The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., May 9, 1997

Fifth Session

FRIDAY, MAY 9, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: East Chezzetcook Road - Repair,
Mr. K. Colwell 1593
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Department of Natural Resources, Hon. E. Norrie 1594
Anl. Rept. of The Council of Maritime Premiers, 1995-96, The Premier 1594
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 421, Lbr. - Westray Mine Disaster (09/05/92): Miners' Safety -
Ensure, The Premier 1594
Vote - Affirmative 1595
Res. 422, Westray Mine Disaster (09/05/92) - Rescuers: Tribute -
Pay, Mr. W. Fraser 1595
Vote - Affirmative 1595
Res. 423, Westray Mine Disaster (Pictou Co.) (09/05/92): Victims -
Remember, Dr. J. Hamm 1596
Vote - Affirmative 1596
Res. 424, Westray Mine Disaster (Pictou Co.)(09/05/92):
Families Group - Commend, Mr. R. Chisholm 1596
Vote - Affirmative 1597
Res. 425, Agric. - Limestone Prog. - Equalized Rate, Hon. G. Brown 1597
Vote - Affirmative 1598
Res. 426, Sports - Sneaker Day (09/05/97): MLAs - Participate,
Hon. A. Mitchell 1598
Vote - Affirmative 1599
Res. 427, Agric. - Exhibition: Role (Rural) - Recognize, Hon. G. Brown 1599
Vote - Affirmative 1599
Res. 428, Canada Post - Stamp Photographs (Tuna/Sturgeon):
Mr. G. van Ryckevorsel - Congrats., The Premier 1599
Vote - Affirmative 1600
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 429, Sports - Karate World Champs. (Japan-21-25/08/97):
Calvin Crichton (New Glasgow) - Success Wish, Dr. J. Hamm 1600
Vote - Affirmative 1601
Res. 430, Health: Day (Can.) (12/05/97) - Recognize, Mr. R. Chisholm 1601
Res. 431, Agric. - Agric. Inst. (Can.): Conf. (Truro-17-20/08/97) -
Recognize, Hon. E. Norrie 1602
Vote - Affirmative 1602
Res. 432, Health - Strategic Plan: Target Date - Commit, Mr. G. Moody 1602
Res. 433, Health - Reform: Misery - Alternative Produce, Mr. B. Taylor 1603
Res. 434, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. 102 (Exit 4):
Tanker (O) Overturn - Emergency Participants Thank,
Mr. William MacDonald 1603
Vote - Affirmative 1604
Res. 435, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Taylor Family (Auto-Windsor):
Dedication - Acknowledge, Mr. R. Russell 1604
Vote - Affirmative 1605
Res. 436, Liberal Party (N.S.) - Leadership Convention: Deterrent Fees -
Eliminate, Mr. J. Holm 1605
Res. 437, Health - Nurses: Superb Care - Acknowledge, Mrs. F. Cosman 1605
Vote - Affirmative 1606
Res. 438, Educ. - Central Kings RHS: Health Centre (Green Door) -
Support, Mr. G. Archibald 1606
Vote - Affirmative 1607
Res. 439, Scouts (Canada) - Chief Scout's Award: Recipients - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Harrison 1607
Vote - Affirmative 1607
Res. 440, Educ. - Vocational Training: Opportunities - Ensure,
Mr. D. McInnes 1608
Res. 441, Fin. - Equalization Formula (Can.): Change - Oppose,
Hon. J. MacEachern 1608
Res. 442, Health - Food and Drugs Act: Changes - Moratorium Impose,
Ms. E. O'Connell 1609
Res. 443, Liberal Gov'ts. (Can. & N.S.): Fiscal Policies - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Richards 1609
Res. 444, Liberal Party (N.S.) - Leadership Candidates:
Strict Code of Conduct (MLAs/Public Serv.) - Initiate, Mr. B. Taylor 1610
Res. 445, House of Assembly - Session (1997): Agenda -
Needs (N.S.) Low, Mr. J. Holm 1611
Res. 446, Health - Palliative Care: Professionals/Volunteers - Commend,
Mr. D. McInnes 1611
Vote - Affirmative 1612
Res. 447, Fin. - Tax Burden: Load - Understand, Mr. R. Russell 1612
Res. 448, Educ. - HRM School Bd.: Funding Additional - Reveal,
Ms. E. O'Connell 1613
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
DND - Cornwallis Base: Land - Purchase, The Premier 1613
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 9:41 A.M. 1614
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 10:38 A.M. 1614
CWH REPORTS 1614
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 3, Ardnamurchan Club Act 1615
No. 4, Université Sainte-Anne Act/La Loi De l'Université Sainte-Anne 1615
No. 10, Incorporate the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks
of the Dominion of Canada Act [Repeal] 1615
No. 11, Queens Regional Municipality Act 1615
No. 12, District of Argyle Financial Assistance Act 1615
No. 13, Antigonish Heritage Museum Board Act 1615
No. 16, Lunenburg Common Lands Act 1615
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 9, Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company Act 1616
No. 17, Municipal Elections Act 1616
Mr. R. White 1616
Mr. R. Russell 1617
Mr. J. Holm 1617
Vote - Affirmative 1619
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 1, Residential Tenancies Act 1619
Hon. S. Jolly 1619
Mr. J. Holm 1619
Mr. William MacDonald 1622
Mr. R. Russell 1623
Mr. G. Archibald 1624
Hon. S. Jolly 1624
Vote - Affirmative 1625
No. 2, Motor Vehicle Act 1625
Hon. S. Jolly 1625
Mr. G. Archibald 1625
Mr. J. Holm 1626
Hon. S. Jolly 1628
Vote - Affirmative 1628
No. 6, Gas Distribution Act 1629
Hon. E. Norrie 1629
Mr. G. Archibald 1629
Mr. B. Taylor 1636
Ms. E. O'Connell 1636
Dr. J. Hamm 1639
Mr. J. Holm 1642
Mr. R. Chisholm 1648
Mr. R. Russell 1652
Hon. E. Norrie 1653
Vote - Affirmative 1654
No. 7, Financial Measures (1997) Act 1654
Hon. W. Gillis 1654
Mr. R. Russell 1654
Mr. R. Chisholm 1657
Dr. J. Hamm 1663
Hon. W. Gillis 1665
Vote - Affirmative 1668
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Hon. John Savage (Premier 1993-97) - Tribute, Hon. R. Mann 1669
Dr. J. Hamm (Leader of the PC Party) 1670
Mr. R. Chisholm (Leader of the NDP) 1670
Hon. J. Savage (The Premier) 1671
ARRIVAL OF LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR 1673
BILLS GIVEN ROYAL ASSENT:
Nos. 1, 2, 3 1673
Nos. 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18 1674
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again at the call of the Speaker 1675
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 449, Environ. - HRM: Windrow Composting - Assessment Convene,
Mr. J. Holm 1676
Res. 450, Joggins Vol. Fire Dept.: Anniv. (50th) - Congrats.,
Hon. G. Brown 1676
Res. 451, Educ. - Young Entrepreneur Awards: Deadly Designs
(New Waterford) - Congrats., Mr. R. MacNeil 1677
NOTICE OF QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS:
No. 17, Educ. - Post-Secondary: Funding (Gov't. [Can.]) -
Methodology Change, Mr. G. Archibald 1678
No. 18, Health - Physicians (Hfx.-Mainland North): Billing Moratorium -
Lift, Mr. G. Moody 1678
No. 19, Health: Coxheath (C.B.) - Water Quality, Dr. J. Hamm 1678
No. 20, Environ. - Waste Disposal: Methods - Review, Mr. J. Leefe 1679
No. 21, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Employees: Organizational Chart -
Provide, Dr. J. Hamm 1679
No. 22, Nat. Res. - NSRL: Rothschild Canada Ltd. - Contract,
Mr. G. Archibald 1679
No. 23, Fin. - N.S. Gaming Cpn.: Casino (Hfx.) - Consultant,
Mr. G. Moody 1681
No. 24, Fin. - Casino (Hfx.): ITT Sheraton - Construction Contract,
Mr. G. Moody 1681
No. 25, Justice - Peace Bonds (Spouses) [01/10/95-09/05/97],
Mr. R. Russell 1682
No. 26, Justice - Correctional Facilities: Inmates Permitted - Detail,
Mr. R. Russell 1682
No. 27, Planning & Priorities - Min.: Responsibilities - Detail,
Mr. R. Russell 1683
No. 28, Commun. Serv.: Disability Services - Plans, Dr. J. Hamm 1683
No. 29, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Business Loans (ERA) [$500,000+] -
List [14/06/93-09/05/97], Dr. J. Hamm 1683
No. 30, Nat. Res. - Forest Land: Crown Owned - Area, Mr. B. Taylor 1683
No. 31, Bus. & Cons. Affs. - Motor Vehicle Registration:
Computer Millennium Crisis Analysis - Report Provide,
Mr. B. Taylor 1684
No. 32, Nat. Res. - Gypsy Moth: Control - Update, Mr. B. Taylor 1684
No. 33, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Buildings: Steel Joists
(Robb Engineering) - Review, Mr. B. Taylor 1684
No. 34, Environ. - Mill Cove Sewage Treatment Plant:
Cumb. Co. Landfill Waste - Treatment, Mr. B. Taylor 1685

[Page 1593]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, MAY 9, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition here signed by 282 residents of the Chezzetcook area. Their petition reads, "We the undersigned residents of the Chezzetcook area petition the Department of Transportation to carry out the badly needed repairs to the East Chezzetcook Road.". I signed and fully support the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

1593

[Page 1594]

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Department of Natural Resources for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1996.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to present The Council of Maritime Premiers Annual Report, 1995-96.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 421

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

Whereas May 9, 1992 is a date that will forever remain etched in the memories of Nova Scotians because on that day it was a massive explosion that tore through the Westray Coal Mine in Pictou County, killing 26 men; and

Whereas Nova Scotians remember with sadness today the names of the 26 husbands, fathers, brothers and sons who died in that tragic explosion: Larry Arthur Bell, Ferris Todd Dewan, Robert Steven Doyle, Charles Robert Fraser, Myles Gillis, Trevor Jahn, Eugene William Johnson, Harry Alliston McCallum, Eric Earl McIsaac, Romeo Andrew Short, Adonis Joseph Dollimont, Remi Joseph Drolet, Laurence Elwyn James, George James Munroe, Peter Francis Vickers, John Thomas Bates, Wayne Michael Conway, Roy Edward Feltmate, John Philip Halloran, Randolph Brian House, Stephen Paul Lilley, Michael Frederick MacKay, Angus Joseph MacNeil, Glenn David Martin, Danny James Poplar II, Bennie Joseph Benoit;

Therefore be it resolved that on this, the 5th Anniversary of the Westray Mine disaster, that this House pledge to Nova Scotians and particularly to the Westray families that we will work together in a unified manner to ensure the continued development and enforcement of laws and regulations to ensure the safety of all miners in this province.

[Page 1595]

Mr. Speaker, I ask waiver of notice and passage without debate and would also suggest that members of the House stand and observe a moment of silence in memory of the 26 men so tragically lost in the Westray Mine disaster on Saturday, May 9, 1992.

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 422

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

Whereas five years ago on this date 26 miners lost their lives in an underground explosion at the Westray Coal Mine in Plymouth, Pictou County, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas nearly 200 rescuers braved the horrors of one of Canada's worst coal mining disasters to provide a spirit of hope during the five arduous days following the Westray explosion; and

Whereas the Westray tragedy has deeply affected the lives of the miners' families and friends and left a lasting impact in the mining communities of Nova Scotia and across Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly pay tribute to the rescuers for their compassion, unwavering professionalism and steadfast courage and extend sincere condolences to the family and friends of the miners left behind to suffer the grief and pain of this tragic loss.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1596]

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 423

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

Whereas five years ago today 26 miners lost their lives in an explosion at the Westray Coal Mine in Plymouth, Pictou County; and

Whereas the families of these miners, relatives, friends, neighbours and, indeed, all Nova Scotians have shared this tragedy; and

Whereas Nova Scotians will never forget the loss of 26 lives and the sorrow and pain suffered by families of the lost miners;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join with the families and friends in remembering the 26 lost Westray miners.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 424

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

Whereas five years ago today on Saturday, May 9, 1992, Nova Scotians awoke to hear the terrible news of the Westray Mine disaster; and

Whereas ever since that tragic day, the families of the 26 miners killed, their fellow coal miners, their brothers and sisters in the union movement, and many other Nova Scotians and Canadians have struggled to ensure that such an event will never happen again; and

[Page 1597]

Whereas the anniversary of the Westray disaster was marked at 5:18 a.m. today by candle lighting ceremonies at Plymouth and Westray Memorial Park sponsored by the Westray Families Group;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commends the Families Group and others who keep alive the memories of the Westray miners, and on this 5th Anniversary commits to the strongest possible legislation and the most vigilant enforcement of workplace safety legislation.

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 motion calls for one minute of silence. All rise.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 425

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

Whereas last year, we offered a one year transition program on limestone that provided truckers' assistance to farmers, however the price of limestone varied across our province; and

Whereas the department has been working with the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture to develop a one year program for 1997-98; and

Whereas this program developed will provide equality for farmers across the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the 1997-98 Limestone Program will provide limestone at an equalized rate across the Province of Nova Scotia for all farmers.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

[Page 1598]

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 426

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise in my capacity as Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sports and Recreation Commission.

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

Whereas all members of this House have a responsibility to promote healthy active living; and

Whereas a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity over most days of the week will make couch potatoes an endangered species; and

Whereas the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute reports that an increasing proportion of Canadians that are physically active will reduce the cost of medical care and sick leave over an individual's lifetime; and

[9:15 a.m.]

Whereas May 9, 1997 is celebrated as Sneaker Day across the country, giving honourable members an opportunity to truly bear their soles;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House put their best foot forward encased in their favourite pair of sneakers and demonstrate to Nova Scotians that it is fun to be fit.

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

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

It is agreed.

[Page 1599]

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. 427

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

Whereas there are 14 agricultural exhibitions in Nova Scotia held from the end of July until October, providing a showcase of livestock, the agri-food products, along with commercial and other exhibits; and

Whereas many community groups, along with the volunteers, participate in the exhibitions, benefiting rural communities in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas more than 349,000 people attended these exhibitions in Nova Scotia last year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the important role that exhibitions play in rural Nova Scotia by attending and encouraging others to attend or participate as well in these exhibitions.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 428

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

[Page 1600]

Whereas the Honourable Andre Ouellet, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Canada Post Corporation, has announced plans to issue a set of four ocean water fish stamps featuring the Great White shark, the Bluefin tuna, the Pacific halibut and the Atlantic sturgeon; and

Whereas the set of stamps will be officially unveiled on May 30th at Pacific '97, an 11 day international stamp show being held in San Francisco; and

Whereas the photographs of the Bluefin tuna and the Atlantic sturgeon were taken by Gilbert van Ryckevorsel of Aqua Marine Photography in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their congratulations and best wishes to Mr. van Ryckevorsel on being honoured for his unique talent in underwater photography.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 429

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

Whereas Calvin Crichton of New Glasgow will compete in the world karate championships August 21st to August 25th in Okinawa, Japan; and

Whereas Mr. Crichton is being joined in Japan by two students from the Asian Institute of Martial Arts school that he operates in New Glasgow; and

[Page 1601]

Whereas the appearance by Mr. Crichton will be his second at the world championships, having coached at them in 1995;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature extend our best wishes to Mr. Crichton and his two students in their fund-raising initiatives and the very best in August at the world championships in Japan.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 430

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

Whereas Monday, May 12th, has been declared Canada Health Day; and

Whereas the theme this year for Canada Health Day focuses on community health, which is the key to real health reform; and

Whereas this government has bungled health reform by failing to give community health boards the necessary independence, mandate or resources to allow communities to take control of their own health care;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize May 12th as Canada Health Day and urge the government to begin immediately the transfer of real decision-making power to community health boards.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 1602]

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 431

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia, is the site for the 1997 Annual Conference of the Agricultural Institute of Canada being held August 17 to August 20, 1997; and

Whereas this is a national conference of professional agrologists being hosted by the Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists; and

Whereas the conference theme, Who Speaks for Agriculture will make this conference a key event for the agri-food industry, both provincially and nationally;

Therefore be it resolved that the Agricultural Institute of Canada Annual Conference to be held August 17 to August 20, 1997, in Truro, be recognized as a important event in the agri-food and tourist industries which will bring over 500 agrologists and their families to the province.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 432

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 the Liberals promised a health care system that would be planned, coordinated and integrated; and

[Page 1603]

Whereas for the second consecutive year the Auditor General has highlighted the lack of a strategic plan in place at the Department of Health; and

Whereas the part-time Minister of Health should devote more of his energies to ensuring such a plan is up and running, instead of working to ensure the success of his Liberal leadership ambitions;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health commit to publicly announcing the Department of Health's strategic plan by June 1997, the target date submitted by the Department of Health to the Auditor General for having a plan in place.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 433

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

Whereas the Premier and the Minister of Health refuse to accept that there is a crisis of major proportions within Nova Scotia's health care system; and

Whereas the latest horror story to surface is from the Colchester Regional Hospital in Truro, where Dr. Barry Wheeler is extremely upset over the fact that enough beds do not exist for patients who have suffered strokes or who have illnesses such as pneumonia; and

Whereas Dr. Wheeler has said, "pretty well every day there are anywhere from three to six people lying on stretchers in the emergency department waiting to be admitted";

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government come out of the trenches, see the misery their approach to health care reform is having on Nova Scotians and come up with a sensible alternative that Nova Scotians can depend upon and trust.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

RESOLUTION NO. 434

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

[Page 1604]

Whereas at approximately 3:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 8th, a tanker truck loaded with liquid oxygen, heading from Highway No. 102 to Highway No. 101 westbound, overturned, causing an emergency situation in the immediate vicinity; and

Whereas an imminent disaster was avoided as a result of prompt and efficient action of the local fire department, the local detachment of the RCMP, EMO staff and the Department of the Environment; and

Whereas upon arrival at the scene of the accident emergency personnel acted in a professional manner, having as their ultimate goal the safety of the truck driver as well as that of the residents of the local area;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House convey their thanks and appreciation to all those who participated in the emergency action, thus preventing a catastrophe from occurring.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage 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 member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 435

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

Whereas the Taylor family name is synonymous within the Windsor business and volunteer community; and

Whereas it is synonymous because of the involvement of the Taylor family since 1921 in the automotive business in the Windsor-West Hants area; and

Whereas yesterday marked the 75th Anniversary celebrations of Avonian Motors Limited, located on Water Street in Windsor;

[Page 1605]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature acknowledge the dedication and hard work of the Taylor family and their long-serving employees in their business and community endeavours, and wish them every success today and in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 436

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

Whereas Roseanne Skoke, the former MP for Central Nova, who says she supports patronage, has decided not to run as an independent in the forthcoming federal election; and

Whereas the former MP for Central Nova has now decided that she may want to be Leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party and Premier of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the former MP for Central Nova says the Liberals' plan to charge delegates $50 or $25 each to vote for the new Leader of the Liberal Party and Premier of Nova Scotia discriminates against grassroots Liberals who support the former MP for Central Nova;

Therefore be it resolved that in the interest of grassroots democracy, this House, once again, calls upon the Liberal Party to break open its toll gate, bloated trust funds and use the money to eliminate deterrent fees it wants to impose on democracy.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.

RESOLUTION NO. 437

MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 1606]

Whereas nurses promote wellness by offering medical expertise, professionalism, commitment in many settings, including hospitals, clinics, seniors' residences, industry, schools and through home care; and

Whereas next week, May 12th to May 8th, across Canada is National Nurses Week, whose theme this year is Sharing the Health Challenge; and

Whereas Nurses Week provides us with the opportunity to think about our province's nurses and the challenges and opportunities they face in providing excellent health care;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the superb health care given by the nurses of Nova Scotia and renew our commitment to provide them with the support and assistance they require to maintain their pivotal role in the delivery of health care.

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 member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 438

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

Whereas teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, depression, and drug and alcohol abuse, are all concerns facing our youth today; and

Whereas on March 17, 1997, a teen health centre at Central Kings Rural High School, the Green Door, opened its doors to help students deal with these serious issues; and

Whereas the Green Door is the only teen health centre of its kind in the province and is already very heavily booked;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House convey their support and thanks to Phyllis Sweat, Jan Bishop and students and staff at Central Kings Rural High for their worthwhile effort in support of today's youth.

[Page 1607]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to 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 Education and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 439

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 September 1973, Chief Scout of Canada and then Governor General, the Right Honourable Roland Michener, created the Chief Scouts Award to honour those Scouts in Canada with exemplary records of service to their communities, to Scouts Canada and to World Scouting; and

Whereas on Saturday, May 10th, our own Lieutenant Governor will bestow upon 190 Nova Scotian Scouts the honour of Chief Scout's Award; and

Whereas among those receiving this prestigious distinction are John Cruickshank of Kentville, Mathew Howatt of Kentville, Andrew Rafuse of New Minas, David Seymour of Kentville and Mark Smith of Kentville;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to these and all Nova Scotians receiving the Chief Scout's Award and acknowledge, with our gratitude, their record of community and national service that earned them the Chief Scout's Award.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice and passage 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 1608]

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 440

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

Whereas acceptance into Nova Scotia's universities has become increasingly more difficult while offering a minimal amount of job security; and

[9:30 a.m.]

Whereas not all students prosper academically; and

Whereas community colleges are being flooded with university graduates while adapting higher acceptance standards with much more emphasis put on academic marks rather than work ethic or work experience;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education reassure all those non-academic students looking for vocational training that they will not be left out of Nova Scotia's economic future.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 441

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

Whereas the Atlantic Provinces, as members of the Canadian family, count on equalization as insurance and recognition of their smaller economies; and

Whereas the equalization formula presently in place contains both tax points and cash transfers to ensure there are no traumatic shocks to our revenues: when the economy weakens, cash transfers make up for the difference because of decreases in the value of tax points; and

Whereas a shift to only tax points favours the wealthy provinces at the expense of Atlantic Canada;

[Page 1609]

Therefore be it resolved that this House stand solidly against the shift to a full tax point based transfer system.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The motion is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 442

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

Whereas Nova Scotians are increasingly concerned about the regulation of herbs, vitamins and other alternative medicines and the actions of the federal government in banning and restricting natural products; and

Whereas the current classification system under the Food and Drug Act is clearly an inadequate framework to regulate natural products; and

Whereas the Canadian Coalition for Health Freedom is urging legislative change that will ensure the public's right to choose natural health products as a safe, low-cost alternative to pharmaceuticals and protect the consumer by ensuring adequate labelling and information on health products;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the federal government to place an immediate moratorium on any further action until there has been a full and effective consultation and a new regulatory framework is developed.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 443

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

[Page 1610]

Whereas Dr. Sherry Cooper, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist with Nesbitt Burns, a member of The Bank of Montreal Group of Companies was guest speaker at the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner held on Wednesday, May 7th; and

Whereas Dr. Cooper during her talk stated that Canada will lead all G-7 countries with a Gross Domestic Product increase of 4 per cent in 1997, an increase in which Nova Scotia will share significantly; and

Whereas Dr. Cooper also pointed out that the Canadian deficit ratio would move from second worst among G-7 countries in 1993 to the second best in 1998, with Nova Scotia showing a surplus of $5 million;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Liberal Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia, under the distinguished leadership of Jean Chretien and John Savage respectively, who had the courage and fortitude to relieve Canadians and Nova Scotians of the fiscal mess that they inherited from the previous free-spending, free-wheeling Tory Governments.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 444

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

Whereas in 1993 the Liberals promised a strict code of conduct for MLAs, Cabinet Ministers and senior public servants within 90 days of forming a government; and

Whereas four years have passed without any such code of conduct legislated or even introduced; and

Whereas the current Liberal era has seen a Cabinet Minister violate the government's tendering policy, another Cabinet Minister setting high-flying distance records at taxpayers' expense and the Department of Health's top public servant helping to run a little health care business on the side;

[Page 1611]

Therefore be it resolved that this House challenge all Liberal leadership candidates to live up to the Party's 1993 pledge and legislate a strict code of conduct for MLAs, Cabinet Ministers and senior public servants.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 445

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

Whereas this session will be remembered as the session of a lame-duck, and largely absentee, Premier; and

Whereas this session will also be remembered for the government's two phoney balanced budgets; and

Whereas legislation introduced had much more to do with the Liberals' political agenda than addressing the concerns of Nova Scotians in such areas as health care, education, jobs and a fair taxation system;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge that this session had much more to do with the Liberals' smoke and mirror agenda than meeting the real needs of Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 446

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

Whereas the week of May 11th to May 17th is National Palliative Care Week; and

Whereas National Palliative Care Week is an opportunity to raise awareness and become familiar with palliative care - a special kind of care for individuals and families who are living with a life-threatening illness; and

[Page 1612]

Whereas the QE II Health Sciences Centre is holding several activities in honour of National Palliative Care Week;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the health care professionals and volunteers who are promoting palliative care throughout the province.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 447

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

Whereas yesterday's Chronicle-Herald editorial aptly pointed out that if incomes are flat and taxes are rising, spending in one form or another must give; and

Whereas this message is not understood by the present Liberal Government which has picked the pockets of Nova Scotians for over $150 million in additional taxes since they came to power in 1993; and

Whereas the owner of the Strathlorne Service Centre in Inverness in a letter to the editor in yesterday's Chronicle-Herald reported that because of the significant tax grab on gasoline imposed by this government, gasoline sales are down 12 per cent over 1996;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government understand the crippling load of taxes they have imposed upon Nova Scotians and do something that will lead to significant economic growth instead of just raising the tax burden upon Nova Scotians even more.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 1613]

RESOLUTION NO. 448

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional School Board, as reported in yesterday's newspapers, made a deal with the Minister of Education which resulted in "an infusion of cash" for the board; and

Whereas the Deputy Minister of Education sent a letter yesterday to all school board superintendents and chairmen to say that the negotiations did not result in "the injection of any new provincial dollars into the board"; and

Whereas the minister contributed to this misconception when he failed to correct the record by clearly stating that, in fact, the government had not injected one red cent into the Halifax Regional School Board;

Therefore be it resolved that this House instruct the minister to correct the record by telling Nova Scotians exactly what deal he cut with the Halifax Regional School Board even at the expense of tarnishing his unearned halo.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Statements by Ministers.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity. I was away yesterday doing business for the province, the kind of deals that are unknown to our friends opposite. I understand that there were questions asked about Cornwallis Base. I have checked with Cornwallis Base this morning, the rumours are completely untrue. They have just signed an agreement to buy land and they have asked us to please say that people who are spreading rumours about Cornwallis are not helping the peacekeeping base at all.

[Page 1614]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[9:41 a.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

[10:38 a.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. Dennis Richards in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:

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

Bill No. 7 - Financial Measures (1997) Act.

and the committee is pleased to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Shall Bill No. 7 be read for a third time today and added to today's order paper?

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Third Reading.

[Page 1615]

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I move that we dispense with Bill Nos. 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 16 en bloc.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Bill No. 3 - Ardnamurchan Club Act.

Bill No. 4 - Université Sainte-Anne Act/La Loi De l'Université Sainte-Anne.

Bill No. 10 - Incorporate the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the Dominion of Canada Act. [Repeal]

Bill No. 11 - Queens Regional Municipality Act

Bill No. 12 - District of Argyle Financial Assistance Act.

Bill No. 13 - Antigonish Heritage Museum Board Act.

Bill No. 16 - Lunenburg Common Lands Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motions are carried.

Ordered that these bills do pass. Ordered that the titles be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bills be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for third reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 9.

[Page 1616]

Bill No. 9 - Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, it is my first chance to speak on this bill, so I am going to take a quick minute. This bill, while it has a title that looks very corporate, I just want to point out to the House that this bill is a people bill. It is one of the bills that is a good news bill that we are passing this session. I have had the opportunity of marshalling a couple of these types of bills through.

Effectively, what this bill does is it allows people who have wills and mortgages that have formerly been with the Montreal Trust Company and the Montreal Trust Company Canada, which now is extinct, not to have to go through a terrible headache to get their mortgage released and to have their trust transferred to another corporate entity. It is a good news bill. It is a people bill. I have had the opportunity of discussing it with both Opposition Parties, and I think we are all in agreement. I want to take this opportunity to thank the House. It may be the last time I will have a chance to offer such a bill. It has been great working. I want to thank you for being able to put through third reading a bill that is a really good bill and one of the good news bills that we are passing this session.

With that, I would move third reading of Bill No. 9.

MR. SPEAKER: Are we ready for the question on third reading of Bill No. 9?

Would all those in favour of third reading of Bill No. 9 please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that the bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would please call Bill No. 17.

Bill No. 17 - Municipal Elections Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, I so move for third reading.

[Page 1617]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I have no reservations about the principle of this bill, and I voted for it in second reading. However, when we came to Committee of the Whole House, I rose and objected, simply because of the fact that this bill is being introduced under the section entitled Private Members' Public Bills.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have a Minister of Municipal Affairs who looks after the relationship between municipal governments and the provincial government. This bill has nothing to do with any specific small area of the Province of Nova Scotia. For instance, if it just dealt with Hants West, I may possibly have some reason and some rationale to bring forward a bill which would amend the Municipal Elections Act. However, this bill speaks for the entire province. Therefore, I think it is entirely improper for a person other than the Minister of Municipal Affairs to bring forward this type of a bill to the House. Secondly, I think it is a way that this government is developing, that if there is anything contentious that may reflect upon the government, they are dealing those bills off to backbenchers.

[10:45 a.m.]

Now you might say, oh, when did they do that? Well, they have done it on two or three occasions in this House, where there has been a bill that has come forward that specifically belongs to a minister of this government, who should have brought that bill forward but, instead, it has been given to a member of the backbenches to bring forward. That is wrong, it is fundamentally wrong. Ministers are responsible for their particular ministries and decisions that are made, I say, to change legislation that impacts on all municipalities should be introduced and should be argued and presented by the appropriate minister.

I am in favour of this legislation and I am going to vote for it, but I think it is wrong, I think it is drastically wrong. We are doing something that is completely contrary to the way Parliament should be acting. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: I have to say ditto to the comments that were made previously. Of course, it will afford the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury something to put on his next campaign brochure, saying that he chaired through the House a particular piece of legislation, but the reality is . . .

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I do not think we are here to discuss my potential election campaign. I am sure there is lots I can put on my brochure. I was approached by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, and so was this House, to deal with this. I dealt in good faith with the members of this House and we have agreed to proceed

[Page 1618]

with this bill. I do take exception to that. I am pleased that I am able to do this and anything for the constituents that I do represent.

MR. SPEAKER: I am not sure if that is an official point of order. It is certainly a point of clarification and perhaps the member's comments can be directed to third reading of the bill.

MR. HOLM: My points that are being directed towards the bill and I will say quite freely that yes, indeed, the member did consult, as did the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, with all three political Parties. One of the things that I wanted to point out is that the kind of cooperation that existed around this bill, coming and stemming directly from the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities is an example that could be followed by government because if that kind of cooperation existed in a lot of pieces of legislation, then, in fact, there might be a lot less rancour in this Chamber. I was making my points because, although the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury is the one who is piloting the bill through the House, I do agree with the previous speaker that it is the responsibility of a minister whose legislation is being amended by that, rather than an individual member. It does, in fact, affect all municipalities across the province.

That having been said, I believe it is a good piece of legislation because what this legislation is doing is enabling - it does not require but it permits - municipalities to be able to use the federal enumeration lists that have recently been compiled and which undoubtedly are receiving countless amendments and revisions because they desperately need those revisions. It is probably the worst enumeration I have ever seen with hundreds and thousands of people, it would be my guesstimate, having been left off that. The reality is that once it is completed and has been revised so that it is an accurate listing, it has the potential to save municipalities an awful lot of money. If they can use those voters lists that are to be revised and kept revised on a yearly basis, literally they can probably save, just my guesstimate, at least $0.5 million in the run of a year. That is money that then can be better used to expend on providing badly needed programs and services, whether that be to provide supplementary funding for education, to provide playgrounds and other areas for children, possibly to do needed infrastructure work in terms of their local roads, sewer, water, you name it.

Therefore I think this is a very reasonable piece of legislation and I want to congratulate the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities for their initiative in bringing this forward. I am thanking them on behalf of all of the taxpayers of this province who stand to benefit from this by reduced costs and having monies redirected towards providing very valuable and needed services, rather than duplicating information that is already available.

However, I point out that the legislation doesn't require the municipalities to use the federal list, it is only permissive. So if a municipality thinks that the federal list is not up to date, if it is not accurate, then they can continue to do their own enumeration for their own elections. So it is permissive, it is good legislation and, therefore, I am very pleased to

[Page 1619]

indicate on behalf of our Party that we will be supporting the legislation, regardless of who introduced the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 17. Is the House ready for the question?

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

Bill No. 1 - Residential Tenancies Act.

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

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move Bill No. 1 for third reading.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, any time legislation comes forward that is dealing with tenants, and mobile home park tenants in particular, I have to stand up and say a few words. First of all, I want to thank the minister upfront for making a couple of amendments to the legislation that she introduced. The legislation, as introduced, had a number of flaws in it. It still does have some, in my opinion, which I may address in a moment, one of which it had no date of proclamation, which was something that I had raised during the second reading debate. The minister has agreed and, through the Law Amendments Committee, that was changed so that now there is a date of October 1st when this law will automatically become law, which means that, of course, you don't have to wait for the Governor in Council to proclaim it.

[Page 1620]

There are some pieces of legislation that have never been proclaimed. I certainly did not want to see this happen to those protections for mobile home owners. Therefore, it was one of the things that I certainly wanted to see done. I would have liked an earlier date but that is splitting hairs now; it is a matter that we wanted to make sure that, in fact, there is a date to guarantee that it will be proclaimed. That also them puts a time line on the minister's department to come up with all of the necessary, appropriate regulations, a time line to be targeted for, so it will become obviously a priority. That was number one.

Another area the minister did agree to make amendments, another point that I had raised in the bill, to make it clear that if an evaluation is done of rents, if a landlord has given a rent increase to a whole number of tenants in their parks, which, of course, if what they always do, and if tenants have received the same rent increase, each individual tenant will now not have to apply for a rent review but in such a review, if the review has taken place and if it is deemed that that rent increase is not justified, then the review officer has the ability to roll back the rents for all who received like rent increases.

I still have some difficulties with the legislation in that I believe it goes in the reverse order. Mr. Speaker, I have to point out, and any chance that I get I will point this out, that is that mobile home owners are in a very unique situation. They are tenants, yes, they rent that postage stamp size lot of land on which their mobile home is located and with that rent they get certain services, possibly sewer and water and, depending on the park where they happen to be located, there may or may not be recreational services but they will receive roads and plowing and so on. That is like living in an apartment building where the apartment landlord is responsible for the corridors and the parking and so on outside, to maintain that so they do get that. But as well as being tenants, they are also homeowners. That means that they pay mortgages, they are responsible to maintain their home, they pay property taxes and all of those other things that a homeowner does and you cannot, as if you are a tenant in an apartment, just pick up and relocate. You cannot just grab your mobile home and put it into boxes and haul it off to another location. Mobile homes sites are very difficult to find, if you can find one at all. So they are captive to their lots by and large.

I believe that instead of the tenant having to appeal the rent increases, that the landlords should still have to make an application to have the rent increases. That is something that I have been hammering away in this House about for years. If the Liberals had not done away with the rent review process in the first place, this legislation which is providing some limited protection for one segment wouldn't even had been necessary. We used to have in this province, but unfortunately it was one of the very first things that this Liberal Government did away with, and that is the rent review process.

I also have to say that mobile home owners, although they are the groups that I have been talking about most in this legislation, they are not the only ones who can be disadvantaged. Those who live in apartments also deserve to have protection. The government always says, there are vacancy rates and if you have vacancy rates, you don't

[Page 1621]

need to worry about it because people can always move. If you are going to have to move there are costs involved in that. Often the costs involved in doing that (Interruption) The member for Hants East is a little upset that I am talking, he says, you should be talking about the bill. Well, I have been hounding about this for years and I am going to continue to hound about it and if that member doesn't like it, I suggest he leave the Chamber.

The other part of the bill which the minister has snuck in here of course is an amendment to the process in terms of how the reviews to be done. What I have difficulty with is that there has been a committee at work going over all of the residential tenancy legislation and that committee which is made up of responsible individuals, I believe, and surely the minister would as well because it is the government that appointed that committee, my understanding from the correspondence that we received is that this legislation was not reviewed by that committee. I take that as a bit of a slight to those committee members in that I believe they should have been consulted. I don't think certainly, nobody that I know of on that committee would have been opposed to providing some protection for mobile home owners. I think that they might have wanted, as I do, some of them might anyway, even more protections like the establishments of minimum standards on a provincial-wide basis that can be done through the Department of Municipal Affairs through the provincial Planning Act.

I still believe that trailer park owners should have to provide certain minimum standards in terms of the way they maintain the roads, the street lighting, the provision of recreation facilities and so on. I do acknowledge that some municipalities have done that on their own municipal planning strategy but it doesn't go all of the way. I also acknowledge that the former Minister of Consumer of Affairs, now the Minister of Agriculture had expressed a fair bit of interest in this when I had raised these matters with him previously and had even gone out and toured a number of the parks and realized that in fact and I think quite fairly realized that these tenants are captive to their lots.

While I would like the legislation to go further I want to say that I am glad that those, albeit not what I would yet prefer to be the final protections provided to mobile homes, I wanted to go farther, I am pleased that there are some protections being re-established to protect those homeowners. It was something I predicted in the very beginning when the government did away with the residential rent review process. It is exactly what did happen. I wish it hadn't, but what I knew, based on my experience, looking at parks, I knew would. I am, therefore, pleased that the minister is moving at least a bit of a step to correct some of those problems that her government created. I also thank her for having made a couple of amendments, which will provide yet a little bit more protection, certainly than that which had been provided for in the first instance when the bill was introduced.

[Page 1622]

[11:00 a.m.]

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

MR. WILLIAM MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand here and comment on this bill. I would like to personally thank Minister Jolly for her important work in assisting the residents in mobile home parks, the Mobile Home Advisory Committee, and former Ministers of the Department of Housing for having interest enough to push this bill and show enough interest, it is important enough to put it through in this sitting of the House. I would also like to thank other members of the Legislature, the member for Hants East and the member for Timberlea-Prospect who took great interest in these mobile home changes which are important to their ridings. I thank everybody for that.

I think this is a good bill. It not only looks at mobile home parks in certain areas where there have been extensive rent increases, it also looks across the province where other mobile home parks have operated for many years and have only brought forth minor increases to help them keep their businesses going and, not particularly gouge, but we know they are businesses and they have to be profitable or these parks would not be in existence. I think it is important that, across the province, it is recognized that there are people in mobile home parks, not only in one particular area. So it is important that we recognize that.

I think the amendments are very positive. I think myself and other members of the House have contacted the minister and she has agreed to make these changes. I think they are very positive for mobile home parks, owners also. Owners, I think, have a direction now of what guidelines they can follow and where they can go as far as mobile home parks are concerned. That is important to them to show them that they just can't go on and do what they please, that there are people interested in the residents of the mobile home parks, so they can live in a decent way and know that they are not going to be gouged.

I think, in the past, we have made some changes to the rules as we went along. For instance, now a person who lives in a mobile home park has a one year tenure, and that means that after one year they can live in that park and as long as they pay their rent and keep their property in decent shape, they can live there quite peacefully and not be bothered by landlords who tend to try to take advantage of them. Making this bill separate from the overall rent review of the tenancies is an important one. That process could go on for a long time. I don't think the mobile home residents and a lot of MLAs here wanted to wait for that review to finalize. So I think it is important that we took this step and put this bill out quickly so we could help the mobile home industry regulate themselves and it is very important that we did that.

Also, I want to thank the minister for appointing a member from the mobile home parks to the Nova Scotia Residential Tenancies Board. I think that is very important for the information that can be passed on from this member to other members of the tenancies board

[Page 1623]

to better understand the particular problems in mobile home parks. I think that is very important and I thank the minister for that. I know the residents of the park also appreciate that. Again, I know the residents can be assured that this bill and the Department of Housing is concerned and I know I am and many other members of this House are concerned of what goes on in parks. I hope all the members here will support this bill in third reading. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, yesterday morning I had cause to have to go to Windsor quite early in the morning and I was in Halifax, of course, from the night before. Anyway, I took off to go to Windsor around about 8 o'clock in the morning and I first found out there was a problem when I got to Magazine Hill and found flashing lights there and I was directed to go north. So I proceeded up toward the airport and then through Waverley and then through some completely unknown route through downtown Sackville to back on the old No. 1 Highway. It took me about two and one-half hours, I think, to get from downtown out to Windsor.

I must confess that yesterday was the first time I had a tour of downtown Sackville. (Interruptions) I was just absolutely amazed at the housing that has gone up in that area because it has been a long time since I have been out in that area. One of the things that I noticed was that in Sackville they have these mini-lots and they have mini-houses on mini-lots. Now, a lot of people would say, you know, that that is not good housing, but in fact it is dandy housing compared to mobile homes. The problem with mobile homes is that the owner of the mobile home is held in virtual serfdom by the owner of the park. They bring their mobile home in there, rip the wheels off them and dump them on a concrete pad, and they are stuck there. If the owner of the park says I am going to double your rent, they have very little recourse other than simply to accept that. The reason simply being that by the time they jack it up, get the wheels under it and find - and that is not easy - some other place to put their mobile home, well, they just cannot do it.

I am voting in favour of this bill because I think it is a step in the right direction, but - and there is a but - I think that there is something that the Minister of Housing can do. That is to create some more of those small mini-plots and mini-houses that they have in Sackville, that I drove through yesterday. I think that that is an answer to those people who are just perhaps new in the housing market, no kids, both persons working, who just want a small, modest house that they can afford on a small lot. Heavens to Betsy, those places out there are neat as a pin. The lots are small, but they are clearly filling a purpose.

I would encourage the Minister of Housing to do something along that line. I would also applaud the minister, and I do not know which minister we are talking about here - the Minister of Business and Consumer Affairs who has the blue suit on today.

[Page 1624]

This bill is a step in the right direction, providing some protection to those people who own mobile homes who are between a rock and a hard place because they are in very difficult circumstances. I will be pleased to vote in favour of this legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: I will support this bill as well. I think all members realize and agree that residents of mobile homes have been at a very distinct disadvantage since the government changed the legislation a year or so ago and withdrew the safeguards that they had with regard to rent control. Now, with the vacancy rate in apartments and the flexibility of moving from one apartment to another, I can understand why that was done. The mobile home owners are in a very different situation than the renters in an apartment. The dwellers in apartments can come and go. They can just move, but if you have a mobile home that is up on blocks so that it is level, the wheels are gone and usually sold, it is not easy. You cannot just hook it behind your car and go down the road. You have to have a special truck and you would have to have a special license to move the mobile home from one place to another and it isn't easy to find a place. There are many municipalities throughout the province that even have restrictions on where you can and cannot place a mobile home so you are pretty much restricted to a mobile home park.

The owners of the mobile home parks know this as well as I do so they are rather strict in what they will let you do and not do. It is difficult, for instance, if you have a mobile home and you say, I think I will get a bigger one, they have these double-wides they call them now, they are twice as wide as the single, 24 feet wide so it is as big as a house. If people want to move from a single to a double, what do you do with the single? You would have to trade it in and buy the double from the same person and then you have to rent your space from him, so you are at the mercy of the landlord in that case. I think this bill will go a long way to give the owners of the mobile home park and the owners of the mobile homes a little bit more understanding of where they both fit with regard to their rights and responsibilities.

This bill is one that can be supported and I am very pleased that the minister chose to bring it to the floor of the House. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services, it will be to close the debate on this bill.

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to close the debate on Bill No. 1. I think the honourable members have made very important comments. We did feel that with the rent review coming off that there were some concerns that were very adequately expressed by the member for Sackville-Beaverbank and the member for Sackville-Cobequid in that the mobile home people were particularly being put in a difficult situation with their

[Page 1625]

landlords and rent increases that were coming through. So I appreciate their comments, I appreciate their support for this bill and I am pleased to move third reading of Bill No. 1.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No.1. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that this bill be engrossed.

First of all I am pleased today to introduce to all members of the House, sitting in our east gallery we have the Weymouth Cadet Corps. No. 603. On behalf of my colleague for Digby-Annapolis who was unable to be here with us today because of other commitments, I would ask the cadets, the leaders and parents to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 2.

Bill No. 2 - Motor Vehicle Act.

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

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move Bill No. 2 for third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 2, an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Motor Vehicle Act. This bill actually what it is doing is something that needs to be done and it is with regard to the fines for people who are driving without insurance. Driving without insurance in Nova Scotia is all too prevalent a crime. The penalty before was low, I think it was $200 or something. We all know that it will cost you $500, $600, $700, $800, maybe even $2,000 to insure your vehicle depending upon the coverage and the vehicle year, type and value. It was cheaper for most people to sit back and say, I am not going to bother buying it, it is cheaper to pay the fine and then maybe they won't catch me anyway.

At least now the $750 fine is more of a deterrent for people to say, I will take a chance and drive without insurance. Even at $750 we are at the low end of the scale as far as Canadian legislation goes. Most provinces fine people higher than $750.

[Page 1626]

[11:15 a.m.]

I think the fine is a good idea. I am not sure that it goes far enough. There ought to be a way that the minister can figure out exactly how we can take a person who is driving without insurance and take that person's privilege away completely. There is no excuse for anybody driving in our province without proper motor vehicle insurance. It is not fair to the innocent person who may come in contact with the uninsured driver at a later date. It is unfair both to the taxpayers of the province and to the insurance companies as well because they have to have a special fund set up that we all contribute to for the uninsured drivers problem.

Mr. Speaker, so often some of the tragic accidents in Nova Scotia are caused by people who not only don't have insurance, they don't even have a driver's license. This must be taken more seriously by the Attorney General's Office and the minister in charge of motor vehicle registration than it is at the present time. We must find ways in this province to make sure, if you are wheeling a car down the road, you, in fact, have a license and you have insurance.

Now I remember years ago when the Motor Vehicle Inspection Program came into force. That was quite a breakthrough, it got a lot of rickety old cars off the highway. A lot of people said well, we don't want to do that, we don't like it, but now it is just a fact of life. You have a little sticker on your window and the police, when you go through one of those little roadblocks, see it and they wave you on through. This has been a real boon and an asset to the safety of Nova Scotians. Perhaps we have to look at getting a sticker from your insurance company which you stick right beside that little safety inspection sticker, so the police can immediately see that yes, this car is insured and the person driving it is covered. We must do more to make sure that the innocent citizens of Nova Scotia do not become the victims of careless, wanton individuals of which, unfortunately, we have too many in the province.

Mr. Speaker, this bill does go a little bit of the way to help and assist the ordinary, law-abiding citizen of Nova Scotia. I think the minister for motor vehicle registration, the minister and her department, should get their heads together so that there is a special way that we can designate cars that are insured so that if you don't have the proper designation then it is quite obvious that you don't have insurance and perhaps the car could be impounded. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Just a few brief comments. The bill before us, as the previous speaker said, really does a couple of things. One he talked about in his remarks and the other thing had to do, of course, with being able to designate certain sidewalks as trails. That really deals with a situation that the minister explained during the committee process with the situation in the City of Dartmouth.

[Page 1627]

The other part, which is going to be increasing the level of fines, I think is infinitely reasonable. It is certainly a matter that the insurance brokers of Nova Scotia have brought to the attention of members of this House. Every year we have what are called these - I don't know what you call them - briefing sessions. It is an opportunity where the insurance brokers invite MLAs from all political Parties to come together so that they can, in a forum that is non-partisan and is dealing with all political groups, an opportunity to advise us about what they see as the concerns in their industry.

One of the things, and I very much appreciate the information that I received at those sessions because, in truth, I was unaware of the fine structure that currently existed until it was brought to my attention at one of those sessions. It is a little bit ridiculous, I would suggest, and certainly doesn't provide much incentive for people to be responsible if the fines that are imposed for driving without insurance are less than what people would have to pay to purchase automobile insurance.

Automobile insurance is there, of course, not just to protect the owner or the driver of that vehicle, but insurance is there primarily to protect, also, those who may be involved in an accident either as a passenger in that vehicle, or as a result of that vehicle being in collision with another vehicle. Certainly, if the driver does not have insurance, then not only do they suffer, those who are harmed in that accident, but so too do other insurance users and payers. There is a fund. If somebody is involved in an accident and they do not have their own insurance or adequate insurance, then this fund, into which all insurance companies pay, is called upon to make up the payments that the injured parties should be entitled to receive. That means that everybody who is buying insurance is paying into this fund, indirectly, through their insurance premium. So everybody, therefore, has to contribute to those who are being irresponsible and driving while they don't have insurance.

I certainly have no hesitation indicating that I am very much in support of this. There was some discussion earlier about a sunset clause and I am not suggesting a sunset clause for the amount of the fine. I would almost like to see, what do they call it, a Rolodex, attached to them so that some of these kinds of penalties that exist in various pieces of legislation, that there is an automatic requirement that they be revisited on some periodic basis, maybe every four or five years, to ensure that the amount of the penalty is in keeping with the circumstances of the time. For example, if insurance rates should happen to decrease, which I know we would all like to happen for our constituents, they would end up paying lower rates, which, of course, can happen if we have improved automobile safety and fewer claims, then maybe the amount of the fine would decrease, or what is more likely, if the amounts of the insurance premiums were actually to be increasing on average, then the amount of the penalty would also increase.

I think it is appropriate to make sure that the amount of the penalty that would be imposed would be greater than that of somebody buying the insurance themselves. The one thing of course, Mr. Speaker, if a person does have a very poor driving record, and that could

[Page 1628]

be as a result of numerous accident claims - it could be as a result of a poor driving record, whether that be impaired driving or speeding on numerous occasions, then they could end up having their insurance rates for themselves bounced way up. They could be bounced up into what is called the facility category where the insurance rates would be up in the range of $2,000 or more. In those kinds of situations, certainly the penalty or the fine for driving without insurance is still considerably less than it would be for somebody who is in the higher risk categories to have the insurance.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think that the rates are excessive at all when we say $750. There may have been the potential or possibility of having a sliding scale with a minimum, and to be able to ensure that the maximum would have been at least at or above the amount the individual found guilty of the offence, to ensure that the amount of the penalty would have been more than what they would have had to pay for the insurance in the first place. I think that is one of the things that we want to do and that is to deter anybody from driving without insurance. It is irresponsible. It places everybody at risk. I know that we all, in this House, are very much in support of people who are using the privilege of driving on our highways, that they do so in as responsible a manner as possible.

With those few brief comments, I will be voting and our caucus will be voting in support of this legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services, it will be to close the debate on this bill.

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, this bill is an important bill, as has been noted by both Opposition Parties. This bill has come forward through consultation with various individuals and certainly ensuring that the fine that has to be paid by people who drive while uninsured is increased was significant and it was through consultation with the Insurance Association of Nova Scotia that we did that. So I am pleased to close the debate and move Bill No. 2 for third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 2. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1629]

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 6.

Bill No. 6 - Gas Distribution Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and move third reading of Bill No. 6, the Gas Distribution Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, we have had a lot of discussion on this bill for the last few days. I think all the discussion is worthy because there is nothing of greater concern, of greater interest or of greater potential than the natural gas off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Today I received a little note and let me read just parts of this note, if you would. I will table it, if you want. It says, ". . . the Department of Natural Resources with an especial mention to the Minister, and members of the Provincial Cabinet! Their credibility is now at rock bottom! . . . we have been subjected to one of the quickest slickest sleight of hand manipulations ever seen in this provinces' political arena . . . 'participate' in a 'public forum' such as that used to select areas for protected status. It was like talking to a brick wall.".

Mr. Speaker, this was sent around by the Nova Scotia Wildlife Association. It really has nothing to do with the gas bill but it shows so clearly the attitude of the government and this minister. The minister has not been forthcoming with information or answers, sometimes through inability and sometimes just plain stubbornness - won't tell you, not gonna, don't have to and I won't. So it is leaving Nova Scotians with questions, it is leaving Canadians with questions.

The natural gas pool off the coast of Nova Scotia is apparently the largest untapped natural resource in North America. That is quite a statement. We have a lot of competition in western Canada, the western U.S., the Gulf of Mexico, up in the Arctic Sea. We have a potential but what do we know about it? Well, there are a couple of things we know; we know that the minister gave it to Mobil, Mobil is now in control of our offshore. We know that the royalty agreement negotiated by the minister is not going to yield billions of dollars to Nova Scotia, at most a few hundred million.

We know that Nova Scotia has been forgotten until the last minute. Nova Scotia signed a deal and then they hired the advisors, experts, experienced people in the natural gas field. It is a bit late; you know the old saying, you closed the door after the horse left. It is too late then, he got away on you. That is what happened in this deal. And the minister says, oh, it's not true but it is true because we have the press announcements, the media announcements

[Page 1630]

that were made by the Premier long after Mobil was in the picture, saying, we are now going to hire some expertise to advise us.

I think that is marvellous, we need expertise to advise us because you are not born with any knowledge of natural gas, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I believe that we have fallen below the quorum that is required.

MR. ARCHIBALD: I think you are right.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, we are going to count the members. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: We have enough.

MR. SPEAKER: We do? Okay, good. Thank you.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I have to hand it to you, that was about the slowest counting job I have ever seen. The only way you could have counted any slower would have been if you had taken your shoes and socks off and started to count your little pinkies, but you did well and I want to commend the member for Hants East, the Whip of the Liberal Caucus. I have never seen any member of the House get out of his chair quicker and get out that door. I have never seen so many people come through that door all at once. Mr. Speaker, you have some things to be proud of, the way the Whip is handling the situation and the way you count, I mean, it is really rewarding to be a member so we can see it first-hand.

[11:30 a.m.]

I am more used to speaking to a full House. I mean, it was kind of disappointing to me, too, to see so few people in here.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's what happened when you got on your feet, George.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Oh, I see. As soon as I got up to speak they all left. Is that what they are telling me?

We have an opportunity and I just hope that the National Energy Board is looking out for the interests of Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: Because this government isn't.

[Page 1631]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Certainly, this government is not. The minister is not. We Nova Scotians were the forgotten few when the government decided that natural gas was a good idea and the way to go. There was no regard for Nova Scotia's interests when the deals have been signed with Mobil and Shell. Those are fine companies, and they are successful companies but, you know, the difference between those companies and this government is paramount. They do not forget where they came from. They came from their shareholders. Their shareholders are the first thing in their minds. They are looking out for them constantly.

Who is looking out for Nova Scotians? Who is putting Nova Scotia first in this government? Nobody. This government forgot about Nova Scotia. They forgot about supplying it to Nova Scotia; they forgot about pricing; and they forgot about laterals. When it came to natural gas, all they could think of was election. I remember the Premier that we had in the picture a few years ago, with a little bottle in his hand, he said, it's oil, and he ran an election and he won. That was 1974, a Liberal Premier at the time. Same idea; they forgot Nova Scotians and just thought of an election.

Nova Scotians are starting to get interested. Nova Scotians are saying I do not think we got a good deal. Cape Bretoners are not even going to have natural gas according to this government. All they are going to have is a wet line taking the wet gas to Port Hawkesbury to be separated and exported for further refinement in the United States or perhaps other foreign countries.

What is wrong with a petrochemical industry developing in Port Hawkesbury? Do we have so many jobs already that we could not use a few more? Why didn't this government say that if you want to separate the wet gas in Port Hawkesbury, refine it there too and build your industries there? The government says it is private enterprise, we cannot tell them what to do. You sure can tell them what to do and if you do not believe me, go ask the Premier of Newfoundland. The Newfoundland oil industry said that we are going to use Nova Scotia as a storage and transshipment base, and the Premier of Newfoundland said think again, you are going to do your transshipment in Newfoundland and, furthermore, you are going to build a transshipment port right in Newfoundland. Who won that argument? We all know.

We all know who won. The people of Newfoundland won, because the oil company said yes, we will build the transshipment port in Newfoundland even though it would have been cheaper for us to transship through Nova Scotia. The Premier of Newfoundland said, I am looking out for Newfoundlanders. The Premier of Nova Scotia said, I cannot tell Mobil or Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline what to do because we do not have any money in it, this is private enterprise.

This is the old laissez-faire business that they used to practise when the Hudson's Bay Company was travelling throughout North America. Things have changed in the last 400 years but this government is looking at the future through the rear-view mirror and it isn't

[Page 1632]

good. We have given away the rights of Nova Scotians and it is not fair. Nothing adds up with this government.

The New England gas purchases apparently are 80 per cent of the total gas produced. Mr. Irving wants 15 per cent and Mr. Mann at Nova Scotia Power wants 17 per cent. That makes over 100 per cent, this is the new math. There are secret documents that Nova Scotia Power's lawyers were concerned about last week that indicated that Nova Scotia wasn't even considered and we aren't getting any gas. I don't know if that is right or it is wrong but a consultant in the gas industry said it is a good possibility. Questions and doubt are around Nova Scotia. I think all that Nova Scotians know for sure is that we didn't get a very good deal.

If this government stays in power, if the deals they have made stay in, this letter that the Halifax Wildlife Association has sent around indicating that the credibility of the government is rock-bottom, they will be saying that about this natural gas deal. Is there even going to be any gas in Nova Scotia?

The President of the pipeline company that owns Maritimes & Northeast, Mr. Michael Phelps, said maybe, maybe not. Is this a Nova Scotian-driven project or a New England-driven project? I am telling you the primary concern of the producers and the transportation companies that this government is dealing with is not Nova Scotia. We are just an inconvenience that was in the way, we are on the route to New England. This is wrong.

If you look at the successful development of oil and natural gas in Alberta, who was first in the mind of the Government of Alberta during the development in the early stages? It wasn't customers in British Columbia, Saskatchewan or the United States, it was the customers that were in Alberta. They said this is a shot to make Alberta a have province and we are going to take it. They had a model and they put forth a model that this government could have adopted and followed. Nova Scotia first.

Gas should not be leaving Nova Scotia until each and every industry that wants it, has it, at a preferential price. This government didn't even know about postage stamp pricing or point-to-point pricing because the day of Mr. Phelps' speech at the World Trade and Convention Centre the Premier was on television on the ATV news indicating that postage stamp pricing was a new term. He indicated at the same time that the company could not be interfered with by telling them where or where not to put laterals because it was a privately financed, non-governmental company.

The ministers and the government members can say whatever they want. They cannot deny what the Premier said a month and one-half ago at the World Trade and Convention Centre, postage stamp pricing was something he wasn't aware of, the laterals will be placed wherever the company wanted to put them because it was private enterprise. Compare that to what the Premier of New Brunswick and the Minister of Natural Resources, Alan Graham,

[Page 1633]

in New Brunswick said, you are not even laying that pipeline through New Brunswick unless we have a preferential price and you service Saint John. Who is going to pay for servicing Saint John?

Last week, the company, Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, submitted the tender documents for the first $2 million environmental study to put the pipeline to Saint John. So who is paying? The users of the pipeline. Who are the users? We are. So not only are they going to have natural gas in Saint John long before we have it in Halifax, we are going to pay for it. Talk about asleep at the switch. I am so annoyed and so frustrated with this government over its handling of natural gas. It is terrible. The model from Alberta was not followed and even the advice of New Brunswick has been disregarded.

Mr. Speaker, I heard a member say NSRL. NSRL, if you would ask the Minister of Natural Resources to table the Canmac study on NSRL, I think that will answer many of the questions of some of the Cabinet colleagues. It would be very helpful if we had people in the government benches that were interested in Nova Scotians first. Put people ahead of politics. Country Harbour could be a booming area. Port Hawkesbury could be the hub of the natural gas industry on the East Coast. But what are we going to get? Thirty-five jobs on the pipeline, some of them in Nova Scotia and some of them in New Brunswick, 300 on the rig and several thousand, probably, when they are building this pipeline, for a couple of years. How many are going to be Nova Scotians?

You can't even compare the documentation that we have put forward compared to Newfoundland's because Newfoundland's documentation is even more stringent, making sure that the only way a project can be connected with their offshore oil industry is if there is not a Newfoundland company that can do the work, then you may go somewhere else. Newfoundland first, last and always. Our government says, look, it is private enterprise; we cannot tell private enterprise what to do. Well, Mr. Speaker, private enterprise is going to tell us what to do. There are a lot of us that need a spokesperson and we are missing it.

Mr. Speaker, the concessions that have been made to Mobil, the back-in rights to 50 per cent of the pipeline. Now the government says, oh, we are not spending money to build a pipeline, it costs too much. Find me a pipeline that isn't showing a profit. The rating agencies, Standard and Poor's and Moody's in New York, have not downgraded one single pipeline company. It is a public utility. It doesn't wash for the government to say we couldn't finance it. People would be lining up down the street to buy shares in the pipeline. The Trans Canada Pipeline is on the stock exchanges. Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline is not doing it for the benefit of their health. They don't plan to lose any money. Mobil isn't hanging around here just because they thought we had a nice climate and it would be a nice place to visit. This is not a non-profit organization.

[Page 1634]

Mr. Speaker, none of the arguments put forth by this government hold water. When the Alberta gas industry was getting started, the Alberta Government took an active leadership role. They didn't say we cannot take an active leadership role because it is private enterprise. The Government of Alberta and Peter Lougheed decided what the ground rules were and they decided that it was Alberta first and the benefits have been paying off for years. As the benefits to Albertans came forward, their government interest in the oil industry has declined. At no cost to Albertans, it paid. Only approval should be given by the National Energy Board for any project if it is of benefit first to Nova Scotians. Our government has decided that we will wait and listen, see what everybody else is saying at the National Energy Board hearings and then we will comment. Yes, they are going to position themselves last. This is the first government I ever heard tell of that says being last is best.

[11:45 a.m.]

It is not right. Nova Scotians deserve better and what are they getting? They are getting worse. I do not know how to put it any more plainly than that. There are three principles that have to be looked at. If these principles can be adhered to, then this gas deal is a good one. The supply to Nova Scotians in the quantities they want - nowhere can you find that. A price for Nova Scotia that is lower than anybody else on the pipeline. Laterals so that all parts of Nova Scotia are able to have cheap, abundant supplies of natural gas. There is no thought to laterals. No thought at all by this government on if there would be any laterals to Halifax and Bridgewater and Kentville and Sydney.

Mr. Speaker, what is the government thinking about with regard to natural gas and coal miners? There were 2,400 jobs in the coal mines of Cape Breton. I have not heard the government say one single thing. The coal miners in Cape Breton could really get it twice. First, if natural gas replaces coal for generating electricity, that means they are out of business. Number two, all the gas is going to be exported to New England so there is no opportunity for more jobs. So not only is this government going to be trying to put the coal miners out of business, they are not offering them any jobs either. There is no, none, nothing.

There is no suggestion by the Premier or his government that there will be any natural gas in Cape Breton, Port Hawkesbury, Sydney, New Glasgow, Truro. What is going on here? Why has Nova Scotia been forgotten? The government is not showing leadership. Sure, the government can sponsor fancy booklets. I mean, here is a fancy one. Ocean Resources. They have got the minister standing in the middle, see? Very nice picture of the minister. Very nice outfit she is wearing, too. She looks great, smiling and grinning. I mean, this is a great piece of campaign stuff.

How much did the Government of Nova Scotia pay for this? How much thought did the government put into this? The Government of Nova Scotia put more thought into this picture and this publication than they did for Nova Scotians in this natural gas industry. Nova

[Page 1635]

Scotians have been the forgotten people of this government and this natural gas industry. Time and again . . .

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I have been sitting here trying to remain calm while the member opposite has restated a number of unfounded facts that have been corrected time and time again in the House. The one thing he has just stated is absolutely not true. The Government of Nova Scotia did not pay anything extra for coverage in the publication Ocean Resources at all. That has been printed. If there is any advertisement in there, we paid for that because we support the program that is here before Nova Scotia. That has been published on behalf of this province because we as a government and the publishers of that document believe in Nova Scotia and believe what is happening here in Nova Scotia is in the best interests of this province and for the future of this province. It is time that member understood that and took a lesson from that publication and understood exactly what is happening here in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Clarification is made.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much and I appreciate the interjection of the minister. I am very pleased that the government didn't fund this publication, I am relieved. I thought that probably they must have funded it but I am glad to hear they didn't.

If the government and that minister were half as interested in defending the rights of Nova Scotians with regard to natural gas, I would be a lot happier. You saw how quickly she can stand up and defend herself. Why wasn't she defending Nova Scotia when we needed laterals, when we needed a royalty agreement that was in favour of Nova Scotians and not Mobil Oil? Why was it that the royalty agreement was scrutinized by oil experts after it was signed? Why was it that the deal they signed with Mobil Oil was scrutinized after it was signed? Time and again we ask the questions. Why was the management of Nova Scotia Resources Limited all fired at a cost of over $1 million to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia? (Interruption) I don't know why you fired them all.

You fired them, they went to court and you had to pay one of them $0.5 million and two others $200,000 apiece. I don't know why they were fired. They did a job study by one of the accounting firms in Halifax and I saw a copy of it and it said they were doing a fine job managing the company. I don't know why they were fired. Obviously, they shouldn't have been fired or the government wouldn't have had to pay $1 million. It is just plain, common sense. If you had grounds to fire you don't have to pay severance.

The government has not handled natural gas very well at all. The people of Nova Scotia know that they have been let down, they know that this government was not interested in making sure that Nova Scotians got the best deal. They know that Nova Scotians have no guarantee of supply but they also know that Mobil Oil and Northeast Pipelines have done a

[Page 1636]

very good job looking after their shareholders but the government has not looked after its shareholders.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, to follow up where the honourable member for Kings North left off, I want say that we need really effective consultation to determine an appropriate structure relative to the Gas Distribution Act.

Again, I ask the Minister of Natural Resources why there are no provisions in place relative to the whole Sable gas project to support Nova Scotian jobs? I am talking about the job opportunities and it is causing members of the Nova Scotia Construction Trade Industry a lot of grief. They have said, categorically and the Minister of Natural Resources has not denied this, they were never contacted before the agreement was signed and that is very hard to believe.

The Mainland Building Trades Council was not contacted, the Cape Breton Building Trades Council was not contacted but yet we have a Gas Distribution Act here that has been crafted in such a way that for Pete's sake, the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, for example, which has some concerns, their concerns have not been addressed. There are a number of areas where the Minister of Natural Resources has short-changed Nova Scotians regarding this Gas Distribution Act.

In Question Period on Thursday I raised the concern that an offshore services contract, the Sable Offshore Energy Project proponents awarded an $850,000 contract to a company from Great Britain, the United Kingdom. With an option, without going to bid, that same company can acquire a $70 million contract. Again, the concerns that we are raising regarding job opportunities and economic benefits for Nova Scotians is very important. So we have a gas distribution bill here that has been crafted and introduced and run through this House without the necessary consultation, Mr. Speaker. So, again I want to say to the minister, in any future negotiations, start talking to Nova Scotia companies, Nova Scotia construction people, and ensure that there are some jobs for Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak briefly about Bill No. 6, An Act Respecting the Delivery and Sale of Natural Gas in the Province. There has been a lot of discussion - although probably not yet enough - a fair bit of discussion about the concerns that the Opposition members have and that Nova Scotians have and that we are trying to express around what hasn't been explored yet and the sense that this bill is, indeed, premature.

[Page 1637]

It seems to me that there are two categories of concern about what is not dealt with in the bill. One of them is, Mr. Speaker, that there is a great deal that we don't know, and there has been discussion about that, and the other concern is that what we do know doesn't look awfully good for Nova Scotians. Those concerns have been raised and I am not going to spend a lot of time on them. We have heard concerns about access; we have heard concerns about supply; we have heard concerns about pricing; we have heard concerns about the environment and safety; and these are concerns that I don't think have had nearly enough of an airing in this place. We have heard concerns about Cape Breton and not just on the jobs front, but in relation to whether it will be able to play any role in the offshore. We have heard and we have said that somebody has to look at the big picture here. What is it that Nova Scotians will get down the pipe? That is what a lot of the discussion has centred on in this House, it has been around those very crucial and important issues.

I want to say something about what the bill actually does say, because I think, Mr. Speaker, that it has been said, but I am not sure it has been said loudly and clearly, so I want to address something that is in the bill that I think is profoundly erroneous and terribly wrong that will perpetuate both the notion and the reality in this province that not everything is as fair as it should be. If you look at the bill itself, the purpose of the bill, Clause 2, it says "provide a framework for the orderly development and operation of a gas delivery system in the Province;" - that is (a) - and "(b) allow for fair competition in the sale of gas for consumption in the Province.". The bill goes on to outline the process for the granting of franchises and the delivery of natural gas in the province.

This bill, Mr. Speaker, makes it perfectly clear that, once again, enshrined in legislation - should this bill pass - are roadblocks and prevention for people in this province to have a fair and open process in the granting of franchises. In other words, there is no way in this legislation that what goes on can be seen to be fair by the people of Nova Scotia. There was some discussion here about a particular clause which said that the Utility and Review Board could, might, may, if it felt like it, if the weather was good, have a public hearing.

[12:00 p.m.]

Well, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that if we are talking about legislation that affects Nova Scotians as widely, deeply and profoundly as a massive gas find and the potential for a gas industry here - and this has been said by both Opposition Parties, my colleagues in the New Democratic Party and members of the other Opposition Party - if, in fact, this is so significant and if, in fact, this is of such great concern and, indeed, of such great urgency to Nova Scotians, why in the name of Heaven will we leave it up to the review board to see on any given day or at any given time, whether they would choose to have public hearings when they receive an application for a franchise? This seems to me to just perpetuate the old political culture of this province, the climate of the past that still lives in the political culture of this province, that says you know people are voters and citizens but we will only go so far with letting them know what is really going on in this province.

[Page 1638]

Mr. Speaker, that notion is perpetuated and, in fact, enshrined in the legislation under another clause, Clause 83, where, after all the work that the Utility and Review Board does and which is carefully outlined in this legislation around the granting of franchises - when it is all done what happens? It goes behind closed doors yet again and the granting of a franchise by the board goes to the Governor in Council.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I thought that in this province we had grown up and gotten past this stuff. I thought that the people of Nova Scotia had made it pretty darn clear to recent governments in this province that the time had come on a matter of major public interest that concerns every single person in this province that we would find the backbone, that the government would find the backbone to say to the people of this province, yes, you have a stake in this; yes, you will have your say in this; yes, the process will be public; and yes, when the Utility and Review Board makes the decision, we won't scurry off into a dark corner and start undoing what it has done.

It seems that this premature, backroom legislation is legislation that should not be passed and I am quite firmly convinced that it should not be passed at this time. It is too early. How will Nova Scotians know? The fact that it is being passed prematurely, Mr. Speaker, is perfectly in keeping with the nature of the legislation itself because by hustling it through in time for a fall election, getting it on the books, the government can say well, you know we have put this thing in place and we are ready to go.

In fact, by hustling it through early, there is a major, open public question about what it all means, what is going to happen, how it is going to happen, who is going to profit, who is going to benefit and what is the whole picture. What will the gas industry look like for every single participant and consumer in this province? We don't know that, Mr. Speaker.

On top of that, to add insult to injury, if you like, what we have here is a bill that, as I said, comes in too early, puts a deadline that is not real and then says in the bill, well, you know we might let the public discuss it a little bit ourselves and we will let the Utility and Review Board make some decisions, but if we don't like them - and that is the potential that is in this bill, Mr. Speaker. The potential is there to say well, what if it doesn't please the government of the day?

Here we have legislation which is too soon and has the same flaws as the omissions. If you like the sins of commission in the bill are perfect partners, Mr. Speaker, with the sins of omission that the government has committed in hustling along and not waiting for the proper time and place and the proper processes to evolve so that Nova Scotians, before they get into this massive and major undertaking in the Province of Nova Scotia, that they have a real and genuine understanding of the role, not just of the profit-making companies, but of every single person in the province, whether it be a landowner on whose land the pipe has gone through, whether it be an oceanographer who has grave concerns about the species of whale in The Gully, whether it be people who are deeply concerned about environmental illness, and who

[Page 1639]

wonder whether all the news that is fit to print about natural gas is that it is truly safe fuel for people's health, also for the municipalities whose infrastructures will be altered in the pursuit of a consumer gas industry here, also the big players, and on and on.

I speak strongly and openly against this bill and would strongly urge members of this House to do likewise and to vote in opposition to this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Thank you for an opportunity to say a few words about the Gas Distribution Act on third reading. We have had considerable opportunity in days previous to make comment on this bill, but despite major efforts to convince the government that this was not the best form for this bill to go forward, it is before us again today. The government seems determined to rush forward with this particular piece of legislation despite increasing evidence that the bill itself is flawed. As previous speakers have pointed out, a fall passage of a gas distribution bill would in no way hamper the development of the offshore, particularly when the decision to go forward will not even be made until September.

The whole issue is whether or not this particular piece of legislation is part and parcel of a process that provides Nova Scotians with the lowest price of gas available from the Sable offshore and whether or not in fact we have an adequate supply, both beginning and later on. The difficulty that all of us have with the arrangements the government seems to have made and continues to make is that we in Nova Scotia may be the last to gas up. It is obvious that there is a commitment that a big percentage of our gas will go up to New England; they are going to gas up first. A very aggressive stand has been taken by the Government of New Brunswick and they are obviously going to gas up next. I hope there is going to be a little bit left over for Nova Scotia because we have taken a very soft position relative to New Brunswick.

It is interesting. I understand it is going to cost us 59 cents per million cubic feet to get the gas transported in the pipe. That seems to be a pretty heavy price, particularly for those who are going to be tapping in a relatively few miles from Country Harbour. I cannot for one understand why it is you have to pay 59 cents to tap in in Guysborough when it only costs you 59 cents to tap in in Saint Stephen, New Brunswick. It just boggles the mind that that is the kind of arrangement that this government has allowed Maritimes & Northeast to put before the people of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and New England. It makes absolutely no sense and it is because of the soft position that the government has taken on all this from day one.

Now it looks as if we have not been able to negotiate a preferential price. Have we been able to guarantee that the Gas Distribution Act will actually be a vehicle to take gas and bring it our way, or in fact is the gas committed elsewhere? Well, there is no commitment for a lateral to Cape Breton. There is no commitment for a lateral to Halifax. But, by golly, there

[Page 1640]

is a commitment by the New Brunswick Government that the gas will not cross New Brunswick without a lateral to Saint John. The way it is set up right now, that lateral is going to be paid for Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline out of our 59 cents. So if the gas is coming off in Guysborough and they are paying 59 cents, or it is coming off in Antigonish County or coming off in Pictou County and they are paying 59 cents, I don't think they are going to get a lot of comfort in realizing that their 59 cents is providing that lateral that is going to Saint John, New Brunswick. That is going to be little comfort.

Why is it important that we develop our gas properly? Well, goodness knows our economy needs a shot in the arm; goodness knows, we need the cheapest gas possible. What is happening to our economy? It is interesting and I will just, perhaps, give you a few recent figures. The ink on this is barely dry, Madam Speaker, because this is what is happening to our economy. These figures were released this morning. The unemployment rate in this province in April increased 0.5 per cent since last month. There are 6,000 fewer people employed in Nova Scotia this month than were employed last month. The interesting thing is, in New Brunswick, there are 7,000 more people employed than were employed last month. So there are 6,000 fewer people employed in Nova Scotia this month than there was last month.

AN HON. MEMBER: Table it.

DR. HAMM: I will table it because it came right from the Department of Finance this morning. You should have a copy. I will be pleased to table it.

Where does that leave us? It looks like the blended sales tax has kicked in early. It didn't take long to put people out of work. Here is another little article about what is happening to our economy. "Red hot housing boom cools off in Nova Scotia.". The housing starts in Nova Scotia in April were down 46 per cent from the month before. It looks like the blended sales tax is having the predictable effect on construction in this province. That is very interesting. We have one negative influence on our economy and that is the blended sales tax and the government has touted this as being a great economic generator. So that is what makes it so important that we get the gas right. We didn't get the tax right but let's get the gas right.

The important thing is that the distribution of gas in Nova Scotia must be done as reasonably as possible. As we all know, this is going to be controlled by the Utility and Review Board, or some other independent board who will set the rate. The lower the costs of the distribution, the lower the rate will be, because they will recapture their costs and they will also get what the independent body, presumably the URB, determines as a fair profit.

Does this bill allow or encourage, perhaps, a crack at a province-wide distribution utility? If that could be proven to be the most economical way to distribute the gas, then that is the way we should go. We didn't do that in cable television and a lot of small cable

[Page 1641]

television companies sprang up in communities and then a system of absorption of the little companies by the bigger companies started to occur. We are going to end up with one or two cable companies across the entire province. That is what is going to end up. It will be easier to control and I hope we are going to get better rates because I am very concerned that it seems that every time we turn around, we get an increase in cable rates.

The way that this thing is going to unfold is very important. It was interesting that it was rushed through the House so quickly to conform with the Liberal political agenda that many organizations that, I think, had very well thought out positions to bring forward and I refer now to the Halifax Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, they actually missed the Law Amendments Committee because they could not get their response ready in time. They had not been pre-warned.

[12:15 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: They didn't have time.

DR. HAMM: They didn't have time, that is right, and had no time to get their response in. I, for one, have been somewhat influenced in my thinking by their presentation. I think it is well thought out and I think there is food for thought there and I just wish the minister would nibble on it. Again, that is the kind of difficulty when you try to rush things through the Legislature without allowing as many people and organizations to make their observations known.

There are very few things in life that can't be made a little bit better and certainly this legislation falls in that category. In fact, it is one of those that could probably be made a whole lot better if we had a little time to work on it.

The other point I think to be made about this legislation is the fact that it makes the Cabinet the ultimate decision-making body as to who gets the distribution rights. It opens the door to the political arm of government making a business decision, which clearly would be addressed more fairly by a non-political body. The Cabinet is not obliged to take the recommendation of the URB or anyone else as to who will get the distribution rights.

This is a very lucrative situation, possibility, prospect for any company that is interested in getting into the utility business. Already there are companies and amalgamations of companies that are showing interest, but should that decision be made by the Cabinet? The last time I looked, the Cabinet was quite political and Cabinets will always be quite political. (Interruptions) Well, yes, I think this Cabinet is political and I think the Cabinet before 1993 was quite political, too.

[Page 1642]

The only way you can protect yourself or government can protect the people from political decisions is setting up a process that eliminates the political arm of government making the decision. There are lots of decisions that should be made by other than the political side of government, an arm's length decision, and a business decision is clearly one of those. Why should Cabinet have the pressure of saying, well look, there are two groups after this and, my goodness, let's say the decision comes before this Cabinet while it still exists and say well look, here is a presentation and, my goodness, they have a Liberal lawyer and they have nine Liberals on the board of directors of this company and so on and they are pretty good fellows. How can they make an objective decision with those kinds of pressures coming to bear in the Cabinet Room? Of course they shouldn't be making that kind of a decision; the decision should be made by an independent body and it should be based entirely on the business strengths or weaknesses of the presentation and that decision simply goes to Cabinet for ratification - not for decision, for ratification.

This is a very important piece of legislation and clearly it is not one that has to be passed by this sitting of the House, it can be delayed. The last time I drove out into Lorne, and the pipeline is going out across Pictou County, very near my home in Lorne, the last time I was out there, it wasn't more than a couple of weeks ago, there was no sign of the pipe so I don't think we have to worry about having this Gas Distribution Act passed today. (Interruptions) Well, there is always a lot of hot air in Pictou County.

Mr. Speaker, I think the point here is that the bill is flawed, it is not the best bill that could be before us on this particular issue. There is no haste to pass this particular piece of legislation, we have lots of time. The decision for the Sable Offshore Energy Project to go ahead hasn't even been made yet and it won't be made until September. In fact, the National Energy Board have not given anyone any clearance so the whole thing is up in the air and will be back here in the fall one way or the other. Let's take the summer to think about this particular piece of legislation and let's come back with a better one in the fall. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to have my final go at the government on this bill. As I begin I have to say that I firmly believe in my heart of hearts that the bill that is before us is more about politics and trying to cover the backside of the government for its failure to protect Nova Scotia interests in the whole gas development project than anything else. It is a shell game, this is smoke and mirrors. The legislation that is before us is intended so that the government, whoever the new titan happens to be after July, can run out on the hustings and pretend that our future is here.

We had a Liberal Premier standing up holding a little vial of oil back in the 1970's, this time obviously the new Premier hopes to hold up a baggie full of gas and try to tell Nova Scotians that our future is here. Unfortunately, it appears that Nova Scotians have been sold

[Page 1643]

out and that our best interests have been given away in the name of the very shortsighted, narrow political agenda of this government.

This gas is our gas collectively, that belongs to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. I don't always agree with the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, but they are a body that is generally accepted and recognized as being pro-business interests. They are a body that is in support of developing the Nova Scotia offshore gas. They are also a body that is very much concerned about creating jobs and employment in the Province of Nova Scotia. Yet, that very same body that this government likes to tout all of the time and whenever there is an address of the union, whenever there is to be the statement about how this province is supposedly doing in terms of our financial measures, the Premier and/or the Minister of Finance trot on down to hold a press conference and to speak at a dinner to tell them what a wonderful job they are doing.

The Metro Chamber of Commerce has written to this House through the Minister of Justice in his capacity of Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee to make a number of points. One of them was that they didn't have time, that this bill was introduced too quickly for them to have the opportunity to appear before the Law Amendments Committee to make the presentation because it was rushed through so quickly. They have more resources than most individuals and small organizations and even the Chamber did not have the time because of the rushed timetable of this government.

Secondly, this body which supports business said, and I have repeated this enough times that I don't even need to look at the document to quote it, that the bill was proceeding through with undue haste. They, the business community, pointed out quite correctly that there was absolutely no need for this legislation to be brought before the floor of this House now, there is plenty of time. This body which is in support of business certainly would not be making that suggestion if they felt that it was going to be harmful to their members and to businesses in this province.

The government has another agenda in mind, they know that we are now about to enter the fifth year of their mandate and they know that they have a date coming up within a year, probably within four to six months. They have a date with the electorate and they have failed so dismally in all of their commitments that they have to pretend that, lo and behold, we have accomplished something, our future is here, we have secured your future because we have got gas. What they have got is a lot of hot air coming from the government benches and it appears very definitely as if what they are doing is selling out.

There are 1,000 more Nova Scotians unemployed now than there were when the Liberals came to power in 1993. Instead of creating employment, instead of tackling the unemployment problem as was promised, 1,000 more Nova Scotians are out of work now; 6,000 jobs lost last month alone, from March to April. It is a lovely record. They can't run on their employment record, so here they have to try to run on something else. It is a dismal

[Page 1644]

record. We are told that this is going to be creating all these jobs, such a massive project, $3 billion worth of investment. What they don't tell you is where. Any suggestion that that project is going to see $3 billion spent in Nova Scotia is hogwash.

We know that in the commitment, in the agreement that the government signed, they have not gotten from the companies, firm commitments about the number of employees, people in this province, who will be hired; nor, Mr. Speaker, has the government admitted what they have signed. No commitments in jobs. In fact, the majority of the products, like the manufacturing of the pipes and many of those other things, are being manufactured elsewhere, offshore and imported. So much of this $3 billion, and it may be $3 billion that is spent, the people in other countries around this world are saying, thank you very much to the Liberal front benches for our exporting of jobs, so that they can come in and have the pipes laid to export our gas to the New England markets, along with our jobs.

Again, there was no fair tax commission established as was promised, and we are told that this is going to be providing tremendous new revenues to the Province of Nova Scotia, yet the royalty agreement that has been entered into is a pittance compared to what others receive for their resources.

THE PREMIER: Baloney.

MR. HOLM: Well, the Premier says it is baloney. I would like to ask the Premier then to table the comparisons of the rates of royalties that are paid to the provinces in places like Alberta and Nova Scotia, in terms of what we are going to get. Mr. Speaker, anytime somebody raises questions, they say go on down the road, go down to the joint panel and listen to the information that is being provided. We positioned ourselves strategically. We positioned ourselves at the tail-end, we are going to be the last presenter so that we can make our arguments last.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia once was in the driver's seat. We didn't have to be last; we could have been first.

AN HON. MEMBER: We still are.

MR. HOLM: Oh, well, I am told we still are. There has been no cost-benefit analysis, social or economic, done in terms of this project; none. (Interruption) The Premier would like to interrupt me? I would be happy to let the Premier interrupt me, so long as I am not losing my spot on the floor.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I was so prompted by his remarks that I thought we would look at the offshore oil and gas projects that we would like to table, indicating that the Nova Scotia project, SOEP, is ahead of all the other countries, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the Gulf of Mexico, Australia, Newfoundland generic, head of Cohassat, behind in

[Page 1645]

Holland because of the enormous reserves that Holland has and, particularly, for Norway. Since this is not our information, we would like to table it so that those before might have a few facts to look at when they throw them across.

MR. SPEAKER: The information is tabled.

MR. HOLM: I thank the Premier for that and I will welcome seeing that. I don't know which oil company produced it or which public relations firm, I don't know where it came from, so I can't comment on that document that I haven't seen yet. But I will say this, Mr. Speaker, I suggest the Premier take a comparison at what the kind of rates are paid at the well-head, where you are getting your royalties upfront in places like Alberta versus what we are going to be doing here in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, as bad as all that is, and you know I am sure that if you were to take a look back, waltz down memory lane, do an investigation of history, the Churchill Falls project, this great project for Newfoundland, was supposed to be the long-term salvation for that province. It did meet short-term political agendas but you see the kinds of problems that are now resulting for the people of that province because the proper research and thought had not gone into it.

[12:30 p.m.]

What people have a legitimate right to ask is, are we entering into one of these arrangements, especially considering that we haven't yet even had a socio-economic cost-benefit analysis performed, nor are we going to because that is not within the jurisdiction of the joint panel. Yet we are told when you have questions, go on down the road to the joint panel. The government had the ability upfront to have insisted and to have performed that, to ensure that Nova Scotia's interests were being protected.

We are told that whenever people raise questions about the rates and the charges for the cost of the gas to Nova Scotians, I can see that yes, indeed, the government is on the correct side when it is saying that it wants point-to-point charges instead of the postage stamp rate which is being proposed by the pipeline companies. Yes, indeed, that is the correct position. In fact, the very same company that wants to export our gas to the United States opposed the postage stamp rate out west. Yet here in Nova Scotia, for some reason or other, they now want to discriminate against us and to bring that kind of policy in here, but the government is on the right side on that. The only problem is, you are too late, you didn't get the guarantees upfront.

Before we were to agree or would give any agreement that our resource could be developed, we had to ensure that Nova Scotians - not people in the Boston market, not even our good friends in New Brunswick have preferential treatment over us. The preferential treatment in terms of pricing must and should remain for Nova Scotians, so that we can create

[Page 1646]

jobs here, not export them - 6,000 jobs lost last month. That is 6,000 families that have one less person employed. That is a tremendous cost not only to those families but to the entire economy of Nova Scotia.

Surely to Heavens the government could have - and they have not given any explanation as to why they have not - said that if you are going to develop Nova Scotians' gas, that gas belongs in part to you, Mr. Speaker, to myself, to all members of this House, but, more importantly, it belongs to all the residents of this province; those who are here now and we are holding it in trust for our children and our grandchildren and generations yet to some.

It is a massive reserve. What we had to do and what a responsible government would have done is to ensure that Nova Scotians would have preferential treatment and that we would have been able to receive the gas here, at a lower price, so that our businesses would be more competitive against those in other areas. That would have attracted more industries and businesses here and that would have meant people in this province would get back to work.

It appears that the government is more interested in being able to hold up that little baggie full of gas before the next election, promising that our future is here, than doing the responsible thing and getting those commitments upfront. If we have to pay a postage stamp rate that will mean that the people in New Brunswick will be paying the same price as people in Nova Scotia. That is wrong, it is our gas, it is for the development of our industries and our economy here in this province and Nova Scotians should have preferential treatment.

In addition, we have no guarantees about supply. This gas is not being developed by Mobil or Shell or the pipeline companies out of the goodness of their hearts. They do not have this social conscience that says we have to try to do something to improve the quality of life and the economic situation of the people in the Province of Nova Scotia. They are in for a profit. That is to be expected and they are not to be faulted for that. That is their job. They are in business. They have to respond to their shareholders. That is their business. That is who they are responsible to. They do not answer to the people of this province. They do not go out and sign contracts as such with every individual Nova Scotian and they are not accountable to us at ballot boxes. They are responsible to their shareholders and those shareholders want and expect to get the greatest amount of profit that they can in return for their investment. That is what they want and I do not criticize them for that.

What you have to have is a balance. You have to be sure that somebody then is looking after Nova Scotians' interests and that you bargain long, if necessary, but you bargain hard. This government appears to have abandoned all of that.

[Page 1647]

In terms of franchises, again in the legislation there is no requirement even for public hearings as franchises are being granted. No guarantees that any kind of public hearings will even be held. So they can get them without a public hearing to distribute our gas, not Liberal gas, but Nova Scotians' gas. Tremendous reserves of our gas worth billions and billions of dollars. No public hearings. The body that is going to be responsible for granting those franchises is having its independence greatly limited by this legislation because Cabinet can impose, the political body, the red team if they happen to be still there after the next election which I doubt, the red team will be able to impose whatever terms and conditions they want as to who can get those licences and so they can structure their requirements so that whoever they particularly want will get that licence.

If the URB should happen to decide that they do not like the red team's recommendations and they send it in, as the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism correctly says the bunker squad, in other words the front benches, do not have to accept the regulations or the recommendations anyway. We can make in private, in secret, without there having been any public process at all in terms of public hearings. We can make our own political decisions.

Gas is very important for us. The province has the potential to make tremendous strides forward. Potential, but the scary thing is that based on everything that we have seen from the government they have not been exercising due diligence. They have not been exercising their responsibility. I really wish I could say I had confidence that Nova Scotia's government was looking after our best interests but when they haven't done any kind of analysis, when they haven't got guarantees of jobs, or pricing, or even a supply, Nova Scotians could see the vast majority of that gas being trucked on by down through those pipelines, passing through without . . .

HON. RICHARD MANN: Will the honourable member take a question, Mr. Speaker? We have heard about moving the gas in brown paper bags but now we hear about trucking it through the pipeline. I wonder if we could get some clarification of trucking through the pipeline?

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism is taking the issue of Nova Scotia's future so seriously. I won't occupy the important time of the House at this time to go in and talk about metaphors but I will if he would like, I will get him a book on grammar rules and I will explain to him what the metaphor means. To put it simply when you say trucking on along as a metaphor what it means is the stuff keeps on a-flowing rapidly. I wasn't imagining that there were going to be a whole bunch of little trucks running down through the pipeline, I want to assure the minister. However, I would say this, that there are so many loopholes in this legislation that you could drive a fleet of trucks, side by side, through the holes. Certainly, the government has made sure that those loopholes are so big that any fleet of political patronage trucks that

[Page 1648]

it wants to ensure that their friends get it, they indeed have made sure that those holes exist because they never know when they are going to want to try to reward somebody.

This legislation is grossly premature, it is arrogance in the extreme to be passing this legislation now even before the joint panel, which has very limited restrictive authorities, has concluded their deliberations. This legislation is before this House now for one reason and one principal reason only and that is that they expect to be going to the electorate sometime before the fall, sometime before this legislation is necessary. And like a few other pieces of window dressing or some kind of pretenses they have introduced this bill so that they can pretend that we have been successful in certain areas and try to deflect away from themselves the criticism for their destruction of the health care system, the under-funding of education, the devastation of the economy and the fact that we have 6,000 more people out of work or jobs disappearing and 1,000 more out of work than when they assumed office and a completely unfair taxation system that they only worked to make even more unfair. They are trying to find something so that they can pretend that they have had at least a bit of success during their mandate. Nova Scotians won't be taken in by their hot air on the gas bill.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak for a few moments at third reading of this important bill, the Gas Distribution Act. I do so because I want to make it clear why I, in fact, am opposed to this piece of legislation.

Over the past four or five weeks now that we have been discussing this particular issue, we have talked a lot about timing. We talked about why the government is coming forward with a plan of how to distribute natural gas in the Province of Nova Scotia when the decision to even bring gas onshore won't be made until sometime next fall. If it is in the affirmative, the project will not result in gas actually coming ashore sometime in late 1999. We have asked the question, why is the government rushing through with this particular piece of legislation at this time?

[12:45 p.m.]

My colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, just suggested that it is because they want to bring it in before the fall election. I might suggest that they want, for whatever reason, to bring it in before their fall at the hands of the electorate of Nova Scotia because of all of the problems that they have caused in the economy and the delivery of public programs in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The other interesting thing that has been going on while we have been debating this issue of timing and the other merits of the Gas Distribution Act is the fact that the NEB hearings have been going on, first here in Halifax and then in Fredericton, and we have been finding out daily, there has been more information coming out every day, that adds questions

[Page 1649]

that need answers in terms of what the government's position is and why we are heading headlong down this route without having been given some answers to these important questions. Of course, things like guarantees. What does this government know about the impact this project is going to have on jobs? We have heard them talk about how hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs are going to be created in the Province of Nova Scotia as the result of the development of natural gas. Have they taken into consideration, as one consultant hired by an intervener took into account, the impact that this will have on the coal industry in Cape Breton? The suggestion by that consultant was that the net effect would be a loss of jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia, simply taking into consideration the impact that natural gas development would have on the coal industry.

Many of us in the Opposition have raised questions about why the government didn't get guarantees on jobs, guarantees on the percentage of Nova Scotia content that would go into the development of this project if, in fact, it goes ahead. Why, in exchange for the rights to access this gas, to develop the gas, did this government not get some commitments from the project proponents on job creation in the Province of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker? That has been a question that this government has failed to answer.

The whole issue of the tariff structure, of tolls, is another question that has been raised and we have failed to get any answers. The government talks now about how they, in fact, want to go with a point to point strategy. So, in other words, it will be cheaper here in Nova Scotia to purchase that natural gas than it will be in the United States or New Brunswick. Then we get information from the interveners, in fact from the proponents themselves, that raises serious questions about whether we are going to even have any natural gas left over once we send it all down to the United States, because that is who is first in line for this gas. Will there be any left to distribute here in Nova Scotia, in terms of the amount that can be pumped out through that pipe? That is a concern. It should be a serious concern. Therefore, if that happens, we will, of course, be sending possibly a cheaper source of energy down to the New England States to fuel the operations of pulp mills, for example, who will then be in a position to compete more favourably with Nova Scotia firms and putting them at a competitive disadvantage, which may end up meaning jobs will be lost.

The question is, why have some of those issues not been resolved? Why did the government not get some commitments from the proponents before they locked themselves into a royalty agreement, Madam Speaker? That, in fact, did not happen and that raises some concern.

The back-in provision, in other words, the opportunity that this government had to be a partner in the transmission of natural gas through the pipeline, the government gave up that back-in provision. Some suggest that it would have been worth some considerable millions of dollars annually to the Province of Nova Scotia had they, in fact, invested in that back-in provision. Some people have also suggested that they gave away the back-in provision when, in fact, it had value, that it could have been transferred to someone else and, therefore, some

[Page 1650]

value could have been reached for and on behalf of Nova Scotians. That wasn't done, and we have certainly not heard sufficient explanation as to why that was not done, Madam Speaker.

The whole issue of distribution, when we talked to the proponents they told us there is some question as to whether or not there is going to be any gas left, given the commitments that have already been made to U.S. buyers. There is some question as to whether, in fact, there will be anything left, certainly within the next four or five years, for Nova Scotian industries and possibly Nova Scotian consumers. So the question there is, on what basis are we establishing these franchises for distribution around the Province of Nova Scotia?

Some (Interruption) I am getting some help from the member for Cape Breton North and it took me a bit by surprise because you may know, as other members do, that the member for Kings North used to sit just over here beside us and we used to converse on a fairly regular basis. Now he is over there, on the front benches, and we have less contact. So it took me by surprise when I heard those words of wisdom coming so closely to my right; it distracted me somewhat.

Let me get back on track here. The question of distribution. How the franchises are going to be distributed throughout the Province of Nova Scotia is something that we don't feel has been adequately addressed in this bill, and the question of whether natural gas is going to go to Cape Breton. You know, and members of this House will know, that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality was so concerned about some of the information that was coming out of the hearings with respect to the impact on Cape Breton, both in terms of jobs and the replacement of jobs in the coal industry, but also whether or not, if natural gas was going to be distributed, whether it was going to go to Cape Breton, that they came in late but they came in as an intervener, to try to get the answers to some of those questions. So some of those issues remain to be dealt with and that is why, again, it seems premature to be dealing with this bill.

There is a fairly structured and rigorous process in here for the URB to hear applications and to make decisions on the allocation of franchises on the basis of various criteria, but once that is all done, then the decision will be going to Cabinet for them to make - or then recommendations I guess will be going from the URB to Cabinet - for them to be making a decision outside of the public arena. We think that is unnecessary; we think that is over-politicizing this process and this issue and we have recommended that that be dropped and we have introduced amendments to do that very thing, amendments that were not accepted by this government.

The government has an opportunity when they make appointments to the URB to get people that they trust and have faith in, and people who will do what this government hopes they will do. They should leave it at that and leave the decision to the professional credibility and wisdom of those people, instead of them needing to involve themselves in what clearly

[Page 1651]

is being motivated by politics to make the final decision. So we are certainly opposed on those grounds as well.

During this process and during the NEB hearings we have been hearing more and more every day about the environmental hazards of natural gas. There has been a fair amount of information, much of it tabled here in this House, about the dangers to people from exposure to natural gas. Studies that have been done indicating the impact this could have on the health of people, in particular people who are already chemically sensitive but also to other people, making them chemically sensitive.

The question that has been raised with us and it is a question that I think we have raised in this House before and would ask the government to consider once again is that having been given the information, having had the studies laid on the table in this House, having heard presentations from people in Law Amendments Committee that in fact natural gas can be a hazard to the health of Nova Scotians and going ahead anyway without taking into consideration that danger, is the government setting itself up for liability if down the road further evidence is presented and in fact the courts decide that the government is liable for knowingly proceeding with the introduction of a hazardous element to the environment of many Nova Scotians?

We are seeing that now as we speak in the whole issue of tobacco in the United States in particular, where tobacco companies are being held liable for the illness and death of Americans because the information, the evidence is increasingly coming to bear that they knowingly sold and encouraged to be sold products that were clearly hazardous to people's health. In fact, endangered their very lives. Therefore they have been held responsible.

I say to this government that they should not ignore the concerns that have been raised in this respect in terms of the whole question of environmental health and the hazards of natural gas.

As I conclude my remarks, let me say once again that I believe this particular piece of legislation is being introduced at a time when we know far too little about this project. We know far too little about the agreements that have been reached already. We know far too little about what is going to happen if in fact natural gas does come onshore. Now is not the time to be making decisions that will be laid down in law. Now is in fact the time for us to step back and to reflect on some of these decisions.

I would urge once again members of this government to in fact consider this decision to approve this bill. I for one and I believe my caucus colleagues agree that we will be voting against the legislation. We believe that it is not required. There are far too many questions that need to be answered. It is a faulty piece of legislation in aspects with respect to distribution and aspects with respect to giving over the final decision to the Cabinet and therefore I would recommend all members vote against this bill.

[Page 1652]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: I would not have gotten to my feet to speak on this bill, except for the fact that the Premier got to his feet and produced a piece of paper that evidently he thought was of great import to this particular debate that we are having on Bill No. 6. I do not know where he got this from, although I noticed that in the bottom right hand corner it says "Source: Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources 1997". I presume that is where it came from.

AN HON. MEMBER: He said it wasn't their figures.

MR. RUSSELL: That is exactly the point. He said that these are not our figures, take it from whoever. Well, whoever turns out to be the Department of Natural Resources. It has a great catchy title. It is called Government Take Comparison. Now that surely must be some kind of new English. It sounds like pidgin English, the kind of English they speak in some parts of the South Pacific, Government Take Comparison, Offshore Oil and Gas Projects - Percentage of Net Cash Flow. I presume that this is supposed to show that Nova Scotia has got a good deal. If you are going to produce that kind of paper at least you would think you would produce something that would show that you were getting a good deal.

[1:00 p.m.]

I look at this document and quite frankly, it is pretty difficult to understand but even looking at it we have got a pretty slim, little chunk up there at 60 per cent and I notice that Holland and Norway and several other countries have got a better deal. This is based on what is called percentage of net cash flow. What does percentage of net cash flow mean? Does that mean that it is a percentage of the profits from this gas field? I think that is what it means. In point of fact, this document isn't worth anything. It depends entirely on what the profits are of the particular oil company that is exploiting that field are in a particular year. It shows New Zealand down around about 45 per cent.

Now, I just happen to know a little bit about the New Zealand one because I visited that particular project back in 1986. Their gas comes from offshore, around about 150 kilometres offshore. It comes ashore at a place called New Plymouth and it immediately goes into a plant to create electricity. But they have a deal which has nothing to do with percentage of net cash flow, they sell it at the well-head. They sell the gas right at the well-head, every million cubic feet that comes out of the well there is a rate and the company that buys it pays that rate. It has nothing to do with how much the end user of the gas is going to make in a given fiscal year. I don't know why the Premier got involved in producing this piece of paper, (Interruption) He was just trying to be helpful I guess but in point of fact, I think he has just muddied the waters even more.

[Page 1653]

What we have been asking in the Opposition is, tell us what the royalty arrangement is? Tell us how much we are going to have to pay for gas in Nova Scotia. Tell us how much gas we can have in Nova Scotia. Tell us if we are going to have laterals in Nova Scotia to service the industries in Nova Scotia. Tell us we are not going to pay for laterals in New Brunswick. Tell us that we are not going to pay the same rate for gas as they are paying in New Brunswick. Tell us that we certainly are not going to pay the price that is in GATT for gas in Boston in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is all we are talking about. These kinds of documents are not doing anything. Produce the documents that will tell the truth of the kind of deal or the kind of mess that you have got us involved in. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Madam Speaker, just for some clarification I really would like to thank the members for their comments and intervention. As has been said by the members opposite, this bill is indeed very worthy, it is very important. There was some discussion regarding who we consulted with in drafting this legislation.

In August 1996, there was a discussion paper that was released with a press release advertising and asking for input. I have copies here of the discussion paper, I have copies of the press release, I have copies of the advertisements that went forward and I will table that for the members of the House so they can track that. Also, in response to those ads we had 39 responses and there were 41 requests for mail-outs of the discussion paper on top of that so we had about 80 individuals and companies who had an opportunity to speak to this. There were 13 groups and individuals responded in writing, nine groups and individuals met with the consultants that were involved. There was also a great deal of consultation outside of Nova Scotia with 10 regulators, gas associations, provincial governments and gas utilities. For the members of the House to have an opportunity to see this, I will table it in the House.

There was also some discussion about the speed of this happening. We all know if we are going to have gas in Nova Scotia that we have to have the infrastructure in place. There are a number of things that have to happen before the year 2000. There have to be franchises issued by December 1997, there has to be fieldwork done by the distributor, applications to the regulators by late summer of 1998, environmental decisions have to be made and studies made, regulatory decisions. That will take until the spring of 1999. So we would have gas in service in Nova Scotia by the end of this century, in 1999. Members opposite will know that we must have infrastructure in place for gas distribution so this bill must come forward now.

I would also want to make one comment. Some Opposition members in their speaking were talking as if this is the end of the gas business. In fact, Madam Speaker, this is the very beginning of the gas business here in Nova Scotia, it is a whole new frontier. So I look forward and I am sure that all members look forward, all Nova Scotians would look forward to the year and a half ahead of us because this bill will establish a framework for orderly development and operation of a natural gas delivery system to serve Nova Scotia and its

[Page 1654]

people. This bill also establishes an environment in which the actual sale of gas to Nova Scotians will be conducted in a fair, open and competitive manner. It prepares us for what I believe will be an exciting, new industry and new era in Nova Scotia.

With that, Madam Speaker, I would move passage of third reading of Bill No. 6.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 6. Is the House ready for the question?

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that the bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 7.

Bill No. 7 - Financial Measures (1997) Act.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Madam Speaker, we have had a fair amount of discussion, both on second reading and in Committee of the Whole House on Bills. I stayed up last night and burned the midnight oil and I came up with 20 or 25 minutes worth of good words that I could put on the record but I think that at this point I have made the case, the case is there. I am sure there may be some comments by other members so I will move that this bill be now read a third time.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, the minister says he has made his case with respect to Bill No. 7. I would suggest that it is a pretty shaky case he has made for this particular piece of legislation. I would like to state right off the top, before I get into my remarks, that I will not be supporting this bill.

Madam Speaker, this government has had a very chequered four years, going on five years, in power. Their rationale for everything they do is not what has happened during those past four years but they have to go back seven or eight years and blame everything on the previous government. Now there used to be a story in this Legislature about the change of government that occurred and the new Premier went in to see the outgoing Premier and he

[Page 1655]

said, before I move into your office, can you give me some advice? The outgoing Premier said, well, I will tell you what I will do. I have prepared for you three envelopes (Interruption) You are right. You have heard the story before. He said, if you run into difficulty, open envelope number one and so on.

The point is that these characters opposite, Madam Speaker, have gone by envelope number one, which simply said blame the previous government. They have gone by envelope number two, which said, blame the federal government. Now they are at envelope number three, which says, issue the writ and that is where they are located. It just goes to show that these people have, in a period of four years, run out of favour with the public that swept them into power. They came in on a massive landslide. They came in with 40-odd seats. They had the approbation of the majority of Nova Scotians who were looking for big things from this incoming government. They were looking for no new taxes. They were looking for jobs to be created and, above all, they were looking for stable, qualified and excellent leadership. They haven't got any of those things, except they have new taxes and except they have more unemployment.

Madam Speaker, this morning there was a document that came out that was put out by Statistics Canada. It talks about various statistics with regard to employment and unemployment and percentage of the workforce that is out there looking for jobs. I am absolutely astounded to read, we know, for instance, in 1993, when this government came into power, there were 50,000 people out of work.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. RUSSELL: Order for me?

MADAM SPEAKER: No, I am just asking for order so that we can hear you without requiring shouting.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: On a question, Madam Speaker. I am wondering, since the member has already referred to it, I would ask him that when he is finished using the document if he would table a copy, please. I would like it if all members could have access to it.

MR. RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I would be delighted to table it because it comes from his department. It just goes to show you that even the minister doesn't know what is going on his own department.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. If you check the Hansard tape, the member said he got that from Statistics Canada, not from my department. That is why I want it tabled, because I have here, my file, of course, our publication. So he might want to check what he said. He did say Statistics Canada.

[Page 1656]

MR. RUSSELL: I said, Statistics Canada. Well, I have two documents, actually. I have a document which is Statistics Canada and I have a document which is the statistics division of the Province of Nova Scotia, at least the people that supply me with information do so and at least it is the correct information.

MADAM SPEAKER: I think it is the Statistics Canada one that we would like tabled, please.

MR. RUSSELL: I will table them all, but that is them and I promise you that I won't interfere with them and I won't white anything out. I will provide it all to the minister, because, as I say, obviously, his department is keeping him in the dark. They are keeping him in the basement in the dark.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I am just wondering, he said Statistics Canada. He made no reference to my department. I just want to say, if he wants me to table a copy of the Labour Force Developments, April 1997, Economic Policy and Analysis Division, Department of Finance, and that is Nova Scotia, I have it here.

MR. RUSSELL: Obviously, he hasn't been to his office this morning or his people haven't sent him over the documents because I have a document. I don't want to talk about whether his document beats my document. His has got a funny face on it and mine has the daily Statistics Canada report. They put them out daily up in Ottawa.

The point is, in 1993, there were 58,000 unemployed and today there are 64,400. What kind of a record is that? Madam Speaker, this will be the last day this front bench looks like that because they are all gone. They are gone because of the fact that they have not delivered on what they said they would deliver four years ago. This bill that we are debating, Bill No. 7, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures, I think you have heard the reasons why we in Opposition are going to vote against this bill. It is not because of what they say in the legislation. It is not because it is a surprise. It is simply because it is wrong. It doesn't work. It imposes taxes on the people when they said there will be no new taxes. Tell me a year since 1993 or tell me a session of this House since 1993 when the Minister of Finance, either this gentleman or the gentleman that preceded him, has not come in here with something to extract more money out of the pockets of the taxpayers.

[1:15 p.m.]

I was in a church the other day, I guess it must have been Sunday. The minister got up and he said, I have got bad news and good news and bad news. He said, the bad news is the roof is leaking, but, the good news is we have the money to fix the roof, but the bad news is, it is still in your pockets. Well that is the way this government works. Every time they have a problem, they don't think they have a problem because they can tax some more to get a few

[Page 1657]

more bucks from the poor beleaguered Nova Scotian taxpayer to pay for their errors, their mistakes.

Madam Speaker, I have mentioned, I think, on a number of occasions about the ability of this government or the inability, I guess I should say, of this government to budget in a proper fashion. You can make a budget and you can be out by maybe 1 per cent or something and maybe that is acceptable. When you are consistently out by hundreds of millions of dollars, you get the message that something is wrong somewhere. The thing that is wrong is that we have had a Minister of Finance, who is now Minister of Health, who messed up the system in the first place and then was put into Health, which he is messing up now. We have a Minister of Finance now that used to be the Minister of Justice that doesn't know any more about Finance than he knew about Justice.

Madam Speaker, as I say, I have no faith whatsoever in this government to lead us out of the financial misery that we are in at the present time. So I am voting against this bill. Thank you.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise for probably the last time in this session in this House and I would beg your indulgence for a second to be able to make the following comments. We, the members of this House, and certainly myself, try to take the opportunity to convey to the people that work here in this Legislature and work in this building, in Province House, our gratitude for the way that they contribute to us being able to do our jobs and the working of the Legislature itself. I think it is important to make that kind of statement on the record. I would like to say to the Pages, to the people that work at Hansard - and I know that I have called on Hansard on a number of occasions when little notes have been sent up to Rodney saying, could I please have the unedited transcript of this committee intervention ASAP? As you know, that is asking a lot, but they have been extremely quick in being able to provide that information.

Legislative Television puts up with our antics and presents the images out to those people who are interested. The people at the library are always so helpful. Certainly, Charlie and the other people have worked in the kitchen here and provided us with lunch and supper from time to time. Of course, the Clerks at the Table help you and other people in the Chair and help us try to interpret the Rules of this House and, certainly, of parliamentary procedure. I want to thank each and every one of them, the commissionaires and, of course, the cleaner, who keeps this place in pretty spick and span shape. I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of those people, along with all those people who make such an important contribution to the operation of this House and who help us in our ability to represent our constituents. I want to thank all of those people. Thank you very much.

[Page 1658]

Now, getting on to the third reading on the Financial Measures Act, getting the niceties out of the way. (Interruptions) You know, when I started wearing glasses last fall because I could not see, all I could think about was great, now I can do what Ronald Russell does and I can pull my glasses off and I can throw them down on the table, but I have not gotten used to them enough. I am afraid I will break them. (Interruptions) When I grow up I want to be just like Ron. Well, I do not want to be just like Ron. I want to have as much energy and as much passion for what I do as the member for Hants West does, absolutely. I do not think I will be able to live long enough though to be able to swing that far right in my political philosophy.

Let's talk for a moment about Bill No. 7, Financial Measures (1997) Act. This particular bill, I think, has highlighted what this government has done over the past year in terms of making changes to the accountability processes of the Legislature, what changes they have made in the taxation regime in the Province of Nova Scotia. Let me say that I agree ever so slightly with some of what they have done and I disagree considerably with much of what they have done.

On the question of accountability, I agree very much with the fact that they are now required, as a result of the Expenditure Control Act, to bring in resolutions to approve spending over a certain amount. I think those extra appropriations in the past used to be made unbeknownst to members of this Legislature and unbeknownst to Nova Scotians. I think that is important. It has not done anything to prevent them from spending that extra money and from not including it in the budget and including it down the road. It kind of throws us all off, certainly Nova Scotians in understanding exactly what this government is doing in terms of their spending habits.

Nonetheless, there has been some move and in this I agree with the Auditor General who says that there has been some move by this government towards a better process of accountability for the provincial finances. We have seen evidence this session of why it is so important that this government catch up with the times and get rid of their private personal auditor that does the provincial finances and reports directly to the Minister of Finance, unlike that which is done in any other jurisdiction in this country.

The time has come and the province should clearly recognize and the Minister of Finance should recognize that after what has happened over the past couple of weeks, that the time has come to remove that whole questionable practice and leave the responsibility for verifying the expenditures and the revenues of the Province of Nova Scotia to the Auditor General who has been responsible to the House of Assembly and not the Minister of Finance.

The Report of the Auditor General that was released two weeks ago in this House was no less than a bomb in terms of the effect it has had on this government's credibility in its pronouncements of a surplus and its pronouncements that it is keeping track and being clear with respect to reporting the expenditures and the revenues of the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 1659]

When the Auditor General said in his report that this information was absolutely wrong, was irregular and again I am paraphrasing, but made it clear in no uncertain terms that this practice of applying a particular amount of money to a previous year when the money is spent in another year is absolutely irresponsible, I think said to an awful lot of Nova Scotians that this government's claim of a balanced budget was not only wrong for 1996-97, they are probably wrong in 1997-98. If this government cannot be believed on that issue, then what can they be believed on?

The government has turned its back on its promise to create jobs. They have turned their back on the promise to establish a Fair Tax Commission. They turned their back on a promise not to harmonize the GST and the PST. They turned their back on promises not to cut and slash the public service, on not to privatize, and on not to amalgamate municipalities and school boards. They turned their back on those promises, Madam Speaker. The only thing that this government has been able to hold up as some claim to fame is their effort to manage the books of the Province of Nova Scotia and, then, come to find out, the province misled Nova Scotians with the way they presented the budgets in 1995-96 and 1996-97. It is inexcusable what has been done, because it has cast a shadow not just on this government but, also, on the operation of this administration and perhaps, most damaging, on the credibility of the Auditor General of Nova Scotia.

When the government was faced with a different opinion between our Auditor General - the Auditor General responsible to the House of Assembly - and their international, world-renowned private auditor who reports to the Minister of Finance, they came down clearly on the side of that private auditor, that they bought with taxpayers' money, to give them an opinion on the basis of what they wanted to say.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Madam Speaker, on a point of privilege. That the government bought with their money? I think that is on the edge of alleging criminality. I think the member might want to look at that. Hired might be a better word, but "bought" sounds to me like treading on dangerous ground.

MADAM SPEAKER: I would like to just note that it is appropriate, I suppose, in this debate to be aware of the language that everyone uses.

MR. CHISHOLM: Thank you, Madam Speaker, I am extremely aware of the language that I used. That is very much the issue. It is the difference between the Auditor General, who is a servant of this Legislature, who reports to this Legislature, who is answerable to this Legislature, as opposed to somebody - a firm - that the Minister of Finance goes out and hires in order to report to him on the basis of the direction he has given; that is the difference, you see.

[Page 1660]

In fact, the evidence has suggested that that is being done, which is an extra cost to the taxpayers of over $100,000. There is no need for that duplication; it creates unnecessary conflict and confusion. I suggest and I strongly urge this minister and this government to stop that practice, a practice that has been stopped in every other jurisdiction in this country.

This bill, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures, Madam Speaker, makes changes to the Expenditure Control Act that I referred to earlier. It makes changes that I suggest will make the government even more able to shift around the columns in their budgets. It will make it even more difficult for Nova Scotians and for members of this Legislature to understand exactly what this government has spent and what the government has received in revenues. That is far from the accountability that the government has talked about, and certainly that this Minister of Finance has talked about, so I am against the bill for that reason.

In terms of the changes to the Income Tax Act, the changes in this bill to the Income Tax Act, the reduction of 2 per cent - 1 per cent one year and 1 per cent another - to the income tax rate has been made in order to compensate for the extra that Nova Scotians are going to end up paying as a result of the harmonized sales tax, as a result of the BS Tax, which has meant that corporations in this province are going to save in excess of $200 million annually at the same time consumers are going to be expected to pay over $80 million annually, and the Province of Nova Scotia is going to be short over $100 million annually in total revenues. On top of that, the government has decided to change the income tax rate, to lower it.

[1:30 p.m.]

The big problem in the harmonized sales tax is the unfairness, the impact that it has on low- and middle-income consumers. Because it is a regressive form of taxation it means that people with a lower income will pay a greater proportion of their income on that tax than will someone earning more money. The other odious part of this tax is the fact that it increases the costs of family essentials. It increases the costs of home heating fuel, of wood, of electricity, of gasoline for your car, of children's clothing, of school supplies and of other items. Those important family essentials are going to be greater in price and the impact on lower- and middle-income Nova Scotians is going to be significant.

The idea that this income tax reduction of two points is going to make that kind of difference. We know that for someone earning $20,000 a year, the reduction will be in the area of $50, and that represents a fraction of the increase people are going to have to pay for their home heating fuel because of the extra BST.

The other thing - and let's not forget it - the other unfairness about these tax changes, when you put them together, is that what the BST does at the same time as it increases the costs of family essentials, it reduces the cost if you want to go out and buy a yacht, if you

[Page 1661]

want to go out and buy a new fur coat, if you want to buy those kinds of luxury items. If you have that kind of disposable income, that you can go out and afford to buy those luxury items, you are going to pay less.

Let's look at what the income tax reductions do. For those same people who are benefiting by the reduction of HST on those luxury items, those people with increased disposable income, they are also the ones who are going to benefit the greatest from the income tax rate reductions. Someone earning $100,000 a year is going to realize savings in the area of $500. What you have when you put them all together is you have a change in the tax regime in the Province of Nova Scotia that increases the burden on consumers and it increases the burden on lower- and middle-income Nova Scotians and lessens, to a small degree, on higher-income earners.

In relation to the whole question of fairness, and the promise that this government and this Minister of Finance made. When he was the Finance Critic in Opposition, he talked about how harmonizing the GST and the PST was irresponsible because it was unfair. He said it was unfair. It was unfair then and it is unfair now. This minor reduction in the income tax rate only further exacerbates that kind of unfairness.

What are we going to do in the Province of Nova Scotia when the tax revenues to the Treasury are $150 million short? What are we going to do? How are we going to fund health care, education and social services? How are we going to patch all the potholes in the roads around this province with less tax revenue as a result of this huge gift to corporations? I am not against tax cuts if we can afford them and if they are fair. The people that are carrying the burden of what is happening in this province and in this country are low and middle income Nova Scotians. Are they getting a break as a result of these tax changes? Not at all. They are having more burden heaped on their shoulders as a result of these tax changes, Madam Speaker. That is what is wrong. On top of that is the whole question of whether we can afford them, and I say we cannot afford them. Our health care system, our education system and other public services in this province require an infusion of resources because of the damage that has been done as a result of the actions of this government.

In this bill, the whole question of the corporate capital tax of 0.25 per cent. It was going to raise $40 million annually. It was going to offset that $100-plus million that was going to be lost. The government was no longer going to have an income tax revenue, or in tax revenue. They were going to bring in an extra $40 million from those corporations that had capital assets valued in excess of $10 million, the big ones. The minister and the government, in their wisdom, decided we don't want to overburden those corporations, so we are going to let them know that, listen, we are going to put this on you for now, but we are going to take it off in five years; we are going to put a sunset clause on it. They didn't put a sunset clause on the HST on family essentials for low and middle income earners, or for Nova Scotian consumers. They put a sunset clause on a tiny tax for some big, profitable corporations in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is the idea of fairness, Liberal fashion. Even

[Page 1662]

that has been further softened, weakened, diluted, as a result of this investment tax credit, which is going to even further reduce the $40 million that this government is supposed to now be taking in, in order to offset the $100-plus million that they are going to be forgoing as a result of the BST.

My only point in raising this issue is the question of fairness or the lack thereof. What this government is doing, each and every time it turns around, every change it makes, is that it is increasing the unfairness in our tax system in this province, Madam Speaker, where people who can least afford it are being asked to pay more and people who can afford it are being offered the opportunity to pay less, and that is absolutely wrong. The Minister of Finance says, you may say that and you may say the other thing, but what this is going to do is create jobs. It is going to create 3,000 jobs. That is the projection of the BST that is going to have such an impact, I believe, on consumers in Nova Scotia. It is going to create jobs, 3,000 jobs the minister says. When? Well, sometime. This year? No, probably not. Next year? Maybe. The year after? Well maybe over a period of time.

Maybe by the time the sunset clause comes into effect for the corporate capital tax we will have some jobs created. But what jobs? Those 3,000 jobs that are part of the 57,000 or the 58,000 unemployed that existed when this government came to office at the same time they said they were going to put them all to work? Are we talking about maybe the 3,000 more jobs to bring down the 59,000 unemployed that we are now at? Do you realize that in the last month Nova Scotia has lost 6,000 jobs? Imagine, 6,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate in Cape Breton continues to hover at 27 per cent and not a word but a lot of prayer at the altar of the market by this minister and this government. We have seen the kind of damage that that has caused in this province and country over the past 20 years. It is time that this government woke up and realized that it is heading down the wrong road.

Bill No. 7, an Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures is a bad piece of legislation in what it does. But it is a good piece of legislation in that it very accurately represents what this government has decided are its priorities. It has decided that it has given up on its ability to create jobs, it has decided that it is not going to ask profitable corporations and people who have money to pay their fair share. They are going to ask low and middle income Nova Scotians to continue to carry the burden and they are heaping more and more burden on top of that.

The government has shown itself in this piece of legislation to have given up hope in Nova Scotians, to have given up hope in the ability of this government, of any government, to take their responsibilities seriously which is to participate with the private sector, to participate with the community on strategies to try to create jobs, to try to do something about the disastrous level of unemployment in this province in particular in areas like Cape Breton.

[Page 1663]

I for one and I speak on behalf of my caucus and say that we will be voting against this piece of legislation as we and many thousands of Nova Scotians are going to vote against this government when they finally screw up the courage to call an election and give people that opportunity. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be able to make a few remarks on the Financial Measures (1997) Act. I too would like to thank those who have made the session as pleasant as possible for us; the Pages, the messengers, the Clerks, Charlie in the kitchen, the people at Hansard and the Commissionaires downstairs. There are a great number of people who work behind the scenes to make a sitting of the Legislature move as smoothly as possible, despite the efforts of the members. We truly are indebted to them as are the people of the province.

The bill before us, an Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures and we did have opportunity to make remarks about the various aspects of the bill in committee. It is part of what is becoming an increasingly bizarre approach to tax reform in this province, because the government continues to describe when one brings up a particular criticism of an individual part of their tax reform, they always counter with, well, it is only part of a package and they want to talk about the package. The reality is that the package is not working.

[1:45 p.m.]

The member for Hants West pointed out the reality that despite the good times that are happening across the country, despite the fact that employment is rising across the country, we have managed to buck the national trend here in Nova Scotia this month with 6,000 fewer people working this month than were working last month. Part of it is due to the financial package that this government has put together. They have undermined consumer confidence.

The building starts this month are down 46 per cent, compared to the month before. The shaking of consumer confidence by the increased consumer tax load in this province is so dramatic that you can hear it. Many businesses in this province are already reporting a downturn in consumer confidence and a downturn in their business due to the effects of the blended sales tax. Already it has kicked in, the first month that we have a report, 6,000 fewer people working. That is scary. Youth unemployment up by 0.5 per cent this month. Those are the kinds of things that shake the confidence of the people of Nova Scotia in this government, who are looking askance at what they are doing with our economy.

Now that is not to say that everything the government does, of course, is wrong. That is far from the case. There are some issues with which we have agreed and the government has been made aware of those but the total tax package that has been put together simply isn't working.

[Page 1664]

Now we talk about the increase in the consumer tax load and we talk about those issues that are under discussion in the coffee shops around the province and they are talking about the increased tax on clothing, the increased taxation on gasoline, the increased taxation on electricity, the increased taxation on fuel oil, the increased taxation on Nova Scotia stamps, and on it goes, and so much of that is hard to understand, particularly when the government didn't talk about it in 1993.

They didn't have a tax commission that went around the province and said look, we would like to revise the taxation regime of this province and we would like your input. No, no input at all, it was just suddenly decided in Ottawa that we need an excuse for our commitment on the GST and we are going to provide that excuse and we will pay the people of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland to participate in that excuse. Well, it is a darn poor excuse, that is all I can say, and we are going to pay the price.

Did we get enough for participating in the blended sales tax? I believe it was $249 million for four years. Well, in order to come up with a balanced budget in 1997-98 we had to spend $118 million of it, almost half of it the first year. Now let's say that next year, in order to balance the budget, we have to spend the other half, where does that leave us in year three and year four? What will the buffer be? Now the government will be able, over the next two years, to have a balanced budget because they will draw on the $249 million. When the overexpenditures come in, oh no, we have this account and we will draw on that account. You know when it is going to get tough? It is going to get tough in year three when that account is dry, the $249 million is all spent and we are left with the taxation, that unbearable burden on the consumer.

The consumers of this province don't expect no taxes, that is not what they are saying, but they are expecting fair taxation. The heavy hit on the necessities of life, and I would like to say that taxation on the cost of keeping warm, whether it is to buy a sweater or to buy furnace oil, is intolerable. I think another intolerable tax is the tax on home care services for the medical component of home care. It is absolutely unfair.

Where does it lead from here? Well, it will, obviously, lead to an election someday, but I will not spend a lot of time speculating about that. What happens as our economy further withers due to these taxation changes and what can we do to change it? We can't do a lot to change it because we have signed away the control over our provincial sales tax to Ottawa. We can't suddenly say, look, we have made a big mistake, we have to make some adjustments, sensible adjustments that will make sense to the economy, that will allow our economy to grow and reflect the good years that are coming for Canada. I believe good years are coming. I believe there is a great bright light at the end of the tunnel for Canadians, but the light hasn't been switched on yet for Nova Scotians. What can we do to make those adjustments? We can't do anything because this government, this Ministry of Finance, has given away our ability to manipulate our taxation system to allow the adjustments to take place to offset the very negative effects that these measures will have on our economy.

[Page 1665]

It is interesting that the government wanted to get in and get out. This was to be a short session and short it was. It is the shortest that I have participated in, and perhaps the shortest you participated in, Mr. Speaker, and I do want to compliment you on your performance this particular sitting. I think you have carried out the duties of your office in a very competent manner. (Applause) So there are some good things that happen from time to time, but this financial tax measure is not one of them.

The Minister of Finance loves to get up and talk about offsets: this is bad, but it is offset by this. He talks about the 2 per cent decrease in personal income tax. We all look at that with favour and, by itself, it stands alone and looks very good, but when you say that offsets the increase in consumer taxation brought about by the blended sales tax, well, it doesn't, unless you make $85,000. Because low and middle income Nova Scotians, their increased spending on consumer taxation, balanced off against their saving with the personal income tax, those numbers don't cross over until you have an annual income of $85,000 a year, and that is less than 5 per cent of Nova Scotian families. So what about the other 95 per cent who are paying a premium to participate in this government's folly?

Mr. Speaker, I won't be voting for this bill. This bill is regressive. It is part of a taxation policy that is flawed; it is part of a taxation policy that hurts low- and middle-income Nova Scotians. It is part of a taxation policy that is going to drive our economy down and, the sad thing is, part of that agreement, we have signed away control over our taxation policy, the taxation policy of this province, and now it is held in the hands of Newfoundlanders, New Brunswickers and the government in Ottawa. This is a scam that has been perpetrated on this government by their federal counterparts and we weren't clever enough to see through it here in Nova Scotia until it is too late.

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting against Bill No. 7, the Financial Measures (1997) Act.

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

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I certainly do not want to detain the House, but there are a couple of quick things I want to say. We have had a pot-pourri of comments in closing the debate and we have also had comments earlier. I just want to say a couple of quick things and then I want to conclude by coming back to the matter of the Auditor General which was brought up today again by the member for Halifax Atlantic. I have just some interesting observations I will make before I conclude.

On the unemployment matter, you can talk about what you want, but you really have to look at the trends. You cannot look at unemployment was down last month, up this month in Nova Scotia. The fact is year over year that there are 4,600 more people working in April 1997 compared to April 1996. That is the fact. The further fact is that 20,000 additional

[Page 1666]

people were working in April 1997 compared to May 1993. Those are the facts, 20,000 more, that's performance.

I could talk about the total tax package, about the capital tax, the investment tax credit and we went over that. People should not be deluded. They have to look at the total picture in terms of income tax and the fact is that for a family with two children, two dependent children and $27,000 a year income, saves $366 under the income tax changes whereas a family with the same size and $70,000 I believe it is $260. It is not the big benefit for the rich that some would like to portray. We went through that. I have given that information before.

I just want to conclude by saying a few words about the Auditor General.

DR. JOHN HAMM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Finance has given these figures before. I wonder if he would table the information which allows him to draw those conclusions, please.

MR. GILLIS: The honourable Leader of the Opposition wanted the figure. Well, I just happened to bring along a chart which shows exactly what I am talking about. The low income tax reduction and the reduced personal income tax rate presentation goes through a number of different scenarios, including a couple with two children. I do not have the one that is $70,000, they do not get the low income tax reduction, obviously. I do not have that on this chart. Certainly for the combined low income tax reduction, the general reduction is here and once I get a copy I will be pleased to table it.

What I want to say briefly is that Auditors General across Canada spent a good bit of their time in the 1980's and the first half of the 1990's warning about increasing debt loads. I want to give a few examples. For example, somebody that we know of and have heard about was in Ontario under Premier Bob Rae. We know what happened to the debt there and the deficits they ran - that is a fact - even though there was a provincial Auditor General who did the books. In Saskatchewan in the 1980's where they had a provincial Auditor General and have under Grant Devine. You know what happened to the debt. It took Roy Romanow to put that under control.

Auditors General were lonely voices in the wilderness. There were comments that were made by the Leader of the Third Party on this very point and surely if that member was entitled to speak on that, I am allowed to speak briefly. (Interruptions) I appreciate it because I know we gave that honourable Leader of the Third Party unanimous consent. I am not going to trespass on the House's time but there are a few points I wanted to make.

One point on this is that warnings were issued in the 1980's and early 1990's by the Auditors General but they were unable to prevent fiscal mismanagement. There is no magic pixie dust that they can sprinkle on that will save governments from their folly. Although the Auditor General is a watchdog who barks, it is someone else who acts.

[Page 1667]

[2:00 p.m.]

When it comes to decisions it is the government who has to be held accountable. Advice may be offered but the government of the day has to make the final decisions with regard to revenues and expenditures. Doctors, as we know, offer advice and sometimes they disagree. Lawyers disagree all of the time. Economists never agree. Going for a second opinion is an honourable and frequent practice. It makes sense that professionals advise but those who pay for the advice have to live with the decisions. As a result, individual citizens or businesses seek other advice. An auditor is a professional like all of the rest. Accountants give advice but sometimes they disagree.

This will draw my remarks toward a conclusion. I want to give honourable members a very recent example of this. It is pertinent. The illustration does not relate to Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about the cost of fuel oil, Bill?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I guess the member who is a former minister in charge of the mismanagement board wants to talk about some other matters. I guess he doesn't like to hear the truth about this particular matter. (Interruption) I will take my time.

I want to give a recent example of when accountants disagree and I want to say that the illustration does not relate (Interruption) I am in this House, I have been elected and I am proud of that. (Applause) The illustration I give is another province and the jurisdiction in question, a government agency, in this case a Crown Corporation, had construction work scheduled for some time in the future. The Crown Corporation levied a reconstruction charge on ratepayers in order to raise money for the work. The government of the day ordered the agency to defer the revenue. This was what the Auditor General said to the government, defer the revenue. The administration told the Crown Corporation not to count the revenue that year but in some future year. The government consulted private sector accountants who said that would not be a problem. In other words, the government in the particular case I am citing agreed with private sector auditors, not with the Auditor General for the province.

AN HON. MEMBER: What government was that?

MR. GILLIS: I will try to come to that, you can guess. It wasn't Nova Scotia, I will tell you that.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I am curious and interested in what the minister has to say. He is giving an example there and I hope he will cite the province. I am just asking if the minister will make that information available.

[Page 1668]

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I will be prepared to table my remarks as a matter of fact. It was such a dramatic plea by the Leader of the Third Party. I would be more than happy to make the information available but I wanted to have a little suspense as we come down the road until we find out the lucky province.(Interruption) No, it is not Nova Scotia but there might be some parallels that might be recognized by honourable members and I recognize these. This is an issue of when to recognize revenues and expenses and that is what 1995-96 versus 1996-97 is all about.

The government of the day gets an okay from some accountants and then another group of accountants say, no, you should do it another way. It happens across the country. I have to admit even though Jean Chretien is Prime Minister and there is a Liberal Government in Ottawa, it happens in Ottawa.

The matter that I referred to about the Crown Corporation where the government and the Premier disagreed with their own Auditor General recently boiled over in the great Province of Saskatchewan. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: Wasn't that an NDP Government?

MR. GILLIS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, under NDP, New Democratic Party, Flat Earth Society Party, Roy Romanow, that was the Premier. The Auditor General disagreed with the private sector auditors but honest and open disagreements between accountants can and do happen. It happens because the world is never as cut and dried as some members of the Opposition wish to make out.

In concluding my remarks, I just want to say on this whole topic that has come up, the bottom line is, the money that the province owes, the net direct debt, has gone down as of March 31, 1997, for the first time since 1965. (Applause)

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, before I conclude, I just want to remind all honourable members that for the first time in 20 to 25 years, a credit rating agency, the eminent Standard and Poor's, upgraded Nova Scotia's credit rating and that is a real achievement. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 7. Is the House ready for the question?

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

[Page 1669]

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Statements by Ministers.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I have just a couple of things I would like to say. (Interruptions) In 1992 there was a job opening in Nova Scotia as Leader of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia. When that job was open I took the time, I think, to call a good friend of mine, invited him for breakfast and encouraged him to seek that job. He did and I stand proudly here today to say that there was no mistake made in the efforts to have John Savage run for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia.

I think it is fair to say that in 1993 he was under no illusions about the task ahead. He knew, perhaps better than anyone, that if you were going to do what had to be done and if you were going to do what was right in this province, there were sacrifices that would have to be made and perhaps the greatest sacrifice of all, personal sacrifice. I don't think that any of us are under any illusions today that personal sacrifice has been made in order to do what was right and in order to do what had to be done in this province.

Our Leader, our Premier, put the people of Nova Scotia first, especially the young people of Nova Scotia and he put our future first. He put our future and our young people ahead of politics, perhaps for the first time in a long time in this province, perhaps for the first time ever.

There have been positive results, as a consequence of that conscious decision that was made and there are dividends which are now being returned to Nova Scotia, to all Nova Scotians, but particularly the young, as a result of that decision. I am not only talking about the financial decisions that have been made but I am talking about the fact that since 1993 the Province of Nova Scotia can stand proud and talk about having a government that was scandal free, a government and a province that is now on sound financial footing, with an encouraging outlook for the future. I could say on behalf of my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, that I sat in Cabinet for four years and I have had an opportunity to see what the words honourable, fair, tough and understanding mean, as some very difficult decisions have been made.

I think we can sum it up by saying that as a result of the leadership, as a result of feet being held to a fire, as a result of personal sacrifice and brave decisions, that this province of ours has a very bright future because of the leadership of John Savage. I would think that

[Page 1670]

members of this House, for a few minutes today, will put aside some of the puts and the takes and the cuts and the thrusts of the political arena to recognize the contribution.

I would like to read the following into the record, Mr. Speaker. In 1872, Joseph Howe wrote in a letter to a friend, "The time is rapidly approaching when my voice will no more be heard in council or debate, but I have had an abiding faith that long after I have passed, the rising generation, full of generous impulses and not distracted by the cross-lights which flash around us now, will recognize the earnestness and sincerity with which I strove to elevate and improve Nova Scotia.".

Those words prove true of Joe Howe. So, too, will they prove true of our friend and our Premier, John Savage.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I rise to address a few remarks to the Premier. I have known the Premier for perhaps close to three decades. While we were never what you would call close acquaintances, I knew, by way of our profession, the Premier's very significant contribution to the practice of medicine since he came to his chosen home here in Nova Scotia. I also know the Premier is a dedicated family man. I look at the Premier as a man who has given much of himself to public life here in Nova Scotia and at great personal sacrifice. When the honourable Government House Leader mentioned honourable, fair, tough and understanding, I totally agree. The Premier has been head of government when, in Canada, it is not easy to be head of any government. He has done it with extreme resilience. I have watched the pressures under which the Premier has been forced to work for those four years and I have admired his toughness.

I am an early riser and I can tell you that the Premier, as well, is an early riser because his car is always parked outside this House at a very early hour of the morning. The issues and the differences that I have had with the Premier have been entirely political and issue-driven. I respect the Premier as a physician, as a man and as a person who has made great, great sacrifice to be a servant of the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I haven't known the Premier for three decades. I have gotten to know the Premier a little bit over the past few years since he has been Premier, and I certainly witnessed the role that he played as the Mayor of Dartmouth. I certainly have to add my acknowledgement of the commitment and the work that John Savage has put in on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia and on behalf of the people of Dartmouth and on the people of his community. I say, very much, that as a Nova Scotian, I appreciate the dedication that he has had and he has shown to his community.

[Page 1671]

We have disagreed and, perhaps, will disagree on things, on policies and decisions that the government has made, but - as I have said on a number of occasions when asked outside this Chamber by the media about the Premier - I have tried to make it very clear that any concerns that I have may of raised or any objections or any criticisms I may have raised about what has been done in the province over the past four years have been done because of those differences in terms of policy, in terms of directions the government has made, not in terms of the decisions that John Savage has made as an individual. I don't think anybody can question the kind of commitment and dedication that someone like John Savage has made to this province; disagree with him, disagree with the decisions he has made but don't underestimate the kind of commitment he has shown to this province.

[2:15 p.m.]

I must take exception with one thing that the Government House Leader said, that back in 1993 when he talked to the then Mayor of Dartmouth about becoming Leader of the Liberal Party and eventually Premier, that he had an idea what was ahead of him. I don't think that anybody could have any idea what was in store for John Savage back in 1993. But given that, I think John Savage probably would have taken the commitment on anyway, regardless of the difficulties that he has experienced. As a Nova Scotian, I think on behalf of my caucus and the NDP, I, too, want to pay tribute to John Savage for the commitment he has made and certainly to his family for the sacrifice that they have also made, as he has gone about his business, trying to represent in the best way that he knows how, the people of Nova Scotia and I want to thank him for that. (Standing ovation)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the first thought that crosses my mind is where have they been for the last four years, and these nice people? I do express my appreciation to the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Leader of the Third Party for the nice things they have said and to stress, I guess in particular, that the Leader of the Opposition and I go back many years because I remember him when he was my boss, as President of the Medical Society. We all agreed that he made an excellent President of the Medical Society; some of us would have said that he should have stayed there.

I do want to thank you both for your kind remarks. It is appropriate, I guess, that in this final session as Premier that I rise and thank large numbers of people who have contributed in the last number of years. The first day in the House, as the House will remember, was June 28, 1993, which was just a single day. I remember the first Question Period; the first question came from an acting Leader at the time, who was sitting in the chair now so elegantly filled by the member for Kings (Interruptions) I said elegantly, not eloquently. I do remember that that was the first question. The second one, of course, was from the former honourable member for Halifax Fairview, both of whom skewered me from their first questions and demonstrated the cut and thrust of this House in a very interesting way.

[Page 1672]

We really started, of course, on September 14, 1993. That really, virtually four years ago, concludes for me an episode in my life which is, in contrast to some politicians, at the end of my existence as an active politician or an active doctor. Maybe that is different, maybe that is easier for people at my end of life because I really don't have to get re-elected anywhere, although I may run again in Dartmouth South, who knows, Mr. Speaker, with the encouragement of the new Leader.

I do want to say how much my wife and I have appreciated, particularly my wife, who has enjoyed meeting the spouses of the Opposition and, of course, members of my own Party, and enjoyed the conversations they have had many times in various places. It is also an honour that I wish to acknowledge to serve in this historic House.

I met yesterday with some students and one meets with so many that I don't remember which ones, but I did explain to these that this was the historic House of Canada, that many of the decisions that led to Confederation commonly associated with Prince Edward Island, were, in fact, made in this province here and that much of the push and the onus was to get us into Confederation despite the wise and prescient remarks of Joseph Howe, who obviously was dragged in squealing and said that this would be the end of Nova Scotia. There are some of us who still believe that Mr. Howe may well have had some very good points.

I do want to thank the members of the Opposition over the years. I can't say it has all been a delight but it certainly has been a pleasure to see them outside this particular arena and to enjoy their company in many different ways, even if it is only eating with our good friend next door where we have had some good comments as well.

Obviously, my own Party, the support and friendship that I have from members I do acknowledge. I do particular by want to stress the support that I have had from those members of Cabinet in some very difficult years.

I also want to thank the officers of this House, the Clerks, Mr. Rod MacArthur and Mr. Arthur Fordham, whose stamina and whose ability to sit, apparently awake, for such long periods really is a remarkable test of stamina, only equalled by that of those eminent people who sit in your Chair, Mr. Speaker. But also too to acknowledge the service that has been rendered since the death of our previous Sergeant-at-Arms by my good friend, Mr. Doug Giles. It has been a real pleasure to have had you and to see the medals on your chest and to see the service that you have rendered. That I think is an important contribution to this house that keeps the continuity going. (Applause)

I also want to thank people like Mr. Mike Laffin, Mr. Peter Theriault, the Pages and messengers, those people who weave in and out and carry all of those vitally important messages, very important people and we thank you all and wish you well in the years to come.

[Page 1673]

I also want to thank the Editor of Hansard, Mr. Rodney Caley and his staff, as well as the staff of the Legislative Television and I guess I can't leave without have a warm word for Ms. Margaret Murphy and the people in the Legislative Library.

It has been a real pleasure most of the time to have served here to have endured, to have enjoyed, whichever E word you choose, the barbs, the slings of legislative life in here. I will leave, like any sane person, my place in posterity to others. All I can say is that I think I have done what I thought was best for my province. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to report that that concludes the government's business for this sitting.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: His Honour the Lieutenant Governor is without.

MR. SPEAKER: Let His Honour be admitted.

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.]

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

The Sergeant-at-Arms then departed and re-entered the Chamber followed by the Speaker, the Honourable Wayne Gaudet; Chief Clerk of the House, Roderick MacArthur, Q.C.; and Acting Assistant Clerk, Arthur Fordham, Q.C. They took up their positions at the foot of the Speaker's Table.]

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

MR. SPEAKER: May it please Your Honour, the General Assembly of the Province has, in its present session, passed certain bills to which in the name and on behalf of the General Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour's Assent.

THE CLERK:

Bill No. 1 - Residential Tenancies Act.

Bill No. 2 - Motor Vehicle Act.

Bill No. 3 - Ardnamurchan Club Act.

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Bill No. 4 - Université Sainte-Anne Act/La Loi de l'Université Sainte-Anne.

Bill No. 6 - Gas Distribution Act.

Bill No. 7 - Financial Measures (1997) Act.

Bill No. 9 - Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company Act.

Bill No. 10 - Incorporate the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the Dominion of Canada Act. [Repeal]

Bill No. 11 - Queens Regional Municipality Act.

Bill No. 12 - District of Argyle Financial Assistance Act.

Bill No. 13 - Antigonish Heritage Museum Board Act.

Bill No. 16 - Lunenburg Common Lands Act.

Bill No. 17 - Municipal Elections Act.

THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR:

In Her Majesty's name, I Assent to these Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: Your Honour, having been graciously pleased to give your Assent to the Bills passed during the present Session, it becomes my agreeable duty on behalf of Her Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, Her faithful Commons of Nova Scotia to present to Your Honour a bill for the Appropriation of Supply granted in the present Session for the support of the Public Service and to request Your Honour's Assent thereto.

THE CLERK:

Bill No. 18 - An Act to Provice for Defraying Certain Charges and Expenses of the Public Service of the Province.

THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR:

In Her Majesty's name, I thank Her loyal subjects, I accept their benevolence and I Assent to this Bill.

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.]

[Page 1675]

[The Lieutenant Governor left the Chamber.]

[The Speaker took the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, and members of the House of Assembly, I move that this General Assembly be now adjourned, to meet again at the call of the Speaker.

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

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned.

[ The House rose at 2:30 p.m.]

[Page 1676]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 449

By: Mr. John Holm (Sackville-Cobequid)

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

Whereas concerns have been raised about plans to establish windrow composting facilities near metro Halifax, including charges of environmental racism surrounding the proposed facility near Hammonds Plains; and

Whereas Transport Canada has recently raised new concerns about the possibility that birds attracted to the composting facilities may interfere with and affect the safety of aircraft using the main runway at Halifax International Airport; and

Whereas environmental racism and impact on aviation safety are but two important issues that should be examined in a public forum;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Minister of the Environment to immediately convene a full environmental assessment of the proposal to establish windrow composting facilities in metropolitan Halifax.

RESOLUTION NO. 450

By: Hon. Guy Brown (Minister of Agriculture and Marketing)

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

Whereas the Joggins Volunteer Fire Department has been serving the people of this area for 50 years; and

Whereas these many volunteers, the Ladies' Auxiliary and the community have supported their efforts which have saved this area millions of dollars in loss of property; and

Whereas their leadership and efforts are appreciated by all residents;

Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this House of Assembly, all members congratulate the Joggins Volunteer Fire Department on the occasion of their 50th Anniversary.

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RESOLUTION NO. 451

By: Mr. Russell MacNeil (Cape Breton Centre)

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

Whereas Friday, May 2nd, at the Canada Games Complex on the campus of UCCB during the Young Entrepreneurs Awards Gala, awards were presented to outstanding young entrepreneurs; and

Whereas the award winner for the Innovative Approach to Environmental Management went to Les Doucet and Joseph Waldron of Deadly Designs, New Waterford, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas these boys designed and wrote a comic book focusing on the Sydney Tar Ponds environmental hazard;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations and best wishes to Len Doucet and Joseph Waldron on the receipt of their award and wish them success in any future endeavours.

[Page 1678]

NOTICE OF QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS

Given on May 8, 1997

(Pursuant to Rule 30)

QUESTION NO. 17

By: Mr. George Archibald (Kings North)

To: Hon. Robert Harrison (Minister of Education and Culture)

Nova Scotia has 13 post-secondary educational institutions, the highest per capita in the country. The federal government continues to approve funding to provinces on a per population basis, not a per student basis.

(1) What has the Minister of Education and Culture done to see that the policy is reversed so institutions in Nova Scotia offering post-secondary education receive fair and adequate funding?

QUESTION NO. 18

By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Bernard Boudreau (Minister of Health)

Mainland North is one of Halifax's high growth areas. When the Province of Nova Scotia lifted the moratorium on physician billing hours, it did so for communities such as Sackville and Bedford but chose to continue the moratorium for Mainland North.

(1) In light of the growing residential and commercial development of Halifax's Mainland North, why won't the Minister of Health lift the moratorium on this neighbourhood?

QUESTION NO. 19

By: Dr. John Hamm (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. Bernard Boudreau (Minister of Health)

On February 27, 1997, Ms. Geraldine Keough of Victoria, B.C., wrote to the Chief Medical Officer of Nova Scotia to review her concerns regarding municipal water quality in Coxheath. A copy of this letter was sent to the Minister of Health as well as several Cape Breton area members.

(1) My question to the Minister of Health is, what action has been taken to date by his department, other departments and/or the Office of the Chief Medical Officer to address Ms. Keough's concerns?

[Page 1679]

QUESTION NO. 20

By: Mr. John Leefe (Queens)

To: Hon. Wayne Adams (Minister of the Environment)

(1) Wastes such as scrap film, chemical effluents (fixer {acid} and developer {alkali}), canisters, plastic reagent containers, et cetera, are still primarily being put in the traditional waste stream. What is being done to develop a more appropriate method of disposal for these wastes?

(2) Photo outlets, dental services, veterinarian clinics, graphic arts (printing shops) and newspaper publishing centres have such wastes. What consultation has taken place with these waste producers in the development of a disposal method?

(3) Some facilities do have a silver ion recovery unit, but other chemcial constituents remain in the solution such as metal (mixture of iron, copper and lead) ions, acids and alkali. What is being done regarding proper disposal of this solution?

(4) Many of the plastic containers that are used by the photo imaging industry will be prohibited for landfill disposal on April 1, 1998. The containers will have to be replaced. What discussions have taken place on this issue?

(5) What is the time-frame for resolving this matter?

QUESTION NO. 21

By: Dr. John Hamm (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. Richard Mann (Minister of Economic Development and Tourism)

(1) Will the minister provide for me the current organizational chart of employees for the Department of Economic Development and Tourism?

QUESTION NO. 22

By: Mr. G. Archibald (Kings North)

To: Hon. Eleanor Norrie (Minister of Natural Resources)

On December 4, 1996, I asked the Minister of Natural Resources how much the Nova Scotia Government was paying Rothschild Canada Ltd. to market and sell Nova Scotia Resources Limited. She failed to directly answer my quesiton that day.

(1) Will she now provide me with a copy of the contract signed with Rothschild Canada Ltd. to sell NSRL including the following information:

[Page 1680]

(a) length of the contract;

(b) value of the contract and monthly instalments being paid; and

(c) details of any specific bonus provisions provided for in the contract upon the completion of the sale of Nova Scotia Resources Limited?

[Page 1681]

NOTICE OF QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS

Given on May 9, 1997

(Pursuant to Rule 30)

QUESTION NO. 23

By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. William Gillis (Minister of Finance)

(1) Would the minister confirm that the Gaming Corporation has hired consultant(s) to assess aspects of the Halifax casino?

(2) Were these contract(s) tendered? If not, why not?

(3) Who received the contract(s) and what was the cost of the contract(s)?

(4) What was the purpose of the contract(s)?

(5) Would the minister provide the report of the consultant(s)?

(6) If the contract was for ongoing consulting, please provide the consulting contract and the purposes of the ongoing consulting contract?

(7) What recommendations of the consultant have been or are going to be adopted by the corporation?

(8) If the contract(s) were not tendered, please provide a list of those consultants contacted and/or considered.

QUESTION NO. 24

By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. William Gillis (Minister of Finance)

(1) ITT Sheraton's general manager said "enough information has been provided in order to make a decision" regarding construction plans for the Halifax casino. Have the requirements of Section 2.02 of the Halifax casino construction contract been met? If not, why not? Has the contract been amended?

(2) Has the Gaming Corporation accepted any construction plans for the Halifax casino? If so, are they the original plans or alternate plans? If they are not the original plans, how do they differ from the original?

[Page 1682]

(3) What will the difference make regarding number of jobs for Nova Scotians, revenue, capital investment, business taxes, et cetera?

(4) The operator is obliged to open a permanent casino by September 1988. Will that deadline be met?

(5) If it is not met, will the penalty clause be enforced immediately?

QUESTION NO. 25

By: Mr. Ronald Russell (Hants West)

To: Hon. Alan Mitchell (Minister of Justice)

Will the minister provide me with the following information:

(1) Number of peace bonds issued by Nova Scotia courts against spouses between October 1, 1995 and May 9, 1997;

(2) Number of occasions in which the peace bonds have been broken and arrests made between October 1, 1995 and May 9, 1997; and

(3) Present legal status of those individuals who have broken peace bonds between October 1, 1995 and May 9, 1997?

QUESTION NO. 26

By: Mr. Ronald Russell (Hants West)

To: Hon. Alan Mitchell (Minister of Justice)

Will the minister provide me with the following information:

(1) A breakdown of the maximum number of individuals permitted by the Fire Marshal's Office in each of Nova Scotia's provincially run correctional facilities;

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

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

[Page 1683]

QUESTION NO. 27

By: Mr. Ronald Russell (Hants West)

To: Hon. John Savage (Minister responsible for the Planning and Priorities Secretariat)

(1) Will the minister responsible provide for me an individual and comprehensive breakdown of ministerial responsibilities above and beyond that released on April 15th of this year? This list should include every agency, board and commission and a list of ministers who they report to.

QUESTION NO. 28

By: Dr. John Hamm (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. John MacEachern (Minister of Community Services)

(1) Will the minister provide me with details as to what plans his department have undertaken or plan to implement as a result of the recommendations contained in the release of the report, A Comprehensive Strategy for Disability Services in Nova Scotia?

QUESTION NO. 29

By: Dr. John Hamm (Pictou Centre)

To: Hon. Richard Mann (Minister of Economic Development and Tourism)

Will the minister provide me with the following information:

(1) Number of business loans and names of companies who have secured business loans of more than $500,000 through either the Nova Scotia Business Development Corporation or programs at the Economic Renewal Agency Office between June 14, 1993 and May 9, 1997?

QUESTION NO. 30

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

To: Hon. Eleanor Norrie (Minister of Natural Resources)

Will the minister provide for me the total hectares of forest land in Nova Scotian including:

(1) Total amount of hectares of Crown-owned forest land;

(2) Total amount of hectares of privately owned forest land;

[Page 1684]

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

(4) Details of all leases signed between the Nova Scotia Government and companies presently cutting on Crown-owned land in Nova Scotia?

QUESTION NO. 31

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

To: Hon. Sandra Jolly (Minister of Business and Consumer Services)

A $70,000 study undertaken for the Science and Technology Secretariat by CGI Information Systems and Management Consultants Inc. of Montreal to look into how the government would handle the so-called year 2000 computer millenium bug crisis was recently tabled by the minister responsible for the secretariat. In the executive summary of the report entitled Year 2000 Project, it is recommended that a pilot project be established to serve as a prototype for the government to gain experience in all phases of addressing this computer millenium bug crisis. It goes on to suggest that the motor vehicle registration application is a prime candidate for the pilot as it is approaching date problems in early 1998. The report states that a detailed impact analysis should be started immediately.

(1) Has this analysis been started and if so, will the minister provide me with a status report of this analysis?

QUESTION NO. 32

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

To: Hon. Eleanor Norrie (Minister of Natural Resources)

(1) Will the minister provide me with an update on the status of the gypsy moth in Nova Scotia and what measures, if any, were undertaken in the past two years and if the department sees any need for additional measures to be implemented to control the insect this year?

QUESTION NO. 33

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

To: Hon. James Smith (Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs)

(1) Will the minister provide details as to when or if the review of 1,500 buildings in Nova Scotia that have a steel joist supplied by Robb Engineering will be completed and if he will supply me with a general summary of the review once it is completed?

[Page 1685]

QUESTION NO. 34

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

To: Hon. Wayne Adams (Minister of the Environment)

Will the minister provide me with the following information:

(1) How much longer low strength leachate from the Cumberland County landfill will continue to be treated at the Mill Cove Sewage Treatment Plant; and

(2) Time-frame expected for the completion of a long-term treatment strategy by the Halifax Regional Municipality for the leachate material and will the province cost share in the development of this strategy with the Halifax Regional Municipality?