The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., Dec. 2, 1997

Sixth Session

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Housing & Mun. Affs. - Waterloo Place (Liverpool): Elevator -
Install, Mr. J. Leefe 535
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Port Medway Rd. (Long Cove): Problems -
Address, Mr. J. Leefe 536
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Educ. & Culture - Provincial Cultural Policy, Hon. R. Harrison 536
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 211, Halifax Explosion (06/12/17) - Remember: Silence - Observe,
Hon. G. O'Malley 539
Vote - Affirmative 540
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 212, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Job Creation: Art - Learn, Dr. J. Hamm 540
Res. 213, Health - Smoking: Cessation Progs. -
Inadequate Funding Condemn, Mr. R. Chisholm 540
Res. 214, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Weather: Road Conditions - Beware,
Mr. E. Fage 541
Res. 215, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 104 Western Alignment:
Safety Inadequate - Explain, Mr. J. Holm 542
Res. 216, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Snowplowing: Winter Crews -
Action, Mr. B. Taylor 542
Res. 217, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Snow Clearing: Equipment - Supply,
Mr. E. Fage 543
Res. 218, Educ.: National Youth Employment Strategy - Support,
Mr. J. Casey 543
Vote - Affirmative 544
Res. 219, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Human Rights Settlement (01/12/97):
Patronage End - Declare, Ms. Helen MacDonald 544
Res. 220, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - NSP:
Power Restoration (Snow Delay) - Investigate, Mr. G. Archibald 545
Res. 221, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Gasoline: Pricing Fluctuation - Address,
Mr. D. McInnes 546
Res. 222, Gov't. (N.S.) - Patronage (Lib.): Alive - Admit, Mr. J. Leefe 546
Res. 223, Fin. - HST: Home Heating Relief - Failure Condemn,
Ms. E. O'Connell 547
Res. 224, Health - C.B. (911): Bedford Centre - Handling Disallow,
Mr. R. Russell 547
Res. 225, Housing & Mun. Affs.: Co-op Housing Federations - Meet,
Mr. J. Holm 548
Res. 226, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Co-op Housing: Responsibilities -
Retain, Dr. J. Hamm 549
Res. 227, Fin. - HST: Charcoal Masks - Exemption, Mr. B. Taylor 549
Res. 228, Justice (Canada) - Gun Registration: Costs - Premier Explain,
Mr. J. Leefe 550
Res. 229, Devco - Donkin Mine: Privatization - Cease,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 551
Res. 230, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Kentville: Infrastructure Funding -
Provide, Mr. G. Archibald 551
Res. 231, Gov't. (N.S.) - Deals Bad: Negotiations - Stop, Mr. R. Russell 552
Res. 232, Educ. - Anna.-Granville Elem. School:
Construction Priority List - Release, Mr. D. McInnes 553
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Standing Committees of the House of Assembly, Hon. G. Brown 553
Justice - Judicature Act: Civil Procedure Rules - Amendments,
Hon. A. Mitchell 553
Anl. Rept. of Human Rights Commission, Hon. A. Mitchell 554
MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT (Rule 43):
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Road Conditions - Unsafe, Dr. J. Hamm 554
Rejected 556
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 49, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Roads: Seasonal Workers - Recall,
Dr. J. Hamm 559
No. 50, Westray Inquiry - Report: Cabinet Comm. - Parameters,
Mr. R. Chisholm 562
No. 51, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Tolls & Laterals Agreement - Status,
Mr. J. Leefe 565
No. 52, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Pipeline Rights - Table, Dr. J. Hamm 566
No. 53, Educ.: Horton H.S. (Kings Co.) - Cost, Ms. E. O'Connell 568
No. 54, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Human Rights Settlement (01/12/97) -
Cost, Dr. J. Hamm 569
No. 55, Housing - Co-op Housing: Administration - Transfer Prevent,
Dr. J. Hamm 570
No. 56, Educ. - Horton H.S. (Kings Co.): Cost Increase - Authorization,
Mr. J. Holm 572
No. 57, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Sable Gas: Secunda Marine -
Base (Dart.) Commitment, Mr. B. Taylor 574
No. 58, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Sable Gas: Secunda Marine -
Base (Dart.) Commitment, Mr. B. Taylor 575
No. 59, Educ.: System - Beliefs, Ms. Helen MacDonald 577
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 2, Income Tax Act 581
Hon. W. Gillis 581
Mr. R. Russell 582
Mr. R. Chisholm 585
Hon. W. Gillis 586
Vote - Affirmative 586
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 3, Beaver Bank Act 587
Mr. William MacDonald 587
Mr. J. Holm 587
Mr. R. Russell 588
Vote - Affirmative 589
No. 4, Stewiacke Deed Transfer Act 589
Mr. B. Taylor 589
Vote - Affirmative 589
No. 6, Cape Breton Regional Municpality Act 590
Hon. Manning MacDonald 590
Vote - Affirmative 590
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. R. White 590
Hon. J. Smith 597
Hon. F. Cosman 609
Mr. J. Casey 614
Mr. B. Taylor 622
Adjourned debate 629
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
National Unity: Select Committee - Members, Hon. G. Brown 629
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 10, Rainbow Haven Act 629
Mr. J. Abbass 629
Vote - Affirmative 630
No. 14, Christian Churches, Churches of Christ and Disciples of
Christ Incorporation Act 630
Hon. F. Cosman 630
Vote - Affirmative 631
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 104 Western Alignment:
Safety Deficiences - Correct:
Mr. J. Holm 632
Mr. B. Taylor 634
Hon. D. Downe 637
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Dec. 3rd at 2:00 p.m. 641
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
H.O. 4, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Hwys./Roads - Snowplow Logs
(14/11/97-2/12/97), Dr. J. Hamm 642

[Page 535]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Sixth Session

1:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Gerald Fogarty

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Keith Colwell

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. At this time I would like to call the House to order. We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 14 residents of Waterloo Place in Liverpool. The 14 residents state that there are two floors in this senior citizens' residence and that many of them living on the second floor are unable to carry groceries upstairs and there are difficulties with carrying wash up and down stairs to the laundry facilities and that there have been medical problems with respect to moving people in and out of the building. They request that government take action through the Lunenburg-Queens Housing Authority to have an elevator installed on the premises. I have signed the petition, sir.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

535

[Page 536]

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by some 230 persons who are expressing a grave concern over the condition of the Port Medway Road from the junction with Highway No. 103 at Exit 17A, at Long Cove. The petition is, "This road has many serious hazards in the form of large bumps and holes in the pavement causing drivers to swerve in avoidance of same. . . . We respectfully request that this road be evaluated and the problems addressed in order to reduce the damage . . .", to increase driver and public safety. I have endorsed the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I would like, through you, to ask members of this House to first join me in welcoming those members of the arts community who could brave the snowstorm and other events, here in the gallery this afternoon to witness a rather important event and to members of the gallery, I am not sure who all is up there but we welcome you today if you are members of the arts community and thank you for your input to date.

Mr. Speaker, these individuals are among more than 500 Nova Scotians who helped shape the document I am about to table, more than 500 Nova Scotians from all backgrounds, all walks of life and all corners of our province. This document reflects their ideas, their concerns and their hopes for cultural development. On their behalf and on behalf of all Nova Scotians, I am honoured to table Nova Scotia's first provincial cultural policy.

At a time when we have seen governments across Canada cut and streamline in the area of arts and culture, we continue to celebrate cultural firsts here in our Province of Nova Scotia. The first Nova Scotia Arts Council where policy, program and funding decisions are now in the hands of artists themselves. For the first time high school students are required to complete a full fine arts credit in order to graduate. The launch of the first-ever CD and audio cassette of Dan McKinnon's 11 Original Plus Other Songs, based on the museum themes and exhibits of our province. The first Portia White Prize, recognizing the highest standards of cultural and artistic excellence.

Mr. Speaker, now we are first, ahead of the federal government and most provinces, to have a cultural policy and in Nova Scotia, for the first time, government is prepared to say out loud and in writing: the diversity of our cultural experience is an essential aspect of our

[Page 537]

identity; and (Applause) government is responsible to maintain, develop and support cultural activities for the benefit of all Nova Scotians.

If I might go further, Mr. Speaker, we are not just responsible for supporting cultural development, we are proud to do so. This policy is much more than words on paper. It sets out clear principles to guide cultural funding, program, policy and legislative decisions across government. Principles recognizing the richness of our cultural diversity, the value of our professional and volunteer cultural workers, and the importance of lifelong education, language and artistic creation. These principles and others outlined in the policy are now our guidebook, and our measuring stick, across government as we review and develop programs to benefit people of all cultures and diverse backgrounds in Nova Scotia.

The policy is also broad in scope, Mr. Speaker. This policy supports the arts. From our singers and dancers to our painters, our potters, and our poets, our artists are at the heart of what makes Nova Scotia a great place to call home. This policy supports our cultural industries, from our boom in music and film to our craft industry, valued between $400 million and $500 million annually, and inspired by passion and cultural expression that show in every stitch, carved edge, or brush stroke.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, this policy supports our heritage, our curators, conservators and collectors, who tell us so much about our present and our future with the knowledge they uncover and preserve from our past.

This policy goes beyond principles, Mr. Speaker. Government supports the lifelong sustainability of Nova Scotia's quality of life: by fostering and celebrating our diverse forms of cultural expression; by helping Nova Scotians develop their creative abilities; through education; by promoting the right balance between preservation of and access to our natural and cultural heritage resources; and, by supporting the other commitments we have heard are so important to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, government will meet these commitments through appropriate funding, the right programs and services; high standards; and community involvement in decision-making. In funding alone, the province now invests more than $50 million to support culture and heritage each year.

Mr. Speaker, more than money, I believe the value in this policy is the renewed commitment to culture, and the willingness to hold ourselves accountable for results that make a difference as we move into the next millennium, which brings me to some closing words.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to borrow from Russell Kelly, the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Arts Council. He said, "This is a forward-looking, inclusive policy that truly sets the stage for Nova Scotians to stride into the 21st century with a strong sense of pride in who

[Page 538]

we are.". Because, as the policy itself states, government does not create or define culture; people, diverse and shared experiences, and pride of place do.

That's what this policy supports. That's what this policy celebrates. That, Mr. Speaker, is what makes me proud to table the first provincial cultural policy on behalf of all Nova Scotians. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I also would like to welcome any of the members of the arts and culture community who are here today in the gallery.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is an important day that this document has been tabled. It certainly is long overdue. Certainly since the process began and the last submission was handed in on July 1996, the government and the council has had lots of time to review and consult on this process. I think the principles that have been set forward are all encompassing and certainly principles that Nova Scotians, the arts community and the culture community have enough room to put forward their views and the views of most Nova Scotians on our diverse and rich cultural heritage.

Just a note from the original study. A study conducted in 1992 estimated that arts and culture contributed an estimated $164 million to the provincial economy, employing between 3,700 to 4,000 people in the vast majority year-round of these. The study also found that for every $1.00 that the province committed to the culture sector, nearly $3.00 came back into the economy. I think that re-emphasizes, not only the importance of culture for culture sake, but also the importance to the economy.

This is a good decent example and one of the few, I might add, that this government has actually consulted with people rather than coming up with a policy of issues on their own. I would like to commend the minister and the government on this policy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say a word or two in response to the tabling of the cultural policy by the Minister of Education and Culture. I literally received it as I sat down and have not had time to read it but I must say that I indeed look forward to reading it and will read it immediately, because we have needed for a long time in this province a good, strong cultural policy. It has been many years now since our Party attempted to wrestle with the importance of our culture, both in its narrowest and

[Page 539]

broadest sense, and many years, indeed, since we have been calling for the creation of an Arts Council, for an example.

Mr. Speaker, we have come a long way from the days when culture in policy terms was equated to those other worthy pursuits, sports and recreation, indeed worthy pursuits but not of the same character and distinctly different. So I am delighted to see this policy come forward. I think that our cultural policy has moved in this province from being, as I say, a poor cousin of other pursuits to a valuable and valued aspect of our life both commercial and imaginative. So I commend the government for it. It is good cultural policy. Good cultural policy makes the best of what we are; imaginatively it provides rich opportunity and encouragement and, in addition, it provides for rich commerce in our province. I commend the government on this initiative. Thank you.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 211

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

Whereas this Saturday, December 6, 1997, when this House will be closed, marks the 80th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion; and

Whereas the collision of two ships in the harbour and subsequent explosion was the greatest man-made explosion before the development of the Atomic bomb; and

Whereas this largest single disaster in Canadian history destroyed parts of Dartmouth, the Mi'kmaq village of Turtle Grove, the settlement of Africville and two square miles of north end Halifax, where 80 years later the scars and loss of life are still felt by many residents;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge this great human tragedy and have a moment of silence.

I would move passage without debate, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 540]

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

The motion is carried.

Would all members now please stand for a moment of silence.

[A minute of silence was observed.]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 212

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

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism said in this House last week that his government is using taxpayers' dollars with due diligence; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism attempted to have Nova Scotians believe that his Liberal Government did not make unsound business decisions; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism conveniently ignored the $3.39 million his government put into a major scallop aquaculture industry that was to allegedly employ 53 people at Whitehead, Guysborough County, but went out of business a few months later;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism learn the art of attracting jobs to Nova Scotia, instead of merely pointing fingers elsewhere and ignoring the issue at hand.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 213

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

[Page 541]

Whereas smoking related illnesses kill 1,400 Nova Scotians every year and cost the health care system $65 million annually; and

Whereas helping people who want to kick the habit is a vital aspect of any government strategy to reduce smoking related illness and disease; and

Whereas the province spends just $500,000 a year on anti-smoking programs and refuses to fund the Nova Scotia Lung Association's smoking cessation program;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the refusal to adequately fund smoking cessation programs as further evidence of the failure of this Liberal Government's overall prevention and health promotion policies.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 214

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

Whereas winter ushered itself into Nova Scotia on November 15th and has made itself quite evident over the past two and one-half weeks; and

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is having a difficult time in understanding the definition of what constitutes winter driving conditions because of his government's refusal to bring back winter plow operators earlier than the scheduled date of December 6th; and

Whereas Nova Scotians are being subjected to absolutely horrendous driving conditions because of this Savage-MacLellan Government's ineptitude in getting the proper snow clearing equipment operational and onto the highway;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister be quickly brought up to speed on the ever-changing weather conditions in Nova Scotia and be made to understand the dangerous driving conditions brought on by winter weather do not automatically begin every year on December 6th.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 542]

RESOLUTION NO. 215

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

Whereas, yet again, inclement weather has forced the closure of the new, tolled Cobequid Pass the second time in less than a week; and

Whereas traffic has been diverted from the Liberal's new super safe highway, the scene of numerous accidents today, onto the old Wentworth route called Death Valley; and

Whereas the new Cobequid Pass lacks emergency call boxes and pull-off areas despite the shoulders being too narrow for motorists to pull onto the shoulder for safety reasons in poor driving conditions;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government explain how it permitted the Cobequid Pass, built in an area known for its severe weather conditions, to be constructed and opened without adequate safety measures in place, and that it immediately announce how these deficiencies will be corrected.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 216

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

Whereas because the workers of the Department and Transportation and Public Works are struggling with early winter storms, the existing crew has been left to pick up the slack, leaving them now overworked, exhausted and in dire need of staff reinforcements; and

Whereas the residents of Lemmon Hill, in the Halifax Regional Municipality, were left waiting until 9:15 a.m. this morning for snow clearing of yesterday's storm; and

Whereas residents in Lemmon Hill include seniors with severe medical conditions, as well as school-aged children, many of whom were left to worry all the while because the roads were impassable;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately look out the window and realize that, indeed, it is winter in Nova Scotia and establish his department's winter crew schedule, allowing an appropriate winter crew

[Page 543]

operation to get under way before any more snow falls and any more Nova Scotians are left feeling stranded.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 217

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

Whereas this Liberal Government in their ever feeble attempt to save a cent while throwing millions away at private sector consortiums is unable to understand that Nova Scotia's first scheduled snowfall does not have a set starting date every year; and

Whereas despite the fact that Nova Scotians have faced miserable driving conditions since November 15th, the Savage-MacLellan Government has refused to move from their official winter start-up date of December 6th and their announcement of daily winter driving conditions until just yesterday; and

Whereas when asked in mid-November, officials in the Department of Transportation and Public Works were unable to supply until December 1st, a list of winter snow clearing equipment in operation at each Transportation depot across Nova Scotia because of the large volume of snow clearing equipment that was still at Miller's Lake;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works get an immediate understanding of the needs of Nova Scotians and stop putting their lives at risk because of a shortage or failure to supply the necessary snow clearing equipment.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby.

RESOLUTION NO. 218

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

Whereas last evening in this House, the Minister of Education tabled A Provincial/Territorial National Youth Employment Strategy; and

[Page 544]

Whereas more high school course options will be available to better serve the needs of students going into the workforce or training programs; and

Whereas the need and desire to see more young people working crosses the boundaries of geography and indeed boundaries of politics;

Therefore be it resolved that this House unanimously support this partnership approach and bring concrete, constructive ideas forward as we turn words into action to put our young people to work, helping young Nova Scotians lead the way into the 21st Century.

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

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver of notice. Since there has been a request, honourable member, perhaps it would bear repeating. Would you mind, again, honourable member, repeating your notice of motion.

MR. CASEY: Is this the part?

AN HON. MEMBER: The be it resolved.

MR. CASEY: Yes, okay. Therefore be it resolved that this House unanimously support this partnership approach and bring concrete, constructive ideas forward as we turn words into action to put our young people to work, helping young Nova Scotians lead the way into the 21st Century.

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

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 Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 219

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

[Page 545]

Whereas an out-of-court settlement between the Liberal Government and three former employees clearly shows that political favouritism still governs hiring within the Department of Economic Development and Tourism; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism yesterday announced a winter works program that is designed to create 1,600 jobs in high unemployment areas of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas it is imperative that fairness and equity, not politics, guide the hiring of those 1,600 Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House declare that the out-of-court settlement announced yesterday by the Human Rights Commission finally brings to an end centuries old patronage practices in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 220

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

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works yesterday admitted his department was caught off guard and was not prepared for the third major snowstorm of this season; and

Whereas Nova Scotia Power faced terrible road conditions in many areas that caused delays in some of more than 250 line crew members who are working on the outage getting to the repair sites; and

[1:30 p.m.]

Whereas the Premier said he will ask the URB to look into why Nova Scotia Power took so long to restore power to hundreds of Nova Scotia residents who he said were cold, hungry and afraid;

Therefore be it resolved that if the Premier really wants to get to the bottom of the inordinate delays in restoring power to Nova Scotia residents, he expand his investigation to include an examination of why Nova Scotia Power line crews were delayed by impassable snow-covered roads.

[Page 546]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 221

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

Whereas if yesterday's hearing in Truro was any example, Parliament's Consumer Measures Committee is evidently making little or no progress into the severe fluctuation of gas prices across Canada; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's Minister of Business and Consumer Services said in the September 20th edition of the Daily News that he did not expect Parliament's Consumer Measures committee to resolve the fluctuations, but his department was working on options to address the situation in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas gas prices across Nova Scotia range in price between just over 57 cents a litre in Cape Breton to almost 70 cents a litre in other parts of the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Business and Consumer Services immediately advise Nova Scotians today the measures being undertaken by his department to address this very serious fluctuation in gasoline pricing.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 222

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

Whereas the Savage-MacLellan Liberals have brazenly claimed that they have put an end to patronage; and

Whereas anyone who would believe this claim must be among the naivest of the naive or a Liberal Party sycophant; and

Whereas yesterday's 11th hour out-of-court settlement between the Savage-MacLellan Liberals and the three persons who were prepared to go to the Nova Scotia Human Rights

[Page 547]

Commission on the charge they were discriminated against for job placements in favour of friends of the Liberal Party and it is said certain Liberal MLAs;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage-MacLellan Government come clean and admit that from the Gaming Commission to health boards and everywhere in between, Liberal patronage is alive and flourishing and oinking at the public trough.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 223

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 while running for the Leadership of the Liberal Party the Premier said he would get rid of the HST on home heat this winter; and

Whereas the Premier later said it was too complicated to do right away, but he would have a plan figured out by the end of November; and

Whereas the Premier now says Nova Scotians who are having their monthly budgets squeezed by the Liberal-imposed HST on electricity and home heating fuel must wait until Christmas to learn about his plan;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Premier for raising hopes that they would have immediate relief from the HST and then failing to deliver on time or within the budget of hard-pressed Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 224

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

Whereas a spokesperson for Maritime Medical's ambulance subsidiary company, E.M.S. was recently quoted as saying, "we are having immense difficulties with Nova Star Telecommunications"; and

[Page 548]

Whereas despite not being able to properly dispatch ambulances for their assigned area, the province's part-time, overpaid Director of Emergency Health Services recently said that the new emergency telecommunications centre in Bedford would begin dispatching calls early in the new year for a large portion of Cape Breton; and

Whereas the Minister responsible for Nova Scotia's Emergency Measures Organization informed members of this Legislature last week that an independent consultant had been hired to assess the ongoing concerns about 911 involving incorrect dispatches for both fire departments and ambulances;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health assure the residents of Cape Breton that he will not allow the Bedford telecommunications centre to begin handling dispatches for a large portion of Cape Breton until the independent consultant's report is completed and all dispatch problems fully addressed.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 225

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

Whereas the federal government continues in its rush to download costs to the provinces, including the cost and control of social housing, a major component of which is co-operative housing; and

Whereas the Co-operative Housing Federations of Nova Scotia and Canada, which represent residents of co-operative housing, propose that an independent co-op agency take over administration of co-op housing programs; and

Whereas the Premier and the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs continue to duck meetings with co-op housing representatives who now fear the province has already cut a deal with its federal counterpart;

[Page 549]

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Premier and the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs to show respect for members of the Co-operative Housing Federations by agreeing immediately to meet and discuss their proposals in an open and forthright manner.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The former Minister of Housing met with the group. I have personally met with the group in question.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 226

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

Whereas the Liberal legacy will be remembered as bending to Ottawa's demands, signing bad deals and gross mismanagement; and

Whereas despite the pleas by the co-op housing movement to transfer co-op housing responsibilities to a private, not-for-profit management authority, the Savage-MacLellan government continues to press ahead with a deal that many fear will be the end of co-op housing in the province; and

Whereas the proposal being advanced by the co-op housing authority will ensure that co-op housing funding is dedicated to this vital service and not usurped by the province and to be used at its whim for other purposes;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs publicly state in this House of Assembly today that they will not proceed with the transfer of co-op housing authority and funding, and further, that they urge the federal government to accept the private sector management proposal being put forth by the co-op housing movement.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 227

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

[Page 550]

Whereas many Nova Scotians suffer from allergies and environmental illness, have chemical sensitivities and require charcoal filter masks; and

Whereas these charcoal filter masks are prescribed by a doctor as a medical necessity; and

Whereas Nova Scotians with chemical sensitivities who require these charcoal filter masks must pay the 15 per cent HST;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance tell this House if he believes it is right to tax a medically prescribed appliance and, further, that he raise this serious matter with the other parties to the HST agreement.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 228

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

Whereas Russell MacLellan, MP for Cape Breton-The Sydneys, was Alan Rock's right-hand man in creating the long gun registration fiasco; and

Whereas Alan Rock has made it clear the former MP, now Premier, "made a number of useful, very constructive suggestions, most of which found their way into the final legislation"; and

Whereas Russell MacLellan, MP, now Premier, stayed in Ottawa where he could shepherd the long gun registration legislation through Parliament, thereby allowing his boss Alan Rock freedom to cross the country preaching in favour of long gun registration;

Therefore be it resolved that the former MP for Cape Breton-The Sydneys, now Premier, explain how many millions he will have to take away from provincial essentials, such as health care and education, in order to pay the exorbitant costs of his and Alan Rock's long gun registration system which treats law-abiding citizens like common criminals.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

[Page 551]

RESOLUTION NO. 229

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

Whereas yesterday's press release of the Westray report leaves no doubt that corporate greed and mismanagement played a prominent role in the tragic death of 26 miners; and

Whereas the government now entertains the prospect of privatizing coal mining in Cape Breton; and

Whereas the privatization of Donkin would place the lives of miners who are desperate for work in the hands of private companies wanting to mine coal cheaper, but not necessarily better of safer;

Therefore be it resolved that this government, once and for all, kill the plan to privatize the Donkin Mine by announcing its refusal to transfer Donkin coal leases to a private operator.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 230

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

Whereas the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs preached the word partnership at a weekend conference in Halifax involving municipal councillors from across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the minister was not practising what he preaches when he promised the Town of Kentville $300,000 in infrastructure funding before he turned around and removed it without any notice; and

Whereas the Town of Kentville, based on information provided by the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs, paid for an engineering study, had project specifications drawn up and actually called for tenders before being told the money was being taken away;

[Page 552]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs immediately begin practising what he preaches over the weekend in Halifax and work with the Town of Kentville by returning the federal-provincial infrastructure funding initially promised to them so that necessary sidewalk and sewer line repairs can be undertaken.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MS. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you people in the west gallery from Dartmouth High School. They are in the constituency of Dr. Savage and where he is away, he has asked me to introduce them. They are here today to visit the gallery and to have a chance to see the wonderful people who are displaying the talents of the Province of Nova Scotia with their resolutions. I'd ask them to rise and be recognized.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 231

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 government appears to be once again at the mercy of private interests, seemingly unable to make a decision on its own, and one that is in the best interests of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the government has been studying for over two years now the question of introducing privatization into the operation and/or building of our corrections facilities; and

Whereas Atlantic Corrections Group, the company working with the government on the study, is in a win-win situation: if the government goes ahead with privatization ACG wins; if the government doesn't proceed the company will profit to the tune of some $300,000 for their work;

Therefore be it resolved that this government stop negotiating itself into so many bad deals on so many critical issues for our province, whether it be the privatization of our schools, jails, highways, casinos, et cetera and start negotiating deals that mean a win-win situation for all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

[Page 553]

RESOLUTION NO. 232

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 Annapolis-Granville Elementary School is over 30 years old and is now educating the children in a facility that has no air circulation, has shut down one classroom due to mould and disrepair and has been cited by the fire marshal for barely reaching fire code; and

Whereas the students of the Annapolis-Granville Elementary School are experiencing headaches, unknown rashes, respiratory complaints and stomach illnesses; and

Whereas the Annapolis-Granville Elementary School does not have fire doors installed at the school or had repairs done to a number of areas of the school because the school board does not want to spend the money on an old school;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education release immediately the priority list for school capital construction so the students of Annapolis-Granville will know if they have a brighter educational future.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you could revert, for a moment, to Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave, which most members now have, to officially table the report for the Standing Committees of the House of Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, in this order of business, in my capacity as Attorney General pursuant to Section 51 of the Judicature Act, I hereby table amendments to the civil procedure rules that were made pursuant to the Judicature Act by the Judges of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on September 13th, 1997.

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[1:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Human Rights Commission for the year ended March 31, 1996.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

Before we move on to Orders of the Day, I wish to inform the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate, which is at six o'clock this afternoon. The winner is the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party who has submitted the following resolution:

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government explain how it permitted the Cobequid Pass, built in an area known for its severe weather conditions, to be constructed and opened without adequate safety measures in place and that it immediately announce how these deficiencies will be corrected.

That is the topic for the Adjournment debate at six o'clock this afternoon.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to move that the business of the House be set aside for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance, under the provision of Rule 43(1) of the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly. The health and safety of Nova Scotians are threatened, due to the failure of the Department of Transportation and Public Works to provide seasonal work crews and appropriate equipment.

Emergency services, ambulances, fire equipment and police are unable to reach Nova Scotians, due to impassable roads. Nova Scotia Power cannot service their equipment, in order to restore power to Nova Scotians, due to impassable roads. Schools are closed because the buses cannot travel the roads. Yesterday a school bus slid off the road, due to hazardous road conditions. Cobequid Pass, touted as a safe, rapid transit highway by this government, was closed yet again.

Mr. Speaker, I therefore move for an emergency debate on this extremely important subject at the time of adjournment today.

[Page 555]

MR. SPEAKER: The subject of emergency debate is dealt with at great length in our Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly. The honourable Leader of the Opposition, in submitting his resolution, referred to the exact rule. It is Rule No. 43 and it is found on Page 36 of our book of Rules and Forms of Procedure: 43(1) "Immediately after the daily routine . . . a Member may ask leave to move that the business of the House be set aside . . .".

In Rule 43(4), "The Speaker shall decide, . . . whether or not the matter is proper to be discussed . . .". Also, this section on emergency debate deals with the time period, the notice that must be submitted to the Speaker. It states very clearly that a period of two hours' notice must be given to the Speaker of this intention to request an emergency debate.

This request arrived at my desk or my office about an hour and 15 minutes ago. However, I do accept the explanation that was provided by the caucus chairman of the Official Opposition, that there were difficulties in fax transmission. The intention was in the right place, I will say that. There were difficulties in fax transmission, I do accept that.

The point I want to make first, as Speaker of this House of Assembly, is that I do feel I had sufficient time to give it thought and consideration and deliberation, this factor dealing with the Speaker having regard to whether adequate notice has been given. So I have dealt with that, subsection (4) on Page 37.

However, I want to move over to Rule 43(4A) on Page 38. It says, ". . . the Speaker also shall have regard to the probability of the matter being debated by the House within a reasonable time by other means.". Now to my way of thinking, the operative words in Rule 43(4A) are "by other means" and I seriously have to consider the other means which are available to all members of this House of Assembly to debate the subject matter that has been presented to the Chair.

A notice of motion could be submitted and then, of course, two days later the resolution could be debated. That is one way in which the matter could be dealt with and it is done frequently in this House of Assembly as we hear notices of motion. Also the Adjournment debate on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays of every week provides one-half hour which can be devoted to the debate of this subject matter.

I also want to refer to Beauchesne, Paragraph 387 on Page 113, and I also went to the text, of course, that is used primarily as the main source of reference in the House of Assembly in Ottawa. On Page 113, in Paragraph 387, ". . . there must be no other reasonable opportunity for debate . . .", of an emergency nature. Here again we have the same kind of rationale that is submitted in our own Rules and Forms of Procedure in this House of Assembly.

[Page 556]

Also, Paragraph 389, on that same page, ". . . the adjournment of the House may be moved . . .", and the issue, ". . . must be so pressing that the public interest will suffer if it is not given immediate attention.". In all honesty to honourable members, I would have to say that the opportunity is there through other forms of debate for this matter to be brought to the attention and to be debated in length in this House of Assembly. The opportunities are there.

Therefore, I cannot give assent to this request for an emergency debate on this issue at this time. That is my ruling.

The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, your ruling, of course, is in order but, however, I would suggest to you, that in point of fact that we do not have the opportunity to bring this matter on to the floor of the House until later on this week or perhaps even next week.

Mr. Speaker, the thing is that this is a problem that is existent today, it is existent tonight and it is going to be there again tomorrow and something should be done today to get these people back to work with their equipment to get the roads cleared.

MR. SPEAKER: I would say, honourable member, that you are using a point of order to challenge the decision of the Speaker. A point of order, that is not the process or the required element with a point of order. You are challenging the ruling that has been submitted by the Chair. You know better than I that the decision of the Speaker can be appealed, can be challenged only by substantive motion. You are also aware of the means at your disposal to submit that substantive motion if you follow the process. All honourable members here, those with much more experience than I, are aware of that. I really don't think it has to be pointed out.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Very briefly, Mr. Speaker, my point of order is almost in the way of a question but it is a point of order in how we proceed in this House. It has always been the practice in this House that when a request for an emergency debate has been introduced that the Speaker calls on members from both sides to intervene and to give their opinions as to whether or not they felt that it was an emergency debate that warrants discussion or also those who want to give their reasons to the contrary.

I am just trying to find out, Mr. Speaker, from yourself if that practice, as I recollect it to be in this House, is going to be followed in the future or if on all future occasions when anybody brings forward a request for an emergency debate that the decision is going to be made in isolation without having given an opportunity for members of this House to express their views on that particular matter?

[Page 557]

MR. SPEAKER: It is very clear, honourable members - please, might I respond, Government House Leader, I want to respond to this point of order as it has been brought forward by the member for Sackville Cobequid - in our rules as well as in Beauchesne that the Speaker may make a decision on his own, shall we say, without having to call for advice or submissions. That is at the option of the Chair. The Chair may or may not ask for further submissions. I interpret that as meaning if the Chair is having any difficulty reaching a decision, in this case on this resolution that was submitted requesting an emergency debate, the Chair would then call for submissions for help in making the decision.

I have to say in all honesty, in consulting both our own book of rules and Beauchesne, it is very clear. It is spelled out very clearly and for that reason I must turn down the request for an emergency debate.

Now, again, if you are going to rise on a point of order and you are going to challenge my decision under the guise of a point of order, then I really have to caution you that the process of point of order can and will be abused. (Interruptions) The decision of the Speaker is final and that, too, is very well known with all members in this House of Assembly. I have listened to two points of order and I have tried to be lenient to that extent but my decision has been made.

Can we move on, then, to Orders of the Day.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Quite often it has been the recourse of the Speaker to decide on what the will of the House is and ask the will of the House to decide whether or not some particular matter shall be brought before the members.

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, I don't totally discount the precedence and the procedures that have been in existence and have been used in this House of Assembly. I do not totally discount that, not at all, because it must be considered in any decision that is going to be made. On the other hand, I have the reference books that are here. This subject of emergency debate is dealt with at great length in our book of rules and there is nothing that is unclear about it. There is nothing that is obscure or can be challenged or open to interpretation. I think it is very clear. I don't want to go through it again. I have cited the reasons why I have reached the decision I have. Can we move on then?

MR. JOHN LEEFE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wonder if you could advise me if I would be ruled out of order if I were to say that the Minister of Transportation is an incompetent who has been bailed out by your decision? Would I be out of order if I said that?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

[Page 558]

MR. SPEAKER: It is totally off the subject here. I have extended opportunities for members to get to their feet and speak on this issue. (Interruptions) We could be here all day with this. I am trying to be patient.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker. I am not questioning your decision. I understand your decision. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, you haven't heard me question your decision and I am not questioning your decision but I will just point out, through the point of privilege, just one example, and I know when you made your decision and gave consideration to a number of factors, you may not have been aware that, for example, the Cobequid Pass is one highway on which RCMP vehicles, seniors, infants in cars have been stranded. There are no call boxes, there are no rest areas and that section of Trans Canada Highway, through the point of privilege, for your information, is the highest continuous elevation on the Trans Canada in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Again, I am trying to grant some latitude but I will say very flatly, that is not a point of privilege. I think we have heard enough submissions.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, somehow the point is being missed here and before we go on to Orders of the Day, it is funny these honourable members did not raise the issue every time the Trans Canada Highway was closed with regard to the Amherst area and all through there for 15 years. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, they have all day in Question Period, they have all day tomorrow in Opposition Members' Business, they can use Question Period all day tomorrow, so I would ask that we move on to the Orders of the Day. (Applause)

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, would you bring the Minister of Community Services to order, please? Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: I see no necessity to do that but continue. Have the floor, honourable member.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, as a point of order, I would like to have the Speaker provide the minister who just made reference to the Amherst section of the Trans Canada Highway being closed down, an atlas, as I believe he will find that the section to which he is referring, which has frequently been closed down, is, in fact, in the Province of New Brunswick, not in the Province of Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear! Hear!

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

[Page 559]

We have a 60 minute time allotment for Oral Questions Put By Members, beginning at - let's call it 2:00 p.m

[2:00 p.m.]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - ROADS:

SEASONAL WORKERS - RECALL

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. In the last two weeks in this province we have had three major snowstorms. The Cobequid Pass has been closed twice and the opening of the Pass was delayed by snow. Not a great deal of snow, but because adequate equipment isn't made available at this time of year, it closed the highway. Yesterday, I drove to Halifax at the height of the major storm. I drove 90 miles of twinned highway, between here and Pictou County. At one point on that road, in a two mile stretch of road, three cars had spun out and were off the road because there was no plow clearing the slush off the roadway. In 100 miles during a major storm in this province, there was one plow from here to Pictou County. That is not enough and that is the responsibility of the Minister of Transportation. Much of the road had not been plowed for the first time . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Could we have the question, honourable member?

DR. HAMM: My question to the Premier, is he prepared, today, to speak to his Minister of Transportation and Public Works, and make him assume his duty to provide safe travel for Nova Scotians and to order him to call back seasonal workers so that there will be adequate people power to man the equipment here in Nova Scotia, to keep our roads clear?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I am going to do the honourable Leader of the Opposition a favour and let him speak directly to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. (Applause)

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brought up an interesting concern, one that is a legitimate concern, about the whole issue of winter safety. I, as minister, have stated in this House many times, the importance of driving carefully in winter storms. The member opposite talked about driving to work yesterday, well, I was in Stellarton at the Westray report, for which I never saw the honourable member there. I drove back from Stellarton and I, in fact, saw many professional persons driving those snowplows on those highways. In fact, I don't know if it was four or five that I counted in a lesser

[Page 560]

distance than what he was referring to. So, if he has any facts to be able to back up the statement that I think is uncalled for, then I ask him to bring the facts to the table and to the Legislative Assembly, the fact that there was only one grader on a highway in that distance. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please!

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will continue with the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The minister obviously went a different route than I did, because I travelled that same road and there was one plow between Pictou County and Halifax during the height of that major storm, one plow, and he may have been able to do as I did: count the number of cars that had gone off the road because the slush wasn't being removed from the roadway. A storm with eight inches of snow stopping traffic because no plows were available. Those are the kinds of conditions that this minister has allowed to happen in the Province of Nova Scotia simply because he won't recall the seasonal workers.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. HAMM: My question is to the minister. He seems to think he is doing a good job and these answers are going to satisfy Nova Scotians who are putting up with mid-winter conditions and he is not prepared to call back workers. Would the minister table, no later than tomorrow, the number of pieces of equipment that have been converted from summer use to winter use that are available for snowplowing today, here in Nova Scotia, and how many pieces of equipment have yet to be converted and will presumably be put into service on December 6th? Will he table that information later today?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member opposite asked that question. I believe we have somewhere over 400 pieces of equipment, whether they are O8's or O6's, graders, four-wheel drive outfits that are operating on the highway. I want to make something clear here and it seems to me that the honourable member opposite is listening to his back-row benches in regard to the operators that we have. It is true that we have some 737 operators for the winter conditions. Those operators, combined with some 208 that are spare operators, have been notified weeks ago that they will be assuming their job the same as they have for decades in this province on the first Saturday, I believe, in December.

Now, the issue is and he is alluding to this House, or trying to mislead this House, that we don't have operators for our vehicles. We have contacted the 737 operators and/or spares and asked them, because of the storm that we have no control over, if they would be prepared to come in. (Interruption) These are trained professionals that are operating these plows, our graders and our 08s and 06s who have agreed to come in and they have operated those. (Applause)

[Page 561]

The individuals who happen to be working in another job for this week, we have gone back to our regular staff for which they have agreed to look after the operational plowing of our roads. That is the position that we have taken. It is my understanding that our operators are there to man the equipment that we have in place that is looking after the highway activity in the Province of Nova Scotia. These are trained professionals doing their job and that is the information that Nova Scotians should know, not the political boondoggles that are being presented from the other side. They are trying to discredit virtually everything that goes on in the Province of Nova Scotia, whether it is the Cobequid Pass or anything else, because they don't want to accept the reality that they, themselves, have created many problems in this province. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will finish with the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Is this minister prepared to ignore the literally hundreds of telephone calls that members of the Opposition have been receiving this morning about the poor snow clearing activities that are going on around this province? Is he prepared to stand up and suggest to Nova Scotians that the snow clearing and road clearing activities of the Department of Transportation since November 15th are satisfactory to this minister? Is that what this minister is trying to convince us of in this House?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the member opposite is really being sincere or not, generally he is a fairly sincere individual, but maybe he is under great stress as to whether or not he is going to keep the job he has got and maybe he is trying to let the signal go to Nova Scotians that he maybe wants to keep that position. (Interruption)

The reality is we contacted the Atmospheric Environment Services of Environment Canada to ask them the very obvious question, how (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable minister has the floor to reply to the final supplementary.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the obvious question is that I hope the youth that are up here are realizing the intellectual property on the other side of this room. The obvious question is how often have we had a storm like we have had in the last few days in November and December and they have gone back five years and said that we haven't had a storm like this is the last five years.

We have a snowstorm, we have a problem with snowstorms and we have had 25 centimetres to 40 centimetres of snow falling in certain jurisdictions of this province over a very short period of time. These individuals are now saying that our professional staff are incompetent for looking after the highways of this province. (Interruption) I would have to say that we have very professional trained staff and I am very pleased with that. I cannot help the fact that we have had a very large amount of snowfall over the last period of time. We are

[Page 562]

doing all in our power to make sure that we look after the roads in Nova Scotia, for Nova Scotians. (Applause)

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

WESTRAY INQUIRY - REPORT: CABINET COMM. - PARAMETERS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will be directing my question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works but in his capacity as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee responsible for responding to the Westray report. The government has responded to the report by the commissioner with respect to Westray - The Westray Story: A Predictable Path to Disaster - by forming a Cabinet committee to look into the recommendations. I would suggest to you and other members of the House, as I have before, that so far this government has not learned the lessons of Westray, as evidenced by the accidents and the fatalities over the past four and a half years.

MR. SPEAKER: I must interrupt the honourable member. This is an issue, a tragic event in Nova Scotia, that occurred in May 1992. The Cabinet committee has been formed, and the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works has been named as Chairman of that committee. But I really, I think it is fair and I think we get onto very dangerous ground here if we are going to pose questions to members of this committee, especially the chair, who, back in 1992, had not yet been elected to the House of Assembly. (Interruption)

You did not complete your question but I just want to sound that warning, if you like, that we could be into an area here and a line of questioning that might be unfair. So in phrasing your question, honourable Leader of the NDP, would you please be guided by that.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that and I certainly would not do that because I am talking about the minister's responsibility as the chair of this committee, a very important committee. It has to do with how the government is going to respond to the recommendations and that is the issue that I want to address with the minister.

As I suggested, there have been problems over the past four and a half years since the government and this minister have been elected. In particular, I want to ask the minister, the committee has indicated that it is going to be responding to the recommendations in this report. I would like to also ask the minister if, in addition to the recommendations, will the committee also be addressing the failure of the Department of Labour and other departments to embrace better laws and better enforcement. In other words, will the committee be looking at issues other than these recommendations? Will they be looking at whether or not the government departments have learned from this disaster?

[Page 563]

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, you have alluded to the failures of the Department of Labour. I would assume you are referring to the Department of Labour back in 1991-1992.

MR. CHISHOLM: You didn't listen to my question, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I am doing my best to try to interpret . . .

MR. CHISHOLM: I am trying to ask a serious question here, Mr. Speaker, and I have not only been interrupted by you but by members on the government side. I am trying to ask a very serious question about what is happening in the Province of Nova Scotia relative to health and safety in the workplace. I am talking about areas that are well within this government's mandate, that have happened over the past four and a half years. I am asking what the mandate of this committee is. It is that simple.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: As I indicated last night, I believe that the report that was presented yesterday by Mr. Justice Richard was a very thoughtful, very compassionate, very caring report that was thorough in its investigation and some 74 recommendations that have come forward. We are reviewing those recommendations in detail and will be presenting to Nova Scotians our response before Christmas. We will be dealing with the report as has been presented to the Governor in Council, our government, to respond to and in fact we will be doing that.

MR. CHISHOLM: Let me just say that not only was it a thoughtful and a compassionate and a thorough report, it was also a damning report in terms of the role of the Department of Labour and the Department of Natural Resources. I want to say that the lessons of Westray have not been learned by the government over the past four and a half years.

I want to ask specifically whether or not this committee will examine, for example, the failure of the Department of Labour to move promptly to implement the rollover regulations that have been in the possession of the Minister of Labour for some number of months now with respect to heavy equipment, regulations that would protect people who are operating that equipment. Had they been in place, which they are in every other province in this country, by the way, had they been in place . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary question, please. Let's hear the question.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . some time ago, they would have at least saved one life that we know of. So I want to ask the minister, will he ensure that we get some answers as to why that department has been dragging its feet in terms of implementing those important regulations?

[Page 564]

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I think it is not the right of the member, myself, being Chairman of this committee, to respond to a specific question relative to an individual department. I would not offer that response.

I would like to say before I turn this over to the honourable Minister of Labour, that I do appreciate the fact that we are seriously evaluating this whole document with the idea, and the commitment that we have made, that Westray should never have happened in this province and, after our review, Westray will never happen in the Province of Nova Scotia again. That is our commitment to Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Was the question turned over to the honourable Minister of Labour?

MR. DOWNE: Have I not got the protocol right? I would now like to refer to the Minister of Labour to answer the specific question.

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and I thank my honourable colleague, the chairman of the committee. I, too, want to extend my heartfelt sympathies to all of those who have suffered so greatly through this disaster.

The Premier of this province has outlined very carefully that this committee will be responding to the Westray report in its entirety in a very thoughtful and a very careful manner over the next weeks and will report to this House at the most expeditious moment possible.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that I am appalled and shocked - as his former idol would have said - at the ignorance of the Leader of the Third Party in not understanding that he should address a question regarding a department to the ministry of that department, not to the chairman of the committee. He should learn something about Parliamentary procedures; that is number one.

Number two, Mr. Speaker, with regard to his observation about regulations appended to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, they are being prepared in a careful procedure where all Parties are being consulted, labour and management, from one end of this province to the other, and will be brought forward in a careful, considerate manner, so that matters like Westray will not be repeated. If we were to follow his dictate, we would repeat Westray because of his hurry to make political brownie points, and we will not do that.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think the point is that Nova Scotians want to know whether or not this is just a PR exercise or are we going to see anything real in terms of the response of this government to real health and safety protection in the workplace in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 565]

In my final supplementary to this minister, because I want to know what this committee is going to do, Mr. Speaker, and I say that to the Minister of Natural Resources, who is the chair of that committee, how can any . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Minister of Transportation . . .

MR. CHISHOLM: Minister of Transportation and Public Works, sorry, I still think he is responsible for Natural Resources. My final supplementary has to do with, I think, the response to that last question. How can Nova Scotians have any confidence that this is going to be anything more than a public relations exercise when they respond that way to real health and safety problems happening in workplaces?

I table, for your reference and for that of others, a recent court case where the minister's own department tried to avoid charges by saying that they should not be subject to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

I want to ask the minister, how can Nova Scotians have any confidence in this minister or his committee to bring about real changes to health and safety protection in the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the issue, the member opposite is basically questioning whether or not the integrity of this minister or this government is in question. I am not asking him to trust me or anybody else. What I am saying is that we are committed to doing a very thoughtful, very compassionate and very careful analysis. We will be responding back. We indicated publicly that we will be doing that, and I ask the member opposite to just watch, because we are committed to do the right thing for Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: TOLLS & LATERALS AGREEMENT - STATUS

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. On June 19, 1997, Nova Scotia was one of four signatories to an agreement on the joint position on tolling and laterals. There is one escape clause in the agreement, which was signed by the Province of Nova Scotia as one of those four parties on that June day. It says, "The signatories agree that should the Joint Panel not adopt this joint position each signatory will support its own recommendations with respect to tolls and laterals as previously advanced at the hearing.".

Then, Mr. Speaker, the Joint Public Review Panel did make its report and on Page 9 of the report the panel makes it very clear that it accepts the joint position and, therefore, of course, that means that the escape clause in the June 19th agreement is now dead. It is no longer active, it is dead.

[Page 566]

My question to the Premier is this, is Nova Scotia then still bound by the June 19, 1997 agreement which was signed by the Province of Nova Scotia as one of the four signatories?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the negotiations regarding the future of the offshore with the oil companies are still ongoing. They are still going well. It is my hope that we will have a statement to make regarding the offshore before too long.

MR. LEEFE: Once again, Mr. Speaker, the Premier avoids answering direct questions directly. My question to the Premier is simple and straightforward and he is a lawyer by profession and should be able to answer that question, yes or no. Does this agreement of June 19, 1997, to which Nova Scotia is one of the four signatories stand? Is it a legal and binding document?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the negotiations are going on. It is obvious that we have points on which to negotiate. So there is progress being made. We are trying to get the best deal we possibly can for the Province of Nova Scotia. I think we will be able to announce something before too long and we will be able to answer the honourable member's question.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has made it very clear why this is called Question Period and not answer period. None of the four signatories of this agreement are going to give a verbal agreement to renegotiating it if it is going to be opened. If any of the other three signatories have indicated that they are prepared to re-open this agreement then they must have indicated that to the Premier of Nova Scotia in writing. I invite the Premier to advise all Nova Scotians today by way of tabling those letters which agree on the part of the other three parties to the re-opening of these negotiations to do so. If he tables the letters then, indeed, the agreement does not stand and it is up for renegotiation. If he has no letters to table then this document stands and it is legal and binding and Nova Scotians are stuck with a bad deal that he and his government have made for Nova Scotians.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, Maritimes and Northeast are comprised of Mobil and Westcoast Energy, those two companies are both sitting down and talking to us and working out what can be worked out with respect to the offshore. So they obviously feel there are points to discuss. So I think that we are on the right track.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: PIPELINE RIGHTS - TABLE

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to continue with the Premier. The Premier has indicated a lack of knowledge as to what really constitutes an agreement or a deal. That is particularly surprising because when we search around, we do find that deals have been made and deals have been signed. One of the intriguing things about this whole Sable gas deal is whatever happened to our commercial right to be a participant, a 50 per cent participant, in

[Page 567]

what is a very valuable commodity and that is the offshore and the onshore pipe. We have been told by this Premier in this House that he no longer has control, he no longer owns and the province no longer owns that franchise right to the pipeline. That is a resource that many have calculated to be worth tens of millions of dollars.

So my question to the Premier is simply this, the Premier has acknowledged that he no longer has control over that, the province no longer owns it, would the Premier table in the House today the agreement that his government signed giving away the province's right to be a 50 per cent owner in the pipeline?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we no longer have control because of the fact that we don't have the money because we are paying $700 million to the financial institutions to service a debt that the former government in this province ran up. The fact of the matter is we don't have the money to purchase the right to be a partner in that pipeline. It would cost the Province of Nova Scotia about $250 million. We don't have the money to do that and we chose not to be a partner before, I don't know the reasoning behind that, I wasn't here but the fact that it cost $250 million may have something to do with it when we are paying $700 million to the financial institutions to service the debt.

The fact of the matter is that the money we do have we think is better used to be able to retain Nova Scotia Resources Limited so that we can use that ownership to in turn create an economic benefit for the Province of Nova Scotia. We do not have the money for both and we chose to retain Nova Scotia Resources Limited.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will continue with the Premier. The Premier gave again another very interesting but certainly not illuminating answer. The Premier says we didn't have the money to participate in us being a pipeline partner. What this Premier fails to realize, the right that was given to this province I believe in 1984 to be a partner, in that by itself, whether or not we exercised it, is worth tens of millions of dollars. I want to know from this Premier and I want to see a piece of paper that tells me and Nova Scotians what we received for that back-in provision, the right to be a 50 per cent participant in what will be a very profitable, commercial venture? What did we receive or did that minister, when he was looking after the Sable gas deal, give away the farm?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it goes a long way to indicate the financial sense of the Official Opposition when they talk about the fact that we gave away tens of millions of dollars in benefits but I just told them it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to participate so we have got to come out the loser on arithmetic like that. The fact of the matter is that we don't have the money but we are going to do what we can to make sure that there is a better benefit for Nova Scotia in the pipeline ownership but we just don't have the money, as a province, to even suggest that we back-in in an ownership capacity in the pipeline.

[Page 568]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will continue with the Premier. If the Premier reads the document and I am sure he has, the Joint Public Review Panel Report, it indicates that the pipeline partners have a guarantee from the offshore developers that regardless if they deliver the gas, they are going to be paid to transport the gas. There is absolutely no risk to this pipeline. We had an opportunity to participate in a no risk situation. Again may I ask this Premier what did the Province of Nova Scotia receive, what monetary value did we receive, for giving away the right to participate in a guaranteed public utility, guaranteed to make money by the Sable offshore? Will the Premier please tell us what we received?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we had a choice to make with $250 million we don't have to back-in to purchase the ownership position in the pipeline. We have a much better benefit and much better chance of being financially successful with an interest in retaining Nova Scotia Resources Limited for less money. We felt that was the better deal and that is the way we have chosen to go.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC.: HORTON H.S. (KINGS CO.) - COST

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education and Culture. I would like to ask the minister, through you, what is the total cost of the new Horton High School being built in his constituency?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the total cost is in the range of $25 million.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a document called the Horton District High School Public-Private Partnership Business Case dated July 8, 1997.

[2:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that the initial project cost, as of the date of that document, was $25.7 million and that it leaves out significant costs. These costs include the interim financing, the inspectors' fees, the applicable HST, the price of the land and the technology costs. So I would like to ask the Minister of Education, what is the total cost of the new Horton High School?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the question is the same, it is in the $25 million range.

[Page 569]

MS. O'CONNELL: I would like to direct my supplementary to the Premier, through you, Mr. Speaker. Is it the government's policy to open the taxpayers' chequebook to developers for all 40 desperately needed schools in this province, or is it just for the Minister of Education's constituency?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member professes to be interested in education. If she is interested, then she will be interested in waiting for our report on the P3 schools.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM:

HUMAN RIGHTS SETTLEMENT (01/12/92) - COST

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again my question is to the Premier. Yesterday, three former provincial employees who had been fired by this government because of their perceived political attachment or loyalty, challenged this government and were to be granted a human rights hearing. At the eleventh hour, in fact it was the twelfth hour, when the hearing was about to begin, they said to these employees that we are going to settle and we are going to pay you some money because we are now admitting that we handled you badly and we have contravened the human rights legislation of 1991.

My question to the Premier is very simple, and I hope he won't have trouble with this one. What did it cost the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to settle with those three employees who were wrongfully dismissed by your government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there has been no determination whether anybody has been wrongfully dismissed. That wasn't decided and I think it is important to get that out of everyone's minds right off the bat. What took place was a settlement that both sides agreed upon, a settlement that both sides felt was just and fair. That settlement was reached in the interests of trying to be just and fair, as far as both parties were concerned.

With respect to the amount, the amount of settlement is never disclosed, to my knowledge. It is within the rights of the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission, if he wants to say that the amount should be disclosed, that is his prerogative. The fact is that in settlements the amounts are never disclosed.

DR. HAMM: I will continue with the Premier. The Premier suggested that he made a settlement, not feeling that they had done any wrong. Well, I am sure the taxpayers will be very pleased about that, spending the taxpayers' money and suggesting that, in reality, we didn't do any wrong but we thought that perhaps we would give them a package anyway. That really stretches the credibility of the answer.

[Page 570]

Taxpayers know how much we paid out to deputy ministers who were dismissed. Taxpayers know how much we had to pay out for Jim Livingstone and two former NSRL employees. Why can the taxpayers of Nova Scotia not know how much it cost to settle with these employees who were done by so badly by this government? Why can the taxpayers not know?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to apologize to the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission whom I called "he", not realizing that the chairman was a woman, but I do want to get on to the honourable Leader of the Opposition's question.

This hearing was going to pose difficult questions, not of the government's intentions but the fact of the matter is that the minister involved is now deceased and the deputy minister is living in western Canada. We felt that if a settlement could be reached it would be a fairer way of dealing with this question, and that is not only the opinion of the government, but the opinion of the three applicants as well.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier indicated that the hearing would pose difficult questions. Well, it certainly would have exposed difficult answers, difficult for the government. Is the Premier prepared to find out the information? How much is the taxpayer on the hook to pay for this settlement that the Premier's government negotiated with three employees that were fired as a result of perceived political allegiance? Will the Premier file that information, table it in the House so taxpayers will know the costs, the same way we knew the cost for Jim Livingstone, the same way we knew the cost for the deputy ministers and the same way we knew the cost for other NSRL employees? Why is this a special case?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the process is not to disclose settlements, and that is the process. The honourable Leader of the Opposition knows that in the case of the Human Rights Commission, that is not the process. If he wants to have the figure disclosed, he has the right to go to the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission and ask her to require that the amounts be disclosed. That is not for the government to become involved in. It is a natural practice and we cannot disturb that natural practice, even if we wanted to.

MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HOUSING - CO-OP HOUSING: ADMINISTRATION - TRANSFER PREVENT

DR. JOHN HAMM: Again, I will continue with the Premier. The Premier is a long-time Nova Scotian and I am sure that over the years he has been aware of various co-op housing activities in the province and he probably, as I have, understands the value of the social enhancement that goes on in public housing that is administered under the co-op housing arrangement. Would the Premier indicate if he is prepared to intervene, to stop the transfer of co-op housing administration to this government and is he prepared to make that commitment here today?

[Page 571]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I do share the honourable Leader of the Opposition's respect for the co-op housing movement and I have been involved with a lot of their projects and can only say good about them. But I think in fairness that I should refer this question to the honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable Leader for his question. As he knows, two years ago the federal government announced the phase-down of their operations as they have them now. Provinces were to negotiate. We are meeting and still negotiating - the Provinces of Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and I think Newfoundland - and I have met with each one of them. They are telling me that they are giving better service today now that they have control of the total program. We are negotiating and there is nobody in Nova Scotia who is in support of social housing any more than this government and this Premier. We are going to do what is right for the people of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will continue with the minister in an attempt to save a little time. The minister has expressed support for the co-op housing movement, and I thank him for that, but he really hasn't come within a country mile of answering the question. He simply says that, I think co-op housing is great and we are going to do a good job and he, again, exhibits a very paternalistic attitude as to how he should handle this question.

Is the minister - and I ask through you, Mr. Speaker - prepared to absolutely guarantee to those who have participated in the co-op housing movement of this province that co-op housing in this province will never, as long as this minister has any influence on government, fall under the Department of Housing in this province. Are you prepared to make that commitment?

MR. BROWN: I will never sign an agreement with Ottawa or anybody else that will give the co-op housing people any less authority than they have in their agreements today.

DR. HAMM: I think they must be taking lessons across the way as to how to answer questions.

My final supplementary to the minister is simply, will this minister meet with Co-op Housing Federation representatives and entertain entering into a private sector management proposal that would cost the taxpayers nothing and would maintain the integrity of the co-op housing movement? Is the minister prepared to make that commitment?

MR. BROWN: I have already met with the group or what was purported to be the group. Some people want the province involved. There is another group that wants to belong to a national association in Quebec or Ontario. I am going to do what is in the best interests of Nova Scotians when the government finalizes the proposal that we have from Ottawa.

[Page 572]

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

EDUC. - HORTON H.S. (KINGS CO.):

COST INCREASE - AUTHORIZATION

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you to the Minister of Education. I start off by just reiterating two simple facts. One, that the request for proposals, tender number 1996-000500, dated October 31, 1996, said that the new school for Horton was going to cost $8 million and the Horton District High School public-private partnership business case, dated July 8, 1997, said that that cost, excluding land and all other things, was going to cost $25.711 million. My question to the Minister of Education is a very simple question, and that is, who authorized that increased expenditure from $8 million to over $26 million?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: The honourable member will know that in May 1993 the candidate for the New Democratic Party in Kings South was one of the strongest advocates, along with other members who were vying for the right to represent those people, for a long overdue school in eastern Kings to replace the existing Horton school. At that time, on the capital expenditure list there was a renovation cost assigned to Horton. The honourable member attempts to draw comparisons between apples and oranges. Public Works went into the building that was scheduled for renovation and determined, in a very clear statement to the then Minister of Education, that there was no point in renovating Horton District High School, that a new school was needed in eastern Kings to replace the old, aging building called Horton.

That school was put out to tender, public-private partnering, authorized by Cabinet and Priorities and Planning. I am not sure of the date but we will provide the documents for the members opposite. The response that came back was a new school, contracted with the private sector, in the vicinity of $25 million, a school, I might remind this House that has been needed in that area for well over 15 years.

MR. HOLM: The minister talks about apples and oranges. If the minister cares to check the facts and check the records of his own department in the tender call, he will find out that the $8 million was, in fact, for a new school.

I want to go back to the Minister of Education. A fundamental principle of parliamentary democracy is that the government must be held accountable for the expenditure of public funds. That is a primary responsibility of government. I want to ask the minister again - he does not appear to be totally sure as to who authorized this - will the minister table on the floor of the House today an Order in Council that has been approved by the Cabinet, that authorized an increase in expenditure from $8 million to over $26 million for the construction of a new school in the minister's riding? Will he table that document on the floor of the House today?

[Page 573]

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I have already indicated that we will table documents authorizing the construction of a new school at Horton. I will be happy to table that document. As I have indicated, what the member opposite is attempting to do here is paint a comparison between a renovation project for a new school and a new school and, in doing so, is asking for the authorization.

I would be happy to provide the authorization that shows that the previous minister was authorized to use engineers from the Department of Public Works to determine the feasibility of renovating the school at the rough cost of $8 million. I will table also the reason why the authorization was extended, to look at public-private partnering, because the answer coming back was that that would be putting good money after bad and that a new school was needed in that area.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the one who is trying to confuse the issue is the Minister of Education because he knows that the tender call in 1996 was for a new school, not a renovated school. That cost was $7.1 million. The minister is trying to confuse issues and that is quite clear.

Mr. Speaker, the minister said he will table documents that indicate they are authorizing to use this, that or the other department. My question is to the Premier. If the minister cannot table in this House clear authorizations that show that Cabinet approval has been given to increase the expenses on the public purse from approximately $8 million to over $26 million, will the Premier fire the Minister of Education?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer this question to the Minister of Education and Culture.

MR. HARRISON: Do I get to answer that question, Mr. Speaker? The allegation here, oftentimes when you compare apples and oranges you end up with lemons and that is precisely what I am sure the public is thinking of here.

Mr. Speaker, no area of this province is being singled out for preferential treatment. The members opposite would like to allege that a school renovation project that became a new school is somehow preferential treatment. There is $0.25 billion list of schools required for replacement in this province. There are schools needed in many areas of this province.

The process that was used to establish public-private partnering is a process under review. Each deal will be brought before this House and to the public and the taxpayers will be able to judge the merits of off-book leasing in this province, being able to supply high quality schools in places like Porters Lake, in Sydney and in Horton and in many other

[Page 574]

communities - Amherst, the hands go up around the room, Mr. Speaker - in many other communities where they are needed.

The process is objective. It is not a political process, the way our colleagues opposite attempted to make it years ago. The schools are built where they are needed, as determined by boards. The process for contracting out is a fair and tendered process. The acquisition of products is cheaper than ever and new schools will be built in this province where they are needed, to benefit the students of this province for years to come, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - SABLE GAS:

SECUNDA MARINE - BASE (DART.) COMMITMENT

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. It is my understanding that Mobil and its partners, or the Sable Offshore Energy Project, awarded Secunda Marine or one of its affiliates, the shore-based contract at the Mobil dock site on October 17th and that the existing dock must be dismantled and essentially rebuilt by April 1998, with demolition and construction to commence in the immediate future. I further understand that prior to the submission of bids to Mobil and the Sable Offshore Energy Project, the province discussed provincial assistance with Secunda Marine and/or its affiliates. Similar discussions, unfortunately, were not held with any of the other companies competing for the shore-based contract, a good number of which are qualified Nova Scotia companies.

MR. SPEAKER: Let's have a question, please.

MR. TAYLOR: Well, Mr. Speaker, I am getting to the question. Has the minister made a commitment with Secunda Marine or any of its subsidiaries, to pay for the engineering and repairs to the Mobil dock, the government-owned dock in Dartmouth which will be the site of the offshore supply base?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question and to inform the honourable member that discussions are ongoing with a number of companies who are interested in doing business with the offshore industry and Secunda is one of them. There are a number of people that are involved in wharf facilities and jetty repair facilities. There are as many companies as there are people in this room that are coming to our doorstep looking to do business with the government in the offshore. We are talking to all of them.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I think that somebody is not being truthful in here. There is just a little bit . . .

[Page 575]

MR. SPEAKER: Be careful of your phraseology, honourable member.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will table a document, of course with your approval, and I know there is certainly a lot of written text here, but there are also some connected and accompanying pictures that show the Mobil dock and show equipment there that is sub-contracted to Secunda Marine. Again, I go to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism and ask the minister, does he believe that it is appropriate to negotiate a deal with just one company, Fred Smithers and Secunda Marine?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again to the honourable gentleman opposite, we are dealing with many companies in Nova Scotia on a regular basis, dealing with the offshore industry and other important developments for Nova Scotia. All that I can tell the House today is that we will continue to deal and get the best deal we possibly can for Nova Scotia taxpayers. (Applause)

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, very quickly, the addendum to the tender relative to the shore base facility, it states that the work required at the wharf will be the responsibility of the successful bidder. Again I go to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism and ask him, is the Savage-MacLellan Government subsidizing Secunda Marine in any way, shape or form to facilitate the Mobil dock, the government-owned dock over in Dartmouth, just across the harbour?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the honourable member that I do know where Dartmouth is, it is right across there and I do know there are docks over there. I also know that we are dealing with a number of companies who are interested in doing business with this government in the offshore industry. We are going to deal with them all and, again, we are going to get the best deal we can for Nova Scotia taxpayers, unlike the previous crowd who used to just give away public funds with great abandon.

MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - SABLE GAS:

SECUNDA MARINE - BASE (DART.) - COMMITMENT

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could go to the Premier with this new question. Last week the Premier stood in this House and said that the taxpayers of Nova Scotia were not subsidizing the offshore development; in fact, it is in Hansard, and I have a copy of that document here and I am sure all members have a copy of that document. The Premier said no subsidization for Mobil Oil and its partners. However, we have brought to light documents tabled in this House relative to the offshore pipe coating facility that may or

[Page 576]

may not go to Sheet Harbour. We have reason to believe that Secunda Marine is receiving preferential treatment.

The Mobil dock over in Dartmouth is a government asset and has been sitting dormant for some 10 years, so to speak. We have reason to believe that this government is subsidizing Mobil and its partners in one way, shape or form and I would ask the Premier today, will he guarantee the taxpayers of Nova Scotia that not one red cent of their hard-earned dollars will go into subsidizing the dock over at Mobil on behalf of Secunda Marine?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in answer to the question of the honourable member opposite, we don't subsidize anything, we make good business deals for the taxpayers of this province.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting. You have the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism telling the House and all Nova Scotians that this government makes good deals. Well I can think of a lot of bad deals and, again, I go to the Premier. The Premier said in this House that his government will not be subsidizing Mobil Oil and its partners. I have substantial reason to believe that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism's department is subsidizing Mobil Oil and some of its partners. I want the Premier to guarantee all Nova Scotians that he will stand behind his word when he says there will be no subsidization to Mobil or its partners. Will the Premier give that guarantee here today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member has reason to believe there are subsidies to Secunda by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, I will refer the question to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I've stated before in this House, I'm not going to conduct business deals on the floor of this Legislature with people that we're dealing with, particularly in the offshore industry. We are dealing with a number of companies. We will continue to deal with those companies, continue to move along in the best interests of the taxpayers, get the best possible deal we can and get Nova Scotians working in the offshore industry.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it clearly stipulates, clearly states in Hansard November 25, 1997, the Premier states that there is no subsidization of the oil companies and again I ask the minister, the First Minister, the Premier of this province will he guarantee, yes or no, that the Nova Scotia taxpayers won't subsidize wealthy Mobil Oil and its partners?

[Page 577]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there's no question the people of Nova Scotia will not be subsidizing anybody. There will be some investment to make sure that the offshore goes ahead but there will be no subsidies to anyone.

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

EDUC.: SYSTEM - BELIEFS

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the Premier. Based on some of the conversations that we've been having around the whole issue of education and some of the information that's been forthcoming, I would like the Premier to respond to my question. That is, does this government believe in equality of educational opportunity or does it believe in an unequal, two-tiered system of education?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it's going to be a tough question to answer because I don't understand it but I'm going to refer it to the Minister of Education and Culture.

MR. SPEAKER: I think perhaps the confusion; I wasn't sure myself, honourable member, to whom you were directing the question. It's being given to the Minister of Education then.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for her question. The fundamental question is as a province, are we committed as a government to equality and equity in public education? The answer is definitely yes.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in the Minister of Education's riding the super Horton High is being built with all the bells and whistles while down the road schools are still selling cupcakes to provide the basic essentials for their students. This is being played out across the province. Is this the Liberals' vision of equality of education in Nova Scotia?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I'm sorry, was that question directed to the Premier or the Minister of Education?

MR. SPEAKER: Minister of Education, I believe, wasn't it, honourable member?

MS HELEN MACDONALD: To the Premier, Mr. Speaker.

THE PREMIER: I'll refer the question to the Minister of Education.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, having answered the first question in the affirmative that we are committed to equity and equality, when one tries to provision a province and catch up with schools that are aging by virtue of when they were built, obviously we're going to build new schools and that will create discrepancies between schools that are waiting for

[Page 578]

new construction and those that are being built. I trust the member opposite would not want us to build inferior quality schools to narrow the gap. I trust that what she would want us to do would be to build the finest schools we can, in the quickest possible manner, at the most effective cost to the taxpayers so that the students of this province, from one end to the other, benefit equally.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, well the honourable member knows and the Premier knows that there are other ways of doing this. That the students who have all the educational advantages will certainly have an advantage over those students who are still struggling in many parts of this province to have textbooks in their classroom.

My question is, Mr. Speaker, why has the government chosen to put all of the money into some of the children in this province and not spread it out so that children, across the province, could have better opportunities and resources?

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Again, I must ask you, is your question directed to the Minister of Education and Culture honourable member?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am going to restate this government's commitment to the finest quality schools and the finest quality education that we can provide in Canada, and we will do so with the wonderful albatross that has been left, the millstone in a sense, that has been left around our neck.

We have, as the Premier has already indicated, huge debt service costs. More than, in fact, we spend to educate all of our children, but will we provision them with the proper schools, the proper technology? Yes we will, Mr. Speaker. Will we do so in a measured and affordable way? Yes we will. Will we provide them with the best schools in the country? Absolutely, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for the Oral Question Period has expired.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Just two things, last week we talked about the issue of four-wheel drives, and I indicated that we had two in the northern district. In fact, in the areas that were really questioned we have four four-wheel drive plows, one in Pugwash, one in Wallace and two in River Hebert and those are areas that serve the area.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to make it very clear that, I believe, today was a bit of a farce. I believe the Leader of the Opposition and this team brought in a resolution that they wanted to debate, as an emergency debate, in the House, and I believe the fact that I had about one

[Page 579]

question on this emergency debate points out to me that what they are doing here is scaremongering and political manipulation. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: A point of order cannot be raised on a point of order. I am listening to one point of order.

MR. DOWNE: I want to say, Mr. Speaker, I was just very disappointed by the fact that I thought it was a legitimate concern they had, and we wanted to address it, but in fact, it was a political charade, a political game. I think they should be embarrassed by that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I will recognize the honourable member for Cumberland North but I want to point out that a point of order cannot be raised on a point of order, that is why the honourable minister had the floor.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order. I would like to address the comments by the minister. I think if the minister will review the record and listen to what was addressed last week, the point was that it was the Amherst depot, not the northern region and that is the point. It is the Amherst depot four-wheel drive plow, 45 minutes away in Pugwash, on good roads, does not plow in storm conditions. I think the minister should realize that. The snow belt of Nova Scotia is northern Nova Scotia.

The issue of what is happening today and what has happened at the end of last week with the two storms, we are dealing with real people and citizens here. I had over 25 calls on Friday and Saturday, people without power, people destitute in mobile homes, without sources of heat, needing a plow to plow those roads out so that Nova Scotia Power could restore the power to those people and supply heat. That is the real issue. It is people.

MR. SPEAKER: For information now, I did entertain the honourable minister when he got to his feet on a point of order. I felt that I had to do the same for the member on the side opposite; however, there is no point of order here. These are different positions being taken by different members of this House of Assembly, but there is no point of order. There is disagreement, but there is no point of order.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, on a clarification and on a point, and I think it is a very important one. In regard to the issue of the Amherst concern and about alluding to the fact that we were not plowing and the power issue, the reality is that our staff were informed there were power lines down, live power lines. Maybe the former Minister of the Environment would like to have plow operators killed on the highways, plowing with power lines alive on the highways. That is the way they like to do it, I would not want to do that, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption)

[Page 580]

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable members this cannot be permitted to continue. I recognize members on points of order and make the point there is no point of order. I do not want to sit here in a dictatorial position, but again, I ask for your cooperation. These are simply matters of opinion, positions being taken by members on the two sides of the House of Assembly. I cannot permit this to go on forever and keep sitting members down and saying there is no point of order. Can we continue with Orders of the Day?

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

AN HON. MEMBER: A new point of order on the question. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: The point of order belongs to Question Period, right after Question Period. Is that not the process?

MR. SPEAKER: It is. All right, you are being recognized on a point of order.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

It had better be on a new topic.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: It is, Mr. Speaker. During Question Period, in response to a question placed by the Official Leader of the Opposition, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works suggested that the Official Opposition had said that the highway workers, the Department of Transportation and Public Works full-time workers, were incompetent. That is what the member said. Mr. Speaker, through you and to all members of the House, I would ask that minister to table anything, be it a tape, be it a document, be it anything that states that we have ever said that we have nothing but high commendation for those workers working out there. They are overworked, they are understaffed, they are exhausted and tired.

MR. SPEAKER: The member has stated his case. There is no point of order.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 2.

[Page 581]

Bill No. 2 - Income Tax Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak briefly on Bill No. 2 - An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act. In so doing, I move that this bill be now read for a second time. The purpose of this bill, and it is a very short bill - I believe it is three lines - is to close a loophole in the Capital Tax Act. This very simple, one paragraph bill, makes it clear that businesses get one tax break, not two. That was the intention of the bill when we passed it in the spring and there is apparently some concern by Revenue Canada that it was not clear.

For instance, if a company is eligible to get the manufacturing and processing investment tax credit, it will receive credit for its corporate income taxes. The company will not be allowed to save some of that credit for the capital tax. We have been told that the original wording of the bill would have allowed a company to split its credits. If the company could not use the full credit against its corporate income taxes, it could apply the remaining credit to the capital tax. That would be splitting and that was not the intent. This bill closes the loophole. It makes sure the original intent of the capital tax is preserved.

That is about all, I think, I need to say about the bill itself, but before I take my place I want to review briefly what the capital tax does and what our current expectations are for the revenue to be raised. Last spring we brought in the capital tax to help rebalance the impact of harmonizing the sales tax system. On the one hand, the business community has seen a drop in sales tax paid in the order of $170 million. At least, that is the projection for the year. On the other hand, the capital tax will put a burden on the business community in the order of $40 million. The $40 million to be raised by the capital tax allowed us to provide the province's first ever personal income tax reduction. In effect, we were able to shift some of the benefits of the harmonization effort from businesses to consumers.

As most members will recall, the capital tax is phased-in. There is no capital tax below $5 million. There is a sliding scale for corporations with $5 million to $10 million in taxable capital. The phase-in happens by way of a deduction. For instance, a business with capital of less than $10 million but more than $5 million will pay the tax at a rate of 0.5 per cent. With a deductible of $5 million, however, the tax will only apply to the difference. On the other hand, a firm with capital of $10 million or more pays at a rate of 0.25 per cent. That would be on the entire capital with no deductions. For example, a firm with $9 million in capital pays tax on $4 million, that is $9 million minus a $5 million deduction, which is $4 million times 0.5 per cent which is $20,000. A business with $11 million in capital pays tax on the full $11 million with no deduction. That comes out at 0.25 per cent or $27,500. Just to give you an example, and this is available so you have the numbers just to explain it.

[Page 582]

The definition of taxable capital matches the federal definition for the purposes of the federal Large Corporation Tax. It consists primarily of a corporation's returned earnings, plus its paid-up shares, plus its long-term debt. Corporations will be taxed on that part of the capital that is allocated to Nova Scotia under federal income tax allocation rules. It will be a deductible expense for corporate income tax purposes. In this province the tax affects somewhere between 1,000 and 1,400 corporations.

Before concluding - and I said I would be brief - I want to make two important points. First, of all the provinces that charge this kind of capital tax, Nova Scotia has one of the lowest rates; and second, this tax contains a sunset clause. The tax disappears on April 1, 2002; in other words, it will be in effect for a total of five years.

We were reluctant to impose a tax that does not relate to profitability; for example, a company could be in a battle for its existence and losing a great deal of money. Notwithstanding the foregoing, such a company will still be required to pay the capital taxes to the government. We would have preferred to have avoided this. The general business benefits from the HST, however, give businesses some flexibility. In the early years of HST, it also helps redress the balance between business benefits and consumer benefits. As time goes on and the flow of business savings goes more towards consumers, the balance will correct itself. When that occurs, it will be time to take off the capital tax.

Mr. Speaker, that concludes my brief review of Bill No. 2. As I say, it is a three line bill, and at this point I recommend it for second reading by this House and to be sent on to the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, in reality I have no difficulty with the bill; however, I do have some difficulty with some of the remarks that the minister made and I have some difficulty too, I must confess, with the rationale when the Income Tax Act was first amended earlier this year, that the escape provision was not closed at that time.

Mr. Speaker, in his remarks on this bill, the Minister of Finance referred to the matter that part of the reason this tax was implemented was to lessen the impact on the provincial coffers of the HST. He informed the House, and he has done this many times, that the province is losing around about $170 million because of the imposition of the harmonized sales tax. This is a bunch of guff, this is absolute nonsense. If any member here doesn't believe me, I would refer them to the Estimates of the Province of Nova Scotia for 1997-98, and it doesn't take a genius in mathematics or a CA to actually develop from these numbers what the actual numbers are.

[Page 583]

The actual numbers are that we are, in fact, going to bring in more money through the harmonized sales tax than we did through the health services tax before the harmonized sales tax came in. Not only that, but the minister - and I am going to ask him a question on this tomorrow, so I am going to give him a preview of a question that I am going to ask him - I understand that the harmonized sales tax revenues for this year are substantially up, way above what the Minister of Finance estimated in his document for this year.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's good.

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, that's good, I have no argument about that, but don't kid yourself. Who is paying the harmonized sales tax? The middle class and the lower income class in this province and those who are genuinely poor are carrying the cost of the harmonized sales tax in this province.

Mr. Speaker, we got all kinds of promises from the Minister of Finance when the harmonized sales tax came into being, about all of the input tax credits coming into the people who were retailing and manufacturing in this province, and that was going to flow through - flow through were the words he used - to the people who were the consumers. What is the actual fact? Not only are those taxes not flowing through, prices didn't come down but have gone up. If you don't believe me, again, I refer you to the document put out by the Department of Finance which informs us, for instance, that the costs of clothing and footwear in this province has gone up by 7 per cent. Yet we look Canada-wide and it has only gone up by 2 per cent. Why do you suppose the cost of living index for clothing and footwear has gone up by 7 per cent? There is only one reason, because they have hammered the tax onto those . . .

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. If the honourable member would table the document to which he is . . .

MR. RUSSELL: Oh, I would be delighted to table it. In fact, this came from the Department of Finance. (Interruption) Oh, well, you should read them more, Mr. Minister, because there is an education in these documents.

The public in this province is being ripped off by this government. (Interruption) Oh, you can have a copy of this when I am finished with it. I am not finished with it at the moment. You will get it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bruce hasn't taken it off the web page yet.

[Page 584]

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, it came across to, it is dated November 20, 1997, so it is a relatively new piece of information from the department. Surely to goodness the minister has read his mail since November 20th. My God, what a way to run a ship.

So, Mr. Speaker, what I am saying is that it is totally without foundation, it is a total untruth for somebody to stand up in this House and say that the provincial government is losing $170 million because of the fact that we brought the harmonized sales tax in and that is why we have the capital tax.

Now, I am not against the capital tax. In fact, most provinces have it now and I think maybe that is the way to go. That is fine, but for gosh sakes, Mr. Minister, don't tell the people of Nova Scotia that the reason you are putting this tax on is because the province is losing money because of the harmonized sales tax because it just is not so.

Mr. Speaker, the other thing that we have not been told by this minister is the fact that this year they are ripping off, from the federal compensation for harmonization, $118 million. Now I would virtually bet my socks that they have no more reason to get that $118 million other than to have money within the Department of Finance so they can look after a parcel of goodies to feed out to the various departments, to do capital projects here and there, to get some of these other characters here elected.

That is why it is being done because $118 million isn't really the amount we should be drawing down this year. We should be drawing down approximately one-fourth of $269 million, which is $65 million. Instead of that, we are drawing down over $100 million, in fact substantially over, $118 million. This money is going to run out in a couple of years so, Mr. Speaker, this government says, I suppose, what the heck, we are going to spend it anyway and, if we get elected, then there is no problem; if we don't get elected then it is somebody else's problem. That is the way they are going to leave the ship.

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the minister mentioned the harmonized sales tax when he is talking about this bill because otherwise, I would have had nothing to say. I am going to support this piece of legislation. He wants a copy of this. Would you get a copy of this, please, for the minister so he can read his own mail.

Mr. Speaker, what else have I got to say about the bill? Nothing at all. As I say, I think that in general the capital tax is something that I would favour. However, to raise it under the guise of saying this is because the provincial government doesn't want to impose extra costs on the consumers of Nova Scotia is absolute nonsense. Thank you.

[Page 585]

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, don't have much to say about this other than that I will be supporting it, except as the previous speaker indicated, I have to get up and respond to the Minister of Finance's explanation that this is a response, trying to balance out the corporations in the Province of Nova Scotia with consumers and that they are asking consumers to pay a little more and, therefore, we are going to ask corporations to pay a little more.

The reality is this, that they are taking in excess of $200 million out of the pockets of low- and middle-income Nova Scotians. Those are the people who are having it socked to them left, right and centre by this government, all the while we get this little morsel taken off of the largest corporations in this province who are already making off like bandits, let me tell you right now, as a result of not having to pay this provincial sales tax. I think that is the truth of it all.

What I would like to know, when this all shakes down, is how much money this meant to the Michelins and to the Storas and to the Trenton Car Works and to some of these big companies in the Province of Nova Scotia? How much are the people in my constituency, living on fixed incomes, that have to pay more for electricity, for home heating fuel, increasing costs on children's clothing and footwear, how much are they paying to subsidize these bigger corporations who are getting it on at every end?

Take a look at Michelin, they get the slate wiped clean, $25 million. That is going to go right onto the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia; that is going to be an extra expense that the people of Nova Scotia again are going to have to pay in order to look after the welfare of these poor major corporations in the Province of Nova Scotia. It makes me almost sick to my stomach when I listen to this kind of rubbish in the House of Assembly, about how this government is producing fairness in the taxation system; it is absolutely wrong for that to be even suggested.

I would like to know what the minister has to say about what this has meant; in other words, are they expected to be gaining $40 million as a result of this? Again what I say is that it is a mere pittance in comparison to the savings these companies are receiving, but as a result of the exclusion or the need to fill in this particular clause or apparent loophole or whatever it might be, is this retroactive or do the corporations, in fact, gain at all from this, or were they able to plug it back to January 1, 1997? That is my question and I look forward to hearing the answer from the minister when he rises to his feet to close debate.

Let us be clear on what that first sales tax reduction was. It was a percentage reduction that, as usual, benefited those with the higher incomes, benefited those people earning in the area of $30,000. Something less than $100 is what the savings were to those people. Let us be clear that this government has not done anything about fairness in the taxation system and,

[Page 586]

in fact, what they have done with the BST is made this one of the most unfair tax regimes for consumers, for ordinary Nova Scotians than we see anywhere across this country.

With that having been said, I will be supporting the bill, but will certainly continue to fight this government's strategy to shift the burden continually from corporations onto individual consumers in this province.

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 would like to thank the two honourable members who took part in the debate on the bill. One honourable member mentioned whether this is effective to April 1st and, yes, the bill makes sure that the capital tax applies as it was intended. Revenue Canada knew our intention, they just said you better put it in writing. They are enforcing it and it will be effective for the whole year.

I think I also should answer another question that came up from the honourable Leader of the Third Party about the benefit of the income tax reductions. In fact, the Government of Nova Scotia paid particular attention to low-income earners, this is the second benefit. There was one brought forward by my predecessor a couple of years ago, we followed it up in 1997 which means, in fact, that a family of four with income of $22,000, which is hardly a prince's ransom, will have a benefit of $30 from the general tax decrease, but $320 from the low income tax reduction for a grand total of $350, and hence, those people, Mr. Speaker, at $22,000 do better than people on much higher income. Thank you. (Interruption) Well, it is the truth.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second 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 be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Private and Local Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

[Page 587]

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 3.

Bill No. 3 - Beaver Bank Act.

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

MR. WILLIAM MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 3, the Beaver Bank Act. This bill will complete a change in the name of the Community of Beaver Bank. Over the years, I guess, the name got misspelled in one way or another. Actually, I was told that back when the air force base was put in place during the war that the name was actually joined up, is one of the reasons the name was put as one word rather than two. The actual name is two words, Beaver Bank.

This bill is the final stage of the change of the name. The regional municipality has changed their laws for their signs and regulations. The Department of Natural Resources, I think, has changed its regulations to cope with the change in their charts, mapping and so forth. This is the final stage. This is mainly for election issues. During the last election, the two word named Beaver Bank could not have been used. They had to use the old word and the Elections Act had to be changed to make the change. So this will complete that and, as I said, I will move second reading of the bill. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I just want to rise to indicate certainly our full support for the bill that is before us. It may sound like a very small thing to change the name of Beaverbank to Beaver Bank, but it is a very important change for the people who live in Beaver Bank, particularly those who have lived there for a long time. Beaver Bank certainly is, as the member who just spoke indicated, a very old community with a very proud heritage and tradition. It is its own separate community and has been so for a lot longer than I can remember or that I have been around.

I think that it is important, yes some members say that that is a very long time it would appear, especially when they look at the top of my head and they note the colour of the vegetation that is growing there, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley who suggested maybe I was born with that colour and that I am therefore, obviously, very youthful, but the reality is, this is an important change for that community.

I think of what the word Canada, itself, means and Canada which comes from the native word from the Iroquois language which mean Kanata which is community. Canada is a community of communities, and I think that it is very important that we respect our communities. One of the things that we certainly take pride in is our own names. We like to make sure that our names are spelled correctly and pronounced the way that we, as

[Page 588]

individuals who have that name traditionally and in our family way, have our name being pronounced and being spelled. I think this is an important change, and I want to congratulate the member for Sackville-Beaverbank for bringing this legislation before this House.

Of course, before the 1993 election, there was not a riding called or a constituency called Sackville-Beaverbank, although the old riding of Sackville, which was its official name, I used to call myself the MLA for Sackville-Beaverbank, and I did that, Mr. Speaker, because I recognized that not only was Sackville a very important community and one that I was very proud to represent but that Beaverbank itself was also a separate community, with its separate history and heritage and that it also deserved to be recognized in the name of the constituency. I think it is very important that that community be pronounced and spelled the way that community historically and traditionally has been spelled. So, again, I want to indicate to the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank - two separate words, and that is Beaver Bank is two separate words so it is really three, in total. (Interruption) I am getting help here. I just wanted to indicate that certainly we are supporting this and will be supporting it through all stages.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I just want to assure the House that the members of this caucus will also be supporting the bill. I would also like to speak for a moment or two on what the previous speaker was speaking about, that is the fact that it is a community and the community decides what the name of that community will be.

Now it is too bad that we are doing it for only one community because I am sure there are communities all across this province at the present time that would like to be called by their own particular name. The strength of communities, Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, is the strength of a name and what it means and the history and it depends on what makes up that community. There has to be a church, a school, medical facilities available or at least doctors there, there has to be a fire department, policing; all those things make up a community.

I would just hope that other members of that Party opposite, who are so busily tearing down communities across this province, will take note of what one of their backbenchers is doing, that is trying to give their community at least a voice in the name of that community. Mr. Speaker, we are not going to have any small communities in Nova Scotia if we keep these people in power. They are going to disappear completely because the things that go to make up communities are being lost every day.

MR. SPEAKER: I would say you are off the topic of the bill. Thank you, honourable member.

[Page 589]

The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 3. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 4.

Bill No. 4 - Stewiacke Deed Transfer Act.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to bring this legislation forward, with the cooperation of the Legislative Counsel and the Clerks and the Municipal Affairs Department. I would like to thank staff and, of course, Mr. Art Fordham for all their assistance.

As you would know, Mr. Speaker, at present the provisions within the Municipal Act do not permit municipalities to raise their deed transfer tax. In fact, it can't exceed 0.5 per cent. However, I would point out that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and the Regional Municipality of Queens have authority of up to 1 per cent, the same as basically we are requesting and asking here. (Interruption) No, I have to comment that Elderbank does not have authority. In fact, they fall within the Halifax Regional Municipality. The Halifax Regional Municipality, the municipal unit you live in, has authority of up to 1.5 per cent; in fact, they can raise the deed transfer tax up to 1.5 per cent.

So, Mr. Speaker, this is not precedent setting. All members of the House, I am sure, are aware that from time to time small units within your constituency do make requests. I am very pleased to bring this forward and move it on for second reading. I thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 4. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 6.

[Page 590]

Bill No. 6 - Cape Breton Regional Municipality Act.

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

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and introduce the Cape Breton Regional Municipality Act for second reading. Basically it is an amendment to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality Act to permit the council to deal with the election and remuneration of the position of deputy mayor.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 6. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Government Business.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please return to the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

MR. SPEAKER: When the Address in Reply was adjourned, the honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury had the floor.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, last night we had the opportunity to begin the Reply in Address to the Speech from the Throne on behalf of the residents of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. We highlighted some of the efforts of community development. We talked

[Page 591]

about the climate that the Liberal Government has set for economic growth, mentioning Stora, Navatrak and other community efforts.

Today I would like to touch on what probably will be one of the largest projects to impact on Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, if not Nova Scotia alone and that is the Sable Offshore Energy Project. The approach that I would like to take is to highlight what the community has done over the last year and one-half, how they are planning to take advantage of this project and some of the implications that it will have on the area.

I want to congratulate the community leaders, the two regional development authorities, the Strait Highlands Regional Development Authority and the Guysborough Development Authority for the proactive role that they have taken to date. Also, to the municipal officials who have formed Sable advisory committees to work with the communities and also to meet on a regular basis with the proponents to identify potential benefits. This indeed has been a lot of work and has involved many meetings of which I have had the opportunity to attend.

The local RDAs have also intervened during the joint review panel hearings. They have also taken the opportunity to travel to Scotland to identify potential benefits for the region. They have also been to Boston and have attended other meetings throughout Canada to look at what implications this type of development will have on the total region.

In the House there has been a great deal of talk about the potential of a petrochemical spinoff and I certainly am in support of such an industry. Hopefully, we will have the quantities for its development somewhere within the constituency.

One of the items that is being missed about Sable gas and the potential of this project is that this is a seed for potential growth for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and for Nova Scotia. One of the benefits that has been secured by the Premier during his intervention is the by-pass at Goldboro. This is a significant development for future industrial potential. It means that consumers, hopefully industrial developments, will be able to buy gas within a short distance of the landfall site, at hopefully a reduced rate. This is significant, it is something that has generated a great deal of interest.

Prior to making my comments today I spoke to representatives from the two RDAs and they indicated they have never seen such a heightened interest in the Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and Strait area, since the announcement of the Sable gas project. For many years, Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury has been by-passed and I think now industry is starting to take a second look at the assets that we have. Not only Sable gas but the superport at the Strait of Port Hawkesbury, that has had record tonnage over the last number of years, and the spinoffs of the gas line itself, in particular, in the Goldboro area.

[Page 592]

After attending well over 20 meetings over the last two years from Halifax to Antigonish throughout the constituency, the residents of this area are ready for this project. They have attended the business opportunity meetings provided by the proponents. They have attended the job opportunity meetings which have been provided and they also have attended many meetings which have outlined the bid process so that Nova Scotia companies can compete.

Within my constituency, I have companies that have competed on a world scale, have been involved in the building of the fixed link to Prince Edward Island. There is work presently under way in one of the largest projects in Nova Scotia, that is the expansion at Stora. I have had the opportunity recently to visit that project and to see first-hand that we in Nova Scotia can do two things: we can build some of the largest projects in North America, and we can provide the qualified tradespersons to do so. I think this is in fine standing as we move along with the Sable gas project.

There is reason to be optimistic within Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury because many residents are starting to see that there will be direct and indirect spin-offs. Just a small example of what is being done. Recently in the area in which the plant will be constructed, meetings have been held with local residents to identify the potential of bed and breakfast facilities, the potential to accommodate some of the work force. Skills inventory has been done, of all the skills available in the area, to identify those which will fit into this major project.

Sable gas has potential for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. It has been something that the area has worked on over the last number of years. It is something that has been a key priority for our two regional development authorities working in conjunction with the communities, in conjunction with local industry, and it is something we are looking forward to going ahead.

The two RDAs are to be commended, both the one in Port Hawkesbury and the one in Guysborough for developing a one-stop shopping philosophy. It is now possible to go into the Enterprise Cape Breton building in Port Hawkesbury when you have a proposal, meet with the various development agencies and to bring your proposal forward. This is also now possible in Guysborough which handles the region encompassing the District of St. Marys, the Town of Canso and the Municipality of the District of Guysborough. The RDAs have done more than this. They have sponsored regional trade shows to promote local business and they have highlighted some of the potentials, again related to the Strait Area.

At this time I would like to touch on the fishery. From time to time we have heard in the House that the fishery is doing well in certain areas throughout Nova Scotia, but there are two resource sectors that are under strain in my constituency, the fishery and the forestry. Whether you live in Marie Joseph or anywhere along the coastline to Canso, the moratorium, the downturn of the fishery still has its effect. To complicate that, catches in traditional

[Page 593]

species such as lobsters have been down and this certainly has caused difficulty for many of those involved in this traditional fishery. I am pleased to report that efforts to turn to aquaculture are still under way, and efforts to look at other species are still under way, but the challenge facing the traditional fishermen or fisherperson still remains, how do you stay afloat with reduced quotas and with the present downturn in the fishery?

As mentioned earlier in the House, I paid tribute to pioneers such as Sandy Cameron from Sherbrooke who has looked at value added to such things as smoked salmon. In Whitehead, presently, there is a scallop operation that is working. They have had full-time jobs this fall and right now they are in a winter growth pattern. That operation is expected to resume again in the spring. So it is alive and well and it is under new management.

I want to touch briefly on tourism. As we know, tourism in Nova Scotia has surpassed the $1 billion mark, and along the Marine Drive and throughout Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, we have been the beneficiary of this growth, and I want to talk about a few communities and what they have done to capitalize on tourism growth.

In the community of Port Bickerton on the shore along the Marine Drive, there is a lighthouse site. Under the Tories this site was scheduled to become a PCB burning site; they were going to ship PCBs from all over Nova Scotia and burn it at that site; the community said no; they fought this and they won. The community also looked at the Port Bickerton lighthouse and how it could be used to develop the economy in this area. They formed a committee and this summer I had the pleasure of attending the official opening of the Nova Scotia Interpretation Lighthouse Centre at Port Bickerton. With very little advertising this venture has attracted over 3,000 visitors in the first year of operation. Again it is an example of a community identifying its assets, working together with the different development agencies and producing a project which they are very proud of. Indeed they should be, in showing what a community can do when it works together.

[3:45 p.m.]

I'm going to touch briefly on some of the Marine Drive projects starting at Liscombe Lodge. If any of the members have never been to Liscombe Lodge before, it certainly one of the best kept secrets of Nova Scotia. I would recommend to anyone, if you're planning a business meeting, if you're planning a romantic getaway, that Liscombe Lodge is the place to consider.

As a government we have told the management of Liscombe Lodge that this has to be operated as a business and indeed it has been done. The returns have increased and I want to pay tribute to the staff for the quality of service and their dedication in promoting Nova Scotia as a whole.

[Page 594]

Sherbrooke Village, one of the cornerstones in the District of St. Marys for tourism development, is now working cooperatively with the community. Earlier in the House I had the opportunity to table a resolution talking about their combined efforts to promote an old-fashioned Christmas. I have mentioned Port Bickerton, the lighthouse project, and if you want to try some of the best fish go to their annual summer fish fry. It's one of the most popular events along the Eastern Shore and if you're late, unfortunately, you may go away empty handed.

We did work with the community of Goldboro and there's an interesting story. The tailings from the old mines of Goldboro used to be used to build the roads. It has the distinction of saying that it is one of the few areas in Nova Scotia, if not North America, where the roads have been paved with gold. I think that's a unique feature.

I know the Tory members may be a little bit upset about paving roads with gold. I would prefer that they're paved with asphalt, of course. The community saw an asset there, to develop its history and its waterfront and they have worked together to develop the waterfront facility.

Larry's River- its history relates to the French, a very beautiful, sea-side community. To show you the impact on tourism, they have recently opened a new restaurant called Catch of the Day and a new craft shop called Breakwater Crafts and Cafe. What it does is focuses on the talents of the people from the area, their history and tradition and also provides some economic spinoffs.

Recently we've been working with the Goshen Leisure Park to help them with funding to do a study to look at both the short-term and long-term goals for that facility. One of the most enjoyable walks along the Atlantic Coast is the project that has been undertaken in Little Dover. This completely accessible park, the Black Duck Cove Day Park, features boardwalks, trails, cooking facilities and has certainly been well received by visitors throughout North America and Europe. Earlier this summer we had the opportunity of opening parts of the Canso Waterfront Development, the Sailors' Rest, the Promenade and earlier I spoke about the community involvement in the Stan Roger's Festival.

Let's move to Guysborough and talk about the Mulgrave Road Theatre - a long history in providing theatre throughout Nova Scotia. One of the new attractions that has attracted world attention is Wilma the Whale. It's possible at almost any time to go on a tour of Guysborough Harbour and see a whale. Now this has to be done in an environmentally sensitive way but certainly has attracted a great deal of attention. So not only do tourists like Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury so well, but even the wildlife tends to come and stay.

In one of the unique events during the summer, in one of the most beautiful settings, is an event called Hootenanny on the Hill. That brings in talent from all over Guysborough County at the Boylestown Park and, if you can imagine, being approximately 500 feet above

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Chedabucto Bay, overlooking a beautiful valley as your backdrop for a stage and enjoying talent from all over Guysborough County, what a better way to have a family celebration during the summer.

I want to talk about Mulgrave, which is well known for Mulgrave Machine, East Coast Hydraulics, these are two of the companies involved in the fixed link, two of the companies that are recognized as being able to compete on a world-wide basis, and also the new company in Mulgrave, ACS Trading, a shrimp operation creating over 40 jobs.

I did mention earlier about the Port Hawkesbury waterfront development. In fact, this is a very dynamic and growing community, and also the impact that Stora has on its area. I think most members will realize that in Port Hastings we have the Strait area campus which is recognized as one of the premier campuses within the community college system in Nova Scotia.

Just talking briefly about tourism, Mr. Speaker, it is alive and well, there are a lot of activities. People throughout Guysborough and Port Hawkesbury realize that tourism alone is not the piece of puzzle that will address some of the concerns but it is a very important piece. Many communities, as I have pointed out, have found that this is an avenue they wish to approach.

Rural communities are very important. I am very pleased with the Premier's commitment to help rural communities grow and survive. Throughout Guysborough County our communities face many challenges, as we move into the year 2000. I do plan to continue to work with the Premier to strengthen our rural communities.

The NDP and the Tories have asked the province about the climate that we have set for economic development. I sometimes think about the NDP Party and what comes to mind is Mr. Bean. We have seen him. What happens is it depends on which way the wind is blowing or where the NDP is, what their present position is. I can remember in this House them being very critical about coal but then, when they go to Cape Breton, all of a sudden coal is the best of everything. They never seem to polarize around any particular issue; whichever way the wind is blowing, that will be the issue of the day. That is not the way to run a province and certainly is not the way to look at a future for our children.

When I think about the Tories and their new found life, or supposed new found life, and they talk about announcements, I can think back to 1993 when their candidate made a non-announcement. That summarizes very well where this Party comes from, non-announcement. That non-announcement was, I think there is a new industry coming; it may be called Romatt Doors and it is going to be here for a long time. We all know what happened to that industry, here and gone and the legacy it left for that community is not very good.

[Page 596]

What we did was we worked with the company. We did not make any announcements until it was there, creating jobs and we are very pleased.

There are approximately 1,100 kilometres of road throughout Guysborough County and throughout the Strait area. I am pleased that over the last number of years we have been able to address, in a priority manner, those areas that need the most repair. I can certainly say that I will never be satisfied, I will continue to work with the minister until the major areas are addressed.

Sports and recreation - we have had a philosophy working with the ministers, to try and develop the facilities in many of our smaller communities because many of our larger centres now have those advantages. This year alone we had ball fields under construction or open, with the cooperation of the communities, with many of the community workers in communities such as Port Hawkesbury, Country Harbour, Sonora, Goshen. One of the projects that the Sherbrooke area has been looking for years and finally got off the ground, because our government got involved, was the Sherbrooke Recplex. That is presently under construction and will address the need for that area.

A Liberal federal program, Mr. Speaker, and a Liberal provincial program has been the infrastructure program. Under both phases there isn't a municipal unit, there isn't a county in my constituency that has not benefited from these upgrades. These are important infrastructures needed for our communities.

We have heard a great deal about the information highway. Recently there has been an agreement to set up what is called the Strait East Nova Scotia Community Enterprise Network. This has involved the RDA, the Strait of Canso RDA, the Guysborough RDA and the Strait Regional School Board, involving Antigonish County and Guysborough County. What this will do, Mr. Speaker, is enable business in these communities to access this new technology to promote their product, to find out how to use this technology. I do believe this will benefit our region.

I have mentioned earlier the Strait of Canso and many have referred to this as a superport. Work has been underway using the local RDA to develop a community-based port authority. I am pleased to report that the RDA is pleased with the progress and we are moving on with the support of this government.

Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury faces many challenges. How do we maximize the benefits of Sable gas? With Stora, how do we ensure their demand, which has decreased for pulp, does not impact negatively on Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury? There are many new businesses opening in certain areas of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. But how do we ensure that the growth is even throughout the area? That is a challenge that must be met.

[Page 597]

I have mentioned earlier, Sable gas is a seed and that seed must be planted and nurtured. That has begun, as I have mentioned earlier. The RDAs have taken a proactive role and the communities have taken a proactive role to ensure that they maximize the benefits from Sable gas.

A great deal of work has been done in the aquaculture field and there now is a great deal of interest being expressed in the 14,000 acre site at Melford. The Strait area has the potential and many people are beginning to realize its importance.

A fisheries moratorium for my constituents has them greatly concerned about what will happen after TAGS. I want to pay tribute to a group of people in Canso who are now looking at options. There is a group called the Canso Trawlermen's Co-op. This is a group of displaced trawlermen who used to work for Seafreez and they have had over 34 meetings and met with government officials and continue to meet with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to find options which will enable them, as professionals, to return to sea to create meaningful employment.

Unfortunately, some people believe that those on TAGS only want to be on TAGS. I can tell you from talking to people from one end of my constituency to the other, they would rather work than be on TAGS. This group has developed a business plan and are looking at the potential of returning to sea. I continue to support them and I do hope, as well as many other people, that they are successful in their efforts.

In closing, I have highlighted a few of the events that are happening throughout Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. I have highlighted the Speech from the Throne and the direction that it sets for Nova Scotia. I am confident that with the continued support and direction of Premier Russell MacLellan and this Liberal Government that we will meet the challenges that face Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury but, more important, we will do our best to make sure that the opportunities that present themselves provide the maximum return for the residents of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

As I said in starting, I want to pay special tribute to the residents of this very large, very dynamic constituency. I do hold constituency days in five locations because of the size of this constituency and I want to thank the people for their continued hospitality and their input. I will be supporting the motion and I will not be supporting any of the amendments to the motion relating to the Speech from the Throne. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise once again in this Chamber to bring greetings on behalf of the constituents of Dartmouth East. I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, and wish you well as you enforce the rules of this historic Chamber in a fair and efficient manner.

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I would also like to recognize both the mover of the Speech from the Throne, the honourable member for Pictou East and the seconder, our newest member for Halifax Citadel. Both members represented their constituents and our government well.

Mr. Speaker, fellow colleagues, this Speech from the Throne does mirror the spirit, the accomplishments and the wishes of the residents of Dartmouth East. As I meet constituents at their doorsteps, at church suppers or in the schools, I know that our government has made considerable progress in instilling pride and building a sense of optimism. We must, however, continue doing this by providing stability, security and a sense of accomplishment to the lives of Nova Scotians.

To the many residents of Dartmouth East who have shared their thoughts, ideas and concerns, I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their input. It is this type of support that has enabled me to participate in the decision-making process on their behalf.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, Dartmouth East is a very special community. It is a community made up of small and medium sized businesses, excellent education institutions and strong family- based neighbourhoods with equally strong volunteer networks.

I have watched over the last four years, small businesses expand into medium sized and new small businesses establish within the riding of Dartmouth East. Businesses like Atlantic Car Stereo on Main Street have recently expanded their premises within the riding due to increased demand.

The franchise operation of Mail Boxes, Etc. saw an opportunity in assisting businesses in the area and established operations in the Woodlawn Mall. Both of these developments are just examples of the spin-off effects of an economy that is gaining strength.

Mr. Speaker, I must also comment on the significant contributions educational institutions have made to Dartmouth East. Many of the schools within the riding have initiated projects that provide for their students the opportunity, not only to learn, but to make their neighbourhoods a better place in which to live.

Prince Andrew High School, Mr. Speaker, was this year awarded the Conference Board of Canada/Royal Bank National Award for its innovative Business-Education Partnership Program. This award acknowledged the school's active involvement in community-based policing projects.

The Grade 12 Leadership Physical Education class at Prince Andrew, last week, held a fund-raiser to offset the $22,000 cost of holding a Safe Grad celebration next June. This group of students, under the leadership of Krista Smith and Katie McMullin recognizes the

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importance of being able to remember and enjoy this very important day and should be commended for their efforts.

Home and School Associations at Ian Forsyth, Mary Lawson, Brookhouse and Michael Wallace Schools, as well as the students and staff at Caledonia Junior High have been extremely busy working on naturalization projects and developing programs that have made their respective schoolyards a safer and more attractive place for students. Admiral Westphal and Ellenvale Junior Highs have been establishing a more current and advanced computer lab so that students can further develop the skills required to succeed in the future.

I was very pleased to have had the opportunity to work with these groups in supporting these very worthwhile efforts. Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to salute the volunteers in Dartmouth East.

For five days this summer, Dartmouth proved to the entire world that we are world-class hosts when we welcomed over 700 people from 46 different countries for the World Canoe Championships (Canoe 97). An impressive network of literally thousands of volunteers under the capable leadership of Martin Jones ensured that the memories of all participants are warm and lasting.

Under the leadership of Mary Jo Delaney, citizens of the Dartmouth East community have recently joined forces to form the Dartmouth East Community Association. This network of community organizations and volunteers will ensure that essential programs (Applause) Congratulations, on behalf of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in your new role and best wishes in your term of office. As I was saying about the Dartmouth East Community Association, this network of community organizations and volunteers will ensure that essential programs that address the needs of the community are in place for residents of the area to enjoy. I am pleased to be able to support and participate in this proactive grass-roots organization.

Mr. Speaker, the sporting community plays a very integral role in the constituency of Dartmouth East, as well as throughout the Dartmouth Community. Many residents of Dartmouth watch with pride as Lowell Goulden's team, out of the Dartmouth Curling Club, captured the provincial title and, as a result, represented Nova Scotia well at the Brier held in Calgary in March.

The month of August saw the Dartmouth Moosehead Dry senior baseball team, whose home field is located in Dartmouth East, also represent our province at the national level in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Perhaps one of the greatest highlights of sporting this year was in Nova Scotia's record performance at the Canada Summer Games. I would like to list some of these athletes; it is a bit lengthy, but I think it really indicates the type of youth that we have in Dartmouth East,

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Mr Speaker. The Dartmouth East athletes - Kyle Harper; Drew Higgins; Dominic Bricault; Johanna Hoehne; Matt Ripley; Holly and Elizabeth Weis; Lisa, Arron and Kelly Bonin; Tara O'Reilly; Erin and Julianna Stonehouse; Amanda and Christopher Graham; Anthony Muzatti, Jeff Bailey; and Nancy Brouillard - all proudly represented Nova Scotia, demonstrating their considerable skills and abilities. Many of these athletes were medal winners or achieved personal bests during the Summer Games and should be congratulated for their efforts.

Mr. Speaker, I now draw to a conclusion my specific comments to Dartmouth and I do now want to say that I am very pleased and honoured to have been asked by Premier Russell MacLellan to serve as Minister of Health for our government. (Applause) This is a role that I take very seriously and one that I feel and recognize carries a great deal of responsibility.

As Minister of Health, I want to state unequivocally that this government supports a fully integrated, universal and publicly-funded health care system. Our government has shown support and commitment to those principles in what we say and in what we do.

Since we formed government, there have been remarkable improvements in how care is delivered in this province. Too often that seems to get overlooked. Mr. Speaker, we have integrated programs, knocked down barriers to communication with communities, and for the first time truly started renewing our cherished health care system. I assure you that we remain solidly committed to meeting the health care needs of all Nova Scotians.

This government increased the health care budget, adding $100 million more to the $1.3 billion announced in the 1997-98 budget. Government is putting more money towards responding to Nova Scotians' health care needs, Mr. Speaker.

At this point, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable minister entertain a question?

DR. SMITH: No, that gentleman had enough time; they had 15 years and ran this province into rack and ruin in which we have been labouring in the last four years to bring some common sense back and to bring some health care that is sustainable. That gentleman right there was part of that problem. (Applause) No, he can make his comments, he will have his time in Question Period tomorrow. I haven't spoken hardly at all in this House of Assembly and I want to use my time.

At this point, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my Cabinet colleagues for realigning their budgets to allow for more funding to go to health. It is obvious by their actions that the commitment to the Nova Scotia health care system is, indeed, government-wide. We are all pulling resources together to ensure Nova Scotians, both young and old, benefit from a sustainable health care system well into the next century.

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As we all know, these are challenging times to be involved in our health care system. Balancing fiscal constraints, while at the same time ensuring services are in place to meet public demand, is difficult. It is not an easy task. Nonetheless, we are making progress.

Mr. Speaker, there is incredible work being done in the health care field. We are achieving great results. All too often the significant results of our work and, in fact, the work of thousands of health care workers in Nova Scotia is overlooked. There are individuals right in this Legislature who are all too focused on scaring Nova Scotians into believing their health care system is in chaos rather than reassuring them that Nova Scotia's health care system is one of the best in this country. It is not just me saying that this is one of the best. Seventy-five per cent of Nova Scotians who have had direct contact with the health care system have said they believe the health care system is working well. They are basing their response on fact, not hearsay.

When I assumed the Ministry of Health, I brought some background of knowledge of how the health care system worked based on my experience as a family physician. Since becoming minister, I have had the chance to see things from a broader perspective and have been struck by the outstanding achievements being made.

Just last month, I had the fortunate opportunity to be invited to meet with the Nova Scotia Association of Hospital Organizations at a special function. In addition, I was invited to meet with the Western Regional Health Board together with health care professionals and volunteers from the area, as well as members from the Central Regional and Community Health Boards. Attending these functions gave me the opportunity to congratulate everyone on their many achievements and to review their accomplishments and the ones we have made together in partnership.

As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words. I will now spend some time reviewing some of the improvements made.

A common theme you will notice is one of partnership. It is important for all of us to remember that no one organization, no one government department or community can address all of the health care issues on their own. It is impossible. It is unrealistic and certainly not effective. Enhancing health care in Nova Scotia is a shared responsibility.

This province is very fortunate to have a special group of talented men and women dedicated to providing an extensive range of quality health care services to Nova Scotians. This group comprises more than 30,500 individuals. They do not have an easy job. I know that. This government knows that. Yet time and time again they rise to the challenge, continuing to do their very best to provide quality health care services.

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I would like to take this opportunity as Minister of Health to acknowledge and thank the health care professionals and volunteers of this province for their commitment to Nova Scotians, for their commitment to the Nova Scotia health care system. The following long list of achievements would not have been possible without their assistance.

As many of you know, it has been quite a busy year at the Department of Health. Recently we have reached a new four year agreement with doctors which is helping to ensure Nova Scotians have access to a family physician. Included in the agreement are initiatives to keep emergency rooms open in community hospitals, a rural locum service, a re-entry program at Dalhousie Medical School and other measures to help stop doctors leaving this province.

These initiatives, along with a provincial recruitment effort, are working. In fact, there are only four of the original 29 incentive positions still vacant. That is great news for Nova Scotians living in rural communities. It is great news for us. We are not celebrating yet, mind you, as we do recognize there is much more work to be done. Nonetheless, judging by our accomplishments to date, we are well on our way.

I would like to thank Mr. Frank Peters, our provincial physician recruitment coordinator, for his hard work, and to the many communities who worked to recruit a physician for their own areas; once again, achievements being made as a result of partnership between government and Nova Scotians.

The Nova Scotia TeleHealth Network is another example of an initiative to benefit Nova Scotians in rural areas. The network means every hospital in the province will have a computer link to permit real time transmission of x-rays and other crucial medical information to specialists in regional centres. The result will be reduced patient travel and improved care by family doctors around the province through regular contact with specialists and through enhanced continuing medical education opportunities. The Nova Scotia Telehealth Network will also help rural physicians to tap into continuing medical education sessions without having to leave their own practice.

This government is making changes to health care, changes for the better. A new regional hospital will be built for the Amherst area, in addition to new health care facilities in Neils Harbour and in Cheticamp. A redevelopment project for Yarmouth Regional is already underway. The Cape Breton Cancer Clinic is being built at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital to provide the people of Cape Breton with cancer care closer to home.

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[4:15 p.m.]

Between 1992-93 and 1995-96 the number of the top 100 surgical procedures in Nova Scotia increased to about 72,000 from 68,000 over a year. The Cape Breton Health Care Complex is actually providing up to 300 more procedures this year compared to last year. Services include orthopaedic services and surgical procedures. These are the real facts.

Mr. Speaker, another area we are proud of are the advances being made in the field of emergency heath services. Progress is being fine-tuned with the help and support of nurses and physicians. A fleet or more than 110 new, state-of-the-art ambulances is on the road and they are saving lives, with more to come. Almost 70 are equipped with defibrillators. It is a new fleet, with new equipment, stationed around the province and staffed by paramedics who are trained and qualified to prevent injuries and to save lives.

AN HON. MEMBER: There were 170 before.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the fact that they would even mention anything relative to this issue is almost amazing, in that when that government was in power one-third of the ambulances in the province wouldn't pass the motor vehicle inspection and all you needed to drive it was a valid driver's license. (Interruptions) That is a fact.

More exciting facts: The new air medical transport helicopter has flown more than 460 missions since it was first introduced last year. The number of missions include flights province-wide and to New Brunswick and to Prince Edward Island. The Air Medical Transport Program is bringing sick and injured children and adults to larger hospitals, for specialized care. Training and equipment for emergency medical technicians has been upgraded. A new dispatch centre provides lifesaving instructions over the phone, while sending an ambulance faster than ever before. Ninety-nine per cent of all calls are handled successfully. If complaints are received, I assure you they are investigated. In fact, the dispatch centre monitors the entire fleet 24 hours a day and moves ambulances continually, to make sure emergency medical care is always close by.

The province has implemented its first medical First Response Program. This program supports the voluntary participation of various agencies, primarily fire departments, involved in the provision of primary basic life support to residents in their communities in the event of a medical emergency. The QE II School of Emergency Health Services is developing a training program for the first responders, along with a certification program and practitioner registry.

Our emergency health service responsibilities are even getting us involved in the Sable Offshore Energy Project. We want to make sure there is proper medical and occupational health and safety support in place, both onshore and offshore. Preventive health initiatives have also been greatly enhanced over the last year.

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Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia has become one of the only three provinces to undertake a hospital records search to locate and notify patients who received blood products prior to 1990, who may be at risk for hepatitis C. Letters have now gone out to 8,000 Nova Scotians, urging them to speak to their doctors about testing. So far, more than 2,400 people who received letters have sought testing. Of that number, 12 so far have tested positive for hepatitis C.

We are also very pleased to have been able to expand our annual influenza campaign this year to include a new vaccine for protecting seniors against pneumococcal pneumonia. The total departmental spending on immunization for seniors increased to over $1 million this year, with the addition of a vaccine for pneumococcal pneumonia. These vaccination programs are important for health care initiatives in that they can help prevent illnesses, save lives and save valuable health care dollars.

Legislation and regulations for the province's bicycle helmet law were in place as of July 1st. Brochures were developed by my department and the Department of Business and Consumer Services and distributed province-wide.

The Tobacco Control Unit, Drug Dependency and mental health services are some of the other areas where we are enhancing health promotion and prevention. The results of the Smoke Free for Life Discussion paper will soon be released to let us know what Nova Scotians think about smoke-free places.

Just two weeks ago, we invited about 60 key stakeholders to participate in the preparation of a provincial asthma strategy. A response to this initiative from a representative of the Lung Association of Nova Scotia was reported as being, "We are going to be so far in front of other provinces in the management and prevention of this disease.".

The Community Health Promotion Fund is an example of government encouraging communities to enhance health in their area. It is an annual grant program administered by public health services in the four health regions at an annual cost of $375,000. Seven hundred and twenty-six community projects have been supported by the fund since its inception in 1990. Seventy-two of these projects were funded this year.

Cancer Care Nova Scotia is being established to coordinate and improve cancer treatment across the province.

The Diabetes Care Program of Nova Scotia continues to be funded by the department to benefit the 50,000 Nova Scotians with this disease. Last May it launched a report guiding providers in the prevention of common complications of diabetes.

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More than 107,000 senior citizens are currently benefiting from Nova Scotia Seniors' Pharmacare Program. As you all know, Pharmacare incurred a debt of $11 million due in part to the premiums and co-pay not making up half of program costs because of increasing drug costs and high drug use over two years. Government covered that deficit. We did not want to pass on additional costs to the senior citizens.

There are a variety of initiatives underway to control Pharmacare program costs, including a new education committee. Its members include representatives from a range of key stakeholders, including the Pharmacy Association, Medical Society of Nova Scotia, the Senior Citizens' Secretariat and the Pharmacare Board of Directors.

Since April 1995, Home Care Nova Scotia has served 27,000 Nova Scotians. That is a 285.8 per cent increase over the 7,000 figure from April 1995.

The budget for the provincial Home Care Program went from $19 million in 1992-93 to $60 million in 1996-97, to $69.8 million in 1997-98. Home care now provides a province-wide Home Oxygen Program and is introducing on a targeted basis, palliative care, pediatric orthopaedic services and self-managed care for people with disabilities. Waiting lists for home care are markedly reduced, assessments are comprehensive and they are complete.

The budget for long-term care this year is almost $110 million. That is an increase of 14.5 per cent over the past two years. These numbers alone demonstrate our commitment to long-term care in Nova Scotia. In the past three years, we have added the equivalent of 400 full-time workers to the 69 nursing homes and homes for the aged under the Department of Health's responsibility.

This year alone, a budget increase has added the equivalent of 190 full-time employees, directly improving care for the residents. I am also, Mr. Speaker, involved with a joint ministerial committee on long-term care with my colleague, the Minister of Community Services. The committee has representation from the Departments of Health and Community Services, the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations and the Associated Homes for Special Care. I am confident that through this committee, we will be able to jointly address concerns in the long-term care sector.

As many of us are aware, the past year also marked some significant milestones in the regionalization of our health care system. Lately, there has been a lot of questions around regionalization and what it is helping to accomplish. Mr. Speaker, I ask for a few more moments of your time to try and address this question.

Regionalization is new for Nova Scotia. It has been less than one year, Mr. Speaker, since the regional health boards were given responsibility for managing hospitals, drug dependency and public health. We have been hearing some concerns about regionalization including the speculation that we are creating a duplicate bureaucracy by establishing four

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regional health boards or that we are losing touch with local communities or that any savings generated are not going back to enhance patient care, but solely providing funding for the regional health boards.

Mr. Speaker, this is simply not true. These are not the facts and let us speak of regionalization. Let me try to tell you about some of the success stories to date. Regionalization is helping to tailor the health services to the needs of Nova Scotians. By moving the services to the region, we are moving them closer to Nova Scotians. Prior to regionalization, there were 36 boards solely responsible for hospitals. We now have four regional health boards established to plan for the health overall of the communities. There are also 30 community health boards with a mandate to plan primary care services and to take action to improve health in their communities. (Interruption)

Nova Scotians are getting - well, they may be Mickey Mouse. I will mention your comment maybe next time I meet with some of the community health boards and the work that they are putting in and they are not Mickey Mouse, Mr. Speaker. They are committed citizens of our community, of your community and my community that are working hard for other Nova Scotians.

Nova Scotians are getting directly involved through the community health boards. The four regional health boards have a total of 67 members and the 30 community health boards have a total of over 420 members. The remaining 10 community health boards will be established soon, resulting in more than 100 additional citizens volunteering their time to become a part of the regionalized and decentralized health care system. This is in addition to the four volunteer boards responsible for the non-designated hospitals.

I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that the Department of Health, in partnership with the regional health boards, will continue to support the important role of community health boards as local planners. The department appreciates and fully supports community health boards. Regional health boards are demonstrating true partnerships with the community health boards by integrating the community health plans into the regional planning process. I believe this demonstrates a truly bottom-up approach to health planning.

Community health boards are getting involved. In fact, community health boards in the eastern region have been involved in planning the new health care facilities in Cheticamp and in Neils Harbour. The community health board members in the western region sit on committees reviewing programs and awarding health promotion grants.

The deputy minister has established a joint planning group to provide advice on ways to support community health boards in their role as local planners. Departmental staff meet regularly with regional health board staff to support ongoing educational and information needs as required by community health boards.

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[4:30 p.m.]

Regionalization is generating community input. It is also saving money. It is reducing unnecessary administration. For example, prior to regionalization, there were 36 hospital presidents, CEOs and executive directors. Now, with regionalization, there are eight CEOs. This represents a total savings on senior administration of more than $2 million to date. None of these positions were involved in direct patient care.

This is $2 million worth of savings that was generated without cuts to health care programs and without hospital closures. Savings have also been generated by changes to middle management and support services. For example, now that the Eastern Regional Health Board is responsible for the whole range of support services to hospitals, there was a savings of $1.2 million in the eastern region. Thanks to consolidating services and realigning middle management, there is $1.2 million which can now go towards patient care.

New programs are being offered that were not provided before regional health boards were in place. There is now access to diabetic care in several parts of the northern region that were not there before. The northern region has also developed a mental health service plan which allowed for the sharing of resources between programs in the area. When I visited that hospital, I visited that particular part of the program and was very impressed by the quality of staff, the dedication of staff and the range and the sharing that they were working with people within that northern region.

But regionalization isn't principally about saving money. It's about integrating the management and delivery of health care services and making programs more responsive to patients' needs. For example, Home Care Nova Scotia and the regional health boards are collaborating in several communities to share nursing staff from the hospital and assessment staff from Home Care so that the patient care is provided in the home. The result is a much more coordinated Home Care Program.

Initiatives are taking place to coordinate hospital-based services and long-term care. The Western Regional Health Board has established a regional utilization and discharge planning working group to break down the boundaries of different programs. The Eastern Regional Health Board is working in partnership with the Cape Breton Health Care Complex to develop a continuing care, single entry system to make movement between hospital, home care and long-term care easier for people.

Programs are running more efficiently. Before regionalization, programs were duplicated within the region, wasting money that could be spent on patient care. Decisions about how to spend health care dollars are now being made by the people who deliver and manage the services.

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The Central Regional Health Board has saved $250,000 to $300,000 by making better use of leased space. By sharing resources between hospital programs in a region, more emphasis is being placed on bringing services as close to the community as possible. For example, the Northern Regional Health Board, with the cooperation of the Colchester Regional Foundation, has been able to provide outreach services in blood collection, EKGs and child-adolescent mental health services to the residents of East Hants.

Regional health boards are now responsible for the management of a range of programs, streamlining administration. For example, in the western region, four separate drug dependency offices serving the region were integrated into a single program. This allowed a 3.5 per cent budget reduction with no loss of front-line workers.

More Nova Scotians are receiving more health care services today than ever before. Wait lists for 75 per cent of all elective surgical procedures are shorter now than they were just four years ago. Regionalization, as you have seen, can help to significantly reduce administrative costs and allow more money to be directed to where it is needed most in helping Nova Scotians stay healthy and providing health services when they are sick.

Savings are one thing but more important is the shift in a management philosophy. Regionalization has provided the opportunity for staff from hospitals, public health, drug dependency and mental health to plan together. Partnerships between the regional health boards, home care and long-term care are also key to ensuring co-ordinated health care delivery.

Regionalization allows knowledge and experience to be shared within a region and among the regions. Regionalization also allows for better interaction with government. The chairs of the regional health boards and the boards of the four stand-alone hospitals meet regularly with me in what we call the Provincial Advisory Council which sets direction and policies for our health care system, and the chief executive officers of the eight boards meet regularly with the Deputy Minister of Health and senior staff from the Department of Health as a Provincial Leadership Committee to improve the way our health care system works. This kind of regular contact among the key players within our health care system was never possible before regionalization. The new working relationship has resulted in closer collaboration and improved planning.

A few minutes ago I talked about a number of initiatives we have undertaken in the past year. Impressive as this list is, there is still much to be done in modernizing and updating our health care system. This is work we cannot do without the ongoing assistance and input of Nova Scotians. They are an essential part of the province's health care system; each and every one is helping to make changes in health care, changes for the better, and I am confident, by continuing to work together in partnership as part of the overall Nova Scotian health team, Nova Scotians will continue to benefit from one of the best health care systems across this country.

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In closing, it is indeed my pleasure to address the significant advances our health care system has made and to pay tribute to the people of Dartmouth East.

I will be voting against the amendment and for the motion. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: It gives me great pleasure to stand before the members of the House of Assembly tonight to speak in response to the Speech from the Throne presented by our government. I want to join other colleagues in congratulating our Premier, Russell MacLellan, on his impressive and well-deserved win in the election as MLA for Cape Breton North.

I just want to share a couple of little things that have happened since the Premier was elected. It never fails, every time I go out anywhere somebody, who is a perfect stranger to me, will come up and say to say hello to Russell; he is a great guy. They either say he went to school with the person or he went to university or he did something that they were impressed with his personality. It is a fascinating experience, the number of people I have met this way in all parts of Nova Scotia who have had something very good to say about the Premier. I just wanted to share that with the House. I find it an intriguing experience.

I also want to welcome Dr. Edwin Kinley here as a new member for Halifax Citadel and I want to welcome Helen MacDonald, the new member for Cape Breton The Lakes, and Ernest Fage, the new member for Cumberland North. I know that they will enjoy their time spent here in the House, working together with everybody else in this House. We are all here for the same purpose and that is to represent the people who elect us.

The challenges ahead of us and ahead of our government are outlined in the Speech from the Throne. Under the leadership of our Premier, I am quite confident that we will move forward in a new direction which will result in an enhancement of the quality of life for all Nova Scotians.

I also want to congratulate Gerry Fogarty in his new role as Speaker of the House and I want to congratulate you, as well, in your new role as Deputy Speaker of the House. Sometimes sitting up in that seat, sort of taking charge of how business is conducted in this House, demands great skills and a lot of patience. I have quite a high degree of confidence in the two of you being up to the challenge of your new roles.

I am honoured and humbled by the opportunity the Premier has given me to be the new Minister of Community Services and the Minister responsible for the Status of Women and the Disabled Persons Commission and the Senior Citizens Secretariat. In my short time as minister I have met with between 40 and 45 organizations. I am very humbled by this experience and I just wanted to share that with the House. It is a fascinating department. The

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staff works very hard and we try to be as responsive as we can be on issues. Each and every one of you, when you have made calls to us, I hope we are as helpful as we can be in resolving some of the difficulties out there. I thank the honourable member opposite for his yes, and nodding in concurrence.

I guess I am trying to say here that I am coming to appreciate the complex challenge of being responsible for the Department of Community Services. I could probably talk at great length about the department itself but my task today is really to speak about my constituency. I think it is fair to say that before I leave talking about the department I want to say that our government continues to show compassion and fairness to Nova Scotians who need a helping hand. The programs such as Early Intervention and Work Activity are doing good things in Nova Scotia. I have been really pleased to be able to go out to the communities and see first-hand how things are working.

I had the opportunity in the past month to visit an Early Intervention office out in Sackville and also to attend a Dartmouth Work Activity project graduation. At both places I was really impressed by the dedication of the workers and impressed with the differences that these projects make in people's lives. That is what it is all about. I just wanted to share that with members of the House before I moved on.

Mr. Speaker, our government manages to support these worthwhile programs without bankrupting the province and without placing the future of our children in jeopardy because of out-of-control spending. I think that is significant to note.

It is a continued honour to represent the very special people of Bedford-Fall River. This riding, as you know, consists of a portion of Bedford, a number of communities, including Waverley, Fall River, Windsor Junction, Lakeview, Fletchers Lake, Wellington, Grand Lake and Oakfield, so it is really not an appropriate name for the riding because it has a lot of other communities in it. It is an area which encompasses urban as well as rural regions. It is an area which is made up of vital, dynamic business sectors, business communities, as well as an area of great natural beauty and scenery.

I want to thank my constituents for the opportunity they have given me to serve as their MLA. They often give me advice, they often give me direct things they want me to act on and work on. They question, they confer, they makes lots of telephone calls on a variety of issues. This really is the liveliness and the dynamism of being an MLA. I want to thank my constituents for that privilege. It is, indeed, a great one.

Mr. Speaker, Canada is known to be the greatest place in the world to live. Every one of us in this room has heard that over the past few years. I think the very obvious reason is, by the very nature of what Canadians are as a people. I just want to say that I think the people of my riding, Bedford-Fall River, are an excellent example of the kind of people that make Canada such a great place to be.

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Volunteerism continues to be a very important component that enhances my constituency. I think of the people most recently at the legions on Armistice Day. I had the pleasure of laying the wreath at the Bedford Cenotaph and then moving out to the Windsor Junction Cenotaph to place a poppy on the wreaths that were there and then coming back to Waverley to visit with the people who were at the Waverley Legion and then later that night to attend a dinner in Bedford, honouring long-term service members of the legion. All those activities come together because of what volunteers do.

I just wanted to note how important the actions of volunteers are in my constituency, as in every other constituency in Nova Scotia. Without volunteers there would not be Bedford Days, Waverley Gold Rush Days or the Keloose in Fall River. Our schools depend on volunteers as well, who assist daily in the classrooms and in the libraries. Volunteers are the backbone of many community sporting events and it is volunteers who keep our rich heritage alive, through their work with local heritage societies; to name a few in my riding: the Fort Sackville Foundation and the Waverley Museum.

Volunteers organize many church functions and many social functions. Volunteer firefighters play an important and vital role in each community. I thank them all.

[4:45 p.m.]

While there are many individuals and groups I could speak about, I would like to bring to your attention some of the accomplishments of a few of our sport groups. Recently, the Bedford Devils Bantam Football Team, under the leadership of Bud Bremner, won the provincial title. Bud has worked with the Bedford team for many years. His involvement in sport and with the young people of this region has enriched the lives of all with whom he has had contact.

The Cheema Paddling Club in Waverley continues to be a dynamic, national award-winning club, under the leadership of the Coach, Lazlo Latorovszki. This summer, Nova Scotia played host to the World Paddling Championships and Cheema, I am proud to say, had representatives who participated in and did very well at those competitions. The Hungarian and Australian teams were housed at the beautiful Inn on the Lake and they were treated to a Maritime welcome at a party and a ceilidh put on by the community.

In addition to this world championship event, the Canadian National Lawn Bowling Championships were held in the metro area in August. One hundred and forty athletes from all across the country participated in the games which were officially opened at the Bedford Range Park. I can't help but think that Canadians are beginning to discover what Nova Scotians have always known, that this is a great place to live, work and play.

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During this year there were projects within my riding which benefited from the Canada/Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Agreement. Through federal, provincial and municipal cooperation, there has been real progress made in the continuing development of the Bedford waterfront. A jetty breakwater is being built on the waterfront which enhances this site and I am sure will result in further business investment in this area. I am confident in that.

The expansion to the Mill Cove Treatment Plant in Bedford is another example of all levels of government cooperating and working together. I recently was at the official opening of this $20 million project and it is a state-of-the-art treatment plant.

Another state-of-the-art project is housed within my riding, the Emergency Health Services Communications Centre. I have visited this centre and it is one of 12 of its kind in the entire world. In spite of what the Opposition have been saying and would like Nova Scotians to believe, this 911 system is working. It is new and it is a sophisticated technology which handles, successfully, approximately 175 ambulance calls and 350 phone calls every day, that is on average. Those are successful calls and successful outcomes.

I would have to say yes, there were some initial dispatching problems which are being fully analyzed and more staff are working at the centre in a quick response effort. The centre does have a positive impact on Nova Scotians lives every single day.

I am also proud that our government delivered on a promised new road that the Tories did not deliver for 16 years. The entire time I campaigned along Rocky Lake Drive, I heard about the need to get the trucks off Rocky Lake Drive and the promises that had been made and remade and broken many times. The Phase II expansion and extension of Highway No. 107, the so-called Burnside collector was built and done by our government. I want to thank the Minister of Transportation for the support of this major undertaking. This road is named the Captain John Gorham Boulevard and that is a historic name from early settlers in this community. This road has been long needed and means that the heavy truck traffic will now have direct access onto Highway No. 102 and it will ease the congestion of truck traffic along Rocky Lake Drive. I think this is another example of when our government makes promises, it delivers.

As a reflection of our government's commitment to healthy Nova Scotians, the Liberal Government provided additional funding of $225,000 for increased staffing to staff the Environmental Clinic located in Waverley. Again, Mr. Speaker, this clinic is the first of its kind in Canada to be provincially funded and I am proud that it is located in my riding. At this clinic individuals suffering from environmental illness receive treatment and research is conducted in order to gain a better understanding of this health problem.

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I have also recently visited most of the schools in my riding and I have met with principals and toured the buildings. I was once again struck by the dedication and hard work that our educators bring to their profession.

However, Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not mention the concern of my constituents about the overcrowding in some of our schools. Portables are on site at some of our schools and the only high school for the area, Charles P. Allen High School, is very overcrowded, with a student population of over 1,300 students in a building originally built for approximately 850. There is strong support for a new high school in this community. There is an expectation of quality education among my constituents who always express to me their concerns about overcrowding.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that in 1998 we will see the provincially funded expansion to the Ash-Lee Jefferson Elementary School in the Fall River area proceed. There has been a project team, including parents who have worked hard and diligently on this project. Everyone out there is looking forward to its completion.

Mr. Speaker, I know that our government will continue to look for innovative ways to address the need for new schools and it recognizes the importance of quality education. The initiative to fund increased access to technology, in partnership with the federal government and the private sector, is bold and important. To strengthen the education of our children is to strengthen Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, our government is also concerned about the needs of seniors. There is a commitment by our government to build elevators in 26 existing senior citizens facilities. I am pleased that Bedford Manor is one of those included in this project. This is a much needed addition to this home and it will be appreciated by all who use it. Seniors happen to be a large and important portion of my constituency.

In the spring I sponsored and participated in blood pressure clinics at the seniors' manor in Bedford and again in Waverley. I was assisted in this, Mr. Speaker, by Albert MacIntyre, who is the Executive Director of the Licensed Practical Nurses Association of Nova Scotia, and by Debbie Platt, a Licensed Practical Nurse. As always with seniors, it was a pleasant, lively and enjoyable experience.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to close with a favourite quote of mine which I would like to read into the record, "The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.".

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Mr. Speaker, our government's commitment to all the people of Nova Scotia, as outlined in the Throne Speech, certainly passes this moral test. I will be voting in favour of the Speech from the Throne and I am proud to stand before you as a member of this Liberal Government. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. JOSEPH CASEY: Mr. Speaker, it is, indeed, a pleasure for me to once again rise in this historic Chamber, the birthplace of responsible government in North America, to say a few words in reply to the Speech from the Throne. I think this is probably my twenty-fifth one that I have had over the past years. (Applause)

To you, Mr. Speaker, I extend my congratulations and warmest best wishes on your recent election to this most distinguished office. I can tell just from observing you these past few days that you learn quickly and have adapted very well to your new role. In fact, your actions have left the impression that you have been in the Chair for many years. I want to wish you continued success as you deal with the task of maintaining order and decorum in this most historic Chamber. (Interruption)

Can you hear me now? My hearing aid is telling me I am coming on loud and clear, but that may only be for me.

I want to extend congratulations to our new colleagues who were elected to this House on November 4th by-elections. While I extend congratulations to all four members who were elected, I want to extend a most special word of welcome to the new members on the government side, our Premier and the honourable member for Halifax Citadel. These two victories prove that the Liberal Party is alive and well in Nova Scotia. (Applause)

Mr. Premier, you said you needed a mandate, and the Premier is not here but I am sure he will be reading this - I do not think there is any doubt about that - in Hansard. Mr. Premier, you said you needed a mandate to govern and the people have given you that mandate. You are using that mandate to set the path that will lead our province to prosperity. As you said in your speech to the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce, this is no time for naysayers or pessimists. It is a time to look forward with optimism and faith. You are providing that optimism and faith. I know that your strong leadership skills and vision for our future will lead the Liberals to victory when we go to the polls in the spring.

To the member for Halifax Citadel, I extend a special welcome to the Liberal caucus family. Your integrity and dedication to your province and country is more than welcome in this Chamber. Already I can tell when listening to your speech seconding the Speech from the Throne that you will be a force to be reckoned with in this House. Welcome on board, sir.

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I also want to extend congratulations to the member for Eastern Shore who was elected Deputy Speaker. Your active participation in the activities of this House prior to your election will hold you in good stead as you assume this new role. I know that you will rule with fairness and impartiality. To my colleagues who since we last met have become members of the Executive Council, I wish you every success as you assume your new leadership roles in the service of your province.

To His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor whom I have known for many years, congratulations on an excellent Speech from the Throne. You have set the agenda for the tone of this government. It is an agenda that demonstrates to citizens of Nova Scotia that this is a government that cares while at the same time being financially responsible. Truly, we have embarked on a new direction.

Annapolis is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty and dedicated hardworking citizens. I was extremely pleased when just a couple of weeks ago our Premier took time to visit the constituency - this was the Digby-Annapolis constituency - and listen to the concerns of the people, a true example of leadership that listens. Mind you, during that visit the Premier also took time to bring some good news. The Premier, along with Mr. Allan Shaw, President of The Shaw Group, announced that The Shaw Group would be constructing a plant in Cornwallis Park.

Mr. Speaker, that happens to be in my constituency. The plant will build furniture for the world renowned Swedish furniture chain IKEA. This project will provide 125 badly needed jobs in our community. Speaking of Cornwallis Park, I am pleased to inform you that all of the housing units have been sold, bringing into the community solid citizens who will provide a much-needed boost to our economy.

I go to dinner Friday nights sometimes in Cornwallis, and I meet many of these new citizens. They cannot believe that they could purchase a house of the quality they are with all the facilities for around $30,000. Most of them tell me any other place in Canada that would not buy the piece of land that they sat on. They are in good shape and they are happy with it. I have heard nobody yet say that they were not pleased with the deal. In fact, they could sell them tomorrow and make a profit.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, during his visit the Premier took the time to visit Weymouth, and at a meeting organized by the local board of trade, I had a chance to hear the citizens' concerns. You just listen to this, once again leaderships that listen. The citizens talked about their concerns, hopes and dreams. One of the highlights was the proposed project to reconstruct the railway to Electric City. Now maybe some of you people do not know what Electric City is, but that is in my constituency and the only place probably in Canada where they had a railroad, a railway engine that ran on wooden rails. It has a long history and it is a good one.

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It is a very exciting thing they are proposing. The board of trade is starting in a small way to do some of this.

This particular piece of land where a village was set up in the last century by people who came from France, a family who came from France, the Stehelins. They built a village back there and it would be about 10 or 15 miles in the woods. The whole family was very happy to be there. They left France. They raised a family. They had homes, they had all the amenities of the small village, but they had this railway that hauled the timber. They set up a large mill. It turned out they intended to turn out 3 million board feet of lumber, so they had to get this down to the docks in Weymouth. They laid a railway road of wooden rails and they brought an engine, from Robb Engineering, I think. They brought it and they hauled timber down and shipped it to Europe, England, Spain, Portugal and the United States. They sawed it by water power on the Sissiboo River. This railroad that they had, it had flat cars and when they wanted to go town, any of the members of the family, they would put chairs out of their living room on the flat car and they sat in there and they rode into town. It is quite a story.

Where it got its name, the Electric City, they bought a dynamo that was made by General Electric, run by water power and they had 200 lights. That is the first electrical power around there, years ahead of everywhere else.

The generator cost $400. That was in 1895. Weymouth did not get electricity until 1926. Digby, I think, got it about the same time. They generated electrical power in Digby with residue from the sawmill, and they had electrical power in the homes up until 12:00 at night or 11:00 p.m. and they turned the power off and you were in the dark the rest of the time.

Now what they are talking about is eventually reconstructing some part of that Electric City and that land is now owned by Irving Mills, I think it is called, the company that owns a lot of that land. It belongs to K. C. Irving's outfit. They have agreed to cooperate any way they could. This will be wonderful. They will donate this land, and I am sure they will put some money into it. I hope that our government will too. It will be sometime before you can build a wooden railroad.

This sounds like it would not be very interesting to see an old locomotive, but I just read a news items in the paper several days ago, and I hope that I have this right. There is a locomotive in Nova Scotia called the Sampson and the Prime Minister of Japan is coming to have a look at that. I hope I have that right. He is a railway buff, and he thinks it is worth seeing. It is the oldest locomotive in the world. Do you know where it is? You know exactly where it is. That is right. This shows it has great interest.

The Weymouth Board of Trade also has some other ideas which are great. The yard where the ships were built for the Canadian Navy, right in Weymouth. They were 114 foot ships that could do up to 28 knots, powered by aircraft engines, Sterling engines and Holset

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engines. They built these beautiful little ships which carried 22 depth charges, they had three Orlican rapid-fire guns aboard and they did convoy work and made themselves very handy in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during the war, where 36 ships were torpedoed, believe it or not. They played a very active role there and these ships were built in Weymouth by people working from around the area, people who learned their trade of boat-building many years ago.

I happened to be lucky enough to be on several of those ships as a first lieutenant and finally as a skipper on one of them near the end of the war. They were called Fairmiles and there were 400 of them in the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Navy during the war in the Channel, as well as doing the convoy work.

They need better signage in the Village of Weymouth because it is by-passed by a section of Highway No. 101; I hope they get that, but in addition to what I am talking about the Electric City, there is a balancing rock on the road to the village. That is of great concern and it will be a great attraction. The balancing rock down in Tiverton attracted 18,000 guests last year, people came from miles to see it. During part of the summer, people were not allowed in there because of the fire hazard. I think it has a future and there will probably be 30,000 people visiting there next year.

I just heard the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism say that Nova Scotia went over the $1 billion mark in tourism this year. I am pleased to say that Digby-Annapolis shared in this provincial tourism record. Certainly, the increase in tourism is a welcome boost to our economy.

Two good examples of the positive effect of this tourism growth were the Upper Clements Wildlife Park and the Upper Clements Theme Park. Both parks exceeded their visitor estimates for the season and, as a result, had an excellent season. This is further proof that when local organizations take over government-run facilities and armed with an action plan which involves local expertise, it is possible to achieve success.

The Digby Pines Hotel had a banner year. Many improvements are made each year to maintain the building and cottages. It has an excellent golf course with improvements made year to year. Maurice Thiebaut, the manager of Digby Pines Hotel retired at the end of the season, after many years of excellent service.

Mr. Speaker, as you well know, education is very important in this day and age. It is next to impossible to get a decent job without at least a high school education and even then you need specialized training beyond high school. In Digby we have a high school which was built way back in 1957 and that is 40 years ago. Over the years, additions have been made to the school to accommodate an ever-increasing number of students. In fact, just last April, this government provided $1.7 million to further modernize Digby High School. So far, all that has been spent of that has been $90,000 to lay a new floor in the gymnasium, which was in

[Page 618]

bad shape and the students were getting injured and so on. That part has been done, but some areas of that school do not need rebuilding, you need almost a complete school. I think the Premier said, when he was meeting with some school people, that Digby would have a school equal to any in the province.

Another priority that I share with the honourable member for Annapolis is the elementary school in Granville Ferry. You have already heard that discussed many times during Question Period and so on. We both agree that a new school is badly needed to replace the present structure. I trust that the Minister of Education will be able to recognize the priority for a new school and allocate the necessary funds for construction.

You know, people are quick to criticize the Department of Health when things go wrong but they are slow to praise the department. Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the Minister of Health, through you, how pleased I am with the ambulance service in Digby-Annapolis. The drivers are excellent and the care that is provided is second to none. This is a very responsible job. We put people in there who had very little training, to start with, but they are giving excellent service. I can remember when getting to a hospital was quite a chore, I can tell you that. They are learning more all the time. One thing that is holding them back, and I think I have said it here before, is the signage along the highways. They cannot find the homes. It is not because they are slow to think or something like that but they will put a number on a house way up in a field. How in the heck can you see it? Even when I know whose house it is and where it is located, I can't find the number on it.

There also should be some legislation, Mr. Speaker, brought into this House that says they have to have signs out by the highway that are fluorescent that you can read at night. Lives will be saved. The fire departments in our area are selling them. They cost very little. I have yet to get one - I have a number but it is not fluorescent. It will be, as soon as I can get back to the fire department, and place it out by our road.

AN HON. MEMBER: Joe, tell us some short stories.

MR. CASEY: Well, I hate to use the time for that. I will tell you one afterwards, though, when we get through here.

AN HON. MEMBER: Stanfield's Underwear.

MR. CASEY: Okay, do you want me to tell that one? Well, okay, I will get to that in a minute.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, go now.

[Page 619]

MR. CASEY: Well, when I was first elected, Mr. Speaker, and I know that I have told this story here before, I had been elected for only a week or two and there was an open line on the telephone in Digby. My old friend, Doug Foley, who is now deceased, was listening to the show. Some lady called in and said, well times are pretty hard under this new Liberal Government - this was in 1970 - when our Member of Parliament - she called me a Member of Parliament, she promoted me - when our Member of Parliament has to sell bags of dulse with his name on the package. Anyway, I was packaging dulse and I wasn't making a living but I made a little bit of grocery money. Doug Foley heard this and called right back. At that time Mr. Stanfield, in all due reverence to him, he was a great man as far as I am concerned, was the Leader of the Opposition in Ottawa. Doug Foley said, I would much rather see my Member of Parliament's name on a bag of dulse than on the seat of my underwear. He didn't actually say it that way. I have some other ones I can tell you, too.

Mr. Speaker, I do have to do this for my constituents, I do have to tell the truth this time. (Interruptions) Okay, I will try that one. How am I for time, Mr. Speaker?

AN HON. MEMBER: Go for hours, Joe.

MR. CASEY: Well, I did make a speech in the House here, we are having trouble with the seals.

MR. SPEAKER: You have used about 20 minutes, honourable member, so carry on. You have about 40 minutes remaining.

MR. CASEY: In the fishing business we are having trouble with seals. In fact, right in Annapolis Basin they are increasing in great numbers but on Sable Island they come in there to mate and so on. There are thousands of them on the beach. I suggested that they put them on the pill. They wouldn't let us kill them so at least we could cut the production to some extent. I figured it could be done and we've been doing work, I've been doing work, through Dalhousie and so on. They have worked on the pill and it's good for five years. Now they can give it at 50 feet with a blow gun. You don't have to hit them in any particular place as long as it has fat on it. If it penetrates the hide of the seal, it puts them out of business for five years. I think this is great.

[5:15 p.m.]

So far, they haven't done it, only as an experiment. I said that in the House and the CBC picked it up. I just got home to the apartment and they called and said we understand that you are all for the pill, because I said in the House that as far as I could tell by reading some of the scandal sheets that all the people on TV and in the movies and so on, they are all on the pill, so how could they object to this?

[Page 620]

They called and wanted to know if I still believed that. So they asked if I would go on TV with Bridget Bardot - this was a few years ago - would you go on TV and explain all this to the general public on CBC? I said sure I would, I'd do anything for the seals. So they called me to Halifax to put the show together. They got the show all ready. She was in the Riviera in France, I was in Halifax and, at the last minute, she chickened out. I lose more darn opportunities like that.

I have a cold, so I'm not talking very well. Anyway, that would work and we need it. They're consuming millions of pounds of fish and the fishermen are getting the blame for destroying the fish. They are to some extent no doubt, if you catch a fish he's dead, but they are destroying millions of pounds of them. The awful part of it is when they eat a fish, they only take the belly out of it because they need the livers for oil to keep themselves oiled up, I guess. So there are many more fish destroyed than anybody realizes. You ask the Minister of Fisheries if he'll back me up on that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell them about the time the seagull passed the airplane . . .

MR. CASEY: Yes, I was called, and they had a protest meeting about an increase in taxes in Digby, so they flew me down from Halifax to meet with all my constituents. They were all geared up, oh boy, they were just waiting for me to walk in there. The hall was full; the chairman was an ex-Tory member of this House and they were really going to give me a rough time. I tried to explain what happened, why we were late. Flying down in the Land and Forests plane, you could see the wings going like this. I said a gull flew through the propeller, that's what happened.

One fellow in the audience, who had been used to flying planes, said he heard of that happening before, but it shouldn't have stopped the plane. I asked, did you ever see one fly through from the rear end? The next thing the chairman said was would I like to say something, so I got up on the platform and it was a pretty hostile-looking audience. I said no, I feel like the man who's going to be hung, and the padre said, son, would you like to say a few words? He said no, I come here to be hung, not to make a speech. So by that time, they forgot what they came there for and we got by all right.

Another one, I just wish I (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell them to buy your book.

MR. CASEY: Well they already have. They did very well by me. I lost where I was.

In Weymouth, and I'm talking a lot about Weymouth, but that's a sleeping giant down there. The Irving people have about 400 people working, there are good wages working in the woods and now the Lewis Moulding Company, they've gone from 15 to 100 workers in their plant, paying reasonably good wages. People are working, they're happy and so on.

[Page 621]

The whale watching is going good, believe it or not. I've said it in here before, I started whale watching out of Digby in 1952-53. I had three boats sailing in and out of there. It's increasing and the thing that makes me feel good about the whole thing, people are beginning if you aggravate the whales, they eventually will die and so on. They are already making rules among the whale watcher captains not to do this. They keep their distance so they do not aggravate the whales and this is very good. It is a gold mine really, people pay great prices to see the whale, and I do not blame them. It is quite a thrill.

Getting back to Cornwallis. Cornwallis has just signed a new 10 year agreement with CPDA ensuring its contribution to our economy. We have a peacekeeping force there. It is working very well. I would suggest that some of you people when you are down there on Thursday night, you should call ahead to make an appointment. Go in there, they have dinners and they have the most interesting people you will find anywhere. I was there just one night in particular. The man who sat on this side was a foreign captain of the King of Norway's yacht, but he was in a four ring navy man. The next fellow on this side was from the World Food Bank. He was in charge of most of that. He was a black fellow from the Middle East, I forget his name. Another man was a high ranking General from Russia. It seems funny, they come over here to learn peacekeeping, but you have to remember there are some countries where peacekeeping to them is, shoot and kill somebody and ask questions afterward. Well, they are learning a whole new trade.

Another night I was in there, this particular part of the base is called the Lester B. Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. Lester Pearson's son was there. We sat at the head table next to each other. I knew Mr. Pearson quite well. I have met him quite a few times, but this was his son. He was a diplomat over in New York. We sat there, we kept to one side that evening until 11:00 p.m. We were talking about some of the most interesting things. You can go in there, it is an Order of Good Time dinner they have and everybody is welcome, as many as they can handle. It is in the wardroom of what used to be the navy base.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tires?

MR. CASEY: Tires, yes that is okay. It is coming along okay. They have lots of tires. You see I have been in the fish business. You have got to have a lot of fish to run a business. I figure if you are in the tire business, you have got to have a lot of tires, and they have got a lot. I was in and had a look at the place the other day. Any other questions? How much more time do I have? I must be almost out of time.

AN HON. MEMBER: One more story.

MR. CASEY: Which one will you have? I probably spent the most fearful day in my life, and I have told this before. The first time I brought a ship into Port Williams, it was a 6,000 or 7,000 tonner and this is a true story. It had no radar on it and we were coming up that river, it is just a ditch. It has got a 90 degree bend in it. Just before we get to the bend

[Page 622]

it shuts in thick and the captain was getting worried. I was too, but I did not let on. He called me over to the starboard wing of the bridge, and he said, listen, and I did listen and you could hear a farmer milking a cow. You could hear the milk hitting the bottom of the bucket and you could smell hay too, that is how close we were to the land. I was getting pretty scared. He said, would that help you? I said, it would, if I knew whose cow it was. You see, in those days, they did not have milking machines. So that was the way we navigated. Now, they have radar and milking machines. You see, one kind of replaced the other. Anyway, that is enough for now. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I sincerely welcome the opportunity to reply to the Throne Speech. I am delighted to be able to follow my honourable colleague for Digby-Annapolis. I do have the book that Joe put out and sometimes I cannot find it, Joe, so I am

awfully pleased when you take the time to recite some of those short stories for us and it is really a pleasure.

The past four years, Mr. Speaker, have really been enjoyable, gratifying and yet very humbling. It has, however, been challenging, demanding and, I am sure you would agree, quite time-consuming. I want to say a big thank you to my family, my wife Norma, my daughter Julie and son Trevor and further thanks are definitely extended to my mum, who lives at home in Chaswood, in the Halifax Regional Municipality. I also want to extend a thank you to my late dad, who passed away this past June. I want also to thank Norma's mum and dad who have been very supportive and very understanding. I would like to send a large truckload, if you will, of gratitude to the Taylor family and the Streatch family and their extended families.

This past year, some of you might know, Mr. Speaker, has been at times privately very difficult. Nonetheless, because of family and friends and a strong religion, we were able to weather some very rough and, at times, uncontrollable storms. The storms of life can, in fact, be very nasty and I would never wish some of my family's storms on anyone, some of the ones we went through in this past year.

The citizens of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley have been just wonderful, Mr. Speaker. The beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is made up of some 63 communities. I delight in boasting that Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the people's constituency, has the largest number of communities in the province. (Interruption) Well, I am just about to start naming some of those wonderful communities, communities like Dutch Settlement, Carrolls Corner, Cooks Brook, Chaswood, Middle Musquodoboit, Upper Musquodoboit and Dean. The people in those small villages . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Lemon Hill.

[Page 623]

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, and Lemon Hill. The people in those small villages have been a tower of strength to me, Mr. Speaker. Communities like the Town of Stewiacke, Upper and Middle Stewiacke, Brookfield, Hilden, Lower Truro, Truro Heights, each of these communities in their own unique way are the very essence of Nova Scotia. Communities like Brentwood, Fort Ellis, Pleasant Valley, Green Oaks, Princeport, Beaver Brook, Green Creek and Wittenburg, I get a tremendous boost from individuals who live in those communities.

The community of Alton is a very small community but it is a community so reminiscent and very indicative of our constituency. On September 19, 1997, at the Alton Recreation Centre I had the very humbling experience of being acclaimed as the Progressive Conservative candidate for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has many volunteers and many organizations, like the Musquodoboit and Colchester ground search and rescue organizations. There are 16 fire departments. The volunteer fire departments provide, as I am sure you would agree and all colleagues in the House would agree, they provide a very valuable service to our communities. The volunteer fire departments, like a lot of organizations and service organizations, are called on to do more and more, as government is pressed relative to budget compression and things of that nature. It is very important that we do all we can to help our volunteer fire departments sustain.

The Musquodoboit Valley Lions Club early next year will be celebrating their 25th Anniversary. Of course, there are different community associations throughout Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the Musquodoboit Valley Business Association, a group that I am a member of. There are rod and gun clubs, guides and outfitters, UCW, Women's Institute of Nova Scotia, the Bicentennial Theatre Committee, the Musquodoboit Valley Tourism Committee and so on. I am sure that although those names may be unique to Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I am sure that similar organizations are in all of our constituencies. So we are very lucky and fortunate here in Nova Scotia.

[5:30 p.m.]

Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is certainly blessed with a lot of organizations with hard-working volunteers. The riding's economy is very much resource-based with forestry and agriculture leading the way. Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has eight sawmills so we are reliant and dependent upon the forestry resource.

I would like to commend and recognize the new Minister of Natural Resources, Honourable Kenneth MacAskill. I understand the minister is going to be in the beautiful constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley during the Festival of Trees celebration this coming Friday evening. (Interruptions)

[Page 624]

The former Minister of Natural Resources has been to the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley and been to the forestry complex. I am sure she is telling the new minister that he wants to make every effort to get out there and meet the people, enjoy the good humour and things of that nature.

This government did introduce a position paper entitled, Toward a Sustainable Forestry. I understand the document which really is comprehensive, it is not very detailed but nonetheless it is certainly very comprehensive, has three main components. It speaks to regulations and this government basically has said for the past four and one-half years that the forestry can take care of itself and now all of a sudden, perhaps by design, or more likely the department was working toward coming in with regulations. An important component of the sustainable forestry industry will be rolling the forestry and wildlife guidelines into regulations. As indicated previously, the Official Opposition has been pressing for that initiative for probably the last four and one-half years. We are pleased that the government is going to come in with regulations.

I would caution the minister that the previous guidelines and standards that are in place, which will be so integral to this legislation, are a little bit outdated. I hope the minister and his staff are working at coming in with guidelines that perhaps would be a little bit more relevant for the times. It is very important that the minister goes back and looks at some of the standards that are in place and adjusts them so they will be contemporary.

Also, another very important component of the sustainable forestry is the registry of buyers. There seems to be unanimous consent that a registry is necessary and will be a cornerstone to ensuring that a sustainable forestry in Nova Scotia is achieved. However, I must say that there is widespread confusion among the many stakeholders as to who will be deemed a buyer. I know the minister and his staff are working hard and certainly will resolve that question.

Another component of the sustainable forestry position paper is the collection and reporting of harvesting data. There is no question that at present regarding the data there are a lot of shortcomings that exist in the process and existing data and reporting arrangements are just not sufficient. In fact, I would suggest that this government has absolutely no idea how much wood fibre is leaving the province either by truck, rail or by boat. The need for a clear and stated vision of Nova Scotia's forests with goals and targets, as well as measures, must be clearly communicated to all of the stakeholders, all the individuals involved.

As I indicated earlier, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley does have a lot of farming. Unfortunately, the agricultural community is hurting in some areas, some commodity groups are really hurting. The beef and dairy sector are hurting. The different commodity groups such as the potato growers that grow potatoes commercially have been hard hit by the drought of this past summer. Besides the drought, both the federal and provincial government, cut or reduced their investments in the agriculture industry here in Nova Scotia.

[Page 625]

The cuts have been very significant. Back in April 1996 this government decided that it would eliminate the grant in lieu of taxes to municipalities that enabled the farming community to be exempt from taxes. That land tax exemption was put in place in 1978 and this government, the Savage-MacLellan Government, with a stroke of the pen, removed that very important feature that the agricultural community enjoyed. The federal government decided in its wisdom to eliminate the feed freight assistance to the farming community. Of course, limestone assistance has been cut back both regarding transportation and at the mines. So the farming community is certainly reeling.

I should mention that I was born and raised on a dairy farm in the small community of Chaswood. I have a lot of difficulty seeing it adversely treated. The farmers and their families feed us all. I have to repeat that. The farmer and his or her family feed us all. The Jean Chretien Liberals in Ottawa have turned their backs. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Richmond has just made a statement that a lot of people that go to Superstore or go to the supermarkets state that I thought the beef and I thought the milk and the cheese and the eggs and potatoes came from a store. I thought you grew them around the corner in a warehouse somewhere.

The farmer feeds us all. The Jean Chretien Liberals in Ottawa have turned their backs on the Nova Scotia agricultural community as well. It is strange that the Jean Chretien Liberals had no problem helping the West out in their time of need. They had no difficulty at all. They have no trouble propping up companies like Bombardier in Quebec - the federal Liberal Government - but they turned their back on the Nova Scotia agricultural industry here in Nova Scotia, the federal Liberals. I understand that the honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing in this province is working hard. He is out meeting with the farmer and he is trying to hopefully inform and educate his colleagues as to how important the agriculture industry is to Nova Scotia. I am not for a moment standing here and criticizing the present Minister of Agriculture and Marketing but I am condemning what Ottawa - the Jean Chretien Liberals - are doing to the Nova Scotia agricultural community here in Nova Scotia. (Interruptions)

The Savage-MacLellan Government nonetheless has suggested that the farmer should go out and borrow more money to help them through these difficult times. (Interruption) Well, inasmuch as the offer from the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board - now that program, I am sure, is well intended, but the farmers, most of the farmers I know, are in debt right now. To offer them a program whereby they can borrow money from the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board for some of them is like offering water to a drowning man. That is what it is like. They need real assistance, some type of subsidy to help them bring in, perhaps, cheaper feed. The farmer is not looking for a lot. They just need a little bit of help because the farmers and their families feed us all.

[Page 626]

Recently, at the Maritime Cattle Market sale in Murrays Siding, a beef was sold for 28 cents a pound on the hoof. You know what it costs, and everybody in this Legislature knows what it costs, when you go to the supermarket and purchase some different cuts of beef. You know it is quite expensive, so you have people buying like Hub Meat Packers - I use this as an example - from Moncton and then they, of course, have to sell it to the retailers, like Sobeys and the Superstore.

Mr. Speaker, there seems to be some price gouging there somewhere. I think the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing in this province would be doing all Nova Scotians and all the consumers a real favour if he would initiate a comprehensive study on the beef prices in Nova Scotia. From 28 cents per pound on the hoof to $6.00 and something per pound, there is something wrong with that picture. Surely, we are not all vegetarians in the Legislature. I know I am certainly not. The agriculture community needs assistance, and it needs assistance now. It needs a government that will invest in an important industry.

Mr. Speaker, no question the farmer has been hurt by the drought of this past summer. I had an opportunity within the last three weeks to attend the annual meeting of the Federation of Agriculture for Halifax and East Hants, the Federation of Agriculture's meeting in Colchester. I try to get to those meetings on an annual basis. Yes, you know, the minister was there too. I commend, again, the minister for coming to those meetings. Under some pretty trying times, the minister stood up and told the farmers that he would meet with them, he would try to ensure that the safety net sustains.

The minister also said that he would go back to Ottawa. He would try to, perhaps if the minister could more easily articulate exactly what he did say, but I understood from those meetings that the Minister of Agriculture had been to Ottawa and, in fact if need be, would go back to Ottawa. Because the way the Jean Chretien Liberals are treating the agriculture community in this province is criminal, Mr. Speaker. Based on the money they find to send to other jurisdictions, the way they are treating this agriculture community, it is a serious issue. I do not know how many MLAs have farms in their constituencies, not just agriculture, not just dairy, how about some potato growers, chicken farmers, pig farmers, you name it. The agriculture community is really hurting. It is a very serious situation.

Now, obviously, if you are going to come in with some type of a support program and a safety net for the farmer, you are going to have to have checks and balances built in to ensure that the program is properly administered. I would never stand here, and I know the minister would never suggest that you just bring in something that is carte blanche, we are going to treat everybody the same, because it depends on what region in the province you are in as to whether or not a farmer has been perhaps devastated to the degree they have been in other areas. You would have to come in with a program that was fair and treated all the farmers equal.

[Page 627]

Mr. Speaker, believe me, many farmers are feeling very disillusioned and quite discontented these days. So, the agriculture community, I am telling you here and now, and I know the minister knows this and I know members of my caucus know this, the honourable member for Pictou West certainly is aware of it, the farming community is hurting. It is hurting big time, and it needs help. It needs help from Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has mining projects, both old and new, that also carry great potential, not only for the people in the riding of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley but they carry great potential for this province. In fact, shortly after the new Premier - Premier designate at that time, I guess he was Premier designate, perhaps he is still Premier designate but, nonetheless, Premier Russell MacLellan - came to power, I wrote the Premier asking him to come with me and visit some of our newer companies in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. The Premier should know that the potential for mineral production in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is immense.

Mr. Speaker, I asked the Premier if he would come with me and visit companies like Tusket Mining in Murchyville. Murchyville is a small community outside of Middle Musquodoboit. I have asked the Premier to visit the Scotia Mine in Gays River. That mine, the owner, Savage Zinc, is based in Nashville, Tennessee. They formed Savage Resources Canada Scotia Mine operation in November 1996. Before the mine can be restarted, several permits must be obtained.

[5:45 p.m.]

Now, Mr. Speaker, the individuals who are running that lead-zinc mine, trying to redevelop that old mine, are very business-like. They are experienced, they have environmental awards from all over North America. The hassle, the red tape, the bureaucracy that that mining company has to go through to obtain a permit is just deplorable. They are not asking to cut corners on safety, they are not asking to cut corners on a normal flow of process. But they are being stymied. (Interruption) No, to my knowledge they are going to pump $16 million to $18 million into that project and no government assistance is involved. That is very important.

We have a gypsum mine being developed, we have a lead-zinc mine that is coming onstream. I understand Tusket Mining in Murchyville is going to ship their first shipment of gypsum, a wallboard product that is used in a lot of manufactured products, some time next year, to Germany. I understand they have a lot of markets for their products, so I again say to the Premier that there is a lot of potential in the mining industry in Nova Scotia. I think it is inherent on this government to try to maximize the potential and try to cut back on some of the bureaucratic red tape that these companies have to go through. These are not fly-by-night operations.

[Page 628]

Mr. Speaker, the mining and milling permit procedure and process, as I pointed out, has been a bureaucratic maze for these companies. The Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley in central Nova Scotia holds a wealth of hidden minerals. The development, of course, passes through several stages. There is exploration, development, feasibility, the environmental assessment, mining, decommissioning and, of course, there is reclamation of the site. At present Kaoclay Resources Incorporated is exploring for kaolin clay, using geological mapping. They are doing some trenching and some drilling. The Musquodoboit kaoclin clay and gypsum projects are really fascinating success stories. Again, the potential that is there for not only Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley but for Nova Scotia is phenomenal if this government would just assist those companies by facilitating them through the permit process. That is all they are asking.

They are having a difficult time. In fact, the mine manager with Scotia Mine in Gays River, stated that they are approximately three months behind schedule. One month has been attributed to the weather and two months because of the bureaucracy, the red tape. They are really having a difficult time. So I am hoping that this government, the new minister, will try to facilitate the mine manager, his name is Mr. Dennis Fisher, from Nashville, Tennessee. I know the new minister, as he drives up the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley this Friday, will perhaps put some of this stuff in his memory bank and if he gets an opportunity, he will get around and visit some of these companies. We feel it is very important and, knowing Mr. MacAskill the way I do, he is the type of individual who would be interested in hearing what the mining community has to say because again, there is phenomenal potential, Mr. Speaker.

Now, Mr. Speaker, those are three mining initiatives that are rather new and very exciting but, as well, we have such long-time mining developments like National Gypsum's quarry in Dutch Settlement-Carrolls Corner. I know the honourable member for Hants East sometimes likes to boast that it is in his constituency but the fact of the matter is that it is in my constituency because the river separates Hants East and Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and the mining operation, the quarry, is on the Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley side of the river. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, we also have such well-established companies as LaFarge Cement produced Portland Cement in Brookfield and in Colchester County we have Mosher's Limestone that mines, mills and manufactures limestone, we are talking about the agricultural community. This government cut back on its investment to the mine and cut back on their assistance to the transportation community also. The job opportunities, the economic benefits that the mining sector provides Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and this province are very phenomenal.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable Government House Leader does have some other orders of business that he would like to conduct and I apologize, I might have run over a little bit. I would ask if I could adjourn at this time.

[Page 629]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be adjourned at this time.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I would now ask that you revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a report containing a list of the names of the members on the Select Committee on National Unity.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 10.

Bill No. 10 - Rainbow Haven Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and briefly give some background on this bill. On the face of it it is quite straightforward. Rainbow Haven, which many of us in this House will know of as a long-standing charity that has been promoted quite widely and vigorously here in the Halifax area and throughout Nova Scotia, was originally incorporated back in 1921 as a home. It is important to know that that is exactly how it was phrased, as a home for children. They would be provided with certain conveniences and benefits by basically visiting a camp.

[Page 630]

The camp itself has closed for full-time operation as of last year, however, those who support the Rainbow Haven cause are interested in making sure that it continues, perhaps under an amended name but continues nevertheless as a fund-raising vehicle for children and that the terms under which the fund-raising vehicle operates are broadly enough framed so that they can provide even greater benefits to those children.

To keep things direct, this is simply a means of enabling those who would like to support that cause to continue their good activities, this time under the Societies Act which is a vehicle that has only been invented since 1921 and which is the more appropriate vehicle by which these efforts can be supported. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 10. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 14.

Bill No. 14 - Christian Churches, Churches of Christ and Disciples of Christ Incorporation Act.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to move second reading of Bill No. 14, an Act to Enable Congregations and Other Unincorporated Bodies of the Christian Churches, the Churches of Christ and the Disciples of Christ to Incorporate.

I am not going to offer too many comments on this but I would like to remark that these are some of the oldest churches in the history of this province and immediately after the American Revolution, John Titus and John Howe, father of Joseph Howe, were elders of a congregation in Halifax and the congregation was established by Scottish settlers in River John, Pictou County, very early in the 1800's, probably by about 1815.

Doctor Louis Johnston, brother of the Lieutenant Governor and Premier James Johnston, edited an early paper for the congregation in the 1830's, so there is quite a history there. I am pleased to be able to move second reading of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 14. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 631]

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, the House will sit tomorrow from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

I would ask the honourable House Leader of the NDP now to move adjournment and give the order of business for tomorrow.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: I am pleased to co-operate with the minister.

What we intend to do tomorrow is to call some bills, Private Members' Public Bills. We will be calling Bill No. 1, Wildlands Protection Act. We also intend to call Bill No. 11, Workers' Compensation Act. If there is a lot of co-operation from government members, we would certainly be very pleased to call Bill No. 12, Gasoline and Diesel Oil Fair-marketing Practices Act. That will, of course, depend on the progress of the other two pieces of legislation.

As requested, I would move that the House now rise for the day and meet tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. o'clock.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise and meet again at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

We have reached the moment of interruption. On the Adjournment motion, the Clerk conducted a draw earlier today and the winner was the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party. The resolution he wishes to debate is:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal government explain how it permitted the Cobequid Pass, built in an area known for its severe weather conditions, to be constructed and opened without adequate safety measures in place, and that it immediately announce how these deficiencies will be corrected.".

I understand the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid is substituting for the Leader of the NDP.

[Page 632]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWY. NO. 104 WESTERN ALIGNMENT:

SAFETY DEFICIENCIES - CORRECT

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, all members of our caucus had submitted this topic for debate this evening because we felt that it was an extremely important topic, not only a timely topic, but also an extremely important topic, because we are, in fact, talking safety. Hopefully, this evening the Minister of Transportation and Public Works will have an opportunity to speak. Hopefully, he will explain and answer how it is he intends to have his government address a number of the very serious safety concerns that exist on the so-called safe, toll Cobequid Pass.

I do not intend to spend a lot of time going down memory lane and talking about history because it is, as I say, important for us to be moving on and to be trying to find ways to address issues, but I cannot let a couple of things that I heard today go by without responding.

I hear some creative historians at work. I was listening to an interview earlier outside this Chamber where the Leader of the Official Opposition was being interviewed about the Cobequid Pass and the Leader of the Official Opposition was saying, well, obviously the road was built in the wrong place, that the Cobequid Pass should never have been built where it was because, as he pointed out, the residents who lived in the area knew what the weather conditions are like. They know the elevations and they knew that it would not be the safest route to be building that road. He went on to say that people in Halifax would not listen to what the residents were saying.

What he did not go on to say was that it was the Tory Government of John Buchanan who selected the route that the current Cobequid Pass follows. In fact, in 1992, even before the environmental control panel filed its report on whether or not the road could be built in that area, the former Tory regime and the minister had ordered crews out to start cutting the centre line for that road. So let's not have creative history. Let's not have the Tories just simply stand up and say that the Liberals in total are at fault because it was the Tories that selected the route over the objections of the citizens in the first place.

You know, the Liberals when they were in Opposition, when they were over on this side of the House, they did supposedly listen to the citizens. They did supposedly hear what the concerns were. They promised that if they were elected government in 1993, that they would revisit the decision for the route that was selected by the Tories. They would revisit

[Page 633]

that decision and see if an alternate route, another route, the northern route, might be more suitable. They did, yes in fact they did. It was the very first decision. In a matter of weeks after assuming office they threw their hands in the air and said that they can't do anything, too much time had gone by; if we look at a new route we can't change it because this road is going to be open by June 1996. If we look at any other kind of route, they said, then that will delay the construction and increase the risk and possible loss of life for motorists on that road.

[6:00 p.m.]

They proceeded with the Tory agenda. They proceeded with the Tory road, the Tory channel, over the objections and the good advice being provided by the people who live in that area and who know it best, and even the Nolan Davis report, the environmental report, of 1992, even though that company was hired by the Tories to justify, even they identified serious problems that had to be addressed.

They acknowledged, they stated quite clearly in the report that this region receives higher annual precipitation and snowfall than other portions of northern Nova Scotia, as well as a predominance of north and west quadrant winds in winter. The elevation of this section of the highway will inevitably increase the incidence of snow and blowing snow conditions as compared to the lower lying sections. That they pointed out in 1992. The Tory road that the Liberals built on, their path, those conditions were known. That road has been open and collecting tolls now for just a matter of a couple of days - it had a freebie for a couple of weeks - and already that road has been shut down on three occasions, three days. Today I understand, twice. Twice today at least, that I'm aware of, and the traffic had to be redirected onto the old Wentworth route that was called Death Valley.

Speaking to residents in the area, they have other concerns, not only now in the Cobequid Pass but on those other roads as well. They say what is happening, because of the severe weather conditions up in this Cobequid Pass, all equipment is having to be diverted to try and keep that road open; which they aren't able to do very well, mind you. As we have pointed out, today on at least two occasions as I have been told it has had to be shut down because of accidents and so on on this safe road.

As it's been pointed out that means less attention is being paid to the other roads like the old Highway No. 4, and so when traffic is being diverted to the old Wentworth route it is going onto a road that isn't even being maintained as well as it used to be in terms of snow removal and so on. That came from residents of the area as recently as an hour ago when I was speaking to them on the phone.

You know we have this road which is also, as we know, going to be subjected to and exposed to much greater amounts of fog because of its proximity to the Minas Basin. There have been concerns raised. I unfortunately predicted that the kinds of things that we're seeing happening today, and we've seen over the last number of days on this road, I've been

[Page 634]

predicting that for some time, not based on my expertise or knowledge of the area, but on the basis of the information that is being provided by residents who live in the area and know it well. The community liaison committee, even in their meetings back in September, were calling and identifying problems with that road that have not been addressed. Unless they've gone up this afternoon, there aren't even signs that are warning motorists that they're entering into, when they go down that road, an area that is prone to very adverse snow and driving conditions, wind and fog, Mr. Speaker.

You know, as you are driving down that road, there are sections of that road, if you happen to be one of those who are carrying a cell phone, and if you run into difficulty a lot of people carry a cell phone and they figure that is going to protect them, that they can call somebody for help. A lot of sections of that road, because it is one of the more isolated areas and mountainous areas in this province, you cannot get through with a cell phone. There are no emergency call boxes along that section of highway.

There are no pull-off areas, so when those who are driving along the road, motorists if they encounter these severe weather conditions, the snow, the fog and lack of visibility, they cannot pull off onto pull-off areas where they can wait it out, whether it be a heavy driving rain, dense fog or severe snow. The shoulders are very narrow and to save a few dollars they did not make those shoulders wide enough for vehicles to be able to pull off safely.

The government talks about how this road was being built for safety reasons. Well, what I want to hear from the minister, and I know you are telling me that my time is almost up. I have got less than one minute left. This road that was built, yes, for profit, so that those who own it can make big bucks and hide their costs off the books of the province, Mr. Speaker, what I want to hear from the minister today, and what I believe that all those who travel that road and the local residents and truckers and all common users of the road, I want to hear how this minister and this government is going to ensure that those known safety deficiencies that now exist will be addressed. Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that they should be paid for out of the pockets of the for profit partners.

This government had the responsibility to ensure that if they were going to follow the Tory plan, that at least they were going to make that road safe as they promised. I wait to hear, as do all of those who use that road, how the government is going to correct the problems that it has allowed to create. Thank you.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening during the late debate and speak to the resolution that has been submitted by the Leader of the Third Party. The operative clause is, "Therefore be it resolved the Liberal Government explain how it permitted the Cobequid Pass, built in an area known for its severe weather conditions, to

[Page 635]

be constructed and opened without adequate safety measures in place, and that it immediately announce how these deficiencies will be corrected.".

Mr. Speaker, I think it is very important that the government recognize that the road does, in fact, have some shortcomings, does have some deficiencies. I am not here, like the Third Party, to criticize the process because I know full well, as the Minister of Transportation and Public Works knows or at least should know, that the former honourable member for Cumberland North did have a lot of input in the selection of the western alignment.

I do not think we should be in here tonight pointing fingers at who built the road, Mr. Speaker. What we have to do, if I might, is recognize that because the Cobequid Pass has the highest continuous elevation of the Trans Canada Highway - it has the highest continuous elevation anywhere in Nova Scotia on the Trans Canada Highway - that we have to go back to the drawing board. Yes, the highway is built and in fine weather that is a beautiful highway.

But it has many shortcomings. The number one shortcoming is the toll booths. That is the number one shortcoming, but we all know the fiasco regarding the toll booths. We are not going to go down that road tonight, no pun intended. (Interruption) Let's talk about, well, safety, it is hard to get through there with a wide load. It could be unsafe if you tried it, but nonetheless, Mr. Speaker, there are no call boxes.

Now I heard the Minister of Transportation and Public Works in a media scrum earlier today say, well, there are no call boxes anywhere in Nova Scotia on our highways. But that highway is unique, it is elevated, Mr. Speaker. The weather patterns, the tide, the Bay of Fundy - motorists are becoming stranded. What is wrong? I don't think it is going to be a major cost to have call boxes installed. Not everybody runs down the highway with a cellular phone; in a lot of places a cell phone just won't work.

There are also no rest areas. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works knows, Mr. Speaker - I am not going to say should know - he knows that this province adopted the National Transportation Safety Code. The National Transportation Safety Code doesn't distinguish between adverse weather conditions, inclement weather and fine weather. They state specifically that you cannot, if you are a commercial driver, exceed 13 hours driving in a 24 hour period. So I ask the minister why are there no rest areas? We could have rest areas for safety's sake. In inclement weather obviously they would be very useful but, when a driver, be it a truck driver or a passenger car driver, when they are tired they need a place to pull over.

I had an opportunity to travel on the Cobequid Pass just this past Saturday, in a diesel truck, Mr. Speaker. We stopped at the toll plaza and there are only four parking spots for tractor trailer combinations on the east side of the toll booth and again, on the other side, there are another four, eight parking spaces. By the government's own estimates, there are

[Page 636]

going to be somewhere between 1,500 to 1,600 tractor trailer combinations travel through that highway on any given day, on average. What do we have? We have eight parking spots on a 45 kilometre section of highway.

Mr. Speaker, we stopped and put the four-ways on, we had the necessary safety precautions in place. I got out and measured, with a colleague of mine, the shoulder down in Debert on the twinned highway - we were heading west - and from the solid white, shoulder line to the edge of the pavement there was exactly four feet. From the edge of the pavement to where the shoulder contoured down over the bank there was another 11 feet. So down in Debert, on the twinned highway, there was 15 feet of shoulder. I will admit that I took only one measurement.

Then we proceeded further west and when we got on the Cobequid Pass, we stopped at the first opportunity where a guard rail was erected. Mr. Speaker, there was only two feet, as compared to four feet of pavement, from the solid shoulder line to the edge of the pavement. Then, from the edge of the pavement, the gravel shoulder portion was approximately six to six and a half feet. So there was some seven feet less. I will use that measurement, it worked out to 2.4 metres on the Cobequid Pass.

The shoulders are different, Mr. Minister. You can stand up and tell the media during a scrum that it is just the same as any twinned highway. Well, I say to you that that is wrong, you are absolutely incorrect. The shoulder is less, there are no call boxes, there are no parking areas, there are no warning lights for fog, there are no warning lights for snowstorms. There are just no warning lights, Mr. Speaker.

Now the minister was in a newspaper article just this past Saturday and it was absolutely irresponsible for that minister to make the comment that because one tractor trailer rig jackknifed and nobody was killed, it is a safe highway. Mr. Speaker, unfortunately I had an opportunity where the combinations I was driving jackknifed on a couple of occasions and luckily nobody was killed. It was on a two-lane highway; one was going down to Auld's Cove, to the Canso Causeway, in a very treacherous and dangerous snowstorm. I was in the flow of traffic and I was able to straighten the rig up and, fortunately, nobody was killed. So I take exception to the minister saying that because one tractor trailer rig jackknifed and nobody was killed that the highway is safe.

That same week, that same Saturday, up in Petitcodiac, outside of Moncton, a tractor trailer rig was sliced in two by a train and nobody was killed. Does that mean we can park tractor trailer rigs on railway tracks? Of course it doesn't and the minister doesn't mean that. The fact is that it is a nice highway in fine weather but we need safety features, that is what we are talking about here, safety features. We need safety features built into that highway, Mr. Speaker. That is what we are asking for. The minister should recognize that the weather patterns are quite different from that of other regions and, with the highest tides in the world coming into the Bay of Fundy, the weather can change very often.

[Page 637]

Again, I appeal to the minister not only on behalf of residents in my constituency, the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, Cumberland North, Cumberland South, Truro-Bible Hill and Colchester North, not only on behalf of those constituents, I appeal to the minister on behalf of all people who travel the Cobequid Pass to try to go back and see if some safety features can be built into that highway. Don't get your political back up and say that the Opposition is asking for this, that and the other thing and we just can't do that.

It is not like you are admitting defeat. In fact, if you would go back and do something positive or constructive to remove some of these safety deficiencies, we would certainly support it. It would go a long way to ensure, or at least it would promote, safety on that highway.

[6:15 p.m.]

The previous speaker did talk about the fact and he only touched on it briefly, I was a little bit surprised, about the public-private partnership. Lots more will be said about that. I think back on November 4th quite a bit was said about that public-private partnership in Cumberland North, a consequence.

The election was also a tribute to the very fine MLA for Cumberland North who works very hard and did so even before he was elected. The toll highway obviously had an impact but that highway in inclement and poor weather, especially in the winter and there is going to be fog, there are going to be times when the travelling public is going to need a safe place, a retreat so to speak, just to get off. Maybe there could be a vending machine, a couple of phones or something like that.

There was an awful lot of snow up there last Saturday but I think I noticed on the westbound lane an old, abandoned gravel pit. I believe that could be reworked and perhaps made into a safe rest area because we need rest areas on that Cobequid Pass. I don't give a darn if New Brunswick and the other parts of Nova Scotia don't have such things in place. We need rest areas, we need safety devices built into that road. Mr. Speaker, I thank you very much for your indulgence.

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

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I want to quote from a document that was made earlier: "It's safer, shorter and makes better economic and environmental sense. That, in a proverbial nutshell, is why the western alignment is our preferred route for the new four-lane controlled access 104 Highway between Truro and Oxford.". It goes on to say that, "The government's decision to build a new, controlled access, divided highway was based solely on . . .", the issue of safety. "Engineers estimate that 26 of the 30 fatal accidents would not have occurred on a divided highway.". Then it goes on to say a number of other issues and

[Page 638]

that of course is from the former honourable Minister of Transportation and Communications, Mr. George Archibald.

It is interesting to see these chameleon politicians that sit in this House who change their colour, their tone and their comments and convictions, only because of the face of a political stripe without looking at the facts for which decisions are made, in fact, decisions that were made based on their administration, based on their determination, based on their assessments, based on their evaluation, based by them who made a decision to go forward. For that, they sit back with rhetorical, political nonsense kind of statements that are really just out there to create all sorts of falsehood in the community and they expect to be believed.

Then they go on about the fact that this highway was one that they are saying is wrong, it is in the wrong location. Now the Leader who is under tremendous political pressure from his own Party for not performing as Leader of the Official Opposition, of the Progressive Conservative Party, he is under great pressure to retain his position, is now coming out and saying, whatever else our government did in the past and all the rights that we have done in the past, we are now saying that that decision was wrong. In other words, he is flying in the face of his own Party, obviously an individual who is listening to diverse opinions of his backbenchers and he doesn't know himself what his own Party's position was.

It makes me a very upset individual when I realize they are saying, trust me. They say, trust the Opposition because we are truthful and we have learned and repented from our ways in the past. We have repented for the fact we have misled Nova Scotians in the past with regard to budget deficits and things of that nature and toilets and other things. Now they want to turn around and say again, trust us, trust us again because we now know that the decision was wrong. Well, Mr. Speaker, I think Nova Scotians are wiser than that.

When I look over to the New Democrats, who remind me of a story, Mr. Speaker, of an individual in a high position within government, said to me, you know, before I became deputy minister - and this is under another regime of an individual portfolio - I seemed to have all the answers. I knew absolutely everything to resolve the problems of the day and the minute I assumed the position of deputy minister, I lost every one of those answers, but you know the minute I got out of that position, I had them all back. Just so the would-be Party to the far end of this lovely Legislative Assembly will never be in a position of power, I hope, and hope we have the wisdom never to allow that, but just so they know. It is easy to sit back as an armchair quarterback who never has to make a decision and never has to live up to it can make all sorts of statements. Of course, the member opposite who is in the Conservative Party that was in power, can now get out of power without the right answers and can say now they have the reasons why they want to change.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid on a question?

MR. DOWNE: No. There is no question here, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 639]

MR. SPEAKER: No question.

MR. DOWNE: I want to go on to ADI Nolan Davis, a Halifax organization. If I have a few minutes left, I will let you ask the question there, John. I want to say that ADI Nolan Davis of Halifax is a Nova Scotia firm. I assume that the members who are here, they are not saying that the Halifax company is not competent and that the individual professionals that work in a Nova Scotia firm and a Nova Scotia-Haligonian business, they are not competent or capable of making the right decision, but I am sure that is not what they are referring to. Nolan Davis came back, and in fact, did an assessment on four routes, Mr. Speaker.

One route was established back in 1990. They talked about the old Highway No. 104 adding another dimension or another lane to it and that was not accepted by the Wentworth community. By the way, do you know why it was not accepted by the Community of Wentworth Valley? They did not want that road in there to be twinned, do you know why? They wanted a quieter, peaceful and safer highway, which they have today. Now, we have been able to please them on that basis, but they also go on to look at three other routes, Mr. Speaker, the western alignment was one, obviously, the eastern alignment and the central alignment. For that individual company, they went through a public consultation that the Conservative Government bragged about repeatedly, the public consultation of the individual people in the area. Ironically, probably the same people that the former speakers both got up and said I spoke to people in that area that criticizes. These same people, I assume, or in the same geographic area, well, maybe you are talking to somebody in Halifax, maybe at a caucus office or something.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question. I wonder if the honourable minister could tell us who the federal MP was in 1990, 1991, 1992 and early 1993 who supported all of this?

MR. DOWNE: Is it a tag team match we got here? Is this my partner? Mr. Speaker, I want to go on about that, and remind me in a second, but this individual firm ADI Nolan Davis came back and evaluated the assessments of that. In fact, they went through a public consultation, they established the environmental guidelines, the economic considerations including the weather. I will table to the House here, if they want. They all probably have a copy of that, 20 different issues that they reviewed. The bottom line was that the recommendations were that the western alignment was the safest route.

I will go on to say here in a press release that was made, again, in another administration, announcing, this is a Minister of the Environment, "Terence Donahoe today announced his decision with respect to the planned construction of Highway 104 from Thomson Station to Masstown. The Minister gave his blessing . . .", he gives his blessing, I want to make it clear. "'I have determined, after careful consideration of the reports provided to me by the Assessment Administrator of the Environmental Control Council, that the

[Page 640]

construction and operation of this divided highway can proceed without significant impact to the environment.", including the issues of weather and wildlife and things of that nature.

This is a report. We all have seen it. While I still have a few minutes left, I want to first respond to the member, my colleague to my right here, who brought the question up about what happened with the federal Member of Parliament. What I find somewhat pathetic, I guess, in my term, is that (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, during a time when I go back to the story about the armchair quarterbacks and things of that nature, but the reality was the seriousness of this. I want to get serious here for a moment. We have lost 52 lives in this province because of the old route. We lost those lives during a period of a decade. We go back one 10 year period - 52 lives; 6 of those deaths were in the month of November. During the time that people were dying and the rhetorical statements coming out of the Progressive Conservatives' mouths about the fact of Highway No. 104 and the toll and everything else.

During an administrative time when they were in power in the Province of Nova Scotia, they were in power in Ottawa. The federal member for that area who now is born again, he is born again to the issue of Highway No. 104. He is prepared to make it his personal sacrifice, his personal pilgrimage, to bring the issue of Highway No. 104 to the forefront. The reality is that while people were dying on the other route, where was Mr. Casey fighting for the rights of the individuals who have died subsequent from that point. I find it absolutely frustrating as a Minister of this Crown when we have finally had the ability to make a decision on an issue of safety and providing a quality safe highway for Nova Scotians and during a time when they were in power for 15 years provincially and 8 or 9 years federally, never once spent a cent to fix the problem that was there. Now all they want to do is go through political badgering to all the people of Nova Scotia, misleading them, giving them wrong information about the facts of what has gone on. They did not have the guts. They did not have the vision or the determination to put safety first and look after Nova Scotians as they should have done.

Now I will entertain a question from my colleague from the NDP.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, in about five seconds.

MR. JOHN HOLM: This is going to have to be very short snapper, I know, Mr. Speaker.

My question to the minister, because he did not address the principle of the resolution. There were a number of issues, specifically that were raised as to safety concerns. The whole issue of the blowing snow, the need for snow fences, the fact that there are no call boxes, that there are no safe pull-off areas. I would like to ask the minister if he could just very briefly tell us if, in fact, his department is looking at those issues and if he is prepared to make a

[Page 641]

commitment to come back to this House to tell us how those proven deficiencies, safety concerns that are being identified now, will be addressed.

It is not history anymore. It is moving forward. How will your government address those very real safety issues?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works, quite off the record because the time has expired.

MR. DOWNE: Off the record? I would like to say to the member opposite that we have staff here. They are listening to the requests. I will indicate to the House that I will go back and ask in regard to the questions that you have asked and report back at a later date.

I want to thank everybody for the opportunity just to barely get into the issue of Highway No. 104.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for the Adjournment debate has expired.

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 6:29 p.m.]

[Page 642]

NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

HOUSE ORDER NO. 4

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

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

(1) A copy of all Department of Transportation and Public Works snowplow operator log books for snowplows on Nova Scotia's 100-Series Highways and secondary roads between 4:00 p.m. November 14th and 9:00 p.m. December 2nd.