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February 6, 1995


Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Second Session

1:00 P.M.


Hon. Paul MacEwan


Mr. Gerald O'Malley

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will commence the daily routine.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 153 residents of my riding and they are requesting an upgrade of Highway No. 357 between Musquodoboit Harbour and Crawford Bridge. I have also affixed my signature to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by approximately 70 workers from Brenton Bay Nursing Home, CUPE Local 1183, opposed to Bill No. 122, the new Workers' Compensation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.






MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.


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

Whereas family violence is a concern that affects each and every one of us whether it be in our homes, communities, schools or work place, a sad fact that is clearly reflected in startling statistics, including:

One-half of all Canadian women can expect to be physically or sexually abused in their lifetime;

38 per cent of all female homicide victims and 6 per cent of all male homicide victims are killed by their spouses;

An estimated 4 per cent of all seniors are physically abused every year;

Children, the most innocent of all victims, often witness this violence and are victims themselves; and

Whereas the week of February 12th to February 18th has been proclaimed Family Violence Prevention Week in Nova Scotia, sponsored by the Family Violence Prevention Initiative and will be launched in Halifax by Premier John Savage representing the province and Mayor Peter Kelly representing the Mayors' Task Force on Family Violence; and

Whereas spiritual leaders from across the province will participate in the launching of Family Violence Prevention Week by ringing the bells at their places of worship simultaneously on Sunday, February 12th at 3:00 p.m.; and throughout the week information sessions, school visits, children's projects will focus on the issue of family violence and look at solutions;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and commend the efforts of the Family Violence Prevention Initiative and the 16 inter-agency committees working together in local communities in Nova Scotia in order to raise awareness and to improve the response to family violence issues.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and I would ask that the House do honour those who have fallen victim to family violence with a moment of silence, provided there is unanimous consent.

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.

It calls for the observance of one minute of silence. We will now stand for a moment of silence.

[A minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.


Bill No. 148 - Entitled an Act to Enable a Majority of Qualified Voters in an Election of a Member to the House of Assembly to Recall that Member. (Mr. John Holm)

Bill No. 149 - Entitled an Act to Provide for Equal Tax Treatment for all Professions. (Mr. Robert Chisholm)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills 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 while in China, the Premier embarrassed his Prime Minister by flip-flopping on the issue of whether human rights was an issue; and

Whereas the Premier last Thursday again embarrassed his Prime Minister when he contradicted the statement from the PMO for the change of dates for the G-7 Summit; and

Whereas the Nova Scotian Premier has laid out quite a welcome mat for the French President when he stated that the reason France needed the alternate date wasn't for World War II commemorative services but for "the municipal election . . . I don't know what they're telling you", he said, "but that's the reason";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier try to put his best foot forward from now until June 15th so that Nova Scotia does not, for a second time within only a few months, become the laughing-stock of the international community.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Do I hear a request for the waiver of notice?

I don't believe it came from the sponsor in any event.

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 at the hour of Adjournment Friday the Government House Leader sought approval for a request that all recognized Parties prepare proposals for changing the Rules and Forms of Procedures; and

Whereas the resolution approved overlooked one essential, by omitting any timetable for proposals to be submitted and considered;

Therefore be it resolved that this House ask that proposed changes to the Rules and Forms of Procedures be submitted to the Committee on Assembly Matters by February 24th and that the committee then begin to consider those proposals forthwith.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.


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

Whereas there have been at least eight cases of pet dogs dying horrible deaths in recent weeks across Nova Scotia as the result of being caught in snares set for coyotes; and

Whereas regulations under Nova Scotia's Wildlife Act enable the minister to advise Cabinet to make necessary changes prescribing the conditions and types of snares that may be set or maintained; and

Whereas the setting of these traps near homes which has resulted in the deaths of these family dogs enables those individuals responsible for setting the snares to walk away scot-free from being held legally responsible for these deaths;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Natural Resources immediately agree to undertake a review of Nova Scotia's Wildlife Act in an attempt to prevent any additional excruciating death of family dogs in hunting snares across Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.


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

Whereas a new chain of restaurants called the Canadian Lobster recently opened in South Korea, exclusively featuring Nova Scotia lobster and scallops on the menu; and

Whereas the Canadian Lobster chain reflects the beauty and taste of Nova Scotia, with each restaurant decorated with a large wall map of Nova Scotia, along with various Nova Scotian motifs; and

Whereas the proprietor of the Canadian Lobster chain, Mr. K.H. Ahn, was very impressed with the quality of Nova Scotia's restaurants and tourism industry during a recent visit, where he met with the Premier, the Minister of Fisheries and various restaurant and business owners;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Department of Economic Renewal, the Department of Fisheries and the Premier and Mr. Ahn on the opening of this Canadian Lobster chain which promotes the beauty and culture of this fair province to the world.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

Before I call for further notices of motion, I would like to introduce to the House, in the Speaker's Gallery, Mr. George Chaisson a top manager of the Cape Breton Regional Housing Authority in Sydney. Could you stand up, Mr. Chaisson and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

On further notices of motion, 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 the Premier and Government House Leader held a news conference in October to outline their plans for this sitting and to name December 10th as the date that sitting would end; and

Whereas on January 5th, the Conservative Leader and his caucus colleagues told this House and Nova Scotians that their battle to improve the casino legislation was over, and there was little left to be debated or decided in this sitting; and

Whereas since December 10th and January 5th, many thousands of Nova Scotians, individually and through their representatives, demonstrated that they expected more work and better legislation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the tremendous pressure from injured workers, organized workers, community-based agencies, anti-casino groups and others which, during the last month, helped push this government towards some improvements in its Draconian legislative package.

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.


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

Whereas the Liberal Government promised accountability and delivered closure; and

Whereas despite what takes place in other provinces, Nova Scotians want their views expressed on the floor of this Legislature by the people they elected to represent them; and

Whereas despite bringing forth legislation that was ill-prepared, this Liberal Government is saying to Nova Scotians, it is our way or the highway;

Therefore be it resolved that before putting forth policy papers such as the last one, which stated, two legislative sittings each year will permit legislators and the people they represent to focus on the issues facing Nova Scotians, this Liberal Government must allow the concerns of Nova Scotians to be heard, and must spend less time blaming inexperience for their inability to meet with the approval of Nova Scotians.

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 this sitting, and very likely this session, are ending without one clear indication from the Health Minister or this government that they truly intend to implement the health reform blueprint; and

Whereas blueprint participants have made it clear, again and again, that the framework legislation hurried through this House in June requires significant amendment to meet the goals developed through genuine, well-rooted consensus on health reform; and

Whereas this issue will best determine whether this is a government of reform, or simply one of harsh cutbacks and pointless disruption;

Therefore be it resolved that at the earliest opportunity, the Health Minister should respond positively to widespread concerns among health care providers and consumers that neither his framework legislation nor his plans for community-based services will adequately achieve the health reform that Nova Scotians have long awaited.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

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 returned from Switzerland with high expectations of his House Leader; and

Whereas this high expectation was shattered when the Premier learned that, even while closure was forced on Opposition Parties while he was away, the House remained in session upon his return; and

Whereas the Premier was also disappointed that, once again, scandals erupted in his absence, even though he had a brand new team in place to take care of such eventualities;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier not be so quick to head off on his pending trip to southern climes for fear of what might happen next.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.


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

Whereas approximately 75 distressed families in the South Maitland-Urbania area of Hants East were left in the cold without electrical power for over 26 hours on the weekend by Nova Scotia Power Incorporated; and

Whereas their power line was only repaired at about 8:00 a.m. this morning, despite repeated assurances through the weekend by Nova Scotia Power that the power line was being looked after and would be repaired within a few hours; and

Whereas the frustrated and concerned residents of the area, which lies in close proximity to the population centres of Nova Scotia, report poor electrical service with more frequent and lengthier power outages ever since Nova Scotia Power was privatized;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge Nova Scotia Power, a private monopoly regulated by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, to make quality delivery of electrical service to the people of this province their primary mandate.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear a few Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.


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

Whereas once again, human tragedy has struck at this province's most famous tourism spot, Peggy's Cove; and

Whereas the overwhelming power and unpredictable nature of the sea has for many years claimed the lives of tourists and Nova Scotians visiting Peggy's Cove; and

Whereas District 4's Fire Chief Captain Doug Avery has today called upon the provincial government to take steps to prevent further tragedies at Peggy's Cove;

Therefore be it resolved that the government call upon the Peggy's Cove Commission to submit recommendations for barriers and other safety measures and that the minister responsible for tourism ensure that these measures are taken immediately before there are any other tragedies at Peggy's Cove.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.


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

Whereas the Lion's Club of Chezzetcook and District is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of their charter; and

Whereas the Lion's Club is recognized world-wide for its outstanding community involvement; and

Whereas the Lion's Club of Chezzetcook and District has enriched the quality of life for the people of the Eastern Shore by many hours of generous community service;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations and best wishes to the Lion's Club of Chezzetcook and District on the occasion of their 10th Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice on this motion.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.


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

Whereas today is the 119th day of the sitting of the Second Session of the Fifty-sixth General Assembly; and

Whereas the longest recorded sitting of a Liberal Government, led by Premier John Savage, has implemented the most ambitious and much needed legislation in our province's history; and

Whereas such legislation designed to control the deficit will empower the economic growth of this province for years to come;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the success of the government, in cooperation with the members of the Opposition, for the delivery of a sound legislative agenda.

Mr. Speaker, I was going to request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I detect a broad consensus in support, but not unanimity.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.


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

Whereas a weekend wind storm played havoc with the lives of many Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the legislative package introduced by the Liberal Government during this session of the Legislature will wreak as much havoc on the lives of Nova Scotians as did Saturday night's wind storm; and

Whereas the havoc will result from higher taxes being paid by municipal ratepayers to the suffering being imposed upon injured workers to higher rates being forced upon employers of this province;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government stop playing the role of "Hurricane Red" and bring forth legislation that will save Nova Scotians money and make their lives comfortable, instead of consistently feeling the necessity to tear them apart.

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 the Education Minister has told Cape Bretoners that his slashing and hacking can't be blamed for a loss of classroom services and programs, because declining enrolment is also a factor; and

Whereas brave indeed is the Cape Breton representative who describes this effect of the severe population decline as a real problem then adds I don't know how to address that problem; and

Whereas Cape Bretoners outside the Liberal caucus circle have been forthright and not complimentary in their description of politicians who are failing to maintain or increase the opportunities in Cape Breton for young people;

Therefore be it resolved that this government should recall that its number one priority, announced in Cape Breton, was supposed to be a bottom-up jobs strategy to turn around the desperate lack of opportunity for young and old alike.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

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 time and again, this government's message has been that their mind is made up, there will be no more consultations, and that Nova Scotians should save their breath rather than try to divert the Liberal juggernaut; and

Whereas this sitting has demonstrated conclusively that when Nova Scotians ignore such intimidation and persist in making their concerns known, even the most insensitive and unresponsive government will eventually move; and

Whereas this sitting also demonstrates how legislative review and accountability are invaluable in giving voice to widespread concerns;

Therefore be it resolved that in evaluating its own performance since October, the government should resist concluding that even less consultation, accountability and legislative review will magically transform it into an effective and admired administration.

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 the published agenda of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative annual meeting, February 10th and 11th, lists only one defined theme, described as a "50's/60's theme" for the dinner/dance; and

Whereas some might conclude that the Conservatives are attempting to coax the public to go back to the 1950's and 1960's, golden days in Tory memory, at least; and

Whereas the relentless pursuit of conservative policies by the present Liberal Government gives Tories good reasons to avoid discussing their more recent record;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians should exercise due caution when approached by a political Party that would rather discuss its memories of the 1950's than what it was up to or hopes to yet achieve in the 1990's!

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.


MR. SPEAKER: The Minister of Justice.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table returns to House Orders No. 89 and 123.

MR. SPEAKER: The returns are tabled.

Are there any additional reports, regulations or other papers to be tabled? If not, that appears to conclude the daily routine. We will now advance to orders of the day.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Third Reading.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, with the approval of the House I would like to move en bloc the following Private and Local Bills:

Bill No. 125 - St. Mary's Municipal Holiday Act.

Bill No. 141 - Halifax Superannuation Act.

Bill No. 142 - Halifax City Charter.

Bill No. 143 - Halifax County Charter.

Bill No. 144 - Oak and Elm Grove Cemetery Company Act.

Bill No. 145 - Dartmouth City Charter.

Bill No. 147 - New Glasgow Parking Commission Act.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the wish of the House that we deal with that matter en bloc?

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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

MR. SPEAKER: L'honorable deputé du Argyle.

MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Merci, Monsieur l'Orateur. Would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Third Reading.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 120.

Bill No. 120 - Gaming Control Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: I so move, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I thank the Minister of Finance for his eloquent exposé of the background and rationale of Bill No. 120. It is not my intention to speak at unreasonable length in relation to this bill on third reading but there are a few observations which I would like to make, some of which I think you will have heard or some element of which you will have heard in earlier stages of debate on this bill.

The first comment that I make is that here as we participate in what appears to be the final day of this session with order paper 118, 118 days of this session and some 60 or 70 since we reconvened in October, we still don't have - more to the point, the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, don't have - from this Minister of Finance or from the Premier or from anybody on the government benches any answer to the question that is, as far as I am concerned, the most important answer to the question that the taxpayers of Nova Scotia are asking, and that question is why? Why are we doing this? Why is the Government of Nova Scotia embarking on the establishment of a casino gaming regime here in the Province of Nova Scotia when, on the basis of everything we have been able to determine from thousands of contacts made with us across the province, the overwhelming majority community opinion is that Nova Scotians simply do not want casino gaming at this stage in our development.

[1:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, not only do we not have the answer to the question of why, we have the most interesting reality here of having three studies or analyses of casino gaming done by committees of one kind or another, comprised of members of this place. In each case the opinion offered to the government by those committees of this Legislature was, with one little refinement, that in the opinion of those committees, this was not the time for the Province of Nova Scotia to be engaging or embarking on casino gaming. The one little refinement on that was, if memory serves me correctly, that the Morris Commission or the study headed by Edmund Morris, indicated that perhaps the steps to be taken, relative to casino gaming, might be the establishment of a pilot project or projects in connection with casinos.

That is not at all what this government decides to come forward with. This government, ignoring all of that, ignoring, if I may say, the most recent of those studies chaired by the member for Halifax Bedford Basin (Interruption) Yes, a good member - which recommended clearly against casino gaming. I have not heard any explanation from the Minister of Finance or from the chair of that committee or from any member, all of whom were signatories to it, saying we should not have casino gaming in Nova Scotia at this point.

I have not heard anybody come back to the substantive issue and the recommendation made to offer an explanation as to why that recommendation was somehow flawed or in error or not based on adequate or proper or accurate information. We have not had any of that. So the people of Nova Scotia, and I can tell you because many thousands of them have contacted us, are scratching their heads saying, what in the name of Heaven is going on here? What is the answer to the question of why are we doing this?

Now on an earlier day the Minister of Finance, when attempting to defend this decision, made some reference to the fact that well, in the negotiations with ITT Sheraton, those who did the negotiations got a better deal with ITT Sheraton than has been able to be secured by the governments in virtually any other Canadian jurisdiction. He offers as proof of that that the deal with ITT Sheraton carries with it a contractual obligation on the part of ITT Sheraton, that ITT Sheraton has to pay to the Minister of Finance for the next four years the sum of $25 million per year; that amount of money paid, regardless of how well or poorly the casino will do.

The formulations of the arrangements are such that should it do better, the amount of money that would be coming to the province would be somewhat in excess of $25 million. So that is the base, bottom line.

So the Minister of Finance would say to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, well, this is not all that bad a deal because even if the casino is an absolute muck-up and doesn't get off the ground at all and is a disaster, ITT Sheraton is guaranteed to write us cheques for four years in a row for $25 million apiece. Well, I don't want to make light of $25 million apiece, but then, after we learned that much of the deal, we started to ask various questions of the Minister of Finance, of the Premier, of the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, of the Minister of Health, of the Minister of Community Services, of the Minister of Justice, we asked each and every one of them, now have any of you ministers, said we to them, Mr. Speaker, have any of you conducted studies which will give the taxpayers of Nova Scotia an indication as to what is likely to happen on the basis of informed, professional, precise study? What is going to happen in terms of the additional costs needed for administration of justice -new police forces and security arrangements, new law enforcement requirements, is it going to require new staff, new additions to police forces and so on? Well, the Minister of Justice does not know and he does not know because he has not bothered to do a study.

We asked the Minister of Health, now Minister of Health, could you please tell us what is going to happen in the Province of Nova Scotia if, as and when, casino gaming is undertaken here in Nova Scotia? We know from reading the experience in every other jurisdiction in which casino gaming has been undertaken, that in those other places, very considerable addiction problems have developed. Now what kind of study, Mr. Minister of Health, have you conducted that indicate to you, what is the additional cost that you will be required to bear through the Department of Health and likely through the drug dependency or addictions dependency commission in order to respond to those, on the basis if everything we have seen from casino establishment in other places will undoubtedly develop here in Halifax and Dartmouth?

The truth of the matter is, upon examination and some cross-examination, the Minister of Health one day said to me in Question Period, well, no I have not done such studies. Then, lo and behold, Mr. Speaker, you will recall that on a subsequent day, as we got into a discussion here relative to the impact of what have come to be called VLTs, video lottery terminals, the Minister of Health rose in this place and he said that as a matter of fact, he had been doing some reading which satisfied him that he, the Minister of Health, is now convinced that addiction to VLTs is probably in all of the gaming and gambling world, the most pervasive and the most addictive activity of all, VLTs are the most addictive form of gambling.

Well, I, then, asked the Minister of Health, having heard him say that, if he, the Minister of Health, could tell us, having come to that conclusion from his readings and from his studies, what does he believe, as Minister of Health, is likely to be the impact in terms of new addictions and hence in terms of new program and cost implications for him and his department, when we realize, as is the case, that the ITT Sheraton proposal calls for, if you can believe it, Mr. Speaker, the placement and the operation of 800 video lottery terminals just down the street from this building? Eight hundred of the pieces of machinery which the Minister of Health a few days prior had acknowledged he had come to learn were the most addictive of all of the gaming and gambling equipment and machinery in the province.

Well, that strikes me as being a little bit incongruous, to say the least, that the Minister of Health would have that knowledge, and I have not heard him once, I have not heard the Minister of Health once in this place come anywhere within lightyears of saying that he is even modestly concerned or that he is thinking that maybe they better do something in the Department of Health or with the drug dependency or addictions dependency initiative within the province to ensure that they are ready for what might happen in terms of increased addictions.

We asked the Minister of Community Services if he has done a study in his department. What is going to happen if, as is possible, God forbid that it does, but it is possible and it has been shown and demonstrated that it has happened in other jurisdictions where casino gaming has been established, what happens if families who do not have the resources, the disposable income to justify them being in the gambling casinos but are anyway and are spending money in the casino gambling establishment, which should be being taken home to provide for the food and the maintenance and the sustenance and the board and the shelter and the roof over the particular family? That will happen. I don't know to how many people it will happen, but on the basis of our reading of a great many materials, we are satisfied that it is going to happen to probably many hundreds of families in that circumstance.

Yet, the Minister of Community Services, unless I have misunderstood things he has said here, acknowledges that his department, to my knowledge, has not done any study which gives him and his department an indication of the way in which, the extent to which, it might be necessary for his department to respond to addictions of that kind and respond, more importantly, to the increased demand and drain on the social welfare system of this province for those who, unfortunately, in difficult economic circumstances will, as a result of their involvement in the gambling casinos, get to the point where they have nowhere else to turn but to the social service and the social welfare system of the province. Yet, that department has done no study.

We have no study, that I am aware of, from the Economic Renewal Agency. All of the materials that our caucus has been able to review have shown us, clearly, that there is a very real likelihood that with the establishment of casino gaming in Halifax and in Sydney, there may well be - it is not a guarantee - but there has been a performance or there has been a result in virtually every other jurisdiction in which the gaming establishments have been established, that a whole range of other business enterprises are literally put out of work by reason of the way in which the casino operations go about their business, because the casino operations run a number of restaurants and it impacts on the restaurant establishment.

In the proximity, just consider the geography here in the City of Halifax, this casino, where it is intended to be placed, is just literally ringed, within two or three blocks, of some very successful restaurant and bar and pub establishments which have done pretty well. Everything that we read shows that the casino and, in fact, their proposal shows that they are going to have a whole range of restaurants, of little cabarets, of dining rooms of one kind or another, bars of one kind or another, entertainment of one kind or another. They become a centre of gambling, eating, drinking and entertainment, all under the one roof, which is exactly what has happened in other jurisdictions. The net result is that a great many businesses within close proximity to such establishments in other places have gone out of business or have been pushed to the brink of bankruptcy.

We don't have any indication from the Minister of the Economic Renewal Agency that he or his people have taken so much as five minutes to have a look at whether or not there is any potential that any of that might happen; and if that were to happen, if it might be appropriate in order to ensure that if that pressure is there on existing and indigenous business, are there ways in which some of the ground rules, relative to the way in which the casino operates, could be crafted so as to minimize that adverse impact upon existing business.

So the bottom line, Mr. Speaker, as you see, is that we have a government which has stood before the people of Nova Scotia and has said, we are going to have casino gaming and not one member of the government, not one ministry, not the Premier, not any of these ministers has, to my knowledge, conducted anything close to a reasonable, professional, precise, detailed, honest, objective, unbiased socio-economic study which would at least even give us a benchmark, so that we would know, if they are so hell bent for leather as they obviously are, to have this legislation go through and casinos be undertaken, we could at least have a benchmark socio-economic study in which there was participation from all of the relevant ministers to whom I have made reference and we and the taxpayers of Nova Scotia could then, 12 months, 24 months, 36 months from the beginning of this ill-advised adventure, be able to go back to the benchmark socio-economic studies and make a judgment as to whether or not the legislation is, in fact, in the best interests of the Province of Nova Scotia.

[1:45 p.m.]

The legislation itself, Mr. Speaker, as you will recall, it has some very interesting words in it. It says that, "The purpose of this Act is to (a) establish a framework for conducting, managing, controlling and regulating casinos and other lottery schemes . . .", listen to these words, ". . . so as to enhance the economic development of and generate revenue for the Province;".

Well, I suggest as directly and as aggressively as I possibly can, that this government cannot for a minute, it has no information, it has no background, upon which or against which it can stand in this place and say with anything but a wide-eyed hope that it is establishing a framework for conducting, managing, controlling and regulating casinos and so on so as to enhance the economic development and generate revenue for the province, because they don't know that that is going to happen. They simply don't know that that is going to happen.

Then, they go on to say in the purpose clause of the legislation, Clause 2(b), that they are going, "to ensure that any measures taken with respect to casinos and other lottery schemes are undertaken for the public good and in the best interests of the public.". Well, we have had 41,000 name petitions filed here. We have had hundreds and hundreds and thousands and thousands of people communicate with our caucus, with the government caucus, I know they have because many of them have told me that they have. There are probably a couple of hundred thousand people, minimum, in this province - and we are only a province of some 900,000 - who have expressed their view. Their view is, no, we do not believe that the establishment of casino gaming is in the present or long-term best interests of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Yet this government is blinded, I don't know, Mr. Speaker, blinded by a $25 million a year commitment from ITT Sheraton over four years. What is that going to do? What is $25 million going to do if we find that the Minister of Health needs $6 million or $7 million to respond to addictions and the Minister of Community Services needs $5 million or $6 million to respond to community welfare needs? We are up to $11 million or $12 million. We are going to find that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is going to require some few millions of dollars to assist existing businesses. We are up to $15 million. We are going to find (Interruptions), indeed, those pushed to the brink of bankruptcy add further confusion to the formulation because they don't have the capacity as their business tails off to pay the tax which they are now paying.

What if we find that in terms of the - I am looking for the minister, who is here beside the minister of, the Minister of Justice - the Minister of Justice finds that the involvement or the introduction of casino gaming in the province carries with it a necessity on the part of his ministry to come up with some - pick a number - $2 million, $3 million, $4 million, $5 million worth of additional law enforcement requirements.

I didn't keep a running tally there. But very quickly, Mr. Speaker, my suggestion to you is that without some confirmation that all of those things that I am raising will not happen, cannot happen, there is, with respect, a very distinct possibility that the $25 million about which the Minister of Finance speaks as coming annually from ITT Sheraton could, in very large measure, be eaten up by additional expenditures required by colleague ministers of his, in a whole range of ministries.

The casino issue is a very difficult one. There was a study done by Robert Goodman in 1994, a United States gambling study. He is the Director, United States Gambling Study, Legalized Gambling as a Strategy for Economic Development. Many jurisdictions in the United States and across Canada have, in the last 36 or 48 months, turned to casino gaming and gambling in one form or another as a panacea, in terms of economic development.

This study says, among other things, if I may quote it just briefly and I won't quote it at length, "There is no popularly-based movement for the expansion of legalized gambling; expansion has resulted from the efforts of gambling industry companies and public officials. There are no state gambling plans. Gambling has grown in an ad hoc, `copy cat' manner as states follow each others' leads, responding to revenue shortfalls and the fear that neighbouring states or Indian tribes will siphon off their gambling dollars.

Once gambling ventures are legalized and governments become dependent on their revenues, the future form and spread of gambling within a state becomes extremely difficult to control.". That is a very real concern for us here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

"There is a critical lack of objective knowledge and research about the real economic and social costs and benefits of legalized benefits. The research used by public officials to evaluate projects is often done by the gambling industry itself.". What a line. That, in fact, Mr. Speaker, is exactly what has happened here because the Minister of Finance has indicated here in this place and publicly outside this place, that in large measure much and many of the projections made as to what, in his opinion, the positive economic spin on casino gaming will be, is predicated on a bunch of numbers provided to him by the proponent ITT Sheraton. They are not his or his department's numbers, they are not government numbers, they are not economic impact studies' numbers conducted by the government. "The research used by public officials to evaluate projects is often done by the gambling industry itself.". Boy, that is the line and the classic reality here.

"While legalized gambling has produced increases in some forms of employment and tax revenues . . .", the study reports, Mr. Speaker, ". . . the shifting of large amounts of consumer spending to state sponsored gambling also has negative effects on other local businesses. In addition, there are other expenditures, such as those for criminal justice, regulation, problem gambling behaviour and public infrastructure.". Again, all the things that I have asked about. I have asked about studies for criminal justice, regulation matters, problem gambling services, additions and the like, public infrastructure, administration of law and so on. The ministers sit on the benches opposite and remain mute. The reason they do is because they have not done any of these studies.

"In general . . .", says the study to which I refer, ". . . in the fourteen studies analyzed, claims of economic benefits were exaggerated, while costs were understated.". That is not my statement, that is not the statement of the Conservative caucus, that is the statement of Robert Goodman who did a study called Legalized Gambling as a Strategy for Economic Development. It was done in 1994, a sophisticated study funded by the Aspen Institute and the Ford Foundation. I think, Mr. Speaker, it raises a number of very serious and important questions.

The study goes on to talk about recruiting more gamblers and it says, "As the states . . .", and in our case the province, ". . . legalize and promote more gambling ventures, the number of people who gamble is increasing and the amount of personal income being spent on gambling is also rising. This is increasing the cost of dealing with gambling-related problems.". We haven't heard one member of the government talk about the fact that even they are prepared to acknowledge that there might be gambling-related problems.

"As state budgets become more gambling-dependent, legislators are tending to legalize higher revenue producing games, like video lottery terminals (slot machines) and keno at dispersed locations. These constant, quick action games are considered highly addictive by counseling professionals. State gambling dependence has also eroded prohibitions against locating casinos in large urban areas.". That seems to run counter to what we are doing here.

"There has also been a marked shift toward more slot machines in existing casinos. In the future, as revenues from existing gambling ventures are unable to keep pace with government gambling dependence, the gambling industry and legislators are likely to look toward expansion through the use of telephone and interactive TV betting.". Now isn't that going to be great if we get into a system of legalized gambling where anybody in Nova Scotia simply has to pick up their phone, dial the right 1-800 number and get plugged into a gambling scheme? Can you imagine the difficulties that that is going to cause for countless thousands and thousands of problems in families in this province?

The study goes on, and I will get off it in just one moment, "In the process of gambling legalization, states have shifted from the role of gambling regulator to that of gambling promoter. In doing this, they are liberalizing regulations designed to protect the public and spending more on gambling advertisements and promotions. In the future, if governments do not find better ways to raise public revenues, they will continue to move in the direction of inducing more people to gamble more money. The results are likely to be increased cannibalization of non-gambling businesses and increased public costs of dealing with the social and economic consequences.". Again, we see no study, we see no response, we don't see any minister answer the question, why are we doing this.

All of this, of course, as you will recall, Mr. Speaker, is against the backdrop of a commitment from John Savage, another broken commitment, when he was a candidate and Leader in the provincial election in May 1993. In that election campaign, you will recall and most Nova Scotians will recall, that when asked point blank about gaming casinos and gambling casinos and so on, John Savage said as then Liberal Leader and aspirant for the Premiership in the May 1993 election, John Savage said, I will guarantee you that there will be no casino gambling in Nova Scotia without the widest possible consultation with all Nova Scotians. Well, the hollowest words ever spoken in the election campaign; the hollowest promise ever made. (Interruptions) Well, I am being helped. It has been suggested that perhaps that one is as hollow as most of the others. I was suggesting that it was the hollowest.

Well, certainly in the context of casino gaming, it was the hollowest and it was the echo which reverberates through and in and around the words of that promise show that it was nothing but hollow rhetoric because, as I know you know and all Nova Scotians know, Mr. Speaker, there has been no consultation with the people of Nova Scotia asking their opinions, asking their views, asking them to contribute their advice and their counsel relative to the decision taken by this government to embark upon casino gaming. There just simply has not been any.

[2:00 p.m.]

We have had no studies, no socio-economic studies, no studies from Justice, no studies from Health, no studies from the Economic Renewal Agency, no studies from Community Services, no studies from the Premier's Office, no studies in Finance, no consultation with the people whom John Savage promised, in his election promise, would be consulted and, out of the blue, in a speech one day - and I forget the date, but I happened to be in the audience - at the World Trade and Convention Centre, the Premier, almost as an afterthought (Interruption) Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: A luncheon address.

MR. DONAHOE: A luncheon address. Well, maybe his problem that was lunch was not great and he got a little indigestion and got off his feed and he (Interruption) The kind of indigestion I am giving you now, is that what you are suggesting? At the tail-end of that speech, the Premier, almost as a throw-away line, indicated that we - the provincial government - would be moving into casino gaming.

Mr. Speaker, this particular study, which is a tremendously important document, a very important document, there was just one other reference that I wanted to make from it. To complete references to this study, I want to make a couple of quick references and then I will get off that study, but I think it is important because I think they are issues that we simply have to have before us as we consider this issue.

This study says, among many other things, Mr. Speaker, "The legalization of casino gaming in Atlantic City is often cited by casino opponents as a major factor in the rapid growth of that city's crime rate. Since 1978, when casinos were first developed in Atlantic City, the city's crime index exceeded that of the state as a whole. By 1981, there was a near tripling of total crimes. In just three years following the opening of its first casino, Atlantic City went from 50th in the nation, per capita crime, to first. A study of the impacts of casino gaming on Atlantic City and its surrounding areas found that not only did crime spill over to surrounding areas which were easily accessible from Atlantic City, but some of these areas have had no measurable economic benefit from casino development. The study goes on to report, "However, despite the approximately $6 billion in private investment, Atlantic City has become virtually two cities - one of extravagant casinos manned by a largely outside work force, and the other a city of boarded-up buildings, of a predominately minority population that suffers large-scale unemployment, that has been given easy access to gambling." and on and on it goes.

There are sections in this document about problem gambling costs and they really are rather frightening. Research compiled by those putting the study together, ". . . demonstrates that the social and economic costs of behavioral gambling problems, while sometimes difficult to quantify, are considerable - not only to the individuals and families involved, but to the general public.". The studies cited, ". . . indicate that the mean gambling-related debt (excluding auto loans, mortgages and other `legitimate' debt) of people in compulsive gambling therapy, range from about $53,000 to $92,000.'".

So, Mr. Speaker, that might be classified or considered by some or responded to by some as fear-mongering or scare tactics, or whatever, and I would not be shocked or appalled to have others, perhaps, react in that way, but I don't consider them anything except - the comments I have made - a statement as to what has happened in other places where casino gaming has taken place. It is not all peaches and cream, it is not all a bed of roses, there are some very real potential difficulties. The most disappointing performance, next to the breach of the promise by the Premier that he would consult Nova Scotians, the next most disappointing element of the performance of this government, relative to casino gaming, is that not one of the ministers, the Premier included, has conducted anything like studies, any kind of studies that indicate that all of the stuff I have been saying and, more to the point, all of the stuff that those why have studied the reality in other places where casinos have been established is all wrong and simply is not going to happen in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I don't believe for a minute that those studies have been done and, if they were done, I don't believe for a minute that they would disclose that what studies have disclosed elsewhere would be found to be wrong. I know there are many backbenchers in the Liberal Government who are receiving frequent representations. I am sure the case is the same with the ministers - frequent representations from people in the Province of Nova Scotia, all parts of the Province of Nova Scotia, who are very concerned and very frightened about the impact of the establishment of casino gaming here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

This bill that will leave this place today, while in concert with the minister we were able to effect certain amendments, we were amending a piece of legislation against the principle of which we take fundamental exception. So it was a pretty hollow exercise for us to be engaged in dialogue which resulted in amendments to legislation which we think is just so fundamentally flawed and just so wrong for the Province of Nova Scotia.

I think it is clear, having seen now the way in which ITT Sheraton is advertising for positions in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Reno, Mississippi and elsewhere, it is now clear that the jobs which carry a pretty hefty price tag with them and are the jobs where the men and women in them, will be paid in excess of $60,000 and $70,000, up to $125,000 to $150,000, those jobs are going to go to people from outside this province. There is no need for that to happen at all. If casino are going to be here - and this government is determined that they are going to stuff them down the throats of the people of Nova Scotia, so they are going to be here - it is incumbent upon this government to sit down with ITT Sheraton and ensure that all those jobs that can be done at the senior management levels of the operation are made available to Nova Scotian men and women with the talents to employ them. We are talking about comptrollers and we have people who can do that work; we are talking about people in the security business and we have people who can do that work; we are talking about people who are in human resources development work and we can do that work; we are talking about people in the security end of things and we can do that work, and on it goes.

The impression one gets and the fear that I have and many Nova Scotians have is that all the meaningful jobs will be made available to people from some place outside our jurisdiction and the more menial tasks will be available to the men and women who live in this community. It just simply doesn't make any sense at all, Mr. Speaker.

The changes which the establishment of casinos in our community will bring will, I think, potentially be very profound. I don't have any sense of the Minister of Finance or anybody in the government having responded at all to any of the legitimate concerns which have been raised thus far by a great many people in the Province of Nova Scotia. I think we are going to see incremental increases in services costs, policing and court costs, incarceration, UIC, welfare payments, social assistance, health care costs, I think we are going to see the erosion of some tax based disposable income and default on income tax payments, I think we are going to see costs as employers of problem gamblers, lost time productivity, embezzlement, fraud, rehiring and retraining. I think we are going to see costs as retailers, disposable income shifts to casinos, revenue reduction to the Liquor Commission and the Atlantic Lotto Commission. I think without a precise economic impact statement, I think it is legitimate for me to make the argument which has been made by others that there is a very real chance that rather than being a net producer of government revenue this adventure will prove to be a drain on the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1977, before that city's first casino opened there were 243 eating and drinking establishments. After 10 years, there were only 146 and the survivors reported a 10 per cent drop in sales after inflation and Arnold Hughes of the Minnesota Restaurant Association says that in the three years since the introduction of casinos in that state, restaurants within a 25 to 30 mile radius of any major casino are reporting a 20 to 50 per cent loss in business and on and on it goes.

Unfortunately, this bill will pass and unfortunately we will, once passed, see all kinds of vigorous activity at the Sheraton Hotel here in the city and down at the site in Sydney and before too many months pass the gambling casinos and gaming casinos will be up and running. I just think it is probably in my 16 or 17 years in this place, it is probably the stupidest public policy decision ever taken by any government. The reason I say stupidest is because it is one in which it is taken on the basis of some idle starry eyed belief, and my colleague from Kings West suggests fantasy, and it probably is in the realm of fantasy land that the Minister of Finance and the Premier and perhaps some other ministers have got visions of sugarplums dancing in front of their head and all of that is on the basis of what the proponent comes into town and tells them they are going to do and what the revenues are going to be.

Well, I don't believe some of that for a minute. You are aware that after about a year's experience with the casino in Montreal some very sophisticated studies of that casino's experience were undertaken. After about a year of operation there it was shown by an objective, unbiased study that approximately 4 per cent of the monies spent in the casino in Montreal were spent by people who were from outside of the Province of Quebec. So, what is the flip side? The flip side is 96 per cent of the money spent in the Montreal casino is spent by Quebecers. Montreal is a rather different place than Halifax and Sydney. Montreal is a big cosmopolitan international city with tens of thousands of people in and out of there on a day by day basis. Wouldn't we love to have the kind of traffic in and out of Halifax and Sydney that is in and out of the City of Montreal, but it isn't.

In that cosmopolitan environment only 4 per cent of the expenditure in the casino in Montreal is spent by people from outside the Province of Quebec, 96 per cent of the money is Quebecer's money. The studies go on to say that a great deal of that 96 per cent of the money from Quebecers is from men and women who are of financial circumstances where going to the casino and losing the money puts them in very real financial jeopardy and is driving them to the Quebec community services and social welfare support programs. Just the very fear that we are raising here.

[2:15 p.m.]

Well, I ask you, Mr. Speaker, and I ask all right thinking Nova Scotians to consider this. If in a big cosmopolitan city with a great big fancy casino, such as apparently is now functioning there, only 4 per cent of the money spent there is spent by people who are visitors to the City of Montreal, I ask all thinking Nova Scotians to compare that against ITT Sheraton's snow job on the Minister of Finance here, where they say that some 25 per cent to 27 per cent of the money spent in the new casino to be established here in the City of Halifax will be spent by people from outside of Nova Scotia.

I don't believe that for a minute and if the Minister of Finance believes it, I certainly hope that he is prepared, before we close down on third reading here, that he is certainly prepared to stand up and indicate to us that he has studies that show that there is some modest amount of credibility and viability to that projection. Because I don't believe it for a minute. I don't believe for a minute that 27 per cent of the revenues or the expenditures in that casino will be made by people who are visitors to the Province of Nova Scotia. I just don't think that is going to happen.

Mr. Speaker, I said a moment ago and I will repeat and I will conclude with these remarks. On the basis of everything that we have been able to learn about the way in which this government went about deciding on the casino issue, one almost would get the impression that they went to the Cabinet table or they went to the Priorities and Planning Committee and the issue came to the table and maybe they decided on this issue in a fashion that would be consistent with establishing casino gaming. Maybe they decided that everybody would take a loonie out of their pocket and they flipped coins and if the majority came up heads, we will do casinos. If the majority came up tails, maybe we will not.

That is almost the impression one gets as to how this public policy decision was taken, because we have not had the question, why, answered. We have not had the communication and the consultation with the public which Premier Savage promised, none of it, not even close. We have not had a socio-economic study done by Finance, by Justice, by Health, by the Economic Renewal Agency, by Community Services, by the Premier's Office, by anybody's office who might be relevant. This is an absolute pig in a poke.

There is nothing that has been shown or tabled in this House which justifies the public policy decision taken. There is nothing which has been communicated to the households of Nova Scotia which might have, I expected along the way that, perhaps, that might happen. After some of us raised objections to the casino gambling, I thought that the Minister of Finance, with all his studies and all of his background materials and all of his superior information relative to all of this, I thought they might embark on a little bit of a public relations campaign and send a little flyer to every household in Nova Scotia telling the taxpayers of Nova Scotia what they are doing with casino gambling, why they are doing it, how they are doing it, what it all means.

Well, they did not do that. That makes me think that they don't have much of a story to tell. Because if they had a story to tell that was in any positive, you know as well as I do, Mr. Speaker, that each and every one of these ministers would have been out beating the hustings all over this province, from one end to the other, telling the people of Nova Scotia the values and the virtues of casino gaming. I have yet to learn of one speech or one event where the Premier or the Minister of Finance or any other minister or backbencher of this government has gone public and has put together a town hall meeting or a public meeting anywhere in the province and has said, now, ladies and gentlemen I want to speak to you and extol the virtues of casino gaming.

That hasn't happened, Mr. Speaker, because not one of the members of this government, Treasury bench members and backbenchers, is in a position to go to the people of Nova Scotia and extol the virtues of casino gaming because they know in their hearts that there are as many down-sides, probably more down-sides, potential down-sides, as there are pluses to casino gaming. It is a knee-jerk shot at what they believe might possibly produce some revenue and they got carried away when they had ITT Sheraton talk to them in terms of $25 million a year.

I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that the $25 million a year, Mr. Speaker, will be eaten up by additional costs required to be met by a whole range of ministries across this government and I think this is, as I have said, the most ill-considered and the stupidest public policy decision taken by any government that I had knowledge of in all my time here and during all my time even prior to that as I came to this House, as I did as a youngster, to watch my father and other governments conduct their business here.

Mr. Speaker, I really think the Province of Nova Scotia will rue the day - or the night -that the opening of either or both of these casinos takes place. I think the potential down-sides far outweigh the potential up-sides. I am very disappointed that without the Premier having kept the promise that he made, he is jamming, through his Minister of Finance, a public policy decision down the throats of the people of Nova Scotia which they don't want. I, therefore, along with, I am sure, many colleagues, and I put the challenge to Liberal backbenchers who have received communications and representations from constituents in their part of the province saying to them that they don't think that casino gaming is a proper public policy initiative and undertaking for the Province of Nova Scotia at this time, I put the challenge to those backbenchers to vote their conscience and vote on the basis of what they know in their hearts is the attitude and the concern of the constituents whom they represent and vote with us in the Opposition in opposition to this ill-conceived public policy initiative. I will vote against this bill on third reading. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I am sure it will come as a great surprise for me to open my comments on third reading of the Gaming Control Act that I indicate that I will be voting against this bill yet again, as will my colleagues, for all of the many reasons that we have outlined over the many weeks of - I might say - one-sided debate on this issue and for the many reasons that we will attempt to summarize here today on this final, fateful, day of debate on the casino gaming bill.

Mr. Speaker, it may be useful as we wrap up debate on the Gaming Control Act if we go back to the kickoff of this session. All members will be reminded that this session actually began on October 26th and the post-Christmas days have simply been a continuation of that fall session, when the Premier and the Government House Leader held a joint press conference to pronounce, among other things, and I quote directly from their statement on the occasion of their pre-legislative session press conference when they stated, "Much has been said and written about casinos in Nova Scotia over the past several months. We are hopeful that legislative debate on the issue will be grounded in reality, rather than an attempt to exploit unfounded fears in the name of political gain.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I think that in the last three and one-half months a great many Nova Scotians, those of us here in Opposition among them, have worked long and hard to try to ground the debate around this government's pro gambling agenda, in reality. We have attempted to ground this debate in the realities of what we know about the likely outcome of this disastrous public policy decision. We have tried to push the government to do the responsible thing that anybody looking on at what is happening here knew was the only responsible way for the government to proceed, that was that if they were hell-bent, if they were determined, if they could not be deterred in their decision to actively escalate the level of gambling behaviour in this province, at the very least they had a responsibility to do the kind of in-depth, comprehensive, detailed social impact analysis, economic impact analysis, health audit, a comprehensive analysis of the predictable costs and the projected benefits from this chosen public policy initiative, and put that information out to Nova Scotians to analyze, to consider, to debate and ultimately to pass judgment on before they proceeded with this public policy decision.

But no, Mr. Speaker, this government, in its wisdom, decided that its pre-election commitment meant nothing, that the assertions made by the Liberal caucus members, when in Opposition, that we had to be very cautious in this province before we allowed a further escalation of gambling, that those commitments stood for nothing.

Yet, Mr. Speaker, in the run-up to the election campaign there is no question about it, there is no mystery about it, this isn't just Opposition rhetoric. The Liberal caucus members who were then in the House, joined by their new, shiny Leader, John Savage, went out about this province trying to gain public confidence for their position, vis-a-vis this whole question of increased levels of gambling activity and casinos in particular. So they earned for themselves headlines, they held press conferences, they issued statements; Liberals want government out of gambling. We had that Liberal caucus in Opposition outlining a seven point agenda for how to put the lid on, how to put the brakes on the escalation of gambling activity.

They talked about how it was a cause of great concern that so much of this activity was going on unregulated, that because of the unregulated nature of gambling activity that was going on there were men and women in this province who were literally putting their entire pay cheques into gambling activity, sometimes including every cent that they had from whatever source, destroying their own health, destroying their own families, causing the kind of adverse impact on the community and the over-burdened community resource agencies and so on.

[2:30 p.m.]

These were all great concerns addressed by the Liberals in Opposition when they outlined their seven point program, a seven point program they talked about as being needed to ease gambling addiction problems, since the government of the day had allowed these problems to get out of control. They even said that not only should access to video lottery terminals be greatly reduced, be limited, but that the most addictive aspects of that gambling activity had to be curbed by introducing a moratorium on any new VLTs and, also, to try to cut down on the addictive nature of the gambling activity itself, that winners of video lottery machines, instead of being able to get cash and continue gambling, that when they made a win that they should take a coupon or a certificate away with them so that their gambling addiction was not reinforced and they should have to mail that coupon or certificate in to the Lottery Commission before they would get their so-called reward.

Well, what happened to those pre-election commitments? What happened to the very specific assertion made by the Liberal Party Leader before he became Premier on the election trail that the utmost caution needed to be exercised before there was any step in the direction of more gambling activity and, in particular, that Nova Scotians would be the ones to decide, that there would be extensive, exhaustive consultation and that it was a decision that Nova Scotians would make, not the Liberal Government of the day. What happened, is it just a question of that was then and this is now? I know that when we reminded the Liberal caucus members of their very specific seven point commitment, they said, oh yeah, but that was about video lottery terminals. This is about casinos. We are in the big leagues now.

Anybody who is following this whole issue with concern, which is the vast majority of Nova Scotians, knows and understands that what casinos are for the most part are great big video lottery terminal warehouses with added glitz and glitter and the kind of huge promotion that the sort of multinational partner this government has gone into business with can put behind the attempt to lure people into that gambling activity.

This is the government that said, just prior to taking office, that it was going to put a moratorium on VLTs and introduce a number of measures that would reduce the potential for addictive behaviour. Now, we have the announcement that there are going to be hundreds and hundreds more of those machines surrounded with all the kind of glitz and glamour and glitter that this government can put over the door and surround the atmosphere with, because all of a sudden this has become important economic activity.

It is that kind of flip-flop, it is that kind of short-sighted view of things, it is that persistent refusal to weigh the costs associated with this disastrous course that has earned for this government the reputation of being big time gamblers. Mr. Speaker, when you read the description of problem gambling and addiction gambling in this Department of Health, Drug Dependency Division's own research, then it is very clear that the same kind of characteristics that one associates with problem and addictive gambling is the kind of behaviour that this government has displayed every step of the way as it has pushed forward with this pro gambling agenda.

"Problem and pathological gamblers have many similarities; they gamble to escape from depression, uncertainties, insecurities, and other intolerable feeling states in their lives. They solve their problems omnipotently, resulting in a temporary sense of triumph or grandiosity.".

Mr. Speaker, the manner in which this government has embraced this pro gambling agenda clearly brings to mind the characteristics of gambling addicts. When you see the various types of behaviour that are included in gambling addiction, all of the characteristics of this government come to mind. "Habitual chance taking", that is what this whole pro casino agenda is. The very best that can be said about it is that it is one great big gamble; "gambling that blocks all other activities."; this government has poured so much of its time and energy and attention and resources into advancing its gambling agenda, that a great many of its very important commitments to a completely different economic development approach have been sidelined; "having an attitude of unrealistic optimism about winning that does not understand defeat.".

Mr. Speaker, this is the government, this is the Premier and the House Leader on the eve of this start up of this session in late October who said, we want for the debate around casinos to be grounded in reality. Yet, this government has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the facts and figures that have been placed before them and done nothing to try to determine for themselves what the likely impact would be of their initiatives; "enjoying the subjective thrill of gambling, although excessive gambling brings pain to the gambler and their family.". Finally, "By not paying attention to the distress of others, . . .", says the description of addictive gambling, ". . . gamblers can generate chaos all around them. They are constant in their individualism.".

Well, Mr. Speaker, I think that is what we have seen go on here for the last three and one-half months. This government has been prepared to create a lot of chaos around this issue, without taking any responsibility to address the real concerns that people have, very legitimate concerns. Not concerns that come, as the government would try to suggest, out of some kind of hysterical, unfounded fears, but concerns that have come out of people's careful attempts to make sense of what has happened elsewhere with respect to such pro casino agendas.

We have the Drug Dependency Division's own discussion paper on policy issues for the operation of casinos. This government has virtually ignored all of the warnings outlined in that discussion paper from the Drug Dependency Division. I suppose the government will trot this out as part of their analysis of what is likely to happen, but the government has completely ignored and, I would have to say, in most situations, Mr. Speaker, chosen to completely reject the warning signals and the projections that have been placed before them by their own Drug Dependency Commission.

A document on problem gambling and addiction from January 1994. The government has virtually ignored the kind of advice that was contained in that document. The study of the prevalence of gambling, entitled An Examination of the Prevalence of Gambling in Nova Scotia, carried out at public expense, carried out on behalf of Nova Scotians. I suppose the reason why the government chose to totally ignore this is because, in fact, it was carried out under the previous government under the auspices of the Nova Scotia Lottery Commission.

Yet, Mr. Speaker, when you study that document on the prevalence of existing gambling in Nova Scotia, it makes it absolutely clear that this government's projections about what kind of benefits are going to ensue for Nova Scotians are hogwash, are absolutely preposterous when you consider, for example, that the prevalent study on gambling activity in Nova Scotia over that period of a few years leading up to this report which was issued in May of 1993, clearly showed that at the absolute height of the VLT frenzy that was going on in this province, at the absolute peak of that level of VLT activity that Nova Scotians were very concerned about and that the Liberal caucus indicated loudly and clearly it was extremely concerned about, only slightly more than 5 per cent of Nova Scotians ever once put a quarter or a loonie in a VLT machine.

Yet, Mr. Speaker, this government has chosen to believe, and I guess thinks it is very good news, that ITT Sheraton, whom they have now declared to be their agent in the business of casino gambling, has based its projections on the estimate that over 60 per cent of Nova Scotians living within 30 minute's drive of the casinos to be located in metro and industrial Cape Breton, are going to enter those casinos. Mr. Speaker, not just enter those casinos once, enter those casinos, on average, 10 times a year.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what is pathetic about the government's buying that line is that whichever way you look at it, it is really a big problem. If the projections are, in fact, accurate, then we are talking about an 87 per cent increase in the level of gambling of Nova Scotians over what has been documented in the previous year. If this government is dead wrong in its projections of those high levels of gambling, then this government is about to hook us into what they call the Cadillac model of casinos, that are very expensive operations indeed.

Although this government certainly favoured that the debate on the gaming control legislation not be informed by what was actually contained in the ITT Sheraton proposals, or else they would not have had them under such tight lock and key and so inaccessible to people who wanted to really know what lay ahead, the fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, that the ITT Sheraton proposals, which this government has decided to approve, which this government has decided is the Cadillac version of casino gambling that somehow they believe Nova Scotians want, or at least they believe they can put over on Nova Scotians, those proposals show that this so-called Cadillac model of casinos is so expensive, with all its glitter and glamour and glitz and all of its Las Vegas-style characteristics, that somewhere between 61 per cent and 64 per cent of the gambling revenues, the gross revenues, are going to be eaten up in covering the expenditures.

Most of those expenditures, Mr. Speaker, are expenditures that are going to be ongoing. So Nova Scotians who don't even want casinos, who would not even be asking for a Volkswagen version or a Honda version of a casino, are going to get a Cadillac casino in their backyard, both in metro and in industrial Cape Breton, one that has very high fixed costs that are going to have to be covered. The only way in which those costs can be covered and there are going to be any significant revenues left over beyond that that are going to supposedly rescue us from our fiscal problems in this province is if exceedingly high levels of gambling activity are generated, and we are supposed to celebrate that as some kind of economic development and some kind of social achievement. Surely, Mr. Speaker, that is a pathetic, impoverished notion of what constitutes economic development.

[2:45 p.m.]

We haven't seen an informed debate involving government members in this whole discussion; we have had almost stony silence from government members throughout the entire stages of this legislative debate. Yet the Government House Leader informed Nova Scotians, just before we came back into session early in the new year, that now we are going to get on with the real facts and figures, the real debate that Nova Scotians want to hear. Nova Scotians want to hear the other side of the story, said the Government House Leader and so it was government members who were coming into this House following the Christmas break ready to tell the other side of the story, ready to defend the gaming control legislation that is now before us and yet we have heard nary a word from these government members.

I don't want to be unfair to anybody, but I am not sure that anyone other than the Minister of Finance has spoken on a single occasion at any stage of debate on this Gaming Control Act, and that is why I think as I suppose as overly optimistic as one would have to be to still hold out some little grain of hope in this regard, a lot of Nova Scotians out there are still saying to these 40 government members, given your stony silence on the issue, given the absence of any meaningful data, any meaningful socio-economic impact analysis, given the fact that there has been a total betrayal of this government's commitment to Nova Scotians to consult, and their commitment to proceed with caution, then a lot of individual constituents of these 40 government members are still holding out the hope that just maybe, when it comes to the vote, these members or at least a significant number of these members might actually bring themselves to reflect the interests and the wishes and the expressed desires of their constituents rather than to be pushed into supporting this pro gambling, pro casino agenda because of a tiny, tight circle in and around the Minister of Finance and his colleagues.

I personally don't hold out a lot of hope but, if there was ever a situation in which members have a clear choice to make, which is whether they are prepared to stand behind the views on this matter of their constituents or whether they are prepared to turn their backs on their constituents and vote blindly for an agenda that has been driven by a very short-sighted view of government leadership, this is one of those situations.

I don't know whether it seems unfair and unfounded for government members to find themselves being called dictatorial, unaccountable, unresponsive. I don't know whether government members just say, well, you know, what can you do? Once you get to government, you just do what you are going to do and you just hope that people who were absolutely, vehemently, strenuously opposed to this course of action will just say, in three or four years' time, oh well, let bygones be bygones and no longer have any leftover dissatisfaction.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think that this is one of those kinds of issues. I don't think the government's gamble on this casino business is going to pay off in the long term. Even though this government, I think, has taken the short-sighted view that the real costs which will flow from this pro gambling agenda won't start to really be felt, they won't start to really be calculated and itemized until after the next election. I think this government is dead wrong in gambling in the belief that people just won't feel so strongly any more when it comes to the next election.

I guess one of the reasons I believe that, Mr. Speaker, is I think that in the life of every government there are certain defining kinds of issues and I think that this is one of those issues. I have said this before, not because I think every last Nova Scotian is adamantly opposed to gambling activity in certain situations. There are a large number who are, there is no question about that. I personally think that the religious leaders who have spoken out on this have every reason to be offended by the easy dismissal of the Minister of Finance of the representations on behalf of a large number and a wide range of denominational groups in this province based on concerns about value considerations.

Setting that aside, Mr. Speaker, this government has chosen to dismiss what they know to be an overwhelming number of Nova Scotians who are opposed to this pro gambling agenda for a whole host of very good reasons. When a government is so unwilling to give an accounting of itself, when it is so unwilling to address the concerns that people in good faith have brought forward through every available avenue that they could access, then this is a government that has shown itself to have very little respect for the people of this province. If you decide that you don't have to respect the people who elected you to office, then I think you can expect to pay a very heavy price for that.

The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, that Nova Scotians were consulted on their views with respect to this policy direction. They had already been consulted prior to the last election and they had spoken pretty decisively in saying that this was not the way to go. But undeterred by that, the Minister of Finance and a couple of his colleagues, I think the Minister of Community Services was one of them, only he knows for sure, but I have a letter from the member for Halifax Bedford Basin that says it was the Finance Minister and the Community Services Minister that wanted to get these hearings happening quickly because they had a timetable and they had an agenda and they wanted that report in so they could move quickly. Well, they got their way.

So people were consulted another time. Another round. A complete waste. It was worse than a waste of money, Mr. Speaker, because it was a gross insult to Nova Scotians to waste their time and their good faith and their scarce resources to come out yet again for a round of hearings to express their overwhelming opposition to this course of action and then have the government simply ignore it once again.

Mr. Speaker, among all of the community councils and town councils and boards of trade and chambers of commerce and social organizations and religious institutions and professional groups and small businesses and medium size businesses and large businesses who have all spoken out against this public policy direction, we have yet to hear a voice in support of what this government is doing, other than a tiny group of people who have a very direct and immediate self-interest in what the government has chosen to do here. How a government, in a province that supposedly operates on democratic principles, can be that wholesale in disregarding the overwhelming majority view, they alone will have to answer for.

This is a government, Mr. Speaker, that says it has a new health reform agenda underway. It is a health reform agenda that is based on the important principles of public participation and of prevention. It is a health reform agenda that says, we have to start recognizing that where we can prevent certain health problems and social casualties from occurring, then we have got to take strenuous measures to do this.

This government was serious enough about preventing smoking addiction in teenagers that it actually brought in legislation to ban the sale of cigarettes and put more stringent measures in place.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I have to caution the honourable member. We are in third reading of the bill and debate is strictly limited to the contents of the bill. These other matters are extraneous to the contents of the bill and, hence, are out of order.

MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I suppose the fact that they are extraneous is exactly the point I am making, which is that it is a known fact that gambling addiction strikes young people in disproportionate terms. That it is young people who are most easily lured into addictive behaviour and never more so than in the current economic climate with all the insecurity and joblessness and financial pressures and social pressures that young people are feeling. Yet, this government has not even begun to address the problems that exist now with respect to the high risk for youth in relation to gambling addiction, let alone taking the preventive measure to ensure that we do not go further down that road.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is a fair test for people to put to this government to say that if we are to trust the supposed commitments contained in this bill, to mitigate the adverse effects of gambling activity and strictly control gambling, which is supposedly what this bill is about - all that rhetoric does not really fool anybody - what this bill is mainly about is ushering in casino gambling, but it is fair game, surely, for people to say that if there is any basis for us trusting your commitments, to ensure that Nova Scotians are protected against the abuses and the excesses of gambling activity, then surely it is fair game for us to say where is the clean-up, where are the new regulatory measures that would ensure, for example, that no youth are permitted to engage in sports lotteries. But this government announced sports lotteries in this House some eight or nine months ago, introduced them onto the market within weeks and still, this many months later, we have no such prohibition in place that would make that a legal offence in this province.

This minister wants Nova Scotians to believe that we now are going to have a regulatory regime where we are going to make sure that there are appropriate protections in place, as it relates to bingo activity. Mr. Speaker, the potential for illegal and criminal conduct and the documented evidence of such illegalities was well known, was well established, was already available to this government when it came to office. This government correctly understood that there needed to be steps taken to address this problem. In fact it engaged in a flurry of public relations activity to say we have conducted a rigorous review of bingo gaming in this province and we have done a complete overhaul of the regulations and, on May 19th last year, announced them and said those new regulations would be in effect on July 1st.

[3:00 p.m.]

Well, Mr. Speaker, this government still has not cleaned up their act with respect to bingo gaming illegalities in this province, and they bring us a new Gaming Control Act and they say well, the reason we didn't implement those new regulations is because we decided to wait and do it as part of the total package.

Mr. Speaker, there are other examples. With respect to VLTs this government made a big deal early on in its term of office about getting on with stricter enforcement. They announced budgetary measures and policies to put 10 new enforcement officers in place, on the job, to begin to properly enforce VLT activity.

This government has shown there is no willingness or commitment or capacity or capability to clean up the gambling activity going on now in the province. Why, in the name of Heaven, would the people of this province have confidence that this government is going to act in a vigilant, strenuous manner with respect to controlling the new gaming activity when it has not cleaned up its act with respect to the old gaming activity? Those are just some of the issues.

I think in the final analysis, Mr. Speaker, what is so disappointing to Nova Scotians about this government's decision to so uncritically embrace the pro gambling agenda is that Nova Scotians, in good faith, voted for this government largely on the basis of a commitment to a different approach to economic development. We know what all those words were, they were all about how it is time for us to develop our own resources, for us to take our natural resources and our human resources and take our existing entrepreneurial activity and our existing successful business enterprises and to build on those successes.

Mr. Speaker, as a result of this bill and this government's decision to proceed with the Cadillac-style casinos, the Las Vegas-style casinos that are going to be up and running in a very short period of time, this government has completely betrayed its commitment to a different approach to economic development.

This casino decision is the absolute antithesis of community-based, bottom-up economic development that depends on the entrepreneurial resources of Nova Scotians, that builds on our very important tourism industry, that takes our natural resources, the beauty of our scenery, the attractions of both our ocean side and our forestry resources and develops those in a way that is compatible with the quality of life that Nova Scotians have chosen by remaining in this province.

If they wanted the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas they would have gone elsewhere. If they wanted the glitz and glamour of a Vegas-style casino in Windsor, Ontario, they would probably have moved to Ontario where they could join those tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of Americans pouring over the border because they are attracted to that Las Vegas-style casino. But that is not the commitment that was made to Nova Scotians and that is not what Nova Scotians thought they were getting when they elected a government that said they were going to take a new approach to economic development, that we had to learn the lessons of the past, that it is not going to be the big boys from away with the big bucks that are going to come in with their suitcases full of money and bail us out.

Yet, Mr. Speaker, if you can show me how this Minister of Finance's approach to casino gambling is one bit different from that approach of the past, then I would be interested in hearing it but I haven't. I heard the opposite when the Minister of Finance announced with such glee the endorsement of the Cadillac version of casinos that ITT Sheraton is now supposedly going to deliver to Nova Scotians. As if they are coming into this province to make huge investments of some kind of magic money from away, when we know perfectly well every cent of that money is going to come out of Nova Scotian's pockets in the first instance and, equally troublesome, the fact that a great many small businesses in this province are going to be adversely impacted by this decision.

The government's own projections and the ITT Sheraton's own proposals suggest that a mere 30 tourists are going to be attracted to this province on an average day as a result of these casinos. Yet we know that there are going to be hundreds and hundreds of people that are going to be redirecting, reallocating their spending to those casino operations, away from existing restaurants, away from existing theatres or bowling alleys or various kinds of recreational and athletic and sports establishments.

Nova Scotians aren't exactly sitting on a pot of gold these days. Most families don't have a lot of discretionary dollars to spend in pursuit of recreational activity. Let's hope that an awful lot of them aren't interested in withdrawing their scarce recreation dollars from their hard-pressed budgets into casino gambling activity away from a lot of the important cultural and recreational and participatory athletic events that they are participating in now. But if they are not going to be attracted away from that, then where in the name of Heavens does this Minister of Finance and this government think the dollars are going to come from, given their own projections that it is going to be mainly Nova Scotians that are going to be the patrons of these casinos and that it is going to be taking money out of their pockets that now goes elsewhere?

In the same manner that compulsive gamblers and addictive gamblers are acting out of a sense of despair and hopelessness, I think it has to be said that this government is acting out of a sense of despair and hopelessness. This government doesn't have the confidence in Nova Scotians that they expressed on the eve of the election for Nova Scotians to pull themselves together and work together to plan for the economic development of this province, that once again we have to look to the ITT Sheratons of the world to somehow come in and rescue us.

I think this government has shown that it doesn't even have confidence in itself when it comes to getting on with that agenda of genuine community-based economic development. Even though this Minister of Finance proclaimed, and I think people almost fell off their chairs when they heard him proclaim it at the press conference announcing the Sheraton deal that not one red cent of government money had gone into the planning and unfolding of the pro gambling, pro casino agenda.

Every Nova Scotian knows that this pro gambling agenda has preoccupied not just a lot of this Cabinet and this caucus's time but a great deal of time and resources of the Public Service as well because it is not just the Casino Project Committee that spent months and months at work coming up with the winner of the casino competition. Laszlo Lichter on behalf of the Casino Project Team himself named dozens and dozens of public servants who had been seconded one way or another, who had been drawn in one way or another to help put the pieces together for this pro casino, pro gambling agenda.

I can't help but think that if a small fraction of the amount of time, energy and resources that have been devoted to the development of the casino agenda had been reallocated for the purpose of giving a genuine, helping hand and start-up to community-based economic development initiatives we would be in a whole different space here today. It is true that community economic development doesn't instantly produce large numbers of jobs. It is true that you can't just cut a ribbon at the grand opening like you can of the Sheraton casino down on the waterfront and say 780 jobs are going to crop up here in the next few weeks.

When it comes to the most cost-effective way to develop our resources, I think we already know and I think the experience that is about to unfold in this province is going to further reinforce what we know and that is that the community economic development approach is the one that will produce lasting jobs, that will produce jobs that address the needs and the resources of our own people in our own communities in a manner that is compatible and congenial with the way of life and the quality of life that Nova Scotians want and that they have remained in this province because that is the choice they thought they were making.

It is a sad day, Mr. Speaker, that we are now in, I guess, the dying days of dealing with this bill that I think reflects the government's own sense of despair and hopelessness. I want to say, to be fair, that the bill is not as repugnant, not as offensive as it was when the government introduced it. It is true that as a result of a great deal of pressure brought to bear on the government that they were forced to at least show some signs of recognizing the legitimacy of concerns that people were bringing forward.

As a matter of fact, I think you would have to say that the longer the debate dragged out here the more the government was unable to ignore the increasing opposition to its casino agenda because literally day after day, week after week, we had more and more voices speaking out in opposition, quite unprecedented actually to have as many different town councils and city councils voting for the record, publicly taking a position to say, we are completely opposed to this pro-gaming policy of the government. Not so surprising that a large number of people who will be very negatively impacted in their own businesses have come forward and expressed their concerns but despite the fact this bill is an improved bill over what was introduced initially, I think that the vast majority of Nova Scotians remain fundamentally opposed to what the government is doing here.

Their lack of confidence is well-founded because even though the drug dependency division in outlining public policy issues that needed to be addressed by this government stressed very clearly and explicitly the importance of providing for maximum public participation in the decisions that needed to be made if this government was going to proceed with higher levels of gambling and new forms of gambling activity. The government has not only failed to act on that advice, it has actually seen fit in this legislation to eliminate, to eradicate various opportunities for public participation that Nova Scotians now have under existing laws.

[3:15 p.m.]

It has been a shock, especially to municipalities, Mr. Speaker, to have this government come along and say that people will not have the rights that are now contained within the Liquor Control Act and within the Planning Act to have some say, at least, in what these monster casinos are going to look like in their backyard and what kinds of rules and regulations are going to govern them. So the government has completely ignored the advice of the one agency in this province that does have some expertise and some experience to draw on here, who said that public participation is key. Not only has this government made no provision for public participation in decisions that surround these casino operations, but it has wiped out the existing opportunities that were inherent in those Statutes that the government has now decided to exempt the casino operations from having to meet.

The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that despite the many attempts that we have made to try to get the government to address the concerns of Nova Scotians, we still have not been privy to the regulations, the regulations that are going to really determine what goes on in these casinos. Because without the regulations, the bill itself is largely an empty shell. Even those strengthened provisions in the bill are only going to really be given any meaning and clout, depending on what the regulations themselves say.

So despite the fact that the government was going to begin to tell its side of the story, the government was going to bring forward the basis for its decision to go this casino gambling route, we still have no answers to these questions. We still have Nova Scotians not knowing what the restrictions are going to be on the sale and consumption of liquor. We still have Nova Scotians not knowing what the hours of operation of those casinos are going to be.

This is a province in which, Mr. Speaker, there may be some who thought it was old-fashioned or quaint somehow for Nova Scotians to speak strongly in opposition to wide open Sunday shopping, but that is one of the things that defines this province. It is one of the aspects of the quality of life and the degree of importance that people put on family and friendships and on community activity that the people of this province resoundingly have said, we don't want wide open Sunday shopping. Yet, this government has not seen fit to indicate whether it intends to accede to the already public pronouncement of ITT Sheraton that it wants to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including Sunday. This government has yet to answer that question.

I know that the government has kept looking to ITT Sheraton to engage in damage control every time bits and pieces of their vision of what Nova Scotians were going to get in the way of a casino started to reach the public view.

We have ITT Sheraton speaking out day after day saying oh, well, don't be offended by the talk about buxom wenches cavorting with rowdy sailors, it is just going to be a rerun of bygone days; don't be concerned about what we are going to put in our Micmac mystery lodge because we will make sure it is respectful of the history and traditions of the Mi'Kmaq people in this province. Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians don't have any confidence in the kind of damage control we have seen. If they were so sensitive to these things in the first place, they would not have been part and parcel of the proposal. Furthermore, if this government was prepared to be sensitive to the issues that underlie people's concerns about what is contained in this proposal, they would not have given carte-blanche approval to the proposal in the first place.

I think the point to be made is that very little of what is contained in this bill, even those aspects of the bill that have been improved, in the final analysis will really dictate very much at all about what goes on in these casinos and what the impact will be on the surrounding community. It is quite evident that this government is prepared to be uncritical and, really, quite subservient to the views of this foreign multinational that is supposed to come into our midst and somehow generate revenues that are going to make all the difference on the government's bottom line, at least before the government next goes to the polls.

Mr. Speaker, the government has not done its own homework on what the likely impacts will be. There is no basis for confidence that the government is prepared to put into place the kind of restrictions and regulations that would truly be preventive in heading off increasing levels of gambling addiction. There certainly is no basis for confidence even in the amendments that the government has been willing to support that call for a high degree of vigilance about the impacts. That is why we have argued that the government should accede to the requests of the dozens of organizations that have come together in the coalition of the People Against Casinos in Nova Scotia to set this aside until there is at least an independent economic and social impact analysis done.

This government seems unprepared to do that despite the continued urgings. We are not hearing from any government members how they rationalize and justify that short-sighted decision, so the only course of action left to us on this occasion is to vote decisively against the Gaming Control Act and hope that the government's great big gamble is not going to just simply result in Nova Scotians taking all the risks and someone else taking advantage of what benefits there are to be gained from this government policy decision. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise with mixed feelings this afternoon in speaking on the casino bill, the Gaming Control Act, Bill No. 120. Initially I had planned to suggest that the government should look for alternative sources of revenue and it be revenue that is not at the expense of desperate Nova Scotians, but I realize we will not be seeing the abrogation of the bill, so to make such a request of the minister at this time is asinine, so to speak.

Initially, when the minister introduced this bill, we read in different publications where it was just a few disgruntled Tories who did not want casinos in Nova Scotia. This is the word we were told, Mr. Speaker, it was just a few disgruntled Tories. Well, may I suggest there are quite a few disgruntled Tories in Nova Scotia because there is not a police department that has spoken out in favour of casinos in Nova Scotia. So all the people working at the police departments must be Tories.

The Nova Scotia Medical Society has spoken out against the establishment of casinos in Nova Scotia. So, are we to take it that the Nova Scotia Medical Society is comprised of disenchanted, disengaged and disgruntled Tories. This is what we have heard from different government members, it is only a few disgruntled Tories.

Churches, regardless of the denomination, irrespective, all the different denominations in this beautiful Province of Nova Scotia have come out strongly opposed to the establishment of casinos in Nova Scotia. Councils right across this province one after the other, in fact, one of the most recent councils to pass a resolution which was unanimously endorsed by its members was the second largest city in this province, the City of Dartmouth, came out opposed to the establishment of casinos.

Seniors groups from one end of this province to the other are opposed to the establishment of casinos in Nova Scotia. In fact, I tabled a petition on the very first day this minister introduced that bill from a seniors group who were opposed and who still are opposed to the establishment of casinos.

Petitions have been tabled in this House, somewhere around the vicinity of 42,000 signatures from Nova Scotians, again, from one end of this province to the other are opposed to the establishment of casinos in this province.

Something perhaps, Mr. Speaker, you didn't know and perhaps the Minister of Finance didn't know that one of the major media outlets up in the Colchester County area in the Town of Truro conducted a poll just recently. They conducted the poll in the Town of Truro, in Colchester North and in Colchester South. They contacted some 100 people from all different walks of life, from all different professions and 74 of the people out of the 100 said they were opposed to the establishment of casinos. Sixteen people said they were for casinos and 10 were undecided and 80 people said that they would not set foot inside a casino in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is correct and that is some overwhelming evidence that people in this province are opposed to the establishment of casinos. There is no question about it.

I agree as do all members of the House that we all have to be financially responsible. The minister's objectives, projections and estimates are somewhere around the vicinity between $40 million and $60 million in revenue. That is quite admirable but we have to look a little deeper. We have to bring into question some of the minister's arithmetic. Did the minister consider additional costs to the various police departments across this province? Did the minister give consideration to the rise in white collar crime? Did the minister give consideration to an increase in prostitution? Did the minister give consideration to anything other than economics? Did he look at the social impact of establishing casinos in this province? No, absolutely not.

This government, again it should be pointed out, whose platform pillars are crumbling I would suggest because this government's platform is made up of compassion and quality of life. I would like to know where the establishment of casinos is going to enhance the quality of life to Nova Scotians. I would like to know where the compassion is going to be when many, many Nova Scotians become addicted to casinos.

What this minister has done is he has preyed on the desperate Nova Scotian. He has projected and I have suggested and concurred with the comments made by a reporter who submits to the weekly press. The reporter has said everything about the Savage Government's casino project stinks. The deceitful economics used to justify it stink. He also suggested where the minister had predicted that 27 per cent of the patrons who go in to the casinos will be tourists, this particular reporter suggests that Bernie Boudreau will give birth to a litter of flying piglets long before the casinos come anywhere near to his projections.

[3:30 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: He is a good reporter.

MR. TAYLOR: He is a good reporter. Now, I compiled a few newspaper clippings, Mr. Speaker, and I am certainly not going to read . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Now, I cautioned the honourable member that this is not a time for extensive reading from newspapers. The member is to give his own views on third reading. Debate is more restricted at third reading than at any other stage and is to be strictly limited to the contents of the bill and is not to consist of a series of readings. (Interruption)

MR. TAYLOR: I certainly can, but the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers has come out against the establishment of casinos in this province. They are saying that this decision is being implemented without full consultation. The Official Opposition of this province has raised that concern time and time again, that this decision by the government to permit casinos in our beautiful province has been done without consultation and it has been done without adequate research. There hasn't been any research and there hasn't been any public notice of the findings if there have been any. That, again, is wrong. The Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers anticipate that legalized gambling will lead to increases in depression, suicide, marriage breakdown, children-parent conflicts and the abuse of alcohol and drugs.

There was some talk not all that long ago and some of the natives in this province have some concerns. They are concerned about a casino Micmac display and they consider it very offensive and condescending. In fact, I know, Mr. Speaker, I am not allowed to read extensively, but I want to read one sentence. Anna Nibby-Wood, a Micmac woman told MITV news that the mystery lodge idea was totally ridiculous. A mystery lodge, she says, there was never any such thing, but now we are going to have one.

There are also suggestions that the new operation will take bite from business, bar owners fret, bar owners are concerned. One manager of the Oasis Bar and Grill said it is going to be a total wipeout. Did you give, through you, of course, Mr. Speaker, to the minister, any consideration to existing businesses, existing bars, existing lounges, existing restaurants, et cetera. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, we talk about Disney meeting Long John Silver and Sheraton's casino plan. The former Leader of the Third Party suggested that ITT Sheraton would very much like to operate their casino 24 hours a day on Sunday. The minister has never disputed that. I know in his summary he will stand and dispute that, but, to this point, he has not. In fact, only three members, to my knowledge, of that government have stood up and publicly supported the establishment of casinos in this province. The three members are, of course, the minister, the House Leader and the Premier.

Now, the vote, yes, the recorded vote. But to stand up and publicly speak, I said, in favour of the casinos, there have been only three members of that government that had the courage and the wherewithal to stand up and speak in favour of it. Because I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that there are many members of this government who are opposed. (Interruption)

We cannot digress and get off on the deer tracks, but that member should know, he took a little tour. He had a little junket relating to casinos.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Address the bill.

MR. TAYLOR: Halifax alderman hopes to torpedo casino deal. I think that Alderman was Howard Epstein. Boudreau unconcerned about casino motion. That is in relation to the Halifax alderman's motion, Boudreau was unconcerned at Thursday night's council session, Mr. Epstein gave notice of a motion that the city renege on its deal to sell waterfront land to J.W. Lindsay Enterprises Limited. Stubborn Grits stick with bill in spite of the consensus of the public, headline, headline.

Then, of course, the honourable minister, I know he is a very busy man and is perhaps doing some other business right now but we had that very eloquent address by the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs, after the Government House Leader invoked closure on the rest of us, without consultation. In the past it had always been done by unanimous consent.

MR. SPEAKER: I think the honourable member just a few moments ago was admonished by the Speaker for straying from the purpose and intent of third reading of a bill. In the event it has not been read to you, I will read it to you; Debate on third reading is more restricted than any other stage and limited to the contents of the bill. So I am going to hold you very strictly to the contents of the bill.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I always appreciate and respect your rulings but I would like to say that I found the clause by clause, once the Government House Leader invoked closure, quite restrictive, too, as far as time restraint goes.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency has suggested that tourism in this province is in favour of casinos. So members of the Opposition have suggested that the tourism industry in this province is against the establishment of casinos in our beautiful province.

MR. SPEAKER: Which clause of the bill do you find that matter in?

MR. TAYLOR: Well I am not into clause by clause, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: No, no, I am waiting for you to just designate whichever clause it may be - any clause at all. In which clause do you find that reference?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, what I am suggesting is that tourism is huge, it is strong, it is vibrant in this province. I feel, as does the tourism industry, and every time we raise that concern, whether it was on the title, well it wasn't relevant to the title. Every time we talk about tourism, it wasn't relevant to the clauses.

AN HON. MEMBER: You raised it over and over again . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member, your debate has to be concentrated on the content of the bill, not spinoffs, not abstractions that may be indirectly related to content of the bill, but the content of the bill, please. (Interruptions)

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill, and I certainly know that I don't have to refresh your memory or that of the Minister of Finance, "is to establish a framework for conducting, managing, controlling and regulating casinos . . .". Subclause 2(b) suggests that it is to "ensure that any measures taken with respect to casinos and other lottery schemes are undertaken for the public good and in the best interests of the public.".

Now why I raise the concern that the tourism industry has is because is it really in the public's best interest to divert people away from the traditional tourism of this province, to the casino? That is a concern that many people have. I think in the public's interest it would be more beneficial to promote our valleys, the beautiful Annapolis Valley.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, and I agree with you. I agreed with you the last time you outlined that same speech to me and the time before that and I still agree with it. But everything from sunshine to water is in the public interest. What I am interested in now is the content of the bill and the debate strictly on the content of the bill.

MR. TAYLOR: Well, I have only a very few comments left to make, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to encourage the government and the minister, in spite of the casinos, to try to be more creative and more innovative. A hen, and I think this is relevant, Mr. Speaker, if you would hear me out, and of course you will be the judge, but a hen keeps digging and digging for worms and laying eggs, regardless of conditions. If the ground is hard, she scratches harder. I realize this but the finances in this province are in deplorable condition, believe me. But I honestly believe . . .

MR. SPEAKER: There is no question that is relevant, no question at all.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you. I would like to read a little bit further and in this context, could we put the minister in the place of the little red hen that is digging, could we just for this very . . .

MR. SPEAKER: No, not really. We have to be very serious. We are debating a bill in its final reading and it is a very serious bill.

MR. TAYLOR: The minister understands the analogy, I honestly know that he does.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, then send it to him by mail. It is very important in the House that we address ourselves directly to the content of the bill.

MR. TAYLOR: Some of the minister's projections are that we all will spend some $152 a year. Can you imagine every Nova Scotian going to a casino four times a year and spending some $41 each time they are there. Now, I believe the figures that the minister predicted are based on 27 per cent of the people going to the casinos will be, in fact, tourists. That figure I believe is derived from the minister's calculation. Different people have questioned his mathematics around the whole establishment of casinos in this province.

I do think that we should certainly look at different ways of creating revenue in this province because I honestly believe that the overall expenditures will greatly exceed any revenue that is brought in by the casinos. The casino corporation shall, "subject to this Act and the regulations, comply with any direction given to it by the Governor in Council;". I honestly don't have any problem with that because I think any government would want to ensure that a corporation, in fact, adheres to policy and principle laid down by the government.

So, we can't question the Governor in Council wishing to subject the corporation to the Act and comply with any directions that are given to it by the Governor in Council but it also says, "The Corporation shall (b) conduct and manage casinos and other lottery schemes in accordance with this Act and the regulations and the Criminal Code (Canada);". Again, we don't have any problem with that. We have a problem with casinos but we don't have a problem, in fact, I think maybe perhaps it was time that a corporation and a lottery commission had some teeth and could, in fact, get out to different areas of the province, not only where there is a casino but the different areas in the province and certainly control and police perhaps some of the illegal VLTs that are around, the grey machines so to speak.

I see that and perhaps that is the only positive part of this bill that I do see, but I do note that the corporation or at least that the ITT Sheraton, the proponent is going to be exempted from the Planning Act, is going to be exempted from a building permit, is going to be exempted from the Liquor Control Act and I have some difficulty with that, I have great difficulty with that.

Just with those few last words and to wrap up my portion of third reading and I am being encouraged to perhaps in summary to wrap things up with the little red hen but the Speaker is certainly not going to let me finish my comments on the little red hen, you aren't going to allow me to, no. I certainly can appreciate that you won't, you have told me that some time ago. But, I do have some notes here that I think are very relevant and germane to the bill (Interruptions) No, it is not the hen scratching, it is me scratching here, I am scratching as quickly as I can to find - oh the minister during his statement suggested in relation there will be a lot of direct and a lot of indirect jobs and we all support the creation of jobs in this province but what we don't support is how the different jobs are created and again that gets back to the little red hen syndrome.

But, we have been told by the Minister of Finance that the people that work at the casinos will be well paid. There is going to be a lot of new revenue going to the province. We are going to certainly bring in a lot more tourists, the casino is going to encourage an incredible number of tourists to flock up here by rail, by boat, by airplane, by all different measures. He is going to address current gaming woes. Because of these casinos the Minister of Finance is going to direct $1 million to the Department of Health as a result of this very bill we are speaking of, to address some of the serious concerns that people with addictions and afflictions are going to have. He suggested that as a result of this bill there are going to be 1,072 direct jobs and of course there will be an additional 1,500 indirect jobs. I make these points because the minister is looking at this purely through economic eyes, he hasn't given any consideration to the social impact. He suggested further that the average salary will be some $26,000 to $32,000 with and without tips. There are going to be some community college training requirements, there will be an interim casino at the Sheraton, he talks of capital investment and the permanent amount of money and the win tax, 20 per cent, $32 million and $50 million total direct benefits.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order please. The honourable member I am sure does remember that quite some time ago I separated in this House the bill which is before us from an agreement that was announced in this House by the minister. They are two separate items, not debatable together, separate entities. What we are dealing with now is the bill not an agreement made for the establishment of any other businesses whether they be casinos or whatever. So, we are dealing a bill and the figures you are quoting are from an agreement not from the bill. It is on the content of the bill.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, in wrapping this up I just want to say that I don't need to tell the minister, I am sure, or any MLA in this Legislature that this is a beautiful province, I think we are a creative province, we have creative individuals, without question. I have been consistent, regardless of what the member for Hants East has said, I have been consistently opposed to Bill No. 120, I am still opposed to it. I will be voting against it. Thank you for your indulgence.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I can't say that it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to stand up and speak on the bill this afternoon because it would have been a much greater pleasure to have had the opportunity to hear the minister stand up when he gave his eloquent remarks at the moving of this bill to say that he and the government has had some second thoughts and that they are instead going to be putting the bill on hold for the time being until those kinds of things that need to be done are, in fact, carried out before they proceed.

There was on our desks when we came in today a letter and I am not going to read the full contents of that letter. No indeed, I wouldn't be permitted to do extensive reading as the Speaker has already ruled but there is nothing that would stop me from making a brief reference to the letter and to some of the brief points which they have capsulized very succinctly and have on the large part, I would say, summed up the views not only of myself but of many others.

In the letter that was on our desk from those who are opposed to the casinos, marked urgent, they point out that the casino issue certainly is a symbol to how many people feel how this government has tried to ram reform down the throats of most workers and unions, teachers, students, members of every major church, doctors, tourist operators and restaurant owners. Most so-called reforms affect only a limited group of people but the gaming control bill affects everyone. That letter which we have from Dr. Robb on our desks today, as I say, I think sums up a great deal.

This bill that we have before us really epitomizes the arrogance and lack of caring and planning by this government. I have heard and, as well as hearing the minister and other members of the government speak, outside of the House, of course, I have also read where this government simply dismisses anybody who is opposed to the establishment of the casinos in the Province of Nova Scotia as being opposed to gambling on moral grounds. That is patently untrue. It is completely false and I would suggest that it is just like when government members tried to characterize the debate that went on in the Committee of the Whole House as talking about the title of the bill rather than the substance of the bill. It is trying to paint a very narrow picture and one that is certainly not accurate or reflective of those who are expressing concerns.

I say as I stand in my place, certainly, Mr. Speaker, that I am pleased, I am very pleased, as a matter of fact, that the government, that the Minister of Finance did agree during the committee stage to accept some amendments to the legislation. I am pleased that some of the amendments that were brought forward by our caucus were accepted by the Premier and his Cabinet and colleagues. That means that the bill is not as bad as it was before. Now, when you get close to this bill, you only need to put three clothespins on your nose instead of four. It is improved a little bit. But the odour of this bill is still very strong and it is still, I would suggest, very repulsive and it flies in the face of what the people of this great Province of Nova Scotia want.

So even though it is an improvement and while I am pleased that now the gaming commission is going to be more independent than it was before, and I am pleased, certainly, that the Auditor General will be auditing and looking after the books and doing the reports and the evaluation, as well as with a number of the other changes, but, Mr. Speaker, the bill is still wrong. It is wrong and it shows how totally bankrupt this government is in terms of economic development strategy for the Province of Nova Scotia.

Now, we were, of course, promised and a previous speaker had said that the Minister of Finance was only concerned about economic issues, only concerned about the numbers of jobs, not concerned about the social impacts. Well, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that that is even giving too much credit to this government, because, quite frankly, I really question, I sincerely question whether this bill is even intended for economic development and a positive job creator in the Province of Nova Scotia. The only thing that is dancing through this government's eyes, the sugar plums that they see are the promised number of millions of dollars, $25 million a year for four years, flowing into the coffers of the Province of Nova Scotia, $25 million into the consolidated funds per year. Now, Mr. Speaker, 25 million big ones is nothing to be sneezed at. But you know, what the government has not done is subtracted the costs that are going to be subtracted from that money.

We have had, in Nova Scotia, three consultations. We have had two committees, plus we had Mr. Morris conduct a consultation across the province, two done by the former government, one done by this government, Mr. Speaker. Did any of those consultations, did one of them recommend that the Government of Nova Scotia should establish so much as one permanent casino in the Province of Nova Scotia? If they did, it is in that invisible ink and I would invite the Premier, I would invite the Minister of Finance and, in fact, you know we tend to blame everything on the Premier, people do. The Premier seems to have a great big lightning rod above his head and whenever there is any criticism against the government, it is directed at the Premier. So the impression seems to be given that if you can get the Premier, then all the problems with the government disappear.

Well, the reality is, Mr. Speaker, although the Premier is, as the name goes in French, the Prime Minister, the Preem, the First Minister, he is but one member of a 41 member government caucus. Every single Liberal member seated in this House has as much responsibility. Now, the Premier might, and he still might, show leadership. He might say that, hey, this is a hastily arrived at idea. It is foolhardy and I am going to ask my colleagues to reconsider and we are not going to, hopefully, go ahead with the bill.

But you know, Mr. Speaker, every single member of the Liberal caucus will be speaking on this bill. You speak several ways. One is by your silence, and you have done that consistently throughout which, certainly, can be interpreted by many as you are embarrassed to stand up and speak in support of this bill; you didn't even mention it in the constituency reports that were sent out.

Mr. Speaker, if this bill goes forward, members are also going to have the opportunity, whether they like it or not, unless they leave the Chamber, to vote in a recorded vote. If they do that, each and every member of this Assembly has one vote, as you know, and that one vote has the same weight as that of the Premier or of the Minister of Finance and all others.

My plea to the members of this House is, look at what has not been done; listen to your constituents. Are 41 members of the government caucus so right that the thousands and thousands of Nova Scotians who have expressed their opposition to this bill are so wrong? Is the collective wisdom of the 41 greater than the collective wisdom of the thousands who have spoken out against it, and the hundreds of citizens who have made their views known, whether that be by signing petitions, by sending letters, or by phone calls?

I have before me an incomplete list, and it is incomplete because every day you hear of a new group, a new municipal council, or groups and organizations expressing their opposition to this casino bill. So I don't have a complete list before me but, you know, Mr. Speaker, the list of those who support it, who want the casinos in the Province of Nova Scotia, is very short.

Now, obviously, chief cheerleader, the prime one who wants it is the ITT Sheraton group, Mr. Speaker. Surprise. surprise. The Sheraton group might want this casino bill passed because they are going to be given the golden ring, they are going to be given the opportunity to export, from our province, millions of our dollars that are going to go to their headquarters in Boston, to their shareholders in the United States and elsewhere, dollars being taken, ripped out of the pockets of Nova Scotians and transported down there.

Yes, it might be a great economic development tool in Boston, or wherever those shareholders may happen to be, for their communities in the United States or Europe or wherever they may happen to be, but I tell you, Mr. Speaker, if you are going to be subtracting, literally, hundreds of millions of dollars from the Province of Nova Scotia over the next 5 to 10 years, that is not good news for the people of this province.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, the minister categorized all those who were opposed to this bill as being moralists, it is on moral grounds. The member who spoke before me would like to say that they are all categorized as disgruntled Tories. Well, I don't think that anybody in their right mind would believe for one minute that all those who had expressed their opposition to the casinos belong to any political Party.

AN HON. MEMBER: There aren't that many Tories, disgruntled or otherwise. (Laughter)

MR. HOLM: The minister makes a very good point, Mr. Speaker. The minister knows that there are over 45,000 people who signed the petition and he knows there are not that many Tories, disgruntled or otherwise, as he correctly points out across the floor, and I am not so foolish and naive as to suggest there are that many New Democrats; I doubt there are that many who are Liberals, either. But the reality is, it does not make any difference. Each and every one of them is a Nova Scotian. Each and every one of them, whether you happen to belong to any political Party or no political Party, each and every individual has a right to be heard and to be represented.

[4:00 p.m.]

I don't know about you, Mr. Speaker, but I think that you are probably somewhat like the majority members and if somebody calls you to express an opinion, your first question is not which political Party do you belong to and who do you support. It is our job to represent the views of all who live within our communities.

Certainly, when you take a look at those who were in opposition to the casinos, the Industrial Cape Breton Board of Trade, the Innkeepers Guild of Nova Scotia, the Lunenburg Town Council, certainly, the Maritime Association of Unique Country Inns, the Maritime Conference of the United Church of Canada, as all other churches one could list, Mr. Speaker, the Provincial Health Council, the Psychologists Association of Nova Scotia and the list goes on and on.

Mr. Speaker, I would love to see the minister stand in his place and provide us with the list of those organizations who think that this is, in fact, a sound, sensible economic development strategy for the Province of Nova Scotia. Even the good jobs are being advertised in such a way as to exclude most Nova Scotians. So, again, the high paying jobs are going to, as they say in Cape Breton, come from aways, CFAs, come from aways, people who are going to come in and they are the ones, because they are the only ones who have the 8 to 10 years of experience in gambling to be able to fill those top management jobs. So, Nova Scotians are going to get the lower paying jobs.

Mr. Speaker, we hear about the tremendous economic opportunities and we hear that, of course, there are going to be a thousand jobs here and so many there. What they do not talk about, I would be willing to bet it would be something like a geography course I had to do in university once that was aimed at planning. We had to walk around, in fact, and this was at Dalhousie and so it was downtown Halifax.

MR. SPEAKER: I don't believe this germane to the bill.

MR. HOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, I will try to keep my comments very germane.

MR. SPEAKER: They have to be strictly on the bill.

MR. HOLM: Yes, indeed, Mr. Speaker. On the bill and when I am talking about on the bill it is what kind of effect this bill is going to be having upon existing businesses in the metropolitan area, in fact, within an area of about 30 kilometres or more if you were to draw a radius from where they are going to be plonking the casinos on the waterfront.

Mr. Speaker, if you were to be walking up and down the streets within that 30 kilometre area, you are going to find, as we did back then as part of a project, that there are all kinds of businesses. They are related to food establishments, whether they be restaurants, we are going to have all kinds of night clubs and pubs and bars, all of which, will suffer as a direct consequence of this legislation passing this House, if it does today. I am still holding out the eternal hope that government members will vote against it. If this passes, those businesses, and they have admitted it, know that they are going to be in dire difficulty and that they themselves will either lose business, which is a given, they may, in fact, have to shut down and, also, not only shut down, lay off employees. Why? So the Government of Nova Scotia can sanction a casino with another 800 slot machines, VLTs because that is the primary thing that is going into the casino, the hard-core porn of gambling, the type of gambling that is the most addictive of all forms of gambling. Where do the profits go? Except for the small cut after the very high expenses, out of the province.

I think this is wrong. We have nothing before us with this legislation in terms of regulations but one thing that is extremely disturbing in this legislation dealing with regulations is that the Governor in Council and I don't even know if the Premier knows that this is in there, I am sure he must, the Cabinet has the ability by regulation downstairs in the Cabinet Chamber behind closed doors without any public input, without any public scrutiny, the Cabinet has the ability to exempt any form of gambling, any individual, any class of gambling from any parts of the gaming control and that is wrong, that is absolutely wrong.

I don't see how any government member can possibly defend giving the Cabinet, after all of these so-called words about how, yes, we are going to as a government ensure that the damage, the harm that has been predicted, they tried to provide the assurances that that won't happen. They assure that the gambling is going to be tightly regulated but this very same bill gives Cabinet, they don't have to come back to this Legislature for any bills to be passed, but Cabinet on their own simply to pass an order and saying you are exempt.

So, we might have rules in here which are aimed at protecting and defending the casinos, ensuring that the casinos obey certain kinds of rules. We have nothing in this legislation that prohibits, for example, predatory pricing on the food or the alcoholic beverages. They could have happy hour too down there as often or as long as they want. Now the minister may stand up and say, that is going to be taken care of in regulation. What we have before us in the way of a bill is a skeleton and it is a very thin flimsy skeleton. All of the meat, all of the muscle, all of the organs and the substance are going to be put on in the way of regulations which Nova Scotians have yet to see and which, of course, can be changed at any time by the Cabinet downstairs in the bunker including exempting anybody and everybody from the gaming control commission and that is wrong.

According to this legislation they are also trampling on the communities' rights. We keep talking about Halifax and Dartmouth because that is where the two casinos are now currently going to go, that is where, I should say the slot machine palaces will be built because by and large in terms of the gambling, that is what is going to be in them, slot machines, one-armed bandits. That is the primary device and that is by no accident, of course. They have trampled upon the communities' abilities to have any kind of input into whether or not they want to have those kinds of facilities in their midst because the Planning Act just doesn't apply.

The Liberals decided the Planning Act won't apply so the residents who live in Halifax, soon to be the super city of Halifax, Dartmouth and county, those people until the year 1999 and we did get an amendment that permits will be required after the year 1999 but up until that time, exempt, don't have to follow any of the planning requirements and of course, the citizens as they normally would through the planning process would have an opportunity to have a say.

Of course, it is no accident that they did that, the government knows that the vast majority of Nova Scotians are opposed to the casinos. They know that if the citizens were opposed to it and the government tried to railroad it down their throats without exempting them from this bill that the citizens could take it to the Utilities and Review Board for a second hearing. Of course, the government doesn't want anybody to have that chance, therefore, because their 41 collective minds contain greater wisdom than all of the rest of the citizens of this community, they have decreed that that won't be necessary and won't be permitted.

The same as with the Liquor Control Act. If a small community like Hantsport wants to serve alcohol, if a bar or restaurant in that town wants to sell beer and wine with their meals, because right now it is dry, they cannot be sold in that town, they have to have a plebiscite to get permission. The majority of those who would vote in that plebiscite would have to vote to permit it. But here, Mr. Speaker, major casinos, major warehouses of slot machines, will be able to be set up without so much as a word of input from the residents in those communities that are to be affected, without the businesses that are going to be devastated as a result, having a chance to have a word.

We talk about a wellness model, in terms of health reform, and an attitude towards Nova Scotians. We want Nova Scotians to be wellness conscious, they want to be trying to have Nova Scotians lead a preventive and healthy lifestyle so they will not become ill. Yet, Mr. Speaker, the government is actively promoting an extremely unhealthy lifestyle, which we know from the reports that have been done and presentations that have been made by people like Valerie Lorenz, who is the Executive Director of the Compulsive Gambling Centre in the United States, points out that the numbers of those who become addicted to gambling goes up, and it can be up as high as 8 per cent to 9 per cent, the more available gambling becomes.

It also points out, based on this excellent information, and countless studies, that the majority of those who are problem gamblers will eventually turn to some form of crime to support their habit. Yet without doing so much as one social impact study, this government is promoting and, in fact, demanding, that these casinos be inflicted upon the people of Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, that is simply wrong. They have no economic studies, they have no social studies, they have done absolutely zip.

We get a little token, we get a little bone thrown out that we are going to be throwing $1 million more into Health from these revenues, to help provide programs for those who become addicted to gambling; $1 million sounds like big bucks. Of course that is not guaranteed in the legislation, but $1 million is very small change when you take a look at the dire consequences that it is going to be wreaking on the people of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker. This bill is just totally and completely wrong-headed. It is foolhardy and it is counter-productive to economic development in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[4:15 p.m.]

There are so many things that one could say. There are so many things that have been said in the past and I certainly am not permitted to recite all of those things that I have, points that I have made in the many hours that I have debated this. But, Mr. Speaker, when you have the proponents who are saying that this casino is going to attract the grand total of 30 new tourists to Nova Scotia a day, and that is all they are predicting, 12,000 a year. Divide that by 365. You don't have to be an Einstein to know that if only 30 more people are going to come here, and these casinos are going to be generating hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue, that those 30 new people a day are not going to be producing that kind of revenue into the casinos.

The money is coming from Nova Scotians. It is also going to come from tourists who are already visiting Nova Scotia and the monies that those tourists are spending and that Nova Scotians are currently spending in other businesses are going to be diverted. They are going to be diverted into those loonies to feed into those one-armed slot machines and the other more limited games.

Mr. Speaker, that is not good economic development. It does not make sense to destroy, to harm businesses, whether they be in downtown Halifax, in Lower Sackville or Bridgewater, because Bridgewater will be affected, or those businesses that are located within the City of Sydney, Glace Bay, New Waterford and others, just so that ITT Sheraton and the provincial government can have more people drop loonies into the one-armed bandits in those two centres.

Mr. Speaker, this bill, I cannot put it any other way, it is simply wrong and I would invite, in fact, I would challenge Liberal members of this House. You don't acknowledge this as one of your government's great accomplishments when you send out your constituency reports and there is no surprise about that because you know that it is unpopular and you don't want to remind people. Well, I invite you to stand up here in the House this afternoon and say why you support this bill. Let's hear your rationale.

We were told that when the House resumed after the Christmas break, the government was going to take the gloves off and the information was going to flow and we were going to hear the other side. We are still waiting and, more importantly, Nova Scotians are still waiting. It is not good enough, Mr. Speaker, just to say wait and see. This is what ITT Sheraton will predict. The biggest fear, the biggest scare is, of course, that what the government is really banking on, truly banking on, is the harmful effects not having been seen until after the next election.

Mr. Speaker, it is going to be a wonderful monument to this government to have a glossy or a shiny or a tinselly casino down on the waterfront of Halifax and another one in downtown Sydney as your monuments while all the other businesses in the area get shut down. I just would ask the government, and it is a sign of maturity and of being a big government when you can admit you are wrong. I don't expect the government to go that far, but surely to Heavens, it is not going to kill the plans or your ideas if you just say, if you are going to pass a bill, just make a commitment that you will not proclaim the legislation until after an independent social and economic study has been done. The ITT Sheraton study, with respect, is not such a study.

Mr. Speaker, I just sincerely hope, although I am not holding my breath, that the government members will have some second thoughts and that government members will start to truly reflect what they have been hearing from thousands upon thousands of Nova Scotians who are opposed to this legislation. Of course, democracy is supposed to be representative government. Surely, Mr. Speaker, nobody would ever pretend for one foggy moment that this government is truly reflecting, by this kind of Draconian legislation, the views of the people of the Province of Nova Scotia or of the constituents that individual members are representing. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is a pleasure to be speaking on this bill and I guess - well I don't guess, I know - that this will be the last occasion that we have, as MLAs, to speak on this bill, certainly in this forum.

This bill has caused a lot of interest throughout Nova Scotia and a lot of concern, not just with the members of this Legislature, Mr. Speaker. Our citizens are concerned about this bill and it is not just the form it is in but they are concerned about the very purpose, even the title, the Gaming Control Act. You see, there are a lot of Nova Scotians who are very concerned about how we got into this casino business in the first place and this bill certainly puts us into the casino business because it sets up a corporation, as well as a commission, to make sure that these casinos are properly operated.

There seems to be more interest in the operation, the appointment and the duties, outlined within this, of the people who are connected with the casino, than there is for the common concern of Nova Scotians who are paying the fare, and those are the taxpayers. The taxpayers of this province, Mr. Speaker, I tell you in all honesty and all sincerity, are the only people who have been forgotten in this bill.

Very few Nova Scotians will ever read the bill, nor come into effect of the bill directly, because the vast majority of Nova Scotians are never ever, in their wildest dreams, going to enter through the doors of either the casino in Halifax, the one in Sydney or any of the many hundreds of other casinos that this bill allows the government to set up from time to time, whether they are on a permanent basis, for some of this bill allows a casino to be operated in the summer months, if it is in a tourist area like Peggy's Cove, where they have bus loads coming in. Perhaps we could have a little mini-casino there for the summer.

I know the Old Orchard Inn is anxious in Wolfville. The owner has indicated publicly and privately on more than one occasion that he is ready to put a casino in Kings County. I know other areas of the province where individuals would like to have a casino. This bill allows them to do so. Many of the exhibitions and fairs throughout the province say they would like to have gaming tables at their casino.

Now the games you are allowed to play under this bill are blackjack, roulette, baccarat -I don't know what that is - mini-baccarat, keno - I don't know what that is - video poker, video blackjack, video keno or similar games of chance, or a slot machine. But there are a couple of games that people who go to casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City tell me are very popular. One is craps, and you see it in those James Bond movies, he used to play it. You throw dice down a long table. I believe that is called craps and you are not allowed to play that, according to this bill, and I guess according to the Criminal Code of Canada as well. I am not sure whether this allows you to play these games of poker or not, with cards. I am not sure whether that is allowed or not allowed. It is not specifically named so perhaps you can or perhaps you can't play it.

But you know, I really feel, Mr. Speaker, if Nova Scotians were the dedicated gamblers that the Minister of Finance and the Premier think they are, why is it that the ship that travels from Yarmouth to Portland has so few people at the gaming tables? I have been told, and I understand it to be true, that on most occasions when the boat is travelling back and forth, those tables are not operating. The blackjack table is empty and that wheel thing, the roulette, apparently that is not running either.

If Nova Scotians were craving the opportunity to take part in the casino, as this bill indicates, why aren't they buying the fare and walking on the boat going to Portland, play all the way over and all the way back, wouldn't that be proof? If there was a line-up to get on the boat and a line-up to play that would have said, well you know, we have done four studies and they said the people that came out to the public hearings said they didn't want a casino and if they could say they are lining up at Yarmouth to go to Portland so they can gamble, or Bar Harbor, that probably would have indicated well, by golly, we had better get on with these, but that isn't happening.

Nova Scotians do not support this bill, nor do they support the clauses in it. We were told by the Premier, and we believed him, that we were going to have public hearing in this province before we had public casinos. We have never had the public hearing with the impact and the social impact studies that people have been asking us to have. This legislation sets out the ground rules, but it doesn't allow a casino to open; it just sets the rules under which they will open. The casino will open only under regulations. Now, what are the regulations? It is sort of like a contract, this is the basic contract but where you get hung up is on the fine print.

We have not yet seen the regulations which will indicate to us when the casino will open, I assume; whether they can or cannot have free liquor as long as you are playing. The habit in Las Vegas and places like that is if you are at the gaming table and you are betting a minimum of $5.00 every chance you get, then they will give you free liquor; if you are betting $10 or $20, then you get your dinner free; and if you are betting $50 every time you get a chance, you don't even have to pay for your hotel room. You see those little incidentals will be in the regulations I am sure. But, when we get along here a little farther in this contraption that they have here, other than the fact that the Planning Act doesn't apply right now but it will some time later on, the Liquor Control Act doesn't apply, that bothers a lot of people, under Clause 37, it really does and I tell you why it bothers some people.

There are a lot of reasons. One reason is some people would feel that people, customers or clients, whatever you call them, are going to go into the casino and the liquor is free and they sit at the table and they start drinking away and perhaps - and I don't know whether it is true or not and probably you don't know either - I understand that as you drink more your judgment gets worse. Now, if this is true and you had people over there drinking for free, in large quantities, their judgment probably wasn't so hot to be there in the first place but, under the influence of strong drink, they would become victims to be plucked by the casino. This is one reason people are bothered by this Clause 37.

Other people are bothered by Clause 37 who happen to be in an industry selling beer and spirits to customers, the Lounge and Beverage Room Owners Association. I have met with them on two occasions to discuss this legislation, our caucus met with them to talk to them to see what they were thinking. The ones that are operating particularly in the metro region are most concerned because they feel the competition will be very vigorous from a brand new, shiny facility located at the Sheraton Hotel lobby, giving out liquor and we don't know the price. Perhaps it is free. Perhaps they will pay a little bit or perhaps they will have to pay the full fare. We don't know that yet. I suspect it will be free or, certainly, at a reduced price. They are saying, how are we going to compete. They are saying, let us look at what has happened in other locations where a casino has arrived.

[4:30 p.m.]

Atlantic City, I think somebody said that half the businesses in the food and beverage were gone within five years. Well, we have a very fragile economy in Halifax and in Nova Scotia at the present time and many of the beverage room owners are frightened. I met with some from the Annapolis Valley and from the Truro and New Glasgow area. They are very concerned about the buses. Apparently, Acadian Lines is having a great deal of difficulty operating through the Valley because the other day they cut down one route. But, apparently, there is going to be a new bus company set up, not to bring passengers to Halifax to do shopping or the hospital visits or anything like that, apparently this new bus is going to be leaving Kentville and New Minas and whisking them in to this casino.

Now, this is a real worry to people outside of the metro region. I thought it was just a few people within two or three miles of this thing, but it is not. People from Bridgewater are coming to Halifax. People from Truro and New Glasgow are coming to Halifax on this bus. But the plan for the bus is, if you live in Antigonish, you are closer to Sydney, so you are going to go that way. The bar owners and beverage room owners that are in Yarmouth are not too concerned right now because Clause 37 does not bother them as much as it does people because it is about a two and one-half hour bus ride from Yarmouth to Halifax and that is a long trip for just an evening's entertainment. So they feel quite safe down there. But what they are expecting is a new licensee to have a casino and bring in all these new gaming machines and tables in that area and then it will spread that way.

Some of the boards of directors of the exhibitions association are kind of excited because one of the difficulties that we have with running exhibitions in Nova Scotia - and we have many; we have Hants County, which is the oldest one in the world, Mr. Speaker. Certainly they said it was. They have Truro, they have the Atlantic Winter Fair, Musquodoboit, Cape Breton. You know what I mean. There are all kinds - one of the difficulties they have is funding these exhibitions. Some of the people on the board of directors charged with raising funds and keeping them going say, well, the great thing about this bill and this government is they are going to let us have a casino for the period of time that the exhibition is set up.

So what I envision is happening and under this legislation, find me the clause that says it cannot be done and I will show you the one that says it will. Under this legislation, you will be able to have a casino operating on a temporary basis at the Atlantic Winter Fair, at Lawrencetown, in Truro, in Musquodoboit, in all these communities, for the week. You know, they are going to maybe enjoy it so much, maybe these fairs will be going on for two weeks. So that they will have casinos on a temporary basis, and I can see, Bill Lynch Shows travel around, we are going to have a Bernie Boudreau travelling casino from exhibition to exhibition.

Something like could happen because to buy the tables is expensive and they have to be level or the wheel does not turn right. So they are going to have to have pretty decent equipment and I can see this happening. So it will just glean more money. The people that did not come to Halifax on a bus are going to be able to go to the local exhibition.

At the present time, Mr. Speaker, it is not fair. (Interruption) The people in Kentville don't want it. The Kentville Town Council said they did not want it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ninety-nine point nine per cent of the people said they did not want it.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you. Ninety-nine point nine per cent of the people that have a telephone and knew how to dial a number said no sir to casinos. That is a pretty good indication. If 99.9 per cent of the people were telling me something, even though it was a poll and you had to make an effort, I would be listening, certainly, I would be paying a little bit of attention. I am sure the margin of error might have been slight, but 99.9 per cent of the people is a whole bunch of them. This is significant and we should listen to them.

We wanted an impact study, we didn't get one. This bill says it is going to enhance the quality of life of every Nova Scotian. Well, look, I don't believe that for a minute. In fact, we can find you a maximum of 40,000 people and a minimum of 20,000 people who are going to be so adversely affected that it will make your head spin because anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 of our citizens are going to become so addicted to this that it will be a disease for them, they will be socially and financially wiped out.

Now these are not my numbers. This what this bill is going to do so some Nova Scotians. Now I ask you, Mr. Speaker, if there was a disease that could be treated at the Victoria General Hospital that was going to suddenly affect 20,000 or 40,000 Nova Scotians, would this government take a chance and introduce it? I don't think so. But is there a difference? Gambling addiction is a disease that is going to affect 20,000 to 40,000 Nova Scotians.

Now they say, oh well what the heck, they may have it now. Well, sure they might, but if you don't have the opportunity to walk into a casino to get exposed to the disease, it is not as prevalent as it will be when the exposure is there waiting to grab you and take you. If you think it is not able to happen; a very good friend of mine who lives in the Annapolis Valley told me one day, I put my house through the video lottery terminals. I could not imagine that because the video lotteries are only that big and you know his house was big enough to walk in and live in.

What he meant was he started playing the video lotteries until he ran up his credit card, he got another credit card and he ran that up. He borrowed from his friends and he didn't pay his phone bill, he didn't pay anything. Every cent he could scrape up and scrounge he put through the darn video lottery terminals, until it came time, the day of reckoning, when the bank said, listen, we can't give you any more money; the phone company said you have to pay, the hydro company said, we would like the money for your electricity. They all came jumping on him after about two months of this. The only avenue he had was to go out and get a mortgage on his home and pay off his debts. Guess what he did then? The difference between what he owed and the mortgage, he flew that through the machine, too, So then he had no house. That is how he put his house through a video lottery terminal.

This bill will allow even more people in Nova Scotia to do that. So how can the minister indicate to you and to me, Mr. Speaker, that this will enhance the quality of life of every Nova Scotian, when there are 20,000 to 40,000 who will be adversely affected?

Now one of the things that, as a result of the legislation, we learned that the payout for the ITT Sheraton is different than it is for people who are in the business. Nova Scotians who own lounges and have a video lottery terminal in them at the present time are at a distinct disadvantage to the Sheraton. It is exactly the opposite in payout.

Now the Minister of Finance is nodding. I don't know whether he is nodding because he knew I would say that after a while, but I just want to represent Nova Scotians, the people who elected me. I think if more people came to this House and represented the people who sent them here, we would not have legislation like this. Now if the Minister of Finance wants more information as to whom I represent, I will bring him a list of the voters in Kings North and people who called me on the phone. I tell you, there are hundreds who are talking about this.

I will tell you, the video lottery terminal people today, if there is $1,000 that goes through the machine, $700 goes back to the people who are playing and the profit is about $300. Now of the $300, the government right off the top takes $200 and the person in the lounge has $100. After GST, he gets about $82. So that is where the lounge operator gets his money.

But if you look at this arrangement that has been negotiated, the best arrangement in Canada according to the press release sent out by the Minister of Finance, he really drove a hard bargain and the province gets to keep 20 per cent while the ITT Sheraton gets 80 per cent of the take through these blessed machines.

Now you see, the difference is just turned around. The video terminals owned and operated by Nova Scotians are getting 20 per cent and the government is getting 80 per cent. The new arrangement of the province is getting 20 per cent and the owner is getting 80 per cent. Now, if that is wrong read it different but, by golly, this is the way you read it according to the information put out by the Minister of Finance. Now, where in the legislation, I can't find the part that says people like the ITT Sheraton deserve a better break than a Nova Scotian who is a small businessman and trying to get along? I tried to find the clause, now I assume it will be in the regulations where it says special advantages for the ITT Sheraton. (Interruption)

There are other things in this bill. The people that are going to be hired are going to be fortunate that they will be working there and they will be covered by the Civil Service Act and that is a real advantage to the people that are hired. The Executive Director of the Gaming Control Commission will be hired by Governor in Council and then he shall appoint a Director of Registration, a Director of Investigation and Enforcment and so on. The nice thing about that is, after they are all appointed, one way or another, they shall be covered by all of the benefits of the Civil Service Commission and the Superannuation Act.

One of the interesting things as well is that the commission may make general rules respecting the practice and procedure in relation to hearings and other matters coming before the commission. Now what are these other matters? We are not clear until we see the regulations. Now are the other matters that are coming, is it the Liquor Commission? Will this one body be doing both the gaming and the duties and responsibilities of what is now the Nova Scotia Liquor Licensing Board? We don't know that. Will they be taking over from the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission as well? Certainly, this legislation gives them enough power to become the commission with enormous scope of adventure.

There is nothing in this bill that indicates to me or to anybody else that there will ever be one cent, one red sou spent on building a new casino. We have heard about this lodge that apparently our native Nova Scotians used to live in until you ask them and they say look, the Mi'Kmaq of Nova Scotia never used lodges and if they did use a lodge, there certainly wouldn't be any spirit in there in smoke telling stories. Who dreamed up this foolishness because the bill doesn't tell us that? (Interruption)

This was high class, world class. How can it be world class when the foundation is second class, you know what I mean? When the foundation is based on fallacy, no research, how can the Minister of Finance ever stand and tell Nova Scotians that he is building a first class casino? I don't think that minister can do that in all honesty because this legislation does not in any way, shape or form indicate to me that we are ever going to see this new construction in a casino.

I hope we don't, I hope they keep it in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel. It is going to be bad for their business but it may help the Hilton open. There are enough people already who have told me that they don't want to go there any more and they will not support the hotel because they are in the casino business. Maybe if enough people feel that way, this bill will become null and void. But I know the determination with which the government has pursued this bill, so I know how dedicated the government is to making sure that the bill gets through.

[4:45 p.m.]

We are going to register the suppliers and the gaming assistants. If you want to work there, you have to go to the community college. One day it was going to be the community college deciding who goes through there and the next day we find that, no, ITT Sheraton will decide who is going to the Nova Scotia community college and who is not. But, by golly, if you own a Nova Scotia trade school with a license to teach trades, don't think for 30 seconds that you are eligible to teach anybody to work for ITT Sheraton. No, no, they have got their own arrangements.

Mr. Speaker, there are many other things that I would like to say about this casino and about this legislation. Most of it I have said before, a lot of it others have said. But you know, in brief summary, because there are others to speak and we have got a lot to do, in summary, I want you to know that it is a sad day for Nova Scotia when this minister and this Premier and this government broke their word, when they did not do what they said they would do and brought in this legislation. It just blindsided every Nova Scotian, man, woman and child, who were under the impression, wrongly apparently, that the Premier told us that he was not going to do this. He said, we need public hearings like those of a legislative committee. Caution is necessary and we will accept no proposal without extensive public consultation.

You know, why? We have been asking why does this government feel they need to have a gambling casino or casinos or dozens of them in Nova Scotia. The Minister of Finance has said it is financial, but when he gave us the figures, they did not add up. When you look at the figures of $50 million that the minister indicates he is going to get - or I guess that is every two years, so he is getting $25 million a year - when you look at the way he has arrived at his numbers and then you ask two or three other economists, you cannot find anybody in the province that will agree with the numbers that the Minister of Finance is operating under.

So, Mr. Speaker, it beats me why we are in the casino business. I guess we are in the business, but it is a sad day for all Nova Scotians because it is unfair, uncalled for and it is certainly not on the principles that this government ran an election on. Maybe that is the way of the future. You say one thing and when you get elected, you thumb your nose at the people of Nova Scotia and do something else.

You know, maybe that is why people are fed up with this government and fed up with politicians, because the example that the Premier set for Nova Scotians is a disgrace because he said one thing and he did something else. When young people think of a future career, can you imagine wanting to become a politician when they are held in such low regard? This bill is part of the problem because it is totally and completely contrary to what this government said they stood for.

So, Mr. Speaker, with those few words, I take my seat and I hope that something I have said or somebody else might have said in this Legislature from the Opposition, will convince some of these members to represent the people who sent you here because I know that there is not a single member in this House who has had phone calls or letters urging him to support this casino bill. It just did not happen. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I just have a few things to say this afternoon about Bill No. 120. I have had the opportunity, at various stages of this bill, to outline my concerns and my complaints with the process that this government has followed to get to this point with this bill. I, as my colleagues have in the New Democratic Party caucus, have attempted as much as possible to bring forward the concerns that Nova Scotians have with this government's decision to establish casinos in the Province of Nova Scotia, to try to encourage this government, particularly this minister, to reconsider the position that he and the government was taking in moving forward with this bill.

I think plain and simple, the people of Nova Scotia feel as if they have been sandbagged by this government. They clearly indicated during the election and back when they were in Opposition that they were not in favour of promoting further gambling in the Province of Nova Scotia. They certainly would not do anything as significant as this, establishing two casinos in the Province of Nova Scotia, without significant consultation with the people of Nova Scotia. There has been some consultation with Nova Scotians before this government was elected and afterwards on matters relating to the question of casinos. Nova Scotians indicated that they weren't in favour at all with this proposal.

At every opportunity Nova Scotians have had to voice their concerns, they have done so, whether it be in the form of petitions, whether it be in the form of public opinion polls or whether it be in terms of making presentations to standing committees of this Legislature, Nova Scotians have said quite clearly to the people in this Legislature and certainly this government that they are not in favour of the establishment of casinos. We have heard from town council after town council, city councils and villages across this province. When they have been given the opportunity, they have resoundly said we do not want to increase the level of gaming and gambling in the Province of Nova Scotia that is provided for in Bill No. 120.

Unfortunately, this government has decided not to listen. They have made a very clear decision that regardless of the hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotians that are opposed to casino gambling in Nova Scotia, they are going to go forward. That is their right, they are the majority. They do have the right to carry forward with policy even though it is completely contrary to commitments made when they were in Opposition and when they were running for election. They have the right to carry forward because they have a majority in this House and they can make any decision they want and they can run it through the processes of this Legislature in time. If they are truly committed, they can ensure that the legislation goes through and they have in this case.

The New Democratic Party caucus in the Opposition have attempted to use whatever measures have been at our disposal to continue to raise concerns of Nova Scotians by prolonging the debate in this House. By doing this, to give Nova Scotians more time to bring the concerns specifically to their members of government in order that the message clearly go to this government that if they carry forward with this decision, that they are doing so in the face of concerted opposition from one end of this province to the other. I think Nova Scotians have done that clearly.

In the process Nova Scotians have been able, I believe as a result of that kind of extensive pressure, to bring about some changes in the bill that was initially tabled in the Legislature back on December - actually it was some time earlier - back in November 1994, Nova Scotians have been able to get some changes to this bill to provide for some level of independence by the Gaming Commission to allow for some form of public hearings and to provide for some other changes that have made some improvements, certainly not the kind of improvements that make us happy enough that we would want to vote for this bill but, certainly, there have been some improvements in the bill as a result of the pressure that Nova Scotians have brought to bear on this government.

In the final analysis, we are going to see this government vote; it is a majority that is going to pass this bill through third reading today and Nova Scotians are going to end up with, in a very short time, two casinos. Temporary, initially, and then permanently, two casinos, one in Sydney and one in Halifax. We are going to see two casinos operating. In Halifax, in particular, we are going to see a casino that is going to bring back the past, going to bring back what the Sheraton calls those good old days of the privateers, the buccaneer pirates and sundry acts and performances that accompany that.

You know, there are many of us who review the history of those days who do not see it with such romanticism; it is a period that is not one that should be so fondly remembered. It is certainly not one, I think, that Nova Scotians are going to want to see down on our waterfront, a waterfront in the city that I as a member of this city, as a citizen of Halifax will be all that excited about seeing developed. Unfortunately, as a result of the complete exemptions provided for in this bill, we will not, as members of this municipality, have an opportunity to have any say in how this casino is going to be developed in terms of its structure or in terms of its profile or its program. Again, it is a problem that we have talked about in this House and it is a problem that Nova Scotians are going to talk about, I would suggest, for some considerable days, weeks, months and years to come because this government has done a couple of things.

One thing it has done is it has set itself a legacy of a government that has been quite prepared to break promises and commitments that they have made during the election. They are a government that, through Bill No. 120, have ignored the wishes of Nova Scotians and have decided, because they feel that this is best, to impose upon Nova Scotians a way of life that Nova Scotians have said clearly that they do not want any part of. It is a strategy that is going to have a long-lasting impact on this province in terms of the economic as well as social impacts.

It is a commitment that this government has made on our behalf that they may have the legal right to, but I would suggest they simply do not have the moral right to, and that is a concern of mine and many Nova Scotians and that will continue to be a concern many years into the future. While the member for Halifax Fairview and the Leader of the NDP, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, have stood and have cited, again, the reasons why we shouldn't be going forward in this province with casino gambling, and have raised the numerous unanswered questions about the social and economic impacts, questions that this government promised that they would answer when debate resumed in January 1995, but unfortunately, there has been a deafening silence coming from the opposite side of the House on this and many questions. That is a further concern.

[5:00 p.m.]

Suffice it to say, I guess, that at this point we have done our bit, we have wrangled, we have debated, we have used every means at our disposal to try to bring pressure to bear on this government in order to bring about changes. Some changes have been made but certainly not enough. Mr. Speaker, we are at a point now where the final touches are going to be put on this bill and Nova Scotians are going to have casinos thrust upon them in the days and weeks ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say very clearly, as the member for Halifax Atlantic, as a member of the NDP caucus, that I am opposed to this bill, I am opposed very much to the process that this government has put in place. I believe that there are too many unanswered questions, there are far too many questions that need to be answered. I am concerned about the effect that this bill and the casinos are going to have on this province, on my province, on my city and I simply cannot vote in favour of anything that will potentially have the kind of impact I am suggesting it will.

So, Mr. Speaker, as I take my seat, I say that I am opposed to this bill. I will be voting against this bill and I encourage all members to vote likewise.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I don't intend to hold the House too long. I feel very sad, I am not pleased to get up and finally speak on Bill No. 120. I had hoped that somewhere along the way this legislation would have changed to not allow casinos in this province. Any reports and information I have been able to read, Mr. Speaker, since the government announced casinos last fall introduced this bill on November 8, 1994, more information has come available on studies that have been conducted. It was very strange that this government didn't do any studies on casinos before making the announcements. The only studies done were by select committees that went around the province and people indicated to those committees that they didn't want casinos.

People like Bill Thompson, a Professor of Public Administration at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, an expert on gambling economics, has said that 50 per cent of the players who come to play in a casino have to be tourists, otherwise it is not new wealth, otherwise it is simply a redistribution of funds within the community. What will happen will be very sad for this great city and this great province.

We can look at Atlantic City. In 1978 they had a boom when the construction took place, they had a boom when the new people were hired. Even the people with small businesses around that city said good. Well, do you know what has happened? Many of those people, poverty has struck. Most of those main street businesses have gone out of business, people went into bankruptcy. It has a down side on the social side of that area.

Now, Mr. Speaker, anybody representing this City of Halifax knows that we are going to have a little boom, a little bust down there. There are many people, you and I and many people know, that are going to lose their businesses in this city because of that casino coming here. Yes, there will be some new jobs but there will be jobs lost. Yes, we don't know the social economic impact because this government refused to do a socio-economic impact study. Why? Because if it came out negative, what could they do?

Well I know, Mr. Speaker, many people in this province have voiced their concerns against casinos. This government has not listened. I don't remember any time in the history of this province that any government set out a policy that would have more harm on the economic and social and physical well-being of the people in this province as casinos will to this province. Members of this government are now supporting something that is going to have in the long term a negative effect. This government is short-sighted in thinking that this legislation, in the short term, yes, will have some positive spinoff, but in the long term will have a negative spinoff. How can members of this Legislature vote for that knowing this government didn't do a proper study, knowing that anything they read says it is going to have a negative impact, and still vote for this legislation?

I was interested to note on December 16th, Mr. Speaker, you and all members of the caucus got a little note from the Premier after your little Christmas do. He said, look, don't get down, I am sending you a list of 18 good things this government has done for this province. Municipal reform and all of those are on there, but no mention of casinos. Even the Premier doesn't consider casinos a good thing for this province. Then, why in the world are we doing them if the Premier says it is not one of the good things that we have done? (Interruption) All you have to do, and I pick up my local paper at home, last week, the little Berwick Register. On the front page it talks about casinos, a disgrace for this province. The local people are saying, why is this government ramming casinos down our throats and we don't want it.

Now, there are 41 elected Liberals in this province and they think they know what is best for the 900,000, and we don't have an opportunity to have any input. Well, I will tell you, this casino is going to have the same legs that Mercator had for the previous Liberal Government. It is going to come back to haunt you and it is going to hurt you at the polls.

What I feel bad about - I don't feel bad about that - is that people's lives are going to be affected because that casino is coming to downtown. The person going in there, like examples that they have given in Montreal, with their $250 or $300 welfare cheque, going into the casino and spending it. You know, there are other people who will lose their homes; there will be family breakups. There will be all kinds of negative things that will happen and every one of you who vote for it are going to wear it when those poor people are in those kinds of difficulties. The reason you are going to wear it is because you brought the casinos to downtown Halifax and downtown Sydney because you thought there was no other way to get jobs in this province than bringing casinos here. That is what you thought.

I will tell you, if you read any study, and I defy you to show me a study that says casinos are an economic benefit in the long term, you can't find one. But I can find many that will tell you it is not good in the long term, either economically, socially or any part of it. I can produce those studies that have been done elsewhere. You are going to sit here in the small Province of Nova Scotia and sell Nova Scotians down the drain, a beautiful province that tourists used to like to come to, it was a safe, nice province to visit. You, for greed, so that maybe you could do whatever, you are going to sell this province out.

Well, this is our last chance and I have to tell you that I will be voting against this gaming bill, Bill No. 120, as I hope others will do, because it is something that is going to have a negative effect in the long term on the people of this province. It is a very sad day. Yes, we needed gaming rules changed, but a very sad day when we think that the only way we can survive in this province economically is to bring casinos here because it is going to be such a wonderful thing. Well, Mr. Speaker, it isn't going to be a wonderful thing.

I don't want to be prophesying or saying what is going to happen, but I can tell you one thing. The people of this province will find a way to get back at this government because they wouldn't listen when the people clearly said, the majority of Nova Scotians have said no to casinos in this province and now this government is going to ram it down their throats. People have rights and they are going to exercise those rights the next time around at the polls. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Finance, it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it has been a long debate, some of it a touch repetitive at times, but it is a debate which covered pretty well every conceivable issue, at least two or three times. Some of the issues I never would have even predicted would have been raised on the floor of the House, were dealt with at great length. First of all, let me address those who oppose this bill, and they exist not only in this House but out among the people of this province.

Mr. Speaker, there are those, as I have said right from the start, who oppose the bill on moral grounds. I have consistently said and it is the position of this government that we respect anyone who holds a moral view, a moral position on gambling in Nova Scotia. We have simply said that moral position has not been in the past, and cannot be in the future, the basis for public policy. But every individual who holds that moral view has a perfect right to it, has a perfect right to act on that moral view and has a perfect right to have that belief respected by everyone, including the Minister of Finance and I do respect it.

Mr. Speaker, there are those who are opposed to this bill because they have real concerns, concerns for all of the potential effects that this activity might have and those concerns have been expressed as we have gone through the debate. We have tried to address those concerns in the bill and in the provisions of the bill which, by the way, is the most comprehensive effort in this country to control and regulate gaming generally, not just casinos, but gaming generally, that I would suggest has ever been introduced in Canada. The reason it is so comprehensive is to address those very issues that many Nova Scotians want to see addressed in this issue.

But, Mr. Speaker, there are also those who have opposed this bill for purely political reasons, to gain some advantage. I don't want to criticize and it is easy, I suppose, in some instances, to judge a political figure who may have taken one position initially when the announcement was made and then put his finger in the wind and found out which way it was blowing and quite quickly did a 180-degree turn. Now, that would be, perhaps, wrong to judge why that position changed so quickly.

Mr. Speaker, one individual, Mr. Coll, who presented a very prominent part of this debate, I see today is advertised as a special featured speaker for the Halifax West PC Association, delegate selection meeting. There are those who engaged in this debate in a very cynical, indeed, almost hypocritical way.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard people complain, raise incredible spectres of the possibilities that might exist as a result of this legislation. One of them, the massive new addiction problems that would result and the hand-wringing that came, especially from the members of the Official Opposition, the same group, the same people that introduced rampant, uncontrolled VLTs on every corner of this province. Does anybody remember that? I remember it; in the laundromats, in the corner stores, everywhere. You know when they did that, in their last budget as a government before they were thrown out of office, they budgeted not one penny for addiction treatment. Now you have to look at the sincerity of people who would take that position.

Mr. Speaker, in raising these spectres, the Opposition has a job to do, sure. The people of Nova Scotia will judge, but they raised virtually every conceivable spectre that they could, increased crime. Even today in the debate, I think two of the Opposition referred to crime tripling in Atlantic City. Now, the obvious suggestion is, of course, that it will be tripling here.

Mr. Speaker, they raised the spectre of local business failures, collapses. Virtually, we will have a downtown that is going to be deserted, plywood on every door. That was the spectre that was raised. But you know, I have to remind you that in dealing with this bill, we are the seventh jurisdiction, the seventh province in Canada to provide for casinos, legalizing casino operations, the seventh, not the first, not the second, not the fourth, the seventh.

Did you hear, at any point in the weeks and months of debate, evidence from any one of those other six jurisdictions as to massive business failures? Did you hear any evidence at all of massive crime increases? That evidence was not there it was not produced because it doesn't exist.

[5:15 p.m.]

Those jurisdictions have all done studies of the casino operations that exist, as we will do, as the commission will do on an ongoing basis. The most recent one was done in Ontario in January, last month. Let me show you what they found out and this wasn't the government doing it and this is the New Democratic Party Government by the way. This wasn't the government doing it though, they got an independent study done and one of the quotes from it is, "The study notes that there were concerns expressed prior to the casino's arrival about issues such as increased crime, traffic congestion, and noise.". Sound familiar, Mr. Speaker? "Careful planning and quick action by the casino operator and the city ensured that such problems did not occur or were quickly solved.". There is the most recent report, you want reports? That is not a speculative report, that is a report on an actual casino operation.

Now the honourable Third Party know the Government of Ontario very well. One phone call would have produced a copy of this report and they could have brought it to the floor and debated it. I didn't seem them bringing this report to the floor or the others like it.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition said, why are you doing this? That is a legitimate question and I want to answer that. There are a number of reasons why we are doing it. The first one quite clearly is jobs. There will be 1,100 people working full time taking home pay cheques to their families in this province who wouldn't be otherwise if this industry was not here in Nova Scotia, 1,100. Now, that may not be important to someone who has a job but talk to somebody out there in Nova Scotia who doesn't have one and find out how important it is.

There will be spinoffs, we think another 1,500 jobs. Now, that is a projection. Will it be 1,500, will it be 2,000 will it be 1,200? We are not sure, it is a projection but we think that is a legitimate projection. We are pleased in discussing that projection to rely on the comments of one of the leading legislators across the country on the question of spinoff benefits in casinos and that is the Honourable Marilyn Churley who is the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations in Ontario.

They have gone through it you see. They have had the thing in place, they have seen it operate and I would say that she is perhaps one of the leading politicians in the country in this area. She says and I am quoting directly from Hansard in Ontario, the Ontario House of Assembly. "In terms of the spinoff benefits, we should not forget here that the location of the casino will generate a number of benefits, including an expanded tax base, increased tourism, a stronger hospitality and entertainment base, and secure permanent employment for a number of people.", those are her comments.

I would bet if the honourable Third Party, the NDP as Ms. Churley is, if they had picked up the phone and given her a call she probably would have told them something like this. I think she would have but that never took place. All of the spectres have been raised and not one shred of evidence. But the jobs, we submit, are there and they are substantial.

There will be a capital investment of $176 million in Nova Scotia. Now, when was the last time you could invest that kind of money without creating economic activity? It will create a substantial amount of economic activity in this province, $176 million. What has not been dwelt on by the Opposition is, in fact, that ITT Sheraton is not only guaranteeing the $25 million a year revenue to Nova Scotia, they are also guaranteeing the capital investment of $176 million. That will create jobs in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, it is about revenue, too; sure it is. We have never denied that for a moment. The projections, which we believe are reasonable projections, which have been tested by professionals and by the Casino Project Committee, we believe will bring about, between the win tax and the profit share, roughly $50 million a year to Nova Scotia. Now we don't intend to take the $50 million and tuck it in a sock somewhere. That $50 million a year will be used to provide essential health services, community services, will provide for justice, will provide for education and all those other services that have been put at risk in Nova Scotia by the former government. That is what some of that money will be used for. (Applause)

You know, the honourable Opposition Party sometimes rails at us and says look, you are always going back, you are looking backwards. But, Mr. Speaker, I can understand why they would say that, they don't want us to look backwards. But it isn't backwards. Unfortunately, if that $8 million or $9 million debt had just been something that existed back there, we could forget it; we would not bring it up any more. But you know that debt that these gentlemen across the way created, in the Official Opposition, is a reality today and it is going to be a reality for every government in this province for many years to come. It will impact on every single decision that a government makes in this province. It is not yesterday, it is today and, unfortunately, it is tomorrow as well.

I could go on and try and address every single criticism. I found it difficult to take many of them very seriously, from the honourable members of the Opposition. The former Chairman of the Management Board talked about an 80/20 split. He was making his pitch on behalf of the bar owners who operate VLTs in Nova Scotia. He said they didn't get as good a split, that the casino operators got 80 per cent, the government got only 20 per cent.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have to hope that the former Chairman of the Management Board was only up to some mischief and that he really didn't believe that kind of calculation. The 20 per cent is the win tax that comes off the top. Now we get the 20 per cent immediately, then we split the profit, 65 per cent to us, 35 per cent to them. That is a better deal from the province's point of view than the VLTs that those gentlemen put in every bar in Nova Scotia. (Applause)

Now that same gentleman, the former Chairman of the Management Board - or the mismanagement board as some have called it - also tossed out that 99.9 per cent of the people of Nova Scotia indicated to him that they are opposed. Well I have news, Mr. Speaker, if he is right about that then there will be no problem with casinos in Nova Scotia because after we have a $176 million investment put in, which they are required to do, and after they pay us $25 million a year for four years, which they are required to do, it won't exist any more if 99.9 per cent of the population isn't using it. So there is no down-side.

But in looking at this question overall, we believe that it is an industry which exists in most of the Provinces of Canada, it is an industry that will provide employment, it is an industry that will enhance existing tourism. I don't think people will refuse to go around the Cabot Trail because there may be a casino in Sydney. What is far more likely is that somebody going around the Cabot Trail, as they do now, instead of leaving the same day they may spend an extra day in Sydney and, if they do, they will spend money there to the benefit of all the businesses. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I am not the only one who believes that. We have had correspondence in great measure from any number of groups, but two groups that are supposedly at such peril if you believe the Opposition, I want to quote from the tourism industry, and I am just going to quote one paragraph from that letter. "The Casino, an attraction that provides indoor and evening activity seven days a week will be a welcome addition. The provision of quality and skilled employment, and the resultant spin off in increased business to suppliers will furnish a positive tourism impact . . .". I didn't write this, this was written by Donald G. Wilson, President of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, dated the 28th of December.

Another group apparently at risk, at great risk if you believe the honourable members of the Opposition and I want to read just a paragraph from this letter which is from Mr. Victor Ferreira who is with the Hotel Association of Nova Scotia, "Our members . . .", that is the Hotel Association, Mr. Speaker, ". . . believe in the competitive world of Tourism and we must constantly add to the resources . . .". (Interruptions) They have been asking me to address this issue for so long, I would like to do that now. "Our members believe in the competitive world of Tourism and we must constantly add to the resources already offered by the Province of Nova Scotia. Undoubtedly, the casinos will create a level of excitement that contributes to a more vibrant province.".

I am not going to go on at any further length. I think the length of this debate has already set some kind of a record and I am not sure how much the length contributed to the substance of that debate. I will indicate to you, Mr. Speaker, that these two casino operations will be judged by fact, not speculation, not political posturing, not gestures, they will be judged on fact and we are content to have them judged on fact. With respect to the bill itself I would only point out in concluding that the bill is a far broader scope, than casinos. Yes, it does allow for casinos in Nova Scotia but this is the Gaming Control Act and it will control all types of gaming in a manner that has never been done before in Nova Scotia.

The final item that I would like to make with respect to the bill, it has been sometimes described as a skeleton bill. This bill is complete, this bill deals in great detail and with great strength on all of the issues that confront us in Nova Scotia and I think it will be a great addition and will allow us to deal with this situation far more efficiently, far more realistically than we have in the past and with that I would move third reading. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 120, the Gaming Control Act.

A recorded vote has been called for.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

[5:30 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the whips satisfied? Satisfied.

Will the Clerk please conduct a roll call vote. Vote yes if in favour of third reading of the bill, no if opposed.

[5:31 p.m.]

[The Clerk calls the roll.]


Mrs. Norrie Mr. Moody

Dr. Smith Mr. Donahoe

Mr. Boudreau Mr. Russell

Dr. Savage Mr. Holm

Mr. Gillis Mr. Chisholm

Mr. Bragg Ms. McDonough

Ms. Jolly Mr. Archibald

Mr. MacEachern Mr. Taylor

Mr. Casey Mr. McInnes

Mr. Gaudet Dr. Hamm

Mr. Harrison

Mr. Adams

Mr. Brown

Mr. O'Malley

Mr. MacAskill

Mr. MacArthur

Mr. MacNeil

Mr. Rayfuse

Mr. Richards

Mr. Surette

Mr. White

Mr. Holland

Mrs. O'Connor

Mr. Mitchell

Mr. Fogarty

Mr. Hubbard

Mr. W. MacDonald

Mr. Fraser

Mr. Colwell

Mr. Huskilson

Mr. Carruthers

THE CLERK: For, 31. Against, 10.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 114.

Bill No. 114 - Municipal Reform (1994) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to offer a few words on third reading of Bill No. 114. I think there has been a large discussion across the province with regard to this piece of legislation and I think one of the things that we have noted time and time again is that this Bill No. 114 is dealing with reform that has been talked about in this province for over 40 years. There are a number of aspects to the bill, but I think there are two key aspects that we want to talk about in this bill.

This particular bill, the two major elements it deals with, one, the exchange of a number of government services between the province and municipalities, which includes the first step of a reformed social service system in the Province of Nova Scotia and, two, the significant reform measures in municipal legislation that further empower municipal governments in their ability to act independently of the province.

Mr. Speaker, municipalities have requested for many years, as I say, some people have talked about this for 40 years, to have an opportunity to act independently, to have more of their own autonomy and their own authority. One of the aspects of Bill No. 114 deals with that very clearly. Certainly, the objectives of the provincial-municipal service exchange are to create strong, financially viable local governments, to develop a clearer, fairer, provincial-municipal partnership and to rationalize service delivery by all governments to the citizens of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, when we look at this bill there are a number of things that have been included in it, as had been requested by the UNSM over a number of years, as well as the municipalities. The bill includes provisions to increase financial decision-making at the local municipal level. It includes such things as removing the requirement for ministerial approval for most by-laws, requirements to notify the public concerning by-laws, making some by-law powers into a simpler procedure. It decreases the number of land sales that require the minister's approval. These are things that have been requested for years by the municipalities.

The municipal units are also being given the option to be free of liability for claims arising out of sewer and water system problems, unless neglect is shown. This is another request from the municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, as we have said on a number of occasions in the House and while we have been travelling the province, service exchange will not alleviate all the problems we have with the municipal government and the provincial government, but it will produce a fairer and more rationalized system able to provide government to the taxpayers in the Province of Nova Scotia. But, as I say, it will not solve all the problems. This is a step in a direction of which we will be having further consultation.

Mr. Speaker, there has been a fair discussion on this word consultation and I would like to say that this government started in July 1993 to put together this particular piece of legislation. This legislation has not happened overnight, it has happened with consultation. I visited all 66 municipalities across the province. We had discussion from them, we had input from them, we had an opportunity to put together the final paper and have further consultation with them.

Mr. Speaker, there have been a number of changes made. This particular piece of legislation has listened to and has had consultation from the municipalities. In actual fact, Mr. Speaker, there have been a couple of municipalities, two of them that have been some of the most vocal against this legislation, or against the service exchange initially, but have now written to me. I would quote just one of the specifically, because it is from the President of the UNSM, from the council that she has in the County of Richmond. They had moved and seconded by their council to send a letter to the Honourable Sandra Jolly, Minister of Municipal Affairs, ". . . thanking her for listening to us and other rural municipalities' concerns and helping to soften the financial impact to rural municipalities like ourselves.".

Mr. Speaker, we also received a letter very similar to that from Kings County, another municipality that had a number of meetings suggesting that this service exchange was not the right way to go and they wanted changes to it. We have made those changes and we have a bill here that I think will be accepted generally across the province by the majority of the municipalities. As I have said, it will not deal with all the concerns but it will deal with the majority of them.

The second aspect to this particular bill is the opportunity for the single-tiered social service system which this government is committed to. The Minister of Community Services has worked very hard and has an extremely good program that has been set up in the new Cape Breton regional municipality. That is step one of this government moving forward in that system. It is a system that is working well, it is a system that requires participation by both the municipalities and the province and there has been ongoing discussion and consultation. So, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to put this bill before the House for third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join in the debate following the remarks by the minister in regard to her Bill No. 114, an Act to Provide for Municipal Reform. Of course in the fall, this bill was the subject of much debate. It has been the subject of much interest from one end of this province to the other and continues to be a focal point of interest for many communities.

This bill does not provide municipal reform. It is only a piecemeal service exchange designed and created by accountants and, unlike this debate, the job is far from finished. This is only half a bill and provides to certain communities of this province a crippling financial blow.

Now, the minister has already made reference to the objectives that this bill is designed to meet and to achieve. The minister has quoted them, to create strong, financially viable local governments, to develop a clearer, fairer provincial-municipal partnership and to rationalize service provision by both levels of government.

These objectives omit three very important objectives which must also be a part of effective reform. These include a complete and utter separation of responsibility for people services and local services, rationalization of boundaries and municipal government re-alignment to allow the most effective and economical delivery of local service, and finally, to enshrine municipal power and responsibilities in a municipal charter.

Last year I reminded the House that the Municipal Incorporation Act of 1879 was introduced into law by the Honourable Simon Holmes, the second Premier from Pictou County for all of Nova Scotia. That municipal reform bill effectively eliminated the Courts of Sessions and allowed each and every portion of Nova Scotia to set up local governments, creating a closer tie with government on many issues of local concern, a closer tie for all Nova Scotians to government. Very little has changed since that initial legislation. The set up, as provided in the Municipal Incorporation Act 115 years ago, provides us with the type of government that we have at the local level and the relationship of the provincial government and the municipal government that Nova Scotians enjoy today.

Municipal change has been and is resisted on the basis of uncertain costs, a fear of the loss of community identity and the belief that more government is better government. A quarter of a century ago, the warden of Inverness County described the existing state of municipal autonomy as tons and tons of responsibility and not one ounce of authority.

In 1969, the Minister of Municipal Affairs in the G.I. Smith Government told this Legislature that he had in mind a study to determine whether amalgamation of some of the province's then 65 municipal units should take place on a piecemeal basis, or whether amalgamation should take place right across the province. He stated that he personally favoured 12 to 15 units. The minister is correct. Municipal reform has been studied for well over 40 years.

In 1968, a study called Local Government and the Changing Economy of Industrial Cape Breton, the so-called Finnis Report, and the 1969 study, the Pictou County Municipal Coordination Study both reached identical conclusions - too much government. The Graham Commission Report in 1974 recommended that Nova Scotia be divided into 11 new municipalities, each covering urban and rural areas. The Cape Breton Regional Municipality Act, introduced last spring, recognizes the fact that government can, in fact, at the local level, govern an urban and a rural area.

In 1989, the UNSM adopted the principle that service of general benefits, or people services, should be provided by the province and services of local concern or property services should be provided by municipal governments. In 1992, the Task Force on Local Government stated that the structure of municipal government in Nova Scotia has remained essentially unchanged since the establishment of rural municipalities in 1879. This task force listed five critical areas and a number of less critical areas. The comment on that is the changing economic times and the service exchange has created a number of critical areas in this province that need attention. The UNSM has identified five areas where reform is considered a necessity, Cape Breton County, metropolitan Halifax, Pictou County, Kings County and Colchester County. The Honourable Donald Cameron, during his two years as Premier, appointed two commissioners to study municipal reform, one in Cape Breton and the other here in metro.

We have 66 municipal units, 3 cities, 39 towns, 24 municipalities, 26 local village commissions, 92 local governments with over 600 elected officials in a province with just over 900,000 people. As of August 1, 1995, at the beginning of the new Cape Breton regional municipality, 8 will become 1 and 66 will become 59 and on April 1, 1996, 4 will become 1 in the metro area and 59 will become 56. This leaves the prospect of one-half of this province being governed by two municipal governments and the remaining half requiring 54 units or governments to deliver local service. This is a long way from what Harvey Veniot said in 1969 or what the Graham Commission had recommended in 1974.

[5:45 p.m.]

At one time or other, 10 areas of this province have been identified as very suitable for structural simplification. Let us examine the track record of the present government in terms of reform. This track record must be scrutinized in an attempt to determine what has gone wrong.

The Liberal municipal reform policy, part of the 1993 Liberal election platform states categorically that a Liberal Government will not change municipal boundaries and structures before providing full information to the public on the impact of such change. It will include the costs and benefits of available options and it will not be brought forward before members of the public have full opportunity for input and critique. This Liberal promise has not been kept in delivering this legislation. Other areas of the province, including my own, Pictou County, have received a crippling financial blow by Bill No. 114.

The exchange proposal was far kinder to Pictou Centre in April than in October. From April to October there was no consultation, no opportunity for the mayors or citizens to suggest a better way. Pictonians don't want a top-down solution like that given to Halifax County. Consultation must precede structural change and Pictonians will demand consultation. Consultation with the five mayors and the warden with their councils and with public consultation before the axe falls. Already, Pictou County local governments are making plans to gain control of their destiny.

In Liverpool and Queens County they have commissioned consultants to prepare a blueprint for a unitary government in their county before a less appealing reform package is forced upon them. All remaining areas of the province must take heed. There is no mechanism in Bill No. 114 to solve the financial chaos created by this exchange process in many municipal units of this province. Lets not have a repetition of the lightning bolt announcement of metro amalgamation as a solution to the very considerable pain being created by this legislation right across this province.

Service exchange is an integral and key part of the reform process but cannot and will not stand on its own. The disjointed approach to reform as provided to date by this government is guaranteed to provide confusion, dismay and financial chaos for many municipal units from one end of this province to another. Financial coercion is no substitute for consultation.

The objectives of service exchange by themselves are quite simple. First, to separate people service from property service. Second, to provide municipal units with autonomous control over those property services they deliver and for which they pay from their taxes, which are based on their assessment base. This would address the concern of the Inverness County Warden who complained that the existing state of municipal autonomy is tons and tons of responsibility and not one ounce of authority. A complete provincial-municipal separation of service responsibility and service payment would foster efficiency of delivery to the ultimate benefit of the taxpayer. This must be the benefit of service exchange. Our municipalities must be relieved of fear, both real and imagined, of provincial downloading.

Mr. Speaker, it is unreasonable to suggest an increase in either residential or commercial tax rates in many parts of this province. For example, the Town of Trenton, hard hit by this latest proposal to the tune of $710,000, has already the highest commercial tax rate in Atlantic Canada. Westville is having financial hardship, and it will cost $210,000 as a result of this service exchange to the people of Westville. The mayor has stated publicly he cannot increase the $2.25 per $100 tax rate. Service exchange will cost Stellarton $118,000; New Glasgow $97,000. Both are well-run towns, why should exchange cost them this kind of increased tax load? It makes the whole process suspect.

In December 1993, the minister introduced her discussion paper on provincial-municipal service exchange. This December proposal, as well as the present one, ignores the education tax levied on the municipal taxpayer. This continuing opportunity for the provincial government to finance its educational responsibilities by intruding into the municipal tax base will continue to be a problem for municipal units and provide continuing temptation for successive Ministers of Education. At least the municipal units should be protected by a cap on the education tax.

Municipal units will pay $120 million of tax each year through municipal education tax. In addition, some units even provide supplemental educational funding; this provides additional programs or additional teacher support. Despite the significant contribution to education, municipal councils have no say in education spending. As the Warden from Inverness County said many years ago, responsibility but no authority.

The summer of 1994 was wasted time. The minister ended her consultative process in April. A brief appearance by the minister at the annual meeting of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities in Sydney in September was followed by the October 27th press conference, at which time the nuts and bolts of the current legislation was introduced to municipal units. Initial reaction at that news conference was that this was a giant step backward for municipal units and a giant step backward for municipal reform.

Again, as before, there were big winners and big losers. Winners in the bottom-line sense only, and winners only if one is to accept at face value the figures presented by the government. The big winners: Halifax, $9.5 million; Dartmouth, $3.2 million; Bedford, $405,000; Bridgewater, $407,000; Yarmouth, $412,000; Argyle, $320,000; Inverness County, $354,000; in Digby, $180,000. The big losers: Queens County, $173,000; Kings County, $760,000; Halifax County, $4.5 million; Colchester County, $1.1 million; Annapolis County, $111,000; Wolfville, $189,000; Westville, $210,000; Trenton, $710,000; Stellarton, $118,000; Springhill, $70,000; Parrsboro, $100,000; Lockeport, $158,000; Canso, a crippling blow, $581,000; Berwick, $89,000; New Glasgow, $97,000.

Mr. Speaker, the new arithmetic of this process is a $76 million exchange, but despite all the talk about the end of municipal operating grants, a cost to the province in this exchange is a $15.7 million operating grant. This is a giant step backwards in the evolutionary process of reform.

One has to wonder that if from April to October the minister and the government had continued its consultation with the UNSM, with the municipal units and with the people of Nova Scotia, could not a better solution have been found? The spirit of cooperation established from December to April dissipated in the indecision after April, the lack of consultation from April to October and with the surprise of $27 million in new costs for a single-tiered social service delivery system announced at the UNSM meeting in September.

I had an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, as Opposition critic, to sit down with many municipal officials in this province while this whole scenario was unfolding. I can report many municipal officials were ready to sit down and discuss alternatives with the minister and with her department. But the opportunity was not given, it was lost to the summer of indecision.

So many questions are raised by the process which followed. Did the consultative process end too soon? Did the minister stop trying to reach a consensus too soon? Does the reform in Bill No. 114 measure up by the yardstick established by all of the reports at the minister's disposal? Does this bill solve as many problems as it creates? Does this bill do anything to enshrine the rights and responsibilities of municipal governments?

This legislation has not achieved what it should. Through the education tax, through correction costs, through costs for homes for special care under Community Services and through municipal assistance in all but Cape Breton County, there is an absolutely failure of this bill to comply with the 1989 resolution passed by the UNSM and that was to completely separate the responsibilities of people and local services. The consultative process which government and the Premier promised in the spring of 1993 has not occurred and the municipal units will forever and a day be justified in pointing the finger of responsibility at government for the failure of this bill to create a viable reform.

The minister has failed to provide a satisfactory alternative through consultation for the equalization grant and for the road levy which have all but disappeared. The new equalization grant, provincially funded, is simply a $15 million municipal operating grant and is an open admission of the failure of this process. It is based on a standard of expenditures which excludes recreational costs and general government costs. I certainly agree with the formula that is provided but it is rather too bad that the municipal grants that we talked about when we thought we were speaking to that bill for the last time really are still with us.

The $6 million offset to municipal costs for community-based services to Nova Scotians with disabilities, what is the real cost? Is there any validity to the number $6 million or is it simply plugged in by the accountants to make the bottom line equal for the province and for the municipal units?

The transfer in the rural units of police costs to the municipal units; for many municipal units, they complain they don't know what the true cost of RCMP policing is in their area. They don't know, for example, is the federal government going to continue its cost-sharing on RCMP policing. What about the level of service? How are they going to determine that this service which they will now be directly paying for is going to satisfy them? Will they have a say in the level of service and will they have any real input as to where that service is delivered within their jurisdiction?

[6:00 p.m.]

The $119 million that the province receives by the education tax at 39 cents per hundred will continue, but, it is not capped. As a matter of fact, the provincial government by way of this legislation, ignoring the education tax, still has the opportunity and the right to set that rate at whatever it decides and without any realistic expectation by the municipalities that they will have anything to do with the setting of that rate.

Let's look at municipal assistance. If there was a single service that the municipalities wanted exchanged in this province it was the responsibility for providing municipal assistance. This government talked about a single-tiered delivery of municipal assistance from one end of this province to the other. This was the carrot that every local, municipal unit wanted in terms of service exchange. Now, the provision of municipal assistance in this province is uneven-handed.

For example, in one municipal unit in this province the monthly food allowance for a single adult was $60. In another municipal unit the food allowance for a single adult in this province is $138, it is well over twice as much. We must standardize the benefits available for municipal assistance in this province and the only way we can do it is to bring it totally and finally under the provincial jurisdiction, in other words, a single-tiered system. Now, either $60 a month is too little or $138 a month is too much, they both can't be right.

In this province taxpayers pay $115 million every year to provide municipal assistance to Nova Scotians in need. Now, 62.5 per cent of that is provided by the province and that is $71.8 million and the remainder is provided by the municipal units, $43 million. Right up until October, every municipal unit in this province expected that that cost was to be part of the service exchange and to be taken over by the provincial government who would then standardize benefits for municipal assistance from one end of this province to the other. The single greatest failure of this bill is the failure of this government to meet that commitment, a commitment, a commitment which it held out to all municipal units as recently as April of last year.

The cost of corrections, $13.8 million, provided by the municipal units as their share of the cost of corrections. Now, local roads were a major issue in service exchange. The road levy is gone, but local roads remain. The rural units complained that the figures provided by the provincial government, in terms of the maintenance cost of those 1,640 kilometres of local roads was far in excess of $3,500 per year. The solution on a temporary basis provided by press release by the Minister of Transportation, that from April 1, 1995 until April 1, 1996 for a payment of $3,500 per kilometre. His department will maintain those 1,640 kilometres of local roads. That seems to be at least a time when consultation can occur and a time when the true cost of maintaining those roads can be determined.

In fairness, that is the figure that was used in the calculation by the province, in terms of the cost to any municipal unit of maintaining their roads. So to that point, there is no argument. Many of these local roads require upgrading; they require either paving or repaving. There is nothing in this commitment by the Minister of Transportation that those local roads that are priorized and are expecting upgrading, either paving or repaving in this coming summer, will, in fact, receive that service. The minister should clarify whether or not roads like the Old Truro Road, in the northern end of this county, which is due to be paved this summer, will that paving take place? The road will continue to be under the ownership of the province and under the care of the Department of Transportation. The Minister of Transportation has not made a commitment that he will honour the priorized upgrading of the local roads. I would hope that in her remarks the minister would give us some idea if that is going to occur.

Another bad issue, in terms of this service exchange, is the court-house issue. Obviously in taking over the complete cost of justice the province is going to take over the court-houses, despite extensive debate on that clause in this House. Those same court-houses can be expropriated by the province, without remuneration. That is a dangerous precedent. Nobody but nobody would respect a government which insists on expropriation without compensation.

As the result, I believe, of extensive debate on that clause, the minister brought forward an amendment that if, in fact, the province no longer has use for a court-house facility that it has taken over, it will revert back to the municipal unit without costs. I think that is a suitable amendment.

One of the key issues in municipal reform has to be a municipal charter. The minister has made reference to the very significant powers that this bill grants to municipal units. She made reference to the fact that certain land sales would not be able to be passed by a municipal unit without requiring provincial approval. She made reference to no liability, in terms of sewer and water facilities, the Limitation of Liability Act. I would suggest very strongly that those concessions come nowhere near to addressing the kind of autonomy that municipal governments are talking about when they are asking this government for a municipal charter. What they are looking for is protection against the downloading of costs, protection against this province funding certain services for Nova Scotians through municipal tax rates, and yet the province calling the tune as to how those services are going to be spread about and distributed around this province.

Grants in lieu of taxes; now legislation declares that the facilities for the permanent display of art, cultural and historical material, including historic sites, such as museums, galleries and archives are exempt. Water and sewer systems, other than on-site, are exempt. Health care institutions, hospitals, mental health centres and facilities for the treatment of alcoholism and drug dependency are exempt.

Now, what about those museums that traditionally had been paying taxes? There is one in Lunenburg - the Lunenburg Fisheries Museum. The loss of that, through this particular piece of legislation, the loss of income to the Town of Lunenburg, I believe, is almost $100,000.

Mr. Speaker, I had earlier made reference to the failure of this government to deliver on the most important aspect of service exchange and that is the single-tiered social assistance program that this government had earlier promised. This government cannot, with any conscience, provide that service to one area of Nova Scotia and not to the rest. It is uneven-handed and unfair.

What about Canso? What about Trenton? What about Lockeport? What about Mulgrave? Those are municipal areas that are equally as distressed as the municipal units in Cape Breton County. But the same largesse has not been extended to those communities as they attempt to solve the financial crisis that this service exchange is placing them in. It is uneven-handed and unfair.

The government has kept its commitment to the people of Cape Breton County and I salute the minister for that. But she has forgotten many other areas of the province that do require help if they are going to survive.

Mr. Speaker, this bill falls short, even by the government's objectives. It does not create strong financially viable local governments. In fact, it will drive several units into bankruptcy and many well-run municipalities will face very serious tax increases. This service exchange was designed by accountants, and not by municipal legislators or governors. It does not develop a clearer, fairer, provincial-municipal partnership. There is no charter. There is no clear definition of responsibility and there is no measure of protection for municipal governments. Finally, it does not rationalize service provision by all governments.

What is in a name, Mr. Speaker? This is not an Act to provide for municipal reform, it is an opportunity lost. This bill does not get it right. It is not the foundation on which to build a self-reliant, totally responsible, cost-effective local government structure in Nova Scotia. This program is uneven-handed, clumsy and largely unworkable.

I will be voting against the bill and suggest to the minister, try again.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I rise to say just a few words on third reading of this particular piece of legislation. It is with somewhat mixed emotions that I rise to offer comments on this particular piece of legislation because as you and all members of this House know, I have been a very strong advocate of regional reform in Cape Breton.

But, Mr. Speaker, when we supported regional government in Cape Breton in June of 1994, it was with the explicit and clear commitment that we would not only provide a strong regional voice, but also that we would provide an opportunity for reduction in taxation. That is a commitment that I made then. I spoke very strongly, passionately and very commitedly in support of the minister's piece of legislation for regional government in Cape Breton.

[6:15 p.m.]

The introduction of the exchange of services legislation in November 1994 was in my view a complete reversal of everything that I had made a commitment on to the people of Cape Breton County. On the initial commitment of saving some $13.4 million on this particular regional government legislation, we find that over a period of time that savings seems to be for some mysterious reason, whittled down.

As of late November 1994, Charles Campbell, the Commissioner who is delegated with the responsibility of getting the regional government up and running, announced that that projected saving is now somewhere in the vicinity of $6 million. Then in December 1994, Mr. Campbell and his staff, Mr. MacInnes and Mr. Ryan, attended a town hall meeting in Dominion and indicated they weren't quite sure what the total cost would be but indicated that the tax rates would be set on February 13, 1995. Then as recently as a week ago, I attended a town hall meeting in East Bay in my riding and Charles Campbell the Commissioner announced once again that that saving is down to $4 million as best estimates. Then as late as last week, Mr. Campbell, at a town hall meeting in the Town of Louisbourg, indicated he wasn't sure what savings could be derived.

I find that if we are going to agree to a particular deal, whether it be the exchange of services, regional government, or what have you, that we should at least know what we are agreeing to. No one would expect the residents of the County of Cape Breton to abdicate their commitment or their responsibility to reducing debts. They are paying their fair share in taxation or anything of a public nature that we all involve ourselves with. However, I find that given the uncertainty, given the reluctance by those powers to be, to provide the actual cost of this particular piece of legislation to the taxpayers of the Municipality of the County of Cape Breton and indeed all of Cape Breton County, I believe that it is impossible for me to support this particular piece of legislation.

At the town hall meeting in Dominion on December 8, 1994, Commissioner Campbell and his staff indicated quite clearly that upon approval of this particular legislation that what we would have, given that we have three residential tax rates - urban, suburban and rural - that what we would be doing is averaging the seven urban tax rates, thereby giving a plus or minus factor of approximately 5 per cent. In conclusion, one would only come to the obvious conclusion that the entire tax load would be assumed by the suburban and rural rates. It is obvious that the residents of the Municipality of the County of Cape Breton are going to carry the entire burden if that is the intent.

Subsequent to that, the commissioner, has been doing some public debating back and forth with his staff and local politicians as to whether the rate should be set by the local municipal council or indeed, himself. But that is rather academic in my view because the bottom line is how much is it going to cost?

I don't want to prolong the essence of the debate, Mr. Speaker, because I realize we are speaking on third reading and it is somewhat limited. But I think there are a number of general observations that one cannot help but note. Early upon the commissioner's appointment and subsequent to the appointment of senior administrative staff in key positions, indications were given to all the employees within these eight municipalities that staffing positions would be identified no later than March 1995. I find it somewhat suspect, indeed, that the appointments of all these positions are going to come two days after the municipal election on May 13, 1995. That is most unfair to the 800-plus employees affected.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, I find it somewhat disappointing that I can attend the public meeting in the Red Room, upon which Mr. Hayward, who is responsible for the metro amalgamation, can state quite clearly that severance packages will be provided for those employees affected in the metro area but no such guarantees can be given to the 145 affected employees in Cape Breton County. Now I find that most distressing. I somehow wonder if maybe we have a double standard. Perhaps the percentages are different, 175 out of 3,000, versus 145 out of 800. Mr. Speaker, as you well know, the lives of many residents in this municipality are affected and, indeed, the entire county.

Just to demonstrate how concerned the residents are in my constituency, Mr. Speaker, recently we have had an environmental study done on a local subdivision, Floral Heights Subdivision, of some 450 homes, give or take. That is the third such study that has been done in that general area over the last 15 years. We are dealing with a major environmental concern of the greatest magnitude, both in terms of the environment, that is water quality, as well as the concern of over $40 million worth of real estate. Absolutely nothing but patchwork has been delivered from the local level.

Are we expecting the residents to absorb a 10 per cent or 15 per cent or 20 per cent tax increase on that exchange of services legislation and then to come back in another year or two, when the water quality is even more proliferated, in all probability upwards of 1,000 homes? Are we expecting them to pay another tax increase? Mr. Speaker, I believe that the residents in the county have made a tremendous contribution to the regional reform process. That is why I supported regional government. But I believe that when you give your word on something that you have to stick with it.

Mr. Speaker, surely I have been criticized and I accept that for taking a position independent of this particular public legislation. I can assure you that as Joseph Howe always said, if you are going to represent your constituency, you operate according to British Parliamentary Rule, which is the principle of responsible government and represent your constituency as they ask you to do. I have not seen one resident within my constituency, today or in the past, that would support this particular legislation in such an unclear and ambiguous state.

Mr. Speaker, I will conclude by saying that I appreciate many of the good points that are in this particular piece of legislation, but the fundamental issue of taxation has been avoided, it has been bypassed, it has been ignored and it has been side-stepped at every move along the way. I think it is incumbent upon those individuals who are responsible to make sure that the residents know what they are paying for.

In conclusion, I state that unless I know what we are receiving, clearly, in terms of a tax measure, I cannot support it. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to stand up and speak for a few minutes this evening. I can't help but pick up on a couple of the comments made by the previous speaker and, certainly, pointing out, as the previous speaker did, that under a representative system of government, your constituents expect that you are going to, of course, be voting the way and doing those things that they would like you to do and that, of course, what we in this caucus have been urging all members to do on a whole variety of bills, this one and other bills such as the one that we just voted on a few minutes ago and where everybody had an opportunity to vote, the casino bill.

I, also, want to say that I agree wholeheartedly with a number of the comments that the previous speaker made with regard to the concerns that are being faced by the employees and the uncertainty of the employees in the new regional municipality of Cape Breton, as well as the concerns about the tax rates, Mr. Speaker. Again, those were concerns that we attempted in our caucus to raise, about the regional amalgamation taking place in Cape Breton last year, almost a year ago. We received no support from anybody on the government benches at that time because those issues, those concerns were not addressed in the amalgamation bill. I am pleased now that the member for Cape Breton West has, in fact, identified those and is now belatedly, but importantly, speaking up on those particular issues.

I want to address a number of items actually with the bill. But before I do, one just brief comment and I would like to commend the member for Pictou Centre because I think the member for Pictou Centre and I certainly am not going to attempt to cover all the facts and the data and the information that the member for Pictou Centre did bring up during his remarks, but I think that it is also appropriate when one feels that it is deserved to compliment a member, even if they are a member of another political Party, when they do bring forward excellent remarks and make excellent points and I want to congratulate that member for his well-researched and very well-presented argument that he brought forward this evening.

Now, Mr. Speaker, when I was listening to the minister when she was giving her brief remarks at the opening of the bill, the minister talked about how it is the objective of municipal reform to develop strong, financial, viable municipal governments. The minister talked about rationalizing service delivery and the minister, of course, talked about the idea of moving towards the people versus property types of services.

You know, after listening to the minister, I picked up one of the documents that the minister herself quoted from, remarks by Sandra Jolly, Minister of Municipal Affairs and municipal reform on October 27, 1994. You know, Mr. Speaker, when I was looking at this, dealing with this legislation because this was the minister's announcement, of course, the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, the 66 municipal units across the Province of Nova Scotia had no idea about the bill and they had no idea what was going to be contained within the legislation; in fact, they are waiting for a telephone call so they could be doing the consultation that was promised.

[6:30 p.m.]

The minister then, back in October, said as she did again on the floor of this House this evening, that there has been extensive consultation. The minister said this has been a team approach from day one and, of course, the team approach is the whole municipal reform process, the service exchange. This so-called bill, Mr. Speaker, according to the minister, was developed under a team approach from day one. After extensive consultation, this government is taking action now. That was back in October.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that within the contents of the bill?

MR. HOLM: Oh, it is very relevant to the contents of the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: It has to be within the contents of the bill, according to Sir Erskine May.

MR. HOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, maybe (Interruption) I will have to leave. No, I don't think so. I certainly will not challenge your rulings on this last day in the House. I think it is very germane to the whole discussion of what is within the bill because - now I am just commenting as the minister did - I am just simply picking up on her words and not looking for any more latitude than the minister had when she introduced her remarks, so my comments are very germane in that regard, as germane as I would think hers were, that despite what the minister has said about there being consultation, how this was a team approach from day one, her words go completely opposite to that which the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities themselves have said, because the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities have said there was no consultation.

In fact the minister said - and I was there, as was the member for Pictou Centre, when the minister gave her presentation at the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Conference in Cape Breton, held in the fine city that you happen to be a representative of - that consultations were going to be going on, that no final decisions had been made, and what we ended up finding instead was that this legislation was tabled, this legislation was brought in and completely contrary to any established procedures, the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities did not even know what was in it.

Now, I am not planning tonight to go into a long rant - it would be very easy to go into another long rant and maybe the Deputy Speaker will, if I do, relieve you in the Chair so that you don't have to hear my long rant; he seems rather resistant about wanting to assume the Chair at this point in time because maybe he figures he has heard those comments before - but, quite honestly, I really don't see any need to do that tonight; not that the urge isn't there.

Mr. Speaker, I take very strong exception to the suggestion that the legislation we have before us tonight is, in fact, a service exchange that is a type of reform. I say, when I make those comments, that I freely acknowledge in this legislation that yes, indeed, there are some examples of service exchange; yes indeed, for example, the province is going to be increasing approximately 13.33 per cent more of the costs of homes for special care that fall under the Minister of Community Services; that they are going to assume 100 per cent of the costs for nursing homes; that they are going to assume the full costs for the administration of justice.

I have no problem admitting and acknowledging that yes, indeed - and I underscore that - the province is assuming some additional costs. But when you look at the flip side of what the province is doing in terms of what they are offloading to the municipalities in the name, supposedly, of service exchange, quite frankly, I think that the scales, the balance is being tipped very much against the municipal taxpayer in favour of the Province of Nova Scotia.

What the province is doing, quite clearly, is downloading, completely contrary to what they said and what they promised both before the election and right up to the end of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities convention held the end of September. They are downloading far more costs to the municipal governments. That is to you and me as individual property owners and taxpayers, to the individual businesses large and small, through both the commercial rate and also through the commercial tax, as well as the business occupancy tax. They are downloading costs over which the municipalities will have virtually no control.

When the service exchange was being discussed and I say as well, there is no question, service exchange and municipal reform are needed in the Province of Nova Scotia, they have been for a long time. The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, which is made up of all 66 municipal units, has long recognized that need and has long expressed its desire and willingness to be an active participant in that.

But you know, if you are having consultation, if you are having meaningful dialogue, that is a two-way street. It is not having a flying road show where the minister is zipping all around the province visiting, as she did quite correctly, it is fair to say and I had the pleasure of sitting there at one of the meetings and listening to the minister's consultation in Halifax County, that is the one that I went to. She visited all 66 and all 66 municipal units did indeed give the minister some feedback up until April 1994.

Somehow between April and October, all that the minister and this government heard seemed to have been, by and large, forgotten because the primary goal that municipal service exchange was to be based on, was for the Province of Nova Scotia to assume full, that is 100 per cent costs, for social services in the Province of Nova Scotia. That would bring Nova Scotia then in line with all other jurisdictions across the country, that you would have one set level.

Therefore, you would be doing away with the tremendous inequities that exist across the province. You would also be ensuring that you will have proper delivery if it is being done through the one standard approach at the provincial level. It would also mean that a people service would come off the property tax base and that then those particular local roads that, supposedly, the J-class roads, would then go to the property owner because that is a property-related service.

But the province backed out without any consultation, totally unilaterally and I would suggest they did so for several reasons. One, at the time there was the so-called Axworthy discussion paper where the federal government was looking at reducing and we now know with the Martin budget coming down, they are looking at cutting back on the level of transfer payments funding to the province. We have very high unemployment. We know that the federal government is talking about changing the unemployment insurance system which will mean that more costs are going to be transferred down to the province.

The Liberal Government decided that they were too uncertain, they weren't sure what the ramifications are, what are the end costs going to be in terms of social services. So, since it became a hot potato to them, they weren't totally sure what the costs were going to be - they could actually go up - they decided, well, let's pull out of that, let's renege on our promise that they made, the government made. We will renege on that promise and say, oh yes, some time down the road in the future, whenever that may happen to be - they refused amendments in this House to put a time restraint on a said date by which it would be done -so at some time within maybe this century, maybe next if they are still here, they will do it, they say.

They want any increased costs to slide through the province down to the property taxes because then that won't reflect badly on the books of the Province of Nova Scotia and the 41 Liberal members will not be held accountable for the increased property taxes because social assistance rates go up if more people are out of work or if the unemployment rates are cut back so that more assistance needs to be provided or if the federal government decides to cut transfer payments.

It won't be the province who will be blamed for the tax rates going up, that will be the municipal councillors. That is what they are doing, they are transferring it on by. The costs are not going to go away, but, Mr. Speaker, nor are the injustices or the inequalities, nor the fact that the government has clearly betrayed, and that is a strong word and I use it very carefully, they have betrayed their commitment to the municipalities across the Province of Nova Scotia.

The minister can say, this was a team approach. The minister and the government can say that we consulted, but that does not make it so, Mr. Speaker, in terms of a meaningful consultation. Just because you went and just because, as we see it in here all the time, there are members on the government benches sitting while we in the Opposition talk. They may hear the noise in the background of our voice, like the member for Hants East points out, you hear the noise of our voices, but that does not mean they have heard what has been said.

When I take a look at what has happened here with regard to the social services costs which the province has not taken over, I can't help but see that as anything but a total betrayal. Nor has the province removed the cap which was imposed by the former government back in 1986, the cap on the level of cost-sharing of social assistance costs in the municipalities across the province. Most municipalities are at or well above that level in terms of the demand and the province has not agreed to increase the amount of the money that it is prepared to cost share. So, in other words, all of those costs are being dumped to the municipalities and all increased ones will as well.

There is some discussion and the member for Pictou Centre, although it is not dealt with in this legislation, talked about the education tax rate. Well, that, again, just goes without saying, Mr. Speaker, we see that every year. Last year, as well, for example, when the province was reducing its funding to school boards by, I think it was, 1.9 per cent overall, it was actually increasing the amount of money that municipal people had to put into the education fund.

So the 1.9 per cent reduction was the amount the boards got less, but, actually, the provincial contribution was decreased by more than that because they told the municipalities at the property taxpayer level that they had to increase their share. But, of course, the red team does not get blamed for that tax increase. That blame will fall to the municipal councillors who have to set that tax rate, knowing full well that it was this government that imposed it upon them.

Mr. Speaker, there are all kinds of other areas and we have already seen examples of the confusion and how the government is unprepared and people are unprepared for this bill. I am referring immediately to the Minister of Transportation and Communications' press release of last week where they are talking about the fact that the province will continue to maintain ownership of the roads they were going to be transferring to the municipalities for a period of one more year.

The reason they have said that they will do that is, I mean, you don't have to be an Einstein to know that between now and two months from now, the municipalities would not have the opportunity, nor would it make good economic sense, to establish a whole new works department to be maintaining the roads in the different municipalities across the province when there already is a system in place operated by the Department of Transportation. But since they could not do it by the government's rushed timetable, the Minister of Transportation has agreed that those will remain in the ownership of the province and also that the province will continue to maintain them.

But you know, Mr. Speaker, when I take a look at the minister's statement of October 27th and that was the date that the bill was introduced, it very clearly states that municipalities will assume responsibility for Class J streets. But what does the legislation say? Does it say Class J? No, Mr. Speaker. In fact, it says, local roads. Do you know that when the first list of roads that were presented, I think it was around 1,500 kilometres (Interruption) 1,641, well, now it is up to over 1,900, from what I am told by those who would seem to have a great deal of knowledge in this. In other words, the total number of kilometres has increased. If, in fact, the government was only intending that it is going to be J Class roads, then, of course, that would have been spelled out in the legislation.

[6:45 p.m.]

The way this bill is written, the government can at any time it wants, whether that is going to be in Victoria County or whether that be in Clare or Argyle, you name it, wherever they want, they now have the ability without the consent of the municipalities to say, if the province wants to saves some more money on any given year, we have decided that you are now going to inherit x number of new roads that we have decreed that you will now own. So they can continue to pass even more roads on to them without any compensation.

Let's take a look at policing, Mr. Speaker. Under this legislation, policing costs are going to become the responsibility of the municipality. But it is the provincial government that will determine the level of policing that will exist. So the province will determine the level; the municipalities will pay the full cost; and, you know, the federal budget is coming looking at changing to funding formulae and the cost-sharing formula between the feds and the province in terms of the cost-sharing of policing, is bound to change. But who is going to bear that cost? Go right on by, right down to the property taxpayer, without the province assuming anything in the way of shared costs.

We know that the government is going to assume the cost of the justice system and wherever they want take the ownership or expropriate the court-houses. But you know, Mr. Speaker, those court-houses have been bought and built and paid for with property taxpayer money, not provincial grants, not dollars from the Consolidated Funds of the Province of Nova Scotia but by the local taxpayers. Those court-house facilities are used, in a lot of cases, not just for court-houses but they are also being used for the town's administration, the county's administration and offices out of those same buildings. Now, we have a situation where if the Government of Nova Scotia, if the red team decides that they want those court-houses, all they have to go and do is simply say, it is ours, good-bye, you're out, go get yourself another facility. So those municipalities will have to go out and either rent space somewhere else, pay rent maybe to the province, if the province decides they will continue to allow them to use some space in the building that was theirs or they have to go out and borrow money and build another facility.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do they do that down in the bunker, the expropriation?

MR. HOLM: That is where they do it. The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley was asking advice on where the decision would be made as to which ones they are going to be expropriate and I assured him that it would be in the Cabinet, Mr. Speaker, the Cabinet would be making that decision. In the Cabinet Room, downstairs, out of sight.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the government (Interruption) Well, a member who would know, the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs calls it the bunker. The bunker mentality. They have a good right to have that mentality because this government certainly is under siege and they may want to hole up in the bunker when you see the kind of things they are doing.

You know the sad thing, and what I find really so disturbing about this legislation before us, in the name of reform (Interruption) Yes there is, and I said that at the start, there are some positive things, and I will just throw another one in, that it is great that now municipalities won't have to come hat in hand to the minister every time they want to get a by-law approved. There are some items the minister can correctly say that municipalities have been looking for for years - no problem agreeing with that - but that is outweighed, it is offset by all of the downloading costs and the potential to download even more.

The ones who will see it, you and I, all the others in my community of Lower Sackville and my colleagues from Middle and Upper Sackville and those, as we travel either end, from whichever way you want to go across the province, you are going to see it on your tax bill from the county. It is not going to be easy for those county councillors to say well yes, the tax bill has gone up by 7 per cent or 10 per cent or we had to cut all these services, but it is not our fault. It is the province; it is the Liberal Government. But the people look at it and say well the tax bill came from you, came from the county. It sure did, Mr. Speaker, but the costs are predetermined here and, quite frankly, this government is very clearly, Cape Breton County, yes, no question, a lot of the savings are gone there as a result of the service exchange, but at least they have and they do have and they are going to have the full social service costs picked up.

But, Mr. Speaker, there are other things, too. The Municipal Grants Act (Interruptions) The member for Cape Breton East, the wannabe of Cape Breton, he is standing up and trying to take the place of the member for Cape Breton South. It is fine for us to maybe, we seem so intense sometimes in terms of our debate, it is a good idea for us to be able to laugh at ourselves occasionally, but the problem is that this is really not, although we can have some levity amongst ourselves sometimes, we have to bear in mind that the legislation we are dealing with is, indeed, not anything to be laughed at; it is an extremely serious matter and it is going to have ramifications on those from one end of the province to the other.

It is, in a sense, a kind of indirect provincial taxation because this province, through this process, by sleight-of-hand, by juggling the shells, is trying to hide its deficit, its costs, by juggling those shells around, hoping people will not be able to find which one of those shells or thimbles has the pea underneath it. That pea under that shell is, in fact, the costs that the province is, by sleight-of-hand, moving down to the property tax base level.

The Municipal Grants Act, again, of course, they have done away with the Municipal Grants Act and now they have something they are going to call equalization. Well, of course, equalization is what the Municipal Grants Act was supposed to be about in the first place. We even had a complicated formula that neither this government nor the other one before it ever followed, except at election times, and then they were a little bit easier. But here, Mr. Speaker, what they have done is removed it from the public eye by taking any need to review or visit those figures in a public forum in the Legislature by doing away with that and by having it done, again, in that quiet place downstairs in the Cabinet Room where, out of any public scrutiny, there won't be any opportunity for any public input and those figures can be juggled and changed at will.

Mr. Speaker, I could go on, as I have in the past, on this bill for quite considerable length. I won't do that. I could recite all of the figures as the member for Pictou Centre had, quite correctly, from looking at the projections that the minister's own department had pointed out. The minister stood in her place today and talked about two letters from two municipalities which now are supporting it.

You know, Mr. Speaker, for those two, every time I seem to pick up the newspaper from different areas around the province, you hear other municipalities again speaking out against us and criticizing and complaining about the unevenness and the heavy-handedness of what the government is doing.

Municipal reform is needed in the Province of Nova Scotia, no question. But surely, Mr. Speaker, those involved at the municipal level of government, which many members of this House should know about because many members of this House had, up until approximately two years ago, been members of municipal councils, municipal councils should be, through the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, properly, not only in a token way, listened to or heard, but they should be respected.

If you make an agreement, if you shake hands, which really is what the government had done with the municipalities, they gave their word that this was supposed to be an even exchange. Yes, some would lose and some would win, but, overall, it was going to be a neutral type of situation. This legislation is not. This legislation, unfortunately, in the guise supposedly of a team approach, was really a unilateral decision by the Province of Nova Scotia, by the provincial government, after having gone through the facade of setting the groundwork. No doubt about it, they did set the groundwork by pretending to consult, but in the end result, they had made up their mind in advance.

Mr. Speaker, I suggest in all honesty, I believe that the ramifications of this bill in terms of service exchange are not going to only be played out this year, but because of this way this legislation is crafted, it provides tremendous opportunity, not only in 1995, but in 1996, 1997, 1998 and onwards, tremendous opportunity for the provincial level of government anytime they want to show or effect savings on their books, to simply transfer, go on by, costs right on down to the municipal level of government. That is what this is doing. This is putting even more wax on that slide so that the province can more quickly transfer costs to the municipalities.

With respect, this was not a fair process and if the province, quite honestly, they have admitted already that there is a lot of confusion, they don't know what they are doing and I am glad they did, backed off on insisting that the road transfer take place as of April 1, 1995. They have now backed off on that item until April 1, 1996. I think that what might be a very reasonable approach, Mr. Speaker, would be for the government to make a commitment that they will not proclaim this bill, if it passes, until they have had that meaningful dialogue with the municipal units in the open, honest way that they committed that they would and then, if there are reforms that are needed to this legislation, they can then be done before it would be proclaimed in 1996 on April 1st, at the earliest.

I think that that would be a more responsible and, certainly, a far more respectful way to treat the citizens in this province. It does not matter whether you live in Cape Breton or on the mainland of the province, Mr. Speaker, I think that this bill is a betrayal of the commitment that was made by this government and it is, therefore, flawed legislation. An extra year, certainly, is not going to hurt the reform process. What it would mean, in effect, is that the reform would go ahead when it does in a more even-handed, better thought out process than has been arrived at to the present. Thank you.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it is with, again, mixed feelings that I rise to speak regarding Bill No. 114, an Act to Provide Municipal Reform. Before I get too far along in my remarks, I do want to commend the member for Pictou Centre, my colleague, for certainly raising a lot of valid points about the inconsistencies and the unevenness about the bill. He certainly went around the gamut and there is certainly no need for me to even try to repeat some of comments that the member for Pictou Centre has raised. I think as the Official Opposition Critic for Municipal Affairs, he certainly has a good grasp on what this bill means.

[7:00 p.m.]

Now, I would like to encourage and in fact, challenge the Minister of Municipal Affairs to table the letter she has from the President of UNSM, Mayor Libbus because, and I certainly do not indicate that in any way, shape or form, is the minister misleading the House but the last correspondence that we have from the President of UNSM, which, in fact, is the municipal open line newsletter suggests that the executive was outraged with the lack of consultation particularly given the UNSM conference resolution which clearly empowered the executive committee to negotiate a service exchange with the government. On October 28th, a day after the minister introduced the bill, the UNSM provided all mayors and wardens with a copy of Bill No. 114 with a brief synopsis which was also included in the package.

This government said, in relation to municipal reform, that in cooperation with municipalities a Liberal Government will promote regional service delivery where public savings can be realized. So far, and as the member for Cape Breton West has pointed out, we have not been provided with information that clearly and concisely points out where public savings can be realized. In fact, we were told at one point that this would be a revenue neutral service exchange. We also heard the Liberals say that they will ensure all roads and bridges maintained currently by the province meet provincial safety and engineering specifications before being transferred to the affected municipalities.

I also have some correspondence regarding Bill No. 114, the Municipal Reform Bill and it is from the Mayor of Dartmouth and she says that she would like to express her shock and profound disappointment in the bill. So, again I would ask that the Minister of Municipal Affairs please table the letter she has from the mayor and she nods her head, she has no objections in doing so because the correspondence we have certainly contradicts what the minister is saying. Perhaps some municipal units are somewhat appeased, so to speak, because they know that the charge that they will have to pay for local or J-roads, whatever you want to call them, they feel that that price will not increase, it is going to be constant at $3,500 per kilometre until April 1996.

I do commend the government for going ahead with municipal reform. I support true municipal reform which does in fact, include service exchange. But, what I see here, Mr. Speaker, is a provincial government assuming controllable costs and they are downloading costs that can fluctuate and most likely will increase on to the municipal unit. That is what I see, a government assuming controllable costs. If you are going to have a true exchange of property services provided by a municipality and people services being provided by a government then you have to very clearly have it laid out on paper which services will be provided by which particular level of government and here we have a convoluted system, we have a convoluted bill, in fact.

The province will not take over the full cost and responsibility of social services. There is no commitment and there is obviously no timeframe for the government to take over the full cost of social services on the mainland of this province. I can say we all support, I feel quite comfortable and confident, a one-tiered system relating to social services. Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is made up of three municipal units, Colchester County, Halifax County and the Town of Stewiacke and every one of those municipal units will be hurt by increases in the cost as a result of this service exchange. Nobody is talking about property tax rates but the property tax will have to increase. Now, I understand and realize full well that there have been different studies, task forces, 1974, the Graham Commission and so on and so forth and everybody is interested in true municipal reform. We understand now because of this bill, municipal units across Nova Scotia will pay for the full cost of police services. However and nevertheless, it is not clear if they will have any say in who or what type of service will be provided. You are going to pay for something but it is not in this bill and I would ask any member to rise and tell me where in the bill it relates to a municipal unit having a say in who will provide the service and what level of service it will be. It just states emphatically that you, the municipal unit, will pay for the police service.

Now, what about fines? It was raised, I believe, by the member for Colchester North about some of the fines that are collected. Will the fines be split between the municipal unit and the province? Will the fines go to (Interruption) Well, the Leader of the Third Party suggests he doesn't know, I certainly don't know but that is a question that municipal units want to know. If they are paying for a service, will they receive some of the fines, at least will it be cost-shared?

We do have a lot of concerns about roads and the Department of Transportation presently has some J-class roads that are on a priorized list, they are highly priorized to be paved. For example, in my constituency and not too far from the constituency of Hants East, there is a road, the Old Halifax Road, that is highly priorized, it is in a subdivision and it is supposed to be paved next year, this is what I understand. Now, because of the trade-off so to speak, and when I speak of the trade-off I am speaking of the $3,500 per kilometre, we have to wonder if in fact that priorization will be held in abeyance. Nobody has answered that question yet but that is a concern I have, that is a concern the residents have, I would submit, right across this province. (Interruption)

The Old Halifax Road is in my constituency across the river from Hants East and if that member would speak to get it paved I would certainly support and encourage him to do so. (Interruption) No, there are several roads in my riding that aren't paved. We have the highest number of dirt roads, secondary roads in any riding in central Nova Scotia, on the mainland that aren't paved. As I stated before, I understand that there is some agreement and at least the municipalities will have a year to sort it out with the province as to just what is the real cost.

The Town of Truro suggests that it costs some $9,000 to maintain and when we are talking about maintaining a road we are just not talking about ice and snow control. There are such things, Mr. Speaker, as I am sure you realize, as putting shoulders on it, putting lines on it, repaving, patching and so on but the price they have in the Town of Truro is that it costs that municipal unit $9,000 to maintain one kilometre of road in the Town of Truro. So, that is something for the Minister of Municipal Affairs to, if she will pardon the expression, digest because that is the information we have.

It has already been raised by different members but I do want to touch on it lightly because the member for Colchester North raised it, a very valid, legitimate concern about the province assuming control of court-houses that were paid for by property taxpayers' dollars. Again, it has been suggested that, as the bill states, it is expropriation without compensation, no reimbursement. The province can just come in and I suggested before and I don't hesitate to suggest it again, that this bill is nothing more than a license to steal with respect to court-houses. I can't say it any other way.

I find the bill is in support and it certainly will receive support from some municipal units, there is no question about that. It will be favoured by some municipal units. I commend the minister for travelling around to the 66 units. I had the opportunity to sit in on two or three of those meetings. I commend her for at least getting out and consulting with the people. She certainly did.

So, as seems to be the case (Interruptions) Some members have suggested that she may as well have stayed home and she didn't listen but I wouldn't go that far, Mr. Speaker. I wouldn't go that far but the minister, if she stays in that portfolio, has a very rocky and rough road ahead of her, if she stays in that portfolio. Because there are a lot of inconsistencies and there is a lot of wrongness with that bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We are getting off the strict contents of the bill. Don't be distracted by rabbit tracks. Stick to the contents of the bill.

MR. TAYLOR: I am going to wrap this up very quickly, Mr. Speaker. I, for once, unlike the member for Third Party, could go on for a little longer. But I will wrap it up, and I just want to tell you that it seems to be a habit here recently of voting against government legislation. Now, there is no other choice. We have to stand up and I encourage every member in this House, every member from one end of this province right to the other, to stand up when the time comes around for the recorded vote. I encourage the members to vote with their conscience relating to this bill. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs, it will be to conclude the debate.

The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I just want to make a few comments on the four speakers who have just spoken on this bill again. I think the thing that is the most difficult is each and every one of them wants more time to make decisions on what should happen. They want more time to decide how it should look, how it should be done. They all say we need reform but they need more time.

The difficulty is as we have said many times in this House, the one thing this government doesn't have, because of the mess that was left behind by the previous administration is time. That is the one thing we don't have. (Interruptions) But they want more time to review something that has been discussed for 40 years. For 40 years we have seen this municipal reform having been discussed, that we have been looking at, we have had reports, we have had financial commitments, Mr. Speaker, what they want is more time. They all agree with reform, they agree it needs to be done, they agree that all of it should be done but they want more time to consult. Then what has happened is nothing has ever happened. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The minister's voice is being drowned out by catcalling. I ask that the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs be given the floor.

MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, this is what they continue to ask for. They want reform but they want more time, they want a greater opportunity to deal with it. In all respect, this bill has 150 clauses, the honourable member says he wants more detail. We detailed exactly what the service exchange is going to look like. We have changed 31 pieces of legislation. There are all kinds of detail in this. They just don't happen to want to have things happen.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Pictou Centre said that the Pictou area should be amalgamated. In his comments here tonight, he says that Pictou is one of the areas that should be amalgamated. He said, in that area they are ready for the amalgamation, that in actual fact I haven't pushed hard enough or I haven't been strong enough in the sense that I haven't done the amalgamation there yet. So I would suggest that I am looking forward to the member for Pictou Centre, when the House finishes and he goes home - and he is quite correct, they are talking about amalgamation up there - that he will be the lead agent for amalgamation in Pictou, because that is what he told me here tonight; that the Pictou area needs to be amalgamated, they are ready for amalgamation and he supports the amalgamation of that area. So I am looking forward to that honourable member going home and starting that amalgamation, as he said here this evening, is required.

He particularly, Mr. Speaker, noted the member for Queens who has supported and has been instrumental in the discussions on Queens and Liverpool with the direction of amalgamation there. So I assume he will go home and do that same as he recognized his colleague, the member for Queens and applauded this member for Queens, that he in actual fact will go home and do that himself.

Mr. Speaker, the member for Pictou Centre also said that we had a summer of indecision. In actual fact, as I would tell all those members, we spent four months on the road consulting and talking with the municipalities. They say, you didn't do what the municipalities wanted. They, on the other hand, say we have changed the service exchange, we have changed the reform. We changed the reform because we consulted with the municipalities and they asked us to change it and we spent the summer putting together the changes they wanted because there were financial implications with the change. They did not want the $20 million road levy. They did not want the $30 million equalization payment.

[7:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we had to take $50 million out of this service exchange package in order to give the municipalities what they wanted and that is why we spent the summer redeveloping, redefining the service exchange package because it was the UNSM, it was the municipalities themselves who told us that they wanted the program changed.

That is exactly why, Mr. Speaker, I have this letter here from the Municipality of the County of Richmond, whose Warden happens to be the President of the UNSM, and which it says:

"December 13, 1994

Re: Municipal Reform.

The following resolution was adopted at the December 12, 1994 Meeting of the Richmond Municipal Council:

`Moved by Councillor Cotton, seconded by Councillor Wambolt that Council send a letter to Sandy Jolly, Minister of Municipal Affairs, thanking her for listening to us and other rural municipalities' concerns and helping to soften the financial impact to rural municipalities like ourselves. Motion carried.'".

We softened the impact because of the consultation and because of the summer that we spent reviewing that.

So, Mr. Speaker, I think those letters speak for themselves. I have also got one from the Kings County Municipality. I took a terrible roasting in here for all the things that were happening in Kings County and how upset they were with the service exchange. I have a letter on record, I don't have it here with me tonight, but I can get it, where the Kings County Municipality also wrote, and I know copied their member, at how pleased they are with the changes that we have made to the service exchange and the municipal reform on their behalf. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I want to address some of the remarks made by my so-called friend the honourable member for Cape Breton West with regard to some of the remarks made by that individual. I have had consultation with Mr. Campbell who is the Coordinator in the Cape Breton area and he advises me that there are savings available, both with the amalgamation, with the service exchange and, in actual fact, that is the one area that we were able to do a single-tiered social service system. This member, the member for Cape Breton West, does not seem to like that. He does not seem to agree that that area got exactly what some of the other members across the way have been calling for, which is the single-tiered social service system.

I have spoken with the coordinator there and the Chief Executive Officer and they have had meetings in the member for Cape Breton West's area. They have had meetings with the citizens from that area and, Mr. Speaker, I am advised that the citizens had asked questions and got answers that they were quite comfortable with and that people in that area are quite assured of the fact that they are going to be treated fairly and equally under the municipal reform and the service exchange. So I would suggest that the honourable member should be talking to those people as well and that we should have an opportunity to have that expressed to that individual.

Mr. Speaker, when we look at some of the other things the honourable member commented on. One was Floral Heights, as a particular area, a particular subdivision that he has concern with and what is happening there. I would suggest that he talk to the municipality. Those are the people that have to deal with that particular issue and I would suggest he speak with the municipality on that issue.

Mr. Speaker, we also heard from that member that there has not been anything done with regard to severance packages. We have severance packages. There have been discussions going on with the coordinator and with the eight municipalities. There is an early retirement package that is being discussed. There is a severance package that is being discussed and these discussions have been going on for the last five to six months. So there has been quite a bit of discussion on how we are going to treat those people in that area.

It is difficult when you look at the service exchange because one of the things that we are trying to do is put out a level playing field. There has been all this discussion about the roads and the policing. You know, Mr. Speaker, that the towns and the cities have been paying for roads and policing for many years. One of the things that the UNSM requested was to try to level out the playing field, to have each municipality responsible for exactly the same types of services. That is what the service exchange does and it has, in some areas of the province, because they have not been paying for policing or roads before, it has had some cost implications, that is in order to ensure that all municipalities are treated the same, that there is a fairness among municipalities, there is a fairness among the expenses that each taxpayer has to pay in each municipality. So, that is one of the reasons that we have looked at the service exchange and have developed it in the way that it has been developed.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Cape Breton West, one of the areas he talked about, as he has on many occasions, is how expensive this is going to be and how much more taxpayers are going to have to pay up that way. I want to, in one incident, outline that I had a call from the Cape Breton Post, from Chris Hayes, who said he had spoken to the honourable member for Cape Breton West, who told him that in the reform bill there would be exemptions, the province would be exempted from paying grants in lieu of taxes for hospitals and that would result in millions of dollars of costs to the municipalities.

The Cape Breton Post called me because they had heard this from the member for Cape Breton West and my department explained to him that in actual fact what we were doing is clarifying that the province will not pay taxes on the following types: hospital plus, health care institutions, mental health centres, and facilities for the treatment of alcohol and drug dependency. That would add up to about $208,000, and that is a long way from millions of dollars of costs, and it is only effective in Dartmouth and Pictou; the Cape Breton area isn't affected on this basis.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would suggest that if the honourable minister was quite genuine in the accuracy of the quotation that she refers to, from a third party, that she would at least have had the courtesy to inquire from myself directly, rather than taking second-hand information which was totally taken out of context and raised as a question of one of a number of concerns and is totally inaccurate in the context for which she restates this so-called quote. I would like to be put on the record that that is not exactly the essence of the conversation and I would expect a far greater degree of professionalism.

MR. SPEAKER: All right, the honourable member has made his point but, as we all know, a dispute between honourable members as to facts does not constitute a point of order.

MS. JOLLY: Well, I will just finish by saying that my PR person in my office said they actually spoke to the Cape Breton West member that very morning and he said he had been taken out of context. That was his comment when he was asked to clarify. (Interruption) Yes, I was, but I didn't have a chance to finish.

Mr. Speaker, I think the most important thing I really want to say on this piece of legislation is it deals with concerns that have been addressed by the UNSM and by the municipalities over many years. It is a first step in municipal reform, this service exchange, and the ability to allow municipalities a lot more autonomy. It goes towards a municipal charter in ensuring that there is legal discussions and degrees of understanding between the municipal level of government and the provincial level of government. I think that is the most important thing about this piece of legislation. We don't feel we have the time to sit back and allow things to continue the way they have. We have been requested not to sit back and allow things to continue the way they have. So I, personally, am very pleased, as is my government, to move this piece of legislation on to third reading. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 114, the Municipal Reform Act.

Is a recorded vote requested by two members? (Interruption) Very well, it is requested.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

[7:25 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

[7:26 p.m.]

[The Clerk calls the roll.]


Mrs. Norrie Mr. MacKinnon

Mr. Boudreau Mr. Moody

Dr. Savage Mr. Donahoe

Mr. Gillis Mr. Russell

Mr. Bragg Mr. Holm

Ms. Jolly Ms. McDonough

Mr. MacEachern Mr. Archibald

Mr. Casey Mr. Taylor

Mr. Gaudet Mr. McInnes

Mr. Harrison Dr. Hamm

Mr. Brown

Mr. O'Malley

Mr. MacAskill

Mr. MacArthur

Mr. MacNeil

Mr. Rayfuse

Mr. Surette

Mr. White

Mr. Holland

Mrs. O'Connor

Mr. Fogarty

Mr. Hubbard

Mr. Fraser

Mr. Huskilson

Mr. Carruthers

THE CLERK: For, 25. Against, 10.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

Ordered that Bill No. 114 do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 137.

Bill No. 137 - Summary Proceedings Act.

Bill No. 124 - Maintenance Enforcement Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motions are carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, that completes Government Business, not only for today but for this session, and I believe we will recess until 7:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House briefly recess until His Honour the Administrator is without.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: His Honour the Administrator is without.

MR. SPEAKER: Let His Honour be admitted.

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.]

[7:30 p.m. The arrival of the Administrator.]

[The Administrator, The Chief Justice, Hon. Lorne O. Clarke, preceded by his escort, and by Mr. Delmore Daye, Sergeant-at-Arms, bearing the Mace, entered the House of Assembly Chamber. The Administrator then took his seat on the Throne.

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

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

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


Bill No. 29 - Power Engineers Act.

Bill No. 30 - Crane Operators Act.

Bill No. 103 - Pharmacy Act.

Bill No. 109 - Tourist Accommodations Act.

Bill No. 110 - Peggy's Cove Commission Act.

Bill No. 111 - Fatality Inquiries Act.

Bill No. 112 - Trustee Act.

Bill No. 113 - Natural Products Act.

Bill No. 114 - Municipal Reform (1994) Act.

Bill No. 116 - House of Assembly Act.

Bill No. 117 - Innovation Corporation Act.

Bill No. 118 - Amherst Cemetery Company Act.

Bill No. 119 - Motor Vehicle Act.

Bill No. 120 - Gaming Control Act.

Bill No. 121 - Special Places Protection Act.

Bill No. 122 - Workers' Compensation Act.

Bill No. 123 - Springhill Parks and Recreation Commission Act.

Bill No. 124 - Maintenance Enforcement Act.

Bill No. 125 - St. Mary's Municipal Holiday Act.


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


Bill No. 127 - Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Act.

Bill No. 128 - Farm Registration Act.

Bill No. 129 - Public Highways Act.

Bill No. 135 - Eastern Shore Recreation Commission Act.

Bill No. 136 - Yarmouth County Agricultural Society Annual Grants Act.

Bill No. 137 - Summary Proceedings Act.

Bill No. 138 - St. Martha's Regional Hospital Foundation Assistance Act.

Bill No. 141 - Halifax Superannuation Act.

Bill No. 142 - Halifax City Charter.

Bill No. 143 - Halifax County Charter.

Bill No. 144 - Oak and Elm Grove Cemetery Company Act.

Bill No. 145 - Dartmouth City Charter.

Bill No. 147 - New Glasgow Parking Commission Act.


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

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.]

[The Administrator left the Chamber.]

[The Speaker took the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, before I ask for the adjournment of this House I just wanted to congratulate the Sergeant-At-Arms, Mr. Buddy Daye, on the wonderful way that he has rendered service again to this House of Assembly. (Applause)

I am not sure of the correctness of this process but I have consulted with that well known legal authority, the Leader of the Opposition and also with that other legal authority, the Leader of the New Democratic Party. I just thought it was appropriate for us to comment briefly on the service that he has rendered. They will talk more about his service in the House.

I have known him for many years as an activist, a person who although much smaller than me, many years ago when I was with the Deputy Speaker I took great care to keep out of his way when he launched a blow in my direction. His many years in the ring and his dedication to the progress of his people are indeed reflective of the kind of service that he has rendered. I just wanted, on behalf of the Government of Nova Scotia, to thank him for that service. It is indeed a service that he has rendered with distinction and we just felt that it was appropriate at the closing of the House to say thank you to a very dedicated public servant. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to add words of support to those which the Premier has just now uttered and words of commendation to my friend and the friend of all of us, Delmore (Buddy) Daye. I am a little younger, I think, than Buddy and certainly an awful lot younger than the Premier but I do remember many, many years ago when I was a youngster having occasion to be at the Halifax Forum and see Buddy perform in another capacity and as the Premier has said, Buddy has a sterling reputation as one of this province's leading athletes.

Not only that, and again, the Premier alluded to it, over the years Buddy Daye has come to be a role model for the black community and so many in the black community right across this province and right across the country. I have personal knowledge of a tremendous amount of community work, so much of it done anonymously by Buddy and his family and he is to be commended for all of those efforts. Here in the House he has always, in our time here, those of us who have shared time here with him, conducted himself with tremendous grace and perfect demeanour.

The only possible exception to that was a few days ago when he rather unceremoniously, and I thought a little bit overly aggressively, ushered me out of this place at your invitation, Mr. Speaker. Seriously, Buddy has been a friend to us all, a credit to himself, his family, his race, this place, the black community of Nova Scotia and I am so pleased to have the opportunity to add my few words of support and personal commendation to you Buddy and wish you great success and many years of health and happiness. (Applause)

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and to add my few words to those that have already been given. I must say that I am, obviously, considerably younger than both the Premier and the Leader of the Official Opposition, so I don't remember actually seeing Buddy perform in the ring, but his reputation preceded him and as I am sitting so close to Buddy in this House, I try to make sure that I stayed on my good behaviour.

Seriously, Mr. Speaker, I not only would like to pay tribute to Buddy for his dedication and service in this House and, certainly, for his well-known reputation as being not only an excellent boxer in the ring, but for the kind of qualities that he has shown. We have talked about, and others have mentioned, that Buddy has been a friend to all members of this House, a credit to the black population of the Province of Nova Scotia. The kinds of things, I guess, that we in here know from talking to Buddy, that whenever we are talking to Buddy, which is on a regular basis, Buddy is a gentleman who is filled with wisdom, with love, compassion. The skills and the dedication that Buddy showed and that led him to success in his earlier career in the rings those same kinds of dedications have carried on in his life and that Buddy has been, no matter where it has been, he has been fighting for justice for all people.

I think that Buddy is a tremendous example to each and every one of us. His presence in this House is an inspiration as to what we should all be standing for and fighting for and I just wanted to add my words of thanks and great praise to Buddy. He is, indeed, an example and I look forward to continuing our friendship and receiving the kind of guidance that Buddy has shown us in the past, for many years to come. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable members, I believe that brings today's proceedings to a conclusion. I will now call on the honourable Premier.

The honourable Premier.

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

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

The motion is carried.

The House stands adjourned.

Thank you all very much.

[7:44 p.m. The House adjourned.]


Given on February 6, 1995

(Pursuant to Rule 30)


By: Mr. Donald McInnes (Pictou West)

To: Hon. Ross Bragg (Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency)

Can the minister specify if the Bluenose II will be operating for the full tourist season in 1995 and for the next five years as a result of renovations currently underway?


By: Mr. Donald McInnes (Pictou West)

To: Hon. Ross Bragg (Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency)

Can the minister provide an update on the actual costs of Bluenose II renovations as of this date?


By: Mr. Ronald Russell (Hants West)

To: Hon. Jay Abbass (Minister of Labour)

I want to know, as does D. Spence of Truro, if there is any inspection of restaurant exhaust ducts? Would this come under occupational health and safety regulations?


By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Ronald Stewart (Minister of Health)

The government will be spending much more money on addictions (gambling, smoking, etc.) compared with chronic diseases. I want to know, as does J. Rhuland of Mahone Bay, is this government planning to provide more assistance to diabetics who require needles, insulin, test strips, et cetera? If not, why not?


By: Dr. John Hamm (Pictou Centre)

To: Hon. Sandra Jolly (Minister of Municipal Affairs)

I want to know, as does E. Greeivlond of Hantsport, when will the costs for the provincial-municipal service exchange program be known?


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

To: Hon. Richard Mann (Minister of Transportation and Communications)

I want to know, as does E. Thornhill of Tangier, when repairs to Highway No. 7 can be expected? Why is it neglected and how can we get help to speed up the work? A 100-Series highway is not needed, just a safe road.


By: Dr. John Hamm (Pictou Centre)

To: Hon. Sandra Jolly (Minister of Municipal Affairs)

I want to know, as does A. Trefry of Yarmouth, where the money is coming from to pay Bill Hayward for overseeing the amalgamation of the Cities of Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford and Halifax County? Why is there money for this and no money for health care?


By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

To: Hon. John MacEachern (Minister of Education)

I want to know, as does E. McAdam of Wilmot, how the present government can deliberately break the collective agreement with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union by refusing to pay any severance pay to the community college teachers that the Liberal Government terminated in late April? Severance were supposed to paid in two instalments. When can they be expected?


By: Dr. John Hamm (Pictou Centre)

To: Hon. James Smith (Minister of Community Services)

I want to know, as does S. Ridgewell of Dartmouth, why there has been a 4 per cent roll-back in the salary enhancement grant to day care workers?


By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

To: Hon. John MacEachern (Minister of Education)

Why the Government of Nova Scotia has approved the phasing out of adult education grants? Your community learning initiative will only be available for new level 1 and level 2. I want to know, as does C. Logan of Sheet Harbour, what happens to those who want their GED or those who want to continue on for even more education?


By: Mr. Donald McInnes (Pictou West)

To: Hon. Ross Bragg (Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency)

I want to know, as does Dr. D. A. Weir of Dartmouth, why the Utility and Review Board of Nova Scotia cancelled the license of Cabana Tours and Bus Agency Service Ltd.? This was done at the time when tourism seemed to be reaching new heights. Tours had been booked by the company extending well into 1995. Evidently, because of the board's delay in making a decision, the company lost $100,000 plus four people lost their jobs.


By: Mr. George Archibald (Kings North)

To: Hon. Ross Bragg (Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency)

I want to know, as does R. Surette of Yarmouth, what your policy is regarding new businesses coming to Nova Scotia. Why do industries or small businesses coming from the United States only go in the Dartmouth Industrial Park, the Truro area or Cape Breton? What initiatives are being undertaken to have businesses locate in other areas, especially Yarmouth?


By: Mr. Donald McInnes (Pictou West)

To: Hon. Ross Bragg (Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency)

I want to know, as does A. Muise of Dartmouth, what is the policy regarding flying foreign (American) flags in Nova Scotia and particularly at visitor information centres?


By: Mr. George Archibald (Kings North)

To: Hon. Bernard Boudreau (Minister of Finance)

I want to know, as does H. Peterson of Dartmouth, is the Liberal Government considering privatizing the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission?


By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

To: Hon. Bernard Boudreau (Minister of Finance)

I want to know, as does B. Arnold of Lake Charlotte, to what extent is the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission responsible to the Minister of Finance? What firm does their books, what amount is collected each year and when will the debt be paid?


By: Mr. John Leefe (Queens)

To: Hon. Robert Harrison (Minister of the Environment)

I want to know, as does L. Fredericks of Annapolis Royal, what is the status of the Irving Whale? When is this going to be taken care of, who will be responsible for this, and to what responsibility, if any, will Irving be held?


By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

To: Hon. John Savage (Premier)

I want to know, as does P. Organ of North Sydney, as you have refused to hear Nova Scotian voters on matters ranging from the sale of licorice to casinos, municipal amalgamation, health service, avoidance of leadership review by paid up members of your own Party and limited the time available for the Opposition to debate the actions of government, for the enlightenment of confused voters, could you please give us your definition of democratic process?


By: Mr. Ronald Russell (Hants West)

To: Hon. Bernard Boudreau (Minister of Finance)

I want to know, as does G. Benwell of Kingston, why seniors who are absent from their principal residence for over three months during the winter cannot have the same arrangement with Nova Scotia Power regarding power charges that cottage owners have?


By: Mr. Ronald Russell (Hants West)

To: Hon. Jay Abbass (Minister of Labour)

I want to know, as does P. Luff of Truro, if the Liberal Government is going to raise the minimum wage? As it is now, people on welfare make more than people who are working for minimum wage.


By: Dr. John Hamm (Pictou Centre)

To: Hon. James Smith (Minister of Community Services)

I want to know, as does H. Wiseman of New Minas, what initiatives are being developed for young mothers on assistance? Many seem to have another baby just to get more money. What is being done?


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

To: Hon. Donald Downe (Minister of Natural Resources)

Given that the forest industry is a major component of this province's economy and that future wood supply is dependent on continual forest management, if the federal government decides not to enter into another federal/provincial forestry agreement, I want to know, as does J. Auld-Cameron of Truro, what contingency plans does the provincial government have in place?


By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

To: Hon. John Savage (Premier)

I want to know, as does D. Embree of Springhill, how much it cost the taxpayers for the Premier's trip to China? What businesses have expressed an interest in coming to Nova Scotia because of this trip?


By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

To: Hon. John Savage (Premier)

During the Liberal Government's 30-60-90 initiative, Ms. A. Organ of Dartmouth felt the message was clear - get the government out of business, stop the grants, dramatically reduce the bureaucratic red tape and provide an environment in which business can compete and flourish. I want to know what were the final results of this initiative and when are the recommendations of this initiative going to be adopted?


By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

To: Hon. John MacEachern (Minister of Education)

I want to know, as does A. Brown of Dartmouth, why 10 per cent of retired teachers' net income was taken away this year and more in the years ahead, due to the reduction in retired teachers' health benefits?


By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. John Savage (Premier)

I want to know, as does S. Skiba of Dartmouth, who gave the Liberal Government the mandate to dismantle the health care and education programs in this province?


By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Ronald Stewart (Minister of Health)

I want to know, as does V. Wright of Clementsport, why hospitals in rural areas are being closed? They are needed for all types of emergencies and they are cheaper than the system proposed by the minister. We know the abuse of our health services must stop, however, those of us not abusing the system want help when we need it. Is your government considering the introduction of user fees to stop unnecessary appointments?


By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Ronald Stewart (Minister of Health)

I want to know, as does N. Wilkie of North Sydney, as the hospital situation of Cape Breton North is going "down the tubes", where is the area MLA and Health Minister? He does not answer his phone calls, does not answer letters, will not attend meetings, he sends Jeff MacLeod to fill in for him. Even his Liberal supporters have turned on him. The community would like direction from its MLA and the province's Health Minister on the future of health services in Cape Breton North.


By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Ronald Stewart (Minister of Health

I want to know, as does J. Tyler of Annapolis Royal, why the Annapolis Royal Hospital was threatened to be closed without the Minister of Health ever coming to meet with the community? Also, Digby hospital, Middleton and Kentville are overcrowded, one must wait weeks for surgery. Why is there no helicopter plan in place for critical cases? Mrs. Tyler feels that the oldest town in Canada has been betrayed.


By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Ronald Stewart (Minister of Health)

I want to know, as does D. Strowbridge of Halifax, when the government is going to put into place the primary health care system and utilize to the fullest the well-educated and underemployed nurses of this province?


By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Ronald Stewart (Minister of Health)

I want to know, as does P. Steele of Mahone Bay, why you are building a new hospital in Halifax while closing beds in other Nova Scotian hospitals? Reform is nothing if you do not establish any kind of enhanced home care program to match cuts. Also, if you understand the complexities of eating disorders, why are you closing beds at the Halifax clinic?


By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Ronald Stewart (Minister of Health)

I want to know, as does E. Smith of Wolfville, if the government did a cost assessment before closing the Berwick hospital? The rooms are half the daily rate of the Valley Regional Hospital where there is no accommodation for mammography if taken from Berwick. Why is the department taking such services away?


By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Ronald Stewart (Minister of Health)

I want to know, as does R. Spencer of Carleton, why specialists (i.e. gynaecologists) are allowed to insist on GP referrals even after having seen a patient three months previously for the same symptoms, thereby collecting a considerably larger fee for nothing? This must cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually for nothing.


By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Ronald Stewart (Minister of Health)

I want to know, as does S. Van Waysner of Hantsport and S. Oliver of Annapolis Royal, when will the Liberal Government provide a clear plan of where the government is going with health care reform, cuts with no plan are unacceptable?


By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Ronald Stewart (Minister of Health)

I want to know, as does S. Bowers of Dartmouth, why health will be cut so drastically? Ms. Bowers is 45 and on disability. She is waiting to have her knee explored and must wait 10 months for the procedure, all the time enduring pain and discomfort. This has caused Ms. Bowers great anxiety and her medication has had to be increased. She was told by Family Benefits, in the meantime, that she would lose some benefits. She appealed and won but overturned that appeal. She wanted to know, if she follows the rules, why she should be penalized and why she must wait so long for a hospital procedure?


By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Ronald Stewart (Minister of Health)

I want to know, as does H. Moffatt of Dartmouth, since hospital boards have not received honoraria for some time now, will the new boards set up by the Liberal Government receive pay? If so, why?


By: Mr. Ronald Russell (Hants West)

To: Hon. Jay Abbass (Minister of Labour)

I want to know, as does A. Wilkie and I. Hollingsworth of North Sydney, if the Liberal Government is going to put the tolls back on the Canso Causeway because it gave approximately 15 people steady jobs and it also provided maintenance for the causeway?


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

To: Hon. Richard Mann (Minister of Transportation and Communications)

I want to know, as does B. Pope of Sydney Mines, if you have been in contact with the federal Minister of Transport or any federal Member of Parliament to find out what effect the proposed sale of Marine Atlantic Inc. will have on its employees and the communities of Digby, North Sydney and Yarmouth from which the ferries operate?


By: Mr. George Archibald (Kings North)

To: Hon. Ross Bragg (Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency)

I want to know, as does L. Hollie of Hebron, why does New Brunswick get all the new businesses and Nova Scotia not get any?