The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Mon., Dec. 8, 1997

Sixth Session

MONDAY, DECEMBER 8, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Colchester Co.: Kemptown Road to Earltown -
Pave, Mr. B. Taylor 899
Nat. Res. - Strip Mine: Little Pond (C.B.) - Oppose,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 899
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Private and Local Bills Committee, Mr. R. Carruthers 900
Private and Local Bills Committee, Mr. R. Carruthers 900
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Law Foundation of Nova Scotia, Hon. A. Mitchell 901
Anl. Rept. of the Public Trustee, Hon. A. Mitchell 901
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 326, Health - QE II Health Sc. Centre Workers: Roll-Back
Reinstatement - Accept, Mr. R. Russell 901
Res. 327, Human Res. - Public Servants: Wages - Treatment Fair Begin,
Mr. J. Holm 902
Res. 328, Educ. - Schools: Environment (Air Quality) - Treat,
Dr. J. Hamm 903
Res. 329, Justice (Canada) - Young Offenders Act: Changes -
Youth Violence Address, Mr. B. Taylor 903
Res. 330, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Negotiations - NSP Inclusion Condemn,
Mr. R. Chisholm 904
Res. 331, Fin. - HST: Relief - Time-Frame Changing Stop,
Dr. J. Hamm 905
Res. 332, Commun. Serv. - TAGS Curtailment: Downloading (Mun.) -
Disallow, Mr. J. Leefe 905
Res. 333, ACOA - Co-operatives Importance: Ralph Surette
(Chronicle-Herald) - Recognition Commend, Ms. E. O'Connell 906
Res. 334, Health - Amherst: Doctor Recruitment Required -
Acknowledge, Mr. E. Fage 906
Res. 335, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Fishing Interests - Address, Mr. J. Leefe 907
Res. 336, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Marine Atlantic HQ: North Sydney -
Securement Urge, Ms. Helen MacDonald 908
Res. 337, Educ. - West Kings H.C.: West Side Story -
Organization Commend, Mr. G. Moody 908
Vote - Affirmative 909
Res. 338, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwys. (TC): Rest Areas - Provide,
Mr. B. Taylor 909
Res. 339, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Equalization Grant Prog.:
Underfunding - Investigate, Mr. R. Russell 910
Res. 340, Health - Tainted Blood: Victims (Hepatitis C) -
Compensation Action Urge, Mr. R. Chisholm 910
Res. 341, Educ. - Schools: Construction (Public-Private) -
Costs Full Include, Mr. E. Fage 911
Res. 342, Educ. - Horton H.S. (Kings Co.): Costs Increase - Explain,
Ms. E. O'Connell 912
Res. 343, Justice - Public Records: Tampering - Offence Serious Ensure,
Mr. J. Holm 912
Res. 344, Agric. - Federation (N.S.): Exec. (1998) - Congrats.,
Hon. E. Lorraine 913
Vote - Affirmative 914
MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT (Rule 43):
NSP: Coal (U.S.) - Importation, Mr. R. Chisholm 914
Rejected 925
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 8, Family Maintenance Act 925
Hon. A. Mitchell 925
Mr. R. Russell 927
Mr. J. Holm 929
Hon. A. Mitchell 931
Vote - Affirmative 933
No. 9, Judicature Act 933
Hon. A. Mitchell 933
Mr. R. Russell 934
Mr. J. Holm 936
Hon. A. Mitchell 938
Vote - Affirmative 938
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 8:57 P.M. 939
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 8:59 P.M. 939
CWH REPORTS 939
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 3, Beaver Bank Act 940
No. 6, Cape Breton Regional Municipality Act 940
No. 10, Rainbow Haven Act 940
No. 14, Christian Churches, Churches of Christ and Disciples of Christ
Incorporation Act 940
No. 15, St. Peter's and Area Lions Club Lands Act 940
No. 16, La Picasse Tax Exemption Act 940
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr.J. Abbass 941
Mr. C. Huskilson 947
Mr. G. Archibald 953
Adjourned debate 955
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Dec. 9th at 1:00 p.m. 955
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 345, Nat. Res. - Donkin Mine: Development - Leadership Show,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 956

[Page 899]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, DECEMBER 8, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Sixth Session

7:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Gerald Fogarty

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Keith Colwell

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We can now begin this evening's sitting of the House of Assembly with the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of residents requesting paving of the Kemptown Road to Earltown, Colchester County, Authority No. 509, approximately 11 kilometres. I have signed the petition as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 85 residents of Little Pond. The operative clause in the petition is, "We oppose the proposal to open another strip mine operation on the old # 7 workings at Little Pond.". I am pleased to table this petition on their behalf.

899

[Page 900]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 3 - Beaver Bank Act.

Bill No. 6 - Cape Breton Regional Municipality Act.

Bill No. 10 - Rainbow Haven Act.

Bill No. 15 - St. Peter's and Area Lions Club Lands Act.

Bill No. 16 - La Picasse Tax Exemption Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

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

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 901]

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I would ask, with the consent of the House, that these bills be now placed on the order paper.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a motion that these bills be placed on the order paper.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Law Foundation of Nova Scotia for the year 1996-97.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Public Trustee for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1997.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 326

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

[Page 902]

Whereas in 1994, the Progressive Conservative caucus strongly opposed the 3 per cent wage roll-back to the Public Service; and

Whereas the arbitrator has ruled that the 3 per cent roll-back be reinstated for workers at Halifax's Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre effective November 1, 1997; and

Whereas Premier MacLellan should honour the legislation which was written by this Liberal Government that he leads;

Therefore be it resolved that the 3 per cent roll-back reinstated in the decision by the arbitrator stands and not be appealed by the MacLellan-Savage Government.

Mr. Speaker, I 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. 327

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

Whereas an arbitrator has ruled that the 3 per cent wage roll-back imposed upon public servants by this Liberal Government should have been reinstated on November 1, 1997; and

Whereas the Minister of Human Resources expressed surprise at the ruling and said the government intended the 3 per cent roll-back imposed in 1994 to be permanent; and

Whereas the Minister of Human Resources would not have been surprised if he had read the 1994 provincial government submission to the International Labour Organization, which said the Liberal Government of Nova Scotia should be spared from ILO censure because the wage roll-back was only temporary and would end on November 1, 1997;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Minister of Human Resources and the Liberal Government to put aside the hypocrisy and the expediency and begin to treat public servants in this province with some fairness and consistency.

[Page 903]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 328

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

Whereas students from across this province have lost out on valuable class time because poor air quality, or sick schools, have meant the closure of their facility; the latest casualties being the students and the teachers of Central Kings Rural High School; and

Whereas just next door, Cambridge and District Elementary School is continuing to suffer from persistent air quality problems, with students and their teachers being kept from the school for an indefinite period of time while the problems are being examined; and

Whereas West Kings has also endured air quality problems making the people of this county and this province wonder just where this government's priorities are when it allows private developers to benefit from the escalating costs of the new Horton High School without any concern whatsoever that neighbouring schools are at the same time deprived of basic needs like the quality of the air within their school;

Therefore be it resolved that this government admit that the costs of the new Horton School have gone beyond this province's means and treat the air quality difficulties in this county and province-wide as emergencies as they are affecting both the health and the education of our children and our educators.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 329

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

Whereas recent cases of youth violence within Canada are disturbing not only because of the severity of the crimes, but also because, more and more, they have involved females; and

[Page 904]

Whereas two cases involving teenage girls in our western provinces in just the last couple of weeks have sounded off alarm bells as the debate on solutions for young offenders continues; and

Whereas while motivation for hate crimes by a small percentage of our young people is not only frightening but also beyond comprehension for most of us, it has been shown that the underlying factors often stem from the early years of the child and their home environment;

Therefore be it resolved that this Premier and Minister of Justice advocate for federal and/or provincial initiatives which support our youth in a way that may prevent such violent behaviour and, at the same time, urge the federal Minister of Justice, who has committed to reviewing the Young Offenders Act, to ensure any changes to the Act clearly enforce the stance that our country will not tolerate the destruction of other's lives as a result of that behaviour.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 330

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

Whereas the Premier refuses to answer questions about the offshore in this House because he says he is in sensitive negotiations with Mobil and its partners; and

Whereas the Premier recently revealed that even though the people of Nova Scotia and their elected representatives are to be kept in the dark about these sensitive negotiations, Nova Scotia Power had been given a special invitation to the bargaining table; and

Whereas Nova Scotians have already been kept in the dark enough by both this government and Nova Scotia Power;

[Page 905]

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns the Premier for including a privately-owned power monopoly in his negotiations with big oil while refusing to tell Nova Scotians and their elected representatives what is going on behind closed doors.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 331

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

Whereas this government imposed the Blended Sales Tax on oil, gas and electric bills, in effect taxing the cost of keeping warm; and

Whereas Premier MacLellan, while in Ottawa as a member for Cape Breton The Sydneys, voted for the tax; and

Whereas the New Glasgow Town Council wrote to the Premier on December 8th requesting an emergency debate in the Legislature to deal with the reversal of the Blended Sales Tax from oil, gas and electric purchases by the residents of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the government acknowledge the hardship of the Blended Sales Tax, that the Premier stop advancing the time-frame of his long promised relief and that he immediately set out his plan for reducing the Blended Sales Tax on home energy costs.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 332

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 federal government with full support of the former MP for Cape Breton The Sydneys, now the Premier, has unilaterally cut TAGS by a full year; and

Whereas by participating in this decision, the then MP, now Premier, has ensured that over 3,000 Nova Scotians will fall off TAGS in May 1998; and

[Page 906]

Whereas by falling off the federal budget, post-TAGS recipients will have to fall back on financial assistance within Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier commit that his failure as Member of Parliament respecting the $20 million TAGS curtailment not be downloaded on Nova Scotia municipal social assistance budgets.

[7:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 333

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 journalist Ralph Surette, writing in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on December 5, 1997, praised ACOA and the province's schools for the success of their entrepreneurial programs for young people; and

Whereas he says it may be "too much of a good thing" and we risk "losing sight of human and community values"; and

Whereas he suggests that "the principles and mechanics of creating co-operatives also be taught in the schools and put before the public as well";

Therefore be it resolved that Ralph Surette be commended for his recognition of the importance of cooperatives in the Atlantic economy and urge the Minister of Education to mandate education about cooperativism in Nova Scotia's schools.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 334

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

Whereas Amherst will soon be losing yet another doctor; and

[Page 907]

Whereas the Amherst Regional Hospital is a level-three facility serving the areas regional health care needs; and

Whereas the 10 doctors serving the region's needs are on call seven days a week, 24-hours a day at the Amherst Regional Hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health acknowledge that the doctor-to-patient ratio is below that required to support the regional needs of the population and that he identify Amherst as an under-serviced area that requires an extra recruitment effort.

Mr. Speaker, I 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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 335

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 continue to make bad deals on Sable gas; and

Whereas the full-steam-ahead, damn-the-torpedoes attitude of the Premier has Sable gas approvals, agreements and deals tumbling one over another; and

Whereas in this mad rush by the Savage-MacLellan Liberals to create the appearance of something of a good deal out of Sable gas bad deal, thereby attempting to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage-MacLellan Government ensure fishing interests respecting the Sable Offshore Energy Project are fully addressed before final approvals are given.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

[Page 908]

RESOLUTION NO. 336

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

Whereas New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Peter Mancini and Conservative Senator Donald Oliver are leading a non-partisan coalition of business, union and political leaders in a fight to gain Marine Atlantic jobs for the community of North Sydney; and

Whereas the community of Port Aux Basques has organized a coalition to fight for those same jobs and that community has enlisted the support of the Newfoundland House of Assembly which passed a motion calling on Marine Atlantic to locate there; and

Whereas a decision on the Marine Atlantic jobs will be made in the coming weeks;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join Peter Mancini and Donald Oliver in their fight by urging Transport Minister David Collenette to locate the new Marine Atlantic headquarters in North Sydney.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 337

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

Whereas West Side Story hits the stage of West Kings running from December 9th to December 14th; and

Whereas this Leonard Bernstein Broadway musical classic will come to life in Kings County tomorrow thanks to the efforts of hundreds of students, volunteers, school staff, along with the generous assistance of our community; and

[Page 909]

Whereas the school has been holding this difficult production until it had just the right fit for the very challenging roles, especially the character of Maria;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the entire West Kings school community for its tremendous efforts in pulling together this production, as well as its sponsors who have backed the project financially, and be encouraged to take in an evening of enjoyable theatre by taking a trip down to Auburn this week.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 338

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

Whereas with the opening of this country's first section of tolled highway involving the Trans Canada, approximately 100 unauthorized rest and parking areas have been lost to the trucking industry; and

Whereas the opening of the twinned section of highway next summer between New Glasgow and Salt Springs will mean an additional 30 locations presently being used as rest areas by truckers will become obsolete; and

Whereas Nova Scotia recently adopted the National Transportation Safety Code, requiring drivers to become compliant with hours of service, rest periods, while also doing mandatory vehicle checks;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works recognize that Nova Scotia is the only jurisdiction in Canada and the United States without authorized rest areas for truckers, and immediately announce his government's intentions to address this

[Page 910]

safety issue so the Department of Transportation and Public Works will not be in contradiction with the National Transportation Safety Code and compromising safety.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 339

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 Equalization Grant Program funded by the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs is presently being underfunded by millions and millions of dollars; and

Whereas the Savage-MacLellan Government's lack of vision for rural Nova Scotia is only compounding what is already a serious financial drain on many small towns across Nova Scotia as a result of this underfunding of the equalization grant program; and

Whereas in the case of the Town of Windsor, adequate funding for the Equalization Grant Program would mean an additional $27,000 in town coffers, which could be used on a number of small projects that are presently not being undertaken because the funding does not exist;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately have the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs investigate the shortfalls in funding occurring with this program and begin undertaking measures resulting in this program being funded at a proper level.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 340

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

Whereas the Krever Commission has stated that governments in this country have a moral obligation to help those who have contacted hepatitis C through the blood system; and

Whereas the Quebec National Assembly has shown leadership with a resolution urging the Quebec and federal governments to move quickly on the establishment of such a compensation plan; and

[Page 911]

Whereas in the past members of this House have shown similar leadership in compensating those who contacted the AIDS virus through tainted blood;

Therefore be it resolved that this House add its voice to that of the Quebec National Assembly and urge provincial and federal governments to move expeditiously to bring forward a compensation program reflecting their joint responsibility for those who are suffering as a result of government's negligent management of the blood system.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 341

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

Whereas government has priced the new Horton School building at $27.2 million, or $158 per square foot, it forgot to add the cost of $600,000 for land, $100,000 for an eight inch waterline, plus additional funds for school equipment, the HST, road upgrading and other add-ons, bringing the total for the new school closer to $30 million; and

Whereas the Horton School is being built for just over 1,000 students, putting the total cost per student at $30,000, or $175 per square foot; and

Whereas the Liberal Government, through a paid consultant, is trying to make it appear as though privately built schools are cheaper than schools paid for and owned by the people of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Education Minister provide all costs to Hanscomb Consultants Limited prior to asking them to evaluate the cost benefits of building a 3P school, so that Nova Scotians can be given a legitimate comparison between that and an inaccurate one done only to support the government's own sales pitch.

[Page 912]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 342

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

Whereas the Minister of Education stood in this House on December 2nd and stated the total cost of the new Horton District High School was in the range of $25 million; and

Whereas when the Minister of Education was told the $25.7 million price tag did not include such things as the land, applicable BST, the interest-free loan paid to the consortium building the school or the cost of leasing the computers and was asked again what the total cost of the school was, he again stated $25 million; and

Whereas Handscomb, the government's own consultant hired to try to show the province is getting a good deal on Harrison High, revealed on December 5th that the cost of the school is now $27 million;

Therefore be it resolved that this House order the Minister of Education to explain why the cost of the school being built in his own riding rose almost $2 million between December 2nd and December 5th.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 343

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

Whereas Liberal MP Colleen Beaumier has introduced legislation in the House of Commons amending the Access to Information law to provide for jail terms for government officials found guilty of destroying or tampering with public records; and

Whereas the bill has received all-Party support, indicating the seriousness of the offence of tampering with public records before releasing them; and

Whereas someone tampered with and altered a document related to the delisting of the Jim Campbells Barren but remains undetected and unpunished;

[Page 913]

Therefore be it resolved that in the interest of government accountability and public access to information this House support measures to make tampering with public records a serious offence under the law in Nova Scotia.

I request 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 Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 344

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture held its 102nd annual meeting on December 5th and 6th, 1997, in Truro; and

Whereas the meeting brings farm leaders together from all across the province to discuss the future of the industry; and

Whereas at this meeting the 1998 executive was appointed to lead the organization over the next year;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate the 1998 Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture executive, consisting of Anthony van Oostrum, Kings County, as President; Peter Hill of Kings County as 1st vice-president; Willy Versteeg of Hants County as 2nd vice-president; Lloyd Evans of Annapolis County as Canadian Federation of Agriculture Director; Doug Bacon of Cumberland County; Solveig Lenahan of Lunenburg; Anthony VanBerkel of Antigonish County; and Jim Austin of Inverness County as past-president.

I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 914]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

Are there further notices of motion?

Seeing none, we will move on to Orders of the Day.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: 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 Rule 43(1) of the Rules and Forms of Procedures of the House of Assembly.

The matter of urgent public importance is the decision of Nova Scotia Power, announced late today, to import another 180,000 tonnes of coal from the United States. This matter is extremely urgent as it represents a threat to the Cape Breton coal industry and to thousands of jobs in Cape Breton. The government, by failing to fight for the development of the Donkin Mine as part of a three mine Devco operation, is contributing to the potential devastation of the Cape Breton coal industry and threatening the jobs of Cape Breton coal miners as well as thousands of spin-off jobs.

Securing the future of the Cape Breton coal industry requires the urgent attention of members of this House. I therefore move for an emergency debate on this urgent matter at the time of Adjournment today. Mr. Speaker, I await your ruling and would say that in doing so I apologize that this notice reached you a few minutes late. However we did not hear about this new and disturbing development until late this afternoon.

[7:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable members, I am going to go to Rule 43 and go through it step-by-step. I want to give this matter that has been brought to the attention of the House by the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party, the deliberation, the consideration it deserves.

"43(1) Immediately after the daily routine of business has been concluded, a Member may ask leave to move that the business of the House be set aside for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance; and in asking for such leave he may state briefly his reasons for so doing.

[Page 915]

43(4) Mr. Speaker shall decide, without any debate, whether or not the matter is proper to be discussed . . .", there is no question in my mind, it is proper to be discussed, ". . . and, in considering whether the matter is proper to be discussed, Mr. Speaker may have regard to whether adequate notice has been given pursuant to paragraph (2)."

The honourable Leader of the NDP did say that the notice reached myself a few minutes late. I received it, I arrived in my office about 45 minutes before the opening of the sitting this evening, but I do respect that these developments did occur late in the afternoon. I feel that the notice of intention was in my hands soon enough to give it the consideration it deserves.

Factors to be considered in Rule 43(4A) on Page 38, ". . . the Speaker also shall have regard to the probability of the matter being debated by the House within a reasonable time by other means.". I think this is a major factor in this notice of intention which has been submitted this evening. It has been submitted by the Leader of the New Democratic Party. Opposition Day for the caucus of the NDP was last Wednesday which means Opposition Day this week goes to the Progressive Conservative caucus, actually for the next two Opposition Days, if the House were to continue to meet that long before the Adjournment. I think that there is a certain probability here that the matter may not get an opportunity for debate in this House within a reasonable amount of time.

The Speaker is not bound to give reasons for his decisions but I definitely intend to do that. I will say in all honesty, honourable members, the points that were made in this notice of intention, for example, that Nova Scotia Power announced today the intention to import another 180,000 tonnes of coal from the United States, I am not expert to any great extent, and I would be the first to admit that my knowledge is limited with regard to the Cape Breton coal industry. I have no question it represents a threat to the Cape Breton coal industry; how great a threat, that is the question that comes to my mind.

What I would like to do honourable members is invite submissions and I would like some help in making this decision because I feel that I need some assistance here. I would invite submissions, one from each caucus. That is one representation from each caucus. I would like to hear some reasons why, at this time, the emergency debate is necessary.

Before I go any further in deliberating the decision, could I ask for submissions? I would ask also that honourable members who would prefer to speak to this issue, please be concise with your remarks. We do not want to delay for the entire evening any decision.

The honourable Leader for the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am quite happy and quite delighted to have an opportunity to add a bit of support for this motion. This is the second time in this calendar year that Nova Scotia Power has had to import coal to this degree; 180,000 tonnes was imported back in January 1997. In both cases it was done so because of production

[Page 916]

problems at the Phalen Mine. As all members of the House would know, there have been serious geological problems at the Phalen Mine to the point where Devco President Joe Shannon had a press conference a few weeks ago where he raised serious concerns about the future of that mine and how many years, in fact, it would be able to operate given those problems.

The reason we wanted to deal with this tonight and underline the problem by asking for the Legislature to deal with it as an urgent matter of business is because we have been suggesting in the past that Devco is doomed, and the Premier himself has acknowledged this, unless there is a three mine plan put into place, a three mine plan that includes the development of Donkin, Mr. Speaker. As you know, that is all up in the air given the intention by the federal government, indicated last spring, to set up Donkin Resources Limited and to allow them to explore the development of the Donkin Mine in an operation that is separate from Devco.

So, to sum up, my point here is really quite simple, that we are going down a road here that is extremely alarming to me, extremely alarming to the United Mine Workers and I think to many in Cape Breton, that the future of Devco is clearly in jeopardy and that the more times that Nova Scotia Power, the only customer or certainly the major customer for Devco, import coal and are allowed to import coal within a period like this, within less than a year, the more we are looking at some serious problems down the road.

So we wanted the opportunity to deal with this and felt that it was important that all members have an opportunity to consider what truly is an urgent situation here as Devco continues to go to the world market for production, which represents, in effect, 20 per cent of the contract that Devco has with Nova Scotia Power for this year. It is extremely serious. For those reasons, Mr. Speaker, I think it is extremely important that we, as a Legislature, take the time to underline for all Nova Scotians, and certainly for Cape Bretoners, how serious we take this problem by engaging in an emergency debate tonight at the adjournment of normal business.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to allow you the benefit of the wisdom of this caucus regarding this very serious debate. First of all, I think there are a number of points that I would like you to consider before you give your ruling.

The first is the fact that Devco and the Cape Breton coal industry, it cannot be argued is other than a very important part of the Cape Breton economy; 1,700 coal miners are still engaged at the Prince and the Phalen Mines.

[Page 917]

The second point is that the Phalen Mine continues to be very problematic as a coal producer. It is absolutely certain that Devco, unless there is a three mine strategy, is doomed. Phalen is not a reliable and probably never will in the future be a reliable source of coal allowing Devco to on a day to day, week to week, month to month basis fulfil its contract with Nova Scotia Power. In fact, the only person who perhaps would be somewhat heartened by the fact that 180,000 tonnes of coal will not be mined in Cape Breton but will be bought offshore would be, perhaps, someone like Howard Epstein.

Do you know, Mr. Speaker, and I think to perhaps allow you to realize how important 180,000 tonnes of coal is, it represents well over 9,000 man-days of work. That is a significant amount of work for even a corporation the size of Devco. It is important, as well, because this government has provided no socio-economic study that would indicate the devastation that would be created in Cape Breton Island without a coal industry. This government has steadfastly refused to address that problem and the Premier has said on more than one occasion that that can wait until sometime in the future. In my mind, Mr. Speaker, it doesn't take a socio-economic study to determine what the effects would be in Cape Breton if, in fact, 1,700 coal miners suddenly are told will they no longer go back in the pits.

I think perhaps, Mr. Speaker, to allow you to make up your mind, there is another very important fact why this debate should go forward tonight. The Premier is with us and I understand that he will not be with us, he is off to the First Ministers' Conference on Thursday. What better opportunity to send the Premier off to the First Ministers' Conference, armed with all the information that will come out of tonight's debate, to allow him to make a representation to the federal government to do what many have said in the past and have failed to carry through, to make Donkin Mine part of the Devco strategy. This will allow our Premier to approach the Prime Minister and to indicate to him the seriousness of the problem and to extract from him a commitment to make Donkin part of the Devco strategy.

I think the evidence to support the emergency debate is persuasive and, more than persuasive, it is overwhelming, that to fail any further, for this House to make its position known on Devco, would be a betrayal of the people of Cape Breton and, in particular, the mining families. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: One further submission.

The honourable Premier.

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I have listened very carefully to the positions of the Leader of the Third Party and the Leader of the Opposition. Certainly, the importance of the coal industry to Cape Breton cannot be denied nor could it even be minimized. The coal industry is extremely important. The Leader of the Opposition mentioned the number, I thought it was 1,300 but it could be 1,700. In an area

[Page 918]

of 35 per cent unemployment it would be devastating if we lost those jobs, not to mention the fact that they are good paying jobs. There is also the factor of the spin-off from those jobs.

The coal industry is undergoing a difficult time. The problems at Lingan-Phalen are well known, perhaps not as well known as they should be but I would want to say that the urgency of this matter lies within the concern of the people of Cape Breton as to the future of the coal industry.

The problem here, however, is that the resolution presented by the NDP does not outline the emergency. The emergency is not in Nova Scotia Power buying 180,000 tonnes of coal. Nova Scotia Power Inc. feels, and I think within their own analysis, justified in the purchase of the 180,000 tonnes of coal because of the condition of the Lingan-Phalen Colliery and the problems it has endured.

One concern would be that if they were restricted and not buying coal, what that would do to the relationship with the Cape Breton Development Corporation and whether they would be interested in buying coal from the corporation where the risk of that mine is so evident. Yet we don't want to put the miners in a position where they would be forced to mine coal under dangerous circumstances.

The real concern, the real emergency here lies not in the decision of Nova Scotia Power Inc., it lies in the future of the Cape Breton Development Corporation, it lies in the decision as to where we are going to go from here, knowing the threat that lies over the head of the Lingan-Phalen Colliery, where we are going to go with the obvious position that the federal government does not want to enter into financing the operation and development of the Donkin Mine. There is the emergency, the long-term future of the people of Cape Breton, particularly in the coal mining areas.

What has happened at Lingan-Phalen is not something that has come as a surprise to most people in New Waterford, in Glace Bay, Dominion, Reserve. They know that this is a possibility, they know the problems they have had at Lingan-Phalen. The emergency comes from the fact that the federal government has not done anything to ease the concern of the people in that area, either by giving different information with respect to Lingan-Phalen, or the possibility of financing, either whole or in part, either as a project of the federal government, or as a joint partnership with the private sector, the development of the Donkin Mine.

[7:45 p.m.]

We have a very good colliery in Prince Colliery on the Northside. It is a very good mine but unfortunately, the sulphur content is high and it needs to be blended with coal from Lingan-Phalen, or a lower sulphur coal. Standing alone, the coal out of Prince is going to be less attractive to certain would-be purchasers. The fact that we may lose for an extended

[Page 919]

period of time, and maybe ultimately forever, the Lingan-Phalen Colliery is a concern to this member of the Legislature, every member of the Legislature for Cape Breton and I think every member of the Legislature in Nova Scotia, not to mention the people of Cape Breton who wonder what is going to happen if that, in fact, does take place.

I think the motion for the emergency debate by the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic is misstated. Sir, if you wish to allow it to go then fine, but the fact is if the honourable Leader of the Opposition wants to send a message to the federal government, I have no objection to that, I welcome it. I think the message should state the urgency of the coal mining industry, the threat to the coal mining industry, the threat to the people of Cape Breton and the fact that we don't have any long-term plan for the coal industry on Cape Breton Island. We, here, in the Legislature of the Province of Nova Scotia are as concerned as the people of Nova Scotia, particularly the people of Cape Breton, with respect to this uncertainty. We favour movement immediately, either whole or in part by the federal government, toward the development of the Donkin Mine. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I want to thank those honourable members who did meet my request for a little further information on this. I would have to say that I have heard, in the last couple of minutes, what would amount to be the beginning of a very interesting debate. I feel that my appetite has been whetted just enough. For that reason I am satisfied, as Speaker of this House of Assembly, that the matter is proper to be discussed.

Looking at Rule 43, The Speaker, ". . . shall read the motion aloud and ask whether the Member has the leave of the House.". I am not going to read the entire motion, I will read, ". . . that the business of the House be set aside for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance under Rule 43(1) of the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly.". The, ". . . Speaker shall request those Members who support the motion to arise in their places . . .", and show support for the motion. If more than 10 members have stood in their places. (Interruption) Exactly 10, thank you. I thank the Clerk of the House. So, an even 10 have shown their support for the motion. Mr. Speaker, ". . . shall call upon the Member who has asked for leave.".

We have an even 10 to my way of thinking and I have made my ruling on this, honourable members. I feel it is an urgent matter, it is worthy of the debate that will be given this being a Monday evening. It states clearly here in Rule 43 that on Monday evenings the debate will be held following the adjournment at 10:00 p.m.

It has been brought to my attention by the Clerk that if more than 10 members rise - we had an even 10 - ". . . the Speaker shall call upon the Member who has asked for leave.". Is it necessary to call upon members for a division of the House?

[Page 920]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I just want to clarify for members on the government side who are still in their seats, that the Premier got up a few moments ago and said that the real issue here is the whole question of the government's refusal to support a plan that includes Donkin for the future of Devco. I would refer you to Paragraph 2 of my motion which talks about how this matter is extremely urgent and it says, "The government, by failing to fight for the development of the Donkin Mine as part of a three mine Devco operation, is contributing to the potential devastation of the Cape Breton coal industry and threatening the jobs of Cape Breton coal miners as well as thousands of spin-off jobs.". It then further goes on, "Securing the future of the Cape Breton coal industry requires the urgent attention of members of this House.".

Now, if this Premier, Mr. Speaker, wants to stand in his place and try to suggest that for some reason this motion does not talk about the future of the coal industry then he, once . . .

MR. SPEAKER: This is not a point of order, honourable member.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . again, is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of members of this House and . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I have to say honourable member . . .

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . that is absolutely unfair, unconscionable and shameful behaviour on this Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: This is not helping the matter. This is being of no help to us.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. We have just had the spectacle of the Premier getting up and indicating that he appreciates how important this is and that he wishes to take the Government of Canada to task because they have failed to support the Cape Breton coal industry. Again, I say, is there not a single member on the government side who wants this debated, and if that member is here tonight, let him stand up.

MR. SPEAKER: Now again, there is no point of order.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I have no objection to a proper debate on the future of the coal industry in Cape Breton. I do not want it to happen between 10:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight tonight. I want proper time allocated to this very serious question, the future of the coal industry in Cape Breton. There are a lot of ramifications for this, and a lot of members would like to have proper notification of this debate, so that they could participate and to do it properly, not stick it at the end of the hours here on a Monday evening. (Interruption)

[Page 921]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: It does not have to be done this evening. It has to be done before too long, but let us have it done in a proper fashion. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Again, as I said earlier, I made the decision I did because of the possibility, indeed probability, that the matter may not be able to come before the House for a debate before adjournment, before the Christmas break, if we can call it that. Again, looking at Rule 43(7), it makes it a little difficult. It says, ". . . if more than ten Members rise accordingly, the Speaker shall call upon the Member who has asked for leave.". (Interruption)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would ask, in order to deal with that point once and for all that we have a recorded vote as to whether or not there are more than 10 members of this Legislature who have got the guts to stand up and deal with this issue, front and centre, for Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Again, I have to go by Rule 43(7), ". . . if more than ten . . .".

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I am prepared, as Government House Leader, with the consent of the House, to call the House at 12:00 noon on Wednesday and the first two hours, before we get into the normal sitting of 2:00 p.m., be used for debate on the Cape Breton coal industry.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader has made a suggestion in the form of a motion. (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, you must agree if you want a debate.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the motion by the Government House Leader actually is contrary to the rules because if indeed an emergency debate is an emergency debate, then it shall be, as the Rule Book says, called on that same day when the ordinary business of the House has concluded. So I do not think you can call an emergency debate two days hence.

AN HON. MEMBER: By unanimous consent you can do it. You need unanimous consent.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We have dealt with issues in this House in my short term here of six years under this rule. We have had some of these motions that have been turned down. We have had others that have been heard. I recall a motion on the coal industry was held on a Monday evening and it was held and the rule

[Page 922]

specifically states that, and you have gone through all of the points of why an item is to be considered an emergency and therefore an urgent debate.

Now, this resolution was worded in that way. There had to be something that happened recently to have brought this matter to the public's attention that is reason for a public debate. In other words, if I had introduced a resolution tonight that said, well, you know, I think we should all get together tonight and talk about the problems at the Phalen Mine, you would have said to me, that is not an emergency; that is a problem that has been existing, that is not urgent; we have talked about it here before and we will talk about it again and that does not fit within the rules. You would have been right, according to those particular rules.

My point here in (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, my point of order is that is why the resolution is worded the way it is. It is to fit in with the particular Rules of this House as it pertains to an emergency debate. That is why it was worded this way. Here is something new that has happened, something significant that would lead us to deal with this whole issue. It underlines, as I have said in my motion, this decision to import 180,000 tonnes was a new situation that just came to our attention and therefore underlines the problems. That is why this was raised. Just as I wrap up, let me just say that the reason this was . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, . . .

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . on my point of order, what I am trying to say is you have been distracted. We have other members yelling. I am trying to get my point across here, which is simply that this is worded the way it is in order to conform with the Rules and Forms of Procedure, of that book you are dealing with, of the House. If we are all of a sudden going to throw that book away, then what am I supposed to do as a member of this House when I want to raise a situation in an emergency fashion?

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, the problem here is with the wording of Rule 43(7), ". . . if more than ten . . .". We had an even 10 who indicated support for this emergency debate. We had an even 10. The call then came for a division.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Could we have a recorded vote then, now, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: I see no other way to resolve this than to have a recorded vote on the issue and find out whether we will go ahead.

We have reached a stalemate here.

Is the House ready for the question?

AN HON. MEMBER: What question?

[Page 923]

DR. JOHN HAMM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have not been in this House very long and usually when the Speaker wishes an accurate count in determining the position of the House, he gives some adequate notice. (Interruption) There were members just outside the door. I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to look at precedents when a vote such as this has been asked for in the past and adequate notice has been given, so that those who are participating in the evening's or the sessions's activities, can make their wishes known through a vote in the House. That opportunity was not given in this case.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to revisit how you determined that there were only 10 members in favour of the emergency debate.

[8:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: That is the simple part of trying to resolve this stalemate, honourable member. When I called for those to stand, we had 10. The rules says, ". . . if more than ten . . .". That is the problem I have, it says more than 10. We can go ahead and look at this at some future time about the working of Rule 43(7). We had an even 10. I can't see any other method to resolve this dispute than to get a vote on it and see exactly how we go forward.

A recorded vote has been asked for.

The motion is that we proceed with the emergency debate at the time of adjournment, at 10:00 p.m. this evening, that is the motion we have. It came in the notice of intention and that is the question that is now being put to the members of the House.

Would all those in favour (Interruptions) a recorded vote had been requested by more than two members. We will call in the members and get ready to call the roll.

MR. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I have a very simple question for you, with all due respect, Mr. Speaker. A very specific method for determining whether this should proceed as prescribed by the rules. What is more recorded than asking members who are in favour of a particular motion to stand.

I was present in the Chamber, as were you, Mr. Speaker, when not a sufficient number of a particular caucus rose from their places to indicate that they were in favour of this. Exactly what more do we need by way of recording this for posterity than what has already transpired here? Is there something that you can quote to the Chamber, to the members here assembled, that would indicate that a recorded vote, other than a standing vote, is required in this situation?

[Page 924]

MR. SPEAKER: Well, the rule simply calls for a division in a situation such as we have now. The matter of the debate will be determined, if necessary, by a division. Unfortunately, that is the predicament we now have. We have had two members requesting a recorded vote and I see no other recourse but to move on with the recorded vote and to call the roll.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is the motion?

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that at the moment of adjournment, at 10:00 p.m., that an emergency debate take place. The matter of urgent public importance is the decision of Nova Scotia Power announced late today to import another 180,000 tonnes of coal from the United States. It is extremely urgent and that is the subject of the emergency debate at 10:00 p.m. We are going to have a recorded vote; those who are supporting the emergency debate, those who are not supporting it. Now, I can't put it any more clearly than I have.

We are ready to call the roll.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Archibald Mr. Barkhouse

Dr. Hamm Dr. Smith

Mr. Russell Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. Moody Mr. MacLellan

Mr. Chisholm Mr. Mitchell

Mr. Holm Mr. Brown

Ms. Helen MacDonald Mr. Casey

Ms. O'Connell Mr. Holland

Mr. Taylor Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Leefe Mr. Surette

Mr. Fage Mr. Adams

Mr. MacLeod Mr. Lorraine

Mr. William MacDonald

Mr. Mann

Dr. Savage

Mr. MacNeil

Mr. Richards

Mrs. Norrie

Mr. Carruthers

Mr. White

Mr. Hubbard

Mrs. O'Connor

Dr. Kinley

[Page 925]

Mr. Fraser

Mr. Huskilson

Mr. Abbass

THE CLERK: For 12. Against, 26.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion carried in the negative. Case closed.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: 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. 8.

Bill No. 8 - Family Maintenance Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise tonight to move second reading of an Act to Amend Chapter 160 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Family Maintenance Act, and to say a few words in support of this bill.

Mr. Speaker, the amendments we propose in this bill will allow us to implement the federal child support guidelines. These guidelines are based on the average cost of raising a child in Canada. The child support guidelines were initially introduced by the federal government in May of this year.

Mr. Speaker, these guidelines allow us to put children first. They provide a fair, objective and consistent standard in determining levels of child support. The guidelines are based on the principle that both parents have an obligation to support their children after divorce or separation and that children have a right to share in the income of their parents. The objective in implementing these guidelines is to establish a fair standard of support for children, to reduce the conflict and tension between parents by making the calculation of child

[Page 926]

support more objective, to improve the efficiency of the court process by encouraging settlement and to ensure all children are treated equally.

When the federal child support guidelines became effective in May of this year, they were applicable only to children of parents who divorced. With the amendments we are proposing, children of parents who separate and who were never married will now be treated the same as children of parents who divorce. That means matters that appear before the Supreme Court, divorce matters of the federal court, will be treated the same as matters that appear before the Provincial Court, the Family Court.

There are other inequities these amendments will address as well. The economic situation of men and women after divorce or separation differs greatly. According to Statistics Canada, one year after separation, women experience an appreciable loss of 23 per cent in adjusted family income while men registered a gain of 10 per cent. For single parent women, their income falls to 31 per cent. For those who receive or pay support, again the difference between men and women is quite vast. One year after separation, recipients have higher losses in income while payers experience gains in adjusted family income.

Mr. Speaker, the guidelines include a set of tables showing the amount of support that should be paid by the non-custodial parent. In calculating that support, the guidelines consider the number of children, the area of residence of the person paying support and, of course, the person's income. The guidelines also allow for some flexibility. They allow for the addition of special or extraordinary expenses to the basic table amounts. A court may, at the request of either parent, allow for such expenses as child care, education, health or medical expenses or extra-curricular activities. The court will also take these expenses into account with the child's best interests, keeping in mind the reasonableness of the expense of the income of the parents.

The court also has an opportunity to recognize special circumstances, Mr. Speaker, such as when custody is split or shared. While there is an opportunity to differ from the guidelines as outlined in the table, there are still prescribed formulae to assist in calculating reasonable and fair amounts.

With the adoption of these guidelines, the calculation of child support is now based on income. The guidelines clearly define what income is and require that certain documents be filed as proof of income. For example, income tax returns spanning a three year period must be filed along with notices of assessment and reassessments and current pay slips. In asking individuals to file these documents, the intention is to ensure that the court has accurate, timely and comprehensive information so that decisions regarding support can be made in a fair and consistent manner.

[Page 927]

To keep child support orders and agreements current, the guidelines allow the custodial parent to request in writing updated income information. In this way, parents are able to determine if an adjustment in the amount of child support is warranted.

The guidelines themselves were the result of five years of in-depth research conducted by the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Family Law Committee. The committee examined various formulae for determining child support and looked at models used in jurisdictions around the world.

When families break up, it is an extremely emotional and difficult time, Mr. Speaker. We hope that these guidelines will reduce some of the tension and make the process a little easier.

Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 8, An Act to Amend Chapter 180 of the Revised Statues, 1989, the Family Maintenance Act. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am rising in support of Bill No. 8. I would like to extend to the minister my thanks for making available this morning, for a quick briefing, Marian Tyson and Caroline Marshall and Brian Norton of his department who answered several questions that I had and filled in some of the gaps in my knowledge of the legislation.

Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, this bill is not uncommon to Canada. In other words, we are probably one of the last to be getting on board the train that has been set in motion in other provinces with regard to fairness in setting the financial responsibility of the non-custodial parent in the case of divorce or separation or where a common-law marriage breaks up.

One of the problems, Mr. Speaker, that has always existed in the court system is that it has been very much, if I may use the word, at the whim of the presiding judge as to what the award will be made to the custodial parent to be paid by the non-custodial parent. In other words, you could have two people with identical salaries, with identical aged children and they both divorce, one goes before a judge A and the other one goes before judge B and perhaps the award from judge A could be twice what the award that judge B would pay in these circumstances.

Under this bill, as I understand it, there is a matrix developed and you will find, perhaps going across the top or down the side, the salary of the non-custodial parent, then you go down and you find out the circumstances, how many children there are, what their ages are, et cetera, et cetera, and whether or not there are any particular medical problems perhaps with the child. All these things are taken into consideration within this matrix and the judge simply

[Page 928]

goes down and finds the appropriate slot and sees that for that particular person, perhaps that the payment should be $300 or $400 a month, based on that person's salary and that person's requirements under the system, whereas another person who had twice the salary would perhaps be assessed at, say, $800 or $900 a month for the support of a child.

[8:15 p.m.]

There is a sense of fairness in this legislation in that people no longer have to judge shop, if you wish, they can go to any court, any judge, and they will receive a fair and justifiable requirement for payments for child support.

One of the questions that I had - and it has been answered but it was one I found of particular interest - is that the salary that is investigated to obtain the payment by the non-custodial payment is that of the non-custodial parent. In other words, the custodial parent could have either no income or a massive income and it would not, as I understand it, alter the settlement because it is based entirely on the non-custodial parent's income. Quite frankly, I have some difficulty with that. It would seem to me to be a fairer system that some of the custodial parent's income should be included in the equation somewhere. However, that is the way the federal government set up this settlement mechanism and it is one, I believe, that is being adopted with very few changes by other provinces across the country.

The identification of the salary of the non-custodial parent, as the minister just said a moment ago, is determined by Revenue Canada records. There is the opportunity for this order to be changed. In other words, if your circumstances change, at the five year interval you do have that opportunity to request from the court a change in the order. I am not too sure that I agree with that either. It seems to me that a person at the time of divorce could be quite wealthy and have a very healthy sum from his salary going to support his wife and children, which is quite right for the circumstances right then but in today's world - and it can happen to anyone - within a very short period of time they can lose their present job and perhaps be reduced to tramping around the countryside trying to find a job, but however their payment has not changed. That is why I believe that it would be much fairer, and certainly I think personally, more acceptable by the public if there was a substantial change even after just a short period, like a year, that the person could return to the court and have that monthly or weekly payment adjusted.

I think that, all things considered, this is certainly a step in the right direction. I think it is a step toward fairness and I think it is a step toward commonality across this country of what is a very important part of children's welfare, in that this matrix is established whether you are living in a rich province or a poor province, it makes no difference; it is income-based so it is fair for that particular individual on that particular day.

[Page 929]

So, Mr. Speaker, I will be, and the caucus, I believe, will be voting in favour of this bill proceeding on to second reading. There are probably other reasons for some of the comments that I have made that the minister can rebut, I am sure, when he wraps up at the end of second reading or else, perhaps, will come up when we get the bill into the Law Amendments Committee but I think it is a good bill and I am happy to support it.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: I, too, rise in my place to indicate my support and that of our caucus for the legislation that is before us for debate this evening. I also want to say that I very much appreciated the opportunity, we had asked if staff from the minister's department could, in fact, provide us a little bit of background information on the legislation. They did that last, I think it was, Wednesday, one day last week anyway, and they did a commendable job. I want to say through you, Mr. Speaker, and through the minister, that we very much appreciate the professionalism and the candid remarks of the members of the minister's staff as they explained the legislation.

Mr. Speaker, there is just one negative comment that I have to make about the bill and I am going to say it right up front to the minister and maybe the minister will want to address it. It is not that it is actually negative about the bill, it is something that is just in it at the very tail end of the legislation. That is a proclamation date. My negative comment is that there isn't an actual proclamation date but rather it says that the legislation comes into force and effect when it is declared by the Governor in Council.

Now I recognize that there are reasons for that and I do know that regulations and a number of things have to be drafted in order for the legislation to be implemented and for things to go forward. However, I like to set targets and I think that we have to have a deadline, a target for which we are shooting. I know that the minister's staff are working diligently on preparing the necessary regulations and so on that would be required in order to have this legislation proclaimed. I say to the minister, and I throw out a suggestion, Mr. Speaker, that this legislation should come into effect within six months and that doesn't mean it has to take six months but I would like to see a date, whether that be June 1st or June 30th, that the legislation comes into force and effect by that date at the absolute latest. That would not prohibit the government from proclaiming the legislation on January 1, 1998 if all of the necessary regulations and documentation that has to be done, forms, et cetera, that have to be prepared can be completed by that date, but I would like to see a target. I would like to see a date for which we are shooting to have this implemented.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I don't certainly dispute or take exception with anything that the minister said in calling the legislation this evening for debate. Certainly children are not the authors of their own fate when it comes to the breakup of families. Whether a child is the child of a family that is divorced or he is a child of a family that is separated or that had lived

[Page 930]

common law, I think that all children in this province deserve and must be treated equally. In fact, I would suggest not only in this province but across the country.

So I think it is extremely important that an injustice that really has gone on, and the minister talked about the inequities and the incomes of family members after a breakup occurs and certainly in most cases the children, and that is not saying by any stretch of the imagination all, but in the majority of cases, children remain with their mother and it is normally the mother and the children who are the ones who end up having the much reduced income to support themselves and it is normally the man who is left better off financially than previously. That child has a right. The child resulted from the union of both parents and the child should have the right to have access to support from both parents each according to their ability. Certainly, Mr. Speaker, the fact that whether someone was or was not married, whether someone is divorced or simply separated, does not in any way diminish the responsibility of that parent to ensure that the child is going to be able to have the basic essentials which are needed.

I certainly am pleased that the court will have some flexibility, that there are going to be guidelines. I know that there are now guidelines in place and that those guidelines apply to the Supreme Court, but those guidelines do not apply to the Family Court at the present time. Some judges do follow them, some do not. I believe that it is important that we have uniformity, Mr. Speaker, so that those guidelines would apply to children and families whether they are going to have the dealings in the Family Court or in the Supreme Court. I think that uniformity is indeed extremely important. I know that may require some training of the members of the Family Court to familiarize them with the guidelines that are currently being followed by the Supreme Court, but I do not see that as any kind of a major obstacle. I am sure that those who serve as judges on the Family Court will be able to get up to speed very quickly and would be quite willing to do that, so they will be in fact very supportive.

Also, Mr. Speaker, and I believe that there may be some discussions going on, but certainly I think that it is important too that under the Income Tax Act that we use whatever tool we can to ensure that those who have financial obligations to their children meet those obligations. I look forward to disallowing, for example, any spousal support deductions from income tax until it can be demonstrated that those who are required to make child support payments have made those payments in full. If the federal government, through income tax, can be persuaded to be supportive, it is one more way to ensure that those who have legal obligations, as well as moral obligations do fulfill the obligations that they have to their children.

We say over and over again in this House and elsewhere, that children are our most valuable resource. We do know that children who are coming from impoverished homes have a great burden to overcome. It is much more difficult for them to receive educational opportunities and to participate in those things that other children are also participating in.

[Page 931]

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that there are provisions under the guidelines to give the courts where the financial availability or financial resources are such to allow for special amounts to be provided to take care of a child's educational or special education or other needs that do occur in that situation.

Mr. Speaker, in my not overly articulate manner this evening, but I am never accused of being particularly articulate on most occasions, I do want to say to the minister and to the government that this we do see as a promising move forward. Anything that is going to enhance justice for children, anything that is going to encourage people to honour their responsibilities is, in fact, welcomed and I therefore indicate that I certainly will be voting in support of the legislation, and I await hearing comments at the Law Amendments Committee. I say that with one comment and this is not going to affect whether I do or I do not vote for it, but I would welcome the minister, indicating when he wraps up, a willingness, if he is prepared to say it, to put a date, to set a target as to when he anticipates the legislation can be proclaimed.

I cannot obviously speak for the government, and I cannot, obviously, talk about what are the workloads of those who would have to be involved in the preparation of the regulations and the preparing of appropriate forms. I know that they have a very heavy workload. I believe that this is a matter that should be a priority and I would hope that the

minister will be able to ensure that sufficient resources are dedicated to it, to enable them to be prepared and the necessary consultations that would, of course, have to be done, can be done in as speedy a fashion as possible so that we can have that target date for implementation, really for the benefit of the children of this province who are coming from homes that are in the process of breaking up.

[8:30 p.m.]

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable members opposite for their comments and their support. Just a couple of comments regarding the matters that they have raised.

One honourable member raised the concern about the obligation of a parent to pay support where the parent who had custody had a high amount of income, whether it seemed fair that the payer parent should pay in that situation. Child support, under the guidelines, recognizes that every parent has an obligation to support the child to the degree they are able to within their income. This is separate from support to a spouse. In a situation where a spouse, let us say the woman has a very high income, then in that case there may not be any order to pay spousal support. But children are independent of that. Both parents have an

[Page 932]

obligation to pay support for that child to the amount that they are reasonably able to, under the guidelines. So that is why you would ignore the income of the parent having custody of the children. You would look at that parent's obligation and it is based on that.

The right to change the order, my understanding is that can be done at any time. When there is a change of circumstances either parent can go back to the court and state that there are change of circumstances and ask the court to vary the order. If the court varies the order, then the maintenance will change accordingly, up or down, depending on what the situation is.

I believe there is provision for Parliament to review the guidelines in five years. I do not know if the honourable member was thinking of that. It makes common sense. When an order is made to pay maintenance and your income is lost, well you obviously cannot pay it. You go back and you make an application. The court will decide what is a reasonable amount of income at that time pursuant to the guidelines. They will then go back at a later time to change it if circumstances change again.

There were a couple of other questions. One was, I believe, regarding the income tax rules. That is totally independent of what we are discussing here today. I think that applies really at this time. The main question the honourable member raised was a proclamation date. I sympathize with his concern there. I am reluctant to see a definite date put in place because we have issues of training. We have issues of court rules that have to be put in place to make sure the court is ready to deal with those court forms and so on. When you put a date in place, you sometimes come up to that date and haste makes waste when you are rushing to try to get everything ready and you get pushed. You can sometimes make errors that you should not.

I can tell the honourable member that I believe we should be able to have this in place by, say in six months. I can tell the honourable member that I will give him my commitment to do everything I can to make sure that everything is in place and that we can proclaim this piece of legislation and have this up and running within that period of time.

With that, I thank the honourable members. I believe this is good legislation. I believe it has been shown across the country that what this legislation does is it increases support for children. It has encouraged families to settle rather than going to court because they know what the maintenance level should be. It gives them more assurance so that they do not go and argue within court. It is lower cost, better support for families, better support for children. I would move this bill for second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 8, the Family Maintenance Act.

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

[Page 933]

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 9.

Bill No. 9 - Judicature Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise to move second reading of Bill No. 9, An Act to Amend Chapter 240 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Judicature Act; also to say a few words in support of that.

Mr. Speaker, this is the second bill which is really part of a twofold approach to improve the welfare of children and streamline the way that courts handle family matters. These amendments will create a Family Division of the Supreme Court. Currently, the jurisdiction over family matters is divided between the Family Court and the Supreme Court. These amendments will unify the jurisdiction of both courts under the Family Division of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

We have been consulting with the federal government regarding a unified Family Court, the changes being that the Judges of the Family Court will be appointed and paid by the federal government. This initiative will be implemented in phases, which will take place over several years. We estimate that this will happen between three and five years for completion.

It is expected that there will be funding over the long term for up to 14 justices as well as an associate chief justice. There are currently 18 Family Court judges. Some judges who retire will not be replaced and it is our intention to find alternate positions for those who are not appointed to the Family Division.

The federal government will be appointing and paying the salaries of the judges of the unified Family Court. As a result, the province will allocate the funds saved in salaries to new and improved services for families. All the funds saved will be targeted to services that we hope will reduce conflict and the cost of litigation for families. Our goal is to promote family mediation. We want to help families find solutions without the necessity of the courts in appropriate cases. We will be using these funds to promote the use of mediation and alternate dispute resolution processes. In offering alternatives to an adversarial court process, we hope the amount of tension and conflict can be lessened, along with the cost of litigation as I mentioned before.

[Page 934]

Resources will also be provided for counselling services, particularly in the area of post-separation parenting. Assessment services for the courts will also be increased to assist in making decisions regarding custody and access. Conflict management programs will be put in place to help reduce the difficulties associated with exercising custody and access.

Information and parent education programs will be offered to parents to assist them with the many decisions they must make as part of a family break-up. These services will also help parents to understand and to respond to the needs of their children who are so profoundly affected during such a break-up.

These amendments are intended to ease the burden for families and address the needs of children during a difficult and traumatic time. By streamlining the area of family law, providing additional support services, we feel we are taking some very positive and progressive steps forward in coordinating legal support services for families and children. Again, Mr. Speaker, it is about putting children first. It is about putting our future first.

With that, I move second reading of Bill No. 9.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak on Bill No. 9, an amendment to the Judicature Act and one that I think, again, is a step in the right direction insofar as the treatment accorded to those who are facing marital break-up and the future of children and the family itself.

Mr. Speaker, the process of having a unified Family Court is one that will certainly not be unique to Nova Scotia. There are several other provinces that have already moved along the way towards the establishment of a unified Family Court. Some are almost there and some are just starting out, as is the Province of Nova Scotia.

As the minister has stated, this is not something that is going to occur overnight. In other words, if we pass this piece of legislation this sitting it will not be fully implemented until probably something like the year 2002 or 2003, quite some time ahead.

However, Mr. Speaker, I think the thing that we must remember is that this is the right way to make a large reform. It is too bad that the former Minister of Health, who brought in health reform in this province, did not use the same kind of a process to bring a radical change in, step by step, so you don't stumble somewhere along the way and find you have made an error but, because you have destroyed the old system, you can't go back and you are left with a mess on your hands, which we have at the present time, of course, with health care.

[Page 935]

So, Mr. Speaker, I am glad that with reforming the court system, that this is going to be done bit by bit, until the final bit is in place, three to five years from now. Mr. Speaker, as the minister has said, at the present time there are 18 justices within the Family Court and, when the feds finally take over completely, there will only be 14, plus a chief justice, I believe. So there are going to be some vacancies incurred along the way but again, because of the fact that we are moving bit by bit, I would think that most of those vacancies can be taken care of through attrition.

Also, I presume that the federal government, although they have the exclusive right, as I understand it, to appoint to the Supreme Court, that the province will be speaking on behalf of and I would assume urging the federal government to pick up some of the justices from the Family Court and elevate them to the Supreme Court, or at least to the unified Family Court.

Mr. Speaker, because of the fact that the feds will be picking up the cost of the unified court in its entirety, the province is obviously going to save money. The minister has said, well, that is good, and that the money saved will be put into services for those who are facing family breakup. In other words, there will be increased counselling, there will be increased mediation and advice and conflict resolution, et cetera, provided to those who are going through a marital breakup.

Mr. Speaker, I think this is splendid, I think that is the way it should be, although over a period of time those dollars that are saved are going to be compressed down to a fairly small amount, simply because of inflation and what have you, so that while there will be an immediate benefit, the benefit may not last forever unless the province kicks in more money than the differential between present costs and future costs.

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the present infrastructure of the department remains with the department and that there is an opportunity perhaps for the unified court to take over some of those particular facilities. Again, that is to the advantage of the province to ensure that that happens, so we do not have additional space and we do not have areas that lose their courthouse, which I think is of some importance. (Interruption) You agree with it, well that is good. My voice is not too good tonight.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think I have any more words of wisdom to add to what the minister has already said. As I say, I am delighted we are joining the rest of Canada and moving ahead and this is certainly the right way to go. The speed of the changeover I am in favour of and I am glad to see that perhaps we can do something to strengthen the family in this province because I think that the family and community are the two most important assets we have in this province.

So, Mr. Speaker, the caucus to which I belong will be voting in favour of this bill to proceed to the Law Amendments Committee.

[Page 936]

[8:45 p.m.]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as I stand to make a few brief remarks I can't help but think that maybe we should have a recorded vote at the end of this bill because it might be nice to show people out there that you can have harmony in the House down on Hollis Street. Certainly, from the remarks of the previous speaker and I can assure you that my caucus, as well, will be voting in support of what I believe is common sense legislation.

The other day I was trying to think back into the deep recesses of my sometimes faulty memory, trying to think when it was we started talking about unifying the courts. If my memory serves me correctly, it would have been approximately 10 years ago this matter started being discussed in this province and it was some something that made infinite common sense to us then and it still does.

What we will in a sense have is a unified Family Court which is going to be, you might say, one-stop shopping, rather than what we have at the present time where we have the provincial Family Court which really deals with people who are separating but not necessarily divorcing and for people who are not necessarily married but living common-law but doesn't deal with the issues of property whereas the Supreme Court deals with the marital issues for people who are divorcing and with all of the property issues. Now what we are doing is combining all of this and it will, therefore, eliminate the need to be jumping from one court to the next as has often been the situation, so it does make good sense.

Certainly, I recognize the wisdom and also the reality of having to do the unifying in a staged process over three to five years. Even if Nova Scotia were willing, as I understand it, to go completely unified tomorrow, we couldn't do it, nor could the federal government, according to their legislation, appoint all of the judges that would be needed. I think that right now the federal legislation and I can't remember under which Act it is but they are only permitted to appoint so many judges. I think there has to be an amendment to the federal Statute that would permit them to appoint more Supreme Court Judges before all of the judges that we and others across the county who are also moving to implement a unified court or to complete the unification of their courts can, in fact, have the judges appointed.

Obviously, there are only about 20 vacancies that can be filled by the federal government and as I understand it, Ontario and a number of other provinces are looking for as many as they can get. We, in Nova Scotia, would have a hard time getting all 14 at once, even if we were able to proceed. I think that it does make sense to move forward in a careful, thoughtful manner and in stages, although when I say that, at the same time I am being drawn by the fact that the monies that are going to be saved by the province in the salaries of the Family Court Judges that will no longer have to be paid, are going to be put to very good uses. I am referring, of course, to the mediation, the conflict resolution, the counselling

[Page 937]

services, helping people to prepare for court and facilitating access and the list goes on, that those kinds of services are extremely important and will, of course, help to minimize or reduce - one would hope and I think that it is the expectation that it will help reduce - a lot of the conflicts that develop in these trying times of family break-up and conflict.

It should also help to reduce the strains, pressures and the workload of those who are going to be serving as judges, in trying to resolve the matters. When I say that, my regret is that there are not going to be more of those financial resources made available right across the province tomorrow, so that whether you happen to live in the area where the first phase, the unified court, is going to be in operation or, if you live in another area, one would hope that those kinds of services would be available. I appreciate that may not be possible, but I certainly look forward to those added services being provided as quickly as possible.

One or two cautions that I do have and Nova Scotia has come a long way, a very long way, in the manner in which judges are appointed and the process has been to a very large extent depoliticized, certainly from what it had been in the past. I think that although the federal government is making some moves in that direction, I do not think they are quite as far along as we are in that process. I certainly want to put out my plug for, as much as possible, that we have a system at the federal level that would ensure that the appointments are made on the merit basis and politics plays no part in that.

The second point that I would like to make is that as these dollars are being saved by the province and then re-allocated to the conflict resolution and to the counselling services and so on, there is going to have to be great coordination with the Department of Health and the Department of Community Services that currently provides certain services in those areas. We want to make sure that each hand knows what the other hand is doing and that those service deliveries and those counselling and mediation services, et cetera - all of the different things that can have impacts in health and in other areas - that there is as much integration of those kinds of services as possible. I certainly also hope that the fact that the federal government is going to be providing the salaries of the Supreme Court Judges and therefore we save the Family Court Judge monies that are going to be put into these services.

I hope that will not mean that the government will decide, in other areas and other departments' budgets, to withdraw some funds on the basis that under the Department of Justice, under this program of the unified court system, that there are going to be funds available to pick up the slack if monies from Community Services or Health should be removed. I have no indication that that is planned and I certainly do not believe that is the intention of the minister at the time and I certainly do not think that it is the intention of the federal government in moving forward with this program. I throw it out as a caution because we have seen that kind of thing happen in other areas.

[Page 938]

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I want to indicate to the minister and to the Premier that you can actually have harmony in this House if there is good legislation brought forward, and we certainly are very anxious to support this legislation as I said. If the recesses of my memory do serve me correctly, the first I had heard of this topic was when my former leader, now my federal national Leader, Alexa McDonough, was arguing in this House, about 10 years ago, in support of this very kind of a project. It is something that I believe makes good sense, common sense. It is going to be good for the justice system in the province and, more importantly, I believe that it is going to be a positive step forward for the children and also for the adults who are going through extremely stressful times on the occasions of family break-ups.

With those few brief remarks, I am pleased to indicate I will be voting in support of this legislation.

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, again I want to thank my honourable friends opposite for their support and for their comments. Again, we believe that this is very good legislation. I would like to point out that there are other unified Family Courts across the country, but we are certainly in the forefront with this legislation, so there are other provinces we will now be ahead of. Our hope is that we will have, at least, eight to nine. This gives us the tools so that we can move ahead, and we can negotiate with the federal government and start doing this.

The question of using all of the money to enhance services for families, Mr. Speaker, that is certainly our intention. I know that the honourable member will be looking at the estimates and they will hold us to that, but I want to ensure them that is the intention. What we believe that we can do is have a far more efficient and simpler court that will deal with family matters. More than that, I think what is important is to look at the philosophy behind both of these two pieces of legislation and what we are trying to do. There are many matters which should not be litigated and fought out in the court. What we want to do is make sure that there are services in place to assist people when they go through their, very unfortunate, separation, so that a lot of matters can be settled before they get to court and then when we get to court it is only for the serious matters. Mr. Speaker, with that, I would move second reading of Bill No. 9.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 9.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 939]

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, with earlier agreement with the other two Parties, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House now resolve itself into Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

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

The motion is carried.

[8:57 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Keith Colwell in the Chair.]

[8:59 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Keith Colwell in the Chair.]

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

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

Bill No. 3 - Beaver Bank Act.

Bill No. 6 - Cape Breton Regional Municipality Act.

Bill No. 10 - Rainbow Haven Act.

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

Bill No. 15 - St. Peter's and Area Lions Club Lands Act.

Bill No. 16 - La Picasse Tax Exemption Act.

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

[Page 940]

[9:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: When shall these bills be read a third time?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Now.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The motion is to move these bills through third reading en bloc.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I so move.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bills No. 3, No. 6, No. 10, No. 14, No. 15 and No. 16.

Bill No. 3 - Beaver Bank Act.

Bill No. 6 - Cape Breton Regional Municipality Act.

Bill No. 10 - Rainbow Haven Act.

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

Bill No. 15 - St. Peter's and Area Lions Club Lands Act.

Bill No. 16 - La Picasse Tax Exemption Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of these bills. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motions are carried.

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

[Page 941]

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I would now move that we return to the order of business, the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, (Interruption) with whoever is doing it. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. JAY ABBASS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, honourable Government House Leader, for that introduction. I want to thank the House for giving me the opportunity to rise and speak in reply to the Speech from the Throne. I want to acknowledge and congratulate His Honour, James Kinley for the excellent job he did again in presenting the Throne Speech and, as well, of course, congratulate and send greetings to Her Honour, Grace Kinley.

I want to congratulate new members of the House recently elected. I want to congratulate our new Premier, the Honourable Russell MacLellan, and, of course, make note of the excellent job he has done in handling himself since taking his chair here in this House. I want to congratulate our new Speaker, the Honourable Gerald Fogarty. He, too, has shown impressive composure under sometimes trying circumstances.

I want to single out another individual who would not ordinarily be acknowledged in this manner. I want to send congratulations and greetings to a recently appointed Provincial Court Judge by the name of William, or to me Bill, MacDonald who was appointed not too long ago. Of course, I knew him quite well as the Deputy Minister of Justice when I served as Attorney General.

I would be remiss if I did not give my heartfelt thanks to parents and family members, friends and loved ones, especially Suzanne. I want to single out, of course, members of my riding executive, the Halifax Chebucto Liberal Association and members of that whole association. I want to thank each and every constituent of Halifax Chebucto for having welcomed me as their representative and giving me the honour to serve.

I want to single out the previous Premier, the Honourable John Savage, and thank him in a very heartfelt way for giving me such support in my role as one of his ministers. It was a distinct honour to serve under such an honest and capable gentleman as he was and is.

[Page 942]

I want to thank, and, of course, this does not often get expressed, but I want to give my expression of thanks to the so-called bureaucracy, the nameless and sometimes faceless people who toil within our departments and do such a wonderful job. I thank both unionized and non-unionized members of that government bureaucracy, the civil servants, I should say.

I especially want to thank my deputies over the last four and a half years: Innis Christie, my very first deputy; Gordon Gillis at Justice, at least for a while; I want to thank Mildred Royer especially for the support she gave me in Human Resources; I have mentioned, of course, Bill MacDonald, now a Provincial Court Judge, a special thanks to him.

Now these people were not exactly deputy ministers, but I do want to thank David Stuewe of the Workers' Compensation Board; the then Chair of the Board, Dr. Bob Elgie; and I want to thank Bill White, who has since retired from the Sport and Recreation Commission but who did a wonderful job while he was there.

I am personally very grateful to anyone and all those who played a small or large part in my last four and one-half years as a minister and now as an MLA. The commentators have already started to give post-mortems or give commentary on the last four and one-half years of the so-called Savage Government, now the Russell MacLellan Government, and of course there will be as many takes to that commentary or to those comments as there are people giving those comments and opinions.

It would be difficult to sum things up too quickly this early in the day - we are not even at the end of this five year term or approximately five year term of the current government - but over the years I think it will be said that the John Savage Government did a commendable job, again under very trying circumstances, at a lot of junctures, in seeing this province through some of its most difficult, dire economical/financial straits that it has seen in many years.

Certainly, when I was campaigning back in 1993 for election to the House, I think I was hearing the same things that a lot of other MLA hopefuls were hearing and that is that there were very few people amongst those on the doorsteps who did not say at any given time that something had to be done to reverse the economic fortunes of this province; it was almost a universal sentiment at that time. Over the last four years though, it has been equally obvious that there were few amongst us, Nova Scotians from one end of the province to the other, who relished the various measures which the government had to take, was compelled to take, at least when those measures struck home in a personal manner.

Finally, there are very few who would not say at this point in time that it is a good thing that we took a lot of those measures and in a way there is a part of me that is concerned that we are too easily at this point saying, whew, we have done the job, we have taken every course of action that is needed to put the province back on course and we have that entirely behind us. The only warning, or word of advice I would extend to not just this government,

[Page 943]

but governments like ours across Canada that have wrestled with the debt crisis, is that it will take much more vigilance, it will take continued vigilance to see that balanced budgets, once balanced, are not unbalanced by momentary lapses on the part of not just a Finance Minister, but all those who are entrusted with the public purse.

Clearly, much that is good was achieved in the last four and one-half years. For me there were various measures which were more personal, were closer to me as a minister at the time than others. One of those was workers' compensation reform, which occurred at the very beginning of this government's tenure. I think most people have found that by and large the system, which at that time really was on the rocks, has been turned around in large measure and is now on the way toward, not just supporting injured workers, as they should be supported, but also paying down the public debt, which that particular agency of government has generated over the years of mismanagement by previous governments.

I was very proud to have played at least a small part as a co-chair, along with the present Honourable Minister of Education, Robert Harrison, in the G-7 Summit effort. The province will enjoy the benefits of the exposure which we did gain during the G-7 Summit for a long time to come. Certainly, if anyone mentions G-7 to even a taxi driver in the street, you will still get a smile and a quick acknowledgement that that was a show well put on, a job well done by all who were involved at both federal and provincial levels.

I had the bittersweet experience of being involved in promoting new safety legislation and regulations, and I say bittersweet because of the manner in which the need for those measures was made so compellingly obvious and that is, of course, by the Westray disaster.

Another initiative in which I had the dubious distinction of being involved in, I suppose was the program to compensate those who were abused in provincial institutions. That was not one of those initiatives or issues that one usually likes to roll out and polish up and show off to a Chamber, but it was and is and continues to be an important effort by the province and by this government to do the right thing by those who were abused in those various institutions. If I had one thing to say about that process, it is that it is intended as a program to compensate those who were injured as residents of those institutions. It is not intended as a lawyer compensation program and the more that we can do to ensure that compensation, i.e., taxpayers dollars, find their way into the right hands, the better.

The reversal of Steen was another initiative in which I was involved. Suffice to say that it was the right thing at that time and I believe the last three and one-half years since its implementation have shown that it was the right thing at the time. Even now you will hear some people claiming that it caused hardship to certain tradespeople. The truth is that for some time now people have been confusing cause and effect. There is no question that the effect of the economic downturn, the economic situation in which the province found itself back when they took power was unemployment amongst certain tradespeople. That, of course, was among both unionized and non-unionized tradespeople. The reversal of Steen

[Page 944]

which in effect returned the province to the system that it had for the prior 15 years, that is a system whereby job sites could be of mixed union and non-union flavour was the right thing to do and has set the course for the future while respecting the different working situations on both Cape Breton Island, where it truly is a more or less 100 per cent unionized situation, and the mainland of Nova Scotia where mixed job sites have been the norm now for quite some time.

I did have the, again, dubious distinction, I suppose, of being involved in not one but two reviews of the then Premier John Savage. Although the process by which the Premier was reviewed was not at times the prettiest, if you will, that was a review that was ordained by the Party. It was a defence of the Premier that was necessary and well-deserved on his part. It was an honour to have been part of the effort, a successful one as it turned out, to ensure that he was allowed to continue in his position as Leader of our Party, the Liberal Party.

While at the Human Resources Department I had the pleasure of working with people like Mildred Royer at coming up with the employee assistance program which, I think, has been a welcome addition to the human resources package here in this province for civil servants. I think it has met with widespread support amongst members of the Public Service in this province.

Of course, the one big thing that people seem to seize upon as being the achievement of the government to date has been the balanced budget. Of course, it is funny, a balanced budget does not necessarily go off with fireworks or a big bang and people do not necessarily get as much satisfaction about reading about a balanced budget in the paper. It is not brick and mortar. It does not result in a tangible thing being visible to the naked eye but, nevertheless, the money saved by way of debt service, by way of payment on that crushing debt, is money that quietly but nevertheless surely goes to making sure that the lives of our children and grandchildren truly are better because we did make that effort to balance the budget.

On the Sport and Recreation side I had the pleasure of being involved in the Fair and Safe Play initiative, something that was near and dear to Bill White's heart, that is the executive director Bill White's heart. He was a linchpin, I guess, in seeing to the advancement of that initiative, something that has been carried forth, of course, by Sport and Recreation Ministers since then. Again, I think it is a program that is meeting with good success and good acceptance in arenas in other venues of sport, athletics and recreation. I hope that it continues for a long time to come under the sponsorship of the commercial side or the private sector.

[Page 945]

[9:15 p.m.]

Along with the then Minister of Health, Ron Stewart, we had a bill which advanced a new QE II Health Sciences Centre, a facility which over the years will continue to prove its worth as a high-quality centre of health care and wellness. I want to congratulate him, in his absence, for the part he played - and, of course, it was a major part - in seeing that legislation through.

As a member for an urban riding, it is sometimes a little bit tricky to come up with things that have been built or roads that have been paved - you can only repave Quinpool Road so many times and, of course, the municipal side handles most of that - but I was particularly happy just recently, actually - only about two weeks ago - to see Alta Gymnastics Club open its new facility on Bayers Road in the old St. Andrew's School, the land at least. It is a truly first-class building, a brand new building, and I wish the Alta Gymnastics Club, athletes, parents and coaches the very best in the future.

By way of initiatives or suggestions which relate to Halifax Chebucto, or I suppose more to the Halifax area in general, the Halifax International Airport, as many know, is the seventh largest in Canada, generating close to $1 billion per year in business in handling at least 2.7 million travellers. It is, I suppose, symptomatic of the fact that tourism had one of its banner years and it actually generated over $1 billion in receipts, that that airport is now taxed to its limit and beyond its limit and is in need now of some major improvements.

I can only urge and commend to the Premier, and to those ministers who are involved in advancing this initiative, that every effort be made to encourage the federal side to do all it can to support that particular airport. It, along with the Port of Halifax, is a gateway to this part of the world - Nova Scotia - for not just tourists, but for businesspeople. As go those gateways, so too, to a certain extent, go both tourism and business in this province.

A positive development recently in Nova Scotia's participation through the Economic Development Department in the "One of a Kind Craft Show" in Toronto, the Nova Scotia exhibit featured live entertainment with Nova Scotia artists, plus a very wide array of Nova Scotian crafts with actual craftspeople present. It was the biggest craft show in Canada; the show ran from November 27th to December 7th and it featured a number of our own Nova Scotia-born or bred craftspeople who did the province proud and, I am sure, generated a lot of interest not just in crafts made in this province, but in the province itself. So, I expect that that $1 billion in tourism receipts will be exceeded that much more next year, Mr. Speaker.

The other generators of economic activity in this province, at least in the Halifax-Dartmouth area, are the universities and colleges. Of course, we have at least 13 - I had better be careful with the number - major degree-granting institutions in this province and it is very encouraging to see that $2.1 million has been earmarked just recently by the Premier and the

[Page 946]

federal side to ensure that those Nova Scotian universities and colleges are marketed abroad and that foreign students are attracted as much as possible to this part of the world.

I want to congratulate the Minister of Business and Consumer Services for the way in which she has brought forward legislation which will ensure that red tape, at least at the provincial level, is reduced to the greatest extent possible. Any business person will sit up and take note of that and take encouragement and heart from that.

Again, in closer connection to Halifax Chebucto, it is encouraging to see that an Access Nova Scotia office opened in the West End Mall on Mumford Road only recently, Mr. Speaker. Again, I want to congratulate those responsible for that initiative.

Of course, the RCMP's Deputy Commissioner's Office has recently been confirmed for this part of Nova Scotia, for Halifax. I want to thank those within the Department of Justice who, at the time, were instrumental in lobbying, if you will, the Commissioner of the RCMP to ensure that Halifax continued to be a centre for the RCMP's activities in the Atlantic Provinces. Again, a successful initiative that, perhaps, received only half an inch of attention in the paper, but nevertheless was important. Again, Mr. Speaker, in ensuring that, a very important economic generator is maintained here in this city of ours.

I want to commend the current Minister of Justice for an initiative that started while I was at the department, but which has been brought forward in fine style since my departure and that, of course, is the Restorative Justice Initiative. It is hard to give this a quick summary, but suffice it to say that it does provide alternatives to our current retributive justice system where blame is the touchstone and punishment the measure of success and replaces it with a system whereby admission of guilt, restitution to an injured party and ultimate respect for the victim as much as for the perpetrator of a crime is respected. A much more effective approach in many cases, Mr. Speaker, than, as I mentioned, the current and very long-standing retributive system whereby pure punishment is the key.

On the economic side, the critics will continue to criticize and second-guess, especially if they are present in this Chamber and have the job of doing so. As Opposition members, they should continue to do so, but the Sable gas project can be termed nothing but a success and all those who played a part in ensuring that necessary approvals were sought and obtained, they deserve nothing but our congratulations, and in many cases, thanks. Yes, there is some work to be done, and I know that the Premier is working on it with other officials on this side of things, but the Sable gas project will, for years to come, be marked as the single greatest economic program and event in this province since confederation.

I will touch on the Port of Halifax, again, only to say that I hope that those who are involved at both federal and provincial levels will continue their good works, because there has been much good work done by the Halifax Port Corporation, the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Commission as well and a new hybrid committee that has been struck recently in keeping with

[Page 947]

the ongoing drive toward greater autonomy in the port. I want to encourage those responsible to ensure that all necessary cranes and infrastructure necessary to encourage post-Panamax activity are obtained, built and to that end, of course, I expect that the Premier, through his good offices and the ministers responsible, will be bringing that necessary pressure to bear upon the federal side, Mr. Speaker.

On the marine services side of things, that is not a battle that is necessarily over. I think we have to be extremely vigilant to ensure that we are not burdened in this part of Canada with fees, which are not so indirectly but very directly, going to pay for the benefits or the services being used by those in other parts of Canada. I need not say which part of Canada that is, but Halifax and Nova Scotian ports deserve to pay for exactly those services that they actually use and nothing more. Again, I would urge those responsible to pay heed to that.

I won't go on much longer, Mr. Speaker, because I know there are other members waiting to speak. Suffice it to say that for me the last four and one-half years can be described variously as exciting, demanding, challenging, frustrating, uplifting and, on the whole, thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying. I can no more entirely leave politics than can any other member in this Chamber. I think that once you are part of the political system on any side of the political spectrum, or at any end of that spectrum, it is a field that is hard to leave. I look forward to being part of that political scene, and I look forward to being part of the public service, perhaps not in the traditional public service sense, but contributing to the community in other manners for the time being and, of course, I look forward to being part of Liberal Party politics for a long time to come.

Finally, I would wish every member of this House, all members present or not present in the Chamber, and I do mean every single member on either the government or Opposition sides of the House, the very best of luck now and in the future. I look forward to seeing you all for many months and years to come. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

MR. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the people of Shelburne County, it is a great honour to stand before you and the honourable members of this Assembly to reply to the Speech from the Throne. Each year, as we listen to the government's Throne Speech, I am always impressed with our Lieutenant Governor's loyal dedication to the service of Her Majesty and the people of Nova Scotia. I, too, extend my compliments to Their Honours, the Lieutenant Governor James Kinley and Mrs. Kinley.

I am glad, as well, to have this time, Mr. Speaker, to extend my gratitude to my wife, Linda, our children, Andrea and Andrew, and my parents, Harold and Elsie Huskilson. Together, my father and I have been proud to serve the people of Shelburne County and the Province of Nova Scotia for almost 30 years. (Applause) Saying that, I must extend my sincere appreciation to the many constituents of Shelburne County who have supported my

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father's many efforts, who continue to support me, and who look forward to a continuing Liberal Government.

I would like to extend to you my best wishes on your appointment as our Speaker. Over the last four and one-half years you have been an astute participant in our government. I am confident that you will conduct your new responsibilities with the same sincerity in the proceedings of this House.

As well, Mr. Speaker, I want to pay my respects to the honourable Leader of the Opposition, Dr. John Hamm, and to the Leader of the New Democratic Party, Mr. Robert Chisholm, and to the voices of those members who have already congratulated the Premier on his recent election victory, I add my own. Premier MacLellan offers Nova Scotians a future of opportunity and prosperity and I am proud to be part of that new government in Nova Scotia's future.

As I read through the most recent polling numbers, it is clear that an attitude of optimism is also being felt from one end of the province to the other, from Shelburne County to Cape Breton County. Mr. Speaker, under the leadership of Russell MacLellan, we are fulfilling the mission that people across the province have mandated this government to do, to govern in a responsible manner.

I would also like to congratulate the most recently elected members: for Cape Breton The Lakes, Helen MacDonald; for Cumberland North, Ernie Fage; and Dr. Ed Kinley in Halifax Citadel. (Applause) To all members of this House who have earned the trust of the electorate, I extend my compliments as we work together in the responsible governing of this province. For me it is an honour to work with these honourable members and to represent the interests of the Shelburne County people in our provincial Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne by recognizing the people of Shelburne County. Many of the residents of Shelburne County are proud people of seafaring tradition. They celebrate the joys of life during the good times and yet manage to triumph over the often devastating challenges they face during the hard times.

[9:30 p.m.]

As a coastal community, the fishery remains an important industry in Shelburne County. Lobster landings in our area have accounted for over one-half of all lobster caught in the Scotia-Fundy region. For this reason, Shelburne County has been known as the lobster capital of Canada. In addition aquaculture is also doing well in Shelburne County creating further employment and opportunities. It is well known that the County of Shelburne is famous for the record high groundfish catches. Throughout Shelburne County there are a number of spin-

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off businesses such as fish plants, fish buyers and truck companies that support and enhance our fishing industry.

Earlier this year, I had the distinct honour of representing the people of Shelburne County to the newly elected federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Honourable David Anderson. Following the federal election in June, I was concerned about our people in the fishery being heard. I promptly wrote the minister and offered my assistance in setting up meetings with representatives of the Shelburne fishing industry. Within days, Mr. Anderson responded to my request and together we made the necessary arrangements so that the Shelburne County fishermen could have their voices heard.

I am proud to report that our provincial Department of Fisheries continues to support the needs of our fishing communities. Just this summer, on behalf of our Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Honourable James Barkhouse, I was pleased to announce funding assistance towards the installation of a winch at the Jordan Bay wharf. Once again, the minister recognized the hard work and efforts of the Jordan Bay Harbour Authority in developing the potential of Jordan Bay wharf.

Shelburne Harbour is the third best natural harbour in the world. Over the last year there was a 40 per cent increase in calls made by the shipping lines. Working with the Shelburne and Area Industrial Commission and private sources, the provincial government has been able to fund improvements to the reefer service at this wharf. Just last week I was pleased to participate in an infrastructure announcement for the water distribution line to the government wharf. The installation of the water distribution line will allow for the servicing of commercial vessels, fishing vessels and other marine traffic. During the construction phase alone, there will be 10 short-term jobs created. I am proud to report that our harbour and wharf facilities are now able to handle further increases in the amount of imports and exports through Shelburne. Not only does this ensure that our shipping lines remain open, but it also helps local manufacturers access new markets that are worldwide.

When visitors come to Shelburne County, I would say they are most impressed with the natural beauty evident throughout the county, including our beaches, rivers and waterways. It is through the continued support of this government's Department of Natural Resources that the Islands Provincial Park is able to offer a picturesque coastal setting for camping, picnics, boating and exploring the local area. Earlier this year, I was pleased to have the opportunity to open the new comfort station at this popular provincial park.

The people of Shelburne County are also pleased to show off their communities through the many festivals and events and parades. Events such as these would not be possible without the enthusiastic support of many volunteers and community groups and local businesses. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the many hardworking volunteers who contribute to the organization, promotion and scheduling of so many of these wonderful events throughout Shelburne County.

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Social gatherings are of vital importance to our community life. That is why I am pleased that this government eagerly supports the development of recreational opportunities in communities throughout the province. Earlier this year, I was pleased to endorse the funding necessary for a number of sport and recreation grants including the construction of the Barrington Municipal High School athletic field and in the Town of Shelburne the lighting of the Roger Grovestine Athletic Field. Thanks to funding from Sport and Recreation, the Shelburne Loyalist Senior Citizens' Club can continue to provide a friendly place for senior citizens to hold various functions and enjoy hours of leisure activities. All of these are now welcome additions to our recreational facilities as they continue to promote healthy lifestyles in our communities.

I am always proud to boast that Nova Scotia will be the first province in Canada to establish a province-wide computer-based telemedicine network. Telemedicine uses advanced telecommunications technology to transmit medical data, video images and audio between doctors and other health care workers at two or more locations. This system will connect every hospital in the province by the end of 1998. In Shelburne County, Roseway Hospital eagerly awaits being added to the 43 sites.

This will make Nova Scotia's telemedicine project one of the largest in the world and the first to connect all hospitals in one jurisdiction. Telemedicine will improve Nova Scotia's access to health care systems by enabling patients and doctors in rural communities, like those in Shelburne County, the opportunity to access specialist services in their own communities.

I am proud to report that the province-wide Home Oxygen Program has benefited nearly 500 Nova Scotians suffering with chronic respiratory conditions. In our Western Health Region there have been 46 clients in the Home Oxygen Program.

The residents of Shelburne County continue to benefit from an active hospital auxiliary at Roseway Hospital. Their many charitable donations continue to enhance the lives of patients in the hospital and the services offered through the outreach programs to residents in our rural communities.

The Roseway Hospital is also supported by the efforts of our Royal Canadian Legion members. I have met with these concerned citizens to draft letters to the federal Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Fred Mifflin, to propose a 12-bed wing for the veterans at Roseway Hospital. Also I would like to acknowledge the hardworking staff at Roseway Hospital for their professional manner and prompt attention to health care. It is truly commendable.

Within Roseway Manor is a new Alzheimer unit, called Our Place. It was my pleasure to welcome the new residents and staff at the opening of the unique home that offers specialized quality care for those Shelburne County residents living with Alzheimer's disease. This specialized service has created 11 jobs, totalling approximately 88 full-time and part-time

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positions at both Roseway Hospital and Roseway Manor. I was encouraged to see these new jobs as a sign of growth in the employment of our area.

Just this last year I had yet another reason to boast of the care and concern of a citizen of Shelburne County, Janet Blades. Janet, herself a breast cancer survivor, has dedicated a large part of her life to helping others. Janet takes the time to talk to people who have been diagnosed, while raising funds to assist in research efforts to eliminate this devastating disease.

I appreciate this time now to talk about Shelburne County's roadwork, both what we are happy to have and the roadwork we are looking forward to in the near future. The Barrington Bridge, for over three years I have regarded the completion of this vital transportation link in our community as a priority. I am happy to acknowledge the Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Donald Downe for responding to this need to replace this bridge. This has been a very dangerous area and safety has always been a factor in the replacement of this outdated one-lane bridge along Route 3. With the construction of the new bridge, traffic flow will be enhanced to allow residents and visitors easier access to Barrington and the surrounding communities.

Next year I am looking forward to further improvements to our rural roads such as the Forbes Point Road, the Woods Harbour Wharf Road, the Villagedale Road, Route 3 from Barrington to Charlesville, the Sandy Point Road, Jordan Bay and Jordan Ferry, the West Green Harbour Road to the wharf and the road to Little Harbour.

Earlier this year, it was my great pleasure to announce the long-awaited authorization for the construction of the Highway No. 103 Barrington Exchange. I must once again extend my sincere thanks to Donald Downe, our Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Working within our government's mandate to spend money wisely, Minister Downe has generously allocated the funds needed to secure the completion of the long-awaited project. (Applause)

On a personal note, I would like to recognize the outstanding efforts of Shelburne's former MLA, Harold Huskilson. It was in 1978 when he began to advocate for this important transportation link to the Government of Nova Scotia. Now as Shelburne's MLA, it has been my honour to continue his hard work through the successful completion date, 20 years later.

The Barrington Exchange will become a vital part of the transportation route along our South Shore. Local contractors, truckers and businesses will all profit during the construction phase of this project. With the addition of proper signage along the exchange, local communities will continue to benefit as a visitor destination. With the completion of the exchange, residents of the surrounding areas and visitors alike, will have easier access to unique accommodations, attractions, restaurants, services and a state-of-the-art recreation

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facility. When completed, the $12 million Barrington Exchange will become part of Nova Scotia's infrastructure offering safer, more efficient travel.

When a town or city receives an infrastructure project, it improves the quality of life for the residents, puts people back to work and encourages future investment in that area. The Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Project is generously jointly funded by the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

Last February, when the Infrastructure Agreement was extended, it was my hope that Shelburne County could benefit further from this program. Thanks to the cooperation and hard work of the three levels of government, it has paid off for Shelburne County. This year's projects total over $0.5 million and will create 45 short-terms jobs. These projects include, for the Municipality of the District of Barrington, two dry fire hydrants will be installed near the Cape Sable Island Causeway to allow for further commercial and residential development. Also, an upgrade to the Cat Rock Drive to bring it up to standard will be completed. In the Town of Lockeport there will be repaving and storm sewers for Water Street and the Crescent Beach dunes will have the damage from Hurricane Hortense repaired, helping to protect the highway from any further flooding.

For the Town of Clark's Harbour there will be repaving and recapping of Manford, Harold, Hibbert and Kenny Streets. A salt storage building will be built to provide more efficient storage and access to winter road salt. As a result of the new salt storage building, the tourist bureau can now use the other half of their building.

For the Municipality of the District of Shelburne, a building acquired by the municipality some years ago will be renovated to convert the former garage into the Public Works Building. In the Town of Shelburne, several town streets which are gravel will be paved and some will be repaved.

Just last week I was pleased to be part of the most recent infrastructure announcement including funding assistance for the Town of Lockeport. Those improvements would include a boardwalk over the marsh at the Back Harbour and an extension of the boardwalk along the sports field and street lamps to light the area. Further dune restoration will include the planting of shrubs and rose bushes to prevent washing away of the sand dunes. This project also includes making the beach area more accessible by wheelchair, as well as repairing the steps in that area.

Since 1964, the Woods Harbour Fire Hall has been in service. Now funding assistance will allow improvements to their existing fire hall and for the Town of Shelburne, the infrastructure project will provide waterfront development with the construction of a wave break and replacement of existing crib work. When completed, it will enhance the popular tourist area and create tourism related jobs.

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I am proud to be part of a government that believes in the importance of infrastructure investment. This program needs to continue, and I will continue to work hard to ensure that the rest of Shelburne County's infrastructure needs receive top priority.

[9:45 p.m.]

Nova Scotia has proven they are able to adapt to change in economic conditions. This is particularly true of Nova Scotians who live in the beautiful rural areas of the province like Shelburne County.

I am convinced that under the Leadership of the MacLellan Liberal Government, the people of Shelburne County, together with other Nova Scotians, that this government will succeed. Mr. Speaker, that is why it is with a great sense of pride that I will be voting in favour of this government's Throne Speech. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: I want to thank the last member who was speaking. He gave us such great warning that he was going to be through for the evening, and he just turned and sat down. I want to thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for recognizing me. It has been a pleasure for me, Mr. Speaker, to watch you as you assume the position of Speaker of this House, Chairman of everything that goes on in here and within the buildings, and I want to wish you well as you progress in your career as Speaker of this Chamber. You have very large shoes to fill, Mr. Speaker, because before you, there have been some exceptional people occupying that Chair.

Mr. Speaker, (Interruption) well, I was not going to say any one of my favourites, in particular, but the Speaker that we had previously, the honourable member for Clare, I got along very well with him. I think he was probably about as good a Speaker as we have had. He was fair to the Opposition (Applause), he was fair to the government, and I got along with him, and he did not make me sit down or throw me out or a darn thing (Laughter). To me, Mr. Speaker, I think that is important, and I hope that you will bear that in mind as we progress.

Mr. Speaker, you know, this Chamber is the oldest seat of government in Canada, the fourth oldest in the world, the oldest in North America that is still in use as it was intended in 1819 when they finally opened and completed and Lord Dalhousie made his great speech outside and so on. This is an historic Chamber. The Fathers of Confederation met here. This is really the birthplace of confederation because the Fathers of Confederation met here and the next time they met Canada was born.

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We have had a great history in Nova Scotia and in Canada at this Chamber. The caretaking of this facility is an onerous responsibility and we are very fortunate to have Mike Laffin in charge of this building and he is always bringing in lovely flowers. Today, I saw that we have a new Christmas tree in the Red Room and it is decorated, and it helps for the festive season to have somebody of Mr. Laffin's caliber so interested in this facility. We have a Sergeant-at-Arms who has been here for several sessions now, and I think he is doing an admirable job. I think we should all be very thankful that we are so well-behaved and we do not have to call on him very often to mete out the discipline that I know he can. Our Clerk and our Deputy Clerk, Mr. Speaker, their great advice to you, more than to anyone else in the Chamber because it is their advice and counsel that you depend on to make your fair and just decisions from time to time and those two gentlemen are certainly more than adequately prepared and trained to help you in your quest for fairness.

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it would be complete if I did not say a thank you to one of the great unsung heros in this building, Charlie Whalen, out in our little member's lounge, operating the kitchen. I do not know how anyone could prepare lunches for us during these long evening sessions the way he does, but he does and he comes through, and I think he does a marvellous job under pretty strenuous conditions.

Mr. Speaker, I have thanked all the people that really, I think, keep this place rolling. We have the Legislative Library that we depend on so much and Margaret Murphy does such a marvellous job at finding things when we want them, particularly in Opposition. That is when we need to know things in short order. The librarians and the staff in there are very good to us and they always find it. Our Hansard service is second to none.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have four new members in this Chamber this session; Helen MacDonald, Edwin Kinley and the Premier. I want to say to the Premier that I think he is a very nice fellow and if John Hamm wasn't Leader of the Conservative Party, I think I could support that man but, with John Hamm here, there is no contest. I truly think that when it comes to deciding next to John Hamm, he is a pretty good fellow, but John Hamm is providing great leadership for our Conservative caucus and the next session in this Chamber will have John Hamm sitting in the Premier's chair and he will be surrounded by a majority Conservative Government.

Also, Mr. Speaker, Ernest Fage, the member for Cumberland North, is a new member. I want to say very briefly that Ernest Fage and I share a common ancestry. Ernest Fage is my cousin. Ernest's grandmother (Interruptions) No, I heard the member for Richmond say it is funny that he didn't say anything about it. Well, perhaps I have been around longer so I don't mind saying it. Ernest Fage's grandmother and my father are brother and sister, so we are first cousins. I think it is kind of interesting that last week at the opening of the session of the House Ernest's grandmother and my father were both here in the Legislative Assembly at the celebration of the reading of the Throne Speech. I think it was pretty interesting that his grandmother and dad grew up in Salmon River in Truro. It is a long piece from the

[Page 955]

Legislative Assembly but I think that his grandmother and my father are both very proud of the things that have been accomplished by members of the Legislature because really, when you look around, there are only 52 of us who get elected to this Chamber every time there is an election and to get in here, your family at home feels a great deal of pride, I am sure. So I know that we share a common ancestry, Ernest and I. I am pretty proud of Ernest and the way he won the by-election and I am looking forward to serving many years with Ernest in this Chamber.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I see that we are running along for time and before I get into anything else on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, I would like to suggest that we adjourn the debate this evening and perhaps we could reconvene tomorrow at your call.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn the debate. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House now rise and resume sitting tomorrow at the hour of 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. We will deal with the Orders of the Day and then we will go into the Throne Speech and try to get through that by tomorrow, or through most of it anyway, so that we can vote on it on Thursday.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise and meet again tomorrow at 1:00 p.m.

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 9:54 p.m.]

[Page 956]

NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 345

By: Ms. Helen MacDonald (Cape Breton The Lakes)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia Power plans to import another 180,000 tonnes of coal into Nova Scotia while shipping out Nova Scotia money and jobs; and

Whereas these imports will raise to nearly 400,000 tonnes the level of imports of coal by Nova Scotia Power in the past 11 months; and

Whereas the importation of coal by NSP shows once again the devastating consequences of the failure by Liberals in Nova Scotia and Ottawa to proceed with the development of Donkin as part of a three mine Devco operation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to show leadership in working with the federal government to bring about the development of the Donkin Mine as a vital part of the survival of the Cape Breton coal industry.