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November 27, 1997
Hansard -- Thur., Nov. 27, 1997

Sixth Session


No. 8, Family Maintenance Act, Hon. A. Mitchell 329
No. 9, Judicature Act, Hon. A. Mitchell 330
Res. 138, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Sheet Hbr. Terminal: Cerescorp -
Agreement Release, Dr. J. Hamm 330
Res. 139, Health - Tainted Blood: Compensation Prog. - Action,
Mr. R. Chisholm 331
Res. 140, Nat. Res. - NSRL: Investment - View (Hon. D. Downe) Reveal,
Mr. G. Archibald 331
Res. 141, Educ. - SAERC: Car Construction Project - Students Congrats.,
Mr. R. White 332
Vote - Affirmative 332
Res. 142, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Sable Offshore Project: Commitment -
Respond, Mr. B. Taylor 333
Res. 143, Environ. - Riverland Dev. (Sackville): Approval - Withhold,
Mr. J. Holm 333
Res. 144, Pictou East MLA - Family Benefits: Direct Assistance Prog.
Refusal - Harmful Acknowledge, Mr. R. Russell 334
Res. 145, Culture - Halifax: Pier 21 Society/Ruth Goldbloom -
Contributions Recognize, Dr. E. Kinley 335
Vote - Affirmative 335
Res. 146, Premier - Gender Sensitivity: Training - Recommend,
Ms. E. O'Connell 335
Res. 147, Educ. - SW Reg. School Bd.: Schools-Projects - Congrats.,
Mrs. L. O'Connor 336
Vote - Affirmative 337
Res. 148, Educ. - Post-Secondary: Affordable Access - Plan Share,
Mr. E. Fage 337
Res. 149, Heritage (Cdn.) - Pictou Co.: OLEP Maintain -
Support [Gov't. (N.S.)], Mr. D. McInnes 337
Vote - Affirmative 338
Res. 150, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - C.B.: Indust. Dev. -
Strategy Develop, Ms. Helen MacDonald 338
Res. 151, Environ./Nat. Res. - Global Warming Target: Formula Weaker -
Explain, Mr. J. Leefe 339
Res. 152, Health - Environ. Health Centre: Concerns - Address,
Mr. G. Moody 339
Res. 153, Premier - Promises Broken: Listening - Add, Mr. J. Holm 340
Res. 154, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: TRACC Contract
(Deborah Diggs) - Apologize & Restore, Mr. B. Taylor 340
Res. 155, Educ. - Schools: Public-Private Partnering - Drop,
Ms. E. O'Connell 341
Res. 156, Sport - Hockey: Volunteer of Year -
Dan MacLeod (New Glasgow) Congrats., Dr. J. Hamm 342
Vote - Affirmative 342
Res. 157, Agric. - Drought: Consequences - Action, Mr. G. Archibald 342
Res. 158, Agric. - 4-H Grand Mira Club: Marion MacKinnon -
Leader (65 years) Congrats., Mr. A. MacLeod 343
Vote - Affirmative 344
Res. 159, Premier - North Sydney (Marine Atlantic HQ):
Partisanship - Set-Aside, Ms. Helen MacDonald 344
Res. 160, Sport - Snowboarding: Winter Olympics (1998) -
Trevor Andrew (Falmouth) Success Wish, Mr. R. Russell 344
Vote - Affirmative 345
Res. 161, Tech. & Sc. Sec't. - Computer Data (2000): Plan - Issue,
Mr. J. Leefe 345
Res. 162, Justice - Cons. Charlie Williamson Dec'd. (Amherst):
Service - Gratitude Extend, Mr. E. Fage 346
Vote - Affirmative 346
Res. 163, Educ. - David Cohen/Sydney Academy:
Debating (Internat.-Montreal) - Success Congrats., Mr. A. MacLeod 346
Vote - Affirmative 347
No. 37, Nat. Res.: Sable Gas - Agreements, Dr. J. Hamm 348
No. 39, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Royalty Agreement - Status,
Mr. R. Chisholm 349
No. 40, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Can.-N.S. Offshore Accord -
Interest Revive, Dr. J. Hamm 350
No. 41, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas Deal: Select Comm. - Establish,
Dr. J. Hamm 352
No. 42, Human Res. - QE II Health Sc. Centre: NSGEU - Privatization,
Mr. R. Chisholm 354
No. 43, Nat. Res.: Sable Gas - Status, Dr. J. Hamm 356
No. 44, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: NSRL Sale - Rothschild, Mr. G. Archibald 358
No. 45, Justice - Transition Houses: Funding - Commit, Ms. E. O'Connell 360
No. 46, Econ. Dev. - Ranka Enterprise: Deal - Incentives, Dr. J. Hamm 362
No. 47, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Jobs Creation: Negotiations -
Involvement (Premier), Dr. J. Hamm 365
No. 48, Justice - Correctional Facilities: Privatization - Public Tender,
Mr. J. Holm 367
Ms. E. O'Connell 369
Mr. P. MacEwan 383
Mr. E. Fage 392
[Debate Adjourned] 403
Health/Commun. Serv. - Long-Term Care: Commitment - Deliver:
Mr. G. Moody 403
Hon. J. Smith 406
Hon. F. Cosman 408
Mr. R. Chisholm 409
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Nov. 28th at 10:00 a.m. 412
H.O. 2, Premier - Office: Staff Relocation - Update, Mr. R. Russell 413
H.O. 3, Justice - Custody Configuration Project Report, Mr. R. Russell 413

[Page 329]


Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Sixth Session

2:00 P.M.


Hon. Gerald Fogarty


Mr. Keith Colwell

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







Bill No. 8 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 160 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Family Maintenance Act. (Hon. Alan Mitchell)

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


[Page 330]

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I have one more bill to introduce but before I do, I just want to mention that my staff has worked very hard on these two pieces of legislation. I have a number of my staff with me today in your gallery and I would like to introduce them: Marion Tyson, who is the Executive Director of Courts and Registries; Jock MacKinnon, who is the Director of Family Court Services; Carolyn Marshall, who is the Coordinator of the Child Support Guidelines; and Gretchen Pohlkamp, who is the Prothonotary in this district. I would ask them please to stand. (Applause)

Bill No. 9 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 240 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Judicature Act. (Hon. Alan Mitchell)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill 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 this Liberal Government handed exclusive control of the $11 million Sheet Harbour dock and industrial park to Cerescorp on July 1, 1997; and

Whereas since this Liberal Government handed Cerescorp monopoly control over the dock and its facilities, business at the Sheet Harbour dock has dried up and stevedoring work substantially reduced; and

Whereas this government refused to release key details concerning its sweetheart deal arranged by Senator Wilfred Moore, which has shut down three Nova Scotia companies and driven business out of the port;

Therefore be it resolved that the government immediately release all details with respect to its agreement with Cerescorp, all details with respect to any damages paid to the companies that have been put out of business, and further, that it provide a detailed breakdown of business at the dock prior to and after its sweetheart deal with Cerescorp.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 331]


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 federal Liberal Government, which has ultimate responsibility for the blood system in this country, has told victims of tainted blood to seek compensation from their provincial Health Departments; and

Whereas this same federal Liberal Government, supported by this Premier, compromised the ability of provincial Health Departments to pay compensation by cutting $6 billion in transfers for health and education; and

Whereas it is completely unacceptable for the federal and provincial governments to indulge in buck-passing on this issue;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Premier and the Health Minister to show leadership to ensure that the federal government and the provinces work together to create, without delay, a compensation program for Canadians and Nova Scotians who have been infected by tainted blood.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.


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

Whereas the former Minister of Natural Resources and the current Minister of Transportation and Public Works insisted that the Liberal Government was getting out of the oil and gas business and was determined to sell Nova Scotia Resources Limited; and

Whereas the former Minister of Natural Resources and current Minister of Transportation and Public Works said he wanted to hurl when he thought of NSRL; and

Whereas despite hiring Rothschild Canada to sell NSRL, the Premier surprised this House yesterday by saying NSRL's for sale sign has been removed and the government believes it can become an important part of Nova Scotia at some point;

[Page 332]

Therefore be it resolved that the former Minister of Natural Resources and current Minister of Transportation and Public Works tell the House if he was up hurling all night or if he, like the Premier, now believes that NSRL was a wise investment and can pay long-term dividends.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.


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

Whereas seven students, Cheryl Kawaja, Elisa Conner, Nicole MacDonald, Natalie MacKeigan, Amie MacDonald, Cara Dawson and Erin MacIntyre are attending SAERC; and

Whereas after three years of hard work, these Grade 11 and Grade 12 honours French immersion students have completed construction of an environmentally friendly electric race car; and

Whereas they are seeking corporate sponsorship to finance a trip to Arizona Public Service Electric 500 in Phoenix;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to these young women for completing this incredible project and wish them every success in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 333]


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

Whereas on Tuesday, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism rose in this House on a point of order saying his department was not favouring preferred Nova Scotia companies in their bid for offshore contracts, saying the information was being misrepresented; and

Whereas the minister continues to refuse to answer serious and legitimate questions the Leader of the Opposition put to him, by way of letter over two months ago, concerning his department's commitment to underwrite the cost of preferred projects with millions of dollars of taxpayers' money; and

Whereas this government's commitment to underwrite the cost of selected companies bidding for offshore work subsidizes Mobil's costs, disadvantages other Nova Scotian companies seeking a piece of the offshore pie, and is an indictment of this government's failure to secure an agreement that will ensure Nova Scotia gets it rightful share of jobs and economic benefits from the Sable offshore project;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism stop huffing and puffing and immediately table in this House a detailed response to the questions put to him by the Leader of the Opposition more than two months ago concerning his government's commitment of tax dollars for offshore-related work.

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 despite promises made by the Liberal Government of the day that the landfill they imposed upon residents of Upper Sackville would be well run, the community had to endure over 20 years of stench and seagulls; and

Whereas Riverland Developments wants to develop a quarry adjacent to the former landfill and the current minister, despite rejections by his predecessors of similar proposals, is again considering the request even though the municipality has not agreed to the required zoning changes; and

[Page 334]

Whereas the focus report on the proposal ordered by the minister only looked at blasting while ignoring other concerns related to contamination of the Sackville River as well as noise and dust pollution;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand that the minister not approve Riverland's quarry adjacent to the Sackville landfill site unless all municipal approvals have been first obtained and until a full environmental assessment, with public hearings, is conducted.

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 in his response to the Speech from the Throne the member for Pictou East proudly boasted that his government was the only government in the country to increase family benefits allowances; and

Whereas the total amount of this one-time increase amounted to a mere $2.00 or $3.00 more per month to families in receipt of family benefits; and

[2:15 p.m.]

Whereas the added cost of the BST on survival costs such as children's clothing, home energy costs and school supplies will cost family benefits clients far more than the paltry amount provided by way of the increase in the family benefits allowance;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Pictou East and the Liberal Government which has refused to allow the family benefits clients to apply to the Direct Assistance Program acknowledge that this government's policies have done far more to hurt those in need of assistance than any other government in the country.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

[Page 335]


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

Whereas Pier 21 in the Port of Halifax was the entry point for 1.5 million immigrants to Canada; and

Whereas Pier 21 was the embarkation and returning point for 400,000 Canadian troops during World War II; and

Whereas the Pier 21 renovation project which will include a database and exhibits forming a permanent national record of the multiracial origin of Canada has already begun;

Therefore be it resolved that this Assembly recognize the contribution of the Pier 21 Society, especially its Chairperson, Ruth Goldbloom, to this national historic endeavour.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 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 the member for Dartmouth North with indignation castigated the member for Cape Breton The Lakes for a slip of the tongue when introducing a resolution on workers' compensation; and

Whereas a slip of the tongue is more forgivable than such things as sexist jokes which play on gender stereotypes and sexist inferences to the detriment of both women and men; and

[Page 336]

Whereas the Premier exploited gender stereotypes and sexist inferences when making the following joke in his State of the Province Address, ". . . a good speech was like a good bathing suit - it had to be long enough to cover the essentials - yet short enough to be interesting";

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House and especially the member for Dartmouth North extend their displeasure and disapproval of the words spoken by the Premier and recommend that the Premier and his speech writer take gender sensitivity training.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.


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

Whereas junior high schools are joining forces to share ideas and support by bringing forward exciting and innovative projects that promote student success during these challenging and important years; and

Whereas in the Southwest Regional School Board, the Mahone Bay School will involve students, staff, parents and the community in carrying out projects that integrate fine arts education; and

Whereas a survey of education partners led Centre Consolidated School to focus its efforts on increasing student opportunities in arts, culture and technology;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly join me in extending congratulations to the 57 schools of the Southwest Regional School Board who have presented a wide range of projects that include new approaches to teaching and learning, opening doors to our communities and showing support for all areas of student life.

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.

[Page 337]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.


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

Whereas the issue of student debt load is reaching crisis proportions; and

Whereas approximately half of Nova Scotia's students borrow to finance their education and, over the past five years, default rates have increased by 250 per cent; and

Whereas these numbers are building such a wall that the idea of accessibility to a post-secondary education in the eyes of young Nova Scotians appears completely out of range;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and minister share with the members of this House and all Nova Scotians their plan for ensuring students have access to affordable post-secondary education.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for 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 the Pictou County Chapter of Canadian Parents for French are dedicated to the promotion and creation of French second language learning opportunities for young Canadians; and

[Page 338]

Whereas funds made available through the Official Languages in Education Program, support provincial French immersion and core French programs; and

Whereas the federal government is currently evaluating the effectiveness of the Official Languages in Education Program and the agreement is due to expire on March 31, 1998;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to immediately put forward its argument supporting a request for continued support through to the Department of Canadian Heritage with regard to the need to maintain and strengthen French programs in Pictou County and also across the province.

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 Cape Breton The Lakes.


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

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development says that $10,000 per job is too much to pay for jobs in the textile industry in Cape Breton; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development recently gave Michelin the equivalent of $340,000 per job for jobs in the tire industry in Granton, Bridgewater and Waterville; and

Whereas a previous Minister of Economic Development gave Newbridge Networks the equivalent of $200,000 for 50 communications jobs in Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand that the Liberal Government develop a coherent industrial development strategy before the present one drives the province into bankruptcy and permanently sinks the economy of Cape Breton.

[Page 339]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.


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

Whereas in November 1990, the Canadian Council of Environment Ministers in a document titled, National Action Strategy on Global Warming, recommended the Government of Canada stabilize the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol at 1992 levels by 2000; and

Whereas in 1990 Canada took a lead position on global warming at the UN Rio Conference, urging global adoption of the 1990 by 2000 formula; and

Whereas at a recent meeting of Environment and Natural Resources Ministers in Regina the ministers jettisoned the 1990/2000 formula in favour of a 1990/2010 formula;

Therefore be it resolved that the Ministers of the Environment and Natural Resources explain what objective scientific analysis caused them to abandon the global warming target set in the 1990/2000 formula in favour of the much weaker 1990/2010 formula.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.


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

Whereas concerns are being expressed by the Allergy and Environmental Health Association that proven medical techniques have been abandoned at the Environmental Health Clinic; and

Whereas concerns are also being expressed that the clinic's patients have unknowingly been used as human guinea pigs as the clinic uses new therapies that have not been fully tested; and

Whereas concerns are also being expressed about the lack of focus on detecting and preventing environmental illness and the lack of public education or awareness efforts;

[Page 340]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately meet with representatives from the League for Equal Opportunities and the Patient Advisory Committee of the Environmental Health Centre and then take immediate steps to address the serious concerns expressed to him in their recent correspondence.

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 the Premier constantly talks about leadership that listens and promises a new, open style of government; and

Whereas the government constantly makes a mockery of this new, open style of government by refusing to release information on the Sable gas deal, privatization of correctional facilities and P3 schools; and

Whereas the government makes a further mockery of the claim of open government by refusing to release the report on social assistance reforms, the casino study and school capital construction;

Therefore be it resolved that this House hereby adds leadership that listens to the list of broken or bent MacLellan promises that already includes abolition of the toll on Highway No. 104, a better deal on Sable gas and the removal of the BST on home heat.

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 the Minister of the Environment has developed a cozy relationship with TRACC President Douglas Vicars and has allowed all the rules set down in a contract signed between the Government of Nova Scotia and TRACC to be ignored; and

[Page 341]

Whereas the cozy relationship has resulted in fines being overlooked and jobs not being created on time while also allowing, despite statements to the contrary, the minister to develop a cozy relationship with the Resource Recovery Fund Board; and

Whereas without any notice whatsoever these cozy relationships have resulted in the dismissal of Deborah Diggs and four employees of R & D Stone Services of East Preston from doing the used tire collection for the Halifax Regional Municipality, despite her customers having publicly stated she did a far more superior job in collecting used tires than the present Dartmouth company being employed by TRACC and which has the same address as Mrs. Rosemary MacDonald who happens to be the wife of TRACC owner Mr. Douglas Vicars;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment immediately order the Resource Recovery Fund Board to issue this individual from Preston a formal and public apology and give her back the tire collection contract for the Halifax Regional Municipality that rightfully belongs to her.

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 the parents and students at Springvale Elementary School in Halifax were notified at 3:30 p.m. on Friday that their school had a mould problem and would be washed with diluted chlorine bleach on the weekend; and

Whereas countless schools all over this province are unhealthy places for students and teachers alike; and

Whereas the Throne Speech makes a vague promise about a healthy schools program;

Therefore be it resolved that the government drop its obsession with expensive public-private partnering schools and immediately plan and implement a program to clean up, repair and safeguard the schools.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 342]


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

Whereas Dan MacLeod is a highly respected veteran New Glasgow Councillor, coach and sports executive; and

Whereas Dan MacLeod has devoted his life to sport and young people in Nova Scotia and particularly in Pictou County; and

Whereas Dan MacLeod was honoured recently by the Nova Scotia Hockey Association as volunteer of the year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House unanimously express thanks to Dan MacLeod on behalf of all Nova Scotians for his lifelong commitment to sports and the young people of Nova Scotia.

I request 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 funding cuts by this Liberal Government have a serious impact on Nova Scotia's agricultural industry; and

Whereas the drought experienced by Nova Scotia farmers this summer is only imposing greater stress on Nova Scotia's agricultural industry; and

[Page 343]

Whereas figures released by Statistics Canada yesterday show that farmgate receipts for Nova Scotia dropped by 5 per cent or $13.5 million between January and September of this year;

Therefore be it resolved the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing explain to Nova Scotia's agricultural industry what it will take for the minister and his department to understand the serious problems being experienced by farmers and for him to set in place an action plan to be developed to see an increase, not a decrease, in Nova Scotia's farm cash receipts.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[2:30 p.m.]


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

Whereas this year marks the 75th Anniversary of 4-H Clubs in the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Grand Mira 4-H Club is one of the longest serving 4-H Clubs in Canada; and

Whereas an important part of the success of 4-H is the leadership provided by many volunteers in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of Marion MacKinnon who this year completed her 65th consecutive year as a leader in the 4-H movement, a record in Canada, and congratulate her on her dedication to the youth in our province.

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.

[Page 344]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.


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

Whereas the residents of North Sydney are in a fight to have Marine Atlantic management jobs posted in that community and are in competition for those jobs with the community of Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland; and

Whereas the community of Port aux Basques has come together in an organized effort to fight for the jobs with politicians, business people and community leaders heading up this organized fight; and

Whereas Peter Mancini, MP for Sydney-Victoria and Conservative Senator Donald Oliver have recognized that North Sydney's politicians, business people and community leaders also must set aside their differences and work together to fight for Marine Atlantic jobs and, in fact, Mr. Mancini is attempting to lead that effort by organizing a meeting of all those interested parties;

Therefore be it resolved that this House instruct the Premier to set aside partisan politics even though it appears his fallen House Leader cannot, and either attend this meeting or have a suitable representative do so.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member from 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 Falmouth, Nova Scotia, resident Trevor Andrew recently won the World Snowboarding Championship in Sweden; and

Whereas 18 year old Trevor is a top medal hope for Canada at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics; and

Whereas snowboarding is an exceptionally dangerous and challenging sport;

[Page 345]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature extend our best wishes to Trevor as he diligently prepares for his next major challenge - the Nagano Winter Olympics and wish him every success with his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 from Queens.


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

Whereas leading industry experts are saying that if existing computer software isn't made "2000 compliant" probable havoc will result at the turn of the century; and

Whereas havoc will result in government systems being in chaos and companies not being able to count on reliable sales stock inventories, accounts receivable and payable, interest charges, loans or even birth dates; and

Whereas this Liberal Government spent $70,000 late last year on a "2000 compliant study" but to date have ignored a number of major recommendations put forth in the report and in the process have allowed data problems to begin surfacing in government computer records;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister responsible for Nova Scotia's Technology and Science Secretariat immediately come forward with an action plan that clearly shows the Nova Scotia Government will not allow these computer data problems to continue escalating.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member from Cumberland North.

[Page 346]


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

Whereas the heroic actions of a former officer of the Amherst Police Department will be honoured tomorrow when the Lieutenant Governor presents, posthumously, a long-service exemplary medal to Nancy Williamson and sons, Danny and Chris, in her husband's name; and

Whereas Constable Charlie Williamson, who just recently passed away, was described by his former partner, Constable Francis Smith, as the person to whom he owes his life; and

Whereas in an incident back in 1979 Constable Smith says the lives of many, including his own, were spared because of the actions of his former partner;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend to the family of Officer Williamson our heartfelt gratitude for the service he so valiantly offered in the line of duty and to his partner, Constable Smith, and the approximately 40 officers also receiving a medal at Province House tomorrow, our congratulations and sincere thanks for serving their communities so honourably and so well.

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 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 17 year old Sydney native David Cohen recently captured top prize at an international debating tournament held in Montreal; and

[Page 347]

Whereas the event was the largest of its kind in North America with 53 teams and a total of 200 students participating; and

Whereas David was named the best individual debater while Sydney Academy placed second in the best team category;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature congratulate both David Cohen and Sydney Academy for their impressive performances in Montreal and wish them every success with their future endeavours.

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 Leader of the New Democratic Party, on an introduction.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to introduce to members of this House the newly-elected MP for Sydney-Victoria. That MP we were just talking about is leading an effort in his community, in Sydney, in North Sydney in particular, to try to fight against any moves to relocate jobs from Marine Atlantic to Newfoundland. I want to tell you and other members of this House how proud I am of the efforts that this member is doing. I would like all members to join with me in welcoming Peter Mancini, the new and very successful MP for Sydney-Victoria. (Applause) (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

Before we move on to Orders of the Day, I wish to inform the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate which will be at 6:00 p.m. and the winner is the honourable member for Kings West who has submitted the following resolution:

Therefore be it resolved that this government immediately deliver more of a commitment to the critical issues facing our long-term care resources in this province than the flimsy Throne Speech statement that, "The Ministers of Health and Community Services will be convening almost immediately to begin efforts to ensure this sector gets the attention it deserves.".

[Page 348]

That is the subject for the Adjournment debate this afternoon submitted by the member for Kings West.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Yesterday in the House the Premier said, "We have no agreements.". We were talking about Sable gas, and outside of the House I heard him in the scrum make the same statement. I have in my left hand a press release that came from the Minister of Natural Resources on January 30, 1997 and part of that press release reads, "The royalty framework agreed to by the province and the Sable Offshore Energy Project Group was released by the minister in Halifax today.". So obviously there was an agreement on that day. I have in my right hand a document called The Joint Position on Tolling and Laterals Among the Province of Nova Scotia, the Province of New Brunswick, Sable Offshore, and Maritimes and Northeast and this is signed by all of those participants in June 1997.

My question to the Premier is simply this, what have you done with these agreements that allows you to stand in this House and say, there are no agreements?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, there are no agreements.

DR. HAMM: The Premier said, despite the evidence before him there are no agreements. That would mean that the agreements that were previously publicized have in fact been torn up by the Premier because these agreements existed. My question is, will the Premier table in this House the communications that he directed to all of the participants in these agreements including the new Premier of New Brunswick, that indicates that he will not honour those agreements? Will he table those documents in this House?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the negotiations are ongoing on the future of the offshore and I hope to be able to bring forward a lot of information to this House before too long.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, that is a disappointing answer. The Premier is ignoring the right of this House to examine the business of government.

[Page 349]

I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. Yesterday the Minister of the Environment confirmed that he was fast-tracking the environmental permits for the offshore. My question to the minister is simply this, since his Premier has indicated there are no agreements in place, why does this minister feel obliged to fast-track the environmental permits?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, in answer let me say at the outset that I am a bit surprised that I was told just now that I had said I fast-tracked agreements and I know of no such statement. In fact, I know I didn't make any such statement. What we did do was what we had to do and that was respond to the joint recommendations. We did that in due course because we were equipped to do so.

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


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Premier. All Nova Scotians are witnessing the spectacle of the Premier of this province performing the dance of the seven veils. Day after day either here in the House, usually not in here but outside somewhere, we get more and more information, little tidbits, about what is happening with the future of the Sable gas development. I want to pursue this a little more and see what more the Premier will release for us. Clearly he indicated yesterday that the royalty agreements negotiated by former Premier Savage and former Minister Norrie and Minister Downe have been ripped up. I would like to ask the Premier if he would explain to this House why those royalty agreements have been ripped up?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I just want to announce today that there will be no dance outside after Question Period because I don't want to get chapped. But I do want to say to the honourable member that the royalty negotiations are going on, as are other areas relating to the offshore. When we have information on those we would be glad to make them available to him.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier could stop the dance by simply telling Nova Scotians what in the name of Heavens is going on with respect to the Sable gas development. Nonetheless, we will continue to play this game here of trying to pull little bits and pieces of material off and find out what is going on. The Premier said yesterday outside this House that that royalty agreement was no more, so let's say the agreement is gone. We applaud that, by the way, because we have said that that royalty agreement based on profits as opposed to revenue was a bad deal for Nova Scotia and we suggested that it needed to be renegotiated. I want to ask the Premier, is he negotiating a royalty regime based on revenues in order that we have a better deal for Nova Scotia to deal with any problems that may come up once the gas comes ashore?

[Page 350]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the negotiations going on in various areas and I don't want to be coy with my honourable friend but I really do not want to negotiate the terms and the points of the negotiation in public. I am hopeful that we will have results before too long and I would be very glad to make them available to him and to other members at that time.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me just say the Premier may think it is cute and his handlers may think that it is coy . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Please, no comments. Just go on with your final supplementary.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . to be playing this game. But leaders in Cape Breton, not this bunch here but real leaders in Cape Breton, are incurring costs by appealing this decision before the federal courts. They are sufficiently concerned that this government is not negotiating a proper deal. That is why we need the information, Mr. Speaker.

[2:45 p.m.]

I want to ask the Premier my final supplementary. Will he advise that the agreement that he may or may not be negotiating, include sufficient resources to compensate for damage that may be done in areas like Cape Breton and other parts of the province as a result of gas coming ashore?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, with respect to people in Cape Breton, the negotiations are going on and, hopefully, when an agreement is reached they will be pleased with the agreement and they will no longer need to proceed with their appeal.

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



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will continue with the Premier. The Premier is aware of a document signed in 1988 called the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord. One of the clauses of that is that Nova Scotia receive a 50 per cent commercial interest in the offshore and the onshore trunk line in Nova Scotia. That was a very valuable asset, almost like a franchise, the right to be involved in that commercially.

The Premier admitted yesterday that we no longer own that commercial interest; we have given it away. Would the Premier not agree that it would be very helpful today if he still had that in his hand, that it would be a very useful negotiating tool in doing what he is trying to do today, and that is to improve the deal that the government signed - or the government was involved in and I guess signed but now has torn up - would it not be a very useful negotiating tool to have that commercial interest back?

[Page 351]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the honourable Leader of the Opposition and I want the same thing, and that is to get the best deal we can for Nova Scotians. It doesn't do any good to talk about things over which we have no control, but it does do a lot of good to talk about things we can possibly change and that is what this government is doing.

DR. HAMM: I would believe that from the words of the Premier that he feels that something was given away, that the province owned something and now it doesn't own it. He admitted that very frankly. I have seen estimates of the value of that commercial right estimated in tens of millions of dollars.

My question to the Premier. What has the Province of Nova Scotia received for giving up the so-called back-in provision for the offshore and the onshore trunk line? What have we received?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there has been no agreement yet on the natural gas actually coming onshore, so there is really no process, there is nothing guaranteed by the companies yet. We are hoping that they will be able to see their way clear on agreeing to bring natural gas ashore in Nova Scotia and that we will be able to participate because there will be a good deal for Nova Scotia, but nothing has been guaranteed yet by the oil companies.

DR. HAMM: The Premier obviously wants to play cat and mouse. On one hand he says I would love to have that as a negotiating tool but, then, when we try to find out what we got for it, he says, well, it is not really worth anything unless the gas comes ashore.

It was worth something. It was worth tens of millions of dollars and I don't think we got five cents for it . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Let's hear the final supplementary, please.

DR. HAMM: . . . and your government is responsible for giving away that resource.

My question is, have you asked Mobil for that resource back? Have you asked for any concession from Mobil for giving away the commercial interests in the onshore and the offshore trunk line? What are we going to get for this asset that the province once owned and your predecessor gave away?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we want to get a good deal for the people of Nova Scotia and we are working hard on that. We feel that that is our right as Nova Scotians, because the natural gas is off Nova Scotia, but we are also realistic in knowing that where we can push hard is in areas over which we have some possibility of being successful. That which

[Page 352]

has already been done, we cannot change, but we will do what we can in areas where we can have some kind of reasonable chance of success.

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


DR. JOHN HAMM: So, the Premier has admitted now publicly, here in this place, that mistakes were made, assets were given away and it is a bad deal, like he said when he was a leadership candidate. He is surrounded by the people who signed the bad deal. Let the record show that the Premier just nodded in agreement. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, I wrote to the Premier on August 15th asking that a select committee of the Legislature be struck to examine the Sable gas deal; on November 7th, the Premier replied and said, no. At the beginning of November, I asked the Premier if he would reconvene the Legislature for the purpose of debating the deal; again, the Premier refused. Now the Premier said there are no deals and he would have us believe that it is a clean slate and that we are starting from scratch. Well, we cannot afford to make the mistakes that have been made up until now and we need all of the input that we can set.

I again ask this Premier, is he prepared to convene a select committee of the Legislature to look at the Sable gas deal, to devise a plan and a direction that will get the maximum benefit out of the Sable gas deal that all Nova Scotians are looking for?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in the negotiations which are presently going on, we hope to achieve just that. We hope to achieve it in less time than it would take a committee of the Legislature to do so, because we have been undertaking this exercise for a while.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, we are not really getting a lot of information from the Premier; he doesn't seem to want to share anything in regard to the nature of the deal. Would the Premier indicate the team that surrounds him and advises him and is arranging the new deal, what Nova Scotians, what experts, what people make up that advisory team that is helping the Premier put together a better deal?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have some very good people here in Nova Scotia who know an awful lot about the offshore and they have been very helpful, people in our own Civil Service.

DR. HAMM: I am reminded of an American politician, and I hope I get this straight because I sometimes get it backwards.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to hear your final supplementary; storytime later, please.

[Page 353]

DR. HAMM: He said, is there anybody out there with a question for my answer? Well, there is nobody here, Mr. Premier, with a question for your answers, I can assure you, but I will try once again, Mr. Speaker.

Again, to the Premier. Mr. Premier, will you indicate - and you are being very coy with all of this - who is advising you and who is on the team designing the new deal for Sable? Give us the names.

MR. SPEAKER: This sounds like the same question. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to name names, there are a lot of people involved. There are a lot of aspects to these negotiations and there are a lot of specialties and people with expertise in various aspects of the areas in which we are negotiating. So, it is extremely difficult to name a few people without naming them all. That is almost impossible to do.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, before I ask my question, if I may make a very brief introduction. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Just a moment. If you would take your seat for just a moment, honourable Leader of the NDP. Introductions that are highly political and partisan in their nature and interrupting Question Period for introductions is not really accepted. In my time in the House, we have never experienced that to any great extent. So, if the introduction can wait until following Question Period, I think that is the proper time for it.

Would you please pose your question then, the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. CHISHOLM: I have no problem with that decision; I was just following practice that has been in this House in the past four and one-half years, but I am quite happy to wait until after Question Period.

MR. SPEAKER: I beg to differ with you, honourable member. It is Question Period, so, please, your question.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 354]



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I will go check Hansard and return it back to you, Mr. Speaker.


MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question of the Premier. You and other members, no doubt, caught on the news today that talks have broken down between the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and the Queen Elizabeth II hospital. The NSGEU has called on the services of the Conciliation Division of the Department of Labour. They have done so, because no progress is being made because of the QE II's refusal to give up its insistence on privatization and contracting out of health services relative to the QE II.

I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, whether he will, in fact, make it clear to the QE II that the continued privatization of health services, following the American model, will not be tolerated by his government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in the collective bargaining process, nothing is given up and nothing is agreed to until the contract is agreed to but I would like to refer this question to the honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, again, here, as happened, I am sure you are aware of, with the Teachers Union and the Department of Education, that they have decided to go to conciliation and we see this as all part of the collective bargaining.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the issue at hand is the insistence by the QE II to privatize and contract out health services relative to that facility. They are doing so, and I am happy to table three documents: one, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, Health Services/Business Plan for 1997/98; one, Regional Health Board and Non-Designated Facility Health Services/Business Plan, 1997-98; and Mission Possible, Transforming the QE II Health Sciences Centre. I will table these to indicate that clearly the direction in which the QE II is heading is as a result of clear directions from this government to search out any and all opportunities to privatize and contract out their services. So it has everything to do with this government and I want to go back to the Premier and ask him a question because it is his government that is setting the tone for where this department is going.

MR. SPEAKER: Let's hear it then, please.

[Page 355]

MR. CHISHOLM: I would like to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, will he revise and have the marching orders revised to the QE II and make it clear to the QE II and make it clear to all Nova Scotians that you, as Premier, will not stand by and allow our health care system to be sold off piece by piece?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer the question to the honourable Minister of Human Resources.

MR. SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, in this case there is an employer involved, the QE II. They are at the table with their respective union, the NSGEU. This is part of the negotiation package and at this point, yes, I am aware that the NSGEU requested to go to conciliation. Again, we see that as part of the process. There are a number of issues on the table, this being one of the issues, and we are looking forward to this stage of the process which would be conciliation.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, again I am going back to the Premier because it is clearly the Government of Nova Scotia that is in charge of health services in the Province of Nova Scotia. They give the QE II a budget of nearly $300 million a year. They have given them direction to follow the privatization and contracting-out route. What we need is a clear statement from this government . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Please, the question.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . that they support publicly-administered and publicly-managed health care services in this province. Will the Premier explain why he is forcing health care workers of this province, Mr. Speaker, to carry the brunt of defending Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians against the increasing profiteering at the hands of companies from south of the border from taking over the health care system of this province?

[3:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer this question to the honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the QE II Hospital, as it is now known, is a merger of four cultures, if you will, four hospital groups. It has gone through some very challenging times and it is performing very well. I visited for three and a half hours the other day and went through the hospital from top to bottom and met with the board and patients and many others there.

What the honourable member is reading from or referring to, perhaps he could table it, and maybe he has. That is out of date material that has been circulated. I have met with a particular group that also has the same material that is not valid. Our staff has been in

[Page 356]

constant contact and working with the QE II staff. There has been an excellent relationship. They are offering superb tertiary, secondary and actually even community care, Mr. Speaker. We will work with them and we will continue to support them.

More people are receiving more services of a higher quality today than ever before in that institution and throughout the whole Province of Nova Scotia, for that matter, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Premier. A few minutes ago the Premier indicated that there were no deals. I held up the joint position which was signed on Sable by Maritimes and Northeast, the Province of New Brunswick and the Province of Nova Scotia. The Premier indicated clearly to the House that he had notified all of these participants that there is no deal and that he was negotiating a new deal, that this deal was torn up.

Now information has just come to my attention that a very short time ago today the Premier of New Brunswick was interviewed by Broadcast News and he indicated that it was all news to him, that there is a deal and, if there is going to be any negotiations that he was caught completely off guard, that he wants to get into the negotiations too, to negotiate a new deal for New Brunswick.

Would the Premier please clarify the position. Did he notify New Brunswick that he tore up this deal or did he not?

MR. SPEAKER: Before the Premier answers the question, you know it is very clear in both Beauchesne and in our Rule Book that we observe here in this House Assembly, when we get to repetition on questions that have been answered and that are posed again and again, they are just not valid questions, so I would ask all members to please keep that in mind.

The honourable Premier, if he wishes to respond.

THE PREMIER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, from New Brunswick's point of view I don't see why they would think there was a new deal. They have asked for the postage stamp price at 60 cents, they have asked for the lateral to Saint John, everything they have asked for they have gotten. I think that as far as New Brunswick is concerned, everything is on track.

I can see why the Premier of New Brunswick would think there was a deal. I have no problem understanding that.

[Page 357]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will continue with the Premier. The Premier clearly said that New Brunswick got everything it wanted and that has been our contention right along, Mr. Premier, through the Speaker.

So where are we now? We have a deal which we signed with the Province of New Brunswick and they awakened today to find out that they have no deal because our Premier has said that. I am happy to see it go, it was a terrible deal but I want to know where we are going next. I want to know where this Premier plans to take us. I want to know, does he have any thought that perhaps the people of Nova Scotia might have some ideas, might want some input into all this? Would he answer that question? Does he feel that the people of Nova Scotia would like to have input as to what kind of a deal we sign?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have no hesitation in saying that if natural gas does come ashore, New Brunswick does have a deal. We are working and talking to the companies involved, to see what we can do for Nova Scotia. We are doing it because the people of Nova Scotia have told us and they have told the Leader of the Opposition that they want some specific points looked at and that is what we are doing. We have listened to the people of Nova Scotia. That is why we are doing what we are doing.

DR. HAMM: I would hope that when you choose to chastise members of the Opposition who are asking questions and setting out rules for us, you would also do the same for members on the government benches, and when they are failing to answer questions, you would sit them down.

MR. SPEAKER: Let me respond to that. Would the honourable Leader of the Opposition please sit down. I want to respond to that; please take your seat for a moment. It is very clear in Beauchesne that the minister who has been asked a question does not have to respond. He or she responds in the way that he or she chooses. It can be very brief. It can be lengthy. It can be yes, no or maybe. There is no onus upon the minister who has been asked to respond. That is very clear in Beauchesne.

Did you have a final supplementary?

DR. HAMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was not referring to the length of the answer; it was the content.

The Premier very clearly said to the members of the House that he does feel that the people of Nova Scotia have great interest in this and would want to have some input, and therein lies my surprise at the way he handled the question about an all-select committee. How then is the Premier, if he is not prepared to support an all-select committee of the Legislature going out and getting the viewpoint of Nova Scotians on Sable gas, how is he going to get public input, the kind of public input that he just earlier and a few minutes ago said was very important?

[Page 358]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are trying to be constructive, both to the Leader of the Official Opposition, to the people of Nova Scotia, to the companies involved and to the time-frame involved. The panel came down with their decision. That decision has to be reviewed by the National Energy Board, by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada and, ultimately, has to be approved by the Privy Council, by Order in Council in Ottawa. That will be approximately the middle of December.

We are working very hard with the companies involved not to hold back the project if we can, through our hard work, reach an agreement that is satisfactory to the people of Nova Scotia. We are trying to do that and have that proposal in place and that agreement in place before the Order in Council comes down or would be ready to come down in Ottawa. We are working to be constructive in this whole process.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.


MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Yesterday in the Legislature the Premier surprised me, and many others I think, when he indicated that Rothschild was no longer engaged in the sale of Nova Scotia Resources Limited. He indicated yesterday, and I can see it in Hansard quite clearly, that he said to just look in the Public Accounts and you can find out how much we are paying Rothschild. Well, it is not in the Public Accounts.

Not only that, Mr. Speaker, in September I wrote a freedom of information letter to the Government of Nova Scotia and I was looking for information pertaining to this deal that was worked out with Rothschild. We wanted a copy of their terms of reference. We wanted the reports, copies of letters done, copies of any correspondence and the amount they have been paid.

The response we got was certainly not in keeping with what the Premier indicated yesterday: just look it up in Public Accounts; we have nothing to hide. The response we got back from the Department of Natural Resources was that you cannot have the information. Do you want me to tell you why? Their response came back on September 17th.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like the question, honourable member.

MR. ARCHIBALD: You will get one very quickly, but, Mr. Speaker, we have to give him the information or he cannot answer the question.

On October 17th, I received a letter from Nova Scotia Resources Limited and it says: "As the mandate is currently ongoing, reports, recommendations and advice supplied by Rothschild are confidential, . . .", and you can't have them.

[Page 359]

Could the Premier indicate if he is going to tell Natural Resources that NSRL is not for sale because, in October, they thought they were for sale?

THE PREMIER: If the honourable member is not satisfied with the response he got under the freedom of information process, he certainly has the right of appeal.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the Premier said yesterday that I could have the information from Public Accounts. Today he says, tough buns; the same arrogant attitude that we got from the people who are in the freedom of information for Nova Scotia Resources. NSRL indicated that, "While I am unable to release the information you requested, I trust you appreciate and understand the reasons presented in this letter.". Nova Scotians have a right, the taxpayers have been paying thousands and thousands of dollars to Rothschild. Now what on earth are they doing still being employed by NSRL if the Premier is no longer trying to sell the company? Would the Premier indicate that the information they gleaned is no longer secret and that we can have it or give us a good reason why they have to hide behind the freedom of information regulations?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I just want to say how dismayed I am at the sexist remarks of the honourable member. But I want to say that the retaining of Rothschild was for a very important reason, to get their expertise on what we should do with respect to Nova Scotia Resources Limited. They were very helpful. The honourable member has chosen to go through the access to information procedure and I have no objection to that nor does anyone else. The procedure is still ongoing. If he is not satisfied with his response he has the right of appeal. We will wait and see what the appeal decision is.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, and I want to thank the Premier. I thought maybe his 18 years in Ottawa might have been wasted but they weren't because you can stand and say nothing better than anybody I have ever seen in this House before. You have confused many people with your answers. The Premier alluded to the expertise of Rothschild and all that sort of thing, how does anybody and the taxpayers of Nova Scotia know whether Rothschild has any expertise in this or not? For two years they tried to sell the company and they couldn't. We paid them thousands of dollars, we can't find out how much. The Premier says, follow the freedom of information procedures and we are doing that. Will the Premier answer any questions forthrightly so that the public and the Nova Scotian taxpayer can understand? It is not unreasonable to know how much you simply paid Rothschild.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in the words of a former member of the Legislature, I am shocked and appalled at the position of the honourable member. For 15 years we, in this province, wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on consultants for Sydney Steel Corporation, year after year not knowing where the money went or any kind of standard for the value of that money. Now, we hire Rothschild for a few months to give us a few bits of information on Nova Scotia Resources Limited and the Official Opposition goes ballistic.

[Page 360]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. In the recent Speech from the Throne there were nearly 100 promises and regrettably, in that Speech from the Throne there was no mention of any programs or plans to combat violence against women. On Tuesday this House passed a resolution dealing with the chronic underfunding of supports and services for abused women in Nova Scotia. My questions are for the Premier and they are about that commitment. My first question is, in view of the resolution and the deficiencies in the Speech from the Throne, will the Premier show some leadership and commit to stable core funding for transition houses, funding that reflects the true costs of their operations?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the honourable member for questioning on this very important subject, but I would like to refer it to the honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to deal with that question insofar as it relates to the subject of family violence. As you well know, this government instituted a program, the Framework for Action Against Family Violence Initiative a number of years ago, in 1994 I believe. I think this is something that our government can be very proud of. Nearly 3,000 people throughout the Justice Department - justice workers, police, prosecution, et cetera - have been trained. We have had a pro-arrest, pro-charge policy. A number of protocols have been developed. This has been very successful. We have extended funding on the different transition houses and for programs operated by them until the end of the year.

[3:15 p.m.]

We presently have an assessment of that program going on and we should have that reported back to us in the near future. We will then be looking at continuing this program and seeing what we should be doing in this area in the coming year. Thank you.

MS. O'CONNELL: Well, Mr. Speaker, that is interesting because the commitment that women in this province need from the Premier and the government around that very program is the topic of my two supplementaries.

Mr. Speaker, there are seven projects under the Framework for Action Against Family Violence Initiative that are waiting on funding renewal. Will the Premier do whatever he has to do to speed up the process? These programs are due to run out at the end of December and they will not be notified until two weeks before the end of December as to whether or not their funding will be renewed. My question for the Premier, will he tell the House now that

[Page 361]

he will speed this thing up and make sure that those seven programs have the funding they need for the new year?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer the question to the honourable Minister of Justice.

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, those seven projects were instigated under the Framework for Action Against Family Violence Initiative. They were pilot projects to look at different services that could be provided and different ways we could be providing these services.

The funding for these programs expired during different parts of this year. We wanted to have these services to be able to continue so that we would be able to do a full assessment of them. So just in the last several months this government extended funding for all these projects so they would have funding to the end of this year.

We are doing an assessment of this program, as I mentioned. We expect this assessment to be returned to our department in the very near future. We will be appraising that and then we will be deciding what policy we should be going forward with in the new year and what services will be going forward under this particular program.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my third question is for the Premier because I already asked the Minister of Justice this question last year. Earlier this year the Minister of Justice, in defiance of calls from legal and women's groups and precedents in other jurisdictions, has refused to mandate the training of judges on the question of family violence. So my question is to the Premier, not the Minster of Justice this time. Will the Premier do the right thing and instruct the Minister of Justice to mandate training for judges?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I sort of have a conflict of interest there, but I would like to refer this question to the honourable Minister of Justice.

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, family violence is a very important problem and we are very concerned about training everybody in the justice area. As I mentioned, we had a training program, we trained more than 3,000 workers in the justice area and I believe that is everybody in the police, prosecution service, justice workers, straight down the line.

It is very important to understand that the courts are independent and that it is wrong for a government to train courts. It would be like if we did not like a decision, that we train them and indoctrinate them to make the right decision. They must remain independent.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that the courts, I know, are also very concerned with this and the courts at all levels have their own training programs. I had an opportunity to talk with the Chief Justice of the Province of Nova Scotia and he talked to me about a number of

[Page 362]

the programs that the courts put on for their judges. He sent me a letter detailing that. I wrote the honourable member and I sent her a lot of information that was provided to me to explain the different training programs the different judges put on in this very particular area.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development. My question to the minister is, would the minister care to indicate to the House whether or not the concessions that Ranka Enterprise was looking for were excessive compared to the concessions that were asked for by many other companies that the government has supported over the last four years? I have a partial list here, but companies like AT&T, Scotiabank, Shaw and Michelin or maybe some of the smaller and less well-known companies that the government has seen fit to support. Would the minister indicate whether he thinks that the Ranka requests were excessive compared to the others that he has received?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. As he would know, each development deal that we do in the Province of Nova Scotia is done on an individual basis with individual companies based on what they are bringing to the table and what we are prepared to do with taxpayers' dollars in order to promote employment in this province. Each one of these deals that we do is done in a different way based on the nature of the jobs to be created, the length of the jobs to be created and the kind of equity that each company brings to the discussions. So it is difficult to answer the question directly except to say that we judge each one of them on their merits.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer. Yesterday in the House the minister stated that this company wanted $10,000 per job and he did mention the number 2,000 as being the number of jobs that well may be involved. That is the number that they are using in New Brunswick as this company is now . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: That is the number he used, too.

DR. HAMM: Well, yes, and the minister used the number 2,000 himself. What they were asking for is $10,000 per job and when I look at some of the other deals, I look at Mentor Networks, 138 jobs and that was $4.5 million; Efamol, a $2.8 million loan, 30 new jobs; and Newbridge Networks Group, 50 jobs, $10 million. Would the minister indicate why he was prepared to support those kinds of numbers to create those kinds of jobs and yet he was very quick to indicate that the Ranka jobs were not worth $10,000 a job?

[Page 363]

I must remind the House, before the minister answers, that yesterday the minister had no knowledge of the payroll of Ranka and had no knowledge of the hourly rate that Ranka would be paying their workers were they to come to Nova Scotia.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, you know it is hard to get somewhere if you don't know where you are going. (Laughter) I really don't know where he is going with this information, in support of Ranka. I really don't know because he mentioned that I said 2,000 jobs yesterday. Yes, I did. I said 2,000 jobs was a pipe dream, that is what I said yesterday. I know what I said. He keeps talking about 2,000 jobs. Yesterday he told this House that we had lost this deal to New Brunswick. Camille Theriault, the Minister of Development for New Brunswick, was on the air this afternoon saying he doesn't have a deal with Ranka because he is not satisfied with what Ranka is approaching the Province of New Brunswick about.

So the Leader of the Opposition obviously knows something that even the New Brunswick Government doesn't know at this point, that New Brunswick has taken Ranka from Nova Scotia. Ranka hasn't done a deal with anybody yet and I will tell you, we offered incentives for Ranka to come to Nova Scotia based on the proposal submitted to us by Ranka and what we are simply saying is that if we can sustain these jobs in Nova Scotia at a cost I think the taxpayers will support, we are prepared to look at it. He also talks about deals that were made by this government in the past.

My intrepid researchers tell me that his government, previously, since he quoted some of the deals we made, Mr. Speaker, I will quote some of the ones they made over the past few years, deals such as NSC Diesel, Technitread, Upper Clements, the highway to nowhere, those are all deals that were brokered by the Tories a number of years ago. I will refer to one that they did, a deal, a so-called good deal for Nova Scotia, with Premium Automotive, $2.7 million. I will also tell you that they did one deal with Hi-Tech Woodworkers and it only took them four months after they got the money to leave the province.

What I am trying to say, Mr. Speaker, to the members of the House is that we have to be very careful when we are dealing with companies who want to locate in the Maritimes that we know very little about. We want to do due diligence on those companies. We want to make sure we are getting value for taxpayers' dollars and that is what I intend to do in each and every one of those deals.

DR. HAMM: That's all well and good, Mr. Speaker, and I will continue with the minister. The minister is starting to try to cover his tracks. On August 27th, senior officials from Ranka bought their own plane tickets, made their own reservations in hotels in Sydney and wanted to come to look at Cape Breton Island, just to look at the countryside and perhaps decide if they wanted to bring 2,000 jobs to Cape Breton. Then they were called three hours before they were due to leave and told not to come. This minister made light of that. The minister would have you believe . . .

[Page 364]

AN HON. MEMBER: Is there a question?

DR. HAMM: . . . that on October 28th I triggered the interest in New Brunswick in Ranka. The interests and the negotiations with two other provinces began after August 27th when Ranka got the cold shoulder from this minister and this government.

MR. SPEAKER: Final supplementary, please.

DR. HAMM: My question to the minister is simply this. How can this minister stand in this place and say he is making reasoned decisions about Ranka when he stood here yesterday and said, I don't know the payroll, I don't know how much they are going to pay? In fact, he didn't know very much about Ranka and he didn't even think that it was important enough to tell the Premier about Ranka, who had been negotiating for four months to bring 2,000 jobs to Nova Scotia. That's the kind of consideration that this minister is bringing to his portfolio.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious to me that the honourable Leader of the Opposition knows very little about business, very little about business. I can tell you that when you are dealing with a company that you know very little about, you have to be very careful, you have to do due diligence, extensive due diligence, you have to weigh the factors out here. For example, what is this company's track record? He says that I turned this company away. I have never talked to the principals of this company. They have never called me. They have dealt through a third . . .

DR. HAMM: Why didn't you call them?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: They have dealt through a third person. Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is obviously lobbying for Ranka. That is the only conclusion that I can come to.

DR. HAMM: I am lobbying for jobs for Cape Breton.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Well, so are we. We are lobbying for jobs in Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, I can tell you, unlike the previous government, we just don't throw taxpayers' money at a job prospect and hope. We want to ensure that we get the best possible deal for the public monies that we are laying out here. I am not going to make any deals in this province unless they are in the best interest of the taxpayers.

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

[Page 365]



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will continue with the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. The minister says that he is going to negotiate the best deal. He said, I didn't even call the principals of Ranka. I can't understand when we in this province have been bombarded with the information in New Brunswick that the Premier of New Brunswick for years would get on the phone and call when there was the least suggestion that there would be a job come to New Brunswick.

Here we have, for four months, a company was negotiating to come to Nova Scotia and the Minister of Economic Development, the minister responsible to bring jobs to Nova Scotia, couldn't even pick up the phone and say, hello, this is Manning MacDonald, I would like to talk to you about those jobs because we are interested in those jobs. He wasn't interested enough even to tell the Premier that they were around. If that is the kind of approach that we are going to have then there will never be jobs in Cape Breton with this kind of an approach.

My question to the minister, is he prepared to commit to this House that the next time, the very next time that jobs come calling to Nova Scotia, that he and this Premier will personally get involved and at least find out what it is all about before they are prepared to say, don't bother to come?

[3:30 p.m.]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what the question was. I heard a lot of bluster over there, but I don't know if there was a question, except perhaps he wants to know if I will call up every deal, myself, that comes to Nova Scotia. We have account executives in our department who work on these projects and when I feel that I, at my level, should get involved as a deal-maker, perhaps at the end on any particular deal, then I will. In this particular case it didn't get that far. In this particular case we have never dealt directly with Ranka in Cape Breton. We dealt with a third party. I have never met the gentleman who owns the company and I hear today that New Brunswick hasn't made a deal with them either, that they are watching things unfold with this particular company to see what they are going to bring to the table.

Mr. Speaker, we want a company here that is going to put some equity into a business in Nova Scotia that is going to ensure that the jobs they put in place here are sustainable into the future. I want to make sure that these jobs are well-paying jobs and I want to make sure that these jobs are jobs that are going to be around so as to ensure that we get the best value for the taxpayers' dollars.

[Page 366]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue with the minister. The minister said that at his level it wasn't important enough that he would get involved. He talked about and he disputed the fact that there may be 2,000 jobs and he said on an occasion, well, it was only 400 jobs. My question to the minister is specifically this. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Here is the question.

DR. HAMM: When jobs come calling to Nova Scotia, at what level does the minister think it is important enough that he pick up the telephone and make a call? Is it 400, is it 600, is it 800, is it 1,000? How many jobs have to come calling before this minister thinks it is important enough for him to pick up the phone and find out what it is all about?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, if I think it is good for Nova Scotia, one job will make me call somebody. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I also want to say to you that, unlike the previous government, we try to make business decisions here in bringing new jobs, not political decisions. We don't try to get on the phone to make some kind of political deal to get people in here to get us by the next election. We would like to get people in this province who are going to stay here; we would like to get business interests that are going to create jobs in this province well into the future, not for a three or four month period which was the case in the past with that government.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister seems to be indicating that I have any more interest in this in trying to generate his interest the next time the jobs come calling. I never have indicated how you should go, all I am saying to the minister is that he should be involved. He wasn't involved and the opportunity slipped away.

My question is to the Premier. Is this Premier prepared to indicate to his Minister of Economic Development that the next time 400 jobs come calling to Nova Scotia that (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. HAMM: The next time 400, or whatever number of jobs, come to Nova Scotia that he would indicate to his Minister of Economic Development that he be informed, that it is important enough for this Premier to be involved when jobs come calling?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am getting whiplash from the changes in the number of jobs, but I would like to refer this question to the honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

[Page 367]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I said yesterday in the House, in response to the question from the honourable Leader of the Opposition, that it was up to 1,500 jobs yesterday, but I said this was only Wednesday; by Friday it would probably be 2,000. Obviously, this is Thursday, and it is back to 400.

Mr. Speaker, I again say to this House and to the people of Nova Scotia, we were dealing with Ranka in Cape Breton on the construction of a new facility, initially. They wanted a third party to come to see us to get $8 million to construct a new facility for them. I can recall, and I am sure members of this House will recall another such industry that came to Cape Breton many years ago and it was called, General Instruments. When you are talking about factories of this kind, remember General Instruments? The government of the day made a building available to them. The government of the day made huge incentives available to them for a factory operation employing a number of people, and lo and behold, when the subsidies ran out one, morning we woke up in Cape Breton, and they were gone. They were gone; the building was empty and they were gone. As soon as they had to put a dollar of their own money into the pot, they were gone.

I am not saying, Mr. Speaker, that that is the case here. We are looking very carefully at any industry that wants to locate in Cape Breton or anywhere else in Nova Scotia or, indeed, in New Brunswick or the Maritimes, that they are bringing sufficient equity to the table to make it a good deal for the workers of Nova Scotia and a good deal for the taxpayers, not a good deal for the company.

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



MR. JOHN HOLM: I would like to direct a question to the Premier. Yesterday I raised the question of the new prisons that the government has been studying the report on for about seven or eight months. My question to the Premier, though, is a very simple question, and that is simply this, if the government should be proceeding with the construction of any new correctional facilities, will the Premier guarantee that the design and construction of those will go out to public tender? Will the Premier commit that there will be a public tender called for the design and construction of any new correctional facilities?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: We have had the Custody Configuration Program underway in which we had a private partner consultant who has been assisting us in examining our present correctional facilities. Mr. Speaker, as you well know, our correctional facilities do need a considerable amount of work. We inherited those from municipal government and

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we are looking at ways that we can upgrade these and make them safer and more efficient for inmates and safer for the public of Nova Scotia. We have a very good report which the government has received and we are in the process of examining that. We will be reporting to government in the very near future with our response to that. At that time we will be making it public, the report, together with our response to it.

MR. SPEAKER: There is time for one supplementary question.

MR. HOLM: The way that report, that contract, is written, it provides for sole-sourcing but it also provides for the government the opportunity to terminate those negotiations and therefore go out to public tender. We have seen what the sole-sourcing has cost so far in the schools in Sydney, which went from $5 million to $15 million and the one in the Minister of Education's riding going from $8 million to over $25 million.

My question is to the Premier who believes in good fiscal management - we know because he told us so - my question is simply this, will the Premier guarantee that Nova Scotians will get the best quality and the best value for their dollar by going to a full and open tendering process for the design and construction of any correctional facilities that are going to be built in the Province of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: I would like to refer that question to the honourable Minister of Justice.

MR. MITCHELL: This is not a question of sole-sourcing; this is a question under a Co-operative Business Solution process which enables us to do an examination of the problem and then roll into a solution to the problem. There are off-ramps where we can get out of that particular arrangement and do it any way we wish. We are in the process of examining the report. We will be reporting on that later on. We will be releasing the report and we will be reporting to the House on our response.

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. During the course of Question Period, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism said to me that the New Brunswick Government had not finalized any deal with Ranka. I have in front of me information to the contrary.

A radio report today says Ranka Enterprises has chosen New Brunswick for a new clothing plant that will create up to 1,500 jobs. According to Radio-Canada, Ranka made its decision today at a meeting with New Brunswick government officials. Minister of Economic Development Camille Theriault says the final details are still being worked out and he hopes to have the company's business plan in 10 days. This government dropped it and it dropped it big time.

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MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order. It is simply a radio report. (Interruption) Yes, exactly, the honourable member for Kings North is quite correct, it is nothing more than a radio report, there is no point of order.


MR. SPEAKER: 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, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: When the debate was adjourned the honourable member for Halifax Fairview had started her remarks. She used about five minutes of her time.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, when we did adjourn on Tuesday I had only just begun my remarks and I want to very briefly summarize what I had said because I think it is significant.

I had attempted to pay tribute in a small way to all of the women who have and continue to serve in this House and I had drawn our attention and the attention of all members to the continuing under-representation of women in this House. I said that I had hoped and I felt confident that all political Parties would see this under-representation as a weakness in Party structures and in their representation, and that all women would be encouraged to seek public office in order to improve the numbers, if you like, on the representation and to balance it somewhat in the course of the coming years.

I had also said at that time that we need to pay tribute to other women too, women who are not necessarily public figures or who have not necessarily chosen partisan public life as their forum for civic duty or activism in the community. I had just briefly paid tribute to Moira MacPherson from Halifax Fairview who spent the larger part of the last 20 years, in her own illness and suffering, helping others with Parkinson's disease. I think that women like Moira MacPherson are found all over this province and we can honour them, whether we name them or not, at such a time and I would like to do that.

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I would like to mention briefly also a couple of other women who have made their mark in Nova Scotia in the last number of years. I think the House would be interested to know that that wonderful activist, that activist-pacifist, if you like, Muriel Duckworth, has entered her 90th year and has continued until the present day to pursue her goals of peace, non-violence and encouraging women to participate in the public process. I think that it is worth paying tribute to her even briefly today.

Tonight another activist from Halifax celebrates her 80th birthday and that is Betty Peterson. I know this House wishes this woman as well, a woman who had contributed to the peace movement and many other causes in the community, that this House would wish her well on her 80th birthday.

I want to talk for a few minutes about the news from Halifax Fairview. When I spoke last time - and I am privileged, I feel, to have the opportunity to speak again - in my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, I spoke about the difficulties that the Fairview Legion had in acquiring its elevator for the increasing number of disabled veterans who require such a facility in order to use the legion in Fairview. Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to report to the House that the Fairview Legion has its elevator. It was opened in April and, having taken a ride on it myself recently, I have to say that it is not only comfortable and convenient, but a real asset to the veterans and the others who use the Fairview Legion.

[3:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the mobile home owners in Halifax Fairview are a little bit happier than they were some months ago and that is to the credit of the government, although it is a limited credit. The mobile home owners have some small protection now against rent gouging by landlords, but Mr. Speaker, the legislation that was passed in this House is minimal. It requires, after the fact action, and the mobile home owners in Fairview would want me to say, I think, that more needs to be done to protect the rights and the interests of those mobile home owners and mobile home owners all over Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I recently spent a morning with the staff and the parents at the Fairview Parent and Tot Centre. The Fairview Parent and Tot Centre at the Fairview United Church is a truly worthwhile program. It is a program that provides, it is not a daycare centre, Mr. Speaker, it is a program for parents and children which enables parents, and they are mostly mothers, to come to the centre, bring their children, have the children do learning activities while the parents hone their parenting skills and find access to the resources they need in the community.

Mr. Speaker, I spent a morning with the women, a large group of women, probably 12 or 15, who outlined for me the enormous difficulties each one was having with struggling through the system; whether it was trying to find a job, job training, adequate child care so

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they could go to work or take training or any other of the whole range of problems that these young mothers struggle to cope with.

I guess that I would say that I would hope the government remembers groups such as the Fairview Parent and Tot Centre and all the other mothers and children who need support services, child care, job opportunities, training opportunities and the things that will make them what they want to be, which is more than adequate contributing parents and citizens. Mr. Speaker, I think that it is the government's responsibility to make sure that these things happen.

Just a couple of days ago, Mr. Speaker, I had the pleasure of attending the opening of the Halifax West Independent Student Centre. I brought in a resolution congratulating the school, the school community and the surrounding community for this wonderful initiative because it is a fine program. I think that it indicates something in the modern world that schools need these kinds of support services. It is clear to many people, not just those of us who are teachers and parents but others, that more and more of society's ills come to school with the students whether they be small children or whether they be high school age children. It is no less true at one high school than at another.

Mr. Speaker, they have provided for students who have no place to live or who live independently from their families or who simply need support in order to get the job done and graduate from high school. They provide such a range of services and they have done that by drawing on the resources in the community whether it is community health practitioners, planned parenthood, volunteer tutoring, the business community, and they have drawn on all these resources and they have put together a wonderful centre which is attractive, spacious and which I think, most importantly, is welcomed by the school, so it is sure to be a success because the school has put itself behind this enterprise and intends to make it work.

I think I spoke last year at some point in this House about Alma Moores. Alma Moores lives on Frederick Avenue and is a little bit happier today than she was a few months ago, even as recently as a few weeks ago. Alma Moores is deaf and she has spent the last 10 or 11 years of her life trying to make the people in the Government of Nova Scotia aware that the government policy on interpreter services for medical appointments has been and continues to be totally inadequate for the deaf and hearing-impaired community.

The present policy on this is that MSI will pay for interpreter services only for medical appointments that are located in hospitals. We all know how health care has changed, how it's no longer hospital-based and we also know that a wide range of services are available elsewhere in the community that are indeed medical services. I say that Alma Moores is a happier woman today because of the recent Supreme Court decision. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled recently that it is a violation of the rights of hearing-impaired people not to be given interpreter services for medical services. This interpretation by the Supreme Court of Canada has long been needed and will be of great assistance to people like Alma when this

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government will act on the decision and implement the payment for services that are so badly needed.

I mention her and I hope that for her sake and the sake of others that these services will become available in short order without the need for so many people to have to scrounge and scrape from their pocketbooks simply to pay the $35 an hour that it costs to have an interpreter accompany a deaf person to a medical appointment. We know that if you cannot communicate with a medical professional, you cannot get the best quality service and may be very likely to get an inferior service that is inadequate due to miscommunication and limited information being provided.

I am pleased about the Supreme Court decision and hope that the government soon acts upon it.

I recently moved my office from Rufus Avenue in Fairview to the Bayers Road Shopping Centre. To my great surprise I discovered something that is going on in the west end of Halifax which I think has dire consequences. I think it's a serious problem, one which members may not be aware of though it may exist in their communities as well. The west end of Halifax has three major shopping malls: the Bayers Road mall, the West End Mall and the Halifax Shopping Centre. Within the last few years we have seen the arrival of the giant industrial shopping park in Halifax Fairview, the Bayers Lake Industrial Park. What we see happening, as more and more of these stores go into the huge industrial malls and as the stores become bigger and bigger, we see a decline in the traffic in the malls that exist inside, nearer to the centre of the city.

What we're seeing in Halifax Fairview is the closing of stores, one after the other, in two of the three west end shopping malls as the industrial park gets larger and larger and as people move their shopping practices and shift to the giant stores in the industrial park.

The issue here is not that we don't want those jobs. I don't think that anybody would say that we don't want those jobs in Halifax Fairview. I think the issue is if you create 10 jobs in one place and you lose 10 jobs or more in another place, you have made absolutely no net gain when it comes to creating jobs. So it is unfortunate that what may be going on there is simply job shifting rather than job creating because it can do no good in the City of Halifax to lose shopping centres, to lose merchants, to lose more accessible malls simply to move jobs to another location. I think that is worth commenting on at this time.

Mr. Speaker, in our work in Halifax Fairview we see a lot of people who, for one reason or another, need a little lift, they need a little bit of help. I wanted to mention just for the benefit of the government a couple of situations that I think they may well be aware of but are worth mentioning. The most common problems in Halifax Fairview over the last six to eight months to a year are these two:

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The first one, student loans, student aid, the struggle to get it, the struggle to get a job and pay for it; the predatory practices of the collection agencies; the difficulties that students have not just accessing the student loan system initially, but accessing the loan remission program; accessing the interest relief program; and then ultimately being faced with the problem of no job and the mounting and increasingly high student debt load. We have spoken about that before, as have others, but I think it is important to mention it here. It is so common that it is our most common request for assistance in Halifax Fairview.

The other problem is not as common but it is related to people who want to go to school as well. We have seen several cases in Halifax Fairview, Mr. Speaker, of the bizarre, circular reasoning that some students and would-be students get trapped in because of social assistance. I want to bring the attention of the House to it and put it on the record as something that I think we need to address.

The problem is circular here and it reflects the separate government departments and the worst side of separate departments and their bureaucracies, Mr. Speaker. It goes like this - and I had to write it down so I could keep it straight in my mind - if you are receiving social assistance and you want to go to school, you need approval from your worker. If you are not receiving social assistance and you go to school, you live in abject poverty, you can't get social assistance so you quit school because you have discovered that you can't eat and other basic necessities of life. When you go to social assistance you are told that you can't have it because you quit school.

Mr. Speaker, I think that is a vicious circle of the worst kind that has trapped and bewildered a fair number of Nova Scotian citizens and some of them, indeed, in Halifax Fairview.

I made mention in a resolution today about what happened at Springvale School on Downs Avenue only last Friday. I mention it not just because it is a concern in Halifax Fairview but because it is so emblematic of the major difficulties going on around the health of our public schools. Parents and students, well, students, were given a note on Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at Springvale School. Mr. Speaker, that is an elementary school, Primary to Grade 6.

Students were handed a notice to take home to their parents and the parents received it and it said, we have a problem with this school that the principal had found out about only at lunchtime apparently. We will be bringing in the proper people to do the clean-up of, I think it was the floors in the basement and something else, with chlorine bleach to clean up the mould problem. Some of the children were allergic to the clean-up materials, which is another whole level of the problem but what it shows is yet again, as we see it weekly almost in the newspapers, that school after school in Nova Scotia is suffering from disrepair, unhealthy air, leaky roofs and all the things that cause the health-related hazards that affect our children's learning and their health.

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[4:00 p.m.]

I think it is crucially important, as I indicated in that resolution, that the government keep its promise in the Throne Speech and make it real, not just say some warm fuzzy things about it, but make it real so that the schools of this province can be fit to live in, fit to work in and fit to think in.

To the Throne Speech itself. I listened to the Throne Speech with a certain amount of, how shall I say it, tolerance might not be the right word. What I am trying to say, Mr. Speaker, is that one expects a government, when presenting a Throne Speech, to put its best foot forward. The government presumably attempted to do that. This Throne Speech was particularly rhetorical and full of puffery. It was also noticeable for the significant absences in some areas of mention of the government's plans or the government's achievements that lead to plans that are in the works right now.

I want to start with education. I think education is probably the section of the Throne Speech that best exhibits the growing gap between government rhetoric and government reality. Now, I made a list of some of the puffery and I just cannot resist pointing out to the members this list of things that the government is taking credit for at this time that are not even warmed over. Ice-cold might be a more accurate description.

Class sizes. Mr. Speaker, the last Throne Speech promised to reduce class sizes. My recollection is that this Throne Speech recommended reducing larger class sizes. One has to wonder whether that is actually backtracking and larger class sizes will be reduced by increasing the size of smaller classes.

Another thing on the puffery list is team teaching. Team teaching has been around - I was going to say since the year ought, but that would mean that I have been around since the year ought. It has certainly been around ever since I started teaching. (Interruption) No, I am not that old. The honourable member is quite right. Having taught for 18 years, I can say without fail that team teaching was around when I began to teach. This is not a new concept. It is not a new initiative. It is not something that the government needs to pat itself on the back about. In fact, team teaching in junior high school, as indicated in today's newspaper, is somewhat problematic actually, because at the same time - and this exhibits another problem with government policy. At the same time that the outcomes movement and the standards movement are requiring more properly trained teachers in specific disciplines such as math and science, this warmed-over team teaching recommends that teachers teach different subjects to one group of students and the giving and the taking away there and the juxtaposition of the two leaves the outcomes, which government is so fond of, in doubt.

Peer mediation, Mr. Speaker, has been around for a long time, too. That is not new. The government cannot take credit for that. Peer mediation - for those of you who don't know - is an organized process by which students negotiate with one another when they have

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problems and conflicts. It has been around, it is not new and it is not something that I think the government should give itself one iota of credit for. Conflict resolution, the same goes, Mr. Speaker.

Prevention of substance abuse - another bit of puffery in the Speech from the Throne - promises something that already exists. Again, it has been around ever since I can remember; in fact, Mr. Speaker, I got to the stage that if I saw one more class project with pictures of Johnny Walker on it, I was going to die of boredom.

Support groups; again, they have been there for a long time. Support groups for parents. In the school that I taught, we had a support group for parents; we had two support groups for parents; we had fireside chats; and we had a single-parent support group, Mr. Speaker. This is not new and it is not news.

I already referred to air quality standards; there needs to be more there. There have been implemented, largely at the insistence of the community and groups like CASLE, which works to improve air quality and the health of schools, largely because of those groups, Mr. Speaker, we have had some movement in the schools towards at least the checking of air quality in the most dire situations and attempts to do something about it.

So, with education, that is what is there, but I think the more important question is, what is missing? What is missing from this Throne Speech with regard to education, what is absolutely absent, is you couldn't tell from reading this Throne Speech, you couldn't tell it anywhere in there, that the direction of education in this province since 1993 has been totally changed and we have a system in place in this province which is just about unrecognizable in terms of education as we knew it.

Now there are a huge number of changes. I am not going to bother talking about amalgamation, which has had drastic effects on many boards; I am not going to talk directly about the Education Act, which has allowed practices and supported this new direction in education - if you can call it a direction - what I want to talk about, because it is absolutely indicative of what is going on, is the Horton school. Mr. Speaker, I must talk about the Horton school.

AN HON. MEMBER: Whose constituency is it in?

MS. O'CONNELL: Well, we will get to that. The honourable member asks, whose constituency is the Horton mega-school, the Taj Mahal of schools, located in? I have to say that we know it is in the riding of the Minister of Education, but more about that in a few minutes.

[Page 376]

Mr. Speaker, we know the reason why this is happening. We know why the privatization of schools is being carried out. We know that the motive, if you like, for the privatization of schools is to get the debt off the books of the Province of Nova Scotia. Now that has been said before, but what I think has not been said clearly enough is that what this means is that the driving force in education today has nothing to do with education; it is not about education, it is about money.

The process; let's talk about the process. Well, this government went into public-private partnerships for school construction and leasing the way I would imagine that a lunatic sky pilot gets in a plane and flies up in the air in a blinding snowstorm. Mr. Speaker, they started it without knowing where they were going, what it was going to cost, what the end result was going to look like, and they simply stumbled about and it is perfectly clear now, Sherwood Park has been open for almost two years, it opened on January 9, 1996 and I know that because I was there on February 24th. I might add that the IBM technicians were just about living in the school and had been since December but that is another long story. They went into this with no clear plan, nothing in writing, no guidelines, no principles, no limitations and where we are today is we have a school that has been open almost two years, which is still flying blind, as far as we know it has no maintenance agreements, no contracts, nothing that would indicate what is being paid, who is paying and so on.

Let's talk about the process for getting these schools up and running. This Cooperative Business Solutions, I think it is called, does not seem to involve what we used to understand to be open tendering. Businesses are asked for proposals and then whoever does it - and we are not sure who does what around here anymore with regard to education - picks one out of a hat or whatever and then says, okay, you guys are it. Now here is a whole community that you can sit down with and these people can tell you what they would like in a school.

All right now picture this, it is like turning a three year old loose in a candy store. So people sit down with a consortium of businesses and they say, okay here is what we would like in the school and I am going to use Horton for an example. We would like to have in our school two soccer fields, we would like to have an outdoor Roman amphitheatre, we would like to have businesses, including an IBM retail store, we would like to have a software business in there and not only will we put the software business in there but we will enclose the students in a fishbowl. We will put one-way glass into that school so that business can come in and conduct its experiments on a working, practising, active classroom. The community might even say we would like a spectacular view of the Minas Basin and the list goes on. Everything you ever wanted in a school.

It is the minister's edifice complex. We have this magnificent, 8th wonder of the world going up in the Annapolis Valley. Why in the name of Heaven would the consortium say to any one of those requests, no, you are being extravagant, no we can't do that, this is ridiculous, you are over the top here folks? Why would a consortium say that, when every single time they add something to the building the leasing costs go up, the construction costs

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go up. It is like money in the bank and is that any way to build a school in a province where there are problems all over and there are other communities in as dire need of schools? Is this any way to go through a process where it goes from $7.1 million, to $8 million, to $15 million, to $20 million and I have seen every one of these figures in print up to $25.7 million? And no wonder, it is a free-for-all time.

I heard yesterday that in the Annapolis Valley they call the Horton High School the political playground. That is a disgrace and a shame. I think for business it is a political playground that businesses themselves do not even respect.

[4:15 p.m.]

This carried on for some time, Mr. Speaker, this total devotion, this blind loyalty to an illegitimate process and then along came the new Premier. The new Premier said, when he saw what a mess it was, gee, golly I had better look into this. Then what he did, while he was looking into it, he went around the province saying to everybody, or if they came to him in Halifax, saying to them, you want a new school? You can have a school. Without knowing whether this process, which has already fallen flat and has cost the taxpayers millions, whether they are going to re-engage in this horrendously illegitimate process or not, he is busy going around the province promising the moon to communities desperately in need of a school. I cannot say that is, at this point, an act of good faith.

Mr. Speaker, he said in here, I think yesterday, we need good affordable schools and this is the way to build them. Now, this is at the same time that he said, we have to finish this report. I would suggest that the government has made up its mind. It is cooked, it does not know what to do. It has got a big problem. It has got a $0.25 billion needed in school construction, and because it has no clues how to do it, and it has not even occurred to this government that it could set up a Crown Corporation for the construction of schools, that it could cut out a whole lot of the guff and illegitimacy. The Premier is going around with his mind made up, but pretending to be looking into the matter.

You know, Horton high school, and Lord knows the students at Horton, the community there needs a high school, there is no question about that. Mr. Speaker, I would not want to be misconstrued on this subject for one minute. Horton needs a school, so does Kings County Academy, I understand. So do the students from Canning, Hammonds Plains, École Carrefour and Amherst students need a school. They have been promised one, I believe, for 25 years. Is that correct? The fact of the matter is that he is just going around saying everybody can have what they want, and I suspect that he will just shuffle off to the polls before he has to do one single fiddly thing about it. Once again, school construction is as political as it ever was, or even more political.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's a good point.

[Page 378]

MS. O'CONNELL: I thank the honourable member for the compliment because it is a good point. This process was never about education and there are several major consequences, Mr. Speaker.

The first consequence is that along with private industries' so-called partnership in education, and I think I need to remind the House that it is not a partnership at all. A partnership is something joint. You are talking to an English teacher now. The word partnership means something joint. It does not mean two separate parallel things with each group saying, I do not want to get involved, I just want my money, or I do not want to get involved, I just want this building and the technology that goes with it. The philosophy of this department which this particular initiative, so-called, demonstrates and opens the door to, is the running of schools for profit, the selling of places for profit, the selling of students to business enterprises and on and on. And we lose, we lose here in this province what we stood for which was public education insofar as we could do it for everybody no matter who they were, where they lived or what their needs were. That is just about gone from this province.

The second consequence is related to that first. What we've got here is two-tiered education. We have, if you like, the contracting out and the selling off, and we will have, when the minister's folly in the Valley is completed, the Taj Mahal is finished, we will have a school for a certain number - 1,000 students - who happen to live on one side of the line outside of the Town of Kentville and outside of Canning. We will have people moving two minutes out of the town which pays a higher contribution to the education system, out of the town and into the county. The word is already out that the requests for transfers have multiplied humongously. We'll have an education system there where some students will go to schools that have not been included in the new Horton facility and we will have a certain number of students who will be able to don their togas and head out to the Roman amphitheater for the circus.

It isn't just true down there, I'm using it as an example. The fact of the matter is that everywhere business, if it works, and it isn't going to work, we will have fancy, high-tech, technology rich schools that will be there for those who are fortunate enough to have them, and we will have the leftovers, the ones with the mould, the ones with the leaky roofs, the ones with the rundown playgrounds and the dangerous facilities or no playgrounds. That's what we will have for the rest.

I fail to see why any single person in the government of this province would think that is what Nova Scotians want for their children. We are not so self-centred that we don't care what happens to our neighbours' children. We're going to look out for our own but you better believe that we do have some sense of the social contract left. Some value ought to be placed on those students less fortunate who are unable to pay, for example, to stay after school in the Halifax Regional Municipality where you can stay after school for $59 extra and do explosive science experiments that are taught by franchisees of a national business. That is what we have come to. It's a shame and it is what we have come to in this province.

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There are a couple of other areas that I feel we need to talk about, that I need to mention. I am not going to say anything about the offshore gas, not because I think it isn't absolutely vital to the future of this province but because I think my colleagues have spoken ably and will continue to do that. The issues are pretty plain and Nova Scotians are getting a good airing on it. I am not going to spend any of what time I have left on that particular issue although I would very much like to.

I want to talk about something that I haven't heard mentioned yet, I don't think, in this session of the House. That is forestry. Did you mention it? I apologize to the member for Queens. He says he has mentioned it. My attention span is certainly not perfect so I do apologize to him.

The Throne Speech says that there will be legislation. I don't think there's anybody here who doesn't know the state of the forests in Nova Scotia. Even the records from voluntary reporting of the cuts of our forests indicate that with the softwood and pulpwood, we are over cutting so far that there is and has been a crisis for some time in the forests of Nova Scotia.

Now, before we say, good, to this government for bringing in some kind of legislation, I think we need to look at the record of the government. Mr. Speaker, I know, we know, Nova Scotians know what is needed in this industry. We need a forest inventory; we need to know how truly bad it is out there. We need mandatory reporting; we need to count those darn trees. We need to know where every single one of them is. We need a strategy for value added, and the government did mention this in the Speech from the Throne, we need a strategy for value added that creates jobs and stops the big industrial foresters from trucking on out of this province and getting away with our primary resource.

We need to create jobs, too, by putting people to work restoring the damage that has been done. It is a huge job creator, Mr. Speaker. Put people to work who know what they are doing, to clean the place up and to rebuild our forests.

Mr. Speaker, we need some kind of incentives, we do. We have the largest percentage of privately owned woodland in Canada per capita, somewhere between 48 per cent and 52 per cent of our forest is privately owned. We have to say to those people who inherited it from grand-pappy, let it sit and then mowed it over one day when they needed money - and that is fair, that is a resource - we need to say to them that you can't do that without paying some kind of penalty and we would like, instead, to give you incentives so that you will practice sustainable forestry and preserve and restore the natural biodiversity of our forests.

We need to create flexible silviculture programs and forest management strategies. We don't just want to line up monocultures and plant little rows over and over again everywhere, we need to be more creative and I would say that it probably needs more money as well. We need to educate people in this province, not just rural Nova Scotians but all of them, to the

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issue of the importance of the forest to the environment and its importance to industry. We need good education on the issues and the solutions so that all of us will play our part in preserving the ecology of our rural woodlands and our rural climate.

Now the problem, Mr. Speaker, is that this government promises legislation. This government has no credibility on forestry. Look at the history of it; first, we had the Coalition of Forest Interests. What a disaster that was. We had groups all over this province saying, you stacked the deck, you didn't listen and now you are going to stick it to us. Well, Mr. Speaker, that Coalition of Forest Interests was an initiative of this government that got itself absolutely nowhere.

Mr. Speaker, we had the Jim Campbells Barren fiasco. Everybody knows the history of that, I am not even going to attempt to go through it here. But I think it is important to note that the recent government reversal on the Jim Campbells Barren at this particular moment in time remains utterly meaningless without the legislation that supports it. We have been there, we have been around that track. Unless we have legislation, the same thing can happen all over again. This government has been told by people who know a great deal more than me that this could happen and, if they want to show their commitment to preserving our landscape, then they had better get on with legislating it.

Mr. Speaker, we haven't seen any signs of it in this session. We brought in another bill because the one we brought in in the spring could not include the Jim Campbells Barren because it had been taken from the list. Now we have a bill before this House that includes all 31 protected sites. That has to happen. Otherwise, the efforts of hundreds, maybe thousands of Nova Scotians, to bring this to the government's attention, to put it on their agenda and make them move on it, will have been in vain. Mr. Speaker, that would not be right.

[4:30 p.m.]

This is a government that until very recently thought that mining and parks could exist in the same bureaucracy. This is a government that until recently had a mining company dickering to drill in what was parkland. How could it possibly work? I do have to say, although I am waiting to hear the results of it, that it is a good move on the government's part to take the Parks Division out of the Department of Natural Resources and move it to the Department of the Environment.

Before I say anything else I am going to ask you how much time I have left.

MR. SPEAKER: Five minutes.

MS. O'CONNELL: I have a couple of more things that I want to mention in the few minutes that I have left.

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There is a passing mention in the Throne Speech. You would almost miss it. Passing mention to the government's telemedicine network. I just want to draw your attention to it. "The first and largest Telemedicine network in the world is connecting doctors and patients . . .", et cetera. Well, Mr. Speaker, it would be nice if it were true. This government has been touting their electronic resources. It is touting technology. It is doing everything it can to create the impression that we are hip. We are ready for the 21st Century. We are there. We know what we are doing.

I have to tell you, my eight year old nephew could have gone to the same electronic resource, to the Internet, and found what I found about telemedicine networks. For the edification of government, I want to just draw their attention to some facts. There are 498 telemedicine facilities in the U.S.A. There are 113 telemedicine networks funded, just government funded, by the U.S. federal government agencies or departments. The Telemedicine Information Exchange lists 193 telemedicine programs from 16 countries, including five from Canada, but it does not mention Nova Scotia. There are 294 articles discussing telemedicine in the Medline database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine for 1996 and 1997. I just make reference finally to the Federal Telemedicine Gateway which I found in a matter of seconds on the Internet, which lists the 18 American federal departments which participate in the joint working group on telemedicine inventory, which includes information on active federally-funded telemedicine projects that provide direct patient care. It includes the American Department of Defense, the Department of Agriculture, the Rural Utilities Service, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Department of Commerce, the National Telecommunications and Information administration, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Food and Drug Administration, and on and on.

I think that the government should be careful here. I do not think that puffery does any good at all if we are building any kind of a decent telemedicine network in this province. There are some questions. Look at the problem with the volunteer fire departments. There are a great many questions that have not yet been answered about the use of the electronic highway or whatever you want to call it in this province. There are many questions yet to be answered so if I were the government, I would be a tad cautious about my epic boasting about our wonderful technological expertise. I do not wish for a minute that we did not have technological expertise. I am no Luddite, but I think we should be careful how we talk about it and we should get a grip on some of the elementary concepts here before we puff ourselves up and pretend that we are some kind of electronic trailblazers, because we are not.

In conclusion, I want to say how much I appreciate the opportunity to speak in reply to the Speech from the Throne. I want to say that I certainly cannot vote for this Speech from the Throne and I have outlined my reasons quite clearly. But I will be happy to vote for the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the New Democratic Party. I think as it stands without the amendment, it is a record rather of inaction or incompetent action and a statement of puffery that doesn't do justice to the people of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

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MR. SPEAKER: Before we hear the next speaker in the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party has requested a moment on an introduction.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, there are a group of young people accompanied by a teacher in your gallery from the Millwood Environmental Action Team. This group of students and others who were in Grade 12 last year and have moved on to other things, they took on a research project into the whole question of the Sable gas project. You may recall that the Environmental Action Team were one of the interveners at the panel hearings this past spring. They have done a fairly exhaustive survey, a thousand households in the area were chosen and, as well, they surveyed the people at the high school. They have come up with some interesting conclusions which they have asked me to table.

Basically, the bottom line is that they say that residents are very concerned about the environmental impact of this project and they are concerned about the lack of communication surrounding the project, the economic concerns and the impact this project will have on enhancing the greenhouse effect. They have asked that I table this report, which I will. They have also indicated they are having some difficulty in delivering a copy of this report to the Premier and to the Leader of the Official Opposition and I indicated that I would certainly make sure these two people got a copy of this report.

I would like to ask members to welcome the following: Margaret Kelly, Jason Balcom, Kathryn Foote, Dearran Towns, Charles Neves, Alicia White, Mia Mackey, Jonathan Matters and the author of the report is Fred Hall who is with them and, of course, as I indicated earlier, they are the Environmental Action Team from Millwood High School. I would like to ask all members to please welcome these students and commend them, as I did, for the hard work in reviewing this whole issue. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: And a further word of introduction.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

MR. WILLIAM MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to also welcome the students from Millwood High School which happens to be in my riding, to Mr. Hall and all of the students. As you know, Millwood High School has been the leader for years on environmental concerns and they continue to do these things that are important in the community and they have started many projects that are beneficial not only to the Sackville area but to all of the province. On behalf of myself and all of the constituents of Sackville-Beaverbank, welcome and thanks for coming. (Applause)

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw the attention of the members to the gallery opposite. We have with us this afternoon, Mr. Lorne Armstrong, who will be a candidate in the spring election for the Progressive Conservatives. Please afford him a welcome to the House. (Applause)

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege and an honour to rise to participate in the debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I would like to bring greetings to the House and to you, sir, from that great constituency of Cape Breton Nova which I have had the honour to represent for some time.

I was certainly very inspired by the way in which His Honour delivered the Speech from the Throne. I was even more inspired by the content of the Speech from the Throne which His Honour delivered which contains much that could be commented on at great length. There is a great deal of meat in this document, 21 pages. Certainly, I will be commenting on several sections before I take my place but I would like to indicate that in general, the contents of the speech indicate a government that is moving in the right direction.

Mr. Speaker, we come to this House from the battlefield of the by-elections that were fought and then held on November 4th, by-elections in which our friends to the extreme left suffered a significant reverse because they had gone into those four contests expecting to win three seats out of four. The results, when the people had spoken, were that the Liberal Party had won Round I of the coming provincial election with two seats to one for each of the Opposition Parties. (Applause)

Further in those contests, the average vote polled by the four Liberal candidates running was 40 per cent of the vote, whereas the average polled by the four NDP candidates was only 32.5 per cent and by the four PC candidates only 28 per cent. So this represents a significant achievement by this government. Lest we forget, the background against which those contests had been fought was the background of the June 2nd federal election, an election in which the NDP had elected six members out of 11 in Nova Scotia, the Progressive Conservatives five and the Liberals none at all. In that contest on June 2nd the NDP candidates that ran received 30.5 per cent of the vote, the Tory candidates 30 per cent and the Liberal candidates only 28 per cent. One of the saddest days in the history of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker.

From that low point, from that discouraging beginning, thanks to the new direction and the invigorated leadership that this Party has advanced collectively, we see the tide has turned and, yes, here comes the tide, Mr. Speaker, indeed. It has turned, it is turning and I believe that these numbers demonstrate how the Liberal Party has regained the momentum and is now poised for victory in the coming provincial election of next year.

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Mr. Speaker, I want to bring the House some good news. I want to start this speech off on a positive and cheerful note. I have done some calculations and I want to bring you, sir, the good news that I believe it is mathematically impossible for the New Democratic Party to win the coming election. Let me explain why. There are 52 seats in this House, sir, and there are 18 counties in Nova Scotia. There are only two of those 18 counties in which the NDP has any significant following at all, those being Halifax County and Cape Breton County. Anyone who is familiar with Nova Scotian politics would know that in the other remaining counties of Nova Scotia, the 16 counties, from Victoria, Inverness, Richmond, Antigonish, Guysborough, Pictou, Cumberland, Colchester, Hants, Kings, Annapolis, Digby, Yarmouth, Shelburne, Queens and Lunenburg, in none of those counties would you expect an NDP candidate to come any better than third. Most of them would lose their deposits, as happened in the riding of Cumberland North. Cumberland North represented the average rural Nova Scotian constituency in which the two traditional Parties hold sway and the NDP is not even a factor.

With the majority of Nova Scotians voting in those 16 counties and not in the two counties of Halifax and Cape Breton, we see that it is mathematically impossible for the NDP to form a government. Those 16 counties that I have named hold 28 seats in this House. Halifax County elect 17, the Cape Breton County, that I live in, elect 7, for a total of 24. So, even if the NDP were to win every single seat in Halifax and Cape Breton County, they would not have enough to form a majority government.

[4:45 p.m.]

They are not going to win every seat in Halifax or in Cape Breton County. We certainly demonstrated that in Halifax Citadel, we certainly demonstrated that in Cape Breton North. We would have demonstrated that in Cape Breton The Lakes, Mr. Speaker, if there had been another two weeks to the campaign; another two weeks, and we would have had Cape Breton The Lakes as well. Yes, so the NDP would have to win every seat, or almost every seat, in both Halifax and Cape Breton Counties to have any hope of winning the largest block of seats in the coming election.

Clearly, as Cape Breton North and Halifax Citadel demonstrate, they are not able to do it. These experiences show that the Liberals, as the grass roots people's Party, can defeat the big money and high priced out-of-province hired guns imported by the NDP to try and hijack our political agenda and take control of Nova Scotia's politics away from Nova Scotians. They can be beaten. We beat them on November 4th in Cape Breton North; we beat them on November 4th in Halifax Citadel; and we can beat them again in May or whenever it may be.

Mr. Speaker, since the NDP cannot win in any county other than Halifax or Cape Breton and since they cannot reasonably expect to win a majority of seats even in those counties, it is clear that Nova Scotians face one of two choices in the months ahead: either they can re-elect a majority Russell MacLellan Liberal Government, meaning four more years

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of stability, steady forward progress and continued improvement (Applause) in short, Mr. Speaker, hope; or else they can vote for chaos as we have never known it before. A fragmented political system meaning loss of overall direction, instability, frightening away of investment, economic collapse; in short, ruin. The question is, which will it be?

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate Premier Russell MacLellan on his tremendous victory in the riding of Cape Breton North. I became a little concerned, you know, when I heard of all the heavy artillery the NDP was bringing into Cape Breton North in its all-out bid to personally defeat the Premier, so I went over to Sydney Mines to see what was going on. It was one of the most refreshing experiences I have had in a long time to see so many good friends and neighbours and to sense their firm enthusiasm and intent to vote for Russell MacLellan, notwithstanding all the din.

We had everyone against us there, Mr. Speaker, but the people. There was a swarm of outside organizers, some of whom did not know how to pronounce the name of Premier MacLellan. They thought he was Premier McLaughlin because they were so brainwashed about Audrey McLaughlin that they thought that was the only name that began with Mac, so they said Premier McLaughlin.

I went over to Main Street, in Sydney Mines, and for a short time it seemed to be flooded with fellows from out-of-town who were lost and could not find their way back to NDP headquarters, but anybody that they would stop to ask directions of they would be sure to tell them to remind them not to vote for that bad Premier MacLaughlin. That is what we faced over there. As the front page of the daily newspaper reported, the NDP targeted the Premier. They were very optimistic that McLaughlin, I mean MacLellan, would not win. It states here on Page 1 of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, October 25th, "Federal and provincial New Democrats swarmed Cape Breton on Friday, looking to . . . beat Premier Russell MacLellan in the November 4th byelection. 'We are very optimistic', said provincial NDP Leader Robert Chisholm on Friday", and so on and so forth.

You know, I remember the end of that campaign. They trotted out a gaggle of political scientists. Now if you are wondering what a gaggle is, it is a collection of geese in the farmyard, but there is one attribute that most people associate with the goose and that is the quality of silliness. So, I say a gaggle of political scientists was advanced by the NDP to obfuscate as to how grave a constitutional crisis would be created when "Premier McLaughlin" was defeated by the swarm of outsiders flooded into the riding of Cape Breton North.

When those political scientists reflected on the results, Mr. Speaker, I trust that they realized that it was not the outsiders that got to vote in the election, but it was the people who lived in Cape Breton North, who were ordinary residents in that constituency and whose names appeared on the voters' list there as having been bona fide residents of that constituency. The results of that very expensive adventure was that MacLellan won handily

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in Cape Breton North and the outside organizers had to go back to Saskatchewan or Sweden or wherever it was that they came from with their tails between their legs.

The article "MacLellan wins Handily in Cape Breton North", by Wes Stewart appeared in the Cape Breton Post on Wednesday, November 5th. It referred to the NDP candidate in Cape Breton North and states that his campaign manager was David Neil. It states further that David Neil is a United Steel Workers of America member from Ancaster, Ontario. They had a campaign manager from Ontario. It was not the only person they had from outside the area. They had all kinds of them there. (Interruption) Ancaster, Ontario? I do not think that is part of Cape Breton.

I would like to say this, Mr. Speaker. While the research of the Cape Breton Post did not go further, it did not give the whole list of all the outside people who were brought into that constituency to try to hijack the political agenda there, I want to comment on the implications of the heavy reliance of any political Party on outside experts from outside Nova Scotia to run their election campaigns in this province. I think the dependence on that type of approach reflects a lack of faith in our own people here. I think that it reflects also a lack of genuine support among our people. If such a Party had support among our people, they would not need to bring in campaign managers from Ontario or telephone canvassers from Saskatchewan or people to hammer signs into the ground from the Yukon or from British Columbia. They would not need to do that because they would have people from right here who could perform those functions.

In Cape Breton North, the Liberal Party's campaign manager was a local person. The local campaign workers were all from the constituency. I think that the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre and myself were the only people from outside the riding who did any work there at all. Everybody else was from Cape Breton North. Across the street at the NDP headquarters they did not know where they were because they were lost. They were not in their own territory. They were not in their own province. They were from some other part of Canada, lost sheep in the wilderness waiting to get back home as quickly as they could. That is not a way to run a political Party in Nova Scotia. I do not think we should encourage that type of approach to our political life at all.

It reflects an inability to perform political functions on their own, including the ability to run a government. If a Party of any type cannot run even a little constituency election campaign, a $20,000 campaign, without having to bring in six or eight or a dozen people from outside the province to do it, how could such an organization ever run a government? The annual budget of the Government of Nova Scotia is $4 billion, give or take. That is 200,000 times greater than a $20,000 constituency election campaign which they cannot run on their own and have to call to Ontario or Saskatchewan for management to run. Clearly, a group that could not run such a small effort as that without outside hired guns certainly does not have the ability to run a government here in Nova Scotia.

[Page 387]

That approach, in my view, reflects a view of Nova Scotia and of Nova Scotians that I find highly objectionable, that we do not have the right to self-government or to the control of our own destiny, that we are like colonials, fit only to hew wood and to draw water. Any task requiring knowledge or skill is, by definition, unfit for us to do, and such jobs have to go to people from Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan or British Columbia. The question could be asked, is this how they would run a government if they had the opportunity to do so. I would say very definitely that the answer to that question is yes. The answer is yes. (Interruptions)

If the honourable gentleman needs to be educated, I would invite him to take his place, open his ears and hear.

Without any question, I believe that their tried and true method of operation in this province does base itself on the belief that you cannot trust the local people. You cannot trust the locals. You call for outside experts and then trust everything to them. They probably already have the list drawn up of who they would bring to Nova Scotia should they elect the largest number of MLAs in the coming provincial election. The presumption would be that Nova Scotians have no knowledge or experience in running a socialist government, which is true. Nova Scotians do not. So they would require the advice and assistance of selected experts who would be brought here to show us how to do it.

In other words, Nova Scotians would lose control of their own government, as control would be surrendered to a swarm, as we saw a swarm at Sydney Mines, a swarm of out-of-province advisers, experts, consultants and parasites from Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. They have already shown their addiction to this approach in the way that they have run their by-election campaigns and their approach to running a government would be based on the same model. I don't believe that that kind of government is appropriate here in Nova Scotia. I don't believe that the Liberal Party would support that kind of government and, in fact, for that matter, I don't believe that most right thinking voters, if they really thought about, if they really realized what was going on here, that the Liberal Party will be, in my view, victorious in the upcoming showdown as a result of the widespread realization of the inapplicability of these approaches to our political life.

I want to congratulate also the honourable member for Halifax Citadel on his victory. There was a constituency that these people thought they owned as their own private property, as with immense conceit and boastful arrogance they strutted into the fray. By the end of the campaign I understand that they had telephone canvassers from Saskatchewan badgering those who answered their telephones, pleading with them to vote NDP, unable to pronounce the Premier's name properly. But these desperate tactics were counter-productive and lost what would appear to be the most natural NDP seat anywhere in Nova Scotia, the home turf of the national federal NDP Leader, where she and her family have lived throughout her life.

[Page 388]

I don't expect in any way to see an NDP Government in Nova Scotia but I suggest that it is a peril against which protective measures should be taken. Very little research has been done by most commentators as to what the NDP would do if in power. Although experience in the Province of Ontario indicates that it only took a single four year term of NDP Government to bring the economy of Ontario virtually to its knees, an economy which was the strongest in Canada and a one term of NDP Government brought that economy virtually to its knees.

In Ontario today, in spite of the great difficulties under the Tory Government of Mike Harris, I tell you that there is no Party in Ontario that is so despised as the NDP and the reason why is very clear, because the people there tried the NDP. Their disastrous record in power made it appear even worse than the Mike Harris Tory Government now in power in Ontario, even worse. (Interruption) It is hard to believe but it is true. Look at the results of the June federal election, only a single NDP member elected in Ontario, only one. The overwhelming majority of seats in that province went to the Liberal Party as the Party of sound, moderate and good government. (Interruption) They may not yet resign so I think I will have to continue for a few more minutes.

They haven't really been very candid in terms of outlining clearly what they would do if they came to power. Occasionally you will read an article in the paper such as this one, NDP Vowing to Scrap Casinos, which I am sure comes as good news to those who work there or supply that particular facility. But generally speaking, they don't concentrate on what they would do because they are too busy criticizing the people that are in power and trying to heighten discontent and make people feel that they ought to turn against the government, rather than voting for anything positive or constructive.

I want to say a few words about the coal industry while I have the floor. The coal industry is very important to the area where I come from and very important to the riding of Cape Breton North as well. This Speech from the Throne contains reference to the coal industry on Page 11 stating, "We build on our industrial heritage. My government believes that there is a future for steel and coal.". "My government . . .", get this, Mr. Speaker, ". . . believes that there is a future for . . . coal.". That is the policy of this government, that is what this Speech from the Throne has to say. "We will form an industrial commission and ask the federal government to participate with us in developing a common approach to industrial development, a common strategy reflecting our responsibilities for steel and the federal role in coal.". So this government supports the coal industry. In fact, I want to say this while I have the floor, that it is the Liberal Party that has kept the coal industry alive in Cape Breton since the year 1966, the last 31 years. Because in 1966 the Donald Report of Dr. J.R. Donald of Montreal recommended the total closure of the Cape Breton coal industry. The government of Prime Minister Lester Pearson responded by passing an Act in Parliament to set up the Cape Breton Development Corporation to keep the mining industry going. As time passed, the mandate changed somewhat, no question about it, but the mines have been kept open since 1966 by the Liberal Party. That is an historical fact.

[Page 389]

[5:00 p.m.]

Now, what is the NDP position on coal? Well, let's hear it, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions) Howard Epstein, yes, Howard Epstein, picked to run in Halifax Citadel. Let me make clear what I am reading here, Mr. Speaker. It is from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, November 15, 1997 - not something a year ago, not something two years but right this very month, November 15, 1997, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, an article by Amy Smith. I know Ms. Smith and I know that she is a diligent reporter and that what she writes down is true. I know that.

Now, here is what Ms. Smith says in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on November 15th; "Howard Epstein, picked to run in Halifax Chebucto, isn't worried that his stance against the coal mining industry will turn off Nova Scotians, especially Cape Bretoners. Every coal miner knows it is not healthy or safe . . .", that is to mine coal, ". . . and every Nova Scotian knows that it is not healthy or safe, Mr. Epstein said. Coal miners lose their lives, as we saw in the disaster like Westray, or as we have seen for the past 200 years in Nova Scotia. An NDP Government would use alternatives, such as natural gas, to create a better, safer fuel industry and generate more jobs than mining does, Mr. Epstein said." Now there is the NDP platform on coal, Mr. Speaker, right there in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald.

Now they may say (Interruptions) I think I should table this, Mr. Speaker, for the edification of honourable members because surely some honourable members want to read the NDP platform on coal. The member for Cape Breton West seems interested over there.

Now it might be argued that that is only the view of one particular Party member and it is not the Party platform. Well I realize that there is a divergency of opinion within probably all Parties on many issues. That is the nature of the political business and we understand that, Mr. Speaker. The fact is that that comes from a candidate who is, undoubtedly, their most prominent star candidate for the whole province. The leading individual, most prominent citizen, most noteworthy personality that they have been able to recruit and run as a candidate. (Interruptions) Well, he is not universally accepted, I realize that, but he is certainly their star candidate. He is their Gretzky, he is their star player.

Mr. Epstein has very pronounced views on the topic of coal. In a newsletter he circulated in his constituency at the end of 1996, entitled, 1996, The Environmental Year in Review in Nova Scotia, by Howard Epstein December 26, 1996, the honourable gentleman stated as follows, that, ". . . gas would displace coal as an electricity source in the province (an environmental plus) . . . this would mean loss of jobs in the coal-mining industry (a terrible blow to Cape Breton especially). The answer seems to be a Provincial scheme to compensate displaced miners or move them into other energy-related work (insulating homes, putting windmills and solar systems up and servicing them) . . .".

[Page 390]

So we see that the NDP not only plans to close down coal mines but to replace them with windmills. Now I think that perhaps this item could be tabled so that honourable members could avail themselves of its contents.

The plot thickens, Mr. Speaker, because Mr. Epstein, the NDP candidate, is also spokesman for the Ecology Action Centre. In that capacity the Ecology Action Centre submitted a brief to the inquiry on the Westray Mine disaster which stated as follows, on Page 12; "We now see with the increasing problems at Devco that there are overwhelming problems in the Cape Breton coal mining industry. It is easy to predict that those mines will close. The Ecology Action Centre has been saying this publicly for years. We also say that for environmental reasons they and all coal mines here should be closed but, at the same time, there has to be full responsibility taken for those displaced by the closure.". The answer, of course, as he stated elsewhere as I just tabled, was to have the displaced miners put to work constructing windmills.

There you see the alternatives. Voters have to make a choice in these matters. Which will it be? The Liberal Party which stands for continued support for the coal industry or the NDP that would shut the mines down, as Mr. Epstein has clearly stated, and replace them with windmills. Those are the alternatives. So much for coal. I'd like to say more about coal and will on future occasions because it does deserve a serious approach.

These are very serious issues that I raise because it is the way in which people vote that will produce the type of government that they get. If they elect to office a Party or candidates for a Party that does not support the coal industry, the results of that for the part of Nova Scotia that I represent will be absolutely disastrous. There is no question that the workers of Cape Breton and the people generally support the coal industry and want to see it maintained. There's no question that they want to see a government in power that would support the coal mining industry. They certainly don't really want in power a government that would close down the mines and replace them with windmills. Yet that could happen if they listen to some who would seek to mislead them. It is our duty and responsibility to point out the facts and to keep the people from making a very serious mistake.

Let me move on from coal to steel. The Speech from the Throne states on Page 11: my government is committed to ensuring, ". . . a viable future for Sydney Steel, a future with a private-sector company with the financial backing and the long-term plan to secure jobs and reach new markets.".

Mr. Speaker, I would like at this time to pay public tribute to the work of my long time friend, the honourable member for Cape Breton South, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, who has worked night and day, fearlessly and tirelessly to resolve the very serious problems faced at Sydney Steel.

[Page 391]

I could speak at length on that but I want to say that the honourable minister in all his many hours of tremendous effort and work has received no help whatever from the NDP, not one iota. The NDP have lain in wait like vultures hoping for the worst to happen in hopes that thereby they could score some cheap political gains. We've faced some terrible goings-on in the area that he and I represent such as this poster that I will table here: Liberal Politicians Not Welcome Here.

This item was peddled in Sydney, I shouldn't say sold. It was distributed in Sydney by one of the local apostles of the New Democratic Party who sought to have people put that in their home windows or doors or stores or their windows. That was the level at which they approached the serious problems that we face at Sydney Steel. The honourable minister well knows that. That was their response to the serious problems that we faced in Sydney over the last number of months and years. (Interruption) I will table it. I'm afraid though that the honourable member for Kings North may pin it on his own desk.

I just want to compare the difference between the concern and the tremendous commitment to the steel industry that has existed on the part of this government and this minister and this Premier with those who would pass that kind of flier around and say, there, we've done something to help the steel plant; we've done something to help the steelworker.

They have an elected member in the Sydney area right now, a Member of Parliament by the name of Peter Mancini. Peter Mancini has done absolutely nothing to help the steelworker since he was elected one-half year ago. Mr. Mancini stirred himself from his sloth once when he participated in the Cape Breton North by-election. That rare exception aside, if I didn't know otherwise I would be tempted to think that he was the original inventor of the lazy boy chair, his whole bearing reflecting a love of ease and a disdain for effort in sharp contrast with the diligence and virtual 24 hour a day dedication to the welfare of Sydney Steel shown by this minister, Manning MacDonald and by Premier Russell MacLellan.

Nova Scotia is at the crossroads. We have before us two clear choices, either a government that cares, acts and makes good things happen or else the surrender of political power to the most monstrous forms of incompetence, insecurity and opportunism. It is Russell MacLellan and the Liberals or else total chaos, take your pick. Either we march forward together to greater and better things or else we take the mad plunge.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order? Would the member entertain a question? It seems the answer is no.

MR. MACEWAN: Either we move forward together to greater and better things, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: I have got two members . . .

[Page 392]

MR. MACEWAN: Either we move forward together to greater and better things or else we take the mad plunge into the abyss. I am confident our people will not let us down in these momentous decisions that lie ahead.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am wondering when the member is talking about moving ahead from this great abyss and so on, I wonder if that includes renting an office for the House of Assembly, Government House Leader, Room 1203, Duke Street Tower. Is that what this member considers moving ahead, having an office rented for him when he was going to be the Government House Leader?

MR. SPEAKER: Now, let me respond to that. That is not a point of order, some very serious intimations or allegations there. (Interruption) Order, please.

MR. MACEWAN: Look, if he wants to make a speech, Mr. Speaker, he will have his turn. I have my turn right now. He should learn something about parliamentary rules.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova has the floor.

MR. MACEWAN: All I wanted to say, Mr. Speaker, and I trust that the din can subside because I intend to take my seat in just a moment. I think that they are quite struck, perhaps, by their lack of prospects, but be that as it may, I would urge honourable members to vote for the motion, against the amendment and against the sub-amendment. I intend to do that myself. I thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I think I need a little more practice with my oratory skills before I can start to accomplish what the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova was able to here. The content, hopefully I can rival that or exceed the content today.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be inducted or become part of the fraternity of this House. It is of great pleasure to me to be a member, and there are a few people, I would like to thank that helped me get here. Specifically, I would like to thank certainly my wife, Elaine, my entire family as well as my extended family. Of note is my grandmother, Mrs. Florence Mingo who attended the swearing in. Also, I would like to publicly thank here today the riding president in our area, Graham Nelson, as well as the PC Association and campaign staff that worked so diligently on my behalf.

I am very privileged and honoured where I sit. I look behind me and I see another Cumberland County resident's portrait on the wall here. I hope that I am able to convey the concerns of the people of Cumberland North as that member did in his day. Also, I see a plaque here which is of personal note to me. Samuel Archibald is one of my ancestors, so it is indeed an honour to be in the same House of Assembly that member was in.

[Page 393]

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to represent the people of Cumberland North. The people of Cumberland North certainly humbled me with the majority they gave me, the trust they put in me, and I fully intend to return that same trust in trying to lead the issues of the people of Cumberland North and all Nova Scotians. (Applause)

I want to congratulate Premier Russell MacLellan, the honourable member for Cape Breton North on his victory. I want to congratulate Helen MacDonald, the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes on her victory and I also want to congratulate Ed Kinley, the honourable member for Halifax Citadel on his victory in those by-elections on November 4th.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to review a few of the facts, things of interest and some of the history of the last four and a half years of the Savage-MacLellan Government and how cruelly they have actually treated Cumberland County and Cumberland North.

[5:15 p.m.]

In 1993, Mr. Speaker, in Amherst there was located a world-class structure providing world-class instruction to the hearing impaired. Noted experts from around North America concurred with that. The APSEA Centre now is no more. Not only were the jobs lost which were crucial to the community but the best system to aid the hearing impaired in North America and, indeed, in the world, is gone. That is the true shame.

Mr. Speaker, from that time 75 government jobs were promised to the community to offset the economic effect. Those 75 jobs are still outstanding. I would call upon the Premier to honour that commitment. The people of Cumberland North are waiting for that commitment to be honoured.

The people of Pugwash and the surrounding areas, whether they be from Wallace, Malagash or the Pugwash area itself, Port Howe, feel left out of the process when they were assured that the Pugwash hospital would remain in place. Well, it is no more than a clinic now and those people are discouraged at their options for proper health care in their community.

The Amherst Regional Hospital has gone through very hard and trying times over the last four and a half years. Doctor shortages still plague the area, there are 3,000 people without a family doctor. That situation has to be addressed. Those citizens deserve proper health care, the same as do all Nova Scotians. The nursing staff have been put under tremendous strain, trying to meet budgetary measures. They are the backbone of the health system. They require proper payment, they require proper support. They need a health system which guarantees them their place to practice proper medicine.

[Page 394]

The regionalization of our area has caused the accounting department in various portions of the administration to be transferred to other areas of Nova Scotia in the northern zone. Those are, indeed, of great concern to the community as well. Regionalization, if it occurs, should have benefits to all areas in the region. Why should all services with technology involved today be located in one centre?

Mr. Speaker, in the Amherst area, indeed, in all of Cumberland County, we are extremely pleased with the re-announcement and commitment of the Premier and the Health Minister on the new hospital. I think it is extremely important that that commitment, after the statements of the last two or three days or, indeed, the week on public-private partnering, after the commitment was made at that facility that a 75 per cent commitment of the provincial government would be honoured, that it is, indeed, re-honoured.

Community volunteers, fund-raisers, donors, have made an unbelievable effort to ensure that the community's 25 per cent is raised in record time. Currently $6.8 million of that amount has been raised. The hospital site selection by an independent committee is supposed to be in progress and, hopefully, will report soon. I must note that the former Premier of this province happens to be the chairman of that campaign, the Honourable Roger Bacon. I would also like to note that the Mayor of Amherst, who has just recently stepped down, Jerry Hallee, was the fund-raising chairman. Those two gentlemen have pushed forward an unbelievable effort on behalf of the community to raise those funds.

I think it is extremely important that I talk for a moment on why that facility is so strongly needed. We can talk about not meeting health standards, safety standards, the age of the facility, the need for proper services to be located there but I think one simple fact of every Minister of Health who has toured that facility in the last 10 years can sum it up; they have all been told there is one thermostat for an entire facility that has 110 beds, or used to have 110 beds in it. I think that sums it up. That is why that facility is archaic, worn out. Parts of it date back to the turn of the century. The facility needs to be replaced. The northern area of Nova Scotia requires and does need a new regional hospital.

No doubt the members of this House have heard of the toll highway or the Cobequid Pass. Where I live it is an unfair intrusion into being a Nova Scotian. Where I live and one other honourable member in this House, we are the only two members who pay a toll on a Trans Canada Highway to attend this House. No other member has to do that. Fully one-third of the cost is going to be borne by the residents of Cumberland County to be part of Nova Scotia and to be equal as a Nova Scotian.

To add even tougher hardship to the people of our area, that one-third, keep in mind, when it was learned that $155 million is new revenue built into that toll structure for general revenue of the Province of Nova Scotia, that is indeed an insult to the people of Cumberland County.

[Page 395]

I do take exception to its being called a public-private partnership. Highway No. 104 is totally owned by the Province of Nova Scotia. That certainly is not private. The 70 kilometre per hour speed zone in the Wentworth Valley area is no more than an irritant to make sure that profits for Atlantic Highway Corporation are maintained. I think that even the brochure adds insult to the people of Cumberland County. When I received my copy last week, going through the toll plaza, it was my impression that Sullivans Lake was located in Halifax County; that Sutherland Lake was located where the toll plaza is. In the brochure apparently Sullivans Lake has been moved to Cumberland County. It is Sutherland Lake.

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if I might interrupt the honourable member just for a moment, if he would yield the floor for an introduction.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is my pleasure to introduce to you and to the House, I should say very good friends but that remains to be seen after our meeting tonight, the President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, Mr. James Austen; the Vice-President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, Anthony Van Oostrum; and, of course, one whom everybody knows, the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, Mr. Laurence Nason.

MR. FAGE: Enough said about the toll highway. Another issue that has plagued and been on the minds of the constituents of Cumberland North is the loss of government jobs over the last four and one-half years. We only need to run down a few of them. These have hurt our communities severely. They take the sense of community out of the community. The assessment office, hospital workers, the accounting staff from the regional hospital, the school board staff, even the janitors and janitorial service people continually phone as their jobs are eliminated. The entire closure of APSEA, Department of Transportation positions eliminated or machinery and equipment and their operators moved to other areas, the Customs and Excise from Amherst, and the EI offices moved from Amherst.

This represents hundreds of good, high-paying government jobs from Cumberland North. It does not seem as if it is sharing or looking after all interests of Nova Scotia.

People of Cumberland North felt this summer a grave safety issue was broached. As well a disgrace to Cumberland County and all of Nova Scotia occurred with the removal of most of the light standards from the border. Our border was renown in Canada as one of the best, the one people knew when they crossed New Brunswick and reached Nova Scotia at Fort Lawrence. Well, I wrote on behalf of those residents to the minister when that tender came out. I was told that it was not a significant safety issue and the people of Cumberland North were told that as well. We were told that it would save the province operating dollars by turning off the lights. That was a significant investment, it was only a couple of years old,

[Page 396]

a capital investment owned by the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, valued in excess of $0.75 million when they were installed.

We the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, on a tender, actually paid to have that capital asset removed. Even the cement anchors were torn up and trucked away so that they could not be reattached. As we speak, those highways are closed on that marsh, it is an absolute blizzard. Those light standards guided motorists from the area and all people coming to Nova Scotia through stormy conditions, through dark nights. That is an unsafe area now.

On the Cobequid Highway I noticed as I came through the toll plaza that there are all kinds of light standards there. Apparently, we need to pay a toll to put up light standards at the toll plaza but the border at Fort Lawrence with New Brunswick doesn't require them for safety or for indicating that we are coming into the Province of Nova Scotia.

Cumberland County desperately needs the school replaced in Amherst. Parts of that school were first built and students first attended in the 1890's. I am not going to go through a long dissertation on the condition of the school, suffice to say that ventilation virtually does not exist in a structure piecemealed together over the years. The laboratories are in poor condition and the entire facility needs to be replaced. The Liberal Government recognized that in 1993 and announced they would replace that school after the former Progressive Conservative Government announced extensive repairs. Well, that has been announced three times since 1993. I would call upon the minister and his commitment to the people of Cumberland North to announce that site selection and please make sure the process is underway.

I am extremely proud of the staff and the parents who do their best to ensure that our children receive quality education at that facility. Our students there do achieve across this province and this country.

I think we have to look at what was said during the by-election that the P3 agreements or the system itself, is under review and properly should be under review. We have heard of cost over-runs and problems of not having the lease actually signed up front and knowing the dollar amount. But if the Premier and the ministers were sincere when they were in Cumberland North during the by-election, then the Site Selection Committee, as I reiterate, should report quickly. The community needs to be reassured that the school that they rightly deserve is announced and that the construction does begin in the spring of 1998.

[5:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, there are some good things happening in Cumberland North and there are some people and organizations that I do want to commend. I want to commend the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce and the President, Steve Hatcher, for working with the community, working with government, working with business and business associations to

[Page 397]

forward the goals of the community, the goals of business and facilitating an independent voice, to make sure that Amherst has every possible opportunity at jobs, social issues and the infrastructure in our community that is so important; that is a new hospital and a new school, the infrastructures.

I would also like to commend the local radio station, CKDH, and their manager, Gary Crowell, also a former President of the Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Crowell and the radio station have been unbelievably supportive of the community, whether it is events, festivals, business announcements or just out-and-out promoting in any possible way, with free air time, businesses in our community.

As well, I want to commend the Amherst Daily News, their manager, Earl Gouchie, and editor, John Conrad, who have done the same things for our community. They have donated their time and the paper's resources to promote our area and our community. They supported that community strongly, they supported our businesses strongly, and they have supported our festivals and events strongly. They have been great ambassadors in promoting Cumberland County as a whole.

A few events in the last year that I would like to mention that they have been involved in, and the entire community. I would like to congratulate the Trumanville Volunteer Fire Department on hosting the First Annual Wild Blueberry Music Festival this summer. This was an extremely successful event that brought thousands of people into our community. They brought entertainers from around the province and even from outside of the province. They had performers there such as MacKeel, Sainte Mhàth Kim Albert, Spinney Boys and Drimindown. It was a wonderful day and a wonderful event. Seeing a community pulling together to put on a successful event warms one's heart and restores faith that communities do control their destiny.

I would also like to commend the Tidnish Festival, an annual event that runs in that small community on the shore on the Northumberland Strait. Every year they host a successful ball tournament and festival that brings another several thousand people into the community and supports the local business there.

I would also like to commend the Tidnish community on the opening of their walking and suspension bridge trail on the old ship railway. The community worked hard, gaining support from the provincial government, municipal government and, yes, even the federal government, to ensure that that trail was put in place on the old ship railway and that suspension bridge was located there to provide an additional tourist attraction and reason for visitors to stop.

I want to commend Malagash Days, in a community famous for its wines from the Jost family. This community staged an annual event for the last three years to celebrate their heritage and highlight the museum and the salt industry that used to be in Malagash.

[Page 398]

I also want to commend the Pugwash Gathering of the Clans Festival and their organizers on the their July 1st event. This event is extremely successful, drawing people from all over the province and, indeed, Atlantic Canada, to celebrate their Scottish heritage. This year, there was also a dedication involving members of the Pugwash Thinkers Conference and it was my pleasure to meet and hear Joseph Rotblat address the audience, as well as have the foyer of the Pugwash High School named in his honour. As you all know, Joseph Rotblat, is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a member of the Pugwash Thinkers Conference.

I also want to mention today the volunteers, organizations and businesses that contributed the full amount of money to a new minor league baseball field in Amherst. That field was dedicated to a long-time supporter of the community who supported minor sport, organized various tournaments. That field is now called the Sonny Foster Memorial Ballfield. Sonny Foster was a great ambassador of our community and a supporter of the youth of our community.

Also during the summer season, the Tantramar Theatre Society, under the direction of Betty Douglas, sponsors a summer theatre festival sponsored by many businesses, the Province of Nova Scotia and the municipalities. This is an extremely successful theatre that puts on productions throughout the summer, offering employment, experience and encouragement to the young people of Cumberland County and Nova Scotia. This is a very important event for the arts and culture of our community.

Currently, they are putting on a dinner theatre in the old Federal Building in Amherst and I will be attending a production there tomorrow evening. I am looking forward to it and invite every member of the House, if they have time tomorrow, to come and attend this high quality show. Our area is rich in theatre and culture productions and we also have a second company that regularly puts on productions, Showcase Productions of the Amherst area.

We have many volunteer organizations who do their best with some government funding and raising funds of their own to fill the social gaps in our community. I would like to take the time to mention a couple of them: Maggie's Place, with a number of associations under that umbrella, offers guidance, help and support to families and young people; Transition House, an extremely important institution in our community; the Bridge Workshop, offering work and support for our mentally challenged in the Amherst area and Pugwash Sunset Industries, which is a great support program where mentally challenged people have the opportunity to do fulfilling and productive work and yes, produce things that actually gain a profit and help support themselves.

I had the pleasure a week ago of attending a celebration at the Joseph Rotblat Hall in Pugwash. Lieutenant Governor Kinley presented to Jim Munroe - a long-time resident, county councillor and youth supporter of the Pugwash area, and only the fifth Nova Scotian to receive - the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award. This was well deserved by a great Cumberland County resident, Jim Munroe.

[Page 399]

I would be remiss if I did not mention a function two weeks ago at the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce, when Alaine Bosse and his staff at the Wandlyn Motor Inn were named Business of the Year, as well as receiving a Humanitarian Award for Amherst and area.

Last spring during a blizzard when roads were shut down for a 16 hour period, when four-wheel drive plows were required to remove snow from the heaviest snowbelt in Nova Scotia in blizzard conditions on those open marshes, over 100 stranded motorists stayed free at the Wandlyn. The staff went above and beyond the call to make sure that those people were accommodated, fed and looked after until they could proceed on their way. Alaine and his staff certainly deserved strong recommendation. (Applause)

Another resident, long-time supporter and volunteer who was recently honoured in our area and rightly so was Howard Elliot of Pugwash. For 25 years as Chairman of the Village Commission he was involved with the Gathering of the Clans and many other organizations.

As I said earlier in a resolution today and I want to mention again, Charles Williamson and Francis Smith; and especially Charles, who will tomorrow receive his Medal of Merit, or his wife will on his behalf, along with his two children, Danny and Chris, from the Lieutenant Governor. Charles was a police officer in Amherst whom I knew for a good many years. He was a young man when he died of heart failure. He had battled cancer two years previous to that. He was a man who was not scared to live life. He was a man people in our community, from youth to the elderly, admired. He had no enemies. People admired him, appreciated his judgment and his counsel. It was very sad to attend his funeral a month ago, when you see a person 43 years old leaving a young family behind. He was a great Nova Scotian and a great Canadian, in my mind. The honour going to be bestowed upon him and received by his family tomorrow is richly deserved.

Also, I would like to make note that Sifto Salt celebrated their 50th anniversary in Cumberland County as an employer this fall. Sifto provides over 80 good paying jobs to our community and has been a great supporter.

Also, I would like to congratulate Poly Cello on their expansion, which is now underway. IMP, Ballastronix, Pure Energy, Seagull Pewter, Windsor Salt are other major employers who are working to provide employment in our area. We are gaining world renown, creating exports, and our companies are on the move in Nova Scotia.

I want to take a moment and talk about an association with a goal that I certainly feel is worthy of the support of the people of Nova Scotia and this House. That is the Fort Lawrence Heritage Association, a local group that is involved in tourism, who have acquired a piece of property adjacent to the border entrance in Fort Lawrence and who wish to put an interpretive centre dealing with the time in our history of the expulsion of the Acadians and of Fort Lawrence, as a tourist attraction and as a heritage venue to attract tourists not only

[Page 400]

to the Cumberland County area, but to all of Nova Scotia. You will be hearing more from them in the future. It is a worthwhile project. I think everyone in this House when they make their presentations to ministers should consider this.

Another project that I had the privilege to be involved in in a small way this summer was Fox Harbour Development. It is a private developer, Mr. Ronald Joyce, returning to his roots, owning that piece of property, has decided he would like to put in a golf course. This 18 hole exclusive golf course with clubhouse, marina and various other amenities that would be associated with it would be an investment of $10 million to $15 million from the private sector on the North Shore of Nova Scotia, this will be a very welcome addition to one of the best kept secrets in Nova Scotia; that is the recreational facilities that need to come on stream and what a gem the Northumberland Strait - the warmest waters north of the Carolinas - is as an ocean playground.

The retail centre in Amherst is on the move. I am certainly, as the member representing the area, pleased to see that four major corporations have taken the initiative and decided that the northern end of Nova Scotia is indeed a retail centre. Canadian Tire and Atlantic Superstores now have facilities opened and soon Sobeys and Zellers will also have major facilities opened. Over the last several years, this represents an investment in excess of $20 million in the retail sector in Amherst. This is significant for us. This will create thousands of new shoppers per week in our area. This will build for other retailers of other commodities and goods, whether it be luxuries, clothing, furniture or appliances. This will make it a retail centre. The jobs are welcome, the shoppers are going to be welcome. The extra revenue to the community is going to be welcome.

[5:45 p.m.]

Cumberland North, like most rural communities, we need more full-time, the opportunity to have high-tech and industrial jobs. The families are going to locate in our area and raise their families. They need to be able to have that opportunity to purchase homes, automobiles and establish themselves. They can only do that on full-time jobs.

Over the last year, I have been pleased and reassured with what I see in our communities. I see a new self-reliance in our communities, not induced by government but by the belief in the citizens themselves, that if they want a future and an opportunity at that future, it is time for them to band together and put forward the views and the objectives of their communities, decide what kinds of jobs and interests they want and make sure that government delivers their share of support, provincial and federal, to achieve those ends. A job is the best cure for most of our social and economic ills.

Mr. Speaker, the hallmark of the last four and one-half years and after listening to the Throne Speech and trying to gloss over crisis and problem areas to me, it is like a bad record. How do you fix a bad deal and why are we creating crises to solve? A small example of this

[Page 401]

is what appears to be one idea of economic development in Cumberland North and that idea has been extremely frustrating to the residents in Cumberland North, and I believe endangers their safety. If economic development, Mr. Speaker, involves solely closing or downgrading a DOT department in one riding, moving the dispatchers, the staff and the equipment to an adjacent riding, if that is the idea of this government's policy on economic development, maybe they should consult the private sector and Voluntary Planning.

As I reiterate, Mr. Speaker, I have a news clipping here of the decision of the Department of Transportation to move the last remaining four-wheel drive plow out of the most severe snowbelt and blizzard belt in Nova Scotia, out of the Amherst depot, was confirmed this week in a local news clipping by the area engineer. Well, that area is closed down by a blizzard today, I phoned a couple of minutes ago; even through the border, the section across the marsh, the blizzard conditions are so bad that highway is currently closed.

AN HON. MEMBER: No plows.

MR. FAGE: A tandem plow, as this article implies, yes, can haul more salt. But if you take a four-wheel drive plow and a single-axle plow and replace it with one, I think first of all, you cannot plow any depth of snow and that is what kind of drifting conditions you get in our area in a blizzard and, second, two plows certainly, regardless of size, would clear more road in a faster time than one. If the alternative, Mr. Speaker, is to phone when the roads cannot be plowed, as I have been informed, to Millers Lake, apparently, snow removal and the safety issue is different in Cumberland County than it is in other areas of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the HST is the most intrusive tax that has ever been put on Nova Scotians and Canadians. For the first time we've seen a fundamental change in the tax structure of this country where the necessities of life are now being taxed; lights, heat, water, fuel and children's clothing. That's what's intrusive about this tax and that's what the fundamental change of this tax is.

We can make all the eloquent arguments we want and it does benefit business and I do agree with that. But when you deal with ordinary Nova Scotians, I did some checking this morning with government stats, low income families in Nova Scotia account for 17.7 per cent of the population. Seniors in Nova Scotia account for 12.7 percent of the population. That's 30.4 per cent of the population in this province that the HST, regardless of rebates, affect their daily lives. Their cheques simply do not go as far on shopping day for groceries. I continually receive more and more calls as the weeks go by from seniors, from low income families on the cash crunch they now find themselves in with the Christmas season coming.

Those people, if they get fuel put in their heating tanks, are required to buy minimum amounts for they don't have that amount of money to fill that large order, to fill the tank. I'm told that is generally $200. These people are Nova Scotians, these people deserve to feed their families, clothe their families and they deserve to have proper shelter. This is the first

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time we've seen that. These people are being treated differently, because of their circumstances, than other Nova Scotians. Another bad deal for Nova Scotians.

In our area, seniors form a large portion of the population. Seniors have paid their debt to our society. They are the ones, in my mind at least, that have furnished the opportunity that all members of this House and all Nova Scotians of our age have enjoyed for the last number of years and hopefully will continue to enjoy. But the policies of this government over the last four and one-half years have taken the group of people who have given this province the most and who are the least able to defend themselves and forced them to shoulder the largest portion of the debt reduction, from Pharmacare to co-pay to new hidden taxes that they must pay, service charges, HST, housing cost increases. These are the people who have made this society. These are the ones that we're disadvantaging the most.

Seniors, when I meet with them, are extremely discouraged. They have no options for entertainment. Seniors are being left out of the equation. I would like to remind the members on the government side of the House that I'm sure there are a few seniors in their ridings too. They feel exactly the same way.

Another situation that disturbs me greatly, and the people of Cumberland North, is the public-private partnership arrangement especially in conjunction with the toll highway when there is no private and especially when it involves schools . We've had to put money upfront, interest free to build them. I'm not condemning or ruling out the principle of P3, I am talking about the process and the implementation.

There is no check and balance with this government in P3. When we see cost overruns from $8.5 million to $26 million, you are endangering the opportunity for other communities to have a school because at the end of the day, whether you make it in a lease payment or in a principal and interest payment, it comes out of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the option that hospitals may be included in public-private partnering I think needs to be considered long and hard. Health care in this country, I believe, is supposed to be a sacred right and principle, whether it be the federal or provincial government have reiterated that there will be no service charge, that it is a public right to all those services. How, if you have a private operator owning the facility, can you provide that in that context?

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I didn't speak about one more bad deal that we are not getting answers for, that is Sable gas. The only thing that I wish to express, as the member for Cumberland North and as a Nova Scotian, I am extremely concerned that the greatest opportunity Nova Scotia has had in the last 30 years for a low cost energy provider for industry is being missed. I sincerely hope it is not.

[Page 403]

Mr. Speaker, the Savage-MacLellan Liberal Government's hollow words over the last four and one-half years, whether it is tolls, HST or Sable gas, is evidence that there is a poor defence in the Speech from the Throne. We have seen four and one-half years glossed over, in an attempt that money that is spent, in most instances, to put a positive spin on a government that has overstayed its term, going into an election year.

Mr. Speaker, in all honesty I cannot support the Throne Speech when we vote on it. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Since we are nearing the moment of interruption, at this time we will consider that the debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne is adjourned.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, the House hours tomorrow will be between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. We will continue with the Adjourned debate response and also, if time permits, Public Bills for Second Reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise and meet again tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m.

We have arrived at the moment of interruption and the Adjournment debate; the honourable member for Kings West has submitted the following resolution:

Therefore be it resolved that this government immediately deliver more of a commitment to the critical issues facing our long-term care resources in this province than the flimsy Throne Speech statement that the Ministers of Health and Community Services will be convening almost immediately, to begin efforts to ensure this sector gets the attention it deserves.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I must say that you read that resolution well. One of the issues is it is unfortunate that tonight we have only one-half hour. It is unfortunate because an issue that is facing many people in this province is issues that are facing staff and residents of homes for special care in this province.

[Page 404]

[6:00 p.m.]

The Nova Scotia Nurses' Union conducted a study and that study was released a few weeks ago on issues facing nurses and residents in homes for special care. The study expressed concern that it will take a tragedy, imagine, it will take a tragedy in this province for this government to realize how critical the situation is. I think the homes for special care people contacted most MLAs, I know they contacted me this fall and they contacted many of my colleagues, as I am sure they did members on the Government side and my friends to the left, so that you could fully understand the difficulties and the possible tragedies that could occur if nothing is done about the conditions in homes for special care. The study says that it is critical, I believe it is critical and I hope the government understands that it is critical. Thus far, the government has refused to deal with this critical issue in our homes for special care. It is jeopardizing the health, safety and well-being of residents in Nova Scotia's homes for special care.

The list of problems was noted by administrators, by the Nova Scotia Nurse's Union and by the Nova Scotia Association of Homes For Special Care. Those issues are long and troubling for anyone who cares to take time to look at them. I will mention a few that were pointed out by the nurses when they released the findings of their study. Among them, and I will only mention a couple of examples because it would take me my whole 10 minutes to list all of the things that need to be addressed; lack of basic medical supplies including sterile dressing trays and sterile supplies. Imagine, you think of that happening in some foreign countries. You don't think of that happening in a country like Canada and a province like Nova Scotia. Staff using Saran Wrap to apply suppositories because they have exhausted their monthly supply of gloves. This is not me, this is the Nova Scotia Nurse's Union talking, this is what they are saying is happening. I hope to Heavens the government is listening. Fewer staff, they are saying, to look after patients requiring heavier care, including caring for patients with open wounds, wounds that would previously be treated in hospital, and inadequately trained staff.

This is what the nurses had found when they went around the province. I hope the Minister of Health is not saying that nurses are not telling the truth. I know they are telling the truth and I hope this government is listening to them. Family members are being routinely called upon to feed and care for their loved ones. The list goes on.

It is a prelude to a tragedy waiting to unfold and it most certainly will unless the government does something immediately to improve staffing levels, improve training requirements, deal with critical funding issues, involve the long-term care sector as a meaningful partner in health reform and amend the long out-dated Homes for Special Care Act.

[Page 405]

In 1993, then Minister Ron Stewart said, "Long-term care has been traditionally underfunded and under staffed.". He went on to say, "that there has been a huge disparity between long-term care and acute care and a disparity between long-term care facilities across the province as well.".

In May 1997, Bernie Boudreau and John MacEachern, the former Health Minister and Community Services Minister, attended a meeting with long-term care providers and promised swift relief on a wide variety of issues presented to them. They are still waiting and it is now November. They have given more platitudes and more promises but no action. The platitudes in the Speech from the Throne are of little comfort to the staff, the nurses, the residents and the families of residents and little comfort to the administrators of the homes for special care.

I am sure that after hearing it for four years they are going to be reassured by the promise that the Minister of Community Services and the Minister of Health will convene almost immediately to begin to address the concerns that were identified by their own minister back in 1993. Their own minister identified the problems. He indicated what should be done and nothing has been done.

Whether it is Robert Brooks, Administrator of Dykeland Lodge who wrote to the Premier, this Premier on September 30th. I want to quote his observation, "We would emphasize the fact that we have not had a line by line budget for several years, and in that time, the federal and provincial governments have increased a number of items over which we have no control, except that we have to pay the additional costs, and cannot generate income to cover such costs.". He went on to cite examples of those increased costs whether it is workers' compensation premiums, Canada Pension premiums, UI premiums, the HST and municipal taxes.

Mr. Speaker, the administrators of the homes for special care have been struggling with inadequate budgets resulting in cutbacks that ultimately impact on the quality of care provided. This government, this Health Minister and all these ministers have been going around the province telling everybody that we now have our financial house in order. We now have more money. We had $100 million more for health care and not one cent, not one penny of that $100 million has gone to homes for special care. So, you know that the priority of this government is not with the residents and the staff of homes for special care.

Mr. Speaker, in June the nurses of the R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home wrote to the Minister of Health. I again want to quote the type of concerns they have been trying to no avail to get this government to address. They wrote about the impact health reform has had on the long-term care sector. There has been an increase in the average age of admission, an increase in the requirement of care for those admitted, an increase in the number of chronic and disease processes per patient, an increase in the frequency and acuteness of the chronic illnesses that are occurring, fewer admissions to hospitals because there are no hospital beds.

[Page 406]

Now acute care is being provided in nursing homes when hospital admission does not take place. Discharge back to the home is earlier, sometimes prematurely resulting in some measure of acute care nursing still being required. Health reform has added to the demands on staff and is jeopardizing the health, safety and quality of life of patients.

Budget freezes, in light of ever-increasing costs, is likewise threatening the health and safety of patients. Since 1993, this government has been telling those people involved in homes for special care that they recognize the problem, that they understand the problem and that they would address it. Now, Mr. Speaker, we are four years after the fact, four years have gone by. This government has made no attempt to address those concerns. They had a report done in 1995 called Community Continuing Care. It was submitted to the Department of Health in February 1995 and it has collected dust. A study that they commissioned, a study that they said would lead them to do something about the problems in the homes for special care.

To date, we have not had any action. I would urge the ministers, not to take my word for it, talk to the staff, talk and listen to the nurses, talk and listen to the administrators, talk and listen to the residents. If you take time to do that, you will understand the difficulties and the tragedies that may occur and that have not been addressed by this government. I would plead with this government to read the report that the nurses released. Read and listen to the administrators and staff and please, for the sake of those residents, take action.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing our allotted time with the honourable Minister of Community Services, so I will make my brief comments in response to the resolution relative to the late show debate.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in my place this evening to state that this government is in fact solidly committed to Nova Scotia's long-term care sector. I assure you that we are working to respond to the needs of nursing home residents, staff and operators. This government wants to ensure services, quality services that are in place to provide the care that seniors and disabled persons in Nova Scotia need and deserve. Our focus on the long-term care sector is increasing.

Let me outline some of the facts. First and foremost, the budget for long-term care this year is almost $110 million. That is an increase of 14.5 per cent over the past two years. These numbers alone demonstrate our commitment to long-term care in Nova Scotia. In the past three years we have added the equivalent of 400 full-time workers to the 69 nursing homes and homes for the aged under the Department of Health's responsibility. This year alone a budget increase has added the equivalent of 190 full-time employees directly caring for residents. We are pleased with our successes to date but we do recognize that there is more work to be done. We will make sure that more work does get done.

[Page 407]

In fact, I had the pleasure of joining my colleague, the Honourable Francene Cosman, at a joint ministerial committee meeting on long-term care last week. This is a committee with representatives from the Departments of Health and Community Services, the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations and Associated Homes for Special Care. We reaffirmed our commitment to this joint ministerial committee. It was an excellent opportunity to discuss legitimate concerns in the long-term care sector, with the sector representatives. This committee will hold a planning session in January. I fully expect issues such as a need for a new assessment tool, new legislation and staffing standards to be reviewed in that planning session and a timetable developed for addressing those issues.

In addition, key concerns raised in the meeting pertain to funding levels. The department is looking at further enhancements in the 1998-1999 budgets for long-term care, such as further funding for capital renovations, further increases in staffing and beginning to address operating expense pressures. We are also aware that the long-term care sector employees are bargaining, similar to other public sector employees, and this, of course, will have budget implications.

I am confident that we are heading in the right direction to address long-term care issues. I said before more work is needed in this area. I assure you, we will make sure that this work gets done. The long-term care sector has been a valuable and unheralded component of our health care system for many years, for far too long.

In closing, I would just like to point out that the honourable member for Kings West who introduced this resolution that we are debating here tonight had the nerve and the gall, perhaps some might say, to introduce a resolution earlier in this sitting of the House, Resolution No. 17. This is an Act that was introduced by the previous Liberal Government, the previous, previous Liberal Government, in 1972, following which the government of which that honourable member was a strong member, a Cabinet Minister, and then he introduced this resolution. "Whereas the Liberal Government's failure to amend the long outdated Homes for Special Care Act and its misguided health reforms have added to the difficulties and frustrations experienced by administrators and staff,".

That is a resolution that honourable member introduced after 15 years of government to do something about that Act and to put that into a resolution. I think that is more of what we inherited when we did form government.

We are committed to the long-term sector. It is an important part. Special people are involved. The nurses and the personal care workers and the licensed practical nurses and all the others are important. We are committed and we have met with and we will continue to meet with representatives of that sector, to ensure that again, as all parts of the sector of health care, we are seeing more people receiving services in this province and better quality of health care to all Nova Scotians. We will ensure that this sector is sustained and continues in all its good work. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 408]

[6:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to at least have four and one-half or five minutes in this debate this evening. Some of you will know that I used to be a nurse. That professional career was one of the highlights of my life. The problems I hear when I read the reports of nurses today are not much different from the problems I faced as a nurse in my own nursing career. They are very valid concerns that they raise. The honourable member for Kings North has given a litany of the problems, as he sees them, and a litany of the issues as he sees them.

I am tempted to skip a few of these points that I want to raise tonight because I can't sit here and listen to the kind of diatribe that I listened to earlier without making one comment around some of the facts. You know the honourable members opposite in the Official Opposition, the honourable member for Kings North mentioned that you can take little comfort. Well, I have to tell you that there was little comfort for us taking over government four years ago, with a bankrupt province. There was little comfort for us to know that the Opposition sat there for 15 years and spent and spent and let the debt go up and up and borrowed money for every program and continued to borrow. I will tell you, there was no comfort for us coming into government realizing that the aspirations and the hopes that we had for Nova Scotia were not going to be realized very quickly, until we put in place the programs and the mechanisms to get debt under control and spending under control and borrowing under control. So it sort of churns me when I listen to the remarks of the member for Kings North, talking as though we did this on purpose because we wanted to create a lot of pain and grief in the system. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Quite frankly, when I get talking in this vein and I think of all the things that we should be able to do, once our financial house is in order, then I have a little glimmer of hope at the end of the day. It is for sure that in the last four years the things that we knew we wanted to do, we couldn't because we were bankrupt, as a province, and we were bankrupt because we inherited it that way, not because we did it. So I just want to put that into the record and use up some of my time.

I think that the long-term care sector and the part of it that comes in under Community Services in the variety of residential settings and the programs we deliver, from small group homes to larger facilities, I recognize in my short four months as a minister, and I have met with about 45 groups in those four months, I recognize the pent-up demand, I recognize the problems. I am listening to them and I am hearing them and I am hoping that we can start to deliver the goods. There isn't a single problem that government faces today that couldn't be answered by an infusion of cash because many of these things are financial in order. We have had to hold down many things that we wanted to do, because of money.

[Page 409]

Now I see you signalling that I have one minute left. I want to say that when I met with the Joint Ministerial Committee this past week there was a lot of frustration expressed there that we were not doing anything. What I was able to put on the table at that first meeting was a 2 per cent increase to the licensed facilities under the Department of Community Services, to go toward their per diems. That is not much money but at least it is something. I felt good that I was able to offer something because right now my department has severe financial constraints on it but at least I went into that thinking that we have to at least make the gesture that we are putting something on the table for some short-term relief for their budget problems. They are having budget problems. I would like nothing better than to be able to go into a meeting with all the solutions.

Now we are working on some transitional measures. We are looking at trying to get consistency in training for staff in these homes. These things, in terms of the services that are offered, are going to evolve over the next several months. We are looking at time-frames. I want a meaningful process when I work with this committee so they know we are listening and doing something about it. That they have a voice to government to make it meaningful. I see my time is up. I thank you for the opportunity to have this input.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak for a few moments on this very serious issue, relative to long-term care. Now we just heard the person who introduced the motion, the member for Kings West, talk about the problems as identified by the Nurses' Union in a study of the system. Then we heard the government talk about the fact that well, we are going to get to it and blame, once again, the former administration for - or maybe I should say the former, former administration because we are trying to pretend that the last four and one-half years didn't happen but to blame the Tories who were in power for 14 years. Clearly, under the Tories the debt deficit in the province grew to unbearable levels, no argument there. The people in long-term care, the people that are delivering the services, the administrators, the nurses, the support workers and the patients have been dealing with this problem for a long, long time.

What they are telling us as we visit those services, as we talk to nurses and others, is that the workload is increasing, that the acute level of the people that are entering these facilities are increasing, the demands on the system is ever-increasing and yet the money and resources aren't. Increasingly, they have facilities that are not accessible. They have facilities where you can't get into a washroom with a wheelchair. Facilities that don't have an area to restrain people who increasingly have mental problems, dementia.

Those kinds of problems are real and that is what people are facing out there that are delivering the services. They don't want to hear the government say, we can't afford it. Because, at the same time they see the government making decisions to dump $25 million on the debt like that, for 80 jobs from Michelin, one of the most profitable corporations in the

[Page 410]

world. They bring in a different tax deal, you know the BST which not only dumps an awful burden on low and middle-income Nova Scotians and those with fixed incomes but also takes $100 million annually out of the budget, out of the resources of the Province of Nova Scotia. Then the Minister of Community Services and the Minister of Health stand up and say, we don't have any money. You see, Nova Scotians are sick and tired of hearing that kind of nonsense.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. That honourable gentleman is saying that we don't have any money. I have said, if he was listening, we put a 14.5 per cent increase in the last two years in a budget that is now $110 million. In addition, he is misrepresenting the whole issue of Michelin, that it is just not true, it is not paying $25 million, there is no such thing being paid and it is impacting on thousands and thousands of jobs, not 80 jobs and that is misrepresentation.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, it appears to be a difference of interpretation of how government money is allocated, is spent. There is no point of order, you may continue.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the issue is clear, it is one of priorities. Nova Scotians are asking where are this government's priorities? What are they doing with the scarce resources? Well, on the one hand they can give $25 million to Michelin because Michelin said, you have got to give it to us. So the government said, well, we have got to give it to them so we will give it to them.

At the same time they turn around and tell these administrators, nurses and others in long-term care who are trying to deal with the ill and the infirm in this province under increasingly stressful and difficult circumstances and say sorry, we can't deal with your problems right now. We can't deal with your problems because we are dealing with the debt and the deficit. That is why these people are getting so increasingly cynical because they see the money going out, they see the asphalt being laid down, they see this government getting involved in public-private partnerships where the only people that are making money are the private consortia that are not risking a cent. They see the government wasting and wasting and using their money in these priority areas at the same time for these desperate services that are desperately needed in the Province of Nova Scotia, we do not have it. You see that is not good enough. As an administrator said, I quote from the report by the Nurses' Union. "We are in the midst of health care reform but continuous care has not been involved in the process of health reform. We are involved in long term care planning - if in fact there has been any planning for this sector.". That is what I have heard throughout this province when I have talked to people in nursing homes, in homes for special care, in other words people who are trying to deliver services to the aged and the infirm in this province, Mr. Speaker.

It is at the time when there is early release at the hospital, at the time when they are shutting down beds in hospitals and in mental institutions, Mr. Speaker. At a time when increasingly changes are happening in the system which is putting more pressure on these

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facilities to deal with the aged and the infirm. This government has not involved the long-term care sector in its planning. They have not involved the nurses and the administrators and the care providers in their system of reform. Do you know why? Because there has not been any planning. There has been rhetoric, there has simply been rhetoric. There have been budget cuts to the point where even this government finally realizes that the bottom has fallen out, that we are in a chaos and a crisis situation and they are starting to throw money at the health care system by the tens of million if not the hundreds of millions. Is it going into the long-term care facilities? Is it?


MR. CHISHOLM: No, it is not, Mr. Speaker. It is not dealing with the problems. You know, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Community Services - the Minister of Community Services got up and said, well, I was able to put 2 per cent on the table and I felt really good about that. Well, that is not good enough, that is what people are telling you. You do not seem to understand, this government does not seem to understand that it is simply not good enough. So, the minister walks away and says, well, I felt better, that is not good enough.

You see, you know, my father one day may end up in one of these care facilities, and I am awfully concerned. My wife's grandmother is right now in one of these facilities, and they have got a problem in terms of staffing levels, coverage, meeting her needs along with the needs of a lot of other people in that facility, and why? It is because this government has failed to recognize the need to properly provide resources to those facilities so that my wife's grandmother is not left on her own, does not fall out of bed because there are not enough staff, does not have to deal with staff who are so impossibly stressed out and overworked that they are having a difficult time delivering that service.

All the nurses and the administrators are saying to this government, Mr. Speaker, is listen to us. Listen to us once and for all, will you please, and recognize that we are an integral part of the system and that long-term care is an integral part of the health care system in the Province of Nova Scotia. You have to involve us, you have to work with us, because increasingly as our population is aging, we are going to be under increasing pressure in order to be able to meet the needs that are increasingly in that system, that is what this report by the Nurses' Union says. That is what administrators I have talked to across the system, talk about. They do not want to hear about this government whining that they do not have enough money when at the same time they are handing out money left, right and centre to their friends, to wealthy corporations like AT&T; imagine, $10 million; imagine, Michelin Tire again.

You know, the Minister of Health got up and was quite outraged that I was raising - $25 million, they gave that to one of the largest corporations in the world and the largest tire manufacturer in the world, imagine. You know, the Minister of Community Services is

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standing over here yapping at me and saying, what would you do, borrow money? Well, you know she voted to take that $25 million, forgive that $25 million loan from Michelin and put it on the debt, Mr. Speaker. That is borrowing money as far as I am concerned. The largest per capita debt in this country, that minister and her Cabinet colleagues have made sure is at least $25 million greater as a result of that deal.

Mr. Speaker, as I conclude, you have indicated my time has elapsed. We have a serious problem in this province dealing with long-term care. This government has to begin to recognize that rhetoric and sincerity does not cut the mustard when it comes to services being provided for the aged in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

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

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned until 10:00 a.m. on Friday.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]

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By: Mr. Ronald Russell (Hants West)

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

(1) Update on the relocation of employees formerly within the Office of the Premier, that is location and salary within the new location:

(a) Anne Graham Walker; and

(b) David Harrigan.


By: Mr. Ronald Russell (Hants West)

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

(1) The Custody Configuration Project Report.