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January 11, 1995


Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.


Hon. Paul MacEwan


Mr. Gerald O'Malley

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will commence this afternoon's sitting at this time.

The daily routine.




MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table, pursuant to Section 51 of the Judicature Act, amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules that were made pursuant to the Judicature Act by the Judges of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Court of Appeals on December 14, 1994.

MR. SPEAKER: The rules are tabled.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.


HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to announce an innovative program being undertaken by the Department of Justice that will help address the issue of cost and delays facing our court system. The department is undertaking a six month Adult Diversion project in the Dartmouth Provincial Court starting February 1st. As members would know, diversion is an alternative to the criminal justice system for those individuals who have committed non-violent, relatively minor offences. As the name suggests, cases are diverted from the regular criminal justice process to this alternative process.

I want to make it very clear, Mr. Speaker, that offenders who participate in this program will still be held accountable for their actions. In fact, one of the significant benefits of this program is the increased accountability that offenders will be required to shoulder. This program will provide an efficient and accountable service that will benefit victims of crime, the community and offenders.

Briefly, Mr. Speaker, the diversion program will operate this way. Adult offenders 18 years of age and older who have been charged with either first offences or relatively minor offences, such as shoplifting, creating a disturbance, or mischief, will be diverted from the criminal justice process after charges are laid prior to any court appearance. The eligible cases will be referred by police to the probation officers operating the diversion project, at which time determinations will be made as to the appropriate measures to be taken to satisfactorily resolve the matter.

Offenders, Mr. Speaker, will be contacted about the referral of their case to diversion and will be given the opportunity to participate provided they accept responsibility for the offence. Offenders are not obliged to participate. They have the option of keeping their case in the court system.

Contact will be made with the victim to advise them the case has been referred, to explain the program and to seek their input. Victims will be asked whether they wish to participate in a hearing with diversion staff and the offender in order to work out a mutually agreeable resolution of the matter. Although this invitation will be extended, victims will not be obligated to participate.

If the offender agrees to participate, a determination will be made as to what steps are appropriate for the offender to take in order to resolve the matter. The options available will be similar to those used under the Alternative Measures Program for Young Offenders. They include such things as restitution, letters of apology, volunteer community service work, personal service to victims and/or charitable donations.

There will be a signed agreement between the offender and the diversion staff which, if successfully completed, will result in no further legal action being taken. However, should the offender fail to complete the agreement, the matter will be returned to the court for processing in the usual manner.

Immediate benefits to the court system will be apparent as a large number of cases are expected to be diverted from the courts, as many as 600 in the Dartmouth court alone, based on an analysis of the cases last year. This new program is expected to provide significant benefits to the victims of crime. The increased involvement of crime victims in the mediation and settlement process will make them better informed and provide a forum to increase the likelihood that the incident will be resolved in an efficient manner.

By the same token, offenders will be held more immediately accountable for their actions. They will be more aware of the harm suffered by victims. They will be able to take responsibility in a serious and honest way without being left with a record of conviction, and they will have an opportunity to fully participate in finding a fair and reasonable resolution of the incident.

The community will also benefit. Trained volunteer community members will function as co-mediators, or in other capacities, will develop skills that will empower them to resolve conflicts which arise in the community, and become more knowledgeable about the criminal justice system's components and operations.

With regard to record keeping, Mr. Speaker, the fact that the offender was charged, and that the case was diverted will be maintained on the police and community corrections information systems. The collection and retention of these records will be used to ensure offenders are not admitted to diversion when they are ineligible. The diversion information on offenders and the outcome of the case will be maintained for five years, presuming there is no re-offence during that period.

Since this pilot project will be operated using the existing staff resources of the Correctional Services Division of the Department of Justice, no additional expenditures will be required. Selected probation officers, already trained and experienced in the operation of the diversion program for young offenders, have been chosen to implement the project. Although this will require these staff members to adjust their existing work loads, given the success of the young offender program, we expect similar positive results in terms of lower rates of repeat offenders.

To conclude, Mr. Speaker, this is an innovative step forward for the administration of justice in Nova Scotia. I look forward to exploring the results of this pilot project with an eye to expanding the diversion concept to other provincial courts throughout Nova Scotia. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to make brief remarks following the statement by the Minister of Justice. I thank him for sending me a copy of the document before he rose.

I note, first of all, that the pilot project is to be undertaken in regard to non-violent and what he describes in his statement as relatively minor offences. The statement in the early stages goes on at some considerable length talking about the fact, ". . . that offenders who participate in this program will still be held accountable for their actions.". That, of course, in my opinion, will be for the sake of the community at large and, more important, the victims of the offences perpetrated by those who will be in this program; that nature, extent and degree and form of that accountability is absolutely crucial.

The statement though says, Mr. Speaker, "This program will provide an efficient and accountable service that will benefit victims of crime, the community and offenders.". I have to be completely honest that without further analysis and, perhaps, discussion with the minister and his officials, I am a little bit uncertain about the benefit which accrues to the victim, because later in the statement I note that the minister said, in appropriate cases, "There will be a signed agreement between the offender and the diversion staff which, if successfully completed, will result in no further legal action being taken. However, should the offender fail to complete the agreement, the matter will be returned to Court for processing in the usual manner.".

The first thought that struck me as I heard those words was that to be truly effective we might well want to have a situation or a system whereby this signed agreement involves not only the offender, the diversion staff but the victim as well.

I have to take it at face value when the minister says that there would be no additional cost to the administrative system in place now but it happens that in just relatively recent days I was in conversation with a number of people working in the corrections system of our province in doing probation work and quite honestly, their concern being expressed to me was the tremendously heavy work loads with which they now are struggling, not unlike many who work with the Minister of Community Services. So, I think it is extremely important that we not allow this program to go on unreasonably long without being completely satisfied that the work load of the probation officers is not further strained.

The document and the minister said, "Since this pilot project will be operated using the existing staff resources of the Correctional Services Division of the Department of Justice, no additional expenditures will be required.". Well, I have had some experience in that department in dealing with Correctional Services and the embarking on a new program in my experience very often results in added responsibility and case loads. So, I would urge and caution the minister that he and his senior people are very mindful of that.

The hope I have is that we are not embarking on a system which is going to be weighted in favour of let's - and I am going to say this and some people may not think this remark is terribly appropriate but I am going to use it because it is what I truly feel - I hope that this is not a program where we are, if I may use the expression, going to try to do our best to mollycoddle the criminal. We have too many people in our community, and I think the Minister of Justice is aware of it, who are, frankly, scared, they are sick and tired of seeing people perpetrate crimes and offences and are at home watching their television and reading their news and saying, there goes another one getting a slap on the wrist. I really hope that there will be very real effort made, in the interests of the victims and the community at large, a very real effort to ensure that the program isn't in any way, shape or form fudged so that the victims and the community are not completely protected.

Finally, in my final comment, I certainly hope that the minister and his senior people will monitor this program in such a way as to ensure that we are not realigning or in any way, shape or form lightening administrative involvement and activity with the criminal element even though I know we are talking about minor crimes in such a way as to lighten an administrative load at the cost of a real and a serious protection for the victims and for the community at large.

[2:15 p.m.]

So, with those comments, some of them supportive I hope and some of them cautionary, we can assure the minister that we will keep a vigilant eye, as I know he will, and we would look forward to periodic reports from the minister as the pilot project unfolds to ensure, as I say, that the victims and the community at large are not involved in a situation where they are further concerned that the criminal element in our community is not being addressed and dealt with in a way that is as serious as I think the community, in its present attitude, believes it should be. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I want, first of all, to congratulate the Minister of Justice on what I think is a very positive initiative in the announcement this afternoon of the Adult Diversion Program. The minister mentions that he looks forward to exploring the results of the pilot project as a possible forerunner to further expanding the diversion concept in the justice system.

I can only underscore the importance of that and would, literally, plead with the minister to ensure that from the very outset, there is, in fact, the kind of data, the kind of pilot programming that will allow for a really well informed analysis that can result in conclusions that can be fully analyzed and fully interpreted to the public.

Because I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that I think we have been headed, for a very long time, down a very dangerous path in terms of this whole broad area of corrections and rehabilitation of offenders. I think what we know is that the warehousing of offenders in penal institutions has served people's need to exact retribution out of people who engage in unacceptable and illegal activity, but it has done very little to address the issue of meaningful rehabilitation.

I want to say, quite sincerely, that I think the Minister of Justice is to be congratulated for not caving in to the kind of fear mongering that I think all too often is revealed, perhaps not intended, but really the kind of fear mongering that is implicit, if somewhat subtle, in the kind of statement with which he was met by the Leader of the Official Opposition.

I think that there is, indeed, far too much catering to the notion that unless we crack down very hard on so-called criminals, that the whole society is going to fall apart. I think it is extremely important not to go down the path of that kind of fear mongering. Because, as the Minister of Justice has made very clear, we are not talking here about people who have been found to be criminals. We are talking, as I understand it, about antisocial behaviour that has brought people before the courts and where it is not warranted to further jam the courts and jam our penal institutions with people who can be rehabilitated and, in fact, will not be rehabilitated if they find their way into that whole, soul destroying system of corrections and supposed penal treatment.

So, Mr. Speaker, I want to say, and it is true it is not popular to say so, I think it is probably more popular to stand up and do what the Leader of the Official Opposition just did, which is to say, now let's make sure this is not mollycoddling criminals. There is nothing in what the Minister of Justice said here this afternoon that would give rise to the fear that this is about mollycoddling criminals, unless people want to create that impression unfairly and in an ill-founded way.

So, I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that I think this is a program that is highly supportable. I think that the Diversion Program for young offenders was appropriately applauded when it was introduced and I can only hope that this program is implemented in the effective manner, in the sensitive manner and in the accountable manner that the minister, today, has promised.

I think if there is one concern I have it is that this government, to some extent, has been so inept and clumsy in the introduction of so many of its reforms that it really does have people saying that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I believe we are now going past the scope of the ministerial announcement. Further, the time allotted for the response has expired.

MS. MCDONOUGH: . . . this government can blow anything, that they can cause a near riot just changing a light bulb and I hope that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the responses has never exceeded that of the original ministerial announcement.

I have a request from the Government House Leader to revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I take pleasure and beg your indulgence to table a report entitled, Home Care Nova Scotia, A Plan For Implementation. I commend this to honourable members for their perusal. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.



Bill No. 142 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 52 of the Acts of 1963. The Halifax City Charter. (Hon. Jay Abbass as a private member.)

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


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

Whereas the Premier kicked off his election campaign in Bridgewater by saying that, quote, it's time we moved from top-down decision making to public participation; and

Whereas the Liberal Party, less than two years later, is travelling the province, starting with a closed-door meeting in Bridgewater tonight, to review its own constitution and leadership review process, in consultation with Liberal members; and

Whereas in contradiction to the Premier's election kick-off comments about moving from top-down decision making, Liberal MLAs appear to have taken their own caucus vote to can the leadership review at the July annual meeting;

Therefore be it resolved that the caucus heed its Leader's words issued in Bridgewater less than two years ago and move from, quote, back room politics to front bench accountability when it comes to its Liberal plebiscite on the leadership review.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


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 Cabinet Ministers and MLAs, who campaigned for many months to force the cancellation of the October 1994 leadership review vote, are at it again, demanding that no review take place; and

Whereas these Liberals are in such a deep bunker that they claim it would be unfair for anyone, even their most loyal supporters, to be permitted a vote on the government's record; and

Whereas the Finance Minister and others, who so fondly cite Bob Rae as their model and justification, should know that Mr. Rae's leadership was on the line at two provincial conventions since he became Premier;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals or anyone else who believes it is unfair and unjust for people to exercise a democratic judgment of their political leaders and governments should consider relocating to North Korea, where such views are considered acceptable.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.


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

Whereas the Town of Bedford will receive extensive coverage regarding its attractiveness as a preferred residential and industrial location in a forthcoming issue of Site Selection magazine, which has a global circulation of 40,000; and

Whereas the Town of Bedford has attracted the Red Cross/Miles Canada blood fractionation plant which is expected to pump more than $1 billion over a 10 year period into the economy and ultimately create 400 jobs; and

Whereas the exposure that the Town of Bedford and the surrounding metro area will gain from this publication will further highlight the attractiveness of this area to readers across the world;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly applaud the Town of Bedford for being recognized, not only in Canada but across North America, as a most attractive community in which to locate for residential living and business activity.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


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

Whereas Liberal activists like Al Hollingsworth have assessed this government's popularity in no uncertain terms; and

Whereas such observers suggest that the closed-door Liberal meetings which start tonight, in Bridgewater, are dealing with a Premier and government who are politically dead but just don't know it yet; and

Whereas the only issue is whether the Liberals hope to achieve a zombie government of the living dead, or to use the Frankenstein model by discarding the useless parts of this government and sewing the rest together;

Therefore be it resolved that the mighty Liberal efforts to keep the Premier and his government intact for as long as two years would not be necessary if the Liberals simply agreed to implement their own deliberate, carefully crafted, election platform.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.


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

Whereas the member for Halifax Atlantic likes to classify jobs as to whether they are good, or whether they are miserable; and

Whereas he went as far as to say that jobs created under the Nova Scotia Works Program are, "miserable jobs", and

Whereas Nova Scotia Works has created three jobs dealing with homeless people, and two other jobs in Sydney at a transition house;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Halifax Atlantic apologize to the people of Nova Scotia for calling important Nova Scotia Works jobs, "miserable".

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.


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

Whereas the citizens of greater Halifax and Dartmouth are hosting the Royal Bank Canadian Figure Skating Championships which begin today; and

Whereas this event is expected to attract approximately 300 of Canada's top figure skaters, along with 75 journalists; and

Whereas over 1,000 local citizens have offered to serve as volunteers to welcome Canada's skaters for this event to be held at the Halifax Metro Centre and also Dartmouth Sportsplex;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend a warm welcome and congratulations to Canada's figure skaters and to the organizers and the volunteers of the Royal Bank Canadian Figure Skating Championships, as they begin their competition today.

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

MR. SPEAKER: It is agreed that notice be waived.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


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

Whereas the Cape Breton South MLA argued yesterday that unemployment levels in Sydney have nothing to do with the casino bill; and

Whereas the government, and Bill No. 120 itself, proclaims that the primary purpose of the legislation and of the associated casinos, is economic development; and

Whereas the Cape Breton South MLA and others who attend Liberal caucus meetings must know something that others do not know about the unlikelihood of this government's gaming policy resulting in employment;

Therefore be it resolved that the House urges the Cape Breton South MLA to come clean and tell his constituents why the government's gaming legislation has nothing to do with, and will do nothing for, employment levels.

MR. SPEAKER: I don't know; it seems to be debating a bill on the order paper in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, however, I will allow the motion to stand and be tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.


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

Whereas Barbara Ann Scott King began skating at the age of 11 winning many Canadian, World, European, North American and Olympic Championships; and

Whereas Ms. King has been inducted into the Canadian Figure Skating Association Hall of Fame and has been named to the Order of Canada; and

Whereas Ms. King was honoured at a luncheon hosted by our government here at Province House today;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Ms. Barbara Ann Scott King for her many accomplishments and welcome her to our province for the Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.


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

Whereas Mr. J. Murray Beck, a resident of Lunenburg, was among 85 new appointees to the Order of Canada; and

Whereas Mr. Beck has been an author and editor on several books on Canadian politics; and

Whereas Mr. Beck received his appointment for history, having taught at Acadia University, the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, and Dalhousie University;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. J. Murray Beck, O.C., for his many contributions to Canadian history and for being named among the most notable of Canadians to the Order of Canada.

[2:30 p.m.]

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.


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

Whereas Sydney will host the East Coast Music Awards this year, from February 9th through to February 12th, showcasing Cape Breton talent nationally, attracting 500 delegates from across Canada, the United States and Europe; and

Whereas the four day event will pump over $1 million into the Cape Breton economy, consist of three nights and two afternoons of showcases, two days of seminars, a music industry trade show and industry luncheon, culminating in the awards show; and

Whereas the Department of Education has recognized the cultural and economic significance of this event by contributing $42,000 to the East Coast Music Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House wish the organizers of the East Coast Music Awards every success with this year's event and applaud all the members of the East Coast Music Association for their success in marketing the music of Atlantic Canada to the world.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


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

Whereas Atlantic Loto reported yesterday that the total amount of money bet on lottery tickets and VLTs in Nova Scotia barely increased between 1992-93 and 1993-94, going from $196 million to $196.6 million; and

Whereas sane people might take this as a sign that tough economic conditions affect even the most addictive forms of gambling; and

Whereas others might suggest that any increase in gambling went to illegal machines, while this government failed to deliver on its promise of strict enforcement;

Therefore be it resolved that this House regrets the evidence that casinos are being imposed and expected to draw $187 million in annual revenue in an attempt to lure, seduce and otherwise draw reluctant Nova Scotians into compulsive gambling.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, again, this appears to be very close to debating a bill now before the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, but I will allow the motion to stand. I do, however, caution all honourable members to please try to avoid subjects that are listed on the order paper under the heading of Public Bills for Second Reading, Third Reading, or in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills as topics for notices of motion.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


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 yesterday presented this House with forceful arguments against decentralization from among the fast-shrinking number of government jobs in Halifax-Dartmouth; and

Whereas no one would accuse the Premier, as a metro MLA, of being influenced by parochial concerns, in light of his government's distrust, dislike and mistreatment of public employees; and

Whereas Amherstonians who believed the Christmas promise of 75 jobs to be relocated to their town might, however, ask whether the Premier's position puts that relocation in doubt;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Premier, the Economic Renewal Agency Minister, Education Minister and Finance Minister to huddle together and come up with a common view on decentralization, then consult with the NSGEU.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


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

Whereas when Sydney Mayor, Vince MacLean, suggested that the Liberal casino is a done deal, his own City Council disagreed and sent another delegation to Halifax to fight this destructive proposal; and

Whereas the Official Opposition Leader has signalled that, like Vince MacLean, he apparently sees no point in continuing to fight this government's casino plans that have aroused widespread doubt, anger and opposition among Nova Scotians; and

Whereas it may be entirely appropriate that a Liberal Government acting like Conservatives, now faces a Conservative Opposition acting like former Liberal Leader, Vince MacLean;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take its inspiration from Sydney City councillors who, based on their daily discussions (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I cannot hear the resolution. Please start with therefore be it resolved again. (Interruptions)

MS. MCDONOUGH: Therefore be it resolved that this House take its inspiration from the Sydney City councillors who, based on their daily discussions with real, live constituents, resolve to fight the imposition of this government's casino plans through every means available.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Are there further notices of motion? If not, I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. and the winner this afternoon is the honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin. He has submitted a motion for discussion as follows:

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotia's natural environment is one of her greatest assets.

So we will hear discussion on that subject at 6:00 p.m.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, just on a point of order, normally we get a call from the Clerk's Office to the caucus an hour prior to and at 1:50 p.m. today, we did not have a call. I think that is normal in the past and I just wonder if that procedure is still in place or whether we are going to continue to get the calls prior to on the resolutions that have been drawn?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

THE CLERK: This is the first time that it has happened in this session. The thing came in late . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk advises that the former procedure will be . . .

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, while we are on the subject of the late debate, an issue that I had planned on raising, and I guess I would ask your direction in this, prior to the change of government last year, I believe for the five years previous, my experience in this House was that the member of the House who was successful in putting forth the issue for late debate had someone from their Party follow them as the third speaker in the debate. I notice that recently that practice has changed and I wonder if there is an official procedure to follow in that case because for five years, in the case of today, for example, the government member would speak, followed by a member of the Official Opposition and then a government member would wrap up.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, if I could deal with the first point first and then the second, the Clerk advises that the former procedure will be carried out in the future. This is a singular exception.

Now as to the order of speakers on the Adjournment motion, there is no rule on this matter. The usage of the House has generally been that on a government day, if the government member won the draw, introduced the subject, that a member of the Opposition could respond and then a member of the government but there is no fixed rule on it. It is the Speaker's call really, whoever can catch the Speaker's eye. We had a situation yesterday where there were no members of the Opposition present at one point and several government members wanted to speak and I had to choose one. There have frequently been agreements between members that one would take five minutes and the other would take five minutes. If I am notified that honourable members wish to speak in the Adjournment debate, I will recognize them generally in the order in which they contact me but there is a responsibility that the Chair see that all shades of opinion in the House are represented in these matters and so generally a representative from each Party on Tuesdays and Thursdays and on Wednesdays we will take it as it comes.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, just on a point of order, and I do not disagree with your ruling, I was in the House yesterday, besides the Opposition member who was speaking, and we just chose not to speak. You indicated there was no other person here. That is not true but you are correct that when two people from the government rose and wanted to speak. I do not want it left that there was nobody else left here from the Opposition, it just was that we did not, at that time, choose to speak.

MR. SPEAKER: Very well.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: On the same point of order, I would like to also correct the record and say that I was here also (Interruptions) In fact, I spent a lot of time in this House yesterday, Mr. Speaker. But I decided that I had had a fairly large chunk of the time already that afternoon and I thought it was important to share a bit of the time during late debate so I was quite happy to see one of the government members, or one of the quasi-government members participate in the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Very well, I am happy and comforted to know that the honourable member was here yesterday and I am sure we will see more of him today, too.

The time is now 2:40 p.m. The Oral Question Period today runs 90 minutes and therefore will run to 4:10 p.m. If there are no further items to come before the House under the daily routine, we will advance to Orders of the Day.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I wonder if the minister could advise the House whether or not, to her knowledge, there are vacancies at present on the Municipal Finance Corporation and whether it is her intention to refill those positions?

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I understand there are a couple of nominations going through on the Municipal Finance Corporation. I can certainly get the list of individuals that is coming forward, to go through, and provide it to the honourable member.

MR. DONAHOE: I wonder if the Minister of Municipal Affairs might indicate whether she will be or has, in fact, recommended an affirmative action candidate for appointment to the Municipal Finance Corporation, that apparently being a top priority these days with the Premier, to fill that vacancy? Will she be able to tell the House whether she has or will be recommending an affirmative action candidate in that regard?

MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I think it is very important and it has been discussed on a number of occasions last week and this week in Question Period by the Human Resources Minister that, in actual fact, we are looking at all kinds of individuals who are coming forward for appointments. Certainly affirmative action is one aspect when we look at individuals.

I think, as the minister has said very clearly on a number of occasions, the qualifications of the individual are one of the things we look at. If there are a number of people who are equally qualified and have the ability to do the job, then certainly the affirmative action becomes part and parcel of making that decision.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, by way of final supplementary to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, may I say that it is my understanding that this minister has, in fact, notwithstanding what she has just now said here, made a recommendation for appointment to the Municipal Finance Corporation and has, in fact, recommended for appointment a male, the person who was the most substantial benefactor of her election campaign and has recommended Mr. Don Valardo for appointment to that board. Would the minister be able to confirm that that, in fact, is her affirmative action nominee for appointment to the Municipal Finance Corporation?

MS. JOLLY: Well, I am sure Mr. Valardo would be quite pleased to be known as an affirmative action candidate, as the honourable member across the way has suggested in his question. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that yes, Mr. Don Valardo has been put forward by myself to fill one of the positions on the Municipal Finance Corporation. I think as has been stated by many members on all sides of the House, this individual has had, I believe, two or three terms as a councillor with the City of Dartmouth. He has been a business person within the Dartmouth community for many years and has been a very successful individual. Where the Municipal Finance Corporation deals with finances and borrowing and those money transactions directly related to the municipalities across the Province of Nova Scotia, I believe he is a very qualified and capable candidate to fill that job.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Premier. The Premier, of course, has asked Nova Scotians to believe that the government was exercising affirmative action when it rubber-stamped Colleen MacDonald as this province's Chief of Protocol. Well that affirmative action charade has raised considerable interest in the question of just exactly how does this government's Affirmative Action Program work.

I am wondering if the honourable Premier could explain if affirmative action is truly a priority in the hiring of public servants in this province, how is it that the Human Resources application form doesn't even include any opportunity for an applicant to indicate whether they are a member of one of the equity groups that has been designated for affirmative action consideration?

MR. SPEAKER: Is the question to the Premier or to the Minister of Human Resources?

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to take that under advisement. I am prepared to look at it and report back to this House.

[2:45 p.m.]

MS. MCDONOUGH: Well, Mr. Speaker, given the fact that it is absolutely an essential building block, a fundamental building block, of any meaningful affirmative action program to ensure that members of equity groups are identified as being within the affirmative action designated group, I wonder if I could redirect the question to the Minister of Human Resources. In case she wasn't listening to the question I directed to the Premier, my question is simply this. How is it that the new Department of Human Resources application form contains no provision for an applicant to self-identify, in a way that is essential, that they are a member of the equity group and wish to be given affirmative action consideration? I might say, Mr. Speaker, that that is 19 months after this government came to office and is on the form that clearly was changed when this government came to power because it says, Department of Human Resources.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I think anyone who wishes to apply for employment with the Government of Nova Scotia generally looks at the Employment Opportunities bulletin and on the very front page of that it clearly states that if any applicants wish to register in the Affirmative Action Program they may do so. They do not receive their applications until prior to receiving this. So I think it is clearly spelled out in the Employment Opportunities bulletin.

MS. MCDONOUGH: I think we have just seen how absolutely hollow and empty this Affirmative Action Program really is. The affirmative action staff in this province have been trying to get such a designation because it is essential to any meaningful affirmative action. Mr. Speaker, if neither the Premier nor the Human Resources Minister can answer questions about this application form, maybe they can answer questions about the application form that was distributed yesterday by the Housing Minister which reads, this form has been approved by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and contains a question asking whether people have any physical defects which they would like us to consider in their placement.

Mr. Speaker, the Human Rights Commission had never seen this form. The Human Rights Commission did not approve this form. Why did the Housing Minister circulate a form that read, this form has been approved by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission?

MR. SPEAKER: To whom is the question addressed?

MS. MCDONOUGH: Well, I will direct it to the Human Resources Minister who supposedly is in charge of affirmative action.

MRS. NORRIE: I will defer that to the Minister of Housing.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I received a call at 1:45 p.m. today with regard to the honourable member's concern. At 2:10 p.m. I was able to reach my deputy minister and I have asked him to look into it. Because that is the application that was put through by my department and sent out. If it was wrong, then I will withdraw all the applications with regard to that. But that is the information I have. Today I received the first call at 1:45 p.m., got a hold of my deputy minister at 2:10 p.m. and I am now waiting for the deputy minister to clarify the situation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is back to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Staying with the affirmative action recommendation she has made to the Municipal Finance Corporation appointment. My question to the minister is in regard to her nomination of Mr. Don Valardo to the Municipal Finance Corporation whether in leading to that conclusion did she seek advice from anyone, either in the department or among her Cabinet colleagues or, indeed, from the Premier on the propriety of that appointment?

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that based on the honourable member's questions and this being the second question on the topic in Question Period that he has some very serious concerns with the individual who has been appointed in that position and would suggest he doesn't feel that person is qualified. I believe that the rules and regulations call for somebody who has municipal experience, that is one of the things that we do take into consideration when appointing somebody to this position and the fact that it is dealing with finances and this is a very successful business person, I think all of those things would help and aid in the fact that there is a job that needs to be done.

MR. DONAHOE: I am asking, again, if I may, through you, Mr. Speaker, a question and this line of questioning to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, in light of the fact that her recommendation to the Municipal Finance Corporation is a person who was the largest single financial contributor to her election campaign and the role (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you might be able to assist me in maintaining some semblance of order?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONAHOE: In light of that fact and those facts and the fact that there is a very real relationship in terms of some of the work done by the Municipal Finance Corporation and the role and responsibility of the Minister of Municipal Affairs, last week the Premier made a patronage appointment to fill the Chief of Protocol Office and this week the Minister of Municipal Affairs is trying to get her political friend and supporter appointed to the Municipal Finance Corporation.

I ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs as to whether or not she has any concern at all that the appointment by her or recommendation by her for appointment of the largest single contributor to her campaign, to the Municipal Finance Corporation, with her occupying the office of the Minister of Municipal Affairs, does she have any concern that the perception in the public mind can in any way be adversely affected by the nature of that relationship?

MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I would have to say that the gentleman in question, I don't think there is anybody in this House of Assembly that would question the integrity of Mr. Don Valardo as an individual and as a citizen of the City of Dartmouth. I would assume that what the honourable member is trying to impugn is that Mr. Valardo will not do a qualified, capable job there, that he will be voting against Mr. Valardo as a candidate for that specific position and that he would suggest that this particular individual is not qualified to do that job.

Mr. Speaker, I think we have said on many occasions, we are looking at a number of individuals. We look at how qualified they are to do the job and I can tell you, as an individual who has talked with many of the councils, who has talked with people who have dealt with Mr. Valardo within the community, people of all political stripes and even his friend, Mr. Thornhill, would be an individual who would speak very highly of Mr. Don Valardo as a very capable person of doing any job that he was given an opportunity to do. (Applause)

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary on this matter is to the Premier. I would simply ask if the Premier endorses the patronage appointment of Don Valardo to the Municipal Finance Corporation?


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I just want to make it abundantly clear that good Liberals will not be disqualified from these positions. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.


MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Human Resources. The minister, during Question Period on November 9th, indicated that the terms of reference for Berkeley Consulting Limited, who are engaged in a reorganization study of the Department of Health, or at the time were, would be made available to Nova Scotians.

I was wondering if this $50,000 contract, the terms of reference and the report that was filed with the Department of Health, whether you could make that available to us at the present time?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, are you asking me to make available the terms of reference for Berkeley Consultants Limited? I can hardly hear the question.

MR. SPEAKER: I can hardly hear the question, too. There is a very high level buzz in the House this afternoon. Please, one member at a time. The member who has the floor has the floor.

MR. ARCHIBALD: It is hard to keep order in this crowd, isn't it?


MR. ARCHIBALD: I know, I can appreciate the difficulty. My question through you, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Human Resources. On November 9th, the minister indicated she would table the terms of reference of the contract awarded to Berkeley Consulting Limited to the members of the House and thereby to the people of Nova Scotia. It is a couple of months since then and we haven't yet seen the terms of reference. Also, she indicated that the study would be tabled when it was completed. I was wondering whether the minister would be willing to table the terms of reference and the study that was paid for, $50,000, today?

MRS. NORRIE: I will take that under advisement, Mr. Speaker.

MR. ARCHIBALD: That is what you told me in November; at least you are consistent. Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Human Resources, several times in the last couple of months the question has been asked of the Minister of Human Resources with regard to the salary, the terms of reference for the job for Ms. Mary Jane Hampton, who is working on the Health Reform Commission. I was wondering whether today you could provide for us the salary range and the salary that is being paid to Mary Jane Hampton?

MRS. NORRIE: I do not have that with me at my desk here today. I will look into that matter as well.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Yesterday, I asked through you to the Minister of Human Resources, if she could furnish some detail to the members of the House and to Nova Scotians who are interested on the MCP 38 classification to the Clerk of the Executive Council who, it has been indicated, will be receiving the benefits of a deputy minister. I am wondering what that phrase meant in the Cabinet document that she will be entitled to the benefit package as a deputy minister. Could you enlighten us as to what benefits this clerk will be getting.

MRS. NORRIE: First of all, I would like to inform the member opposite, I was quoting figures from memory yesterday when I did quote the salary levels. The MCP 38, yesterday I gave a figure of $80,000, it does begin at $75,000 and goes up to $97,000 in that figure. The Clerk of the Executive Council, Ms. Brenda Shannon, began work in April at the bottom of the scale at $77,000. Since then with the 3 per cent roll-back, she now is making $75,000, 80 per cent of the MCP 38, that is the bottom range. Her predecessor, Alison Scott, was at 85 per cent at $82,000, so she is now making less than her predecessor and is also at the bottom of the pay plan.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member Kings North on a new question.


MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you and to the Minister in charge of Human Resources, I think the pay scale was identified yesterday and it was identified in the Cabinet document as well. But the question, the Clerk of the Executive Council, what extra benefit is she getting as a deputy minister because that was the phrase that was in the document and I am just trying to find out what benefit? I mean, does she receive a credit card from the government, is there a car involved, a cellular phone, you know, what are the benefits that she is receiving other than salary?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Those details would be, generally speaking, expenses and as well she would be qualified for the superannuation plan and anything else that any deputy minister or anyone who is employed as an OIC or as a civil servant.

MR. ARCHIBALD: This is not what I was anticipating for an answer because what anyone else as a deputy minister is receiving is not good enough. We have asked the minister about Berkeley time and time again, we have continually asked about Ms. Mary Jane Hampton and she continually doesn't know.

Yesterday I asked about this fringe benefit package and today we still, would the minister please agree to look into these three very vital and table the information - you have certainly time between now and the completion of Question Period to do it now if you want to - and if not, will you promise to do it by tomorrow? It is not too much for the people of Nova Scotia to want to know. It is their money that is paying the fare. Will you please cooperate with Nova Scotians and give us this information and stop trying to hide it?

MR. SPEAKER: I don't believe that that is a proper supplementary question but the honourable minister may respond.

MRS. NORRIE: I will provide the information as soon as it is available.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, I will allow a final supplementary question but it has to be a question, it cannot be a sermonette. We want a question.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, this is very serious for the minister in charge of affirmative action and hiring for the province. My question is would the minister agree to look at the pay stub for Miss Mary Jane Hampton and furnish that to us?

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Is that a request for pay stubs?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I think the member opposite expects one person to be able to quote the salary of over 13,000 civil servants of this province from memory. I have already stated that I will not look at anyone's pay stub; what I will do is look at the annual salary being paid and I will furnish that as soon as it is available to me. Thank you.

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


MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you, sir, to the Premier. Yesterday we heard, in response to another question, that the Premier said he paid attention to the details of the hiring of staff in his office, while he had not necessarily paid close attention to the Protocol Office. We have been told, for example, what the salary for Dave Harrigan is going to be; we also know that when Neale Bennet was released, he had the balance of his one-year contract paid out. My question to the Premier is quite simply this. In the contract entered into with Mr. Harrigan, has the province agreed that should he be released prior to the expiry of those two years, has the province agreed to pay out the remaining time, in other words, up to the full two years of his contract?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that is a hypothetical question. I am sure that Mr. Harrigan will have a long and distinguished career and the issue will not rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party, a supplementary question. Please try to avoid the hypothetical.

MR. HOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, we may have differences but I would have to suggest that the question was, indeed, not hypothetical. The Premier may classify it as such, but I will phrase the question maybe a little bit more concretely to the Premier. Will the Premier tell us what the severance provisions are in the contract that was entered into with David Harrigan?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will have to take that under advisement and decide whether or not the terms of a contract with a person, who is personnel, are private. We have given the salary; we have done what is expected. The idea of whether or not everything in a contract with a person in that position should be public, I am going to take that under advisement. I am not sure that it is.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, sticking to the Premier's Office, because they are, indeed, taxpayers' dollars, we know that the firing of Lucy Dobbin cost approximately $100,000 or one year's full salary. My question to the Premier is this, the contract he entered into with Bob MacKay and Heather Robertson, do those contracts contain a provision that would require that the province pay them a full year's salary should they be terminated, as was done in the case of Lucy Dobbin?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it would at least be more accurate if he were to get some of his suppositions correct. Mr. MacKay is not on contract, Mr. MacKay has a deputy minister's position and, therefore, he is an OIC appointment and you should know that.

In terms of the one for Ms. Robertson, all I can tell you is what I said before, that I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, that people who give up money in order to serve in the government are entitled to this kind of persistent, nasty investigation as to their salary. I have given the salaries. I have given the salary range quite clearly; it has been made public. I think that people who are prepared to work and serve are entitled to some attention, in terms of their contracts, some privacy. Public money is being spent, that is for sure. We will make sure that it is spent well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.


MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. I wonder if the Premier would confirm that the salary range for deputy ministers ranges from $80,000 to $100,000, less the mandatory 3 per cent and that that represents the 80 per cent or 100 per cent on the achievement scale for that particular position?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I understand that that is the range. I think that is the range, but I would need to see it before me and I don't have the information here. But I will assume that you have checked it and that it is, therefore, the range.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the Premier appoints deputy ministers and, as such, I presume that the decision is made as to what level these people will enter the Public Service at as deputy ministers.

Mr. Speaker, very recently Mr. Arnold Rovers was appointed Deputy Minister of the Department of Agriculture. He is a gentleman who has about 20 odd years experience in the department, a very distinguished service with the Government of Nova Scotia.

Would the Premier advise the House of the salary level that was awarded to Mr. Arnold Rovers when he was appointed deputy minister?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to do so. I don't know where it is here today, but I will find it for you.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, I appreciate the fact that the Premier would get that figure, although I would think that since he has just appointed him, he would know what that salary would be.

Would the Premier tell me then, when appointing deputy ministers, how or who makes the determination as to at what salary those deputy ministers will commence?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there are different classes, I understand, or layers of deputy ministers. I cannot give you that without referring to it and I am quite prepared to refer to it and bring back an answer to that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.


MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday, I received from the Department of Health, under a freedom of information request, information about Cynthia Martin and about how she was paid some $17,000, air fare and expenses, to develop a report and strategic plan.

In her report, Cynthia Martin stated that staff in the Department of Health often operate under incomplete or contradictory information, or multiple, competing sources of information and performance of jobs. I think that was in it, the minister agrees. She indicated that this was a "silo" mentality which ensures responsibility for issues is reduced and has resulted in incomplete products.

I would ask the minister, now that he is obviously familiar with the report, what has he done in the last six months to address those issues raised by Cynthia Martin in her report?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question from the honourable member opposite. Suffice it to say that Ms. Martin identified some major gaps in communications that had existed for some years in the department and we are applying ourselves now to correct those deficiencies by a reorganization of the department, in keeping with the renewal process. Communications is an essential element of that. We have, since that report, hired a director of communications and have identified several people within the department and have freed-up positions to aid in that process.

I might say in response, specifically, to his question, that those criticisms, indeed, had been identified. We had discussed them with Ms. Martin and we have, again, put into place a new structure in the department which will correct some of those deficiencies.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his reply. He said that they have now corrected some of the communication problems by hiring additional staff. I wonder if he would indicate to me that part of the strategy is to give all the members dealing with communications cellular phones in the department that they have now and what type of costs there would be in addition to the staff. Do they all now have cellular phones, is that part of the communication plan that Cynthia Martin put forward?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, specific to that inquiry, no, that is not the case and we would not proceed along with that recommendation, at least.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I now know it must have been the minister's idea to have the cell phones. I would ask the minister, in the last supplementary, the author of this communication plan, I think the minister said in response to it, could only be handled by someone outside of the province who knows about health reform. Has the minister had any more dialogue or any more contact with Cynthia Martin who worked, I think, at the Sunnybrook Health Science Centre where the minister formerly worked, is there still contact or is she still evaluating in any way the plan the minister has now put in place on her recommendations?

DR. STEWART: No, Mr. Speaker, she is no longer involved. She produced her report, she had given us the indications of change that she recommended. We have staff in the department monitoring those changes and making sure they are instituted when appropriate.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. I wonder if the Minister of Education could advise this House, what arrangements, if any, he or his department intend to make with the John Robert Powers School in Sydney, relative to an undertaking made by the Department of Education that that school was approved to offer a course entitled, Casino Training. It is my understanding that having received that confirmation from the Department of Education, that certain arrangements were made involving financial commitments and otherwise by that school.

Could the minister please tell this House whether that school will be permitted to offer that program, Casino Training, and if not, why not and what compensation would be made to the school?

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that the honourable Leader of the Opposition, as a former Minister of Education, doesn't understand the relationship between private trade schools and the Department of Education. We, of course, register private trade schools; we look at curricula; we approve teachers for that program; and we allow them to proceed. The school of which he refers can, in fact, put on that course. Nobody stopped them, they are approved to put on that course.

The difficulty that the school is having, and the honourable Leader of the Opposition seems to have failed to recognize that, is that the agreement between the committee and the successful bidder for the casino, the ITT Sheraton, has in it that they are going to take all of their training from the community college and they have made a proposal to the community college which is being negotiated. Nobody has suggested that this course cannot be offered. The difficulty is that their presentation they made to both the ITT Sheraton and to the committee has not turned around in that they have been contracted for the work. We are not responsible for that, we have not been involved with it, they have not asked this particular school to do the training for them. They have designated very clearly, Mr. Speaker, that they are only going to accept training from the community college. That isn't something we have control over.

If I can tell the honourable member, the major proponent of that particular school was in contact with our office four times during the time that they were considering this, Mr. Speaker, and we informed them clearly that the decision was not ours to make as to who would do the training for these two casinos. The decision rested on the negotiations between the committee and the successful proponent. In fact, maybe if one of the other two proponents had won, they would be doing all of their own training and we have no say over that.

So, there is no liability on the part of the department and, very clearly, we are responding to a request that came from the agreement.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I understand all of that, but I am also in possession of a letter, which I will table, from Mr. Michael Wyse, Trade School Monitor, Private Trade School section of the Department of Education. This is a letter to Ms. Susan Samways, the operator of the school in question, and the minister's employee, Mr. Wyse is saying to Ms. Samways that on September 15, 1994 that he contacted Harry Wheaton of the Nova Scotia Gaming Commission. Mr. Wheaton also substantiated that presently ". . . there is no single association, organization, board or government department which holds exclusive rights to casino training in the province.". On the strength of that assurance at that time in September, the school went ahead and made the kind of arrangements that I am describing. Meanwhile what I gather is taking place, another minister or ministry is making a deal which cuts the legs out from under this particular school and presumably this Minister of Education knew all that was happening.

So, I repeat my question, in light of the fact that one thing was being said to the school by the Ministry of Education and another deal of exclusivity was being made by a colleague minister, is this Minister of Education prepared to deal with the school by way of compensation for the expenditure which was undertaken by this school in good faith on the strength of communications from the Department of Education?

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, if I could do this very slowly for the Leader of the Opposition, let me repeat this again. This school may offer the course that he suggested. They contacted my department, in fact my executive assistant told them three times as late as December, my policy advisor spoke to them and told them, we did not know what the agreement between Laszlo Lichter's committee and the winning proponent was going to be. We didn't know how the training was going to be and we warned them of that.

In fact, I am going to quote one of the statements my executive assistant said, "If I were to advise anyone in my constituency whether they should take that course, I would tell them no, because we don't know if it will lead towards a job.". They may offer the course. By the way, in the Cape Breton Post in an article that was partially quoted by the former Leader of the New Democratic Party, the ITT negotiator said that that training could be acceptable in another region but they are not going to accept it.

In all deals, Mr. Speaker, and I will give you an example, if a business comes to Nova Scotia and asks the community college to do training for them, we respond to do it. If they ask the private sector, they do that. In this particular case, we have been requested to provide the training and they haven't. That is as simple as that.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, so it is clear that the government in this context, at least, is taking its marching orders from ITT.


MR. DONAHOE: Well, yes, Terry, you certainly are. (Interruptions) I ask if I may, Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary and by reference again to the September 21st letter, which I will table, the official of the Department of Education, this minister's official, said to the operator of the school in Sydney, quote, "He . . .", referring back to Mr. Wheaton of the gaming commission, ". . . also suggested that the philosophical intent of any proposed guidelines would not be to exclude private training initiatives, but rather to ensure compliance to stringent training standards to ensure quality education for Nova Scotia students and competent graduates for potential employers.".

I ask the Minister of Education again, would he out of fairness and decency to the school which got all of that information from the Department of Education and I think was able to rely on that they should go ahead with the training program, that this minister would be prepared to deal with this school and work out a reasonable compensation package for this school in light of the fact that they were being told one thing by his department and having their legs cut out from under them by the ITT agreement being negotiated through the gaming commission?

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to do this very carefully for the honourable Leader of the Opposition, again, (Interruptions) If I might, we listened patiently to his foolishness so now if he would listen calmly to an answer. Let's do this again. The trade schools, we register them and to protect the consumer, we look at the curriculum and the teachers to see if they can do the job. We have done that. They made the request of our staff, they called Mr. Wheaton and that was the report at that time. They subsequently contacted our office after that and we told them that the decision has not been made and that they should be very careful in doing that. We even reported that in the community college system we were being very careful because, in fact, we may not receive any of the training because that was not our decision but was between the committee and the winning proponent. I would suggest to the honourable Leader of the Opposition that any time a business comes here they ask for trainers, they designate the trainers and we provide it to a standard.

The community college has been in competition, as he knows, for some time with the private sector. They win some contracts, we win some. That is the way it works and I will tell the honourable member again, four times after that letter was written that school contacted my office. They were informed four times the decision had not been made and we could not assure them as to what it would be because we didn't know. We told them that and we made it very clear. They proceeded anyway to do that and obviously they spent some money and are in some difficulties. We do not have the liability for that and I will state it clearly in this House. Nor do we in any other competition when some company wants training because we are in the business of providing training.

I would go further, Mr. Speaker, I can say that any company that comes to Nova Scotia, they can approach the community college, we will find out what their needs are and we will provide that training in a world-class way and we will continue to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I would like to direct my question through you to the honourable Premier. Contrary to some of the assurances that have been provided by ministers of this government to Cape Bretoners that there were going to be some jobs transferred to Cape Breton as a result of the government's decentralization policy, the Premier indicated yesterday that, in fact, they are going to look at this issue but they haven't made any decisions. I would like to ask the Premier if he could give members of this House and perhaps more importantly people in Cape Breton an indication of when he expects to arrive at his policy decision with respect to the decentralization of jobs that have already been indicated by some of the ministers of his front benches.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I answered that yesterday, we are not yet ready and we will make it known when we have made a decision and I want to emphasize that no decision has been made.

MR. CHISHOLM: Also, in response to questions yesterday the Premier indicated what a complicated issue this was and how difficult it was and that it involves the lives of workers and so on. I would ask the minister if he would agree here today that if he is considering this policy then it would be quite appropriate for somebody from his government or from his office to begin negotiations with the union representing Nova Scotia government employees in this province as they are working to develop a policy on decentralization.

THE PREMIER: I think I could plead I answered that one yesterday but I will try it again. I regard moving of people, their domiciles, their families as of great importance, I do not regard it lightly. I also indicated that were we to get down to the point where, in fact, that might happen then we would indeed be consulting the unions, I said that yesterday and the answer is the same today.

MR. SPEAKER: I am looking here in Beauchesne, I don't find any specific rule that says you can't ask the same question the day after you asked it previously but I would caution the honourable member and all members to please try to be careful not to ask the same question every day.

MR. CHISHOLM: I think if a check were made of Hansard, even though the Premier seems to interpret my question as being the same, it, in fact, is different. It is based on information that I received yesterday so it couldn't be the same. In my final supplementary to the Premier I would like to ask him what, in fact, we should be telling Cape Bretoners who have received assurances from the Minister of Finance, from the Minister of Economic Renewal that, in fact, they support the policy of decentralization, that there will be jobs transferring to Cape Breton and the Minister of Finance has clearly indicated support for the proposal of the Cape Breton Economic Development strategy that ask that 250 jobs at a minimum be transferred from Halifax.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, let me just give you some facts perhaps on employment in Cape Breton; $54 million, 63 projects, 1,260 jobs will be created in Cape Breton as a result of the Infrastructure Program. That is part of the answer.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, we have such things as eco-tourism, we have the tourism that will be there in the summer, in relation to eco-tourism. It is a big word but it is not difficult to understand.

Louisbourg will become an international centre for diving. In addition to that, we are moving into the community economic development plans, the community economic development organization, the board in Sydney is a board that has received about $100,000. It is looking for more money because they are having success, particularly in the business loans and the small loans business.

So rather than create the impression, Mr. Speaker, as many of their slanted questions do, that nothing is happening in Cape Breton, let me say that I am very concerned about the unemployment in Cape Breton but I also want to stress, too, that the latest figures indicate that although there is an increase in unemployment in Cape Breton, there is also an increase of 3,000 jobs in Cape Breton, as a result of 1994. (Applause) We see the whole strategy of job creation as many faceted. This may be one facet of it and the exaggeration and the picture of it that is depicted by the Opposition, in this case the New Democratic Party, is just purely nuisance.

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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Natural Resources. The very important Canada-Nova Scotia Forestry Agreement is set to expire in barely two months time. The minister has said on a number of occasions in this Legislature that he is vigorously pursuing a new federal-provincial forestry agreement. He has been speaking to officials in Ottawa and recently the Standing Committee on Natural Resources released a 67 page document entitled, "Canada - A Model Forest Nation in the Making.".

One of the recommendations, No. 11, says that "The federal government should negotiate a renewal of the Forestry Resource Development Agreements with the provinces for an additional five-year phase.". The recommendation went on to say that arrangements should be made with private woodlot owners to encourage sounder forest management practices.

My question today to the minister is simply this, what is the very latest response that you have received from Ottawa on this extremely serious matter?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments by the member opposite in regard to that report. It was very encouraging to the case that we are presenting forward to the federal government at this point in time. Furthermore, as of yesterday, I sent off another letter to the federal minister, outlining points that have been made in the past about the importance of the agreement and so on and so forth.

In regard to what I have heard as of late, I have no more to report to the House, other than my report of a number of weeks ago, in regard to the fact that the federal minister and his Cabinet colleagues are reviewing the budgetary process. Until that budgetary process has been concluded, we have no determination as to whether or not they will be willing to sit down to negotiate another agreement or, in fact, if there would be any money available for any type of an agreement in the future.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it is the answer I expected and one I have been getting every time I have pursued this matter in this Legislature since October. The Forest Group Ventures Association, 18 organizations across this province, recently made the comment that domestic and national and global wood demand is increasing at an alarming rate. In fact, the western New York Times is having their newsprint trucked directly into Los Angeles, California from British Columbia, rather than shipping it by barge because there is such a demand.

I am wondering if the minister is aware of any new markets for pulpwood in Nova Scotia? Many pulpwood, private woodlot owners who are producing pulpwood are still having an extremely difficult time in selling and marketing their product?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. DOWNE: One thing, Mr. Speaker, I would want to make it very clear that there are a number of people who are shipping pulpwood out of the province in a whole log state. One of the concerns that I have as minister is that I would much prefer to see that opportunity create jobs right here. In other words, finding alternative uses for that fibre right here in Nova Scotia so that we could add value and create more jobs in the forestry sector.

We have endeavoured to contact companies that would be interested in such a product and, to date, we have not received any interest in that, other than the fact that our own pulp and paper companies are pursuing and looking for fibre, I understand, at an increasing rate because of the fact that the pulp and paper prices have increased and the volume in production will certainly not be slowing down.

In regard to other areas we are pursuing, and that is in the area of hardwood supplies, so that we can create more jobs here in Nova Scotia, but in regard to the pulp prices, I might add, to the members in the House, I have been informed that Stora has just increased the pulp price to their local contractor. Now local individual contractors, as well as private landowners, have an increased price for the pulpwood that they are now selling to Stora.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I direct this question to the Premier. The Premier's New Brunswick counterpart has written the federal minister on a number of occasions, stressing the need for such a forestry agreement as we are speaking of. He is asking for an agreement between his province and the federal government.

My question is, how many times has the Premier discussed this issue with the Prime Minister and what has been his response and will you, Mr. Premier, be providing . . .

MR. SPEAKER: That is three questions.

MR. TAYLOR: Well, this question is, I guess, the most important, as far as I am concerned. Mr. Premier, will you be discussing, perhaps, this issue and giving the Prime Minister a gentle reminder this Friday, while he is in Halifax to visit potential G-7 sites. I know you have stated that you will not be bringing up budgetary issues, but don't you think that with the prospect of possibly thousands of Nova Scotians being out of work after April 1st, that it is a very real possibility, or shortly thereafter, that you should mention it?

THE PREMIER: This is like Twenty Questions, Mr. Speaker. Despite the phrasing of the question, let me take the issue seriously. I have taken this issue seriously in the last year. I have spoken to virtually two, three, four. I have spent a lot of time on this issue with all the Cabinet Ministers that we have met and I have discussed it with the Prime Minister.

This issue is being judged in the context of a whole series of cuts that the federal government is going to make in order to reach its fiscal targets. We are looking at the issue. We have met with people in transportation. We have met with the minister. I have had meetings with the minister. I have met the Minister of Transportation. I have met with the Minister of Natural Resources on this. We will do what is absolutely necessary to make sure, but I do not place any great significance in writing three letters. I think the issue is much more a personal contact with ministers and, particularly, those ministers who are important in the decisions that impact upon Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.


MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to my colleague, the Minister responsible for the Economic Renewal Agency. Yesterday, the minister confirmed to the House that his province will be providing some operating funding to the Willie Moore group, with respect to the Bluenose II operations. Further, he has confirmed that the Bluenose II has the blessing of the minister to be part of the pirate fantasy proposed by ITT Sheraton. I note from their Prospectus theme, that pirate ships have just landed with a large captured cargo.

Specifically, what limitations have been placed on the Willie Moore group, respecting the way in which Bluenose II can be used?

HON. ROSS BRAGG: Mr. Speaker, the relationship of the Bluenose Preservation Trust in managing the Bluenose II on an interim basis, once they repair her and she is put back in the water, is such that she will be doing some sailings at the request of the Province of Nova Scotia. The Province of Nova Scotia will have full authority to control what the vessel is used for and what type of events.

I would suggest that the discussion of ITT Sheraton using the vessel was hypothetical. I think it was probably the media having a dull day yesterday. There has been no discussion with them to use the vessel for anything. I think it is a case that the Opposition are trying to invent something. We will make sure that the vessel is used for the right purposes and that what is done is tasteful and is in the best interest, as I said yesterday, of the vessel and of the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. LEEFE: Again to the minister, Mr. Speaker, has the Willie Moore group provided the department with a proposed list of activities respecting the 1994 operational season?

MR. BRAGG: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest first that the question is backwards. The province will provide the Willie Moore group with an operating schedule for the vessel. They, as volunteers, have agreed to do this. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: I ask for order, please.

MR. BRAGG: The province will decide what and when the vessel is used for what purposes. We will ensure that it is used for things that are in the best interest of promoting the Province of Nova Scotia, the people of Nova Scotia, the business community of Nova Scotia and fund raising for the new Bluenose that we will build.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, on November 3rd, a little over two months ago now, in Hansard, the minister in response to a question from me said, and I quote, "I undertook yesterday . . .", that would be November 2nd, ". . . in this House to get the honourable members opposite information on the terms of agreement between us and the Preservation Trust and I will do so.". Two months have now passed and I ask the minister, why has he not yet tabled the appropriate documentation in the House?

MR. BRAGG: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is quite right. We have not returned that information, but I think within a day of the member asking that question we received a House Order asking for that information and other additional information. Now, I stand to be corrected, but I believe that is what happened. We will, in fact, return that information in the House Order very shortly, detailing all that information.

Mr. Speaker, let me just add this about the question of who is going to manage the Bluenose II. We will ensure that the Bluenose II is used for the very best of purposes and I will assure the members opposite that no matter what we do with the Bluenose II, it will be better run under our administration than it ever was under the former government's administration. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Health. Today, the Minister of Health tabled a document entitled, Home Care Nova Scotia, A Plan For Implementation, a misnomer if there ever was one. I have been trying to get a copy of that report ever since Jim Meek, on December 16th in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, described it as lacking the merest hint of reality, no timetable for implementation, no cost figures, no suggestion the job will get done before the century is up.

However, Mr. Speaker, I was told again yesterday that this plan was not going to be made available publicly. My question to the minister is, when did he decide to release this report publicly and what was his purpose in doing so?

MR. SPEAKER: I detected two questions there, by the way, not one.

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, this report is a compendium of the planning that has gone on for the last six months in the department by the staff of the Home Care Program and it was circulated to the home care people providing care throughout the province in order to be altered, changed, suggestions were taken. We are still in the process and that is why this was not officially placed before the public. We continue to do that and we are, in fact, as the honourable member opposite should know, beginning to implement as we speak and, in fact, before this, elements and projects that are described in this in order to make proper adjustments to the program as we go along.

MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, just this week I have had several rude reminders of the virtual non-existence of any system of comprehensive, integrated home care in this province for the vast majority of sick and elderly who require it, as I have gone about making home care arrangements for my mother after her discharge from the VG Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, in this building yesterday, in the Uniacke Room, administrators and board chairs of homes for special care were told by senior officials that this report was not being made available because it was not an implementation document, that it was a vision statement completely lacking in operational details and that its release would only further frustrate people who have heard enough empty words on the subject of home care.

Now, Mr. Speaker, having now read that document - it took me only a few minutes to do so - I have to agree that it is vague, that it is vacuous and platitudinous and guaranteed to frustrate Nova Scotians who are looking for their long-promised implementation plan.

My question to the minister is what is the status of this so-called implementation report and where does the minister intend to go with it from here?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, let me perhaps expand a little on the answer I gave previously. This is a document which outlines the planning process and our vision of implementation of home care throughout the province. The honourable member opposite persists in the delusion that, suddenly, out of the Heavens, a new Home Care Program - which, by the way, she has never defined - can descend from Heaven with a shout. This is not the case; this will never be the case.

The fact is that we have a Home Care Program in this province. It is not comprehensive; it is not inclusive; it is not universal; and there is not a system. She herself says this. We have attempted, in every way, to plan for the change in this program. We have, for example, maintained the current level of service, and we have adjusted the waiting lists. That has been our priority. We have sought to state publicly that our first priority will be a single entry point. We have then gone on to plan specific target programs for those communities in which there is downsizing or a change in hospital roles.

We have implemented, this month and last month, continuing changes in projects we can evaluate. I would ask her to consider those as implementation.

MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, we don't have a comprehensive, integrated, Home Care Program. It is also not true that we are starting from scratch in this province. There are a lot of people out there struggling to keep a home care system going in the absence of any kind of framework and implementation details from this government.

My final question to the minister is simply this, will he outline specifically what process of consultation is intended to surround this so-called implementation plan and what is his target date for introduction of a comprehensive, integrated home care system in this province?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, again, out of a sense of trying to be as patient as possible with repetitive misinterpretation of what we are doing, you cannot give a date for the implementation of this Home Care Program. This Home Care Program that we are planning and that we have already begun to implement has to be done in stages in order that we not upset and in order that we not disfigure the current system that is in place and affect the very lives of those people who are depending on it.

We have already stated we have targeted communities in which there are changes. We have reduced and eliminated waiting lists in most communities. We have, in fact, improved on the current system of the comprehensive Home Care Program that we have in place. We have projects in Annapolis and Pictou and those areas in which there are changes to their hospital and in-patient facilities. We are going to do this over the next 12 to 24 months. I have said that in this place. I have said that repeatedly and we will continue and get on with the job of implementation while the honourable member opposite perhaps seeks some kind of magical formula, of which there are none.

[3:45 p.m.]

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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs. (Interruptions) Well, I had better not mention the mastodon but the honourable (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister can tell us this afternoon how much provincial infrastructure money has been allocated to date across Nova Scotia for the various projects that will be cost-shared by the provincial, federal and municipal governments?

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I believe at this time the allocation has been close to the $200 million mark.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you. I want to make one thing abundantly clear, I am very cognizant of the fact that governments today can simply not spend as freely as perhaps they would like. I guess I say that with reference, no matter what Party is in power. However, it is important that the needs of the taxpayers are addressed. The Premier of this Province, while he was Mayor of Dartmouth, despite numerous requests and studies, did not address the issue of better locations for Dartmouth's fire stations. There is still concern this day, in certain quarters of the Dartmouth Fire Department, about adequate response.

In Sydney concern is now being expressed by city firefighters over 22 deficiencies which exist, many relating to fire safety and the 25 year old Whitney Pier fire station. Now, Mr. Speaker, obviously this is not a good situation. Can the minister advise residents of Sydney and, more specifically, Whitney Pier, as to whether there is any infrastructure money available at all to start the construction of a new fire station at Whitney Pier or have you essentially settled on your budget for the next fiscal year?

MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to address the concerns he mentioned about the Dartmouth area first because he mentioned that initially in his question. I can say quite clearly that there was an initial request from the City of Dartmouth for $3.2 million to go into construction of four to five new fire stations. Through work with the Premier and the Minister of Community Services and the MP for the area, we were able to address those concerns with a $450,000 cost, compared to $3.2 million, in allowing a lighting system to come in so that the firefighters were able to get to the fire at an increased response time, based on that amount of money. So I wanted to address that aspect first, which is a great improvement of us working together with the municipalities, to go from a $3.2 million expenditure to only $450,000, to accomplish basically the same thing.

In regard to his question about the Whitney Pier area, I would have to look back and see if, in fact, that area had put in a request for a fire station in that area to be part of the infrastructure, whether it had been a request that came in from the municipalities. I would certainly have to go back and look at the overall number, the number of requests we got far exceeded the amount of money we had available.

I can tell the honourable member, in case he is not aware, that there is a total of about $16 million times 3, $48 million that was available to be expended under the Canada Infrastructure Project in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality area.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to know from the Minister of Municipal Affairs what discussion took place or is taking place in regard to depleted or dilapidated municipally owned buildings, prior to the eight municipal units becoming the super Cape Breton Regional Municipality. I will again use the example of the fire station at Whitney Pier. Does the minister foresee anything being done or will this be left entirely in the hands of the new Cape Breton municipality?

MS. JOLLY: Well, Mr. Speaker, yes, one of my colleagues suggests that if there is money left in that honourable member's area maybe he would like to transfer that money up to those individuals and help them out, if it is such a priority for him. That is a very generous offer by the honourable member. (Interruption)

I would just like to clarify for the honourable member as I have on a number of occasions. What the government has done, it has appointed a coordinator, Mr. Charles Campbell, who is dealing with the eight municipalities there, in developing the new Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Certainly, Mr. Campbell has done an excellent job and has had great response and cooperation from the eight municipalities. He has appointed, in conjunction with a selection committee, the new CAO for that area and a number of other individuals and all of those questions are being dealt with on a local basis with the coordinator and the various individuals who have been appointed to deal with the new Cape Breton Regional Municipality. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, knowing how concerned and how competent that the people in Cape Breton are, that they have had discussions already and if they have not, they certainly will in the near future, where this is only just recently, I believe, come to light in the last couple of days.

MR. SPEAKER: A new question, the honourable member for Kings West.


MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. There was an article I read today on the danger of second-hand smoke for children and I think there is a lot of concern about the damage that second-hand smoke can do to anybody, but especially children.

I would like to know, as would Dr. G. Stratton of Truro, is the Minister of Health or the government, planning to introduce any legislation this year that will ban smoking in public places?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate very much the honourable gentleman's question in terms of environmental tobacco smoke and clean, indoor air. Specifically, we are at the moment working with the federal government on an educational program for the public in terms of the dangers of environmental tobacco smoke. In addition to that, we will be initiating our own program within the province, as well as some public consultation in view of the importance of this issue and we hope by this year to have legislation prepared.

MR. MOODY: Well, I thank the minister for his indication that we are going to see legislation this year sometime, hopefully, to deal with environmental smoke.

I would ask the minister, this legislation is dealing with public places, is it all public places or will there be designated public places?

DR. STEWART: The approach to this problem, this public health problem is under discussion. We are looking at other jurisdictions, particularly the New York scenario, as of this month, have had rather rigorous laws in place now. The California experience is helpful, too, as well as the Ontario one. We are studying that and we will be in a better position to answer that after some public consultation.

MR. MOODY: I did not know I had a final supplementary, but I do. I thank the minister and I am pleased in all, that the minister is looking at other experiences of other legislation. I would ask the minister in the legislation that he will probably be looking at, would he be specifically looking at public places that might be frequented by young children or children at any given time, would that be consideration given to the kind of legislation that we may see in this province when it comes forward?

DR. STEWART: Certainly, the protection of both children and adults would be, of course, our goal. Children being more suspectable probably, particularly, those with respiratory illness, we would give, I am sure, special consideration to.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.


MR. RONALD RUSSELL: My question is for the Minister of Finance in his capacity as minister responsible for the Liquor Commission. Would the Minister of Finance confirm that the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission operates under the restrictions of the Affirmative Action Program very similarly to the way the Civil Service in the provincial side of the House does?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I must say to the honourable member that I have not followed very closely the hiring practices of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission since I have assumed the responsibility for that role, perhaps not nearly as closely as the former government followed the hiring practices of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. As far as I know, they do subscribe to affirmative action.

MR. RUSSELL: Would the Minister of Finance agree that, in effect, what affirmative action hiring means is that where a number of people are applying for a position, and there may be two or three persons with equivalent qualifications, that where one of them would be classified as an affirmative action applicant, that the person who is the affirmative action applicant would get the job. Would the minister confirm if that is his opinion?

MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I believe that that is a fair, perhaps somewhat incomplete, statement of the principle. But certainly, where possible, if qualifications are present, then affirmative action would suggest that a candidate who was from a visible minority would receive the employment.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I have heard that down in the Annapolis Valley, in the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission stores, and one of them being Berwick, that when a white male goes into a liquor store and asks for an application for a position with the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, they are being told that unless they are female or an aboriginal, they should not apply because the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission is no longer hiring white males. Would he confirm if that is so?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, I have never gone into the liquor store in Berwick and asked for an application, so I don't know precisely what they are telling people at that store. I certainly would suggest that that is not correct information; that anyone who is interested in receiving an application for employment with the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission should be given that application and should be permitted to apply.

Now the reality is, over a long history of hiring in the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, as with the Government of Nova Scotia, we have not hired visible minorities even in the percentage which they represent in the population, so there is some catch up to do, there is no question about that.

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


MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question, through you, sir, to the Minister of Transportation, to try to get some information, if I could. One of the things we are reading about and also getting correspondence about, and hearing about, as a result of the service exchange that takes place April 1st, is the concern of a lot of municipalities regarding the takeover of the roads that are going to become their responsibility. Certainly in a number of municipalities, the number of roads that they will be required to assume is relatively short in terms of kilometres, yet they might be required to set up their own maintenance department to care for those roads.

My question to the minister, quite simply, is the minister prepared to commit that his department will continue to maintain those roads that municipalities are going to be required to take over responsibility for, if the municipalities request it and, if so, at what cost per kilometre?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, we have been dealing with the municipalities for some time. We have indicated to them the one option which is not available is that if they, in fact, own a road the Department of Transportation would continue to provide the maintenance service of it. There are many reasons for that, which make that relationship not an acceptable one. But we have given them roads. We have indicated to them, as I have indicated in this House during debate on the bill - it isn't as if we haven't discussed this enough - that we are flexible. We want to hear from them, we want to hear their suggestions, their options, their concerns and then we will sit down and talk to them.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am puzzled by that, in part, because once the Department of Transportation transfers those roads to the municipalities - whether it is 10 kilometres, I think in the case of Digby, in the letter that was written to the member for Digby-Annapolis, I think it was 10.5 kilometres; in the case of Halifax County, it is certainly going to be many hundreds of kilometres, potentially - they are going to then own them. Certainly in many of the municipalities that are just simply going to assume a small area or small distance in terms of roads it will be extremely expensive for them to set up a whole new infrastructure, a whole new department to deal with that when the department already has the staff and the experience. My question to the minister is quite simply, why is his department refusing to maintain those roads if the municipalities requested and to bill them according to what is a reasonable cost or even the actual cost?

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, it is not hard to figure out why not, just suppose for a moment that we had a very harsh winter. We identify the cost per kilometre for the service exchange and we were going to bill a municipality, let's say the number that has been suggested is $3,500 a kilometre. Let's say that the snow removal service alone costs more than $3,500 a kilometre in a very harsh winter. Would we then go back to the municipal unit and try to recover additional monies from them to cover the cost of the snow removal? If that was the case, what would we do, go back and look for more money from them depending on how much maintenance work they wanted to do on a particular road?

Some of the local roads that have been listed for the exchange of services are paved roads, short paved sections of J-class or other class roads which are classed as local roads. The cost of maintaining a short paved section of road may be $2,000 for snow removal. If you have a short piece of unpaved road sitting right next door to that and the municipal unit decides they are going to grade it, gravel it, ditch it and pave it then the cost is significantly higher.

I listened to the municipal councillors and this is very interesting, throw these numbers around. Members of the Opposition have said that $3,500 to maintain a kilometre of local road is unrealistic, that the cost will be much higher. I would say to them then, if I maintain ownership of the road, which as Minister of Transportation I have the authority to do, will they then in that case say the cost of maintenance is much higher and agree to pay a higher cost?

MR. HOLM: We just heard the long answer and the short answer is that the minister in this government is going to require municipalities, whether they are going to have to take 10 kilometres or 15 kilometres or whatever the case may be, force them to set up their own maintenance department, supposedly in the name of service exchange which was intended to rationalize, it is going to mean that this province is prepared to force municipalities to assume a much greater cost than would be reasonable.

My last question to the minister is quite simply this, the Minister of Municipal Affairs has also announced that amalgamation is going to be taking place in the metropolitan area, including Halifax County, within approximately a year. Halifax County is therefore going to be amalgamated with the cities and the Town of Bedford. Is the Minister of Transportation prepared to continue to provide the services to Halifax County that this department still does so that they don't have to set up a whole new department before his colleague forces him into the amalgamation with the two cities and the Town of Bedford, will he provide that for that period of a year?

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, this is a point, I guess I have been trying to make for a number of years. The one amazing thing about the New Democratic Party when they get an idea in their head that that is it, it's fact. He has not been listening. He stands in this House and he goes on at great length in debate on legislation. He pretends that that's quality debate, gives, puts and takes that we listen to one another to improve. I have said in debate on the municipal bill that we would be extremely flexible with the municipalities.

Now, he has said today a couple of minutes ago that that is it. Digby has five or six kilometres of road, that is it, they have to set up their own maintenance. I never said that. We said we would sit down with Digby, we have met, our people have communicated to them as recently as Monday, asked them again - give us your concerns. Every municipal unit in the province, we have made it clear to the municipal units in the province that as of April 1st, that is not a magic date that we are going to stop maintaining the roads in Nova Scotia. We are going to maintain them throughout the entire year. If the Municipality of the County of Halifax wants us to consider maintaining the roads for another year they should come and ask us. That is what we have been asking them to do. He says that things have all been decided and we have been asking the municipal units to come back to us, talk to us, negotiate and we will be very flexible.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.


MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation. I have been listening over the period of debate to what the Minister of Transportation has been saying. What I believe he is saying, and I want him to clarify it, I think is very fair. What he is saying to the municipalities around the province, and we all know the municipalities are going to have difficulty getting geared up by April 1st to service or look after roads, and I think the minister acknowledges that.

If what I am hearing the minister say, and I believe I have been listening, is that municipalities, and I can understand why he does not want them to have ownership and then tell him what to do to the roads, I perfectly understand that. If what I am hearing the minister saying, I think is very reasonable and like Kings County, if they came to the minister and said, give us a year to get geared up to handle these roads, can we, say, turn the money over to the Department of Municipal Affairs, the province still owns the roads, the province maintains the roads, we are revenue neutral.

Is that kind of proposition within the realm of what I think the minister is trying to do, which is to reasonably approach this issue that is all of a sudden upon us?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I truly believe that member has been listening (Applause) and probably has spent a lot less time on his feet talking and has probably spent more in his seat listening and that is probably why he has got it right.

Mr. Speaker, the whole idea behind service exchange is to reflect, I believe, the financial responsibilities that municipalities should have versus the province and, also, in long term, provide a good and better service to the people of Nova Scotia. That is my intent as the Minister of Transportation, in dealing with this issue, and, clearly, we would sit down with the Municipality of the County of Kings and if that is what works best for them, we would certainly be willing to entertain that, yes.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for the answer. I would ask the minister then, and I believe that that is a reasonable approach to a difficult issue facing municipalities and I commend the minister for taking that position.

I guess I would ask the minister, is somebody from his department going to communicate to the various municipalities, because I think that even though we understand in here, there may be some municipalities that do not have the message that through his department, the department has that kind of flexibility to deal with an issue that is almost a crisis on April 1st, to some municipalities.

The minister has taken a reasonable approach. Is that being communicated to various municipalities and if so, how? I commend the minister for taking that approach.

MR. MANN: I would repeat again, April 1st is not going to create any crises because we are going to continue to provide service. The winter season officially ends in the Department of Transportation, as the honourable member would know, at the end of March. However, if we have storms at the first or the middle or the end of April, we continue to provide service and we will continue to do that.

There are some municipalities in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, that for a long time have been asking for more control over their areas. So we have not gone out and dictated this to any municipality one way or the other. That is why we want them to come to us. We want them to come back to us. We have communicated this to them again as recently as Monday, asking them to respond to the lists they got of what the local roads were and to come back with their suggestions, concerns, ideas and we would be reasonable in dealing with it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. Back in November 1993, the minister commissioned a study of student transportation services. In it, the deputy minister, along with the executive director and the CEO of the community college system and the Shelburne Campus principal and two Education Department civil servants offered their priority list for changes to pupil transportation to and from community colleges.

In it, the number one recommendation was to retain only those routes where the cost per student and service utilization meets the established criteria; that is, routes where use is 50 per cent or over of the capacity of the bus and the cost per student is $1,600 or less. But the minister chose option number four, no transportation for students of our community colleges.

I wonder if he could explain why he ignored the advice of that commissioned report?

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the honourable member, we are well into our first year in which we have acted on that decision and we have had very little complaint within our department. The students are getting there to their classes and the choice that was made, and I answered that question in the House, the decision was made that the money that was required - and it goes back to the earlier question that he had as we resurrect our community college system from the throes they left it in - we are taking the $2.6 million and applying it to programming for our students.

It was acknowledged by both the Department of Education and, if I might, the government that in fact it is our business to provide programming for adult students and not to bus them to the campuses. Because side by side we had campuses that we bused them to and others we did not. So we chose to treat all people equally and that is in fact what we chose to do.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired.

MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The first question that the Leader of the Opposition asked the Minister of Municipal Affairs was on a particular individual and the only way the honourable member would know that was through names that are being considered for next week's Human Resources meeting. I believe the honourable member has asked his questions four Question Periods too soon.

They are quick enough to condemn when names are released before they have gone through Human Resources. I really feel the member should not have been discussing the gentleman's name before they have gone through Human Resources to be considered. I would like to make a point of order that I feel this was out of order. (Interruption) I am not discussing the names, I am discussing the fact that he is discussing it before it has gone through Human Resources.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, it is difficult for me to issue a formal ruling on this point. Perhaps, I should take it under consideration. I know that at the opening day, when the House opens, His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor grants the members of the House freedom of speech in their debates and that is the broadest principle of all to which any reference has to be made in interpreting the Rules of the House.

At the same time, we have such specific rules in Beauchesne as that a question must adhere to the proprieties of the House. Those proprieties do certainly include certain usages and customs and observances that perhaps may not be something you can quote from a Rule Book, but are matters of judgment and of good taste. I would certainly admonish all honourable members. I will hear the honourable Minister of Transportation in a moment. We should be careful in these matters.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Communications.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Perhaps the reason this was raised, Mr. Speaker, is that earlier on, I guess, in keeping with some agreements made at that committee, and it is a standing committee of the House to which some of the Rules of the House, I believe, would apply, I believe the honourable member opposite was quick to criticize the honourable Minister of Education when some names for the Glace Bay Hospital Board were released. He said it was abusing the privileges of the committee, I believe, disregarding the committee. So perhaps that was why it was raised today.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I will undertake to reflect on these matters. It is difficult sometimes to lay down clear and hard rules. There are general principles that do apply and we do have committees to deal with personnel matters. Finally, of course, we do have the specific rule that nothing said in here should be casting aspersions on persons within the House or without the House. So all of those principles should be borne in mind.

I have hesitated to rule questions out of order. Honourable members will be aware of that. But I think that we should all, perhaps, use discretion in raising names and specifics of individuals here in the House.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: On a small point of order, Mr. Speaker, with regard to that committee and the chairman of that committee last week and your reference to casting aspersions. Last week, in a newspaper article, I read a section where the Premier is very critical of the chairman of the committee for not putting forward better names that more reasonably reflected the quality of Nova Scotians (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: I feel that there is no point of order in that matter.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I rise to advise the House of an error that was made on the part of my department, which I accept responsibility for, in circulating application forms for the Winter Works Program. The applications were approved, but a number of years ago by the Human Rights Commission. I stated to my staff that I was interested in getting these jobs underway immediately and if they had applications on file in the department to use them. I did not want them to take any time in designing a new application. Well, that is my responsibility.

The application form that we sent out was out of date. Some of the language and questions contained in the application were inappropriate, and I accept that. The housing authorities as of now, because it was brought to my attention today before the House sat at 1:45 p.m. and then at 2:10 p.m., before the issue was raised in the House, have been instructed to discontinue using these forms. But I don't want any confusion on this, we have also been in contact with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and expressed our regrets with regard to that.

We are now in the process of processing and creating a new application form. The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has agreed to review it very quickly, so we can get on and have a more appropriate application so that the housing authorities can move forward.

We expect to have the new application form in circulation by tomorrow. In the meantime, the housing authorities - and I want to make this clear to all members - will still accept resumes and will take names from a number of interested applicants and we are not going to destroy those applications which we have already received. We will accept them because there are thousands of men and women out there who want to get to work immediately.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to convey my sincere apologies to this House and to the Human Rights Commission and to the people of Nova Scotia for this error but it was under my direction to get the applications out immediately because I wanted the people to start to work. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Well, the honourable minister has made his point. I take it that this is in response.

MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I think that was in the nature of a ministerial statement and an appropriate one.

MR. SPEAKER: It was raised as a point of order.

MS. MCDONOUGH: As the person who raised the concern here in the House, I would first of all like to congratulate the minister both on his speedy action in addressing this matter of concern but also, and perhaps even more importantly, in observing the time-honoured and very important principle of ministerial responsibility in accepting responsibility for the action and moving to speedily address what clearly could have been a very unacceptable continuation of this practice.

I want to say that the minister is to be congratulated for his action. He has rendered an appropriate apology and, as the person who raised it, I certainly fully accept that apology. I think what is all-important is exactly what the minister has stressed, that people are desperate for jobs, that the issue cannot be allowed in any way, shape or form to set aside legitimate applications that have been made. I think the minister's assurances are welcome and appropriate that all applications that have been received will be given full and fair consideration and equal consideration, whether they are on the rejected application forms that will no longer be used or on the newly devised forms. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: I trust that with those comments, the matter is closed.

We will now move on to the order of business, Opposition Members' Business.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 1414.

Res. No. 1414, re Cape Breton MLAs (Liberal): Econ. Dev. Opportunities - Concentrate - notice given Jan. 9/95 - (Mr. J. Leefe)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the therefore be it resolved section of Resolution No. 1414 which we are debating this afternoon reads as follows; "Therefore be it resolved that this House encourages the 10 Liberal MLAs in Cape Breton to do more than echo the government's hollow 30-60-90 public relations fiasco, and concentrate on competitive, community-based economic development opportunities to reduce unemployment in Cape Breton.".

The media in Cape Breton have become very frustrated, and they are referring to the 10 MLAs as the Silent 10. Mr. Speaker, why would the people in Cape Breton be so disappointed? Why are the people in Cape Breton so surprised that having elected 10, a full house of MLAs from one Party, that the situation in Cape Breton is worse now than it was a year ago. In fact, in all regions of Nova Scotia the unemployment rate is better now than it was a year ago. However, in Cape Breton, the unemployment rate has increased from year to year, from December 1993 to December 1994, the only area of the province where there has been an increase in the percentage rate of unemployment. This, to the people of Cape Breton, is unacceptable because they were promised jobs. What are they getting? They are getting silence from the 10 and it is not fair.

Since December 1993, according to the latest Department of Finance, Economic Policy and Analysis Division, they say in their recent report, "Since December 1993, all regions except Cape Breton showed improvements in their unemployment rates . . . In Cape Breton the labour force gains outpaced the employment gains causing the unemployment rate to rise.

Well, Mr. Speaker, when you have 10 fine looking gentlemen, as are represented by this campaign brochure that we have all seen and looked at from time to time, you would expect that the unemployment rate would be much better than it is. One of the platforms that this group ran on, and perhaps you would be more familiar than I, "Regional economic development funds should be used to develop and maintain transportation infrastructure.". Those are just hollow words. They didn't have the conviction that the voters thought they would. People are upset in Cape Breton with this government and with these MLAs because they were promised so much from these 10 fine gentlemen and they are receiving very little.

The slogan at the time was: "Working Together For Your Future". Well, Mr. Speaker, there are many Cape Bretoners who do not feel that this government is working for the future of the people who live there. I have many relatives that live in Cape Breton. I return to Cape Breton to visit my cousins and my aunts and uncles very often. So I do try to keep informed on what is happening in the local area because I do not think that there is a place in Canada that has the potential and has the people. There is not anywhere in Canada that can claim a better place to live, to work or to holiday than Cape Breton Island.

You know, if I can review for you a few suggestions from the media in Cape Breton, Our views, from May 26, 1993, "Cape Breton will be well situated in the new government. We suggest: This Island caucus must show results. If I can quote, "Once again Cape Breton finds itself firmly installed on the government side of the Legislature.". Referring to the MLAs, "They have been elected to do one thing: create jobs. That is also the commitment of premier- elect, John Savage, and it will be up to the Cape Breton caucus to hold him to it.".

Well, Mr. Speaker, I ask the question that all Cape Bretoners are asking today, why is this Cape Breton caucus not holding the Premier to his election promises? Why are the members of this government not living up to the promises and the commitments they made? Their campaign literature would have made everyone on Cape Breton Island believe that they had a plan, that they knew what they were doing and they knew how they were going to get there. It says, "We Have Brains. We Have Resources. Where are the jobs?" That is the question they asked during the campaign and of course, they answered, "Liberals have the leader, the vision and the team ready to put Nova Scotia back to work.". Well, to me, my Nova Scotia includes Cape Breton but why has Cape Breton become abandoned when it is represented 100 per cent by government members? Where are the jobs? That is what the government was asking in 1993, straight talk, and positive action they promised. The people in Cape Breton are disappointed and rightly so, because they are not getting straight talk and they are not getting positive action.

"Promises, promises:" talked about during the campaign. The Liberals stood for great, ". . . jobs through a plan for stimulating growth in small and medium-sized business;". More words, when the people wanted action. "an economic forum to assess the province's economic strategy to be held within 30 days of taking office; release the plan . . . within 60 days . . . a budget . . . within 90 days.". Well, we had 30-60-90 and people haven't stopped laughing yet, because it was a mere smokescreen that was just words. People that took part and people that went to the conference saying, by golly, we have a new broom and the province has been swept clean.

We are going to start afresh with new ideas and we are going to have input. Well, they had input, they saw themselves in the videos, they saw themselves on TV, the only person that really did all right on the 30-60-90 was the guy that ran the print shop that printed all the brochures and I guess the lady from Toronto didn't do too badly either, who was a facilitator. But, the people that took part at 30-60-90 haven't gotten over their disappointment yet, because you can't fool the people and when the people realized that it was merely a smokescreen and it was political rhetoric and it was one of these feel-good sessions, they had became incensed.

What else did they say? They said during the campaign and I assume all members from Cape Breton agreed, that they would focus on, ". . . job and revenue creation rather than cost reductions. Well, you know, that is something that we could all support but rather than . . . job reductions;". They have assuredly looked at creation of revenue through raising taxes, and aggressive cost reductions by laying off people within the government, rolling back their wages. If you look at the cost increases in Nova Scotia in taxes in the last year, it is over $100 million, in increased revenue through increased taxes. That follows the adage that the Liberals believe in, give the money to the government because the government knows how to spend it better than the individual.

Well, a lot of us don't believe that, Mr. Speaker but they have raised over a $100 million in tax increases and they said that wasn't what they were going to do, but they did it anyway. The Cape Bretoners are angry because they elected 10 Liberals and they expected results. They were going to have low interest loans and loan guarantees and bridge financing, they dreamed of everything, they pushed every button that any Nova Scotian or any Cape Bretoner might think of, but they really didn't mean it. I mean, they talked about open tendering, government in the areas of pay equity, minority employment opportunities, they knew what to do before they got elected but now suddenly they seem to have forgotten.

They have forgotten their roots and they have forgotten who sent them here. They even said that they were going to restore VIA passenger rail service to Cape Breton Island. Was there a promise that this crowd did not make? True grit.

[4:30 p.m.]

I want to quote from our Minister of Finance shortly after the election campaign when he was victorious, "I expected us to be successful but I was surprised at the extent of the support Cape Breton gave the Liberals,". Well, I was surprised, too. I do not know how they fooled so many Cape Bretoners because Cape Bretoners are smarter than that. What the Minister of Finance said was more telling than anything else. Referring to the tremendous victory of Liberals in Cape Breton and the Minister of Finance said, "This puts a tremendous responsibility on all of us to deliver employment to this region.". Mr. Speaker, did the minster forget those words? Is he so wrapped up in the casinos and tax increases that he forgot?

Let us look at today what the folks in Cape Breton are saying. "The Cape Breton office of Nova Scotia's Consumer and Housing Department has been flooded with applications . . .", for jobs. There are 30 part-time jobs offered and they are being flooded with requests for those jobs. Mr. Savage even indicated they are going to move government jobs to Cape Breton and now he is indicating that will not happen.

The Silent 10 from Cape Breton cannot remain silent any longer. We hear rumours of 700 to 900 jobs created by the Minister of Education next summer. All MLAs and all people in Cape Breton want to know about these 900 jobs he is talking about for next summer. Where are they, in his riding? Is he going to share them with all ridings in Cape Breton? Just what kind of jobs are they? Well-known Liberals in Cape Breton are criticizing, even the president of the Cape Breton Nova Liberal Association has called the Liberals to create jobs.

Mr. Speaker, you are telling me my time is up. I am disappointed, I have much more that I would like to cover in this talk because truly, the Silent 10 are not living up to the promise of job creation in Cape Breton and it is a national shame.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre on an introduction.

MR. RUSSELL MACNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and through you to the members of the House a visitor in the gallery who has been very interested in politics for a long time, the former Mayor of Dominion, Mr. Bob McVeigh. We welcome him here and I would ask everyone to give him a warm welcome. (Applaud)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and enter the debate on Resolution No. 1414, introduced by the member for Kings North. At the outset I want to tell the member for Kings North that I will say hello to all his relatives in Cape Breton. I am sure that most of them, if not all of them, must be Liberals because there were not too many Tories down there in the last election.

They talk about unemployment in Cape Breton and you would have to be, I suppose, a fool not to realize that we have an unemployment problem in Cape Breton. We do have an unemployment problem in Cape Breton and I am going to tell you why we have an unemployment problem in Cape Breton. Fifteen years of neglect of the economy of Cape Breton Island by the previous Cameron Government and the Buchanan Government before that, that is why.

We have a saying down in Cape Breton, it is called Tory times are tough times and it was never more appropriate than in the last 15 years that we had to suffer through, 15 years of Tory tough times. I can tell you if Cape Bretoners were not so resilient, I do not know if we would have made it, but we did. Finally, we are on the upswing on that Island right now.

The Tories wasted millions on Cape Breton Island on what I call political power plays, trying to buy votes with no real interest in improving the economic situation and no real long-term benefits for people on Cape Breton Island; failed attempts at trying to gain political support. We had 15 years of this and the end result, this Government of John Savage and the 10 Liberals in Cape Breton were left with close to an $8 billion debt in a province with less than 1 million people. That is not only sad, members, that is atrocious, in this day and age, close to an $8 billion debt, not to mention the $500 million in unfunded liability from the Workers' Compensation Board that we have to deal with. That was another one of the grand schemes of the Tory Government. What do we have to do? We have to pick up the pieces. We need to get our financial house in order, and to provide employment for the people of Nova Scotia, and in particular the people in Cape Breton.

Economic development has been stymied for the past 15 years, probably due to the lack of Tory electoral success in the past number of years in Cape Breton. One lone Tory soldiered on down there in the past four or five years and the rest of us couldn't get a dime; he took it all to his riding, the rest of us couldn't get a dime - what little he was able to get and I commend him for the little he was able to get - the rest of us couldn't get anything in the last few years down there.

I want to remind the member that deficit reduction and job creation is a tough balancing act, but this government is prepared to tackle that. The Cape Breton economy is indeed fragile, but we are working to improve the situation. We need cooperation and we are getting it with the municipalities and the federal government, finally getting it with the federal government, to put some programs into place and they are working. Community economic development associations are working in industrial Cape Breton.

I want to make a statement about Sydney Steel. Sydney Steel, for the first time since 1980, will be hiring new people. (Applause) When everybody is recalled at Sydney Steel, they will actually be hiring new people in 1995, the first time since 1980.

The Winter Works Program that the NDP were maligning yesterday, 40 federal jobs to people in the Sydney area, started this week in cooperation with the federal government. The Nova Scotia Works Program, over 400 jobs coming to the Cape Breton area, with the cooperation of the municipalities and, indeed, the Province of Nova Scotia and three provincial departments; Victoria Park, major construction due to get underway, which will provide many needed construction jobs in that area.

Mr. Speaker, we didn't create the problem in Cape Breton, but we are dealing with it, which is something the previous government didn't want to do. (Applause) And there are positive signs all over Cape Breton to that. The Ingonish area, positive signs for the future with the development of tourism in that particular area. The Baddeck area, another, I think, success story with small business in making that particular area a tourist mecca in the future. I congratulate the members from those particular areas that I am talking about for ensuring that their people are getting their fair share.

Glace Bay, the new infrastructure program that is underway out there, with the help of the federal government, and the highway improvements that are taking place along Route 4, to better service the people who will come to Cape Breton. Indeed, the potential of Louisbourg and that potential is unlimited out there, and the government recognizes the cooperation that is taking place with the federal government on the completion of the Fleur-de-lis Trail.

AN HON. MEMBER: Liberal Government.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: The federal Liberal Government, yes. The Sydney Waterfront Development Corporation, private sector, is kicking in down there now and spending dollars because of a kick-start of this particular government last year to continue that particular program. Also, the same thing is happening in North Sydney.

Mr. Speaker, regardless of what the Opposition is saying about casinos, what is a fact is that ITT Sheraton will be spending $20 million in construction in Cape Breton this winter. I would ask the Official Opposition and the Third Party to ask the Island construction people what they think of that particular development, all with private dollars, there is not one government cent in that particular operation. (Applause)

The NDP, particularly the member for Halifax Atlantic talks about miserable jobs. As I recalled earlier in a resolution, how can you call help for a transition house and a home for the homeless with providing jobs this winter miserable jobs?

The NDP are continually crying, Mr. Speaker, crying and crying about Cape Breton. The former Leader, in 14 years, brought the Party from four seats to three seats in 14 years. The next Leader, or the present Leader, is going to bring them from three seats to no seats by the time the next election rolls around. (Applause)

That, Mr. Speaker, is the legacy the NDP are going to leave in this province, despite all their crying about Cape Breton Island. In short, they are the do-nothing Party and the go-nowhere Party who should be dismissed as such and Cape Bretoners, indeed, have dismissed them as such. They are not falling for that stuff any more.

As I speak, Mr. Speaker, in Cape Breton, the so-called miserable jobs are being put out to people in Cape Breton who desperately need them. They are applying for them and they are going to work. This week 40 started work and there are over 400 more to be put to work in the next few weeks in Cape Breton. (Applause)

I refer back to the Tory job creation strategy in Cape Breton.

AN HON. MEMBER: What was that?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Well, I will tell you something about that. In the dying days of the Cameron Government, their contribution to the job situation in Cape Breton was so bad that, under cover of darkness, they did away with the tolls at the causeway without even telling the workers. That was their job creation strategy for Cape Breton Island.

I want to go back to Sydney Steel for a moment. If we could have the days over again with some rational thinkers at the table, I think we would be light years ahead today with the operation of Sydney Steel. Instead of that, we sat by and watched political scheme after political scheme play itself on the hearts and minds of Cape Bretoners over the years with false hopes and false promises about a future at Sydney Steel. It was only this government that went back to the realism that something had to be done with Sydney Steel to ensure its future. This government, under the leadership of the Finance Minister and the Premier, have done that. As a member for Cape Breton, I applaud them for that initiative. (Applause)

The other points that I want to raise about Cape Breton is the fact that the people in that part of Nova Scotia are very resilient, all over industrial Cape Breton and in the rural areas, right through to Port Hawkesbury, they are optimistic. There are a lot of them looking for jobs, I will allow that. We are trying to address that matter once we get the financial house that we were left with, the terrible financial mess that we were left with under control and, at the same time, we hope that we can create some jobs while we are doing that.

I think we can achieve both, Mr. Speaker. The jobs have had to wait, I will allow that, as well, while we are trying to figure out the financial boondoggle that was left to us by the Cameron Government, almost to the point of being criminal, in a province of less than one million people, to saddle the people of this province with a $7 billion debt, absolutely disgraceful.

But Cape Bretoners are tough. They showed in the last election that they were not going to put up with those kinds of shenanigans any more, political power plays in Cape Breton and they turfed the one remaining Tory out.

AN HON. MEMBER: They don't have any seats?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: No, they don't have any seats in Cape Breton, not one, nor do the NDP. Of course, the NDP never have a hope of getting one down there or anywhere else. I could tell you, that if the Tories keep talking about their record in Cape Breton, they will never get a seat down there either. Because the one thing the people of Cape Breton will not forget, they will not forget the Tory legacy of the last 15 years, of the broken promises that they have made to the people of Cape Breton. They will not forget that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Aw c'mon Manning. Have they told you their plan yet?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: The member is wondering if we were told a plan. We know exactly what the plan is going to be. We are going to initiate a plan of economy recovery on Cape Breton Island. That is what we are going to do. I am telling you, Mr. Speaker, that this government is committed to reducing the unemployment on Cape Breton Island and, also, for making Cape Breton even a better place to live than it already is.

I can tell you that all the people on Cape Breton Island know that this government has a difficult agenda. The calls I am getting are calls of support, Mr. Speaker, support for our fiscal initiatives. (Applause) Support for the plan of reform that we have taken up in the past year and a half, reforms that this province has never seen before. We have had to do that because of the sorry legacy we were left by the previous government.

What I am getting calls about is the fact that there is a possibility that new jobs are coming to Cape Breton and they welcome that. Yes, they are asking where they can apply and we are telling them where they can apply. As we speak this week, we are engaged in discussions with various government departments in and around Sydney. We are putting people to work and we are going to continue doing that.

[4:45 p.m.]

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, we are not going to fool people with grand schemes that go nowhere, like the previous government did. What we are going to be is realistic and at the end of the day we are going to have a healthier economy on the Island of Cape Breton, starting with a much healthier Sydney Steel plant in Sydney, something the people have been looking for and hoping for for years and years and something that the previous government never bothered to address. All they did was look after their friends for years and years down there and did not pay any attention to the long-term economic benefits of the monies they were spending.

As I stated earlier, Mr. Speaker, . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Little has changed.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: The member from the Third Party says little has changed. You know it is a strange thing about the Third Party, better known as the Do Nothing Party, they never have to do anything.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Nothing Doing Party.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: The Nothing Doing Party; yes, they never have to do anything. All they do is cry and bemoan year in and year out and waste the time of the House with useless rhetoric. They never have to do anything. They stand on their feet and they talk about Cape Breton as if they know something about the area. They don't know anything about the area. The former Leader, I am suggesting to you, must be going to move down there, with all the preoccupation she has with Cape Breton Island these days. It would not make any difference, Cape Breton will continue to be a wasteland for the Third Party or the Do Nothing Party or whatever the House Leader wants to call it. (Interruption)

I would suggest that in Cape Breton they could hold their annual meeting in a telephone booth. But notwithstanding that fact, Mr. Speaker, it bothers me considerably that the Opposition can stand in this House and introduce a resolution on unemployment in Cape Breton when, in effect, they caused it. That is right; they are the ones that caused the unemployment in Cape Breton over the past 15 years. These figures did not happen yesterday. Check the Statistics Canada figures for the last five or six years, they were worse than they are now. When I was Mayor of Sydney and tried to have something done about it, it fell on deaf ears with that particular government.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Cape Breton have survived the debacle of the last 15 years and we look forward to the prosperity of the next 15 years. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview has the floor.

MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to enter this debate briefly, on a resolution introduced by the Official Opposition calling for the 10 Liberal MLAs representing constituencies in Cape Breton to basically concentrate on competitive community-based economic development opportunities to reduce unemployment in Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, it is awfully tempting to respond to a good many of the cheap shots directed by the member for Cape Breton South towards the New Democratic Party caucus. One would think he must be feeling a little bit threatened these days to be attacking us for our preoccupation with Cape Breton. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. MCDONOUGH: Well, Mr. Speaker, the member for Cape Breton South can be forgiven for the fact that he thinks the preoccupation with concerns about Cape Breton is something that I have newly developed in my retirement phase because I am thinking of moving back to my family's roots in Cape Breton.

But let me just say, Mr. Speaker, the reason why the member for Cape Breton South can be forgiven for thinking that this is some new interest is that he has not been here in the last 14 years, he has been here for less than two years. I want to say that I make no apologies, in fact I am proud of the fact that the New Democratic Party caucus in this House has never become exclusively preoccupied with what is in their own backyard and considered that what happens outside of the boundaries of their own immediate constituency is something about which they neither need to care nor concern themselves.

Mr. Speaker, I want to move to the substance of the debate at hand. I heard the member for Cape Breton South say this new government is not going to be all caught up in grand, new schemes, and yet, that is exactly what is causing a great deal of consternation, not just in Cape Breton but across this province today. This government is doing exactly what they said they would not do when they came to power. They said that the mindless, short-sighted, ill-conceived, mean-spirited economic development approach of the Cameron Government, of the previous Conservative Government was killing us economically in this province, was punishing people and was ruining our future. They said we are going to introduce a different set of policies from those policies that are in that right-wing agenda that Nova Scotians rejected so totally when they defeated the Cameron Government in the late spring of 1993.

Mr. Speaker, what were the new policies to be? Well, people awaited the first moves with considerable anticipation. I do not know whether I am absolutely correct in this so I do not want to make the mistake of saying, the very first major initiative, but I have to say that one of the earliest initiatives that I recall that was signalled by the Minister of Education, the member for Cape Breton East, was the most spectacular flip-flop that I think we will ever see from this government in relation to where it stood with respect to the privatization of the railway system in this province.

Mr. Speaker, this government having said, we reject the short-term privatization deregulation corporate dominated approach, immediately capitulated and ushered in the new private foreign owned RailTex operation, which means we no longer are part of a national rail network across this province and across this country. (Interruption)

Well, that is right and members are absolutely correct that the 50 per cent of Cape Bretoners working on the railways who have retained their jobs were indeed very pleased to do so. Why would they not be? But the 50 per cent who lost their jobs just do not really think that privatization strategy is all it is cracked up to be. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order please.

MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, let me deal further with the claim that this member for Cape Breton South has made. (Interruption)

HON. RICHARD MANN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Fifty per cent of the people did not lose their jobs. There were early retirements and there were some who went salary continuation. I wonder if the honourable member would tell us how many?

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order. That is a difference of opinion.

MS. MCDONOUGH: No, it is not just a difference of opinion . . . (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the House to observe the same respect that was held for the previous speaker.

MS. MCDONOUGH: Maybe on another day we can have a full debate about whether people opting for early retirement because of how desperate the situation has become, in fact, is the most positive development that people can hope for in this province today in the way of a jobs strategy. But that is a topic for another day, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption)

Let me say that for a government that is not interested in chasing elusive dreams and the big time glitzy projects, it is awfully hard to know how they would describe the decision to charge headlong into casino gambling in this province. Not casino gambling of the kind that has been introduced elsewhere about which there are enough problems, but casino gambling unprecedented in this country, both in terms of the involvement of a foreign multinational corporation as the agent of this government's policy, but also in terms of its exaggerated projection of revenues.

Mr. Speaker, the member for Cape Breton South can choose to talk about whatever he wants to talk about when he enters a debate on the Cape Breton economy and concerns about unemployment. But I notice that he conveniently failed to address two very important things. After we heard from the Premier earlier this afternoon and again from the member for Cape Breton South about the magnificent success of the Cape Breton jobs strategy that they have mounted in the last 18 months, no wonder they chose to ignore the reality which is quite different.

The labour force statistics show clearly that despite the magnificent success of this new Liberal Government's strategy for jobs in Cape Breton, the official unemployment level in industrial Cape Breton and Cape Breton Island has increased from 24.2 per cent to 25.4 per cent. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, the official unemployment level for all of Cape Breton is significantly higher than that. That must be a record to be mighty proud of if you are the Premier of this province or if you are the member for Cape Breton South, the former Mayor of Sydney, who wants to make sure people know how proud they are of this significant achievement in terms of unemployment levels.

Well, Mr. Speaker, the second statistic, understandably, that this member chose to ignore was the extremely alarming projections that this government has apparently embraced as reliable. Has decided are, indeed, desirable or else they would not have gone ahead with the casino gambling operation that is about to spring into existence, if they get their way, in the form of the ITT Sheraton operated casinos for the Halifax metro area and for industrial Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, nobody on the government benches, not the Minister of Finance, not the Minister of the Economic Development Agency and, certainly, not today, the member for Cape Breton South, has had the guts to address what it means that with the unemployment level (Interruption) - it is not anything parliamentary that goes on around here, that is for sure.

Mr. Speaker, they have not addressed the fact that their own projections would suggest, in fact are counting upon, revenues being generated by a casino in industrial Cape Breton with its high level of unemployment. With its very much lower level of per capita income and family income than a comparable area in British Columbia. Yet, their projection would have us believe, and apparently they support this, that 15.5 times the revenue will be generated by the casino in industrial Cape Breton than is actually being generated in a comparable casino operating on the same charitable model, similar in many respects, in Kelowna, B.C., a community with one-third the unemployment level, with much higher per capita income, with much higher family income.

Mr. Speaker, doesn't it scare any of the 10 members from Cape Breton to think that this is a government that has no problem at all with preying upon the amount of frustration and insecurity and despair and helplessness that people feel on Cape Breton Island? That they would actually believe they can suck out of their pockets, 15.5 times the revenue that was generated in a wealthier community, which has a lot more economic activity happening than what is happening in Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, it does not surprise me that they have chosen not to address that. In the few minutes that remain, I want to try, in a fair-minded way, to address some of the comments that the member for Cape Breton South did make. Because he, quite correctly, stood up and said that the important public investment in the infrastructure program has generated some jobs and some economic activity. He is absolutely right about that. He is also absolutely right when he says that the Nova Scotia Works Program is generating some jobs that are desperately needed in Cape Breton.

But, Mr. Speaker, will he acknowledge that this is something that his own Party and that this Liberal Government reviles and says is not the way to go. We are not going to have any more of this public investment stuff, in fact, we are so convinced that privatization is the way to go and if you can sell off Sydney Steel to a foreign multinational, so much the better. We are not going to concern ourselves any more with public investment because we think, gee whiz, that is not the way to go.

[5:00 p.m.]

Why doesn't this government tell the truth? That to the extent that there is any economic activity being generated in Cape Breton today, it is almost exclusively because they have, in fact, understood that public investment is not only acceptable but that it is absolutely necessary when the economy is in desperate straits, when people are desperate to have an opportunity to provide for their families and engage in some kind of productive activity and feel that they are making their contribution.

The member for Cape Breton South talked about the wonderful deal that has been struck with Minmetals. Let me say that it is total malarkey to talk about this as part of their new private-sector approach because let us not forget what Minmetals is. Minmetals, in fact, is a public corporation; it is a public mega corporation. The difference between it and Sydney Steel is that Sydney Steel is owned by the people of Nova Scotia and the Minmetals mega corporation is owned by the Government of China. So, let's forget the malarkey about it.

Is it not a tragedy that at the time that our steel markets are recovering, at the time that that new, modern steel mill is finally going into production, the state-of-art operation that it is, that the government has ignored the pleadings of the steelworkers, has ignored the pleadings of the people of Cape Breton Island, and just when it was capable of beginning to produce a return for the very, very major public investment that is made, that the benefits of that are now going to be enjoyed more offshore in another country by a multinational corporation? When all is said and done, the government has abandoned that community-based economic development approach that was promised, the antithesis of the direction that government policy has taken and the point of this debate is to plead with this government to come back to that promised approach and to get on with it because it is going to have more of a long-term return for Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West. You have 10 minutes.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I know I have 10 minutes and I appreciate that. I want to say a few words on this resolution. I have to admit that the member for Cape Breton South will probably be promoted to Cabinet after the session because on that speech alone to defend this resolution and the applause he got deserves a Cabinet position, I am sure.

AN HON. MEMBER: Or an Academy Award.

MR. MOODY: Probably an Academy Award would be more appropriate but we will say Cabinet.

One thing we know for sure, this government came to power - and I acknowledge providing jobs is not easy, I acknowledge we have a deficit - but is this the government that says we have a deficit when the Premier can go out and hire person after person and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries and then fire a bunch of deputies for $2 million plus and hire another bunch of people at $100,000 or so, is that deficit reduction? I don't think, and you know, I watched on the list of all the high-priced people the Premier is hiring and I didn't notice any from Cape Breton. They are not getting those $100,000 jobs and all the perks that go with them.

You know, one thing that happened after this election in 1993, the Liberals elected, as the member for Cape Breton South said, 10 MLAs. Well I am not sure if it is 10 or 9 now, I am not sure whether the one member for Cape Breton West is in or out. He is out of caucus but he is in the group; I am not sure where he fits. But, I will tell you one thing, Mr. Speaker, if he was still in caucus, maybe something more would be happening and I will tell you this, since 1993 this Liberal Government has the four most powerful Cabinet Ministers in this province located from the Cape Breton region. The four most prominent Cabinet positions, the most powerful Cabinet positions are from Cape Breton.

What would you expect to happen, Mr. Speaker? You would expect, not what is happening, you would not expect unemployment to rise, would you? No, because these people promised jobs. You would not expect more food banks to open, would you, Mr. Speaker? No, but that is what has happened since this government came to power. You would not expect more people on welfare, would you, Mr. Speaker, since this government came to power? With all that power in the Cabinet, wouldn't you expect jobs for those people?

You know what, Mr. Speaker, they are paying higher taxes since this government came to power. Is that a government that is looking after their people in Cape Breton? You know, I even read where Mike Moore, a prominent Liberal who was President of the Liberal Association, says there are up to 50 per cent in Whitney Pier looking for work and this government had better come across the Causeway.

Now, the member for Cape Breton South said that his phone is ringing off the hook with supporters about what this government is doing. Well, maybe the only job creation the member for Cape Breton South is doing is putting in more phone lines and taking all those calls. I have to tell you, I am not getting all those calls that the government is doing so wonderfully that you have to put in more phone lines to hear the good news coming from Cape Breton. I can't believe that.

You know, Mr. Speaker, this government talks about waste of money. I see it every day and the taxpayers of this province see this government wasting money every day. I see what is happening with the number of people the Premier has had to hire to protect him, just to protect him from a review that will never happen, because this government will see it will never happen. The more money they have to spend to protect him, the better off it is.

You know, Mr. Speaker, I can't understand, this Sydney Steel, that the honourable member for Cape Breton South says is the most wonderful thing since sliced bread. Well, the jury is still out on Sydney Steel, whether this is going to be such a great deal for Cape Breton and Nova Scotia. Only time will tell whether this deal will be the deal that saved Sydney Steel. There is no way of knowing.

I hope and pray that it works out. But for this government to say it is the greatest thing, it is the best deal, I would question that. I only hope and pray in this case, for those people that are unemployed up there, that they are right. We have people in Cape Breton lining up for the winter jobs in the Department of Housing, hundreds and hundreds of applications for 20-40 jobs. And do you know why, Mr. Speaker? Because a lot of those people can't find a job, can't find any job at all.

You know in 1993, this government now, in 1995, is still blaming somebody else for their problems. When in the world is this government going to start producing the 30-60-90 jobs they promised? In 1997 will this government say (Interruptions) we couldn't do anything in five years, it is somebody else's problem? Somebody else was the reason we could not do anything.

You know, Mr. Speaker, this government is not a new government any more. This government is already an old government. When you are past year one and you go into year two, you become an old government. This government has to start performing. They can't blame everything else on somebody else's policies.

I have been looking and watching with interest about this new idea on 30-60-90. The honourable member for Cape Breton South talked about some winter employment jobs, good jobs. That is not a new idea. It is a good policy. The other government followed it. It is not a new idea, it is an old idea, it is still being used. What I am waiting for is this government that professed during the election and made promises to people, vote for us, we will put people to work. I have been waiting for that to happen. I have been waiting for the people in the soup lines and who are going to the food banks and looking for those jobs that aren't there that this government promised. I watch with interest, day after day, Frank McKenna in New Brunswick announcing new, permanent jobs for that province, day after day. What do I hear from this Government of Nova Scotia? I hear so many winter jobs, temporary jobs, no permanent jobs. (Interruptions) If any government is going to do that, they can't raise taxes.

This government put a tax on power, and I will tell you, this government will drive away industry in this province. The attitude that this government has is an attitude that, listen, we don't need to talk to anybody. We went around on 30-60-90 and after 30-60-90, we found out all the answers of how to put everybody back to work. You know, Mr. Speaker, I haven't noticed any new ideas.

You talk about broken promises, this government has broken its promise to those Cape Bretoners who went out and worked hard to elect this government. It broke its promise to those Nova Scotians when they were told, vote for us, we have new ideas, we have jobs in our hip pocket. Vote for us and we will see that you get some of those jobs. You know what, Mr. Speaker? Those people are still waiting. I hope and pray that in my next visit to Cape Breton, that those ministers who are so powerful in this government, I will see the results of the new jobs that this government is going to create. Then I will stand up and praise this government. In the meantime, I ask this government to please help those people who are in need. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 966.

Res. No. 966, re Educ. - Reform: Planning - Commence - notice given Nov. 9/94 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to address a few remarks to Resolution No. 966. You will be aware, as will all honourable members, that the operative clause of the resolution reads as follows:

"Therefore be it resolved that the minister, . . .", a reference, in this case, to the Minister of Education, ". . . as he moves forward with his reform of so important a system, heed the words of the Cumberland District School Board chair and start making his plans for the future of our children's schools clear and not leave all affected by his decisions dangling on a day-to-day basis.".

This resolution of November 9th, I think, Mr. Speaker, is as important today, perhaps more important today than it was when I tabled it on November 9th, some two months later, as it is becoming increasingly apparent that parents and teachers and students nervously await the minister's White Paper on Education, along with perhaps an even more threatening next round of cuts from the Minister of Education and the Minister of Finance in the spring budget.

From day one, this Minister of Education has dazed and dazzled and confused those in the education community, and many of them communicate with us in our caucus office on a regular basis. That includes those, whether it be the deliverers of our education system or the recipients of the benefits of that system. Some, especially some from the department, might say that it is the rapid pace of reform which this minister is issuing forth that has Nova Scotia parents and teachers confused. I have heard the comment made from some quarters that that is the explanation for some of the uncertainty, confusion and concern. Others may say that it is the way in which the minister is issuing reform that has the whole community on its heels. Well, as the Cumberland District School Board chair said last fall, "It is hard to tell what the changes are going to be because the Education Minister changes his mind day to day.". And that is part of the real problem.

This past year, Mr. Speaker, the 22 school boards across this province have been scurrying to pick up the daunting task laid at their feet by this Minister of Education. They have experienced cuts that the minister said would not affect the classroom and that was his line. All kinds of financial cuts, but every time the Minister of Education talked about cuts in education, he invariably would say to us in this place and to the parents and the children and the administrators of the schools of this province, yes we are cutting money out of the education system, but don't you worry, it will not affect the youngster or the student in the classroom. Unfortunately, it is absolutely clear and it becomes clearer by the day that those financial cuts have, indeed affected and affected in some cases very deeply the reality in the classroom.

[5:15 p.m.]

The Halifax County-Bedford District School Board has cut the primary year to a half day year round. That is a cut which had been effected as a direct result of the knife that the Minister of Education and the Minister of Finance used on the education which was in their control. Well, an extra hour or so in the classroom might seem insignificant to the Minister of Education, it certainly has many parents and many educators upset in the county and in Bedford. Those parents affected and parents of those children who are affected in that way have lost their battle to keep the primary year.

However, during that debate many voices furnished their opinion on the loss and I would like to quote, even but one, I would like to quote Dr. Allan Neilson, who was interviewed on CBC radio on the subject. In response to the question put to Dr. Neilson, "What would be the consequences . . . of a school system going to half days only for Primary?". Well, Dr. Neilson responded by saying as follows, "Grade Primary is the most important year in the entire public school program and I guess my own position is that it ought to be protected and enhanced rather than eroded and that's not a very popular and perhaps not even a very practical kind of position to hold in these kinds of economic times but that's certainly how I feel about it . . . It is certainly going to make a difference in terms of . . . the kinds of academic preparation the kids will get on their way to Grade One and the rest of the system.".

Dr. Neilson had more to say and he went onto say this, ". . . the cuts can't be rationalized, can't be defended on any other basis except purely economic and I think, as a pedagogical kind of move, it is very, very unfortunate.". That would seem to me to be an affirmation from one corner, anyway, that this cut, this great soul-searching by the board will, in fact, affect the classroom and the school children.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, the chair of the Halifax District School Board on November 30, 1994, just a very short time ago said that they are expecting and are fearing a further additional cut that might be in the order of some $2.4 million again this year. Although the department official said that the attached projections communicated to the board are subject to change pending official notification of expenditure targets for 1995-1996, the boards at this late date are unaware of whether that means the official figures might be better or indeed might even be worse than the $2.4 million which is being suggested.

The chair of that board indicated her frustration with the continual cuts by saying as follows, "We've hollowed everything out, and this time I can't see anywhere to go. There's nothing left unless you collapse a program.". Well, if you collapse a program I don't believe that it is possible then for this minister or anybody else to say in the face of a collapsed program, ah, yes, but that does not affect the youngster in the classroom. Surely, it does if the program is eliminated or collapsed; obviously by definition, it affects the youngster in the classroom.

When the Lunenburg District School Board set out to cut its speech therapist in the fall of 1994 as a way to save money, the parents in that community fought back and they fought back hard. The minister's role in that situation was that he said he was powerless to help Lunenburg County children.

His words were, I think I quote him correctly, "It's very frustrating, but the legislation very clearly sets out each party's responsibilities. I don't have the jurisdiction to stop the cuts even if I had the resources to fund the program.". Well, that just simply does not make sense. If he had the resources to fund the program, the program would, in fact, have been continued and would have been available.

I know that this minister knows that among many programs required in the public school system, speech therapy is a vitally important program for thousands of young people across this province. I just don't, for a minute, put any stock in the minister's suggestion that he does not have the jurisdiction to stop the cuts, even if he had the resources to fund the program. He is playing word games. He says it is not what he said. He will have a chance to respond and I am sure he will respond here momentarily.

It was at this point that the minister publicly stated, Mr. Speaker, that he could not promise that cuts would not affect the classroom. Now after having gone through weeks and weeks of telling the people that no, none of the cuts to the public education funding would affect the youngsters in the classroom, then in the face and the heat of the debate about the speech therapist cutbacks in the Lunenburg district, the minister, at that point, then starts saying that he could not promise the cuts would not affect the classroom. He said, "I am committed that cuts by the department won't impact services, but I'm not in a position to make that promise on behalf of school boards.".

Well, he sits over in his place and he will have his chance to engage in this debate and he says that is true. Well, I say that is foolishness is what I say. Listen to the words. "I am committed that cuts by the department won't impact services, but I'm not in a position to make that promise on behalf of school boards.". (Interruption)

Well, the minister says he will fix it for me. He will give me an explanation. I await that explanation with great interest. Because I knew, during my almost eight years as Minister of Education, if we reduced funding to school boards, I knew that the implication was that, by definition, the reduction would, in fact, adversely impact one or other elements of the programs offered by the school boards of the Province of Nova Scotia.

I am amazed that this minister, being in the ministry in which he has been functioning as minister for the time he has, can make a statement like, "I am committed that cuts by the department won't impact services . . .". How can any minister in his right mind make a comment to the effect, "I am committed that cuts by the department won't impact services . . .". Well, what are they going to impact? If he is going to make cutbacks, then something, presumably, is going to be cut and impact is going to be felt and, by definition, impact is going to be felt, at some point, by the children who are intended to be served by the public school system.

I await, with bated breath, what I am sure will be a wonderful, philosophical explanation. I am sure it will be loaded with tremendous pedagogical rhetoric, which will explain to me and to the people of Nova Scotia that when this Minister of Education says that I am committed that cuts by his department will not impact services, he has got some explanation that anybody in their right mind could possibly understand.

The boards of education of this province, Mr. Speaker, with the assistance of teachers in the communities, have been struggling, as you well know, to meet the financial demands of government cuts and instead of assisting with the pleas of the parents and the teachers and the boards and the students, this minister has concerned himself with the education system's structure, not with the classroom directly.

This minister, I say, Mr. Speaker, has busied himself with such things as site-based management projects, with his desire to eliminate as many school boards as possible from this province and with his need to fight our teachers and his special early retirement plan for teachers, which he is still convinced will help the school system and not hurt it. Well, I say to him and to all Nova Scotians, that the jury is very much still out on that question.

In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, the minister has upset our school boards and our teachers and our home and school associations, the parents of the students and the communities of this province. The minister was reported to have said on Friday, just Friday, that boards must "pick the classroom over management.". Well, may I say that my analysis of watching what the Minister of Education has done over this last many months and for a considerable period of time, the minister has picked the accountants and the managers over the classroom.

I guess that he will be revisiting his excuse to lay blame on the boards for this year's budget. As I said in the resolution, it is no wonder that the thought of running for boards in the October election just past, was so objectionable.

The minister had so many, Mr. Speaker, wondering if they would be holding elections, if when elections were held, those elections would have a position to hold for more than a few months. Once those issues were temporarily addressed by the minister, the damage was done. The numbers that turned out as candidates and electorate for the province's school boards' elections were absolutely horrendous.

The school board system only three years before had been given the chance to grow. They were finally fully elected and this minister, in my opinion and the opinion of thousands across the province, has and is in the continuing process of, cutting the feet out from under them. So many of those who did not run for office and many of those who did run, despite the terrible confusion which reigned at the time, were disappointed that their role in the education system would be reduced to addressing cuts to the schools. So far, unfortunately, they have not been disappointed.

The Savage Government kicked off its election campaign a mere two years ago, Mr. Speaker, by saying, education is a long-term investment which pays dividends for all times. Therefore, we must invest wisely. We must invest for the future. The Liberal Party values life-long learning. It recognizes each student's individual importance to the social, economic and cultural growth of our province. Close of Liberal Party election rhetoric.

I hope, Mr. Speaker, and thousands across this province hope that the minister stops laying blame on our school board members as he is wont do and on our teachers and on anyone else other than himself and he starts to live up to this one Liberal commitment. Our children are too important to lose out through the misuse of power by this minister. It is too important an economic time to have them ill-prepared for their future. I therefore support wholeheartedly, the thrust of the resolution which I had the honour to introduce on November 9th. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to point out to you and to all members, that very little of what the honourable member said had anything to do with his resolution. His resolution is relatively pointed and it basically asks that I provide the plan, my plan, is what he is asking for here.

His comments, and I am going to address some of them, and I would like to make it very clear to him and I did by the way, contrary to what the honourable member when he was minister did, I did go visit every board in this province and I sat down and I discussed their concerns because, yes, here he goes now, Mr. Speaker, the same thing (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order. The honourable member has the floor.

MR. MACEACHERN: He is really tied up with substance, the honourable member is. Mr. Speaker, he gets up and he rants and raves about the education that he left here. I would like to make a comment on what he has done. We are the only province in this country that the debt is greater than what is paid for public education. The blame rests entirely with that honourable member and his Party.

What they basically did is, they sold out our children and our grandchildren. Sold it out so that now, when I am going to state very clearly for all members of the House, that now the boards of this province, the Department of Education, the teachers and the parents have to bear the burden of the mess that that honurable member left. The mess, Mr. Speaker, is an embarrassment across the country. I sit with other Ministers of Education across this country and this place is an embarrassment because of what they have done. Squandered the resources to leave us to deal with them.

Now, I am going to deal with the honourable member's confusion to start and then I will address, very clearly, his plan. Because, I will give very clearly to the honourable member what I have discussed with the boards. First of all, as the honourable member would know, we provide monies to the boards. The Act speaks to the boards as if they are still delegates of the province. They are not. They are freely elected. Once we provide the monies by formula, by the Funding Formula Review Committee, it is recommended to us and we provide the monies. There is a global fund and then there are some targeted funds. Once we provide it, the board is in power to spend the money as they wish to do that.

If I were to provide monies to that board, Mr. Speaker, they spend the money not according to my wishes, but to their own. I will take the two examples the honourable member spoke to. First of all, the case in Lunenburg where the board chose, and they did, to not fund the reading specialist and he says I did not deal with the people. I met with the parents that were there. I had my staff go down with the board three times and I never blamed the board once during our whole discussion because they are under great strain.

I would suggest to you that anybody who would run for election after the mess that these guys left, to deal with the strain involved, I think has to be cautioned because the mess that is there is going to leave a strain on anybody who is trying to deal with it.

[5:30 p.m.]

I sent staff down three times to the board to suggest other ways that are included in the agreement we had with the Teachers Union. He suggested it was a fight; yes, it was a fight, a very difficult one. If that group opposite had stood up a few times and fought to protect the public of Nova Scotia, we would have been in much less trouble but they never had the courage, Mr. Speaker. They had a political halo that they sacrificed the future so they could stay in power one more time. We in Cape Breton know that.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre spoke about that. At home, it is a joke. If that groups expects to ever get any kind of recognition in Cape Breton again, after what they have done to us for a very long time, because they sold us out for their own preservation in politics, that is what they have done, and left it to us to clean up the mess. Every time I hear the honourable member get up and talk about video lotteries, for example, Mr. Speaker, and you and I were involved in the travels where we looked at this and the addictions, they put them in corner stores and only when the outrage came did they respond, not because of any altruistic sense of people politically (Interruptions)

Now, Mr. Speaker, here what he is, and I listen to him talk and I get nauseous at it because he is doing the same thing with education, sold us out and now when the boards and ourselves, and we have sat through this and made very difficult decisions, they and I together. For the first time ever, I invited the board people to sit down as part of the budgetary process. The decisions made were made by the boards and myself and we moved forward on them.

Mr. Speaker, the other case that he mentions, and I will give you the Halifax County, the decision to limit Grade Primary. We had an application from the Cape Breton District School Board a year previous that they be allowed to look at that because they believed they could do more for those with special needs and they had a very realistic proposal. What we approved was their permission to do that, to see if, in fact, it worked. They are going to study it very carefully.

Halifax County, and for the honourable member to suggest with this one quote from one person that that decision would outweigh the decision of the professionals in Halifax County who believed, Mr. Speaker, and I have spoken to them about this, that in fact this will not damage the children. They have said that and they are watching it very carefully and they are going to get back to us. So he chooses this one expert, versus the people who are on the ground.

I would suggest to the honourable member that is the difference between our approach and their approach. As I am approaching the boards and the future structuring of education, I have talked to the boards. We have talked to the communities, we have talked to the Teachers Union and we continue to do that, despite the difficulties we had last spring.

It is not my plan, I am trying to find out what is best to preserve what is happening in the classroom, Mr. Speaker, that is what we are trying to do, given the resources they left us with. We can't teach fewer children because the number of children who are there have to be taught, there won't be fewer. In fact the investment we are providing in Education far outweighs everything we are doing, except for Community Services. For the same reason, they have served as pallbearers to the economy of Nova Scotia. As a result, the costs of community services have grown and grown.

That is why, as I listen here as the honourable member rhetorically exudes condemnation of how I have spoken to boards and to the teachers of this province, Mr. Speaker, I have never blamed either. I would suggest that the only thing that is saving us from the wreckage they have left is the quality of teachers in this province. Those teachers, despite the attitude of their government towards them, which was patronizing in the extreme, we are trying to deal with them as professional people responsible for their jobs in the classroom. That is what we are working towards.

Now after answering his tirade for a minute, now if he would understand, let me do it again for him so he will understand how I could say, every dollar we cut to boards, we have identified how we can do it. We have told the boards, if you are having any difficulty applying it, call us. A good example is in Queens. Queens was having some difficulty and a combined parents/board group came to see us, Mr. Speaker. We sent our staff down and worked with them and met their budget. The member for Queens was involved significantly but he can lean across and speak to the honourable Leader of the Opposition, we responded immediately with staff time and the Queen's board is one of the ones under the greatest duress. What they did, my staff, the community, the honourable member and the board, they have dealt with the problems by applying the contract as it was settled.

Some other boards chose to do other things. We told them that if they needed our staff to go down and help we would send them. We did it to at least four boards because contrary to what the honourable member suggests our great concern is protecting services to the classroom. The agreement between the Teachers Union and ourselves did address the cutbacks and I would suggest to the honourable member with his fear-mongering, we have already communicated to the boards their budget for next year even without looking at restructuring so that they could plan.

I was involved in schools when that man was Minister of Education. In fact, the budgets would arrive well after April 1st and as the result the boards couldn't make any decisions because they wouldn't tell them how much money they had. We told them in December so that they could plan. For him to suggest that we are leaving them in day to day uncertainty, he wouldn't even tell them how much money so they could set their staff up. That is outrageous that that member would get up here after what his government has done and suggest that because we gave it to them in December that they don't have time to plan.

Mr. Speaker, if I might I am going to address our plan. It has several components and as the honourable pointed out very clearly to the House, (Interruption) You see now we have this bellowing from the back. The people down in Horton love this man, they think he is wonderful for what he has done to them. If I might, the first part of it is to identify what the honourable member pointed out about roles and responsibilities. We want to clarify the role of the Department of Education, the boards, the principal, the teachers and so on and that will be coming forth very quickly.

I travelled around the Province of Nova Scotia and we spoke to boards about that, Mr. Speaker, every detail. The consequences of that in terms of board restructuring - I went around myself to talk to the boards because they are very concerned, the people who have elected to be on the boards of Nova Scotia. People who have sacrificed a lot with no thanks. It is a very difficult job, so I went around and sat down and talked to them myself. The conclusions that they gave me plus the other input from across the province is even now presently being considered by the department so that, in fact, when this House ends we can release the document after we take it to Cabinet and caucus. Then I can return to the boards. The honourable member says there was some uncertainty about the elections. We, in fact, said there were going to be elections from the very start, there was no hesitancy about that and everybody knew that.

The only thing they were unsure of is what would happen, in fact, if there were amalgamations. I think the honourable member should be aware of the following thing, much because of the mess he left us in, that some of our boards are having very difficult times surviving. One board, told me that, in fact, they no longer can cut to the bone and it is not because of this year, it is because they have a huge geography and declining enrolment much because of the economic malaise created by the previous crowd and what happens, they have great difficulties. We have got to find ways of helping them. If they hadn't left a mess we could easily give them money. But, that is not enough, we have to find ways of restructuring so that we can protect services.

The honourable member gets up very easily and as he was speaking all I could think of is Saint Paul on the way to Damascus and I was waiting for him to be struck blind by a bolt of lightning because we have watched, in fact, I have spent six years on the opposite side - at least it seemed like six years - listening to what was going on on this side of the house. It was a culmination of 15 years of disaster for the schools of this province and the communities, because it progressively got worse and worse as they sacrificed our future.

Our job in the Department of Education - contrary to what the honourable member would suggest - with the boards is in order to rescue that, so that our children and grandchildren will have a future and that is very important. I can assure the honourable member as I am approaching the resolve of his resolution - and again he took a quote out of the paper, he did that and he has not many words here - but if I would, at the bottom, he asks, making his plans. They are not my plans, they are the reflection of dealing with a lot of people speaking to us and I think when people see the plans, they will see that is so.

He will see also, when we put out the White Paper and again we travelled the province and talked to people about it because my plan, as he suggests, will only be acted on when we get a significant consensus to move forward. As I am speaking to the Minister of Education in Alberta, for example - and Alberta has much the same attitude as the crowd opposite - a good member, the Minister of Education there and he has become a friend, their attitude though is yes, it my plan and I give it out.

Our attitude towards this from the beginning - and I remind you, even in terms of the negotiations with the teachers we met them often in order to make sure that the communication lines were always open - we are going to be back talking to the people and make sure that the plan is one that will work in Nova Scotia, not in the short way to keep the honourable member happy in his chair, but so that it will stay in Nova Scotia for a long time and the education system and services for students will get better and better as the Minister of Finance cleans up the financial mess of the members opposite. (Applause)

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise and speak this afternoon on the topic that is before us. In fact, it is a topic that I had submitted for the late debates on a number of occasions, or one dealing with the same topic because I think that it is very important and we do not get many opportunities to bring these items forward.

I listened to the Minister of Education's remarks that he gave this afternoon and I got optimistic about half-way through his remarks and I got optimistic because he said he was going to address his plan. So, I got excited because I thought, hey, maybe Nova Scotians are finally going to hear what the plan is, but all we heard was that he is going to address the plan, and I know absolutely nothing more than I did before the minister started because all he did, much of it justified, was cast aspersions on the former government for having created the mess and the problems that we are in. He referred to how the former government sold out the children of Nova Scotia with the deficit situation; how they sold out the people of this province and the children for their preservation.

Well, there may be some truth to what the minister is saying, but what Nova Scotians want to know now is they want the assurance that this government is not going to continue to sell out the children in this province and they want to know what plan of action they have to make our Nova Scotia education system the very best it can be. What the minister did, in essence in his remarks, is actually the same thing that he has done all along; he has managed, or tried to say that none of the problems that exist or the failure to take action is his responsibility.

The minister talks about the different school boards. I have countless correspondence from residents who live in the community of Sackville, as well as in other areas across this province, expressing concerns about the cuts that happened in education last year. The minister says, well it is not our decision, it is the school board's decision and, in fact, the minister very slyly, or very craftily, pointed out that it was not even our decision in terms of setting down the budgets for the boards because we, supposedly, involved the boards in the budgetary process, making it sound as if the boards were responsible for developing the budget that the Department of Education developed and, of course, they were not.

The Minister of Education in this government asked board members in for some advice, so that when they were faced with the cuts, the Draconian measures that were going to be imposed by this Liberal Government - in June, Mr. Speaker, is when the school boards were told the figures, well after the fiscal year began and well after they were able to ask the municipalities for any assistance because they had already set their budgets - only then were the boards told but, because the minister has said that he involved them in the budgetary process, he is now able to shove off or he tries to shove off a great deal of the blame onto the boards, the boards were given a fiscal reality.

Mr. Speaker, the minister said that education in the Province of Nova Scotia would not hurt. Yet, we know Primary education certainly was cut in all of Halifax County and I did not hear a peep from one or the other MLAs representing Halifax County, or a portion of it, other than my colleague, the member for Halifax Atlantic. All Liberal members were silent.

[5:45 p.m.]

Classroom sizes across this province have increased and increased quite dramatically in a lot of areas. Services have been cut. Specialists, like speech therapists, have been cut in some areas and reduced in others and teacher's aides, Mr. Speaker, have been reduced and eliminated in a lot of areas and it goes on. We can go and look at almost any particular board we want, whether that is down on the South Shore or up in Cape Breton. We can see that boards were forced, in an extremely short period of time, to react to the budgetary cuts imposed by this government.

The minister talks about structure. Well, we still don't know what kind of structure he has in mind. When they talk about amalgamation, let's face it, Mr. Speaker, there is a need for educational reform; nobody is denying that. But you know, I had the opportunity to listen to the Minister of Education speak in the community of Sackville. It is well over a year ago now. He was talking about site-based management. He said that before he was selected as the Minister of Education, the Premier had contacted him and asked how he would like this portfolio or that portfolio, neither of which, of course, was Education. But the minister said he had a plan. He had a plan for education and he faxed it off to the Premier and, on the basis of that, he was selected as Minister of Education. Well, we are still looking for that plan.

The minister talks about how there has to be greater community involvement, greater parental involvement in the schools. But you know, the Parent-Teacher Association, as of a couple of days ago, Mr. Speaker, and I have not checked today, still had not even gotten the very modest allotment funding from the Province of Nova Scotia, which is only $10,000 and which is normally provided in July. But, in January of the following year, they still have not received that funding.

We have no idea what is going to be happening with school boards. I understand that there have been some policies or some papers prepared and that the Minister of Education, I have even been told, has sent that on to the Priorities and Planning Committee and now it has come back and that we may be facing major amalgamations in school boards this coming year. I don't know, Mr. Speaker, nor do the members in the school boards who are trying to determine what kind of education programs and how they are going to be delivering it next year. They don't even know if they are going to exist.

We can talk about all kinds of things, Mr. Speaker. Site-based management is certainly crucial. It is important. Last spring, an Act was introduced that allowed for the establishment of site-based managed schools. For example, I was reading an article the other day that was talking about Pictou and that all the schools in Pictou were considering and the school board was considering making all those schools site-based managed.

That has some appeal, but it also has some real concerns. One of the concerns that I have, because an awful lot of it has to do with leadership and providing of services and providing as resources, as soon as this government can even off-load even farther from itself the responsibility for running and managing the schools, then they can very quickly distance themselves from any negative impacts of their cuts in funding. That is one of the key and most consistent objectives of this government and of this Minister of Education. When he first assumed office, to this day, he is talking about the fiscal situation in the Province of Nova Scotia, which we all know is very serious, and he is prefacing everything by, we have no money so we have to cut, cut, cut.

Well, Mr. Speaker, you and I know and business people in the Province of Nova Scotia know, as do parents, that if the economy of Nova Scotia is to be turned around, if we are to attract the kinds of businesses and industries we want in our province and the children can get the kinds of jobs that they need and deserve, we have to provide the highest quality of education possible. If we cut on the front end, in terms of education, so that the services are not being provided, then we are going to deny the educational opportunities and the economic recovery that we need.

You know, Mr. Speaker, last May special needs children in this province were a priority for this government. In fact, the Minister of Education, last spring I think it was, around last May or June if my memory serves me correctly, promised that the government was going to be delivering or providing a comprehensive policy on deinstitutionalization. Back in 1981, when for the first time there were designated direct grants for special education, the provincial level of funding directly geared to that was at 83 per cent.

It was frozen and it reduced from 1981 as a percentage, where the province agreed to directly cost share in those special education costs. It decreased and in 1990 it was frozen. Now, Mr. Speaker, it is at 69 cents or 69 per cent. In other words, for the increased special needs children, the school boards are being forced to take more and more money from their general revenues to subsidize that. So not only do those children not receive the level of service they need and deserve, but all children suffer as the funding is being taken away.

Mr. Speaker, we have deinstitutionalization taking place. We have facilities being closed down. We know that the Truro centre is to close, as are others, Mr. Speaker. These children are going to be returned to the school system and other children who might have used those facilities in future years will, of course, not be able to go into those training centres. But they will and they have a legal right to an education.

However, the regulations were watered down in 1986. Because of the funding cuts that this provincial government is making as it is reducing its share of special needs funding, school boards are being forced or put into the position where many of them or some of them are now starting to say that we will deny an education to a child because in order for a child to have a right to an education in Nova Scotia, it has to be demonstrated that that child can benefit from that education, the only province in Canada that has that kind of provision for the public school system, the only one.

The province has not kept its promise. By reducing funding, as it is doing, it is compromising the province's future. It is compromising the future of our children. Mr. Speaker, that is not to say that funding cannot be done in a more rational way. But surely to Heavens, you don't go in and start to destroy something. You don't go in on the premise that what we are going to do is just take away the money and some time down the road, we will come up with our plan.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier has $300,000 for his new staff. We had over $100,000 for a severance package for one deputy minister, in fact, we had several million dollars so that the government could change a bunch of deputies in this province. Where are our priorities? Look in the mirror, ask yourselves, where are the priorities of this government? Where is this comprehensive plan for dealing with de-institutionalization that was promised? How is a failure of that impacting upon not only those children with special needs but all children in the Province of Nova Scotia?

It is not good enough to say, oh yes indeed, we have some conversation from time to time. It is not good enough for the Minister of Education to say that he has talked to school boards, I sat in on one of those meetings. Yes, indeed I did, well it was a different meeting, he has talked to them several times. Well, all I can say is that the one meeting that I attended where the Minister of Education was in attendance, wonderful, all I can say is that I certainly hope that the kinds of information and the kinds of responses that the minister provided were better on his other so-called meetings with the board than they were on that occasion because not too many people were satisfied, that is for darned sure.

Nova Scotians expect to see the plan. The minister said he had a plan. Well, let's see it. We will in the fullness of time when the Minister of Education and the government has somehow finally figured it out what it is going to be and maybe unfortunately after it is going to be too late before we face the situation where we have major rebuilding to do so that we can get back to having a high quality of education in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 179.

H.O. No. 179, re Human Rights Comm'n.: Hearings - Waiting List - notice given Jan. 5/95 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I so move, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: In the absence of the Minister of Justice I would agree to return that House Order.

MR. SPEAKER: The House Order has been agreed to. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 176.

H.O. No. 176, re Transport.: Advertising - Winter Driving - notice given Dec. 14/94 - (Mr. B. Taylor)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: I so move, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I guess that is with reference to the winter advertising warning drivers about road conditions. We are very proud of that program, what we have done and would be very happy to put it together and perhaps have an opportunity to boast about it when we return it.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Would you please call House Order No. 180.

H.O. 180, re Educ.: School Buses - Capacity (1993-95) - notice given Jan. 9/95 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I so move, Mr. Speaker.

[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: The public system, I don't even know how I would get that information for the honourable member. I will ask the staff to examine it but I don't know how we could tell what students take public busing to get to school. (Interruption) Are you talking about school buses themselves? School board buses, okay that is different, I will provide that for the honourable member.

MR. SPEAKER: Has it been agreed to provide? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The hour of adjournment has arrived.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will be sitting from the hours of 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Question Period we will be doing Committee of the Whole House on Bills and will be at least starting with the Gaming Control Act, Bill No. 120.

[6:00 p.m.]

I would move that we adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion for adjournment has been made and carried.

The draw was won by the honourable member for Halifax-Bedford Basin. It is as follows:

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotia's natural environment is one of Nova Scotia's greatest assets.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax-Bedford Basin.


MR. GERALD FOGARTY: Mr. Speaker, Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotia's natural environment is one of our greatest assets. At first blush, I would hope that all Nova Scotians could support such a broad statement. I would hope that we would all in this House be in agreement that our environment is indeed extremely important to us and it is of unlimited potential as an asset.

Mr. Speaker, I do not base that assumption on any kind of scientific data. I do not have analysis from social scientists or experts. I base the statement or the assumption, if I can call it that, on the optimism of youth. Young Nova Scotians do have many concerns. They face problems that perhaps we 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago had never even heard of or never considered, but they are the problems of our young people today.

They do face enumerable challenges and young people, if they were to become discouraged about their future, I think it would be understandable, Mr. Speaker, but the young people that I know manage to see solutions in their problems. They have a very positive outlook generally speaking. Young people see problems and they will try to find answers. It seems to me they always seek and on many occasions they find a better way.

Frequently, young people are able to comprehend problems better than those of us who have lost a sense of wonder about the world. Perhaps we become a little jaded at our age and at this point in life and even a little discouraged and defeatist in our attitude, but I do want to compliment the young people of Nova Scotia, the young people of Canada who seem to understand that there is a very close relationship between the natural world and our quality of life. Their concern should become the concern of all of us.

Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada in general present us with unmatched natural beauty. Now, of course, there are some cases of blatant degradation and a lack of concern for the environment, but generally speaking, here in Atlantic Canada and Nova Scotia, I might single out our own home province, I think that we have been blessed. We have been favoured with an environment when compared to many other regions of North America and indeed many other parts of the world, our environment is still relatively clean and perhaps in some instances pristine.

Industrial development often comes into conflict with the natural world and it is now our responsibility to ensure that development is sustainable. This government's recent environmental legislation is, if I may use the word, a shining example, Mr. Speaker, of the kind of proactive law making that can be accomplished when you consult with the people. Indeed, I want to commend the Minister of the Environment who did go to Nova Scotians and did seek and receive their input in a series of public meetings that were held.

When this Minister of the Environment, shortly after he assumed his responsibility as a member of the Executive Council, one of his first priorities was to address the need for a new Environment Act. This province was governed vis-à-vis the environment, Mr. Speaker, with 18 Statutes and about 40 sets of regulations serving as an Environment Act. This new Environment Act indeed received Royal Assent from the Lieutenant Governor just a couple of days ago.

The Minister of the Environment says that the province will offer rewards for complying with the new regulations rather than threaten dire consequences when rules are broken. That is a proactive, a very positive approach to what is for us in Nova Scotia and all parts of the world a problem and that is the preservation of our natural heritage.

The minister will be responsible for a waste management strategy for the whole province and will have the authority to restrict the sale of products that cannot be used or recycled. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, protecting and promoting our environment requires more than the legislation which is now in place, but it is now up to all of us in this province that all of us hold so dear, it requires our dedication and diligence to see to it that this new Act is respected and adhered to. Most of all, however, it requires that we set aside natural ecosystems in our province for future generations.

The Department of Natural Resources Parks and Protected Areas Plan is the next step toward preserving our natural heritage. This, too, is the job of all Nova Scotians as we embark on a very ambitious project to protect our many unique ecosystems.

Nova Scotians are being asked to participate in a series of public consultations which indeed got under way, Mr. Speaker, just last week. A series of public meetings, under the heading Parks and Protected Areas, got under way in Amherst a week ago. These meetings will be held in all parts of our province through the month of January well into February and concluding in Bridgewater late in February.

This committee is going to hear and summarize public comments with respect to the proposed Parks and Protected Areas Systems Plan and based on this input, the consultation, this committee will then make recommendations to government regarding the content of the final plan.

The systems plan proposes 31 Crown land sites for protection. The sites total more than 700,000 acres and represent 19 per cent of the provincially-owned Crown land in the Province of Nova Scotia. This commitment ensures, Mr. Speaker, that good examples of the landscape and the environment that define the character and image of Nova Scotia will be maintained and protected in their natural states.

Mr. Speaker, as a province, we now have a unique opportunity to preserve what many areas in North America have lost. There is still a chance for us here in Nova Scotia and I do want to commend the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of the Environment for recognizing the situation that confronts us, for seeing the seriousness of the problem. Parks and protected areas give opportunity for scientific research, environmental education, outdoor recreation and let us not forget tourism. These are the types of opportunities that we create for ourselves.

The new Environment Act that I referred to a moment ago brings us well into the 21st Century. It strikes a balance between the need for economic development and the need to preserve our natural heritage. The efforts of the Minister of Natural Resources is a logical extension of our government's diverse efforts to protect and promote our natural landscapes.

Tourism, indeed, will become the inevitable benefactor. The province has a wealth of tourism opportunities based upon the environment. These in turn complement projects that increase the tourism potential for our urban centres. Indeed it does extend from the rural to the urban setting.

Eco-tourism is an important part of a multi-faceted approach to the development of the tourist industry. It is an important part, it is a vital part, Mr. Speaker. Eco-tourism is a relatively new aspect of the tourism industry but its potential for growth is enormous. We are still on the threshold.

There is time for the development of a large environmental industry. Environmental clean-ups, such as the Sydney tar ponds, make use of our exportable technology. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, the technology that Nova Scotians have played a very large part in and have had a hand in developing is in demand in other parts of the world. There are great opportunities for those who want to engage in the environmental clean-up business.

The Minister of the Environment is aware of these international possibilities, witness the international trip he has made. He left several days ago for Taiwan, where that country has committed $30 billion to a national clean-up, if I might call it that, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of the Environment realizes that Nova Scotians have developed a variety of new technologies and expertise that will have tremendous potential for export.

So, there is an opportunity there for Nova Scotia to spread the message, to share with other countries the kind of technology that has been developed here. There are many other ways in which we can all contribute to ensuring a better future. Rather than exploiting the environment, we should seek opportunity in its preservation. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, as I begin, I want to applaud and compliment the honourable member for raising this issue, by way of late debate discussion here this evening. May I say at the outset that I think it is appropriate that this particular member would be one who would raise a plea, basically, for all of us and to all Nova Scotians, for the protection of our environment, the development and protection of the ecosystems which make up our province, for an expansion and a sharing with the rest of the world our eco-tourism prospects.

The reason I say I think it is appropriate that it would be this honourable colleague who would make that is simply because it is that same colleague who, you will recall, Mr. Speaker, was the chair of a study which addressed the issue of whether or not this province should change its nature and its fabric and, indeed, to his credit, chaired and is a signatory to an all-Party report which recommended against the kind of change that I believe and that many Nova Scotians believe has the potential and the impact to develop a kind of Nova Scotia and inject into Nova Scotia elements of activity which, may I say with respect, run absolutely and directly counter to the highly important and positive issues which the honourable member has raised here this evening.

I refer, of course, to the fact that this honourable member has had the honour and the distinction of chairing a committee that made recommendations to us all as to whether or not we should embark upon casino gaming in this province. Casino gaming, as I have said in the course of the debate on that particular issue here in this House, I believe - I may be wrong -has the potential over time to change dramatically the fabric of this province and if it does, and I sincerely hope it does not, would change the kind of fabric of this province that the honourable member has just spoken about in such glowing terms.

I know, from a brief time as Minister of Tourism, that what the honourable member has said to us tonight is absolutely accurate. This province, over the last number of years, during some time of the previous government and during the time of the current government, has been becoming positioned virtually across the world and understood and recognized across much of the world as a place where we do value our environment, we do those things which are intended to protect our fragile ecosystems, that we do support and promote eco-tourism.

In fact, if you ask, Mr. Speaker, any of the leaders of the Nova Scotia tourism industry, they will tell you that the added value to the Nova Scotia tourism revenue over the last, for the sake of discussion, six, seven or eight years, of eco-tourism is absolutely dramatic. So I sincerely share, and I applaud the honourable member for raising this issue and I express the concern, as I have with what we may be doing in other elements and in pursuit of other public policy issues which may, and I hope not, have the effect of running afoul of and running counter to our commitment to the environment and to our ecosystems.

I want to say and I hope I am not accused of patting either myself or colleagues in the previous government on the back when I say this, but I am going to say it because I believe it to be true, when my colleague, the honourable member, says as he does, that this province is regarded in many places as being a place which is favoured with an environment and an ecosystem which is the envy of many, that is, in very large measure, may I say, a result of much of the work that was done by a couple of Ministers of the Environment who were predecessors to our current Minister of the Environment.

Speaking of the current minister, I think he deserves great kudos and it has been directed his way by the previous speaker, because he took up the cudgels when he, immediately upon becoming appointed Minister of the Environment, pursued a course of action in the course of developing one of the most important public policy initiatives of this government and, indeed, of the province, namely the development of a new Environment Act, in a way as described by the previous speaker, which was based and predicated, I think his words were that the recent environment legislation is, I think he said, a shining example of what can be done as a result of the consultative process.

Well, I don't want to inject after what I think is a reasonably complimentary comment, a negative note, some might say negatory, but my frustration as one of a college of 52 of us here, is that when the honourable member who just spoke says that the recent environment legislation is noteworthy, is positive, is to be commended and is a shining example of what we can do with an appropriate consultative process.

[6:15 p.m.]

I can't help, in my own mind again, contrasting that with the struggle we are having with the casino gaming legislation, where the promise was made by the Premier and by others on the government benches that we would not have casinos, as far as this government was concerned. We would not have casino gaming in this province without extensive public consultation.

We have a wonderful Environment Act. There are some wrinkles and some of the business community have contacted me and they have said they do not like certain parts of it. Indeed, some environmentalists have contacted me and said the same thing. But, by and large, it is very positively received and endorsed by virtually all elements of our provincial community. Contrast that against the mess we are in, the mess, the concern, the frustration and the fear that so many of our fellow citizens have relative to casino gaming. For one simple reason, the promise that there would be the kind of consultation which the Minister of the Environment undertook leading to his legislation. That promise was made relative to the introduction of casino gaming and that has not happened. I think whatever happens with the casino gaming, we will be the less for it as a result of the failure of that minister and the government, generally, to take those steps.

But to shift gears and to become more positive and to get myself, again, simpatico in the last minute and one-half or so remaining to me, with the comments of the previous speaker, I want to support and endorse so much of what he said. Recent utterances from the Minister of Natural Resources to the effect that something in the order of 700,000 acres, approximately 19 per cent of the Crown land mass in this province is a tremendous target to be sought, be pursued and, I hope, attained, to be set aside for future generations.

Because, as you know, Mr. Speaker, and all of us know, our time here as legislators, God knows as legislators, but even as far as our human lives are concerned, is a pretty temporary proposition and we are very much transients. We owe the obligation to those who will follow us, our children and our grandchildren and generations and generations to come, to leave the physical environment in as good, if not better, a condition than we first found it when we had responsibility for it.

So, as I see you signing me to close, I close by extending compliments to my colleague for raising this issue today. I endorse and support so much of what he said about our ecology and about our environment and sincerely hope that the targets which the government has set will, indeed, be able to be attained. He and all members can be assured of the fullest support of our small caucus as that initiative is pursued. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allocated for the debate of the Adjournment motion has expired. The Adjournment motion has been made and carried. The House will now rise to sit tomorrow at the hour of 12:00 noon.

[The House rose at 6:20 p.m.]



By: Dr. John Hamm (Pictou Centre)

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

(1) A copy of all background documents as well as the department's response to the federal government's discussion paper on social reform, Improving Social Security in Canada; and

(2) If the response was done in conjunction with other departments, a copy of the background material supplied for a joint response.


By: Dr. John Hamm (Pictou Centre)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Premier's Office:

(1) A copy of all background documents as well as the Premier's response to the federal government's discussion paper on social reform, Improving Social Security in Canada; and

(2) If the response was done in conjunction with other departments, a copy of the response and the background material supplied for this response.