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April 24, 1997
Hansard -- Thur., Apr. 24, 1997

Fifth Session


Anl. Rept. of the Auditor General - Tabling (23/04/97);
Clarification, The Speaker 943
Health - Smoke-Free Places, Towards Healthier Communities in Nova Scotia,
Hon. B. Boudreau 944
Res. 196, Women, Status of - Take Our Daughters to Work Day:
Equal Future - Ensure, Hon. E. Norrie 944
Vote - Affirmative 945
Res. 197, Women, Status of - Advisory Council: Anniv. (20th) -
Congrats., Hon. E. Norrie 945
Vote - Affirmative 946
No. 11, Queens Regional Municipality Act, Mr. J. Leefe 946
No. 12, District of Argyle Financial Assistance Act, Hon. A. Surette 946
Res. 198, Fin. - Budget (1996-97): Balanced Misleading - Apologize,
Dr. J. Hamm 946
Res. 199, Women, Status of - Take Our Daughters to Work Day:
Importance - Recognize, Mr. R. Chisholm 948
Res. 200, Manitoba - Red River Flooding: Concern - Extend,
Mrs. L. O'Connor 948
Vote - Affirmative 949
Res. 201, Gov't. (N.S.) - Aud. Gen. Report (1996): Delay - Admonish,
Mr. G. Archibald 949
Res. 202, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Infrastructure Prog.: Job Creation -
Measurement Clarify, Mr. T. Donahoe 950
Res. 203, Gov't. (N.S.) - Shaping the Future: Accuracy -
Commitment Remember, Mr. R. Russell 950
Res. 204, Gov't. (N.S.): Spirits (John Buchanan [Premier] &
Charles MacNeil [Fin. Min.]) - Remain, Mr. J. Holm 951
Res. 205, Fin. - Expenditure Control Act: Provisions - Clarify,
Dr. J. Hamm 952
Res. 206, Educ. - Student Debating Team (Cdn.): Tournament (Dart.) -
Congrats., Mr. D. Richards 952
Vote - Affirmative 953
Res. 207, Fin. - Deficit (1996-97) Projection ($48.2 m.): Promotion -
Detail, Mr. A. MacLeod 953
Res. 208, Fin.: Deficit (1996-97) Projection ($48.2 m.) -
Explain, Mr. R. Russell 953
Res. 209, Nat. Res. - Protected Areas: Strategy Delay - Condemn,
Ms. E. O'Connell 954
Res. 210, Fin. - HST: Poll Info. Selective - Admit, Mr. T. Donahoe 955
Res. 211, Lbr. - N.S. Firefighters' School: Accreditation (Okla. Univ.) -
Success Wish, Mr. D. McInnes 955
Vote - Affirmative 956
Res. 212, C.B. East MLA: Travel (Internat.)-Educ. Min. (1995-96) -
Importance Explain, Mr. G. Archibald 956
Res. 213, Fin. - Budget (N.S.) (1997-98): Responsible - Draft,
Mr. R. Chisholm 956
Res. 214, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Highway No. 104
Western Alignment Corp.: Annual Report - Ensure, Mr. B. Taylor 957
Res. 215, Fin. - Budget (N.S.) (1997-98): Withdraw - Instruct,
Mr. J. Holm 958
Res. 216, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Orenda (Debert): Plant Establishment -
Rules Difference End, Mr. A. MacLeod 958
Res. 217, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Highway No. 104
Western Alignment Corp.: Fin. Data - Reveal, Mr. B. Taylor 959
Res. 218, Justice - Family Violence: Judges - Training Require,
Ms. E. O'Connell 959
Res. 219, Agric. - Atlantic Winter Fair Complex: Water Projects -
Completion, Mr. B. Holland 960
Vote - Affirmative 960
No. 67, Fin.: Accounting Procedures - Policy, Dr. J. Hamm 961
No. 68, Fin.: Accounting Procedures - Policy, Mr. R. Chisholm 962
No. 69, Fin. - Pub. Accounts: Pub. Aud. - Aud. Gen. Recommend,
Dr. J. Hamm 964
No. 70, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 103: Public-Private Partnering -
Disclosure, Mr. J. Leefe 966
No. 71, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 104 Western Alignment Corp.:
Annual Report - Ensure, Mr. B. Taylor 968
No. 72, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 104 Western Alignment Corp.:
Accounting - Disclosure, Mr. J. Holm 969
No. 73, Justice - Public Prosecutions (Director of): Report - Table,
Mr. T. Donahoe 973
No. 74, Educ.: Student Loan (N.S.) - CIBC (Burlington, Ont.),
Mr. T. Donahoe 976
No. 75, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Sheet Hbr.: Terminal - Status,
Mr. B. Taylor 978
Mr. K. MacAskill 979
Mr. J. Leefe 982
Mr. R. Chisholm 985
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. A. Mitchell 989
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. A. Mitchell 989
Speech from the Throne (1997) - Unemployment (C.B.):
Leadership Absence - Condemn:
Dr. J. Hamm 990
Mr. R. MacNeil 992
Mr. J. Holm 995
Res. 134, Fin. - Expenditure Add.: Health/Justice - Approval,
Hon. W. Gillis 998
Hon. W. Gillis 998
Mr. R. Russell 1002
Adjourned debate 1015
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Apr. 25th at 8:00 a.m. 1016
No. 4, Educ.: BLAC Report - Evaluation, Mr. T. Donahoe 1017

[Page 943]


Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Session

12:00 P.M.


Hon. Wayne Gaudet


Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin with the daily routine today, I would like to bring forward some clarification to all members of the House regarding the tabling of the Auditor General's Report, 1996, which was tabled yesterday in the House of Assembly.

Before the House sat yesterday, the Office of the Speaker was not advised by the Auditor General's Office that these reports were available for tabling, as we had agreed last week. Prior to the opening of the House yesterday, it was pointed out to me that one box had arrived at the Speaker's Room upstairs. I suggested to our staff that the report would be tabled tomorrow because, in my view, not enough copies were on hand at that time. I hadn't heard anything further from the Auditor General, nor was I informed of any briefing session taking place prior to the tabling of the Auditor General's Report.

Later throughout the daily routine, I was advised by the Clerk that the books were here and that the Office of the Auditor General had contacted the House to request that the report be tabled. The problem that arose yesterday was caused by a lack of communication between the Auditor General's Office and my office.


[Page 944]

As the custom in this House shows, reports can be tabled throughout the sitting of the House on that particular day when the request is made by the House Leader. I was in the process of writing a note to the Government House Leader when the honourable member for Queens was recognized by the Chair on a point of privilege. Thank you.

We will begin with the daily proceedings at this time.




MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to table for you and my colleagues in the House a discussion paper entitled, Smoke-Free Places, Towards Healthier Communities in Nova Scotia. The paper is developed by the Tobacco Control Unit of the Department of Health and looks at how our province can provide smoke-free environments for Nova Scotians to protect them from serious hazards or second-hand smoke. The release of the discussion paper today will begin a public consultation that will end on June 30, 1997.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.


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

Whereas April 24th is Take Our Daughters to Work Day, when many parents, employers and schools are cooperating to encourage girls to spend the day at work with a parent or other interested adult; and

Whereas Take Our Daughters to Work Day represents a great opportunity to acquaint girls with the wide range of career options open to them, many of which were not open to women in the past; and

[Page 945]

Whereas this day is a great opportunity for boys to come to a greater understanding of the obstacles faced by girls and women, and to understand the idea that gender roles in society can be confining for both men and women; and

Whereas Take Our Daughters to Work Day is an opportunity for girls, boys, parents, educators, and the business and government communities to envision a future where it will no longer be unusual to see women in trades and technologies, leading corporations or in elected office;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and support the efforts of schools, parents and employers in helping girls and boys to a more equal future in the workplace and the world.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.


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

Whereas 1997 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women; and

Whereas in conjunction with its annual meeting and to mark this important milestone, the Advisory Council is hosting, Challenge to Change, a women's conference and consultation in Baddeck over the next three days; and

Whereas after 20 years, while much progress has been made, we still very much need and value the work of the Advisory Council in pursuing and in keeping all governments at their pursuit of equality, fairness and dignity for all women; and

[Page 946]

Whereas I look forward to receiving the recommendations that will come from the Challenge to Change Conference, which will provide a spirit of renewal for the continuing work of the strengthened and revitalized Advisory Council;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to the Advisory Council on the Status of Women for its 20 years of unceasing action on behalf of the women of Nova Scotia, and wish the participants in the Challenge to Change Conference well in their work on the issues that affect women in Nova Scotia now and into the 21st Century.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.


Bill No. 11 - Entitled An Act to Amend Chapter 9 of the Acts of 1995. The Queens Regional Municipality Act. (Mr. John Leefe)

Bill No. 12 - Entitled An Act to Authorize the Municipality of the District of Argyle to Render Financial Assistance with Respect to an Arena in the Town of Yarmouth. (Hon. Allister Surette as a private member.)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


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

Whereas during the Budget Address of Thursday, April 17th, the Minister of Finance made this statement, "For the first time in over a quarter of a century, Nova Scotia is paying its own way."; and

[Page 947]

Whereas the Minister of Finance added that, ". . . we have achieved our first, real budget surplus in more than 20 years."; and

Whereas the 1996 Auditor General's Report has determined these statements to be unequivocally false;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance apologize to Nova Scotians for these and other misleading statements respecting a balanced budget for the 1996-97 fiscal year.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Please take that resolution under advisement until we have had an opportunity to look at it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: We? We? (Interruptions)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, before I read my resolution, I would like to make an introduction. As I do so, let me say that my daughter, Jessie, is here, up in the gallery opposite and let me just say that she figures that the Speaker of the House is the boss over all of us and over everything we do here because we always have to ask your permission before we do anything, before we speak or whatever. So, whenever she asks me something about raising an issue or whatever here in the House, she always asks me to come and talk to you first in order to get your permission. That having been said, I would like . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: At home, she goes to her mother.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . and at home she goes to her mother. (Laughter)

I would like to ask, Mr. Speaker, all members of House to welcome my daughter, Jessie, who is here today. She has been here before and members have met her and welcomed her before, but today she was interested in coming again to see whether there were any more women in the House than there were last time she was here, but as I suggested to her, not only is Eileen here but probably in the next few months, there are going to be a number of new women here in the Legislature. That having been said, I would like all members (Interruptions) Jessie, if you would please stand, and if all member of the House would please welcome her. (Applause)

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

[Page 948]

[12:15 p.m.]


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

Whereas the Minister responsible for the administration of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women has proclaimed April 24, 1997, as the third annual Take Our Daughters to Work Day; and

Whereas the day is designed to provide positive role models for young women so they may identify and succeed in the career opportunities available to them; and

Whereas this Liberal Government has failed to adopt an employment equity policy, a contract compliance policy, has failed to amend the Pay Equity Act and failed to protect the disproportionate number of women who are forced to work at low paid, part-time jobs that offer no benefits;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the importance of Take Our Daughters to Work Day but urge this Liberal Government to take the concrete measures needed to truly bring about the equality of women.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.


MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: Mr. Speaker, I also would like to welcome the member's daughter but I am glad he didn't say what Party he thought would have the women sitting in the Legislature.

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

[Page 949]

Whereas people who live along the banks of the Red River in the Province of Manitoba have to evacuate their homes because of flooding; and

Whereas in July 1996 several members of this House had the opportunity to attend a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in Winnipeg; and

Whereas while attending that conference the members of this House visited many of the areas that are presently being evacuated, meeting many of the fine people who live there;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend to the people who live along the shores of the Red River their expression of concern and caring during a most difficult time.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for 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 has attempted to hang its hat on a balanced budget; and

Whereas this philosophy was thrown out with the bathwater yesterday, following the release of the Auditor General's Annual Report for 1996, showing a purported $2.8 million surplus to actually be a $48.2 million deficit for fiscal 1996-97; and

Whereas this Liberal Government, instead of facing the harsh reality of what the Auditor General was reporting, which was a $48.2 million operating deficit for fiscal 1995-96, attempted a quarterback sneak by wanting to block release of the annual report;

[Page 950]

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Liberal Government be admonished for their shameful actions for wanting to hide from the consequences of the Auditor General's Report.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.


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 federal-provincial infrastructure works program is often cited by Liberals in Halifax and Ottawa as proof of both governments' commitment to job creation; and

Whereas the 1996 Nova Scotia Auditor General's Report concluded that "the actual jobs created for projects . . . are significantly lower than the estimates provided at the time of project application.", specifically citing a Halifax project whose actual job numbers were 75 per cent below the expected total; and

Whereas this is a familiar Liberal tactic to gloss over failed job promises with inflated and inaccurate job creation numbers;

Therefore be it resolved that the federal and provincial Liberals come clean on their infrastructure job creation figures by establishing clear measurement instruments that reflect the number of jobs actually created, versus the number of jobs initially projected.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.


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

Whereas the Liberal Government's Shaping the Future document stated that "in matters of public finance, accountability and credibility are essential."; and

Whereas Shaping the Future proclaimed a "strict accountability framework" which would "dampen the political temptation to spend irresponsibly -- keeping governments honest and on the right financial track."; and

[Page 951]

Whereas the Liberals, as an election approaches, could not resist the temptation to rig the province's books in a desperate attempt to improve their popularity;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals remember their commitment in Shaping the Future to "measure performance and report results simply, clearly and accurately" instead of engaging in budgetary fraud.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.


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

Whereas in this, an election year, and in keeping with Tory practices of old, the Liberals have smashed open Nova Scotia's piggy bank to pump tens of millions of dollars into their pave their way to re-election using taxpayers' money scheme; and

Whereas the Liberals in preparation for their walk to the polls used what the Auditor General called "inappropriate accounting" in a blatant attempt to con Nova Scotians into the mistaken belief that the Liberals actually balanced their books last year; and

Whereas in an attempt to hide from accountability for their actions the Liberals pretend Nova Scotians are not responsible for liabilities of the Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation despite the fact it is a corporation that is owned and controlled by the province and funded using public monies;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledges Nova Scotians can be excused if they should ask if the spirit of John Buchanan still occupies the Premier's chair and that of Chuck MacNeil the Minister of Finances.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 952]


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

Whereas according to the 1996 Auditor General's Report "the timing of approvals of additional appropriations continues to be a concern"; and

Whereas the report highlighted the more than $53 million in extra appropriations for the 1995-96 fiscal year which were approved after March 31, 1996; and

Whereas the Auditor General concluded that "current legislation and administrative practices raise questions as to the effectiveness of the House of Assembly's control over expenditure of public funds";

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance clarify the provisions of the Expenditure Control Act, specifically as they relate to the approval of additional appropriations.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

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 high school students from eight provinces will try to qualify for a spot on the Canadian Student Debating Team during today's qualifying tournament at the Dartmouth Teachers' Centre; and

Whereas this is the first time the Canadian Student Debating Federation has held a competition to select a national team for the 10th Annual World School's Debating Championship in Jerusalem next January; and

Whereas Canada has won the World Schools' Debating Championship once before with Nova Scotia students participating on the past five national teams;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend congratulations to John Filliter, President of the Canadian Student Debating Federation and also Co-ordinator for the Nova Scotia Debating Society, for his many contributions to the

[Page 953]

students' success and extend best wishes to the students from Nova Scotia and across Canada who are working so hard to qualify for the Canadian Student Debating Team.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.


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

Whereas the Liberal backbench likes to rise in this Legislature when given the opportunity, to provide kudos to their front bench counterparts about fiscal sanity; and

Whereas the Liberal front bench has always enjoyed basking in these accolades without ever sharing the true picture with their backbench cheerleaders; and

Whereas the true picture came to light yesterday with the release of the Annual Report of the Auditor General for 1996 showing a deficit for 1996-97 of $48.2 million instead of a projected surplus of $2.8 million;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Liberal Government, especially the backbench cheerleaders who have attempted to somehow put a positive spin on the havoc created by this Liberal Government, inform Nova Scotians as to how they will now promote a $48.2 million deficit unveiled by Nova Scotia's Auditor General yesterday.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.


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

[Page 954]

Whereas the Minister of Finance tried yesterday to have Nova Scotians believe that the Auditor General's $48.2 million deficit projection for the 1996-97 fiscal year can be blamed on accounting practices; and

Whereas the government did not like what they saw in the Auditor General's Report and attempted to keep the information hidden from the Nova Scotia public; and

Whereas the release of the Auditor General's Report of 1996 made a mockery of the accounting principles being used by the Minister of Finance and also left $48.2 million unaccounted for;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance stop attempting to shift the blame for his own incompetence and explain how his government has been able to come up with a $48.2 million deficit, while wreaking havoc on the lives of Nova Scotians in such critical areas as health care and education.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


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

Whereas a lot of public money and the time and effort of thousands of Nova Scotians have been invested in the process of selecting 31 sites to be designated as wildlands protected areas; and

Whereas the government has claimed that there's no time at this session to pass a bill enshrining 30 of these sites into law; and

Whereas members of this government had the opportunity to vote for such legislation yesterday but chose instead to talk it to death;

Therefore be it resolved that the House condemn the Liberal Government for backing off a much-needed protected places strategy that has the support of so many Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

[Page 955]


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

Whereas in a late breaking news release yesterday, Finance Minister Gillis selectively released information on a poll about the BS Tax; and

Whereas the Finance Minister conveniently forgot to tell Nova Scotians that the poll showed that 67 per cent of Nova Scotians opposed the BS Tax; and

Whereas what the Finance Minister did not say was that 60 per cent of Nova Scotians said the BS Tax would hurt their personal finances;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government admit that they are not only playing fast and loose with the budget, they are also playing fast and loose with the truth when it comes to reporting Nova Scotians response to the hated BS Tax.

MR. SPEAKER: 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 for over 30 years, the Nova Scotia Firefighters School has proven to be invaluable in the training of volunteer firefighters across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the school and its board of directors are now involved in a process that if approved will greatly improve training standards being offered; and

Whereas the training standard being sought is one from Oklahoma State University that is recognized internationally;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature extend our best wishes to the board of directors of the Nova Scotia Firefighters School and wish them every success in their efforts at obtaining accreditation for firefighting instruction through Oklahoma State University.

[Page 956]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.


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

Whereas Cornwallis District High School ran out of paper in January and in some classrooms the teachers are sharing textbooks; and

Whereas the former Minister of Education indicated throughout his tenure as minister to the parents, students, school boards and teachers that the cupboard was bare and there was no extra money; and

Whereas that same former Education Minister, according to the Supplement to the Public Accounts, spent $30,000 more on travel expenses than any other minister;

Therefore be it resolved that the former Education Minister explain why his international travel was more important than school supplies.

[12:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


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

[Page 957]

Whereas the Liberal Government claimed the BST was a tax break for Nova Scotian consumers until the fine print of their own documents showed it was really an $84 million tax hike; and

Whereas the Liberal Government claimed it balanced the books last year until the Auditor General's Report showed it, in fact, ran a $46 million deficit; and

Whereas the government's latest Speech from the Throne and budget asked Nova Scotians to believe that, "The Tide has Turned", and we can now look forward to years of balanced budgets, debt reduction and highway paving projects;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to go back to the drawing board and return with a responsible and realistic plan for Nova Scotia's future, not one based on deceit and cooked books. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: 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 this Liberal Government has done everything humanly possible to keep details of their agreement with the Western Alignment Corporation as secretive as possible; and

Whereas this government, in introducing the Highway No. 104 legislation, exempted the Western Alignment Corporation from having toll increases reviewed by the Utility and Review Board, while also providing the Western Alignment Corporation with an exemption from the freedom of information Act; and

Whereas this Liberal Government has been reprimanded in the Auditor General's Report for providing limited information on the Highway No. 104 project;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government follow recommendations in the Auditor General's Report and ensure a detailed report is submitting annually by the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Corporation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 958]

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.


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 Minister of Education, under cross-examination during the debate on his department's estimates, confessed that not all of the $13 million increase announced for public school education in the Budget Address is accounted for in the estimates tabled by his government; and

Whereas the Liberals failed to include the liabilities of the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Corporation in the estimates tabled, despite the fact that those liabilities are, according to the Auditor General, the liabilities of the province; and

Whereas the Liberals used creative accounting trickery that would have made the Buchanan Tories proud in their attempt to portray a balanced budget;

Therefore be it resolved that this House instruct the Liberals to withdraw their tainted budget and replace it with one that truly reflects the financial affairs of the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.


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

Whereas the federal and provincial Liberals recently found close to $18 million to attract Orenda Limited, an Ontario manufacturer, to Debert; and

Whereas this project is expected to create 110 much-needed and much-deserved direct jobs and 325 indirect jobs; and

Whereas when IMP Aerospace closed its North Sydney facility last year, the federal and provincial Liberals did absolutely nothing to keep IMP jobs in Cape Breton;

[Page 959]

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals stop dividing Nova Scotians by applying one set of economic development rules for the mainland and another, more restrictive, set of rules for Cape Breton Island.

MR. SPEAKER: 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 during repeated debates in this Legislature, the government said it had no option but to enter into a public-private partnership to obtain funding to twin Highway No. 104; and

Whereas this partnership developed into a toll road that will result in an extremely negative impact on Nova Scotia's economy, once it is operational later this fall; and

Whereas the Auditor General's Report for 1996 stipulates that if the Government of Nova Scotia had borrowed the funds for twinning of the highway directly, instead of involving the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Corporation, the debt service charges would have been significantly lower;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government cut to the chase and present Nova Scotians with the real story on such items as the cost of toll booths, interest payments and the profit to be generated by the Western Alignment Corporation, instead of the smoke-and-mirrors scenario they have presented to date.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


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

Whereas Nova Scotians are expressing growing concern about the sensitivity of judges to the policy of zero tolerance for domestic abuse; and

[Page 960]

Whereas report after report has clearly stated that a program to implement zero tolerance for domestic violence must include mandatory training for judges; and

Whereas this government's only answer to these clearly stated policy recommendations is to beg off, citing the principle of judicial independence;

Therefore be it resolved that this government's answer is no answer and that action is required to deal with this problem.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.


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

Whereas the Atlantic Winter Fair is the largest agricultural fair in the Atlantic Provinces; and

Whereas the Atlantic Winter Fair complex, located on the Prospect Road in the constituency of Timberlea-Prospect, existed for many years without access to municipal water and sewer facilities; and

Whereas as a result of assistance through the government's infrastructure program the complex can now boast of having the needed water and sewer facilities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the board of directors of the Atlantic Winter Fair on the completion of this project which will help to protect the environment at the Atlantic Winter Fair grounds and surrounding areas.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 961]

Before we move to the Orders of the Day I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the late debate. The honourable member for Hants West will debate at 6:00 p.m.:

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government be condemned for its Throne Speech to show any leadership to resolve the critical unemployment situation in Cape Breton.

Oral Question Period today will run for one hour. The time now being 12:38 p.m., it will run until 1:38 p.m.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Finance. I am reading from the document, Public Accounts of the Province of Nova Scotia for the Fiscal Year Ended March 31, 1996. I am reading from the portion that is entitled Financial Reporting and Accounting Policies, subtitled, Basis of Accounting. I am sure that this is quite familiar to the Minister of Finance; it is a short quotation and it is very clear, even to those without an accounting background, "These accounts are maintained on an accrual basis, revenue recorded when earned and expenditures recorded when incurred.".

My question to the Minister of Finance is very simple. Is this or is this not the accounting policy of this government?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the notes to the financial statement are set out under Note (1), with subsections including the basis of the accounting. That is certainly the approach, but I think that the honourable Leader of the Opposition should refer to the Auditors Report, dated June 14, 1996, where it concluded Deloitte & Touche, Montreal, Quebec, "In our opinion these financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Province of Nova Scotia as at March 31, 1996 and 1995 and the results of its operations and the changes in its financial position for the years then ended in accordance with the accounting policies stated in the notes to the financial statement.". So, what else can I say, it is right there.

[Page 962]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, it was difficult to understand what the minister was saying, there was some background noise. He seemed to be saying that it was now a policy that was going to be determined by an external agency, Deloitte & Touche. I would suggest very strongly that in reality the policy is what I just read to the minister.

My question to the minister is very simple. I hope the minister remembers what I just read in terms of the accounting policies of the province as declared in the documentation that he arranged to have distributed to the members of the House. My question is simply this, when was the $50 million that was recorded in 1995-96 spent? Was it spent in 1995-96 or was it spent in 1996-97?

MR. GILLIS: The Government of John Savage has taken a prudent approach to finances. I don't see anything wrong. The projects were by contracts, the $50 million, contracts were called, Orders in Council had been passed and there is nothing wrong with putting money away in advance. For example, some families put money away to educate their children in educational trust funds, some people prepay vacations. So the answer is, the projects may have been carried out after April 1, 1996. There is nothing wrong with prepaying commitments that had been made.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to the Minister of Finance that in dealing with Revenue Canada, if in dealing with his personal finances he decided to charge up expenses not in the year they incurred but to simply remove them and charge them to another year, he would be in violation, a criminal violation (Interruptions) of the revenue taxation laws of Canada. Why does he think that he can do that very same thing that he has done in moving expenses from one year to another contrary to what is this government's stated policy on taxation and reporting of the government finances? Will the minister please explain why what Revenue Canada would clearly say is illegal he is prepared now to support?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, we have the Leader of the Opposition drawing some very long bows and talking about spending in one year and paying in another. I just want to remind that honourable Leader of the Opposition, surrounded by some of the remnants of the former Buchanan-Cameron Governments (Interruptions) that in the fiscal year that began April 1, 1992, which was the 1992-93 fiscal year, the last year under the BuCameron Government, there was $1.4 billion that they didn't budget for that they spent. Now, tell me about accounting.

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


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is not the first time in this House we have heard this government say, well, you did it so we can do it too.

[Page 963]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. Clearly, the announcement yesterday of the $50.9 million that was supposed to go on the books of 1996-97 and was put towards 1995-96 has dealt a huge blow to the credibility of this province in its fiscal prognostications for the future and his plans and what they have put before us already as a result of the fact that the former Minister of Finance, the now Minister of Health, participated in those books being cooked. Serious questions have been asked about the budget presented last week, the fact that it is full of holes; in fact, like a big chunk of Swiss cheese.

[12:45 p.m.]

I want to ask the Premier, given the shock and the impact on the credibility of this government on fiscal matters, will the Premier explain to Nova Scotians, after this has happened, why it would not, in fact, be prudent for his government to withdraw last week's budget and to come forward with a realistic and responsible reflection of this province's fiscal situation? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, it is passing strange that the criticism of balanced/unbalanced budgets comes first of all from a Tory Party that led us for 14 years into the biggest mess this province has ever had, and is echoed by their toadies who sit to their left who, in effect, have never had the opportunity of balancing a budget because they never will get the opportunity.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are listening to what happens when this government's credibility is challenged; what they do is lash out against anybody who is making those suggestions.

Let me ask my first supplementary to the Premier, Mr. Speaker. The Auditor General has said quite clearly that the 1996-97 balanced budget was not, and there is already evidence that this year's budget is similarly a work of fiction. Given the fact that there is no realistic provision in that budget to deal with the wage demands of 60,000 public sector workers, I want to ask the Premier, why will he not present the people of Nova Scotia - and, for that matter, potential investors in Canada and elsewhere - with a real, true reflection of the fiscal circumstances in the Province of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would gently point out that two attempts by NDP Governments in British Columbia who somehow, for some very difficult reason to understand, were unable to account for $1 billion - not $50 million, but $1 billion - and, of course, some of the catastrophic efforts made by the NDP Government in Ontario led them into the position that got their credit rating damaged. It is obvious that the NDP has no sense whatsoever of what a budget is about.

[Page 964]

In answer to the question, I would point out to you that if you look in Government By Design, Page 29, you will see restructuring cost. Perhaps you should spend a little more time perusing the documents and a little less time prattling on in this House.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians remember all too well the former Minister of Finance, the Premier and the new Minister of Finance standing up in this House repeatedly last spring, talking about how they had finally balanced the budget. I would like to table a little collage here of newspaper headlines: Next Budget Fully Balanced, Liberals End Program Cuts, Nova Scotia on Track for a $30 Million Surplus.

I would like to ask the Premier to apologize to Nova Scotians for having misrepresented what the true fiscal situation was with respect to the fiscal situation in the Province of Nova Scotia when he stood in this House last year, on behalf of this government, and said they had balanced the budget when clearly they had not.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is a tempest in a teapot; both the Opposition Parties knew about this process last August when the Minister of Finance spoke about it. In addition, perhaps he should refer to credit, when he looks at the efforts that this government have had on our credit rating, the fact that we have been - and I don't suppose it is too marvellous after 15 years of Conservative rule - taken of the critical list. Whoopee, I suppose that is an advance. The issue of credit is also reflected in the investment in this province which in 1997 is the highest increase in Canada and will give us a major boost. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Finance. There are 13 governments in this country that have Auditor General legislation. We are the one remaining that does not have the Auditor General do our Public Accounts. My question to the minister is simple, is he prepared to recommend to his government that we follow the lead of all other governments in Canada and is he prepared to recommend that the Auditor General become the public auditor of the Public Accounts of Nova Scotia?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable Leader would check I think there is another provincial government that has an independent and outside auditor other than the Auditor General and it may be Newfoundland but that honourable Leader might want to check that but that is a matter of policy. For 15 years the government that preceded ours, which was Progressive Conservative which you represent and head now, they didn't see fit to change it. So, I just repeat that for the benefit of the Leader of the Opposition but as a matter of policy, I am sure it will be something the government will consider as it goes down the road.

[Page 965]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I think it is clear from the minister's answer that he is absolutely determined, as is his government that this province not advance, that we continue to look over our shoulders at what has gone on for 150 years. That is very interesting but in reality if the government fails to recognize the kind of confusion that it has created in the minds of the people of Nova Scotia and the amount of cynicism it has created by its innovative bookkeeping, then the minister is certainly out of touch with reality. My question for the minister is would he agree that having the Auditor General do the audit of the Public Accounts would result in government accounting practices being followed exactly? Would he agree that if the Auditor General had done this audit that government accounting practices would have been followed exactly?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, of all the people in the House, the Leader of the Opposition, as a medical doctor should know that there are professional codes of conduct. What is it? The Hippocratic oath for medical doctors? Chartered Accountants have a code of conduct. Deloitte & Touche would not have verified our accounts unless they were satisfied they were right. They said they were right and they signed it on the bottom and we stand by their opinion. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister seems to be saying for some reason he is prepared to accept the professional opinion of someone other than the Auditor General. Clearly, both cannot be right. The Auditor General can't be right and if he is right, then the private accounting firm is wrong and vice versa. How can the minister expect to be credible when he dismisses the arm's length opinion of his own Auditor General as simply the view of another accountant? He has dismissed the view of the Auditor General, that arm's length, independent Auditor General and how is he prepared to do this and still remain credible? That Auditor General was appointed by government to do a job and this government is choosing to ignore the terms of reference that the Auditor General was appointed for.

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I am not denigrating Mr. Salmon and the Office of the Auditor General. I served as Opposition Chairman of Public Accounts. I have worked with Auditors General over the years. There are many things I agree with. For example, when the Auditor General says in a page inserted in the Budget Speech, "In my opinion: as at the date of this report, the assumptions used by the department . . .", meaning Finance, ". . . are suitably supported and consistent with the plans of the Government, as described to us by departmental management, and provide a reasonable basis for the 1997-98 revenue estimates;".

So that is an example. I agree and when he says in his report, for example on Page 15, "Significant progress is being made to improve the quality of accountability information and reporting by government.". I could go on but I will not bore the House, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 966]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: My question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Last week the minister announced the commencement of twinning of Highway No. 103 and in notes for an address which were included in his press kit, I note that he says, "We are also exploring methods of public-private partnering for projects like this one. I just came back from Great Britain . . .", et cetera.

I noticed in the Report of the Auditor General, Page 124 - the minister has it in front of him - the Auditor General makes the following observation respecting the Highway No. 104 public-private partnering. ". . . due to the nature of the public-private partnering process used, . . .", that is with respect to Highway No. 104, ". . . we could not assess whether negotiations subsequent to the selection of the private sector partner to establish the terms of the partnership resulted in the lowest possible cost and risk for the government.".

My question to the minister is, is he prepared to make a commitment through this House to the people of Nova Scotia that if he and this government enter into a public-private partnering arrangement for the Highway No. 103 that that will be a fully transparent arrangement and will resolve the criticisms expressed by the Auditor General in his Annual Report?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: In regard to the question of transparency, I indicated yesterday that there is a fair amount of transparency with the work that we have done and the work done by the previous minister in regard to this whole project. The Auditor General has had access to all the pertinent information that was pertaining to the project itself and that would be a normal process that we would continue with.

MR. LEEFE: Again, I refer the minister to the same page in the Report of the Auditor General where the Auditor General makes the following observation. "Accountability for the Western Alignment project could be improved. The accountability responsibilities of Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation should be included in its incorporating Legislation.".

My question to the minister is this. If public-private partnering is chosen as the means of financing and constructing Highway No. 103, will the minister commit to the people of Nova Scotia through this House that when the appropriate incorporating legislation is introduced in this place that accountability will be built into the legislation, thereby resolving the criticism that the Auditor General has made of the Highway No. 104 alignment?

[Page 967]

MR. DOWNE: In regard to the actual negotiations, business negotiations generally are very private and very confidential when it deals with individual companies assets and bases and so on and so forth. It is a very complex project involving a lot of specialized expertise for which both companies and our government went to a great deal of expense and professional help in determining how to negotiate this project. We have no obligations to any of the objections that have been made public. In fact, we have indicated that all the information that is now before the courts, as I understand it, we have indicated that we have no problem releasing that information.

When it comes to privacy, the Protection of Privacy Act for individual companies and their economic situations, I do not believe that is an issue that should really be brought to the forefront of everybody to disclose as much as the fact that we have indicated very clearly that we did not have a problem releasing information that is now before the courts.

MR. LEEFE: The minister knows, as all Nova Scotians do, that in the only public-private partnering project we have experienced to date, that is the Highway 104 Wentworth Valley by-pass, that tolls are a part of that project.

[1:00 p.m.]

My question to the minister is one that allows him a simple yes or no answer. Is he prepared to commit that there will be no tolls on Highway No. 103 in the event that a public-private partnering process is entered into, yes or no?

MR. DOWNE: It is interesting, Mr. Speaker. I believe the member opposite is pre-determining any option that this government might want to pursue down the road. The member opposite is the same member opposite who put this province in a great deal of debt and the grandchildren of many Nova Scotians in a great deal of debt by the fact that they were not willing to take a look at what options might be there.

What I have said, very clearly, Mr. Speaker, is that our department, and I am sure other departments in the government benches are continually looking at options of public-private partnering initiatives, some of which might be very beneficial to the well-being of Nova Scotians. We are prepared to look into those issues. We are not in a position to say yes, no, maybe, or in-between on any issue. We are prepared to take a look at it. What we would be doing if we said yes or no without looking at the options, is putting our head in the sand, much like they did for 15 years.

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

[Page 968]



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Finance. The Auditor General tells us, relative to the western alignment project, that, "A summary of all costs of the project was not available from the Department as it has not been its nor government's practice to accumulate all costs of a capital project in one place in the Province's books of account.". The Auditor General further tells us that the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Corporation, ". . . was set up to separate the project from the control and ownership of the government, and to separate government from certain financial and legal obligations. However, the Legislature created the Corporation, the Province owns and controls it, the purpose of the Corporation is to help build Provincial infrastructure . . .". The Auditor General tells us that the Highway No. 140 Western Alignment Corporation is a government-owned corporation.

Will the Minister of Finance commit to this House that he will ensure that the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Corporation files an annual report and that you, as minister, commit to tabling it in the Legislature?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, this matter relates to a Transportation and Public Works matter. I am not the supervisor of all the ministries. I would think the member might want to redirect his question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in regards to the question of tabling information, what the Auditor General, I believe, is referring to here is some sort of more formal process of communication of what is going on in the project itself. As the member opposite realizes, we have had, extensively, over the last number of months, tours of the Highway No. 104 western alignment. We have tried to put press releases out and information out about employment, employment numbers for Nova Scotians and so on and so forth. What I understand by the Auditor General's Report is that they would like to have more detailed information or more formalized information. I have requested our department staff to put more formalized information together. It is at the deputy minister's level now and we have no problem relaying that information to the general public.

I might point out, Mr. Speaker, as I stated clearly yesterday, very categorically, that we have a number of communication efforts with the local community. We have community liaison organizations and groups. We inform them of the issues. They, in turn, bring concerns forward for which we try to work with them in finding solutions to their problems or the challenges they might perceive in the overall project. We have tried to have a very transparent approach. The Auditor General is asking for more transparency and I am prepared to look into the whole issue of providing more information to the general public, not necessarily tabled in the Legislative Assembly, but information provided to Nova Scotians, which really, I believe, is what the member is really referring to.

[Page 969]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the response by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, but whereas $60 million, at least, of the Nova Scotia publics money has been injected into that project, I would hope that this government would commit to tabling and filing a report regarding the Highway No. 104 western alignment. The Auditor General is very clear. It is explicit; he says the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Corporation is a government-owned corporation.

Again, I go to the Minister of Finance. Whereas for $60 million of public financing no records are available, will the Minister of Finance commit to filing a report regarding the Western Alignment Corporation?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I guess the question was directed to me. Certainly we will follow the law; if the law requires that we table such information, we will. That is the bottom line; we follow the law, we follow correct procedures.

MR. TAYLOR: Well, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance tells us that if it is the law; the Auditor General is telling us that the Western Alignment Corporation is, in fact, the responsibility of the province and is owned by the province. The Liberal Government has done everything conceivable to ensure that as many details as possible are kept secret concerning the Highway No.104 agreement.

The Auditor General was very clear yesterday that in his opinion, for accounting purposes, the Western Alignment Corporation is government owned. Now again, I ask the Minister of Finance, will you undertake today to ensure Nova Scotians who have injected $60 million into this highway project that all assets, liabilities and operations of the Western Alignment Corporation will be included in your government's reporting entity?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is off on a discussion of the Highway No. 104 western alignment. He well knows the problems that existed there in terms of an unsafe highway. This government has acted to cure the problem. They are jealous that after all those years, by December of this year we will have a safe highway.

I repeat, Mr. Speaker, we will be accountable under the law. (Applause)

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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, a few minutes ago, as I did yesterday, I listened to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works in his creative interpretation of what the Auditor General's Report said. This government feigned support for the principles of

[Page 970]

openness, transparency and accountability and all the while what they continue to do is play their version of the childhood game of hide-and-seek.

I want to go to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The Auditor General clearly pointed out - and quite correctly I would suggest, based on our experience in here - that the government's answers to the questions on Highway No. 104 have been inadequate and that despite the expenditures of tens of millions of dollars and commitments by them of public money, the government hasn't even deemed it necessary to provide an accounting of that to the Legislature or to the people of this province.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, in the document the Minister of Finance tabled yesterday on the Crown Corporation business plans, not even in that, of course, is the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Corporation referenced because the government pretends that this corporation it owns, we own and we are liable for, isn't their responsibility. The only reassurances we have that things are going well is that the minister says so, based on the words that are whispered into his ear.

My question to the minister is simply will the minister agree to table in this House, as well as providing to the Auditor General, the documents that his department obviously was unwilling to or didn't have, that satisfy the concerns that were raised by the Auditor General? Again I will reference the minister to Page 129, because the information, as the Auditor General clearly points out, is significant and it is missing. Will the minister provide that information?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I find the last question by the member of the Third Party and, actually, the member of the Official Opposition, they obviously have not understood what is going on here in regard to the Highway No. 104 western alignment. First they refer to $60 million where, in reality, I believe our contribution is somewhere around $55 million for that project. Another one of these misunderstandings.

The other issue, they also refer to this as a Crown Corporation. This is not a Crown Agency, it is not a Crown Corporation. This is not part of that process whatsoever and the legislation made it very clear that this is not going to be a Crown Corporation. They are trying very hard to hoodwink Nova Scotians into believing that it is, when it isn't.

I want to say that the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Corporation is accountable; it is very accountable. Most Nova Scotians understand that. The bondholders, for an example, representatives are very diligent in securing the securities and financial transactions that go on in that particular project. A report on the progress, as I indicated earlier, is now before the deputy minister, who will be coming forward on a regular basis. I will be prepared to bring that information to the general public and I have no problem on the transparency of that information whatsoever.

[Page 971]

When we talk about the Western Alignment Corporation, it is not even a year old and already these people are asking for information. I don't know how many companies that are not even a year old are saying that they should be put into the first year. We are providing a project here with the information flow to the general public. This is an off-balance-sheet initiative, this is not a Crown Corporation as they refer to it. We are trying to provide as much transparency to this issue, whatever is possible. We have nothing to hide. Although they say it, we have nothing to hide. They have lived with 15 years of hiding all the truths from Nova Scotians. We turned over the rocks of all the different departments in government, the Treasury benches; whether it is workers' compensation at $0.5 billion unfunded liability; Natural Resources and Nova Scotia Resources Limited, $0.5 billion in unfunded liability; and that is what they are used to in accountability, not the kind of accountability this government has shown. (Applause)

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the minister on this great theatrics. The minister says that the problem is that we over here don't understand what is going on. The problem is that we indeed do understand what is going on and that the only accountability that exists is the whispering in the minister's ear privately about what is going on within the finance corporation. What we have going on here is trickery by this government, trying to pretend that Nova Scotians are not going to be paying a higher price because this government has chosen to put its political agenda of trying to hide, on the books of somebody else, what our liabilities for the Province of Nova Scotia are. That is going cost us $1.7 million more a year in higher interest rate payments, which will certainly make the bond people, whom this government is quite happy for, very delighted indeed with the good friends in the Liberal Government.

My question to the minister is quite simply, why is it that this government has chosen to put their political agenda of pretending to have a balanced budget ahead of the interests of Nova Scotians; in other words, forcing Nova Scotians to pay tens of millions of dollars more over the life of this project because of your shell game, as you are trying to finance this project?

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the honourable member who that question was directed to.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. All of my questions will be to him.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is great to listen to the member of the Third Party get so exercised that he not only lost focus of the question, he lost focus of who to ask the question to. I am not surprised at that. The preamble to that question left everybody absolutely disgusted with the fact that this individual does not understand the issue in the detail that he should.

[Page 972]

[1:15 p.m.]

This highway was built on the basis of the fact that we needed safety, safety for the 50 people who have died driving the other alternative route for the last decade. In February of this year, Mr. Speaker, we lost two Nova Scotian lives. I don't know if that member of Third Party cares about the lives of Nova Scotians, this government bench does care about the lives of Nova Scotians and we are going to put a project together that is going to provide a safer highway for Nova Scotians and it is going to be done in 20 months and it is going to be the best quality highway ever built in the Province of Nova Scotia.

What this member and the Official Opposition have been talking about, what they would rather do is build highways to nowhere, borrow money from the next generation that is coming and do nothing to benefit the safety of the public of Nova Scotia. That is what we are working on, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that I confused the minister, but that is not all that hard.

Mr. Speaker, my last question is also to the same Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I want to say to the minister that we agree, certainly, on one thing and that is that that building that section of highway is long overdue and that safety concerns are a number one priority. There is no question about that. We agree on that point. For the minister to try to suggest for one second that that has not been a priority of ours all along, he knows that he is not accurately reflecting the position that we have taken. What we are talking about is how it is being financed so that we can save the maximum amount of money to build even more highways to save more lives and we are also talking about accountability.

Mr. Speaker, I want to put the following to the minister. I assert that the way that this government is financing this through its private shell game project to hide the funds in somebody else's books, I assert that the government is going to pay, or Nova Scotians are going to be paying, at least $25 million to $30 million more over the life of that project in higher interest rate payments. I challenge the minister to provide the financial information about the financing of the debt, including the incremental interest rate and cost of the private sector financing versus provincial financing.

My question is, is the minister prepared to pick-up that challenge and to provide that information to prove that you are right and I am wrong? I challenge you.

MR. DOWNE: I think most members would agree that he is generally always wrong on issues, Mr. Speaker. Really, the issue here that he is talking about, number one, he doesn't understand off-balance-sheet financing to begin with. Maybe Bob Rae was instrumental in teaching him the benefits of going deeper in debt in Ontario, so that the next generation of children that we have in our audience, not only those children, but their children, will be asked

[Page 973]

to pay a debt that that government if they ever, and gosh only hopes that they will never be forming the government, I am sure they never will, that they would want to put on to those children up there.

The issue is that we talked about an off-balance-sheet financing approach. What they did in Ontario, the provincial government turned around and they assumed all that cost. Mr. Speaker, they had some complications and now who is assuming the risk? It is the taxpayer and the children of the taxpayers of Ontario that are assuming that risk because the previous Ontario NDP Government poorly managed that project and didn't go off-balance-sheet.

What we have done, Mr. Speaker, is very clear. We have understood that by going off-balance sheet, it does not have a negative effect on the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia. Without the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia being in a worse position, the number of bonding agencies have actually changed the rating. If we had gone to a further debt on the books of the Province of Nova Scotia, I understand that this project could have had a negative effect of five basis points to the overall debt of the Province of Nova Scotia. I know he doesn't understand this, but five basis points, not just on the loan for the western alignment, but on the $9 billion of Tory mismanagement, Mr. Speaker, a $35 million cost to those children and their children's children in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is why we have done it the right way and that is what they can't understand.

MR. SPEAKER: On an introduction, the honourable Minister of Health.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question - no, that was the old days. (Laughter)

Speaking of the children in the gallery, Mr. Speaker, I beg the indulgence of the House to make an introduction. The children in the east gallery are children and specifically daughters of the employees of the Department of Health who have come here today in connection with Bring Your Daughter to Work Day to see some of the activity to which their parents work is directed. So if they would, I would ask them all to stand up and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Mr. Speaker, you would be aware - and, of course, the Minister of Justice is - that the previous government established the independent office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. That was done to attempt to remove any semblance of political involvement or interference or bias with the prosecutorial function in the province. The Auditor General in his most recent report, tabled yesterday, makes a couple of very important criticisms of that

[Page 974]

office and raises some very real concerns. It occurs to me that there are few public office functions which are as fundamental to the well-being of our community as those of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, you will recall that the Auditor General points out, as all members will be aware I am sure, that the law requires that the Director of Public Prosecutions report to the Legislature each year, prepare a report and table it here through the Minister of Justice. In fact, the Auditor General points out that such a report has not been filed for something like three years and four months. Today's press reports indicate that this Minister of Justice has apparently spoken to the Director of Public Prosecutions, suggested that he should prepare such a report but he hasn't imposed any deadline.

I want to ask the Minister of Justice if he can please explain why it is or how it is that he could, in the face of the fact that the Director of Public Prosecutions has failed or refused to file a report for three years and four months, how is it that this Minister of Justice can justify a casual chat with the Director of Public Prosecutions and suggest, in effect, well, when you get around to preparing a report perhaps you should do so and we will file it. I ask him to explain why he did not demand the preparation and immediate filing of such a report from the Director of Public Prosecutions?

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to serve for a number of years on the Public Accounts Committee and I know full well the importance of having annual reports filed for accountability to this House and I know that the report of the Director of Public Prosecutions is an important report that should be tabled in this House. I did have an opportunity to discuss this matter with the Director of Public Prosecutions. I can assure the House that he is fully aware of the importance of this and that he is making every effort to complete the report and it will be filed at the earliest opportunity.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, I hear the Premier say, good minister. I hear another honourable opposite say, he's right. Well, I think I am also right in suggesting that the Director of Public Prosecutions if he doesn't know the law he should, and I am sure he does know the law. The law is that he is obligated under that law to file a report here annually and he has not done it for three years and four months.

I appreciate the fact that the Minister of Justice has had a little chat with the Director of Public Prosecutions but I am not at all satisfied that he has come anywhere close to suggesting that he even so much as express the hope or the indication to the Director of Public Prosecutions that there was some urgency because, Mr. Speaker, as you will be aware, the Auditor General's Report goes on further to say that there are some troubles in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions; in fact, that the men and women working in the prosecutorial staff, particularly in the non-metro offices of that office, are not as well served at all by that office as are those who are working in metro. I can't understand why this minister would not raise that as a matter of urgency and a report, as to how and why that

[Page 975]

situation could come to pass, from the Director of Public Prosecutions would, undoubtedly, help lead to its resolution.

I ask this Minister of Justice, will he tell us whether or not he will go back to the Director of Public Prosecutions and direct him to file a report immediately?

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I would point out that the present Director of Public Prosecutions is reasonably new on the job and has taken over from the director who was appointed under the previous administration. There were a number of difficulties that the now Director of the Public Prosecution Service had to face, and I know he has been working very hard to deal with a number of those.

There was the Ghiz Report, which all members are familiar with, and the director has made significant inroads to cure some of the problems suggested there. There is still a long way to go. Some of the items that have been mentioned in the Auditor General's Report are items which have to be dealt with and I know that the director is working very hard to make sure that these problems are corrected.

Mr. Speaker, I have every faith in the Director of the Public Prosecution Service. I know that he recognizes his responsibilities and I know he is working very diligently to complete his obligations. Thank you.

MR. DONAHOE: Well I thank the honourable Minister of Justice for that rather unassurring response.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Justice, the Auditor General's Report points out rather graphically that the Public Prosecution Service still, after all this time - created you will recall in 1990, and under the fiscal administration of this government since the spring of 1993 - does not yet have a comprehensive electronic system for assisting case management for the lawyers who are working there, and, as I know the Minister of Justice, who is a lawyer, will understand, particularly in today's complex administration of a law office, case management and monitoring are among the fundamental needs of an effective law office, to say nothing of an effective prosecutorial service.

I ask this Minister of Justice, will he commit today to ensuring that that electronic monitoring and case management system will, in fact, be in place of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions by the end of this current fiscal year?

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I have been in this department for a bit less than a month, I believe. One of the first questions I did ask of the director was particularly that question. I can assure the House that significant strides have been made in this regard; there is still some way to go. The director recognizes this and considerable headway has been made

[Page 976]

and we will continue to work on that, to make sure we do have all the services that the director and the Public Prosecution Service require.

MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Halifax Citadel.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. A young woman who has made contact with our office graduated from the Nova Scotia Community College in June 1995. She successfully completed an Office Administration Assistant Diploma Program. She found employment during the co-op portion of her program but that lasted only two months and ended in August 1995. Then that same young woman found seasonal work at Upper Clements Theme Park, but that ended in September 1996.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Education, this student was required, in order to finance her study, to take student loans, both federal and provincial student loans. She was told she would have a one-year reprieve and then have interest relief before she had to pay back her loan. Now the Canada Student Loan is being handled through the Bank of Nova Scotia in Annapolis Royal. The problem is that after many months of unsatisfactory dealings with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, in Burlington, Ontario, of all places, relative to the Nova Scotia Student Loan, they have now referred this matter to a collection agency.

[1:30 p.m.]

I wonder if the minister can explain why this young woman within the Nova Scotia Student Loan Program has been obligated to deal with the Burlington, Ontario branch of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which has resulted, as the minister would understand, by reason of the distance and the geography, in great delays, great frustrations, and by reason of delays of correspondence back and forth in additional interest costs being charged to her and so on.

Can the minister explain why it would be that the Burlington branch of the CIBC would handle this account for the young Nova Scotian student?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, not without the details, but in my experience over the last year with students and their families throughout Nova Scotia, where there are difficulties and contact is made with our department, every effort is made by our staff to try and reconcile those difficulties as best we can. One possible explanation could be that she lived temporarily in Ontario. I am not sure if that is the case. If the honourable member would give me the file and the details of this individual, I would be pleased to take it up with my staff, if she hasn't already made contact. Even if she has, I would be prepared to take it up with my staff.

[Page 977]

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the kind offer from the Minister of Education and I will, indeed, provide him with the file number and the detail. The frustration that one sees just dripping off the pages of communications from this young woman, and the minister will relate to it, I am sure, is that she makes it clear that she wants to work. She wants to pay back her student loan. She wants to deal with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which, by coincidence, happens to have a branch less than one hours drive from her home and she is dealing with Burlington, Ontario.

I would like to ask the minister if he would give an undertaking by reason of the fact that this woman is apparently now facing unnecessary additional costs, interest and other matters, by reason of delays which have been occasioned as a consequence of the Ontario bank getting involved in the matter, can the Minister of Education give me, and through me, her, an undertaking that he will ensure that his departmental officials will deal with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in such a way as to ensure that she will not face those additional penalties by way of interest?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, my experience, not only with our staff, but with our banking partners, the Royal Bank and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, is that they too will go to the limit to try and assist students and their families. Again, without the details of this case and without knowing what costs might have been incurred, it is difficult for me to make any other commitment than I have already made, which is if I can have the information, I will have my staff working on it as quickly as possible.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, as I have said, I will provide the minister with the file references and so on. Could the minister explain to this House for my edification and for that of the young lady who is affected by these circumstances, the process whereby either his partners, the Royal Bank or CIBC, refer these matters to collection agencies? The fact is that CIBC, in this instance, has, in fact, now sicked a collection agency upon this young Nova Scotian woman and she and her family are having very real concerns about the conduct of the collection agency. Can the minister just explain, for the benefit of all of us, myself particularly, the process employed whereby these matters end up in the hands of collection agencies?

MR. HARRISON: Without going into detail on the phases, obviously, when you turn something over to a collection agency, it is as a last resort. The member opposite will know that the recent federal budget contained measures to try and alleviate the problem of student debt load in this country. We have entered into discussions with them, stating our position clearly, that our loan remission program, which takes off the top and the front end of the loan that a student might amass during four or fewer years in post-secondary education, is a benefit to students that we would like to see the federal government emulate.

[Page 978]

Income contingent repayment, which is another source of recovery based on income earned over the period of time after graduation, is another possible source that may work in some circumstances but clearly we have taken the position and stated it very clearly and aggressively that we want a similar model for the 60 per cent cost sharing on the federal side of loan remission up front to assist students.

Again, without going through the detail of the phases, any time either the federal or provincial governments or their partners turn something over to a collection agency, presuming that due process has taken place, it is as a last resort.

MR. SPEAKER: On an introduction, the honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I beg the indulgence of the House and ask you to look at the press gallery. We have in the press gallery today - and I guess her father has just left her - Rick Grant's daughter Megan. Would you like to stand up, Megan?

Megan is in the House today with her father in response to Take Our Daughters to Work Day. I want to thank all members of the House of Assembly who involved their daughters in any aspect of this and all members of Cabinet who allowed their departments to bring daughters into their departments and support the whole concept. I hope Megan can learn a few things about what her father does and perhaps teach him a thing or two while she is there. I know that all daughters here today are proud of what their fathers and mothers are doing in the government and the House of Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: We have approximately a minute and one-half.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Last week the minister confirmed that this Liberal Government was negotiating with Liberal Senator Wilfred Moore who is working on behalf of the American company Cerescorp regarding the leasing of the Port of Sheet Harbour. The minister would no doubt appreciate that the Government of Nova Scotia and the taxpayers of this province expended a substantial sum of money in creating the facility and the rationale for establishing the port was to create job opportunities and economic benefits for what is really an economically depressed area of the province. My question to the minister is simply this, when will these negotiations be completed so that the Port and the Community of Sheet Harbour and area can get on with their future.

[Page 979]

HON. RICHARD MANN: I suspect they will be getting on with the future no matter what happens.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is how the future works.

MR. MANN: The member opposite seems to get quite disturbed about this issue. The reason why the government was interested in finding a private sector manager for the port was that the port is significantly underutilized and has been. Some of the reasons for that have been identified as insufficient or inadequate marketing efforts and I do not know why any Nova Scotian would not support an effort to seek a private sector manager that would result in the port becoming a much busier port, creating jobs and opportunities for Nova Scotians. The negotiations are getting very near completion and I hope to have them completed very soon.

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry for the slight delay and not being prepared. (Interruptions) I want to assist the honourable minister in promoting his bars and I ask every member to please try to come up with $2.00 to help Mr. Brown get re-elected.

Mr. Speaker, visitors and residents of the world are soon going to have one more reason to enjoy our beautiful Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island this year. I am proud to report to the House and all members present that throughout Cape Breton in 1997 we will commemorate John Cabot's European expedition to the New World.

[Page 980]

Premier John Savage and federal health Minister David Dingwall have also recognized the importance of this celebration by committing funding assistance for activities and festivals marking the 500th Anniversary of the arrival of John Cabot to North America.

As the MLA for Victoria County, I am pleased to have this opportunity to convey my admiration and I would like to commend the people living along the Cabot Trail and beyond, who are making this celebration possible.

Known as the Reflection/Cabot Meeting '97, this began as a community-based initiative and remains community driven headed by the John Cabot Quincentenary Committee. This committee is made up of people living in communities in the Cape Breton Highlands and they see 1997 as an opportunity to increase our economy's well-being, through tourism during the entire year, including our winter season. They realize the Cabot Meeting '97 has many long-term economic benefits both in the areas of job creation and in the development of networking among Cabot Trail communities.

Yes, in celebration of the quincentenary of John Cabot's arrival to North America, the people living in communities along the Cabot Trail also realize the development of new partnerships will ensure the long-term cultural and economic survival of our Island's communities. The activities and events that are being developed for 1997 are solidly anchored in the communities that sponsor them throughout Cape Breton Island and beyond.

The people of Cape Breton possess a real sense of stewardship to their communities along the Cabot Trail. The Cabot Meeting '97 has brought those people together with the provincial and federal governments to proudly blend our proud heritage and our economic future - the tourism industry.

When John Cabot, our first tourist, landed in what is presumed to be the northern coast of Cape Breton in 1497, he stimulated an age of exploration and discovery by Europeans which has brought the Island of Cape Breton to the attention of the entire world.

Many years later, the creation of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and the completion of the Cabot Trail in the 1930's brought nature conservancy and tourism together in Northern Cape Breton. In fact, some have said that history will reveal that the Cabot Trail actually began tourism in Nova Scotia. In the years leading up to Canada's Centennial celebrations in 1967, tourism became an economic lifeline for the Cape Breton economy.

In 1995, tourism figures for Nova Scotia indicate an overall dollar expenditure of $183 million for the Cape Breton region, an increase of $9 million over 1994. Today only the Metropolitan area of Halifax-Dartmouth surpasses Cape Breton in terms of overall tourism dollar expenditures.

[Page 981]

It is further shown that the number of jobs related to the tourism industry on Cape Breton Island is close to 5,700 jobs with a payroll of approximately $72 million. An estimated 410,000 tourists visited Cape Breton Island in 1995. Although it is difficult to estimate the impact of the John Cabot celebrations, the intent is to promote festivals and activities throughout the winter months and therefore any such winter tourism efforts would result in new dollars to the economy.

Recent Statistics Canada figures indicate that the unemployment rate for many communities in Northern Cape Breton is somewhere between 22 per cent and 25 per cent. The John Cabot celebrations could be a step in the right direction.

With an additional 30,000 new visitors to the Island, this would represent a 7 per cent increase in the number of visitors. This translates into an additional tourism industry payroll of $15 million representing an additional 125 seasonal tourism jobs. Of course, this does not take into account any of the indirect economic spin-offs into the larger Cape Breton region.

The Cabot Meeting '97 will give residents of Cape Breton the opportunity to boast of our rich culture and our proud heritage. And by inviting visitors to experience our culture and enjoy the festivities, the Cabot Meeting '97 will also strengthen our vibrant tourism industry.

Since 1497, Cape Breton Island had become a vibrant, multicultural community rich in heritage while maintaining a tradition of hospitality. Nowhere is it better expressed than through the many existing festivals and events held each year throughout the Island. From fire halls to outdoor fields, these venues have provided a valuable showcase for Cape Breton talent and have played a significant role in the development of several national and international artists.

[1:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, between June 28 and July 1, 1997, everyone is welcome to join the communities of Cape North and the Cape Breton Historical Society in commemorating the anniversary of the landing of John Cabot. This four day festival will commence at the Cabot's Landing Provincial Park in Sugarloaf on June 28th. That is what we refer to as Cabot Day. This will be a day-long event, beginning with the enactment ceremonies commemorating the Cabot landfall.

It is here, Mr. Speaker, when referring to the enactment, that I would like to offer a unique story from the Mi'kmaq history and prophecy. A Mi'kmaq woman dreamed one night that a small island floated towards the land of Nagooset. The island contained garments of white rabbit skins at one glance, then it became an island of bare trees with black bars on its branches. The woman told her dreams to the elders and the vision people of the village but

[Page 982]

no one at that time could interpret the significance of what that dream meant. With the sighting of the first European sailing ship, the vision of the Mi'kmaq prophet became clear.

Between June 29th and Canada Day several community groups have also come together to offer a wide range of family activities, featuring food, entertainment, culture, sport and recreation. From July 15th to August 3rd, against the backdrop of the world-famous Cabot Trail, Cape Bretoners and visitors alike will have an opportunity to revel in our Maritime past and experience history first-hand. Visits and flotillas of tall ships are planned to coincide with the community events at various harbours and ports in and around Cape Breton.

Among these many beautiful ships will be the replica of John Cabot's sailing vessel the Matthew. In May 1497 John Cabot left Bristol, England, in the Matthew and made landfall here, thus beginning the relations between North Americans and the Europeans. Five hundred years later a replica of the Matthew will leave Bristol, England once again and return to the shores of Cape Breton Island, in celebration of Cabot's original voyage.

A proposed schedule has been developed, which includes a symbolic stopover in Aspy Bay, visits to Neils Harbour and Sydney, a departure to other mainland Nova Scotia ports throughout the Bras d'Or Lakes, with a possible stopover in Englishtown, Ingonish and Baddeck.

Mr. Speaker, today the Mi'kmaq people actively promote their unique culture and maintain the legacy of the Island's first people through ceremony and day-to-day living. Since 1497 Cape Breton Island has become the home of a vibrant multicultural community, rich in traditions while maintaining the heritage of fine hospitality. From the 19th Century communications genius, Alexander Graham Bell and Guglielmo Marconi to the Celtic and Acadian sounds of the top recording artists, Cape Breton Island is known as a place to celebrate history, heritage and friendship far and wide.

Mr. Speaker, I extend an invitation to everyone to make Cape Breton Island part of your family travel plans for 1996 and, if you do, you will discover some of Atlantic Canada's scenic wonders while having the opportunity to reflect on a historic moment, our vibrant culture and the music of a very special people. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to spend a few moments talking about the tourism industry in Nova Scotia and the men and the women across this province who make it tick and provide, as a consequence of their investments of their own monies and time and hard work, an opportunity for employment and the creation of new wealth here in Nova Scotia.

[Page 983]

One of the central partners in all of this, of course, is the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, and I am delighted that Doug Fawthrop, the proprietor of White Point Beach Lodge, has recently been elected president of that association. I know that Doug will do a superb job on behalf of all Nova Scotians and on behalf of all of the industry in exercising the responsibilities that have been extended to him by that organization.

I think my good friend from Victoria makes a good point when he notes that Nova Scotia, certainly since the beginning of written records - and archeological evidence would suggest that before the commencement of written records of Nova Scotia's history, we have been a destination for people who have been seeking a better place to live or, indeed, perhaps a great place to visit.

That causes me to give some consideration to the tremendous ethnic diversity of the population of Nova Scotia. We all think of ourselves as Nova Scotians and Bluenosers and that is good and appropriate. We all think of ourselves, first and foremost, as Canadians. At the same time, we are very proud of our ethnic roots and so we should be.

Think of the tremendous contribution of the aboriginal people to this province. Very often we don't pay as much attention to the aboriginal contribution because there is not the written record extant to support that contribution that we find when European settlers came here and were able to put into writing the activities that they undertook here. We should not forget, and indeed we should all relish, the contributions that the aboriginal community made in advance of coming to this part of the globe of Europeans and, of course, their tremendous contribution since that time, a contribution which continues on today.

Just this past weekend, my wife and I had the opportunity to spend a little bit of time in the Pubnico area, not very long, but a little bit of time, and we have been there frequently, as we have been to Clare, and less frequently to Cheticamp in Richmond County. Who can help but be reminded of the tremendous contribution and the resilience and the hard work and the initiative displayed by the Acadians in this province, both as early settlers coming here in the beginning of the 1600's and then returning here after the expulsion in 1755 when those who chose to come back and seek new homes in Nova Scotia began to arrive in the mid-1760's, and the continuing contribution of the Acadian community to the overall well-being of Nova Scotia and to Canada?

We also can reflect on the contribution of the Germans who came here to settle in Halifax and then Lunenburg County and the tremendous sense of industry that they brought with them, hard-working, diligent people who made their way in a new world, people who had been used to farming the land and who came here and demonstrated that they were able to show equally well that they could farm the sea just as successfully. Hence, we have Lunenburg, with the worldwide reputation as a fishing port, evoking that tremendous industry that these German settlers brought with them and have passed on to successive generations,

[Page 984]

down to ours. I know my good friends who represent Lunenburg County in this place will find that my words reflect their feelings as well.

Then we come along to the Scots coming here, first to Pictou County and Antigonish County and then on to Cape Breton, and the absolutely marvellous contribution that these Scots made, leaving the old country for new homes, reaching out for new hopes in the new land, and the way in which Scottish culture has so influenced contemporary Nova Scotian culture. We see this, as well as anywhere, in the current music industry, not only in Nova Scotia, but in Canada and in North America. Isn't it fascinating that in order to rekindle their own cultural musical history, we find that the Scots are importing artists from Nova Scotia, and particularly from Cape Breton, to teach them the things they have lost; values and traditions and music that was brought by those people to Nova Scotia and has been kept alive here.

I am reminded, just before I leave the Scots, of a rather sad reflection on the Scottish presence here, and that is the diminishing use of Gaelic in Nova Scotia. I can recall that in my early years in the House, once a year, there were sufficient members in the House that in the late show they were able to carry on a Gaelic debate. We have not seen that for many years and I would hope that perhaps the few friends we have in this place who still have the Gaelic might some evening give us the opportunity here to hear them debate in that wonderful language which is lost to so many.

Then we have the coming of the Loyalists, most of whom were Americans, but many of whom were first-generation Americans having emigrated to America from Germany, from all over Europe and, of course, among those Loyalists, the Blacks who came here to seek the freedom they knew they would not be able to have in the new United States of America. Black and white Loyalists both coming here as a consequence of being driven out of their homeland, but knowing that, by reaching out to this new home, they could break new ground for themselves and create that new hope which would sustain them and their communities.

As a consequence, today we can go to places like Birchtown or Digby or to Preston, as three of the principal Black communities in Nova Scotia, and see how firmly of the Black who came here with the Loyalists and subsequently, laid down strong community roots that have stood the Black community in Nova Scotia in good stead and which sustain and strengthen not only the Black community but, indeed, all of Nova Scotia as a consequence.

We find in the 1800's particularly, a tremendous influx of Irish coming to Nova Scotia and, again, making a wonderful contribution to the vim and the vigour and the economy and the cultural life of this province. The contribution of the Irish cannot be stated strongly enough and, again, the tie-in between the Scots and the Irish, with respect to our musical heritage, is so strong and is so well sustained as a consequence of that wonderful cultural experience which was brought by them and has been passed on to us.

[Page 985]

In more modern times we have seen the phenomenon, towards the end of the last century and through the early part of this century, of thousands of people escaping the bondage of Eastern Europe for the hope in the New World, and coming and settling throughout Nova Scotia and, certainly to a very significant extent, in the industrial Cape Breton area, people who brought new vitality, new ways of doing things, new expressions of culture, which have sustained, and have shared them with us to further strengthen the underpinnings of our Nova Scotian society. Then in contemporary times, persons coming from all over the world, from India, from Africa, from the Far East, from Latin America, coming here to Nova Scotia and, again, further broadening this wonderful quilt of culture that we have available to us, that has been handed to us by past generations and into which each new generation weaves its own special patches.

[2:00 p.m.]

All of these are part and parcel of us, of what we are, of our soul and our being. It is absolutely essential that we ensure that we pass all of these wonderful cultural gifts onto successive generations, so that they can sustain those future generations, as they have indeed sustained us. One of the ways in which we do this, of course, is through our tourism industry. Our tourism industry thrives as a consequence of the presence of all those cultural activities here in Nova Scotia and, as a consequence of that, is able to generate tremendous employment and has created an industry which, in Nova Scotia, is worth well over $1 billion a year. The value of this industry cannot be overstated, but we must never ever forget that it is an industry that is not built on the phoniness of the Hollywood-type stage, but an industry which is built on the good, solid foundation of the cultural opportunity and cultural differences that have blended together to form that Nova Scotian quilt, which has been brought by all of those peoples who have come from other parts of this globe to make Nova Scotia their home. Thank you.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, you know what they say, timing is everything. I am pleased to have an opportunity to make a few comments today. I would like to take the opportunity to talk a bit about what happened yesterday. Yesterday, you and all Nova Scotians, by now, are aware of the fact that the Auditor General of the Province of Nova Scotia tabled a report in this House which made a claim that this province, this government, inappropriately registered some capital expenditures for the year 1995-96 that should have gone on the books of 1996-97 because, in fact, those monies were not and were not intended to be spent until 1996-97.

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General has said in a number of cases, and I would quote from a few passages, "We understand that the decision to make this change in authority was based on the objective of achieving improved accountability and greater discipline in the

[Page 986]

management of capital projects. While we agree with this objective, we do not believe that deviating from the stated basis of accounting was appropriate.", says the Auditor General.

It goes on to say, and he refers to the Financial Reporting and Accounting Policies section titled, Basis of Accounting, which indicates, "'these accounts are maintained on an accrual basis, revenues recorded when earned and expenditures recorded when incurred.". In other words, Mr. Speaker, the $50.9 million was not incurred in 1995-96, therefore, it should not have appeared in the accounts of the Province of Nova Scotia for 1996-97.

Mr. Speaker, the statement of the Auditor General goes on to say that this adjustment, "is inconsistent with the Province's stated accounting policies, and is fundamentally wrong from an accounting principles perspective.". He uses words like, "Further, reporting them as 1995-96 expenditures materially affects the reported results for that year, as well as comparability to other years.". He says, further, "We have been provided with information and analysis of the capital projects making up the $50.9 million. However, we have not been provided sufficient and appropriate support for recording the $50.9 of capital commitments as liabilities as at March 31, 1996 or as capital expenditures for the 1995-96 budget.". He says, "The information received from Finance indicated that the recording of the capital commitments 'does not materially misstate the province's financial position.". He says in response to that, "In our view, the $50.9 million of net capital expenditures being reported in 1995-96 as opposed to 1996-97 is material, and could affect a reader's assessment.".

This is fundamentally wrong from accounting principles perspectives, contrary to generally accepted accounting principles and generally accepted accounting practices in the provincial and federal public sector, are again words and statements made by this province's Auditor General with respect to this decision made by the former Minister of Finance and approved by Cabinet to misrepresent the position of the Province of Nova Scotia. I would suggest that has been conducted, that has been hatched up, that has been carried forward for political reasons that are absolutely and totally inappropriate, given the serious nature of the financial situation in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Why do we have this situation in the Province of Nova Scotia where we have two auditors duking it out over who is right and who is wrong? Well, we have got that because this is one of the last jurisdictions in the country that still buys and pays for its own auditor. Other jurisdictions in this country have recognized how important it is not only to have an impartial auditor who is a servant of the members of the Legislature, of the people of Nova Scotia but to have one Auditor General, one person, one group audit the books of this province or audit the books of their jurisdiction.

You have the Premier of this province outside this House a few moments ago saying, oh, I think the Auditor General is the finest kind, quite agree, got no problems. But, he says, our auditor says something different, our auditor. You see that is the problem there.

[Page 987]

MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: We can't hear you, Robert.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the member for Bedford-Fall River can't hear me. Well, she is going to hear the people of Nova Scotia when she goes to the doorsteps out in her riding and explains this kind of financial chicanery. (Interruptions)

What the Premier said outside and what the Minister of Finance has said underlines why this is such a problem when they describe it as their auditor. In other words, they hired the auditor, the auditor reports to them and the auditor does what they are told and what they are asked to do in the course of that tender. Let's not forget that auditor presents their report not here in the House, not to the members of this Legislature, but presents their report first and foremost to the Minister of Finance for review and consideration. Only until that Minister of Finance decides that everything looks good, everything is smooth, everything is cool, everything is copacetic with the message that they want to project to the people of Nova Scotia do we ever see those statements.

I am not saying that that accounting firm has done anything illegal or otherwise inappropriate in that matter. But as it has been suggested, that that accounting firm on the basis of the rules and regulations of practice of accountants in accounting follows those and comes in and basically adds up the numbers. They are the bean counters. They come in and they add up the numbers. They check the columns and they ensure that it all adds up in terms of the revenues and expenditures. They do not examine the decisions and the priorities and the practices of the government as to whether they are right or wrong or whether they fit in with generally accepted practices and policies in public administration. That is what the Auditor General does.

That is the difference, you see. That is the issue here. There is not an issue here of whether or not this column adds up or does not add up. The issue is whether the decision to stick $50.9 million in a year where it should not have been is appropriate. That is the issue.

What the Auditor General of Nova Scotia is saying is that on the basis of the policies of the Province of Nova Scotia those monies must be listed in the year they accrued and the year they were expended in order that Nova Scotians get a true picture of what the balance sheet is, of what the condition relative to the financial status of the Province of Nova Scotia is.

How are we, how are Nova Scotians, when you imagine - I talked about this earlier today. The big hoorah that the Province of Nova Scotia made about their balanced budget in 1996, last spring. I have a bunch of headlines here about how this government, and you remember, members of this House remember government members getting on their feet time and time again to pat themselves and the Minister of Finance on the back for this miracle, this financial miracle. What is becoming increasingly clear is that in order to achieve that miracle the government of Nova Scotia has stepped over the line.

[Page 988]

They have stepped over the line in order to meet their stated political objectives. The only reason why this is an issue is that the Minister of Finance and the Premier both said outside, oh, this is a tempest in a teapot. Wrong. This is very serious. What this gets to the heart of is whether or not this government can be trusted when they say that the books of this province are balanced or will be balanced. That is at issue. They told us that last year there was a $4 million surplus when in reality expenditures of $50.9 million for that year - in other words, $50.9 million that was spent in 1996-97 was not accounted for. Had it been so, they would not have had a balanced budget. They would have had a $46 million deficit. What would that have done to this government's plans and political platform about how they have been able to balance the budget.

This is wrong. The Premier and the Minister of Finance might want to call this a tempest in a teapot, but I believe very significantly that the very credibility of this province in relation to fiscal matters, plans for the future budget and for the future fiscal condition of this province has been seriously affected. I urge all members of this House to recognize that fact. That this is not a tempest in a teapot; it is in fact a crisis of confidence. We have to pay attention as members of this House as to what it is that we are feeding Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians have had enough betrayal from politicians, broken promises, commitments unkept and they are not going to stand idly by while a government, any government, by cooking the books, tries to present a fiscal situation in this province that does not exist. That is the issue here, Mr. Speaker, that is the problem we have at hand right now. I know that members of my caucus are very concerned, as I know many Nova Scotians are, about the kind of picture that is being painted.

[2:15 p.m.]

I call on the minister and I call on the Premier today to consider that credibility problem that now exists and to pull the budget back. That is not unprecedented; it was done in 1982 by Allan J. MacEachen. In that circumstance he brought in some increase in taxes to wealthy people in this country and they went nuts and got to the great Allan J. and he pulled his horns in, pulled the budget off the table, reworked the budget, brought it back and we have never seen an increase in taxes for wealthy individuals in this province since. We learned a lesson there, Mr. Speaker.

In other words, it is not unprecedented that a government would withdraw its budget and rework it and bring it back. I think that needs to be done here because there are some very significant questions, not only about what was done but about what this government has planned for this year in the coming budget; there are a lot of questions unanswered.

We need to deal with this issue and not - even though Nova Scotians will have the ultimate answer - leave it because we need to maintain some sense of credibility in this administration in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

[Page 989]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[2:17 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

[6:18 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Wayne Gaudet, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 1 - Residential Tenancies Act.

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

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 2 - Motor Vehicle Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

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

[Page 990]

We have now arrived at the moment of interruption, as was previously agreed by the House earlier today. The debate for this evening is:

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government be condemned for its Throne Speech to show any leadership to resolve the critical unemployment situation in Cape Breton.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I am here today to speak about an issue for which there is no easy answer and that issue is jobs. We, in this House, spend a great deal of time discussing the unemployment crisis in Cape Breton. But the people of Cape Breton Island, the nearly 18,000 who are without jobs, the families of these men and women are tired of broken promises, talk and political rhetoric. They simply want action.

After four years of Liberal Government, the action on job creation in Cape Breton has been noticeable only by its absence. In the spring of 1993, Liberal candidates, most of whom sit in this House today, campaigned far and wide in their constituencies but they weren't telling Cape Bretoners at that time that there were no easy answers to job creation. The Liberals didn't tell Cape Bretoners that there was not an overnight solution. Liberal MLAs were on the doorstep in 1993 saying, elect us, we will put you back to work, we have the answers. What specifically did they tell Cape Bretoners?

The Liberals told Cape Bretoners and I quote from the member for Richmond and now the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism who said in May 1993, "There is no issue bigger, no issue more important, than jobs.". Another statement from the same Minister of Economic Development was, "Without the jobs, all our programs are threatened. Jobs, roads, health care, education . . . will be important and those are the things that we hope to work on.".

Even though the Liberals knew full well the poor fiscal situation which this province was in, at no time did they say, we need to balance the budget before we create jobs. Tough times are ahead. There are no easy answers, but we will do what we can in light of the large provincial debt. That is not what they were saying.

[Page 991]

Since the Liberals assumed office in June 1993, all of the following numbers have become worse: employment, unemployment, and the labour force participation rate. The official unemployment rate in March 1997 stands at 27.4 per cent, the highest rate in Canada and that for the third consecutive month. In fact, Cape Breton has the distinction of setting a Canadian record for the highest unemployment rate in March.

To paraphrase a 1993 election comment from the member for Richmond, the Cape Breton Liberals campaigned in the last election on jobs, jobs, jobs. For the last four years the only things that the Liberals could deliver has been jobs, jobs, jobs to Liberal hierarchs. The cynicism that has been created by the Liberal election claims is nowhere more disturbing than in industrial Cape Breton. These Cape Bretoners now realize they were hoodwinked in 1993.

Unfortunately, the 17,700 Cape Bretoners who do not have jobs are not well connected Liberal high rollers. As the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism is so fond of saying, those are not my numbers. Those are numbers from Statistics Canada. As I mentioned earlier, Cape Bretoners want less talk and more rock on the issue of job creation.

There are measures that government can do to create jobs, if it has the political will to do so. The Minister of Economic Development and Tourism trumpeted last week the fact that there are 138 information technology companies on Cape Breton Island. Small companies each employing a few people and this is positive. Information technology is a good industry and with a proper infrastructure in place can be a new cornerstone for the future economy of Cape Breton, but only if the infrastructure is made complete.

Where is the fairness in handing out multimillion dollar loans and loan guarantees for high-tech companies to settle in Halifax if the same opportunity is not made available to Cape Bretoners? Halifax has the lowest unemployment rate east of Montreal and through commitment to OSP, Mentor, Keane and Newbridge so that they can set up shop in metro, the situation here improves, and these are good jobs. But where is the commitment to Cape Breton? What organization, comparable to the greater Halifax economic partnership, is working to provide a growth plan for the beleaguered Island? The cornerstones of coal, steel, the fishery, tourism and forestry no longer sustain the Island. This government has no visionary plan to build a new economy, no plan on which support dollars can be directed and provide ongoing benefit from public investment.

When are the Liberals going to promote the advantages of Cape Breton Island? Last week the Minister of Development talked about the great trade mission that he and the Premier had to Italy. The Minister of Development talked about the great leads for companies that might invest in Nova Scotia. Even though we have heard the same rhetoric from previous Liberal trade missions to Cuba, North Korea and China, I will accept the minister's comments at face value. When those Italian companies make the rounds this summer, the minister should remember Cape Breton's advantages and promote them. He should wave the same kind of incentives for Cape Breton that he waves for Halifax.

[Page 992]

The government is not using the University College of Cape Breton to its potential as a catalyst for growth. UCCB receives less provincial funding per capita than any university in Nova Scotia. Is that fairness? The multimillion dollar innovation program for university research announced by the federal government is targeted, for the most part, to larger institutions focusing on sciences. A new program like the MBA in community economic development at UCCB won't quality.

Last week this Liberal Government, the same people who campaigned in 1993 as defenders of education, as promoters of job creation, cut another $5 million from universities. Government cutback is the only area that the Liberals ensure Cape Bretoners receive their fair share.

The previous government takes plenty of knocks from the other side of the House, and some deservedly so, but the previous government committed to bringing new jobs to Cape Breton by offering a tax holiday for up to 12 years for any company establishing on the Island. Now that is how Newfoundland is slowly but surely attracting jobs and investment and probably why even that province's economy is in better shape than the Cape Breton economy.

There are other approaches to creating jobs. Father Greg MacLeod, a well-respected specialist in community economic development, has proposed tax credits for small business cooperatives. Father Greg, as he is known, doesn't just use community economic development as a buzzword, like this government did with 30-60-90, the government's miserable excuse for an economic development plan. Father Greg manages BCA Holdings, which is one of the few job creators on Cape Breton Island.

Mr. Speaker, I won't be going door-to-door in the next election with lavish promises of jobs, jobs, jobs; I won't be going talking about a job creation program like 30-60-90; I will be talking about a job creation approach coordinated, designed and orchestrated by the private sector, involving innovative tax measures, a realistic regulating umbrella and an education program preparing young people for jobs that really are out there. Cape Bretoners have had enough of politicians like that and are better for it.

I will say upfront to anyone who asks me, there are no easy answers but there are answers. There are solutions that, if taken, would result in Cape Breton taking steps forward instead of further steps backward. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased for the opportunity to rise and say a few words in relation to the resolution presented by the honourable Leader of the Opposition. I think he has rightly said that unemployment in the area is a disaster and I think he has also said that there is no easy solution to it, with which we all agree. I think we have to look at a little of the historical background. The people that I refer to are TFAs, those

[Page 993]

from away, who come in and promise everything in the world to the people of Cape Breton. I have to tell you what they promised was that as long as the money was there, they were there; as soon as the money was gone, they were gone.

[6:30 p.m.]

So, we know that the input for the solution to the economic problem in the Cape Breton area is not with those from away. I think everybody now feels very strongly that the solutions will come from the people who are there, and that is what I think is happening very slowly, but steadily. I think the Leader of the Opposition in his address mentioned that the IT companies, the information technology companies, coming to an area where we are and where we did not have any for a long time, and I think it is striving.

What I would like to do is to mention a few that are going in. This is through the influence of the University College of Cape Breton and I am not sure whether I misunderstood the Leader of the Opposition where he mentioned something that the university may not be functioning as best it can. I think it is doing a wonderful job and it is becoming better and better because there are influences going in to make the university more conducive.

In 1995, Fitzgerald Studios Sydney released the world-class CD ROM on the Fortress of Louisbourg which received great reviews. UCCB worked with Digital Image FX of Dartmouth to develop a 3-D browser for the worldwide web, currently one of the hottest elements on the Internet. The Cape Breton Community Network was established in the fall of 1995, to promote Cape Breton to the rest of the world and to provide Cape Bretoners with first-class access to the Internet. The network's home page was designed by two co-op students from the University College of Cape Breton. A virtual reality lab at the University College of Cape Breton was established in June 1994 and continues to grow and already includes such clients as MT&T and the federal Department of National Resources.

I think that slow and steady is the one that we are trying to do. There are no megaprojects that have come in. As I mentioned before, we tried all those. I'll bet that if somebody took the time to do research into the amount of money that went into these megaprojects, we would have been able to put everyone on the Island in retirement, a very good retirement. They came and they went and it was even that way with the steel and coal industries. I know in the coal industry that came in, as long as the coal was close and cheap, that company was there. Once it started going a little deeper and it was a little more expensive to come in and they had to have safety factors, they got out; the steel companies, the exact same. Those who were in for the short term were not ones that were going to help the university.

So, the key component at the University College of Cape Breton is the knowledge-based theories that they can put in, along with teaching the people. The hope for UCCB is

[Page 994]

progressive. What we are looking at is that the council on higher education have made a recommendation that the university may receive another $1 million in their allotment, and that is good, so that they will become an influence in creating an atmosphere in the Island that will be one that will show that there is some progress and that they can connect themselves to the other areas of the province, Canada and the world.

We may have to talk about coal again, just for a moment. We heard the announcement that there is an exploration going to happen on the Donkin Mine. I think, personally I am cautiously optimistic that this will be a success. In talking to some of the people who are involved in it, I hear that it will take maybe a year and a half or longer to find out whether it is viable. If it is viable, I understand that there may be 200 to 250 people put to work. That is good because the person handling the aspects of it, Steve Farrell, is a mining engineer. He has lived there. He has worked there and he has done studies. So I think that it may come about.

The steel industry, which is one of the other big areas in our section of the province, I think is kind of optimistic. The minister responsible for Sysco is very optimistic that the plant will be sold to the private sector who are those who are in the steelmaking business and will know how to run it and know how to market it. I would think that the optimism there may help.

Again, one of our biggest things on the Island is our tourism. Most people enjoy coming to the Cape Breton area for vacations or for visits or just to find out what is happening there. My understanding from my colleague who spoke earlier today is that there were 5,700 jobs created by tourism, approximately $72 million in wages, so that is good.

What we have to do is to try to diversify and I think that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism has asked people for suggestions. My understanding from listening in the House is that the New Democratic Party has suggested some. I have not seen them and I assume there are probably some areas that may be forthcoming.

Some of the new programs that I just received and probably everyone else received is the agreement from Ottawa and Nova Scotia on job training. Some of the ones I picked out targeted wage subsidies which will encourage hiring and provide on-the-job experience for people; targeted earning supplements will make work pay for individuals making the transition back to employment; self-employment assistance which will help businesses and create jobs for others.

There are some things that are happy. I just want to make sure that those who show a genuine interest in the industrial area of Cape Breton in particular suggest some alternates to what is happening now. In other words, ideas. Sometimes they are short on ideas but they have a lot of in-the-air sort of things because I have not heard any. I have been here for a while and I am just waiting to see those. It would be good to get some because I was talking

[Page 995]

to the chairman of the Cape Breton Economic Development Authority today and he has not received any. Those who have all the answers, I am sure they will pass on these suggestions. When the Leader of the Opposition spoke, he did not have any. He said he is not going to go around promising jobs. He is not promising them anything. From the time he stood up to the time he sat down, I did not hear a suggestion at all. So for him to get up and start talking about the answers for the unemployment area, I call him a TFA - those from away. That is not going to help us.

The people in the area will settle it. They are making progress. It is slow and it is steady. I think that is the way that the area will survive. Not by the amount of criticisms to say that it is no good. It is not a good place to go. That is all I hear. So no one will come and no one will want to invest. I think we have to have a positive image. There are some things happening. Not as quickly as a lot of other people would like to have it, but I have to tell you, I live there. It is going to be slow and steady and Cape Breton Island will flourish within a very short time.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: I will just pick up on the very last comment made by the member for Cape Breton Centre where he said that he is very confident that the economy of Cape Breton will be flourishing in the very near future.

I sincerely hope, Mr. Speaker, that his optimism is well founded. I have no hesitation in saying I am a come-from-away insofar as Cape Breton. I certainly have not lived in Cape Breton. I do not represent any part of Cape Breton nor, therefore, would I try to speak on behalf of the people of Cape Breton, other than to say that I believe that I share their view that Cape Breton is not only a beautiful place, a beautiful part of this province, but that it has tremendous amounts to offer to this province, to businesses that may wish to locate there and to the people.

Mr. Speaker, I agree somewhat with some of the other comments made by the member for Cape Breton Centre and, of course, there are no quick fixes. There are not. I would have to say that I agree that the solutions that have been imposed, or tried to be imposed, from come-from-aways, have not been largely successful. I would also go on to suggest, and I don't know if the member would agree with this or not, but, on far too many occasions, it would seem that some of these suggestions were more politically motivated than anything else.

I can remember, during my term in this House and going back even beyond that, how you would hear, for example, and I will just refer to the steel plant, every time there seemed to be an election rolling around, whether it was federal or provincial, some additional monies were being put into the plant and additional commitments and promises were made during the election campaign and then, of course, people would have to wait until the next election

[Page 996]

before different things started to happen yet again, rather than developing the long-term strategy and rather than making sure that it ran like an effective and efficient business, Mr. Speaker.

Regardless of what you are doing, whether we are talking about the steel plant, whether we are talking about Nova Scotia Power, which the former government privatized, parts of the problems were not that they were Crown Corporations, but there was too much political interference in not allowing for the businesses to be run in an effective and efficient businesslike manner.

Cape Breton unemployment, the official rate is 27 per cent. Instead of getting better, the rates are actually increasing. If the official rate is over 27 per cent, we can all imagine what the unofficial rate is in Cape Breton. It is probably close to 50 per cent. The current situation is completely unacceptable. It is unacceptable for any Nova Scotian. We cannot, we should not be content with that kind of situation. We have to try to assist the communities to develop and to develop the employment opportunities there.

The previous speaker talked about the tourism industry, and that is important and the jobs in the industry are important. He talked about how the tourism industry created 5,700 jobs in Cape Breton and that they generated $72 million worth of wages. Well, I did a very quick calculation on that. That means that the average wage then would be a little over $12,000. Those who are going to be receiving that $12,500 a year income, certainly are very appreciative of being able to make that amount of money, but that is not enough to be supporting a family, or even yourself. We cannot be and we must not be content with part-time jobs that provide or pay minimum types of wages.

There are some perceptions out there that Cape Breton is not a good place to do business because of tremendous labour unrest and so on. The reality is, Mr. Speaker, and I have not looked at anything in the last year or two, but the truth of the matter is that in terms of labour stability, labour stability on Cape Breton Island is higher than it has been on the mainland. Percentage of days lost due to strikes and other kinds of labour disputes has been lower on Cape Breton Island than on the mainland. That, I believe, is still the fact.

[6:45 p.m.]

When those who are saying or are trying to put forward that it is not a good place, not as stable, not a secure workforce - that is incorrect and we have to sell that strength. Also, what we have to be doing is providing more assistance to the communities. I am not going to stand here today and say what the solutions are. I am not going to be so arrogant to suggest that I, as a come-from-away, have all those solutions but I did attend a round table, a forum in Cape Breton that we hosted where residents of the community, those from the academic world, those from small business, those who are involved in the film industry, those who are involved in tourism, those from the native community and many other groups came

[Page 997]

around a table and shared ideas. They have concrete, solid ideas but what they need is some support to be able to bring them about.

The University College of Cape Breton has an excellent reputation and we have to be trying to encourage, foster and use the skills of the people who are there and the facilities that are there to a much greater extent than we have been doing. They can be facilitating and helping in the outreach to help community groups and organizations to expand. Certainly, there is no doubt that we are living in a changing world with changing technologies and therefore there isn't the need to locate in the main centres as once upon a time there was for employment.

This government has discarded the notion of transferring government jobs to Cape Breton. They say that you can't do that because that would mean uprooting families maybe from the metropolitan area. I wouldn't and our Party has not advocated that you go and transfer automatically or insist that certain individuals go back or move to Cape Breton in terms of the jobs, but if we as a government were to say that in the industrial region in Cape Breton there is going to be a particular department or particular segments transferred to that area, then you'd sit down and talk to the representatives of the workers, the unions.

Do you know in this area we have literally hundreds of Cape Bretoners working for the Public Service who would love to go home to Cape Breton. If we are guaranteeing job security to those workers and if we say there are going to be these positions located in Cape Breton and ask within the Public Service who would be interested in transferring home to Cape Breton, then I would suggest there are a lot of people here, people I have talked to, some people I know, who would dearly love to go back home if they were able to have their employment.

We talked about spin-off effects. If 200 government jobs, year round, good paying jobs, were transferred there, the multiplier effect throughout the community would be tremendous. That would then create employment in other areas. Nobody is being forced to take a transfer to uproot their families. It is a voluntary thing, like retirement. It would also mean that this area, which is receiving and the government has given tens of millions of dollars to come-from-away companies to locate here - we have a much stronger economy here. Nobody is suggesting we are going to devastate the economy in any area, but if we can diversify by spreading out some of the government presence and expenditures then surely we all benefit.

That is just one as a person from this area that I would suggest as one potential. But the people of the Island of Cape Breton have many other ideas. I know my time has run out but I would welcome the opportunity to discuss these points in much greater detail on a future occasion. Thank you.

[Page 998]

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank all the honourable members for having taken part in tonight's late debate.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 134.

Res. No. 134, re: Fin.- Expenditure Add.: Health/Justice - Approval - notice given Apr. 22/97 - (Hon. W. Gillis)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, Resolution No. 134:

"Therefore be it resolved that a sum not exceeding $139,479,000 be granted to the Lieutenant Governor to defray expenses in respect to the following matters: Department of Health - $124,115,000; Department of Justice - $15,364,000; total - $139,479,000.".

Mr. Speaker, before I conclude my remarks, I will table some detail on those particular expenditures, to help all members as they consider this particular resolution.

I rise in my place to speak on an important provision in Nova Scotia law. Our government's Expenditure Control Act requires us to seek legislative approval for significant increases in government spending. This is the third such resolution under this Act. The Expenditure Control Act requires the government to meet spending targets. For 1996-97 these limits were exceeded once the government made a decision to put more money into the province's health care system and to make additional provisions for payments to the victims of abuse.

The benefit of this legislation is that we have an opportunity to explain to all honourable members why the extra spending was required and to have this House approve these extra monies.

Mr. Speaker, the largest expenditures, as I said, were in the Department of Health. Our province's health care system needed more money than originally planned in almost every area. From home care to hospitals, we were able to put more money into the system as the

[Page 999]

year went on. The additional funds were identified in several stages. Each time we were convinced that the expenses in other areas were going down and general government revenues were up, each time this happened we made another commitment to health.

As we neared the end of the fiscal year, we made a final commitment to the health care budget to clear up a series of long-standing problems. In the past the hospitals had made certain assumptions about the amount of money they would receive, for example, from third parties. The government also made some assumptions on the savings that would result from the agreement with the Medical Society. These assumptions may or may not hold true but there is enough doubt that a prudent course of action requires us to make provision in case they do not. That is what reserves are all about.

Good solid accounting practice requires any organization to recognize expenses and losses as soon as they reasonably can be predicted to come true. This is the way any business operates and this is how governments need to operate, too. A provision for doubtful accounts is at the heart of any prudent accounting system. The money has been spent, the liability is present. The only issue is how much of it may be recovered, how much money may be required. Because we are not sure, we make a provision now. This, Mr. Speaker, is the right thing to do. You always prepare for the worst. That is the way we operate, that is the way accountants want us to operate.

A similar situation has arisen within the Department of Justice. We know that people were abused while they were under the care of the province. We know that they need to be compensated and receive counselling. We can estimate the cost now. The money must be paid. We need to make provisions for that expense, even though the actual payment will come later on. Again, this is proper accounting, this is good accounting. We believe that is prudent to prepare for the worst while we are still expecting the best. The balance of probabilities says that we may have some problems, so our attitude is to let us recognize them now. We will not tuck them away and carry on as if they do not exist.

The issue of when to account for expenses has been subject to some controversy lately, as some honourable members would recall. A difference of opinion has resulted, but what does it really mean to Nova Scotia? Is this a matter of government pretending a problem does not exist? Is this a matter of a government, for example, in the past selling off a $200 million asset and pretending that reduces the deficit? That is what the previous governments did - the Government of Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Cameron. It sold Nova Scotia Power and then it tried to tell Nova Scotians - look we are closer to balancing the books, as if they had a power company to sell every year - $200 million indeed.

Then, look at the Teachers' Pension Fund liabilities. Look at all the money that was spent off the books. Look at the Auditor General's criticisms for years. Look at what the then Auditor General had to say about how the government in the 1980's failed to get the deficit under control. Look at the way the Buchanan-Cameron Governments drove up the debt. It

[Page 1000]

took us three years to get the yearly deficit under control. The deficit peaked, as all honourable members would know, to their sorrow, at $617 million a year in 1992-93, the last year of the Tory Regime. The result helped to push the net debt of the province to $8.7 billion, as of one year ago. Look at the consequences of that and tell me what is more important, billions and billions in debt, or a prudent and proper decision to account for $51 million in spending commitments and contracts upfront? Which is the better way to do business? (Applause) The truth will make them free, they do not like to hear it.

In the four years that we have been in government we have made far more progress than the Buchanan-Cameron Governments did in 15. The honourable members across have a lot to answer for. We have tried to put our problems behind us. We have taken a forward-looking approach, a realistic approach. We do not hide problems. We deal with them, and then we move on. The only issue for us, Mr. Speaker, is how quickly we can move on.

In the case of the items up for debate today and I know we will stay in the general area of the resolution, these sums were not known at the time we presented our original budget in the spring of 1996. Once again, I want to stress that, when we made the decisions to put more money toward health care, we did so with the full knowledge that we had the money to do so without having to borrow. We made the decision to spend more, knowing we could afford to do so.

This is an important point, Mr. Speaker. The Act allows us to spend more with accountability and that is what this resolution is all about. Our policy is to spend more if we can do so without jeopardizing the fiscal stability of this province. As our economy grows, we can make responsible and prudent commitments to program spending. We can meet the need for better programs, and the need to find the money to pay for them. This kind of accountability means our government remains firmly grounded in reality, not the deficits and debt of the crowd that was on this side of the House for 15 years, to our sorrow.

[7:00 p.m.]

I also want to point out that much of this extra spending will not come as news to honourable members. Last summer, we first flagged the need to put more money into the health care system, and who can dispute that. On August 8, 1996, I released the financial report for the previous fiscal year, 1995-96. At that time, I said that the Minister of Health was working on a plan to increase the budget without affecting our overall fiscal plan.

On September 19, 1996, we told Nova Scotians that we had committed an additional $64 million to health care, an important commitment. We told them that the money would be used primarily for hospitals, payments to doctors, Pharmacare and home care. We said the funding came from savings on debt charges, as well as a series of government decisions to defer or delay some non-essential spending. An additional $21 million was committed to the

[Page 1001]

department later on in the year and the final $39 million reserve was established as we prepared the final accounts for the year ending March 31, 1997.

Mr. Speaker, I now wish to table, and I have copies for all honourable members, a chart on where the extra money went so people will know - this is accountability - so that all members might understand why the measures that we took responsibly were necessary. This was a careful, planned infusion of money into our health care system. It was a responsible thing to do, once we discovered we had the resources to do so. I think this is important for all members to understand. We have not come up with the extra money as part of some gift from Ottawa. This is sustainable funding because it is money that is funded from our own provincial sources, our own source revenues.

The last time we came to this House on this type of a resolution, the issue of equalization payments came up in debate, transfer payments. Some of the honourable members opposite seemed to think that all of our efforts over the past four years have been for nothing. They seem to think that equalization has bailed us out at every turn. Wrong. I would like to review, for all honourable members, some of the facts of the matter.

For planning purposes, Mr. Speaker, in the early days of our government when we had to make the most painful decisions, we had to deal with less money from Ottawa, not more. In later years, I admit, the forecasts on equalization have been somewhat more optimistic. But the reality has been a relatively modest growth in equalization over the life of our government.

Now that the members opposite are waking up, I want to refer to the last fiscal year, before the change in government. The final numbers for equalization came in at $908 million for the fiscal year 1992-93. That is a good baseline to work from, $908 million. Four years later, we were expecting that number to grow to $1.133 billion. That is an increase of $225 million over a four year period. Very impressive. Very good. Not $0.5 billion, of course, but, Mr. Speaker, a number totally out of context. In the same period, we actually saw it dip down to as low as $889 million. We actually slipped in year two of our government, the 1994-95 fiscal year. Once again, when we had to make the very difficult decisions, our equalization payments from Ottawa were not growing at all. We had to plan on reaching a balanced budget by ourselves.

What challenges did we face? We had to overcome a deficit of $617 million. So, eventually we saw some growth in equalization, but how much help is $225 million when you have to make up $617 million? Mr. Speaker, that is just the straight shortfall on ordinary spending and capital spending. It does not include any of the problems that show up as a result of foreign borrowing, or pension fund shortfalls or any of the other things the previous government had put under the carpet for so many years.

[Page 1002]

Mr. Speaker, if you will indulge me for a moment, I will take you back to another period of time when a similar increase in equalization payments took place. The time was April 1987 when equalization was estimated to be $654 million for the 1987-88 fiscal year. Then, let us skip ahead to February 1991 when the government of the day was preparing the budget for 1991-92. That was four years later. Equalization was expected to come in at $970 million. That was an increase of $316 million. So, of course, we would have expected the government of that day to handily balance its books that year.

No problem, Ottawa would have bailed out the former government. But what did happen in 1991-92? An increase in the net direct debt of $545 million. Imagine. (Interruptions) Equalization soars and yet the previous government had let the debt go out of control. So, when the members opposite want to say we have balanced the books on a wave of largesse from Ottawa, I suggest they examine their own record first, then look at the facts.

We used equalization to help us balance the books. We did not squander the money. Our predecessors used equalization increases, but they frittered away opportunities to balance the budget. They used more money from Ottawa and then piled on more debt, more red ink. That is history. Those are the facts. But we are here today and today the rules permit increased spending. If you spend more money than authorized under the Expenditure Control Act however, you must be prepared to justify it to the House, as I am doing tonight. In addition, you should make sure you can afford to spend more without borrowing the cash.

In drawing my remarks to a conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I note once again that the money we allocated to health care, an important area, is precisely the kind of contingency that the Expenditure Control Act anticipated. Our government determined that the original budget for health care was insufficient. Our government made extra provisions within our fiscal capacity. I now come before this House to ask that this action be approved. In closing, I respectfully ask that this be done. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: The honourable Minister of Finance has already read the Therefore be it resolved clause of the resolution that we have before us. He has pointed out that the reason for this particular resolution being before us is the fact that he overshot his expenditures in the fiscal year ended March 31, 1997. He did rather well, actually. He overshot it by $139 million. In particular, in the Department of Health the estimates of expenditures was in excess of 10 per cent of the total budget for that department.

The minister is going to tell us that we did all kinds of good things with the extra additional appropriations to the Department of Health. I think, Mr. Speaker, we have to have a little bit of history here. We had a Minister of Finance who put the clamps on every department including the Department of Health when he took over that portfolio back in

[Page 1003]

1993. He put on the clamps so hard that he virtually destroyed the Department of Health. The minister who was in that portfolio at the time kept pleading with the Minister of Finance, at least give me some more money to keep the system operating while we set up this alternative system that I want to set up, that is the former Minister of Health speaking. The Minister of Finance of the day said, no, you have a budget, live with it. As we know the Minister of Health at that time was unable to live with it so in 1994-95 he came forward with an extra appropriation in those years.

We get on to 1996 when the Minister of Finance, to his horror, found that he was transferred to the Ministry of Health. He walked in the door, saw what he had wrought and promptly goes back and taps the new Minister of Finance on the shoulder and says, look, I can't live with what I have got. Now this present Minister of Finance being a very friendly sort of fellow turned around and said, how much do you want Bernie? Bernie said, another $60 million or so would help. And he said, I will tell you how you are going to get it, without any problem, you don't have to worry about it at all, we will take if from some of the other departments that are over-funded.

Now for Heaven's sakes, if this Minister of Finance was such a great manager of his department, such a great manager of the accounts of this province, he would have already recognized when he came in with a budget originally in 1996-97 that some of the departments were over-funded and some were under-funded. But he didn't wake up to that fact until he was faced with a real problem when he took over the Department of Health.

The reason that we have this resolution before us is not only because of the fact that the Minister of Finance over-shot his budget by $139 million, it is here because we have a piece of legislation which this government brought in which is called the Expenditure Control Act. This Act came into this House, I believe, in the fall of 1993 and it was one of the crown jewels of the legislative program that this government had. They told us that so we believed them, this was one of the crown jewels.

The idea of the original Act in 1993 was the control of expenditures. As part of that expenditure control program, I would just like to read briefly what was in that original Act. These are, "Operating expense reductions for 1994-95 and 1995-96.". It says, "In each of the 1994-95 and 1995-96 fiscal years of the Province the amount appropriated by the Legislature for net program operating expenditures shall be at least three per cent less than the amount appropriated by the Legislature in the preceding fiscal year.". What does that mean? That means that if indeed they spent, we'll say, $100 million in 1994-95 - they spent much more than that - then in year 1995-96 they couldn't spend $100 million they had to spend 3 per cent less than that which would be $97 million. I think that is pretty plain and the same thing applied to the capital expenses.

[Page 1004]

However, they left themselves a very small window that they could escape under and what that escape window was and I will just read this, it is very short. This is an operating expense exception for 1994-95 and 1995-96 and it simply says, "Notwithstanding subsection (1) of Section 5, " - that was the piece I just read a moment ago - "an amount may be expended for net program operating expenditures that is no more than 2 per cent less than the amount appropriated by the Legislature in the preceding fiscal year, but the amount expended that is in excess of that amount . . . shall be added to the next fiscal year to the reduction required by this Act.".

[7:15 p.m.]

Now I am not going to jump up and say that this is the greatest piece of legislation that ever came into this Legislature but, actually, it was a start on accomplishing something that I think is worthwhile pursuing, and that is a balanced budget and to make the government accountable for coming into the Legislature at the beginning of the fiscal year with an honest budget, a budget that truly reflects what the government is going to expend during that year. It doesn't include massive amounts of money that they can pump up and pump down as elections roll around, and we get into post-election periods when they can withdraw money. So that wasn't a bad piece of legislation, at least it was a start.

However, Mr. Speaker, this Act was only in place actually for 1993-94, et cetera, and we get into 1995-96 and we find we have an amendment to the Act. What do they do in 1996 to the Expenditure Control Act? Well, you see things are not going quite the way they wanted them to go, so they changed things a little. We now have, for greater certainty, this part, and this is the amendment of the 1995-96 year, Part II of it says - and this was Part II that I was referring to in the original Act - for greater certainty this part applies to 1996-97 and subsequent fiscal years of the province. Now this is the way it reads now, under this particular piece of work, "In each and every fiscal year of the Province commencing with 1996-97 fiscal year, the amount appropriated by the Legislature for net capital expenditures and net program operating expenditures shall not exceed the amount of revenue forecast to be received by the Minister for that fiscal year.".

In other words, it has no relationship at all to the previous year; it has no relationship at all to cutting back on program expenditures. It simply says that if you have the revenues, you can go ahead and expend it. As you remember of course, Mr. Speaker, this government always managed to find a little bit of extra revenue because they had the extra money coming in, in spite of what the minister says, from equalization. They received about $500 million to $600 million additional, over and above what they would normally have received under equalization over the past two or three years. So we had that Act; that was the amendment to the Act.

[Page 1005]

Now this year we find we have another piece of legislation that comes along, called An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. I know I can't debate this bill, but I just want to tell you that in this particular bill that we have before us - and we are still in, I think it is in Law Amendments Committee at the present time - we have another amendment to the Expenditure Control Act. Are these guys ever going to get this thing right? I don't think so. They are going to continue to amend this Act until there is no Act there at all, until there is no expenditure control.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what they have done in this past fiscal year is overshot the budget by $139 million, we are told in this particular document that we had for a resolution. However, for the benefit of those who don't read Orders in Council, there are some very interesting Orders in Council around. I would like to touch on a couple of those that are not referred to in this particular piece of legislation we have here. They only have to come forward to this Legislature with certain pieces or certain extra appropriations in order to accommodate the Expenditure Control Act. They don't tell you about the other over-expenditures that they have had during the year.

For instance, in this resolution that we have here for $139 million, we have an Order in Council dated April 22, 1997. That is not all that long ago, is it? In fact I believe that was last Thursday. What did they do down in the Cabinet Room last Thursday? Well, they had a few extra appropriations they pushed through. The Department of Community Services, well, we will give them an additional $5,500,000; the Department of Education and Culture, we will give them another $15,336,000; Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs, another $2.8 million; Public Inquiry for the Westray Mine another $750,000 and so on.

This particular resolution that we have here is just a part of the extra appropriation for the year. Let me touch on a couple of others, it is in the book, right (Interruption) well, you would think so, wouldn't you, but however it is not. We are going to get to the estimates in a minute. Back in, what is a good date for this one? February 25, 1997, well that one is about 40 days ago and this was a little bit of chicanery that went on because this is when we had the shuffle, the money shuffle from one department to the other. What they did in order to accommodate those particular departments that had overspent, they went to those departments that were still underspent for the fiscal year and started grabbing money from them. Maybe they were not underspent, but whether they were or not, point of fact is that we are going to have to cut back to accommodate the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Health.

For instance, they took for other purposes $91,000 from Agriculture and Marketing. That must have made the Minister of Agriculture pretty happy, I would imagine. Business and Consumer Services, they nicked the minister for $546,000; the Department of Fisheries they took $86,000 from them; the Department of Human Resources they took $7,000; they took $30,000 from the Department of Labour; they took $3,000 from Communications Nova Scotia; they took $7,000 from the Minister of Technology and Science Secretariat and that

[Page 1006]

must have been a real hassle; and they took $276,000 from the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

When you think about this, at the beginning of the year they said that these funds were needed by those particular departments to run their affairs. Did the Minister of Finance give them too much money? Did the respective ministers ask for too much money? Were they wildly out of line? I do not know, but I will tell you something, it is not very good financial management. Having nicked all these people, all these ministers for that amount of money, they then turn around and they give a few bucks away.

The Minister of the Environment was fortunate, he picked up another $32,000, that is not a great deal, but still it is nice to have. The Minister of Finance took $243,000 of this money that he has nicked off other departments. The Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs got $308,000; the Minister of Natural Resources got $220,000 and the Economic Development and Tourism picked up $371,000.

What I am getting at is the fact that last year we had a Budget Book like this one, which happens to be for 1997-98, but that is beside the point, the book looks the same. It has the same red cover, it has the same binding and around about the same number of pages, but however, the numbers that appeared in this Estimates Book, when we were debating it back in March or April, whenever it was in 1996, were not correct. You can have a little bit of play, but this was grossly out of line and that is why today we are sitting in here looking at an extra appropriation of $139 million and knowing that there are other millions of dollars in those particular OICs that I was just reading from.

AN HON. MEMBER: There will be more.

MR. RUSSELL: There may well be more. These people, I tell you, it is very hard. I would like to have faith in this Minister of Finance. I would like to have faith, but he has been so wrong so often that I am afraid I am beginning to lose the faith.

When we entered fiscal 1996, I don't know, Mr. Speaker, you were not in the Chair at the time, but in fiscal 1996, on April 2nd, boy we were just over the hoops and we were into fiscal 1996-97.

The Minister of Finance came in with a document just like this. He was looking for an additional sum of money for the Department of Justice. I think our present Minister of Finance at that time was the Minister of Justice. So I am sure he is well aware of the fact that there was one of these documents that came in on April 2nd, just after the fiscal year finished in 1995-96. I believe it was $32 million or $33 million, something of that order, that was going to the Department of Justice for victims of abuse. There was also $26 million which was going to the Minister of Education for restructuring costs. There was a whole bunch of other ones, too. I think there was a total of about $60-odd million in that particular one.

[Page 1007]

Mr. Speaker, when you go back in history and look over how well they have done in budgeting, I am sorry; they get an E, and it is an E-minus. That is bad, but the worst possible thing, in my mind anyway, is the fact that they took money for the 1995-96 budget and moved it into the 1996-97 budget. The Auditor General has spoken about the capital, the movement of approximately $50 million of capital from 1995-96 into 1996-97. He did not mention, unfortunately, to my mind anyway, the fact that there was also a large sum from operating of approximately $56 million or $57 million that they set up in a trust fund, a contingency fund, a sum of money to be stashed away to be expended at whim, from the 1995-96 budgetary year and moved it into 1996-97.

The Finance Act, Mr. Speaker, is very clear. You can have extra appropriation to expend for debts and costs and other things that are incurred in that fiscal year. They were not doing that. They were taking the money from that year. They were not trying to hide the fact of what they were doing. They just took that sum of money and moved it into 1996-97. We debated that at some length in this House but, however, they went ahead and did it.

They did the same with capital, but fortunately for the people of Nova Scotia, we have an Auditor General who when he took a look at what this government had done with regards to the capital side, he said, no, it is wrong, you cannot do it. He took their numbers and said, I am sorry, but what you are calling a $2 million surplus is actually a $48 million deficit. Can you imagine? Just like that, they created a surplus for 1996-97 of $2 million. How did they do it? They just moved $50 million. Simple. Creative. That is wonderful. Leonardo Da Vinci was creative. I don't think the present Minister of Finance is a Leonardo Da Vinci, but boy, I tell you, he is creative when it comes to numbers. He can really work the numbers.

Mr. Speaker, the difficulty is, of course, when you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar, you have a bit of a problem. This minister realized he had a bit of a problem, so he calls on one of his spin doctors to fix it up. Today, we were treated, this morning or early this afternoon, to the minster telling us all about how all of this came about. I am sorry. It was not the Minister of Finance, it was the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism who gave us the explanation of how all this took place.

[7:30 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: How was that?

MR. RUSSELL: It was rather complicated and you are not really supposed to ask about details. It just happened. (Interruption) Anyway, some might call it hocus-pocus, but I am sure that the Minister of Finance would not call it hocus-pocus. He would probably call it good management and probably from his point of view it was pretty good management.

[Page 1008]

It is surprising. I was speaking a few minutes ago about how when you are budgeting for the province or for a business or for anything else, at the beginning of your fiscal year, you derive a set of numbers. If you are a good manager, a good fiscal manager, you try to abide by that budget because if you do not, then the chances are that at the end of the fiscal year you are going to end up in the hole.

They have had a lot of difficulty in the past getting to that final number. It is very interesting. When you look at their budget for 1997-98 - and I will tell you, it is something else - you find that they have got their revenues and they have got their expenditures and everything looks copacetic until you get to the bottom of Ordinary Revenue, that is, about Page 2.3 which is Ordinary Revenues which come into the Department of Finance.

When you have a fund, like your father might die and set up a fund to put you through school, say four years of university or maybe seven years if you want to be a doctor of geology or something. (Interruptions) Yeah, a rock doctor. And your father sets up a trust fund and he says, you are going to go to university for four years. I am going to put $60,000 in that trust fund and when you reach age 21 and become of age and you are going to university, you can withdraw every year that you are at university from that trust fund, $15,000 a year, and that will get you through university.

Now that is the way most fathers would set up a trust fund. However, our father up there in Ottawa, Jean Chretien, set up a trust fund for this province to carry us through four years of transition from the GST to the HST or the BST, whichever you want to call it. I like the BST better. He set up this block of money and he said, that is your transition fund for the next four years. Now, it says something about how wise our father in Ottawa is. He did not put any strings on this. He just said go ahead and blow it, folks. If you want to spend it all in year one, go ahead. In fact you can start spending it before the HST even comes in. (Interruptions) Yeah, how about that? You do not feel any effects until April 1st, 1997, but if you want to, I am going to put this money in your bank account on January 1st and if you want to start spending it, go right ahead.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is for doubtful accounts.

MR. RUSSELL: That is for doubtful accounts, right. So they have this trust fund. Shall I call it a trust fund? I mean, this government is very familiar with trust funds, so for want of a better word I will call it a trust fund.

There is $249 million in there. Well, Mr. Speaker, you work that out and divide it by four - I know it is quite a complicated sum - but it comes to about $60 million a year, plus or minus, with a little bit of interest on top of it. Anyway, you would think that a government that had any common sense, you would think that a government that was looking after this money on behalf of the public of Nova Scotia - it is not their money, it is not federal money,

[Page 1009]

this money belongs to the people of Nova Scotia. They are the ones who are getting dinged with the extra cost of the HST. I would just love to get into this. Well, I will tomorrow.

Anyway, $60 million, maybe $65 million would be acceptable but what do they do? Well, let's have a look. This says $118,600,000. Don't forget the $600,000, I mean that is a pretty fair chunk of change too. That is around about $50 million to $60 million more than he should take. What does that mean? That means that if they do the same thing next year we are broke, we no longer have a transition fund but we are still on the transition railroad. If next year they expend a total in excess of their normal revenues such as they did this year, I shouldn't say in excess of their normal revenues but in excess of the budgeted amount that they had, they will need another $150 million. Where would they find that, I wonder? Well, if you look under federal compensation for harmonization and you take $118 million from $249 million, well you have still got, what, $115 million, $116 million, $120 million or something. Well, that will take care of some of it anyway. I guess they will rely on getting the rest from the federal government through equalization.

This is not budgeting, this is chicanery. It is putting into a document something that I don't think they even believe in themselves. Have you noticed how all of a sudden right around this province all kinds of things are happening? We are going to pave some roads, we are going to give $9 million to Orenda or something, we are going to give some money down here, some money over there, not too much coming down my way, mind you.

AN HON. MEMBER: They just paved your roads.

MR. RUSSELL: My paving has all turned to gravel I will have you know. You guys haven't patched a road since you came to power.

There seems to be all of a sudden a lot of found money. I don't know where they found this money. I don't see anything in the budget that shows they have all of these bucks, I don't know where they are coming from. I read that press release yesterday about Orenda. Orenda was a favourite company of John Diefenbaker's, they were building the engines for the Avro Arrow. It is kind of an old firm but they certainly know how to work the system because when they were building the Arrow they were making a few bucks and then they sort of went into other kinds of business and made a few bucks, but everything they seemed to do required some government money to get them going.

We are not talking about a new industry coming to Nova Scotia, we are talking something more like a Clairtone. Remember Clairtone? That came to Nova Scotia, that was on old Ontario firm that came down here. Now Orenda is coming down here, I think it is great but I just hope you guys know what you are doing.

[Page 1010]

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you have any confidence they do?

MR. RUSSELL: I sometimes have confidence in the Civil Service that provides advice to them but, unfortunately, I don't think they listen to the advice given to them by the Civil Service because this is election time. As the former Minister of Finance said, this is fun times, this is going to be a fun year. Well, I don't think they are going to have much fun this year, Mr. Speaker. I think I know what your politics are and to be quite honest I can't see much fun for these people sitting opposite this year. In fact, I think it is going to be rather a disastrous year for them.

One of the other things that I would like to touch upon in talking about the way in which this government keeps information to themselves (Interruption) No, I am going to talk about a release that came out yesterday from the Department of Finance. That release was about a poll they did on the BST.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is on the front page of the paper today.

MR. RUSSELL: That is the one. You know I received a call from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on, I think it was Monday or Tuesday night. Quite late at night I got a call from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald and the reporter on the other end said, Mr. Russell, there is a poll that has just been released by the government with regard to the HST, have you seen it? I said no, I have not. Well, he said they have released it and the strange thing about it is that there is only one item in it that is fairly favourable to the government and they highlighted that item but there are about 30 or 40 different other items where they are just thumbs down. Are you in favour of this? No, 60 per cent; are you in favour of this? No, 67 per cent, et cetera.

I said isn't that funny now because about two weeks ago, Mr. Speaker, I sent to all the departments of government a freedom of information request for all the polls done by the various departments.

AN HON. MEMBER: Paid for by whom? By taxpayers, I will bet you.

MR. RUSSELL: You mean the polls, oh yes. Well, anyway, we got back a number of very interesting responses but I never got one back from the Department of Finance. They came back and said to me that it would require more time. Therefore, they asked if they could delay their response to the freedom of information request by one week. That was just last week, in fact I believe it was last Wednesday or last Thursday.

On Monday of this week they released something to the media and they sent me a copy today. The only reason that that government put that out was simply because of the fact that they knew somebody else was going to put it out. They didn't come into this House and say whoops, the people of Nova Scotia don't like the BST, they didn't come into this House

[Page 1011]

and say that the majority of people in this province don't like the effects of the BST on those essential items they must buy, such as fuel oil, gasoline, electricity, clothing for their kids, books and what have you. They were not going to tell anybody about that particular item.

The same thing, the same kind of shadowy transactions are occurring with regard to our budget. I would like the minister to explain to this House and to the people of Nova Scotia exactly where all these funds are and how much money is in all these funds. For instance, we have a contingency fund, we are told, in Education; we have a contingency fund in Justice; we have a contingency fund in, I think it is Community Services, I am not sure but there are several of them anyway with contingency funds. On top of that we have this other item in here which is called (Interruption) I know, there are so many that you just cannot remember them all, you have to make a list or else have somebody put them on a computer for you.

Anyway, we have in our budget this year an item which tells us that there is approximately $31 million in restructuring - $31.5 million allotted for restructuring costs, which includes some little funds set up for various things. (Interruption) Yes, you might say that, and contract negotiations and a few things like that. There are those funds.

We are told in this item that we have here from the minister, which he just tabled tonight, that we have - labour adjustment strategy, there is $5.7 million in that fund. Now that is separate, as you can understand, from this other one over here. We have a reserve for doubtful accounts of $39 million which, by the way, really interests me, Mr. Speaker, because this government owes the Hants Community Hospital $300,000, and I have to get that in, and on top of that they have to repay that $300,000 that they ripped out of the trust fund of the hospital. They took $600,000.

AN HON. MEMBER: They can't afford the doubtful accounts write-offs.

MR. RUSSELL: Well actually I put them down at the Hants Community Hospital as being a doubtful payee. I mean I haven't got much faith in these guys.

[7:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the whole problem is that we on this side of the House, excluding those people to my right, really don't believe this budget and we have good reason not to believe this budget. We have got the reason that the Auditor General, who is the best judge of the whole works, is not agreeing with it. We have got the people of Nova Scotia who are saying, show me. There seems to be all kinds of good things happening.

There was a man-in-the-street interview on television, I think it was the night before last, and they were asking people about the budget and what they thought about it. They said, we don't believe it. How can we go from one day being dead broke. We have no money to

[Page 1012]

spend and, all of a sudden, somebody puts the printing presses in operation and we have all kinds of money. I wonder how wisely it is being spent, Mr. Speaker?

As I say, I would love to see a revised budget, say at the end of this month when the federal campaign is just starting and then take a look at what the real expenditures are going to be and what the real revenues are going to be. My worry, and I am sure it is a worry of everybody in this province . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: It is called fear.

MR. RUSSELL: It is a fear. It is a fear on many subjects, health care, which I will come to later, but the fear out there, Mr. Speaker, is that they know how this government operates. This government operates on making statements and promises and then, when things work their way for a little while, jumping up and just turning around. They are the masters of the flip-flop. We can all remember, I am sure, back to the red book of 1993, and I don't mean the federal red book, I mean the provincial red book. They had a red book too and it was just a-hoppin'. It had something for everybody. There was not a problem in this province that they couldn't solve.

The funny thing was, they knew what the debt of this province was and, if they didn't, ask that person, ask the present Minister of Finance. He was the Finance Critic in the Opposition and he knew what the debt was. The present Minister of Health, the previous Minister of Finance, he knew what it was, but that didn't stop them. They came out with a red book about that thick of promises. They were going to solve the problems in forestry, agriculture, fisheries and health. You name it. They had the answer, even including education. Boy, things were going to happen. (Interruption)

You know something, Mr. Speaker, that wise commentator on political events, Jim Nunn - you all know Jim Nunn - spoke to the present Premier and he said, Mr. Savage, I have this red book here and there are all kinds of promises in there. He said, how are you going to pay for it? Mr. Savage said, oh, well, we will do a little streamlining here and a little streamlining there, a little reform. We will do a little of this and a little of that and it will be okay. Jim Nunn said, well, aren't you going to raise taxes?

AN HON. MEMBER: He said that to your Premier first, didn't he?

MR. RUSSELL: I don't care what he said to my Premier. I know what he said to John Savage and my Premier isn't Premier right now. We have John Savage as Premier and John Savage was asked the question. What did John Savage say? No new taxes. No taxes. No tax increases. He was definite and he had that red book in his hand. He knew what he had promised. As I say, he promised to cure every problem that we have in this province, including unemployment. You know, unemployment, people who have no jobs.

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Back in 1993, all provinces in Canada were suffering from a recession that started off in about 1990, 1990 to 1993. They were the recession years. Unemployment in Nova Scotia, I will admit, in 1993 was unacceptably high. It was 58,000 people unemployed.

AN HON. MEMBER: How did we compare with the other provinces?

MR. RUSSELL: I will come to that later, too.

There were 58,000 out there looking for jobs, but the Savage Liberals said, that is no problem, we know there are 58,000 people out of work. Within 30 days, we are going to start a process that within 90 days will have 58,000 working. Can you imagine that? Can you believe it? That is what the Premier said. He was going to step from 30 to 60, but in 30 days they were going to put together a group of experts, they were mainly backbenchers, I guess, and 90 days later, all these problems that caused unemployment in the province would vanish and we would have people back to work.

AN HON. MEMBER: They met in Digby and the government paid for them to go, too.

MR. RUSSELL: They met all over the place. They met in Antigonish, they met in Sydney and they had fairly big crowds and actually, just after the election, people still believed that this government was going to do something. It seemed that they were scurrying around, they were doing all kinds of things and people thought they were busy and something good is going to happen. Well, what happened? It was a very damp squib because, three months later, we have the Minister of Finance standing up in the House and saying we are out of money and we are going to have to increase taxes.

How about your promise Mr. Minister, in your red book? Well, we did not mean that. We did not know how bad things were; we have all kinds of problems to solve. The people said they are going to tax us more, but they are still going to solve our unemployment problems. The 30-60-90 had gotten to the 90 day stage and, all of a sudden, it fizzled and went down the tubes, it ran completely out of gas. There was one final meeting and they turned off the lights and that was the end of the 30-60-90 program. I do not know what the 30-60-90 program cost them, but I can imagine somebody made a buck or two out of it.

AN HON. MEMBER: The contract wasn't even tendered.

MR. RUSSELL: I don't think it was, no. I mean, that would not be fair, though, because a Liberal might not get the job. You have to be fair about this (Interruptions) Anyway, the 30-60-90 program goes down the tubes - a couple of people made some money out of it, a couple of people got a job out of it; that was not bad for those people, but the rest came to nothing - and we had the increase in taxes. Then people started to notice something. They started to notice that their hospitals were going downhill. It did not take too long. If you

[Page 1014]

broke your leg, you pretty soon found out. (Interruptions) The Minister of Health of the day . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: The member for Queens?

MR. RUSSELL: No, he was not the member for Queens, he was the member from North Sydney, he said not to worry, we are going through reform and we are going to change things. We are going to have in place the best home care system in the world. People will flock to Nova Scotia to discover how you are doing so well in Nova Scotia with regard to health care. The Minister of Health . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Where is he now, by the way?

MR. RUSSELL: He is in California, making movies. He is making educational movies on how to solve problems in health care systems. It is sort of a comedy show.

This is not really a joking matter because the Minister of Health, in his enthusiasm, destroyed the system that we had in place before he had the other one up and running. He had all the beds closed, but he had nobody out there to support the people who were being hiked out of the hospitals because their beds were being taken away. This went on for two and one-half or three years and the Minister of Finance of the day kept saying, well, you can't have any more money, that is all you are going to get. So it never cured the problem, it never got better, it got worse. Now at the present time we have the former Minister of Finance, the architect of all these problems, the guy who created these problems, because of his money habits, he is now running the system. Can you imagine? (Interruption) And he also wants to be Premier, good Heavens. Can you imagine Mr. Boudreau as Premier of this province? I just can't even bear to think about that. But anyway, we have him running the system. He got a whole bunch of extra money, we are told, he got another $124 million this year (Interruption) to try to make him look good.

Now he has the $124 million and I would like the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Health or any other backbencher around here or any other minister around here to track on down to Windsor tonight and go and stand on the corner of Gerrish and Water Street and speak to passers-by and say, you know the Minister of Health has $124 million this year and he . . .


MR. RUSSELL: Extra, additional, absolutely, a $124 million bonus and I want to know what the health care system is like now, compared to the way it was three years ago. You know what you will get as a resounding answer? They will simply say, no, it is not as good as what we are getting, in fact, it is a disaster. That is what people (Interruptions) It is a disaster, it is an absolute disaster.

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Mr. Speaker, I expect that that is one of the reasons why the incumbent Minister of Health is running for Premier, because he wants to get off the hot seat as rapidly as he can. (Interruptions) I think it makes sense, now you might not think so.

AN HON. MEMBER: What do they say about health care in Wolfville, Ron?

MR. RUSSELL: What do they say about health care in Wolfville? Well, that is an interesting observation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did they get any of this money?

MR. RUSSELL: No, they didn't get any of that $124 million, none at all. In fact, when you look at it you wonder where the heck it has gone, except for the reserve for doubtful accounts, and I think this is a very doubtful item here, $39 million. I guess that is a handy amount to have in your budget so that when you go around on your campaigning, if you come to one of the areas where you need a little bit of a boost . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Fill in the potholes, transfer from one . . .

MR. RUSSELL: Well, they can do that but they can plug in another couple of beds somewhere - hire a nurse here, hire a nurse there.

AN HON. MEMBER: Or promise them a couple of beds.

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, promise. Mr. Speaker, I have not concluded but I would like to adjourn the debate at this time on the resolution. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The debate is adjourned.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, following the daily routine, we will be dealing with Private and Local Bills for Second Reading. We will also be dealing with Private Member's Bills, Bill No. 9 for second reading and we will go into Committee of the Whole House on Supply. If time permits, we will be returning to Resolution No. 134.

I now move that the House do adjourn and sit tomorrow from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion for adjournment has been made. The House will now rise to sit again tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.

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The House is adjourned.

[The House rose at 7:59 p.m.]

[Page 1017]


Given on April 23, 1997

(Pursuant to Rule 30)


By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

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

(1) The province received the BLAC Report on Education: "Redressing Inequity - Empowering Black Learners" in December 1994. The Department of Education and Culture responded to the report in June 1995. At that time the minister said that all measures adopted in relation to the report would be evaluated after 24 months. Has this yet been done within the Department of Education and Culture?

(2) Will the current minister also list all further initiatives adopted from since the department's initial response in June 1995?