Premier of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I represent the constituency of Cape Breton Nova. It is traditional in addressing the Speech from the Throne to make some comments about one's own constituency. I represent a community that has a very high level of unemployment. I don't blame that on this government. I don't think this government sat down one day and said that we are going to create unemployment in industrial Cape Breton. This government inherited problems that are called structural - that means that they relate to the structure of the economy - that have existed for many years.

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Indeed, one of the reasons that I was motivated to get into politics as a young man was that I was very disturbed by the lack of employment opportunities for youth in those times. I thought that perhaps through political action something could be done to change that. The two major industries in the area where I come from are steel and coal. Steel is affected by the operations of the Sydney Steel Corporation, the minister for which is the Honourable Manning MacDonald. Coal is under the direction of the Cape Breton Development Corporation, which is a federal Crown Corporation.

I want to state right now that I think that the current minister for the Sydney Steel Corporation has exceeded all expectations in his attempts to bring about a satisfactory solution to that most difficult problem. I wish him every success in his efforts. I believe that he will be successful and that when he is, we will see Sydney Steel successfully marketed to an international steel producer or combination of international steel producers who will be able to make that plant go.

Surely 30 years of government ownership and management have demonstrated one thing if it has demonstrated anything, and that is that the government does not have the know-how to run a steel plant. It does not. I don't see in these Chambers any metallurgists or any persons with expertise in steel company management. If there are any such persons in the House, I am not aware of their existence here. We have had well-meaning attempts by both Liberal and Conservative Governments - and had there been one, I am sure the NDP would have done the same thing - to do the best they could with a very difficult situation.

Large sums of money, enormous sums of money have been expended. For what aim? Primarily to try to make Sysco successful. That is what the investment was for, to try to make Sysco work, to try to make it competitive so that it could produce a top quality product that would sell. The customers would be attracted, business would be generated and, thereby, employment in the Sydney area stimulated.

Some may say, well, it hasn't happened and that is your fault. I don't personally accept blame for the rail quality problems that resulted in an arbitration hearing in Beijing, China. I don't personally accept responsibility for x-rays that showed certain rails to be deficient and resulted in Canadian National Railways rethinking their past practices in terms of purchases. I don't think that those things were engineered by me or by anyone here. I think it would be foolish to pretend that they were. Those simply are the happenstances of fate. It is the duty of government to provide leadership in trying to identify a way out that will be satisfactory for all concerned. Manning MacDonald, Mr. Speaker, is doing that and deserves the support of the entire community, in my view, for his efforts.

I am not going to get into Sysco matters in detail at this time because I don't have the time to deal in detail, probably, with any subject but certainly, for me, I can say that the successful resolution of the Sydney Steel issue is undoubtedly, unquestionably, the number one item on my political agenda and I have done everything that I could in consultation with

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all concerned, including the union and workers directly, retired employees, management, sales personnel, middle management and supervisors, all the different groups that exist and also in consultation with the leaders of opinion in the community, including clergy, business and civic representatives and anyone that had any stake in this matter at all, to work in consultation with them to see that they were informed.

[12:15 p.m.]

I think that this is one of the most outstanding aspects of Manning MacDonald's handling of this matter, Mr. Speaker, and I trust he will remain in the Chamber while I say this, because I want to say that if there is any one effort for which I think he deserves a gold star it is in communicating and in keeping the community informed. I have collected more newspaper clippings on Sysco matters over the past number of months than at any previous time I think and I have always kept a running file of all clippings that were published about Sydney Steel because there is a regular flow of information on the situation, so that no one can claim that you are hiding this from us or we don't know what is going on, all the information that's available has been made public. This exercise has been carried out in total openness with the community.

I regret that it is not solved yet. I hope it will be in the near future. I know that three very competitive firms have expressed interest in purchasing the company and if one or two of them as a consortium working together are the successful bidders, I hope they get their operations under way in the near future, because we have a lot of social problems in Sydney right now with senior employees of Sydney Steel who have been laid off for so long that their unemployment insurance benefits have run out and they are on welfare and that strikes me as a very wrong situation. I take no joy in that whatsoever. I hope that a pension plan can be finalized in the relatively near future that will enable eligible retired workers to retire with some dignity so that younger men that are on the streets now can be called back to work. All those things are very, very important to me.

Sydney Steel is located in my constituency, Mr. Speaker. I know there are some questions sometimes about the geography, but if you look very closely at the map and examine the electoral boundaries, the actual physical location of the plant is in Cape Breton Nova.

Now, I also have in my constituency, in addition to Sysco, various facilities of the Cape Breton Development Corporation, including the shipping piers, which have been idle for well over a year. The shipping piers at Whitney Pier are the piers from which Cape Breton coal is to be shipped to the four corners of the earth, if the customers can be found. The shipping facility is certainly there. Also the Victoria Junction coal preparation plant is in my constituency. The two producing mines, one is in located in Cape Breton Centre and the other in Cape Breton The Lakes, but they are both near to the area I represent and many of my

[Page 73]

constituents would be employed in Devco, either as coal miners or as surface workers of one kind or another.

I have heard concerns expressed as to the gas development and how it may impact on the coal industry. I certainly share those concerns but I think that they are dangerously distorted when they get into the hands of the NDP. To try to interpret, my understanding is that if the gas is brought ashore, and it hasn't been brought ashore yet, that the area in the energy field that it would most directly impact on would be high cost heating oil, that oil would be most directly impacted on and coal to a lesser extent. However, I do support all efforts to promote and secure the future of the Cape Breton coal industry to identify markets and uses for our coal.

Just yesterday morning I spent the entire morning with a very enthusiastic and energetic young man who has some strong ideas about what can be done to help to develop our economy, with special emphasis on Cape Breton coal. He and I shared some viewpoints including identification of new markets, perhaps in the Far East where very resource poor countries such as Japan and other countries need, perhaps, a product that we have here and if we could, perhaps, do more to market in the Middle East and in various other parts of the world that are coal deficient yet are looking for coal, a product that is competitively priced, there might, indeed, be a very great future yet for the exporting of Cape Breton coal.

I will certainly do all that I can to press for measures that will promote and develop the Cape Breton coal industry because when you represent an area that has perhaps a 36 per cent to 40 per cent real rate of unemployment you are concerned about the protection of what you have. That is very critical when it comes to looking at the long-term picture. We don't have the economic base in industrial Cape Breton right now to support the existing population. If that economic base were to be in any way reduced further, we would be in a catastrophic situation. I certainly intend to do all that I can to press for measures of any type that will result in more jobs for Cape Bretoners.

I welcome any decentralization of government facilities that can be arranged. I know that the federal level of government decentralized some jobs into Sydney in the Citizenship and Immigration Department. That kind of development I greatly welcome but I don't look to government to provide the total answer here.

I think that a productive Sydney Steel operation could be perhaps the biggest single thing that we could pull off that would help to change things around in Cape Breton and make this phrase of the tide having turned, truly applicable to the situation in Sydney and area. There is much more I could say about Sydney Steel and related matters in my constituency but perhaps to just briefly take a look at some other areas.

[Page 74]

We have been able to get a great deal done in Cape Breton Nova during the last three and one-half years, thanks to this government, in areas that perhaps may not seem all that important in the overall scheme of things, may not be as large scale as Sydney Steel or as the Cape Breton Development Corporation but which are important small things that most other Nova Scotians or at least many other Nova Scotians have taken for granted for a long time.

I have complained in these Chambers in the past about the colour-coded filing system employed in the Department of Transportation with respect to capital projects. I have complained about that because it discriminated against my constituency. We could not get one iota of new pavement in Cape Breton Nova when the Tories were in power, not one iota (Interruption) or Shelburne, or Cape Breton Centre.

Since this government came to power under two successive Ministers of Transportation we have been pretty well able to get the things that we needed done. I wouldn't say that everything has been done yet, it will require at least one more term in government to do that. We have been able, in my constituency and the adjoining riding of Cape Breton Centre and I know the member for Cape Breton Centre will itemize the list in his own riding separately but in my constituency we have been able to get a great deal done. I want to publicly say thank you to those ministers, the Honourable Richard Mann and the Honourable Donald Downe, who did something for Cape Breton Nova after so many years of Tory political discrimination.

We have been able to get, on the Sydney-New Waterford Highway, half of it now, completely reconstructed and repaved and the other half is yet to come. That is a highway that was so bad under the Tories, the condition of it was so poor, that I received a complaint from the volunteer fire department in New Victoria that the highway was so bad that they could not safely take the fire truck out on the road because there was a danger of it just breaking up because of the poor condition of the highway. We have been able to get the main highway there reconditioned, we have been able to get the most dangerous corner or intersection in Nova Scotia, at the corner of Highway No. 125, the Sydney By-pass highway and Grand Lake Road - this is outside Sydney on the Sydney-Glace Bay highway - completely repaired and fixed with three sets of traffic lights and all kinds of new interchanges. This cost over $1 million, including property acquisition, all of that work was done; under the Tories, the most dangerous intersection in Nova Scotia, they just left it that way. They had one single overhead orange flashing light meaning sort of danger, slow down but no particular traffic directional signals at all and they left it that was for years, year after year.

Infrastructure. In the New Victoria area we have been able to get four major sewage programs done by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. I know that these are municipal undertakings but where there is provincial financial assistance provided on a large scale that helps make them happen, in fact, without which they would not have happened, I think that one is entitled to stand up and mention that fact.

[Page 75]

I had a situation at New Victoria that was stimulated by a highway construction project. The highway construction was approved. Tenders were called. The contractor went in there and found that they could not do the work because the area was so contaminated that one resident said that they found rats in the ditches that were as large as German Shepherds. Well, maybe German Shepherd puppies, anyway. (Interruption)

Yes, but because of that situation and the fact that this highway construction program could not proceed, the Chief Executive Officer for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Mr. Gerry Ryan, contacted me and said that we need some emergency help to build a trunk sewer at New Victoria. We have to get it built before the road can be reconstructed. I said, what do you need? He came up with a certain sum of money. I believe it was $250,000 or $260,000. I said I will get on the telephone right now and I will call my good friend the Honourable Sandra Jolly, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, and I did. Within five days, Mr. Speaker, she approved that sum of money to enable that project to go ahead. That is cooperation. That has helped the community of New Victoria.

This new sewer, now that it is built and completed, acts as a truck sewer system from which lateral lines can be developed both uphill and downhill to serve the side streets. Already, a second phase has been approved by the regional municipality for lateral lines up and down side streets feeding into that new trunk. You know what? I was able to get the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs, now under the leadership of the Honourable Dr. Jim Smith, to approve a further grant of money to enable that second phase of that infrastructure to go ahead.

In the meantime, through the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Program, involving three-way federal, provincial and municipal funding, we were able to get two other sewerage projects done at New Victoria and one at South Bar. We were able to get a $500,000 facelift of the Whitney Pier Community Rink, which has enable the rink there to receive new dressing rooms and a new front. It looks like a whole new rink from the outside. On the inside, I wouldn't say that once you get passed the new front portion. Certainly, there has been major and substantial improvement in the community, thanks to the participation of this government and the federal Liberal Government in Ottawa.

I don't want to get into federal politics at this time, Mr. Speaker, but I think we would all want to wish the Right Honourable Jean Chretien and his colleagues Godspeed in the days ahead. I think we would because the Liberal Party, at the federal level, is the thread that keeps our country together and, certainly, the future of our country is a very important subject to me. I want to see Canada stay together and united and the Party that will deliver that is the Liberal Party of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, moving back to the provincial level of government, I have been aware during the last three and one half years of certain difficulties that have been created in the community. I don't know that they necessarily have been created by this government, but it

[Page 76]

is inevitable I suppose that in cases where there is a reduction of funding, there are certain types of projects and activities that there is going to be some painful consequences. That, I think, is a self-evident truth, as is stated in the United States Constitution.

I have often asked myself, you know, what would Nova Scotia be like today if the Tories had won the last provincial election? Would it be any better?

AN HON. MEMBER: Why, certainly.

MR. MACEWAN: Why, certainly, I am told. Well, golly gee, that is good. That is reassuring. We have heard all kinds of pious crocodile tears being shed. We have seen them, I should say, not heard them. You don't hear them, you hear the whining, but you see the tears. We have heard all these whinings and seen all these tears shed with respect to how terrible our health care system is. You would think all the hospitals had been closed down and there wasn't any health care delivery anymore. You would think it had all come to an end to hear these bleatings.

Actually, checking around the community, it seems to me that they have a hospital health care delivery system that is intact and is doing a pretty good job. But it needs improvement. It needs support. It needs more and it always will. But the basic hospital system is there and intact. Now, would that hospital system have been there and intact had the Tories won the 1993 provincial election? I doubt it, Mr. Speaker. From evidence available to me, I doubt it.

[12:30 p.m.]

I have striven, over the last number of months, to attempt to find out what the Tories would have done if they had won the 1993 election in the field of health. I went to the various Ministers of Health. I have never received any directly from either of them, the former or the present. I have, within the department, been able to find certain individuals that were prepared to offer certain information. The information that I have received is that there was a very drastic program of reductions under consideration in mid-1993 and early 1993 at or about the time of the last provincial election, a very drastic program of reductions of health care services.

Before I get into that, Mr. Speaker, I might mention that in our neighbouring Province of Prince Edward Island, the Tories recently got in and what was the first thing they did? Well, I will tell you the first thing they did was that they purged the Public Service. That is the first thing that they did. They had an election platform and it promised all those usual things, that a Conservative Government would listen to the people and would be honest, true, noble, pure, kindhearted, faithful and all the rest.

[Page 77]

Well, the Tories got in, the Liberals got kicked out and what happened next? There was such a political purge undertaken of the Public Service, (Interruption) Good thing, I hear said from the rear. Such a purge of the Public Service that the offices of the Prince Edward Island Human Rights Commission were swamped with people filing claims, complaints of political discrimination, that they had been fired from their employment on grounds of politics. That is the first thing that that new Tory Government did in our sister Province of Prince Edward Island.

The next thing that they did was that they cut the health care department, the health care budget by 6 per cent, an across-the-board cut of 6 per cent in all health care programs. Well, that is the Tory approach. Had Donald Cameron been elected in 1993, I guess God knows where we would be today.

You can hypothesize, you can do what our friend from the New Democratic Party did and tell us what an NDP Speech from the Throne might be like. I don't intend to indulge into too much fantasy here today, Mr. Speaker, but evidence has come to my attention that there was under consideration within the highest counsels of the Cameron Government, at the time of its defeat, a very drastic program of reduction for the health care system of Nova Scotia, highlights of which were the loss of a total of 1,032.1 positions, 1,032.1 FTEs, which stands for full-time employment units. That is how they measure people in that Party, full-time employment units. At some hospitals that we have heard a bit about and werent lost, well, were scheduled for full closure. Oh, yes.

We have heard from the NDP and their energy critic, Howard Epstein, (Laughter) and they are against everything but they are not against jobs but they are still against everything else.

We have not heard too much, though, from the NDP about the hospital closure program that they undertook in the Province of Saskatchewan, where Premier Roy Romanow closed 53 out of 152 provincial hospitals, including 3 that had never even been opened, 3 that were still under construction, being built. You know, your new hospital is going up and one day you see a sign, construction halted. The next thing, the demolition crew comes in, that kind of exercise. (Interruptions) No, no, Saskatchewan is not on the West Coast, my friend. We have to learn our geography, now. It is in the middle of the country. (Laughter)

Perhaps, before we look at the Tory hospital closures in Prince Edward Island or in Nova Scotia, we should look at current Tory hospital closures and cuts in Ontario. The Government of Mike Harris in Ontario has certainly brought in some big time hospital closures up there. Anyone who reads the newspapers and reads the accounts of the Ottawa area, I believe there are 2,000 jobs lost just in the Ottawa area.

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In the Toronto area, I think they are still working out the final details but there are certainly going to be more than 2,000 jobs lost in the Toronto area under that Tory Government.

Right here in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, my research indicates - my inquiries indicate that there was under consideration, at the time that the Cameron Government was defeated in 1993, a plan, a program of reductions under which 6 hospitals would have been fully closed; 4 more would have been converted to ambulatory care; 3 more would have been centralized in terms of in-patient operating room services and 9 more were going to be closed or amalgamated in terms of in-patient units. That is a lot of hospitals.

The hospitals that were to be closed were, number one, the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital. I want to speak about that for a little bit. I know my friend from Cape Breton Centre will want to get his licks in on this one too because he and I were subjected to a certain amount of pressure on this matter, the claim being made by the local Tories that we were the authors, he and I, of a plot to close the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital. The actual fact was that it was the Conservative Government of Donald Cameron, under which such plans were under consideration. I do not claim to have any evidence that they actually planned to implement these proposals but the proposals were before them for consideration to close the New Waterford hospital, to close the Sutherland-Harris Hospital, to close the North Cumberland Hospital, to close the Twin Oaks Hospital, to close the Eastern Kings Memorial Hospital and to close the Annapolis hospital. That was just the beginning.

There is a great deal of material available on this subject, Mr. Speaker. Those who want to avail themselves of the full details should read my weekly column in the New Waterford Community Press, where they will find full enlightenment, I am sure, on all the issues of the day.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you have you free subscriptions?

MR. MACEWAN: Free subscriptions, I think you should pay your way and support the Community Press.

Now, Mr. Speaker, to sum up, I have been outlining some of the problems that might have taken place had a Conservative Government been elected in 1993 but, thank God, that government was not elected, ours was. The New Waterford Consolidated Hospital today is alive and healthy and at full occupancy for the first time in many years. The Cape Breton Regional Hospital is going full tilt, another hospital then under construction that the Conservatives were considering downsizing or reducing or cutting back on, even while it was under construction. There are many other good things that have happened, to be truthful.

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Yes, the picture is mixed, there are difficulties yet. Not all problems have been solved, by any means. That in my view, Mr. Speaker, is why we need continued responsible Liberal Government in Nova Scotia and not turn over the controls to those who are irresponsible, either as demonstrated by their past record or by their theorizing and by their contemplation, as is found down by the Sergeant-at-Arms. For that reason, I propose to vote for the Speech from the Throne and against the two amendments that have been proposed. I thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.

MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand again in this historic House to give my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. Before I begin speaking in reply, though, I would like to bring the greetings of the constituents of the Bedford-Fall River constituency to the members of the House. I always think that the name of my constituency is a bit of a misnomer because it does not just include those two areas; it includes most of the former Town of Bedford, the communities of Waverley, Fall River, Lakeview, Windsor Junction, Fletchers Lake, Grand Lake, Oakfield, Wellington. I always like to read that into the record because a lot of people think that because my constituency is named Bedford-Fall River that it only includes those two geographic areas.

I would like to congratulate Speaker Wayne Gaudet on his performance since his election to that distinguished position last November 18th. I would also like to join with His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor, in recognizing the contribution made to Nova Scotia by distinguished Nova Scotians who died this past year. I know in the last day or so we have heard many comments made about our former colleague, Ross Bragg. I would be remiss if I did not add my own few words to the words already spoken about Ross.

Ross had one great ability to make all of us feel welcome in the Legislature. He did it with humour, he did it with kindness and he always had the time of day for each and every one of us. There were difficult moments of adjustment for most of us newcomers to the Legislature when we first stepped through the doors. Ross was always there; he was never too busy to share with us his ideas, to help us out when we needed some guidance and direction. I think his humour and his humanity were just simply incredible. He really is sorely missed in this House. I wanted to add my words of condolence to his wife, Cathy, and to his family. We are going to miss Ross' dedication and we are going to miss his spirit around the Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to bring to your attention and to the attention of the members of this House the death this past year of Harris Hutt in Bedford. Harris was a former councillor in the town and he was a resident of Bedford for over 40 years. He was a volunteer fireman for 22 years and he served with the Bedford Lions Club for 19 years. He also found time to work as a Big Brother for six years and in 1991 Harris was honoured by being named

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the Bedford Volunteer of the Year. To his wife Mary and his family and relatives I extend my sincere expression of sympathy.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak about a number of events that have occurred in Bedford-Fall River in the past year. I would like to single out some of the organizations for special measure.

The Bedford Beavers swim team hosted the 1996 Provincial Swim Competitions and they won, for a second year in a row, the Provincial Championship. Anyone who has ever had children in swim teams knows what kind of dedication it takes to get up at 5:00 a.m., drive these youngsters off to a pool for a practice, return home, get in a rush, have breakfast and go to school. So all the children that swim on these teams and all the parents and the coaches deserve a special vote of recognition.

The Cheema Aquatic Club won its second national championship in a row at the Canadian Canoe Association championship held in Dartmouth this past summer. The same kind of dedication to the task that the swimmers have on the swim teams can be noted with the paddlers at the Cheema Aquatic Club. They do a phenomenal job and they are internationally recognized.

I do not know how many of you have had an opportunity to visit the Fort Sackville Manor House in the community of Bedford, but great things are going on there. It was declared a Provincial Heritage Property this past fall. It is my pleasure to serve on one of the boards with the Manor House and I am looking forward to the future as we focus on how best to preserve this area and how best to utilize the site.

If any of you have had the opportunity to visit along the Shubie Canal system, Lock 5 in my riding this year was also designated a Provincial Heritage Property. This is a very beautiful area so if you are ever out with an opportunity to visit, either to come out with a picnic lunch or come out for a swim, this is a wonderful area, along the Shubie Canal system, to make a visit. I would be happy to see you there.

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak briefly about the Environmental Health Centre which has been located in Fall River. This is a project of the provincial government in association with its research partner, Dalhousie University. They have fulfilled a longstanding commitment to provide a place in Nova Scotia for the treatment and diagnosis of environmental illness. We have made the national news with this clinic. I do not know how many of you saw it in the Macleans magazine. The report is called The Clean Clinic and it is quite a fascinating thing to read. During my campaign in 1993 at the doors of many constituents in my area, I came across a very large number of people suffering with environmental illness. They told me how difficult it was for them to cope in society with all the kinds of things that trigger their illness and their reaction. They told me of the tremendous burden of going outside the country to get help in an environmental clinic in Texas. So I think that the fact that we have established

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the clinic in my riding, and we have committed stable funding of $1 million this year again, speaks very well of the commitment from the Department of Health and the commitment from the minister to make sure that we are doing this treatment and this research locally in this province.

There are approximately 650 people being treated at the clinic and approximately another 1,000 on the waiting list. I was really pleased to hear Dr. Fox on CBC Information Morning. He spoke very highly of the support the provincial government has given this facility and of the ongoing need for research and the establishment of criteria. They are trying to determine exactly what is environmental illness and what is the best way to treat it. I think it is strategic that the Department of Health has fully supported this project and I want to thank both Dr. Fox, for his incredible professionalism, and the Minister of Health, for making sure that the project has come to fruition in its recent opening.

[12:45 p.m.]

Since my election in 1993, I have travelled extensively in the constituency listening to constituents about their needs and concerns. I have listened as carefully as I can and as attentively as I can to their problems and each and every time I have brought them forward to the ministers and the departments concerned, I have had very good results. It is at this time that I want to thank the various ministers and their officials for hearing me out and taking wherever possible the necessary actions to get the results. This is very important to any member of this House, to know that they can bring forward the concerns of their constituents and get a voice amongst the Cabinet and the decision-makers within government.

I think it is important to talk about education in any reply to the Speech from the Throne. I recall that in 1993 there were $60 million worth of promises made for school construction at a time when there was not one single dollar put in the budget to bring that about. That was prior to the 1993 election. A lot of hopes were built up that new schools would be coming onstream in the next 12 months, with no money to build them.

We still have the need for those schools. We have obviously had to set a list of priorities for the construction of those projects over a period of time. The hopes of parents and teachers have not diminished in that course of events. We still have the requirements for additional space at Ash Lee Jefferson School and we still have the requirement for a new high school in the Bedford-Waverley area. The renovations and the addition approved for Ash Lee Jefferson School need to be started and completed as soon as possible. The parents and the students of this school have waited several years to see work begun on this project. They have established a concerned parents committee and I have worked quite closely with this group of parents.

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We met again recently with the Deputy Minister in the Department of Education and the parents have been assured that they will have their place in participating on the project planning team. This project planning team, I understand, is to come about very soon, so hopefully the Minister of Education will be able to find a way to advance the start date on these very much needed projects and have work begin prior to the last announced commencement date of 1998. We desperately need to get this school project under way. I know we are still not out of the woods with respect to the province's financial situation, but I want us to put our thinking caps on and find an innovative way to finance this project and get an early start on construction.

Charles P. Allen High School is seriously over-crowded. I mentioned that we need this new high school in my constituency. I know that high schools are very expensive to construct but if our high school students are going to continue to strive for excellence, as their motto is, we have to be prepared to find the innovative ways to provide these facilities. We cannot afford to short change the educational needs of any students in this province and I know we will not short change any of their needs. I know that with innovation and effort we will find the partners to get these school projects moving.

This will be the second consecutive year that our government has brought down a balanced budget and I commend our government for doing exactly that. We are no longer mortgaging the future of our children the way the Tories did for 15 years. Soon we will benefit from the savings gained from acting responsibly in the handling of our province's finances and I urge the government to stay the course so that our children and our children's children can look forward to a bright and prosperous future.

The pillaging and plundering of Nova Scotia's finance and resources for the past two decades has stopped and we know now that we have made tough decisions and tough choices that have finally kick-started this province in the right direction. We know that we are no longer on the edge of bankruptcy and we know that we are no longer scandal plagued. We have provided good, clean government that has had the ability to make the right tough disciplined decisions. This provides new hope to Nova Scotians. After the mess we inherited, we are finally able to look forward.

I want to mention that I recently visited the Nova Scotia Fire School in Waverley. It was my pleasure to present them with a cheque for $190,000 on that visit, to go toward their operating budget. The money that is going toward the fire school will help in the training of the volunteer firefighters and every rural community benefits from the work of the volunteer. (Applause)

I thank the members for their applause on that note because most of the MLAs in this House have rural fire departments that service their needs. There are all sorts of volunteers who contribute on the day-to-day running of the fire departments, not only as firefighters, but as first responders in an emergency.

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Five of my rural fire departments are currently exploring ways to merge their services. I think that is in recognition that their strength can be enhanced through the merger of the five departments in serving the areas that they currently try to service. I wish all of them well in their deliberations and, in particular, I hope that they have another safe year ahead of them.

Mr. Speaker, I want to comment on health care in Nova Scotia. As a former nurse, I know only too well how challenging it is to try to manage the health care resources of any province in this country. Underlying the structure of our Canadian health care system is the promise of accessibility and portability between provinces. To deliver what we have come to expect in Nova Scotia alone has cost us in the area of $1.2 billion a year. Now that represents approximately 35 per cent of the cost of all the programs and services that we deliver in this province. This is not a fixed cost. It is an enormous price, but it has increasing demands which continue to fuel the upward spiral of costs of the health care system.

I think we have asked, many times over the past three years, can we, as taxpayers, continue to foot the bill at any cost? Certainly the Auditor General has talked to us many times about the accountability of the health care system and he has addressed issues around accountability, planning and measuring outcomes of the health care system.

The question we have had to ask over the past three years has been, can a system be redesigned, managed and delivered to meet our needs while slowing down the escalation of the costs? The costs are estimated to grow at 10 per cent to 15 per cent per year and I think that the question that comes along with looking at that figure is the question, should we add to the public debt with borrowed money to finance these costs, or should we be managing the system in a different manner?

I think the answer really has been shaping up since 1989 when the Royal Commission on Health Reform was struck. The Royal Commission illustrated how complex and how varied are the problems in the components of our health care system. The Royal Commission was followed by Nova Scotia's Blueprint for Health System Reform in 1994 and the report on how to deliver reform, entitled From Blueprint to Building, in 1995. In turn, this produced a draft strategic plan that provides the framework for health planning in Nova Scotia.

I think giving that little bit of history and overview of how we got from 1989 to 1997 is important to remind us all. I think it is important to know that we are meeting the challenge of managing the health care resources of Nova Scotia. Too often, in this House, I have listened to the fear-mongering and the doomsday remarks of the Opposition who, in their lust for power, continue to try to spread confusion amongst Nova Scotians about the health care system. I think this is the worst kind of hypocrisy, to plant fear and to sow seeds of confusion.

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I want to say that tertiary care is where we have focused almost all our dollars in health care in Nova Scotia up to 1993, but tertiary care is not the only place where money must be spent. Nova Scotians are smarter than this and the Tories do not give them much credit for their intelligence. Nova Scotians expect a $1.2 billion system to be managed appropriately and that means having alternatives to tertiary care and hospital care. It means a comprehensive wide spectrum of services available to keep people healthy and to treat them when they are unwell. It is more than looking at only illness. It includes putting in place the elements to focus on wellness. The result of all the analyses from 1989 to 1997 has seen an expanded home care system, and do not forget the Tory model was only available in limited areas for the disabled or for people over the age of 65.

It has seen our government's Pharmacare system managed by senior citizens to be the envy of every province in Canada. The system was saved and the exploding costs contained. Seniors are now secure in the knowledge that catastrophic illness requiring expensive drug therapy and pharmacy products will not bankrupt them.

Our Emergency Health Services system has gained international acclaim and recognition. This is a huge success story and it is not just about ambulances and the ambulance fleet. It includes emergency medical technicians and advanced medical technicians. Two levels of training that are now taking place to provide assurance that personnel in the ambulances who are in the forefront of an emergency response will provide the best service humanly possible.

I recently visited the 911 emergency dispatch centre - and I am pleased to say it is located in Bedford - and that is in the heart of my riding. I take great pride that Bedford under my time as mayor there in the 1980's was the first community to establish the 911 system. It is fitting therefore that Bedford now houses the 911 emergency dispatch centre for this entire region and in a few short months will service all of Nova Scotia. This will be a state-of-the-art facility located in the downtown core.

Mr. Speaker, it has been my pleasure to work closely with the Bedford Waterfront Development Corporation and the government is very receptive to my urging its support for the jetty project to be constructed at the Bedford waterfront. I am optimistic that our commitment to this jetty development will see a renewed focus on the Bedford waterfront. We will see a major increase in commercial development and we will see a major increase in investment in this area. I want to thank publicly Rick Hattin who is the Chairman of the Bedford Waterfront Development Corporation for his tremendous volunteer effort and I thank my colleagues for their support.

Mr. Speaker, I have had excellent response about my concerns regarding paving. The Minister of Transportation has always kept an open ear to any of the times I have visited with him with my concerns. Highway No. 118 in Bedford-Fall River constituency will see 9.3

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kilometres resurfaced this year. This is a $1.3 million project. As well, paving along Highway No. 102 will also benefit my constituents.

Mr. Speaker, as stated in the Throne Speech, this government is undertaking many initiatives to make this province a world leader in development, research, tourism, education, health, the performing arts and technology. There is no need to repeat all of the initiatives mentioned in the Throne Speech, but I want to say our government has had the foresight to plan for the future. Our government is leading this province into the 21st century as a world leader that has preserved the future for its children so they can enjoy the fruits of effective strategic planning. It is too bad that those members across the floor who were in power for 15 years did not have the foresight or the common sense to plan for the future. Instead they spent and they squandered and they led us to the edge of bankruptcy.

Mr. Speaker, it took strong leadership to reverse this trend and to reinstate the accountability of the government to the people. That leadership was provided by our Premier and despite all the criticisms of this man, he never wavered. He and his government had the courage to balance the books for the first time in 20 years; through thick and through thin they had the discipline, the political discipline and the political courage to do the tough things. Nova Scotia is on the verge of a great future in the 21st century with the secure knowledge of having its house in order. History will show that Premier Savage conducted himself with incredible integrity as a Leader. Given the bankrupt state of Nova Scotia in 1993, he did what had to be done. That was not easy and that is not easy.

[1:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and honoured to represent the people of the Bedford-Fall River constituency. We are ready and willing to participate in the future growth and development of our province. I want to thank my constituents for the faith they have shown in me as their representative and I want to thank the countless volunteers who have continued to work with me over four years, making my job a little bit easier. I sincerely appreciate each and every one of them and their kindness.

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting in favour of the motion that the Speech from the Throne do pass. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have an opportunity once again, and I guess clearly now for the last time, to participate in the Throne Speech debate here in the Chamber, which has been such a favourite place of mine for almost 19 years. I surely don't think that I overstate it to say to you that while on both sides of the Table, as the saying goes, some days were better than others. That having been said, I can truly say on this occasion today that I never ever came to this place feeling that I wanted to be somewhere

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else. I have loved and enjoyed all of my time and my modest service here in this House and to the people of Nova Scotia.

I want to begin, Mr. Speaker, by paying tribute to Premier Savage. Premier Savage and I differed on many occasions on matters of public policy but I, as much as anybody else in this Chamber, understand the depth of commitment expressed and displayed by the Premier. I understand more than most in this province - not more than most in this Chamber, but more than most in this province - the personal and family sacrifice made by John Savage to function in the highest political office in this province.

I say as I begin my remarks today, that whether or not some of us in here always agreed with the approach that he took, whether or not we always agreed with the policy decisions that he espoused, I, for one, say here on the floor of this Chamber, Mr. Speaker, that all of us and all Nova Scotians are in his debt for his commitment of service to his Party, to this House and to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause) Whatever is ahead for himself and his wife Margaret and their family, I wish him and her and them health and happiness and prosperity for a very long time to come.

I would like, too, to remark on the fact that another of our colleagues has decided to back away from the Executive Council benches. I refer, of course, to the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto, who was toiling as the Minister of Justice. I had private conversation with him the other day and I gather from him that he has not yet, or at least as far as what he was prepared to say to me, settled on his personal future. Again, Jay Abbass, the former Minister of Justice, the member for Halifax Chebucto, has, as we all have, put our names and our reputations and our families on the line. He came here and he provided a good service to his constituents and to the people of Nova Scotia. I wish him well, also, as he takes his leave of this place at his own timing.

I suppose, Mr. Speaker, it is a sign of one's own advancing age, and in this case I refer to myself, when one realizes that six of the persons whose deaths are acknowledged in the introduction to the Throne Speech were, in many cases, close friends and colleagues of mine.

Dr. Clarence Gosse, one of the finest gentlemen I ever met, Madam Speaker, ran for the Liberals many years, ran against my Dad, as a matter of fact. Dr. Gosse was a world-renowned urologist, a distinguished Lieutenant Governor and he was the epitome of the word, gentleman. I believe that the province and, of course, his family have suffered a great loss by his passing.

George Henley was a pharmacist and a Cabinet colleague of mine. I would suggest, Madam Speaker, that if you tour Cumberland County, you will find that George leaves a legacy of deep respect and profound thanks across that entire community. I know, firsthand, of innumerable kindnesses which he did for so many who had less material wealth than he. He was a truly generous and a very interesting man.

[Page 87]

James Vaughan, a feisty and hard-working Member of the Legislature who fought hard and effectively for his constituents and his city, and in later years, kept officialdom on its toes through his work with the Halifax Homeowners' Association.

Ross Bragg, about whom a great deal has already been said and who was so eloquently eulogized yesterday by Premier Savage, was, as I would refer to him, one of the good guys. As has been said by others, Ross had an indomitable optimism and spirit. He never once allowed his political partisanship to interfere with his establishment of genuine friendship with men and women of all political stripes, myself included. He gave joyful exuberant service to this House and to those he represented. His death, at only half the years he should have had, is tragic, indeed.

Mr. Justice Ian H.M. Palmeter was the lawyer with whom I did my articles, as I embarked upon my own law career. He and I later became partners and very good friends. Ian was a people person and truly distinguished himself on the bench as Associate Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. His family, Madam Speaker, our judicial system and all of us who were his friends have suffered, again, a significant loss.

Martin Haley, a former Judge of the Provincial Court, an appointment made by my father, as a matter of fact, when my Dad was Attorney General. Martin Haley presided over what those who had experienced it would describe as, perhaps, one of the most unique courts in all of Nova Scotia. Martin's route to find justice was sometimes circuitous, to say the least, and on occasion, God bless him, it bordered on the bizarre, but he was a man of the law and he was rarely wrong. He was a character, he was a friend and he was a good man.

I join with all members in expressing sincere condolences, Madam Speaker, to the families of all of the men whose passing I have mentioned here today, as well as to those who are also referenced in the Speech whom I knew less well or not at all.

Madam Speaker, this government has said in regard to post-secondary education that, and I quote them, "For the sake of individual Nova Scotians, post secondary education must be an area of investment and promotion.". They went further, Mr. Speaker, "This Liberal Government will . . .", they said and I quote them, ". . . fight to change the present federal funding formula to one that recognizes our province's unique status as the one province with the highest per capita concentration of universities.".

Well, Madam Speaker, I ask, where is the evidence of this government's fight with their federal Liberal cousins to recognize that Nova Scotia's post-secondary education system is, indeed, in a unique position. There simply has not been any fight with the mean-spirited federal Liberal Government, that I have seen anyway. If there has been such a fight, nobody in Nova Scotia that I can find knows anything about it. It clearly has not had any positive effect for our province's post-secondary education system.

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It should not be forgotten, Madam Speaker, that much of the chaos in Nova Scotia's post-secondary education system is the direct result of the federal Finance Minister ripping $8 billion from the provinces in CHST reductions.

As is the case with health care, the mess in post-secondary education is further compounded by the fact that this government has, as I have seen at least, no rational plan to maintain the integrity of our provinces post-secondary education system. The universities in Nova Scotia, Madam Speaker, were long ago promised some detail in regard to the way in which university funding would be redesigned. The universities are still waiting and still in a state of uncertainty.

Madam Speaker, youth unemployment is at absolutely, totally unacceptable levels in this province. The Speech from the Throne applauds efforts and changes made in our community college system. Many of those programs are new; indeed, 11 new programs this year. But when I learned that there were to be 11 new programs this year, I made some inquiry of the community college leadership about those programs and I found that in virtually every one of those programs, admission requirements were - with only, I think, one exception - successful completion by the applicant of some post-secondary education and, indeed, some of those courses in the community college system in that list of 11 require completion of an undergraduate post-secondary education degree.

To some, that might sound pretty impressive. The argument might be made that see, there is evidence that we are really turning the Nova Scotia Community College system into a legitimate and fulsome post-secondary education institution. Well, to some, maybe that does sound impressive, but what it does not recognize, Madam Speaker, and this government has not responded with a range of programming for training for thousands of Nova Scotians who do not have those entry credentials. Thousands of young Nova Scotians and, in some cases, not so young Nova Scotians, are now falling through the cracks. This government is abandoning those thousands who have not completed their Grade 12 or who are not oriented to a university or community college experience, but who have great skills, great intelligence and who are eager to find training and to become employed. The Speech from the Throne seems to accept that those thousands will continue to fall through those cracks and have limited chance to maximize their skills and employment possibilities.

Madam Speaker, I noted with interest that the government suggests in its Speech from the Throne that the drop in personal income tax rates will give consumers more disposable income and will stimulate spending. I agree with that proposition and I expect, therefore, that since the government makes that statement - and it is, in my view, an accurate one - that this Nova Scotia Government will support the tax reduction commitments of the federal Conservative Party as outlined in its recently released national platform. Those reductions too, just as the provincial government suggests on their own tax cut, will be a tremendous stimulus for consumer spending and confidence and for job creation here in Halifax and across all of Nova Scotia.

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I do, however, in referencing taxpayers and consumers here in Nova Scotia, have a little bit of a problem as to the impact of that personal income tax reduction. The difficulty is that my analysis indicates to me that the increased BS Tax hit upon the consumers will likely obliterate the alleged savings as a result of the provincial reduction by a few points in the personal tax rates here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Madam Speaker, the Speech from the Throne talks about new directions with respect to health and to education and to children. You know that perhaps the single biggest issue of concern to Nova Scotians is the issue of health care. Health care in this province is in chaos. I have some sympathy for those on the Treasury benches in the Government of Nova Scotia as a consequence of this reality, because part of the reason that we have experienced great difficulty in the health care field is the unfair and the unreasonable and the excessive cuts to the CHST cash transfers to the provinces, our province included, at the hands of federal Finance Minister, Paul Martin, and Prime Minister, Jean Chretien. These are deep cuts to CHST and they are compromising our province's ability to maintain the integrity of our health care system.

The federal Minister of Finance, Mr. Paul Martin, has ripped $8 billion, Madam Speaker, in cash transfers to the provinces, ours included. I don't remember any serious or effective objection being raised in opposition to those cuts by Premier Savage, by Finance Ministers Boudreau or Gillis, or Health Minister Boudreau. I was astounded as all of this was unfolding with federal budget after federal budget, ripping hundreds of millions of dollars out of the Province of Nova Scotia for health, education and social service transfers.

[1:15 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, do you recall Premier Savage or Finance Ministers Boudreau or Gillis or now Health Minister Boudreau, do you recall any of them even so much as issuing a little modest press release saying, these cuts are going to kill the integrity of the health care system and the education system in the Province of Nova Scotia? They didn't say any such thing and they sat by mute as their cousins in Ottawa just perpetrated and wreaked havoc upon the integrity of health care, education and social service here in this province.

This provincial government, having been unable or unwilling to stop the federal cuts for health care, this provincial government went even further and compounded the difficulties even further, this provincial government in the face of those severe, oppressive, unfair discriminatory cuts from the Honourable Paul Martin, Prime Minister Jean Chretien and the federal Liberal Government, this provincial government, even in the face of all of that, has no rational plan for health care delivery in the Province of Nova Scotia. Do you know one of the fundamental reasons why that is the case? It is simply because this provincial government, which, when they went to the people in 1993 said vote for us because we are going to be open and we are going to be accessible and all of our work is going to be transparent and we

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will be the most consultative government that this province has ever seen. They said, we will consult with the voters and the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia.

In large measure the reason we are in chaos in the health care system in this province is because this government has simply failed and refused to engage in any legitimate dialogue or consultation with the people of Nova Scotia to ensure that a health care system which does provide an integrated and comprehensive health care service is, in fact, provided. We have had evidence of this in recent days, the only consultation we seem to get is when something like 700 people in a small town like Windsor get together to try to scream out and plead with this government that the policies being embarked on in health care by this government are in the process of destroying the integrity of their health care delivery system in Windsor and in Hants County. When 700 people get up in arms, then we see the Minister of Health respond, suddenly he wants to consult. Where was the consultation 12 months ago or 18 months ago or immediately upon this government taking office to ensure that this very reality would not befall the Town of Windsor and so many other towns in this province?

In the past eight weeks or so, I have knocked on approximately 5,000 doors in the City of Halifax. I might point out that those doors are in the provincial ridings represented in this House by the Minister of Technology and Science Secretariat, the member for Halifax Chebucto, the member for Halifax Bedford Basin and the member for Halifax Fairview. The message I have been receiving on those 5,000-plus doorsteps in the City of Halifax is virtually unanimous: the people of Halifax are scared, they are worried, they are unsure and they are threatened by denials of hospital care because beds are not available. Premature discharges where patients, many of them elderly and without adequate family support, being sent home to fend for themselves because adequate home care was either not arranged or not available at all. They are frightened and concerned and fearful because they have been sent home early, only to become ever more gravely ill, to the point where most costly medical interventions are clearly required. As my Leader said yesterday, what is truly frightening is, despite all of the evidence, this Liberal Government continues to deny that there is a problem of the magnitude that truly does exist.

Madam Speaker, the Throne Speech alludes to an effort to stabilize basic offerings in home, hospital and chronic home care. I say to you today that if that statement of intent, if that alleged initiative is as poorly handled as health care reform has been handled to this very day, those statements offer no comfort or hope to Nova Scotians, especially to our seniors.

This government, Madam Speaker, as I have said, talks about new directions with respect to health and education and children. I tell you truthfully that if my encounter with 5,000 homes in this city in the last seven or eight weeks enables me to suggest that I am starting to sense a consensus in this regard, I think I know where that consensus now stands. I know that all Nova Scotians, in this city for sure, and I have learned from colleagues from all political Parties, that the consensus is similar elsewhere, that Nova Scotians in all parts of the province are wary of their chances at a hospital bed in an emergency situation.

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This Liberal Government, Madam Speaker, has cut 30 per cent of the beds in the province. Doctors continue to leave as they wait for the part-time Health Minister, the part-time leadership contender, to meet on their contract. Imagine the spectre of having doctors flying in from Montreal to fill in for our hospitals that don't have the staff to cover the emergency room 24 hours a day. What kind of a state have we reached in the delivery of health care service in the Province of Nova Scotia if that, in fact is the reality? We all know it is very much the reality.

At the same time, Madam Speaker, we have an Emergency Health Services Nova Scotia Commissioner spending half his time in Ontario and half in Nova Scotia, while collecting a $140,000 salary for doing what he tries to tell the Nova Scotia taxpayers is a part-time job. How many Nova Scotians would like to have $140,000 part-time job? More to the point, how many Nova Scotians would like to have a job?

AN HON. MEMBER: A full-time job.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, I heard the reference made to a full-time job. Yes, indeed, a full-time job. But in today's vicious economic environment out there, I would repeat the question and ask how many Nova Scotians would be content even to have a decent part-time job. There are just too many of them unemployed.

I think there are a lot of Nova Scotians who would like to make that $140,000 working part-time. If you divide $140,000 by just a few zeros, we could produce something like 100 jobs at $14,000 each, which isn't the biggest pay cheque in the world, by any means, but we could have 100 Nova Scotians at work at $14,000 each, if we got rid of our part-time travel back and forth between here and Ontario expert who, as far as I am concerned, has not made any significant advance in regard to emergency health services in this province.

We continue, Madam Speaker, to hear of patients on waiting lists for months and in worst case scenarios those who are denied a bed and die waiting for care. We have a greater need each year for nursing homes, but hospitals, with limited space, are acting as nursing homes because the government has put a freeze on any new spaces.

Madam Speaker, the Speech from the Throne suggests that there will be strong advocacy in the interests of improving the competitive position of the Port of Halifax. Well, I do give credit to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism for at least having the gumption to write to the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Fred Mifflin, to ask that minister, the federal minister, to treat the Port of Halifax fairly on the matter of marine service fees. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the provincial government, modest as they were, and the ineffective work, if I may say so, of Halifax MP Mary Clancy and Halifax West MP Geoff Reagan, we have learned that the federal government continues to discriminate against the Port of Halifax.

[Page 92]

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Settle down now, settle down.

MR. DONAHOE: Some honourable members opposite say settle down. I will settle down when this government gets serious about trying to help the Port of Halifax, which I want to talk about, and when the Government of Canada gets serious about the Port of Halifax, which I want to talk about.

AN HON. MEMBER: Youre not in Ottawa yet.

MR. DONAHOE: I am not in Ottawa yet, but I am here and I have the chance to speak for the Port of Halifax. I say to that honourable member that there is nobody else on the Liberal benches here or in Ottawa speaking for the Port of Halifax and I intend to do exactly that. I ask, Madam Speaker, that it not be forgotten. These ladies and gentlemen opposite say you are not in Ottawa. You know what that says to me? It says to me that they do not really understand what I am talking about and if they do, they do not care. Let's see if they care.

If these men and women do not understand the fundamental importance of the Port of Halifax to the economic life of this city and this province, then frankly they should do something other than take up space in this place. Let it not be forgotten that the economic spin-off from the Port of Halifax is vital to the economy of the City of Halifax and to our province. Last year port activity represented approximately - are you ready, Madam Speaker? - 7,000 jobs. They do not want me to talk about 7,000 jobs? Perhaps that is their attitude. Perhaps 7,000 jobs do not mean a lot to some of them. Seven thousand jobs is $335 million in direct expenditures in this local and regional economy and $240 million in income.

As all members know, Madam Speaker, our Port of Halifax is one of the largest natural harbours in the world. It is ice-free year-round and it is located just six nautical miles from the open ocean. However, our port's inland markets are considerable distances away. Montreal is 800 miles. Toronto is 1,100 miles. Chicago is 1,600 miles. Therefore, I say it is of fundamental importance that Halifax remain a competitive gateway for Canada's and Nova Scotia's international trade. In this regard, it is critical that the geographical location and the natural advantages of our Port of Halifax translate into economic advantage for users who may pay substantial inland transportation costs to get their cargo from Halifax to its final destination.

So, what is the situation? For the last year, thanks to the federal Liberal Government, the Port of Halifax has been discriminated against. There is no other way to characterize the Honourable Fred Mifflin's actions relative to the Port of Halifax. They were discriminatory. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans imposed a marine service fee of 17.6 cents per ton of cargo loaded or unloaded at the Port of Halifax. That fee was arbitrary and discriminatory and it bore no relationship to the cost of navigational aid and services which apply in the Port of Halifax and which did serious harm to our Port of Halifax.

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[1:30 p.m.]

As a result of the Marine Service Fees imposed on the Port of Halifax last year, over the objections of and without consultation with the local shipping community and marine interests, the Maritime Seacoast Advisory Board was created, Madam Speaker. That board has representation from all three Maritime Provinces and each provincial government. It did an exhaustive study and that board concluded that the proper cost recovery or marine service fee to be imposed in our Port of Halifax, which is so vital to every element of the economy of the Province of Nova Scotia, should be 4.3 cents per ton of cargo loaded or unloaded in the Port of Halifax.

So in the face of that report from the Maritime Seacoast Advisory Board, what did the federal Liberal Government do? The Honourable Fred Mifflin, who was supposed to, as a member of the federal Cabinet, have an interest in the Port of Halifax, I presume, what did he do? What did the federal Liberal Government do? They have continued the discrimination for the coming year.

On the eve of a federal election, the Liberals have, just the other day, lowered the fees to 9.5 cents per ton. Mr. Bob Youden, Chairman of the Maritime Seacoast Advisory Board, said, Madam Speaker, that those fees are half what they were last year, but double what they should be now. (Interruption) Those fees recently imposed, at 9.5 cents per ton, are discriminatory. They are unfair. They are unreasonable and they will, again, severely impair the competitive position of the Port of Halifax.

Mr. Speaker, the discrimination by the federal Liberal Government against the Port of Halifax and the Province of Nova Scotia goes further. Did we hear any reference or any statement from the Premier of Nova Scotia, from the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism when this 9.5 cent fee, which is twice what it should be, was announced two days ago? Did we hear a speech, a press release, a public statement that this is wrong and it continues to discriminate against the Port of Halifax? No, we did not. We did not hear any such objection from the Nova Scotia Liberal Government in response to the discriminatory decision taken by their federal cousins in Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, the discrimination which is represented by this 9.5 cent fee in the Port of Halifax in fact goes further. Again, in an attempt to pander to the interests of Quebec, on the eve of a federal election again, the shipping and marine interests using the St. Lawrence River won't be charged a nickel for the cost of ice-breaking services. (Interruption)

Madam Speaker, is there any chance I might get some order in the House, please?

MADAM SPEAKER: Well, there might be a chance. I will call for order.

[Page 94]

MR. DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I suggest that not only is the new fee schedule in the Port of Halifax again discriminatory, again hurting the Port of Halifax, but the abusive nature of the policy decision-making process employed by the federal Liberal Government goes even further. Because in an attempt to pander to the interests in Quebec on the eve of a federal election, the shipping and marine interests using the St. Lawrence River will not be charged a nickel for the cost of ice-breaking services. The marine service fees, to use Fisheries and Ocean Minister Mifflins own words are founded on the principle that, "Those who directly benefit from publicly funded marine services should contribute to the cost of those services.". So what have we got? We have got a federal Liberal Government blatantly charging fees in Halifax which bear no relation to the cost of marine services provided here which are arbitrary and discriminatory and which hurt the competitive position of the port and the province.

That same Liberal Government, presumably looking for votes in Quebec, adds to the Port of Montreal's advantage and further makes Halifax even less competitive by refusing, for the second year in a row, to impose ice-breaking fees and we have a provincial Liberal Government - all of these distinguished ladies and gentlemen opposite - despite its Throne Speech pledge to continue a strong advocacy in the interests of improving the competitive position of the Port of Halifax, this provincial government is unable to persuade their Liberal friends in Ottawa to do right by Halifax. Maybe it is time for Conservative Governments in Ottawa and Halifax to get the job done right. (Interruptions)

I don't think it is strange at all (Interruptions). Madam Speaker, would you mind perhaps giving me a little help . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONAHOE: . . . and in particular asking the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism to please afford me the opportunity to make the remarks which I would like to make and provide . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member. You have the floor.

MR. DONAHOE: Thank you very much.

As I read the Speech from the Throne, I didn't find it strange at all that references in that speech to modernizing the province's education system immediately followed a paragraph outlining the fact that an enhanced 911 number will summon emergency help anywhere in Nova Scotia.

The school boards, the teachers, the parents and the students of the Province of Nova Scotia have been dialling 911 for emergency help in education ever since this government, following the misguided lead of the former Minister of Education, pushed our public school

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system and our province's teachers to the absolute brink. I really can't believe that the government could, apparently without embarrassment and with a straight face, use a line such as, "The wisdom of My Government's actions to modernize our education system is becoming apparent.". What has been apparent and apparent for some time is that our public school system, despite valiant efforts by many administrators and teachers, is reeling. I simply do not believe the statement that administrative streamlining has meant more education dollars are reaching students in the classroom; I simply do not believe that line is true at all.

The next sentence in the Speech from the Throne, on Page 11, is curious. That line reads as follows: "As an example, a four-year plan to reduce class sizes will be unveiled this year.". What is that an example of? I suggest that it is not really an example of very much. What it is is an acknowledgement that the wrong-headed policies of this government, including the withdrawal of millions of dollars from the public schools, has driven class sizes into the mid and high 30's, into the 40's, and our province's teachers are being ground down and, as I know the Minister of Education knows - I trust he knows - the teachers of the Province of Nova Scotia are simply being called upon to do the impossible. They are being called upon to deal with class sizes which are not really workable at all. They are dealing with young people coming to their classes each day, some of them, far too many of them, coming from homes which are very difficult, from homes which do not provide them the love and the support that young children need, and coming from homes which do not provide them with even the physical sustenance by way of food and clothing which those young people need, and in classrooms with sizes in the high 30's and into the 40's, the teachers of the province have been beaten up for the last number of years.

It is a direct result, despite the rhetoric in the Throne Speech, of the extraction of the money from the school system; it is a direct result of the most ill-conceived, foolish school board amalgamation initiative ever undertaken in the history of this province. We have school board configurations now, Madam Speaker - and I know you are aware of it and I know all members are aware of it - where we have more geography required to be covered by school board administrators, by transient teachers, and by parents who want to get to school board meetings and have to travel for hours and hours to get to those meetings. The thing is an absolute mess; the school board configuration is just simply wrong.

Here we have words in this Throne Speech that we are going to - now, after we have created the mess - start to do some things to fix it up. You know it puts me in mind, Madam Speaker, of the kind of situation where a guy throws a bunch of garbage on your lawn and then he leaves it there overnight and comes back the next day, in an effort to try to suggest to you that he is a real nice guy, and says, Madam, you have garbage on your lawn, would you like me to clean it up for you? That is about what we have here; that is the mess we are in the public education system in this province.

[Page 96]

In relation to education and our children, we continue to hear this government saying that the administrative streamlining has meant more education dollars are reaching students in the classroom. Before the change in ministers, before the present minister became the minister and his distinguished predecessor was performing as Minister of Education, we used to listen with some amazement - as far as I was concerned - to that former Minister of Education talking about an $11 million amount of money which was going to go directly into the classrooms of Nova Scotia. That didn't happen; in fact, Madam Speaker, when that previous Minister of Education was talking about that famous or infamous $11 million, the truth of the matter was that the $11 million was already gone and not available to go into the classrooms. It was a scam and a sham and it just wasn't there at all. We heard all about this; this is $11 million and it is going to go directly into the classrooms and service the children of our province. It simply was not there and it did not happen.

Then, over subsequent time, that minister and the current minister, and the government as a whole, have managed to extract - not add but extract - something in the order of $52 million to $54 million from the public school system. Since then, as I said, we have experienced and we are reeling still from the amalgamations which are, in a very real sense, still in a state of flux and still in process. We have seen the oversized areas that members will have to cover within the Chignecto-Central and the Southwest boards, as but two examples.

We are witnessing the problems in the city of the merger of all metro boards, covering the needs of some 58,000 students. The board covers two boards, with a full primary day, and one which is only one-half. There are difficulties with the municipal funding attached to the city boards but not to the former county boards. School boards that need their time just to deal with school issues have spent more time, Madam Speaker, in the last year trying to sort out the administrative mess following the mergers than they have been able to devote to curriculum development and the children in the classrooms. There has been little from the current minister on how that mystical $11 million has made its way into the classrooms, but I am sure that we will get some answers on that soon.

[1:45 p.m.]

Those within the system, Madam Speaker, to make matters even worse, say to me, and I have met with many, that the full brunt of the loss of some of that $52 million over the last number of years hasn't even really hit the classrooms yet with its fullest and most devastating impact. Those are the same classrooms that have already had to scrimp on supplies just to be able to afford a new textbook as the curriculum is changed in mid-year.

Those are the same classrooms, Madam Speaker, that are juggling the needs of students who need greater assistance to learn the English language as they settle into their new community, but who are lost because the federal and provincial governments have focused on bringing immigrants into the country if they set up business, but ignore the fact that their families must be educated in an English society.

[Page 97]

I will say that if I happen to have any success in another forum, I would engage in a dialogue with this Minister of Education, or any Minister of Education in this province, because, quite frankly, I have believed for a long time now that if the Government of Canada, of whatever colour or stripe, is going to establish immigration policy and is going to make the rules as to what immigrants come to any province of the country and, certainly, in our context here today, any immigrants who come to Nova Scotia, I say that the Government of Canada owes a significant obligation and responsibility to fund as generously as it is possible to fund the education and training requirements of that immigrant population.

I say that here and I will say it anywhere else I am asked to comment and I will stand by it because I believe it to be true. I believe it to be right. I know it gets some into this, well, education is a provincial jurisdiction and so on. Well, immigration is a federal jurisdiction and there has to be some common sense and fairness and there has to be an expanded federal commitment in that regard.

Those classes to which I have been making reference, Madam Speaker, are the same classes who are facing the addition of students with special needs without adequate funds accompanying their move through mainstreaming into the regular classroom. Those are the same classrooms whose teachers are, as I said a moment ago, in a situation where they are simply being asked to deal with far too many young people. The most beleaguered profession among many others in this province in the last number of years are the classroom teachers of the Province of Nova Scotia.

The stress level which they are experiencing is out of this world. I suppose, now that I think of it, perhaps the stress level experienced by the teaching profession in this province over the last number of years is matched by way of stress levels perhaps only by the nursing profession and health care providers in the public health system. But surely and clearly the teachers and the health care providers are really in extremis.

Could you tell me how much time I have, Madam Speaker, please.

MADAM SPEAKER: You have until 2:01 p.m.

MR. DONAHOE: Those classrooms to which I made reference, Madam Speaker, are the same classrooms whose teachers are dealing with that ever growing number of students. It is ironic that the government is committed now in the same speech to this four year plan to reduce classroom sizes, four years I take it, as I have said, to attempt to devise a plan to undo the difficulty and the damage which they have caused in the last four years. I really wonder if people looking at that objectively would consider that progress.

They have got things in such a state over three or four years where the classroom sizes explode, the learning environment is more difficult for the students and the teachers and then come along in a Speech from the Throne - which is probably a Speech from the Throne more

[Page 98]

or less on the eve of another provincial election - and say to that education community, well, we are now going to come up with this four year program to try to do something about classroom sizes. It makes one wonder where the government has been over the last four years relative to classroom sizes and I think, frankly, the transparency of the commitment will be very evident to many thoughtful and observant Nova Scotian taxpayers.

The government, Madam Speaker, as you know, has championed its process for new schools built and operated through a private sector partner and leased to the province. It is the way all schools will be built, the new minister says, but that having been said, it is a little bit unfortunate, I think, that we have not really had a detailed document which outlines the answers to some pertinent questions about the lease arrangements which governments are making and the extent to which the fiscal and financial commitment of the taxpayers is really being made as a result of those partnerships with the private sector. I say to the Minister of Education, through you, Madam Speaker, that it is pretty darned important; if this is in fact going to be the way of the future, I think it is important that all taxpayers in the Province of Nova Scotia are provided with as much detailed and precise information as is possible about how those arrangements work now in relation to the first few of those initiatives undertaken so that all of us as taxpayers and legislators can come to some judgment as to whether or not it is, in fact, in the long term the right way to go.

The government, Madam Speaker, you will recall, set up school advisory councils. It set up pilots and then, unless I am wrong, it did not really bother to evaluate the work of those pilots before producing legislation incorporating the councils into the education system based on the previous minister's wishes. I think it is important, and I ask with respect that the Minister of Education might table during the course of the next not so many days here in this House, copies of the evaluations of the pilot projects so that again all interested in education could come to some understanding of exactly what the situation is in regard to the effectiveness or lack of same of the pilots which were undertaken.

Madam Speaker, I made some references earlier to post-secondary education. As I said, part of the difficulty faced by this government and by the Minister of Education relative to the funding of post-secondary education is a direct result of the excessive reduction by the federal Minister of Finance and the Government of Canada of transfers to the province under the CHST. I can sympathize to some extent with this provincial government here in Nova Scotia and the Minister of Education that the extraction of that kind of money from the transfers from the Government of Canada would cause some difficulties. But having said that, I really cannot help but find myself going back to commitments made by this government. They saw that coming. They knew it was coming in Paul Martin's budgets. They knew it was going to hurt their capacity - this provincial government's capacity - to fund the post-secondary education system which is so fundamental and vital to this province, yet they said such things as, for the sake of individual Nova Scotians, post-secondary education must be an area of investment and promotion. Then they said that they would fight to change the present funding

[Page 99]

formula to one that recognizes our province's unique status as the one province with the highest per capita concentration of universities.

We haven't seen any positive result of either of those statements or of any of that fight, if in fact the fight took place. I don't see Paul Martin or Jean Chretien or anybody in Ottawa terribly badly bruised as a result of a fight with our Premier or our Ministers of Education in that regard. So what has happened, of course, is that there has been benign acceptance on the part of the Nova Scotia Liberal Government when their Liberal cousins in Ottawa started ripping money out of our health care system and out of our education system and out of our social service transfer system.

There has been, in effect, benign neglect and I am sure I can just see the discussions now with Premier Savage and Paul Martin and Jean Chretien and their little get-togethers and the wink, wink, we will look after things. We are going to rip all this $8 billion out of the CHST, but I will tell you what. I can just see it now. I will tell you what. You do this little dealie with me on the BST and we will throw a whole bunch of money at you, Mr. Premier.

I was struck too, Madam Speaker, when the honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury got up to move the Speech from the Throne, I was absolutely astounded that that honourable member stood up, referenced Sable gas and said, "This is an economic wild card". You know, why is it that this government cannot get its mind out of gambling and casinos and lotteries and blackjack tables and so on. Sable gas is an economic wild card. Is it the ace of spades? Is it the two of hearts? What is it? It is the two of clubs.

Well, what it is, as it seems to be shaping up now (Interruption) Well, we left Sable gas to be developed and, Madam Speaker . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, if I was some of the ladies and gentlemen opposite, I wouldn't make too many remarks about playing with a full deck. Okay?

Madam Speaker, the fundamental issue here is this Sable gas belongs to us. It is Nova Scotia's gas. The Minister of Economic Development and Tourism smirks over there and said we announced it six times. I will announce it 66 times. What I would like is that this government would announce to the world and to Frank McKenna, who is making more out of this deal than this government is, this government better start announcing that this is Nova Scotia's gas and Nova Scotians are going to reap the maximum benefit of this gas. That is what this government should be talking about. And when have they said it? Any of them. (Interruption)

[Page 100]

I get a comment from an honourable member opposite, Madam Speaker, saying are you talking provincially or federally here? I am a Nova Scotian. I am a member of this Legislature. I want the best for me, my family and every Nova Scotian family out of our Nova Scotia Sable gas. That is what I want. Now we are watching Premier Frank McKenna and the Irving Company have greater say about what is going to happen to this gas than the Government of Nova Scotia is saying on behalf of the Nova Scotia taxpayers. That is another abandonment by this government of any kind of . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, well, some members might think it is an economic wild card. It is our future and it belongs to us. I challenge the Government of Nova Scotia to conduct itself relative to every aspect of Sable gas on the basis of one fundamental principle. That fundamental principle is: it is ours and the Nova Scotian taxpayer has the right to be advantaged to a greater extent than anybody else as a result of the use and the extraction of our asset.

[2:00 p.m.]

I am waiting, Madam Speaker, for any one of the members opposite, from the Premier on down - or pseudo-Premiers or anybody else - I am waiting for a strong statement from any of them that says it is our gas and Nova Scotians, as long as they are a government, are going to reap the greatest benefits out of that Sable gas. I will wait for that statement.

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

MR. DONAHOE: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure once again to rise in response to the Speech from the Throne. I want to congratulate you, and the Speaker of the House, for the calmness and fairness that you have shown over the last year and in the year, I am sure, to come. It has a stabilizing effect on this House. I want to bring congratulations and the warmest regards to His Honour James Kinley for his quiet dignity as he presented the Throne Speech to this House.

I could not forgo my opening comments without mentioning the personal loss that I feel that my good friend, Ross Bragg, has passed on. I particularly enjoyed Ross in the House. For some reason I seem to identify with hecklers extraordinaire and I think Ross Bragg was one of the best I have ever seen. He did a great job of bringing humour to the House and bringing the members in the Opposition to their attention . . .

[Page 101]

AN HON. MEMBER: To their feet.

MR. CARRUTHERS: Certainly to their feet as was said, and I just want to say that it is a great loss to those of us who enjoy that type of camaraderie in this House.

Before entering any detailed debate on my response, I just want to mention in response to the previous speaker, the member for Halifax Citadel, who said he was looking for statements from anyone regarding Sable gas, that they felt it was our gas and it would be in the best interests to be used to the benefit of Nova Scotians. I want to tell that member that I have heard the Premier of this province make that position very plain. I have heard the minister, who is responsible for that Sable project, make that statement and make it often and very plain, so I can tell the members opposite that I have heard it. Once again, it appears that you just don't want to hear it, just like you don't want to see it when it is written; it is see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil all over again.

They have said it, and this member is saying it, that the use of the Sable gas will first benefit Nova Scotians and it will be done in a safe and studied manner. This member says it, the Premier says it, the minister says it, and I am sure you will find no one on this side of the House who hasn't said it before and continues to say it. I think you should take note of it. You can make great noises about what isn't, but that is not the fact. The facts are before you and I think you should take note of them. It is very important that you do. Once again, I can anticipate this time, of the four or five year mandates that governments have, that the fairy tales start coming out . . .

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: The what?

MR. CARRUTHERS: The member for Hants West wants to know what a fairy tale is? Well, a fairy tale is when certain members of the House of Assembly say things that just aren't so. Not only are they not so now, they were not so in the past and they will not be so in the future. That is what a fairy tale is, and they lived happily ever after. Most of those fairy tales, that is the way they end: they all lived happily ever after. We heard that before for about 16 or 17 years. This time I would expect that the members opposite who have now seen the light - on the road to Damascus they have been reborn - this time I hope when we go through this session of the House of Assembly that we are in, that the lessons of the past have been learned and that we treat the governing of this province with support.

We are continually hearing from members opposite that somehow perhaps New Brunswick is doing better, and you know the facts aren't there. Just exactly whose side are you on here? Are you Nova Scotians, Nova Scotians first? Are you Canadians first? If you are, get inside and support Nova Scotia, support its business, support what is in the best interests of Nova Scotia and stop picking and cracking on everything that moves that this government does and that the people and the business community of Nova Scotia want to do.

[Page 102]

Keep your head up because the people are now looking for a different type of government. They want truth and honesty and I am going to tell you something, before I get into the details of my riding, I just want to say that it saddens me to see that Premier John Savage has made his announcement that he will step down. History is going to prove that Premier Savage led the Government of Nova Scotia around the turn into the future. It was Premier Savage, history will vindicate him in this regard, it will show that this is the first time in the history of Nova Scotia politics that a government came forward honestly, cleanly and with dignity. History will vindicate my Leader, Dr. John Savage.

The tide has turned, it surely has. Why? I heard my friend, the member for Cape Breton Nova, speaking earlier today. He used the allegory that sometimes there must be a surgery in order to make the patient well. Well, that is what has happened in this province, we had to take office and operate and so we did. Now we start to see the benefits come forward. This is what happens when you attack a problem in an orderly, concise and definite approach and that is what has happened here, now we see it. Why should you take my word for it, just look at the numbers before you. Why would you even doubt this? For instance, new investment is the highest in all the Atlantic Region in this Province of Nova Scotia, not in New Brunswick. I know that the members opposite like to talk about New Brunswick and of course, New Brunswick is a good province, it has a good Liberal Government there too but Nova Scotia is the leader in investment. Those are not my numbers, it is not this government's numbers, Nova Scotia is the leader. Well, nobody wants to play with that, no, no. That is not good news for the Opposition because anyone logical is seeing that if Nova Scotia has the highest investment than gee, something must be being done right there and let's put that bunch back in that did it right in the first place. That is what the people of Nova Scotia are going to do.

It is not just new investment, when you have 25,500 new jobs created in this province and the Opposition members try to twist them around and say, can we find a bad statistic somewhere? Well, over the last year, this month seems to be just a touch lighter than say, Nigeria or perhaps this month, Afghanistan. What we are talking about is Nova Scotia, we are talking the Atlantic Region, we are the ones who are creating the jobs, we are the leaders, the numbers show it and these aren't our numbers. Why would Statistics Canada come out with a number that puts one province better than another? They wouldn't do that, its Canadian, Statistics Canada, that is why they call it Statistics Canada. It Statistics John Savage, Statistics Bob Carruthers, it is Statistics Canada and I think that is pretty obvious. (Applause)

So, get onside with the Sable project and others, these are great good news items for this province. It has to be done right, it has to be done carefully. You don't jump into things and wave the flag, you do it properly in the best interests of these Nova Scotians.

[Page 103]

I think we can also look at what is being done in the health care field. I have heard nothing but criticism about the health care field and the health care professionals and everything from government to bureaucrats and to the workers out there. I come from a region in Hants East where we don't have hospitals. We have a little clinic that we did ourselves on the shore, funded ourselves but I will tell you what is a problem when you are in the rural areas and a long way from the QE II Health Sciences Centre or the hospital in Windsor or the one in Truro, what is important is to have an ambulance that comes to your door to pick you up and it gets there quickly and when it gets there, it can do something for you. That is what is important. There is no point in sending a glorified station wagon out and saying here, get in and I will take you to the hospital. They could do that themselves. What you need is the type of emergency services so that when they arrive, they can do something for the individual that is stressed. I think that is important. I think if we look at our emergency ambulances, they are second to none. They're the best, all over.

I see the member for Colchester-Musqudoboit Valley. He is counting numbers. I have to tell the member that as long as I am speaking, we will have no problem with numbers here today.

What we really have to focus on is bringing health care to the people, not trying to get people all the time to the service. Especially when you are in rural areas, my part of the world, if senior citizens have to go to a hospital, they have to spend a whole day. Sometimes it is in the bigger areas. They are not used to driving there. Instead, look what we have done. In this province 18,000 people participated in our home care services. Home care is help in the home. How could you compare that to the last government? Well, zero versus 18,000. If you divide one into the other, I guess it really works out to a whole bunch more, wouldn't you say? That is 18,000 people and the numbers are growing.

The Minister of Health has made it very plain. He has said, look at that number. You are going to see that number on the budget sheet. It will be higher. More money into home care and, boy, that is what we need. More money into home care, help in the home. That is the way to do it. I support the Minister of Health. He deserves a great deal of credit, he and his predecessor, in this regard.

Madam Speaker, I want to talk for a quick minute on education. I am going to speak specifically about it in my area, but in education in this province overall I saw one big line that is really important to me. I will refer to it again later. Last night I was at a meeting on education in my district. I will tell you the big concern of many of the parents and most of the educators there: which way are we going in the direction of our class student/teacher ratios? I come from simply the fastest growing region in all this province. That is what the numbers seem to show. The corridor region from Halifax to Truro is the fastest growing population region in this province. It is a very big concern to those people to find out what the student/teacher ratio is.

[Page 104]

I have seen in this Throne Speech - you call it thin. It only took one line to say it - there is a four-year plan in here to reduce the student/teacher ratio so that there are more teachers per students in the classrooms of Nova Scotia. That is key. That is fundamental. It is important to everyone in this province. You don't need a long time to say it. You don't dress it up. You just put a line in there. You call that thin? It is thick to me, but then again, thickness could be described in other ways. I want to say to you that that is a very important message to the people of Nova Scotia, that there are going to be more concentrations of teachers per students than ever before. That is a great news item for me. I am pleased with that news item in education.

Madam Speaker, social services is contributing to the federal-provincial relationship in this National Child Tax Benefit Program. That is for poor kids. That is going to help kids that are in poverty. We have kids in poverty in Nova Scotia and anybody who thinks that we don't, then they aren't around. There are kids living in poverty in this province and this is going to be a great step to alleviate those low-income people that have children. Many times they are not out there squawking about it. There is quiet dignity among these people, certainly in my region of Hants East. I can tell you that this is going to go a long way to help them and I support this great initiative.

Infrastructure. I have to tell you, Madam Speaker, you can talk about anything you like, but when you are in Hants East, in the rural communities, the infrastructure - the road and transportation structure - is absolutely critical, probably the single most talked about item in all of the rural areas. I won't speak for all members, but I know it is true in mine. I hear people talk about some new paving projects that we have in Hants East. Yes, we had quite a bit of new paving in Hants East last year and the year before and I expect to have a darn sight more paving done in Hants East this year. I expect it and I am going to get it.

[2:15 p.m.]

I am going to tell you something. So what? We deserved it. We went all that time without anything. You couldn't get any paving in Hants East. Shelburne County was the same way and the same thing in Antigonish County. That's the way she goes. It is my turn to get paving. I take no step back from it. I am proud of it and I think the people of Hants East are proud of it. They deserve it. I take no step back in that regard. I expect to get a bit more this year, too, to tell you the truth.

AN HON. MEMBERS: We call that patronage, Bob.

MR. CARRUTHERS: We did it on a fair and equal spirit. They went out (Interruption) I'll tell you what. We have some laughing over there. As a matter of fact, I hear there might be even some going to the Conservative areas. My heavens, that is fair, isn't it?

[Page 105]

Let's look at it. They went out in a grid and took it by region. It turned out that Hants East roads, compared in the central region, were the worst ones. Would that be a shock to you? I can tell you, it was not a shock to me. As a matter of fact, I know lots of members of this House on both sides who used to complain to me when they drove over my roads to get here.

That brings me to another little thing. You cannot get anywhere out of Halifax if you come in this side - you can go down the Yarmouth side, but you cannot get out this side unless you come through Hants East. You have to go through Highway No. 101 or Highway No. 102. Both of them go through my riding. I tell you, there has to be some work done on those roads. We have some twinning along Highway No. 101. Very pleased with it. Highway No. 102 is going to get some work this year, too, and I am pleased about that. This is Highway No. 101 and Highway No. 102. Aren't those pretty important highways in this province of Nova Scotia? That sounds pretty high.

I do not want to be lengthy on this. I do not want to leave you without mentioning a couple of important things. I must tell you that I am pleased about one or two announcements in Hants East this year. We have two new schools coming into Hants East. They are starting right this year, high-tech schools. It was really interesting in our meeting last night in Hants East to have a good news meeting, I will tell you. We said we wanted those schools. The Minister of Education said he wanted those schools. We decided we should do those schools. We made the promise we would do those schools and by God, we delivered that promise. It is the first time in Hants East anybody delivered on promises like that of the schools. We are really pleased with that. Any kind of help I can get for my constituents, I always appreciate.

Just to mention that we had another meeting about a high school problem in my region. Vigilant Department of Education, vigilant Department of Labour. I am very pleased to see that those steps were taken quickly. I will tell you, the public is starting to notice that when the Department of Labour says they want something done and issues an order, you had better do it or else they will shut you down. That is the way it is supposed to be. When you issue an order and it is something on the safety of workers in this province, so it should be, especially when you are dealing with children.

Madam Speaker, I think there is going to be some more exciting news for the communities of Hants East. In the central area of my riding I am looking for the development of a great peat moss industry down there. I have to tell you that peat moss is a natural resource that has not been exploited properly in this province. It is going to be. Where is it going to happen? It is going to happen right in the rural area of Hants East. It is really exciting. It is not like we paid a whole pile of money to have these people come in. They are going to develop it. It is going to give us a pile of new jobs in Hants East, in the central region. I am pleased to say that to the members of this House.

[Page 106]

Madam Speaker, I want to tell you all that I am very pleased to represent the district of Hants East. I am very pleased to see that Hants East is now beginning to get some notice around this province. The people know where we are. We are an important, we are a vibrant, we are a growing community. We take second to none. We are finally getting that recognition.

I want to tell you, Madam Speaker, I am going to be voting in favour of the Speech from the Throne that was delivered here.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Madam Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure this afternoon to respond to the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. As you do know, I am sure, I represent the constituency of Pictou West and I am very honoured to have that privilege. The people of Pictou West have bestowed their faith in me over five provincial general elections spanning over 18 years. I would like to thank the citizens of Pictou West for their continual faith and trust in me.

I would like to take a moment, Madam Speaker, to speak about our late colleague Ross Bragg about whom much has been said already. I just want to add my words about Ross. Ross was a really decent member of this Legislature, a really decent man. It was an honour to know him and to work with him. Ross was always very helpful to me on many occasions over the years that he served as minister. I would like to express my condolences to Ross's wife and family, his mother and all those involved.

Premier Savage has said he is going to step down. Although I did not agree with all his policies, I know he did what he thought was right. I do appreciate the Premier's efforts and his personal commitment to the Province of Nova Scotia. I want to wish him all the best and his wife Margaret and family in whatever endeavours they plan to take. I know that his personal commitment was always what he meant best for the province.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to congratulate the new Minister of Justice, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. Also to the former Justice Minister I want to wish him the best as he plans on going back to the private sector. I also want to say to that member that I thought he might go further in politics. Maybe some day he will come back and serve the people of Nova Scotia in a capacity of some other sort.

George Henley was a member whom I also had the opportunity to sit in the House with for a quite a few years. Again, I would feel very remiss if I didn't mention his name and the fact that we had a lot of laughs together over the years. I might tell you that George always stayed at the Lord Nelson Hotel and from 1978 until 1983, I guess, when the fire was. I can tell you that most mornings I had the privilege of having breakfast with George Henley at 7:00 a.m., you could almost set your watch to it. He would be down for breakfast and we

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would have a big talk and everybody in that restaurant could hear what George was saying, he talked so loud. He was a great guy and we are all going to miss George over the years.

I reflected over the last few days what I might say today. I have thought about the time that I have been honoured to serve my community. I have thought about the concerns and worries that the people of my community have raised with me since our last general election. I have also thought about the other communities that I have visited, particularly over the last year. As you may know, Madam Speaker, our caucus has travelled over the province fairly frequently, to hear face to face what is on the minds of Nova Scotians. We have been asking Nova Scotians to tell us exactly what issues are affecting their lives. Since January of this year our caucus has toured through the areas of Antigonish, Guysborough, Port Hawkesbury, Digby, Annapolis and our Leader has covered just about all of the province, from Cape Breton to Yarmouth, during that period as well.

The issues surrounding jobs and the economy still remain at the top of the list for many, with health care a very close second, perhaps first in a lot of cases. No matter where you are in Nova Scotia, our province's health care system, especially the cuts to hospital beds, without the back-up available of emergency services or home care; the high unemployment rates throughout the province, the unrest this stalled situation has created with equal doses of desperation, the cuts to our education system, as well as the province's amalgamation efforts, are major complaints.

Madam Speaker, each and every one of these issues on their own are extremely serious. The common thread I hear every time I speak to somebody about any of the issues is that no one in government is listening.

Time and time again our caucus hears from Nova Scotians who are disillusioned by our Party system of government. They believe that their opinions and voices don't count. Many Nova Scotians are fed up with MLAs who vote in block on virtually every issue. They want their local member to bring independent thoughts to their caucus and to the floor of the Legislature. They want them to speak their minds, regardless of whether or not it clashes with Party lines.

I believe that free votes on motions other than non-confidence, and issues contained within our platform and mandate, are one way to ensure that elected members are given that freedom of expression. Our caucus and Leader are not just saying "trust us", we have done it. We have allowed free votes in the Legislature and it has not hurt our caucus. As our Leader, John Hamm, said in a recent speech, ". . . not only has it not hurt us, it has contributed to healthy debate on occasion. But that is what is needed.". Our caucus is determined to rebuild the trust between the government and the people of Nova Scotia. This is only one step, but it is a very important step to get the trust of the people of Nova Scotia.

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There are other things that we can do in representing our constituents in the very best way we can. If Nova Scotians give us the opportunity to form the next government, there will be other changes that will be made. Our Leader, John Hamm, has said that a promise made is a promise kept. He is a man of his word. He will not be making wild promises, nor will he be implementing policies without first consulting the people. This, Madam Speaker, is in direct contrast to our current Liberal Government.

The Liberal Government promised the electors many things in the 1993 election. They said things like, "Liberal Government initiatives will be built on a foundation of honesty, openness, integrity and accountability that will permeate all government dealings.". The Liberal Government promises jobs, jobs, jobs, no new taxes, more money for school boards and student aid and a reformed health care system. Well, maybe we should just take a look at some of those items for a moment or two.

Let's look at job creation. I was amazed, Madam Speaker, to read the Economic Development and Tourism Minister's latest comments in the media. He was boasting of his government having created 21,000 jobs in the past three years. (Interruption) Well, whatever the figure they wanted to use. (Interruption) Well, whether it is 21,000 or 25,000, whichever figure you would choose to use, I would like to know where the jobs are. They can use whatever figure they like.

Just last month, the newspaper said that about 200 people will lose their jobs at the Truro Raceway if the Truro Raceway is forced to cancel live racing. Since that government, the Liberal Government, allowed casino gambling in Nova Scotia, live wagering has declined by approximately 35 per cent at the Truro Raceway. There are just not enough dollars to go around. Our caucus asked over and over again, at the time that the government was forcing the casino legislation through, where is the money coming from to support the casinos? Where are the plans to attract out-of-province dollars for the casinos? As the head of the Gaming Corporation has indicated, the casino is not doing a good job of attracting out-of-province dollars. The casinos are simply redistributing money within the province. With this equation, someone has to lose and this time, it is the employees at the Truro Raceway and the horse people and the horse breeders across this province.

The Liberal Government has nothing to brag about since taking office in the spring of 1993. Nova Scotia as a whole is hurting, especially the Island of Cape Breton. The unemployment rate for the province last month rose a full point and one-half since February of 1996, seasonally adjusted. One thousand jobs were lost. The unemployment rate increased yet again in Cape Breton. I am using the figure, 27.1 per cent and I think my colleague for Cape Breton West this morning used 27.4 per cent, but it is in that area. The labour force has dwindled and the number of people employed fell.

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[2:30 p.m.]

There is still too little to show for the government's four years in power with regard to job creation or even an attempt to do what is realistic in the area of job creation, to create a positive climate for business so that the private sector is able to create jobs in Nova Scotia. We all know that there is a definite link between job creation and tax elimination.

In the spring of 1993, the Liberals campaigned on no new taxes. What did they do in the fall of 1993? You remember; you were there. They raised the provincial sales tax 1 per cent, and other taxes as well, which I won't go into, you are all very much aware of them. The Liberal Government has once again broken their promise of no new taxes. April 1, 1997, brought forward the BST which will ensure that not only have they not helped create the climate for jobs in the province, but Nova Scotians will be economically disadvantaged with this new tax as well.

Businesses and individuals will be paying more with the BST for professional services like legal and accounting fees, on essential operating costs to businesses like heating fuel, gas and even postage stamps. But wait, here is a long-awaited job strategy. The government says that the BST will create 3,000 jobs. I do not have confidence in this claim that the BST is a job-maker, nor do I concur with its latest claims that they created tens of thousands of jobs since election day 1993. What I do know is that it will be tougher than ever for Nova Scotians to make ends meet; the tax has been increased on life's daily necessities such as heat, clothing, gas and electricity.

I really don't know where to start on the subject of school boards. In the Speech from the Throne the Liberal Government states, "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 . . .".

The Speech from the Throne also said that, "These new directions are apparent in government activities connected with . . . education and children.". This government says, "Administrative streamlining has meant more education dollars are reaching students in the classrooms.". Well, before the change in ministers, we heard that they were going to have a saving of $11 million which was going to the classroom. What happened since then? We have seen the aftermath of the amalgamations, we have seen the oversized areas members will have to cover. Within my particular area there is the Chignecto-Central board, not to mention the Southwest as well.

We are witnessing the problem in the city of the merger of all metro boards covering the needs of more than 58,000 students. School board members who need to devote their hours to deal with issues too numerous to mention within our schools have spent more time in the last year and beyond sorting through the mess following the mergers. One of our local school board members, from my own area for example, is now left wondering why they are

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making a decision on a school in Amherst or Truro which they have never seen; it is over 100 miles away. They feel the communities of interest are completely lost following the mergers. There has been little from the current minister on how that supposed $11 million has helped the classroom, but I am hopeful that he will have some answers for the people very soon.

Those within the system say that the full brunt of a loss of some $52 million over the last four years has not hit the classrooms yet. Those are the same classrooms that have already had to scrimp on supplies just to be able to afford new textbooks as the curriculum was forced to change mid-year. Those are the same classes who are facing the addition of students with special needs without adequate funding to accompany their move through mainstreaming into the regular classroom. Those are the same classrooms whose teachers are dealing with an ever growing number of students and it is ironic that the government has committed, in the same speech, to a four year plan to reduce the classroom sizes - four years to undo the damage they have caused in the last four years. Is that progress? I don't think so.

The government has championed its process for new schools to be built and operated through a private sector partner and leased to the province. I heard members talking about it this afternoon. It is the way all schools will be built, the new minister says. But it is unfortunate that we have not had some of the pertinent questions answered about the lease the government has tied the taxpayers to, or yet evaluated the operation of the first few schools before barging ahead with all the others. The government played the same game with school advisory councils. It set up pilots and then didn't bother to evaluate them before ramming legislation through, incorporating the councils into the education system based on the minister's wishes.

Madam Speaker, health care reform was another Liberal Government promise. It certainly continues to be at the top of the list of concerns for Nova Scotians. Every week there are stories in the media that have managed to keep people across this province nervous and upset. They are unsure, wondering whether if they happen to require health care, whether it will be available.

The Canadian Pensioners Concerned, a group representing seniors across the province, say that some older Nova Scotians are afraid to go to the hospital for medical treatment. These individuals are beginning to think that after the horror stories they have heard since the many cuts to the hospital health services, that they might be better off getting no treatment at all. Well, I hope no one sits at home if they are ill and abandons all faith in our system. The health system is in a mess and it does need help. That is the Canadian Pensioners Concerned that made that statement, not Don McInnes.

Like many Nova Scotians, my family has had a recent experience with the health care system. I know I can speak for everyone who has had to access the system when I say that enough cannot be said about those caring health care providers who work tirelessly and

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compassionately. There are no complaints about the services provided. It is just getting the service that is the problem.

Our Leader, John Hamm, has outlined a good beginning for putting an end to the health care crisis brought on by that Liberal Government. These include putting an immediate halt to hospital cuts until a truly effective and workable home care program is in place. Reinstating the Provincial Health Council as an independent watchdog over health care decisions and our caucus did introduce that legislation, if you remember, last session but the government has failed to respond to support it.

Reaching out to those in the front lines of hospital care, to identify ways to achieve efficiencies that do not hurt patient care, putting an end to using scarce health care dollars for bloated administrations, such as the regional health boards; ensuring that the management and control of health care institutions is community-based, to protect the level of volunteerism and the benefits of local fund raising that are fostered by a sense of community ownership and also to identify core programs which must be evenly delivered across the province.

Madam Speaker, I have talked about some of the promises that the Liberal Government made. Now what about those that were never even mentioned? Casinos did not show up anywhere in the Liberal scheme platform in 1993. In fact, a committee chaired by the member for Halifax-Bedford Basin reported to the Legislature recommending that casinos not be permitted in Nova Scotia.

Another thing that the Liberal Government has forced down the throats of Nova Scotians is municipal amalgamation. Now this was supposed to save all the taxpayers of the amalgamated area money. What has really happened?

I want to speak for a few moments about my own constituency and what is going on in Pictou West. I think we had a fairly decent year last year. One of our biggest concerns, of course, is the Pictou Shipyards which was closed approximately two and one-half years ago. I was pleased and very thankful that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, who is now the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, did come to Pictou and made an announcement with Partners Construction Limited, to set up a new company, Pictou Industries 1996 Limited. Since that time the new owners have been bidding desperately to obtain work for the year. As a matter of fact, I spoke with them this morning and they still don't have much work on the books but they are attempting to make bids and, hopefully, some work will come in.

MADAM SPEAKER: Would the honourable member permit an introduction?

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

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MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Madam Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the member for allowing me to do this introduction. Through you, to the members of the House, I would like to introduce the Deputy Mayor and Councillor for the Town of Mulgrave, Mr. Lorne MacDonald. I would ask if he would stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. MCINNES: I was talking about Pictou Industries and I just wanted to say that I did appreciate the efforts of the government to hold that yard and not let it be torn apart or destroyed, until an opportunity came for a buyer. I would say to the minister that perhaps I hoped that there is work required to upgrade the floating dry dock in Pictou. I hope that the honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism would consider that.

Another minister came to Pictou County on April 4th, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. He was in Westville to announce the $54 million to twin 12.7 kilometres of highway between Salt Springs and Alma. Unfortunately, I was out of the province and unable to be at the announcement. (Interruption) That is the week he picked, he knew I would be away.

Anyway, this will be completing the remaining section, from Salt Springs to Alma. Last summer approximately $15.6 million was spent building overpasses and preparing some of the roadbed. Construction this summer will amount to roughly $23 million and then $16 million will be spent in 1998 to finish the project.

[2:45 p.m.]

I want to say to the government that I appreciate them continuing this project, which is scheduled for completion in 1998. This will eliminate the traffic through Alma and it will be a much safer drive. A lot of the members of this House do travel that way, Cape Breton members, of course, and the members from Antigonish, Guysborough and wherever. It has certainly been a big improvement with the twinning from Truro to Salt Springs.

I want to remind the Minister of Transportation and Public Works that during the last session I spoke about when this project is completed in 1998, that we do have a problem with the Highway No. 104 and the Highway No. 376 alignment. I will just take a minute to explain it. It is pretty simple. The alignment of Highway No. 376, if anybody is familiar with it, as you come to Central West River, was very poorly engineered. There have been a lot of accidents on that turn. When the new highway is completed, it would be very simple to put Highway No. 376 straight through on the new Highway No. 104 and then tee up the Alma Road to it. You would come up and stop.

The reason I say that Highway No. 376 should be straight is because in Pictou County and Pictou West, we have the Caribou Terminal which is the second largest entry point in Nova Scotia and there is a lot of traffic. If they don't go to Cape Breton or Amherst, they will

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go through to Truro. A lot of that traffic goes through Lions Brook, Highway No. 376, and goes through that intersection, whereas on the Alma section of the road there would only be the local traffic and it would be minimal because most people would jump up on Highway No. 104 and travel that way. It would not be a costly thing but I will tell you that a lot of trucks and a lot of traffic use that exit and I feel that it is important that that be done.

Madam Speaker, I also want to talk about the highways in general across the province. I know it has been a difficult year with frost in, frost out and whatever. People say to me - and we all travel the roads - that the highways are in bad shape. Even the main Highway No. 102 which I travel, Halifax to Truro, desperate holes in that road. If you drive it in the daytime it is not too bad. You can steer around them. At night it is impossible to see those holes. I know different people that had their wheels smashed and whatever. I just say to the Minister that I don't understand why they can't get some patching done on that. Even this time of year it would be a big - there was a little bit done in the Stewiacke area on Highway No. 102 and it was a big help but there are some desperate holes in that road and they should be repaired.

The member for Hants East spoke about the paving that he got done in his area and I appreciate that he got paving done in his area. I say to you, to the minister, and I say to all the ministers that I don't think there should be any more new paving. I think we have to repave the roads that are paved because if we don't do it soon, they are going to be that bad that it is going to be extremely costly to do it. I think, Madam Speaker, it is important that we look at that. Let's try and get the roads fixed up that are there now. I know that if I ever happen to get into government again, I am going to be saying to whoever is Minister of Transportation and Public Works, let's not do any new paving, let's do repaving and get those roads in shape.

Madam Speaker, I understand that someone would like to make an introduction.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: Madam Speaker, I would like to introduce in the gallery up there my number two son, my baby, Timothy. (Laughter)

MADAM SPEAKER: At least your mother is blushing. (Laughter)

MR. MCINNES: Madam Speaker, with the permission of the House Leader, it is 2:50 p.m. and I don't think I could finish before 3:00 oclock. I would be pleased to move the adjournment of the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne at this time.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, on Monday we will continue with the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne and I move that the House rise now to sit again on Monday from 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is that the House rise and sit again on Monday at 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 2:51 p.m.]